Saturday, March 24, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 15 - An Excommunicate Studying Torah

Rav Yosef cites a braisa: One who has been excommunicated can teach others and they can teach him; he can be hired by others and others can work for him. However, one who has been placed in cherem (one who has been excommunicated twice for thirty days) cannot teach others and they cannot teach him; he cannot be hired by others and others cannot work for him, but he should study by himself in order not to interrupt his studies; he may also make a small store for a source of revenue.

The version of the Rosh states: he should study by himself in order not to lose his learning. The Reshash cites a braisa in Meseches Semochos which states that the reason he should learn is in order not to forget his learning. The Rambam states this reason as well.

A question is asked: Doesn’t every Jew have an obligation to study Torah? What is different about a person that has been placed in cherem, that he should study Torah only because of the concern that otherwise he might forget his learning?

A similar question is asked (Igros Moshe Y”D 2:110; B’Toroso Yehegeh p. 185) on the Rambam in Hilchos Talmud Torah (1:10) who states: Until when is a person obligated to study Torah? Until the day he dies. The Rambam cites a verse in the Torah and concludes: And if there is a time that he will not be engrossed in studying Torah, he will forget his learning. Why is that necessary? Would a person be exempt from studying Torah if he is confident that his learning will not be forgotten?

Any thoughts?

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 15 - IMMERSION OF A BAAL KERI

The Gemora cites a braisa: It is written [Devarim 4:9]: Make them known to your children and your children's children and the next verse states: The day that you stood before Hashem, your G-d in Choreb. We derive from the juxtaposition of the two verses that just as when the Jews stood at Mount Sinai and received the Torah, they did so in dread and awe, with trembling and fear, so too, when torah is being studied in all future generations, it must be learned with dread and awe, with trembling and fear. It is learned from here that a baal keri, one who experienced a seminal emission, is prohibited from reading the Torah, Prophets and Writings, nor can he study the Medrash, Talmud, Halacha and any Aggadic teachings. This is because the baal keri developed a tumah which occurred through levity and this is in contrast to the feelings of awe which are required when studying Torah.

The Gemora in Brochos (22a) states that one who is a baal keri should immerse himself in a ritual bath before studying Torah or praying. This is known as Tevilas Ezra.

The Gemora (ibid) states that nowadays Tevilas Ezra has been nullified. The Rif explains: Some say that it was nullified completely and a baal keri is not required to immerse himself in a mikvah prior to studying Torah or praying and others say that it was limited to studying Torah, but one would still be required to immerse himself in a mikvah prior to praying. He concludes: It is not required to immerse in a mikvah; nine kavin of water poured on his body will be sufficient.

Rabbeinu Hai Gaon states: Since it is not explicit in the Gemora, a baal keri must follow the custom of all the Jewish people and he should not commence to pray until he washes himself.

The Raavad in Sefer Haeshkol asked Rabbeinu Hai Gaon as to what should be done if one becomes a baal keri on Shabbos or on a festival when he cannot immerse himself in a mikvah. He responded that he remembers many Shabbosos being by Rav Aharon Gaon when they prayed in his house and Rav Aharon Gaon would not pray at all.

The Rambam (Hilchos Krias Shema) writes that Ezra’s enactment did not spread throughout Klal Yisroel and a majority of the community was not able to maintain it, therefore it became nullified. It has become the custom throughout Klal Yisroel to study Torah and recite Kerias Shema even while they are a baal keri since Torah is not susceptible to becoming tamei.

The Rambam in Hilchos Tefillah (4:4) writes that Ezra instituted that a baal keri should not study Torah until he immerses himself in a mikvah and a later Beis Din extended this decree to include tefillah. This was not on the account of tumah, but rather because they did not want the Talmudic scholars to be constantly with their wives like roosters. The decree regarding tefillah became nullified because the original enactment did not catch on throughout Klal Yisroel and a majority of the community was not able to maintain it. It has become the custom in certain areas for a baal keri not to pray until he washes his entire body with water based on the verse: One should prepare himself before greeting Hashem, the G-d of Israel.

The sefer Brocha Mishuleshes writes that it only became nullified in instances where one cannot locate a water source, however where water is accessible, a baal keri should not study Torah or pray until he washes himself. He concludes that one Beis Din does not have the power to nullify the decrees of a previous Beis Din.

It is written in Shailos V’teshuvos min Hashamayim (5): It is this fact (the people who are a baal keri and pray without immersing themselves) that has caused the exile to be so long. If Klal Yisroel’s tefillah would be in the proper way, our prayers would have been accepted years before.

He concludes: Perhaps we cannot accomplish that every baal keri should immerse himself in a mikvah prior to his tefillah, but at least the chazzan (leader of the services) should immerse himself and it will be in this merit that will hasten the Redemption.

Shulchan Aruch (O”C 88) rules that Ezra’s decree has been nullified and a baal keri can pray and study Torah without immersing himself. The Magen Avraham writes: Even though that one Beis Din does not have the power to nullify the decrees of a previous Beis Din unless they are greater in wisdom or numbers, since this enactment never caught on throughout Klal Yisroel, it can become nullified.

The Mishna Berura writes that one who has the custom to purify himself through immersion should only do so if he will not neglect the correct time to recite kerias shema and tefillah He adds that possibly, if immersing in the mikvah will result that he will not be able to pray along with a minyan, it is preferable not to go to the mikvah.

It is written in the sefer Meor V’shemesh: It is impossible to comprehend the true meaning of fearing Hashem if one is not careful in regards to this immersion. If one studies Kabbalah without purifying himself, the learning will result in heresy. He cites from the Baal Shem Tov and the Rebbe Reb Elimelech that one who wishes to comprehend Torah and mitzvos must be careful in this immersion, otherwise they will not be capable of reaching the heights they wish to attain.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 13 - Shopping on Chol Hamoed

By Rabbi Doniel Neustadt

Question: When is it permitted to go shopping on Chol ha-Moed?
Discussion: Generally speaking, it is forbidden to go shopping on Chol ha-Moed for items that will not be needed on Chol ha-Moed or the last days of Yom Tov (or the Shabbos following Yom Tov). It is forbidden, for example, to go shopping for clothing, household goods or sefarim which will not be used until after Yom Tov is over.[1]
In addition, l’chatchilah one should stock up on all of his non-food Yom Tov and Chol ha-Moed needs in advance so that he will not need to go shopping on Chol ha-Moed at all. One must, therefore, think ahead and stock up on whatever toiletries, clothing, shoes, household goods and Judaica items one may need during those days.[2] But if for any reason any one of these items is needed for Chol ha-Moed or Yom Tov, it is permitted to purchase it.
Buying fresh foods such as bakery products, fruits and vegetables, dairy products or delicatessen items is permitted on Chol ha-Moed without restriction. One need not stock up and freeze such foods in advance to avoid shopping on Chol ha-Moed. Moreover, even non-perishable food items, staples and beverages may be bought on Chol ha-Moed l’chatchilah, and one need not stock up on them in advance.[3]
Question: Is it ever permitted to go shopping on Chol ha-Moed if the purchases will not be used until Yom Tov is over?
Discussion: Under certain circumstances it is permitted to go shopping on Chol ha-Moed even if the purchases will not be used until Yom Tov is over:
• It is permitted to buy a gift which will be given on Chol ha-Moed, even though the recipient will not use the gift on Chol ha-Moed.[4]
• It is permitted to shop on Chol ha-Moed if the item will not (or may not) be available after Chol ha-Moed.[5]
• It is permitted to shop on Chol ha-Moed if one must be out of town after Chol ha-Moed and will not be able to buy the item elsewhere.[6]
• It is permitted to shop on Chol ha-Moed if the item is on a special sale (such as a clearance or an end-of-season sale) and will cost considerably more after Yom Tov.[7] It is advisable to consult a rav to determine what exactly is considered “considerably more” in this case.[8]
• It is permitted to buy a large quantity of any item (even if only a small amount is needed for Chol ha-Moed) if one can get a better price by buying the larger quantity.[9]

[1] See O.C. 539:1, 12.
[2] Harav S.Z. Auerbach (Shemiras Shabbos k’Hilchasah 67, note 130); Mo’adim u’Zemanim 4:300, s.v. vechol.
[3] See O.C. 533:1.
[4] Chol ha-Moed k’Hilchasah 10, note 147.
[5] O.C. 539:5.
[6] Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:36-3.
[7] Mishnah Berurah 533:16; 539:29, 43.
[8] Shemiras Shabbos k’Hilchasah 67:30.
[9] Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:36-3.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 13 - Highlights

Rabbi Yirmiyah inquired of Rabbi Zeira: If one scheduled his work for Chol Hamoed and then he died; do we penalize the sons as we would to the father and they are compelled to surrender the profits or is the penalty only on the one who committed the illicit labor? The Gemora clarifies the inquiry: Is the penalty on the man who committed who performed the illicit labor and he is not here any longer or is the penalty on the money and the money is still here?

