Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Parshas Mattos:Kashering Keilim by Midyan

The Ramban asks why did B'nei Yisroel only get the mitzvah of kashering the keilim by Milchemes Midyan and not previously after Milchemes Sichon V'Og.

The Ramban answers that during war all issurim are muttar. We learn this from the possuk in Va'eschanan "U'batim mileim kol tuv". The gemara in Chullin 17a writes that even chazir is muttar during battle. Therefore, by Milchemes Sichon V'Og the b'nei Yisroel were allowed to use the pots they took. However, the Ramban explains that this heter only applies by kibush Eretz Yisroel. Milchemes Midyan was not kibush EY (ayin http://www.divreichaim.blogspot.com/ for the Rogotchover's mehalech in being magdir this war). Therefore, issurim were assur and mimeilah they needed to be told to kasher the pots.

L'ma'aseh the Ramban is l'shitaso in Parshas Va'Eschanan. There the Ramban explains that the heter b'sha'as milchama applies to everyone and even after the war the spoils of war are muttar even if they are assur (orlah, chazir). However, the Rambam disagrees. The Rambam paskens (Melachim 8:1) that this heter only applies to the army and b'sha'as hadechak when they are hungry. (In fact the Chasam Sofer in Chullin equates the heter of issurim to the heter of yifas toar-i.e. dibrah torah kneged yetzer hara). The Minchas Chinuch in Shoftim discusses this machlokes Rambam and Ramban.

According to the Rambam how do you answer the Ramban's kasha-why didn't  the get a mitzvah of kashering keilim by Sichon V'Og.

There are several ways to answer this kasha.

1) Daas Zikeinim writes that Sichon V'Og took place in the fields so there were no keilim. Midyan took place in the cities where they took keilim from the houses.

2) Several Achronim (Lev Aryeh in Chullin 17a and Tzlach in Chullin) write the Rambam is l'shitaso. In Pesachim there is a machlokes if ta'am k'ikar is min hatorah or midirabanan. Rabbi Akiva holds it is min haTorah and the rayah is that we had to kasher keilim of Midyan. The Chachamim hold klei midyan are no rayah since that whole sugyah is a chiddush cause keilim were nosein taam lifgam. The Rambam paskens ta'am kikar is d'rabanan so he holds klei midyan were a chiddush. Once you say it's a chiddush then you can't ask why davka by Midyan they got the mitzvah-the whole thing is a chiddush.
The Achronim want to take it a step farther and say that the Ramban holds ta'am kikar is d'oreisa, and mimeila he has to hold by milchama that all issurim are muttar in order to answer his kasha. However, I saw the Chasam Sofer holds the Ramban says ta'am kikar is dirabanan.

3) The Chavtzeles Hasharon doesn't like this pshat because the Pri Megadim says that even though the Rambam holds ta'am kikar is dirabanan, nevertheless kashering keilim is d'oreisa. So again why didn't they have the mitzvah by Sichon v'Og.

He answers that the Chazon Ish (OC) writes that Moshe got all the mitzvos at Har Sinai but was not told to tell B'nei Yisroel certain mitzvos until later. Could be this is one of those mitzvos and HKBH decided not to tell B'nei Yisroel until Midyan for some reason only known to HKBH.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Bris drasha

Here is the speech I said today at my son's bris. We named him Michoel Dovid after my mother's father (Michoel)  and my father in law's father (Dovid)
There is an interesting aspect of the bris milah that does not get a lot of attentiion. It is brought down that after the bris the minhag is to bury the orlah in the ground. The Ksav Sofer says that the mekor for this minhag is based on a medrash in this weeks Parsha. The Medrash says that when Bilam saw the orlos in the Midbar he said who can stand against klal yisroel who have the bris mila that they bury in the dirt.

Bilam, then went ahead and gave klal yisroel the beracha  "Mi mana yaakov K'afar"  who can count the dust of Yaakov and the seed of Yisroel.

The Ksav Sofer concludes that frm here is the minhag to bury the orlah in the dirt.

