Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The Gemara cites a verse in Shir HaShirim that states mah yafu peomayich baneolim bas nadiv, how lovely are your steps in sandals, O daughter of the noble? The Gemara explains that this verse refers to the lovely steps of the Jewish People when they ascended to Jerusalem for the festival. The words bas nadiv refer to Avrohom Avinu who is referred to as the nadiv, the noble one.

What is the connection between the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and Avrohom Avinu? The Mahretz Chayus in his responsa (7) quotes Rabbeinu Bachye in Parshas Mishpatim who cites a Medrash that states that from the verse in Shir HaShirim we derive a law that one is only allowed to ascend to Jerusalem for the three times a year pilgrimage by foot and one is forbidden to ascend in any other manner. This law is derived from the fact that Scripture uses the words peomayich and neolim, which allude to one walking as opposed to traveling on an animal or in a wagon.

The Mahretz Chayus writes that he was not able to locate the source of this Medrash. The Mahretz Chayus also cites the Yerushalmi in Pesachim (4:7) that would indicate that the law is the opposite of the Medrash that is quoted by Rabbeinu Bachye. There is a dispute between Rabbi Yose and the Tanna Kamma if a leather craftsman is permitted to work on Erev Pesach. Rabbi Yose permits them to work because the people who were making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem needed to have their shoes and sandals fixed in honor of the festival. The Tanna Kamma disagrees and maintains that it was not necessary to have leather craftsmen as the Jewish People were wealthy and they all ascended to Jerusalem by riding on animals. This discussion indicates that it was permitted to ascend to Jerusalem by riding on an animal and walking was not the only permitted means of transportation.

Rav Elyashiv heard from a Torah scholar who said that whether the halacha is in accordance with Rabbeinu Bachye that one could only ascend to Jerusalem by foot or whether it was merely the poor people who ascended by foot, it is evident from the Yerushalmi that there was a concern that people required shoes in order to fulfill the mitzvah. In all likelihood, this concern would have resulted in a collection for the poor prior to the festival, similar to a collection of food that was orchestrated on behalf of the poor. Perhaps it is for this reason that the Gemara mentions Avrohom Avinu regarding the pilgrimage. The character of kindness displayed by the Jewish People is an inheritance from Avrohom Avinu and in a sense, it was Avraham Avinu who catalyzed the outpouring of kindness that the Jewish People demonstrated when the Jewish People ascended to Jerusalem for the festivals.