Prologue: It is the greatest of Jewish secrets.
The rabbis teach us that when Hashem heard Klal Yisrael proclaim, "Naaseh V’Nishma --We will do and we will obey," He exclaimed, "Who revealed this secret to My children, the secret that the ministering angels use for themselves?"
Clearly, this is a reference to the fact that only angels have the same order of priorities; they obey Hashem's word without waiting for any explanation. Similarly, Klal Yisrael's willingness to accept Hashem's command at face value, to be willing to act before they comprehended the command, elevated their status before the Almighty.
What is the actual meaning of Naase v'nishmah, we will do and we will
obey? Were they prepared to follow blindly and act without any clue as to what they were doing and
why they were doing it?
Maran Horav Aharon Kotler, ztl, explained that Klal Yisrael were saying, "We will do - and we will understand after we carry out the mitzvah what is the rationale behind the command. Indeed, we realize that unless one performs the mitzvah, he is missing a sensitivity to it.
We can attempt to explain the beauty of Shabbos to someone, but until s/he experiences it, he will not truly comprehend its unique character.
This applies to all mitzvos. One must live it in order to feel an appreciation and understanding of it. (Peninim al HaTorah, Rabbi L. Sheinbaum)
An Enlightened Service: Who turned out the light?
The history of debate between Rabbi and Chazzan is well documented and deserving of comedic investigation. We find that these two ritual leaders, one known for intellectual leadership, while the other for his conducting of public Jewish worship, had many debates as to the proper Jewish course for communal life. Notwithstanding the past, or maybe because of it, the Rabbi and the Chazzan are inseparably linked.
They tell a story of a certain beautiful Shul in Jerusalem whose members invited a world reknown Chazzan to lead services on a particular Shabbat. The services were conducted with dignity and melodic splendor. The Chazzan put on quite a show. At a particular crescendo, he hit a note so high on the one hand, and so powerful on the other, that way above him in the chandelier, a large, expensive, fluorescent bulb shattered into thousands of pieces of cascaded onto the ground. Thank god nobody was hurt.
After Shabbos, the officers approached the Chazzan and requested that he pay for the new bulb and its installation. The question was then raised: Is the Chazzan responsible to pay for the bulb?
The Torah identifies different categories of damage. One of them, Regel (or the damage of the foot) identifies damages that happen in the normal course of events of an animal’s daily living. If an animal were to walk down the street in a normal manner and bump into someone else’s property damaging it, the owner of the animal would be liable. The Shulchan Aruch, based on the second Perek of Bava Kama, determines that the category of damage of Regel assumes that the animal was acting in its normal manner, and that there was no personal benefit in doing the damage. Since the animal was acting in its normal manner, the owner should have taken the necessary precautions to safeguard against its damage and protect society from his animal. Since he did not protect, he must now pay for the damage his animal (or property) caused.
The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 390:9) adds that in the same manner that owner must take care to protect society from his animal’s body, he must also protect society from forces that come from his property. Therefore, any damage caused by a horse’s neigh, the dog’s bark or a lion’s roar are all included in the liability of the animal’s owner. Thus, if a lion’s roar were to break a vase, the owner of the lion would have to pay for it.
Moreover, utilizing verses in VaYikra (24:19), the Talmud (Bava Kama 26b) determines that man is always liable for damage that he causes. Ergo, the Chazzan should have to pay for the damage to the light bulb.
Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein Shlita (V’Haarev Nah vol. I, p. 180) notes that there is another factor at play. The Chazzan is assumed to be a master of his voice. Assuming that he knew his voice could break glass, he had a responsibility to be careful. If however, he did not know that his voice had that power, he would be an Ones – and he would not be liable.
There is a second question that needs to be answered. After all, the Chazzan destroyed the light bulb on Shabbat. If it is determined that he is liable to pay for it, does that also implicate him for violating the sanctity of Shabbat?
Rav Zilberstein noted that in his opinion the Chazzan would not be liable. After all, his job was to offer prayer, not to break light bulbs. Thus he is in the category of misasek. Moreover, his act was destructive in nature – that which we call Mikalkel. When the actions of Mikalkel and Misasek interplay, there is no Shabbat violation whatsoever.