Monday, December 27, 2010

Eighty Replies to One Question

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi
and Many of our Subscribers

Our Gemora states: Rabbi Elozar bar Rabbi Yosi said, I have heard that the owner causes piggul. In his opinion, not only a Kohen can disqualify a sacrifice with a thought of piggul (that it will be eaten not in its proper time or place) but the owner of a sacrifice can disqualify it in the same way.

A question that originated in the beis midrash of Rabbi Chayim Berlin zt”l, the Netziv’s son, was discussed in all centers of learning everywhere. In his Sedei Chemed, HaGaon Rav Chizkiyah Medini zt”l collected the replies to this question from outstanding talmidei chachamim in Teveria, Vilna, Germany, etc. The question even graced the world of Torah with the work Gevuros Shemonim which, according to its author HaGaon Rav Yosef Engel zt”l (author of Beis HaOtzar, Asvan D’oraisa, etc.), “discusses one question and answers it in 80 ways”. His pupils related that he had many more answers but he sufficed with publishing 80 of them to give his book its unique name.

The question: If the owner causes piggul, we cannot test a sotah (a woman suspected of adultery) in the Temple, as before she drinks the cursing water, the Kohen has to offer the minchah (Sotah 23a, s.v. Kol) that she must bring. The sotah, who surely wants to be saved from the curse, will cause the minchah to be piggul and without offering the minchah, the water does not test her (Sotah 20b)! Rav Berlin continues that this question is only according to Rambam, that piggul can be caused also by thought but according to Rashi, that piggul is caused only by speech, the sotah can be prevented from saying anything.

She can be taken out of the ‘Azarah: The fifth of the 80 answers is based on Tosfos (above, 29a, s.v. Lamakom), who assert that a thought of piggul disqualifies a sacrifice only in the ‘Azarah. If so, the sotah can be taken out of the ‘Azarah while the minchah is offered. To force her to say the opposite: In the 37th answer, Rav Engel advises that the woman be forced to say explicitly that the minchah will be eaten in its proper time and place. From then on, even if she thinks frantically that it should be piggul, she cannot disqualify anything (according to Pesachim 63a).

The Kohen dispels her thought: In the 18th answer we find an idea based on a fine proof from Rashi on our sugya (s.v. Shama’ti), that the owner causes piggul only if the Kohen remains silent. But if the Kohen announces his pure intentions, the owner cannot cause piggul.

Piggul applies only to shelamim and todos: Rav Zeev Yitzchak HaLevi D√ľnner of Germany offered the answer that the owner can cause piggul only concerning shelamim and todos, whose meat they eat, but not regarding an asham, chatas orminchah, of which they do not partake (and see ibid, answer 4).

It would appear that the concept of the owner causing piggul is not relevant to the sotah’s minchah. The Gemora (36a; see Rashi ad loc. s.v. Hachi Garsinan Lishna Acharina) says that piggul, which entails intending to eat or burn the korban at the wrong time, only applies if the one causing the piggul can actually do it at the wrong time. But if he himself cannot, intending that others will do it at the wrong time is meaningless. Accordingly, the halachah that the owner can cause piggul would only apply to shelamim and the like, where the owner will indeed be eating the meat, so it is up to him to intend to eat it at the wrong time. But when it comes to the minchah, the woman will not be burning the minchah, nor will she be eating it. All she can do is intend that the Kohen burn or eat it at the wrong time, and that is meaningless.

Let’s remember that the woman is not the sole owner, as the husband is the one "sponsoring" the korban for her, which has many halachic ramifications. Accordingly, it is quite likely that the husband is the one who would have the jurisdiction over the piggul, just as we see in Bava Kama Daf 13a-b that when one person sponsors a korban for another, the sponsor is entitled to the meat.

Rashi writes that the owner can render it piggul if the Kohen had no intent, implying that if the Kohen explicitly intended the proper thought, the owner’s thought would not count. This makes sense, considering that the source for the owner’s power to cause piggul is that he too is called a makriv, but as a makriv, he is definitely secondary to the Kohen. Accordingly, in the case of the sotah, the solution is to ensure that the Kohen specifically intends the right thought.

The most obvious answer seems to be that she cannot overpower the intention of the Kohen doing the avodah. You will note that Rashi says that the owner can cause piggul if he has piggul intention and the Kohen kept quiet. From here it seems that if the Kohen has an active intention the owner’s intention cannot take effect.

Perhaps, since it’s not b’yadah to eat it chutz l’zmano or to be makriv it chutz l’mkomo, she cannot make it piggul.

The Torah says that the husband shall bring her to the Kohen, and therefore it’s his korban not hers.

Perhaps because she would benefit personally from piggul, therefore she does not have believability.

Only an innocent woman will actually drink the waters, so as to prove her innocence. Accordingly, she wouldn’t cause it to become piggul.

The Torah says (Bamidbor 5,15) "Veheivi", which means that the husband brings the minchah, so what makes the wife the owner? And even if the waving (of the minchah) is done by the wife, so what? The Kohen had to do the waving with her as well so he is the owner as well?

In Sotah 19, the Chachamim say (and so is the halachah) that first she drinks and then they start with the minchah. There was no chance to cause piggul before drinking, and R’ Shimon says the minchah was first, but who says that he agrees with Rabbi Elozar bar Rabbi Yosi?

