Friday, July 04, 2008

Addressing in Hebrew

The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Sotah 42a) states: The Kohen must speak to the nation before the war in the Holy Tongue.

The Ir Binyamin explains why he was required to address them in Hebrew.

The Gemora below states: Rabbi Yochanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai: Hashem is communicating to Bnei Yisroel that even if you only say Kerias Shema at morning and night, I will ensure you do not fall in their hands. [This does not mean they do not have to keep the other commandments, but rather that they do not have to study Torah during the war more (if they do not have time to do so) more than the minimum of reciting Shema every morning and night.]

It can be suggested that Rabbi Shimon ben Yochai is following his own opinion, for he says (Menachos 99b): Even if only recites the shema in the morning and at night, he has discharged his obligation of studying Torah day and night. And then he adds: It is forbidden to say this over to an am ha’aretz (ignorant person; for then, they will not study Torah; they will only recite kerias shema).

It is now understandable why the Kohen addresses the nation only in Hebrew. Since he is informing them that it is sufficient if they merely recite shema in the morning and at night, even if they do not study Torah the remainder of the day, he must speak in Hebrew, a language that the ignorant people do not understand.

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Renouncing his Honor

Rav Ashi (Daf Yomi: Sotah 41b) said that even according to the opinion that a prince may forgo his honor; a king may not forgo his honor! This is indicated by the verse that states “put for yourself a king,” implying that his awe should (always) be placed upon you.

It is noteworthy that a Torah scholar can renounce his honor. What is the difference between the two?

Reb Chaim Brisker explains: A king has a higher status than an ordinary person because the people appointed him as a king. In truth, everyone is fit to become a king. Once he is appointed king, everyone is obligated to honor him. If the king renounces his honor, it is as if he is reverting to being an ordinary constituent, for there is no tangible difference between them except the honor accorded to him.

This is not the case with respect to a Torah scholar. Everyone is required to honor him because of his inherent status. Even if he chooses to renounce his honor, his higher level remains the same. This is why he is permitted to renounce his honor.

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Thursday, July 03, 2008


Someone in my brother's shiur asked him why do the Kohanim say livareich es amo Yisroel beahavah. He answered that Rabbeinu Bachye writes that we say liyachedcha beahavah and ahavah means Shechinah. We can suggest that the Shechinah rested on the fingers of the Kohanim when they duchaned, so it is for this reason that they recite the word beahavah.

I found several answers to this question:

1. Some say that "b'ahavah" is based upon the Chazal that that birchas Kohanim should be said slowly and with kavanah.

2. M"B paskens based upon M"A and Zohar that if a Kohen hates someone or someone hates him, he cannot duchen.

3. Reb yerucham Fishel explains it based upon the halacha that birchas Kohanim must be recited "panim k'neged panim" (face to face), and that is a sign of love, as we find by the keruvim.

4. Based upon the Kedushas Levi who explains the halacha that the Kohanim must have their palms down during birchas Kohanim. This is because they are displaying that they are givers and not takers. Accordingly, that is why they say "b'ahavah" to show that they are giving out of love, and they want nothing in return (perhaps not even a "yasherko'ach, like the Reshash says).

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Boruch Sheim

Whenever a brocha was recited in the Beis Hamikdosh, the people would respond with the prayer of Boruch sheim etc. Would this response be required to be in a quiet tone like we say it in kerias shema or perhaps it can be answered loudly?

There are two reasons as to why we recite Boruch sheim quietly. The Gemora in Pesachim relates that the Tribes said Shema Yisroel and Yaakov responded with Boruch sheim. The Chachamim had a dilema as to how we should recite shema. Perhaps we should not say Boruch sheim for it is not in the Torah, however it is not proper to refrain from saying it for Yaakov did recite it. They resolved this by ruling that it should be recited quietly.

