Friday, February 22, 2008

Four People are Considered as Dead

The braisa (Nedarim 64b) states: Four people are as if they are dead. These are a poor person, a leper, a blind person, and someone who does not have children. A poor person is as if he is dead, as derived from the passuk above, ““Because all of those (who have sought to kill you) have died.” A leper is considered like he is dead, as the passuk states, “let her not be as if she is dead.” A blind person is considered dead, as the passuk states, “In the darkness he placed me like the dead of the world.” Someone who does not have sons is considered dead, as the passuk states, ““give me children, and if not I am dead.”

Reb Chaim Shmulevitz explains that the common denominator among these four is that they do not feel someone else’s pain and that they cannot provide benefit for others.

A poor person is considered as dead not because he is lacking himself, but rather, it is because he cannot give to others.

A blind person cannot see others and therefore, he is unable to perceive their pain or suffering. He cannot join in his tribulation.

A metzora is banished from the camp and therefore, he is unable to offer assistance to others.

One who does not have children to nurture is lacking the ability to provide benefit to those that are dear and close to him. It is a natural instinct for a person to desire to give whatever he has to his children.

Only a life where one can share with others is worth living.

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Delaying by a Neder

The Mishna (Nedarim 63a) had stated: If one made a neder against tasting wine for the year, and the year was proclaimed to be a leap year, he is forbidden for the year and its extension.

The Ra”n explains: The Mishna is teaching us that even if one made the neder from the beginning of the year, since he said “this year,” we do not say that he meant “one year,” but rather, he is prohibited for an extra month, which is thirteen months. However, if he said “one year” without any specification, the extra month is not included, even though the year was a leap year. For behold, if he did not abide by his prohibition this year, he makes it up the next year, which is a regular year. And although, it is forbidden for him to do that, because there is a prohibition against delaying, since if he would delay, he could make it up in another year, his neder is not connected to this year, which is a leap year. Therefore, even if he fulfills it this year, the extra month is not included.

The Rashba holds that even if he says, “one year from today,” the extra month is not included.

It is evident from the Ra”n that he holds of the following novelty: One can violate the transgression against delaying, even by a prohibatory neder.

The Rambam and Ramban, both maintain that this prohibition is only applicable by a neder for hekdesh, when one is obligating himself to do something.

The Machaneh Efraim adds that this transgression can apply by all nedarim to fulfill a mitzvah.

Reb Shimon Shkop states that the Ra”n’s words are perplexing. The prohibition against delaying is applicable when the person has an obligation to do soemthing. A neder is a prohibition on an object. If the object is forbidden, it is forbidden, but if it is not, how can there be a prohibition against delaying?

Reb Dovod Pervarsky explains: A neder also begins with an obligation resting on the person. He is obligated to fulfill his neder. If the forbidden object is in existence, the neder takes effect upon that object. However, if it is not in existence at that time, the person has a responsibility to render it forbidden when it comes into this world. If he fails to do so immediately, he is violating the transgression against delaying.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

An Abbreviated Cycle

The Gemora (Nedarim 61a) presents a dispute regarding the counting of Yovel. The Chachamim hold that Yovel is the fiftieth year in the cycle and the following year is the first year of the next cycle. Rabbi Yehuda maintains that the fiftieth year is reckoned for both cycles. It is the fiftieth year of the previous cycle and the first year of the forthcoming cycle.

The Turei Even poses an interesting question according to the viewpoint of Rabbi Yehuda. In the first Shemitah cycle after a Yovel, there will only be five field working years between Yovel and Shemitah since during Yovel one is not permitted to work his field.

In a normal Shemitah cycle, each of the six years has a designated tithing that one is required to separate from his field. One is obligated to take maaser sheini (he would bring one tenth of his produce to Yerushalayim to be eaten there) on the first, second, fourth and fifth years. He would separate maaser oni (given to the poor) on the third and sixth years. The Turei Even wonders what the arrangement would be according to Rabbi Yehuda in the first cycle following a Yovel, where there is only five years.

