Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Family Mazal Tov's

In case anyone was wondering, I did not give a shiur this past Shabbos. My brother made a bris for his son in Baltimore and we went down there for Shabbos.

I would like to wish a mazal tov to my brother and sister in law on the bris of their son Boruch. Also, mazal tov to his twin sister Esther Feige.

A second mazal tov goes to my brother in law on receiving Yadin Yadin at YU's chag hasmicha this past Sunday. I am told that my sister actually reads this blog, so if you are reading this, Hi.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Rav Wolfson: Vayekhel/Pekudei

Note: HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. The shiurim were transcribed by me and reviewed by Rav Wolfson. What you are reading is just an excerpt and not the whole shiur. I have also taken the liberty of making some slight editorial changes to the original version in order to make it read better. This week's excerpt is from Pekudei 5763.

The Taz in Darkei Dovid asks the following question on Rashi. The Torah tells us in Pekudei (39:43) and in Shimini (9:23) that Moshe gave the Bnei Yisrael a beracha after putting up the mishkan. Rashi in Parshas Pekudei explains that this beracha refers to the beracha of “vayehi noam” and it is part of the 11 mizmorim of tehillim (90-101) that Moshe said. However, in Parshas Shimini, although Rashi explains that this beracha refers to the beracha of “vayehi noam” he leaves out the fact that it is part of the 11 mizmorim of tehillim. Why does Rashi do this?

We find that the possuk of "vayehi noam" is said in two different formats. We say it in Pisukei D’Zimrah of Shabbos where it comes at the end of “tefillah l’Moshe” and before “yosheiv b’seiser”. We also say it on Motzei Shabbos and in Krias Shema Al HaMita, where we say just the possuk of “vayehi noam” and then the perek of “yosheiv b’seiser”. The similarity between Motzei Shabbos and Krias Shema Al HaMita is that in both cases we are going from a higher state of kedushah to a lower state of kedushah. On Motzei Shabbos we are leaving the kedushah of Shabbos and entering days of chol. Similarly, at night we are going from a higher state of being awake to a lower one of being asleep. "Vayehi noam" represents the higher state of kedushah while "yosheiv b’seiser", which talks about all the tzorus, represents the lower state of kedushah. When we say "yosheiv b’seiser" after "vayehi noam" we are connecting the two levels and we are asking Hahsem that we should be zocheh to have the higher madreigah that we had on Shabbos during the week as well.

Rashi in the beginning of Pekudei explains that the mishkan was called “mishkan” because it acts as a mashkon/collateral for Klal Yisrael. Rather than Hashem taking out his anger on Klal Yisrael, HKBH will destroy the mishkan instead. When Moshe originally gave B'nei Yisrael the beracha of "vayehi noam" he was saying that the Mishkan should save the B'nei Yisrael from any punishment. Moshe was requesting that Hashem take out his anger on the Mishkan and not on the B’nei Yisrael. This is why Rashi mentions the beracha of "vayehi noam" in connection with the other 11 mizmorim. One of these mizmorim is the mizmor "yosheiv b’seiser" which we explained above refers to a lower state of kedushah. Rashi is making the connecting between the higher madreigah of "vayehi noam" to the lower madreigah of "yosehiv b'seiser". Taken together thses two mizmorim tell us that that even in times of tzorus the Mishkanwill protect us. However, In Parshas Shimini the beracha Moshe is giving refers to the fact that B'nei Yisroel should be zocheh to see the koved of Hashem. It is not referring at all to times of tzorus. Therefore, it is not necessary to connect the "vayehi noam" to "yosheiv b’Seiser".

Inyanei Pesach

If you are interested in some nice lomdishe pieces on various sugyos on inyanei Pesach , once again I invite you to check out my friend Rabbi Chaim Brown's blog.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Parsha Chabura Ki Tisa: Kiddush Yadayim V'Raglayim

This week's shiur was about understanding the mitzvah that the kohanim have to wash their hands and feet before doing the avoda.

The whole shiur was more or less taken from a piece in Chiddushei R' Aryeh Leib (chelek 2) by Rav Aryeh Leib Mallen. If you are interested in the finer details I would suggest reading that piece.

