Dvar Torah Shemini: Short and sweet vort from Rav Eliyashev

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    Shemini 3 – Against the Tide:
    את זה תאכלו מכל אשר במים כל אשר לו סנפיר וקשקשת
    These shall you eat of all that are in the waters; whatever has fins and scales in the waters, in the seas (Vayikra 11:9).
    To be regarded as kosher, a fish must have fins and scales – snapir ve’kaskeses. The scales protect the fish; they are like a suit of armor, insulating it from a hostile and dangerous environment. The fins enable the fish to propel and direct itself in the water, steering clear of predators and other dangers.
    These abilities – protection, propulsion, and direction – provided by the scales and fins, allow the fish to survive in an otherwise dangerous place, and are what make it kosher.
    We, too, need to be taught and given the tools for our survival. The signs that make the fish kosher and enable it to live are the same tools that allow us to survive and live a kosher life.
    With this in mind, we draw upon a directive in the Gemara: “A man must also teach his child how to swim in water. What is the reason? His life may depend on it” (Kiddushin 30b).
    If the purpose of teaching a child to swim is one of lifesaving and safety, why limit the responsibility to swimming lessons? Why not teach the child Krav Maga or martial arts as self-defense? What about CPR or the Heimlich maneuver?
    Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv (in the sefer Divrei Agaddah) offers a beautiful derash on this Gemara. If I toss a log into the water, it will float, but the log is not swimming. To be considered swimming, one must be able to go against the current, as well as steer and direct one’s motions.
    A father has to teach his son how to swim: how to go against the current, and how to steer in the right direction. He must learn how to overcome the forceful tide that sweeps people away from a religious and moral life, and not even get caught up in the latest fad or style. Additionally, he must learn how to navigate around the shoals and rapids that impede his path. To know what to steer toward and what dangers to avoid.
    A parent’s responsibility is not limited to one specific area of mortal self-preservation, but it is an all-encompassing preservation of the immortal life – the life and well-being of our neshamos.

    Reb Eliezer

    He should teach him how to swim in the sea of life.


    Reb Eliezer, are you adding anything? I`m not sure what you are trying to say. thank you

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