Monday, March 26, 2007

Inyanei Pesach:Chametz In A Different Time Zone

This past Shabbos I discussed the question of what to do if you are in on etime zone and your chametz is in a different time zone. Does the issur of chametz follow the gavra or the cheftza?

This question is discussed in the Shut Oneg Yom Tov. He says that the issur follows the cheftza of chametz and therefore even if you are in a place that is not Pesach the chametz is still assur. His rayah is from the gemara that discusses what the halacha is if you eat chametz shel terumah. If you do it b'shogeg you pay keren and chomesh and b'meizid you are patur because of kim lei b'd'rabba minei. The gemara brings a rayah that you value teruma eaten based on volume eaten and not based on the value from the fact you pay for chametz teruma. If you paid based on value, teruma chametz has no value. The Oneg Yom Tov asks if the issur chametz follows the gavra then we can say the gemara is discussing a case where the teruma was eaten on 7th day of Pesach and the owner of teruma was in a location where Pesach was over. For the owner the teruma does have value. From the fact the gemara doesn't say this you see we follow the cheftza shel chametz.

The Chessed L'Avraham disagrees and says the issur of ba'al yera'eh follows the person. His rayah is from the gemara that says if you are away from home and after the 6th hour you remember you have chametz you can be m'vateil it. The gemara asks how can you be m'vateil it, it is already assur. The gemara could have answered that the chametz was in a different time zone where it wasn't Pesach. Since it didn't say this you see the issur follows the gavra.

The Mikroei Kodesh says maybe they don't argue. The Oneg Yom Tov could be talking about the issur hana'ah from chametz and the Chesed L'Avraham is talking about the issur of ba'al yera'eh. He also quotes from the Sefer HaYomom from Rav Yechiel Michel Tuchitchinsky (available for download at (p.92) ) who addresses this question posed to him by Nathan Lamport's son in law. Rav Yechiel Michel Tuchitchinsky writes that the chametz itself is an issur cheftza and assur to eat and assur b'hana'ah. However, the issur of ba'al yera'eh is an issur gavra.

Rav Yechiel Michel Tuchitchinsky then writes an interesting idea. If someone is in EY and the chametz is in NY, you coul dbe m'vateil the chametz because it is similar to a case where you are m'vateil chametz before it is chametz. The halacha is that if you are mixing flour and water on Pesach you can say any crumbs which will be chametz are batul since it is not yet chametz. Here too the bread in NY doesn't have a "din" chamez so you can be m'vateil it. Now if you are in NY and teh chametz is in EY, we can also say that bittul works. The reason is because the only reason bittul won't work on Peasch is because the Torah puts it into your reshus against your will. In this case since it is not Pesach for you, the chametz isn't being put into your reshus and you could be m'vateil it. L'ma'aseh he says there are opinions that it is the issur hana'ah which prevents the bittul from working so l'chatchila we should be machmir. Howeevr, b'dieved the chametz is not assur after Pesach.

The Mishnas Ya'avetz wants to say that this question depends on whether chametz is an issur gavra or issur cheftza. He learns the Rambam that it is an issur gavra and therefore the issur follows the person. (However, ayin Brisker Rav that even after the 6th hour the chametz is an issur cheftza)

Rav Moshe (Cheelk 4 Siman 94) paskens that the issur follows the gavra but we should be machmir to follow the cheftza shel chometz. However in Siman 95 he seems to say it follows the cheftza. Tzarich iyun in Rav Moshe although the maskana is clearly to make sure you get rid of all chametz in a way to satisfy both time zones (whether selling or buying back the chametz)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Shoveling Snow on Shabbos

Most of us in the NY/NJ area "enjoyed" one last snowfall this past Shabbos (hopefully it will be the last snowfall of the winter). This of course led to the question whether one is allowed to shovel snow on Shabbos. It seems after looking at the contemporary halacha books that there are three issues raised. (I will add one caveat that this is all from memory so I might have misquoted something-so if you catch me on a mistake let me know)

Is snow muktzah?

Whether snow is muktzah is a machlokes between Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l and Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l. Rabbi Bodner in his Muktzah book quotes Rav Moshe as saying that snow is muktzah machmas gufo since there is no intrinsic use for snow. The Sh'miras Shabbos quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman as saying that snow is not muktzah-just like rain that falls on Shabbos is not muktzah.

Issues of Soseir

Rabbi Ribiat in his Hilchos Shabbos book brings from the Har Tzvi (In his section on 39 melachos). that hold shoveling snow could violate the issur of soseir. The Har Tzvi discusses a case of whether you could remove snow from your roof. He says it could be the snow is attached to the roof and it is soseir. The m'kor for this is a Magan Avraham (brought in the Mishna Berura 320:30 that one is not allowed to chop up ice over a river. The Mishna Berura writes most achronim disagree with the Magan Avraham).

