Saturday, January 06, 2007

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 32 - Song on Rosh Hashana

The Gemora infers from the Mishna that hallel is not recited on Rosh Hashanah. Rav Avahu explains that the Heavenly angels asked Hashem as to the reason that Klal Yisroel does not sing to You on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. Hashem responded by asking rhetorically, is it possible that when the King is sitting on the Seat of Judgment and the books of life and death are opened before Him, that Klal Yisroel should recite song at that time.

The Tur (581) writes that one should bathe himself and take a haircut before Rosh Hashanah based on the Medrash which states that one should eat, drink and rejoice on Rosh Hashanah since he knows that Hashem will perform a miracle for him.

The Yom Teruah asks from our Gemora which states that song is not recited on Rosh Hashanah. He answers that each individual can rejoice since he is confident that Hashem will judge him favorably however there will be those in the world that will be sentenced for death and because of them, hallel is not recited on Rosh Hashanah.

The Aruch Lener comments that the Heavenly angels did not inquire about themselves since they understand that they should not sing when there are people being inscribed for death. They were only asking in regards to Klal Yisroel, that they should recite hallel since they should be secure that they will be inscribed for a good year. Hashem answers that nevertheless, it would be inappropriate for them to recite hallel cheerfully while they are being judged.

He writes further that the Heavenly angels were asking about Klal Yisroel reciting hallel since they do not have permission to sing praise to Hashem unless Klal Yisroel sings first, so in essence they were asking regarding themselves.

The assumption of the Aruch Lener that the heavenly angels refrain from singing on Rosh Hashanah is not universally accepted. Tosfos in Eruchin (10b) writes explicitly that the Heavenly angels do sing on Rosh Hashanah. His proof is from our Gemora that the angels do not inquire about themselves. It is evident that they do sing and their question is only regarding Klal Yisroel.

Reb Yonason Eibshitz in Yaaros Devash (14) explains that the Heavenly angels claimed that while they understand why Klal Yisroel does not recite hallel on Rosh Hashanah but they should be able to sing since there is no book of death opened for them. The answer given to them is that there is a judgment for them as well (like it is said in the tefillah of u’nesaneh tokef). The book of life is referring to the judgment for the angels since they live forever. The book of death is opened for people since they can be inscribed to die. This is the reason why the angels and Klal Yisroel refrain from singing on Rosh Hashanah.

The Maharsha in Eruchin asks why we are able to recite ‘az yashir’ on Rosh Hashanah. He answers that this is only relating what Moshe and Klal Yisroel sang when they crossed over the sea.

It is cited in the name of Reb Chaim Brisker that it is permitted to recite the shir shel yom on Rosh Hashanah since that does not require complete happiness when it is being recited. Hallel can only be recited if one is in a state of complete happiness and that is not possible on Rosh Hashanah.

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Friday, January 05, 2007

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 32 - Daf and Shabbos

by Reb Ben

The Gemara cites a dispute regarding the exposition that teaches us that one must refrain from work on Rosh HaShanah. Rabbi Eliezer derives this ruling from the words mikra kodesh, a holy convocation, which means to sanctify the day by refraining from work. Rabbi Akiva, however, learns this ruling from the word shabbason, a rest day, which means to refrain from work. We refer to Shabbos as Shabbos Kodesh, the holy Shabbos, and this is based on a verse regarding Shabbos. What is the distinction between shevisah, rest, and kedushah, which is normally translated as holiness? We have mentioned numerous times that the word Shabbos has its roots in the word shav, which means return. The word kodesh, however, which is translated as holy, means distanced. One would suppose that if he abstains from work on Shabbos, he has “observed” the Shabbos. In reality, however, this is not the case. One must first recognize, as the Sfas Emes writes, that Shabbos is a time when the world is subjugated to HaShem’s will. When one submits himself to HaShem’s will, which is the essence of Teshuvah, returning, he can then distance himself from all work and honor the Shabbos properly.

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 31 - Highlights

The Gemora cites a braisa which lists the hymns that were sung by the Leviim together with the korban tamid. It also discusses the reason that particular psalm was recited then. Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Rabbi Akiva maintains that each day’s song was referring to the event that happened on the corresponding Day of Creation. Shabbos, however, was different and its psalm discussed the harmony that will exist in the future. Rabbi Nechamya holds that the psalm recited on Shabbos also referred to the Shabbos Day of Creation. (31a)

The Gemora discusses the hymns that were sung on Shabbos by the korban mussaf and by the afternoon korban tamid. The Gemora concludes that they would divide Parshas Haazinu into six segments and one segment was recited each week by the korban mussaf. (31a)
 It was said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan that the Heavenly Presence of Hashem journeyed ten journeys during the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdosh. Correspondingly, the Sanhedrin was exiled ten exiles during the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh. The Gemora cites Scriptural verses which specify the ten journeys of the Shechina. The Gemora lists the ten locations that the Sanhedrin was exiled to during the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh.

[The Sanhedrin's first stop after leaving Jerusalem was the city of Yavneh, which was established as a center of Torah study by Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai, and became most famous under the direction of Rabban Gamliel of Yavneh. Throughout its continuing travels, the Sanhedrin was headed by descendants of the family of Hillel.

It appears that the Sanhedrin was moved to Usha in the aftermath of the Bar-Kokhba revolt, where a series of Rabbinic enactments - called takkanot Usha - were established. Under the leadership of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel there was an unsuccessful attempt to return the Sanhedrin to Yavneh, but due to the overwhelming devastation in the southern part of the country, they returned to the Galilee, first to Usha and then to Shefar'am.

Rabbi Yehudah ha-Nassi first sat in Bet She'arim together with the Sanhedrin, but he was forced to move to Tzippori, which was on a higher altitude, for reasons of health. His son, Rabban Gamliel, settled in Teverya, and the Sanhedrin remained in that city until it was finally dissolved. Courtesy of the Aleph Society)] (31a – 31b)
 The Mishna states that even if the Head of the Beis Din was elsewhere, the witnesses were still required to go to the place that Beis Din was regularly assembled. (31b)

The Gemora relates an incident regarding a woman who was called by Ameimar (the head of the Beis Din) to Nehardea, but then he left for Mechoza and she didn't follow him, so they excommunicated her. Rav Ashi asked Ameimar "What about that Mishna which states that that one should go to the Beis Din even if the Head of the Beis Din is elsewhere. Ameimar responded that the Mishna only applies to testimony for the new moon so that they'll come back in the future. However, this does not apply to other types of litigation. (31b)
 One of the nine decrees of Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai is that the Kohanim are not allowed to wear sandals when they ascend the duchan to bless the congregation.

When the Temple stood, a convert had to bring a pair of birds as an offering. Afterwards, in the absence of a Temple, they still had to set aside a quarter-shekel for the offering. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai annulled this decree since it can lead to a stumbling block of someone benefiting from the hekdesh money.

There is an argument in the Gemora regarding the ninth decree of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. Rav Papa maintains that it was regarding the fourth-year fruits from a vineyard. The produce of a vineyard in its fourth year must be brought to Yerushalayim. However, if one lives within a day of Yerushalayim, he would be required to bring the fruits itself. Rabbi Eliezer wanted to give the fruits to the poor since it was too difficult for him to travel. He was told that Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai already permitted one to redeem the fruits even if one is within one day of Yerushalayim.

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak disagrees and he holds that the ninth decree was regarding the strip of red wool. There was a red ribbon that was hung up outside the entrance of the Temple on Yom Kippur. It would turn white if the people's sins had been cleansed. If it turned white, they were happy; if not, they felt distressed. They didn’t want Klal Yisroel feeling sad so they began to tie it inside of the Beis Hamikdosh. They were able to peek in anyway and it was decreed that half of it was tied to the rock and the other half went over the cliff with the he-goat. This was instituted by Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai. (31b)

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 31 - Where to Stop and Where to Start

The Gemora discusses the hymns that were recited by the Leviim in the Beis Hamikdosh on Shabbos. The Gemora concludes that they would divide Parshas Haazinu into six segments and one segment was recited each week by the korban mussaf.

The Turei Even asks from a Gemora Brochos (12) which rules that any place in the Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu did not pause; we are forbidden to pause as well. How were the Leviim permitted to stop in places that Moshe did not stop? He answers that since they intended to complete it the next week, it is not regarded as interrupting the portion (even though there will be different Leviim the next week).

Magan Avrohom (O”C 282) asks this question as well as inquiring into different verses from the Torah that we recite during tefillah which are incomplete. He answers that we only apply the principle that one can not interrupt in middle of a verse when one is engaged in Torah study or reading from the Torah. If, however, one is reciting verses for the purpose of prayer or mitzvah observance, there is no prohibition of interrupting in middle of a verse.

Rav Nosson Grossman states that perhaps through this principle, we can answer the Turei Even’s question. The Leviim are not reciting these pesukim as Torah, rather they are being said on account of shirah, song and therefore it will not be subject to the prohibition of stopping in an incorrect place. However, it would seem evident that the Magen Avrohom will not concur with this since he states that principle and nevertheless does not apply it to the Leviim’s shirah.

Rav Yaakov Kamenetzky in his sefer Emes L’Yaakov in Parshas Ki sovo uses this principle to answer a Rambam. The Rambam in Hilchos Bikurim cites the pesukim that a person must recite when he brings his first fruits to the mizbeach. The commentators ask that the last words of this recital conclude in middle of a possuk and this is against the dictum of stopping in a place that Moshe did not stop. Reb Yaakov answers that this ruling does not apply by such mitzvos, such as bikurim. It is only a concern when pesukim are being recited because of Torah.

He uses this principle to explain why a kohen is not required to recite the Priestly Blessing while reading from a Torah. There is a halacha that when one recites verses from the Written Law, he is prohibited from saying them “by heart.” The explanation is that that this halacha applies only when someone is reciting verses because of Torah but here they are being recited because of a mitzvah and therefore there is no requirement that these pesukuim should be read from a Torah.

This principle is somewhat troubling as the source for the halacha is the Gemora Brochos which is discussing the mitzva of reciting krias Shema. The Gemora states regarding this mitzva that if Moshe did not stop there, we cannot. How can these Acharonim say that this halacha only applies by Torah and not by mitzvos?

It would seem that this would be a proof to the opinion of the Keren Orah in Sotah and the Brisker Rav who maintain that the mitzva of reciting krias shema every day is actually a mitzva of “Talmud Torah.” The obligation is to recite portions of the Torah twice daily. Obviously there is a mitzva of accepting the yoke of Heaven by reciting these portions but the commandment of the Torah is to learn these portions once in the morning and once at night. This explains why the halacha of stopping where Moshe didn’t stop does apply.

I noticed a piece of Torah regarding this issue from Efraim Stulburg on his blog here. It is extremely informative and thorough. Here it is in its entirety.

