Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tumah and Korbon Pesach

Someone asked me an interesting question – we see that by the korbon Pesach in the Midbar the Bnei Yisroel were not tamei (since it was necessary for some to have a Pesach Sheini). How about in Mitzrayim? It seems that there was no halacha against being tamei while eating the korbon Pesach in Mitzrayim. Why not? Was it because tumah hutrah b’tzibbur, was it a special din by pesach Mitzrayim that tumah didn’t apply or maybe b’chlal there was no din tumah/taharah before Matan Torah.

Interestingly, if you look in the Chiuch and the Rambam you don’t see any special commandment not to eat the Korbon Pesach b’tumah. The way the Rambam formulates the halacha it seems the only reason not to eat the Korbon Pesach b’tumah was because in general all korbonos are not allowed to be eaten b’tumah. The only thing Pesach Sheini was m’chadeish was that if someone was tamei and couldn’t eat the Korbon Pesach he had a way of making it up.

It could be that since b’etzem there is no special halacha of tumah that applies to a Korbon Pesach so if before Mattan Torah there were no dinei tumah or taharah, then it wasn’t necessary for B’nei Yisroel to be m’taheir themselves before eating the Korbon Pesach in Mitzrayim.

Does anyone have a rayah either way if before Mattan Torah there were any dinei tumah or taharah,

Parshas Naso: Understanding Nezirus

This week’s shiur focussed on the status of a Nazir. The gemara and Rishonim discuss the difference between a neder and a shevuah. The gemara calls a Neder an issur cheftzah and a shevuah is called an issur gavrah. This means that when making a neder not to have hana’ah from a pieceof bread, the piece of bread is a davar hassur and is assur to you. However, if one makes a shevuah not to eat a piece of bread the whole day, the bread idoesn’t become a cheftzah shel issur. Rather, you have imposed on yourself certain restrictions-namely not ot eat bread. The question is, how do we view a Nazir. Is it an issur cheftzah, in that the wine becomes a cheftzah shel issur, or is it an issur gavrah, that you are imposing on yourself certain issurim?

Issur Gavra

The Maharit (Siman 52 and 53) has a lengthy arichus on this topic. He brings several Rishonim that seem to hold that Nezirus is an issur gavra. He quotes the Ran and the Rosh as both saying that a nazitr is an issur gavra. Tosafos in Shevuos 25a `also seems to hold it is an issur gavra. The gemara learns from two different pesukim that both nedarim and nezirus is chal on a davar mitzvah. Tosafos asks why do we need two pesukim, just learn nazir from nedarim. Tosafos answers that a nazir is an issur gavra and therefore you can’t learn it from nedarim which is an issur cheftzah..

Issur Cheftza

The Minchas Aher writes that the Rashba ssays nezirus is an issur cheftzah. (also ayimn Maharshdam Y.D. 76 that holds it is an issur cheftzah). The Rashba in answering Tosafos’ question above says that if I didn’thave a posuk I might think nazir is an issur gavra. Therefoere the posuk tells me it is chal a n a devar mitzvah to show it is an issur cheftzah.

Nafka Mina

There don’t to be too many nafka mina in this chakirah, but one nafka mina discussed in the poskim is where someone is m’kabeil nezirus using a loshon neder or using a loshon shevuah. Is the nezirus chal. The Mahrit and Maharshdam write that it could depend on this chakirah. If nezirus is an issur cheftzah then using a loshon shevuah won’t help. If it is an issur gavra than using a loshon neder won’t help. you hold

Shittas Maharit

Finally, there is a third shitta introduced by the maharit. The Maharit writes that nezirus is neither an issur cheftzah or gavrah. Rather it is a status one accepts upon himself that brings with it various dinim, namely that it is assur to drink wine, become tamei or get a haircut. This is similar to a kohein who has a certain status of kedusha and consequently is assur to become tamei.

The achronim us ethis Maharit to explain several sugyas.

The lav of Bal Yeichal

The Rambam paskens that if a nazir violates his nezirus by l’mashel drinking wine , not only is he oveir the lav of drinking wine, but he is also oveir the lav of bal yeichal-which is the lav for violating a neder or shevuah. Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks (Michtavim in Derush v’Chiddush siman 5) why are you also not chayav a korbon? If one violates a neder or shevuah he is oveir on bal yeichal and chayav a korbon. Why does this not apply by Nezirus?

