Saturday, December 22, 2007

Master of All

The Ran (Nedarim 2a) maintains if one states that he will not do something and includes the Name of Hashem, that itself is regarded as an oath. He proves this from a Gemora below (22b) which says that if one says, “By the Master of all, I will not eat it,” he is prohibited from eating it, although he did not say that he was invoking an oath.

It is evident from this Ran that the words “Master of all” is regarded as saying the Name of Hashem. If so, Reb Shlomo Zalman Auerbach asks: How would one be permitted to mention this expression (Adon Olam) in his daily speech; it should be regarded as pronouncing the Name of Hashem in vain?

The Chasam Sofer writes that this is indeed the halacha. Just as saying “The Compassionate One” in Hebrew is considered an oath, so too, if he says “Rachmana” in Aramaic, it is regarded as an oath. And just as these expressions are included in the prohibition of swearing with the Name of Hashem in vain, so too, if one uses this expression in vain, he has violated this prohibition, for both of these transgression (swearing falsely and saying Hashem’s Name in vain) are derived from the same verse. Reb Shlomo Zalman is deeply troubled by this ruling, for if so, it would be forbidden to say “Ribbono shel Olam,” or “Adon Olam,” and this is not found in the poskim.

The Netziv cites a different ruling of the Chasam Sofer: If one finds himself in a situation where he is uncertain if he should recite a certain blessing or not, he may say the following: Brich Rachmana Mara D’alma (Blessed is the Compassionate One, Master of all). This would seemingly be a contradiction to the other ruling of the Chasam Sofer. If “Master of all” is considered the Name of Hashem in regards to an oath and in respect to uttering the Name of Hashem in vain, what remedy is there by reciting this other version of the blessing; he is anyway saying the Name of Hashem? Reb Akiva Eiger rules that one is prohibited from using this other version because of this concern.

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The Ra”n Elucidated - Nedarim 2

LINKAGE - One who states, “This bread should be prohibited to me” is now forbidden to derive benefit from the bread. This is a complete declaration. He also may say, “This bread should be like a sacrifice to me.” Just as one is prohibited to derive benefit from a sacrifice, so too, he is forbidden to benefit from the bread.

In order for the vow to take effect, he is not required to link the subject of the vow to a forbidden item; however, if he chooses to link the subject of the vow to an object previously forbidden, that object must be one that was prohibited through a vow and not to something intrinsically forbidden. (Other Rishonim maintain that a neder without hatfasah is not regarded as an ikkur neder; it is only effective as a yad to a neder.)

NAME OF HASHEM - The Mishna stated: All substitute words for oaths are effective just as a genuine oath (if he says, “shevusah” instead of “shevuah”). It may be proven from here that an oath taken without mentioning the Name of Hashem is completely valid, for otherwise (if he did indeed mention Hashem’s name), why would this language be regarded as a substitute term for an oath; we have learned that if one states that he will not do something and includes the Name of Hashem, that itself is regarded as an oath.

He asks from the halacha of an oath by witnesses where one is required to include the Name of Hashem. He answers that this (if any oath requires the Name of Hashem) is a matter of dispute between the Tannaim.

He cites Rabbeinu Tam’s opinion that there is a distinction between an oath administered by someone else (the Name of Hashem must be included) and one taken by himself (it is not required). The Ran strongly disagrees with this distinction.

SWITCHING THE LANGUAGE - The Gemora had stated: Since the Mishna taught the halacha of a vow, where one is prohibiting the object upon himself (issur cheftza), the Tanna mentions the halacha of charamim, where the person is also prohibiting the object upon himself. An oath, on the other hand, is where one is prohibiting himself from the object (issur gavra); this, the Tanna mentions afterwards.

He cites the opinion of Rabbeinu Chananel, who derives from our Gemora that if one pronounces a vow using the language of an oath (I make a vow not to eat this bread) or he takes an oath using the language of a vow (This bread is forbidden to me by an oath), the vow or the oath have no validity and he is permitted to eat the bread.

