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Simcha Groffman

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Kinder Torah
For parents to share with children at the Shabbos Table

Parashas Shoftim

The Dark Window

s "What time is it? I think that I overslept."

"I think that you are okay. It is still dark in the house. The sun must not have risen yet."

The man looks at his watch and he is shocked.

"Oy vey! It is long past sunrise, and I am very late!"

"How can that be? The window is still dark. Let's open the shutters and see what is going on?"

The wife opens the shutters and is even more shocked. Instead of the morning sunlight streaming into the window, she finds . . . a brick wall.

"What is going on here? This wall was not here last night!"

The man quickly gets dressed, runs outside, and finds his neighbor putting the finishing touches on the wall.

"How are you Mr. Afeila?"

"Fine, Uri."

"What is this wall doing here?"

"I need it for a new addition that I am making to my house, Uri."

"Mr. Afeila, although you built on your property, you built that wall within four ammos (approximately seven feet) of my window. That room is now dark - no direct sunlight can enter. You must tear the wall down and let the light come in."

"I'll make you a deal, Uri. I will seal up that window and I will open a new window in your wall, above the height of my wall. You will get plenty of sunlight from your new window."

"I'm sorry. I cannot accept your offer, Mr. Afeila. Punching a new hole for a window in my wall will weaken it."

"I have a better offer for you, Uri. I will tear down your entire wall to the window level. Then I will build you a new upper section of the wall with higher windows."

"I am sorry, Mr. Afeila. My old wall with a new upper section will not be as strong as the old wall."

"Then I will tear down your entire wall, Uri, and build you a whole new one!"

"That is also no good Mr. Afeila. Everyone knows that a house with three old walls and one new one will not last long."

"Then I will build you a whole new house, Uri! Just let me keep my wall!"

"Mr. Afeila, I have no place to live during the time that you will be rebuilding my house."

"I'll rent you temporary quarters Uri! Please!"

"I am sorry, Mr. Afeila. It is too much trouble for me to move out of my house, into temporary quarters, and back. Your wall will have to come down."

The question is:

Does Mr. Afeila have to tear down his wall? Or does Uri have to accept his offer.

The answer is:

This case is discussed in the Gemora (Bava Basra 7a). The Mishna (Bava Basra 20a) states that a person may not build a wall within four ammos of his neighbor's window. It darkens the house. Therefore, Mr. Afela transgressed the halacha. All of his offers to Uri do not erase the fact that his wall is too close. Therefore, his wall must come down.

This puzzle and answer is for learning and discussion purposes only. Do not rely upon it for psak halacha! Consult a Rav to determine the correct halachic ruling.

Listen to the Rav

"Shalom Abba!"

"Shalom kinderlach!"

"Did you ask the Rav the shayla (question about a Torah ruling) about the photos, Abba?"

"Yes I did, Avi. He said that even though the snapshots came out off-color in the development, we must still pay the full price. The photo shop owner made no guarantees about colors, therefore he gave us the service that he promised - film development and printing the pictures. We must pay the full price for his work."

"That's not fair, Abba! The pictures look terrible! "

"Avi, the Rav poskined (decided the Halacha) that we have to pay. We must listen to him."

"Abba, the photo shop ruined our pictures. I am 100% sure that the Halacha does not make you pay for faulty work."

Avi's father pauses, smiles warmly at his son, puts his arm around his shoulder, and opens up a Chumash.

"Avi dear, the answer to your claim is a mitzvah in this week's parasha. '...According to the judgment that they will say to you, shall you do; you shall not deviate from the word that that will tell you right or left' (Devarim 17:11). The Sefer HaChinuch (Mitzvah 496) explains that we have a mitzvah to listen to the wise men of our generation. They have learned Torah day and night for years on end. They have put all of their energy into understanding each Halacha clearly. Therefore, Hashem has blessed them with the true and correct understanding of the Torah."

"But Abba, I see it differently."

"You seem confident that you are correct Avi. Rashi speaks about just this point. Even if they tell you that right is left, you must listen. The Sifsei Chachomim explains that you are so sure that they are wrong, that they seem to be saying right is left. Still you must listen."

"Why, Abba?"

"The Sefer HaChinuch relates that people have many different opinions. If every one were allowed to act according to his opinion without listening to a Rav, the result would be a destruction of Torah Judaism and divisiveness within the nation. Am Yisrael would cease to exist."

"Oy vey. That is terrible Abba. I had no idea."

"Your picture of the situation was a bit off, Avi. This experience at the photo shop brought you into focus."

"Than you for adjusting my lens, Abba."

Kinderlach . . .

The Torah guides every facet of our lives. The halachos are often complicated and difficult to understand. Additionally, there are often disputes that are not mentioned specifically in Shulchan Auruch. These need the clarification and ruling of a Rav. Do not leave matters unclear. Go to a Rav. Listen to and obey his ruling. This is the foundation of Torah life. This keeps Am Yisrael alive.

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