Friday, March 02, 2007


Kollel Iyun Hadaf discusses the halachic implications of our Gemora.

(a) Gemara
1. Beraisa: All count towards the seven, even a child or woman, but Chachamim said that a woman should not read for it is dishonorable to the Tzibur.
2. 24a - Mishnah: A child may read the Torah and translate.
(b) Rishonim
1. Rif and Rosh (3:5) bring the Beraisa and Mishnah.
i. Ran (DH ha'Kol): A child or woman may complete the seven, but all seven (Ran 15a Sof DH Masnisin - the majority) may not be children or women. When only the first and last Olim bless, these Aliyos must be given to men, for men cannot be Yotzei with the Berachah of a child or woman. Nowadays, everyone blesses, so a child or woman may read first or last.
2. Rosh (Kidushin 1:49): R. Tam says that a woman may bless on a Mitzvah from which she is exempt. R. Yitzchak bar Yehudah proves this from the Heter for women to read the Torah. R. Tam rejects the proof, for even if the Olah already blessed for his Mitzvah of Talmud Torah, he blesses again for Kri'as ha'Torah (i.e. the Berachah is to honor the Kri'ah). Also, perhaps the Heter for a woman to read was when only the first and last Olim used to bless, and she would be Olah in the middle (and not bless).
3. Rambam (Hilchos Tefilah 12:17): A woman should not read b'Tzibur for it is dishonorable to the Tzibur. If a child knows how to read and knows Whom we bless, he counts towards the number that must read.
i. Source (Hagahos Maimoniyos 70): In the Yerushalmi, Amora'im argue about whether a child must know how to bless or Whom we bless in order to count towards the seven on Shabbos. Likewise, when three read a child may complete the count.
4. Pirush ha'Mishnayos (24a): A Ga'on says that a child may read only after three have read.
(c) Poskim
1. Shulchan Aruch (OC 282:3): All count towards the seven, even a child or woman, but Chachamim said that a woman should not read for it is dishonorable to the Tzibur.
i. Beis Yosef (DH v'Chosav ha'Rav): The Avudraham says that in a city of all Kohanim a Kohen reads the first two Aliyos, and children and women read the rest. The Roke'ach does not allow a child to be one of the three, but he may be one of seven, i.e. after three have read.
ii. Note: In Sof Siman 135 (DH Kosav ha'Roke'ach), the Beis Yosef says that the Roke'ach allows a child to have an additional Aliyah (which is forbidden when three read), but not an obligatory Aliyah.
iii. Prishah (3): The Tur holds like the Rambam who forbids women to bless on Mitzvos from which they are exempt. Therefore, a woman or child may not receive an Aliyah nowadays, when every Oleh blesses.
iv. Question: It is the practice to allow children to receive Maftir!
v. Answer #1 Prishah (3): The initial enactment was to allow children to receive Maftir. If so, it was enacted that they may bless for Kavod ha'Torah.
vi. Answer #2 (Birkei Yosef 7, brought in Kaf ha'Chayim 25): A child may receive an Aliyah nowadays, for Talmud Torah applies to him, and others are commanded to teach him.
vii. Erech Lechem (135:13): The Rambam says that a child counts towards the number that must read, i.e. even when three read.
viii.Mishnah Berurah (11): A child may read only when seven read, but not when three, four, five or six read.
ix. Mishnah Berurah (12): Some say that if the only Kohen is a child we call him (to read). However, the Magen Avraham (6) learns from "V'Kidashto Ki Es Lechem Elokecha Hu Makriv" that we are commanded to honor only adult Kohanim, for only they do Avodah. Therefore, a Yisrael reads instead. Nowadays the custom is to call children only for Maftir, even after seven have read.
x. Mishnah Berurah (13): A child may not read out loud from the Torah to be Motzi the Tzibur until he brings two hairs. We rely on the Chazakah that a 13 year old brought two hairs. If there is no adult who can read it is better that a child read than to Mevatel Kri'as ha'Torah.
2. Rema: They can join to be part of the seven, but all may not be children or women.
i. Source (Gra DH v'Elu): The Mishnah says that a child or woman (singular) counts, i.e. only one. The Poskim's text reads 'All can complete the count...'
ii. Mishnah Berurah (14): 'All', i.e. the majority, may not be children or women.
iii. Note: The Mishnah Berurah explains the Rema. Above, the Mishnah Berurah said that our custom is to call a child only for Maftir.
3. Rema: A Kena'ani slave is like a woman; if his mother is a Yisraelis he may read.
i. Hagahos Maimoniyos (60): If his mother is a Yisraelis he is permitted (like a regular Yisrael), because the child of a slave or Nochri with a Yisraelis is Kosher.
ii. Note: Even though the Rema cites Hagahos Maimoniyos, it seems that he argues. Hagahos Maimoniyos connotes that if the child of a slave or Nochri from a Yisraelis would be a Mamzer, he could not read. The Rema explicitly permits a Mamzer to read!


Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim

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Thursday, March 01, 2007

By The Way

Please take a moment or two to look on the left side of this page where it says "Daf Notes Discussion." We have there divrei Torah on the Parsha and on Purim. Click on whichever one interests you and you can comment on them there as well. Thank you.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 22 - Concern for Burdening the Congregation

The Gemora proceeds to discuss the other part of the incident that transpired with Rav in Bavel. Rav was in Bavel on a public fast day. When the congregation fell on their faces to recite tachanun, Rav did not fall on his face.

The Gemora asks: Why didn’t Rav fall on his face to recite tachanun?

The Gemora answers: It was a stone floor and there is a biblical prohibition against prostrating oneself upon stones except in the Beis Hamikdosh.

The Gemora asks: The entire congregation should have avoided falling on the floor as well?

The Gemora answers: The stones were only in front of Rav.

The Gemora persists: Rav should have went to where everyone else was and fall there?

The Gemora answers: Rav did not want to burden the congregation by walking past them; they would be compelled to stand up for him (out of respect).

The sefer Reach Dudaim comments: Although prostrating during tachanun is a mitzva, Rebbe did not want to burden the congregation to stand up for him. This was not an act of piety on Rebbe’s account since it involved a leniency in his own mitzva; rather it is preferable according to halacha to be mevatel some specifics of the mitzva and not disrupt the congregation.

Reb Yitzchak Zilberstein makes a correlation between this Gemora and the following shaila: A congregation does not begin the tefillah until the Rabbi enters the synagogue. The Rabbi was walking to the synagogue when he realized that he had forgotten his lulav and esrog in his house. Should he reverse himself to get the lulav and esrog in order to have them by Hallel or would the time it would take be an unnecessary burden on his congregation? Rav did not perform the mitzva of tachanun in its proper way because he was concerned of burdening the congregation, so here too, the Rabbi should not cause the congregation to wait for him even though it will diminish somewhat his mitzva of Hallel.

However, he concludes that perhaps tachanun is different. The Tur writes (O”C 131) that tachanun is not an obligation like other portions of tefillah and this is why it is not recited when a choson (groom) is there. That is why Rav conceded part of the tachanun on the account of the congregation. This principle would not have been applicable if tachanun was compulsory. Shaking the lulav and esrog during the recital of Hallel is an essential part of the mitzva of the lulav and esrog and perhaps would override the burdening on the congregation.

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Megillah question

Interesting question came up:

When Achashverosh wanted to pick a new queen, it says that he assembled the “besulos tovos”. If Mordechai & Esther were married, she would be a “be’ulah” and not a “besulah”, so why was she even in the “competition”?

And if you say that they got married after the competition, why? What is to be gained if once you are in the palace as queen you are there for life? If anything, it gives her more potential for aveiros to be with Achashverosh as a married woman than as a single woman. It’s my understanding that although it is b’ones, if she at all has thoughts of deriving pleasure, etc.. it could be considered adultery, and so intentionally getting married before going to the palace would be, I would think, a stumbling block if not worse.


