Prologue: In their moment of glory, when emotion overtook them, they were commanded to be careful. The children of Bnei Yisroel were warned to be sure not to ascend Har Sinai nor to touch it. How could Hashem give these simple messages to Bnei Yisroel at the moment of their greatest emotional and spiritual rise?

The Brisker Rav (Gri"z Stencil to Shir HaShirim) noted that this question is the correct key to understanding of a particularly difficult Possuk in Tehillim. When discussing Matan Torah, the possuk (Tehillim 68:18) notes that during the Matan Torah, the ground shuddered and the skies dripped. Elsewhere, the Paitan describes how the voice of Hashem shattered cedars in Lebanon (Tehillim ibid see Rashi) and mountains danced. The Brisker Rav noted that during this time, the only thing that did not undergo some major metamorphasis was Klal Yisroel who were busy keeping the Mitzvos of watching their ascention of the mountain.

The Brisker Rav explained that in the moment of the greatest display of strength by Hashem ("Hashem Oz"), he still allowed Bnei Yisroel to exist in peace ("Hashem Yivorech Es Amo BaShalom"). The greatest gift he could give his nation at the moment of their greatest emotional drive was Mitzvos that would keep them from getting too overrun in the moment.

Similarly, the Rov ztl., (Hesped for Brisker Rov) is quoted as having described the difference between Aninus and Aveilus as being based in the right of a person to question Hashem as when a person is in Aninus. After that initial moment of doubt, when the person becomes exempt from performing proactive Mitzvos, the Rov explained that we are immediately hit with Aveilus which carries its Halachos with it. The purpose of the sharp contrast is to provide man with a venue for channeling his emotions so that they do not take advantage of him. Emotions can bring one to spiritual heights or leave one bereft of Torah. The placing of things in context, especially in the context of Mitzvos can allow a spiritual experience to be nurturing and successful and not, God forbid, harmful.

Tidey-Clean: Is it ok to leave the bowl blue?

Often, technological advances provide us with living comforts. These advances allow our lives to be a bit easier than the lives people lived beforehand. As such, they expand our recreation time and allow us to breathe easier. They also expand the field of knowledge as their introduction often shed light on often difficult areas of Halacha. One such advance concerns the blue cleaner often found in toilets. Can one flush the toilet which contains an air freshener with blue dye on Shabbat?

In order to properly highlight the issue, let us examine the potential difficulty. The Talmud (Shabbos, 73a) notes that one of the 39 Avot Melachot was the action of dyeing, utilized in the Mishkan in the dyeing of wool for different curtains in the Mishkan. Similarly, the Talmud (95a) adds that one cannot place red cream (likely a type of blush) on her face for this would violate the Melacha of Tzoveia (dyeing). Clearly, the Talmud perceives the changing of color as a potential violation of the Melacha of Tzoveiya. But in what context?

The Rambam (Hil. Shabbos 9:13-14) notes that the Melacha of Tzoveiya is only violated when the person colors an item with a dye that will stand for a "long period of time." From the words of the Rambam it seems clear that no Biblical violation of the Melacha of Tzoveiya will be violated if one flushes his toilet causing the water to turn blue, as this color change is not meant to be permanent. But is it Rabbinically permissible?

Shut Kinyan Torah (67) challenges the assertion that there is no Biblical violation here. He contends that since the dye is not intended to be eaten (a basis for a Heter cited by the Yereim and the Agur in Beis Yosef - Orach Chaim 320), and that the dye will color the water (a Psik Reisha D'Nicha Leih), a homeowner may not flush the toilet with the dye in it or risk Biblical violation (MeeSafek). The guests for whom flushing is a Psik Reisha D'lo Nicha Lahem, would, at worst violate a D'Rabbonon.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (cited in Shmiras Shabbos 232:14) noted that in his opinion, since the person intends to color the water by placing the dye into the tank, he is required to remove it before the Shabbos. The Debrecener Rav (Shut Be'Er Moshe Viii:22) felt that one should be Machmir but that there is legitimacy for a lenient opinion.

Others felt that there was no basis for a strict decision. The Tzitz Eliezer (Xiv:47) felt that one did not have a problem with the dye for the coloring of the water and the toilet was not the individual's intent, his intent was to have a clean toilet. In addition, he does not dye the water directly, he is Gorem, he brings about the coloring of the water. Thus, he felt any Grama of Melacha was not a Shabbat violation. Shut Az Nibiru (Xii:13) concurred with this lenient opinion, adding that the action of dyeing the water is itself a Gramma as the act of flushing indirectly colors the toilet water. The act of flushing merely releases water from one chamber to the next. The move from chamber to chamber colors the water.

The Sephardic scion of Torah, Rav Bentzion Abba Shaul (Shut Ohr L"Tzion I:29) summed up four principles that he felt offered a clean solution to the problem. He noted that in the Rambam's opinion, one only violates Tzoveiya if enough dye is placed in the water to color something else. These toilet bowl dyes arte not concentrated enough to do that. In addition, he felt that due to flushing, the dye does not stay in the toilet long enough to be considered dyeing "for a long time." He added that the coloring is not a desired effect (making it Lo Nicha Leih). Finally, he felt that the whole issue was done through Koach Kocho which in context of the other bases for a Kula removed any chance of even a Rabbinic violation.

Shabbat Shalom