Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Third Year Anniversary

It's hard to believe that this week , my blog will have been up for 3 years. Althoough I have slowed down recently , looking at my old posts has inspired me to try and be more on top of it. (The key word being "try").

Also, Mazal Tov to my daughter who officially was Bas Mitzvah yesterday, 3 Teves.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Parshas Vayeishev:Using Treife Food For The Menorah

I discussed an interesting question, whether one is allowed to use non kosher food as oil or candles for the Chanuka menorah.

This question can be divided into 2 groups; one group would be issurei ha'na'ah like basar b'chalav or orlah. The 2nd group would be your regular run of the mill treife food like candles made from pig fat. I'd like to focus on this second group first.

Shittas Magen Avraham

The issue starts with a Magen Avraham in Hilchos Shofar Siman 586. The Rema paskens that one can not use a shofar from a non kosher animal. The Magen Avraham explains that in Shabbos 28b the gemara learns that tefillin must be made from a kosher animal ("min hamutar sheh bificha"). Furthermore, the gemara in Kiddushin equates the mitzva of tefillin to the other mitzvos in the torah to prove that women are patur from z'man grama. Therefore, the Magen Avraham says that this hekesh between tefillin and other mitzvos can also be applied to the halacha that the item used in the mitzvah must be from a kosher animal. (ayin Machatzis HaShekel who understands the Magen Avraham this way). It would come out that according to the Magen Avraham, the neiros of Chanuka must also come from a kosher source.

Poskin who disagree

Not all poskim hold that this Magen Avraham applies to ner Chanuka.

1) The Beis Yitzchak writes that this halacha only applies to cheftzei mitzva which are still around. The Yerushalmi in Sotah has a machlokes whether megillas sotah can be written on a non kosher animal. The opinion who holds you can't says the reason is because maybe the sotah will not want to drink the water. The Beis Yitzchak asks, why don't we say the reason is because we need "min hamutar sheh bificha". He answers that this halacha only applies cheftzei mitzva which are still around and since the klaf of the sotah is erased you don't need "min hamutar sheh bificha". The Beis Yitzchak then says the same sevara applies to ner chanuka, since the oil/candle is burned it can come from a non kosher animal

2) The son of the Noda B'Yehuda discusses this issue in a teshuva in the Noda B'Yehuda Mahadura Tinyana Siman 3. He is m'chaleik between tashmishei kedusha (tefillin) and tashmishei mitzvah. Since ner Chanuka are only tashmishei mitzvah there is no problem. One of his proofs is from the chilazon used in the techeiles which according to some shittos is from a non kosher animal. We see for tashmishei mitzva you can use a non kosher animal.

3) Rav Shlomo Kluger in Shnos Chaim writes there might be a problem of miyus. But if you are mesupak if it is not kosher or you don't know about it it is not miyus and you can use the candles

more later on issurei ha'na'ah

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Parshas VaYeitzei:Hosafos to Ma'ariv when Davening Early: Part 2

To answer why one would say Ya'aleh V'Yavo even when davening early, the Mishnas Ya'avetz(Siman 2) has an interesting chiddush. I also found this idea in the Shut Mishnah Halachos. The halacha is that if you forget ya'aleh v'yavo at night you don'trepeat shemoneh esrei because we are not m'kadeish the chodesh at night and really one does not need to say ya'aleh v'yavo at night. However, why then do we see it? The Mishnas Ya'avetz says that we say it in reference to the next day which has kedushas Rosh Chodesh. It comes out that even when we daven ma'ariv after nightfall we are saying ya'aleh v'yavo because of the next day. Therefore, what difference does it make if we say it before tzais or after tzais-it is not a tefilla dependent on the night.

Regarding Al HaNisim, I saw in the Rivivos Ephraim that Rav Moshe held if one says Al HaNisim during mincha before Chanuka it is not a hefsek. The reason is that erev chanuka is also the z'man of commemorating the neis of winning the war. If this is so, then kal v'choomer one who davens ma'ariv early could say Al HaNisim. The Rivios Ephraim also quotes Rav Ovadiah Yosef who says this as well.

For V'sein Tal U'Matar I didn't find a clear reason why you would say it. The Ishei Yisroel just say swe do and he brings to sources but it is not clear why.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Parshas VaYeitzei:Hosafos to Ma'ariv when Davening Early

It's been awhile and I apologize to my legions of fans who have been anxiosly awaiting my next post.

I spoke abount an interesting shaylah this week. We paskin that one can daven ma'ariv starting from plag hamincha,like shittas Rabbi Yehuda in Berachos 26a. (whether this is l'chatchila or b'dieved is not nogeia this discussion). What happens if one davens ma'ariv early on Rosh Chodesh, does one say ya'aleh v'yavo? How about davening ma'ariv early on the 1st night of Chanukah or on December 3rd, when one would add v'sein tal u'mattar.

The halacha is we do add the various hosafos even when davening early. The question will be why.

The gemara in Berachos 27 says that one can daven ma'ariv for Shabbos early. The question is why. Most Rishonim hold that since there is a mitzvah of tosefes Shabbos, once you are m'kabeil Shabbos you can now daven a Shabbos shemoneh esrei before it is night. The Rambam however does not hold of tosefes Shabbos and he learns it is a special kulah in ma'ariv since ma'ariv is only a reshus not a chiyuv.

According to teh Rambam we can apply this chiddush of ma'ariv being a reshus to any ma'ariv and therefore that is why we add the hosafos despite davening early. The problem is the other Rishonim who learn the sugyah based on tosefes Shabbos. By these other hosafos there is no tosefes. We need to come up with other reasons why we add the hosafos before nightfall.

More to come...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Parshas VaYeira:Tefillas Nedava

The gemara says that the Avos established tefillah. Now that we are in the parsha of the Avos, it is a good time to discuss aspects of tefillah. This week’s chabura discussed the idea of davening a tefilas nedava. The sugyah is found in Berachos 21a. One can have the following chakirah in tefillas nedava. How does one view a tefillas nedava. Is it really the same cheftzah of tefilla as a tefilla of chova and the only difference between a nedava and chova is in your kavanah. L’mashel, one can bring a korbon as a chova or nedava. Both korbonos consist of the same animal and the only difference is your kavana in bringing it. The other tzad is to say that a tefillas chova and nedava are different cheftza’s of tefillas and they are fundamentally different. We can explain a few machlokes rishonim with this chakira.

Chiddush in Tefillas Nedava

There is a machlokes between Rashi and Tosafos whether tefillas nedava requires a chiddush. This machlokes is also found between the Rambam and Ra’avad in Hilchos Tefillah (perek 1). L;chorah one can explain the machlokes based on our chakira. If you hold that a nedava and chova are the same cheftzah of tefilla then one would not need a chiddush to distinguish between the two. However, if you hold they are fundamentally different then you need to add something to your nedava to make it different then a chova, This is why you need a chiddush. In fact the loshon of the Rambam is that you need a chiddush to show it is a tefillas nedava.

Combining Nedava and Chova

There is a machlokes Rishonim what happens if one is in the middle of davening and remembers that he already davened. Can one finish the rest of davening b’toras chova. R’Chaim understands that it is a machlokes between the Rambam and Ra’avad. The Rambam paskens you must stop and you can not continue b’toras nedava. The reason is that you can’t combine a tefillas chova and nedava. The Ra’avad (according to R’ Chaim’s understanding) holds you can finish b’toras nedava. R’ Chaim adds that this machlokes is l’shitasam to the machlokes above about whether one needs a chiddush. R’ Chaim doesn’t explain himself but l’chorah according to our chakira it works out. If you hold that a nedava and chova are the same cheftzah of tefilla then one could combine them –like the Ra’avad holds. But if you hold they are fundamentally different then you would not be able to combine them, like the Ramabm holds.

Halacha L’Ma’aseh

What happens if you are in the middle of shemoneh esrei and you forget what beracha you are in. The Chayei Adam says you can not repeat the beracha you are mesupak about b’toras nedava because you can’t combine a nedava with chova and the rest of shemoneh esrei would be a tefillas chova. Rather, you skip to the beracha that you know for sure you didn’t say. Both the Steipler (Kehillas Ya’akov in Berachos) and Rav Ovadiah Yosef (Yabeia Omer Chelek 9 Siman 8) ask how can you skip a beracha. If it turns out that you never said the beracha you are mesupak in then it turnsw out you missed a beracha and you were never yotzei shemone esrei. Furthermore, all the rest of the berachos would be a bracha l’vatalah. Therefore they pasken you should repeat the beracha you are mesupak about.