The Netziv and the Sfas Emes state that in the third year, one would separate maaser oni and regarding the remaining years, he would take maaser sheini. This is because the Torah states that maaser oni should be separated every three years; however the Torah does not prescribe set years for maaser sheini. A year that does not have a requirement for maaser oni, automatically has an obligation for maaser sheini.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Term Expired and Fasting for "One Day"

Annulment after the Term of the Neder Expired

The Mishna (Nedarim 60a) states: If a person says: “Konam” (he forbids himself with a vow) that he will not taste any wine today, he is only forbidden from doing so until it gets dark.

Rabbi Yirmiyah says: When it gets dark, he must ask a scholar (to permit his vow). The Gemora asks: What is the reason for this? Rav Yosef answers: It is a decree, lest he confuse this case with a vow that he will abstain “for one day” (which the Mishna stated means that he is forbidden for twenty-four hours, not just until dark).

The Acharonim ask: Why can’t he have the neder annulled before the night? Why must he wait for the night?

The Chasam Sofer answers: If he would have the neder annulled before the night, it would retroactively annul his neder. It would emerge that he had abstained for nothing. However, if he waits until the night to annul the neder, he has fulfilled his neder, since the term of his neder was for that day. It was only a stringency based upon a decree that he should have it annulled at night.

It is evident from the Chasam Sofer that he maintains that a neder cannot be annulled after its term has been completed. The Tosfos Ri”d holds that a neder can be annulled by a sage even after its term has expired.

Fasting Nowadays

The Ra”n asks on our custom of accepting to fast for one day, and immediately by nightfall, he is permitted to eat without petitioning a sage first. According to our Gemora, shouldn’t he be required to have the neder annulled because of Rav Yosef’s decree of “one day”?

The Ra”n answers: Everyone knows that the Chachamim instituted that the time for a fast is from morning until night. It is not similar to other nedarim, which do not have a set time. There, therefore, is no reason for a decree, for everyone understands that the halachos of nedarim and the halachos of fasting are distinct from each other.

The Rashba answers: The Gemora’s decree is only applicable in a case where he made a neder, saying, “Today, I will not drink wine,” which is similar to the case where he said, “I will not drink wine for one day.” There, we rule that he must have the neder annulled at nightfall, since it is similar to the case where he made the neder for “one day,” where he was permitted in the beginning of the day. However, regarding a fast, where one is forbidden to eat from the beginning of the day until its conclusion, there is no reason for any decree. One would easily think that the reason why we are lenient and allow him to eat at nightfall is because we were stringent upon him at the beginning of the day. When he makes the neder in middle of the day, and he was permitted up until then, we decree that he is required to petition a sage for annulment of his neder at nightfall.

The Rashba offers another answer: There is no place for Rav Yosef’s decree by a neder to fast, for even if one would make a neder to fast for “one day,” he will not be required to fast for twenty-four hours like by a different neder. Therefore, on a regular fast, he may begin to eat immediately upon nightfall.

The Yados Nedarim answers: This decree was never issued by a neder for a mitzvah. One who vows to fast is regarded as a mitzvah, as the Gemora refers to him as a kodosh.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Pigs in the Future

(Nedarim 59a) The Rishonim disagree regarding a food item that the Gemora is uncertain if it is forbidden or not and it remains unresolved. The inquiry will remain in that state until Eliyahu Hanavi clarifies it for us. The Ohr Zarua maintains that this is regarded as “something which can become permitted,” since there is a possibility that Eliyahu will say that it is permitted. The Rashba (Beitzah 4a) disagrees and he explains: If Eliyahu will decide that the food is forbidden, it will emerge that this item will never be permitted. If he will rule that it is permitted, it actually was never forbidden. Either way, he argues, it cannot be labeled as “something which can become permitted.” The Bach cites a Mordechai that it is not considered “something which can become permitted,” for by the time Eliyahu will permit it, the food will be already ruined.

The Chasam Sofer cites the following question from the Rav in Frankfurt: Chazal write that a pig is called a “chazir,” for in the future, Hashem will reverse the prohibition of the pig and it will be permitted. If so, according to those Rishonim, pig should be regarded as “something which can become permitted”?

The Chasam Sofer answers based upon that which was written in the Toldos Yitzchak: The Torah forbids animals that do not have split hooves, or those that do not chew their cud because those animals are naturally conceited; they trample with their feet and they have a poison inside of them, which is extremely dangerous for a Jew to eat. The animals that do not digest their food easily and they are compelled to chew their cud; those animals are permitted to eat.