Interestingly enough, the Piskei Teshuvos quotes this Har Tzvi as being meikil and allowing you to shovel the snow while Rabbi Ribiat seems to be machmir based on the Har Tzvi. The answer to this apparant contradiction seems to be based on the fact that there is a footnote in the Har Tzvi which explains that you can't compare the psak of the Magan Avraham to this case. The Magan Avraham was referring to a case where the ice formed mechitzos so you would be making mechitzos by chopping a hole in it. Shoveling snow however would not be a problem. I guess the disagreement between Rabbi Ribiat and the Piskei Teshuvos is based on whether the Har Tzvi would agree or disagree with the footnote.

Issues of Tircha

Rabbi Ribiat also writes there could be an issur of tircha to shovel snow. L'aniyas da'ati I am not sure how one goes about catagorizing what is an issur of tircha and what isn't.

Halacha L'Ma'aseh

If you assume there is an issur of tircha and/or soseir than shoveling snow should be assur. This is the position of Rabbi Ribiat although curiously I believe he allows one to chop ice on the sidewalk.

If you assume there is no issur of tircha and/or soseir than shoveling snow should be muttar even if you hold snow is muktzah . That is because one is allowed to remove muktzah if it might harm someone. This is the position of the Piskei Teshuvos. I guess a difference in whether snow is muktzah or not is regarding how much can one shovel. If snow is not muktzah you might be able to shovel the whole walk. If it is muktzah you would probably only be allowed to remove enough so it is not dangerous.

I was told that one prominent Rav in a community allowed peopel to shovel the snow because it was dangerous.

I found it interesting that the Sh'miras Shabbos did not discuss it but he does say you can put salt down to melt ice.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Parshas Ki Tisa: Saying Ptitum HaKetores

THis past Shabbos I spoke about the ketores. I didn't really say over any chiddushim, but at leats now I have a better understanding of what we say in "Pitum HaKetorees". The ketores has to have 11 spices and if you leave one out you are chayav misa. There is a machlokes Rishonim what the chiyuv misa is for. Rashi (K'risus 5a) learns that it is specifically referring to teh kohein gadol bringing the k'tores on Yom Kippur. If you leave out one spice so the kohein gadol has entered the kodesh k'dashim for no reason ("bi'ah reikanis") and is chayav misa. The pashtus in the Rambam (Klei Mikdash 2:8) seems to be that this is a halacha that applies all year. If you bring the ketores that is missing a spice you have brought an improper ketores and you are chayav misa.
There is a nafka mina l'ma'aseh. The Beis Yosef quotes the Terumas HaDeshen that one suld not say "Pitum HaKetores" every day since we are in a rush and if you forget one spice you are chayav misa. The Beis Yosef asks, that according to Rashi the chiyuv misa is only for Yom Kippur. Also, the Beis Yosef understands the Rambam like Rashi. (The Mishne L'Melech argues on the Beis Yosef's understanding of the Rambam). It coms out the machlokes between nusach sefard and ashkenaz over whether to say "Pitum HaKetores" everyday is based on the machlokes how to understand the chiyuv misa of leaving out a spice.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Exploring the Mystery of Wine

Here is the vort I wrote up on Purim.

Getting Drunk on Purim

The גמרא מגילה דף ז: brings the famous halacha that חיב אינישׁ לבסומי עד דלא ידע בין ארור המן וברוך מרדכי a person is obligated to get intoxicated [with wine] until he doesn’t know the difference between .ארור המן וברוך מרדכי

There are a couple of questions that one can ask on this גמרא..

The first question is why does the gemara use the term לבסומי? If the gemra is telling us that there is a mitzvah to get drunk, why not use the term להשׁתכר?
The second and more important question is, why does this מצוה exist? This whole מצוה seems to go against everything the Torah stands for. The Torah always seems to stress how we need to be in control of our faculties and that even when we partake of the physical world, it should be with the mindset that our ultimate goal is to serve HKBH. Therefore, isn’t the whole notion of getting drunk totally antithetical to what the Torah wants?

The Dual Nature of Wine

The key to answering these questions lies in understanding the power of wine. If we look in the גמרא in סנהדרין ע. we can find that wine has contradictory aspects to it.

א"ר חנן לא נברא יין בעולם אלא לנחם אבלים ולשׁלם שכר לרשׁעים שׁנאמר תנו שׁכר לאובד ויין למרי נפשׁ.
א"ר יצחק מאי דכתיב "אל תרא יין כי יתאדם? ....רבא אמר אל תרא יין שׁאחריתו דם ["אל תרא" רשׁ"י פירשׁ: כלומר אל תתן עיניך לימשׁך אחריו].
R. Hanan said: The only purpose for which wine was created was to comfort mourners and requite the wicked, for it is written, Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish [i.e., the wicked], and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. R. Isaac said: what is meant by, Look not thou upon the wine when it is red? ... Raba said: look not upon it, for it leads to bloodshed [dam].