The Avudraham brings a different mekor. He says that the reason we bury he orlah is based on the havtacha that HKB”H made with Yaakov on the way to Lavans house. HKB”H promised Yaakov that his children will be like the dirt of the ground.In truth these 2 mekoros are actualy in sync with each other. There is another medrash in parshas Bamidbar, ( and I would like to thank my father in law for pointing out to me this medrash). The Medrash says that Hahsem promised Avraham that his children will be k’kochvei hashamayim. He promised Yitzchak they will be k’chol hayam. And to YTaakov he promised that they will be k’afar haertz. The medrash then concludes that the havtacha to yaakov was fullfilled b’zman of  Bilaam when he blessed B’nei Yisroel "Mi mana yaakov K'afar"

So we see that the m’kor of the Ksav Sofer which is learnt from the possuk "Mi mana yaakov K'afar" is the kiyum of the havtachah of `k’afar haertz. which is the mekor according to the Avudraham. It
would seem then the key to understanding this minhag of burying the orlah in the ground is to understand the beracha of k’afar haertz.

The medrash says that there are 3 characteristics that dirt has that are found in Klal Yisroel. First
of all just like dirt is always stepped on and trampled on so too Klal Yisroel is always stepped on. Second of all just like dirt can never be totally destroyed-as much as you grind up dirt all you are left with is more dirt, so too Klal Yisroel can never be destroyed. And finally jsut like when you water dirt it has the capability to grow and produce so too Klal Yisroel has the capacity to grow and grow.

It is interesting that the first characterisitc is the total opposite and even contradictory to the last 2. How is it possible for something that is constantly being steeped on to a) never be destroyed and b) contine to flourish? The meforshim point out that Yaakov was the prototype of the Jew in golus and the havtacha of k’afar haertz. given to Yaakov was a beracha meant precisely for golus. Even in golus when we are in a matzav of being beaten and stepped on we will still grow.

This is what the medrash is telling us- we are like dirt always being stepped on but we are also
like dirt that even in such a matzav not only do we survive but we also grow.
The question still remains how does this happen? I think the answer comes from the second half
of the possuk. Hashem tells Yaakov "ufaratzta yama vakedma tzofona vnegba" The gemara in Shabbos says that from here we learn one can be zocheh to a "nachalah bli mitzarim" We see from the gemara that the havtacha of k’afar haertz is  a havtacha of "nachalah bli mitzarim". It’s a havtacha that klal yisroel has the ability to transcend the limitations of the natural world and go l’ma’leh min hateva. This is precisely why even in golus, in a matzav of k’afar haertz. we are able to survuve and even grow-because we were also blessed with the beracha of "nachlos bli mitzarim"-the ability to go against the natural teva.

I think with this yesod we can now explain why the mila is covered in dirt. We know that a bris

mila takes place on the eighth day. One of the reasons given is that 8 represents l’ma’aleh min

hateva and a bris milah is l’ma’aleh min hatva. I mentioned at the shalom zachor that we see

from the parsha of mei meriva that when the water from the well came b’zechus Miriam, Moshe

had to hit the rock. However, at mei merivah when the water was coming b’zechus Moshe, all he

had to do was speak to the rock. The Chasam Sofer writes that the ma’aleh that Moshe had over

Miriam was his bris milah. The zechus of bris milah allowed Moshe to accomplish more. We see

from here that a bris milah allows one to go l’ma’aleh min hateva.

Furthermore, as we mentioned klal yisroel itself is a nation l’ma’aleh min hateva and the bris

mila is a baby’s entrance into klal yisroel. Not only is it the first mitzvah that will be performed

with this child but also, Rav Elchanan writes that Avraham was the first member of klal yisroel

and he became a memeber through his bris mila. It would seem then that it is only fitting that the

orlah of the mila which represents that aspect of a Yid that allows him to go l’ma’aleh min

hateva and represents that teh child is a member of a nation that is l’ma’aleh min hateva should

be buried in the dirt which is representative of the havtacha to klal yisroel that because they are

l’ma’aleh min hateva not only will they neevr be destroyed in golus but they will also grow in


Sunday, July 03, 2011

Shalom Zachor

This past Shabbos I had a shalom zachor for my new son who was born last Monday. Below are the 2 divrei torah I said over.