Rav Aryeh Leib Mallen has the following chakirah. How do we understand the requirement for a kohein to wash his hands and feet. Maybe we can say that the pesul of a kohain who did not wash his hands and feet is a pesul haguf and the chiyuv is a chovas hagavra. In other words, just like a yisroel is possul from doing the avodah because he is not a kohein, so too one who has not washed his hands and feet is considered a non-kohein and he can't do the avodah. Or maybe the chiyuv on the kohein to wash his hands and feet is a din in the avodah. This means that the avodah requires it that it be done by someone who had his hands and feet washed, but if someone does the avodah without washing his hands and feet it is not viewed as if the avodah was done by a non-kohein.

The Chiddushei Rav Aryeh Leib, wants to conclude that both dinim apply. Although, he doesn't discuss how we know the first tzad (that it is a chovas hagavra), it seems it is based on the following gemara. (In his sefer Gevuras Yitzchak, Rav Yitzchak Sorotzkin points this out as well). The gemara in Zevachim (19B) says that if a kohein does the avodah without washing his hands then the avodah is no good. The gemara learns out this halacha by making a gezairah shava to the pesul of a kohein doing the avodah without wearing the bigdei kehuna (mechusar begadim). Just like a mechusar begadim is viewed as a "zar", someone unfit to do the avodah so too one who doesn't wash his hands and feet is also posul for the avodah. The pashtus of this drasha is that the pesul of a kohain who did not wash his hands and feet is a pesul haguf and the chiyuv is a chovas hagavra. Just like a yisroel is possul from doing the avodah because he is not a kohein, so too one who has not washed his hands and feet is considered a non-kohein and he can't do the avodah.

Rav Aryeh Leib has a couple of proofs to the second tzad as well. One rayah is that the Rambam counts livishas bigdei kehunah as a mitzvah. The Ramban disagrees and says since livishas bigadim is a chovas gavra it can't be counted as a mitzvah. However, when it comes to the mitzvah of kiddush yadayim v'raglayim the Ramban is not masig. You see from here that kiddush yadayim v'raglayim is not just a chovas gavra but also a din in the avodah.

Nafka Mina

1) The halacha is that a zar (non-kohein) can bring a korbon on a bamah. The gemara also learns from a separate possuk that a kohein does not need kiddush yadayim v'raglayim on a bamah. The Gevuros Yitzchak asks, if kiddush yadayim v'raglayim is a chovas gavra and one who has not washed his hands and feet is considered a non-kohein then why do you need a separate possuk? Once we know a zar is muttar to bring a korbon on a bamah, then we know that you don't need kiddush yadayim v'raglayim. He answers that kiddush yadayim v'raglayim is also a din in the avodah and that 's why you need a possuk.

2) Rav Aryeh Leib says that the chovas gavra aspect of kiddush yadayim v'raglayim is m'akkeiv but the "din in avoda" aspect is not m'akeiv. Therefore, if a kohein never washed his hands the avodah would be possul. If a kohein washed his hands in the morning and was not meisiach da'as from them then he has fullfilled his chovas gavra. If he leaves the Beis HaMikdash he would need to wash his hands again because it is viewed as if he is doing a new avodah. However, if he didn't wash his hands the avodah is not possul since this aspect of kiddush yadayim is not m'akeiv.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Rav Wolfson:Parshas Ki Tisa

Note: HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. The shiurim were transcribed by me and reviewed by Rav Wolfson. What you are reading is just an excerpt and not the whole shiur. I have also taken the liberty of making some slight editorial changes to the original version in order to make it read better. This week's excerpt is from Ki Tisa 5764.

The Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 364) quotes the Tzlach (Berochos 20) whi says that the Leviim are not included in the parsha of arvus with the rest of Klal Yisroel. The Minchas Chinuch asks on this that we find that Moshe was misvadeh for B’nei Yisroel after the cheit ha'eigal. However, the halacha is that vidui can only be done by one who is embarrassed by the aveirah. If the Tzlach is correct that the Leviim have no arvus, then how could Moshe be misvadeh? Since Moshe had no arvus he should not have been considered responsible for the aveirah and he should have nothing to be embarrassed about?