If so, explains the Chasam Sofer, there will be no change in halacha regarding the pig. It was forbidden and will remain forbidden. Rather, Hashem will change the nature of the pig and it will begin to chew its cud. That is why it will be permitted then. Accordingly, the only pigs that will be permitted then, are those that will be born after this change occurs; however, the pigs that were in existence prior to that will remain forbidden. This is why a pig is not classified as “something which can become permitted.”

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Women and Shemitah

The Chinuch states that there is a positive commandment which forbids plowing on Shemitah. It is written [Shmos 34:21]: From plowing and harvesting you shall desist.

The Minchas Chinuch (112) asks that if so, women should be exempt from this mitzvah, and they should be permitted to plow on shemitah because it is a positive commandment that has a time element to it and the principle is that women are exempt from any positive mitzvah which is governed by time?

He answers that women are obligated in this mitzvah because that rule is applicable only regarding a positive mitzvah that is incumbent on the body of the person and not a mitzvah like shemitah, which is a mitzvah that is dependent on the land (mitzvos hateluyos ba’aretz). This can be better understood based upon our Gemora which says that the shemitah prohibition is on account of the ground.

Proof to this distinction is cited from the Ritva in Kiddushin (29a). The Gemora rules, based on a Scriptural verse that women are not obligated to perform a circumcision on their sons. Tosfos asks: Why is a verse necessary; circumcision is a positive mitzvah which is governed by time since the mitzvah can only be performed by day, and women are exempt? The Ritva answers: Any mitzvah which is not related to the person themselves; this principle does not apply. The mitzvah of milah is to perform the circumcision on the son and therefore women would be obligated if not for the special verse teaching us otherwise.

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Something that will become Permitted

Rabbi Shimon said Nedarim 58a): That Mishna is only referring to the halacha of bi’ur i.e. removing (the produce of Shemitah may be kept as long as that produce is still available in the fields for the animals; afterwards, it may no longer remain in the house).

The Ra”n explains: Since it was possible to eat it before that time, it is regarded as something that can become permitted.

The Sha’ar Hamelech and the Noda B’Yehudah ask: According to this logic, why is it only not nullified if it becomes intermingled with its type? The halacha should be that it should not become nullified even if it becomes mixed up in something that is not its type? For the Ra”n above (52a) explained at great length in the name of the Ri”f that something which is permitted presently to be consumed will not be nullified, even with a mixture of things that aren’t its type?

The Sha’ar Hamelech answers: The Ra”n only said that rule in respect of things that will be permitted forever, such as meat, which will always be permitted to be eaten with other meat or foods that are not from milk. However, here, the Shemitah produce will become forbidden forever, i.e. after the “time of removal.” It is therefore compared to something that will become permitted, where it will not become nullified only in a mixture of things that aren’t its type.

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Ula says (Nedarim 56a): A dargash bed is a bed of good fortune.

The Rishonim ask: Shouldn’t such a bed be forbidden on account of the prohibition of nichush; One should not act upon the basis of omens or lucky times (Vayikra 19:26)?

The Radvaz answers that it is being used as a sign to strengthen one’s luck, but not to be superstitious about it. R’ Eliezer MiMitz disagrees with him and maintains that even that would be forbidden.

The Shitah Mikubetzes explains that this is a bed designated for the guardian angel of the house. It was done for the purpose of honoring the Holy One, blessed is He. This is similar in the manner that we prepare a chair for Eliyahu Hanavi by a bris milah.

The Ra”n in Sanhedrin explains that it is a bed which is constantly made and kept empty in order to demonstrate that the household has more than they need. Through this, one is recognizing that Hashem has blessed him with wealth and thanking Him for it.

The Rambam writes that dargash is a small bed that is placed before a larger bed; it is used as a stepping-stool in order to climb onto the higher bed.

The Rosh explains that the angel in charge of poverty resides in a dirty house and the angel in charge of riches and success resides in a clean house. The dargash is a bed which always remained clean in order to beckon the angel of wealth to reside in the house.

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