Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Parshas VaYishlach:Hakamas HaMatzeivah

Last week's shiur dealt with the issue of putting up a matzeivah. The obvious m'kor for this inyan is this past week's parshas when Yaakpv put up a matzeivah for Rochel. However, it i snot so pashut that this is the m'kor.

There are 2 gemaras that deal with the sugyah. The gemara in Moed Katan learns that it is a halacha l'moshe m'sinai to mark the graves so a kohein won't become tamei. However, from this gemara all you see is that there is an inyan to mark the graves and not put up a matzeiva. There is also a Yerushalmi in Shekalim (2:9) that has a machlokes over what to do with the leftover money collected for a meis. Do you give it to the yorshim or do you build a matzeiva. The gemara has a third opinion that you don't build a matzeiva for tzaddikim since their ma'asim serve as their rememberance.

The Rambam paskens like this third shittah which then leads to the question why was Yaakov putting up a matzeiva and why do we build matzeivos for tzaddikim.

The Ksav Sofer answers that there are really 2 reasons for a matzeiva. One is for the meis, so that people will be able to daven for the niftar by his kever. The second reason is for the people who are alive to enable them to visit the kever. When the Yerushalmi said we don't build a matzeiva for tzaddikim, it meant because reason #1 doesn't apply, there is no chiuv to build it. However, if one wants to they could because of reason #2.

Rav Moshe has a similar answer in Y.D. chelek 4. He says Ya'akov built the matzeiva not because of kovod to Rochel but so that future generations would be able to find it. There is no issur to build a matzeiva for tzaddikim but it is not a chiyuv. He also adds that the whole binyan on Kever Rochel b'zman hazeh is definately not l'kovod Rochel but it was built to make it easier to daven there. Interestingly, in an earlier teshuva in Y.D. chelek 3, Rav Moshe gives a different answer. He says that certain dinim that only pertain to tzaddikim don't apply today and this is one of them.

In general we see that it wasn't always the minhag to put up a matzeiva. The poskim discuss cases where the minhag hamokom was not to put up a matzeiva, are you allowed to collect money to put one up or is it solely up to the yorshim. However, Rav Moshe writes that b'zman hazeh it is definately a chiyuv of kovod hameis, both here and in EY since this is how the minhag has evolved. However, it is not on teh same level of a chiyuv as oteh rtzarchei hameis. I am not sure if Rav Moshe means to say that although we collect money for tzarchei hameis, building a matzeiva is not included.

Finally, one last point. The Maharam Shik screams against the minhag of putting a secular date on a matzeivah. A matzeivah represents the idea that the nefesh will come back. A secular date is antithetical to this idea. Also, reading a secular date is an issur d'oreisa of avoda zara and by putting a secular date on a matzeivah you are causing people to be nichshal. (I wonder what the minhag is in different circles regarding secular dates)

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