Sunday, February 26, 2006

Teruma I: Vayikchu Li Teruma

I first heard this d'var torah from my good friend Rabbi Chaim Brown around 16 years ago.

The Shev Shma’atsah in his hakdama has the following vort on this week’s parsha.

Rashi writes that "vayikchu li trumah" means "li-l’shmi", that the giving of the terumah must be done l’shma. The Shev Shma’atsah asks, why does this mitzvah need to be done l’shma more than any otehr mitzvah? By other mitzvos we find that we are told one should do them sh’lo lishma and eventually you will do them lishma.?

The Alshich asks, why does the Torah say "vayikchu li teruma", if the B’nei Yisroel gave the terumah to Hashem. It should have said "vayitnu li terumah". The Alshich answers that when B’nei Yisroel gave the terumah to HKBH, it is as if they are giving a present to an adam chashuv. The halacha is that if a woman tells a man to give a present to an adam chasuv, then she is married to the man thru the ha’na’ah she gets when the adam chashuv accepts the present. Therefore, when HKBH accepted the terumah, the B’nei Yisroel got ha’na’ah and it was as if they were really receiving a present from HKBH. That is why it says "vayikchu li teruma", because B’nei Yisroel really took from Hashem.

However, by the case of the adam chashuv if he will eventually return the present then thereis no hana’ah and the kidushin isn’t chal. Therefore, the answer of the Alshich only works if the terumah was given lishma. If the teruma was given sh’lo lishma (i.e. the B’nei Yisroel gave the terumah to receive something back) , then it is as if the adam chashuv (HKBH) returned the present. If HKBH returned the present then the B’nei Yisroel were not receiving any ha’na’ah from HKBH it it would no longer be "vayikchu li" but "vayitnu liu". This is why the teruma had to be totally lishma.

Parsha Chabura Mishpatim:Bishul Basar B'Chalav

This week’s shiur was about the issur of cooking milk and meat together. Besides the issur of eating and deriving benefit from a milk and meat mixture, there is also a prohibition of cooking milk and meat together.

The Chakirah

There are two ways one can understand this issur. Is the issur the "ma’aseh bishul", in other words it is assur to cook the milk together with the meat or maybe we can say that the issur is the creating of a milk/meat mixture ("yetziras ha’ta’aroves"). It should be noted that even if the issur is the creation of this mixture, it is only assur if it is done thru cooking. The cooking process is a t'nai ( a condition) of the issur.

Nafka Mina
1) Is it assur to recook a meat and milk mixture. One is not allowed to let meat sit in milk for more than 24 hours. This is called "kavush" and is a form of cooking. However, it is only assur m’d’rabanan. The Sha’arei Dura writes that one is not allowed to cook the mixture aftrewards.. Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Yoreh Deia Siman 87) infers from here that if the meat/milk mixture was previously cooked it would not be assur to recook it. This is because "ain bishul acher bishul". Once something is cooked it can not be recooked. However, we pasken on Shabbos that by liquids there is bishul acher bishul. If so, maybe by basar b’chalav it should be assur to cook a basar b’chalav liquid mixture. How come Rabbi Akiva Eiger doesn’t differentiate between solids or liquids?

We can say that it depends on our chakirah. If the issur bishul is the act of cooking, so maybe it should be assur. But if the issur is to create a mixture of meat and milk, so in our case the milk/meat mixture is already created so there would be no issur to re-cook it.

2) Can I take a piece of cooked meat and a piece of cooked milk and cook them together. The Gilyon Maharsha (Siman 87) says it would be assur. Maybe it depends on our chakirah. If the issur is the ma’aseh bishul so ain bishul acher bishul and it is muttar. But if the issur is creating the mixture so I am now creating a mixture and it should be assur.

3) Can I perform a chemistry experiment which requires cooking meat and milk. In Pininei HaRav , Rav Schachter brings down a ma’aseh with Rav Moshe Soloveitchik where he was asked this question. Rav Moshe Soloveitchik answered that the issur of bishul basar b'chalav is in order that you shouldn’t eat it. In our case you aren’t going to eat it so it is muttar. Clearly, if you hold like the first tzad of the chakirah (that the issur is the ma’aseh bishul) then it should be assur.
4) The Chsam Sofer (YD siman 92) has a shailah if you can use basar b’chalav to light the chanukah candles. He says since the issur is the ma’aseh bishul it is assur. According to our second tzad, it should be muttar since you are not creating a mixture- the oil/wax will be burned up.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Four Parshiyos: What's The Connection?

Various seforim try to understand the connection between the four parshiyos that we read this time of year. I would like to offer the following mehalach that I had previously developed.

