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.