Rabbi Akiva Eiger answers using the yesod of the Mahrit. (He doesn’t quote the Maharit but it is the same yesod). Nezirus is not a shevuah or neder, rather you have accepted upon yourself a certain status. Violating this status is not considered violating your neder or shevuah since nezirus was never a shevuah or neder in the first place.

Of course the question is if nezirus was never a shevuah or neder, why are you oveir on bal yeichal? Rabbi Akiva Eiger says it is a gezeiras hakasuv that the torah imposes upon you this lav.

Miktzas Nezirus

The halacha is if you say “I am a nazir not to drink wine” you are a nazir for everything since “ain nezirus l’chatzain”-there is no such thing as a half nezirus. The Minchas Chinuch asks, if you become tamei, why are you oveir on bal yeichal? Bal Yeichal is an issur for violating what you said. You only mentioned nezirus on wine not on being tamei. So why is there an issur bal yeichal on being tamei? The Kehillas Ya’akov (Nazir siman 2) answers with the Maharit. Nezirus is a status and not a shevuah. In truth there should never be an issur bal yeichal-but the torah imposes it upon someone who violates his nezirus. So here too it is imposed by the Torah even though you didn’t specifically mention tumah.

Issur Kollel

If one says “I am assur to wine” and then says “I am a nazir” he is not a nazir since he is already assur to wine and ain issur chal al issur. The achronim ask why don’t we say issur kollel-that by being a nazir he is adding tumah and haircutting so the nezirus should be chal. The Shut Avnei Miluim writes in Siman 15 that we only say issur kollel when the additional issurim are imposed by the person.. But if they are imposed by the Torah we don’t say issur kollel. Acording to the Maharit that Nezirus is just accepting a status so it comes out the issurim are imposed by the Torah-once you accept this status, m’meilah you have these issurim. Since you never imposed them upon yourself we don’t say issur kollel.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The 70 nations and Matan Torah

I am sure most people are familiar with the ma'amar chazal that HKBH offered the Torah to the other nations first. The gemara in Avodah Zara (2b) has the girsa that HKBH went to all teh nations. However there is another girsa that says HKBH went to Eisav and Yishmael. This is based on the possuk in V'Zos HaBeracha of 'v'zarach misa'ir lamo...". I haven't found where this girsa is but I saw it quoted from a Zohar in Balak. (derech agav if anyone knows where this ma'amar is please let me know).

Anyway, over Yom Tov someone commented to me that the nations that HKBH went to were specifically Eisav, Yishmael, Amon and Moav. This person wanted to say that the reason these nations were chosen is because these nations are not part of the 70 nations. The 70 nations were defined at the Dor Haflagah and these nations didn't exist until afterwards.

This leads me to my question. (Actually 2 questions)

a) Is there such a ma'amar Chazal that HKBH only went to Eisav, Yishmael, Amon and Moav. The gemara in AZ mentions all the nations and the Zohar I saw quoted only mentions Eisav and Yishmael.

b) Is true that Eisav, Yishmael, Amon and Moav are not part of the 70 nations. Intuitively it doesn't make sense to say they are excluded from the 70 nations, but m'sevarah it seems they are not part of the 70 nations. To add to this question, there is a GR"A that writes that Eisav was the head of 35 nations and Yishmael the head of the other 35. This is based on the posuk "eileh varechev v'eileh basusim", eileh= 1+35. This implies that in fact Eisav and Yishmael are not part of the 70 nations. But I am not sure if I am remembering the GR"A accurately and it could be the GR"A means they are part of the 70 but they are the leaders. Also. what about Amon and Moav?

Furthermore, the Ramchal in Derech Hashem writes that the spiritual status of the 70 nations was sealed at the Dor Haflagah. As a chesed at Mattan Torah, HKBH opened up the opportunity for them to improve their status by offering them the Torah. Again, how does Eisav, Yishmael, Amon and Moav fit in to this if they were not around by the Dor Haflagah.

Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Chag Kosher V'Sameach

I would like to wish everyone a Chag Kosher V'Sameach. Enjoy the Yom Tov.