Both the sefer Ishei Yisroel and Tefillah K’Hilchasa bring the Chayei Adam l’halacha and mention the Kehillas Ya’akov and Yabeia Omeir in the footnotes. When I asked a posek what to do I was told to follow the Kehillas Yaakov and repeat the beracha you are mesupak in, against the Chayei Adam.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Lech Lecha:Milah Knife and Muktzah

This week’s chaburah discussed an interesting issue regarding muktzeh machmas chisaron kis. The Shulchan Aruch in Siman 308:1 says those items that one would not use because the owner does not want them to get ruined are muktzeh machmas chisaron kis. The example the Shulchan Aruch gives is a mila knife. The question is, if the milah knife would break and the owner would no longer be worried about ruining it, would it lose its status of muktzah. There are 3 opinions in this halacha.

Magan Avraham

The Magan Avraham (308:19) writes that if a utensil that is muktzeh breaks on Shabbos even though the reason for the muktzeh no longer applies, the item is still muktzeh. The Levushei Serad explains that the Magan Avraham is referring to muktzeh machmas chisaron kis and the reason it is still muktzeh is because of the rule that if it is muktzeh when Shabbos started it is muktzeh the whole Shabbos (migu d’itzkatzoi bein hash’mashos itzkatzoi l’kulo yoma).

Rabbi Akiva Eiger

Rabbi Akiva Eiger disagrees and says if a milah knife broke it is no longer muktzeh. We pasken like Rabbi Shimon who does not hold that if it is muktzeh when Shabbos started it is muktzeh the whole Shabbos. Furthermore, in the beginning of Siman 308, he writes that it might be possible to remove the muktzeh by changing your mind. If you decide to no longer use this knife as a mila knife it now loses its muktzah status. However, on this last part Rabbi Akiva Eiger is mesupak since maybe you need a ma’aseh to remove the chisaron kis from the object.

Chazon Ish

The Chazon Ish takes a middle of the road approach. He says that even Rabi Shimon holds if it is muktzeh when Shabbos started it is muktzeh the whole Shabbos unless there is a chance the muktzah would be removed on Shabbos. If such a chance exists then you are considered as waiting for the muktzah to fall off (yosheiv u’mitzapeh) and the object is muttar when the muktzeh is removed. By the milah knife, you are not yosheiv u’mitzapeh and therefore even when it breaks it is still muktzah. However, a milah knife that is damaged and might break would not be muktzeh if it broke on Shabbos . In this case we say you are yosheiv u’mitzapeh that it will break and the rule of migu d’itzkatzoi doesn not apply.

The real question is what is the sevara of Rabbi Akiva Eiger. Why does he say the knife is muttar without any qualifications.

Stay tuned...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Rosh Hashana: The Tekios

In case you were wondering I'm still around. I've just been swamped at work and it looks like it will continue this way through Sukkos.

I spoke this week about the different shittos in how we blow tekios. I'll just mention one thing I said. Rashi holds a teruah is three short blasts and Tosafos/Rosh hold it is nine. (We follow Tosafos). Since a tekiah is the same length as a teruah, according to Rashi, 1 blast of the tekiah can't be longer than the equivilant of three short blasts. Also, l'fi Rashi, we blow three shevarim and a shever is the length of 2 short blasts. If it would be the length of 3 short blasts it would be a tekiah.

Our shevarim are 3 blasts and each blast is l'chatchila the length of 3 short blasts. It comes out that according to Rashi we are really blowing three tekios and not 3 shevarim (and we are not yotzei). That is why some have the chumrah to be yotzei shittas Rashi by blowing after davening a set of shevarim where each shever is the length of 2 short blasts.

In the Nefesh HaRav it brings down that Rav Soloveitchik had the following eitzah which Rav Chaim agreed to. It never says you have to blow 3 shevarim. All the Rishonim say is that the total length of all the shevarim must equal the length of 9 short blasts. Why can't you blow 5 blasts with each blast being the length of 2 short blasts. This way even according to Rashi you have blown shevarim, nottekios and you have also blown the length of 9 short blasts.

Hope this wasn't too confusing.

Have a Kesiva V'Chasima Tova and a Healthy Sweet New Year!

Monday, September 08, 2008

Public Service Announcement

I just discovered that anypne who is a YU alumnus can get free access to the Bar Ilan and Otzar HaChochma database (along with other electronic periodicals). If you follow the link below you can register for this free service.

(I knew my YU education would come in handy one day)

Shoftim:Cutting Down Fruit Trees

As previously mentioned, my shiur this week was on the topic of cutting down fruit trees. The Torah says that one can not cut down any fruit trees. However, the gemara in Bava Kama 91B and Bava Basra 26a qualify this that if the wood is worth more than the fruit one can cut it down. The Rosh adds that if one needs the mokom of the tree then one can also cut the tree down. Finally, the Rambam in Hil Melachim writes that the only issur is if it is cut down in a destructive manner. Therefore, the issur would not apply in the following scenarios a) if the wood is worth more than the fruit b) if one needs the mokom of the tree c) the tree is damaging the adjacent property d) the tree is old and not producing enough fruit (how much fruit is discussed by the Rambam).

The Taz brings this halacha down in Siman 117:6 and he mentions the heterim listed above. He also wonders why the Tur did not bring this halacha down at all.

Various poskim discuss this issue and they all seem to be in agreement that when one of the above situations apply it is muttar to cut down a tree. However, they do raise several interesting points.


The gemara in Bava Basra mentions that Rav Chinina's son died because he cut down a fruit tree. From here we see that besides there being an issur to cut a tree down there is also an aspect of sakana. The question some poskin deal with is whether this sakana issue is separate from the issur or tied to the issur.

Sh'ailas Ya'avetz

The Sh'ailas Ya'avetz was asked about cutting down a tree to expand a shul. He says that it is a davar pashut that it is muttar since it is tzorech mitzvah and you need the mokom. However, he says even if it is muttar, it would still be a question of sakana. The rayah to this is from the gemara in Bava Basra. You can't say that Rav Chinina did an aveirah by cutting down the tree. It must have been a case where it was muttar. Yet we still see his son died. Therefore, even when it is muttar there is still a sakana.

L'ma'aseh, the Ya'avetz paskens that in this case the shul was being rented from a non-Jew and therefore you don't have to worry about the sakana since the tree was owned by the non-Jew. He also reccomends uprooting the entire tree and replanting it. Then there would be no problem of sakana either.

The Chasam Sofer disagrees. He paskens that if there is no issur then there is no sakana. As long as it is muttar one does not have to worry about a sakana. Howeevr, he does say that if you have any doubt whether it is muttar, you should not cut it down (for example you are not sure if the tree is dead) since it is a safeik sakana. He also says that uprooting and replanting the tree somewhere else only works if you have a reason to move the tree. Just to uproot it for no reason is still assur.

The Har Tzvi (O.C. Chelek 2 Siman 103/104) seems to follow the Sh'ailas Ya'avetz. He was asked about cutting down a tree to build a sukka. He says even though it is tzorech mitzvah and muttar, you still have to worry about the sakana. His eitzah is to have a non Jew do it so anu safeik sakana will be on his head. Rav Asher Weiss quotes a number of poskim who argue on the Sh'ailas Ya'avetz and say that if it is muttar there is no sakana. (also see the comments to my previous post)

Branches of a tree

There is a question if this issur applies to cutting branches off a tree. The Har Tzvi writes that it is a machlokes between the Mishneh L'Melech who is mattir and the Be'er Sheva who hold sit is assur. The Har Tzvi seems to lean towards it being muttar since even after cutting the branches, the nourishment extends to the rest of the tree. He still says have a non Jew do it.

One thought I had was that there is a whole industry of olive wood products (shtenders etc). I wonder where their wood comes from.

Friday, September 05, 2008

Welcome Back

I'd like to welcome myself back to my blog. At least I haven't gone 30 days without blogging otherwise I might have had to make a Shehechiyanu.

My parsha chabura picks up again this week and I will be discussing the issur of cutting down fruit trees. You will have to tune in next week (or come to my shiur) to find out what I said . However, I will mention one teshuva I found that I was very excited to find since it dealt with a shaylah I actually had 7 years ago. The Har Tzvi discusses whether one can cut down a fruit tree to make room for a sukkah. Seven years ago when we first got our sukka I decided that the ideal spot was in a certain spot in our backyard. However, we had an apricot tree growing and one of the branches was hanging over into the spot where I wanted to put the sukkah. At the time I wasn't aware of this Har Tzvi and in the end I managed to put the sukkah there despite the branch rubbing against the wall.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Making a Siyum during the 9 Days

This week I attended a family yartziet siyum seudah and the discussion arose whether someone who missed the actual siyum could eat the meat at the seudah. Someone pointed out a Chayei Adam quoted by the Mishna Berura that says you can not send food from the seudah to someones house. This person wanted to prove from here that you need to hear the siyum. L'aniyas da'ati I am not convinced it is a good rayah, since it is not clear to me what exactly is the point of the Chayei Adam. He could be saying that you have to be present at the siyum but he could also be saying that the food doesn't fall into the catagory of eating at a seudas mitzvah unless you are present at the actual meal. Especially during the nine days when there is a hakpadah to only invite friends and relatives, it could be the Chayei Adam feels to send the food to a person is not good enough. To me it is a tzarach iyun on how to understand the implications of this Chayei Adam.