The Gemora concludes: Since it is only a Rabbinic penalty, they only penalized the transgressor and not his children. (12b – 13a)

The Mishna states: One may not purchase homes, slaves or animals during Chol Hamoed unless they are needed for the festival or if the seller does not have what to eat. (13a)

Rava inquired of Rav Nachman: Is one permitted to hire a worker on Chol Hamoed to do work that is not necessary for the festival for the sole purpose of enabling the worker to buy food for the festival?

The Gemora concludes: It is permitted to hire a needy person in order to provide him with his necessities for the festival.

Rav Sheishes asked on this ruling from a Mishna in Pesachim (55a): The Chachamim maintain that tailors, barbers, and launderers can perform labor on the fourteenth of Nissan until midday. A braisa states that tailors can begin work on the morning of the fourteenth even if the custom is not to work on the fourteenth, because even an amateur tailor can sew his clothing in a normal manner during Chol Hamoed. (This is because the fourteenth of Nissan is more lenient than during Chol Hamoed.) Barbers and launderers can begin labor on the fourteenth of Nissan because one who arrives from overseas and one who is freed from jail are allowed to cut their hair and launder their clothing during Chol Hamoed.

Rav Sheishes explains his question: If it is permitted to hire a needy person in order to provide him with his necessities for the festival, then all types of work should be permitted on the fourteenth for we have found an example of labor which is permitted during Chol Hamoed (a needy worker)?

Rav Ashi answers: You cannot compare the guidelines for the prohibition against working during Chol Hamoed with that of the fourteenth of Nissan. Work is forbidden during Chol Hamoed because of excessive exertion and therefore there can be exceptions by situations involving a loss; one cannot perform work on the fourteenth of Nissan because it is regarded as a festival and only festival-related work will be permitted. (13a)

The Mishna states: One cannot move objects from a house in one courtyard to a house in a different courtyard during Chol Hamoed; however he may move them to a house in his own courtyard. One cannot bring utensils from the house of the craftsman during Chol Hamoed; however if he is afraid that they might get stolen, he is permitted to move them to a different courtyard. (13a)

Rav Papa said: Rava tested us with the following question: Our Mishna states that one cannot bring utensils from the house of the craftsman during Chol Hamoed, but a Mishna in Pesachim (55b) states that it is permitted even though the utensils are not needed for the festival?

We answered him: The Mishna in Pesachim is referring to the fourteenth of Nissan and that is why it is permitted (exertion is only prohibited during Chol Hamoed). Alternatively, they answered that both Mishnayos are referring to Chol Hamoed, and we can answer as follows: Our Mishna is referring to a case where the owner trusts the craftsman and the Mishna in Pesachim is referring to a case where the owner does not trust the craftsman and therefore he may bring the utensil to his house.

Rava responded: According to your second answer, there is still a contradiction regarding bringing the utensils to the craftsman’s house in order for him to fix it. The Mishna in Pesachim states that one may bring the utensils to the craftsman’s house, but it is implicit in our Mishna that one may not bring the utensils to the craftsman’s house in order to fix it.

Rav Papa concludes: It is clear that the first answer is the correct one. (13a – 13b)

The Mishna states: One may cover figs with straw (protecting them from the rain). Rabbi Yehudah says: They may even make it thick. The sellers of produce, clothing, and utensils may sell discreetly for the needs of the festival. Trappers, grain pounders and bean grinders may do their work discreetly for the needs of the festivald. Rabbi Yosi says: They were stringent with themselves. (13b)

The Gemora offers two explanations in the dispute between the Tanna Kamma and Rabbi Yehudah. One opinion is that the Tanna Kamma maintains that he may cover the figs lightly (preventing most of the moisture) and Rabbi Yehudah holds that they can be covered thickly (preventing all of the moisture). An alternative explanation is that Rabbi Yehudah maintains that the figs can be piled in a manner that makes it easier for them to be covered (this involves excessive exertion). (13b)

The Gemora cites a braisa clarifying Rabbi Yosi’s opinion in the Mishna. Rabbi Yosi says: The merchants of Teverya were strict upon themselves and did not sell their merchandise at all during Chol Hamoed. The trappers of Acre were strict upon themselves and did not trap at all during Chol Hamoed. (13b)

Rav Huna permitted spice merchants to go and sell in their usual manner in the marketplace during Chol Hamoed.

Rav Kahana asks from a braisa, where it can be implied that one is prohibited from selling his wares in public during Chol Hamoed.

The Gemora answers: The braisa is referring to fruit, which are generally sold in large quantities and people might think that he is involved with business not related to the festival; Rav Huna was referring to spices, which are generally sold in small quantities and therefore it is permitted. (13b)


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Thursday, March 22, 2007


The Gemora states: Anything which is normally eaten raw is not subject to the prohibition against gentile cooking. (Water does not need to be heated and therefore should not be subject to this prohibition.)

The Radvaz in his teshuvos (3:637) writes: It is permitted to drink coffee heated by a gentile and it is not subject to the prohibition against gentile cooking; even though coffee cannot be eaten in its raw state, it is something which does not eaten at a king’s table as an accompaniment to the bread and therefore it is permitted. There is also no concern that they cooked something forbidden in those pots beforehand, since it is well known that they have designated utensils for the coffee (because otherwise, the taste of the coffee would be ruined). He concludes: One should not drink coffee in the accompaniment of gentiles since that will result in many transgressions.

It is brought like that in the Hagahos from the Maharikash (114) as well. He rules that one should be stringent about drinking coffee in a coffee house of gentiles, similar to the halacha regarding wine and beer. Furthermore, it is considered a moishev leitzim (i.e. a session of jesters) and should be avoided.

The Knesses Hagedolah in his sefer Ba’ey Chayei (Y”D 145) disagrees and maintains that coffee heated by a gentile is prohibited to drink. He states: Anything which is eaten or drunk at the royal table by itself, even if it does not come as an accompaniment to the bread is subject to the prohibition of gentile cooking. Furthermore, the requirement that the food must be something that accompanies bread on the royal table is limited to food items, not liquids. He continues: “Even though when I was younger, I would rely on those who ruled that it is permitted, I have now investigated it thoroughly and cannot find a reason for its permission and therefore I refrain from drinking it.” He found that the Arizal prohibited drinking coffee heated by a gentile. He concludes that he is not prohibiting it for the public, but he himself refrained from drinking it.

Pri Chadash (114:6) writes that it is permitted based on Tosfos (Avodah Zarah 31b): Wheat is nullified in water in regards to reciting the blessing of shehakol, so too it is nullified in regards to the prohibition against gentile cooking. Similarly, the coffee is nullified in the boiling water that it is being cooked with and it is therefore not subject to the prohibition against gentile cooking.

Teshuvos Beis Yehudah (Y”D 21) objects to the reasoning of the Pri Chadash. The Gemora Brochos (39a) rules: The proper blessing on water which was cooked with vegetables is ha’adamah and this is the ruling of the Shulchan Aruch (205:2). The reasoning is based on the fact that this is the common method for these vegetables. Accordingly, the blessing on coffee should be ha’adamah as well. Our custom of reciting shehakol on coffee is astounding, but we cannot add to this novelty by being lenient with the prohibition against gentile cooking.