He cites the opinion of the Ramban who disagrees and holds that even though it is not regarded as a basic type of vow, it does take effect on account of being “a handle of a vow.” It is a partial declaration and he will be prohibited from eating the bread.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Mazel tov!!! - Hadran - Food for Thought - Kesuvos 112

Rabbi Chelbo, Rabbi Avira, and Rabbi Yosi bar Chanina went to a certain place and they brought before them a peach that was the size of a pan from Kfar Hino. How big is that? It can contain five Sa’ah. They ate one third; they relinquished ownership on one third and gave one third to their animals.

After one year Rabbi Eliezer went one there, and they brought this before him and he took it in his hands and said “A land of fruit went back to becoming salted, from the evil of those who dwell in it.”

*** How were they able to eat before their animals? Doesn’t the Gemora Brochos (40a) rule that it is forbidden for one to eat prior to feeding his animals?

*** How were they permitted to give food to the animals that was fit for human consumption? Doesn’t the Gemora Taanis (20b) rule that it is regarded as degrading food if one gives animals food fit for humans?

*** Why did Rabbi Eliezer state that it was on account of the evil of its inhabitants that the land turned into waste? Didn’t the spies witness that the land of Eretz Yisroel was flowing with milk and honey even before the Jewish people entered there? At that time, only idolaters lives there, and nevertheless, the land produced delicious produce!

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Light of Torah

Rabbi Elozar said (Kesuvos 111b): One who uses the light of Torah, the light of Torah will revive him; those that do not use the light of Torah, the light of Torah will not revive them.

The Chafetz Chaim explains: Every Jewish person merits a portion in the World to Come. The distinction is as follows: The soul of a person will bask in the pleasure of Gan Eden because it is the soul of a Jewish person; however, regarding the body, which has already become dust, nothing will revive it except for the light of Torah that he learned himself, or if he supported others in their study of Torah and certainly if he provided for his children the ability to learn Torah. Those people that did none of these things will merit a share in Gan Eden, but are in grave danger of not being resurrected.

The Beis Halevi explains: There is a distinction between an article that was used for holiness and one which was used for a mitzvah. An article used for a mitzvah may be discarded immediately after usage because the holiness has ceased upon the completion of the mitzvah. However, regarding an article used for holiness, the holiness remains forever; it must be treated as a holy object and may not be discarded.

The body of someone who learns Torah is considered an article of holiness; even after he dies, the holiness remains and that is what revives him at the time of Resurrection. However, concerning one who does not study Torah, his body is regarded as an article that was used for a mitzvah; when he dies, his body does not retain the holiness and he cannot revive at the time of Resurrection.

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The Parameters of Living in Eretz Yisroel Atoning for our Sins

Rabbi Elozar says: One who lives in Eretz Yisroel lives without sin (their sins are forgiven).

The Chasam Sofer writes: He must be a permanent resident of Eretz Yisroel in order to merit this. One who is a guest in Eretz Yisroel does not merit having his sins forgiven.

The Ben Yehoyadah disagrees and says that while he is living in Eretz Yisroel, even if his intention is to return to the Diaspora, his sins will be atoned for.

The Pnei Yehoshua is bothered by this Gemora: If every sin committed in Eretz Yisroel is forgiven automatically, why were our forefathers punished and driven into Exile and the Beis Hamikdosh was destroyed because of their sins? He states that Eretz Yisroel has the capacity to forgive sins if one is living there because there is a mitzvah to settle Eretz Yisroel because of its holiness. He wants that the merit of Eretz Yisroel should protect him against sinning. A person who happens to live there because he was born there, or one that resides in Eretz Yisroel because of its delicious produce and certainly the brazenly wicked people will not be protected from sinning and will not be granted atonement for their sins.

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Divine Presence in the Diaspora

The Gemora (Kesuvos 111a) cites a braisa: A person should always live in Eretz Yisroel, even if it is in a city which has a majority of idolaters living there. A person should not live outside of Eretz Yisroel, even if it is a city which has a majority of Jews living there. For one who lives in Eretz Yisroel is regarded as one who has a God, and one who lives outside of Eretz Yisroel is regarded as one who does not have a God.

Rabbi Avraham Chalavah explains the following Zohar with our Gemora: The Divine Presence never left the Jewish people on Shabbos and the festivals and even on Shabbos during the weekday.

What is the explanation behind these ambiguous words?