Haman Buys The Jews

The Yalkut writes that Haman came to Achashveirosh with an offer of 10,000-kikar kesef in order to kill the Jews. The Yalkut explains that Haman wanted to buy the Jews from Achashveirosh and the 10,000-kikar kesef represented the value of 600,000 Jews. (The Maharal (Ohr Chadosh) and the Chizkuni (Parshas Pekudei) give two different explanations how this adds up). What does it mean that Haman wanted to buy the Jews? What was he trying to accomplish. We know that the B'nei Yisroel are not limited by the laws of nature. This is the meaning behind "ain mazal l'Yisroel". Perhaps we can say that Haman wanted to show that the B’nei Yisroel are bound by the laws of nature. To be bound by nature means you can be quantified. If you can be quantified, then that means you can be bought. I can’t buy something that transcends time and space, since there is no way to put a price tag on it. If I can price an object that means the object is limited. Haman’s intention was to show that B’nei Yisroel fall under the rules of nature and are bound by the mazalos. However, the gemara in Megilla says that HKBH responded to Haman's plan by stating “k’var hikdimu shekalim l’shkalav”. The B’nei Yisroel had already given shekalim thru the machatzis hashekel and this was enough to overturn Haman’s plan. What is the meaning behind this?

The Meaning Of The Machatzis HaShekel

One of the purposes of bringing the shekalim was so that Klal Yisroel would not be counted directly. The reason for this is because when you count an object, you are giving that object limitations. You are saying this object is quantifiable and is constrained by the laws of nature. If Klal Yisroel would be counted, that would in effect be saying that Klal Yisrael is limited. This would go against the very essence of what Klal Yisroel is about. What HKBH was telling Haman was that the B’nei Yisroel already showed they transcend time and space by the fact that they are not counted directly, but rather through the shekalim. The shekalim represent the idea that B’nei Yisroel are above the mazalos and nothing Haman can do will change that. Haman’s shekalim won’t work to limit the B’nei Yisroel since they have already shown through their own shekalim that they are l’ma’alah min hateva.

The Link Between The Four Parshiyos

We can now begin to explain the connection between the daled parshiyos. First we read parshas shekalim. As we explained the shekalim represent the idea that B’nei Yisroel can’t be counted and are above time and space. This is the koach that gives us the ability to defeat Haman and Amaleik. This is why immediately after parshas shekalim we read parshas zachor. Once we have the koach of being above teva (shekalim) we can defeat Amaleik (zachor). Finally the last two parshiyos we read are parshas para and parshas hachodesh. Within the bechina of being l’maaleh min hateva, there are two ways that this idea shows itself. One way is in how HKBH acts towards us by saving us when b’derech hateva we should be destroyed. There is no rhyme or reason why we should be here other than the fact that we defy natural law. This derech is represented by parshas para. The para aduma is a chok whose laws make no sense. The fact that the one who makes others tahor becomes tamai defies logic. Why should this be so? The answer is that the para aduma is a chok and above the rules of nature. The second way in which the concept of “ain mazal l’Yisroel” is apparent is in the way we can control the laws of nature. Parshas Hachodesh begins with a commandment that the sanhedrin has to sanctify the new month. Chazal tell us that even if the sanhedrin makes a mistake regarding wich day is Rosh Chodesh, , the month sill starts based on the psak of the sanhedrin. We see from here that as a nation we have the ability to change nature to the extent that we can even go against nature in determining when the month begins. Both parshas para and parshas hachodesh represent the idea of "ain mazal l'Yisroel" and therefore they are read after parshas shekalim and parshas zachor.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Rav Isser Wolfson: Parshas Mishpatim

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. This week's excerpt is from Mishpatim 5764.

The Gemara in Shabbos (88) says that HKBH forced the B’nei Yisroel to accept the Torah by threatening to drop Har Sinai on top of them (kafa aleihem har k’gigis). Tosfos asks, if the B’nei Yisroel had already said "na’aseh v’nishma", why was it necessary to do this? Tosfos answers that HKBH was afraid that when the B’nei Yisroel saw the tremendous fire surrounding the event they would change their minds out of fear. A second teretz is given by the Medrash Tanchuma in Parshas Noach. The medrash says that when the B'nei Yisroel said na’aseh v’nishma, they were only referring to Torah Sheh Bichsav. However they were not willing to accept upon themselves Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. For this the the B’nei Yisroel had to be forced into accepting it.

The Medrash Tanchuma further explains that there is a difference between the effort needed to learn Torah Sheh Bichsav and the effort needed to learn Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. Torah Sheh Bichsav is very easy to learn and does not require a lot of exertion. Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh on the other hand requires a lot of yegiah and ameilus to understand it properly. The medrash concludes that this ameilus can only come about through ahavas Hashem. This madreigah was not included in the kabbala of na’aseh v’nishma.

In Parshas Va’eschanan (5:21-24), the Torah describes how the B’nei Yisroel were afraid of the fire on Har Sinai. Rashi (5:24) explains that the ta’anah on the B’nei Yisroel was that they should have let their ahavas Hashem overcome their fear of the fire of Har Sinai. From here we see that B’nei Yisroel experienced a chisaron of ahavas Hashem. With this we can suggest that the two answers mentioned in Tosfos are really the same answer. Tosfos said that HKBH was afraid that when the B’nei Yisroel saw the fire, they would be afraid and change their minds. We see from Rashi that this fear comes from a lack of ahavas Hashem. Furthermore, we see from the Medrash Tanchuma that a chisaron in ahavas Hashem causes a chisaron in learning Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. This fits with the second teretz, that B’nei Yisroel originally didn’t accept Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh. Since there was a lack of ahavas Hashem, mimeilah they couldn’t be mikabeil Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh.

