Friday, December 30, 2005

Yosef: Av or Shevet

The seforim discuss the idea that although Yosef was one of the 12 shevatim, he also had aspects in him that made him like one of the Avos. One rayah to this is that we see Yosef could have had 12 children of his own if not for the fact that 10 dops of shichvas zera left his fingers by the ma'aseh of Potifar's wife.

I have always wondered what would have happened if Yosef was zocheh to have 12 children. What would their role had been in klal yisroel? Would all 12 children been zocheh to be shevatim like Ephraim And Menashe eventually were? Also, by Ephraim and Menashe, even though they were shevatim, we still have only 12 shevatim since at times we remove Levi from the equation. If Yosef had 12 children how would we have counted the shevatim?

I'll leave it as a tzarich iyun for now.

Avraham vs Yaakov

I saw a very nice vort from the Meshech Chachma on Parshas VaYishlach. (I know this took place a few weeks ago, but I think the vort deserves to be posted).
We know that the gemara says that Avraham kept kol hatorah kulo including eruv tavshilin. The gemara also says that Ya'akov kept kol hatorah kulo including eruv techumim. The Meshech Chachma asks why by Avraham does it stress eruv tavshilin and by Yaakov it stresse eruv techumim.? He answers that the gemara is trying to show us what the strengths of both Avraham and Yaakov were. Avraham lived in a time where monotheism was a foreign concept. Avraham's job was to go spread the word of Hashem to the entire world. This was accomplished by having an open tent and being known as a paradigm of chesed. This role is represented by eruv tavshilin. An eruv tavshilin is food and food is what you give guests. It is the perfect representative of chesed.
Yaakov on the other hand had a different role to play. He was the father of the 12 shevatim. His job was not to spread monotheism to the world, but rather to teach his children and inculcate them with an understanding of what it means to be a Jew. Rather than open up to the world, Yaakov had to set techumim/ boundaries. This is represented by eruv techumim.
The Meshech Chachma ends off that thru the setting of boundaries Yaakov was zocheh to a "nachala b'li mitzorim"- an inheritence without borders. In fact we say this every Shabbos in the zemer of Mah Yedidus: "nachalas Ya'akov yirash, b'li mitzarim nachalah...".
Although the Meshech Chachma doesn't explain what he means I believe one way to understand it is that the "nachala b'li mitzarim" is referring to the essence of Klal Yisroel. Klal Yisroel has the ability to soar to great heights both in ruchniyus and gashmiyus. The only thing required of us is that we remain an am kodosh. Part of being k'doshim is setting boundaries and limits. If we set the appropiate limits and boundaries and remain true to the Torah then we will be zocheh to great things without a limit, a real nachala b'li mitzarim.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Kinyan Kesef shel Achsenai

There is an interesting halacha by the mitzva of Ner Chanuka called achsanai. Simply put this means that if someone is a guest at someone else's house they are able to be yotzei their chiyuv hadlaka by giving the ba'al habayis a perutah. (mishtateif b'perutah). Leaving aside the issue of how this fits into the chakirah of whether Ner Chanukah is a chovas hagavrah or chovas habayis, there is a more fundemental question that needs to be answered. What is the mechanism that Chazal were trying to accomplish thru the takkanah of mishtateif b'perutah? The pashtus is that the perutah serves as a kinyan kesef, meaning that by giving over a perutah you buy a chelek of the oil. The question on this is that we pasken that even though min hatorah money creates a kinyan on mitaltilin, m'derabanan it doesn't work. Therefore, how could you buy the oil with a perutah if m'derabanan the kinyan is not a kinyan?

I heard this question from HaRav Shmuel Kaplan shlita. . Rav Kaplan said one could argue that by mitzvos, money is koneh. However, the problem with saying this is that the G"RA doesn't pasken like that. (It is a machlokes haposkim and the GRA holds that except for 4 cases listed in Eiruvin money isn't koneh by mitzvos. Rav Kaplan gave a different hesber to explain why by Ner Chanukah, the perutah would create a kinyan. He said that what would happen if you buy a candle from someone and the seller puts it on the table and lights it for you. You then proceed to use the candle without ever touching it. Would you have a right to say that since you never picked up the candle you never made a kinyan on it and therefore you can ask for your money back? Clearly we would never say this, but rather we would say you were koneh the candle with the money by using the candle. So too by the Ner Chanukah we would say the same sevara and the money creates a kinyan. So too by the Ner Chanukah we would say the same sevara and the money creates a kinyan. (Disclaimer: I don't fully understand his sevara so I won't elaborate on it. Suffice to say the lack of clarity in what I wrote is due to my own lack of clarity and no reflection on Rav Kaplan).

However, nireh li that one could argue that the whole question never even starts. Who says that the neshtateif b'perutah works b'toras kinyanim. Why can't we just say that Chazal were mesakein a new din where by giving a perutah you somehow are able to be yotzei the mitzva of Ner Chanukah. I know I haven't really explained what the mechanism is that allows you to do this but at the very least we can say it is a takanas chazal. The main point is that who says it has anything to do with kinyan kesef.


Welcome to my blog. I am creating this blog as an experiment. If I am comfortable with this I will probably post my he'oros on various Torah Topics. Stay tuned.