Thursday, December 04, 2008

"Es" Includes the Torah Scholars

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The Gemora (Kiddushin 57a) notes that some opinions do not expound the word “es.” This would be in accordance with the following braisa: Shimon Ha’amsoni, and others say that it was Nechemia Ha’amsoni, would expound on every word es that was written in the Torah. (This means that he would teach what the word es was coming to include.) When he reached the verse that states you shall revere es Hashem your G-d, he stopped expounding on the word es. Shimon Ha’amsoni felt that it is impossible to equate the reverence of Hashem to anything else, so he retracted from all of his previous interpretations of the word es. When questioned by his students what would happen to all the words es that he had expounded upon previously, Shimon Ha’amsoni replied, “Just as I received reward for expounding on those words, I will receive reward for retracting my interpretations. Rabbi Akiva arrived later and expounded the verse to mean you shall revere es Hashem your G-d, to include Torah scholars. Just like one is obligated to revere Hashem, so too, one must revere Torah scholars.

The Pardes Yosef (Vayechi) explains Rabbi Akiva by citing the Gemora in Nedarim, which states: Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: What does the verse mean when it says: Who is the man who is wise and can understand this? This (the reason for the destruction of the Second Temple) was asked to scholars and prophets and they could not explain it, until Hashem explained it Himself, as it says: And Hashem said that it is because they left my Torah. Isn’t the phrase “and they did not listen to My voice” the same as the phrase “and they did not go in its ways”? Rav Yehudah explains in the name of Rav: This means that they did not recite a blessing before learning Torah.

Rabbi Akiva was saying: The word es is including the Torah scholars. The Holy One, Blessed be He said: it is because they left “es” my Torah. They left that which was included from the word es, for they were not honoring the Torah scholars.

However, it can be asked that the Torah scholars should have been mochel the respect that they deserved!? We have learned that if a Torah scholar is mochel on the honor due to him, it is valid!

This is why Hashem continued with the verse, it is because they left my Torah. Hashem is saying: The Torah is Mine and the Torah scholar cannot be mochel. Why is the Torah Mine? It is because Klal Yisroel did not recite the blessing before learning Torah. The Gemora Brochos asks: It is written: The entire world belongs to Hashem. But it is also written: And the land was given to the people!? The Gemora answers: It depends if they recite a blessing first or not. Since they didn’t recite the blessing before learning Torah, it is regarded as Hashem’s Torah, and the Torah scholars could not be mochel on the obligation to honor the Torah.

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Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Yaakov's Altar (this week's Parshah)

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It is written [Breishis 28:18]: And Yaakov arose early in the morning, and he took the stone that he had placed at his head, and he set it up as a monument, and he poured oil on top of it.

The Chasam sofer asks: The Gemora in Zevachim (116a) states: Anything used by a common person becomes forbidden to be used for the High! Once Yaakov used these stones for his head, how could he have used them afterwards to build an Altar?

He answers: the Yalkut (119) states that these stones were the stones from Noach’s altar, and it was also the stones used for Akeidas Yitzchak. The Zayis Raanaan asks: How could Yaakov use these stones to lie upon; he should be guilty of me’ilah in hekdesh!? Firstly, he answers that he did not actually use the stones, but rather, he placed them around him as a protection. Accordingly, we can use this to answer the original question. Yaakov could use these stones to build a monument, for he never actually used them for his personal needs.

The Zayis Raanaan offers an alternative answer to his question. Yaakov used these stones to lie upon even though they were hekdesh because he was in dangerous situation. He needed the stones to protect him from the wild animals. Accordingly, the first question returns. How could he then use these stones to build an altar, if these stones were actually used for his personal needs? He answers based upon our Gemora, which states that if one knowingly uses hekdesh for his own personal needs, the hekdesh does not become deconsecrated. Consequently, Yaakov was permitted to use these stones for an altar, for his deliberate usage of the stones beforehand did not deconsecrate them.

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Eating the Size of a Bean

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The Gemora (Kiddushin 53) states: The righteous Kohanim would withdraw their hands from the lechem hapanim (for eating a portion the size of a bean would not be regarded as a mitzvah), but the gluttons would divide their shares (seemingly this means that they would leave a large amount for one Kohen, and they would take his share a different time)

Rashi cites the Gemora in Yoma 39a which states that in the times of Shimon Hatzadik, there was a blessing in the lechem hapanim and a Kohen who would eat a k’zayis would be satisfied, but afterwards, they would only receive a portion the size of a bean, and still not be satiated.

Tosfos Yeshonim comments that if they would have become satiated from a portion the size of a bean, they would have fulfilled their mitzvah.

Chasam Sofer notes that there exists a novelty in the mitzvah of eating kodoshim. If one person eats from the korban the size of a k’zayis and the rest of the Kohanim all have less than a k’zayis, that is sufficient in respect to the korban. The first Kohen is the only one that fulfilled his mitzvah. This is why the righteous ones held back from eating when it was only the size of a bean.

The Beis Halevi explains the Tosfos Yeshonim that there is a distinction between the korban pesach and other korbanos. By the korban pesach, there is an obligation on the individual and he is required to eat a k’zayis. By the other korbanos, the mitzvah is that the korban should be eaten, and if accumulatively, the korban was eaten, even though there was no Kohen who had a k’zayis, that is sufficient.