We can also explain why in Va’eschanan the parsha of shema immediately follows the parsha of mattan torah. Shema talks about ahavas Hashem, which leads to learning Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh (V’Shinantam). After the kafa aleihem har k’gigis, the B’nei Yisroel said shema and through the ahavas Hashem they were then able to grasp Torah Sheh Ba’al Peh.

Parsha Chabura Yisro:Beracha Sh'eino Tzricha

This week’s shiur was about the issur of “lo sisa es shem lashav”. Everyone agrees that this issur includes the prohibition of making an unnecessary or false shevuah with Hashem’s name. However, there is a machlokes whether this issur also includes saying Hashem’s name for no reason or making an unnecessary beracha.

Source In Gemarah

The gemara in Berachos 33a says that if one makes a beracha sh’eino tzricha (an unnecessary beracha) then one violates the prohibition of “lo sisa shem lashav”. The gemara in Temurah (4a) also says that if one says Hashem’s name for no reason then one is oveir an issur aseh of “es hashem elokacha tirah” (fearing Hashem). From here it would appear that a beracha sheino tzricha is an issur m’d’oreisa.

Shittas Rishonim

1) Tosofos in Rosh Hashana (33a) and the Rosh in Kiddushin (Perek 1 49) quote Rabbeinu Tam that a beracha sheino tzricha is only an issur m’d’rabanan. Even though the gemara says there is an issur of “lo sisa”, this is only an asmachta. Furthermore, Tosfos explains that the issur aseh mentioned in the gemara in Temurah only applies when one is not saying Hahsem’s name in a beracha. If one says Hashem’s name in a beracha then there would be no issur aseh of “hashem elokecha tira”.
2)The Rambam disagrees. The Rambam says in a few places that making an unnecessary beracha is assur min hatorah because of “lo sisa”. The Rambam writes this in Hil Berachos (1:15) as well as in Hil Shevuous (12:9). The Rambam also writes this in Shut Rambam Siman 84 where he says that those places that read the megillah on the 14th and 15h of Adar, do not make a beracha on the 15th since it is a safeik and to make an unnecessary beracha is assur min hatorah.

Nafka Mina

1) Women making a beracha on mitzvos aseh she’ha’zman grama. Everyone holds that even though women are patur from mitzvos aseh she’ha’zman grama they can still do the mitzvah. The question is what about making a beracha. Tosfos holds that women are able to make the beracha since making an unnecessary beracha is only an issur d’rabanan. The Rambam however paskens (Hil Tzitzis 3:9) that women can not make a beracha. This is l’shitaso that a beracha sheino tzricha is assur m’d’oreis.

2) The Rambam paskens (berachos 1116) that if one is mesupak whether something requires a beracha one does not make a beracha. This includes the halacha that an androganus (safeik male or female) does not make a beracha on Milah (Rambam Mila 3:6). This is the Rambam l’shitaso that since a beracha sheino tzricha is assur m’d’oreisa, one should not make a beracha m’safeik. However, the Kesef Mishna points out that the Rambam holds if one is not sure if he said k’riyas sh’ma you repeat it with the beracha. The reason is because in a case where you are obligated in the asiyas hamitzvah then you cam make a beracha. By k’riyas shema you have to say k’riyas shema and therefore you can make a beracha. By the case of the androganus and mila, the safeik is in the etzem hachiyuv. (The Mishna Berura in Siman 67:1 writes that not everyone agrees with this chiluk)

3) The Magan Avraham (216:6) brings down different opinions whether one can obligate himself in an extra beracha on Shabbos in order to recite 100 berachos. For example, can one purposely hold off on having desert until after bentching in order to make another beracha acharona. (Note: if one does not want to eat desert now but wants to eat it later, you can do so. The question is where you want to eat it now but the only reason you are not is to get an extra beracha). According to the Rambam that beracha sheino tzricha is assur m’d’oreisa, one probably would not be allowed to do this. (ayin sham for halacha l’ma’aseh).

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Yisro I:Yisro's Motivation

Why Yisro Came

Rashi quotes the gemara in Zevachim (115a) that Yisro joined the B’nei Yisroel because he heard about K’riyas Yam Suf and Milchemes Amaleik. (In reality these are two different opinions, but Rashi brings down both). The question is why didn’t Yisro come because of the ten makkos and Yitziyas Mitzrayim? L’chorah, the whole experience of Makkas Bechoros and leaving Mitzrayim in broad daylight should have been enough to cause Yisro to recognize the emes and join B’nei Yisroel. What was it about K’riyas Yam Suf and Milchemes Amaleik that motivated Yisro to come? Furthermore, there is an opinion in the gemara that the whole story of Yisro occurred after Matan Torah and Yisro came because he heard about Kabbalas HaTorah. Rashi holds that Yisro came after Matan Torah (against the Ramban). If so, why did Rashi not bring down this third reason as well. ( Ayin Ramban and mefarshei Rashi who deal with this question as well).

