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Friday, February 21

The Weekly Shtikle - Mishpatim

This coming Sunday, 28 Shevat, marks the 7th  yahrtzeit of my wife's grandfather, R' Yitzchak Yeres. The shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Yitzchak Chaim ben Moshe Yosef HaLevi.

This week, the mishnah yomis program began the 8th perek of Chullin – Kol habasar – which deals with mixing meat and milk. So it is fitting to explore a fascinating thought related to that topic from this week's parsha. (The daf yomi covered the laws of zimun which also tangentially intersect with basar b'chalav when it comes to a question of whether people eating meat and milk separately can join together in a zimun.)


This week's parsha contains the first of three instances of the of the prohibition of  lo sevasheil gedi bachaleiv imo (23:19), not to cook a goat in its mother's milk. This is the source for the prohibition of milk and meat. The three instances are necessary to indicate a prohibition against cooking, eating or deriving any other benefit. In this instance and in Ki Sisa, (34:26) the phrase appears right next to the mitzvah of bikurim. In Re'eih (Devarim 14:21), however, it does not. Netziv explains in Ha'ameik Davar that it is the way of the nations to mix meat and milk together and put it in the ground as a very effective fertilizer. Thus, the prohibition of the mixing of meat and milk was put next to bikurim to tell you that even for the purpose of growing nice fruit for bikurim, one may not mix meat and milk. The prohibitions of cooking and deriving benefit may be connected to this agricultural phenomenon. But the prohibition of eating may not. After all, if you've eaten it, you can't put it in the ground. As the saying goes, you can't eat your basar b'chalav and plant it, too. Therefore, it is exactly twice that lo sevasheil gedi appears next to the mitzvah of bikurim.


My Rebbe, R' Kulefsky, zt"l would often tell over this explanation of Netziv, accompanied with a rather humourous anecdote involving Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz. He was once in the bathroom and reading a secular agriculture book in order to make sure he wouldn't think in learning. He came across this fact that putting milk and meat together in the ground helps the soil. Immediately, this fact sparked the idea in his mind to understand the pesukim as Netziv did above. Since this caused him to think about Torah, he had to run out of the bathroom right away!


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

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Friday, February 14

The Weekly Shtikle - Yisro

As Matan Torah approaches, HaShem ensures Moshe (19:9) that with this great event, B'nei Yisrael "will believe in you forever." The difficulty with this promise is that we have already seen that with the splitting of the sea (14:31) "they believed in HaShem and in Moshe his servant." Why does Moshe need to be assured once again of B'nei Yisrael's trust?


Ramban here and Rambam (Hilchos Yesodei HaTorah 8) explain along similar lines that the mere witnessing of great miracles still did not accomplish complete belief in Moshe's prophecy for there was still room to suspect witchcraft of some sort. They had never actually witnessed the actual procedure of prophecy. The events at Har Sinai showed not only Moshe heeding HaShem's word but HaShem actually commanding Moshe directly, to which all of B'nei Yisroel were witness. Now there was certainly no room for any doubt whatsoever in the authenticity of Moshe's prophecy.


One of the most prevalent proofs offered by common kiruv organizations as to the authenticity of Judaism over other religions is based on these events. Many religions feature a figure who claimed to have been in contact with God. Their religion is based largely on these prophecies.


The Rosh HaYeshiva of Ner Yisroel, HaRav Yaakov Weinberg zt"l offered a famous joke found in an old Hebrew joke book as a parable to prove the futility of this belief:


A certain Rabbi passed away and left two sons who argued over which was to be their father's successor. One day one of the sons gathered all the elders of the community and proclaimed that his father had come to him in a dream and told him that he wants him to be his successor. The elders, rather impressed by this revelation, were just about to appoint him rabbi when one man objected from the back, "Excuse me, but if your father really wanted us to appoint you rabbi, then he would have come to us in our dream!"


All the other religions choose to believe in the prophecy of one man. But why? So-and-so says he spoke to God. Why should you believe him? Only the Jews are different. Every single Jew stood at the foot of Har Sinai and witnessed HaShem talking to Moshe with their very own eyes and ears. This is a level of belief that is irrefutable. Also, due to its foundation upon nationwide testimony, it is a claim that could not possibly be fabricated. This explains why none of the other religions have ever dared make such a claim.


With this we can understand that the promise given here to Moshe was not about whether or not B'nei Yisrael believed in his prophecy. This was already established earlier. Rather it was a promise of the longevity and perseverance of this belief – "vegam becha ya'aminu le'olam." A prophet who performs miracles may convince his generation to believe in him, but who will believe it in the generations to come? With the awesome events at Har Sinai, the belief in Moshe Rabbeinu's supreme prophecy became one that is sure to be everlasting and could never be challenged.

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Dikdukian: Many Who Fear God

Dikdukian: Letzais


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Friday, February 7

The Weekly Shtikle - Beshalach

Last night, at a parsha shiur I regularly attend, an interesting observation was discussed. The main event in this week's parsha is commonly referred to as keriyas Yam Suf, the tearing of the Red (or Reed) Sea. However, that verb – kara – is never actually used in the Torah. Rather, when recounting the event, it is stated (14:21) "vayibak'u hamayim," and the waters were split. Why the disparity?


One of the explanations suggested was based on a fascinating approach by HaRav Yosef Rosen, known as the Rogatchover Gaon, who lived in the beginning of the 20th century. As we all know from our school days, water molecules are made up of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atoms. When they come together, they form a liquid but on their own, they are gases. The "split" referred to in the pasuk is the actual splitting of the water molecules creating hydrogen and oxygen gas, therefore leaving open air in its place.


Therefore, it can be stated that the Torah's term for what transpired speaks to the actual action and root cause of this great miracle. The term used by Chaza"l, is more of a description of the event from the position of an onlooker and what they would have seen with the naked eye.


Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:

Happy 13th Birthday, Dikdukian!

Dikdukian: Exceptions Ahoy

Dikdukian: Mikdash, HaShem...

Dikdukian: Leave us Alone

Al Pi Cheshbon: Chamushim

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