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.