The “Daf Yomi” is now studying Maseches Nedarim. One type of Neder, not recommended, as most vows are not recommended, is that in which a person prohibits another from having benefit from anything that he owns. An unusual example of this is when a father prohibits his son from serving him, so that he can concentrate his efforts on Torah study. In that case, Rav Yaakov, the “Amora,” states that the son is still permitted to fill up a pitcher of water and light a lamp for his father. The “Maggid Shiur” of the OU Daf Yomi cited the opinion of Rav Yaakov Kaminetzki, a “gadol” of the last century, that in a case not involving a Neder of any kind, but as a clarification of his own perspective, that if the father of a student who is studying Torah in a yeshiva, has to go somewhere but cannot drive, that the student is obligated to drive the father, even if he will lose time from his Torah study. That is because, in his opinion, the “Mitzvah” of honoring one’s parents overrides all other Positive Commands of the Torah, including “Talmud Torah,” the study of Torah, itself.
The Gemara, in a tangential discussion, lists the required characteristics for one to become a Prophet: “Gevurah,” Physical Strength, “Ashirut,” Wealth, “Chochmah,” Wisdom, and “Anivut,” Humility. It derives these from “p’sukim” regarding Moshe Rabbeinu, the “Adon HaNevi’im,” the Master of the Prophets. Yehoshua bin Nun became a devoted disciple, like a son, of Moshe, “never moving from his tent;” (Shemot 33:11) “Moshe’s face shone like the sun; Yehoshua’s like the moon.” (Bava Batra 85a)
“Is Shaul Also Among the Prophets?” (Shmuel Alef 10:11)
In Shmuel Alef, we find the account of Shmuel HaNavi’s early relationship with Shaul, the first King of Israel. Shaul is sent on a mission to find his father’s lost donkeys. Unable to find them, he turns for assistance to Shmuel the “Seer.” Shmuel informs him that the donkeys have been found and that HaShem has far greater missions in Mind for him. Shmuel anoints Shaul and informs him that he will encounter a band of prophets, prophesying behind a group of musicians. “The Spirit of HaShem will then pass over you, and you will prophesy with them, and you will be transformed into another person.” (Shmuel Alef 10:6) In ushering him into Prophecy, as he was ushered into Prophecy by Eli the Priest, Shmuel became the spiritual father of Shaul.
A similar transformation occurs to Elisha when Eliyahu casts his mantle over him. Elisha’s career in Prophecy will be very much like that of his spiritual mentor. When the time comes for Elisha to replace Eliyahu, we find, “As they were walking and conversing, behold! – a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated between the two of them, and Eliyahu ascended to Heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha was watching and shouting, ‘Father! Father! Israel’s chariot and horsemen!’ And then he saw him no more. He took hold of his garments and rent them into two pieces.” Elisha performs a gesture of mourning for Eliyahu, as for his own father.
“Ba’al Teshuvah,” One who performs and undergoes Repentance
Another case when an individual undergoes a change of identity is described by the Rambam in Hilchot Teshuvah 2:4. “It is among the pathways of Repentance that the one who returns cries out continually before HaShem with tears and supplications, and engages in acts of Charity to the extent of his ability. And he distances himself far away from that which caused him to sin and he changes his name, as if to say, ‘I am another, and I am no longer that individual who performed those ignoble acts;’ and he changes all his behaviors to the good…” He has succeeded in uniting himself with his Father in Heaven.
“Gerut,” Conversion to Judaism
The quintessential account of conversion in the Bible is the story of Ruth, read in “her Megilah” on the Holiday that commemorates the Giving and the Receiving of the Torah by the People of Israel, a nation of converts. In a courageous leap of faith, Ruth attached herself to her Father in Heaven; in her loving relationship with Naomi, she shot down the myth concerning the negative relationship between Jewish daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law; and in becoming the modest wife of Boaz, she became the Matriarch of the family from which will one day come the “Melech HaMashiach,” the Messianic King of the People of Israel.