1) The Chasam Sofer (Chukas) brings a medrash that when the"mem" of the mateh aharon v'moshe was nifgam then the "mem" of the bris mila was nifgam.

The Chasam Sofer explains that HKBH told Moshe to talk to the rock ancd instead Moshe hit it. Moshe's kavanah was that he felt bad for Miriam. Originally the rock produced water b'zechus Miriam. However, in order to produce the water Moshe had to hit the rock. Now that the rock was producing water b'zechus Moshe all Moshe had to do was talk to it. This would indicate that Moshe was on a higher madreigah than Miriam. In order to protect the kovod of Miriam, Moshe hit the rock.

The Chasam Sofer explains that Moshe's cheshbon was wrong. The Medrash says that if you have a man and woman with equal level of tziddkus and on the same madreigah the man could accomplish more because of his bris mila. The reason Moshe only needed to speak to the rock while for Miriam, Moshe needed to hit the rock was because of Moshe's bris mila and not because Moshe was on a higher madreigah.

The Chasam Sofer then says that maybe Moshe understood this, but he felt if he used the ma'aleh of bris mila it would look bad for Klal Yisroel who didn't have a bris in the midbar. Therefore he chose to hit the rock.

2)  Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky in Emes L'Yaakov writes that the chok of para aduma is m'galeh on the whole torah that we only keep mitzvos because of gezeiras hashem.
We find that one of the mitzvos given at Marah was Para Aduma. Rav Yaakov explains para aduma at that time had no purpose-it wasn't a practical mitzvah. Yet it was given to teach klal yisroel the ikar of learning is l'shma even if it is only theortetical.

We know that a baby is taught kol hatorah in the mother. Why? In reality all the Torah it learns is impractical and not l'ma'aseh. There is no Shabbos or Kashrus inside the mother.
But maybe that is gufa the idea-to teach the baby the ikkar is torah lishma just like we learn from para aduma.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Mamzerim and Moshiach

I just went through an interesting sugyah from teh 4th perek in Kiddushin. The gemara says that when Moshiach comes Eliyahu will be mitaheir the mamzeirim. The Ramban learns that even a mamzer vadai will be muttar. The Ran asks that how can it be that the issur of marrying a mamzer will be battul. Rather the gemara means that any mamzer who is mixed in with klal yisroel and we don't know that he is a mamzer will now be muttar. Eliyahu will not reveal the fact that he is a mamzer.

The Ran says that this has a nafka mina b'zman hazeh. Even if someone knows that a person is a mamzer, he can't reveal it. Just like Eliyahu knows who is a mazer and won't reveal it, so too we can't reveal who is a mamzer. The Rema in Even HaEzer (Siman 2) brings the Ran l'halacha.

There is a machlokes between the Chelkas Michokeik and Beis Shmuel (Even HaEzer Siman 2) whether this halacha applies to 2 eidim. The  Chelkas Michokeik says the Ran is only referring to a situation where one eid knows someone is a mazeir, or where there is a rumor about a person then we don't investigate. But if 2 eidim know they have to tell beis din. The Beis Shmuel holds even 2 eidim can't say anything.