He explains based upon our Gemora: There is no place for the Divine Presence to rest outside of Eretz Yisroel, for anyone who resides there is regarded as if he is Godless. On Shabbos and Yom Tov, however, the divine Presence descends even outside of Eretz Yisroel.

The Zohar does not mean “Shabbos during the weekdays.” Rather, the meaning is that the Divine Presence rests upon the Jewish people in the Diaspora on Shabbos and Yom Tov.

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Resurrected in their Clothes

by Reb Ben

Rav Chiya bar Yosef states: The righteous will be resurrected in their clothes.

The Gemara (Shabbos 113a) states that the clothing that one wears on Shabbos should be different than the clothing that he wears during the week. The Maharal explains that Shabbos is holy and anything that is holy is distinct from materialism. For this reason, writes the Maharal, one is forbidden to perform labor on Shabbos, as labor by definition is bringing something to fruition, which is considered materialism. An object that is removed from materialism is deemed to contain honor, and for this reason ones Shabbos clothing should be distinct from the clothing that he wears during the week.

Perhaps we can suggest an alternative explanation to this statement of the Gemara. Elsewhere (Sanhedrin 90b) the Gemara states that the righteous will be resurrected in the future with the very clothes that they were buried in. [There is a discussion (See Kesubos 111b and Tosfos and Gilyon HaShas Ibid) whether the righteous will be resurrected in the same clothing that they were buried in or if they will be resurrected in different clothing.]

One must wonder regarding the significance of the righteous being resurrected in their clothing. It would seem that clothing is a covering for the body in this world, but in the future man will be akin to Adam HaRishon before the sin, where there was no need for clothing. Why then will the righteous be wearing clothing at the time of the resurrection? Perhaps the idea of this Gemara is that clothing, besides for the need of covering the body, also symbolizes a state of preparedness. After the sin of Adam HaRishon, HaShem clothed Adam and Chava in garments of skin. The purpose of these garments was so that Adam and Chava would be prepared for the first Shabbos of creation. It is noteworthy that the Gemara in Shabbos (113a) states that one should change his clothing, manner of walking and his manner of speech on Shabbos. The only one of these distinctions that is performed prior to the onset of Shabbos is the changing of ones clothing. Thus, it is evident that changing ones clothing prior to the onset of Shabbos is a symbol of preparedness. This then is the explanation of the Gemara in Sanhedrin regarding the resurrection of the righteous. The righteous will be resurrected in their clothing as a reward for having always been in a state of preparedness in this world. The idea is that the Gemara (Avodah Zara 3a) states that one who toils prior to Shabbos will eat on Shabbos. The period when the righteous will be resurrected is referred to as a day that is completely Shabbos. Thus, when the true Shabbos arrives, the righteous will be prepared in their "Shabbos" clothing. It is for this reason that we change our clothing in honor of Shabbos, so that we reflect a state of preparedness for this Holy Day.

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Daf Yomi - Kesuvos 111 - Highlights

Living in Eretz Yisroel

The Gemora cites a braisa: A person should always live in Eretz Yisroel, even if it is in a city which has a majority of idolaters living there. A person should not live outside of Eretz Yisroel, even if it is a city which has a majority of Jews living there. For one who lives in Eretz Yisroel is regarded as one who has a God, and one who lives outside of Eretz Yisroel is regarded as one who does not have a God.

The Gemora asks: How can it be that one who lives outside of Eretz Yisroel is regarded as one who does not have a God?

Rather, the Gemora says: One who lives outside of Eretz Yisroel is regarded as if he worships idols. (110b)

Oath not to Ascend to Eretz Yisroel
Rabbi Zeira desired to leave Bavel and ascend to Eretz Yisroel. He avoided Rav Yehudah (for he was concerned that Rav Yehudah would decree that he may not leave Bavel for Eretz Yisroel), as Rav Yehudah interpreted the verse, they shall be brought to Babylonia and they shall remain there, to mean that one is forbidden to leave Bavel to ascend to Eretz Yisroel. One who does so has transgressed a positive commandment. Rabbi Zeira, however, interpreted the verse to be referring to the vessels of the Beis Hamikdosh, which the prophet foretold would remain in exile for a while.