There is a Midrash that relates what transpired when Moshe went up to Heaven. He heard the angels praising the Holy One, Blessed be He, with Boruch sheim. He was greatly impressed with this and brought it down for Klal Yisroel to say as well. The Midrash brings a parable and concludes that it would not be proper to recite this tefillah out loud for it is considered stolen from the angels, however on Yom Kippur, when we are compared to the angels, it can be said out loud.

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Sitting in the Temple Courtyard

Reb Chaim HaQoton has an excellent piece, where he discusses the origin of this prohibition.

The Talmud maintains a rule in many locations[1] that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. In most points of reference to this law, the Talmud then proceeds to explain that a king of the House of David is allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. Rabbi Yissachar Ber Eilenberg (1570-1623) writes[2] that in the Jerusalemic Talmud[3] there is an opinion who understood that even a Davidic king is not allowed to sit in the Temple Courtyard. This opinion is stated by Rav Ami the Jerusalemic Talmud in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish. However, the Amudei Yerushalayim asks how Rav Ami can say such a thing in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish, if he also said in his name[4] that the law is that one cannot sit in the courtyard except in the place of the kings of David. This second law refers to the fact that there was a throne near the courtyard designated for the Davidic kings, upon which anyone was allowed to sit[5]. The Amudei Yerushalayim answers based on the words of Rabbi Menachem Azariah of Fano (1548-1620)[6] that the prohibition barring one from sitting in the Temple's courtyard is only in the future in the Third Holy Temple, but until then one is permitted to sit in the Courtyard[7]. The Jerusalemic Talmud records an opinion that even if a Davidic King is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, the Kohen Gadol is surely allowed to sit there[8] because the Torah explicitly mentions Eli the Kohen Gadol sat there[9].

Rabbi Yehuda Roseannes (1657-1727) was unsure whether the prohibition that bans sitting in the courtyard is rabbinic or Biblical[10] in its origin. Rabbi Roseannes writes that the prohibition cannot be merely rabbinical in its origin because the Talmud used the existence of this prohibition to prove[11] that the prophet Samuel did not literally sleep in the Temple as a lad. Had the prohibition been merely rabbinic, it is not necessarily true that the rabbis had already decreed this prohibition in the times of Samuel. However, Rabbi Roseannes asks that if the prohibition is indeed biblical in origin, then the Mishnah[12] should have listed that the Temple's courtyard has a higher degree of sanctity as it listed all the other places in ascending order of their holiness. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Epstein (1829-1907) writes[13] that the prohibition is not biblical because then there is no rationalization for it not to apply to Davidic Kings, nor is it rabbinic because then the Talmud would not have been able to prove that Samuel did not literally sleep in the Holy Temple complex. Rather, he writes that the prohibition is in a quasi-rabbinical, quasi-biblical state, for it was a rabbinical law (Divrei Kabbalah) instituted by Moses in an effort to show honor to the future kings of Israel. Indeed, Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik (1886-1959) wrote[14] that one who sat in the courtyard was considered rebelling against the king and could justifiably be given the death penalty for treason.

Maimonides writes[15] that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of the biblical commandment of "Fear my Sanctuary"[16]; Rabbi Moshe ben Yoseph of Trani (1505-1585)[17] and Rabbi Yosef Babad (1801-1874)[18] also write that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is an extension of that biblical precept. If the prohibition is biblical, then why did the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim not lost the higher sanctity of the Temple courtyard? Rabbi Yehoshua Yosef HaKohen of Mard, Poland writes[19] that even if the prohibition stems biblically from the commandment about fearing the sanctuary, the root of the prohibition is not the sanctity of the courtyard in the Holy Temple, rather it is the honor of HaShem, which is slighted should one sit in the courtyard[20]. Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926) writes[21] that according to Maimonides, even a Kohen Gadol is not allowed to sit in the Temple courtyard. He explains that the opinion in the Midrash, which allowed the Kohen Gadol to sit there, did not mean that the Kohen Gadol is not included in the commandment of fearing the sanctuary. Rather, that opinion held that it is a greater honor for Heaven to allow the Kohen Gadol, who wears the Tzitz, to sit in the courtyard rather than to make him stand. These commentaries understand that Maimonides held that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical, however Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) writes[22] that just as Rashi understood (see below) that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, so too Maimonides understood that it is a Masoretic tradition[23].

