Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mentioning a Father's Name

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The Gemora cites a braisa: Rabbi Yosi said: When my father, Chalafta, went to Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri to study Torah, or, as others recorded: When Rabbi Yochanan ben Nuri went to study Torah by my father, Chalafta, he said to him: Suppose a man occupied a piece of land for one year as testified by two witnesses, for a second year as testified by two other witnesses, and for a third year as testified by still two other witnesses (totaling three years, constituting a chazakah), what is the halachah? He replied: This is a proper chazakah. He said to him: I also say like that, but Rabbi Akiva disagrees, for Rabbi Akiva used to say: When the Torah said (regarding witnesses testimony), “a matter,” it means that they must testify regarding a complete matter, and not about half a matter.

Rashi in Shabbos (115a) explains that Chalafta was the name of Rabbi Yosi’s father. Reb Akiva Eiger asks: If so, how was Rabbi Yosi permitted to mention the name of his father? It is explicitly ruled in Shulchan Aruch (Y”D 240:2) that one is forbidden from mentioning his father’s name, during his lifetime and after his death as well!?

He quotes an answer from his son, Reb Shlomo: It emerges from Rashi in Sanhedrin (100a) that if a title of honor precedes the mentioning of one’s father’s name, it is permitted. Since “Abba” is a title of honor, Rabbi Yosi was permitted to say “Abba Chalafta.”

The following is the explanation of the proof: Rabbi Yochanan said: Geichazi was punished for calling Elisha, his Rebbe, by his name. Rashi writes: He did not say, “My teacher, my master, So-and-So.” Evidently, one is permitted to mention his Rebbe’s name if he says, “My teacher, my master” first. Accordingly, Reb Shlomo derived from here that the same would be true regarding one’s father. A son would be permitted to mention his father’s name if he mentions a title of honor before the name. Reb Akiva Eiger agreed to this logic.

Reb Shlomo, in his teshuvos, adds that the honor that one must give to his teacher is greater than the honor he must provide to his father, for his teacher leads him to the World to Come. So if it is permitted to call one’s teacher by his name when it is preceded by a title of honor, it is most certainly permitted to call one’s father by his name if it is preceded by a title of honor.

He also rules that although Rashi said that Geichazi did not say, “My teacher, my master,” it is not necessary to say both, “teacher and master.” One of them would be sufficient.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Quantification of Shabbos Prohibitions: Practical Applications

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By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Cooking is a labor (melachah) forbidden on Shabbos, occurring when liquid or solid foods or other substances improved by heating, like pigments, are even parboiled. Utensils containing hot liquids are defined in three categories: A primary utensil (keli rishon) holds a boiling liquid and continues to be primary even off the fire or electric plate as long as an average adult’s hand recoils from its contents. Liquid poured directly from there cooks the external layer of any solid, uncooked food and a small amount of any cold liquid, even water (Shulchan ‘Aruch, O.C. 318:10; see Mishnah Berurah, ibid, S.K. 82). A container having received liquid from a keli rishon is called a second utensil (keli sheni) and likewise cooks in many circumstances as long as one’s hand recoils from its contents. A container receiving liquid from a keli sheni is a third utensil (keli shelishi) and virtually never cooks.

Making a glass of tea on Shabbos: A person wanting to make a hot drink on Shabbos might rinse a cup, inadvertently neglect to dry it or shake it out thoroughly and pour boiling water into it from a keli rishon. Most halachic authorities forbid this as the boiling water cooks the small amount of cold water in the cup (see Responsa Igros Moshe, O.C., I, 93; Responsa Minchas Yitzchak, IX, 30). They raise the question as to whether cooking a few drops of water is actually prohibited by the Torah – d’oraisa – or by rabbinical decree (derabanan). As we shall see, the topic is linked to Rashbam’s interpretation of a certain example cited in our sugya.

Rabbi Yochanan holds that “half a prohibited quantity is forbidden by the Torah” (Yoma 74a). Forbidden substances or acts are quantified according to measures received by Moshe Rabbeinu at Sinai. The minimal amount of food prohibited on Yom Kippur, for example, is equivalent to the volume of a large date. A person eating less is not punishable but, according to Rabbi Yochanan, is still forbidden to do so by the Torah. [“Half a quantity” does not mean only a half but rather, less than the halachically prohibited amount; we shall therefore hereon use the term “subquantity.”] Many Rishonim maintain that this rule also applies to Shabbos (Rashi, Shabbos 74a, s.v. Vechi mutar; Ritva and Hagahos Ashri, ibid; see Mishneh LeMelech, Hilchos Shabbos, 18:1). For instance, according to Rambam, the quantity of water forbidden to heat on Shabbos is enough to wash a baby’s pinky (Hilchos Shabbos, 9:1). Following the above opinion, someone boiling less is not punishable in any earthly beis din, but is still prohibited from doing so by the Torah. Some halachic authorities, though, cite Rashbam’s reasoning that this principle does not pertain to Shabbos.