Parshas Naso/Shavuous: The Status of B'nei Yisroel at Mattan Torah

The Rambam in Perek 13 of Issurei Biah writes that there were three things necessary for B'nei Yisroel to enter into teh bris with HJBH. 1) bris mila which took place by Mitzrayim 2) tevillah before Mattan Torah 3) bringing a korbon before Mattan Torah. The Rambam then writes that from this we learn that anyone who wants to be come a ger must have these three things. The mashmaus is that the B'nei Yisroel became geirim at Mattan Torah. If this is true then there are a couple of questions that can be asked regarding this geirus.

a) In Parshas Behaloscha the Torah tells us that the B'nei Yisroel complained about the mann and their families. The gemara in Shabbos 130 says that this refers to the fact that the B'nei Yisroel were upset that some of their wives were now assur to them and that they had to divorce them. (In fact the Da'as Zekainim writes that Amram divorced Yocheved since she was his aunt and she was now assur to be married to him).

The question is that we have a klal "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami". A ger is considered like a newborn child with respect to the fact that he is no longer halachically related to any of his previous relatives. If this is true then after the geirus of Mattan Torah, each and every Jew should not be related to any other Jew and they should be able to marry whomever they want. So why did they cry over the wives they would have to divorce?

b) The second question is regarding the k'tanim. We have a concept in Kesuvos 11a that "ger katan matbilin oso al da'as beis din"-a katan becomes a ger through beis din. There is a machlokes rishonim if this is a dinm'd'oreisa or only m'd'rabanan. The Ramban asks that if one holds it is only m'd'rabanan how were the k'tanim able to become geirim m'd'oreisa at Mattan Torah?

There are four different m'halchim to answer this question. (found in Sefer Mo'adim U'Zmanim)

Meshech Chochma

The Meshech Chochma in Parshas V'Eschanan writes that ain hachi nami, the B'nei Yisroel were geirim and the concept of "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami" does apply. The reason the B'nei Yisorel were crying was because in the future they couldn't marry certain women.

Maharal/Shev Shmaytsa

The Shev Shmaytsa in his hakdama (os 9) quotes the Maharal in Gur Aryeh parshas VaYigash that asks this question. The Maharal answers that the only time we say "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami" is when the geirus was done willingly. Since the geirus of Mattan Torah was against the will of the B'nei Yisroel, we don't say "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami".

The Shev Shmaytsa explains that what the Maharal means is that they realized the world could not surevive without the Torah and therefore in a sense they had no choice in tha matter. He adds that with this we can understand why the complaint happened at the same time they complained about the mon. The mon was a spiritual food which gave them the ability to see things clearly and realize they had no choice but to accept the Torah. Since the mon was the cause of why "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami" didn't apply, the complained about both things together.

3) Rav Soloveitchik

In Harirei Kedem, Rav Shirkin brings a pshat from the Rav. The Rav wanted to say that the geirus of Mattan Torah was a geirus on teh entire tzibur together and not a geirus of individuals. Therefore, since the whole tzibbur was m'gayeir together the concept of "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami" doesn't apply. His rayah for this is teh fact that the possuk the Rambam brings to show that the korbon they brought was part of the geirus is written in the plural form. The reason is because the geirus was on the tzibbur so the korbon was a korbon hatzibbur.

With this you can also answer how k'tanim became geirim. Since it was a geirus on the tzibbur, the whole tzibbur was involved including the k'tanim.

4) Moadim U'Zmanin

Rav Shternbach has another mehalach. His mehalach is different in that he says that in truth there never was a ma'aseh geirus at Mattan Torah. The Ramban at the end of Parshas Emor writes that once Avraham had a bris mila his children were m'yuchas as Yisroel. They didn't have the mitzvos but they still had a yichus of being "zera Avraham". Rav Shternbach explains further that there are two things that are accomplished by geirus. One is that you remove the tumas akkum and the second is that you become part of Yisroel. The Jews before Mattan Torah already had the yichus of being part of Yisroel. The only thing they needed was to remove the tumas akkum. Therefore, the whole concept of "ger sh'nisgayeir k'katan shenolad dami" did not apply since there was no geirus that needed to take place. Also, there is no question on k'tanim because since there was a yichus of zera Avraham they were Jews at birth.

He does point out that it could be the Erev Rav needed a formal ma'aseh geirus and their children might not have been able to be geirim until they grew up.

