Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Parshas Vayichi:Ayin Hara

This week I spoke about ayin hara. The Gemara in Berachos (20a) learns that part of the beracha that Yosef received was that his descendants would not be influenced by an ayin hara. We find several places in Shas and Poskim where the idea of ayin hara is mentioned including a couple that are halacha l’ma’aseh. For example, the gemara in Bava Basra 2B says one is considered a mazik if one stands next to a friend’s field and look at it. Rashi explains the hezek is you are putting an ayin hara on your friend. We also pasken in Shulchan Orach that 2 brothers should not receive consecutive aliyos because of ayin hara.  The 2 questions that need to be answered is a) how does ayin hara actually work b) how can you be mazik someone through an ayin hara if the person doesn’t deserve to be punished.

There are two mehalchim in explaining ayin hara.

1)      The Chazon Ish (Likutim Baba Basra 14a) seems to understand that ayin hara is a koach people have that allows them to harm someone. My understanding of the Chazon Ish is that just like a can be mazik a person by stealing his money or physically damaging his car, so too I can be mazik a person through my thoughts. How is it possible to harm someone even though tey don’t deserve it? The Chazon Ish writes that you can’t. If HKB”H determined that this person is deserving of punishment then one way it can be brought about is through an ayin hara. For example, let’s say it was decreed that a person should lose his car. It can either be stolen, smashed up or lost through an ayin hara. Ayin hara is just a mechanism through which Hashem will punish the person.

A similar mehalach is found in the Michtav M’Eliyahu (Chelek 4 page 5&6) and elaborated on by the Sifsei Chiam (Emunah V’Hashgacha chelek 1). Rav Dessler writes that every person has a connection on a ruchniyu slevel. When Reuvain is jealous of Shimon, this causes a chisaron in Shimon’s “shefa hachaim” and makes him more susceptible to be harmed. The Sifsei Chaim explains this to mean that a person has a koach haratzon through his machshava to harm someone. Just like HKB”H created the world through his ratzon, we also have the ability to impact someone through our koach haratzon and machshava.


This is similar to the Chazon Ish. However, there is one main difference in the way the Sifsei Chaim explains it. The Sifsei Chaim asks how can you hurt someone who doesn’t deserve it? He gives 2 answers. His first answer is that just like Reuvein has a koach haratzon and bechirah, so too does Shimon. The question is whose koach haratzon is stronger. Is Reuvein’s koach haratzon to hurt Shimon is stronger than Shimon’s koach haratzon to not be hurt? If Reuvein’s koach is stronger than Shimon can be harmed. The Sifsei Chaim explains this does not mean that Reuvein is the shaliach of Hashem to damage Shimon. In this sense he is different than the Chazon Ish (according to my understanding of the Chazon Ish).


His second answer is that  Rav Dessler also writes that when a person causes someone else to be jealous, he has harmed that person spiritually. Therefore, this person now has a kitrug on him and deserves an onesh min hashamayim.  Since this person is now b’sha’as sakana (throughhis own doing) he enables the koach haratzon of Reuvein to affect him.


2)      I heard a second mehalach from Rav Hershel Schachter in a shiur on ayin hara. The Torah tells us that if you mistreat a widow or an orphan and they cry out to Hashem, that you will be punished. How does this work? When the widow cries out to Hashem, she is asking that her tormentor be punished. Normally, Hashem lets things slide and doesn’t punish people right away. None of us our deserving of anything-we all do aveiros and we all deserve to be punished. The fact that we aren’t punished right away is part of Hashem’s chesed. However, when someone asks Hashem to punish us, then He looks at what we have done more closely and decides if we really deserve what we have.

Similarly, when someone is jealous of someone’s money or wealth there is an implicit tefilla to Hashem that it’s not fair that this person deserves what he has. The jealous person is asking Hashem to take away what we have because it isn’t fair. Consequently, Hashem will look more closely at whether we deserve what we have and He might take away certain things.



The poskim point out that an ayin hara will not affect someone who is not makpid.  How are we to understand this based on the two mehalchim?


According to the Chazon Ish/Rav Dessler perhaps we can say that if you are not makpid about an ayin hara, this means that you don’t walk around making people jealous of you. As Rav Dessler says, if you are a “nosein” people won’t be jealous of you. M’meilah if everyonre likes you and is not jealous they won’t put in ayin hara on you. According to Rav Schachter’s mehalech, he mentions that the way to combat ayin hara is through tefilla and by recognizing “ein od milvado”. Perhaps that is also the pshat in not being makpid about an ayin hara. When you realize everything is from Hashem and “ein od milvado”, you by nature also won’t be makpid about an ayin hara.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Parshas VaYeitzei:Neder on Davar Sh'lo Bah L'Olam

