“The men of the Great Assembly said three things:
~Be patient in the administration of judgment
~Raise up many disciples, and
~Make a fence around the Torah.” Pirkei Avot 1:1
We are all judges. Hashem just made us that way. We discern, judge and pre-judge based on our experiences and intuition. Therefore, the Sages of the Great Assembly do not recommend that we refrain from judging altogether, but that we are patient in the administration of judgment.
Then, as a result of our patient and tolerant approach with others, we raise up many disciples; our children and students will trust us, and grow to cherish our values. To be sure that we do not err in the opposite direction, becoming tolerant of transgression, or misunderstanding the prohibitions, the Sages tell us to place a fence around the Torah and its mitzvos.
A Fence Makes Sense
A common example of such a fence is that poultry is considered meat for kashrus purposes. Meat and poultry are similar in many ways and can be confused. Although fowl was not included in the biblical injunction banning consumption of meat and dairy products together, poultry is considered as meat by rabbinical decree, and therefore it cannot be eaten with dairy foods.
Our expert Sages who devoted themselves to ensuring the Torah's influence throughout the millennia, created this fence to protect us from transgression.
Our Most Precious Possession
Look outside at the fence around any yard. It defines the property line, carves out an intimate garden or demarcates a large field; it separates what is precious to the owner from that which belongs to someone else.
Look at the Torah like a fence: It defines our purpose in life; it circumscribes our relationship with our Creator and delimits our interactions with others. It separates the world for us into kodesh and chol. This is the purpose of the fence our Rabbis had in mind.
Separation means Elevation
Today, the highlight of the week for many of us is the “Shabbos Chicken.” There is hardly a greater pleasure in life than gathering around the table on Friday night to a bowl of steaming chicken soup and the succulent chicken entree. It is around this meal that our family members and guests get a taste of the eternal values we hold dear. Because our Sages erected this fence to include chicken with meat, the humble bird was elevated to its status as the Friday night menu’s main attraction.
Whether you prefer traditional tastes or the anticipation of new flavors, I hope you will find favorites among the following recipes to enhance your enjoyment of this most precious day. The Shabbos Chicken is part of the magic which can cause even the most disconnected Jew's neshama to stir; making it the ultimate soul food.
Think of the walls of your home as a "fence," separating the values of the outside world of "chol" from the patience, tolerance and intimacy of the "kodesh" world in your home.
Cooking for The King by Renee Chernin
The book of Torah insights, recipes and practical tips
designed to bring majesty to the mundane.