Thursday, December 31, 2009

Yosef's Shtar Kiddushin

Rashi quotes the medrash that when Ya'akov saw Ephraim and Menashe he initially refused to give them a beracha because he didn't know who their mother was. It was only after Yosef showed Ya'akov his shtar kedushin and kesuva that Ya'akov agreed to bless them.

Two questions come to mind. First of all, what was bothering Ya'akov? Was he really concerned with who Yosef married? Shimon married someone fron Cana'an according to one pshat and Yehuda eventually married Tamar who did not have a great lineage. Furthermore, if Osnas was Dina's daughter didn't Ya'akov know that? Secondly, what did Yosef hope to accomplish by showing the shatr kiddushin and kesuva and how did this appease Ya'akov.

I believe the key to the answer is to understand what Ya'akov was trying to accomplish. The berachos that Ya'akov was giving Ephraim and Menashe were not just stam berachos, the intent of the berachos were to make them into Shevatim. In order to be considered Shevatim Ya'akov had to insure that they had the appropriate lineage. However, he wasn't concerned where Osnas came from, but rather he was concerned over what type of relationship Yosef had with Osnas-was it a real marriage or was she his pilegesh.

I heard recently a shiur from Rav Belsky that I found online, where he explains that when Ya'akov moved into Bilhah's tent his intention was to change his relationship with Bilhaha and Zilpah from being his pilagshim into being his wives. In other words he was koveia that they were no longer shifachos but had the status of imahos. The purpose of this was to ensure that all 12 sons would be fit to be shevatim. If Bilhah and Zilpah would retain their status of shifachos then their children would only be considered avadim and not part of the shevatim.

Reuvain did not understand this and he thought Bilhah was still his father's pilegesh-that's why the posuk says he slept with the pilegesh of his father. The Torah is describing the mindset of Reuvain. Rav Belsky further pointed out that after this ma'aseh, the Torah constantly refers to the shevatin as "12 sons of Ya'akov" and as "achim/brothers". The Torah is stressing this point that all 12 sons were shevatim and even the children of Bilhah and Zilpah were no longer considered avadim but shevatim.

With this idea, we can understand the whole conversation between Ya'akov and Yosef. In order for Ephraim and Menashe to be Shevatim, they couldn't be sons of a pilegesh. They had to be children of a real marriage. It's possible that even though Ya'akov was able to change the status of Bilhah and Zilpah (and consequently the status of their children) retroactively, when it came to Yosef's children he couldn't do that since they were already starting at a lower level having come from Yosef and not from Ya'akov. (You can also probably take issue with Rav Belsky's hanacha that originally Bilhah and Zilpah were only shifachos, maybe they were always imahos just Reuvain did not realize this).

The Ra'avad in Hilchos Ishus 1:4 writes that a pilegesh has kiddushin with no kesuva. The Maggid Mishna says this is also the Rambam's shittah, however the Lechem Mishna writes that from the Rambam in Hil' Melachim it seems the Rambam holds a pilegesh has no kiddushin and no kesuva. Either way, (although it works better with the Lechem Mishna), we can unde3rstand why Yosef responded by showing Ya'akov his shtar kedushin and kesuva. He wa sshowing Ya'akov that Osnas was his real wife andnot just a pilegesh and therefore his sons were fit to be made into shevatim.

(Ayin Sha'arei Aharon who mentions this idea as well)

Monday, December 28, 2009

Parshas VaYigash:Motherhood-based on cconception or childbirth

OKay, I want to end this month with more than one post, so I will stop being lazy and post my latest chaburah.

Rashi on the posuk "Shaul ben HaCana'anis" brings the medrash that Shaul was the son of Dina and Shimon. The question is that even a Ben Noach is not allowed to marry his maternal sister. How then could Shimon marry Dina. One approach to answer this question is to use another medrash. The Targum Yonason Ben Uziel tells us that when Leah was pregnant with her 7th child she davened to Hashem that it should be a girl. At the same time, Rochel was also pregnant. Hashem caused the fetus in Leah to be switched with the fetus in Rochel. Rochel gave birth to Yosef and Leah gave birth to Dina. Since Dina was conceived in Rochel's womb you can argue that her mother was really Rochel. Consequently, she was muttar to marry Shimon.

In case you think that this is all derush, there is a very important halachic nafka mina. When a baby is born in-vitro or through a surrogate mother, who is considered the mother -the one who supplies the egg and conceives the child or the one who gives birth to the child. (or in the word of Rabbi Bleich is motherhood defined by parturition or by gestation).

There are a number of teshuvos/articles written on this topic. Rabbi Bleich has an extensive article in his Contemporary Halacha vol 4. Techumim vol 5 also has a discussion on this topic. Finally, there is also an article in the Jouranal of Halacha and Contemporary Society vol 38.

Just to note, we are not discussing whether it is muttar l'chatchila to do such a thing, only b'dieved if it was done who is the mother.

I will just bring 1-2 proofs for each side of the equation.

Parturition or Childbirth

1) The Tzitz Eliezer quotes the sefer Tzur Ya'akov who actually wants to bring a rayah from the Yonason ben Uziel quoted above. However, the rayah is in the opposite direction. Since the torah lists Dina as Leah's daughter and Yosef as Rochel's son, we see that motherhoood is based on teh woman who gives birth to the child.

Rav Shternbach in an article in a medical torah journal called "b'shvilei u'refuah" argues that you can't bring a rayah from derush. Furthermore, there is another pshat, that the fetus' weren't switched but rather the neshamos were switched.

2) The sefer Even Yakar (quoted by the Tzitz Eliezer) discusses a case of an ovarian transplat (which seems to have never happened) and he brings a rayah from a gemara in Sotah 43B. The gemara says that if you graft a tree less than 3 yrs old onto a tree that is older than 3 years, the new tree is patur from orlah. We see you follow the mother who gave birth.

3) Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg in Techumim vol 5 brings a rayah from Yevamos 97b. The gemara discusses a case of a non Jewish lady who converts when she is pregnant and then has twins. The gemara says these twins are considered brothers and there is a chiyuv yibum since at birth the mother was Jewish. Again we see you follow childbirth.


Rabbi Bleich brings a Rabbi Akiva Eiger (also quoted in the Chavtzeles HaSharon on Vayigash) in Yorah Deia (SIman 87) as a proof that we follow conception. The halacha is that milk from a shechted animal can not create an issur basar v'chalav because we need "chaleiv imo"=milk from an animal who can be a mother. A shechted cow can not be a mother. Rabbi Akiva Eiger asks what is the din with a cow that is a treifa. Such a cow can not give birth but it can conceive. He says in such a case the cow is considered a mother. From here we see that motherhood follows conception.

Parturition and Gestation

Rabbi Bleich wants to say that both women are considered the mother. By kilayim of animals, the gemara says "choshishin l'zera ha'av" and the animal is considered to be a species from the father and the mother. Here too, the women who conceived contributed to this child and she should also be considered the mother.

According to the Jouranal of Halacha and Contemporary Society most poskim say the one giving birth to the child is the mother. But as always ask your local Orthodox poseik.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Parshas Vayishlach:Do you need a kli for the Menorah

The Avnei Nezer (Siman 500) discusses whether one needs to use a kli to light the menorah. The Chessed L'Avraham brings down 15 madreigos of a menorah, the best being gold then silver, copper etc. He then writes that one can not use egg shells because it is not a kli and also you can't use a kli that can't support itself. The Avnei Nezer paskens like the Chesed L'Avraham. He tries to prove that in the Beis HaMikdash, the kli used to hold the oil was considered a chelek of the ner of teh menorah and therefore, by Chanuka as well one needs a kli to hold the oil.

There are several chumros that come out of this.

1) One can not use a hollowed out potato to hold the oil since food is not m'kabeil tumah and is not considered a kli. (l'fi zeh tzarich iyun on the Holocaust stories where they were moser nefesh to put oil in a potato and light it. Acc. to the Avnei Nezer they were not yotzei).

2) If the kli can't stand by itself it is not a kli. Rav Shternbuch (Teshuvos V'hanhagos chelek 2) also paskens like the Avnei Nezer and he says that most of the glass cups we use are no good. Most of the cups we use have a nipple on the bottom and they can't stand on their own. Accordingly, they would not be considered a kli and you would not be yotzei ner chanuka.

3) If one has a gold menorah but uses glass cups, you would lose the hiddur of using a gold menorah, since you are really lighting with the glass.

4) If you just stuck candles down on the table you would not be yotzei.

Other than the Avnei Nezer and Rav Shternbuch, the other poskim I saw are all meikil for different reasons.

1) The Shevet Levi argues on the whole dimyon to the menorah in the Beis HaMikdash. Even if the Avnei Nezer is correct that in the Beis HaMikdash the kli is a chelek of the ner, who says that we would say teh same by the Chanuka menorah. The menorah in the Mikdash could not be made out of wood and only had 7 branches, while our menoros can be made out of wood and have 8 branches.

2) Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l in Halichos Shlomo says that the glass cup is batul to the menorah. Therefore, as long as the menorah can stand by itself, it makes no difference if teh glass cup can stand by itself. Furthermore, if the menorah is gold, you would still get the hiddur of using a gold menorah.

3) The Sdei Chemed (Mareches Chanuka Os 7) says that if the kli was originally made so that it couldn't stand it si not a chisaron in the kli and it is still considered a kli. The rayah is from a mishna in keilim. I also saw this brought down in a sefer on Hilchos Chanuka and the comparison was made to nitilas yadayim. By nitilas yadayim, we pasken if the cupo can't stand on its own but it was made liek that , it is still a kli. So hu hadin by Chanuka. Rav Shternbuch mentions this dimyon but he rejects it. I don't understand his sevara for rejecting it, but ayin sham.

4) The Az Nidbiru (chelek 13 Siman 49) points out that the Avnei Nezer brings Rishonim who are choleik on teh Chesed L'Avraham, namely the Radvaz, the Rashba and the Ran. Also, the poskim never indicate we should be machmir like the Chesed L'Avraham.

5) The Chacham Tzvi writes that one is yotzei if you stick candles on the wall. We see he didn't require a kli.