I did look in the Pischei Teshuvos and he directs you to the siman on Ta'anis Bechorim. Although maybe one can be m'chaleik between the siyum of 9 days and the siyum of ta'anis bechorim, the Piskei Teshuvos obviously feels you can equate the two. The pashtus would be to equate the two cases since the heterim of both revolve around the idea that you are eating at a seudas mitzvah. If by ta'anis bechorim eating at the seudah even though you missed the siyum is allowed because al kol panim it is still a seudas mitzvah so too it should be the same thing by the 9 days.

In any event, by Ta'anis Bechorim he brings a machlokes haposkim whether one has to be at the siyum or is just being at the seudas mitzvah enough.

The Minchas Yitzchak in cheleik 9 siman 45 says by Ta'anis Bechorim if you missed the siyum you can still eat at the seudah. His rayah is from a Biur Halacha in 551:10 which deals with the halachos of the 9 days. Clearly, from the fact the Minchas Yitzchak brings a rayah from the 9 days to ta'anis bechorim he holds that in both cases one does not have to be at the siyum.

I did not get a chance to look at the other mareh m'komos brought in the Piskei Teshuvos and nor is it clear to me if the other matirim by Ta'anis Bechorim would also be matir by the 9 days.

Eating before the siyum

The other question that arose is whether one can eat the meat before the siyum takes place or must one wait for the siyum. L'mashel if one washes and eats bread before the siyum must you wait for the siyum before eating the meat or can you eat the meat right away. I think one can say it depends on what gives the seudah a shem "seudas mitzvah". Is it the potential siyum that will take place or is it like kiddush on Shabbos where the kiddush is koveia the seudah as a seudas Shabbos (acc to one approach in kiddush). I once asked a poseik by any siyum can one wash before the siyum and still be considered as eating a seudas mitzvah or must one wait for the siyum in order to call the meal a seudas mitzvah. He told me (if I remembr correctly) that one can wash before the siyum and it is stil a seudas mitzvah. If that is case maybe we can apply the same sevarah here too and say that you can eat the meat before the actual siyum took place. (although what would happen if the siyum wound up never happening-do we say l'mafreia you ate meat b'issur during the 9 days).

Monday, July 21, 2008

Parshas Pinchas:Yerushas HaBas

Bloggong has been slow this summer due to vacations and the heta but I didn't want a whole month to go by without writing something

I discussed an interetsing shailah that is found in many poskim. According to the torah a daughter has no rights to the yerusha. The question is, what happens if her brothers come to her and ask her to sign a waiver relinquishing her claims to the yerusha. Al pi torah she has no rights so by signing she does not lose anything. The brothers might want her to sign for a couple of reasons. Either they want to make sure she won't cause trouble in the future or perhaps the secular law won't allow them to take possession of the property until those who are not getting anything will give up their claim. The shailah discussed is does the daughter have a right to ask for money in order to sign the waiver or is she obligated to do it for free.

Among the poskim that discuss this are the Shoeil U'meishiv, the Divrei Chaim, Maharsham, and the Minchas Yitzchak. The first to discuss this shailah was the Pnei Moshe who says it is a machlokes between the Maharit and Mahri Besson.

The poskim bring rayas from various gemaras for their opinion. For example, the Shoeil U'Meishiv (mahadura basra chelek 1 siman 1) brings a rayah from a Ran in Gittin (Perek 4) that she doesn't have to sign for free. The gemara says that if an eved runs away to EY the master can't take him back. However, the Ran says we don't force the master to write a shtar shichrur. The Shoeil U'Meishiv says from here we see you can't force the daughter to sign.

The tzad to say that she must sign is based on 2 reasons. The first reason is that it is midas s'dom not to sign. It is zeh nehneh v'zeh lochaseir. The only question is do we force someone to do a midas s'dom. The Divrei Chaim and Nachlas Tzvi (Shulchan Aruch Siman 276) write that if the daughter will not lose anything by signing we force her to sign. They bring a rayah from a sugyah in Baba Kama 102b. (ayin sham). The Mahatsham writes that if we know she could stand to lose we don't force her to sign. For example, it night be beneficial for her to make people think she has property coming to her. Teh second reason to make her sign is m'din hashavas aveida. If in secular law the brothers can't collect the property until she signs off then by signing off she is m'kayeim hashavas aveida. Again the Maharsham points out that you are not obligated to lose money for hashavas aveida so if she will lose out by signing she doesn't have to sign.

L'ma'aseh the Minchas Yitzchak writes there are 3 possible situations

1) if secular law requires one to make a claim otherwise they lose out, so we force her to keep quiet and m'meilah she loses the rights (al pi secular law). If she already put in a claim we make her take her claim back.

2) If secular law requires that she sign a waiver and by doing so she will realize some sort of loss, we verify if this is true and if it is she is not required to sign a waiver.

3) If she will not realize a loss by signing the waiver then it is a machlokes haposkim if she can demand money for her signature. The Maharsham writes she can ta'ana ""kim li"-I hold like the poskim that say I can ask for money and she can ask for money. (The Minchas Yitzchak himself feels she can't ask for money based on a Chasam Sofer).

Monday, June 23, 2008

Parshas Shelach: Mitzvos Beteilos L'Asid Lavo Part II

How to understand the machlokes whether mitzvos will be batul in the future is itself a machlokes Rishonim.


The Ritva in Nidda (61b) says that it refers to the time of techiyas hameisim. The Ritva adds that even the opinion that says that there is no difference between the days of Moshiach and our tines, can still hold the mitzvos will be batul. There are two different time periods. One is the days of Moshiach where nothing will change and then there is the tekufah of techiyas hameisim where mitzvos will be batul.

It seems from the Ritva that the reason for the petur in mitzvos is that during this tekufah it will be a zman of neither zechus or chovah, and tehrefore there will be no point in commanding someone to do mitzvos.

There are however 2 ways to understand what is the reason why mitzvos are batul. The gemara writes that Yechezkel HaNavi was m'chayei meisim and these meisim wore tefillin. From here we see that even after someone dies he is still chayav in mitzvos. The Ritva gives 2 answers. The first answer is that the petur from mitzvos will only take place by the global techiyas hameisim. It is only at this time that there will be no need to be commanded in mitzvos. The 2nd answer is that really misa itself causes the petur, once a person dies he is "chofshi min hamitzvos". However, even though mitzvos will be batul, it doesn't mean that one can not do mitzvos. You can still do the mitzvos since there is an inherent kedusha in them. Just like the Avos were m'kayeim the mitzvos so too people brought back to life can do mitzvos.

These 2 mehalchim seem to also be found in the Koveitz Shiurim Chelek 2 Siman 29. Rav Elchanan asks how can mitzvos be batul if the torah can't be changed. He answers either it is built into the Torah that at a certain time (techiyas hameisim) mitzvos will no longer apply or the pshat is that misa causes the petur, but someone who doesn't die will still be chayav. He writes that the nafka mina is someone who comes alive before the final techiyas hameisim. The Radvaz says that tzaddikim will have their own techitas hameisim by zman Moshiach. According to the first mehalech, they would still be chayav in mitzvos and according to the second mehalech they would be patur. L'chorah, these are the 2 answers in the Ritva also.

Shittas HaRashba

The Rashba disagrees with this whole idea. In his Chiddushei Aggados (Berachos 18a) he says "mitzvos beteilos l'asid lavo" refers to the time of death. In other words, this opinion holds that when someone dies he is patur from mitzvos. However, once he is alive again he is chayav. The opinion that holds "mitzvos ain beteilos l'asid lavo" doesn't necessarily hold a meis is chayav in mitzvos but rather he holds that we can not cause a meis to do an aveirah. Just like we can't cause a katan to do an aveirah so too meisim. That is why you can't bury a meis in kelayim.

Understandably, this is a hard sevarah to understand, and the Ritva rejects it as making no sense.