Various passages in Tosafos understand the nature of the prohibition in two different ways. In one location, the Tosafists write[24] that this prohibition is rabbinic, yet in other locations, the Tosafists seem to understand[25] that the prohibition is biblical in origin. The former Tosafos understands that although usually one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard, one is allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating the sacrificial meat of the offerings in the Holy Temple. This passage in Tosafos understands that since the prohibition is only rabbinic, the rabbis never decreed that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard when eating from the sacrificial meat. However, the latter Tosafos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is biblical and thus Tosafos required hermeneutical extractions to permit the eating of sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Tosafos explain that eating the sacrificial meats is considered part of the Temple services, and just as other components of the services are theoretically allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[26], so too the eating of the sacrificial meats are allowed to be done while sitting in the courtyard[27]. Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky points out[28] that a third view is espoused by another Tosafos: Piskei HaTosfos writes[29] that one is not allowed to eat the sacrificial meats while sitting in the courtyard. Accordingly, this Piskei HaTosfos understands that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is not only biblical, but it is so strong that there is never justification for sitting in the courtyard—even when eating from the sacrificial meats. Indeed, Rabbi Yaakov Tzvi ben Aryeh Leib Jolles writes[30] that the discussion of whether or not one can sit down in the Temple courtyard to partake in the sacrificial meats is dependent on whether that prohibition to sit there under normal circumstances is rabbinical or biblical.
Rashi[31] writes that the law barring one from sitting in the Temple courtyard is based on a Masoretic tradition passed down orally from generation to generation, originally given to Moses at Mount Sinai. Rabbi Elazar Landau explains[32] that although the wording of the Masoretic rule was quoted as "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for Judean kings" in Sanhedrin 101b, that was the exact wording of the tradition until King David was chosen. After the anointment of King David, the practical application of the rule changed to the more commonly quoted "There is not sitting in the Courtyard except for kings of the House of David". Rabbi Yair Chaim Bachrach (1639-1702) lists[33] the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard in his enumeration of purely Masoretic laws. Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes (1805-1855) asks[34] that if this law is purely based on a Sinaitic tradition, how can there be any arguments regarding the application of the law, everyone has to agree to it. Elsewhere, however, Rabbi Chajes writes[35] that a Masoretic law is not necessarily a law that is totally agreed upon by all, rather it is a law that its basic premise is agreed upon, but its minute details in practical applications can be disputed. Therefore, even though whether or not this prohibition applies to a Davidic King or a Kohen Gadol remains disputable, one can still consider the prohibition against a commoner, which is universally agreed upon, a Masoretic tradition. However, Rashi also writes[36] that there is a Scriptural source for the prohibition against sitting in the Temple courtyard, that is, the verse that says, "To stand and to serve"[37] concerning the services of the Holy Temple. Accordingly, Rashi does not seem to understand that the source is purely Masoretic; he learns that there is even a scriptural imperative.

Rabbi Aryeh Leib Malin (1906-1962) offers[38] a radical explanation behind the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard. He explains that there is a general prohibition of needlessly entering the courtyard of the Holy Temple, but when one enters the courtyard and stands there, then such a person is fulfilling the commandment of "To stand and to serve" because merely standing in the Temple courtyard is considered a ritual service. However, if one does not stand in the Temple courtyard, rather he sits, then his entering the Temple's courtyard was pointless and he is transgressing the prohibition of entering the courtyard in vain. Rabbi Leib Malin explains that kings of the Davidic dynasty have a special commandment to be inside the courtyard—regardless of whether they are standing or sitting[39]—so their entrance into the courtyard can never be considered in vain, even if they sit there. . With this explanation, one can answer the question of Rabbi Eilenberg who asked[40] according to Rashi that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, why does Rashi also need a scriptural source. This is because Reb Leib explains the seeming contradiction in Rashi who wrote in one place that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition, yet in another place sourced the prohibition in the verse of "To stand and to serve"; the Masoretic tradition forbids entering the courtyard unnecessarily, while the verse justifies entering the courtyard to stand. Accordingly, Rabbi Malin explains that when Tosafos wrote[41] that the Kohen Gadol is allowed to sleep in the Holy Temple during the seven-day period before Yom Kippur, Tosafos is saying that just as a Davidic King has a commandment to remain inside the Holy Temple, so too the Kohen Gadol in the week preceding Yom Kippur has such a commandment. Nonetheless, Rabbi Malin does not account for the explanation of Rashi[42] who wrote that the one cannot sit in the courtyard is simply because doing so is not honoring Heaven[43].