Rav Yehudah cites other Scriptural verses which teach us that we are bound by an oath not to ascend to Eretz Yisroel as a group by force, or even as individuals.

Rabbi Zeira says that those verses are needed for the teachings of Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Chanina. For Rabbi Yosi the son of Rabbi Chanina said: What was the purpose of these three oaths? One is that the Jewish people shall not go up to Eretz Yisroel all together in a wall of force; the second is that the Holy One, Blessed be He, adjured the Jewish people that they shall not rebel against the nations of the world; and the third is that the Holy One, Blessed be He, adjured the idolaters that they shall not oppress the Jewish people too much.

Rav Yehudah says that it is derived from the redundancy in the verse that there is also an oath against individuals from immigrating to Eretz Yisroel.

Rabbi Zeira says that the redundancies appearing in the verses are needed for the teachings of Rabbi Levi. For Rabbi Levi said: What was the purpose of these six oaths? Three oaths have already been mentioned above. One is that the prophets should not reveal when the Final Redemption will occur; the second is that the Jewish people should not cause a delay in the coming of the Final Redemption (through their sins); and the third is that they should not reveal the secret (intercalation; the fixing of the calendar or the reason behind the commandments of the Torah) to idolaters.

Rabbi Elozar expounds the verse: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Jewish people, “If you will keep the adjuration (and not force the Redemption), it will be well and good for you, but if not, I will permit your flesh to be a prey like that of the gazelles and the hinds of the field.” (110b – 111a)

Greatness of Eretz Yisroel
Rabbi Elozar says: One who lives in Eretz Yisroel lives without sin (their sins are forgiven).

Rav Anan says: Whoever is buried in Eretz Yisroel is regarded as if he were buried under the Altar (it serves as an atonement for his sins).

It was common practice for Ula to ascend to Eretz Yisroel. He died outside of Eretz Yisroel. When Rabbi Elozar heard this, he exclaimed, “You, Ula, shall you die upon a contaminated land?” He was told that Ula will be buried in Eretz Yisroel. Rabbi Elozar said, “There is no comparison between Eretz Yisroel absorbing someone while he is alive than absorbing someone after he dies.”

A certain man whose brother died childless and the sister-in-law resided in Bei Chozaah (in Bavel). He came to Rabbi Chanina and asked him whether it was proper for him to descend there to perform the mitzvah of yibum. Rabbi Chanina replied, “His brother married a Cuthean woman (since they lived outside of Eretz Yisroel) and died; blessed be the Omnipresent Who killed him! Should this one go and follow him?” (111a)

Greatness of Bavel
Rav Yehudah says in the name of Shmuel: Just as one is prohibited to go from Eretz Yisroel to Bavel (since he will no longer be obligated to observe certain mitzvos), so too it is prohibited to go from Bavel to any other country (because of the Torah study that took place in Bavel).

Rabbah and Rav Yosef both said: The worthy persons of Bavel are absorbed by Eretz Yisroel, and the worthy ones of other countries are absorbed by Bavel.

The Gemora asks: In what respect is this referring to? If you will suggest that it is in respect of purity of descent (that such persons may marry into any pure families of Eretz Yisroel and Bavel), surely that cannot be the case. For didn’t the master say: All countries are like dough (a mix of many ingredients; a metaphor for a mixture of unblemished people and other with tainted lineage) in comparison to Eretz Yisroel and Eretz Yisroel is like dough in comparison to Bavel (it emerges that Bavel is completely pure, even more than Eretz Yisroel)?

The Gemora answers: They are referring to burial (the worthy people that die in Bavel are buried in Eretz Yisroel and the worthy people from faraway lands are buried in Bavel).

Rav Yehudah said: One who lives in Bavel is regarded as if he were living in Eretz Yisroel.

Abaye said: One who lives in Bavel will not experience the sufferings before the arrival of Mashiach. (111a)

Rabbi Elozar said: Those that are buried outside of Eretz Yisroel will not be resurrected.

Rabbi Avahu said: Even a Canaanite maidservant who resides in Eretz Yisroel is guaranteed to have a share in the World to come.