Ephraim Stulberg on Shavuot, 5764

As is well-known, there are two sets of notes for the reading of the Ten Commandments[1] recorded in P’ Yisro, usually referred to as Higher and Lower [טעם עליון וטעם תחתון) [2). Whereas the Higher notation seeks to divide the Torah passages according to the breakdown of the Commandments,[3] the Lower notation gives no regard to this aspect, but rather seeks to divide the verses according to more conventional, manageable lengths. There are different opinions as to which system is to be employed at which time. Some are of the belief that the Higher system is only operable on Shavuos, while others feel that any public reading ought to use that system, and that use of the Lower system is to be limited to individuals reading the Torah text on their own. The editor of Ein Ya’akov, in his commentary at the end of Sh’kalim (#30), notes that in his time some people had actually misunderstood the two parallel sets of notes, and had read both versions simultaneously: a phenomenon which does in fact occur occasionally in the Torah (e.g. Vayikra 10:4), but obviously not in this case. This observation certainly highlights some of the vagaries of the dual systems, and elicits a number of questions, notably: whence the two systems, and what do they represent?

The Chizkuni, in his commentary on Yisro, explains that the reason we read the Higher (“Greater”) cantillation on Shavuos is because that day is seen as commemorative of the day on which the Torah was given, “and because we translate the reading on that day,”[4] we reenact the way in which the Torah was actually given, i.e. in these ten separate messages. During the rest of the year, however, this reason is not applicable, and so we use the Lower system. Implicit in his words is the fact that whereas the division of the Torah into parshios, i.e. physically distinct “open” or “closed” paragraphs, is representative of the actual giving of the Torah to Moshe – each parasha represented a place where Moshe could take a break to ponder and internalize the Torah passage he had just received (see Sifra Vayikra 1:9) – the pasuk is not representative of any physical reality, but rather, perhaps, is the way chosen by Moshe to break up the Torah when it came to teaching it to the Jews.[5] One might also add that the more melodious Higher system - so designated because most of the notes therein appear above the letter, as opposed to the Lower system - is employed to commemorate the fact that the Ten Commandments were given in a musical format: see Mechilta Yisro (Ba-Chodesh 4).

In Shulchan Aruch Ha-rav (594:11), it is explained that the Higher system goes according to the “k’siv”, the way the words are actually divided into paragraphs in the written Torah text, while the Lower system follows the “k’ri”, i.e. the way it is supposed to be read. R’ Shne’ur Zalman adds that the real division of the verses, the “p’sukim”, follows the Lower system. Thus, for instance, regarding the prohibition that states that - “כל פסוק דלא פסקיה משה אנן לא פסקינן" “any stop [within a verse] not made by Moshe, we are forbidden to make” - (Megillah 22a), meaning that one may not break up a verse into two pieces, we follow the Lower system. In Mo’adim U-zmanim (7:234), Rav Sh’ternbuch writes that he’d heard of one authority who always read the Lower notes, for precisely this reason: the Higher system breaks up verses 20:13 and 20:14 in the middle. However, as we shall see, and as you can probably guess, this is really not a problem.

We have touched here on a couple of pregnant issues, which have been bothering me for quite some time now. The rule of “any stop [within a verse] not made by Moshe, we are forbidden to make,” and the question of the nature of the cantillary notes, and of the parasha and the sof-pasuk, have not been sufficiently explained, in my view. While I realize my attempt is likely to be less than satisfactory, at the very least I hope to provide the reader with a convenient repository of primary sources from which to for his or her own understanding

כל פסוק דלא פסקיה משה אנן לא פסקינן

The somewhat vague statement of the gemara (B’rachos 12b, Ta’anis 27b, and Megillah 22a), which says that “any stop not made by Moshe, we are forbidden to make,” confronts us with several issues. They may be conveniently be grouped under two categories.

1) One question is whether this applies only to a verse, or whether there is even a prohibition against breaking up an individual parasha, which usually consists of several verses. In B’rachos 12b, our rule is applied to an entire parasha. Thus, explains the gemara, we cannot use a couple of verses in P’ Balak (24:8-9) to fulfill our duty to remember the Exodus from Egypt, since they occur in the middle of a parasha; it would be too unwieldy to have to read the entire parasha. The other instances where this rule is invoked discuss only the prohibition of breaking up an individual verse, namely with regard to the Torah reading of Rosh Chodesh and of the ma’amados (see Megillah 22a).

There are some authorities (see Turei Even on Rosha Hashanah 31a) who seem to take these opinions to be in argument with one another, initially positing that the opinion expressed in Megillah takes no issue with allowing a stop to be made within a paragraph, so long as it comes at the end of a verse. Others (see Responsa Arugas Ha-bosem O.C. 22) feel that the real prohibition is only in splitting up a verse; but, since we are no longer sure as to the true position of each sof-pasuk (see Kiddushin 30a), we extend the prohibition to the level of the parasha, which, this opinion assumes, we can feel comfortable knowing also represents the end of a verse. [6]

Of course, there is a third option, which would be to say that the opinions don’t argue at all, but rather are simply speaking about two different cases. It is possible to be in the middle of a verse and yet at the end of a parasha (such as in the Ten Commandments) or to be in the middle of a parasha and yet at the end of a verse (the more usual scenario). Ultimately, as we shall see, the Turei Even concludes that there is no conflict between the two opinions, though not for this reason.

2) The other basic question is that in practice, it seems that these rules are constantly disregarded in the Jewish liturgy. We split up paragraphs almost every week when we read the Torah. Indeed, the very gemara which speaks of the prohibition of splitting up a single verse in the Rosh Chodesh reading implicitly allows us to end an aliyah in the middle of the parasha.

But even within a single verse, there are numerous examples where a seemingly prohibited stop is made. 1) During Kedusha, the congregation says “ve-kara ze el ze ve-amar”, and then waits for the chazan to say it as well, before concluding the verse in Yeshayahu (6:3) with “kadosh, kadosh, etc.” In fact, Arugas Ha-bosem notes the custom of some not to say “ve-kara zeh el zeh” until the chazan does, for precisely our reason, though he himself dismisses such a practice. In the kedusha that we recite during the first blessing before the Sh’ma, the situation is even worse, since we don’t mention the first half of the verse at all. 2) Following the Torah reading, when we lift the Torah, we say “and this is the Torah which Moshe placed before the Children of Israel…from the mouth of Hashem by the hand of Moshe.” The first part of this statement is from D’varim 4:44, while the second segment is from P’ Be-ha’alos’cha. In the Siddur Otzar Ha-t’fillos, it is recorded that R’ Chaim of Volozhyn used to recite the entire verse from B’midbar 9:23, though not because of our problem, but rather simply to make sense of why we use such a conclusion to the verse from D’varim. However, in Mo’adim U-z’manim (7:234) it is suggested that the reason for R’ Chaim’s custom was indeed so as to avoid our problem. I have adopted this practice, and I recently heard another fellow in shul who does the same. 3) When the Torah is brought back to the ark, the chazan says “yehal’lu es shem Hashem, etc.”, and the congregation concludes by saying “hodo al eretz ve-shamayim,” which are two halves of a verse (Tehillim 148:13). 4) During Hallel, the chazan says “ana Hashem, hoshiah na”, then says it again, before completing the verse (Tehillim 118:25). 5) In kiddush on Friday night, we begin with the words “vayhi erev vayhi voker yom ha-shishi.” There are other examples, but these are some of the better known.

Most of these cases have already been dealt with in the commentaries, and it is interesting to note what they have had to say, for they tend to shed some light on the parameters of the halacha. There seem to be nine factors which have been suggested that have a bearing on the rule under discussion:

1) The Kolbo (# 52), cited in Magen Avraham (422:8), writes that the rule which states that “any stop [within a verse] not made by Moshe, we are forbidden to make,” might perhaps apply only to Torah and Prophets, but not to the Kesuvim. This seems to make little sense, however: if his point is to take literally the phrase “not made by Moshe,” which can realistically be applied only to the Torah, then why does he include the Prophets in the prohibition as well? Moreover, it is clear from Tosafos on Succah 38b that the rule extends to Kesuvim as well. In truth, Kolbo seems rather lukewarm on this suggestion.

2) In Magen Gibborim (Shiltei Gibborim 51:3), it is argued that the “stop” referred to by the gemara includes an esnachta or a zakef katon. Thus one may break up a verse whenever one sees even one of these lesser stop symbols. Since these notes are also of Mosaic origin (see Nedarim 37b), just like the sof-pasuk, they can also be described as stops made by Moshe. According to this, there would perhaps be no problem reading the Higher cantillation system, if we extend this rule to the tipcha under the word “tirtzach.” However, as the Chasam Sofer notes (O.C. 10) this is also clearly a difficult answer to accept; if it were true, then the argument in Megillah regarding where to divide the aliyas on Rosh Chodesh would have been moot. We would simply break up the third verse at the esnachta.[7]

3) Tosafos (Succah 38b), dealing with the verse “ana Hashem, hoshiah na, ana Hashem hatzlichah na” suggest that since, as the gemara says (P’sachim 119a), the two halves of the verse were originally said by two different entities (David’s brothers and then David), we may read it as two verses. A similar logic is presented in Rokeach (#319), where he discusses, among other examples, the issue of the verse “yehal’lu es sheim Hashem” which we say when replacing the Torah. The verse contains two “voices” as it were, and is meant to be read responsively by two individuals or groups. The same applies to the first portion of kedusha.

4) The Magen Avraham (282:1) suggests that if one is going to continue reading within the parasha – he makes no mention of within a pasuk – then it is okay. Otherwise, he asks, how could we make seven aliyas out of P’ Vayetze or Miketz, which contain no new paragraphs at all? This loophole, he writes, extends even to a scenario in which on intends to complete the parasha the next day, or over the course of several days, so long as one is proceeding in order, without going back over previous ground (thus he is still troubled by the procedure used in the Monday/Thursday Torah reading, where we don’t continue where we leave off. However, see Megillah 31b, where R’ Meir is of the opinion that the Torah reading never overlaps, but rather we continue where we leave off the previous time. Might this be the reason for R’ Meir’s opinion?). The Turei Even (Rosh Hashanah 31a) is explicit in saying that whether one is going to continue reading eventually is relevant only within a parasha; within a verse, however, no stop is allowed at all.