6) Finally, the Az Nidbiru (chelek 13 Siman 49) has a totally different understanding of the Chesed L'Avraham. When the Chesed L'Avraham writes that the kli must stand by itself, that is only because otherwise there won't be enough oil b'zman hadlaka to last the shiur.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Parshas Chayei Sara:Punishment for those under 20 years old

I haven't had a chance to post my shiurim from the previous weeks. I decided I'll start with this week and work backwards.

Rashi quotes the medrash that Sorah had no sins at age 100 just like she had none at age 20. The medrash says that the reason Sorah had no sins at age 20 is because less than 20 a person is not punished b'dinei shamayim. The question is what does this mean and are there other m'koros besides this medrash.

The gemara in Shabbos 89B mentions this idea. Hashem wanted to destroy the B'nei Yisroel and part of Yitzchak's arguement in favor of the B'nei Yisroel was that for the first 20 years of a person's life they don't get punished.
The Rambam in Sanhedrin Perek 7 peirush hamishnayos also says we have a mesorah that under 2o there is no chiyuv kareis.

The Mizrachi in Chayei Sora also writes that this halacha applies to kareis. He says even though the Rambam mentions that one is who over 13 is chayav for malkos and kareis, he means that there is only a chiyuv malkos from age 13.

The Noda B'Yehuda and the Chida in Torah Lishma explain that this halacha applies to all chiyuvim b'dinei shamayim and not just kareis. However, they both point out that it applies b'olam hazeh. A person under 20 will not get punished in this world b'dinei shamayim. Once a person dies, you will get punished for aveiros you did under 20. Furthermore, you will also be held responsible for the aveiros you did as a koton, unless you did teshuva when you got older.

Finally, the CHasam Sofer and Chacham Tzvi both reject this whole idea. The Chasam Sofer says we don't find anywhere in halacha that a person under 20 is not punished. The gemara in Shabbos is aggadata and we don't learn from aggadata.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Bereishis:The Mitzvah of Kiddushin

This past week I spoke about the mitzvah of kiddushin. In this week's parsha is the mitzvah of peru u'rivu. The question is how does kiddushin fit in? Is this also a mitzvah? There are 2 main opinions in the Rishonim.


The Rambam (Hilchos Ishus 1:2, Sefer HaMitzvos 213) states clearly that kiddushin is a mitzvah. He counts the mitzvah of peru u'rivu and kiddushin as 2 mitzvos. According to the Rambam, if one wants to create a relationship with another person, it is a mitzva to do it through the mechanism called kiddushin.

The Kesef Mishna quotes Rav Avraham ben HaRambam who explains that the Rambam holds kiddushin and nisuin is one mitzvah. Kiddushin is considered the beginning of the mitzvah and nisuin is the end of the mitzvah. The KEsef Mishna is m'dayeik from the way the Rambam lists the mitzvah in his header. He writes "the mitzvah of nisuin through kiddushin and kesuva". I think you can add a diyuk from the sefer hamitzvos where the Rambam writes "it is a mitzvah livol isha through kiddushin". You see the entire process is the mitzvah.

You can contrast this with the Sefer HaChinuch who writes the mitzvah is to be m'kadeish an isha through kesef,shtar, biyah. He makes no mention of nisuin.


The Rosh in Kesuvos (perek 1 siman 12) says kiddushin is not a mitzvah. He says if one wants to be m'kayeim peru u'rivu yuo can do it through a pilegesh, you don't need to get married. In fact it's not even a hechsher mitzvah like shechitah. By shechitah, you can't eat without shechitah, but you don't need kiddushin to be m'kayeim perui u'rivu

Nafka Mina

1) Birchas Eirusin

How do you understand the nature of the beracha on kiddushin? The Rosh writes it is not a birchas hamitzvah but a birchas hashevach. That is why the loshon of the beracha is not comparable to a regular birchas hamitzvah. We don't say "asher kidishanu l'kadesj isha". Plus we mention the issur arayos. We never find that we mention the issur in a birchas hamitzvah. Finally, that is way the beracha is said after kiddushin and not before, there is no requirement for oveir l'asiyason since it is only a birchas hashevach.

The Rambam (Ishus 3:23) says the beracha must be before the mitzvah due to oveir l'asiyason. In fact if you omit the beracha you can't say it after the kiddushin.

2) Mitzva Bo Yoser M'bishlucho

According to the Rambam we understand why the gemara says it's better to do kiddushin yourself. Since it's a mitzvah it is better to do it yourself. According to the Rosh why is it better? In fact the Netziv (Hemek Shailah Siman 165) says mitzva bo yoser m'bishlucho would apply to a hechsher mitzvah but only a hechsher mitzvah mentioned in the Torah (like Kovod Shabbos). A hechsher mitzvah not mentioned in the Torah does not have this requirement. Since kiddushin isn't mefurash b'kra there is no mitzva bo yoser m'bishlucho by kiddushin if it is only a hechsher mitzvah. (He uses this as a rayah against the Rosh).

You can answer the Rosh with a Ran in Kiddushin (Reish Perek 2). The Ran says mitzva bo yoser m'bishlucho applies to a man because it is assur to marry without seeing the woman. However, mitzva bo yoser m'bishlucho applies to the woman as well since she helps the man fulfill his mitzvah of peru u'rivu. You see the Ran holds like the Rosh that kiddushin is not a mitzvah but mitzva bo yoser m'bishlucho still applies.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Mazal Tov

Mazal Tov to myself (are you allowed to wish yourself Mazal Tov), my wife and my six children on the birth of our new daughter/sister. Our new daughter, Avigayil was born this past Friday morning. Boruch Hashem both mother and daughter are healthy and doing fine and they made it home for Yom Kippur.

We now have 5 girls and 2 boys-hopefully by the time they are in the parsha the shidduch crisis will be solved and the boys side will pay for everything :-) .

Hopefully, we should only see nachas from her as well as all our other children.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Parshas Netzavim/VaYeilech: Blowing Shofar on Rosh HaShana

The Shulchan Aruch paskens that we don't blow shofar on Rosh Hashana when it falls out on Shabbos (as it does this year). The reason the gemara gives is because we are afraid that one might carry the shofar in reshsus harabim and be oveir on the d'oreisa of hotza'ah. (This same reason applies for reading the megillah and taking the lulav). The question is, what happens if someone goes ahead and does blow shofar on Shabbos? Is he at least yotzei the mitzva d'oreisa of blowing shofar? It's understood that chazal made a gezeirah not blow shofar, but l'chorah the chiyuv d'oreisa still exists and if so why would one not be yotzei m'd'oreisa.

Nafka Mina
Before I get into the lomdus, there are actually several nafka mina to this question.

1) The Aishel Avraham in Siman 600 (and also brought in the otzar meforshim peirush on the side of the shulchan aruch in Siman 588 says that if one blew shofar on Shabbos Rosh Hashana then one does not make the Shehechiyanu on the second day. Since the beracha was made the first day there is no need to repeat it.

2) The Chachmas Shlomo (Siman 588) discusses a case where someone blew 2 set sof tekia teruah tekia but not that third set. This person is in limbo. .He was oveir on the d'rabanan of blowing shofar on Shabbos but he was not yet m'kayeim the d'oreisa since m'd'oreisa you need to blow 9 sounds-3 sets. The question is do we allow this person to blow 1 more set to be yotzei m'd'oreisa.

3) Chazal never made the takana in Yerushalayim in front of beis din. There is a machlokes rishinim what kind of beis din you need. The Rif paskins that all you need is a beis din of 3 people and you can blow in Yerushalayim. In 1881 (Rosh Hashana 5642) Rav Shlesinger wanted to blow shofar on Shabbos in Yerushalayim. In the sefer Ir Hakodesh V'HaMIkdash, Rav Tukitchinsky discusses the 2 sides of the issue. He writes that initaially Rav Shlesinger had 23 rabbonim on his side but in the end most of them backed out and only a few rabbonim blew shofar. He also quotes the gabbai of Rav Shmuel Salant who said that Rav Shmuel Salant would not pasken it is muttar but he wouldn't be mocheh against someone who went to hear the shofar. Fimally, Rav Tukitchinsky quotes the Aderes who said in 1903 that it was a shame Rav Shlesinger is not around to blow shofar on Shabbos since he would go behind a wall to hear him.

This leads us to the 3rd nafka mina. What would happen if someone blew shofar on Shabbos illegally-could one go hear the shofar and be m'kayeim a mitzva m'd'oreisa.

The Lomdus

The lomdus is very simple. In fact Rav Elchanan in Kunteres Divrei Sofrim Siman 3 discusses this issue. When chazal were okeir a mitzva m'd'oreisa b'shev v'al ta'aseh were they okeir it completely and therefore even if you do the mitzvah m'd'oreisa you don't get a mitzvah or do we say that the mitzvah d'oreisa still exists. It's just that now I have 2 competing mitzvos. On the one hand I have the mitzvah to blow shofar. On the other hand I have the mitzvah to listen to the chachamim. Which mitzvah takes precedence? Rav Elchanan explains that we say "shev v'al ta'aseh", don't do anything. In this case it would mean don't blow the shofar.

Rav Elchanan has a few nafka mina and rayas from various gemaras for each tzad. ayin sham.

Rabbi Akiva Eiger seems to take a clear stand on this issue. In derush v'chiddush (ma'areches 8) he says that if you blow shofar on Shabbos you get a mitzva m'd'oreisa.

Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank (Har Tzvi Siman 88 and Mikroei Kodesh) asks that there is a Tosafos in Sukkah (3a) against Rabbi Akiva Eiger. If one sits ina sukkah and the table is in the house, you are not yotzei. Tosafos says you are not yotzei even m'd'oreisa because the rabanan have the ability to be okaeir the d'oreisa and you are not m'kayeim any mitzvah. The Ran disagrees with Tosafos and holds you are yotzei m'd'oreisa, but al kol panim, how can Rabbi Akiva Eiger go against a Tosafos. (Interestingly, Rav Elchanan never mentions this Tosafos). Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank wants to learn that the m'kor for Rabbi Akiva Eiger is from a different gemara and Tosafos is learning like a shitta that we don't pasken like (ayin sham).

