Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Nissan 5762 - March 20, 2002 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Home and Family
Doing What You Have to Do

by R' Zvi Zobin

Yossi looked at his watch. Ten minutes 'til mincha. Quickly, he put the pungent baby on the table mat near the sink, whipped off its cotton pants and plastic underpants and threw them into the garbage bin. Then he unstuck the soiled diaper and threw it into the washing machine. Picking up the screaming baby, Yossi washed him clean under the tap, forgetting to add warm water. Then, holding down the squirming, slippery bundle, he feverishly wiped the area dry with baby-wipes and threw them into the washing machine. Noticing a reddish hue to the delicate skin, he grabbed a nearby tube of cream and spread its toothpaste onto the raw flesh. Yossi glanced at his watch again.

Five minutes gone and five minutes left. Approaching panic level, he hurried his son into a fresh diaper, followed with a new pair of underpants and a clean pink dress two sizes too big. Buckling the baby into a stroller, he threw on his hat and jacket, ran out of his apartment and rushed the stroller through slow- moving pedestrians and traffic to the minyan down the road, finally bursting into the beis hamidrash to catch the end of the pre-amida Kaddish. "Phew!" thought Yossi, "I made it just on time!"

Perhaps Yossi should have caught an earlier minyan. Perhaps he should have arranged for someone else to be there when he had to go to tefilla. Perhaps he was caught in a situation he could not have foreseen.

We do not know all the facts. But, apparently, Yossi found himself in the situation in which no one else was there to diaper the baby. So Yossi won the mitzva. Yossi was now privileged to perform one of the greatest acts of kindness a person can perform, emulating Hakodosh Boruch Hu by caring for, helping and dressing a helpless human being.

But Yossi did not enjoy the mitzva, neither did he fulfill it as required. Instead of being relaxed and tending his son with loving care, Yossi reduced himself to a reckless, nervous wreck.

Men tend to find this sort of situation more challenging than women because they are programmed to daven with a minyan and therefore, need to deal with strong guilt feelings.

Of course, the principle of "One who is engaged in a mitzva is exempt from performing another mitzva" is a halachic issue which cannot be discussed in an article of this nature. We need to become familiar with its parameters, seek guidance from an authority and learn how to balance priorities.

However, whenever we are faced with a situation of having to perform two conflicting mitzvos simultaneously, we need to accept the resolution with equanimity.

If that is what you have to do, relax and do it properly.


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