Michael Post

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Daf Yomi - Working on Rosh Chodesh

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 22 - Where to Stop and where to Start

Our Gemora cites the Gemora in Taanis discussing how a section consisting of only five verses can be divided into two. Rav said: The second person would go back and rereads the last verse which was read by the first one. Shmuel said: The third verse of the section is split into two parts and the first reader reads the first half and the second reader reads the second half. Rav doesn’t say like Shmuel since he maintains that any verse in the Torah which Moshe did not divide, we are not permitted to divide it. Shmuel holds that since there is no choice, we are permitted to split the verse into two parts. Shmuel does not say like Rav since he wishes to protect against the false impression that only two verses were read. (Those who enter the synagogue late and those who leave early will not realize that the third verse was repeated.) Here is a post for review. (Click the "read more" for the rest of the post please.

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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Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 21 - Standing while Learning

The Gemora states that from the days of Moshe until Rabban Gamliel, they would study Torah standing. Afterwards, people became weaker and they would study torah while sitting; they didn’t have the strength to stand. This is what the Mishna in Sotah (49a) is referring to when it states that once Rabban Gamliel died, the glory of Torah terminated.

The Gemora in Brochos (28a) says that when Rabban Gamliel was the Rosh Yeshiva, his policy was that any student who was not "tocho c'baro," his inside was not like his outside, would not be allowed to enter the Beis Medrash. Not everyone who applied was automatically accepted into his Yeshiva. Rabban Gamliel only accepted students who were honest and sincere, through and through, without any hints of fakery or hypocrisy.

The Gemora relates that there was a subsequent change in the leadership and Rabbi Eliezer ben Azariah was appointed the new Rosh Yeshiva. He implemented a new policy: Everyone was invited into the Beis Medrash even someone who was not "tocho c'baro." Resulting from that, the Gemora records: Many benches were added to the Beis Medrash.

Two questions can be asked. Firstly, how were they able to ascertain who was a “tocho c’baro” and who wasn’t; only Hashem is capable of peering into someone’s heart? Why does the Gemora state that many benches were added; we are not interested in the amount of chairs there were; it should have said that there were many more students learning on the account of the new policy?

Rav Nosson Gishtetner answers based on our Gemora: In the days of Rabban Gamliel, the sincere students would be learning standing; that was a symbol that he was learning Torah for the sake of the mitzvah and not for any ulterior motive. When the new policy was enacted, more benches were added because the generation was weaker and they did not have the ability to stand while they were learning. (Margoliyos Hashas)

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 20 - Megillah at Night

The Mishna states: The entire night is appropriate for the reaping of the omer (in preparation for the barley offering on the sixteenth of Nissan) the burning of the sacrificial fats and limbs.

The Rishonim are bothered why the Mishna doesn’t list other mitzvos that are applicable by night, such as Krias shema and the reading of the Megillah.

The Rashba says: It can be inferred from this Mishna that the primary obligation to read the Megillah is only by day and not by night. This is because the main publicizing of the miracle happens by day. He rules that a brocha is not recited on the reading of the Megillah at night.

This is the reason why the villagers only read the Megillah during the day and not by night. The Rashba does conclude that the villagers should read the Megillah at night, but they are not required to read it publicly.

The Turei Even compares the reading of the Megillah to the celebration of Purim based on the passuk in the Megillah [9:7]: And these days should be remembered and celebrated. Just like the Purim feast must be eaten during the day, so too the primary Megillah reading should be done by day.

Pnei Yehoshua writes that the obligation to read the Megillah is by day because the victory over their enemies transpired by day and the night is not a time for battle; it is merely customary to read the Megillah by night. We nevertheless recite a brocha by night similar to other customs where a brocha is recited.

However, the Sheiltos (78) maintains that the reading of the Megillah by night is more essential than the reading by day.

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Tosfos states that after the counting of the omer, one should say the following tefillah: Is should be the will of Hashem that the Beis Hamikdosh should be rebuilt. This is recited because the mitzvah nowadays is rabbinic and serves to commemorate the biblical mitzvah in the times when the Beis Hamikdosh was in existence.