I found in the journal HaPardes from 1960 that the Siridei Eish discusses this as well. He asks on Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank that we pasken like Tosafos. Therefore, whatever answer you give for Rabbi Akiva Eiger has to address Tosafos since that is how we pasken. He answers that there is a difference between sukkah and shofar. By the case of sukkah, chazal possuled the sukkah itself. In such a case we would say that you are not yotzei m'd'oreisa since you are not sitting in a sukkah. By shofar, they didn't possul the shofar but rather invalidated your act. However, your act of blowing teh shofar might not be good m'd'rabanan but it is good m'd'oriesa.

In Mikroei Kodesh, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank does seem to mention this teretz but he doesn't stick with it.

Also, if you look in the Rishimus Shiurim on Sukkah, the Rav learns the Rambam not like the Siridei Aish. He is m'dayeik in the Rambam that it is not a p'sul in teh cheftzah shel sukkah but teh ma'aseh is not a mitzvah,

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Spam in comments

I've been getting some spam comments recently. Does anyone know how to prevent this from happening?

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Blowing Shofar on Shabbos

The SHulchan Aruch paskens that a shofar is a kli sh'melachto l'issur on Shabbos and mutar l'tzorech gufo and m'komo. I was wondering why it is not muktza machmas chisaron kis since we would never use it for any other purpose.

I saw that the Shmiras Shabbos quotes Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach Zt"l who makes this point. B'zman hazeh a shofar would be muktza machmas chisaron kis. It was only in the days of the gemara and Shulchan Aruch where they used it for other purposes that it was considered a kli sh'melachto l'issur

Tefillin as a Kli Gever

My father pointed out to me that the Targum Yonason Ben Uziel writes that tzitzis and tefillin are considered bigdei ish and are part of the issur of "Kli Gever". Most of us are aware of the claim that Rashi's daughter's wore tefillin. However, even if this is not true we do find in teh gemara that Michal bas Shaul wore tefillin and the chachamim did not protest. Furthermore, the Rambam paskens (Tzitzis 3:9) that women are allowed to wear tzitzis if they deisre. It would seem that the gemara and the Rambam argue on the Targum Yonason Ben Uziel.

Perhaps the machlokes is based on how to view tefillin. In general the issur of lo silbash kli gever is limited to when one wears the clothes as a malbush or tachshit. For example, if a man would wear a woman's raincoat to protect himself from the rain then there is no issur-he is wearing it for protection and not as a malbush/clothing. Similarly, a man can wear his wife's ring in order to keep it safe. (l'moshel-his hands are full and he has no pockets so the only safe place is on his finger). Again he is not wearing it as jewelry so it is mutar.

The question might be how do we view tefillin? Is it considered a tachshit or an article of clothing or is it something that we wear only to perform the mitzvah and it doesn't have the status of clothing or jewelry. Furthermore, even if one argues that it is a tachshit, maybe that is only for someone who wears it all day. But if you put it on solely to perform the mitzvah, maybe it is not considered wearing a tachshit.

In preparing my shiur this week (yes the chaburah zman has officially started up again), a came across a Maharshag in Chelek 1 Siman 36. He is discussing whether there is an issur hotza'ah on Shabbos if you wear something that is assur to wear-for example tefillin. He writes that tefillin in of themself are not considered a malbush or tachshit. We don't find that non Jews wear them. However, during the week it would be a tachshit for Jews who wear them for the mitzvah. However, this is only when one wears them for the mitzvah. If one does not wear them for the mitzvah-like on Shabbos then it would not be a tachshit but would be a masa-a burden and you would be chayav for hotza'ah on Shabbos. He then adds that the gemara says that if you find tefillin on Shabbos in the street you should wear them one pair at a time. However, he quotes the Magan Avraham (301:54) who says this only applies for a man. A woman would not be allowed to wear the tefillin since for her it would not be a malbush since she doesn't wear them during the week.

I guess what comes out of the Maharshag is precisely the opposite of what I wanted to say. According to the Maharshag, wearing tefillin for the mitzvah is a tachshit. The question is would that apply to the issur of kli gever as well?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Beracha Al HaNeis

I was recently learning the 9th perek of berachos and the first sugyah is about making a beracha in the place where a neis happens. The halacha is (siman 218) that besides making a beracha on a neis that happened to klal yisroel (for example making a beracha by the yam suf), there are other situations that one would make a beracha.

1) Based on the Yerushalmi, we pasken that you make a beracha on a neis that happens to an adam chashuv like Yoav ben Tzruyah. The question is why. The Biur Halacha quotes the Elyah Rabba that someone like Yoav ben Tzruyah was the shaliach for all of klal yisroel. When a neis happened to him it was really a nes for klal yisroel and it is considered a nes shel rabim. B'zman hazeh we assume no such person exists and we don't make a beracha.

2) The Avudraham writes that we only make a beracha on an event that happend al pi nes. If it happened b'minhag ha'olom you don't make a beracha. He asks why do we make a beracha "sh'asa nisim" by Purim and Chanukah. He answers that Purim was a nes because the king went against the laws of the land and also he killed 80,000 people to please Esther. This is not monhag haolam and is a neis. Chanukah we only make the beracha over the nes of the oil and not the war.

This Avudraham is also interesting for a different reason. Some achronim (ayin Kuntres Chanuka U'Megillah) discuss whether the beracha of shasa nisim by Chanuka is a birchas hamitzvah or birchas hashevach. The Avudraham clearly takes the tzad that it is a birchas hashevach.

3) An individual wil also make a beracha at the place where a nes happened to him that saved him from harm. There are 2 opinions in the Shulchan Aruch whether the event that happend has to be through a real nes. It seems to me that there is a machlokes between the Mishna Berurah and Chayei Adam (siman 65 in Nishmas Adam), how to understand the opinion that one doesn't need a nes.

The Chayei Adam brings several proofs that we don't require that a person is saved through a nes but as long as he was saved "b'derech nes" he can make the beracha. For example, if a wall falls on a person and he really should have died but someone saves him so he wasn't saved through a nes but the fact that someone came and saved him was hashgacha pratis and it is "b'derech nes".

However, the Mishna Berura in the Biur Halcha learns a little differently. Both opinions in the Shulchan Aruch require that a person be saved through a nes. They only disagree what level of nes is m'chayeiv a beracha. The first opinion holds you need a real nes that is supernatural. The second opinion holds that even the fact that Hashem caused circumstances to happen to allow you to be saved is a nes. If robbers held you uyp and it just so happened that someone came by and saved your life-even though nothing supernatural happeend, that is a nes and since it is a nes you can make the beracha.

Although it seems like the Chayei Adam and Mishna Berura are saying the same thing, Ithink they are not. The Chayei Adam seems to be saying you don't need to define the event as a nes-as long as it happened in a way which we see yad Hashem and is b'derech nes, you can make the beracha. The Mishna Berura seems to be saying you must define the event as a nes.

I would like to add that perhaps they are arguing in the following chakirah. When we make a beracha at the yam suf that is clearly a beracha recognizing the fact that Hashem performed a nes for klal yisroel. How about when an individual makes a beracha on his personal nes? Is this also a shevach in recognition of the nes Hashem did or maybe it is a form of birchas hagomel. A regular birchas hagomel is thanking Hashem for saving you. Chzal were m'sakein that when Hashem saved you b'derech nes that you make a sh'asa nisim as well (when you pass by the place). It could be the Mishna Berura holds like the first tzad-it is only a beracha on a nes therefore you can only make the beracha if the event is defined as a nes. The Chayei Adam holds like the 2nd tzad, it is a unique form of birchas hagomeil and we don't care if the event that happened can be defined as a nes but rather did Hashem save you b'derech nes.

I have a few other nafka minas in this chakirah.

a) The Rivash writes that besides making a sh'asa nisim over an individual event, you also bentch gomel. His reasoning is based on a kal v'chomer, if I make a sh'asa nisim kal v'chomer I should bentch gomel. If Sheasa nisim is just a shevach in recognition for a nes Hahsem performed, what is the kal v'cho,er to gomeil-they are 2 distinct types of berachos. But if we say sh'asa nisim is a differeent form of gomeil the kal v'chomer makes sense.

b) There is a machlokes who makes this sh'asa nisim. Is it only the person's children and grandchildren or every generation. If the beracha is just a shevach over the nes so we can say all future generations make it-just like the beracha on the yam suf. But if it is a gomeil type beracha so maybe it is limite dto children and grandchildren since they benefit more directly than other descendents from the hatzalah so they can make the gomeil.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Korach and Yaakov

I heard an interesting pshat in what Yaakov was mispallel for when he davened that his name should not be associated with Korach. Many times people do things, both good and bad, and people react by saying "Oh of course he did that, he is a descendent of Ploni. Yaakov was mispallel that after Korach did what he did, noone should say "of course Korach did that, he is Yaakov's great great grandson".

Summer Schedule

I know they tell you that Torah is never on vacation. However, my chaburah is offically on summer hiatus. Being that we go upstate for the summer, I will not be home on Shabbos until after Labor Day. Being that I don't have a chaburah to type up, I don't know how much I will blog. I will make some attempt to post stuff but I make no promises.

Enjoy your summer.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Parshas Beha’alosecha:Lechem Mishna

This week's parsha talks about the Mon. Even though the m'kor for lechem mishna is in Parshas Beshalach, I decided to talk about it this week. Specifically, I discussed whether lechem mishna requires to complete loaves of bread.

The Mechabeir in Siman 274 paskens that we need two loaves of bread for the Shabbos meal. The Rema adds that thy must be whole loaves. The GR"A points you to the gemara in Berachos 39b. The gemara says that by the seder the 2nd matzah has to be broken to make it "lechem oni". However, by Shabbos you need 2 loaves. The GR"A is m'daeik that only on Pesach can you have half a matzah. On Shabbos and Yom Tov you need two whole loaves.

In truth this is a machlokes Rishonim. The Rosh in Pesachim says that even on Pesach night you need 2 whole matzos fro lechem mishna. Therefore, you take 3 matzahs. The Rif holds that on Pesach night 1 ½ matzahs is enough for lechem mishna. Pashtus in the Rif is that only Pesach night you don't need shlaimim, but every other time you do. However, the Netziv in the Meishiv Davar learns from the Rif that we see from the seder night that b'd'ieved you don't need shlaimim. In fact the Netziv is coming to explain his father in laws minhag of giving guests 2 pieces of bread for lechem mishna when he didn't have whole loaves.


To be continued

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Test from Word

I just realized Word 2007 lets you type a blog post and it will automatically send it to your blog. Very cool!