Rabbi Yirmiyah bar Abba said in the name of Rabbi Yochanan: Anyone who walks four amos in Eretz Yisroel is guaranteed to have a share in the World to come.

The Gemora asks on Rabbi Elozar: Is it possible to say that the righteous people who are buried outside of Eretz Yisroel will not be resurrected?

Rabbi Ila answers: Their bones will roll to Eretz Yisroel, and only then will they be resurrected.

Rabbi Abba Sala the Great asked: Why do the righteous have to suffer in this manner?

Abaye answers: They will stand on their feet and travel through tunnels in the ground until Eretz Yisroel; there, they will emerge from the ground. (111a)

Burial in Eretz Yisroel
Karna said: Yaakov, although he knew that he was completely righteous, and if he would be buried outside of Eretz Yisroel, he would still be resurrected, he was, nevertheless concerned that he would be unworthy (see Maharsha) of walking through the tunnels.

Rabbi Chanina said similarly: Yosef, although he knew that he was completely righteous, and if he would be buried outside of Eretz Yisroel, he would still be resurrected, he was, nevertheless concerned that he would be unworthy (see Maharsha) of walking through the tunnels and that is why he troubled his brother to carry his body four hundred parsaos.

The brothers of Rabbah (wanting him to come to Ererz Yisroel) sent him the following message: Yaakov, although he knew that he was completely righteous, and if he would be buried outside of Eretz Yisroel etc. Ilfa added to this the following incident. A man was once troubled on account of his inability to marry a certain woman who lived outside of Eretz Yisroel. He wanted to go down to her, but as soon as he heard this (regarding Yaakov), he decided to stay in Eretz Yisroel and remain unmarried until the day of his death. Although you (Rabbah) are a great scholar, you know that a man who studies on his own cannot be compared with a man who studies from his teacher. Perhaps you might think that there is no teacher good enough for you here, we may inform you that you will have one, and he is Rabbi Yochanan. If you decide not to come up, we advise you of the following three things: Do not sit too long, for long sitting can result in hemorrhoids; do not stand for a long time, because that is harmful to the heart; and do not walk too much, because excessive walking may be harmful to the eyes. Rather, you should spend one third of your time sitting, one third standing and one third walking. Standing with support is better than sitting without support. (111a – 111b)

Ignorant of Torah
Rabbi Elozar said: People who are ignorant of Torah knowledge will not be resurrected.

The Gemora cites a braisa which corroborates Rabbi Elozar’s statement.

Rabbi Yochanan disagreed: The braisa is referring to people who are lax in their observance of Torah which leads them to stray after idols.

Rabbi Elozar replied by citing another verse and expounding: One who uses the light of Torah, the light of Torah will revive him; those that do not use the light of Torah, the light of Torah will not revive them.

Rabbi Elozar saw that Rabbi Yochanan was disturbed by his ruling. He therefore said: There is a remedy for them. If they marry off their daughter to a Torah scholar, or engages in business on behalf of a Torah scholar, or he gives pleasure to Torah scholars from his property, the Torah considers it as if he is clinging to the Divine Presence. (111b)

There will be a Time…
Rav Chiya bar Yosef said: The righteous will arise in Yerushalayim.

He stated further: The righteous will be resurrected in their clothes.

He also said: There will be a time when the land of Eretz Yisroel will produce (ready-made) baked cakes and fine woolen garments.

The Gemora cites a braisa: There will be a time that a stalk of wheat will grow straight up similar to a palm tree until it is of the same height as the tree. It will not be any trouble to harvest this wheat, for Hashem will cause the wind to blow and fine flour will fall from it. People will go to their fields and gather a palmful of flour and that will be sufficient to support his entire household.

There will be a time that wheat will be as large as two kidneys of a huge ox. This should not come as a surprise, for a fox lived inside a large turnip; they weighed the turnip and it contained sixty litrin.

There will be a time that every grapevine in Eretz Yisroel will require the entire city to pick its grapes.

