Ever hear anyone ask, “What’s the big deal?” If you’re a parent or a teacher, chances are one or more of your children have asked you that, when you were annoyed about something they did or didn’t do. Truthfully, you may have asked the same question to someone else who was annoyed at you for something you did or didn’t do. [Word of advice: It’s probably not a good idea to ask your spouse what the big deal is when he/she is upset about something.]

As a rebbe, I’ve heard the question asked when teaching certain areas of halachah, particularly specific laws of Shabbos. Sometimes a student has a hard time understanding that there may be a borer issue when sorting books, sports cards, or flatware on Shabbos.

Another example is when students learn that making a salad can involve some halachic issues, such as cutting vegetables too small, which can be an issue of tochen.[1] It also can only be done shortly before the meal in which it will be eaten.[2]

Sometimes these concepts sound foreign to one who has been observing Shabbos his whole life yet wasn’t aware of these issues. It can lead the person to wonder, “What’s the big deal? It’s not like I’m driving a car or turning on a light. I just want to dice a pepper or put my flatware back in the drawer!”

A few months ago, I was reviewing our bank statement and I discovered some charges from a computer game. They weren’t significant charges, but I didn’t recall purchasing them. My wife immediately realized that one of our children (who shall remain anonymous) had clicked on a couple of options from something open on the computer, not realizing that he was purchasing it and that it was incurring charges.

It reminded me that a few years ago, a similar thing happened with one of our children who was a toddler at the time. After his Mommy got up from making some purchases on the computer, he decided to click, just like Mommy did. When he was done, we had to cancel charges.

These days, it’s not hard to understand how a few nonchalant and effortless clicks can have tremendous consequences. Clicking on one part of the computer screen may be completely innocuous, while clicking an inch over in a little box on the screen can cost you big time, in more ways than one.

As Torah-observant Jews, we believe that halachah is a real commodity. It’s not just something we observe because it’s a matter of custom or tradition. Rather, we observe it because we believe it is G-d’s Will and we are bound by it.

Does it really matter on Shabbos whether I diced a tomato into a little piece or whether I cut it into bigger slices? And does it really matter if I did it five minutes before the Shabbos s’udah or if I did it that morning?

Well, does it really matter if I unwittingly clicked on something that costs $10,000 or if I clicked on the line underneath that merely takes me to the next page?

The answer is obviously a resounding yes!

What we do matters and what we say matters. Our words and actions have value! I guess that means we are much more important than we realize or give ourselves credit for.


Rabbi Dani Staum, LMSW, is a rebbe and guidance counselor at Heichal HaTorah in Teaneck, NJ, Principal at Mesivta Ohr Naftoli of New Windsor, and a division head at Camp Dora Golding. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Looking for periodic powerful inspiration? Join Rabbi Staum’s new Whatsapp group “Striving Higher.” Email for more info.


 -  Grinding is another one of the 39 forbidden m’lachos on Shabbos.

-  As this is not a halachic forum, I only mention these concepts to bring out a point. There are permitted manners to do the above actions, which are important to become familiarized with. 

 [1] -  Grinding is another one of the 39 forbidden m’lachos on Shabbos.

 [2] -  As this is not a halachic forum, I only mention these concepts to bring out a point. There are permitted manners to do the above actions, which are important to become familiarized with. 

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