Two Types Of Ge'ulah

I would like to suggest the following answer based on an idea brought down by Rav Chaim Ya’akov Goldvicht zt”l in his sefer Asufas Ma’areches on Parshas Beshalach. Rav Goldvicht explains based on a S’fas Emes that there were two types of ge'ulos that took place from Mitzraym . The first ge'ulah was when the B’nei Yisroel actually left Mitzrayim. This ge'ulah was a bechina of “atra’usa d’l’eila”, meaning it all came from HKBH. The B’nei Yisroel were not worthy of leaving and it was only due to the chesed of HKBH, that they left. (Although they needed a zechus of dam Pesach and dam mila, this still doesn’t take away from the fact that B’nei Yisroel didn’t initiate the process but rather it all came from Hashem). The second ge'ulah took place by K’riyas Yam Suf. This ge'ulah was “atra’usa d’l’tata”, meaning that the B'nei Yisroel originated the redemption process. The B’nei Yisroel took the first steps towards being saved by jumping into the Yam Suf. It was only after they jumped in and the water was up to their necks that the sea split. (I would recommend looking up this piece inside to see how Rav Goldvicht develops this idea further, but ain kan mokom l’ha’arich).

Geulah From Amaleik

I would like to add that the yeshua from Amaleik was also a geder of “atra’usa d’l’tata”.The posuk says that when Moshe held up his hands the B’nei Yisroel won and when he rested his hands they lost. The Mishna in Rosh Hashanah as well as the Medrash Tanchuma explain, that the Torah is telling us that every time Moshe raised his hands the B’nei Yisroel looked up to Hashem and they won. Every time Moshe’s hands were lowered, B’nei Yisroel were not looking toward Hashem and they lost. We see from here that the salvation was initiated by B’nei Yisreol. It was only after they davened to Hashem that they were saved.

Understanding Yisro's Motivation

With this I believe we can answer the original question. If we look carefull at the loshon of the gemara that Rashi quotes, the gemara says "What did Yisro hear that made him come". The key words are "made him come" (ayin Klei Yakar who makes a similar diyuk). Certainly, Yisro heard about Yitziyas Mitzrayim and most probably was very been impressed by what he heard. However, this wasn’t enough to "make him come". It wasn't enough to cause him to join the B’nei Yisroel because this ge'ula was “atra’usa d’l’eila”-it was initiated by HKBH. It was only after he saw that B’nei Yisroel had the koach to initiate their own salvation b’geder “atra’usa d’l’tata”, by K'riyas Yam Suf and Milchemes Amaleik, that he decided to join Klal Yisroel. This answer will also explain the second half of our question. Kabbalas HaTorah was also a bechina of “atra’usa d’l’eila” and as such Rashi did not feel that it was enough to motivate him to come. (L’chorah this is also the difference between luchos rishonos and luchos shniyos. The former represents Torah She’BichsavBa’al Peh which is “atra’usa d’l’eila” and the latter represents Torah She’Ba’al Peh which is “atra’usa d’l’tata”. V’ain kan mokom l’ha’arich).[Also, this mehalach would not explain the shitta that he did come because of Kabbalas HaTorah]

We still have to explain why exactly Yisro was only motivated by a ge’ulah of “atra’usa d’l’tata” as opposed to a ge’ulah of “atra’usa d’l’eila”. I will leave this part open for suggestions.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Rav Isser Wolfson: Parshas Yisro


I used to attend a chumash shiur given by HaRav Isser Wolfson shlita who is a noted talmid chacham, dayan and posek. At the time I transcribed the shiurim and after Rav Wolfson reviewed what I had written, I distributed them via email. I b'li neder will be posting a sample of the divrei torah every week.


Here is a sample from the shiur on Parshas Yisro given in 5763.

The Torah tells us that Miriam was punished for saying loshon hara about Moshe and questioning why Moshe separated from his wife when other nevi'im didn't. Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt"l (Koveitz Ma’amarim) asks that it would appear that Miriam was also kofer in one of the Ikkarim. One of the Ikkarim is the belief that Moshe was the greatest navi that ever lived. When Miriam spoke loshon hora about Moshe she was basically equating the nevuah of Moshe with the nevuah of other nevi'im. Why wasn’t Miriam punished for also being kofer b’ikkar? Rav Elchanan answers that the idea that Moshe was the greatest Navi did not become an ikkar until the Torah told it to us. Miriam spoke loshon hara before this happened and therefore she was not a kofer b’ikkar.

The kasha everyone asks on Rav Elchanan is that the Ramban (Yisro 19:9) says that “v’gam b'cha ya’aminu l’olam” teaches us that the Bnei Yisroel were told at Matan Torah that Moshe’s nevuah was on a higher madreigah than any other Navi. Therefore, Miriam should have already known this and again we can ask why wasn’t she considered a kofer b’ikkar?

The answer lies in understanding the difference between Moshe’s nevuah and the nevuah of the other nevi'im. Every other navi only received nevuah b’zechus Klal Yisroel. Moshe, on the other hand, received his nevuah b’zechus atzmo, based on his own merits. However, there appears to be a Mechiltah that contradicts this. The Mechiltah in Parshas Bo says Moshe only received his nevuah b’zechus Klal Yisroel and the rayah to this is the fact that during the 38 years in the midbar in which the Bnei Yisroel were in nidui, Moshe did not receive nevuah.