The Rashba does add that after the z'man of techiyas hameisim there will be another tekufah called "olam haneshamos". During this tekufah there will ne no mitzvos and this is pshat in the gemara "hayom l'a'sosam u'l'machar l'kabeil schar"-at some future point we will not be doing mitzvos only getting reward. This is the tekufa of "olam haneshamos". (The Ritva says it refers to the zman of techiyas hameisim).

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Parshas Shelach: Mitzvos Beteilos L'Asid Lavo

Although I ususually write up my chaburah after I give it , this week I decieded to start writing it up beforehand. I have not formulated the whole structure yet, but here is the basic idea.

(The connection to the parsha is the fact that the mitzvah of tzitzis is in Parshas Shelach)

The Rosh in Moed Katan (Perek 3 Siman 80) discusses whether one should put tzitzis on the tachrichin of a meis. (ayin Menochos 41A). The Rosh says that the opinion that we do put tachrichin on a meis holds like Shmuel that mitzvos won't be batul l'asid lavo. The reason for this is that if you hold mitzvos won't be batul l'asid lavo, so by techiyas hameisim, the meis will come back to life without wearing tzitzis and it will be a problem of "loeig l'rosh". The Rosh paskens that we don't put tzitzis on a meis because we hold that mitzvos will be batul l'asid lavo.

The question is what does it mean that the mitzvos will be batul in the future. This is a sugyah in Niddah 61B and there is a machlokes Rishonim how to understand this sugyah.

More to come...

Monday, June 16, 2008

Parshas Beha'aloscha: Backwards "Nunin"

Well it only took me 3 weeks to put up another post.

This weeks chaburah was concerning the backwards "nun"s in this weeks parsha. The gemara in Shabbos 115b has a machlokes why we have simanim by the parsha of "vayehi binso'a aron". Either it tells us that this parsha doesn't belong here or it tells us that it is a sefer b'fnei atzmo. However, the gemara doesn't tell us what these simanim are.

The Maharshal (Siman 73) writes that the simanim can not be referring to placing upside down or backwards nunin by this parsha. Writing a nun backwards before and after this parsha would make a sefer torah pasul. You can't just add letters into the sefer torah. Rather the Maharshal writes the m'kor seems to come from a zohar that writing the nun upside down/backwards teaches us that even when the aron is travelling the shechina stays with b'nei yisroel. Furthermore, the nunin the zohar is referring to are the nunin of the words "b'n'so'a" and "u'v'nucha". There are those who flip around the nunin of "mis'oninim" as well.

The Noda B'Yehuda argues and says adding extra letters does not pasul a sefer torah. The only extra letters that pasul a sefer torah ar eletters you add to a word. Adding symbols on the side of the torah is okay. Furthermore, the rishonim discuss these nunin. The halacha is one can not write 2 symbols on Shabbos. Rav Hai Gaon gives as an example the two nunin in our parsha. Therefore, writing 2 separate nunin is okay.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Parshas Behar: Gezel Sheina

Well, it's been over a month and I am sure noone really missed me. But even if you didn't miss me, I'm back for now. Here is this week's chaburah.

In this weeks parsha we learn out the issur of on'as devarim. The Rishonim discuss exactly what is included in this issur. For example, the Seforno includes the issur of geneivas da'as in this issur. The Chinuch explains that the issur is to cause someone tzar. In the sefer Pischei Choshen (on dinei Choshen Mishpat by Rav Ya'akov Blau) he writes that included in the issur of ona'as devarim is the issur of gezel sheina-waking someone up when they are sleeping. The sevara behind this is that ona'as devarim is the issur of causing someone tza'ar and when you wake someone up you cause him tza'ar therefore waking someone up is ona'as devarim.

The question is, why is it called "gezel sheina"-is there an actual issur of stealing and also how do the poskim view this issur.

1) The Shevet Levi (Rav Wosner) writes that it can't be a real issur of gezeilah. You are only chayav for gezeila if you cause someone a loss and here you are not causing anyone a loss. He does say that by waking someone up, you take away an intangible benefit from someone (this is my interpertation of his words, his actual loshon is "m'vateil to'eles v'tovas chaveiro). He says we see that this is an issur from the gemara in Bava Basra 20b and Choshen Mishpat Siman 156. I am not sure what he is referring to since I don't see any mention of there being an issur.

2) Rav Menashe Klein in Mishneh Halachos writes in a few places why it is called gezel sheina. In Chelek 12 Siman 443 he writes that the m'kor for gezel sheina comes from a gemara in Berochs 13a that says that Rav Nachman told his servant to be m'tza'eir him and wake him up in order to read the firsty posuk of Shema. We see from here that to wake someone up is called causing someone pain. Rav Menashe Klein then brings a gemara in Sanhedrin 59 that the ikkar inyan of gezel is because you are causing someone pain. Also, there is a tosefta in Babab Kama (3:7) that lists geneivas da'as as a type of geneiva even though you are not causing someone a loss. So you see you don't need to cause a loss to be called gezeila.
The truth is I am not sure if Rav Menashe Klein is trying to say that gezel sheina is real gezel or if he is just trying to explain why the term "gezel sheina" is used. The reason for my safeik is because in Chelek 14 Siman 199 he actually has a teshuva to Rav Wosner in which he writes that the ikkar issur of gezel sheina is m'dinei hezek and not gezel.

3) I found an article by Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg in which he writes that gezel sheina is a hezek m'din tza'ar. Furtehrmore, he writes that a person can take someone to beis din for nezek, tza'ar, reepoi , sheves and boshes. Since waking someone up is a hezek of tza'ar, you could really take someone to beis din over it. However, b'zman hazeh we don't go to court over tza'a'r so you couldn't do it today. Also, it is only if you wake someone directly, making a loud noise and waking someone up is just a grama and you are patur.

4) I was told that Rav Chaim Kanievsky says it is assur m'din v'ahavata l'reiacha komocha.

Whether it is ever muttar to wake someone up, like for a minyan, will be discussed later.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Matzah Ashira Part II

As mentioned we are not allowed to eat matzah on Erev Pesach. However, this only applies to matzah that one can eat by the seder. What is the status of matzah ashira-matzah made from fruit juice.

The gemara in Pesachim 35a:b has a machlokes whether "mei peiros", fruit juices make something chametz. L'halacha it is a machlokes rishonim. Rashi holds that matzah ashira (matzah made with mei peiros) is chametz nuksha while Tosafos (35b) holds it is matzah. Everyone agrees that one can not use matzah ashira for the seder. Rashi obviously holds you can't use it because it is chametz and can't be eaten at all on Pesach. Tosafos holds (based on the gemara) that it is not "lechem oni" and therefore is pasul for the seder. In fact Tosafos writes that Rabbeinu Tam would eat matzah ashira on Erev Pesach since the only matzah one can not eat Erev Pesach is matzah that you can eat by the seder.

Shittas Rema

Halacha l'Ma'aseh the Mechabeir paskens that one can eat matzah ashira on Pesach while the Rema says it is not our minhag unless you are sick or old. The Rema doesn't indicate if he is being choshesh for Rashi or if it is for a different reason. However, the Aruch Hashulchan writes that the reason for the Rema is that we are afraid some water might have gotten mixed in and matzah ashira with water becomes chamtez very quickly.

Being that the Rema says that we don't eat matzah ashira on Pesach, he also says that one should not eat it after chatzos on Erev Pesach. In other words we should treat it as chametz and it is only muttar to eat as long as one can eat chametz.

Noda B'Yehuda

The Noda B'Yehuda has an interesting teshuva where he focuses on Rashi. He says that according to Rashi matzah ashira is chametz nukshah. The Noda B'Yehuda proves that chametz nukshah is only m'd'rabanan and being that is the case it is only assur to eat when Pesach starts. It is muttar to eat the whole day of Erev Pesach. According to the Noda B'Yehuda, both Rashi and Tosafos will allow you to eat matzah ahsira the whoel Erev Pesach and one can even use it for seudah shlishis in the afternoon. L'maskana the Noda B'Yehuda paskens that he doesn't want to go against the Rema but b'shas hadchak one can eat it all day Erev Pesach

Reasons to be machmir

There are a few reasons to be machmir, specifically with regard to egg matzah.

1) The Rambam does not count eggs as mei peiros and therefore egg matzah would not be matzah ashira

2) The Bach and Maharal hold one could use matzah ashira for the seder

3) If the matzah ashira has water in it it might be considered real chametz

4) The beracha is mezonos and it is not lechem for a seudah

Rav Moshe

Rav Moshe (chelek 1 siman 155) holds one can use matzah ashira, even egg matzah made with water. He says most Rishonim and Poskim hold eggs are mei peiros. Also, based on a Magan Avraham he understands that matzah ashira with water is still matzah ashira. Finally, although the beracha is mezonos if you are koveia seudah it is hamotzi and you can use it for a seudah.