Tosfos asks: What is the difference between the mitzva of sefiras haomer and the mitzvos of sounding the shofar and taking a lulav which is also only rabbinic nowadays and this additional tefillah is not recited?

He answers: The mitzva of sefiras haomer is merely a reminder of the Beis Hamikdosh and the other mitzvos involve an action. The distinction is extremely ambiguous and the commentators struggle to explain the difference.

The Gemora in Menochos (66a) says: Ameimar would count days and not weeks. He said: The mitzva of counting the omer is only to commemorate the Beis Hamikdosh.

The Brisker Rov explains: The rabbinic mitzva of sefiras haomer is different that other rabbinic mitzvos. A regular rabbinic mitzva, such as eating marror on Pesach, is the identical mitzva nowadays as was in the times of the Beis Hamikdosh. The only difference is that then it was biblical and now it is only rabbinic. Sefiras haomer is different. The purpose of the mitzva mitzva of counting the omer nowadays was not for the counting, but rather it was established to commemorate the Beis Hamikdosh. The mitzva nowadays is not the same mitzva as it was then. This is why Ameimar maintains that in the times of the Beis Hamikdosh, they counted days and weeks and nowadays, we only count the days.

According to this, he explains the Ba’al Hamaor at the end of Pesachim. The Ba’al Hamaor says that we do not recite a shehechiyonu on sefiras haomer like we do by other mitzvos because it is only a mitzva of remembering the Beis Hamikdosh. Shehechiyonu is recited at a time of joy and it would not be appropriate to recite it when we are recalling the tragedy of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh and the present exile. By other rabbinical mitzvos, a shehechiyonu is recited because the purpose of the mitzva was for the sake of the mitzva and not to remind us of the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.

This is the explanation of Tosfos. The special tefillah of requesting the building of the Beis Hamikdosh is exclusively reserved for the mitzva of sefiras haomer, which was only instituted to commemorate the Beis Hamikdosh.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 20 - It's Night after Plag Hamincha

The Gemora states that it is not regarded as night until the stars come out.

It is brought in the name of the Imrei Emes (Eretz Tzvi (25/26) that if one davens Maariv on Erev Rosh Chodesh (the day before Rosh Chodesh) from plag hamincha (one hour and fifteen minutes before sunset) and on, he should not recite yaaaleh v'yovo for Rosh Chodesh in Shemoneh Esrei.The reason provided is based on a Magen Avraham (419), who cites from the Shalah that one cannot add additional time to Rosh Chodesh like he can to Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The Mishna Berura (693:4) rules regarding one who davens Maariv after plag hamincha before Purim; he should recite al hanisim in Shemoneh Esrei. The Sha'ar Hatziyon comments that this is based on the ruling that one may daven Maariv for the next day after plag hamincha and there are no poskim who rule that one should not recite yaaleh v'yovo when he is davening Maariv early before Rosh Chodesh. One is allowed to recite havdalah after plag hamincha if he already davened Maariv. Mishna Berura concludes that it is evident from here that from plag hamincha and on; it is regarded as night in respect to davening.

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 19 - EXCESSIVE HAMAN BANGING

The Rosh Yeshiva of Gateshead declared immediately prior to the reading of the Megillah: I have instructed the reader of the Megillah not to have in mind those individuals who disturb the reading of the Megillah due to excessive noisemaking during the klapping of Haman.

One can inquire if anyone at all fulfilled their obligation of hearing the Megillah. The Rama (581:1) rules that a chazzan is required to have everyone in mind during his prayers and if he has an enemy and decides to exclude him, even his friends will not have discharged their obligation of tefillah. The Mishna Berura (53:57) rules accordingly. If so, how will the remainder of the congregation fulfill their obligation of hearing the Megillah if the reader intended to exclude several people?

Rav Yitzchak Zilberstein makes the following distinction. The Chavos Yair (186) explains the ruling of the Rama: The chazzan is an emissary from the congregation and he was sent to discharge the obligation for everyone. If he changes and resolves to exclude an individual, he is no longer considered their agent. Reb Shlomo Kluger cites the Magen Avraham (53:22) that a chazzan must remove from his heart any jealousy or hatred towards any individual; if he decides to exclude someone, this indicates that he has not removed the hatred from his heart and he is disqualified from being a chazzan.