5) Magen Avraham (ibid.) also suggests that if the partial parasha is read as a supplication, as in the daily prayers, then there is also no problem. I guess this loophole doesn’t apply to the proposed addition to the Sh’ma mentioned in B’rachos 12b, which is not recited as a supplication, but rather as a means of fulfilling a commandment of recitation, i.e. to remember the Exodus in words (see Responsa Sha’agas Aryeh #13). He compares this to the permission granted by some commentaries to recite verses from memory if this is done not in order to learn but rather as prayer: see Talmidei Rabbeinu Yona on 5a of the Rif’s pagination in B’rachos, and Abudarham in his commentary of the Eizehu M’koman chapter recited before Shacharis. This comparison made by the Magen Avraham is suggestive, insofar as it seems from his explanation that the reason one cannot break up paragraphs of Torah text is because one might arrive at erroneous conclusions, similar to one who recites from the Written Torah by heart, who is not aware of the forms or spellings in which words are written. However, according to his comparison it is not so clear why the Sh’ma should be considered as Torah learning: the Shulchan Aruch (O.C. 49:1) explicitly includes it among the passages which one may recite from memory. I just don’t see how this distinction really holds.

6) This approach of Magen Avraham is also adopted by the Chayei Adam regarding even a partial verse (Ch. 5 in Nishmas Adam #2): if it’s a supplication, then it’s okay. Rav Shternbuch makes a similar point, writing that using the Higher note system, and thus splitting up verses, is permissible only if we assume that the Torah reading of Yom Tov was instituted not as a means for Torah study (as was the case with the regular reading – see Bava Kama 82a), but rather as an act of commemoration. In my own opinion, however, his argument seems difficult to accept. After all, in the Rosh Chodesh reading, Rav, whose opinion we follow, doesn’t allow us to break up verses. And there should be no fundamental difference between Rosh Chodesh and Yom Tov. (However, see the final mishnah in Megillah 32a, which doesn’t mention Rosh Chodesh.)

According to reasons 2), and possibly 3), 4) and 6) as well, there is reason to allow the reading of the Higher cantillation on Shavuos or any other time.

7) A key text in any attempt to understand the rule we are discussing is found in B’rachos 14b. There, the gemara relates that in the Land of Israel, during the evening prayers, they used to begin the third paragraph of the Sh’ma, reciting up to the words “speak unto the Children of Israel, and say unto them, “I am Hashem your God, the Truth”,” after which they would proceed to say the blessing of “emes ve-emunah.” In this way, they would skip over the passage dealing with tzitzis, which is not relevant to the nighttime. When informed of this practice, Abbaye was puzzled, since Rav had already said that if one begins a passage, he must complete it in its entirety, i.e. without skipping out the middle section, and Rav had also said that whereas if one just read up to the words “speak unto Israel”, it would not have been considered a beginning, by adding “and say unto them” one has begun the passage, and can no longer skip out the middle. Rav Pappa suggests that in Israel, it was felt that, contrary to Rav’s opinion in the matter, one is not considered to have begun the passage until he recites “and they should make for themselves tzitzis.” Abaye concludes by saying that we follow the practice of the Israeli scholars in beginning the passage up to the words “and say unto them.” And since we have begun (according to Rav), we must conclude by reading the entire paragraph.

The Rashba is bothered by this gemara. He wonders how, even if the Israelis felt that “and say unto them” did not constitute the beginning of the parasha, they have broken up the parasha in the middle, and begun again at the end with the words “I am Hashem, your God”? He answers that just as “and say unto them” does not constitute the beginning of a parasha, since the main content of the parasha, i.e. the commandment of tzitzis and the exodus from Egypt, has not yet been engaged with, so too these final words are also not considered a fragment of a parasha, since in these words no mention of the parasha’s topic has been made. He adds that the reason that only these final few words of the parasha, rather than the entire last pasuk, were mentioned, even though this means that we don’t get any reference to the Exodus until the blessing afterwards, is to avoid citing a fragment of a parasha.

The implication of this Rashba seems to be that it is only problematic to split up a parasha if the segment one is mentioning is actually traceable back to the source parasha. If one wishes to mention the verses relating to tzitzis, one must mention all of them. However, to take a few words unrelated to the main thrust of the parasha is okay. Moreover, there seems not to be any problem with taking even portions of verses in this regard; Rashba seems to imply that if we had mentioned the whole final verse, it would have been worse than simply mentioning the final few words, even though these are only a fragment of a single verse. The smaller the fragment, the better.[8] The logic seems to be that what we are really concerned about is citing things out of context. Therefore, if one mentions only a few words, unrelated to the topic of the parasha, indeed to the extent that they form a completely new sentence, one has not violated this prohibition.

Several authorities seem not to have had this understanding of the Rashba’s words, and are troubled by the fact that although he addresses the issue of the partial paragraph, he does nothing to solve the fact that the Israelis have recited two half-verses. They resolve this difficulty by noting that the words recited by the Israelis in fact comprise a complete verse in P’ Acharei Mos (18:1-2). Thus there is no problem regarding having recited a partial verse either. But don’t we simply reencounter the issue of the partial paragraph, this time in the context of Acharei Mos?

8) The Netziv (M’romei Sadeh on B’rachos 12b) writes that whereas it is permissible to end a parasha that one began properly even in the middle, to begin a parasha in the middle is prohibited. Thus there is no problem of reciting these two verses from Acharei Mos, since they are the first two sentences of the parasha.

9) Finally, we would be remiss not to mention the words of R’ Ya’akov Emden, in his notes at the back of the gemara (Kiddushin 30a), where he writes that since we see from that gemara that we are no longer certain of the correct breakdown of the verses of the Torah, the rule of “any stop not made by Moshe…” is not such a practicable one, and that this rule is not strong enough to overturn an established custom. For a similar line of reasoning, albeit concerning a different topic – i.e. the issue of whether or not to leave extra space between verses in the writing of T’fillin – see Magen Avraham on O.C. 32 (#45).

In sum, it seems to me that most authorities feel that there are two separate prohibitions, one relating to paragraphs and one to verses. Certain types of verses are amenable to division, though most are not. In the course of one’s learning, one should be especially careful not to stop within even a single paragraph, unless one intends to carry on at a later point.

Among those scholars who suggested a reason behind this prohibition, one theme is common, which is the need for context in learning. The heart of the problem seems to lie in suggestively quoting Scripture out of context, which might very well lead to misleading understandings. But if the full context will emerge soon enough, there is no problem in pausing momentarily. Indeed, viewed from this vantage point, perhaps it makes sense to differentiate between institutionalized breaks and continuations – i.e. if the Rabbis have instituted that we will continue with the next aliyah momentarily, or if we will recite the next verses from Ha’azinu next Shabbos (see Rosh Hashanah 31a) – and ad hoc ones, such as an individual who wishes to learn Torah and studies a few verses, but is not sure to continue.

* * * * *

All this discussion would seem to lead us into a more general debate over the nature of the pasuk. According to our understanding so far, the pasuk seems to be a way of dividing the Torah so as to make it easier to understand, in that it groups together mutually relevant ideas in manageable sentences. We also suggested that whereas the parasha represents the way in which the Torah was received by Moshe from Hashem, by indicating each new dictate from God, the pasuk seems to have been a Mosaic invention, designed as a teaching mechanism by which he would instruct Israel. Magen Gibborim adds that the notes with which the Torah is read are of a similar status, and that therefore one may make a stop even on a zakef katon or esnachta.

Is this true? What is the relationship between the notes and the sof-pasuk? When were they instituted? In researching the topic of the five verses which have no definitive direction for the email relating to P’ Vayechi, we noted that the cantillation notes written in the Torah were received by Moshe at Mount Sinai along with the rest of the body of the Torah, that they were subsequently forgotten, and that Ezra reestablished a definitive version of them. This is how things are described in Machzor Vitry (# 424). But it isn’t so simple.

The gemara (Nedarim 37a) states that although a teacher is allowed to accept payment for instructing his disciples in “mikra,” the written Torah, he is not permitted to accept compensation for teaching “midrash, halachos and aggados.” It explains that we learn from the example of Moshe Rabbeinu, who was commanded by Hashem to teach the Torah to the Jews for free, that Torah instruction should always be free. So why then is it permitted to accept money for teaching the “mikra”? On this point the gemara brings two opinions: that of Rav, who says that “mikra” is different in that it is usually taught to minors, and that therefore a teacher of “mikra” can be seen as a teacher/babysitter, and can therefore accept payment for the latter task – “s’char shimur”; and that of Rabbi Yochanan, who feels that one can accept recompense not for the teaching of the actual words of the written Torah, but for the teaching of the “pisuk ta’amim,” the notes.

The gemara goes on to ask why it was that Rav didn’t use the reasoning of Rabbi Yochanan to explain the permissibility of accepting a salary for “mikra”; it answers that Rav believed that the “pisuk ta’amim” was a biblical aspect of the Torah, no different from the words themselves which were given to Moshe at Sinai, and which must therefore also be taught for free. At first glance, this would seem to imply that Rabbi Yochanan, who felt that one was justified in accepting payment for the “pisuk ta’amim”, was of the opinion that the ta’amim, the notes, were of a lesser status, perhaps even of rabbinic origin. This understanding is adopted explicitly by the Ran on 37a, and is implied in Tosafos and Rosh as well. And since the rule is that when Rav and R’ Yochanan argue, we follow the opinion of the latter, this would suggest that the notes are of later origin. This is not an idle point: as the Ran points out, the difference between the opinion of Rav and Rabbi Yochanan is that in a case where babysitting was not an issue, i.e. teaching the “mikra” to an adult, Rav would prohibit accepting payment, while Rabbi Yochanan would not, and indeed the halachic authorities do not differentiate between minors and adults in this regard – see Rambam, Talmud Torah 1:7.

Yet there are several rishonim – see Machzor Vitry # 424 (p. 462) and Sefer Chassidim (#302), who state quite simply that the notes are “halacha le-moshe mi-Sinai”, and indeed this seems to be the suggestion of the gemara in a number of other places (see below). So let’s analyze the situation a bit more.

A simple answer to our difficulty is suggested by the Torah T’mimah on D’varim 4:5. He takes exception to the suggestion of the Ran that Rabbi Yochanan could be of the opinion that the notes are not of biblical origin. He notes that all of the “dikdukei soferim,” the minor details of the commandments later expounded upon by the rabbis, were all revealed to Moshe at Sinai anyway (see Megillah 19b). So if Hashem told Moshe, as he did, that the Jews had a right to the same sort of free Torah education that he, Moshe, had received, then would this not include the notes as well?[9] Rather, he suggests that Rabbi Yochanan allows the mikra to be taught, along with the notes, for a fee, is because the notes are not essential to understanding the meaning of the verse, and thus learning the notes is not really considered “learning” in the same way that learning the mikra or the midrash is.