Parshas Naso: Can A Murderer Duchen?

I am not sure why this topic intrigued me, but I really hope it is not halacha l'ma'aseh for too many people (aside from fighting in the Israeli army).

The gemara in Berachos 35a says that a kohein who kills can't duchen. Tosafos in Sanhedrin 38b brings 2 reasons why a kohein who kills can do the avodah but can not duchen. Either it is a chumrah or because of the rule "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor", since the kohein used his hands to kill someone, he can not use his hands to bless Klal Yisroel.

There are 2 questions raised regarding this second teretz of Tosafos.

1) The Aruch LaNer asks that the kohein gives a beracha with his mouth, not with his hands. So how come we say "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor"? He answers that we see from here that raising the hands is a cheilek of the mitzvah. In fact I saw brought down a rayah to this from the Shulchan Aruch HaRav. He paskens that the beracha is said before the hands are raised because the beracha must be before the nmitzvah. We see from here raisng the hands is part of teh mitzvah.

2) The gemara in Rosh Hashana says that "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor" only applies inside the Besi HaMikdash. That is why the kohein gadol does not where bigdei zahav on Yom Kippur in the kodesh kedoshim, because it reminds HKBH of the eigel hazahav and "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor". However, a cows horn would not be pasul for shofar because of this reason since the shofar is blown outside the Beis HaMikdash. The achronim ask, if this is true why does "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor" apply here-a kohein duchins outside the Beis HaMikdash. The answer given (I believe it is a Pri Chadash) is that when the mitzvah is being done with the same object used to do the aveirah, then "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor"applies even outside the Beis HaMikdash. So here the hands that killed are teh hands that are giving the beracha.

Nafka Mina in Tosafos

1) There is a machlokes between the Mechabeir and Rema whether teshuva allows a kohein to duchen. The Mechabeir is machmir and the Rema is meikil. (The Biur Halacha seems to say we should be machmir for the Mechabeir unless it is a real oneis). I saw that this could be toloi on the 2 answers of Tosafos. If you hold it is only a chumrah not to duchen, then once a kohein does teshuva he can duchen again. However, if the reason is because "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor", then teshuva might not help. We know the B'nei Yisroel did teshuva for the eigel, yet a kohein still doesn't wear gold in the kodosh kedoshim. (you could be docheh this and say maybe the teshuva wasn't completely accepted)

2) another nafka mina is that the rule of "ein kateigor na'aseh saneigor" could be a sevarah d'o'reisa. While chumrah is only m'd'rabanan.

Halacha L'Ma'aseh

The Piskei Teshuvos (Siman 128) discusses different issues (car accident, army etc). A couple of interesting questions are.

1) A kohein is drafted by his country and kills in battle.

Rav Moshe paskens that the kohein can duchen. The Mishna Berura paskens that even if someone violates yahrog v'al ya'avor and kills someone, since he was an oneis he can duchen. Therefore, Rav Moshe says kal v'chomer if you are conscripted into the army, you are an oneis and you can still duchen. I understand from Rav Moshe's comparison to yahrog v'al ya'avor that he is referring to a case of someone who kills a fellow Jew in battle.

2) Israeli soldier kills an enemy soldier

Rav Ovadiah Yosef says he can certainly duchen. First of all it is not clear if this issur applies to killing a nochri. Second of all you are defending yourself and klal yisroel and you are at worst an oneis. He does not discuss killing a fellow Jew through friendly fire.

3) Teshuva

The Piskei Teshuvos brings down that the Sefardishe poskim go with the Mechabeir and teshuva deos not work while the Ashkenazi poskim follow the Rema that teshuva does work. He does bring down that if you killed b'oneis like in a car accident where it totally wasn't your fault, then even Rav Ovadiah Yosef will allow you to duchen with teshuva.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Parshas Tazria/Metzora:Changing Your Sefira Minhag

Being that we are in the middle of sefirah I decided to talk about sefirah rather than teh parsha.

There is a psak of Rav Moshe Feinstein (Chelek 1 siman 159) that everyone quotes that says you are allowed to switch your sefira minhag every year. People assume this to mean that if in 5768 I kept sefirah from Pesach until Lag B'Omer, then in 5769 I can switch and keep from Rosh Chodesh until Shavuous. However, as I pointed out in my shiur, if you read through the teshuva it is not so simple.


The reasons for the minhag

There are 2 different sources given for why we keep minhagei aveilus during sefirah. The first source is a medrash that says from Pesach until the 33rd/34th day of the omer the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva died. Therefore, we are noheig aveilus during these 33/34 days since these are the days they actually died. The second source is quoted in the name of Tosafos that really the talmidim of Rabbi Akiva died from Pesach until Shavuous. However, they did not die on days which tachanun was not said. This excludes 7 days of Pesach, 6 Shabbosos, and 3 days Rosh Chodesh (2 from Iyar and 1 from Sivan). That leaves 33 days during which the talmidim died. Since they died for 33 days, we choose 33 days during the Omer to follow minhagei aveilus.

The Various Minhagim

There happen to be 6 different minhagim mentioned in Shulchan Aruch and the poskim. However, to keep things simple we will refer to them in 2 groups-1st half and 2nd half. The 1st half minhag holds that one should keep sefirah from Pesach until the 34th day of the Omer. This is the opinion of the Mechabeir and according to this opinion Lag B'Omer is also one of the days in which aveilus applies. This minhag follows the medrash that the talmidim died from Pesach until 34 Omer and therefore we observe aveilus on the days they actually died. The 34th day of the Omer is included but we say miktzas hayom k'kulo and stop once they day begins.

The 2nd half minhag holds one should keep sefirah from Rosh Chodesh (30 Nisan) until 3 Sivan or from 2 Iyar until 5 Sivan. This is the opinion of the Rema in 593:2. This minhag follows Tosafos that the talmidim died from Pesach until Shavuous excluding the days on which tachanun was not said. The 33 days that are picked for aveilus are the days between Rosh Chodesh and Shavuous.

Minhag of Until Lag B'Omer

I purposely left out one important minhag until the end. This is the minhag the Rema mentions in 593:2. Remember that we said that the Mechabeir holds you keep aveilus until day 34 of the Omer. On this the Rema writes that we don't keep until the 34th day but rather we only are noheig aveilus until the 33rd day of the Omer. This is the minhag that many people have of keeping sefirah from Pesach until Lag B'Omer. Really Lag B'Omer is included but we say miktzas hayom k'kulo.

Now comes the big question. What is the reason for this Rema? Is the Rema following the medrash that these are the actual days that the talmidim died , but he argues on the Mechabeir regarding the 34th day of the Omer. Meaning the Mechabeir holds the talmidim died on day 33 of the Omer and on day 34 of the Omer, while the Rema holds they only died up to day 33 but by day 34 they had already stopped dying. This is the opinion of the GRA.

However, the Bach and Pri Megadim understand the Rema differently. They hold that the Rema is working with Tosafos. The talmidim died from Pesach until Shavuous excluding the days on which tachanun was not said, and we need to pick 33 days to observe aveilus. The 33 days that are picked are from Pesach until Lag B'Omer.

Nafka Mina

The nafka mina between the Gra and the Bach is the basis for Rav Moshe's psak. Rav Moshe writes that you can switch your minhag only if you are switching it to a minhag that follows the same reason. For example, lets say you usually keep Rosh Chodesh until 3 Sivan. You can switch and keep 2 Iyar until Shavuous since the reason behing both these minhagim are the same-both are based on Tosafos. However, one could not switch to the Mechabeir and keep until 34 Omer since that minhag is based on the medrash.

But can a person who usually keeps Rosh Chodesh until 3 Sivan switch to keeping from Pesach until Lag B'Omer (like the Rema). Well that depends. according to the Bach you can since both minhagim are based on Tosafos. Howeevr, according to the GRA you can't because the reason for keeping until Lag B'Omer is the medrash and the reason for keeping after Rosh Chodesh is Tosafos.

Rav Moshe says one should be machmir for the GRA and if one normally holds the 1st half (until Lag B'Omer) unless it is a sha'as hadchak gadol, you should not switch to keeping the 2nd half (after Rosh Chodesh).

Monday, April 20, 2009

Parshas Shimini:Chayav L'Taheir Atzmo LaRegel

The possuk in Shimini 11:8 says "u'vnivlosam lo siga'u"-you should not touch a neveilah. Rashi brings the gemara in Rosh Hashana 16b that learns that the possuk is telling as the halacha that a person has to make himself tahor for the regel i.e. yom tov. The question is what is the geder of this halacha and does it apply today?

In lomdishe terms, we can kler the following chakirah. Is the halacha to be tahor for the regel a halacha in the beis hamikdash and/or bringing the korbonos. In other words, the only reason to be tahor is so that one can be oleh regel and go into the beis hamikdash and/or bring the required korbonos associated with yom tov. Or perhaps it is a halacha in kedushas yom tov. The kedusha of the day requires one to become tahor and to spend yom tov in a state of tahara.

These two tzdadim can be found in the rishonim.

Shittas HaRambam (Hilchos Tumas Ochlin 16:10)

The Rambam writes explicitly that the reason for this halacha is so that one will be able to enter the beis hamikdash. Clearly the Rambam holds like the first tzad.

Shittas HaRosh (Yoma Sof Perek 8)

The Rosh at the end of the 8th perek of Yoma writes that there was a minhag to be toveil erev Yom Kippur with a beracha. The Rosh asks where do we ever find such a chiyuv. It can't be from the halacha of chayav adam l'taheir atzmo laregel because that does not apply today. Since we can't be tahor from tumas meis there is no purpose in being tahor for the regel.

There are two ways to understand the Rosh.

1) One could learn that the Rosh holds that if we would have a parah adumah today, then one would be obligated to be m'taheir for the regel. However, the question is why? We have no beis hamikdash to go to and we don't have korbonos to bring, so why would one have to become tahor? Al karchach yuo have to say that the Rosh would learn it is a din in kedushas yom tov. However, it only makes sense to become tahor in honor of yom tov if you could be fully tahor. If there is no para aduma and we are still tamei meis, there is no chiyuv to go to the mikvah for yom tov. I saw that Rav Simcha Elberg has this mehalech in the Rosh.

