Monday, May 25, 2009

Taking Away a Sixtieth

The Gemora (Nedarim 39b) asks: What is the case (of the Mishna that a person who cannot benefit someone can visit him when he is sick but only stand not sit)? If it is that the possessions of the visitor are forbidden to the sick person, he should be able to sit as well!

The Nidrei Zrizin asks: Why should it be permitted to sit while he is visiting the sick? The Gemora below says that whoever visits the sick, takes away one sixtieth of his sickness. It emerges that he is providing him with a direct benefit, and this should be forbidden? And even according to the Gemora’s conclusion that it is only by a person born under the same constellation, perhaps this is the case and by a Biblical uncertainty, we should rule stringently!

He answers that it is apparent from the Mishna that we needn’t concern ourselves that they were born under the same constellation, and furthermore, the Mishna rules that a doctor may heal him a healing of the nefesh, so certainly, a visit which takes away a sixtieth of his suffering, would be permitted.

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Evil Eye

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The Gemora states that one is forbidden to spread out a lost article that he is watching when he has guests because when the guests see the article being displayed, they may be envious and they will cast an evil eye on the article.

One must wonder why one should be concerned of someone else’s jealousy, especially if it is said: and the rotting of the bones is jealousy. Why should one be concerned that someone else’s envy will harm his belongings and property?

We find that the gentile prophet Balaam, when blessing the Jewish people, declared, how good are your tents, Yaakov, your dwelling places, O Israel. The Gemora states that Balaam saw that every Jewish tent was aligned in a way that no one could see inside his neighbors’ tent. Besides for the issue of privacy, there was another dimension to this blessing. Balaam had an evil eye, and Balaam wished to curse the Jewish People with his influence. By casting an evil eye on a neighbor, one is essentially influencing his Jewish friend with the character of Balaam, and this is detrimental to one’s well being. For this reason one should avoid casting an evil eye on someone else, and one must also be careful to avoid allowing others to cast an evil eye on himself or on his possessions.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Brothers Sent Specifically the “Coat of many Colors”

It is written [Breishis 37:32]: And they sent the coat of many colors, and they brought it to their father; and said: “This have we found. Know now whether it is your son's coat or not.”

The question is asked: Why did the brothers feel the necessity to destroy specifically his fine woolen coat; this was a very special garment and valuable? Why didn’t they rip one of Yosef’s other garments and send it to their father?

The simple answer would be that Yaakov would not recognize Yosef’s other garments; it was the special garment that he gave to Yosef that he would indeed recognize.

Rabbi Aharon Kroll offers another answer based on our Gemora. The Mishna had stated: One may only testify to the identity of a dead man on the basis of the face with the nose, even though there are identifying marks on his body and on his garments. The Gemora explains that we cannot rely on the identifying marks of his garments because we are concerned that the clothes may be borrowed.

Accordingly, one may ask: How could Yaakov be certain that Yosef was killed based on the blood found on Yosef’s clothing; perhaps someone had borrowed Yosef’s garments?

The Be’er Heitev (E”H, 17, 71) cites from the Ra’anach that if it is customary for only one person in the community to wear a certain garment, we do not take “borrowing” into consideration.

The Keli Yakar explains that the k’sones passim that Yaakov gave to Yosef represented the firstborn right that Yaakov took away from Reuven and granted to Yosef. The service in the Beis HaMikdosh required that the Kohen would wear special clothing, and Yosef was given this garment as a sign of honor and glory. This coat was obviously worn only by Yosef, and he would never lend it out.

This explains why the brothers sent to their father Yaakov the fine woolen coat of many colors, and not any other of Yosef’s garments. Yaakov would recognize that this was Yosef’s coat, and only he would be wearing it. This was a clear indicator that Yosef was indeed devoured.

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Proximity and Majority

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The Gemora cites a braisa: If someone found something without an identifying mark next to something with an identifying mark, he is required to announce it (everything).

The Ketzos Hachoshen asks: Isn’t there an established principle (Bava Basra 23b) that when a conflict arises between a “majority” and a “proximity,” we follow the majority!? If so, why do we assume that the produce originated from the barrel which is nearby, we should say that it fell from a passerby, for that is the majority!?

He answers according to the Ramban, who says that that where something is found in its actual place, that principle does not apply. Since the produce is found within four amos of the utensil, it is regarded as if it is resting in its place – we therefore follow the proximity.

The Chasam Sofer answers that besides the “proximity,” there is a definite claim from the claimant. Accordingly, we do not follow the majority in such cases.

The Chazon Ish answers that when the “proximity” is also a “probability,” we do not follow the majority. Since it is most probable that the produce originated from this container, we do not assume that it fell from a passerby.

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