It is interesting that the Yerushalmi, in its discussion of the mishna in Nedarim (4:3), adopts a different approach in explaining why it is permitted to teach the mikra for a fee. It says the laws, the “chukim and mishpatim” referred to in the verse (Devarim 4:5) which teaches us the law of “just like I [Moshe] must teach for free, so too you”, does not include the mikra and targum. The Chasam Sofer[10] in his novellae on Nedarim, explains the Yerushalmi as meaning to say that the obligation to teach for free was only for those bodies of the Torah which were not yet written down – the Oral Torah, as it is called – which necessarily involved a teacher of some sort. The written Torah, by contrast, was open to anyone who cared to read it, as was the Targum (i.e. in the time of the Mishna. This latter assertion is not so obvious, however). Thus the notes, the ta’amim, though they are surely of biblical origin, would come under the same category of something that is available to the public, which could be taught for a salary. While the Bavli is obviously still in disagreement with the Yerushalmi, and the Chasam Sofer’s attempt to say that according to the Yerushalmi even Rabbi Yochanan feels the ta’amim are de’oraisa seems strange to me, still, since the laws regarding other aspects of teaching for pay are derived from that Yerushalmi, perhaps we might view it as being authoritative in this other matter of the ta’amim as well.

In spite of these attempts to disprove the assertion that the notes are of rabbinic provenance, in light of all we’ve said so far, it seems legitimate to state that in all likelihood, the ta’amei ha-mikra are not considered to be a “halacha le-Moshe mi-Sinai.” This raises two interesting questions. First of all, one might wonder whether this is true of all notes, or might we distinguish between the notes and the sof-pasuk, which is perhaps of earlier origin? Furthermore, what halachic ramifications would such a distinction have?

The verse in the book of Nechemiah (8:8) states: “And they read from the Book, from God’s Torah, explained and giving understanding, and they analysed the text.” (Or some translation similar to that.) This verse is explained in a number of places as referring to several different aspects of the Torah. The following represents a summary of the different versions of this analysis.

“And they read from the Book, from God’s Torah”:
1. This is the “mikra” (Bereishis Rabbah (36:8))
2. This is the “mikra” (Yerushalmi Megillah (4:1))
3. This is the “mikra” (Nedarim 37b/Megillah 3a)

1. This is the Targum (Bereishis Rabbah (36:8))
2. This is the Targum (Yerushalmi Megillah (4:1))
3. This is the Targum (Nedarim 37b/Megillah 3a)

“and giving understanding”
1. These are the “ta’amim” (Bereishis Rabbah (36:8))
2. These are the “ta’amim” (Yerushalmi Megillah (4:1))
3. The pesukim (i.e. the sof pasuk) – see Ran (Nedarim 37b/Megillah 3a)

“and they analysed the text.”
1. These are the “rashei pesukim”, Rav Huna ben Luliani says these are the “hach’raos and ra’ayos”, and the Rabbis of Caesarea say this refers to the masores. (Bereishis Rabbah (36:8))
2. This is the masores, and some say the “hach’raos”, and some say the “rashei pesukim” (Yerushalmi Megillah (4:1))
3. This is “pisuk ta’amim”, or some say the masores (Nedarim 37b/Megillah 3a)

There are a number of points to be made here. First of all, one sees here a distinction between the idea of a “sof-pasuk” and the “pisuk ta’amim”, which are counted separately by the Babylonian Talmud. It seems as though the sof-pasuk is seen by the Bavli as being of greater explanatory value than the notes; therefore, it is mentioned earlier on in the verse. Conversely, the Yerushalmi seems to believe that the sof-pasuk – for this is what is meant by “rashi p’sukim,” as the Karban Ha-eidah explains – is of lesser importance than the ta’amim. However, both Talmuds seem quite clear on the fact that these are two different things.

Halachically speaking, I don’t believe there is a difference between the ta’amim and the sof-pasuk. However, once we understand that these are two different things, we can perhaps explain the words of Rema in O.C. 142:1, where he seems to say that we only make the one who reads the Torah repeat a mistake if it involves a misread letter – “afilu be-dikduk os achas,” to cite the words of R’ Y. Caro. If it involves a botched note, however, or it came in the “nikkud”, i.e. “the dots”, then he need not correct himself. Mishnah B’rurah (#4), understanding the word “nikkud” to refer to the vowelization of the word, writes that if the notes or vowels involve a change in the meaning of the verse, then he must also repeat it. Yet it is very difficult to square this with what the Rema actually says.

However, if we understand “nikkud” as referring to the two dots of the sof-pasuk (see Ran on Nedarim 37b), then we can say that Rema is telling us that the notes and the sof-pasuk are not of Mosaic origin, and are therefore less “official” than the actual text of the Torah. As R’ Mordechai Breuer notes in the final chapter of his work, Ta’amei Ha-mikra, there are several situations in which the accepted understanding of a verse contradicts that suggested by the notes. E.g. D’varim 26:5, according to Ibn Ezra. It seems to me that rather than dictating what the explanation of a verse ought to be, the real function of the ta’amim, according to the opinion that they were not given to Moshe at Sinai, was to enshrine the commonly accepted explanation of the verse by punctuating it appropriately. They are descriptive rather than prescriptive. And thus, we cannot definitively say that someone is wrong for mispronouncing the notes on a verse, though we may certainly chide him ("גוערין בו"). Similarly, if the sof-pasuk is not of Mosaic origin, then it makes little sense to speak of “kol pasuk d’la p’sakeh Moshe…” and it is perhaps suggestive that Rav, who holds that the notes are of biblical origin, also believes in the concept of “kol pasuk…” more strongly than does Sh’muel, who says that when necessary, one can divide the verses in novel ways.

By way of conclusion, I would just say that this is a very broad topic that requires much study. I would be very appreciative of any comments people might have, and I thank you for your pertinacity in reading this to its conclusion. When we commemorate our acceptance of the Torah, we ought to know precisely what we received back then.

[1] A more precise translation of “Aseres Ha-d’varim” (Sh’mos 34:28) would of course be “Ten Edicts,” “edict” being based on its Latin etymology meaning “something spoken out”, and also having the connotation of a commandment. However, I will bow here to popular convention and employ the word “commandment” throughout this email.

[2] This is in fact not the only place in which a dual note system is employed: see B’reishis 35:22, and comments of the Minchas Shai ad loc.

[3] The identity of the Ten Commandments is something which has frequently been pointed out to me as being in dispute. If we look at the number of paragraphs, i.e. “parshios”, in the Ten Commandments, we find the number to be ten. The First and Second Commandments seem to have been written in one parasha, while the commandment against coveting is split into two parshios. It has been suggested by Rabbi M. Breuer that there is a possibility that the prohibitions against making idols (verse 4) and bowing to them (verse 5) constitute the actual First and Second Commandments, with verse 2 (“I am Hashem, Your God, etc.”) serving as a preamble. However, from the Targum “Yonasan” and from Yerushalmi B’rachos (1:5) - not to mention Makkos 24a, it seems clear that “I am Hashem, etc.” is #1 and that “there shall be no other gods, etc.” is #2. The reason that the First and Second Commandments are written in a single parasha, as the Be’ur Halacha explains, is because these two Commandments were given straight from Hashem to the Jews, not through the intermediation of Moshe. Why the final commandment is divided into two parshios is unclear to me.

[4] It certainly seems from the Targum “Yonasan” on the Ten Commandments in Yisro that a big deal was made of the targum of these verses. However, see Maseches Sof’rim 18:4, where it seems as though the Targum was in fact not recited on Yom Tov at all, but only on Shabbos. It is possible that there were two types of Targum, one during the Torah reading and one at the end of the service done specifically for the women and children; but I’ve never heard of such a thing. One might suggest that on Shavuos there is a special custom to reiterate the Commandments by translating, for that seems to be precisely the way it occurred at Sinai – see B’rachos 45a: “R’ Shimon ben Pazi said: How do we know that the Meturg’man cannot raise his voice above that of the reader? It says: “Moshe would speak, and Hashem would answer him with a voice” (Sh’mos 19)…why does it say “with a voice? In the same voice as Moshe.” For a general overview of the idea of the Targum in relation to the Torah reading, see Tur and Shulchan Aruch O.C. 145.
[5] We find several instances in which a single verse is split into two paragraphs. See, for instance, B’reishis 35:22, Yehoshua 4:1. I’m not sure of the significance of this, especially in the second example.
[6] The fact that we end aliyos in the middle of a paragraph, explains Arugas Ha-bosem, is to be accounted for by the fact that the sages who instituted those stops knew that they did not occur in the middle of a verse. According to this reasoning, he concludes that it is forbidden to create a “hosafa” by stopping in the middle of a paragraph. However, this whole line of reasoning appears to me to be faulty, since it is hardly clear that the current division of the aliyos is as ancient as he makes out. The gemara (Megillah 29b) relates that the custom in Israel was to complete the Torah on a three-year cycle.

[7] The Magen Gibborim answers this question, saying that the real objection of Rav to splitting the verse at the esnachta is that such a half verse does not constitute the third verse of the aliya, and we would still have the problem of having stopped within two verses of a parasha. (This explanation is also given by S’fas Emes).

[8] See also Responsa Rav Pa’alim O.C. Vol. 1 # 11.

[9] This is based on a particular understanding of what “dikdukei soferim” actually means. Mahara”tz Chayes writes in his notes on the gemara in Megillah, as well as in a number of his other works, that the term refers to laws “built into” the Torah text through the mechanism of the thirteen hermeneutic principles by which we permitted to analyze the Torah; in this regard, an institution of purely rabbinic invention, such as reading the megillah, or, potentially, the ta’amim, would not necessarily have been explicitly revealed to Moshe at Sinai. See the introduction of the Netziv to his commentary of the She’iltos (Kidmas Ha’emek) for a similar understanding of the gemara in Megillah.