There is a machlokes between Rashi and Tosfos in Yevomos (72) over what was the reason that the B'nei Yisroel were put in nidui. Rashi learns that it was because of the cheit ha'eigel and Tosfos learns it was because of the cheit meraglim. Tosfos agrees with Rashi that Klal Yisroel was in cherem after the eigel, however, HKBH forgave them when he said “salachti”. According to Tosfos, the nidui that lasted for 38 years was from the cheit meraglim. In any event, we see that everyone agrees that from 17 Tamuz (the ma’aseh eigel) until Moshe went back up to shamayim and Hashem said salachti (19 Tammuz), that the Bnei Yisroel were in cherem.
During this period the Torah says that Moshe spoke to Hashem directly. This would seem to contradict the Mechilta mentioned above and would imply that Moshe’s madreigah of nevuah did come b’zechus atzmo and not b’zechus Klal Yisroel. What you have to say is that when Moshe was being m’kabeil the Torah, then indeed his nevuah came b’zechus atzmo. However, the Mechiltah was talking about the rest of the years and during those years his nevuah came only b’zechus Klal Yisroel.

With this we can understand why Miriam was not kofer b’ikkar. Miriam understood that Moshe’s nevuah was different than all other Neviim. However, Miriam thought that even though Moshe's nevuah was on a higher madreigah, nevertheless his nevuah still came b’zechus Klal Yisroel and not b’zechus atzmo. Consequently, there was no need for him to separate from his wife. Her mistake was that she should have realized from the short period after the cheit ha’eigel that Moshe was on the madreigah to receive nevuah b’zechus atzmo and in fact it was necessary for him to separate from his wife.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Parsha Chabura Beshalach:The Obligation Of Kriyas HaTorah

This week’s shiur was about the nature of the chiyuv of K'riyas HaTorah.

The Nature of the Obligation

Immediately after K'riyas Yam Suf, the Torah tells us that that the B’nei Yisroel went three days without water. The gemara in Baba Kama (82a) understands this to mean that they went three days without Torah. Subsequently, Moshe made a takanah that the Torah should be read every three days. The question is, what is the nature of this chiyuv? There are two ways to understand the nature of this chiyuv. It could be viewed as a chovas hatzibbur, meaning that it is an obligation on the community as one unit to read the Torah. The other way to understand it is that it is a chovas hayachid, meaning that it is an obligation incumbent on each individual. However, even if you say that it is a chovas hayachid, it would still be necessary to gather a minyan to read the Torah. The obligation would be on the individual, but the way in which this mitzvah is performed would have to be with a tzibbur.

Machlokes Rishinim

The achronim point out that this is really a machlokes between the Ba’al HaM’eor and the Ramban (Milchamos) in Megillah. (The two opinions are found in Daf 3 of the Rif). There is a machlokes in Megillah between Rav and Rav Asi over whether the megillah can be read privately. Rav Asi holds the megillah must be read with a minyan. The Ba’al HaMeor and Ramban have a machlokes over whether Rav Asi's opinion is l'chatchilah or even b’dieved. The Ba’al HaM’eor proves from a mishna that Rav Asi would agree that b'dieved one can read the megilla privately. The mishna lists those things which need a minyan and reading the megillah is not part of that list. The Ba’al HaM’eor proves that since mikrah megillah isn’t part of the list, we see that the megillah can be read privately according to everyone. The Ramban rejects the proof because that mishna only lists those things which are a chovas hatzibbur. Now among those items listed in the mishna is k'riyas hatorah. We see from this machlokes that the Ramban holds k'riyas hatorah (which is listed in the mishna) is a chovas hatzibbur while the Ba’al HaM’eor would hold it is a chovas hayachid.

Nafka Mina

There are a number of nafka mina in this chakirah.

1) The Birchas Shmuel (Yevamos Siman 21) quotes R’ Chaim as being mesuppak in this chakirah. R’ Chaim said if it is a chovas hatzibbur one would need 10 people who did not hear leining. Since the chiyuv is on the tzibbur, if only rov of the tzibbur needed to hear leining then you don't have a tzibbur and m'meila you can't lein. However, if it is only chovas hayachid then you can apply rubo k'kulo and if six people need to hear leining then you can lein. This safeik is mentioned in the Biur Halacha Siman 143 in the name of the Chayei Adam Klal 31.

2) What happens if you miss leining? In Nefesh HaRav (p. 130), Rav Schachter brings down how Rav Soloveitchik would be makpid to make up leining since he felt k'riyas hatorah was a chovas hayachid.
I would like to suggest that even if it is a chovas hatzibbur one might be obligated to make it up. A person only would fullfill his obligation if he is part of a tzibbur. If you have no tzibbur to attach yourself to then you still have a chiyuv. Therefore, if you don't go to shul at all then you have not attached yourself to a tzibbur and would need to make it up. (But if you were in shul and missed a word, you wouldn't have to make it up unless you held it was a chovas hayachid. ayin Emek Beracha k'riyas hatorah os 3). The Minchas Asher (Parshas Beshalach) writes a similar sevarah.

