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Searching Ourselves

By Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow

Carbonite is a company that provides online backup for personal and business computers. In 2009, they lost some of their customers’ data, as a result of what they claim was defective hardware. Why didn’t they just retrieve the data from their own backup? They didn’t have one! The very company that specializes in data backup did not have their own backup.

RSA is a company that provides computer and network security to large firms. In 2011, their own network was hacked and, as a result, many companies’ data was compromised. It turns out that an RSA employee failed to heed basic computer security procedures. He not only opened up a suspicious e‑mail but downloaded and opened the suspicious attachment as well. RSA advises companies regarding implementation of basic e‑mail security protocols, yet their own employee failed to follow them.

Do people generally ignore the implied lesson of their own actions, or are these two anecdotes an exception to human behavior? Perhaps we can glean some insights from this week’s daf.

The preferred time for bedikas chametz is the night of the 14th of Nissan. If someone forgot to do the bedikah at night, he must perform the search the moment he remembers. He may not eat a meal, learn Torah, or otherwise engage in other activities on the day of the 14th until he rectifies his omission. Nevertheless, the Ben Ish Chai says that if he remembered upon awakening that he forgot about the bedikah the previous night, he should daven Shacharis first and only then perform the bedikah.

The Shulchan Aruch rules that if one remembered on Pesach that he never did a bedikah, he should do a bedikah even on Pesach. There is a discussion whether one should perform a bedikah on yom tov or only on chol ha’moed. The Pri Chadash leans towards advising an individual who was not mevateil his chametz to perform the bedikah even on yom tov, whereas someone who remembered to recite Kol Chamira but did not actually do the bedikah should wait until chol ha’moed.

The bedikah that one performs during Pesach should be preceded by the standard berachah of Al Biur Chametz. If Pesach is over and one neglected to perform the bedikah, he should nevertheless search for chametz, but without a berachah. The reason for the search at this late date is to find chametz that one had in his possession over Pesach, which by rabbinic decree may no longer be consumed.

However, our Gemara notes that there is a dissenting opinion to one of the aforementioned halachos. Rebbe Yehudah says that one should not perform a bedikah on Pesach or after the time when chametz is already forbidden. He is concerned that someone may find chametz during his search, and pop the tasty item in his mouth. The bedikah, instead of saving a person from a prohibition of chametz, might instead cause him to transgress it! Rebbe Yehudah’s concern seems valid. Why do the chachamim disagree? They say that since someone is actively involved in searching for and getting rid of chametz, he will certainly remember not to eat it. His own actions will serve as the reminder that chametz is forbidden.

It is interesting to note a Chazal that illustrates that at times people’s behavior can be contradictory to other actions they are performing at the very same time. A Gemara in Eiruvin 63a says that Yehoshua died without children. The Gemara says that this was a punishment for disparaging his rebbe, Moshe Rabbeinu, by deciding a halachah in his presence:

The Torah tells us that Hashem gave the gift of prophecy to Eldad and Meidad among other z’keinim. Whereas the other new prophets of that time kept their prophecies to themselves, Eldad and Meidad shared theirs publicly. The midrash explains that the prophecy dealt with Moshe Rabbeinu’s death. Yehoshua felt that the public recital of this prophecy was disparaging to his beloved mentor. Further, Rashi in Eiruvin explains that Yehoshua felt that Eldad and Meidad deserved the death penalty. Stating any prophecy in front of one’s rebbe is tantamount to rendering halachic decisions in his rebbe’s presence and warrants the death penalty.

So Yehoshua went to Moshe Rabbeinu and declared, “Adoni Moshe, K’la’eim.” One explanation is that it means to put them in prison until they die. Yehoshua was telling Moshe Rabbeinu what punishment he should mete out on Eldad and Meidad. Yet Yehoshua was thereby rendering a halachic decision in his rebbe’s presence! Moreover, he was directly telling his rebbe what he should do. The very violation that Yehoshua felt that Eldad and Meidad committed, he himself transgressed. Therefore, Yehoshua was punished with not having children.

How are we to understand this? If Yehoshua was so distraught about the disparagement Moshe was suffering by the actions of Eldad and Meidad, how could he in essence do the same thing? Apparently, Yehoshua was so upset about the affront to Moshe Rabbeinu that he uttered his statement without fully comprehending its import. He did not realize that he was rendering a halachic decision in front of his rebbe; it was b’shogeg.

Yehoshua was correct in being incensed at the offensive actions of Eldad and Meidad. Yet he should have reacted in a calm and thoughtful way. What occurred to Yehoshua may happen to us as well, but in a much worse manifestation. Individuals become involved in arguments that may very well be for the sake of heaven. Yet the public declaration of that very argument or the way in which it is made public might become a source of chillul Hashem. The opposite of his agenda may occur.

There are times when one has to take a stand for what is right. Yet he must take a step back and determine if his actions are in line with his apparent intentions. Is he generating kavod Shamayim? He should perform a thorough bedikah. v

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow leads a daf yomi chaburah at Eitz Chayim of Dogwood Park in West Hempstead. He can be contacted at

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Posted by on July 4, 2013. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.