2) However, the Shagas Aryeh (siman 67) understands the Rosh differently. He understands the Rosh that the chiyuv to be tahor for the regel is so one can bring the korbonos haregel. This is more in line with the Rambam's understanding of this halacha.

Meiri (Rosh Hashana 16B)/Likutei Sichos

The Meiri writes the chiyuv comes from the fact that one has to eat chulin b'tahara on Yom Tov. In Likutei Sichos, the Lubavitcher Rebbe says it is a din in "mikroei kodesh". Mikroei kodesh requires one to be tahor on yom tov in honor of the regel. It is similar to the Meiri. These opinions would hold like the second tzad in the chakirah.

Nafka Mina

1) Rosh Hashana/Yom Kippur

Since there is no korbon on these days there would be no chiyuv tevilla. The likutei sichos says these days are called mikroei kodesh and therefore there is a chiyuv tevilla. The Tur in siman 603 also applies this halacha to Rosh Hashana.

2) Chol HaMoed

It is not called mikroei kodesh and therefore mtzad kedushas yom tov there might not be a chiyuv. If it is a din in mikdash or korbon it could depend on whether you fullfilled your chiyuv of korbonos. The Shagas aryeh says the shalmei simcha was a chiyuv everyday so yuo would have to be tahor even on Chol HaMoed.

3) Women

Women are not m'chyav in korbonos hachag, although there is a machlokes if they are m'chuyav in shalmei simcha. If they are m'chuyav in shalmei simcha then they would have a chiyuv to be toveil. If it is a din in Yom Tov, it could be they are included in this chiyuv.

4) B'zman Hazeh

According to the Rambam and the Shagas Aryeh's understanding of the Rosh this halacha definately does not apply today. Even acc to the understanding in teh Rosh that it is m'din Yom Tov, it would not apply today since we have no para adumah.The Likuti Sichos however does say it applies today. Rav Shternbach in Moadim U'Zmanim also says there is a mitzvah to be tahor from tumas keri even though we are still tamei meis.

Halacha L'Ma'aseh B'zman Hazeh

The Sedei Chemed (mareches cheis klal 47) brings various poskim on this issue. Most poskim feel it is not applicable b'zman hazeh. The Be'er Heitev in Yorah Deia 373 brings poskim who hold this way. Also, in Even HaEzer siman 55, there is a halacha that a bas kohein is allowed to be m'tamei to her fiancee. The Beis Shmuel comments based on a Rashi in Yevamos that on Yom Tov she can't because she has to be tahor for the Regel. Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Pischei Teshuva quote a Korbon Nesanel in Yoma that argues on this Beis Shmuel and says that this halacha does not apply today.

The Shoeil U'Meishiv wants to suggest that it applies today as a zecher l'mikdash. The Sefer Os Hi Meiolam is the only other poseik the Sedei Chemed brings who says it applies today because it is a din in kedushas Yom Tov.

Bottom line seems to be that most poskim would hold that the chiyuv to be m'taheir for the regel does not apply b'zman hazeh.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Parshas Tzav, Shabbos HaGoadol: Al HaGefen on the Four Cups of Wine

Most of the discussion revolving around the four cups of wine we drink during the seder, tends to focus on what is the nature of this chiyuv, is it a din in cheirus, are women obligated, should one lean etc. However, there are a couple of interesting shailahs which come up that are relevent to everyday halacha, specifically in the realm of hilchos berachos.

Two shailahs that come to mind are the following. 1) why do we need to make a new beracha after each cup-why don't we say that just like the ha'adama of karpas works for marror, so too the hagefen of the first cup works for all cups. 2) what is considered to be the beracha acharona of the 4 cups. Is bentching the beracha acharona for cups 1&2 and the "al hagefen" after nirtzah works on cups 3&4 or would we say that "al hagefen" is the beracha achrona on all 4 cups.

Although these are interesting questions, I am not going to focus on them. I just mention then as an aside. The question I want to focus on is why don't we need to say "al hagefen" after the first cup. We pasken that if too much time has passed between eating and the beracha achrona then a beracha achrona can't be said. The amount of time is called a "shiur ikkul"-the time it takes for food to digest. We generally assume it is 72 minutes but the poskim point out that for a drink or quick snack the time can be shorter. I looked briefly in the Piskei Teshuvos and he brings down opinions that for drinking the time limit can be 30 minutes or as little as 11 minutes. However, even if one is meikil that you have 72 minutes, most of the time from the time you finish karpas until you drink the 2nd cup, more than 72 minutes have passed. If so, why don't we say al hagefen after cup#1?

There are a number of answers mentioned in the poskim.

1) Aishel Avraham M'Butchatch

The Aishel Avraham (Butchatcher) in 474:1 writes that where as the requirement for a new beracha rishina is based on hesach hada'as, beracha acharona is based on different criteria. If you have decided that the meal is over then you need a beracha acharona. However, if in your mind taht meal is still going on, even if a long period of time has elapsed, you don't need to say a beracha acharona. Therefore, at the seder everyone knows that there are more cups to be drunk and noone thinks they are finished for the night. Consequently, no beracha acharona is said.

The kasha I have on this is that thsi not pashtus in Shulchan Aruch. The Shulchan Aruch says it is based on shiur ikkul not whether you finished your meal.

Shulchan Aruch HaRav

The Tzitz Eliezer (Chelek 12 siman 1 ) brings the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (siman 474) who says we don't make a beracha achrona on the first cup beacuse as long as the "stomach is open, the food doesn't digest". I understand this to mean that as long as you are still involved in eating (even if you are not actually eating) the food is not considered digested. I don't know if this is the same sevarah as the Eishel Avraham but it is close to the same idea.

Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l

Rav Shlomo Zalman discusses this in Mincha Shlomo Siman 18:11. It is also brought in the Halichos Shlomo on Pesach and in the haggada they put out with his chiddushim. He first bringe the mishna berura that it is assur to put yourself into a situation where you will lose out the beracha acharona. He says a possible answer is that how do we have kiddush b'mokom seudah during the seder. There is a hefsek between kiddush and the meal. He answers that the whole seder is one hemshech and is all connected to kiddush. Howeevr, he writes that if you would make an al hagefen you would break this hemshech and lose your kiddush b'mokom seudah.

Interestingly, it appears he wasn't convinced of this teretz because in his haggada it is brought down that he was makpid to eat less than a k'zayis of karpas during maggid. This way 72 minutes did not pass without eating. However, he did not tell others to do this and it appears it was his personal hanhaga. Furthermore, his son is quoted as saying that in his later years when he could not eat more karpas he would actually say an al hagefen.

The other interesting thing I picked up from here is that eating food works for liquids.

Rav Shternbach (chelek 1 siman 305)

Someone wanted to suggest that we drink less than a reviis of wine for the first cup. Rav Shternbach was very against this and quite adamant about not changing anything. He suggested that the reason there is no need to say al hagefen is because the shiur ikkul was only said for when you drink l'ha'na'ah. Herre you are drinking l'mitzvah and it is toloi on hesech hada'as. Also, if you say al hagefen it is hefsek from kiddush. The main thing is not to be motzi la'az on ourf minhag and this is our mesorah of what to do and since it is not mentioned anywhere to say "al hagefen we can't come up with kuntzim to change it.

Rav Elyashiv

I saw in Rav Elyshiv's haggada that he says that if you know that more than an hour will pass betwene karpas and cup #2 , then you drink some water or say al hagefen.

This is not like Rav Shlomo Zalman in 2 ways. 1) Rav Shlomo Zalman didn't pasken this way for others 2) Rav Shlomo Zalman ate karpas. Rav Elyashiv says drink water and don't know what he would say about eating karpas.

New Season, New look

I decided to give my blog a new look. I figured with Nisan being the start of a new year and in honor of Pesach, it was a good time to redesign my blog. It wasn't even complicated-I just pushed one button and voila.

let me know what you think.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Parshas VaYikra:Birchas Hachama

This week I decided to talk about Birchas Hachama. Initially, I had decided that I wasn't going to talk about it-after all anyone can pick up anyone of the many seforim out there and read up on it. However, I decided how can I not give a shiur on something that only happens once every 28 years.

I won't bother rewriting the cheshbon-it's available elsewhere online. I discussed an interesting question that relates to the calculation. The whole calculation is predicated on the fact that the sun was created in N Isan. Yet if you ask anyone they will tell you the world was created the last week of Elul, with Adam being created on Rosh Hashana.

The truth is that it is a machlokes in the gemara whether the world was created in Tishrei or Nisan. We pasken for tekufos (which includes birchas hachama) it was created in Nisan but for the years we say it was Tishrei. How can both be true? I saw 2 interesting answers.

1) The Maharam Shik writes that the world was really created in Tishrei. However, birchas hachama represents the spot in the sky where the sun would have been the previous Nisan, had the world existed in NIsan. He compares it to our calculation of the molad. Our molad does not start from the moment Adam was created but it is backdated a year to the moment it would have been had there been a world then (called molad tohu)

2) Rabbi Bleich brings a tertez from the Ohr Hachama that the medrash says originally the worl dwas moving at a fast speed. Afer the cheit of Adam the world slowed down. Therefore, we can say the world was created in Nisan but it moved so fast that by the time Adam was created it was Tishrei. Then once Adam ate from the eitz hada'as the world slowed down and it took 365.25 days to circle the sun.

Chiyuv of Women

The poskim discuss whether women can recite the beracha. The Chasam Sofer writes the minhag is for women not too say it. The Ksav Sofer wants to explain the reason based on the fact that it is a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama. Furthermore, even though women are allowed to do
a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama, the Magen Avraham in Siman 296 says that is only when there is a ma'aaseh mitzvah involved. If the entire mitzva is a beracha women are not allowed to say it. The Magen Avraham says this is why women don't make havdala or say kiddush levana. The Kesav Sofer says this is also why women don't say Birchas Hachama.

The arguement against this is that Birchas Hachama is not a mitzvas aseh she'hazman grama. It is based on a phenomenon and is a metzius. Therefore the Maharil Diskin among many other poskim said women should say this beracha. The Minchas Yitzchak writes he would follow the minhag of the Chasam Sofer except that the Maharil Diskin paskened for Yerushalayim and therefore in Yerushalayim women should say it. Interestingly, I found in the pesakim of Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnefeld who was also the Rav of Yerushalayim that women don't say Birchas Hachama.