The Rosh Yeshiva has the jurisdiction to decide who should be included in the congregation and who shouldn’t be. The Chavos Yair’s reason is not applicable here because the reader of the Megillah is not altering anything and he is doing precisely what he has undertaken to do. Rav Shlomo Kluger’s reason is also not applicable because here he does not bear any grudge against anyone at all.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 19 - ARRANGEMENT OF THE MISHNA

The Mishna states: The resident of a town who went to a walled city or a resident of a walled city who went to a town, if he will return to his place, he reads the Megillah on the day he usually would, and if not, he reads with them.

From where (which point in the Megillah) does a man read the Megillah and fulfill his obligation? Rabbi Meir says: One is required to read the entire Megillah. Rabbi Yehudah says: From the verse [2:5]: A Jewish man. Rabbi Yosi says: From the verse [3:1]: After these things.

The Rosh Yosef asks: Why is this Mishna written in this perek? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate if it was inserted in the first perek together with the other halachos regarding the days of the Megillah reading for the walled cities, towns and villages? Furthermore, the Nefesh Chaya asks, what is the connection between the first part of the Mishna and the second half?

He answers that if one would only learn the second half of the Mishna that there are various opinions as to where one must read the Megillah from, one might think that it will depend on which location the Megillah is being read. The people residing in Shushan or in any walled city should read the Megillah from the beginning since it was only the residents of Shushan that derived benefit from the feast of Achashverosh and it is the beginning of the Megillah that discusses Achashverosh’s feast. The townspeople can begin reading from any of the other points mentioned above.

It is for this reason that Rebbe arranged the Mishna here to illustrate that there is no distinction in the reading of the Megillah between those residing in a walled city and those residing in the towns; rather it is a Tannaic dispute.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 19 - Highlights

The Mishna states: The resident of a town who went to a walled city or a resident of a walled city who went to a town, if he will return to his place, he reads the Megillah on the day he usually would, and if not, he reads with them.

From where (which point in the Megillah) does a man read the Megillah and fulfill his obligation? Rabbi Meir says: One is required to read the entire Megillah. Rabbi Yehudah says: From the verse [2:5]: A Jewish man. Rabbi Yosi says: From the verse [3:1]: After these things. (19a)

The Mishna had ruled that a resident of a walled city who went to a town and plans to return to his city reads on the fifteenth. Rava states: This is correct only if he intends to return to his city before the night of the fourteenth, however if he will still be in the town by daybreak of the fourteenth, he must read together with the townspeople on the fourteenth. Rava cites a Scriptural verse to support this halacha.

Rava rules: If a villager read the Megillah early on the day of the gathering and he traveled to the city and was there on the night of the fourteenth; he is required to hear the Megillah again. The leniency of advancing their reading only applies if they are in their village on the fourteenth but not if they are in the city on the fourteenth. (18a)

The Mishna had cited three opinions in regards to the point that one is required to read the Megillah from in order to fulfill the obligation. Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai says: One must read from the verse [6:1]: It was on that night.

Rabbi Yochanan said: All the different opinions have been derived from the following verse [9:29]: Then Esther the queen wrote. . . . together with Mordecai the Jew, with all due strength. The one who says that the entire Megillah should be read maintains that the strength refers to Achasverosh. The one who says that the Megillah must be read from the verse A Jewish man maintains that the strength refers to Mordechai. The one who says that the Megillah must be read from the verse after these things maintains that the strength refers to Haman. The one who says that the Megillah must be read from the verse it was on that night maintains that the strength refers to the miracle. Rav Huna offers an alternative source explaining all of the above opinions. Rabbi Chelbo said in the name of Rav Chama bar Guria in the name of Rav: The halacha is in accordance with the opinion that holds that the entire Megillah must be read. (19a)

Rav Yehudah said in the name of Shmuel: One who reads from a Megillah that was written together with other scrolls has not fulfilled his obligation (the Megillah must be separate) unless the portions of the parchment where the Megillah is written on is longer or shorter than the other portion of the scroll.

