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The Music of Halacha: A Lasting Impact – Part Three

We have studied Rashi’s and the Rambam’s approach to the idea of “Work that lasts,” in the context of the Shabbat laws. There is a third opinion, that of the Rosh (and, I believe, that of Tosafot, Shabbat 84b, s.v. ‘The way of weaving.’ The Mishna Berurah, 303, Sha’ar HaTziyon #8, is not certain), who does not differentiate between Shabbat and other areas of Jewish law when discussing work that lasts.

The Rosh does not consider, as does Rashi, whether I consider the work complete, or, as does the Rambam, whether it will last through this Shabbat. He rules that the concept of Lasting is consistent throughout Halachah, whether dealing with Shabbat, Kelaim, or the material on which a “Get,” Jewish divorce document, is written. As long as something is rationally considered to be able to last, it is considered Melacha Mitkayemet.

What would the Rosh say about a former congregant who, whenever complimented on his remarkable children, would respond, “I won’t accept praise of my children until I see them married, when I can finally say, ‘Something I did was good!’”?

He would disagree. The Rosh does not consider how long something lasts, but whether it was done in a way that can last. The Rosh would argue that everything parents do with the intention of having a lasting effect, has the status of Mitkayemet. Our obligation is to relate to our child with “Mitkayemet” in our minds. We must constantly be aware that every interaction, positive or negative, has the possibility of Mitkayemet.

I often recommend an introductory CD set from, on which one of the themes is: Ask yourself, “Is it worth damaging my relationship with my child to have him clean his room or do his homework?” We often become so wrapped up in the immediate issue that we forget the idea of Mitkayemet.

The Rosh teaches us to approach everything we do with Mitkayemet in mind? “Will this last? Will I pray in a way that will be Mitkayemet through the rest of my day?”

We cannot determine the lasting effects of most of our actions, whether with our children, our Service of God, or, pretty much anything we do. However, we can incorporate the idea of Mitkayemet into all we do, with the knowledge that according to Halacha, our effort will last.

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