Rabbi Yaakov Emden in his sefer Mor U’ktziah (204) writes that actually the proper blessing on coffee should be ha’eitz since it is a fruit from a tree and that was the original intent of those that planted the coffee beans; to drink from the liquid. He concludes that the custom is to recite a shehakol anyway, similar to date beer and barley beer.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 12 - Highlights

Shmuel said: A Jew who hires a non-Jew to complete a certain project, the halacha is as follows: If the work (the case is referring to something that is clearly recognizable that it belongs to the Jew, such as a house or land) is being done within the techum (2000 amos) of the Jew’s city, it is prohibited to arrange such a deal (since people will assume that the Jew hired the worker on Shabbos); however, outside the techum, it would be permitted.

Rav Papa qualifies this ruling: If there is another cite near the place where the work is being performed, it is forbidden since the Jewish people residing in that city will assume that the employer hired these workers on Shabbos.

Rav Mesharshiya further qualifies this ruling: When there is no city next to the place where the work is being performed, it is permitted, but only on Shabbos and the festivals since it is not usual for any Jews to be there (past the techum); however, it would be forbidden on Chol Hamoed since it is usual for other Jews to be there.

The Gemora cites an incident: Non-Jews built a mansion outside the techum for Mar Zutra on Shabbos. Rav Safra and Rav Huna did not go inside because it was built on Shabbos. Some say that Mar Zutra didn’t even enter the mansion. The Gemora explains that even though it was being built outside the techum and therefore it should be permitted, prominent people (like these Amoraim) are different and must hold themselves to a higher standard. (12a)

The Gemora cites a braisa: One may hire a non-Jew during Chol Hamoed to work after Chol Hamoed, but we cannot hire him to work during Chol Hamoed. The braisa presents a rule: Whatever work the Jew is permitted to do during Chol Hamoed, he can tell the non-Jew to perform, but whatever he is prohibited from doing, he cannot hire a non-Jew to perform. (12a)

The Gemora cites a braisa: One is prohibited from bringing animals into a field for the purpose of manuring it on Shabbos, on festivals and on Chol Hamoed. If non-Jews came on their own with their animals, it is permitted to leave them there. One is not allowed to help move the animals from one section of the field to another, nor is he permitted to provide them with a watchman to protect their flock. If the non-Jew was hired for a week, for a month, for a year or for a seven year span, one would be allowed to help him move the animals from one section of the field to another (on Chol Hamoed) and he is permitted to provide them with a watchman to protect their flock (since the non-Jew is hired for a certain amount of time, he can perform the work whenever he chooses and it is regarded as if he is working for himself). (12a)

The Mishna states: Similarly (to the case with the olives from the previous Mishna), one whose wine was in the vat and he became a mourner (prohibiting him from work), or something unavoidable occurred before a festival (and he couldn’t pour it into the barrels); Rabbi Yosi maintains: He is permitted to pour all the wine into the barrels during Chol Hamoed and he may cover the barrel in the usual manner. Rabbi Yehudah states: He is permitted to make a temporary cover for the barrels to ensure that the wine will not turn sour. (Once the grapes have been pressed, they must be poured into barrels and sealed; otherwise, they will turn sour. (12a)

Rav Yitzchak bar Abba said: Which Tanna holds that any work performed during Chol Hamoed to prevent a loss must be done in an unusual manner? It is not Rabbi Yosi, for he maintains in our Mishna that permitted work (the processing of the wine) may be done in the usual manner. (Rabbi Yehudah disagrees.) Rav Yosef said: The halacha follows Rabbi Yosi’s opinion. (12a)

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: One is permitted to seal a barrel of beer during Chol Hamoed in order to prevent a loss.

The Gemora states: There exists a potential loss regarding unsealed beer (just like by wine). This can be proven from a statement Abaye said over from his mother (i.e., his nursemaid, since Abaye’s mother died at childbirth): A six se’ah sealed barrel of beer is preferred over an eight se’ah unsealed barrel of beer. (12a)

Rav Chama bar Guria said in the name of Rav: The laws of Chol Hamoed are similar to the laws regarding the Cutheans. (The Cutheans converted to Judaism after an outbreak of wild animals in Eretz Yisroel and their conversion was debated as to its validity. They observed some commandments, but not others.)

The Gemora explains: The halachos of Chol Hamoed are like barren women (who do not provide offspring for their husbands) and we cannot learn one halacha from another. The Gemora cites an example: Shmuel ruled that one is permitted to coat the inside of a jug with pitch on Chol Hamoed, but not a barrel; Rav Dimi from Naharda ruled that one is permitted to coat the inside of a barrel with pitch on Chol Hamoed, but not a jug. Rav Dimi is concerned about suffering a loss on Chol Hamoed and therefore only permits the coating of a large barrel; Shmuel is concerned about excessive exertion and therefore only permits the coating of a small jug.

Abaye compared the laws of Chol Hamoed to the laws of Shabbos; some labors are exempt from any punishment but nevertheless forbidden and some activities are permissible to begin with. (12a – 12b)

The Gemora presents a dispute regarding performing labor during Chol Hamoed with crop that is still attached to the ground. One braisa rules: Permission is granted to perform work during Chol Hamoed in cases when otherwise there would be a loss is exclusive to things that are detached from the ground; however, unless one does not have what to eat, it is forbidden to work with crop that is still attached to the ground. This is the opinion of Rabbi Yosi; the other Tannaim disagree and maintain that work can be done with crop that is still attached to the ground. (12b)

The Gemora cites a braisa: One may grind grain into flour during Chol Hamoed if he needs it for the festival; otherwise, it is prohibited. If he grinds for the festival and there is leftover, it is permissible to use that flour.

One may cut branches during Chol Hamoed if he needs it for the festival; otherwise, it is prohibited. If he cuts the branches for the festival and there is leftover, it is permissible to use the wood.

One may make beer during Chol Hamoed if he needs it for the festival; otherwise, it is prohibited. If he makes the beer for the festival and there is leftover, it is permissible to use that beer, provided that he does not utilize a ruse by intentionally making more than what he needs for the festival.

The Gemora challenges this last ruling from a braisa: Even if one has old beer in stock, he may make new beer during Chol Hamoed and drink from the new beer, demonstrating that it in fact was necessary.

The Gemora concludes that it is a dispute among the Tannaim. (12b)
The Gemora records an incident: Rabbi Yehudah Nesiah went out on Shabbos wearing a metal ring with a signet of almog wood. During the week, he would drink water, which was heated by an Aramean cook. Rabbi Ami heard about these two things and became upset.

Rav Yosef discusses the source for Rabbi Ami’s objection. It could not have been because the ring was considered muktzah since we learned in a braisa (Shabbos 46b): One may move bracelets, nose rings and rings in a courtyard on Shabbos as they have the status of vessels. It could not have been because he drank from the water cooked by the non-Jew, since we learned that anything which is normally eaten raw is not subject to the prohibition against gentile cooking. (Water does not need to be heated and therefore should not be subject to this prohibition.)

The Gemora answers: Rav Ami felt that since Rabbi Yehudah Nesiah was of great stature, he should not have went out on Shabbos wearing a metal ring with a signet of almog wood and he should not drink water heated by a gentile. The reason for Rav Ami’s protest is because he felt others would see a great man like Rabbi Yehudah Nesiah ruling leniently and they might go and rule even more leniently, which may lead to a transgression. (12b)

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 12 - Bishul Akum

by Rabbi Neustadt

Question: With so many women today in the work force, is it permitted for non-Jewish household help to cook kosher food in one’s kitchen if the cooking is done under the supervision of an observant Jew?

Discussion: With the intention of limiting social interaction between Jews and non-Jews — for socializing is often the first step towards assimilation, the Rabbis decreed against eating certain types of perfectly kosher food which were cooked, baked or roasted by a non-Jew, even if a Jew supervised the entire process from beginning to end. This is the Rabbinical prohibition known as bishul akum. Even b’diavad, if a non-Jew cooked these foods ─ whether in the home of a Jew or in a manufacturing plant ─ it is forbidden (in many cases) to eat them; the cooked food is now considered non-kosher even though the raw food was totally kosher before being cooked by the non-Jew.[1] The pots and pans which in which the food was cooked would — in some cases — have to undergo a koshering process before one would be allowed to use them again for kosher food.[2]

Question: Which types of foods are susceptible to the restrictions of bishul akum?

