Wednesday, June 25, 2008


The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Sotah 32a) lists statements that must be made in Hebrew. One of them is the bikkurim (the first ripe fruits which had to be brought to the Beis Hamikdosh in Yerushalayim) recitation. When he brings the fruits to the Beis Hamikdosh to be given to the Kohanim, he recites several verses from Devarim. Rashi writes that he says the verse beginning with Arami oved avi, An Aramean tried to destroy my father [Devarim 26:5], and he continues until the end of the passage.

In truth, however, he does not complete the entire passage. As a matter of fact, he stops in middle of verse 10, when he says asher nasatah li Hashem, that You have given me, Hashem. The Rambam in Hilchos Bikurim states this explicitly.

The commentators ask that the last words of this recital conclude in middle of a verse and this is against the dictum of stopping in a place that Moshe did not stop. The Gemora Brochos (12b) rules that any place in the Torah that Moshe Rabbeinu did not pause; we are forbidden to pause as well. How could they institute to stop the recital in middle of a verse?

Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky in his sefer Emes L’Yaakov in Parshas Ki Savo answers that this ruling does not apply by mitzvos, such as bikkurim. It is only a concern when verses are being recited because of Torah.

There are other examples where this principle may be applicable. The Gemora in Rosh Hashanah (31a) discusses the hymns that were recited by the Levites 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 the aforementioned Gemora in Brochos. 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). According to Reb Yaakov, we can suggest that the hymns of the Leviim were not being sung as Torah; but rather, as a part of the mitzvah of the bringing of korbanos. They therefore were permitted to stop and start in the Torah, even in the middle of a passage.

Magan Avrohom (O”C 282) asks this question as well, inquiring into different verses from the Torah that we recite during tefillah which are incomplete. He also answers that we only apply the principle that one cannot 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.

It would seem that many other Acharonim do not agree with this qualification of that rule. The tefillah which is recited when the Sefer Torah is raised in shul is a combination of two different verses. There are those who stop after saying, “lifnei B’nei Yisroel,” for the next part (al pi Hashem b’yad Moshe) is not a complete verse. This reason is brought in the name of Reb Chaim Volozhiner. Once again, according to the qualification mentioned above, we could have explained that there is no concern during tefillah; it is only when we are reciting Torah for the sake of Torah where the dictum applies.

The Chasam Sofer in his Teshuvos (O”C 10) discusses why during kiddush, do we begin with the verse, Va’yehi erev va’yehi boker,” when that is the middle of a verse in the Torah. He explains that the first part of the verse has a reference to “death,” and we did not want that alluded to during kiddush. It is evident that the Chasam Sofer as well did not concur with this qualification.