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Simcha Groffman

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Parashas Noach

The Dripping Roof

"Daniel, it's raining again."

"Baruch Hashem, Bryna. We really need the water."

"Did you see the roof dripping in our yard?"

"No, where is it?"

"Over there in the corner. It is from the neighbor's shed."

Daniel goes outside to observe the situation. His yard is next to the neighbor's yard, with a low fence dividing the two. The neighbor built a tool shed on the edge of his property. The roof juts out slightly over the fence, therefore, the rainwater that runs off the roof, falls into Daniel's yard.

"When Yosef, our neighbor, built that tool shed, it had a rain gutter. The rainwater fell into one spot. I did not object because the inconvenience was small and concentrated into one spot. Now, the rain falls over the length of the whole roof and not just onto one spot in our yard. That is a big inconvenience for me. I am going to object!"

The question is:

Does Daniel have a valid claim against Yosef? Can he force him to replace the rain gutter to prevent the water from dripping over the entire length of the roof?

The answer is:

The Gemora (Bava Basra 6a) discusses this case. Rainwater dripping from one neighbor's roof into another's property is definitely a valid claim. The neighbor can force the other one to prevent the dripping into his yard. However, if he is silent and does not object to the dripping from the gutter, then it is understood that he allows any water to drip into his yard. Therefore, when the neighbor removes the rain gutter, and the water drips over more of the yard, he has no claim, because he was silent before when the neighbor's water first began to drip from the roof. This is according to the ruling of the Rambam (Halachos Shechenim 8:6), and the Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 153:10).

Use Your Seichel

"Abba, I have a question on this week's parashas ha'shavuah."

"Yes, what is it Chaim?"

"We all know that Hashem is fair."

"Absolutely, Chaim. The Torah states it in many places. The Novi Hoshea says that the ways of Hashem are straight (Hoshea 14:10). Dovid HaMelech writes that the principles of Hashem are straight (Tehillim 19:9)."

"With that in mind, I find it very difficult to understand the punishment given to the dor ha'mabul (generation of the flood). They were completely wiped off the face of the earth, except for the handful of survivors in Noach's tiny ark. Their crime must have been absolutely terrible."

"It would seem logical."

"Logic dictates that when you break a rule, or violate a law, you get punished. The dor ha'mabul had only one mitzvah - to be fruitful and multiply. Yet Rashi (Bereshis 6:11,12) points out that they committed the sins of immorality, idol worship, and stealing. If there were no commandments, then how are these considered sins? And how could they be punished if they were not warned?"

"Excellent question Chaim! Rabbeinu Chizkiah Ben Rebbe Manoach, who is known to us as the Chizkuni, asks the very same question."

"Baruch Hashem!"

"His answer begins with a point that you mentioned - logic. There are mitzvos that a person's sevora (straight thinking) obligates him to observe. Logic dictates that murder is wrong. Therefore, Kayin was punished for murdering his brother Hevel, even though he was not formally commanded and warned.

Similarly, a person who uses the intelligence and sevora that Hashem gives him will realize that worshipping powerless idols of wood and stone is wrong. The aveyros (sins) committed by the dor ha'mabul were obviously wrong. Therefore, the people did not need to be commanded and warned in order to be punished. Hashem gave them the intelligence to know better.

"Chaim, the source of this is actually from the Gemora. Our sages recognized the straightness of a person's logic, and were willing to decide halachos according to sevora. The Gemora exhorts, 'Why do I need a verse? It is a sevora!' If logic dictates a certain halacha, we have no need for a verse in the Torah to teach us the same thing. That is the koach (strength) of a sevora. That is the brainpower that Hashem gave you."

Kinderlach . . .

Hashem placed a wonderful gift inside of your head. It is called your brain. Additionally, he filled that brain with intelligence and the ability to think straight. That is called sevora. When you apply it to life's situations, it is called seichel (common sense). Rav Avigdor Miller zt"l constantly exhorted people, "Use your seichel!" Hashem put you into this world to use your head. Every day of life is full of challenging situations, which beckon you to make decisions. Think about what you are doing! Gather the necessary information. Analyze the options. Pray to Hashem for Siyata Di'Shmaya (Heavenly Assistance). Then make the right decision. It is a mitzvah that does not need to be written into the Torah. Use your seichel!

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