Mishpatim 5773: Chasidim, Chasidus, Chasid: What really defines a Chasid?

Taste of Parasha

What was the first group of laws to be outlined for the Jews after they received the Ten Commandments?  Mishpatim- fiscal law, laws governing slaves, holidays, converts, adultery and keeping Kosher to name a few.  Is there any rhyme or reason to this potpourri of laws?  The Nesivos Shalom ties them all together based on a discussion in the Talmud.  The Talmud in Bava Kamma (30a) is discussing who can be given the prestigious moniker of, “Chasid.”

Taste of Chasidus

Who is a Chasid?  What is a Chasid?  When is a Chasid?  It depends who you ask.  According to the Talmud there are three requirements for one to be considered a full-fledged Chasid.  1) A Chasid is one who is careful not to damage anyone.  Not with words, not with actions, and not with his possessions.  In short, he must be fluent in the laws of damages.  In this way all of his interactions with others will be with Chesed, kindness.  2) A Chasid is one who has reached a perfect equilibrium in his personal conduct.  He is not a glutton, nor jealous, nor haughty.  He is giving, thoughtful, and wise.  In short, he has internalized all of the lessons of Pirkei Avos.  In this way his personal conduct is with kindness, Chesed.  3) A Chasid is one who is constantly aware of G-d.  He is cognizant of G-d’s kindness at home, at school, at work, and at play.  In order to keep focused on G-d he is fluent in the Laws of Berachos and recites all of the appropriate blessings throughout the year.  His blessings serve as a conduit for G-d’s Chesed to come his way.  I would venture to say that after reaching such lofty heights at Mount Sinai the Jewish nation is being given an all-inclusive guide to being good Jews.  A sampling, or Taste, if you will, of a potpourri of laws that when understood, kept, and internalized give us an appreciation of what does and does not please G-d.

Taste of Talmud

What is the source for the requirement to make a blessing upon a pleasant smell?  King David wrote in Psalm 150, “Every soul shall bless G-d.” The Talmud explains: What is the only pleasure that the soul derives pleasure from: a pleasant smell.  Why do we need a special source to require a blessing on smell?  The Tzlach (Rabbi Yechezkel Landau Zt”l) answers that the body does not derive any benefit from fragrance so we may think that no blessing is recited. Here are two scenarios that our sages deal with.  Does one recite a blessing on pleasant smelling perfume?  Does one recite a blessing upon entering a spice store?  According to Rashi you are only required to recite a blessing upon fragrant oils if there are pieces of the spices blended into the oil and you most definitely recite a blessing as soon as you step foot in a spice merchants store.  According to Tosafos even if you smell oil that merely absorbed a pleasant smell from a spice which was subsequently removed you are obligated to recite a blessing.  According to Tosafos you are only required to recite a blessing in a spice store if the owner is sampling the fragrance for you to smell.  What is the rationale behind their opinions? I would venture to say that according to Rashi you recite a blessing over a strong smell notwithstanding whether or not the purpose of it is for smelling.  Whereas according to Tosafos a blessing is recited on any amount of fragrance so long as it is here for you to smell.  Rabbi Nachum Lansky Shlita told me that the sense of smell is the only sense that was not used by Adam and Eve to sin in the Garden of Eden it remains a sense that is untainted.

Here is a link to a class I gave about the laws of Berachos in Annapolis, MD: Berachos Class

This week’s issue is dedicated as a merit for a refuah shelaima for: Tinok ben Esther Tirza

Have A Great Shabbos!!

About tasteofyeshiva

RABBI YAIR FRIEDMAN teaches at The Torah School of Greater Washington, and Yeshiva L' Baalei Batim. He is the owner and director of Camp Gevaldig LLC.
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