This week featured a particularly interesting question that I believe many people wonder about.
Rav Miller's answer is equally interesting (even shocking at times) and inspiring.
GREAT Torah hashkafah and guidance.
Here it is:
Tape #463: Still Not Observant...and the Paradox Within
To listen to the audio of this Q & A please dial: 201-676-3210
On the way into orthodoxy, if somebody is eating non-kosher salami, should he make a bracha?
I'll paraphrase the question, we'll forget about the salami. We have many people today who are still not observant, but they are definitely on the way in.
Should we consider their behavior as non-consequent, which means that they are contradicting themselves, that they are committing a paradox?
Or shall we say that despite the fact of their non-observance, these people still are on the way to success, and they should be encouraged?
I recall a boy who worked on Shabbos.
This boy never rode the train, he always walked all the way across town to his job, and he walked back.
Now the question is, did it make any sense? In his place where he worked he did all lamed tes melachos, he did every kind of work, and still he refused to ride?
That man is doing a tremendous thing, the man is leaving one area where he is protesting his love for the Shabbos, and anybody who is going to ridicule him is demolishing something that's precious.
There used to be Jews who worked on Shabbos, but didn't smoke on Shabbos. There were a lot of Jews like that; now don't ridicule them. If you use that as a leverage, if you don't smoke on Shabbos, then you shouldn't do this and you shouldn't do that either, that's good, but don't tell them what good is it not to smoke on Shabbos.
Therefore there are lots of Jews today who are coming back, and you must be patient with them, because some of them will turn out to be the best idealists, and I'll tell you a little anecdote:
Reb Yisroel Salanter zichrono livrocho, who lived a long time ago, a hundred years ago, he visited the German town of Memel; it's right near Lithuania.
In Memel all the stores were open on Shabbos. So when he went there for a Shabbos, he asked if there were any Lithuanian Jews present.
They said yes, some Lithuanian Jews are visiting there for business, so he didn't say anything.
He waited for another Shabbos when no Lithuanian Jews were present, and then he got up and made a speech, and listen to what this great man said:
To keep your stores open on Shabbos, that's something that you cannot help yourself. But is it necessary to go to the port and to take the merchandise from the ships that are brought in for you? (Memel was a port city) That you could do on Monday!
That was his speech. It had an effect. Then he waited for another Shabbos, he didn't want any Lithuanian Jews to be present, because the Lithuanian Jews all kept Shabbos then, a hundred years ago, he didn't want them to hear.
The next Shabbos when no Lithuanian Jews were present he said:
If you keep your stores open on Shabbos that's your parnosso, but do you have to write? Can't you get away without writing on Shabbos?
And he spoke about the importance of not writing, and he gained his point.
The end was, a number of German Jewish families in Memel became not only shomrei Shabbos eventually, but they became Torah aristocrats, and that's the way we have to deal with people.
When a man comes into the Shul and he doesn't observe much, don't shame him; you have to treat him delicately, because you can never know.
And I want to tell you something, that these people many times have more idealism than people who are in it all their lives.
People who are in it all their lives, many times are on the way out, and this man is on his way in.
It's the truth.
And even those who don't think that they are on the way out, they're hankering to be out, they are prisoners of the in, and you see it in their children.
Therefore, this question is a serious question, an important question, should a man make a blessing over a piece of treifa salami?
So in practice you don't make any blessing, but I'll tell you what he should do, he should say words equivalent to a blessing in English.
He should express his gratitude to the Almighty who has given him food, and eventually that man will say birchas hamazon over a kosher meal, I guarantee you.
Good Shabbos To All
With thanks to A Moment with Rav Avigdor Miller Z"L for generously permitting me to use their material.
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