Discussion: There are basically two criteria which define the type of food which is forbidden because of bishul akum:

· The food must be “important” — that is, food that would be suitable fare for a dinner served to dignitaries. Thus most dishes of poultry, meat, potatoes, pasta, eggs or fish are included, as long as they are prepared in a manner in which important people are customarily served in a formal setting. Candies, potato chips,[3] Pringles, beer, breakfast cereals, canned tuna salmon and sardines,[4] popcorn, etc. are not considered “important” foods no matter how skillfully and tastefully they are prepared.

· Foods which are edible raw (under normal conditions[5]) are exempt from the prohibition of bishul akum, even it they were cooked. Thus most fruits and vegetables, cheeses, water, milk and peanut butter, for example, are exempt from bishul akum, even if they were prepared in a manner fit for a king, since all of these foods are edible when in a raw state.[6]

Question: We have established that “cooking” by a non-Jew renders the food bishul akum. Does that mean that a non-Jew may not participate in any phase of food preparation?

Discussion: The only phase of food preparation that is forbidden to a non-Jew is to place the pot or pan on the stove or inside the oven. The non-Jew may cut, chop, grind, grate, mix, season, etc. He may also turn on the gas or electricity in the stove or oven, regulate the temperature throughout, stir or baste the food while it is cooking, and remove the food once it is cooked or baked. All this is permitted l’chatchilah, as long as the non-Jew is being supervised to ascertain that no kashrus laws are transgressed.[7]

Question: If the non-Jew has already placed the food on the stove or into the oven but has not yet turned on the fire, can the food still qualify as bishul Yisrael?

Discussion: As long as the Jew turns on the fire, the food is considered bishul Yisrael. But, l’chatchilah, this should only be relied upon in this exact case, where the food is already on the stove or in the oven and the fire is being lit after the food has been placed on the stove or in the oven.[8] In the reverse case, where first the Jew turned on the fire and then the non-Jew placed the food on the stove or in the oven, some poskim hold that this is not considered bishul Yisrael. B’diavad, however, most poskim maintain that the food is not considered bishul akum and is permitted to be eaten.[9]

Question: If the non-Jew has already turned on the fire and placed the pot or pan on the stove or inside the oven but the food is not yet completely cooked and ready to eat, can the food still be salvaged and not considered bishul akum?

Discussion: There yet remain three options for the food to be considered bishul Yisrael:

· Remove the pot or pan from the fire or the oven, hold it for a moment, and then replace it. This is permitted l’chatchilah.

· Stir, mix or flip the food over while the pot or pan is still on the fire.

· Regulate the temperature of the fire, either by raising it a bit to hasten the cooking or by lowering it a bit to prevent burning or singeing.

However, if the food is already completely cooked and ready to be eaten, it is too late to avail oneself of any of these three options. The food is considered bishul akum.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 11 - Mitzva of Constructing a Maakeh

The Mishna states: One is permitted to build a fence (maakeh) for a roof or a porch, provided that it is done in an amateur fashion.

The Ritva states that our Mishna is not referring to the mitzva of maakeh since a porch is exempt from the obligation of constructing a maakeh. Furthermore, if there would be a mitzva, he should be permitted to build a maakeh using a professional.

The Gemora in Sukkah (3a) states that if one has a house that is less than four amos squared, he is exempt from building a fence around the roof, for this is not considered a house. The commentators ask that it is still a stumbling block and if one doesn't build a fence there, it will endanger people's lives? The Gemora in Bava Kamma (15b) learns from the passuk of lo sasim damim beveisecha that one should not raise a wild dog in his house or a rickety ladder. Shouldn't he be required to build a fence here because of the possibility of someone falling?

The Chazon Ish (Y”D 214) answers that in truth a roof is not a dangerous area and it is not considered a stumbling block. People who ascend a roof understand beforehand that they must be careful and this is a worldly custom. The Torah, nevertheless mandated that one who builds a house is required to build a fence on the roof and this halacha has its guidelines. A house that is less than four amos squared is not regarded as a house for this halacha.

The Emek Brocha adds that this explains why one is not allowed to build a professional maakeh on Chol Hamoed even though he would be permitted to build and fix other things for the fear of bandits. The lack of a maakeh is not an inherent danger and therefore is not considered a dovor heovud, an irretrievable loss and will not be allowed to build on Chol Hamoed. (This is not like the Ritva we mentioned above.)

Reb Akiva Eiger asks on the obligation to recite a blessing when building a maakeh. Tosfos in Chulin (105a) rules that one does not recite a blessing on mayim acaharonim (water after the meal) for it was instituted for the benefit of man that he shouldn't harm himself due to the melach sdomis (certain type of poisonous salt). It would stand to reason that constructing a maakeh should not have a blessing either, for it is only to prevent damage? Rabbi Dovid Goldberg answers according to the Chazon Ish: A maakeh is not built to prevent damage. In truth, it would not be necessary; the Torah taught us that it is required even if it is merely a distant possibility for a damage occurring, hence a blessing is recited.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007


Rava said: Merchandising during Chol Hamoed is prohibited. Rabbi Yosi bar Avin says: If he is selling the merchandise in order to avoid a loss, it would be permitted.

The Rishonim cite several reasons for this prohibition. The Rosh states that there is a lot of bother involved in selling merchandise (the item must be carefully appraised) and exerting oneself during Chol Hamoed is forbidden. The Magen Avraham (539:1) and the Perisha both say that exerting oneself in regards to the selling of the merchandise will cause him to abstain from rejoicing on the festival. The Meiri adds that even a minor business transaction that does not involve much effort is forbidden.

The Teshuvos HaRosh (23:4) offers a different reason: The primary purpose in the festival is that Klal Yisroel should have an opportunity to eat, drink and study Torah. If merchandising would be permitted, people would be occupied with business matters and they would neglect to rejoice properly during the festival.

The Maggid Mishna states: The Chachamim decreed that it is forbidden to conduct business during Chol Hamoed because this will result in writing. This is the identical reason for Shabbos and Yom Tov.

The Rivash (355) offers an alternative reason: Being involved in commerce during Chol Hamoed is demonstrating that Chol Hamoed is an ordinary day and this is a disgrace to the festival.

Teshuvos HaRosh presents another reason: Sometimes the buyer might overpay (or the seller might undercharge) and they might become distressed during the festival.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 10 - All About Millstones

The Mishna states: One may set up an oven or a stove or a millstone during Chol Hamoed. Rabbi Yehudah says: One may not groove a new millstone.

The Gemora explains the prohibition against grooving. Rav Yehudah says: It is referring to cutting grooves in the millstone (if the millstones are smooth, they will not grind the kernels properly – cutting grooves accomplishes that the surface will become rough). Rav Yechiel says: It is referring to cutting the eye-hole (the hole in the upper millstone through which the kernels enter).

Rabbi Yoseph Dov Karr did some terrific research on millstones - please scroll down (after the blank space, which I can't get rid of) and click the "read more" link and see. Yasherkoach Gadol!!!!!!!!!!

The Movement of the Millstones (Starting and stopping a pair of millstone)

The miller would open a sack of grain and pour it into the millstone hopper, or the grain would already be stored above the millstones in a bin on the floor above. The miller would simply reach over and open a gate that would fill the hopper with about 50 to 100 pounds depending upon the type of grain.

Now the miller was ready to start the mill. Then he must open the control gate on the mill's sluice box. There are several schools of thought about starting and stopping a mill. One is that the millstones should be together, the miller opens the control gate and the water begins filling the upper buckets of the water wheel. As the water fills the first bucket it over spills into the second and then third and so on. When the water is over flowing the water wheel the miller will slowly begin to raise the runner millstone. The water wheel would begin to turn as well as the gears and the millstones. The machinery in the mill would come alive and very quickly the mill will begin to turn at a fast speed. All the time the grain has been slowly fed into the millstones and the miller now lowers the runner stone closer to the stationary bed stone, and the material coming out from the millstones grows finer and finer. Then gradually the miller adjust the millstones for the desired grind.