One final note: I noticed in the sefer Erev Pesach Sh'Chal B'Shabbos that he quotes from the journals in HaPardes and HaMaor various discussions that took place in 1950's on this topic. In fact Rav Moshe's teshuva appears in HaPardes Shevat 5718/Feb 1958. The other issue of HaPardes is Nissan 5714/April 1954 where Rav Moshe Rozen says you can't use egg matzah. Both journals are available at

Monday, April 14, 2008

Parshas Metzora:Matzah Ashira on Erev Pesach

I know I have not written anything in a while and I am sure all my fans have been suffering from withdrawel. I don't know how much I will be posting over the next few weeks because of Pesach but here is my chaburah from this past week.

I spoke about eating matzah on Erev Pesach and whether one can use egg matzah. As a side note there are a number of interesting options of what type of matzah one can eat on Erev Pesach, that are discussed in the achronim. I had actualy originally intended to talk about matzah mevusheles, cooked matzah and matzah baked shelo lishma but I wasn't able to look into it. I guess I'll save it for the next time this happens which according to our calandar is in 13 years. However, I am sure Moshiach will be here before then so it might occur even earlier. (Interestingly, Erev Pesach is either a Monday or a Friday in the next 12 out of 14 years.) Also, Rav Asher Weiss in his haggadah has a nice summary of the various options of what matzah one could possibly eat on Erev Pesach.

Zman of the Issur

The Ba'al Hameor holds it is only asssur to eat matzah from the 6th hour onward which is the time when one can no longer eat chametz. The Ramban disagrees and says it is assur the whole day. According to both shittos one could eat matzah at night i.e. Friday night. However the Magan Avraham says that we don't eat matzah even the night of the 14th.

Rav Moshe zt"l (Igros Moshe chelek 1 siman 155) explains that the machlokes between the Ba'al HaMeor and Ramban is based on how you understand the reason for the issur. The Yerushalmi (Pesachim perek 10) says if you eat matzah on Erev Pesach it is as if you had relations with the woman you were engaged to in your father in laws house, meaning you lived with her before you did nisuin and were fully married. Rav Moshe says there are 2 reasons why this is assur, either because she is a p'nuyah, unmarried lady, and there is an issur to live with a p'nuyah. Or it is because before marriage it is a reshus and after marriage it is a mitzvah (of onah) and since you din't wait untilit was a mitzvah there is an issur.

According to the reason of p'nuyah, there really is no comparison to matzah. Rather they are only alike in metziyus, by arusa there are dinei ishus yet she is still assur so too by Erev Pesach there exists dinei Pesach yet matzah is still assur. The dinei Pesach that exist is the fact youmust get rid of your chametz. However, these dinim do not start until the 6th hour and therefore, there would be no reason to assur matzah until the 6th hour. However, according to the 2nd reason it is a perfect comparison-you are eating matzah in a z'man shel reshus and not waiting until the z'man chiyuv. This is why the Ramban holds it is assur the whole day. In fact Rav Moshe says this is the basis fort not eating chametz from Rosh Chodesh. An arguement can be made not to eat it 30 days before Pesach since that is when preperations for Yom Yov start but chazal weren't matriach everyone so early.

Matzah Ashira

to be continued ...

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Purim Thought from Rav Yonason Eibshitz

I was going through the peirush of Rav Yonason Eibshitz on the Megillah and noticed a few interesting ideas.

1) When Haman made his lottery it says "m'yom l'yom u'm'chodesh l'chodesh". Rav Yonason Eibshitz explains that Haman made two sets of lotteries. He first wrote the 12 months on 12 pieces of paer and picked as month. Then he wrote the numbers 1-354 on 354 pieces of paper. This represented each day of the year. He then picked a day. If the day of the year fell out in the month he picked then he would know the lottery was correct. In this case the day he picked fell out in the 12th month so he knew the lottery was going to work.

2) From the time that Haman sent out his letters until he was hanged was 4 days. Yet Mordechai didn't send outhis letters until Sivan, 70 days later. Why did Mordechai wait so long to do this?

Rav Yonason Eibshitz gives a few answers.

1) He shows that Haman waited 70 days from the day he came to power until he came to Achashveirosh with his plan (I forget his cheshbon, but it was an interesting cheshbon). It must be that the reason Haman had to wait was because when a person first comes to power, he is not really accepted until 70 days into his rule. So too with Mordechai. He took over for Haman and he also had to wait 70 days until people accepted him. Once he was accepted he could send out his letter.

2) The 2nd answer he brings is that Mordechai wanted there to be an Adar Sheini. Adar Sheini has no mazal so teh koach of Haman would be diminished. (I saw the B'nei Yissascher says the same idea). However, in order for there to be an Adar Sheini he had to have the Sanhedrin in Eretz Yisroel do it. It took 70 days for his request to reach Eretz Yisroel and to get a reply back. Only after he knew for sure that there was an Adar Sheini did he send out his letters.

One ha'arah on this is that my chavrusah told me that there is a Levush that says Adar Rishon has no mazal. This is based on the metzius that if there was no extra month then all the constellations that makes up the mazalos would be off and the mazal of dag would be in Nisan. By adding an extra month we ensure that Adar Sheini gets the mazal of dag while Adar Rishon would fall out partially in Shevat's mazal (d'li).

The kasha on Rav Yonason Eibshitz and the B'ne i Yissascher would be that how could you say Adara Sheini has no mazal-the metzius is that the constellation of dag falls out in Adar Sheini.

A simple teretz is that when the seforim discuss mazalos they don't necessarily have to tie it into the constellations. However, I am not sure if this is a correct understanding of mazalos.

Another possible teretz could be based on a Chasam Sofer. The Chasam Sofer writes that Tu B'Shvat is thetime when the sap begins to flowe in the trees. In a leap year al pi teva this should happen in February which is Adar Rishon and not Shevat. However, teva follows the Torah, and in a leap year the sap will flow in January/Shevat. We could say the same for the constellations. Al pi teva the constellation of dag should be in Adar Sheini but since al pi torah there is no mazal it is in Adar Rishon.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Parshas Vayikra/Zachor:Milchemes Amaleik

This weeks' shiur was on the nature of Milchemes Amaleik

There is a machlokes rishonim what exactly is the geder of this mitzvah.

1) The Yeraim (435) holds it is a mitzvah on the king. His rayah is from the fact that there are 3 mitzvos that apply when B'nei Yisroel entered Eretz Yisroel. 1) set up a king 2) wipe out Amaleik 3) buiild the Beis HaMikdash. From the fact that you need a king to defeat Amaleik we see it is a mitzvah on teh king

2) The Chinuch writes it is a mitzvah on the tzibbur as well as on each individual.

Rav Yitzchak Sorotzkin in his sefer Gevuras Yitzchak writes that the mekor for the Chinuch is the fact that there are 2 parshiyos. Beshalach discusses the idea of waging war on Amaleik. This is a miyzvah for the tzibbur. Parshas Ki Tzeitzei just says to destroy Amaleik. This is a mitzvah on the individual.

3) The Rambam seems to pasken that it is a chiyuv on the tzibbur. At the end of Sefer HaMitzvos the Rambam writes that the three mitzvos of 1) setting up a king 2) wiping out Amaleik 3) building the Beis HaMikdash are mitzvos on the tzibbur.

There is also a diyuk in the Rambam Hil Melachim Perek 5. The Rambam says by the 7 nations who inhabi ed Ertez Cana'an if an individual has the opportunity to kill one of the members of these 7 nations and you don't you are m'vateil an aseh. However, by Amaleik the Rambam doesn't say anything. This implies that Amaleik is only a mitzvah on the tzibbur.

However, there are some who learn the Rambam that it is also a mitzvah on the individual.

One nafka mina can be found in Kovetz Chiddushei Torah from Rav Soloveitchik zt"l in the piece on Milchemes Mitzvah. The Rambam says that even by a milchemes mitzvah (a war against Amaleik or the 7 nations) we tell people they don't have to fight. The question is that by a milchemes mitzvah everyone is obligated to fight. So why do we read the pesukim letting people know that they don't have to go. The answer is that there are 2 dinim to a milchemes mitzvah. There is a chiyuv m'din milchama but there is also an individual chiyuv that the king can force people to go. The reason we read these pesukim is because m'dinei milchama certain people don't have to go. They only have to go because of the individual chiyuv that comes from the king forcing them.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Early Purim thoughts

I thought I would just mention a couple of thoughts that came to me this week regarding Purim.

1) Most people are familiar with the shitta of Rabbeinu Tam (brought in the first Rosh on Megilla) that Ta'anis Esther commemorates the fasting the B'nei Yisroel did on 13 Adar before they fought their enemies.