Rabbi Chiya bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: The above ruling is limited to when the Megillah is read publicly, but when it is read privately, one may use a Megillah that was written together with other scrolls.

The Gemora cites three unconnected statements from Rabbi Chiya bar Abba in the name of Rabbi Yochanan. (19a – 19b)

The Mishna states: Everyone is eligible to read the Megillah, except for a deaf person, a deranged person and a minor. Rabbi Yehudah maintains that a minor is eligible to read the Megillah.

The Gemora assumes that one who hears the Megillah from a deaf person does not fulfill his obligation at all and he must read it again. Which Tanna holds like this? Rav Masna answers: It is the opinion of Rabbi Yosi. He cites a Mishna in Brochos: One who recites Shema and doesn’t hear his words has nevertheless fulfilled his obligation. Rabbi Yosi disagrees and maintains that he has not fulfilled his obligation.

The Gemora questions the initial assumption: Perhaps our Mishna follows the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah and it is only preferable that a deaf person should not read the Megillah, but if he does read it, it is valid.

The Gemora answers: Our Mishna cannot follow Rabbi Yehudah’s opinion since the first part of the Mishna rules explicitly that a minor is disqualified to read the Megillah.

The Gemora questions this proof: Perhaps the first part of the Mishna is referring to a minor that has not reached the age when he can be trained to perform the mitzva, but once he reached that age, he may read the Megillah since Rabbi Yehuda stated that a minor is eligible to read the Megillah.

The Gemora proves from a braisa regarding the mitzva of separating terumah that our Mishna cannot follow the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah. (19b)

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 18 - FLYING CAMELS AND MULES

The Mishna had stated: If a foreigner hears the Megillah read in Ashuris (Hebrew), he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora rules that this is true even if he doesn’t understand every word. Proof to this can be brought from the fact that nobody understands the precise meaning of the words הרמכים בני האחשתרנים, ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim (a species of swift camels), and nevertheless we fulfill the mitzvah. The Gemora provides the reason for this: The obligation of reading the Megillah is to publicize the miracle and that was accomplished.

It is noteworthy that Rashi in the Megillah understands the word achashtranim to be referring to a type of swift camel.

Ibn Ezra understands ramachim to mean horses and achashtranim to mean mules.

Rabbeinu Chananel might have had a different version in our Gemora since he states that women and unlearned men did not know the definition of these words, implying that learned men did know the translation.

The Reshash writes that ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim is referring to the riders on top of these animals.

The Rivash in his teshuvos (390) states that when he arrived in the city of Srakista, he observed that they would read the Megillah written in a foreign language on behalf of the women because they didn’t understand Hebrew. He wished to abolish this practice for two reasons: The Ramban rules that if one understands Hebrew and another language, he cannot fulfill his obligation by reading the other language and if so, the man reading the Megillah for the women could not discharge their obligation. Secondly, how could they know the precise translation of the words ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim?

The Rivash sent his ruling to the Ran and the Ran replied as follows: Perhaps the meaning of the Gemora is that the common person did not know the meaning of those words but the sages did know. The Ran does conclude that the translation of the people of Srakista is most definitely a mistake and therefore he agreed with the Rivash.

Reb Yaakov Emden comments that these animals are found in Persia and they are eight-legged camels who are extremely swift runners. The Gemora, at times, refers to a gamla parcha – a flying camel, must be without a doubt from the same family.

The Mishna Berura (690:34) rules that whenever one is fulfilling his obligation of reading the Megillah in a foreign language; he must recite the words ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim in Hebrew.

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It was taught in a braisa: If the scribe had omitted letters or verses and the reader read them from memory, he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora challenges this ruling from a different braisa: If letters from the Megillah are partially effaced or torn, if they are still legible, the Megillah may be used, but otherwise it may not be used. The Gemora answers: It is only invalid if the entire Megillah is illegible, however if a Megillah is missing less than half of its letters, it is still valid.

