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)

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(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