It just occurred to me (and I don't know why I never made this connection before) that this means they were fasting while they were fighting. Imagine fighting on an empty stomach.

2) My daughter asked me this week why it is called Megillas Esther as opposed to Megillas Mordechai or some other name. I number of answers come to mind but what I found more interesting is that at the end of the megilla the possuk says that Mordechai wrote evrything down. Rashi says that this refers to our megilla-meaning that Mordechai wrote the megilla. However, the gemara writes that it was Esther who had an arguement with the Chachamim regarding what status the megilla should have. I found it interesting that it was Esther who made the arguements even though Mordechai wrote the megilla.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Parshas Pekudei/Shekalim:Katan Donating Shekalim

The Mishna in Shekalim (1:3) says that a katan is patur from donating a 1/2 shekel to teh beis HaMikdash. The Bartenura says it is referring to someone under 20 years old. This is the Chinuch's opinion as well. Tosafos Yom Tov argues and says it refers to someone under 13. Anyone over 13 must contribute. The Rambam (Hilchos Shekalim) and the Ramban also hold anyone over 13 must contribute. The mishna also says that if a katan donates we accept it from him. The achronim ask how can we accept the money from a katan, m'd'oreisa he can't be makneh an object and therefore the money m'd'oreisa will never belong to hekdesh. It would then come out that the korbonos bought with the money are korbonos yachid and not korbonos tzibbur.

There are a few mehalchim to answer this question.

Sha'ar HaMelech

The Sha'ar HaMelech (Shekalim 1:5) writes that the coin the katan gives is batul with all the other coins. Even though Tosafos in Me'ilah says money is not batul, nevertheless this is only m'd'rabanan. The Rashba says that m'd'oreisa bitul applies to everything. Therefore, in our case the katan's kinyan works m'd'rabanan and on a d'oreisa level we can rely on bittul.

Avnei Miluim I

The Avnei Miluim (siman 28) argues on the Sha'ar HaMelech. He says that bittul does not work by money. The reason is because by money we are dealing with ownership and you can't be m'vateil someones ownership of something. (There is no bittul of teh cheftza like by issurim). The Avnei Miluim answers that at worst the coin the katan gave to hekdesh doesn't belong to hekdesh and hekdesh is stealing the coin. However, when hekdesh buys something with that coin whatever it bought belongs to hekdesh. For example, when you buy a lulav, there is no chiyuv to make sure the mony you use belongs to you. The reason is because if the money is not yours, the lulav becomes yours. Whether the money is yours or not is irrelevent. The same thing here and therefore the animal hekdesh buys is korbon hatzibbur.

(it is not so pashut whether the Avnei Miluim is correct in understanding bittul by money. The Bikurei Ya'akov on Sukka disagrees)

Avnei Miluim II/Ketzos

The Avnei Miluim (also found in the Ketzos) suggest a different answer. He raises the question whether a kinyan d'rabanan can work for a d'oreisa. (For example, ma'mad shalshtan is a kinyan d'rabanan and the question is raised whether you can use the object to marry a woman). He brings a rayah from our case that it works. The kinyan from the katan is only d'rabanan yet it works to make it a korbon tzibbur m'd'oreisa.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Parshas Vayekheil: Women Building The Beis HaMikdash

The Rambam paskens in Hil Beis HaBechira 1:11 that women are obligated to help build the Beis HaMIkdash. The Kesef Mishna writes that the m'kor is from Parshas VaYekheil which states that women contributed to the Mishkan. However, the Rambam also paskens that you can't build the Beis HaMikdash at night nor on Shabbos and Yom Tov. If so that would mean building teh Beis HaMikdash is a mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama and women should be patur. Why then are they chayav.

There are a number of approaches to this question

Sefer HaChinuch

The Sefer HaChinuch writes that building the Beis HaMikdash is a mitzvah on teh whole tzibbur and not on individual. Also, the Rambam at the end of Sefer HaMitzvos counts this mitzvah as one of those mitzvos applying to the whole tzibbur. If so one can argue that it is irrelevent whether this mitzvah is a mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama, since it applies to the tzibbur.

Beis Yitzchak/Turei Even

The Beis Yitzchak (Orach Chaim Siman 3) answers the question based on a Turie Even. The Turei Even in Chagiga 15b says that the issue of mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama only applies when teh zman is mevateil the mitzvah. However, when it is only mafsik/interrupts the mitzvah then mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama doesn't apply. For example, there is a question whether women are chayav to do semicha on a korbon. The Turei Even asks why don't we say it is a mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama since you can't do it at night. He answers that the mitzvah of semicha on a particular korbon only applies once in a person's lifetime. Once you do the semicha on an animal you never need to do it again. Therefore, if you don't do semicha on Monday and Monday night comes, the semicha of Tuesday is not a new mitzva-it is the same mitzvah which you didn't do yesterday. The only reason you couldn't do it Monday night was because the nigt interrupted your performance of the mitzvah. However, by tefillin, the mitzvah of Monday is notthe same mitzvah as Tuesday. It is a totally new mitzvah. When Monday night comes, the night is mevateil your Monday mitzvah-you can never do it again.

The Beis Yitzchak says that building the Mikdash is like semichas hakorbon. It only applies once-after it is built the mitzvah is over. Night is just an interruption not a bittul.

Kehillas Ya'akov

The Steipler has a similar mehalach in regards to why the petur of Shabbos doesn't make it a mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama. He quotes a Sha'ar HaMelech at the end of pesulei hamukdashin (in discussing nosar) that if the mitzvah applies on Shabbos just that you can't do it because of issurei Shabbos then it is not a mitzvas aseh sh'hazman grama. In theory the mitzvah to build the Beis HaMikdahs exists on Shabbos it is only because of issurei Shabbos that we can't. This is not like tefillin where there are no issurei Shabbos preventing you from putting tefillin on. Rather, the Torah says the mitzvah itself doesn't apply on Shabbos.

Klei Chemdah (Ki Sisa)

The Klei Chemdah answers that it is only a mitzvah to have the Mikdash built and not too build it. Therefore, it can apply to women. (He actually rejects this answer but I mentioned it anyway)

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Parshas Tetzave: The Urim V'Tumim

There are a number of interesting questions that revolve around the Urim V'Tumin. The first and perhaps most important question is , what is the Urim V'Tumim made of?

This is actually a machlokes Rishonim.

Shittas Ramban

The Ramban (Shemos 28:30) as well as Rashi say that the urim v'tumim was the shem hameforash that was put into the Choshen Mishpat. The Ramban adds that there were two parts to the name-the urim and the tumim. First the kohein concentrated on the "urim" part of HKBH's name and the letters lit up. Mishpat. The Ramban adds that there were two parts to the name-the urim and the tumim. Then the kohein concentrated on the "tumim" part of HKBH's name and the kohein understood how to put the letters together. This shitta is also found in the Ritva in Yoma 73b. The gemara in Yoma has a machlokes between Rav Yochanan and Reish Lakish if the letters stood out or just joined together. The Ramban and Ritva explain that according to their mehalach the opinions don't argue, they are just referring to different parts of the process. Although they don't spell it out, it makes sense to say that a kohein could be zocheh to the "urim" part (letters jutting out) and not the "tumim" part-the letters joining togther. This would explain what happened to Eli HaKohein when he misunderstood the answer he received. He though Chana was drunk and the letters really meant she was kosher.

Shittas Rambam

The Ramabm seems to hold that the Urim V'Tumim refers to the actual choshen. This is also the opinion of the Ibn Ezra (28:6). The Rambam in Hil Beis HaBechira (4:1) writes that ruach hakodesh was missing from Bayis Sheini but they made the urim v'tumim anyway since it was part of the bigdei kehuna. The Ra'avad asks 1) the gemara says both ruach hakodesh as well as the urim v'tumim were missing and 2) where do we see that the urim v'tumim was part of the bigdei kehuna.

The Kesef Mishna answers the Ra'avad that the Rambam held the urim v'tumim was the actual choshen. The way it worked was through ruach hakodesh (as the Rambam himself writes in Klei Hamikdash 10:10) but the actual urim v'tumim was the choshen. Rav Avraham ben HaRambam is also quoted as saying this opinion and there is a medrash that also holds this was (look in footnotes to the Mossad Rav Kook Ritva in Yoma 73b).

The Rambam also seems to pasken like Rav Yochanan against Reish Lakish that the letters stood out (as opposed to teh Ritva who saysthey don't argue). The Rambam is probably l'shitaso that the urim v'tumim refers to the actual choshen and therefore, he understands that there was only one way for it to work.