3) Is one allowed to learn during leining? The Mechaber (Siman 146) paskens one can learn quietly. The Biur Halacha brings the Shibolei HaLeket that one can not learn since it is a chovas hayachid and you must hear every word. For this reason the Biur Halacha assumes the Mechaber is referring to someone who already heard leining. Of course the Mechaber could hold it is a chovas hatzibbur.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

He'oros In Yoreh Deia:Ta'am K'ikkar and Chanan

I am currently learning Chulin/Yoreh Deiah with my chavrusa. I will try and occasionally post some of our more interesting he'oros.

Ta'am K'ikkar
There is an important klal in Yoreh Deiah called ta'am k'ikkar. Simply put this means that food which is treife can transfer it's "ta'am" or taste into another food and make the second food assur. I simple example would be where a piece of neveila falls onto a piece of kosher meat. The tatse of the neveila gets absorbed into the kosher meat and makes the kosher meat treife. There is a machlokes Rishonim how exactly ta'am k'ikkar works and whether it is assur m'd'oreisa or only m'd'rabbanan. (There are also a couple pieces in R'Chaim on this but ain kan mokom l'ha'arich).

Shittas Rabbeinu Tam

One approach given is that of Rabbeinu Tam (R"T). (R"T is found in the Rosh in Chulin Perek 7). R"T holds that ta'am k'ikkar is m'd'oreisa and that it works thru a concept called "hetter nehepach l'issur", the kosher piece of meat which absorbs the issur turns into a treife piece of meat. For clarification, another way to understand ta'am k'ikkar would be to say that the kosher piece doesn't turn into a treife piece of meat but rather the treife piece has been absorbed by the kosher piece and when you eat the kosher piece you are eating part of the treife piece as well.
A nafka mina could possibly be whether you can ever remove the issur from the kosher piece of meat. If you hold like R"T that "hetter nehepach l'issur", so then we view the entire kosher piece as being a new entity of triefe (cheftzah shel tarfus). Just like I can't turn a piece of neveilah into kosher meat, so too I can't turn this piece of meat into kosher meat. However, if you hold that the kosher piece isn't a cheftzah of tarfus but rather just has tarfus absorbed in it, so maybe I can argue that if I remove the tarfus then the meat becomes kosher again. (This concept is called "efsher l'sochto"-is it possible to remove issur absorbed in kosher and is the subject of it's own discussion).

This leads us into another concept in Yoreh Deia called Chaticha Na'aseh Neveilah.

Stay tuned...

Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Beracha Of Al Nitilas Yadayim

The halacha is that when we wash our hands for bread, we make the beracha "al nitalas yadayim" only after we wash our hands. The Mechaber explains that even though we have a rule to make our berachos "oveir la’asiyasan", before we do the mitzvah, this case is different. Since our hands might be tamei or have touched unclean places, we wait until after we wash our hands to make the beracha.
My 9 year old daughter asked me the following question. Why does this chashash only apply to al nitilas yadayim? Every time we need to make a beracha, we should have to wash our hands in case our hands are dirty. Yet we don’t find that we are makpid to wash our hands before making a shehakol or mezonos. Why not? Any Answers?

Parsha Chabura Bo: The Jewish Months Of The Year

This week’s shiur was about naming the Jewish months.

Shittas HaRamban

The Ramban in his peirush al hatorah (Parshas Bo perek 12) says that the mitzvah of "hachodesh hazeh lachem" includes referring to the months in numerical order with Nisan being month 1. Just like there is a mitzvah to refer to the days of the week as they relate to Shabbos (i.e. Sunday is day one and Monday is day two etc.) so too there is a mitzvah to order the months based on Yitziyas Mitzrayim. Even though the year starts in Tishrei, we still call Nissan the first month since that is the month we left Mitzrayim and Tishrei would be month 7 since it is 7 months since we left Mitzrayim. According to the Ramban if one would refer to Tishrei as month 1, you would be mevateil a mitzvas aseh. The Ramban then writes that when we came back from Bavel, Ezra changed the names of the month. Until this time they had been referred to as month 1,2 and3 and now as a zecher for the geulah from Bavel they were given Babylonian names, Nisan, Iyar, Sivan….

Other Shittos

Not everyone agrees with the Ramban. Rav Yerucham Fishel Perlow in his peirush to Rav Sa’adiah Gaon’s sefer hamitzvos writes that both the Rashba and Ran in Rosh Hashana (7a) argue on the Ramban. The gemara in Rosh Hashana (7a) says that Nissan is the Rosh HaShana for the months. Both the Ran and Rashba ask, what is the nafka mina? They answer the nafka mina is so that we know in which the Yomim Tovim occur. The Torah tells us that Pesach is in the first month, so once we know that Nisan is the first month we know that Pesach is in Nisan. Rav Yerucham Fishel Perlow asks, why didn’t they answer that the nafka mina is because it is a mitzvas aseh to count the months in the correct order, like the Ramban? It must be they argue on the Ramban.

There are two nafka mina that come out of this Ramban.