The other method is the opposite, before turning on the water onto the wheel, the miller raises the top runner millstone as far as its adjustment will allow it to rise. Then the miller goes and gradually begins to open the control gate, and the water then begins to slowly fill the first bucket on top of the water wheel. When the water has filled the buckets so that the top of the water wheel is heavier than the rest of the wheel, the water wheel will begin to turn. As the water wheel begins to turn and gain in speed the miller then begins to slowly lower the upper runner stone downward and the material begins coming out of the millstones becomes finer. Then the miller adjust the millstones for the desired grind that he wants.

One method is about as good as long as it is not hard the machinery. There is also several different ways you can stop the mill. One method of stopping the mill is just to close the control gate, and when the water stops flowing the mill will stop. A variation on this method of stopping the mill is to close the control gate and when the machinery begins to slow down you gradually raise the runner millstone. When the weight of the water wheel equalizes or when the water empties from all of the buckets the machinery will stop. Both methods will work for gear and belt driven pairs of millstones. The problem is the lag time it takes once you close the control gate to when the machinery actually stops. This can be a very long time of part of the mill's machinery is broken or jammed, or especially if someone is caught in the turning parts of the mill.

Another method of stopping the millstones is to push an extra handful of grain into the millstones. The millstones with the added amount of grain will act like a car that has sudden gotten too much gasoline, it will be begin to stall. When this happens you gradually bring the two millstones together with the added cushion of grain between the millstones. The added weight of each millstone together should over take the weight of water and the mill suddenly stops as if you applied the breaks. This is a good method is something breaks or someone or something gets caught in the machinery. In a mill where the millstones are belt driven the drive belt turning the millstones may suddenly jump off or snap so this method works better with gear driven millstones. The problem is with the old style of wooden mill gearing is when the gear teeth are worn too much they may suddenly snap like match sticks but if someone is caught in the machinery you take that risk. A new problem or danger may arise when you have forgotten that the water wheel still contains kinetic energy or water enough to make the wheel turn wildly until it empties. What then may happen is if you forget about the water in the wheel and begin raising the runner millstone to clean between them after a days work using the millstone crane. The millstone will whip off the millstone spindle wildly when raised by the millstone crane. It will quickly screw itself off of the millstone spindle and stop once it has cleared the spindle. The millstone still may come loose from the bails and pins dropping through the floor going downward into the mill's basement.

Many a miller may still use this method of starting and stopping the mill by gradually bringing the millstones together because he never has to close the control gate just raise and lower the runner millstone, and to then adjust the grind. Water will then fall over the stopped will and create an interesting effect for people passing by the mill. Some people passing by the mill may then be drawing into the mill by unusual effect of water cascading over the wheel.

The Action of the Millstones (A pair of millstones for producing fine flour)

Most people do not know the exact process at work underneath the millstone cover. All they may see is the millstone hopper which is an open upside down pyramid sitting on top of the millstone cover full of grain. Some millstone hoppers have a control gate to regulate the flow or the volume of grain moving out of the millstone hopper through the bottom approximate 4 by 4 inch hole or opening. If the millstone hopper has a gate to control the flow, it may just be a small wooden paddle, a single arm mounted in several straps also made of wood. The gate slides up or downward. Usually once it is adjusted the miller never has to touch it unless he wants to change the rate of the grinding or change the type of grain he is grinding on the same millstone.

The grain then falls into a device hung below the hopper with leather straps called a shoe. It is called a shoe because originally it looked like a wooden shoe but slowly over the years its design has changed. The shoe can be raised or lower at one end to allow more or less grain to fall into the millstones. To ensure that it is always a constant rate the shoe is vibrated back and forth a turning damsel. The damsel is mounted on the top of the balance rynd in pockets in the center hole of the upper turning millstone. The top end of the damsel is turning in a hole in the wooden horse frame that holds the shoe and millstone hopper. Some damsels are adjustable up or down a metal shaft so they can be used on different millstones. Some damsels are metal shafts with wooden blocks or strips screwed to the shaft while others are made of wood with large round wire staples placed around the shaft to create raised or fluted ridges. Some millers may have different damsels for different rates of feed. One damsel may have only 4 flutes while another may have 6 to a dozen fluted edges around the shaft.

Drawing "Millstone" by T.R. Hazen, 1984.
The damsel got it same back in the days of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales when some make chauvinist miller referred to the rapping sound the shoe made against the turning shaft as like a damsel singing her song. The mill was never silent as long as she would be singing her song. The damsel would be constantly singing her song and make the make work.

The ensure that the shoe always makes contact with the damsel some mills have a wooden spring or "miller willow," attached to the side of the horse frame on the side opposite of the long arm that wraps around one side of the damsel. A millers willow is a wooden spring made out of ash wood and a string is attached around a notch in the end of the spring to the end of the shoe, usually through the same hole that the crook string is looped.

The grain falls into the eye of the runner stone, and the flow of grain is controlled by the arrangement of the shoe and the damsel rather than by the size of the hole or "eye" of the stone. With the turning runner the balance rynd and below that the driver spread the grain evenly between the two stones as it falls and hits these two turning bars. The gap between the two stones is regulated by the miller to adjust the fineness of the flour. These working surfaces of the millstones is hidden from view when the mill is operating to create a down draft that cause the ground material to be carried down a chute. Most people only see the grain going in and where the flour comes out a chute, and what is in between it remains a mystery.

A bed stone and its runner stone
Around the edges of the millstones and to the inside of the millstone cover normally lays 20 to 25 pounds of ground material and the excess falls down the chute. Traditionally the miller would only lift the millstone cover to clean between the millstones. At that time it was usually tossed out or used for animal feed. A dishonest miller might lift the millstone cover after each batch of grain he ground taking that amount as an excess toll. Sometimes the millstone cover was much larger than the size of the millstones so the miller could take more or possibly instead of being round it had multiple corners to trap an excess amount. This was called the "miller's mite" the stuff that fell though the cracks or was trapped in the system belonged to the miller.

In ancient mills the millstones turned in a round trough with a chute on one side but as time passed mills began to have more power so the millstones gradually became more covered to keep down the dust. The millers though that they needed small paddles of sweeps attached to the rim of the turning stone to keep the ground material at all times going down the chute. The added weight of these small paddles effected the balance of the millstone or got caught against the inside cover. Then in time the millers discovered they were not needed. Because air is drawn into the stones with the grain to keep them cool at long as the cover is over the millstones there is a down draft that is created that carries the grain down the chute beyond the amount that lays around the millstones.

A drawing from one of the HABS-HAER sheets

Most people have never been in a mill when it is operating let alone know what happens between the two millstones. Often people refer to the millstones as rocks and as far as they know the rocks mash up the grain up into flour. Many years ago the people who advocated using the modern roller milled flour began an old wives tale that says, "You don't want to eat stone ground flour because you might bite down on a piece of rock from the millstone." That is just not the case you don't get any stone particles in the flour normally when the mill is grinding because the millstones never touch. A pair of millstones need to be redressed every three or four week and in that time a pair of millstones can grind two to three hundred thousand pounds of grain.

There is a rare case that one may find stone chips in the flour but it does not come from the grinding action of the millstones but from the neglect of the miller or millstone dresser. After a pair of millstones have been dressed, no matter how well they have been swept or vacuumed they still contain small particles of stone. They need to be purged of the stone chips so that when you grind for the public the product is stone free of these chips. The amount of grain that you need to grind between the millstones to purge them after dressing is about one sack of grain (50 to 75 pounds). The miller may use an old sack of old grain that he would have tossed out normally. Once the grain is run through the millstones it should always be thrown out. The miller also uses this grain to see if the millstones have also been dressed properly. Sometimes he may have to take them apart again and do some more dressing.

The reason that the millstones should never touch are for the following reasons: (1) The stone of the millstone would be reduced into the flour or meal. (2) The millstones would wear out very quickly. (3) If the millstone actually touch they may stop or (4) most importantly they would create a shower of sparks. The dust from wheat, rye, barley and oats is more explosive than gunpowder and 35 time more explosive than coal dust. Corn and buckwheat do not contain explosive dust because corn is a different cereal grain and buckwheat is an herb. Buckwheat and rye produce the most dust of them all in the process of grinding. (5) Finally if they touch they would tend to stop.