The amount of food forbidden to carry on Shabbos from a reshus hayachid (literally, a “private domain” but actually any area, even ownerless, bound by certain enclosures) to a reshus harabim (a public domain having a certain breadth and other conditions) is equivalent to the volume of a dried fig. Our sugya mentions a person who carries out a subquantity of food and, according to Rashbam (s.v. Bemaseches Shabbos), he is innocent of any transgression as the Torah calls Shabbos labor meleches machsheves: “skilled” or “important” work. Shabbos labor is quantified by its importance, a condition that defines melachah, and a subquantity is therefore not melachah at all. By comparison, eating a subquantity on Yom Kippur is still eating and a partial transgression of the “affliction” demanded by the Torah (Vayikra 17:29). [This meaning is just one definition of meleches machashaves; see also Rashi in Chagigah 10b.] A subquantity of any prohibition, though, is outlawed at least derabanan (see Shabbos, ibid) and we must therefore assume that Rashbam would rabbinically forbid pouring from a keli rishon on a subquantity of cold water, such as in our example (see Responsa Divrei Yatziv, O.C. 156; Responsa Shevet HaLevi, VII, 136).

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Law of the Kingdom

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The Poskim deal with when do we say the law of the land is binding. Rav Moshe Feinstien was asked about a bankruptcy case. One of the creditors had taken the money he was owed. This was against the law, for the company was protected under bankruptcy laws. On the other hand, according, to Torah law, he was entitled to the money.

Rav Moshe brings two opinions found in the Rema. The first opinion is that we only say the law is binding when the king has direct benefit like paying taxes, otherwise, we go according to our laws. The second opinion is that we always say the law is binding. Rav Moshe qualifies this opinion. This means that the king has a right to make laws so that commerce runs orderly. If there are no uniform rules for commerce and debt collection, the country would fall apart. The laws of the land would not be binding, however, in laws of damages or laws governing marriage and divorce. In these areas, one must follow Torah laws. Since we hold like the second opinion, Rav Moshe ruled that the debt could not be collected and had to be returned.

Obeying a Jewish King
in Eretz Yisroel

It is evident from the Gemora that the law of the kingdom has the full force of halachah behind it. The Ritva writes that we do not find anyone that disagrees with this principle.

The Rashbam explains the rationale for this halachah: All citizens of a country voluntarily accept upon themselves to obey the king’s decrees and laws. All of their laws are therefore binding. Accordingly, one who possesses his fellow’s property based upon that particular country’s law, does not violate a prohibition of stealing at all.

The Rashba explains it differently: Since the entire land belongs to the king, he is entitled to chase anyone away from his land if he wishes, and he has the right to tax everyone for the privilege of residing in his land.

A difference between these two opinions may be if this halachah would apply in Eretz Yisroel with a Jewish king. According to the Rashba, it might not apply in Eretz Yisroel, for every Jew has an inalienable right to live there, and no king would have the jurisdiction to banish anyone from the Land.

The Ra”n in Nedarim (28a) rules that this principle applies only in the lands of the exile. The reason for this, he explains, is that in these countries, the land is the property of the kingdom, and one is therefore obligated to abide by the laws and ordinances of the country in which he resides. But, in Eretz Yisroel, which belongs to the entire Jewish nation, there is no obligation to comply with the laws of a Jewish king. The Rambam and Shulchan Aruch both rule that this principle does apply to a Jewish king in Eretz Yisroel.

The Law of the Kingdom is the Law

Shmuel states: The law of the government is the law (even according to our law).

The Gemora in Shabbos (88a) teaches that when Bnei Yisroel stood at Mount Sinai and heard the word of Hashem, He held the mountain over our heads. Hashem declared, “If you’ll accept the Torah, all will be well. If not, this will be your burial place!” Rav Acha bar Yaakov said: This can now be used as an excuse for Klal Yisroel when they do not perform the mitzvos. For when they are summoned for judgment, they can claim that they were coerced into accepting the Torah; it was not done willingly.

The Perashas Derachim asks from our Gemora which states that the law of the kingdom is the law. If so, this should certainly apply by The Holy One blessed is He, Who is the King of all Kings. How could Klal Yisroel use the coercion as an excuse? The law of the kingdom is the law, and they took an oath obligating themselves to perform His mitzvos!

He answers that Rabbeinu Tam holds that the principle of the law of the kingdom is the law is only applicable if the king decrees on all his subjects. However, if the decree is issued only on part of his kingdom, this principle does not apply. Since Hashem is the King over all the nations of the world and He only forced Bnei Yisroel to accept His mitzvos, this principle would not apply and hence, a claim of coercion can be effective.