Rabbi Shneur Kotler (1918-1982) writes[44] that every time that one is in a situation that is considered "in front of HaShem" then one is not allowed to sit. The Talmud writes[45] that the source that Davidic Kings are allowed to site in the courtyard is that the Torah says, "King David came and he sat in front of HaShem"[46]. In the time of King David, a Holy Temple did not yet exist, yet the Talmud still understood that the prohibition of sitting in the Temple courtyard still applied. How then could such a prohibition apply, if the courtyard did not yet exist? Rather, the Talmud must have understood that the prohibition does not specifically prohibit sitting the courtyard of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem, rather the prohibition includes sitting in any situation where one is "in front of HaShem". Therefore, the fact that King David sat in the Tabernacle shows that all Davidic kings are allowed to sit "in front of HaShem" including in the courtyard of the Holy Temple. Rabbi Kotler writes that according to this explanation, even if the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard were biblical, the Mishnah in Tractate Keilim would not have listed this as another level of sanctity. This is because the prohibition associated with the sanctity of the courtyard is not dependent on the actual sanctity of the geographical location of the courtyard; rather, it is because the courtyard is considered "in front of HaShem." According to Rabbi Kotler, one can explain that when Moses said to the Israelites "You are all standing in front of HaShem, you G-d[47]" that Israelites had to stand because they were "in front of HaShem". Rabbi Yeshayah of Trani (1180-1250)[48] writes that the prohibition of sitting in the courtyard is only in the airspace of the actual courtyard, for only then is one "in front of HaShem", so he understood that the prohibition is not bound by geographical locations, rather it is dependant on whether or not one's location is "in front of HaShem".