This week’s shiur discussed the question whether you can make a neder on a davar sh’lo bo l’olam-something which is not here. The Rambam in Hilchos Erachin (6:30-32) says that a neder on a davar sh’lo bo l’olam works and his rayah is from Ya’akov. Ya’akov promised Hashem that he would bring ma’aser from whatever Hashem would give him and later on at the end of the Parsha we find that Hashem calls that a neder. In Hilchos Mechirah (22:17) the Rambam also brings this halacha but he writes it a little differently. In Hilchos Erachin he writes “if a person says ‘I will give any fish that I catch to Hekdesh’ then it works”. In Hilchos Mechirah he writes “if a person says ‘I will give any animals born to Hekdesh’ or ‘Any animals born will be hekdesh’ then it works”. In Hilchos Mechirah he brings both a case of “I will give” and a case of “it will be”. In Hilchos Erachin he only brings the case of ‘I will give”. The Raavad in Hilchos Mechirah argues on the Rambam that only a case of “I will give” works but the other case of   “it will be” does not work. The question is what are they arguing about and why does the Rambam only bring one case in Erachin and both cases in Mechirah?

There are a number of mehalchim in the achronim to explain this Rambam. Rav Moshe in the Dibros Moshe Nedarim (Siman 6 anaf 5,6) presents one explanation. He writes that there is a machlokes rishonim whether you can make a neder on a mitzvah. Can one make a neder to say ‘I will learn this perek’. A neder is usually an issur on a cheftzah so how can it apply to an action? The Ran holds you can’t and when the gemara says that you can make a neder to say ‘I will learn this perek’, it really means you are making a shevuah. Other Rishonim like the Ramban and Ritva hold the neder works. Rav Moshe explains that they learn this from tzeddaka. The gemara in Rosh Hashana says one can make a neder on tzeddakah, so if a neder on tzeddakah works so too a neder on a mitzvah will work. The Ran will tell you that neder on tzeddaka doesn’t work b’toras neder but rather we say  the rule of  “amiraso l’gavoah k’mesiraso l’hedyot” applies even to tzeddaka and not just hekdesh. Therefore,  when you say you give it to tzeddaka it is like the ani made a kinyan on it.

Rav Moshe explains that this is the machlokes between the Rambam and Raavad. The Rambam holds a neder on tzeddaka works like a neder and therefore even on a davar sh’lo bo l’olam a neder can work. You can obligate yourself through a neder to bring something or make something  tzedaka in the future. Even a loshon of “it will be tzeddaka” should work. The Raavad however will tell you that using the loshon of “I will give” is a loshon of neder. But saying “it will be” is not a loshon of neder but more lie a loshon of nedava and that only works through the din of “amiraso l’gavoah k’mesiraso l’hedyot” and that can not work on a davar sh’lo bo l’olam.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Chayei Sorah: Paying a Shadchan

This week I spoke about the question of paying a shadchan. Specifically, how much do you pay a shadchan when the chassan is from one city which pays higher rates and the kallah is from a city which pays lower rates. The main point to understand is that a shadchan has a din of a hired worker (a poeil) and paying a shadchan is a shailah in Choshen Mishpat.

The Panim Meiros discusses this question and he understands that m'tzad the chassan, the shadchan is working for him in the city of the kallah and m'tzad the kallah, the shadchan is working for her in the city of the chassan. Based on a Yerushalmi in the beginning of Bava Metzia Perek 7, he says you pay based on where the poeil did the work. Therefore, the kalllah would pay based on the rates in the chassan's city and the chassan would pay based on rates in the kallah's city.

However, there is an exception. If the shadchan and chassan live in the town with cheaper rates, the chassan could argue that he hired the shadchan based on their city rates and therefore he pays the cheaper rate.

There is a machlokes haposkim in a case where the chassan from a higher rate city goes to hire the shadchan from a lower rate city to find a shidduch in the higher rate city. According to the Yerushalmi the socheir can argue I went to the lower rate town to higher cheaper work. I don't care that you are working in the higher rate town-to pay higher rates I would have hired a guy from my town.

The Panim Meiros says by a shadchan you don't say that since you davka wanted that shadchan-his work is qualitatively better. Unlike a poeil-a worker is a worker. The Minchas Elazer argues and says you can pay cheaper rates. Even in the yerushalmi you can argue some workers are better. We don't say that and pay cheaper rates.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Parshas Lech Lecha: Hatafas Dam Bris

The Rambam (Hilchos Mila 1:7) paskens that both a ger who had a mila as a non-Jew and a child born with a mila rquires hatafas dam bris. The m'kor for this halacha seems to be a gemara in Shabbos DAf 135 which says that the koton born with a mila rquires hatafas dam bris because of a safeik orlah kevushah-we are afraid the orlah is hidden and teh child is really an oreil.

 There are a number of questions asked on this Rambam.