It emerges that regarding the seven mitzvos that were given to all Bnei Noach, the principle of the law of the kingdom is the law would apply, and a claim of coercion would not be valid.

According to this, the Ketzos HaChoshen explains the argument between Pharaoh and the midwives. Pharaoh asked them, “Why didn’t you listen to my commandment? The law of the kingdom is the law and since I the king decreed that all the Jewish children should be killed, you are obligated to listen to me!” They responded to him, “Your decree is not a universal one; it was only issued regarding the Jewish children and not to any others. Accordingly, the principle does not apply and we are not obligated to adhere to the laws of the kingdom. Thereupon, Pharaoh immediately decreed that all children born must be thrown into the sea.

Reb Shlomo Kluger uses this principle to explain Adam HaRishon’s response to Hashem. He answered, “The woman that you gave to me gave me from the tree and I ate.” What kind of answer was this? Adam HaRishon was saying that since his was wife was here as well and she was not commanded not to eat from the tree. Therefore, the law of the kingdom does not apply and that is why he ate.

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Doors on the Third Beis Hamikdash

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Rashi (several places in Shas) wonders how the Beis Hamikdash could be built on Shabbos (which Chazal say is a distinct possibility); isn’t that a desecration of Shabbos? Rashi answers that it is only regarding a Beis Hamikdash built by humans that there is a restriction of building it on Shabbos. The third Beis Hamikdash, however, will descend from Heaven miraculously, thus there are no restrictions regarding its building.

The Maharil Diskin is troubled by this answer, as the Jewish People have an obligation to build the Beis Hamikdash, so why would Hashem prevent us from performing this mitzvah?

He answers based on a Medrash in Eichah (2:9). It is written: "Tavu b'Aretz She-areha..." -- the gates of the Beis Hamikdash were hidden away, sunken into the ground, before the Beis Hamikdash itself was destroyed. When the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed, its gates sunk into the ground, and in the future, the Jewish People will excavate the gates and affix them to the Beis Hamikdash.

Our Gemora rules as follows: If a man builds a large mansion on the estate of a deceased convert (with no heirs) and another man comes and puts the doors on, the second person becomes owner. Why is this? It is because the first one merely arranged bricks there (for without the doors, there is no use for the mansion more that there already was with the land itself; it is the installation of the doors that completes the building).

Accordingly, we can say that we will fulfill the mitzvah of building the Beis Hamikdash when the Third Beis Hamikdash will descend from Heaven; it will be missing one thing. It will not have doors! The mitzvah will be fulfilled when we secure its gates.

This can also be the explanation of the words that we recite in the Shemoneh Esrei of Mussaf on the festivals: Show us its rebuilding (v’har-eynu b’vinyono) and gladden us with its perfection (v’samchenu b’tikuno). “Show us its rebuilding” refers to the sending down of the virtually completed third Beis Hamikdash. We will then complete the Beis Hamikdash by attaching the doors and will be gladdened by its perfection and by the fact that we fulfilled the mitzvah of building it.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Ripening Grapes for the Spies

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When the spies were sent out to Eretz Yisroel, it is written [Bamidbar 13, 20]: It was the season when the first grapes begin to ripen.

The commentators ask: What is the purpose of this information? What is the Torah teaching us?

In the sefer Misbar Kerai, he answers based upon the Rambam (Mechirah 1, 16), who rules that the eating of produce constitutes an acquisition of a field. Accordingly, Moshe instructed the spies to eat from the fruits of the land, for this way, they will be acquiring Eretz Yisroel for the Jewish people.

And, he continues, even according to the Raavad, who disagrees with the Rambam and holds that the eating of produce does not constitute an acquisition of a field, for one must perform an act that is beneficial to the field in order to acquire it, such as locking a door, fencing it or making an opening, even a small amount, nevertheless, here, the eating of the produce would constitute an acquisition. For the Gemora in Bava Basra (119a) states that Eretz Yisroel was regarded as if it was in the possession of the Jewish people (even before the conquest). It therefore follows that a formal act of acquisition was not necessary; they just needed to demonstrate ownership. The Gemora in Pesachim (6b) states: If there are in a man’s field late figs (which will never ripen), and he is guarding his field on account of the grapes (which have not ripened yet); and similarly, if there are late grapes, and he is guarding his field on account of his cucumbers, the halachah is as follows: If the owner is not particular about them, they are not forbidden as theft and are not subject to the halachos of tithing, for ownerless produce is exempt from tithing. Evidently, produce at the end of their season are considered ownerless. If someone would take this produce at that time, he would not be demonstrating ownership at all. This is why the Torah stressed that the spies went at the time when the grapes were beginning to ripen, for then, the eating of the grapes would be demonstrating ownership.

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