[10] See the commentary of the Netziv, “Ha’amek Davar”, on Vayikra 18:5 for a lengthy explanation of this Yerushalmi and similar treatments of “chukim and mishpatim”, which he says usually refer to: 1) the thirteen hermeneutic principles and 2) laws learned from those thirteen principles, respectively. Though this approach differs from that of the Chasam Sofer, it nonetheless yields a similar conclusion, namely that the ta’amim are also excluded from the prohibition against teaching for pay.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 30 - Highlights


The Gemora cites a braisa which relates an incident that occurred in Yavneh after the Sanhedrin had been exiled there. Rosh Hashanah fell out on Shabbos and all the people from the surrounding cities came to Yavneh to hear the shofar. The Sages stated that they should resolve first if they are allowed to blow. Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai disagreed and they blew the shofar without ruling on its permissibility. Afterwards, they asked Rabban Yochanan to decide if this practice should be continued and he responded that they can continue to blow on Shabbos in Yavneh. He explained that since the shofar was blown already, we cannot contest what Beis Din has already done. (29b)

Rav Huna rules that a private individual may blow in Yavneh on Shabbos, providing that he is in the presence of Beis Din. In Yerushalayim, an individual was permitted to blow even when he was not in the presence of Beis Din. The Gemora unsuccessfully challenges Rav Huna from the Mishna. (29b – 30a)


 The Gemora offers a different version of Rav Huna’s ruling. He stated that every individual is obligated to blow the shofar on Yom Kippur of the Yovel year; however they can only blow during the time that the Beis Din is in session. The Gemora unsuccessfully challenges the viewpoint of Rav Huna from two different braisos. The Gemora cites a statement from Rebbe Chiya that corroborates the second version of Rav Huna. (30a)


 The Mishna had stated that any place which could see Yerushalayim, could hear, was near and could come to Yerushalayim was also able to blow on Shabbos. The Gemora clarifies as to which places are excluded based on these conditions. A city that rests in a valley cannot see Yerushalayim. A city which is on top of a mountain cannot hear sounds from Yerushalayim. A city that is located outside of the techum boundary of Yerushalayim is excluded because the people in that city are not close to Yerushalayim. If there is a river separating the city and Yerushalayim, this is regarded as a city where the people cannot come to Yerushalayim. All these cities will not be able to shofar on Rosh Hashanah when it falls out on Shabbos. (30a)


 The Mishna states that originally, the mitzvah of lulav was for seven days in the Beis Hamikdosh and for one day outside the Beis Hamikdosh. After the destruction of the second Beis Hamikdosh, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted that the lulav should be taken for all seven days of Sukkos as a commemoration to the Beis Hamikdosh.

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai also instituted that one is not permitted to eat from the new grain the entire day of the sixteenth of Nissan. In the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, the new grain could only be eaten after the omer offering was brought on the sixteenth of Nissan. Subsequent to the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, one was biblically permitted to eat the new grain on the sixteenth of Nissan in the morning. Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai was concerned, however, that the Beis Hamikdosh may be built the following year on the night of the sixteenth of Nissan and there would not be enough time to prepare the omer offering. People might then say that the new grain will be permitted in the morning just as it was the previous year. This assumption would be erroneous, because the previous year there was no Beis Hamikdosh, thus there was no possibility of offering the omer, and for that reason the new grain was permitted in the morning. During the present year, however, there is a Beis Hamikdosh, and one must wait for the offering of the omer or one must wait until the end of the day. Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai therefore instituted that one was prohibited from eating the new grain the entire day of the sixteenth of Nissan. (30a)


 The Mishna states that initially the Sanhedrin, High Court, would accept all day the testimony of witnesses who had sighted the new moon. Once the witnesses were delayed in their arrival and the Leviim sang the wrong psalm to accompany the afternoon tamid sacrifice, because being that it was the thirtieth day of Elul, they sang the regular weekday psalm and afterwards they were informed that the day was declared to be Rosh Hashanah. The Chachamim thus instituted that witnesses would only be accepted until the afternoon tamid sacrifice was offered, and if the witnesses arrived after the afternoon tamid sacrifice was offered, then that day and the following day were deemed to be a Yom Tov. After the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh, Rabban Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted that they would accept the witnesses the entire day. (30b)


 The Gemora inquires as to what was the Leviim’s mistake regarding the psalm. In Bavel, they explained that the Leviim did not sing a psalm at all that day. Reb Zeira maintains that they recited the weekday psalm by the afternoon tamid. (30b)

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 30 - Shir shel Yom by Mincha

It is evident from the Gemora Rosh Hashana (30b) that the Leviim would sing a shira by the korban tamid in the afternoon as well. The Maharam Alshich is bothered as to why we do not recite a shir shel yom nowadays by mincha? He answers that since it is ruled that if the Leviim did not sing the shirah in the afternoon, the korban will become passul, they could not institute that we who do not have the korban should recite the shir (in the morning, it is not meakev).

The Magen Avrohom (132:14) offers two answers. Firstly, he cites Tosfos who rules that if the libations of the afternoon were not brought until the evening, they could be offered the entire night, however the shirah cannot be sung then since they didn't sing at night. Since there would be times in the Beis Hamikdosh that they did not sing the shirah in the afternoon (when the nesachim were delayed until the evening), the Chachamim didn't institute that we should recite it by mincha.

Secondly, he answers, that the halacha was that after the korban tamid was offered on the mizbeach, they didn't sing the shirah. Shirah was only sung before the tamid was completed. The Chachamim could not institute that we should recite the shir shel yom after mincha since mincha is corresponding to the korban tamid and after the tamid, they could not sing shirah anymore.

The Chasam Sofer in Beitza (4b) answers that there are two reasons as to why we say the parsha of korbanos and the avodos that were performed in the Beis Hamikdosh nowadays. Firstly, we recite these parshiyos based on the verse which says that our lips are regarded as the offering of the korbanos. There is another reason as well. The reciting of these tefilos is indicating our desire and anxiousness for the rebuilding of the Beis Hamikdosh in our time. In the morning, we do not have the second explanation in mind. The halacha is that the mizbeach is only inaugurated with the offering of the aftrenoon tamid. Even if the Beis Hamikdosh would be built today, we would not be able to offer the morning tamid. Our primary kavanah in the morning is that our tefilos should be accepted as if we were offering the korbanos. In the afternoon, the primary kavanah we should have is to signify our desire to see the Beis Hamikdosh built speedily and if the Beis Hamikdosh would be built at that moment (which is what we should be thinking), there would not be a shirah sung, since the Beis Yosef (51) rules that shirah will not be sung in the times of the third Beis Hamikdosh (except mizmor l'sodah). It is for this reason that we do not recite the shir shel yom by mincha for it will prevent us from having our correct kavanos.

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 30 - Descending from Heaven

Rabban Yochanan ben Zakai instituted that one is not permitted to eat from the new grain the entire day of the sixteenth of Nissan. In the times of the Bais HaMikdash, the new grain could only be eaten after the omer offering was brought on the sixteenth of Nissan. Subsequent to the destruction of the Bais HaMikdash, one was biblically permitted to eat the new grain on the sixteenth of Nissan in the morning. Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai was concerned, however, that the Bais HaMikdash may be built the following year on the night of the sixteenth of Nissan and there would not be enough time to prepare the omer offering. People might then say that the new grain will be permitted in the morning just as it was the previous year. This assumption would be erroneous, because the previous year there was no Bais HaMikdash, thus there was no possibility of offering the omer, and for that reason the new grain was permitted in the morning. During the present year, however, there is a Bais HaMikdash and one must wait for the offering of the omer or one must wait until the end of the day. Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakkai therefore instituted that one was prohibited from eating the new grain the entire day of the sixteenth of Nissan.

Rashi wonders how the Bais HaMikdash could be built on the night of the sixteenth of Nissan, as the Gemara in Shevuos 15b states that the Bais HaMikdash cannot be built at night. Rashi answers that it is only regarding a Bais HaMikdash built by humans that there is a restriction of building it at night. The third Bais HaMikdash, however, will descend from Heaven miraculously, thus there are no restrictions regarding the building of the third Bais HaMikdash.

The Maharil Diskin is troubled by this answer, as the Jewish People have an obligation to build the Bais HaMikdash, so why would HaShem prevent us from performing this mitzvah?

The Maharil Diskin answers based on a Medrash in Eicha that states that when the Bais HaMikdash was destroyed, the gates of the Bais HaMikdash sank into the ground and in the future, the Jewish People will excavate the gates and affix them to the Bais HaMikdash. The Gemara in Bava Basra rules that one who secures the gates in an ownerless field is deemed to be the one who acquires the field. Thus, we will fulfill the mitzvah of building the Bais HaMikdash when we secure the gates of the Bais HaMikdash. This can also be the explanation of the words that we recite in the Shemone Esrei of Mussaf on the festivals, show us its rebuilding and gladden us in its perfection. The word for perfection is tikkuno, which can allude to the securing of the Bais HaMikdash gates.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 29 - Highlights


Rava maintains that mitzvos do not require intent. Abaye questions that according to Rava, one who sleeps in a sukkah on the eighth day of Sukkos should receive thirty-nine lashes for doing a mitzva for an extra day. (If one would disagree with Rava, this would not be a question since we would say that intent is needed in order to transgress the prohibition of “do not add.” Rava answers that the prohibition of adding on to a mitzva only applies during the designated time of the mitzva but not afterwards. Rav Shemen bar Abba asked from a braisa which rules that a kohen who adds a blessing to the Priestly Blessings is transgressing the prohibition of adding on to a mitzva even though the mitzva was completed already. The Gemora answers that it is still considered the designated time of the mitzva since the kohanim would bless Klal Yisroel again if there were people that weren’t blessed yet. The Gemora concludes that Rava holds one can fulfill his obligation without intent; however in regards to the prohibition of adding to a mitzva it would depend. If it is during the mitzva’s designated time, he will be subject to the prohibition of “do not add” even without intent; however after the designated time, one can only transgress the prohibition of adding to a mitzva if he has intent to fulfill the mitzva. (28b)


Reb Zeira maintains that the person blowing the shofar must have intent to cause the listener to fulfill his obligation. The Gemora asks on this from the Mishna which states that a person who happens to be walking in back of a shul and he hears the sound of the shofar, he has fulfilled his obligation. In this case, the blower is not having in mind to blow for the listener behind the shul. The Gemora answers that we are referring to one who is blowing for the entire community. He has in mind for anyone that may be listening. The Gemora concludes that it is actually a dispute amongst the Tannaim if the blower needs to have intent to cause the listener to fulfill his obligation. (28b – 29a)


 The Mishna states that whenever Moshe held up his hand, Israel prevailed against Amalek. The Mishna asks, do Moshe's hands make or break the battle? Rather, this teaches you that so long as Israel were looking upwards and subjugating their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they were victorious; if not, they would fall. Similarly, we find, 'Make a seraph figure and mount it on a standard; anyone who is bitten should look at it and shall recover'. Does the brass snake kill or cure? Rather, when Israel looked upwards and subjugated their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they were cured. If not, they would wither. (Courtesy of The Mishna concludes that a deaf person, one who is senseless or a minor cannot blow shofar for anyone else. The Mishna states a rule that one who is obligated in the mitzva can cause someone else to fulfill his mitzva. (29a)


 The Gemora cites a braisa which discusses the types of people that are obligated in the mitzva of shofar. Included in this listing are kohanim. The Gemora discusses the novelty of this ruling and explains that since the blowing on Rosh Hashanah is compared to the blowing on Yovel and kohanim are not included in all the halachos of Yovel, perhaps they are not obligated in the mitzva of shofar on Rosh Hashanah as well. (29a)


 The Gemora cites a ruling from the braisa regarding one who is a half-slave and half-freeman. The braisa rules that he cannot blow shofar for anyone. Rav Huna infers from the braisa that he can blow for himself and he will fulfill his obligation. Rav Nachman disagrees and maintains that he cannot blow for himself. The reasoning for this is because his enslaved part cannot come and cause his free part to fulfill the mitzva. A braisa is cited which corroborates Rav Nachman’s viewpoint. (29a)


 Ahava the son of Reb Zeira teaches that one can make a blessing for another even if he already fulfilled his obligation for that particular blessing. This is due to the principle that all Jews are responsible for each other and it is considered as if the one reciting the blessing is still obligated in the blessing. This rule does not apply to blessings on enjoyment. One who already recited such a blessing cannot cause someone else to fulfill his obligation by reciting the blessing for him. The Gemora states regarding kiddush on Shabbos or Yom Tov that one can recite kiddush for someone else even though he previously recited Kiddush himself. (29a – 29b)


 The first Mishna of the fourth perek discusses the halachos of blowing shofar when Rosh Hashanah falls out on Shabbos. The Mishna states that they would blow in the Beis Hamikdosh but not in the surrounding cities. Once the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed, Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai instituted that they should blow any place that there was a Beis Din. Rabbi Elozar said that this practice was only done by the Beis Din of Yavneh. The Mishna states further that any place which could see Yerushalayim, could hear, was near and could come to Yerushalayim was also able to blow on Shabbos. Regarding Yavneh, they were only able to blow in Yavneh and nowhere else.