He also explains why this complaint took place by the complain about the mon. He says that even though the B'nei Yisroel separated from their assur wives, they didn't kick them out and these wives lived with them in teh vicinity. However, when the mon came down the mon did not fall for these wives since they were not really part of the family. It was only then that they were forced to send them away.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Parshas Behar-Bechukosai: Going to a doctor

This week's shiur discussed a very interesting Ramban. The Ramban in Bechukosai 29:11 writes that in an the ideal world, one should not be going to a doctor. Rather, one should search out a navi to ask him what aveirah you did to cause the sickness. The Ramban brings a rayah to this from the Navi's description of Asa HaMelech. In Divrei HaYamim the Navi rebukes Asa for going to the doctor when he got sick. The Ramban understands this to mean that Asa was not just rebuked for not davening to Hashem, but he was rebuked for actually going to a doctor.

The Tzitz Eliezer in the beginning of his kunteres Ramat Rochel writes that the Chovos HaLevavos disagrees with the Ramban. The Chovos HaLevavos in Sha'ar Bitachon Perkek 3 (Hakdama Shlishis) that one should only place their trust in HKBH and not view people as partners with Hashem. This was Asa's mistake. Rather than viewing the doctor as a shaliach of HKBH, he raised the doctor to a level of a shituf with HKBH. According to the Chovos HaLevavos, there is nothing wrong with going to a doctor, you just have to have the right perspective.

(More to come)

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Looking for a possuk

I am wondering if anyone out there can help me out. I am looking for a possuk that describes the following characteristic.

"Her capacity for help (kindliness, strength) is boundless"

It should reflect an essence of character of someone who is driven to help others and uses their energy and adaptability to help others.

This is for a matzeiva.

Thanks for your suggestions.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Standing Up: Part 2

Yesterday I mentioned a chakirah (found in the first Brisker Rav) regarding the halacha of standing up for a rebbi muvhak. Is it an extension of "mipnei seiva takum" or an independent chiyuv of kibud/moreh rav. There are a couple of nafka minas to this chakira.


The Rambam writes that a rebbi muvhak can be mocheil on his kavod while a regular talmud chacham can not. The Brisker Rav explains that the kavod of a rebbi muvhak is an independent chiyuv of kavod. Therefore, the rebbi muvhak has the right to be mocheil. However, the kavod shown to a regular talmud chacham is a gezeiras hakasuv of "mipnei seiva takum" and it is imposed by the Torah. It is like any other mitzvah a person is obligated to do. Therefore, he can't be mocheil.

It also comes out that the talmid of the rebbi would still have the chiyuv of standing for his rebbi muvha b'geder "mipnei seiva takum" but would not have the additional chiyuvim that apply to a rebbi muvhak.

Someone pointed out to me that this could also explain the GR"A's shitta that a kohein can't be mocheil on his kavod. It is not his kavod-it comes from "v'kidashto" and therefore he can't be mocheil.

Just to note that l'ma'aseh the Shulchan Aruch paskens any rebbi can be mocheil not just a rebbi muvhak.

Requirements of Standing Up

The chiyuv to stand up for a rebbi muvhak is from the time you first see him in the distance. The chiyuv for a talmud chacham is only when he gets within 4 amos. What is the difference? The Ran explains that the possuk says "mipnei seiva takum v'hadarta p'nei zakein" which teaches us the standing up has to show hiddur. Hiddur for a rebbi muvhak is when you see him and for a regular talmud chacham it is 4 amos. The Ran learns these 2 halachos are from the same source. However, according to the Rambam we could say that there are 2 different chiyuvim. In fact the Rambam writes that the chiyuv for a parent is patterned after rebbi muvhak-so we see he holds rebbi muvhak is a kovod/yirah issue.

Father Standing Up For Son Who Is Rebbi

The gemara discusses whether a father must stand up for his son when the son is his rebbi and whether the son must stand up for his father. The gemara never answers the question and the Rosh paskens l'chumrah in both cases. The Ran paskens that the son must stand for his father but a father does not have to stand for his son. His rayah is from a Yerushalmi that says how Rav Tarfon showed kavod to his mother and his mother allowed it and didn't show kavod to him. The Ran then writes that a rebbi muvhak is the same as a regular chacham. I believe the Ran is saying that clearly Rabbi Tarfon was not his mother's rebbi muvhak. However, since a regular talmud chacham and rebbi muvhak have the same din we can learn the halachos of rebbi muvhak from the Yerushalmi. The Rosh might argue and say there is no rayah from teh Yerushalmi to a rebbi muvhak because a rebbi muvhak has a different din then a regular talmud chacham.

The only problem with this is the Rambam paskens like the Ran and based on my explanation, he should not have a rayah from the Yerushalmi.