Nafka Mina 1:The Sefer Ikkarim

The Sefer Ikkarim (Ma’amar 3 Perek 16) writes that it is not an ikkar to believ the Torah can never change. (This is against the Rambam who lists the nitzchiyus of the Torah as one of the 13 ikkarim). One of his rayos is from the Ramban. The Ramban wrote that originally there was a mitzvah to refer to the months as month 1 ,2, 3 from Yitziyas Mitzrayim. However, when they came back from Bavel they changed the months and called them Nissan, Iyar and Sivan. Clearly you see that the mitzvos can become batel.

There are 3 answers given to be docheh this rayah.

1) The B’nei Yissacher (Nissan Ma’amar 1 ) says that names were already known to them al pi mesorah, they just never used them. During the days of Moshe Rabbeinu the names Nissan, Iyar etc were part of torah sh’b’al peh. And after golus Bavel they were part of Torah She’Bichsav. Rav Schachter in Eretz Tzvi Siman 2 has a similar mehalach. Rav Schachter assumes that they found a hint to the names of the months in the Torah.
2) The Binyan Shlomo (Siman 23) says that all the Ramban means is that there was a mitzvah on Beis Din to use the number of the month when they were m’kadeish the chodesh. They would have to say "Tamuz the fourth month is mekudash". The Binyan Shlomo points out that the chiddush that would come out of this is that when we are mevarech the chodesh every month we should also need to mention what number month it is.
3) The "Koseiv" (a peirush in Ain Ya’akov) in Megillah explains that the Ramban didn’t mean that the numbering of the months became batel. Rather, in addition to mentioning the numerical order, they also included names. The Abarbenel in Bo says the same idea. According to this they would refer to Tamuz as tamuz the fourth month.

Nafka Mina 2: Using A Secular Month
Another nafka mina that comes out of this Ramban is whether one would be allowed to reference the month by the secular calandar. In other words would one be allowed to call February as month 2. (and write l’moshel 2/7/06). The Chasam Sofer in Toras Moshe on Parshas Bo says that according to the Ramban you are not allowed to refer to any month in the wrong order. Therefore, by calling this month "Month 2" (referring to February) you are being mevatel an aseh since this month is really Month 11 (Shevat). It would also seem that the "Koseiv" understands the Ramban this way.

Rav Shternbach in Teshuvas V’Hanhagos (Chelek 1 Siman 830) disagrees. He says that the halacha of the Ramban would only apply to our Jewish months. In other words to refer to Tishrei as Month 1 is a problem. However, to refer to the secular months as month 1, 2 or 3 is not a problem. By daying February is Month 2 you are not saying it is the second moth from Yitziyas Mitzrayim. You are just saying it is the second moth of the secular calandar. Other poskim seem to be more machmir=ayin Titz Eliezer (Chelek 8 Siman 8 and Chelek 9 Siman 14) and Yabeia Omer (Chelek 3 YD Siman 9).

BO III: Rechush Gadol

HKBH tells Moshe that the B’nei Yisroel should ask the Eygptians for money in order that Avraham shouldn’t have any ta’anos that Hashem didn’t fulfill part of his havtacha that "yeitzu b’richush gadol". The GR"A asks the obvious question. The reason to make the B’nei Yisroel wealthy should not have been to placate Avraham, but rather in order to fulfill the promise of "yeitzu b’richush gadol". The GR"A answers that really the rechush gadol was the "bizas hayam"-the spoils they picked up by kriyas yam suf. This also fits into the order of the pesukim. The pesukim say "v’gam es hagoy…dan anochi. v’acharei chein yeitzu b’rechush gadol". First there will be a din on Mitzrayim and then the B’nei Yisroel will get the wealth. The GR"A explains that the actual din didn’t take place until kriyas yam suf, when everyone waas killed. (In fact I saw that Rav Dovid Cohen brings down in his sefer Ma’aseh Avos Siman L’Banim that the Targum Yonason Ben Uziel translates "dan anochi" as referring to the 250 makkos that took place at the yam suf.) Therefore, it comes out that the rechush gadol HKBH was referring to had to have been the bizas hayam. However, if the B’nei Yisroel had left Mitzrayim without any wealth it would have appeared as if Hashem wasn’t keeping his promise. Therefore, HKBH ensured B’nei Yisroel would leave wealthy so Avraham wouldn’t have a ta’anah.

BO II: The Matzah Of The First Seder

Two people asked me the following question. It is such an obvious question that I am sure that the seforim talk about it. I personally don’t have an answer and I haven’t had a chance to look around. So if anyone has a teretz, feel free to comment.
The Torah says that the reason we eat matzah on Pesach is because the B’nei Yisroel didn’t have a chance to le the dough rise before they left Mitzrayim. However, we find that they were commanded to eat matzah with the korbon pesach even before they left Mitzrayim. What was the reason why they were commanded to eat the original matzah?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Medrash Shiur Audio

My father in law has been running a chaburah in Medrash Rabba every Friday night for the last 15 years. Recently, he has created a short audio shiur on a portion of the Medrash from the weekly parsha. You can click on the link here or on the sidebar to hear the shiur.

Furthermore, the shiur now has expanded to 5 different locations in Boro Park and Flatbush. Each location is organized by a former member of the original chaburah. If you live in Boro Park or Flatbush and would like information about the shiur, leave me a note in the comments with an email address and I will contact you.