Brisker Rav

The Brisker Rav (Hil Klei Hamikdash 10:10) answers the first kasha of the Ra'avad. The Ra'avad had asked that the gemara says both ruach hakodesh as well as the urim v'tumim were missing. The Brisker Rav answers that there are two aspects to the urim v'tumim, the ability to ask it questions and the ability to receive answers. As long as the madreiga of Ruach Hakodesh existed, the kohein gadol had the ability to ask a question. However, just because he asked a question doesn't mean HKBH would give him an answer. In fact towards the end of Bayis Rishon, the B'nei Yisroel lost the zechus of receiving an answer from the urim v'tumim. This did not preclude the kohein from asking, since as long as he had his madreiga of ruach hakodesh he could ask. At a later point in time the madreiga of ruach hakodesh was also lost. After this the kohein gadol could no longer ask. This is what the gemara meant by the fact that we didn't have the urim v'tumim or ruach hakodesh during bayis sheini. The "urim v'tumim" refers to the ability to receive an answer and ruach hakodesh refers to the ability to ask. (ayin sham where the Brisker Rav shows how this is meduyak in the Rambam)

New Website

I would just like to promote a new website that has just been created. The website is It contains the shiurim and divrei torah of HaRav Mordechai Hochheimer shlita, a respected Rav from Rochester as well as shiurim from his wife, a noted mechaneches and educator, Rebbetzin Shira Hochheimer.

(For those who must know, they are my brother -in-law and sister).

Monday, February 11, 2008

Parshas Teruma: Why we have an Adar Sheini

Before I start, I would just like to dedicate this post to "JL" and "Brother Ben". "JL", make sure you tell "Brother Ben" about this.

Okay, now that I've gotten that out of the way, here is the shiur.

In a nutshell, this shiur is just the Brisker Rav in Hilchos Kiddush HaChodesh 5:1.

The gemara in Sanhedrin 11a-12b discusses all the reasons why we are m'abir the year. The main 3 reasons quoted in the gemara is "aviv", "peiros ha'ilan" and "tekufa". The Brisker Rav explains that if we look at the Rishonim we see there is a fundamental difference in how to understand these reasons.

Shittas HaRambam

The Rambam on the other hand explains these 3 things as being centered around ensuring that Pesach falls out in the spring season and the lunar year match up to the solar year. "aviv" refers to the fact that it will still be winter, "tekufa" means that we want tekufas nissan to be after Pesach and "peiros ha'ilan" means that the fruits are not ripening on time. The Rambam refers to these reasons as "simanim", meaning that the main factor is that we want Pesach to be in the spring and the solar and lunar year to be in sync. The signs that we look for to tell us if this will happen are these 3 signs.

Shittas Rashi

Rashi on the other hand expains these reason as being 3 independent reasons relating to the 3 regalim. "aviv" refers to the fact that we want the grain to be ready so we can bring a korbon omer, "peiros ha'ilan" refers to the fact that we wantthe fruits to be ready so we can bring bikkurim and "tekufa" refers to the fact that we want Sukkos to fall out after tekufas tamuz.
According to Rashi, adding an extra month isn't just to ensure that Pesach is in the spring but rather we have 3 different reasons.

Nafka Mina

1) How many simanim do you need?

Rashi holds you need 2 simanim. The Rambam holds tekufa alone is enough of a siman but if you are using the other simanim then you need two. The reason is that according to the Rambam, these reasons are only simanim that he year is not in sunc. Tee siman of tekufa is a strong enough siman by itself. The other simanim are weaker and you need both of them. Rashi holds these 3 reasons are actual reasons and you need 2 reasons to add an extra month.

2) Adding a month during shemitta.

Besides these three reasons, the gemara lists certain tzarchei tzibbur which would allow Sanhderin to add an extra month. For example, if the roads need to be fixed up to allow people to be olah regel, you can dd an extar month. The gemara also says we don't add an extra month during Shemitta. The Rambam paskens that regarding Shemittah it depends why you are adding the month. If it is because of teh three main reasons, we add a month even in Shemitta. But if it is for tzarchei tzibbur we don't add a month.

The Brisker Rav explains that when it comes to ensuring the lunar year and solar year is in sync, so that supersedes Shemitta because that is a din. But when it comes to tzarchei tzibbur, just like we are m'abbir the year l'tzorech so too we can refuse to add a month l'tzorech and in Shemitta it is l'tzorech not to add a month (either so people can plant earlier or so there will be grain for the korbon omer).

Rashi who holds all the reasons are "tzorech" based, will tell you you can never add a month in Shemitta.

The Brisker Rav has a couple more nafka mina's ayin sham

Monday, January 28, 2008

Parshas Yisro: Eating and Working before Havdala

It is assur to eat or do any melacha before one makes havdala. The question is what is the geder of this issur? We find by mitzvos in general that it is assur to eat 1/2 before the zman of the mitzvah (ayin siman 235 by davening). However, if one had started eating b'heter it is mutar to continue. On the other extreme we find by Kiddush (siman 271) that even if one started eating b'heter one must stop for kiddush. The difference is that the seudah of Shabbos needs to be proclaimed a "Shabbos seudah" which one does by making kiddush therefore one must stop eating regardless of when you started. (ayin the Magan Avraham 271:6 and Rabbi Akiva Eiger for diff ways to explain this). The question is, what status does havdala have? In this we can possibly differentiate between doing work and eating.

Melacha before Havdala

The Griz Al HaRambam (Shabbos 29:5) writes that the geder of issur melacha before havdala is a machlokes Rishonim. The gemara in Shabbos 150B says one can say "Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol" and do melacha. The Rif in Pesachim says you must make a full havdala and the Ran adds this includes making it over wine. The Brisker Rav writes that the Rif holds the issur melacha before havdala is like any other mitzvah-it is a gezeirah maybe you'll forget to do the mitzvah. Therefore, in order to do melacha a full fledged havdala must be made. This is also the Rambam's shitta since the Rambam equates the issur achila to issur melacha. It would appear the Rambam holds just like the issur achila is a gezeira maybe you'll forget to do the mitzvah, so too is the issur melacha. Other Rishonim hold that the issur melacha is an inyan of kavod Shabbos. Rahsi writes that you say "Hamavdil bein kodesh l'chol" as a way of escorting the king home. Making a clear break between Shabbos and Chol is a form of kavod Shabbos. This is enough to allow you to do melacha.

Achila before Havdala

From the Brisker Rav it seems he holds the issur achila is a gezeira maybe you'll forget to do the mitzvah. However, I saw in the Harirei Kedem (vol2 sman 67) that the issur achila is similar to issur achila before kiddush. The point of havdala is to differentiate between seudas Shabbos and seudas chol. Therefore, one can't eat his seuda of chol until he makes this distinction. He brings a raya from Pesachim 105 ayin sham.

nafka mina coming soon...

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Parshas Va'Eira:Moshe's Nevuah

Everyone know that teh Torah proclaims Moshe as the greatest navi whoever lived or will live. The question though is when did Moshe attain his status as a navi. This question can really be divided into two parts. First of all when did Moshe become a navi and second of all when did the B'nei Yisroel accept him as a navi.

Regarding the first question it seems pretty straight forward to say that when Hashem spoke to Moshe by the burning bush that his nevuah career began. It is the second question, when did the B'nei Yisroel accept him, that is not so simple.

The Rambam in Hil Yesodei HaTorah Perek 7-9 discusses the idea of nevuah. The Rambam writes that the B'nei Yisroel's emunah in Moshe did not come from the osos and mofsim which he performed but rather through the experience of Matan Torah. To me it is not clear exactly what the Rambam means. If one looks in the Rishonim you will find two mehalchim and I am not sure which one the Rambam holds like.

Sefer Ikkarim

The Sefer Ikkarim in Ma'amar 1 Perek 18 states very clearly that the B'nei Yisroel did not believe in the metzius of nevuah before Matan Torah. They viewed Moshe as someone who was close to Hashem and could perform miracles when needed. However, Moshe was no different then Nakdimon ben Gurion who caused the sun to stand still or Pinchas ben Yair who split the Jordan. These people were not neviim but rather due to their special relationship with HAshem, they could perform miracles. This is how the B'nei Yisroel saw Moshe.
I would like to point out that I don't think this means that Moshe didn't receive nevuah before Har Sinai-he clearly did, it just means the B'nei Yisroel didn't believe it could have happened.

However, at Har Sinai, the B'nei Yisroel themselves experienced nevuah. Once this happened they realized it was possible for Hashem to "speak" to someone and from that point on they viewed Moshe as a Navi. Furthermore, the second revelation the B'nei Yisroel had at Har Sinai was that they heard HKBH give the Torah to Moshe. From this point on they realized that Moshe was HKBH's direct shaliach to give over the Torah and consequently noone had the right to add or subtract to Toras Moshe.