There will be a time that every nonfruit tree in Eretz Yisroel will produce fruit to load up two donkeys. These grapes will produce tasty red wine that will be intoxicating and it will provide pleasure for both young and old men. (111b)


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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Settling in Eretz Yisroel Nowadays

The Mishna (Kesuvos 110b) had stated: A man may force all of his family members to go up to Eretz Yisroel, but he may not force them to leave Eretz Yisroel. A man may force all of his family members to go up to Yerushalayim, but he may not force them to leave Yerushalayim. This applies to both men and women (a wife can force the husband).

The Gemora explains that these halachos are based upon the mitzvah of furthering the settlement of Eretz Yisroel.

The Ramban says that this mitzvah is a Biblical commandment. The Rambam omits this mitzvah is his Sefer Hamitzvos. There are those that explain that the Rambam holds that it’s only a Rabbinical mitzvah. Other say that the Rambam holds it is not a mitzvah at all; the only reason why a man can force his family members to move to Eretz Yisroel is because this way, they will be able to fulfill the mitzvos which are dependent upon the Land of Israel.

The Ritva writes that the applications of the Mishna apply to nowadays also. Proof to this is from the fact that Rebbe incorporated these halachos into the Mishna even though he was living in the times after the destruction of the Beis Hamikdosh.

Tosfos cites Rabbeinu Chaim Kohen that there is no mitzvah nowadays because there are many mitzvos there which entail many punishments, and it will be impossible for one to be careful regarding all of them. This can be simply understood to mean that although there might be a mitzvah to live in Eretz Yisroel, it is simply not worth it, for one will lose out by transgressing many aveiros there. Reb Avi Lebowitz (and afterwards I found this logic in the Beis Halevi) explains a little differently: Rabbeinu Chaim is actually describing the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel to be for the purpose of fulfilling the mitzvos that apply there. If one were to live in Eretz Yisroel without properly performing the mitzvos, they are not only losing out on these additional mitzvos; they are also not fulfilling the mitzvah of living in Eretz Yisroel.

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Vowing to Live in Eretz Yisroel

If a woman living outside of Eretz Yisroel pronounced a vow that she will go and live in Eretz Yisroel; at the time of her vow, it was not dangerous to live there, but later, there was a fear of war. Is the husband allowed to annul her vow?

Perhaps this question would be dependent on whether there is a mitzvah nowadays to live in Eretz Yisroel. Rabbeinu Chaim Kohen and Tosfos (110b) maintain that there is no mitzvah. The Ramban and other Rishonim disagree and hold that there is a mitzvah. The Chidah in Birkei Yosef discusses if this is regarded as a vow that involves personal affliction or not.

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Yearning to Return to Zion - Kesuvos 110

It is written [Tehillim 87:5]: And to Zion it shall be said: "this man, this man, was born in her," and He will establish her on high. (This verse is describing the future time when all the nations of the world will bring the Jews back to Zion. They will say regarding each Jew: He is a son of Zion, he was born there, let us bring him back to her.)

Rabbi Meyasha the grandson of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said (Kesuvos 75a): This verse is applicable to any Jew that was born in Zion and one who yearns to see her. Even Jews who were born elsewhere will be considered children of Zion, provided that they learn to return there.

I began writing the following incident when I was shown that it was already printed in Daf Digest link, so I am writing their version (with a comment or two of my own).

During World War I, Palestine was under Turkish jurisdiction and the Ottomans made life very difficult for the citizens. Press gangs would roam the streets arbitrarily drafting anyone in their wake. The conditions of these forcibly drafted soldiers were exceedingly difficult. They were subjected to hard labor, and since food was exceedingly scarce they were severely underfed.These circumstances could all be circumvented by paying bribes to officials. However, there was one decree that was exceedingly difficult to avert. The Turks declared that anyone not born in Palestine would be deported. This was more difficult to deal with than forcible conscription, since the only way someone born out of the country could get around this was to lie on the government forms.

Since everyone knew that Rav Yosef Chaim Sonnenfeld, zt"l,(where I saw this story brought down, it was with Rav Yosef Rogotchovi from Petach Tikva, but see below)was very careful to avoid falsehood in any form no matter what it might cost, people were afraid that he would forbid people to lie on the forms. During those difficult times, simple honesty would result in the sundering of many homes. When someone ventured to ask the Rav's opinion about this issue, he surprised everyone in the Old Yishuv. "It is certainly permitted!"