Technically the millstones will do some grinding of the grain without anything on the grinding surface. Some say that porous opening in the French millstones are enough to create the grinding action between two millstones without dress. And then, of course, the rest is left up to the art of the miller how he maintains his mill and the millstones. The miller may or may not be forth coming with information about what happens between the millstones. Some millers will only goes as far as the grain gets ground up between the two rocks. This response that it is stone ground, may be your only answer in some cases. The good miller who knows that the millstones should have sharp surfaces furrows to provide more efficient grinding of the grain.
Furrows and Lands (The grinding surface of the millstones)

A pair of millstones lies hidden from view in a wooden case called a vat. The millstones work together in pairs with a revolving upper turning millstone called the "runner" stone, and the fixed stationary bottom stone called the "bed" stone. Many people have lived their whole lives taking sacks or turns of grain to the local mill to have it ground into flour or meal and have never seen the millstones apart to see their surface or the process of maintaining the grooves which is called "dressing."

A discarded millstone outside and removed from the mill may or not be laying on its back to reveal patterns of furrows and lands on the grinding surface. So that is this pattern of the "grinding beams" beams used for in the milling process some may ask.

Are they used for cutting the grain into flour and meal? Or are they used as "furrows" in the farmers field to move the farmers plow across the "land," but in this case it moves the grain across the land of the millstones. They could be "air-furrows" for the movement of air between the two millstones to keep the grain from over heating? Then they could be "pairs of furrows" used to transport the grain between each pair of crossing furrows create a cutting against each other like scissors.
Cutaway Drawing of Millstones in Use.
This cutaway shows the grinding action of two millstones with a right hand dress.
The furrows are used to cut the grain like a pair of scissors, as well as move the grain outward from the center of the millstones to the outer circumference and they are used to increase the air space between the millstone to keep the grind cooler. The condition of the pattern makes up for the "sharpness" of the millstones and for the fineness of the flour. A "dull" pair of millstones will not properly grind and separate the brain from the inner kernel and take more power to operate. A dull pair of millstones will not scrape off the bran in a large flake but with tare it into small particles which is then difficult to sift out from the flour. So a sharp pair of millstones will scrape off the bran in a nice large flake and then continue to reduce the inside endosperm into smaller particles.

The furrows do not radiate outwards from the center of the stone like many would think. Rather they are more or less set at a tangent to the eye of the stone. They are arranged in groups known as harps or quarters, each group consists of a "master furrow" which runs from the eye of the stone to the outer edge. The master furrow is the primary furrow on the surface of the millstone. There is a variable number of secondary furrows, perhaps three or four or five furrows. The first secondary furrow is called the "journeyman furrow," this is the second largest furrow in a quarter of a millstone with quarter dress pattern, parallel and immediately adjacent to the master furrow on one side and the next furrow or apprentice furrow on the other side. The "apprentice furrow" the third largest furrow in a quarter of a millstone with a quarter dress pattern, parallel and immediately adjacent to the journeyman furrow on one side and the butterfly furrow on the other side. "The "butterfly furrow," the smallest of the four millstone furrows in one quarter of a millstone in quarter dress. Sometimes this furrow is also called the fly furrow. If the millstone has a fifth furrow it may or may not have a name depending upon if the miller or millstone dresser gives it a pet name or not.

What happens when the grain falls into the eye of the millstones, it is moved outward between the two millstones by the turning motion of the upper runner millstone. The one method to discover what happens when the stone is grinding is to take the millstones apart after they have been doing some grinding of grain. As you look between the two millstones across the bottom millstone surface you will discover that the grain is in different phases of being reduced into flour or meal.

So beginning at the center or eye of the millstones where the grain is introduced between the two millstones you would find whole kernels of grain. A kernel of grain encounters large deep furrows that move it outward between the millstones. In this beginning process each kernel of grain would encounter 10 pairs of master furrows crossing each other and thus chopping the grain into small or broken bits of grain. In other works it makes cracked grains in the center of the millstones. If this were a roller milling process this would be the first break roller step.

At the grain spirals outward it will encounter a the second pair of additional furrows called the journeyman furrows and the grain will then become cut 20 times in this phase or like a second break roller step. The one difference beside twice as many furrows in this point of the millstone surface is that depth of the furrows is shallower than they it was at the millstone eye because the particle size is also getting smaller.

A standard text book (apprears to be English) illustration of a millstone.
The caption reads, "Common dress for a 4 ft. diameter millstone."
The old time millers who spoke about how many "quarters" a millstone had and how may furrows were in a quarter, it was also customary to speak about the millstone surface into three divisions. In the center was the "eye" or "bosom," in the middle is the "waist," and at the outer it is known as the "skirt." The bosom and waist is kept down more or less hidden below and behind the skirt so they cannot be seen.

The furrows at the leading edge of the eye are usually from one quarter to three quarters of an inch in depth, and this depth gradually is tapered off to come up to the surface of the stone at the skirt. The width of the furrows of a millstone are usually between one inch and one and a quarter inches in width.

Scissors cutting action of a pair of millstones as seen from the end view of two furrows.

The grinding surface of the millstones are divided between "furrows" and the "land." The furrows are grooves or channels cut out or into the face of the millstone. The furrows are deeper at the eye and become shallower as they move towards the skirt. Looking at a furrow from the side it has two separate edges. The "back edge" or bottom of the furrow is a sharp incline plane downward from the surface of the land. It culminates in what is known as a "front edge" or "feather edge." The feather edge tapers upward to meet the land, and it is the cutting edge of the furrow. The parts of a furrow are the back edge, heel, the bottom, and the feather edge. The lands are the portion of the face of the millstone left between the furrows and are in reality the true grinding surface of the millstones. This is because the grain is moved below the surface and when it returns it meets two surfaces or lands and it is sheared at this point by a constriction. The furrows purpose is then for distribution, ventilation and cutting because the grain is cut near where the feather edge meets the land.

Scissors action of a pair of millstones.
As the upper millstone moves across the surface of the lower millstone the large kernels of grain are trapped in side of the two back edges but as the millstone rotates a the grain is carried up the slop or incline where it meets the land or surface of the millstone. The sharp leading edges of the lands, passing over corresponding edges in the other stone, act rather like the blades in a pair of scissors, shearing or cutting the grains into fragments. The crossing feather edges constrict the grain within a smaller space and a shearing action occurs. If you take apart a pair of scissors a single blade is the same basic shape as a single furrow.

If the furrows did not answer their purpose of distribution, ventilation and cutting or breaking and there was no furrows on the millstone surface then the grain might be crushed. The problem with crushing the grain or applying too much pressure upon the grain as it is being ground is it that the oil is released from the germ in to the flour and will quickly cause it to turn rancid. As the grain is passed through the millstones it passes outward in two and one half revolutions. So as it is cut into four or five pieces and would continue to discharge it in a normal manor when every thing is fine and correct. But if it is tends to move outwards and be crowed and clog, then the draft is too severe. If it discharges too quickly with out being properly being ground, then the draft is too shallow. If the crowding occurred in the eye or the bosom of the stone then the grain will tend to lift the runner stone over coming the weight and pressure of the millstones and create great friction resistance, building up heat and moisture in the passing of the grain through the stone. The angle of the furrows is such that as they sweep across each other the grain and flour is forced outwards towards the edge of the stones. A rare type of millstone dress occurs when the furrow reached the outer last 6 to 8 to 10 inches of the millstone it will suddenly change direction and thus give the material a rapid movement outward which tends to distribute and discharge the material after reaching this point. This type of millstone dress is found in the 1764 Stillwater Mill in middle of the village of Stillwater, New Jersey.

When the millstones are normally grinding the weight of the turning upper millstone is transferred to the grinding action. So none of the weight of the stone is upon the bottom millstone spindle bearing. This is one reason that the millstone never should run empty it that the weight of the upper turning stone would quickly destroy that bearing.

When the material reaches this portion of the millstone the last 6 to 8 to 10 inches of the millstone they become vary close together. If you take a pair of millstones apart and lay a straight edge across the eye of the stone from one skirt to another. The millstones are not flat but each stone has a slight dishing to the surface. This is so as the grain moves outward in its two and one half revolutions the the particle size becomes smaller and the millstones become closer together. So as they reach the outer edge they may be only a paper thickness apart This area is called "the flouring of the stone" is the outer section of the grinding surface of the millstones where they come close together and the actual grain is turned into flour. Here the cracking lines are located and the are more furrows reducing the grain into flour. The flouring of the stone is like the reduction rollers and the cracking is like the germ rollers in a roller system.