L'ma'aseh it would seem it is based on your minhag. If you follow minhagei Chasam Sofer it seems a woman should not say it.

100 Berachos a day Part 2

I just saw in ad for a new Mishna Berura with the pesakim of the contemporary poskim. The halacha highlighted in the ad was the following question.

If you finish seuda shlishis after tzais does bentching count for Shabbos or Sunday's 100 berachos.

In my shiur I mentioned that the Shevet HaLevi held it counts for Shabbos, since anyway you can argue the night follows the day. However, in the ad beside bringing the opinion of the Shevet Levi they also quote Rav Shlomo Zalman zt"l who held it counts for Sunday's berachos.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Vayekheil/Pekudei:100 Berachos a day

The Ba'al HaTurim on the posuk about the 100 sockets used in the mishkan, says this is a remez for reciting 100 berachos a day.

What is the mekor for this din. The gemara in Menachos (43b) learns it out of a posuk in Eikev "mah hashem shoeil" and "mah" can be read as meah (100). The Tur quotes Rav Neturai Gaon who says Dovid Hamelech instituted this takana as a way to stop a mageifa. However, the Chida in hi sefer Yosef Ometz writes something very interesting b'shem the sefer HaManhig. He says that really Moshe made this takana. However, it wes subsequently forgotten and Dovid came and reinstituted it. Then, this takana was again forgotten until chazal came along and again reinstituted it. Furthermore, I saw brought down (I forget where) that one could argue that both Moshe and Dovid were not mesakein 100 berachos-especially since they didn't have a nusach hatefilla at that time. Rather, they were mesakein to praise Hashem 100 times, in any format. Chazal were the ones who formulated that these 100 praises should be 100 berachos based on our nusach hatefiila.

One question raised in the poskim is does the chiyuv start at night or by day. I saw in a sefer that it could depend on the source of this din. The Kol Bo brings the m'kor from a posuk by the ketores. We know that by korbonos the night follows the day-you shecht during the day and can eat it that night. So if the m'kor is from the k'tores then we could argue the 100 berachos start by day and end at night. (The first beracha would be al nitalas yadayim/asher yatzar and the last hamapil). However, if we follow the m'kor in the gemara then this halacha should be like all other halachos where day follows night. The 100 berachos would start by night with ma'ariv and end at shekiah.

The Btzeil Hachachma says it is clear from the Beis Yosef and the Magen Avraham that we start at night. They both point out that on Shabbos we lose berachos due to our shortened shemoneh esrei ( we have 7 berachos and not 19). They both count the Friday night ma'ariv as being part of this deficiency. Now if the night follows day it would come out that the Friday night ma'ariv belongs to Friday and the Motzei Shabbos ma'ariv to Shabbos. The fact they include the Friday night ma'ariv as part of Shabbos shows you start counting by night.

The Btzeil Hachachma does ask a very interesting question on the Beis Yosef. The Beis Yosef in listing the 100 berachos, counts hamapil as the first beracha. Why doesn't the Beis Yosef count ma'ariv first? He answers that the Beis Yosef is using the loshon of the Yerushalmi. The tana in the Yerushalmi is R' Meir. R' Meir happens to hold you can daven ma'ariv and say shema before nightfall. Therefore, according to R' Meir ma'ariv belongs to the previous day and the first beracha is hamapil. The Btzeil Hachachma writes that l'ma'aseh if you daven ma'ariv early (during the week or on Shabbos), the berachos apply to the previous day and not the coming day. There are those that argue that Shabbos might be different because of tosefes Shabbos but that itself is not so pashut.

There are those that say you can listen to someone else's beracha and say amein and that this helps for days like Shabbos and Yom Kippur where you are missing berachos. However, it seems the better approach on Shabbos is to eat more foods.

One cute vort a saw b'shem R' Shmelke M'Nikilosberg is the following. The posuk in Shir HaShirim (8:12-13) says "alef lecha shlomo u'masayim l'notrimes piryo. hayoseheves baganim chaveirim makshivim lkoleich hashmieini"

The gemara tells us that a beracha is worth 10 gold coins, so 100 berachos is worth 1000 coins. Furthermore, on Shabbos we lose 20 berachos (ayin Beis Yosef) which is 200 coins

1) alef lecha shlomo: alef=1000 refers to making 100 berachos a day
2) u'masayim l'notrim es piryo: masayim=200. on Shabbos we need 200 coins (20 berachos) so we eat fruit
3) hayoseheves baganim chaveirim makshivim lkoleich hashmieini: Howeevr, those who can't eat enough food can it in shul (yosheves baganim) and answer amein to their freinds beracha (chaveirim makshivim lkoleich hashmieini).

Friday, March 06, 2009

Purim:Our Role As An Am HaNivchar

As I was looking to see what I wrote about Purim last year, I realized I never posted it. So here is parts of my Purim dvar torah from last year Purim 5768/2008.

The Cheit of B’nei Yisroel
The gemara in Megilah 12B quotes in interesting conversation between Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai and his talmidim.

The students of Rav Shimon Bar Yochai asked him, "why were the B’nei Yisroel sentenced for destruction". Rav Shimon Bar Yochai replied, "You tell me". His students answered "Because they derived pleasure from the feast of Achashveirosh. Rav Shimon Bar Yochai answered them back, ‘if that is truue then only the Jewso f Shushan should have been destroyed. Rather the decree was made because they bowed down to the idol during the time of Nevuchadnetzer’. His students then asked, "so why were the B’nei Yisroel saved?". He answered them, since they only served the idol out of fear and didn’t mean it, so too Hashem didn’t mean that the gezeirah should be permanent".

The Menos Levi in his peirush on the megilah asks what exactly was bothering the talmidim. He answers that the talmidim were aware that the Jews had sinned by bowing down to the idol of Nevuchadnetzar, however, they also noticed that they were not punished for it.
Therefore, they couldn’t understand why when it came to the seudah of Achashveirosh, they were punished.
Rav Shimon Bar Yochai’s answer to them is that really the gezeirah of Haman was due to the aveirah of bowing down to the
idol of Nevuchadnetzar, however Hashem had rachmanus and didn’t punish them right away. It was only after the aveirah of eating from the seudah, did Hashem decide to punish the Jews.

The question still remains, what exactly was the connection between these two aveiros?. Why was it specifically the sin of the seudah that caused Hashem to revisit and punish the Jews for bowing down to the idol.

The Connection Between Avodah Zara and the Seudah
The Rambam writes that even though originally people viewed the sun and stars as messengers of Hashem, eventually they removed Hashem from the picture and they served the sun and stars directly. We see from the Rambam that avoda zara comes about when people break their connection with Hashem. When the world no longer sees Hashem as running the
world and being involved in their day to day life then the next step is to serve idols. Avoda zara is all about taking Hashem out of the equation and eventually denying His very existance.

The gemara says that the main reason that Achashveirosh made a party was to celebrate the fact that 70 years of golus had passed and the Beis HaMikdash had still not been rebuilt and that the geulah would not becoming. It is interesting to note that the gemara doesn’t say that the gezeirah came about because they ate at the party, rather it says they were punished for deriving benefit from the meal. Hahsem was upset that nop only did they attend the meal, but they also enjoyed their meal. They joined with Achashveirosh in celebrating the fact that they were no longer Hashem’s chosen people. If Achashveirosh was correect in assuming that the geulah wasn’t coming, then that meant Hashem had turned his back on the Jews and had cut off his connection with them. By attending the party, the Jews were admitting that they were equal to all the other nations and more importantly that they no longer had a unique
relationship with Hahsem.

We can now understand the connection between eating at the seudah and bowing down to the idol of Nevuchadnetzar. Both aveiros come from the same idea-breaking the connection with Hashem and removing him from the picture. For the nations of the
world, avoda zara breaks that connection on a global level. They refuse to recognize that the whole world is controlled by HKBH.However, for the Bnei Yisroel, this mindset is more devasting and personal. The Bnei Yisroel were not just denying that Hashem is the creator of the world, but they were also denying their status as the Am Hanivchar, the chosen people. If Hashem could just leave us in golus and totally abandon us, then that must mean he has severed His connection with us and we are no longer His children.
Because the root of these two aveiros were the same , that is why we were retroactively punished for bowing down to the idol only after we ate from the seudah.

Tikun HaCheit Thru Mordechai

It stands to reason that if the cheit was breaking the connection with HKBH, then the way to do teshuva was through reestablishing that connection. The person who led the Jews in doing teshuva was Mordechai. The Sefas Emes explains that in every generation there is one tzaddik who protects klal Yisroel and helps them do teshuva. Furtehrmore, even if
the generation does not do teshuva, there will always be one tzaddik who will be able to misakein the sins of everyone else. During this time period , this tzaddik was Mordechai. The Medrash compares Mordechai to Avraham. Just like Avraham re-introduced HKBH back into the world, so too Mordechai reconnected the B'nei Yisroel with Hashem.

(More later).

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mishpatim: Helping Unload an Animal

In my shiur this week I spoke about the mitzvah of perika and te'ina. The mitzvah of perika is found in Mishpatim and the basic details are that one is obligated to help unload your friend's (or enemy's) animal. The mitzvah of te'ina is found in Ki Tzeitzei and it involves helping someone load his packages onto his animal.

Although it would seem that this mitzvah does not have much practical relevance, there are two issues that could apply in our society.

1) Does the mitzvah apply to helping a person?

There is a machlokes Rishonim whether this mitzvah applies to helping a person who is carrying or picking up packages.


The Rashba (Shut Rashba Siman 252,256,257) holds that this mitzvah applies to helping a person. He brings several rayos. One rayah he mentions is that the gemara in Bava Metziah (30b) has a story where Rabbi Yishmael ben Isi helped a man carry his packages. The gemara asks why did Rabbi Yishmael do this, he should be patur because he is a zakein and it isn't befitting of his honor. The Rashba says, we see the gemara did not ask that he should be patur because the mitzvah does not apply to a person. It must be that the mitzvah applies to helping a person.

Both the Chinuch and the Rambam seem to hold this way because in mitzva 540 (by the lav of not helping someone) the Chinuch mentions that it applies to an animal and a person. The Rambam in Lav 270 also says it applies to a person.