“But why is this different from any other falsehood which the Rav prohibits?” the questioner asked.
Rav Sonnenfeld explained, "This is explicit in Kesuvos 75 on the verse, 'And of Tzion it shall be said, each and every man is born therein.' The Gemora learns from the redundancy of the word "man, each and every man" that one who yearns for Tzion is as one who was born there. We see clearly that any Jew who yearns for Tzion is actually considered as one who was born in Tzion! So to write of those who came up to Tzion out of longing for her holiness that they were native citizens is no lie at all: it is a declaration of the absolute truth!"

I saw this ruling from Rav Sonnenfeld in a slightly different context. It was a question regarding people who were not born in Eretz Yisroel and they were seeking permission from the courts to emigrate to Eretz Yisroel. The courts were only granting visas to those who were born in Eretz Yisroel. Rav Sonnenfeld ruled, based on our Gemora that not only is it permitted to testify that you were born in Eretz Yisroel, but one is obligated to do so. It is not regarded as a lie at all, since one who yearns to return to Eretz Yisroel is regarded as if he was born there.

The Kloizenberger Rebbe zt"l added the following: It is written that the lifespan of a person is seventy years. The Gemora in Shabbos (89b) states that the Heavenly courts do not administer punishment for the first twenty years of one's life. Consequently, it can be said that the seventy years do not begin until one is twenty years old. So too, it can be said regarding one who emigrated to Eretz Yisroel. The seventy years of his life begins only after he lives in Eretz Yisroel.

This can be proven from Rashi's commentary on the following verse [Breishis 16:3]: So Sarai, Avram's wife, took Hagar the Egyptian, her handmaid, at the end of ten years of Avram's dwelling in the land of Canaan, and she gave her to Avram her husband for a wife. Rashi writes: This tells us that the time they dwelled outside of Eretz Yisroel does not count in the calculation.

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Which Surgeon should He Use?

The Gemora (Megillah 18) 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 that 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.

The 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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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Divorcing a Woman Against her Will

The Gemora (Kesuvos 109a) cites a case where the father-in-law stipulated to give money to his son-in-law, and he stretched out his leg to him (an expression meaning that he doesn’t intend to fulfill his commitment), he may divorce her against her will.

The commentators discuss the halacha nowadays, where there exists the ban from Rabbeinu Gershom against divorcing a woman against her will (there is an extensive discussion among the poskim if this applies to an arusah as well). Is the husband permitted to forcefully accept the bill of divorce or not?

It is brought in the name of the Rashba that Rabbeinu Gershom did not issue his decree in cases where the husband was not negligent; the edict was only established for unethical husbands who wish to take advantage of their wives, and therefore, in this case, the husband may forcibly divorce her. Or, perhaps, even in this case, he should not divorce her against her will, for the wife did nothing wrong.

The Mishna Lamelech cites an incident that occurred with the Mishpitei Shmuel in the town of Kushtantina. The groom betrothed a woman and promised that he will perform the nisuin on a certain day. On the appointed day, the groom asked for her dowry, but his father-in-law refused, claiming that he lacked the necessary funds. The ruling was that the groom is not obligated to perform the nisuin, for he has a legitimate claim that his promise to marry her was only based upon his receiving the dowry from his father-in-law.

The Pnei Moshe derived from this ruling that in our case, the husband may forcibly divorce his arusah, for Rabbeinu Gershom’s decree would not be applicable in that case.

The Mishna Lamelech states that there is no proof from that ruling. The ruling there was only that the groom is not obligated to fulfill his promise to her and perform the nisuin, but they did not rule that he may forcibly divorce her.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Distinction between Charity and Returning a Lost Object

The Gemora (Kesuvos 108a) states regarding one who is forbidden by a vow to derive benefit from his fellow; the fellow is permitted to return his lost property to him. This is permitted because his primary intention is to fulfill the mitzvah, and he is not intending to provide pleasure to his friend.

This, explains the Shitah Mikubetzes, is in contrast to the mitzvah of giving charity, which would be forbidden. What is the difference between the two mitzvos? He explains: When charity is given to him, he is benefiting directly from the money; therefore, it is forbidden. When his lost object is returned, he is not deriving pleasure from the item; he is getting benefit from the fact that his fellow troubled himself to return the object to him. Regarding his fellow’s exertion, it may be said that his intention is to fulfill the mitzvah, and not to provide pleasure.