The flat surfaces of the lands, which are roughened with small parallel grooves called stitching or cracking, they also pass across each other, grinding the fragments into still finer flour. In the process of dressing a millstone it is done in several steps. Facing is done to the surface painted on the lands, dressing is done to the furrows and cracking is done to the lands. The process is called "cracking" which means the laying in of "cracks" and leaving a space between the cracks. A cracking lines is just made with the sharp point or cutting edge of the mill bill. So if you looked at them closely from the side they would be V-shaped. The cracks extend across the land of the flouring of the stones and are varied in fineness as the occasion requires. A skillful stone dresser could put in 10 to 12 or perhaps 20 to 35, or even 50 cracks per inch with a full width of the pick or bill. The cracks are a series of parallel lines land across the land between the furrows. Some millers or millstone dressers see the need for cracking in a millstone while other say that it makes no difference. Usually millstones used for corn have no cracking and it is only found on millstones used to grind wheat and producing white flour.

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Monday, March 19, 2007

Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 9 - Tovei Lev is Referring to a Birth of a Boy

by Zvi Akiva Fleisher

The Gemora seeks the source which indicates that Hashem forgave the Jewish people for eating on Yom Kippur. The Gemora states: It is written in Melachim I[8:66]: And they went to their tents joyful and glad of heart. This teaches us that the people returned to their homes to find their wives in a state of marital purity, and that they rejoiced in the radiance of the Divine presence, and that each wife became pregnant and gave birth to a boy.

How is this last point derived? The Shaalos U'tshuvos Beis Efrayim written by Rabbi Efrayim Zalman Margolios of Brod, chelek Orach Chaim in the preface page 4, writes in the name of Rabbi Naftoli ben Rabbi Levi of Brod that this is derived from the words "v'TOVEI leiv" being expressed in the plural form. The gemara Brochos 59b says that upon birth of a son a man makes the blessing "hatov v'ha'meitiv." "Hatov" is for the good which he has received, a new son, and "ha'meitiv" is for the good his wife has received, the same new son. We see that the birth of a son is goodness for both the father and mother, and they are together TOVEI leiv.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 9 - Intermingling Joyous Occasions, Procrastinating the Completion of a Mitzva (Nine Days Siyum)

The Gemora seeks to find a Scriptural source that one should not intermingle one joyous occasion with another. The Gemora cites a verse in Melachim I [8:65]: At that time, Shlomo instituted the celebration, and all Israel was with him, a huge congregation, from the approach to Chamas until the Brook of Egypt, before Hashem our G-d, for seven days and seven more days, fourteen days. They celebrated the completion and dedication of the Beis Hamikdosh for seven days before Sukkos and then they celebrated the festival of Sukkos for seven days. The Gemora posits: If we would be permitted to intermingle one joyous occasion with another, they should have waited and combined the seven day celebration for the dedication of the Beis Hamikdosh together with the seven days of Sukkos. By the fact that they didn’t combine the two, it can be proven that we cannot intermingle two joyous occasions.

The Gemora rejects the proof: Perhaps we can intermingle two joyous occasions, but we cannot intentionally delay the celebration once the Beis Hamikdosh was complete.

The Gemora answers: Shlomo could have left out a small portion of the building and finish it immediately prior to Sukkos. By the fact that he didn’t leave over any part, this indicates that we cannot intermingle two joyous occasions.

The Avnei Neizer (O”C 459:9) asks: How could they have delayed the building of the Beis Hamikdosh? Isn’t there a principle that one cannot push off the performance of a mitzva?

He answers by citing the Chacham Tzvi (106), who maintains that it is permitted to delay the performance of a mitzva when the mitzva can be performed with a greater degree of sanctity later, and since here, the mitzva of completing the Beis Hamikdosh on Sukkos would be of greater sanctity and it would enhance the mitzva, there would be no concern for the procrastination of the mitzva.

The Shach (Y”D 246:27) rules that when one is close to finishing a Mesechta, he may leave a little left at the conclusion of the Mesechta in order to make the siyum on a day that is fit to have a siyum feast. It is brought in some seforim that the source for this halacha is our Gemora, which stated that they could have left over a small portion of the building of the Beis Hamikdosh in order to celebrate the dedication on Sukkos. (They didn’t do this by the Beis Hamikdosh because we cannot intermingle two joyous occasions or because it would be disgraceful to leave over a portion of the Beis Hamikdosh.)

The Elya Rabbah (551:27) states: While it is permitted to eat meat during the Nine Days at a siyum feast, one should not hurry or delay the finishing of a Mesechta in order to conclude it during the Nine Days.

The question is asked: Why not? Our Gemora prohibits this only by the building of the Beis Hamikdosh; it can be inferred that this would be permitted by all other mitzvos.

Rabbi Ezriel Hildesheimer (O”C 90) answers: Regarding the building of the Beis Hamikdosh, if we can intermingle two joyous occasions, there would be no prohibition at all to dedicate the Beis Hamikdosh on Sukkos. However, to hurry or delay the finishing of a Mesechta in order to conclude it during the Nine Days and make a siyum then would be inconsistent with the custom of not eating meat during the Nine Days. It is on account of this that the Elya Rabbah rules that this is forbidden to do.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 9 - Eating on Yom Kippur

by Rabbi Yoseph Dov Karr

The Gemara says that the Jewish people did not observe the fast of Yom Kippur that year, but they ate on that day as part of the celebration of the Chanukas ha'Mikdash. The Gemara says that they derived the allowance to eat on Yom Kippur from the Torah's description of the Chanukas ha'Mishkan in the Midbar. When the Mishkan was dedicated, the Nesi'im brought Korbanos as part of the celebration, even on Shabbos. The Jewish people derived from there that when the Mikdash is dedicated, the celebration overrides the obligation to fast on Yom Kippur. Hashem was pleased with their decision, as He demonstrated at the end of the celebrations by sending forth a Bas Kol to proclaim that they were all destined to eternal life in Olam ha'Ba.

The Gemara mentions that before they heard the Bas Kol, the Jewish people were worried that they may have acted wrongly by eating on Yom Kippur and would be liable for the severe punishment of Kares.

Why were the people concerned that they would be liable for punishment? Even if their ruling was incorrect, at worst their act was an inadvertent transgression, an act of Shogeg, for which there is no punishment of Kares. Moreover, the people certainly followed the ruling of Beis Din in this matter, and thus there was no reason for them to be held accountable. Even if the ruling was wrong, the people would be liable only to bring a Par he'Elem Davar (the Korban offered when the entire nation acts upon an erroneous ruling of Beis Din which permits an act that is actually forbidden with a punishment of Kares). Why were they afraid that they would be punished with Kares?

Perhaps the answer may be dependent upon whether or not the permission of eat on Yom Kipper was D'chuya or Hutra. Apparently it was D'chuya and therefore they were concerned that even though it was mutar to eat there was still a partial sin and needed to be forgiven and they were worried perhaps they made a mistake. The Bas Kol came and told them not to worry, as Hashem decided it was the right thing to do and was completely Hutra.

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Teshuvos Shvus Yaakov (3:31)cites a teshuva from the Ramah Mipano that prohibits fulfilling the mitzva of reciting the blessing on the new moon during the festival or on Shabbos on the account of the principle that one may not intermingle one joyous occasion with another.

The Shvus Yaakov asks: It is understandable regarding the festival when there is an obligation of joy, but why should it be forbidden on Shabbos? There is no mitzvah of joy on Shabbos?

Furthermore, why would it be forbidden on Yom Tov? Our Gemora states: One should not marry on the festival because the joy one has with his wife will push away the joy of the festival or because the groom will exert himself on account of the joy beyond what is permitted during Chol Hamoed. The recital of the blessing on the moon does not entail any excessive exertion and it stands to reason that we should not be concerned that the joy of fulfilling this mitzva will push away the joy of the festival. What is the basis for the Ramah Mipano’s prohibition?