Shulchan Aruch (690:3) rules that it is preferable that the Megillah should be written in its entirety, and if the scribe missed words in the middle, even close to half the Megillah, and he reads the rest by heart, it is only valid b’dieved (after the fact).

The Mishna Berura inquires as to what the halacha would be if the Megillah would be missing exactly half the words. In Sha’ar Hatziyon, he writes that the inference from the Rambam would be that it is invalid and from the Rosh and the Ran, it would seem that the Megillah is valid.

Reb Yitzchak Zilberstein cites that they asked Reb Elyashiv regarding the possibility of this case since they checked and realized that the Megillah does not have an even amount of words, so how could the Megillah be missing precisely half of the required amount of words. Reb Elyashiv answered that the case can be referring to where the Megillah was written in a foreign language which can be valid for people who understand that language.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 18 - WHICH SURGEON SHOULD HE USE?

The Gemora discusses whether one who knows the Torah by heart would be permitted to write a Scripture scroll without copying from a text. The Gemora states that Rabbi Meir was permitted to write a Megillah from memory because he knew the words fluently by heart.

Reb Elyashiv, cited by Chishukei Chemed ruled on the following inquiry and he derived his ruling from our Gemora.

A person residing in Eretz Yisroel developed a heart issue and he was required to undergo a risky heart surgery. The local doctors said that they do not perform this type of surgery frequently, but they are ninety-five percent confident that the surgery will be a success. There is an expert surgeon outside of Eretz Yisroel who performs this surgery daily and he said that if he would perform the surgery, he would be successful ninety-five percent of the time.

Should this individual travel outside of Eretz Yisroel to have the surgery performed by the expert surgeon? Reb Elyashiv ruled that he should go because that doctor is more accustomed in performing this type of surgery.

The Gemora in Taanis 15a states regarding a communal fast: They would send a chazzan to lead the prayer who was an elder and fluent in the prayers. Rashi explains: One who is fluent in his prayers will not make a mistake.

Our Gemora states that one who is fluent in the words of the Torah will not make a mistake when he is writing the Torah without copying from a text.

This is why it would be preferable to travel to the doctor outside of Eretz Yisroel even though the percentage of success is the same. Someone who is more accustomed to performing this type of surgery will not make a mistake.

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 18 - Food for Thought

1. How could the Shemoneh Esrei have been forgotten? (Ben Yehoyada)

2. What should one do if he can’t even read the words ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim in Hebrew? (Chashukei Chemed)

3. Is the obligation of reading Parshas Zochor from a Sefer Torah a biblical one or is it only rabbinic? (Eshkol, Minchas Chinuch, Pnei Yehoshua, Sfas Emes)

4. Where in Shemoneh Esrei should one remember about Amalek? (Magen Avraham, Sdei Chemed)

5. Why doesn’t the Rif rule according to Rav and Shmuel that one can fulfill his obligation of reading the Megillah if it is written in Greek and he understands it? (Rishonim)

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Daf Yomi - Megillah 18 - Highlights

The Gemora asks: If one hundred and twenty elders (the Men of the Great Assembly), and among them many prophets, have arranged the order of the Shemoneh Esrei, why was it necessary for Shimon of Pekuli to arrange them in their proper sequence? The Gemora answers: They had been forgotten, so he reintroduced the order. (18a)

The Gemora rules: It is forbidden to add to the brochos of the Shemoneh Esrei. Rabbi Elozar said: It is written [Tehillim 106:2]: "Who can utter the mighty acts of Hashem? Who can proclaim all his praise?" For whom is it fitting to utter? Only one who can publish all of His praises (and since this is impossible to accomplish, only the blessings that have been ordained should be recited).

Rabbah bar bar Chanah said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: He who praises Hashem too much will be uprooted from the world. Rabbi Yehudah of the village Geboriah said: Silence is the best medicine. When Rav Dimia came from Eretz Yisroel to Bavel, he said: in Eretz Yisroel, they would say: "A word is worth a sela, and silence is worth two." (18a)

The Mishna had stated: If one reads the Megillah by heart, he does not fulfill his obligation. Rava cites a Scriptural source for this.