The Gemora initially cites Scriptural verses proving that the shofar is not blown on Shabbos except in the Beis Hamikdosh. The Gemora successfully challenges that and presents a different reason. Rava states that it is Biblically permitted to sound the shofar on Shabbos but the Rabbis were concerned that not everyone knew how to blow the shofar. They might take it to an expert to learn how to blow it and in the process carry it four amos in a public domain. (29b)

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 29 - Power of Tefillah

The Mishna states that whenever Moshe held up his hand, Israel prevailed [against Amalek]…'. The Mishna asks, do Moshe's hands make or break the battle? Rather, this teaches you that so long as Israel were looking upwards and subjugating their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they were victorious; if not, they would fall.

The Netziv in Merumei Sadeh asks on the Mishna's question. What was so strange about Moshe's hands making the battle? Didn't Moshe's hands split the sea and perform other miracles as well through his hand?

He answers that the fight against Amalek had to be won in a natural way and not through a miracle. Perhaps we can add that fighting Amalek is in essense the fight that we have daily with our evil inclination. This fight could not be left to miracles. This is what is bothering the Mishna. Could the battle have been won through Moshe's hands like the other miracles? The Mishna's answer is no, it could not have been since this battle required a victory through natural means.

Let us examine the answer of the Mishna. Rather, this teaches you that so long as Israel were looking upwards and subjugating their hearts to their Father in Heaven, they were victorious; if not, they would fall. Isn't the Mishna stating that they relied on a miracle from Above. They looked upwards and they were victorious. How can this be explained?

The Gemora in Kiddushin (29b) relates an incident with Abaye and Rav Acha bar Yaakov. There was a certain demon that haunted Abaye's Beis Medrash, so that when two people entered, even by day, they were injured. Abaye instructed the community not to provide Rav Acha shelter when he would arrive in the city, thus forcing the father to spend the night at the Beis Medrash; perhaps a miracle will happen [in his merit]. Rav Acha entered the city and spent the night in that Beis Medrash, during which the demon appeared to him in the guise of a seven-headed dragon. Every time Rav Acha fell on his knees in prayer one head fell off. The next day he reproached them: ‘Had not a miracle occurred, you would have endangered my life.'

The Maharsha in his commentary to Kiddushin asks that how did Abaye have permission to place Rav Acha in such a precarious position. One is forbidden to rely on a miracle? He answers that Abaye understood the potency of Rav Acha's prayer. Abaye was certain that Rav Acha's prayers to the Almighty would be answered and that this is not a miracle. Hashem has instilled in this world the power of prayer and incorporated it into the natural order of the world.

This is what our Mishna is answering. Amalek has to be defeated through natural means and that is what Klal Yisroel did at that time. They cried out to Hashem and subjugated their hearts towards Him and were answered.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - Highlights


The Mishna discusses the halacha of a shofar that that was punctured and then closed up. The braisa states that whether it was sealed with material of a shofar or other material, it is still unfit for use. Rabbi Nosson maintains that if he sealed it with material from a shofar, the shofar is fit for use. Rabbi Yochanan qualified Rabbi Nosson’s ruling and states that the shofar will be valid when it was sealed with material from a shofar only in a case that a majority of the shofar remained intact. (27b)

The braisa rules that if a shofar is cracked along its width, it will be valid providing that there is still enough of the shofar remaining that the blower can hold the shofar in his hand and portions of the shofar will be visible on either side of his hands. (27b)


 One who blows into a pit and hears the sound of the shofar’s echo does not fulfill the mitzva. Rav Huna explains the ruling of the Mishna to be referring to the people who are standing outside the pit; however those that are inside the pit have fulfilled their obligation since they do not hear the sound of the echo. The Gemora cites contradictory braisos regarding blowing into a pit and reconciles them through Rav Huna’s distinction. (27b)


 Rabbah rules that if one blows inside a pit and comes up from the pit while he was blowing; he has discharged his obligation. We are not concerned that he will lift his head out of the pit while the shofar is still inside the pit and therefore he will be hearing the echo of the shofar. If one heard a portion of the sound of the shofar before dawn and the remainder afterwards: he does not fulfill his obligation since one must hear the shofar when it is daytime. (27b – 28a)


 Rav Yehuda rules that one should not blow with a shofar from a korban olah but if he did, he fulfills his obligation. If one blew with a shofar from a korban shelamim, he does not fulfill his obligation. This distinction is based on the halachos of me’ilah. A korban olah is subject to the laws of me’ilah and therefore once the korban is used for his own purposes, he has committed me’ilah and the shofar loses its sanctity and he has fulfilled his mitzva. A shelamim is not subject to the laws of me’ilah and therefore retains its sanctity and that is why he does not fulfill his mitzva with it. Rava disagrees and maintains that he does not fulfill his obligation with a korban olah either. This is because the me’ilah does not take effect until after he used the shofar. Rava retracts from his rulings and rules that he fulfills the mitzva by an olah and a shelamim. The reason given is because mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit; rather they were given as a yoke upon a person. (28a)


 If one makes a vow not to derive benefit from his friend, it is permitted for his friend to blow shofar for him. This is because of Rava’s statement in the Gemora that the mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit; rather they were given as a yoke upon one’s neck.

Rava states further that if one makes a vow not to derive benefit from a spring, he may immerse himself in a spring during the winter season but not during the summer. This is because there is a physical pleasure derived from the spring during the summer. (28a)


 They sent to the father of Shmuel a halacha that if the Persians forced someone to eat matzah on Pesach night, he has fulfilled his obligation. Rava states that this would indicate that one who blows a shofar on Rosh Hashanah for the purpose of playing a song (or to chase away evil spirits) and not for the sake of the mitzva has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora states that there is a distinction between the two cases. Perhaps one needs proper intent in order to fulfill the mitzva and he will not have discharged his obligation by shofar but by matzah, he has. The reason offered in the Gemora is that by matzah, even though he was coerced, he nonetheless ate the matzah and derived pleasure from it. The fact that he derived benefit from the matzah attributes the eating to him even though he did not have proper intention for the mitzva. The Gemora states that it appears from here that Rava would maintain that mitzvos do not require intent in order to fulfill the mitzvah. The Gemora qualifies this ruling that even if one can fulfill the mitzva without intending to, he must know that a shofar is being blown and it was not merely the braying of a donkey. (28a – 28b)

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - Eating Matzah Without Reclining

The Gemora state that if the Persians forced someone to eat matzah, he has fulfilled his obligation of eating Matzah on Pesach.

Rav Shach asks that the person should not be considered as if he discharged his obligation since he ate the matzah without reclining and the halacha is that one who eats matzah without leaning has not fulfilled his mitzvah. He continues that even if he did recline it should not be regarded as leaning because reclining under duress being forced to eat) is the exact opposite of freedom and the sole purpose of the obligation to recline is in order to indicate freedom.

Rav Elyashiv shlita, in his Haggadah shel Pesach answers that a person that has the ability to recline and doesn’t has not fulfilled his obligation of eating matzah while leaning since he is lacking in the mitzvah of showing freedom; however someone who cannot recline is not regarded as being deficient in the mitzvah of leaning. A student by his Rebbe or a kohen in the Temple Courtyard fulfills the mitzvah of eating matzah even though they can not recline.

Reb Dovid Solovetchik shilta answers that the case is speaking about where the person did recline and the action of leaning is sufficient for one to fulfill the mitzvah even though the person is not feeling freedom.

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - Deriving Benefit from a Mitzva by Reb Jay

If one makes a vow not to derive benefit from his friend and his friend blew shofar for him, he has fulfilled his obligation. This is because of Rava’s statement in the Gemora that the mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit, rather they were given as a yoke upon one’s neck.

The Ran cites an interesting Baal Hameor who writes that this is so only if the mitzva was a Biblical mitzva; however, for a Rabbinical mitzva, for example a person who made a vow not to derive benefit from his friend and his friend blew trumpets on a fast day (which is only a Rabbinical mitzva), he must leave the shul, as we do not say that the mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit by a Rabbinical mitzva.

The Ran questions that if so, how can the person stay past the first nine blasts on Rosh Hashanah, as the remaining blasts are not Biblical but Rabbinic? Perhaps we can answer that evn though the remaining blasts are Rabbinic but they are considered to be part of the Biblical mitzva.

What is the difference between a Biblical mitzva for which we say that the mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit and a Rabbinical mitzva that we do not? How are we to understand this Baal Hameor?

Mitzvos were not given for the sake of deriving benefit means that the mitzvos are given as yoke upon one’s neck. Perhaps we can say that a Biblical mitzva is qualitatively stronger than a Rabbinical mitzva (for example when it comes to a doubt on a Biblical mitzva, we rule stringently and yet we are lenient on a Rabbinical mitzva). Therefore, the strength of the commandment that is Biblical negates any benefit from the mitzva. A Rabbinical mitzva, however, is not as strong and cannot negate the benefit from the mitzva.

The Keser Dovid elaborates and writes that while a Biblical mitzva has one step (from Hashem to us directly), a Rabbinical mitzva has two steps, from Hashem to us via the mitzva of “lo sassur” - do not sway from the teachings of the Sages.