In Bechukosai (26:42) in the middle of the tochacha HKBH says he will remember the zechus avos. Then in pessukim 26:43-44 the Torah mentions more tochacha along with the idea of “lo mi’astim v’lo gi’altem”. Finally, in possuk 26:45 the Torah mentions the bris rishonim. The Ramban explains that pessukim 26:43-44 refer to the tekufah of Purim and possuk 45 refers to the bris shevatim, which gave us the zechusim needed to rebuild the Bais HaMikdash. The Medrash Shir HaShirim says that even though the neis of Purim happened in Shushan, because of arvus all of Klal Yisroel kept Purim as well. The main difference between the shevatim and the avos is that the avos didn’t have a concept of arvus. Each of the avos were one person, and therefore it was not shayach arvus since you can’t have arvus with one person. The shevatim on the other hand were 12 people and among 12 people you can have arvus. This was the chiddush of the bris hashevatim, the concept of arvus. The bris avos mentioned in 26:42 included everything but arvus. Pesukim 43-44 was a chisaron in arvus and this was fixed thru Purim. Possuk 45 is the bris hashevatim, which is a bris of arvus and thru this the second Bais HaMikdash could be rebuilt.

When the Tzlach said that the Leviim had no arvus, what he meant was that they didn’t need the bris of arvus. After the cheit haeigal, we find that the Leviim killed 3,000 Jews. By doing this they showed they were accepting the idea of arvus without a bris. Moshe also showed this by davening for Klal Yisroel. It was only the rest of Klal Yisroel that needed the bris hashevatim/bris arvus, which they accepted by the tochacha in Bechukosai.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Purim I: The Meaning Of A Yehudi

Every year I try and write up a shtikel torah on Purim which I include with my mishloach manos. Due to the length (2 pages) , I m not reproducing the whole thing here but I will post an abridged version. If you actually want the unabridged version leave me a comment and I will send it to you.

Mordechai HaYehudi

The gemara explains that Mordechai is called a Yehudi because he was kofer in avodah zara by not bowing down to Haman. What is the connection? Perhaps the answer to this question lies in understanding the source of the name Yehudi.

The medrash (Vayichi 98:6) explains that we are called Yehudi after Yehuda. This is the p'shat in the possuk "Yehuda ata yoducha achecha...ain adam omer reuveini ella yehudi".

The mefarshim on that possuk explain that this is the beracha in which Yaakov gives the malchus to Yehuda. The Klei Yakar adds further Yehuda merited to be king because he admitted that Tamar was correct and he did not let her die. The simple meaning then of this medrash is that the people of a kingdom are always referred to as subjects of their
king. Therefore, since Yehuda was the king of Klal Yisroel it is only natural that we are called Yehudi based on our king Yehuda. However, it would also come out that if the name Yehudi is derived from Yehuda, then in order to understand what Yehudi represents, we need to understand the qualities and characteristics of Yehuda himself.

The Qualities Of Yehudah

The gemara in Sotah (10b) says Yehuda received the malchus because he was mekadeish shem shamayim by admitting that Tamar was right. Rav Moshe Shapiro explains that HKBH is the king of the whole world. Klal Yisroel are his peopel. Therefore, the role of Klal Yisroel is to spread the kovod of HKBH in this world, just like the role of any loyal subject is to raise up the name of his king. It would come out, that if this is the role of Klal Yisroel, then the king of Klal Yisroel should be the one who best exemplifies this trait.

The ultimate form of being megaleh kovod shamayim is by being omekadesh shem shamayim. The gemara in Sotah is telling us that this was the quality that Yehuda possessed. By the story of Tamar, Yehuda could have kept quiet and noone would have known the difference. However, Yehuda understood that the correct thing to do was to admit the truth. The rotzon Hashewm was to admit that Tamar was right, and by following the rotzon Hashem Yehuda was mekadesh shem shamayim. Since it was Yehuda who demonstrated this quality, he was the one chosen to be the king and to lead Klal Yisroel in bringing forth kovod shamayim in this world.

