Yeshivat Kerem B'Yavneh

Virtual Bayit Cham

The Bayit Cham is a regular highlight in the Yeshiva week. Students gather at the home of one of the staff members living on campus to enjoy informal learning and discussions, all accompanied by home-baked specials and the Yeshiva's signature refreshments.

The Virtual Bayit Cham is the next-best thing for those a bit too far to taste the brownies and Super Drink Cola. While our tech department is busy trying to find ways to provide refreshments over the Internet, we already have the ability today to present the real essence of the bayit cham: stimulating and thought-provoking questions on relevant matters, from a Torah perspective.

This week's Virtual Bayit Cham

 

ערוך השלחן אורח חיים סימן תכט סעיף ב

ולמה נבחר החודש הזה? מפני שהמצרים עבדו לטלה, שהוא ראש המזלות באפודת העגולה, ומזל טלה משמש בחודש ניסן. ופרעה סמך על כוחו ומזלו. ולכן אף כי במכת ברד נשבר לבו הזונה, עד שאמר "ה' הצדיק, ואני ועמי הרשעים" – מכל מקום אחר כך במכת ארבה הרים ראש, כדכתיב: "ויגרש אותם". ובמכת חושך יצא בחוצפה גדולה, עד שאמר למשה רבינו: "אל תוסף ראות פני". והטעם: מפני שאז קרבו ימי ניסן, ובטח על מזלו שבחודש הזה.

וזהו שאמר הקדוש ברוך הוא למשה: "החדש הזה לכם ראש חדשים", כלומר: החודש הזה שפרעה ממתין עליו – יהיה לכם ראש חודשים, שבזה תתברר כי אין ממש במזלות. וה' הוא האלקים, בשמים ממעל ועל הארץ מתחת, אין עוד; וישראל הם עם סגולתו. ולכן ראשון הוא לכם לחודשי השנה.

According to the Aruch Hashulchan, that which gives Nissan its generally elevated status is that it was in this month that Hashem taught bnei Yisrael that there is no significance to mazalot. If I understand correctly, that means we are not to be swayed by considerations of “fate”, anticipating and presuming that some events or outcomes are predestined and inevitable. More to the point, it is demanded of us that we take responsibility for our lives and live them on our own terms, refusing to be victims of circumstance, whims, and passing fancies. If that is so, how are we to relate to “hashgacha”? Are we supposed to read into events and circumstances as being evidence of the will of G-d, such that it should influence or even dictate our behaviors? A story tells how the Vilna Gaon abandoned his plans to institute birkat kohanim in chutz laaretz when the shul burned down (depending on the version of the story, it happened even two or three times), understanding that it was a heavenly sign to desist in his efforts. Is this legitimate because it’s called hashgacha instead of fate; or are we really supposed to always be active and pursue the “right” course, no matter what is happening around us?