The Chazon Ish (Even HaEzer Siman 1) seems to pasken like the Chelkas Michokeik.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Lesson of the SHekalim in Defeating Haman

The gemara in Megillah (13b) says:
"אמר ריש לקיש גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתיד המן לשקול שקלים על ישראל לפיכך הקדים שקליהן לשקליו והיינו דתנן באחד באדר משמיעין על השקלים ועל הכלאים"
“Reish Lakish says that it was revealed before the one who created the world that Haman would pay shekalim to kill the Bnei Yisroel. Therefore, our shekalim preceded his shekalim as we learn in the Mishna “On the first of Adar they make the appeal for shekalim”.
The gemara is referring to the fact that המן offered אחשׁורושׁ 10,000 shekalim to kill the בני  ישראל. In anticipation of this, הקב"ה instituted that every year a half shekel would be collected for use in the Beis HaMikadash. The question is what is the connection between the yearly donation of a half-shekel to the shekalim that המן paid אחשׁורושׁ. Furthermore, the story of Purim took place in golus when there was no Beis HaMikdash and consequently there were no shekalim being collected. How then did these shekalim have the ability to overturn the gezeirah of המן.
In order to understand this gemara we need to uinderstand what the shekalim represented.                   The מדרש תנחומא (פרשׁת כי תשא סימן ג) says that that הקב"ה told משׁה רבינו  that by reading פרשׁת שׁקלים  every year it is as if  משׁה רבינוhimself is here and raising us up. Rav Tzaddok(פרי צדיק פרשׁת שׁקלים)  explains that פרשׁת שׁקלים  begins with the phrase "כי תשא את ראשׁ" because the act of "נשיאת ראשׁ" implies that you are raising that person over someone else and making him the leader. When הקב"ה commanded משׁה to raise up בני ישראל he was telling משׁה that each individual Jew has the ability to be the best in one area. The מדרשׁ says that the תורה could only be given with 600,000 Jews. If one of them was missing there is something missing from כלל ישראל. Just like a sefer torah is posul if one letter is missing so too בני ישראל are not complete if there are less than 600,000 Jews, and an incomplete כלל  ישראל can’t get the Torah. Rav Tzadok says that this מדרשׁ teaches us that each person from כלל ישראל has a part of his נשׁמה that is unique and that noone else has. This unique part of a person is brought out through לימוד התורה. This is the reason why we say "איזה הוא חכם הלומד מכל אדם". Since each person has his own חלק in תורה, everyone has something to teach others that only he can teach. Furthermore, this חלק  of a person ultimately has its roots in the חכמה of הקב"ה and is considered to be a חלק אלוק ממעל. Rav Tzaddok adds that this concept does not just apply to learning Torah. The גמרא (תענית כא.) says that each person has his time in which הקב"ה  wants/needs that unique chelek of good that a person possesses. When this time comes, that person is raised up above everyone.This concept, Rav Tzaddok writes is what the shekalim come to reinforce. When a person gives his half-shekel, he is showing  that he is an individual who can make his own unique contribution to the תורה and to כלל ישראל. When the מדרשׁ says a person is raised up to the top over everyone else, it doesn’t mean he is better than everyone but rather it means that he is the best person to fulfill his unique role.
In order to answer what  this has to do with defeating המן we have to understand what המן represents. The מדרשׁ תנחומא (כי תצא ט) writes "עמלק, עם שׁבא ללק דמן שׁל ישראל ככלב" . עמלק is a nation that laps up the blood of בנ"י like a dog. Rav Tzaddok (פרשׁת זכור) explains that עמלק’s war against בנ"י comes on two levels. At first he seduces and convinces us to do aveiros However, even after we have sinned and fallen, עמלק comes along to make us fall even further. He convinces us that all is lost and there is no hope. He creates in us a