The Radvaz (siman 765) argues on the Rashba. Interestingly, he brings a rayah from the fact the Rambam doesn't mention it in the Mishna Torah. He doesn't address the fact that it is mentioned in Sefer HaMitzvos. He also argues that a person is a ba'al sechel and if he took on to heavy a load, it is his own fault. He clarifies that he doesn't mean that there is no mitzvah of chesed or v'ahavata l'reiacha kamocha to help him, but that there is no mitazvah of perikah or te'ina.

How do we pasken

As mentioned the Rambam does not bring it in teh Mishan Torah. Furthermore, it is not mentioned in Shulchan Aruch whether this halacha applies to a person. (Choshen Mishpat Siman 272 deals with this halacha).

I don't know if that means we pasken like the Radvaz or the Rashba/Chinuch/Rambam Sefer Hamitzvos.

One interesting nafka mina on how we pasken is the next issue.

2) Helping someone whose car breaks down

Is there a mitzvah of perika or te'ina to help someone whose car breaks down? (Obviously there is a mitzvah of chesed or v'ahavata l'reiacha kamocha)

L'chorah, this question only starts according to the Rashba. According to the Radvaz, since the mitzva only applies to an animal, there would be no mitzvah here either. However, what about according to the Rashba?

The Aruch Hashulchan paskens (Choshen Mishpat 272) that if someone's horse and wagon get stuck in the mud, or even if a wagon wheel breaks there is a mitzvah of perikah/te'ina to help him. The question is does this apply to a car?

I found on that in the Torah Journal "Beis Aharon V'Yisorel", someone wrote about this. In Av-Elul 5759 volume 84, Rav Chaim Dishon wants to argue that the Aruch Hashulchan only applies to where there is an animal involved. One of his arguements is that the possuk only mentions donkey, and the gemara learns other animals from a limud and the Rashba learns a person from a kal v'chomer. But the Rashba's kal v'chomer can only be xtended to as person carrying a load. If it is a car, we don't have a limud in the gemara and we don't have a kal v'chomer. Also, he writes that the gemara requires the tzaar of the animal and the tzaar of the owner. Here we don't have tzaar of an animal. In a subsequent volume Kislev-Teves 5760 volume 86, someone named takes issue with this and argues that the mitzvah would apply to a car.

L'ma'aseh I don't know what the poskim would say.

Parshas Mishpatim:One Parsha or Two?

I happened to see an interesting footnote in the MAchon Yerushalayim edition of the Minchas Chinuch. The Chinuch splits Parshas Mishpatim into two sections. Teh first section is from the beginning until the mitzvah of "kesef talveh" and the second section is from this mitzvah until the end. The footnote explains that in certain communities they were makpid to read Parshas Tazria before Pesach. In a leap year there are 29 weeks from Beraishis until Pesach but only 28 parshiyos. In these communities they split Mishpatim into two parts to make up for the extra week. According to the footnote, this is currently done in Algiera and Tunisia.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Parshas Va'Eira: Davening among idols

In this week's parsha Moshe tells Pharoah that in order to stop the makka of Barad he has to daven outside the city. Rashi brings the mechilta that Moshe coulkdn't daven in the city because it was filled with avoda zara. The obvious question is, how about the other makkos? How come we don't find that Moshe left the city to daven for the other makkos?

There are several approaches to answer this question.

Ramban/Sifsei Chachamim

The Ramban says that ain hachi nami, Moshe did leave the city for the other makkos. However, by all the other makkos Moshe was able to wait until the next day to daven. By Barad, Pharoah wanted Moshe to daven right away. Moshe tehn had to explain to him that he had to first leave the city.

Da'as Zekainim

The Da'as Zekainim says that the avoda zara were the sheep. Until now all the sheep were outside the city limits. Before Barad, HKBH warned Mitzrayim to bring the animals into their houses or they would be killed. Consequently, all the sheep were now inside the city limits and Moshe had to leave the city to daven.


The Netziv in his Shut Meishiv Davar (end of Chelek 1 Siman 10) writes that until now Moshe davened in his house. The house served as a mechitzah between Moshe and the avoda zara. Now that Moshe was davening outside he had no mechitza and had to leave the city.

Chevtzelas HaShoron

I also saw a teretz in the Chevtzelas HaShoron where he wants to distinguish between a bakasha and tefilla. Until now Moshe's davening was a bakasha but now it is a tefilla. Only tefilla has a problem of avoda zara. ayin sham to see his rayos and how he develops the mehalech.

Halacha L'Ma'aseh

How does this play out l'ma'aseh?

Terumas HaDeshen (Siman 6)

The Terumas Hadeshen discusses a case where someone is traveling. His two options for davening are either daven on the road or go to a non Jewish hotel that is full of idol worshippers. The Terumas HaDeshen answers that if one can daven on the road without anyone bothering him, he should daven on the road since the hotel will be full of avoda zara. He brings a rayah from MOshe Rabbeinu who went outside the city to daven. However, if he will be bothered on the road and he can fond a corner in the hotel in which he won't be disturbed , then he should daven in the the hotel. As far as the problem of davening among avoda zara, he says, since anyway our cities are filled with avoda zara it is okay to daven in the hotel.

Rema (Siman 94:9)

The Rema seems to bring this Terumas HaDeshen down l'halacha. However, as the Pri Megadim points out there is one major difference between the Terumas HaDeshen and the Rema. Whereas the Terumas HaDeshen is clearly concerned about davening among avoda zara, the Rema doesn't mention it at all. All the Rema says if you will not be disturbed on the road, then you should daven on the road since you will probably be disturbed in the hotel. He is not worried at all about avoda zara. It seems from the Rema that there is no issur to daven in a place filled with avoda zara.

Magan Avraham/Mishna Berura

The Magan Avraham however does bring down the reason of avoda zara. The Mishna Berura also brings it down. The Mishna Berura based on the Magein Geburim switches around a few words in the Rema in order that the Rema should be like the Terumas Hadeshen. He does add that you should daven in a different corner than the avoda zara even if it means not davening toward the east.

The way I understand the MIshna Berura is that if you can avoid davening in a room with avoda zara you should. But if you have no choice or your kavana will be disturbed it is mutar.

Hospital Rooms

A common shailah is daveing in a hospital room with avoda zara in it. I saw in the Piskei Teshuvos that he brings from the Atzei Chaim (Siman 1) and Chelek Levi that it is muttar. In fact the Cheelk Levi goes a step farther and says that if you work in such a building you don't have to leave to daven.

I would think based on the Mishna Berura it is also muttar. You can't be expected to leave the room and daven in the hallway. First of all if you are sick or just had a baby, your kavana would definately be better in the room. Second of all you will most probably be interrupted in the hallway and that is quivilant to the Terumas Hadeshen.

Building with two rooms

A case which I am not sure about is if you are in a hotel or building and the room you are in has avoda zara but another room doesn't. Furthermore, it is just as easy for you to go to one room over the other and noone will disturb you in either room, Would you be m'chuyav to switch rooms. On the one hand you do have the sevara that the whole city has avoda zara so what difference does it make which room you daven in. However, the mashmaos of the Terumas Hadeshen (and Mishna Berura) seems to be that l'chatchila you should avoid it if possible.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Parshas Shemos:Shnayim Mikrah V'eched Targum

Divrei Machshava

The Levush writes that the first words of this week’s parsha “V’Eileh Shemos” is an abbreviation for “V’chayva Ish L’kros Haparsha, Shenayim Mikrah V’echad Targum” Before I discuss the lomdus behind this haalcha, I just want to start with some divrei machshava.

Why did the Levush pick this possuk to teach us the halacha of shanyim mikra? Theis is not the first time the words “V’Eileh Shemos are found in the Torah. For example, in Parshas VaYigash when Ya’akov goes down to Mitzrayim, the Torah writes “’Eileh Shemos”. I thought one can answer based on an idea found in the Ramchal and the Nefesh HaChaim. (This idea is discussed at length in the Sefer Mimamakim on Parshas Shemos). The Nefesh HaChaim writes that there are 600,000 letters in the Torah k’neged the 600,000 neshamos of Klal Yisroel. (Whether or not there are actually 600,000 letters in the Torah is irrelevant. The Maharal explains that 600,000 represents shlaimus-it is the most complete number. That is why Klal Yisroel are always referred to as having 600,000 people. This represents the fact that Klal Yisroel is shaleim. Anything more than 600,000 is just a tosefes bracha. What the Nefesh HaChaim means is that the shlaimus of Klal Yisroel is represented by the shlaimus of the Torah). The Ramchal in Derech Eitz Chaim writes that the 600,000 nefashos of Klal Yisroel are k’neged the 600,000 peirushim found in the Torah. Each member of Klal Yisroel has their own peirush in the Torah. L’aniyas da’ati the Nefesh HaChaim and Ramchal are driving at the same point. They are both explaining that there is a deep connection between Klal Yisroel and the Torah, as we say “Yisroel, V’o’reisa, V’Kudshah Brich Hu Chad Hu”.

Based on this we can understand why the remez for shnayim miukrah is davka in Parshas Shemos. Whereas Sefer Beraishis is the story of the avos-the foundation of Klal Yisroel, Sefer Shemos is the story of the development of Klal Yisroel. This development starts with Parshas Shemos with the story of shibud Mitzrayim. Therefore, since as we explained the Torah and Kal Yisroel are connected, the hint to shanyim mikrah is found in the place where Klal Yisroel starts.

Now onto the shiur…


(I heard this chakirah from my Rebbe along with the nafka minas).

Yesh Lachkor, what is the purpose behind the takana of shnayim mikra v’eched targum. Is it a halacha in Talmud Torah, that Chazal wanted us to finish the whole Torah once a year? Or is it a halacha in Kriyas HaTorah, in order to be prepared for that weeks leining, we are told to review the Parshah every week.

This chakira is actually found in the Terumas Hadeshen (Siman 22). The Terumas HaDeshen brings a machlokes whether one has to do shnayim mikra for Yom Tov. The Terumas Hadeshen quotes Rabbeinu Simcha that one does not have to do it. He says form here we see that the ikkar takanah of shnayim mikra was in order to learn the Torah once a year. Since the section leined on Yom Tov are already learned during the week of that Parshah, there is no need to learn them again. He then adds that those who hold that one must do shnayim mikra on Yom tov hold that it is a din in preparing for kriyas hatorah.