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - Coerced to Perform a Mitzvah

Divrei Chaim on Kavanah

do hechsher mitzvos require kavanah?
Hope everyone had a nice Rosh haShana!
The Rishonim and Achronim offer numerous answers to explain why the Rambam paskens like Rava (chameitz u'matzah 6:3) that one is yotzei matzah even if coerced to eat and has no kavanah to fulfill a mitzvah but by shofar the Rambam paskens (2:4) like R' Zeira that one is not yotzei shofar without kavanah to fulfill the mitzvah. Putting that issue aside, the Yom Teruah asks: the gemara (Kesubos 86) writes that if one refuses to build a sukkah or make a lulav Bais Din imposes malkos until the person relents and does the mitzvah - doesn't this prove Rava's point that mitzvos fulfillment can be coerced and kavanah is not integral? The Yom Teruah distinguishes between the matzah case where the coercion is done by Persians who certainly have no mitzvah kavanah and the case of coercion by Bais Din which is done with their intent to see a mitzvah fulfilled. The Aruch laNer says this distinction is irrelevant - the kavanah of Bais Din is no substitute for the person's own kavanah. Aruch laLer offers an interesting distinction between eating matzah, which itself is a mitzvah, and building a sukkah or making a lulav, which are just hechsheirim to allow the person to accomplish the mitzvah act. Mitzvos tzerichos kavanah, but hechsheirim that enable the mitzvah to be performed do not.

Bill Selliger said...
From the context it’s clear that the gemara is not relating to these actions as hechsheirim. Firstly, they’re being compared to mitzvos lo saseh. Is there a hechsher for a mitzvas lo saseh? Also, do you really believe that B”D will kill someone for not being “machshir”?! For all they know, he can sit in someone else’s sukka! It must be where the individual has declared that he is not going to be eating in a sukka or not shaking a lulav. In that case, B”D can hit him until he acquiesces to perform the mitzvah – not build the sukka or tie the lulav.

Also, can you please provide the location of the AL"N? Thanks.

1:07 PM

Chaim B. said...
The Aruch l'Ner is on RH 28 or 29 (somewhere around there). If someone says I am not building a sukkah because I will use my friend's, then I think you are right that bais din will not interfere. But if someone a week before sukkos says I am not building a sukkah because I do not want to do the mitzvah, then i don't think it is so far-fetched to think the coercion is on the act of building sukkah, not just the yeshivas sukkah. Anyway, that's where he says it.

1:27 PM

Bill Selliger said...
Interesting also, because you see that the AL"N holds that the hechsher does not necessarily share the din of the "parent" mitzva. See Tosafos to Shabbos 131a d"h Lo.

This relates to the question of making a birchas ha'torah before learning Alef Bais (assuming learning A"B is a hechsher). Perhaps according to the AL"N one would not make that bracha. Hechsheirim are unique, independent, and autonomous actions - that happen to lead to a mitzva.

2:28 PM

kishnevi said...
What about the issues of active versus passive and partial fulfillment versus complete fulfillment.
Eating is an active act (so to speak)--no one can throw the matzah into your mouth on the odd chance that you will swallow it (and even if you do, you can spit it out); whereas listening is a passive act--the sound of the shofar is, so to speak, thrown into your ear, and you can't (short of earplugs or the Talmudic equivalent thereof) spit out the sound. So eating matzah automatically requires intention (of eating the matzah, even if not performing the mitvah of matzah), but hearing shofar does not. Therefore actual kavanah is required for the latter and not the former. Perhaps the relevant case here is the question of kavanah of saying the Shma as part of studying that section of Devarim, and not as part of the regular tefilah.

And building the sukkah is merely preparation for sitting in the sukkah. I could, theoretically, build a sukkah and then give it to my neighbor for his use, and never sit it in it myself. So building the sukkah is just partial fulfillment. This may not be what the Aruch LaLer was saying, but I think it's pretty close.

(Jeffrey Smith)

10:56 PM

Chaim B. said...
the achronim make a chiluk between eating and listening to answer the rambam.

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - All about Kavanah discusses the kavanah that is required by mitzvos.


Rabbi Yitzchok Etshalom
Kriat Shema 2:1
1. If someone is reading Sh'ma and does not direct his heart during [the recitation of] the first verse, which is Sh'ma Yisra'el, he has not fulfilled his obligation. As for the rest [of K'riat Sh'ma], if he did not direct his heart, yatza.

Even if he was reading from the Torah in his usual fashion, or proofreading these Parashiot during the time of reading, yatza; as long as he directs his heart during the first verse.


K'riat Sh'ma and Kavanah
Yitzchak Etshalom

The Mishna in Berakhot (2:1) reads: "If he was reading from the Torah (Rashi: the section of K'riat Sh'ma) and the time for reading (Rashi: The time for K'riat Sh'ma) arrived; if he directed his heart, Yatza; if not, Lo Yatza..."

The first impression we get from this Mishna is that K'riat Sh'ma demands *Kavanah* - intent. In other words, in order to fulfill the Mitzva, not only must you read these words properly, you must also do so with the intention of fulfilling the Mitzva. This is the easiest and straightest read of the Mishna; since the person is "reading" these Parashiot anyways, the only plausible component missing would be his intent (or, more accurately, motivation). Since the Mishna avers that he is not *Yotze* (= does not fulfill the Mitzva) without that intent, it follows that intent of proper motivation is, at least in the case of K'riat Sh'ma, a necessary requirement.

The Gemara (Berakhot 13a) immediately pounces on this implication - as the issue of *Mitzvot Tz'rikhot Kavanah* (Mitzvot require intent) is a well-known and highly commented-upon dispute (see BT Rosh HaShana 28). If the intent of our Mishna is to require Kavana for K'riat Sh'ma - that would seemingly settle the dispute (which is highly unlikely, considering that Amora'im debate it - and they were all well familiar with our Mishna, which is unanimously accepted.)


The Gemara clarifies that our Mishna is referring to a case where the person is *Koreh l'hagia* - i.e. is proofreading the text (e.g. checking a Sefer Torah, Mezuza or Tefillin for validity).

Rashi explains that he is not intending to "read" - i.e. not only is he not intending to fulfill the Mitzva of K'riat Sh'ma, he isn't even intending to perform an act of reading. In other words, if - during the time for K'riat Sh'ma - someone is proofreading from a Sefer Torah and reaches the section in Devarim (6:4-9) which includes K'riat Sh'ma - if he continues to "proof" the text, he is not Yotze K'riat Sh'ma. He must at least intend to "read". It is unclear from this Rashi if the missing component is purely intent - or if this "intent" to proofread means that the verbal recitation is also not done properly.

R. Hai Ga'on (Otzar haGeonim, 1: Perushim: p. 12) explains the case in a similar way: "...because you have to intend a *K'riah*, at the very least."

Tosafot (Berakhot 13a s.v. b'Koreh) understands Rashi's comment as directed exclusively to the issue of intent - and Tosafot challenges this, since, after all, he is reading the proper words! Tosafot therefore offers an alternative explanation: When proofreading the text, he is verbalizing the words in their written form, ignoring the proper Masoretic vocalization. Tosafot sees the problem as rooted in the verbalization of K'riat Sh'ma, since intent is a non-issue. (See, however, Rashi in Rosh Hashana (28b s.v. Koreh) where he interprets our case as "there isn't even reading here, rather mumbling". This fits much better with Tosafot's understanding and may be the intent of Rashi's words in Berakhot.)

In summary: The Mishna implies that some measure of intent is necessary to fulfill the Mitzva of K'riat Sh'ma. The Gemara immediately "transfers" this demand to a need for proper reading. This could either mean vocalization and clear reading (Tosafot), or vocalizing with intent to read (as opposed to proofreading.) (R. Hai Ga'on). It should be noted that many Rishonim comment on this issue; some reading like Tosafot and the others like R. Hai.


Until now, we have dealt exclusively with two types of Kavana which are universal:

(a) Intent to perform a particular action ("Awareness") and

(b) Intent to perform an action for a particular purpose ("Motivation").

Many Rishonim note that, in reference to K'riat Sh'ma, there are three issues of Kavana - the above-mentioned two, which are universal (apply to all Mitzvot) - and a third, which is relatively local to K'riat Sh'ma. (By relatively local - I mean that it may apply to some other Mitzvot, such as Tefilla - but it is in no wise a universal issue, applicable to all Mitzvot).

Rabbenu Meir of Narbonne (Sefer haM'orot, p. 58 - Blau edition) and Rabbenu Meshulam of Beziers (Sefer haHashlama, p.199- Blau edition) among others, list "three types of Kavanah in K'riat Sh'ma" - the two already mentioned and a third: "Kavanat haLev".

Rabbenu Manoach of Narbonne (Sefer haMenuchah, p. 15, Horwitz edition) has a slightly different formulation: "There are three types of Kavanah:

(a) Kavanat Malkhut Shamayim (intent to accept God's rule)

(b) Kavanat haLev

(c) Kavanat K'riah (intent to read)."

(They also mention a fourth intent which is associated with not doing work while reading - this will be discussed when we get to Halakhot 3 &4 in our chapter).


The Gemara (Berakhot 13) discusses the issue of "Kavana", as indicated by the textual reference in the Sh'ma itself: "...and these words which I am commanding you today shall be ON YOUR HEART...". Whereas R. Eliezer sees "these words" as exclusive - that only the words up to this point (the first two or three verses) must be "on your heart", R. Akiva stresses the next phrase: "which I am commanding you today" - as indicating that even those commandments which follow this verse must be "on your heart." The Gemara later brings the following: " *Sh'ma Yisrael...Echad* - Kavanat haLev is only needed until this point. - these are the words of R. Meir. Rava says: the Halakha follows R. Meir['s opinion]."

It is clear that the "Kavana" discussed here is different from that associated with most Mitzvot. First of all, the verse which is being used as a source is a uniquely "K'riat Sh'ma" verse. Second - there would be no reason to assign the need for Kavana to a part of the Mitzva if it were the usual type of Kavana. This is why the term "Kavanat haLev" - lit. "direction/intent of the heart" is introduced.

The usual understanding of Kavanat haLev is "meaning" - i.e. thinking about the meaning of the words as they are being vocalized. As opposed to "Awareness" - which merely demands association of the action with deliberation - and "Motivation" - which (and this is, as mentioned, subject to debate in the Gemara) requires association of the action with a stated goal, "Kavanat haLev", which we will translate as "Meaning", demands a much more concious cognitive relationship with the action.

Awareness and motivation may be achieved with a moment's thought; it is certainly not assumed that awareness need be present throughout the entire performance of a Mitzva. Neither is it to be assumed that, if Mitzvot demand proper motivation, that said motivation must be "present" the whole time. On the other hand, the demand for "meaning" is applied to every word (within the scope of the requirement - first verse, first 2 or 3 verses or first Parasha).

The general approach within the Rishonim (who, by and large, accept Rava's ruling that the Halakha follows R. Meir) is that Kavanat haLev - meaning - is a sine qua non for the first verse only.

In summary - in order to fulfill the Mitzva of K'riat Sh'ma, you must intend to be "reading" (as presented in paragraph I above); and, depending on the position taken regarding the requirement of "proper motivation", you may need to intend, through this reading, to fulfill the Mitzva of K'riat Sh'ma.