According to the Beis Halevi, we do not understand why the righteous ones held back from eating when it was only the size of a bean; as long as everyone ate the entire lechem hapanim, the mitzvah would be fulfilled!?

(Shemuas Chaim attempts to answer this, however, it is not clear to me)

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It's Worth a Perutah to her

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Rav said (Kiddushin 52) : We see four lessons from our Mishna, three of which Rav held of clearly. One is that a person who betroths a woman with shemitah fruit has done a valid kiddushin.

Rashi explains that the novelty is that even though the produce is ownerless because of shemitah, nevertheless, once he picks it up and takes it for himself, he acquires it, and he can use it for kiddushin.

The Mishnah Lamelech poses the following question: Can a man betroth a woman with something that to him is not valued at a perutah, but to the woman, it is worth a perutah? He resolves this from a Rashi in Avodah Zarah which seems to indicate that she would be mekudeshes.

However, from Rashi in our Gemora, it would seem otherwise. What compelled Rashi to say that the man had acquired the shemitah produce before he gives it to the woman? Even if he does not acquire it first, she should be mekudeshes, for she acquires it!?

The Chedvas Yaakov explains that with respect to the produce of shemitah, if it is not regarded as being in his possession, it will not be hers either, for we would say that it is regarded as Divine property (and it belongs to nobody). However, something that belongs to the man, but it is not worth a perutah, may be used to effect kiddushin, if to the woman, it is worth a perutah.

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Marrying off a Minor Daughter

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The Gemora (Kiddushin 51) challenges Rava from the following Mishna: If one marries off his daughter to a man, but he does not specify which daughter he is giving, the adult daughters are not included (for the father has no authority over them). It can be inferred from here that his minor daughters are included (and they all would require a get). But why should this be? It is a case where the marriage does not have the possibility of cohabitation. This is a refutation of Rava (for he holds that such types of kiddushin are not effective)!?

Rava answers: the Mishna is dealing with a case where he only had one adult daughter and one minor daughter (the key point being that there was only one minor daughter, for she is the only one that the father could have married off).

The Gemora asks: What then is the novelty of this Mishna?

The Gemora answers: The Mishna is referring to a case where the adult daughter appointed her father as her agent to accept kiddushin for her. You might have thought, that in this case, the father is accepting kiddushin for his adult daughter. The Mishna teaches us that the father would not leave something from which he would derive benefit (the kiddushin money that he receives for marrying off his minor daughter).

The Gemora asks: Are we not referring to a case where the adult daughter told the father that he can keep the kiddushin money?

The Gemora answers: The father would not leave a mitzvah that he is obligated to perform (marrying off his minor daughter) and perform a mitzvah that is not his obligation (accepting kiddushin for his adult daughter).

The Ritva asks: How can the Gemora say that it is a mitzvah for a father to give his minor daughter in kiddushin? Did we not learn before (41a) that it is forbidden for a man to marry off his minor daughter until she is mature enough to say that she wants to be married to a certain man?

He answers: That Gemora is referring to a case where there is a concern that she will not desire that specific man, and eventually, she will perform mi’un. (A girl whose father had died could be given in marriage while still a minor (under the age of twelve) by her mother or older brother. This marriage is only valid Rabbinically. As long as she has not attained the age of twelve, she may nullify the marriage by refusing to live with her husband. This act of refusal, referred to as mi’un nullifies the marriage retroactively.). However, in cases where there is no such concern, the father certainly has a mitzvah to marry her off.

Alternatively, he answers that our Gemora can be referring to a na’arah, who already is mature enough, but nevertheless, the father can marry her off, and he has a mitzvah to do so.

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Forced Divorce

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The Gemora (Kiddushin 50) asks: How does Rava know that “words that are only in the heart are not regarded as words”?

Perhaps it is from the following braisa: It is written regarding a sacrifice: He shall bring it. This teaches us that we force him to fulfill his obligation. Perhaps, you might think that he brings the korban even against his will. The Torah writes: Of his will. This teaches us that we compel him to bring the sacrifice until he says that he is willing to bring it. Evidently, the sacrifice is valid even though, in his heart, he does not want to bring it. This proves that words that are only in the heart are not regarded as words.

The Gemora rejects this proof: Perhaps there it is different, for everyone wishes to receive atonement (and he is really willing to bring the korban).

Rather, it may be proven from the latter part of that braisa, which states: And the same is true regarding a letter of divorce and the emancipation of slaves. We compel him to give the get (in cases where he is required to do so) until he says that he is willing to give it. Evidently, the divorce and emancipation is valid even though, in his heart, he is not truly willing. This proves that words that are only in the heart are not regarded as words.

The Gemora rejects this proof: Perhaps there it is different, for he has a mitzvah to listen to the Chachamim (to issue a divorce or to free his slave).

Similarly, the Rambam discusses a case when a person is obligated to divorce his wife due to the ruling of Beis Din. When he refuses, he is beaten until he says that he is willing.

The Rambam asks: How can a get that is given by force be ruled to be valid? A coerced get is not valid at all!?

He explains that it is only considered “forced,” if a Jew is compelled to do something that the Torah does not obligate him to do. However, if he is compelled to do something that the Torah instructs him to do, this is not considered “forced.” The explanation is as follows: A Jew wants to perform all the mitzvos and distance himself from all sins, but his evil inclination convinces him to do otherwise. When he is beaten, his evil inclination is broken and when he says that he is willing, it is his actual intent and the get is valid.

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