Now we can understand why Mordechai is called Mordechai HaYehudi. There is nothing that stands in the way of HKBH's honor and limits the malchus of HKBHlike avodah zarak. One who worships a false idol is in effect saying that he doesn’t believe that Hashem runs the world by Himself and Hashem can’t do it without the assistance of these false the glory of HKBH to this world and is mekadesh shem shamayim to the entire world. Such a person deserves to be called a Yehudi.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Binyanim Did Know II

Previously (way back when) I had wondered if Binyamin actually knew that Yosef had been sold.

Well, I recently came across a Medrash in Parshas VaYeitzei (71:5) that says because Rochel grabbed onto the midda of shtikah (by not telling Ya'akov that he was marrying Leah) she was zocheh to have descendents who keep secrets. One of the people the Medrash mentions is Binyamin who knew that Yosef had been sold but did not say anything. (The other two are Shaul and Esther. Compare this to the gemara Megilla 13B).

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Parshas Zachor I: Emunah: The Key To Defeating Amaleik

This is adapted from a longer d’var torah that I wrote for Purim last year. A significant part of this d'var torah is based on the Sefes Emes.

The Emunah of Klal Yisroel

The gemara in Chullin (5B) says that the posukadam u’behaima toshia Hashem” refers to one who is “arumin b’da’as k’adam u’meisimin atzmom k’behaimah”. The Sefas Emes in his ma’amarim on Purim explains that this specifically referring to the status of B’nei Yisroel when they left Mitzrayim. The B’nei Yisroel were viewed as an animal that willingly follows his master wherever it may take him. This is also the kavanah behind the posuk “lechtech acharai bamidbar b’eretz lo zeruah”. The Navi is highlighting the emunah peshuta that the B’nei Yisroel possessed at the time of Yitziyas Mitzrayim. The Sefas Emes adds that this is also the pshat in the "na’aseh v’nishma" that the B’nei Yisroel said at the time of Ma’amad Har Sinai. The “hakdamas na’aseh l’nishma” doesn’t just refer to the fact that the B’nei Yisroel said “na’aseh” before “nishma”, but rather it is referring to the mesiras nefesh and emunah that Klal Yisroel showed by blindly following HKBH out of Mitzrayim. It is davka because of this koach of mesiras nefesh that the B’nei Yisroel were zocheh to receive the Torah.

Understanding Amaleik's Attack

With this understanding we can now understand the purpose behind Amaleik’s attack on Klal Yisroel right after Yitziyas Mitzrayim. Amaleik came to weaken the koach of emunah and mesiras nefesh that Klal Yisroel possessed. We can also now appreciate the order of events that occurred in Parshas Beshalach. Immediately preceding the attack, B’nei Yisroel had complained to Moshe saying “ha yesh Hashem b’kirbeinu”. Klal Yisroel had shown a weakness in their emunah and it was precisely at this point that Amaleik realized the B’nei Yisroel were vulnerable. Amaleik attacked for the purpose of further weakening the emunah and mesiras nefesh of Klal Yisroel. As Rashi points out on the posuk “asher karcha baderech”, Amaleik came to “cool off” Klal Yisroel. The B’nei Yisroel until now had demonstrated tremendous mesiras nefesh and had shown complete emunah in HKBH. Now that they slipped a little, Amaleik came to cool them off completely.

Defeating Amaleik

The B’nei Yisroel were able to defeat Amaleik at this time by regaining their emunah. The medrash explains that when Moshe raised his hands the B’nei Yisroel looked up to Hashem and they won. The pshat in this medrash is obvious. Both the Meor VaShemesh (Parshas Beshalach) and the Sefas Emes explain that Amaleik was only able to attack the B’nei Yisroel because of their chisaron in emunah. However, once the B’nei Yisroel lifted their eyes up to Hashem and reaffirmed their emunah they were able to be successful. Amaleik’s strength only comes from the weakness of B’nei Yisroel. (This is also the idea behind “u’L’om milom ye’ematz”, that when Eisav is strong Yaakov is weak and vice versa). Once the B’nei Yisroel were able to strengthen their mesiras nefesh and reaffirm their emunah in HKBH, then Amaleik had no koach over them. However, even though the B’nei Yisroel defeated Amaleik at Rifidim, the Sefas Emes explains that there was still a lasting effect. Amaleik weakened the B’nei Yisroel just enough that they would eventually sin by the chait haeigel. The B’nei Yisroel hadn’t yet reached their shlaimus and Amaleik’s attack ensured that this shlaimus would not happen.