In addition, while reading the first verse, you need to think about the meaning of the words while reading them.

By the way, Rambam uses two terms for "meaning" throughout the MT - "Kavanat haLev" and "Kavanat haDa'at" (See MT De'ot 3:2; see also MT Nedarim 13:23). Whereas Kavanat haLev translates as "thinking about the words" or, in the case of Teruma (MT Terumot 4:21), "imputing greater meaning to an act than is obvious" (which is, ultimately, what Kavanat haLev in K'riat Sh'ma accomplishes); Kavanat haDa'at seems to mean "directing your activities to a greater goal."

In other words, Kavanat haLev is local to the specific action - it reflects a union of cognition and verbalization. Kavanat haDa'at, on the other hand, refers to a motivation for a given action within the context of a greater goal. For example, making vows of abstinence in order to improve a character trait which has been sullied - the specific action (making an vow) is part of a larger program of self-improvement.


R. Aharon haLevi - the R'ah - was a student of Ramban and one of Ritba's mentors (that puts him in Spain during the 14th century). Although he has been cast as the anonymous author of the Sefer haHinukh - recent scholarship seems to point away from this conclusion. (See Kafih's notes in his introduction to Ritba's Responsa).

In his commentary on Berakhot, R'ah steers away from the general position adopted by the Rishonim regarding Kavanat haLev. When describing the "three types of Kavana", he identifies the third (unique to K'riat Sh'ma) as: "Kavanat haLev in each and every word - not Kavana to fulfill the Mitzva; rather, he should intend himself at every single word to God, according to his capability." Unlike the cognitive "Kavanat haLev" of the other Rishonim - thinking about the meaning of every word - he reads Kavanat haLev as devotional intention. He then applies this level of Kavana exclusively to the first verse. In other words, he rules like Rava, interpreting the "Kavanat haLev" of R. Meir as devotional. Why did R'ah understand our Gemara in this fashion?

I have introduced the connection between Talmud Torah and K'riat Sh'ma several times in these shiurim. It seems clear from the Gemara and Rishonim that K'riat Sh'ma, if not sourced in Talmud Torah, maintains a strong Talmud Torah component. There are, properly speaking, three modes of Talmud Torah (see MT Talmud Torah 1:11) - "K'riah" (reading); "Shinun" (repetition/internalization & absorption of material); "Iyun" (analysis). However, there is a significant difference between "K'riah" and "Shinun". Whereas K'riah can be fulfilled without understanding the words, Shinun cannot. For example, if someone reads from the Torah publicly and isn't paying attention to the meaning of the words (he's too caught up in parsing correctly or the tune), he and the community have fulfilled the Mitzva of the public reading of the Torah. This is also be true in the case of someone who reviews the weekly Parasha or reads any other part of T'nakh (Bible); although understanding is key to a fuller appreciation of the text and a proper fulfillment of Talmud Torah, nevertheless, even without comprehension, he has fulfilled the Mitzva of Talmud Torah by reading T'nakh.

On the other hand, if someone "davens up" (reads without understanding) some Mishna or other Rabbinic text - this is in no way a "kiyyum" of Talmud Torah. K'riah is defined as verbalizing words from T'nakh; Shinun (and Iyun) are defined as comprehending, internalizing, comparing contrasting etc.

Since most Rishonim seem to view the Talmud Torah component of K'riat Sh'ma as "K'riah" (see the various citations in the earlier part of this shiur), it follows that one may fulfill this level of K'riat Sh'ma even without paying attention to the meaning of the words. If so, we are left with Kavanat haLev as a special obligation applying solely to the first verse - and implying that these words need to be attended to - "Sh'ma Yisrael" - "Hear - and pay attention- Israel!".

R'ah, on the other hand, indicates that the Mitzva of K'riat Sh'ma is one of "Shinun". In his comment on Berakhot 16, he talks about "Kavanat Shinun" - that K'riat Sh'ma (or at least the first paragraph) demands Kavanat Shinun. In other words, in order to have a proper K'riat Sh'ma, the words must be "learned" in a manner of "Shinun" - where understanding and verbalization are simultaneous and directed.

Since R'ah maintains that the Talmud Torah component of K'riat Sh'ma demands comprehension (Shinun as opposed to K'riah), he must interpret R. Meir's words - that the first verse alone needs "Kavanat haLev" in a different fashion. Therefore, he introduces the notion of Kavana which is devotional - that, while reading this verse (at least), we need to attach it to our worship of God.

This may also explain the first Kavana listed by R. Manoach - Kavanat Malkhut Shamayim, which he limits to the first verse.


now, to the questions:

Q1: What is the meaning of "direction of the heart" (*kavannat halev*)?

A: In Rambam's lexicon, it means "paying attention to the meaning of the words you are saying" OR "intending an application of this act beyond that which is obvious."

Q2: Why does Rambam need to tell us the "title" of the first verse (...which is Sh'ma Yisra'el...")?

A: Perhaps Rambam is concerned that we might erroneously think that the significance of the first verse is its location - that we need to have extra Kavana there because it's at the beginning. Therefore, he adds the title, so that we understand that its significance is due to its text, not location. (Some have suggested the opposite reason for the demand for Kavanat haLev in the first blessing of the Amidah - we'll get to that at Tefilla 10:1)

Q3: Why is intent only required for the first verse?

A: Along with the Talmud Torah component (which, for Rambam, is one of K'riah), there is a dimension of Kabalat Ol Malkhut Shamayim - accepting God's rule. That part of K'riat Sh'ma, which is focussed in the first verse, can only happen by paying attention to the words and meaning them as they are said.

Q4: Why does Rambam provide these two examples - reading in his usual fashion & proofreading?

A: The Mishna which introduced the issue of Kavana was interpreted as referring to a case where he was proofreading - however, that interpretation was only necessary to demonstrate that our Mishna did not conclusively prove that Mitzvot need Kavana (motivation). Otherwise, we could read our Mishna as simply "if he was reading in the normal fashion"; hence, Rambam cites both possibilities.

It is worth noting that Rambam interprets the Mishna differently than we presented: He interprets the "if he directed his heart" as referring to the first verse alone. In other words, the Mishna now reads: If someone was reading from the Torah and the time for Sh'ma arrived, if he had Kavanah in the first verse, Yatza.

Q5: Why does Rambam repeat the demand for intent during the first verse at the end of this Halakha?

A: In order to clarify his interpretation of the Mishna, as indicated in the previous answer.

Rambam, Copyright (c) 1999 Project Genesis, Inc

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Daf Yomi - Rosh Hashana 28 - Mitzvos not Given for Pleasure

Tekiyas shofar and mitzvot lav le'henot nitnu by Reb Chaim B.

Here is the link for Divrei Chaim's Torah. Look there for other lomdishe posts.

The gemara (R”H 28) tells us that it is permitted to use a shofar from a korban olah or shelamim because “mitzvot lav le’henot nitnu” – fulfilling a mitzvah is not considered a form of hana’ah. The Ba’al haMaor writes that this halacha applies only to the tekiyos of Rosh haShana which are mitzvos d’oraysa, but tekiyas chatzotzros which was done on a ta’anis would be prohibited. (It is unclear from the Ba’al HaMaor whether all tekiyos of R”H are permitted, or only the shiur needed to fulfill the mitzvah d’oraysa). At first glance this opinion of the Ba’al HaMaor is very difficult to understand. Firstly, tekiyas chatzotzros is also a mitzvah d’oraysa and not derabbanan – what distinction is the Ba’al haMaor trying to draw? Secondly, if the hana’ah one gets from having fulfilled a significant mitzvah d’oraysa which one would otherwise have to find some other way of accomplishing is not considered enough hana’ah to prohibit using the shofar, doesn’t it stand to reason that the hana’ah received from being able to fulfill a more minor mitzvah derabbanan is not considered significant enough hana’ah to create an issur? IOW, if mitzvos lav le’henot is a function of the shiur (quantity) of hana’ah received, then one would expect to draw the opposite conclusion as the Ba’al haMaor? There must be some other model of understanding mitzvot lav le'henot nitnu which the Ba'al haMaor subscribes to - to be continued bl"n...
posted by Chaim B. at 11:09 AM

Avromi said...
Perhaps as a thought one could make a distinction between shofar which is a mitzva to be shomea (acc to some rishonim) and therefore the pleasure of the listening does not bother us for one is fulfilling his mitzva with that, however by chatzotzros which the rambam states is a mitzva to blow them on a taanis similar to tefillah, there we are concerned on the benefit he would be getting from listening without getting a mitzva with that.

4:27 PM
Anonymous said...
Is the BH"M referring to the shofar that is blown next to the chatzotzros on a ta'anis, or the chatzotzros themselves?

4:43 PM
Arthur Digby Sellers said...
What is the heter to use this shofar (it's assur b'hana'a)?

The answer is, I'm fulfilling a bona-fide mitzva, and that use is not classified as hana'a. If, however, I'm just being mikayeim an auxilliary mitzva (like the shofar on the sides of the chatzotzros), that is not enough of a "matir" to allow me the use of the chefta shel issur. The product of the use of that cheftza is still deemed hana'a.

4:50 PM
Avromi said...
Anon: I didnt see it, but if its from an olah or shelomim, id assume he means a shofar - chatzotzros were made of silver.

A.D.S. I hear what you are saying, but if the mitzva is to blow, then what benefit is he getting? Are you saying the B"hM maintains that the hannah of fulfilling the mitzva is ossur here even though mitzvos lav lehonos, but thats only by a real mitzva?

5:15 PM
Chaim B. said...
Avromi, your original sevara (pleasure of listening) is said by the Sha'ar haMelech (though I may be misremembering the source). It seems to reduce the Ba'al haMaor's chiluk to ancillary pleasure vs. no ancillary pleasure, not d'oraysa vs. derabbanan. The Shu't HaRashba raises the issue of giving a lulav to a friend one is mudar hana'ah from on Yom Tov sheni - no ancillary pleasure from picking up a lulav, but the mitzvah is only derabbanan. Rashba says mutar, which fits your hesber nicely.

5:24 PM
Arthur Digby Sellers said...
The mitzva of tekias shofar by a taanis does not constitute a "matir". Use of this shofar is prohibited. You need a good reason to remove that prohibition. A quasi-mitzva is not enough of a reason.

5:25 PM
Avromi said...
mitzvos lav lehonos nitnu

5:35 PM
Avromi said...
For a nice kasha from oneg yom tov and discussion, you can see here.

5:38 PM
Chaim B. said...
Oh, you're Avromi from daf notes! I added a link to you on the side.

10:00 PM
Avromi said...
thanks and im waiting for part 2 of your shtikel

10:25 PM

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