Drashos HaRan/Ramban

Both the Drashos HaRan (Drasha 11 and 12) and the Ramban (Shemos Perek 19) argue on this approach. The Ramban arguing on an Ibn Ezra who is ismilar to the Ikkarim asks, how can you say B'nei Yisroel didn't know about nevuah. The Avos had nevuah and there was a mesorah that the Avos were neveiim. The Derashas Haran also writes that in Parshas Shoftim Moshe says you can test a navi "kamoni". "kamoni" means just like Moshe showed B'nei Yisroel osos and mofsim before taking them out so too a Navi should show osos and mofsim. Clearly the Ran holds that the point of the osos and mofsim were to convince the B'nei Yisroel he was a navi.

The Ramban and Ran would agree to the second point of the Ikkarim. Namely, that the point of Har Sinai was so that teh B'nei Yisroel would relaize that Moshe was HKBH's direct shaliach to give over the Torah and consequently noone had the right to add or subtract to Toras Moshe.

Nafka Mina

The nafka mina between these two approaches would be the following. Were the B'nei Yisroel required to listen to Moshe b'toras navi before Matan Torah. The Rambam paskens that a person who is fit to be a navi and proves he is a navi has to be listened to. Did this apply to Moshe before Matan Torah? According to the Ikkarim, l'chorah not. Since the B'nei Yisroel didn't even believe in the metzius of nevuah, one can't expect them to have a chiyuv to listen to Moshe b'toras navi.

According to the Ran and Ramban, the B'nei Yisroel were required to listen to Moshe b'toras navi before Matan Torah. However, they would agree that before Matan Torah there was no such thing as Toras Moshe. Therefore, if another navi got up to contradict Moshe then one could presumably listen to that other navi. The Chiddush of Har Sinai was that the Torah became Toras Moshe and a navi can no longer get up and permanently change it.

Question on Ikkarim

I do have 2 kashas on the Ikkarim.

1) First of all the gemara in Sanhedrin 88 says a navi muchzak can be okeir the Torah temporarily. The 2 examples the gemara gives is Eliyahu bringing shechutei chutz and Avraham bringing Yitzchak on the akeida. Yitzchak had to listen to Avraham since he was a navi muchzak. According to the Ikkarim, how did Yitzchak know about nevuah. If he knew about it why didn't the B'nei Yisroel know about it in Mitzrayim.

Maybe one could answer that Yitzchak himself experienced nevuah. Therefore, since he knew about nevuah and since Avraham was a navi muchzak, he had a chiyuv to listen to Avraham.

2) The second kasha is that Moshe told the B'nei Yisroel the mitzva of Kiddush Hachodesh. If he wasn't viewed as a navi what chiyuv was there to listen this mitzvah?

Friday, January 04, 2008

Hitting a Jew: Part II

Three Catagories of Hitting

The Rambam in Hilchos Choveil U'Mazik lists 3 catagories in the issur of hitting a Jew.

1) If you hit someone and don't cause damage more than a perutah you get malkos.

2) If you hit someone and cause damage more than a perutah you pay the damages and m'meilah you are patur from malkos.

These 2 catagories are learnt from the lav of "lo yosif l'hakoso" in Ki Tzeitzei. As the Rambam and Chinuch write "if it is assur to give a rasha an extra malkos then kal v'chomer it is assur to hit another Jew".

One could ask that "ein onshin min hadin" and therefore why would someone get malkos based on this kal v'chomer. One answer is found in the Bach (Siman 420) that there are 2 lavin in the possuk , "lo yosif" and "pen tosif". "lo yosif tells us you get malkos for giving extra malkos. We then have a kal v'chomer that it is assur to hit another Jew and the chiyuv malkos for that is from "pen tosif"

3) The third catagory is the issur of raising your hand to strike someone. The m'kor for this is Sanhedrin 58B and is learnt from Moshe's response to Dasan and Aviram "Rasha, lama sakeh rei'echa".

Issue D'Rabanan or D'Oreisa

The question on this third catagory is whether it is an issur d'rabanan or an issur d'oreisa. The Chinuch and the Ramabm in Lo Saseh 300 seem to imply it is only d'rabanan and that is the way the Birkas Avraham in Sanhedrin learns these opinions. The Mordechai in Sanhedrin also leanrs it is only m'd'rabanan.

However, the GR"A and the Sema in Choshen Mishpat 30 seem to hold it is an issur m'd'oreisa as we will explain.

The Rema paskens that if one raises his hand against his friend you are pasul l'eidus m'd'rabanan. The question is why are you only posul m'd'rabanan.

The Mordechai in Sanhedrin writes that you are only posul l'eidus m'd'rabanan because the issur is only d'rabanan. The Shut Beis Yosef also learns this way.

However the Beis Yosef in Siman 30 says that this is an issur d'oreisa however, the only time you are posul l'eidus is if you are chayav malkos. Therefore, since you are not chayav malkos for raising your hand, you can't be posul m'd'oreisa. At the same time it doesn't make sense to say that you are better than someone who does an issur d'rabanan and is posul m'd'rabanan. Therefore, the Beis Yosef says you are at least posul l'eidus m'd'rabanan. This is also the opinion of the Sema and the GR"A.

Chiyuv Malkos and Posul L'eidus

A similar question arises with one who hits his friend and causes damage more than a peruta. You are patur from malkos so would we say that you are not posul l'eidus? The Shut Beis Yosef says it would not make sense to say that if you don't damage the person you are chayav malkos and posul l'eidus but if you damage the person you are kosher l'eidus. Rather since the lav has a chiyuv malkos you are always patur l'eidus. The Maharit however seems to hold that if there is no chiyuv malkos there is no pesul eidus and therefore, if you cause damage you are still kosher l'eidus. The Shiuri R' Shmuel on Sanhedrin learns the Maharit like this and I think that is pashut p;shat in the Maharit. As far as the lomdus why you need a chiyuv malkos to create a p'sul eidus, ein kan m'komo but the Chavtzeles Hashoron on Parshas Shemos delves into it.

Cheirem and Pasul L'Minyan

Interestingly, the Rema in Choshen Mishpat Siman 420 writes that there is a "cherem hakadmonim" on someone who hits his friend and he is posul for a minyan. (The m'kor is a Maharam Rottenberg). The Chasam Sofer was asked if one should make a macha'ah against such a fellow. The Chasam Sofer answered that ein hachi nami you should but now a days it is not practical. Noone will listen to you and they will make fun of you instead. Furthermore, if we were going to be makpid on charamim we could pasul plenty of people. L'ma'aseh he suggests not doing anything since it would be counter productive. He uses very strong language in describing how we live in a time where people don't listen to leadership.

Nireh li, that I now understand why on Erev Rosh Hashana people do a hataras charamim. We see that there are things people could do that put themselves in cheirem and it could even passul you for a minyan.

Reshus to Hit

Rav Moshe writes that if someone gave you reshus to hit him, if it is a chavala k'tana it is not derech b'zayon and would be muttar. If it is a chaval g'dolah and would cause monetary damage that it is assur even with reshus, after all it is assur to even hurt yourself. I guess according t o this boxing would be assur. I wonder what Rav Moshe would say about tackle football on an organized level (high school or college) -is it a p'sik reisha to cause monetary damage or maybe most people don't get seriously injured so if you do seriously injure someone maybe it is a davar sh'eino miskavein.
Just food for thought.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Parshas Shemos: Hitting Another Jew (Part I)

Due to the recent vacation I haven't had a chance yet to post last week's shiur, but better late than never.

This week's shiur was given l'iluyei nishmas my Zaidy, Michoel ben Dovid who was nifter last week on Shabbos Kodesh Parshas VaYichi. The levaya was on Monday December 24th.

In memory of my Zaidy, I just want to share one story that happens to tie into the shour. (It's not coincidental since I decided on this topic after hearing this story). My Zaidy, who grew up in Poland, was in the concentration camps during the war. He never spoke about his years duringthe war but I few stories did get out. Here is one story:

There was a capo in the concentration camp that was mistreating the Jews and my Zaidy got very upset. He wound up punching the capo in the face. Miraculously, nothing happened to him and the Germans didn't retaliate. Afterwards, all the Jews in the camp came over to him and gave him a beracha that the same hands that hit the capo should bring him hatzlacha. After the war my Zaidy became a glazer (he installed windows and glass) and he was very successful in running his own buisness. It seems the beracha came true.

After wriying this I decided to split up the post into two pieces. The next post will be a summary of the shiur.