The Gemora rules that one is obligated to remember Amalek verbally; mentally is not sufficient. (18a)

The Mishna had stated: One may read the Megillah in a foreign language for those who understand it. A braisa is cited which states the opposite: If one reads the Megillah in a foreign language, he does not fulfill his obligation. The Gemora explains that the braisa is referring to a case where the people do not understand the language and therefore do not fulfill their obligation. Rav and Shmuel rule: According to Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel, who maintains that the Torah is permitted to be written only in Greek (of the foreign languages); if one hears the Megillah being read in Greek, he will fulfill his obligation even if he doesn’t understand it. (This is because he equates Greek to Hebrew.) (18a)

The Mishna had stated: If a foreigner hears the Megillah read in Ashuris (Hebrew), he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora rules that this is true even if he doesn’t understand every word. Proof to this can be brought from the fact that nobody understands the precise meaning of the words הרמכים בני האחשתרנים, ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim (a species of swift camels), and nevertheless we fulfill the mitzvah. The Gemora provides the reason for this: The obligation of reading the Megillah is to publicize the miracle and that was accomplished. (18a)

The Mishna had stated: If he read the Megillah intermittently, he has fulfilled his obligation. The Chachamim did not know what the word serugin (intermittently) meant, until they heard the maidservant of Rebbe say to the Rabbis who were coming to Rebbe’s house at different intervals, “Until when will you be entering serugin serugin?” The Gemora offers other examples of words that the Chachamim did not know what they meant and they discovered the meaning after hearing the maidservant of Rebbe or from different travelers. (18a)

It was taught in a braisa: If he read the Megillah intermittently, he has fulfilled his obligation but if he read it out of sequence, he does not fulfill his obligation. Rabbi Muna said in the name of Rabbi Yehudah: If he read the Megillah intermittently, but he paused in the amount of time it would take him to read the entire Megillah, he would be required to start the Megillah again. (18a – 18b)

It was taught in a braisa: If the scribe had omitted letters or verses and the reader read them from memory, he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora challenges this ruling from a different braisa: If letters from the Megillah are partially effaced or torn, if they are still legible, the Megillah may be used, but otherwise it may not be used. The Gemora answers: It is only invalid if the entire Megillah is illegible, however if a Megillah is missing less than half of its letters, it is still valid. (18b)

The Mishna had ruled: If one read the Megillah while he was drowsy, he has fulfilled his obligation. Rav Ashi clarifies the case. He is asleep and not asleep, awake and not awake; if he is called he responds, but he cannot give a rational answer, though if he is reminded, he remembers. (18b)

The Mishna had stated: One who was writing it, interpreting it or correcting it, and during that time recited the entire Megillah; if he set his mind to it, he has fulfilled his obligation, but if he did not set his mind to it, he did not fulfill his obligation. The Gemora explains the case: There was another Megillah before him and he reads one verse at a time (from the complete Megillah) and then writes it down. The Gemora asks: Shall we say that this supports Rabbah bar bar Chanah, for Rabbah bar bar Chanah said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: It is forbidden for a scribe to write one letter of any Scripture unless it is copied from a text? The Gemora answers: It is not a proof because the Mishna can be referring to a case where a Megillah was opened in front of the scribe, but in truth, it would not have been necessary.

The Gemora discusses whether one who knows the Torah by heart would be permitted to write a Scripture scroll without copying from a text.

Abaye allowed the members of the house of Bar Chavu to write tefillin and mezuzos without copying from a text. The Gemora states that this follows the opinion of Rabbi Yirmiyah cited in a braisa who states in the name of Rabbeinu that tefillin and mezuzos may be written without copying from a text and they do not require etched lines (sirtut – the letters are written using these lines) on the parchment. The Gemora concludes that while it’s true that tefillin does not require etched lines; mezuzos do. They both may be written without copying from a text because their content is fluent to all. (18b)

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