From this גמרא we see that wine has a negative effect on a person. The only redeeming quality of wine is that it helps a person forget his problems and drinking too much wine can lead a person to murder.
However, in the next piece of גמרא we see a different side to wine.

רב כהנא רמי כתיב תירש וקרינן תירושׁ. זכה נעשה ראשׁ לא זכה נעשה רשׁ. רבא רמי כתיב ישׁמח וקרינן ישמח. זכה משמחו לא זכה משׁממו
והיינו דאמר רבא חמרא וריחני פקיחין.
Rav Kahana raised a difficulty; The Bible writes tirash [for wine], but the word is read tirosh. If one has merit, he becomes a leader, if not, he becomes impoverished. Raba raised a difficulty: The Bible writes, [and wine] yeshammah [the heart of man], but it is read yesammah. If one has merit, it gladdens him; if not, it saddens him. And thus Raba said: wine and spices have made me wise.
Once again we see from this גמרא that wine can adversly affect a person either by cause poverty or sadness. However, unlike the previous גמרא, we also see that wine has positive qualities. It helps you become a leader, it causes you to rejoice and it makes you smart. How are we to understand this dual nature of wine? What is it about wine that can cause such extreme results in a person?
The Maharal in his Chiddushei Aggados on this גמרא explains as follows.
פירושׁ היין אינו ראוי לעולם הזה. כי היין ישׁ בו ענין אלקי שׁהרי הוא משמח אלקים ואנשׁים. ודבר זה יכול האדם לדעת ולהבין שׁהוא יוצא מן הפנימית הענב שׁהוא נסתר מערה על שׁהיין ישׁ לו מקום נסתר אינו מן העולם בנגלה. ...ועוד רבא רמי כתיב וכו' וכל זה כמו שׁפרשׁנו כי היין הוא נסתר, וכל נסתר ישׁ לו שׁתי בחינות כי מצד שׁהוא נסתר ישׁ לו מדריגות השכל שׁהוא נסתר ומצד שׁאינו נגלה אינו נמצא ונעדר...וכבר אמרנו כי היין ישׁ בו ענין רוחני שׁהרי הוא משמח אלקים ואנשׁים. וכל דבר שׁהוא חשׁוב וישׁ בו ענין אלקי אם ישׁתמשׁ בו כראוי קונה ע"י זה מעלה. ואם אינו משׁתמשׁ בו כראוי קונה ע"י זה מיתה. ... וכן כאשׁר ישׁתה היין כראוי מפקח אותו ונותן לו השכל העליון, ואם אינו כך רק שׁשׁותה וישׁתכר מביא יללה ומיתה ואין להאריך בזה. The Maharal is saying that the reason that wine causes two extreme reactions is because in essence wine is a very spiritual food. It has the ability to cause a person to connect to HKBH and to achieve a level of shlaimus in one’s soul. It is through achieving this level of shlaimus that a person can reach a state of simcha. This is the simcha that comes from drinking wine. However, because wine in essence is spiritual and non physical, it also has the ability of causing the opposite effect. If a person uses wine improperly then it will bring destruction upon that person.
The Aveirah of Purim
The גמרא in מגילה says that there was a discussion between רבי שׁמעון בר יוחי and his talmidim regarding why the בני ישראל deserved to be punished through Haman. One suggestion given was because they were נהנה from the seudah of Achashveirosh.The question is, what was so terrible about this aveirah that the whole nation deserved to die? The food was kosher and there were many reasons why the Jews should have been allowed to attend. Even if they really shouldn’t have gone, was the crime that great to deserve such a terrible punishment?
Rav Dovid Cohen in his sefer ימי פורים brings down an explanation from the גר"א. The גר"א writes that the source of bad in עשו comes from his כח התאה, his desire for worldly pleasures. However, it is not just עשו’s desire for worldly pleasures that sets him apart, but rather it is his desire for worldly pleasures to the exclusion of anything else, even spirituality. This is highlighted by the story in פרשׁת תולדות where עשו sold his birthright to יעקב. The גרא writes that the Torah uses the loshon of הלעיטני נא to describe עשו’s request for food. This לשׁוןof הלעיטני נא tells us that עשו was only concerned with his own physical pleasures and desires and he had no use for anything spiritual, like the בכורה that he eventually sold. This midda of עשו was passed down and inherited by his grandson עמלק.
With this idea we can understand why the aveirah of eating from Achashveirosh’s seudah was considered so terrible. By partaking in the seudah, they weren’t just eating a meal but rather they were eating in order to fill their desire for a good meal. Their whole eating wasn’t done to raise themselves closer toהקב"ה , but rather it was done just for their ownהנאה . It comes out that by eating at Achashveirosh’s seudah they were utilizing the midda of עשו/עמלק of following their desires to the exclusion of any spiritual purpose. Since they were joining up with what עמלק represented, הקב"ה gave Haman the ability to destroy the בני ישראל. (This idea is also found in the Sefas Emes regarding the connection betwen המן and the עץ הדעת )
Celebrating the Yeshua of Purim
Once the B’nei Yisroel were saved, Chazal wanted to commemorate the neis in a way in which the B’nei Yisroel would not forget what caused them to be in this predicament in the first place. Therefore, the גר"א writes in אדרת אליהו פרשׁת האזינו that they created a Yom Tov whose entire day revolved around eating and drinking. However, unlike the eating and drinking of Achashveirosh’s seudah, this eating and drinking would be for the purpose of serving HKBH. The partaking of the gashmiyus would be only in order to serve הקב"ה. In fact the Sefas Emes also writes that Purim was a zman of being m‘sakein the guf and by serving הקב"ה through eating and drinking the B’nei Yisroel accomplished a true תשׁובה מאהבה where the original חטא was transformed into a zechus.
The Role of Wine
We can now understand why Chazal were m’sakein the chiyuv of mishteh v’simcha through wine. As we mentioned above in the name of the Maharal, wine has a dual aspect to it. On the one hand if it is misused it has the ability to bring a person to destruction. This is in fact what happened to the B’nei Yisroel by Achashveirosh’s party. By partaking in the seudah and misusing the wine they cause a gezeirah to be placed on Klal Yisroel. However, wine when properly used, also has the ability to raise a person to a high spiritual madreigah. After בני ישראל did teshuva and rectified their misdeeds, they needed to take that wine and use it to elevate themselves. As mentioned, the whole inyan of mishteh v’simcha on Purim is to take the koach of gashmiyus and elevate it to a higher spiriual level, where we are only indulging in the physical world in order to serve הקב"ה . It would stand to reason that the vehicle through which we do this is the food that was created for this purpose, namely wine.
Understanding לבסומי בפוריא
Finally, we need to answer why the גמרא uses the לשׁון of "בסומי בפוריא".
ואיתא חייב אדם לבסומי וכו' כי מהתקרבות דברי עוה"ז להקדושׁה ישׁ תוספות ריח. כי באמת עניני עוה"ז אין בהם ממשׁות קדושׁה רק שׁע"י הביטול נתוסף מהם ריח טוב...שׁכל ענין הריח נעשה מהתכפיות סט"א להקדושׁה וזהו לבסומי (שפת אמת שׁנת תרמ"ד)
The Sefas Emes is saying that the word בסומי is found by perfumes to mean that a perfume spreads it’s smell. Gashmiyus by itself has no kedusha. It is only when it is connected to ruchniyus does the smell of ruchniyus spread to the gashmiyus. Chazal are telling us that even though we need to drink and make merry, we should not forget the ultimate goal-to infuse the gashmiyus with a sense of kedusha.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Some Purim thoughts

