Sunday, March 07, 2010

Matchmaker, L'chaim and Bas-sheva

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The Gemora discusses the process of matching a man and woman together for marriage, and states that for the first match, a heavenly voice proclaims who will marry whom, while for a second match, the process is as difficult as the splitting of Yam Suf. Rav says that the heavenly voice announces forty days before the forming of a fetus, “The daughter of So-and-so will marry So-and-so.” The Ran explains that this at the point of conception, since an embryo is halachically considered a fetus at forty days from conception.

The Maharsha (Sotah 2b) says that the voice comes out at the time of the husband’s conception, which is why the wife is referred to only as the daughter of someone, and not by name.

Tosfos (22a Arbaim) states that through prayer, one can modify the match that he gets, even in his first match.

The Chasam Sofer (7:34) writes in the name of the Arizal that the “first match” referred to is not necessarily a first marriage. When a soul is created and placed in the world, it has a matching half in someone of the opposite gender. This match is the first match. As the person grows up, they develop, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively. When they marry, their “first match” may not still be appropriate for who they have become, necessitating a “second match,” based on their actions since birth, and this match is the more difficult one.

The Gemora brought a braisa, in which Rebbe said that although a Kohen who does not know his rotation week should never drink wine, he is allowed to by dint of his problem. Rashi explains that Rebbe is not concerned with the imminent rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash. Therefore, Rebbe is saying that destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, which led to the problem of not knowing the rotation, also is the solution which allows them to drink nowadays.

Tosfos Harosh says that Rebbe is saying that a decree that a Kohen can never drink wine is too onerous. Therefore, the problem of not knowing which rotation he is in, also leads to the untenable situation, which therefore allows them to drink wine.

The Rambam (Bias Mikdash 1:7) rules that a Kohen who does know which rotation he is in may not drink wine during his week, even nowadays. This seems to follow the Tosfos Harosh, who says that the license to drink is only for someone who would otherwise never drink.

The Raavad rules that all Kohanim may drink nowadays, which seems to follow Rashi, who says that the license to drink is due to the absence of a Bais Hamikdash, which applies to all Kohanim.

The Shulchan Aruch (OH 128:38) rules that a Kohen who drank a revi’is of wine may not bless Birchas Kohanim, since it is a form of service. The Gemora (Taanis 26b) states that we therefore do not say Birchas Kohanim at Minchah, since it is after a meal, at which the Kohen may have ingested a revi’is of wine. This concern also is the rationale behind the custom in some congregations to shift the Birkas Kohanim on Simchas Torah to Shacharis, lest the Kohanim drink a revi’is of wine after the reading of the Torah, before Musaf.

Bas Sheva or BasSheva?
By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

HaGaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin wondered if one should write the name Bas-Sheva in a get as one or two words and he asked his mentor, the Vilna Gaon. The gaon told him that “I have supported my foundations on 13 words” (from the selichos prayers). Rabbi Chaim then remembered our Gemora in which Rashi remarks that the above verse contains thirteen words (s.v. Kinechah). Counting the words, though, he found fourteen! The only solution, then, is that Bas-Sheva should be written and counted as one word (Kol Eliyahu in the name of Emunah Vehashgachah).


Mentally Preparing for Shemoneh Esreh
The Gemora mentions in passing that according to one explanation, the verse of “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi samid” teaches us that when one davens, he should visualize that the Divine Presence is in front of him. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 98) writes an entire siman on the topic of realizing that one is talking to Hashem and how we should approach the mighty concept of tefillah.

First of all when davening, we must concentrate on the explanation of the words that our mouths are saying. Mishnah Berurah stresses that one must understand the simple meaning, and not delve into the esoteric depths of tefillah, and furthermore, all the mental preparations that are required, should be done before one starts Shemoneh Esreh, for during davening, one must solely focus on the simple translation.

One must expel all of his thoughts until his mind is clear, and he should meditate as to what amount of meticulous preparation he would put in when speaking before an earthly king, how much more so when speaking to Hashem. If a thought does enter his mind during davening, he should wait quietly until the thought goes away. The Mishnah Berurah cites an interesting She’lah who states that as a segulah not to be interrupted with other thoughts during tefillah, before davening. one should say the pasuk “Lev bara li Elokim v’ruach nachon chadash b’kirbi” three times, and each time he recites it he should pass his right hand over his forehead. If thoughts enter during davening, he should do as the above; just instead of reciting the verse out loud, he should think it in his mind.

The Rema adds that before davening one should ponder the greatness of Hashem and conversely the smallness of man.

One must daven as a poor person pleading for mercy, slowly enunciating each word. One must make sure not to daven in a way that it seems that he can’t wait to finish. Mishnah Berurah points out that one must be exceedingly careful in this regard, since there are poskim which hold that if one davened in such a manner he must daven again. Although we don’t rule in accord with these poskim, it shows the severity of not davening properly.