Others make the following distinction: Charity may be given to any poor person; it does not have to be given to this specific poor person. That is why it is prohibited to give this particular poor person charity. However, in order to fulfill the mitzvah of returning a lost object, it must be returned to the one who lost the item, and therefore, it would be permitted.

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Paying Up a Debt of his Fellow

The Gemora (Kesuvos 108a) rules regarding one who is forbidden by a vow to derive benefit from his fellow; the fellow is prohibited to repay his debt (in a regular case).

Reb Elchonon Wasserman discusses the rationale behind this ruling. Is it prohibited because the one who pronounced the vow is directly benefiting from the money that is being used to repay his debt? Or, perhaps it is because the fellow is causing the lender to forgive the borrower for his debt (once he has the money from elsewhere), and it emerges that he is indirectly receiving pleasure from the fellow?

This question is actually dependent upon a different question: Can someone pay up the debt of his fellow and cause that the debt has been paid? Or, perhaps only the borrower can repay a debt; his friend may give money to the lender with the stipulation being that the lender will forgive the borrower from the debt which he owes?

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Placing Money on the Horns of a Deer

The Mishna (Kesuvos 107b) had stated: If a person went overseas and someone supported his wife in the interim, Chanan ruled that he has lost his monies. The sons of the kohanim gedolim argued that the supporter may swear how much he gave his wife and collect the monies from him. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinu agreed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai said: Chanan is correct; the supporter has placed his money on the horn of a deer.

What is the meaning of the expression, “He has placed his money on the horn of a deer”?

The Tosfos Yom Tov explains: Just as a deer runs very fast, and one chasing it will probably not catch it; so too, one who “lends” money in this manner will be unlikely to recover the money.

Tosfos Chadashim offers a different explanation: It is common for a deer to bob its head back and forth when it is running. One who places his money on the horn of a deer is likely to lose the money for the money will fall off the horns of the dear.

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Inheritance Based Upon the Testimony of only One Witness

The Gemora (Kesuvos 107a) cites the following case: If one witness said that the husband had died; since she is also allowed to remarry with one witness, she can be supported on the basis of this witness. However, his sons and daughters cannot split the estate based on the testimony of a single witness. They therefore do not have right to receive support from the estate.

Tosfos comments: That the Gemora in Bava Metzia (38b) states that when we hear that he has died, we can send down relatives to his estate; that is only to eat the produce, but he is not permitted to sell the property. So too, over here; we allow them to be sustained from the produce, but they are not allowed to sell the estate in order to be supported.

The Tashbatz writes that one witness is believed to allow the relatives to inherit the estate since it is something that will become public knowledge, and we are not concerned that he will lie. That which the Gemora says that we do not allow an inheritance based upon the testimony of one witness; that is only when the witness testifies that he heard about the death from another witness. Nevertheless, even this testimony will be valid to permit the wife to remarry.

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Praying during a Famine

The Gemora records an incident (Kesuvos 106a):In the days of Rav Yosef there was a famine. The Rabbis asked Rav Yosef, “Will the master beseech God for mercy?” He replied, “If Elisha, with whom, when his students had departed, there still remained two thousand and two hundred students (who depended on him for their sustenance), did not offer up any prayers for mercy in a time of famine, should I (who have fewer students) offer prayers for mercy?

The commentators ask: Why didn’t Elisha and Rav Yosef pray for rain? Didn’t we learn in Meseches Taanis that there is a mandatory obligation for a series of fasts in the time of a famine?

The Maharsha answers: This was not actually a famine; there was a minimal amount of rain and the price of produce was extremely high. It therefore, was not regarded as a severe famine, and the series of fasts described in Taanis would not apply.

The Pnei Yehoshua answers: This was not the proper time for prayer since the Gemora states that it was a time of “Divine anger.”

The Chasam Sofer answers: The Gemora is referring to cases where the correct time for rain has already passed. It is not regarded as proper to pray for a miracle. We do not pray that Hashem should alter the normal course of nature.

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