According to the opinion cited earlier from the Midrash Shocher Tov, who learned that even Davidic Kings could not sit in the courtyard, how then did King David sit there? One can answer that there was not yet any prohibition of sitting in the courtyard because the Holy Temple was not yet built in King David's days. Alternatively, the Midrash says[49] that King David did not literally, "sit in front of HaShem" rather he "sat in prayer", meaning "engaged in prayer 'in front of HaShem'" but did not actually sit. Additionally, the Rav Chisda answers[50] that King David sat in the Women's Courtyard, not in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple. In describing the ceremony of HaQhell, the Mishnah says[51] that King Agrippa sat while reading from the biblically prescribed passages[52]. The Talmud asks[53] how the king could have sat if sitting in the courtyard is forbidden. Furthermore, even if Davidic Kings were allowed to sit in the courtyard, King Agrippa was Herodian, not Davidic, so he should not have been allowed to sit. The Talmud answers that just as Rav Chisda explained that King David did not sit in The Courtyard of the Holy Temple, rather he sat in the Women's Courtyard, so too King Agrippa did not read the ceremonial passages of the HaQhell ritual in The Courtyard, rather he read it in the Women's Courtyard, as well.
[1] Yoma 25a, Yoma 69b, Sotah 40b, Sotah 41b, Kiddushin 78b, Sanhedrin 101b, and Tamid 27b
[2] Be'er Sheva (a Tosafos-like commentary) to Tamid 27a
[3] Yoma 3:2, Pesachim 5:10, and Sotah 7:7
[4] Midrash Shocher Tov (to Psalms) §1
[5] See Mahari Katz to Midrash Shocher Tov §1
[6] Rema mi'Panu, Asara Ma'amaros, Ma'amar Im Kol Chai part 3, §10, see also Yad Yehuda ad loc.
[7] He also writes there that King Rechavam, the son of King Solomon, was supposed to be the Messiah with Jeroboam being his viceroy, but since the latter had higher aspirations, he splintered off from the Kingdom of Judah and started the Kingdom of Israel with Ten Tribes, styling himself King Jeroboam of Israel.
[8] The Midrash says (Midrash Shocher Tov to Psalms 110:1) that HaShem told Abraham, "Sit to my right." How could Abraham have sat in front of HaShem? One can answer that Abraham was a Kohen Gadol as the Midrash says elsewhere (Yalkut Shimoni to Psalms, §869). Rabbi Avraham Abele HaLevi Gombiner (1633-1683) proved (Zayis Ra'anan) that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol. He explains that the Halacha is that an Onan, one whose close relative died on that die, cannot perform the services in the Holy Temple. Therefore, had Abraham slaughtered his son Issac, he would not have been able to offer his son as a sacrifice because Abraham would have had this status of a mourner for his dead son and would be barred from offering sacrifices on the altar. However, if one explains that Abraham had the status of a Kohen Gadol, who is supposed to perform the Temple services even as an Onan, then one could explain how Abraham was Halachikly supposed to offer his son Issac as a sacrifice.
[9] Samuel 1 1:9
[10] See Mishnah L'Melech to Maimonides' Laws of Beis HaBechirah 7:6
[11] Kiddushin 78b
[12] Tractate Keilim, Chapter 1
[13] Aruch HaShulchan HeUsid, Kodshim, §14:14
[14] Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah (stencil) §165
[15] Sefer HaMitzvos #21
[16] Leviticus 26:2
[17] Kiryas Sefer to Maimonides' Laws of Chagigah, Chapter 3 and Laws of Beis HaBechirah, Chapter 7
[18] Minchas Chinuch #244
[19] Ezras Kohanim on tractate Middos
[20] Perhaps then, one can explain that when Elisha ben Avuyah saw Metatron sitting in Heaven and recording the deeds of Israelites, he saw that the archangel was dishonoring HaShem by sitting in front of Him (Chagigah 15a). Perhaps this is what led Acher to apostasy.
[21] Ohr Somayach to Maimonides' Laws of Kings 2:4
[22] Kesef Mishneh to Maimonides' Laws of Sanhedrin 14:12
[23] The reason why Rashi (see below) understands that the prohibition is a Masoretic tradition is that the Talmud (Sanhedrin 101b) says Gemiri before introducing the law that one is not allowed to sit in the courtyard. Rashi understands that the term Gemiri refers to a Sinaitic law. Rabbi Yosef Karo here is assuming that Maimonides follows the same understanding, however Rabbi Yisrael Lipschutz of Danzig (1782-1860) proves (Tiferes Yisroel to Yoma 2:2) that Maimonides does not understand that Gemiri means a Sinaitic law.
[24] To Zevachim 16a
[25] See Tosafos to Yoma 25a
[26] Although, usually this rule would never be applicable because most Temple services are required to be done while standing
[27] Although Tosafos only proves that eating is considered a ritual service of the Holy Temple, but does not prove that eating while sitting is, once Tosafos has proved that one is allowed to eat in the courtyard, then certainly one must be allowed to sit while eating, for eating while standing is considered a dangerous act (see Maimonides, Laws of Mental States 4:3). Alternatively, Tosafos explain that it is the way of kings to eat while sitting, so presumably only eating while seated show proper honor to HaShem while partaking from His banquet meat.
[28] Siach HaSadeh to Yoma 25a
[29] To Sotah §10
[30] Melo HaRoim, Kllalei HaShas, Ein Yeshiva B'Azara
[31] To Sanhedrin 101b
[32] Hagahos Rebbi Elazar Landau to Yoma 25a
[33] See Chavos Yair §192, Law 32
[34] Maharitz Chayes to Yoma 25a
[35] Maharitz Chajes to Bava Kamma 17b
[36] To Yoma 25a and Yoma 69b
[37] Deuteronomy 18:5
[38] Chiddushei Reb Aryeh Leib, Volume 1, §19
[39] Maimonides writes (Laws of Kings 2:4) that if a king enters the courtyard and he is of the progeny of David, he should sit. Maimonides does not say, "He is allowed to sit" rather he says, "He should sit." This implies that there is a specific commandment or purpose in a Davidic king sitting in the Temple courtyard.
[40] Be'er Sheva to Sanhedrin 101b
[41] To Yoma 8b
[42] To Sotah 40b
[43] Furthermore, according to Rabbi Leib Malin, it is difficult to explain why Rashi (to Yoma 5a) writes regarding the Kohen Gadol sleeping in the Holy Temple that the real prohibition is sitting in the courtyard, but one can logically conclude that it applies to sleeping, as well. According to Rabbi Leib Malin, the latter is not a logical assumption based on the first prohibition; rather, it is the same prohibition of needlessly entering the Temple's courtyard as applies by sitting in the courtyard. (Tosafos to Yoma 8b and Chiddushei HaRitva to Yoma 11a also mention this logical sequence.)
[44] To Maimonides, Laws of Kings §11 (Printed in Kovetz Oraysa by Yeshivas Derech Chaim in memory of Avinoam Grossman, Teves 5767)
[45] Sotah 41b
[46] Samuel 2 7:18
[47] Deuteronomy 29:9
[48] Tosafos HaRid to Yoma 6a
[49] Yalkut Shimoni to Samuel §78
[50] Sotah 41b
[51] Sotah 41a
[52] See Deuteronomy 31:10-13
[53] Sotah 41b