sense of יאושׁ and once we are מייאשׁ, we give up hope of doing teshuva. After all, why should we do teshuva if there is no point to anything. This is why עמלק is compared to a dog that laps up the leftover blood. Whatever self worth we have left after doing an aveirah is destroyed by עמלק. He comes along and sucks all the life out of us.
This idea can be applied to the story of פורים. The בני ישראל were in golus as a punishment for their aveiros. By taking part in the סעודת אחשׁורושׁ we were exhibiting the signs of יאושׁ. אחשׁורושׁ was celebrating our גלות and we joined him in the celebration. Is there any greater יאושׁ than celebrating one’s own downfall? Shortly after, המן comes along and takes advantage of our יאושׁ to try and totally destroy us. המן told אחשׁורושׁ that we were an עם מפוזר ומפורד. According to what we have been saying we explain that one sign of יאושׁ is not recognizing that we are all in this toether. Giving up hope on the גאולה is tantamount to saying that כלל ישראל as a nation, as an עם הנבחר is a relic of the past. By not recognizing that we are in fact one  nation, we were showing signs of being an עם מפוזר ומפורד.
הקב"ה foresaw that this would happen, so He decided to teach us many years before the Purim story that this attitude is not correct. This lesson was taught to us through the שׁקלים. As we explained from Rav Tzaddok, the shekalim reinforce the idea that each person is a חלק אלוק ממעל and has a unique purpose and goal in life. However, it is not just that we each have a tachlis, but that tachlis comes through connecting to הקב"ה and his תורה. The unique חלק that each of has in תורה, also serves to connect us to to each other through the Torah. Since my fellow Jew has something in תורה  that I don’t have, I need him to teach me that part of  תורה. At the same time that each of us can create our own individuality through the תורה, we also are connected as one nation through the תורה. The shekalim teach us that we are not an      עם מפוזר ומפורד  but rather an עם סגולה  and a ממלכת כהנים וגוי קדשׁ. This lesson of the שׁקלים was reinforced everytime we donated our half-shekel year after year on ר" אדר.
Perhaps with this idea we can understand another גמרא  regarding the שׁקלים of המן.The gemara (מגילה טז.) says that when המן came to put מרדכי on the horse of ,אחשׁורושׁ he found the תלמידים studying the laws of קמיצה that applied to the קרבן עומר. המן commented that their studying the laws of קמיצה pushed away the 10,000 shekalim that he paid אחשׁורושׁ. What is the connection between the 10,000 shekalim paid to      אחשׁורושׁ  and the halachos of קמיצה? The significance of this is that not only were the תלמידים of מרדכי connecting to each other through לימוד התורה, but that day was the 16th day of ניסן, the day when the קרבן עומר  would have been brought in the בית המקדשׁ. The בנ"י  were learning halachos מענינא דיומא that only applied בזמן הבית. Through their learning they were showing that they were no longer in a state of יאושׁ. They had finally accepted and internalized the lesson of שׁקלים  that had been taught to them year after year. בּנ"י  finally recognized that they were and always will be connected to הקב"ה. When המן  saw that the בנ"י  had realized this, he realized his plan was going to fail.
Finally, with this מהלך it is very understandable why there was a new קבלת התורה of תורה שׁבעל פה. The entire lesson of the שׁקלים  is that we each have our own חלק and כח החידושׁ in the תורה. This חלק is brought out by the חדושׁים that we are מחדשׁ in תורה שׁבעל פה. [In fact we find this idea in the מגילה. The גמרא  tells us that "ויעבר מרדכי" refers to the fact that מרדכי decreed a fast day on the first days of פסח. מרדכי used his כח החידושׁ to lead the בנ"י  during this עת צרה]. Once בנ"י recognized and appreciated how everyone has their unique part in תורה, it naturally led to a reenergizing of לימוד התורה and a new קבלת התורה  on the part of  כלל ישראל.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Purim thoughts

Everyone nows that Achashveirosh did not know where Esther came from. What is interesting is that the gemara in Megillah says that Esther would leave Achashveirosh, go toveil and go to be with Mordechai.Now Esther was in the palace for 9 years before the end of the story. You would have to assume that Achahsveirosh had his best men working to find out where Esther came from. I would assume that would include keeping tabs on her and seeing who she was in contact with. Yet no one was able to catch her sneaking out to visist Mordechai. I find this very interesting.

Parshas Vayikra:Esther Karka Olam

I'm finally getting around to updating my blog. I hope noone missed me too much.

I spoke this week about the sugyah in Sanhedrin that discusses Esther's marriage to Achashveirosh. The gemara says that for any aveirah done b'pharhesia-in public one must give up their life. The gemara asks what about Esther-she married Achashveirosh which was an aveirah b'pharhesia. The gemara gives 2 answers 1) Abayei says  Esther was "karka olam" 2) Rava says since Achshveirosh did it for his own hana'ah it was mutar.