Kafa Aleihem Har K'Gigis

The gemara in Shabbos explains that at Har Sinai HKBH was “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” and forced the B’nei Yisroel to accept the Torah. Tosfos asks why was this necessary if the B’nei Yisroel had already said “na’aseh v’nishma”? The Sefas Emes presents a very interesting explanation. He explains that HKBH saw that the B’nei Yisroel would eventually sin by the chait haeigel. In order to ensure that the Torah would still stay with the B’nei Yisroel after the chait, HKBH felt it necessary to “force” them to accept the Torah. In other words “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” was not a form of coercion but a zechus. HKBH was mezakeh them with this method so that the Torah would stay with them even after the chait. (This fits in very well with an idea from the Meshech Chachma that “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” means was not a threat but rather there was such a gilui shechina and a revelation of HKBH, that it was impossible to deny the existence of Hashem. In other words, the B’nei Yisroel were infused with an overwhelming sense of emunah in HKBH that they had no other choice but to accept the Torah). Why were the B’nei Yisroel zocheh to this? Explains the Sefas Emes that it was because of the mesiras nefesh they exhibited by being makdimna’aseh” to the “nishma”. As we explained above, this “hakdamas na’aseh l’nishma” refers to the bechina of emunah peshuta and “lechtech acharai bamidbar” that Klal Yisroel showed by Yitziyas Mitzrayim. It was because of this that the B’nei Yisroel were zocheh to the “kafeh aleihem har k’gigis” which ensured that the Torah would stay with us.

Divrei Torah for Purim

If you are interested in some nice lomdishe pieces on various sugyos on inyanei Purim, I would check out my friend Rabbi Chaim Brown's blog.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Rav Wolfson: Parshas Tetzaveh

In honor of Moshe Rabbeinu's yartzeit I am posting this excerpt from a shiur Rav Wolfson gave Parshas Tetzaveh 5764.

Haman was happy when the lottery fell out on 13th of Adar since this was the month Moshe died. The way mazalos work is that the constellations move one degree every 70 years. For example, during Yetzias Mitzrayim, the mazal during Nissan was the teleh (sheep). However, nowadays, this mazal is toward the end of Iyar since the mazal has moved in the last 3000 years.

There were 916 years between the year that Moshe died and the story of Purim. There were also 850 years in between the time B’nei Yisroel entered Eretz Yisroel until the destruction of the first Bais Hamikdash. (based on the possuk “v’noshantem”=850). The story of Purim occurred in the 66th year of golus, and 850+66=916. Based on the calculation that the mazal moves one degree every 70 years, it comes out that the mazal that existed on 13th Adar during the days of Haman, was equivilant to the mazal on Rosh Chodesh Adar in the year that Moshe died (916 years earlier). Haman thought that this mazal was bad for the Jews and therefore 13 Adar was the right time to destroy them.

However, Moshe was born 1036 years before Purim ( 916+120=1036) and given the calculation that the mazal moves one degree every 70 years, it turns out that the mazal of 13 Adar during Haman's time came out in Shevat of the year that Moshe was born. Esther took Haman’s goral and said it referred to Moshe’s birthday and not his death. M’meilah it comes out that in the year Moshe was born, the mazal that Haman was referring to came out in the month of Shevat and not in Adar. Therefore, Haman did not have the mazal of Adar to use against the Jews. Esther then made the Yom Tov on 14 and 15 Adar so that the mazal would coincide with whatever the mazal of Adar was in the year Moshe was born.

Rav Wolfson:Parshas Teruma Revised

I would like to thank the commenter Hankman for raising a kasha on my latest post from Rav Wolfson.

Hankman asked "Why the use of the same lashon of beis tefilla for both the second madreigah of “v’simachtem b’vais tefillasi" which refers to the lishkas hagazis and the fourth and highest madreigah of "ki veisi beis tefilla” which refers to the heichal?"