Nafka Minah

1) Yom Tov

As mentioned from the Terumas Hadeshen, one nafka mina is whether one must do shnayim mikra on Yom Tov or the four parshiyos.

2) Possuk by Possuk or Parsha by Parsha

The Magan Avraham (285:1) brings a machlokes between the Shlah and Lechem Chamudos whether one learns each possuk rwice and then targum or does one read an entire parsha twice (stopping by each pesucha or stumah) and then the targum. The Mishna Berura actually paskens one can do either way.

L’chorah this is based on our chakirah. If it is a halacha in talmud torah so the derech to learn is each possuk at a time. If it is preparation for leining, one would lein parsha by parsha.

(Rav Ya’akov Kamenetzky in the hakdama to Emes L’Ya’akov suggests reading an entire parsha once and then doing it possuk by possuk with the targum).

3) Being Mafsik
The Sha’ar Tzion writes that l’chatchila one should follow the opinion not to be mafsik at all. However, b’dieved one can follow the opinion to be mafsik after each parsha or inyan.

If it is a din in learning, so when we learn we are mafsik. If it is a din in kriyas hatorah so we aren’t mafsik at all and one shouldn’t be mafsik.

4) When must you finish

We find different opinions when you have to finish the shnayim mikra. One opinion is that it must be done before Shabbos day. This makes sense if it is a din in preparing fro kriyas HaTorah. The opinions that hold you have until Wednesday of the following week or even until Shimini Atzeres would hold it is a din in learning the Torah over the course of the year.

5) Using a Sefer Torah for shanyim mikrah

There is an shittah that one should try and learn shnayim mikra with the trup and inside a sefer torah. This shittah would hold it is preparation for Keriyas HaTorah

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Parshas VaYichi:Snow onShabbos

It snowed in my hometown this Shabbos and I would like to take credit for it. Early last week I couldn't figure out what to talk about this Shabbos. Then I noticed a few posts discussing snow and shoveling snow on Shabbos. I had briefly looked into it a few years ago and I figured I might as well talk about it this week even though there was no connection to the parsha. Then, on Shabbos it snowed and I had my connection. It must have been hashgacha that caused it to snow just so my shiur would be inyanei d'yoma. (and for all you rationalists out there, yes I know the Rambam's shitta on hashgacha). After opening shiur with the above remarks, one of the people in the shiur told me that maybe I should have spoken about Moshiach. I guess there is always next week. anyway,onto the shiur.

I already wrote about it over here , but I will repost it with some additional he'aras.

Is Snow Muktzeh?

Most poskim hold snow that fell before Shabbos is not muktzeh. If it fell on Shabbos, then there is a question of nolad.

1) The Pri Megadim says that rain is nolad. According to this snow should also be nolad.

2) The Minchas Shabbos and other achronim ask on the Pri Megadim that this is against a gemara mefureshes. The gemara in Eiruvin 46b concludes that rain is not nolad because it is contained in clouds. The clouds act as a container that holds the rain and the rain is in existance before Shabbos. The Mishna Berura paskens this way in Siman 338.

Based on this, most poskim that I saw learn that snow is also not nolad. This includes the Be'er Moshe (chelek 1 siman 20) and the Shmiras Shabbos K'hilchaso (SSK) in Perek 15.

The SSK does bring an interesting question from Rav Shlomo Zalman zt"l in Perek 10 (where he discusses the issue of making ice). Rav Shlomo Zalman asks that even if rain is not nolad, the snow is not formed until after it leaves the clouds. Therefore, why isn't snow nolad? He answers that if item A turns into item B and item B is worse than item A, there is no issur of nolad. Since snow is worse than rain, there is no nolad. I can't say I fully understand this sevara but ayim sham where he discusses this at length.

3) Rabbi Bodner in his muktzah book quotes Rav Moshe zt"l that snow is nolad and also muktzeh machmas gufo because it is not used by anyone. Therefore, even if snow fell before Shabbos it is muktzeh.

When it comes to shoveling snow, muktzeh should not be a factor in determing if you can shovel snow. Even if you hold snow is muktzeh, you can move muktzeh that will cause harm. If the snow will cause people to slip you would be allowed to move it.

Shittas Lev Avraham (Siman 49)

The Lev Avraham is one poseik who I saw is machmir on this issue and he brings three reasons to assur shoveling snow.

a) Tircha

There is a halacha in Shulchan Aruch (siman 333) that one is not allowed to clean out your storehouse on Shabbos because it involves tircha. The Lev Avraham says that shoveling snow would violate this issur.

My only question on this is what exactly is the geder of Tircha? It seems that according to this halacha one would not be allowed to move tables and chairs on Shabbos either. Rabbi Ribiat in his sefer addresses this issue and he wants to say that the issur of tircha only applies to actions that are not part of day to day activity. Therefore, since people will move tables and chairs when necessary, it is considered a daily activity and not subject to this issur. Cleaning out a warehouse is not done everyday and therefore it is assur.

According to this hagdara maybe one can argue that shoveling snow is not tircha. Granted we don't do it everyday but that is only because it doesn't snow everyday. If it snowed everyday, maybe it would be a daily activity and be comparable to moving tables and chairs.

Uvda D'Chol

The Lev Avraham also writes that shoveling snow is uvda d'chol.

My question on this is what makes it uvda d'chol. I would not call snow shoveling an activity that you would only do during the week. You shovel when snow falls, regardless of when it happens. However, I did see the Mishna Berura writes that playing chess with a set you use during the week is uvda d'chol, and therefore, you should have a set used exclusively for Shabbos. According to this maybe snow shoveling would also be uvda d'chol. I think one would first have to define the geder of u'vda d'chol and see if shoveling snow fits into that geder. (obviouslly, the Lev Avraham felt it did)

Mashva Gumos

The 3rd reason to assur it is that by shoveling snow you might come to level the ground (ayin siman 337). Even if the ground is paved we are still gozeir because you might do it on a dirt floor.
The problem with this reason is that the Biur Halacha points out if most of the city's streets are paved, this gezeirah doesn't apply. The Machzeh Eliyahu (siman 68) asks this question and says that this reason would not apply.

Bottom Line

I only saw a few poskim discuss this issue. The Nishmas Shabbos was meikil when there is hezek d'rabbim. However, I don't have the volume where he discusses his reasoning so I don't know what he does about the tircha or uvda d'chol issue.

The Lev Avraham as mentioned was machmir. The Machzeh Eliyahu was also machmir based on the reasons of the Lev Avraham.

Rabbi Frand has a tape on it which I was able to download from his website. I believe he concludes that b'sha'as hadchak if it is a real tzorech you can be meikil and shovel.

I didn't address the Har Tzvi, which I mentioned over here .

The other 2 issues are having a non-Jew do it for you and putting down salt. In both these cases even the machmirim are matir it. I'll try and discuss it later.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Parshas Miketz/Shabbos Chanuka:Women saying Hallel on Chanuka

There is an interesting shailah discussed in the poskim whether women have a chiyuv to say hallel on Chanukah.

Shittas Tosafos

The mishna in Sukka 38a says that a woman can not be motzi a man in Hallel. Tosafos writes that from here we see that a woman is patur from saying Hallel on Yom Tov. However, he says that women would be m'chuyav in Hallel during the seder on Pesach night. The fact that they are m'chuyav in the 4 cups of wine means they have a chiyuv Hallel, since the cups of wine were set up to be said over Hallel. The sevara to be m'chayev them is "af hein b'oso haneis"
Based on this Tosafos, the Toras Refael and the Shevet Sofer in Hisorirus Teshuva want to say that hu hadin on Chanukah. The sevara of "af hein" should be m'chayeiv women in Hallel as well.

However, the Beis She'arim (siman 359) says even according to Tosafos, women would be patur. The Ramban (in Sefer HamItzvos) quoting the Behag says Hallel is a mitzva d'oreisa. Tosafos in Pesachim holds that we don't say "af hein" on mitzvos d'oreisa (and that is why women are patur from Sukka). Therefore, the sevara of "af hein" does not apply to Hallel and women are patur. Hallel onPesach night is different because it is tafeil to the four cups of wine which is only

Shittas HaRambam

The Rambam in Hilchos Chanuka Perek 3 writes that Hallel is only d'rabanan. Furthermore, he writes that women can not be motzi men in Hallel and he doesn't differentiate between Yom Tov and Chanuka. The pashtus is that even on Chanukah, women are not m'chuyav in Hallel. However, why doesn't the Rambam say women are m'chuyeves because of "af hein"?
The S'dei Chemed says that ain hachi nami. Women are m'chuyeves because of "af hein" but they are only m'chuyeves in one pasuk. Men are m'chuyav in the entire Hallel. Therefore, women can't be motzi men.

I saw in a sefer a letter from Rav Shlomo Zalman Aurbach zt"l who writes that women ar eatur from Hallel. He says the chiyuv Hallel is m'din Yom Tov. The gemara in Arachin says Shabbos is not z'man Hallel since it is not a moed. Therefore, even on Chanuah, the chiyuv of Hallel is m'din Yom Tov and not m'din shira for a neis. Only on Pesach night do we say Hallel m'din shira al haneis. Therefore, only on Pesach night can we say women are chayuv because of "af hein".
B'emes the Brisker Rav has this m'halech where he is m'chaleik between Hallel at the seder or b'zman haneis whichis m'din shira and Hallel on Yom Tov and Chanuka which is m'din Yom Tov.

Rav Shternbuch (Moadim U'Zmanim Siman 146) takes a slightly different approach and says
women are m'chuyeves. He quotes the Brisker Rav's chiluk. He explains that on Chanuka we don't say Hallel b'toras shira because we only say it b'toras shira if there is a ma'aseh that is m'orer simcha like shechitas korban pesach or hallel over a victory. Therefore, b'zman hazeh the hallel of Chanuka was established m'din Yom Tov.However, he is m'chadeish that since the shoresh of the chiyuv Hallel on Chanuka is m'din shira al haneis, there are certain halachos that apply to this Hallel. For example, Meseches Sofrim says it should be done b'n'imah just like Hallel on Pesach night. Therefore, Rav Shternbuch says it could be women would also be m'chyeves to say it. Although he is modeh the Rambam is mashma they are not m'chuyeves.