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Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Benediction before the Priestly Blessing

The disciples of Rabbi Elozar ben Shamua asked him (Daf Yomi: Sotah 39a) : In reward of what have you been living so many years? He replied: In all my years, I never took a shortcut through a synagogue, and I never stepped over the heads of the holy people (when he went to his seat by passing through the students who sat on the floor; he either arrived first or sat outside), and I never recited the Priestly Blessing without first uttering a benediction.

The Rishonim ask: What is so great about uttering the benediction prior to reciting the Priestly Blessing? Doesn’t every mitzvah require a brocha beforehand? Every Kohen would recite the blessing first!

The Ritva in Megillah (27b) answers that perhaps Rabbi Elozar ben Shamua was teaching us that the Priestly Blessing requires a brocha beforehand, and that any Kohen who blesses Klal Yisroel and recites the benediction first will be blessed with long life.

The Meiri writes that a Kohen will discharge his obligation of reciting the Priestly Blessing even without saying the brocha beforehand. It is nevertheless an enhancement to the mitzvah, and because of that, the Kohen will merit living a long life.

Some commentators explain that he would say the Priestly Blessing several times during the day, and he never neglected to recite the benediction before each and every one.

The Meiri doesn’t agree with this explanation, for he says that one would be obligated to recite a blessing every time, and he would not warrant a reward for this.

The Radal suggests that perhaps other Kohanim maintained that a benediction is not required before the Priestly Blessing, even though an ordinary mitzvah necessitates a brocha. The reason for this exception is because the mitzvah itself is a benediction, and therefore it doesn’t require an additional blessing. This would be similar to the Grace after Meals, which is a blessing in itself, and therefore, it doesn’t require an additional blessing beforehand.

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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Listening is like Responding

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Sotah 38a) cites a braisa: “So you should bless.” This must be done in a loud (meaning average, not a whisper) voice. Perhaps it can be done in a whisper? The verse states, “Say to them,” like a person talking to his friend.

The Beis HaLevi rules that one Kohen cannot recite the Priestly Blessing and the others will discharge their obligation by listening. Although there is a principle that “listening is like responding,” it is not effective by this mitzvah. The reason is based upon our Gemora: The Torah says, “Emor la’hem,” say to them, which the Gemora expounds to mean that it should be said in an audible tone. Each Kohen must recite it in this manner. It is not sufficient that he has “responded”; he must say it in a loud voice.