1) I picked up a peirush on the megillah by Rav Yonason Eibshutz and it has some interesting he'oros. (It actually is just a likut of what he wrote in Ya'aros D'vash put together on the megillah).

He explains why it seems Achashveirosh made 2 parties. One in the 3rd year of his reign and another one 180 days later. He writes that Achashveirosh was counting 70 years until the golus was over and when the geulah didn't come he made a party. However, Achashveirosh wasn't sure if the years followed the Malchei Yehuda which is from Nisan or the non Jewish kings which is from Tishrei. When Tishrei of the 70th year came he started his party., however he was still wary that teh geulah would come in Nisan. 180 days later when Nisan came and there was no geulah, he figured it would never come. He got bolder and made a second party andthis time told Vashti to drop everything (pun intended) and come to the party.

One final point, Achashveirosh was still mesupak if Adar would be m'ubar. Therefore he asked the "yodei ha'ittim" who were the Sanhedrin who decided when to make an extra month.

2) The sefer Yosef Lekach has an interesting pshat why Esther insisted Achashveirosh come to a party right away. He writes that she didn't want to give Achashveirosh a chance to request that she sleep with him. She knew if she got him over to her palace he wouldn't make such a request. Therefore, she asked for the party right away. As far as the second party he says that Esther realized that Achashveirosh wanted her to drink with him. However, she was still fasting. She told him to come to a second party and she would drink with him there.