Thursday, February 02, 2006

BO I:The Purpose Of The 400 Year Golus


During the bris bein habesarim, HKBH promises Avraham that his children will be strangers in a foreign land for 400 years. Interestingly, which land this will be in is never mentioned. It seems that all that was being promised was some form of golus. The specifics of that golus, the how, when and where was not determined at that time. In fact, according to one p’shat we see that the golus was actually split into two parts. The first 190 years took place in Eretz Cana’an from Yitzchak’s birth until Ya’akov went down to Mitzrayim. The last 210 years were spent in Mitzrayim. The question is why was Mitzrayim chosen? If part of the 400 years was spent in Cana’an then why couldn’t all 400 years be spent there?

I would like to suggest that this question is actually the gemara’s question in Nedarim 32a. The gemara asks “Why was Avraham punished and his children enslaved in Eygpt for two hundred and ten years?”. I think that what the gemara is really asking is that ain hachi nami the B’nei Yisroel had to be in golus for 400 years, but why did 210 of those years take place thru being enslaved in Mitzrayim? Let it take place in Cana’an and not thru slavery just like the first 190 years took place. One answer the gemara gives in the name of Shmuel is because Avraham went too far in testing HKBH by asking ‘how will I know that I will inherit Eretz Yisroel’. What is the p’shat in this answer? What is the connection between Avraham’s request and golus Mitzrayim?


The gemara in Menachos 85 says the following:

When Moshe (first) performed wonders in Mitzrayim, two of the most expert witches remarked 'Do you bring straw (to sell) to Aforayim?!' (It is already full of grain - likewise, Mitzrayim is already full of witchcraft.). Moshe replied: One goes to the vegetable market to sell vegetables.

The Netziv (Harchev Davar 7:11) explains p’shat in the gemara that if one wants to sell straw, you can sell it anywhere. This is because people don’t care about the quality of the straw, they just want to buy straw. However, when it comes to fruits and vegetables, people want good quality fruit. If you sell high quality produce, the place where you will sell it for the highest price is in a place that appreciates what good fruit is. People who live in a place that doesn’t understand what good fruit is will not spend top dollar for the fruit because they won’t understand how valuable the fruit really is. The same thing was true with the makkos. The reason all the mofsim were done in Mitzrayim is because it was davka the people of Mitzrayim who could appreciate that the makkos were Yad Hashem and not just some advanced form of kishuf. The gemara says that 9/10 of the world’s kishuf was given to Mitzrayim. Therefore, it was only Mitzrayim, who practiced kishuf par excellance and knew what real kishuf was, who could realize that the makkos were actual nisim and not a form of kishuf. All the other nations would just explain it away as a form of kishuf.


The sifrei machshava ( I think the Maharal talks about this in Gevuros Yisroel) all point out that Mitzrayim was the "kor habarzel" for Klal Yisroel. It was in Mitzrayim that the Jewish people were refined and molded into an am kodosh. The seforim also explain that it was precisely in Mitzrayim that this process had to happen because Mitzrayim was the epitome of a nation that denied HKBH and the antithesis of what the B’nei Yisroel stood for. It was only in such an environment that the B’nei Yisroel could become an am kodosh. As the Ramban points out the main yesod of Yitziyas Mitzrayim was developing a sense of emunah and bitachon in HKBH. This could only be accomplished in the country that stood for the exact opposite of emunah b’HKBH.


Now that we understand what the golus Mityzrayim accomplished, we can answer our question above. The cheit of Avraham was that he demonstrated a “chisaron” in emunah by asking for proof that we would inherit EY. However, this chisaron wasn’t just a chisaron in Avraham. Avraham was the father of Klal Yisroel and his chisronos (and ma’alos) impacted all future generations. Ma’aseh Avos siman Labonim and Avraham’s weakness in emunah was transmitted to his descendants. In order to become the nation that we were supposed to be, we needed to eradicate this chisaron. The only place where we could get rid of this chisaron in emunah was in place that stood for the opposite of emunah. This was in Mitzrayim.
I would also add one more idea. Maybe one can say that this chisaron in theory could have been eradicated by the shevatim without Mitzrayim. It was only when the shevatim were not able to be mashlim the chisaron, that golus Mitzrayim became necessary. (Although I have no rayah’s for this maybe if they hadn’t sold Yosef they could have fixed the chisaron in Eretz Cana’an). This is why the havtacha of golus was so open ended. It was not set in stone how to accomplish the tikun, but rather it was up to the shevatim and the Bnei Yisroel to do it. Once they didn’t accomplish the task, HKBH had no choice but to bring golus Mitzrayim.
Finally, the seforim also say that golus Mitzrayim is the model for our current golus. Just like by golus Mitzrayim there were two options on how to go thru the golus, we also seem to have two options. There is the “b’itta” and the “achishena”. If we are zocheh, we can bring the golus to an end right away. But if we are not zocheh then we will have to wait for the ultimate end when Moshiach will finally come. Let us daven that we should be zocheh to see the geulah b’miheirah b’yameinu.