Reb Yaakov Emden states a similar qualification with respect to the laws of kerias haTorah. The halacha is that when one is called up to the Torah, he is required to read along together with the ba’al korei. He does not fulfill his obligation by listening to the ba’al korei. The reason for this is because the Torah must be read from the written scroll. If one is listening, and he wishes to discharge his obligation through the principle of “listening is like responding,” he cannot do so, for he is not responding from the scroll. It is regarded as if he is saying it “by heart,” and he cannot fulfill his obligation in that manner.

The Rogatchover Gaon explains using this principle why the entire congregation recites the “ten sons of Haman,” and they do not fulfill their obligation by listening to the ba’al korei. Although “listening is like responding,” there is a halacha that the ten names must be recited in one breath. If the congregation merely listens to the names being recited, it is considered as if they said the names, but they did not say them in one breath.

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Raising his Hands Higher than the Tzitz

The Mishna in Yoma states that the Kohen Gadol wears eight vestments and the ordinary Kohen dons four. The Yerushalmi comments that each one of the Kohen’s clothing served as an atonement for a specific sin. The shirt is a forgiveness for the transgression of wearing shatnez (wool and linen together).

The commentators on Medrash explain the connection between the shirt and shatnez because the shirt itself was shatnez. This is extremely bewildering for it is explicit that the shirt of the Kohen was made solely from linen and there was no wool in it!?

There is a famous answer given based on a ruling of the Rama. He rules that one is forbidden to wear shoes of linen and socks from wool, even though they are two different articles. The reason for this is because it is considered like one, since the socks cannot be removed without first taking off the shoes. The same can be said regarding the Kohen’s shirt. The Kohen Gadol wore the robe on top of the shirt and the robe was made from wool. Since the shirt could not be removed without first taking off the robe, this can be considered shatnez.

There are those that say that this can be the reason why the Kohen Gadol puts the headplate (tzitz) on last. In truth, he can lift his hands in the air and wiggle out of the shirt without removing the robe. However, there is a halacha (Daf Yomi: Sotah 38a) that he cannot raise his hands higher than the tzitz because it has Hashem’s name inscribed on it. It emerges that the wearing of the tzitz is what creates the shatnez of the shirt and the robe; hence, we delay the placing of the tzitz until the end.

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Monday, June 30, 2008


The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Sotah 37a) had stated that Yehudah sanctified God’s Name in public. The Gemora cites a braisa: Rabbi Meir used to say: When the Jewish people stood by the Sea, the tribes were fighting with each other. Each one said that they would be the first one to jump in (as the Egyptians were behind them, and they had nowhere else to turn). The Tribe of Binyamin jumped and went down into the Sea first. The officers from the Tribe of Yehudah began to stone them. It was because of this that Binyamin the righteous merited to become the host to the Presence of the Almighty, as it says: And God rests between Binyamin’s shoulders (the Holy of Holies was located in Binyamin’s portion).

Rabbi Yehudah told Rabbi Meir: That was not the way the incident occurred; rather, each tribe said that they would not be the first one to jump in. It was at that point that Nachson the son of Aminadav (the Nasi from Yehudah) jumped and went down into the Sea first. At that moment, Moshe was praying at length. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to him, “My dear ones are drowning in the Sea, and you are prolonging in prayer before Me!” Moshe replied to Hashem, “What is there for me to do?” Hashem said to him, “Speak to the Jewish people and they should travel forward. You should lift up your staff and stretch out your arm over the Sea and split it.” It was because of this that Yehudah merited becoming the ruling power in Israel.

Rashi in Shmos (14:15) notes: Moshe was standing and praying. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to him, “This is no time to pray at length, when the Jewish people are in distress.” It would seem from Rashi that since they were distressed, it was not the proper time for a lengthy prayer; however, it was a time for prayer.