I asked Rav Wolfson this question and he said that Hankman is correct and he should have said there are only three madreifos in the Mikdash and not four.

Monday, March 06, 2006

Parsha Chabura Parshas Teruma: Bima In The Middle Of The Shul

This week's chaburah discussed the halacha that the bima in the shul must be in the middle of the shul.
The connection to the parshah is due to the reason of the Chasam Sofer which we will soon get to.

Here are the various shitos.

1) Rambam: The Rambam writes that the bima should be in the middle in order that everyone should hear k'riyas hatorah.

2) Kesef Mishna: Says that we see places where the bima is not in the middle. The Kesef Mishna concludes that "hakol l'fi haz'man v'hamamom". If the shul is small you can put the bima in the back since everyone can still hear.

3) Chasam Sofer (Orach Chaim Siman 28) : Brings a seond reason that the bima is comparable to teh mizbayach since a) we lein the parsha of korbonos on the bima and b) we do hakafos around teh bima like they did by the mizbayach. Just like the mizbayach haketores was in between the aron and menora, so too bima should be in the middle.

Many other teshuvos use the Chasam Sofer's reasoning and assume you have to have the bima in the middle.

For example, the Minchas Yitzchak says if you switch it then you are violating "al titosh toras emecha". Furtehrmore, he holds it is assur to daven in a shul where teh bima isn't in the middle.

Rav Moshe (OC 2 Siman 42 and 43) however doesn't like the Chasam Sofer's reasoning. Rav Moshe argues that all the korbonos were brought on the Outside Mizbayach (in the chatzar) yet the Chasam Sofer is comparing it to the Misbayach HaPinimi. He says teh Chasam Sofer's sevarah has no m'kor. That being said the ikar reason is the Rambam's reason (so everyone can hear). L'chatchila it should be in the middle but if it isn't you can daven there. However, if you have a choice you should daven in the shul where the bima is in the middle.
Rav Mosheh also adds that the reason other poskim were so against it was because they were fighting the reform. But in a situation where the threat from reform is not so great then b'd'ieved it is okay.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Rav Wolfson:Parshas Terumah

Note: HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. The shiurim were transcribed by me and reviewed by Rav Wolfson. What you are reading is just an excerpt and not the whole shiur. I have also taken the liberty of making some slight editorial changes to the original version in order to make it read better. This week's excerpt is from Terumah 5763.

The Rosh in Meseches Tamid says that Shlomo HaMelech built the Beis HaMikdash to be used as a mokom tefillah. In fact, in between the avodah, the kohanim would daven in the lishkas hagazis which was the same place the Sanhedrin sat. The lishkas hagazis had a status of being “chatzi kodesh v’chatzi chol”. The possuk (Yeshaya 56:7) says “v’haviosem el har kadshi v’simachtem b’vais tefillasi oloseihem v'zivcheihem l'rotzon al mizbichi ki veisi beis tefilla...”. Based upon the Rosh, we can say that this possuk is referring to four different madreigos that existed in the Beis HaMikdash. “V’haviosem el har kadshi ” refers to the machaneh leviah which is the lowest madreigah located in the Beis HaMikdash. The second madreigah is “v’simachtem b’vais tefillasi ” and this refers to the lishkas hagazis, which is chatzi kodesh and chatzi chol. The third madreigah is “oloseihem v'zivcheihem l'rotzon al mizbichi ” which refers to the mizbayach, which was totally kodesh. Finally, the fourth and highest madreigah is “ ki veisi beis tefilla” and refers to the heichal, which had more kedushah than the mizbayach.

With this we can have a better understanding of a phrase that we say in Maoz Tzur. We say “tikun beis tefillasi v’sham todah nizabayach”. The paytan is saying that by Bayis Shilishi we will extend the azarah and make a new chanukas habayis. The first thing that will be extended is the beis tefillah, which is the lishkas hagazis. Until now it is chatzi kodesh and chatzi chol but by Bayis Shilishi it will become kulo kodesh.

Mazal Tov

Mazal Tov to my "baby" brother and sister in law on the birth of their first two children. They had twins early this morning - a boy and a girl.