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 8 - Highlights

The Mishna quotes Rabbi Meir as saying: One may collect the bones of his father and his mother (to bury them next to his ancestors) because it is a joy for him. Rabbi Yosi says: It is considered mourning for him (and therefore, he may not move their bones). One may not arouse lamentations for his dead relatives and one may not eulogize them for thirty days before the festival. (8a)

The Gemora asks on Rabbi Meir from a braisa which states: One who gathers the bones of his father or mother should mourn for them the entire day, but not the following evening. (It is evident from the braisa that gathering his parent’s bones is a source of mourning, so how could Rabbi Meir state that this can be done during Chol Hamoed?) Abaye answers: Rabbi Meir in the Mishna means that the joy of the festival will override his feelings of anguish (and that is why it would be permitted to move the bones). (8a)

The Mishna had stated: One may not arouse lamentations for his dead relatives and one may not eulogize them for thirty days before the festival. The Gemora inquires: Why thirty days? Rav Kahana answers in the name of Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav: There was once an incident where a certain man collected money for the sake of ascending to Yerushalayim for the festival pilgrimage. A eulogist came and stood by the doorway of his house (lamenting the loss of one of his relatives). The wife took the money (which was designated for her husband trip) and paid the eulogist with it. The man was left without money and he didn’t go up to Yerushalayim. It was at that time that the Chachamim enacted that one may not arouse lamentations for his dead relatives and one may not eulogize them for thirty days before the festival.

Shmuel offers another reason: A dead person is not forgotten by the living for thirty days (and they might come to eulogize him during the festival).

The Gemora states that there will be a difference between the two reasons if the eulogizer does it for free. (8a – 8b)

The Mishna states: One may not dig burial chambers and tombs on the Moed (they were not needed during Chol Hamoed and therefore prohibited because it involves excessive exertion), but one may adjust burial chambers during Chol Hamoed. One may make a pond for washing laundry during Chol Hamoed (since it does not involve excessive exertion), and a coffin providing that the corpse is in the courtyard. Rabbi Yehudah prohibits unless there are boards with him (prepared from beforehand). (8b)

The Gemora asks: What are burial chambers and tombs? The Gemora answers: The burial chambers are made by digging into the sides of the crypt and the tombs are the vaults built above the ground. (8b)

The Mishna had stated: One may adjust burial chambers during Chol Hamoed. The Gemora asks: How can it be adjusted? Rav Yehudah answers: If the chamber was too long, they can shorten it. A braisa is cited: One can lengthen it or widen it. (8b)

The Mishna had stated: One may build a coffin providing that the corpse is in the courtyard. The Gemora cites a similar teaching from a braisa: One is permitted to perform all the necessities for a corpse during Chol Hamoed; we may cut his hair; launder his clothes for him; build a coffin for him from boards that were prepared from before the festival. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: It is permitted to bring the wood and saw them into boards privately in his house. (8b)

The Mishna states: One may not marry women during Chol Hamoed, neither virgins nor widows. One may not perform a yibum marriage (a levirate marriage - the act of the brother-in-law marrying his widowed sister-in-law, when the brother died without children) either because he has joy, but he may remarry his divorced wife. A woman is permitted to adorn herself during Chol Hamoed. Rabbi Yehudah says: She may not plaster her face (with lime) because it is a defacement to her (even though, it will improve her appearance when the lime is removed; presently it cause her grief). An ordinary person may sew in the normal manner and a professional muse use irregular stitches. They are permitted to interlace (support for the beds) the beds. Rabbi Yosi says: One may tighten them. (8b)

The Mishna had stated: One may not marry women during Chol Hamoed, neither virgins nor widows. One may not perform a yibum marriage either because he has joy. The Gemora asks: Is joy forbidden on Chol Hamoed? The Gemora answers: We may not intermingle one joyous occasion with another. Alternatively, the Gemora answers that the groom will push aside the joy of the festival and involve himself with the joy of his wife. The Gemora cites a Scriptural verse supporting this viewpoint. It is written [Devarim 16:14]: And you shall rejoice in your festival. The Gemora expounds: With the festival and not with your wife. Ula offers another reason: The groom will exert himself on account of the joy beyond what is permitted during Chol Hamoed. Rav Yitzchak Nafcha says: If we would allow marriages to take place during Chol Hamoed, this would lead to neglect in the obligation of propagation (since people would wait until the festival to get married, in order to merge the wedding feast with the festival feast).

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 7 - Shabbos in the Daf

by Reb Ben

The Gemara states that if a bridegroom contracts tzaraas, we give him seven days where his tzaraas is not examined, thus allowing him to remain tahor for those seven days. We can apply this idea to Shabbos, as during the week, one can contract impurities from the foreign influences that permeate society. Yet, one is given Shabbos, the seventh day, to be enveloped in an aura of purity and holiness, and this day of holiness wards off all evil influences.

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Daf Yomi - Moed Katan 7 - Highlights

The Mishna states: One may trap the ishus and the mice from a field of trees and from a grain field in the usual manner on Chol Hamoed and during Shemitah. The Chachamim maintain that one can trap them from a field of trees in a usual manner, but in an unusual manner from a grain field. (The potential loss in a grain field is relatively minor.) One may close a breach on Chol Hamoed, and during Shemitah, he may build in the usual manner. (6b)

The Gemora states that ishus is a creature that has no eyes (and burrows under the ground). (6b)

It was taught in a braisa: One may trap the ishus and the mice from a grain field and from a field of trees in the usual manner and one can destroy ant holes on Chol Hamoed. How do we accomplish that? Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: One should bring dirt from one ant hole and put it in the other and the ants will choke each other (by smelling the unrecognizable dirt).

Rav Yeimar bar Shlamya said in the name of Abaye: This method works only when the two holes are situated on two sides of a river, and only when there isn’t a bridge or a plank or a rope stretched across it. (Otherwise, the ants will recognize the dirt.) (6b)

It was taught in a braisa: What is considered trapping the rodents in a usual manner? One digs a hole and hangs a trap inside the hole. What is considered an unusual manner? One pierces a spit into the ground above their hideaway and hits it with a hammer. He then flattens the ground underneath it, which crushes them. (7a)

Rabbi Shimon ben Elozar taught in a braisa: One must trap the rodents from a grain field in an unusual manner only when the field is close to a city, however, if the field is close to a field of trees, one can trap them in a usual manner because otherwise, they might destroy the trees. (7a)

The Mishna states: One may close a breach on Chol Hamoed (but it cannot be built in a usual manner). Rav Chisda said: This is only regarding a garden wall but one can rebuild a courtyard wall (since otherwise, thieves may enter). (7a)

Rabbi Meir said in the Mishna: A Kohen is permitted to look at a negah tzaraas (erroneously described as leprosy, it is an affliction of the skin mentioned in the Torah) in order to rule leniently but he is not permitted to issue a strict ruling. The Chachamim disagree and maintain that a Kohen cannot look at the negah at all. (7a)

The Gemora cites a braisa: Rabbi Meir said that a Kohen is permitted to look at a negah tzaraas in order to rule leniently but he is not permitted to issue a strict ruling. Rabbi Yosi says that he cannot look at all, not to issue a lenient ruling or a strict one, since if the Kohen looks at the negah hoping to issue a lenient ruling, he might be compelled to issue a strict ruling as well. (Once he looks at a negah, he must issue a ruling.) Rebbe said: Rabbi Meir’s words, that a Kohen can look at a negah, seems to be correct in regards to a confined metzora; and the words of Rabbi Yosi, that a Kohen cannot look at a negah, seems to be correct in regards to a confirmed one.

Rava said: If he was never looked at altogether, everyone agrees that the Kohen does not look at the negah during Chol Hamoed; if he is at the conclusion of the first confinement, everyone agrees that the Kohen does look at him; the argument is regarding a metzora who is at the conclusion of his second week of confinement. Rabbi Meir maintains that the Kohen can look at the negah because if it appears to be tamei, he has the option of remaining quiet and not ruling that he is a confirmed metzora. Rabbi Yosi holds that the Kohen must issue a ruling and therefore he should not look at all.

The Gemora asks from a braisa where Rebbe holds precisely the opposite of the original braisa. The Gemora answers that it is a matter of dispute how Rebbe holds. (7a – 7b)

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