The Maharsha explains based upon the Gemora in Brochos (28b), which rules that if one finds himself in a dangerous place, he should pray with an abridged version.

The Maharal explains as follows: A person is not answered during his prayer. He is only answered when he concludes his prayer. This is what Hashem was telling Moshe. Now is not the time for lengthy prayers, for the Jewish people are in distress.

This requires clarification. If his prayer was worthy of answering, why couldn’t he be answered during his prayer? Why was there a necessity to wait for the conclusion of his prayer?

Rav Hutner in Pachad Yitzchak (Pesach; 14) cites a Medrash in Shmos Rabbah (21): Why did the Holy One, Blessed be He, place the Jewish people in such a predicament? It was because He desires to hear their prayers. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi offers the following parable: A king was traveling o the road when he hears the cries of a damsel in distress. “Help me,” she calls out, “Bandits are attacking me!” The king hears and comes to her rescue. After some time, the king wishes to marry this girl. He invites her to the palace, but she refuses to come. What does he do? He sends out a group of bandits to threaten her, and once again, she calls out to the king to be protected. The king says, “It is to hear your voice that I desired.”

It emerges from here that the prayer is not on account of the Jewish people’s distress; but rather, the suffering or anguish is brought about to stir us into prayer. Hashem wishes to hear our prayers. Reb Yeruchem Levovitz, the Mirrer Mashgiach used to state this principle to explain the following Gemora in Yevamos (64a): Hashem desires the prayers of the righteous. The Matriarchs were barren only so that they should pray to Hashem for children. Their desire for progeny caused the Matriarchs and the Patriarchs to pray to Hashem at a level that under normal circumstances they would not have done. This is why we cannot be answered in middle of a prayer, for then, the salvation will be interrupting the prayer, and the only reason Hashem brought about this situation is only because He wished to hear us pray.

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Descendants of Yosef

The Gemora (Daf Yomi:Sotah 36b) explains: Even though Levi was below, the people standing by Mount Gerizim were more numerous because the descendants of Yosef (who were very populous) were with them; as it says: And the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua, saying, “Why have you given me but one lot and one portion for an inheritance, seeing that I am a huge nation?”

Rashi in Yehoshua notes that the descendants of Yosef were from the Tribe of Menasheh. The Radak explains that the descendants of Efraim did not have any legitimate complaint, for they had more people in their tribe when they left Egypt than now, when they entered Eretz Yisroel. Menasheh, on the other hand, had a valid complaint, for they had twenty thousand and five hundred more people now than when they left Egypt. The portions of land were allocated according to the amount of people each tribe had when they left Egypt, and since they were more numerous when they entered Eretz Yisroel than when they left Egypt, each one of them would be receiving a lesser portion.

Minchas Yaakov adds that this explanation can inferred from the verse which states that the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua. Reb Yaakov Kaminetzky in Emes l’Yaakov asks: Why by the spies, does the Torah state, to the Tribe of Yosef, to the tribe of Menasheh, but by Efraim, the Torah only writes, to the Tribe of Efraim? Why isn’t Yosef’s name mentioned? He answers that it is written [Breishis 48: 5 – 6]: And now, as for your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt, until I came to you, to the land of Egypt they are mine. Efraim and Menasheh shall be mine like Reuven and Shimon. But your children, if you beget any after them, shall be yours; by their brothers’ names, they shall be called in their inheritance. The children born to Yosef afterwards did not merit being included in the Tribe of Yosef. Yosef had the choice of delivering them to any tribe that he wished. Since Menasheh was the firstborn, he combined all of his other children with them. It emerges that the descendants of Yosef, who were not offspring of Menasheh and Efraim, were included in the Tribe of Menasheh. It is for this reason that the Torah writes, to the Tribe of Yosef, to the tribe of Menasheh.

Our verse, which states that “the descendants of Yosef spoke to Yehoshua” is referring to the Tribe of Menasheh, which consisted of Menasheh’s offspring, plus the offspring of Yosef.

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