1) The  Minchas Chinuch (Mitzvah 283) says that the Rambam paskens in Hil Teruma that a chikd born with a mila can eat terumah. The question is why. If we are afraid that he is really an oreil, so we should be machmir m'safeik and not let him eat terumah.

2) The Rambam in Hil Mila Perek 3:6 writes that both the ger and koton do not make a beracha on the hatafas dam bris. I can understand that we don't make a beracha on the koton since the whole reason for the hatafas dam bris is due to a safeik orlah and m'safeik we don't make a beracha. However, the reason for the ger can't be because of safeik orlah kevusha-the ger had a real bris. The only reason he needs hatafas dam bris is because the milah was done when he was a non Jew. Why wouldn't he require a beracha?

3) The Kehillas Yaakov in Shabbos asks that the gemara in Yevomos 71a learns that a father who has a katan sh'nolad mohel can't eat the korbon pesach (until the hatafas dam bris is done). Why is this different than teruma where we say the katan can eat terumah.

4) The Minchas Chinuch also asks, if we are choshesh for orlah kavusha, how does hatafas dam bris solve this problem. All you are doing is drawing some blood-you are not cutting anything away.

There are a few mehalchim to answer these questions. Below is the mehalach of the Mishkanos Yaakov (Y.D. Siman 63)

He writes that b'emes there is a machlokes hasugyas between the genara in Yevomos 71 and Shabbos 135. The gemara in Yevomos brings the shitta of Rabbi Akiva that we learn from a posuk that  both a ger who had a mila as a non Jew and a father who has a katan sh'nolad mohel can't eat the korbon pesach. If the reason why the koton needs hatafas dam bris is because of safeik orlah kevushah, why do we need a limud for this? It is pashut-the child is a safeik oreil and m'meilah you can't eat the korbon Pesach. Therefore, you have to say that according to Rabbi Akiva, the reason for hatafas dam bris isn't because of safeik orlah kevusha but rather it is a din in the mitzvas mila-part of the mitzva is a requirement to do  hatafas dam bris. In fact the zohar says there are 3 parts to mila, the mila, p'riah and hatafas dam.
The gemara in Shabbos argues on Rabbi Akiva and holds the reason for a katan is because of orlah kevusha.

Furthermore, According to the gemara in Yevamos, the reason both a ger and a koton need hatafas dam bris is the same reason-both are missing the mitzvah of hatafah of dam bris. The ger had a ma'aseh mila but there was no hatafas dam l'shem bris.

We can now say that the Rambam paskens like the sugyah in Yevomos and hatafas dam bris is itself a mitzvah . (unlike the Rif and Rosh who hold the reason is orlah kevusha). We can answer the questions above.

1) The issur of eating teruma is only for an oreil. Even though the koton is lackning the mitzvah of hatafas dam bris, he is still not considered an oreil. (ayin R' Chaim al hashas that says the same idea). Since he is not an oreil he can eat terumah. [L'chorah you have to say that the Mishkanos Yaakov understands that the shem oreil goe saway when the orlah is removed or is not present. Since this koton does not have an orlah he is not considered an oreil even though he is missing a chelek of the ma'aseh mitzva of mila (i.e. the hatafas dam).

2) The reason we don't make a beracha has nothing to do with safeik berachos but it is because although the hatafa is a chelek of the mila, the chachamim were not misakein a beracha on the hatafa by itself. Furthermore, the Mishkanos Yaakov points out, in Mila 3:6 the Rambam mentions an androgonus doesn't make a beracha on hatafas since it is a safeik beracha. We see that koton and ger must be a different reason.

3) The Kehillas Yaakov says that the issur of bringing the korbon pesach does not depend on the shem oreil, but rather on whether the mitzva of mila was completed. The proof is that you can't bring a korbon pesach if your slave doesn't have a mila-even though you are not an oreil. Therefore, since this koton still requires hatafas dam bris the mitzvah of mila has not been completed and you can't bring the korbon pesach.

4) Since the hatafah isn't there to remove a safeik, there is no need to do any cutting of teh skin, and letting out blood is enough.

Other achronim (Imrei Moshe, Mishnas Ya'avetz) point out that the Yerushalmi seems to work well with the sevara of the Mishkanos Yaakov and thsi coulds also be the m,'kor for the Rambam.

Both the Kehillas Yaakov and Mishnas Ya'avetz don't like the fact that the Mishkanos Yaakov made this into a machlokes hasugyos between the gemara in Shabbos and Yevamos. They both have a mehalech which puts the sugyos together, but ain kan mokom l'harich. ayin sham.

Welcome Back

Welcome Back!
I have been toying with the idea of restarting my blog and I have finally decided to do it.
As in the past, this blog will mostly be a write up of my weekly parsha chabura that I give over in shul every Shabbos. In the chabura I discuss a halachic or lomidshe topic that is based on that week’s parshah.
Comments are always welcome but I don’t guarantee that I will always respond.
I hope to put up the first post shortly.