What is meant by "karka olam". The simple understanding is that since she went to Achashveirosh against her will we don't view it as if she did an aveirah. Rav Elchanan in Kovetz Ha'Oras (Siman 48) wants to explain that neither pikuach nefesh is docheh aveirah b'pharhesia and an aveira b'pharhesia isn't doche pikuach nefesh. Therefore, the best cause of action is "shev v'al ta'aseh"-do nothing. Since Esther was forced to live with Achashveirosh, she is considered in a state of shev v'al ta'aseh and it was muttar.

The Rishonim ask what do you do about the fact that she was married to Mordechai and there is an issur of adultry which is one of the big 3 aveiros.

1) Rabeinu Tam says sleeping with a non Jew is not an aveirah of giloy arayos.
2) The Rivam says the heter of karka olam applies to giloy arayos as well.
3) One can also say based on the Rashba in Megillah (15a) that Mordechai gave Esther a get.

Another question that needs to be answered is that when Esther invited Achashveirosh to the party she went to him willingly. The heter of karka olam no longer applies. How then is it mutar? The Maharik (shoresh 167) and Noda Beyehuda (tanyana y.d. siman 161) answer that to save klal yisroel it was mutar. The Kovetz Heoros also suggests that she did it b'issur-it was an aveirah lishma. But elsewhere (siman 45) he quotes the Maharik as well.

A nafka mina l'maaseh is the question whether a married woman can give herself over to a robber to save others.The Shevua Yaakov (chelek 2 siman 117) based on the Maharik says it is muttar and the rayah is Esther. The Noda BeYehuda disagrees. First of all he says we see the Rashba holds Mordechai divorced Esther-so there is no issur eishes ish. Even if you learn like Rahsi that she was married, the heter is only to save all of klal yisorel. to save a few Jews is assur.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Parshas VaEira:Hearing What You Daven

The Sifsei chachamim makes an interesting diyuk in the parsha. By 9 of the makkos when Moshe davens to remove the makkos the Torah uses the loshon of 'vayetar". However, by the frogs the loshon used is 'vayitzak ". The Sifsei Chachamim explains that the frogs were making so much noise that Moshe couldn't hear himself daven. Therefore, hehad to scream in order to hear himself.

This leads to the question what is the geder of hearing yourself during davening. The halacha is that l'chatchila one must hear yourself daven but b'dieved you are still yotzei sayin it quietly. The chakirah is the following, by not hearing myself daven is it a chisaron in my dibbur and it is as if I am not saying anything or is it a halaca in tefilla that a ma'aleh of tefilla is that you need to hear yourself. (The chazon ish has this chakirah on the sugyah in Berachos). A nafka mina is if you are talking in a normal voice but you can't hear yourself because it is very noisy. According to teh first tzad-it could still be considered dibbur acc. to the 2nd tzad it is still a problem.

By Megillah, a cheiresh who can't hear is possul. The Avnei Nezer discusses the question if someone can't hear himself cause he has earplugs can he be motzi someone? It could be toloi on the above chakirah. The Avnei Nezer says a cheiresh is really a bar chiyuv just he can't be motzi someone cause his speech is not dibbur since he can't hear himself. So too someone who can't hear himself-his speech is not dibbur. (Rabbi Akiva Eiger holds a cheiresh isn't a bar chiyuv).

Catching up on Parsha Cakes

I haven't posted in while even though I promised I would be more consistent. My daughter complained that I haven't put up all of her parsha cakes, so here are the ones I haven't put up yet. All the people are actually edinble, they are made of fondue. However, noone in my family has been brave enough to taste it soI can't tell you how it tastes.

Parshas Vayeishev:Yosef in the pit

Miketz: Yosef's cup in Binyamin's sack

Vayichi:Yaakov's beracha to Ephraim and Menashe

Shemos:Moshe in the Nile