It would seem to me that if she deliberately has machsheves piggul, she would not be believed to say so since ain odom maysim atzmo rasha. (I assume it is forbidden to deliberately invalidate a korban, and especially to prevent them from fulfilling dinei sotah). The only possible case is if the person says he accidentally had machsheves piggul.

Who said the woman is the owner of the korban. Perhaps it’s being brought for her, not by her, and she can’t cause the piggul.

If we’re concerned that she’ll try to get out of drinking she could do it in an easier way by admitting she was guilty. This would forbid her to her husband, but no death penalty.

Who said the wife is the owner of the minchah? Doesn’t the husband pay for it and have to "bring her"? Isn’t he the owner?

The first though that occurs to me is whether in fact the korban minchah prevents the sotah from drinking, or is it considered a separate and distinct aspect of the overall process, so that even if it invalidated it, she could still drink?

There is a halachah that if the accused sotah declares that she will not drink, then the korban minchah must be burned. Therefore, even according to the opinion of the Rambam, if she is completely silent, we need not be concerned with the possibility of her having a piggul thought, since she did not verbally refuse to drink. Obviously, she feels that she is innocent, and is willing to do ahead with the entire process - including both a proper hakravah of the korban and the drinking.

Rashi there says ‘if the Kohen is quiet while being mekabel…’ – this sounds like the only then does the owner capable of rendering it piggul. Therefore here where there is a concern we’ll just have the Kohen speak out the correct time and day… and therefore even the Rambam will agree that her intention cannot override or have any impact to the Kohen’s expression.

Do we see anywhere that we suspect someone to deliberately render something piggul – is it not kares?

If there is this concern then R’ Chaim Berlin should ask more – how can the Kohen continue to do the different avodah’s on an animal which is suspect to be piggul?

Saying Eizehu Mekoman before Prayer

For very many years it has been the custom to say the Mishna of our chapter, Eizehu mekoman, before shacharis. The Tur (O.C. 50) bases the custom on the halachah that every day one should learn Torah (Written), Mishna and Talmud (Kiddushin 30a). Therefore we say the parashah of the tamid and the verses dealing with the sacrifices for the portion of Torah, Eizehu mekoman for Mishna and Rabbi Yishmael’s braisa for the portion of Talmud. Our chapter was chosen from the 524 chapters of Mishna because the Gemora in Menachos 110a praises those who learn about sacrifices (see Perishah, ibid, S.K. 2 and 4).

Beis Yosef (ibid) cites another reason in the name of the Raah: “because there is no disagreement in the whole chapter and it is a clear Mishna handed down from Moshe from Mount Sinai”. In other words, this chapter does not contain even one difference of opinions and therefore we assume that it has been handed down from Moshe in its present form (Peninim Mishulchan HaGra, end of Shemos, and the Noda’ BiYeudah wrote likewise in Doresh LeTziyon, derush 11). Some also prove thus from the phrasing of the Mishna in this chapter, which evidences its antiquity, as we are told: “…and they are eaten within the curtains (kla’im)”. Curtains were not in the Temple but in the Sanctuary (mishkan). Therefore, the Tanaim did not formulate this Mishna but it originates from the generation of the desert (see Otzar HaTefilos, p. 81 in the remark, and Tiferes Yisrael on our chapter, os 22). ‘Ateres Zekeinim on Shulchan ‘Aruch (ibid) states that the words of this chapter amount to 344 and when we add 1 for reading, we arrive at the numerical equivalent for Moshe – a hint that this chapter was given to Moshe at Mount Sinai in its present phrasing.

Is it really true, many wondered, that there is no difference of opinions in the chapter? Our Gemora explains that the Mishna’s statement, that the pesach is eaten only till midnight, is only according to Rabbi Elozar ben Azaryah and not according to Rabbi Akiva (see Pri Megadim, ibid, in Eishel Avraham, and see Yeshu’as Ya’akov, S.K. 1). Indeed, the Ritva, the great pupil of the Raah, indicates (Avodah Zarah 19b) that Raah did not mean that this chapter was given to Moshe in its present form but “since the whole chapter is learnt with no difference of opinions mentioned at all, it should be learnt more than other chapters”.

HaGaon Rav Eliezer Yehudah Waldenberg, who expands on the topic (Responsa Tzitz Eli’ezer, IX, 5), cites the reason of Orchos Chayim (Dinei Meah Berachos, os 16), that this chapter includes the secret of all the sacrifices. Yesod Veshoresh Ha’Avodah says: “A person scrutinizing the writings of the Ari z”l will realize its great import, that every Mishna of this chapter is a rectification (tikun) in itself in the high worlds” (see Tzitz Eli’ezer, ibid).

To conclude, we should mention the statement of Rabbi Shneiur Zalman of Lyadi zt”l (Responsa HaGraz, 1:9), that as saying Eizehu mekoman before prayer was mainly instituted so that a person should learn something each day, a person “who can learn and understand does not have to say the parashah of the sacrifices each day but to say it sometimes suffices”.


How Could You Write a Book on Eizehu Mekoman?

A person who wrote a commentary on Eizehu mekoman came with his book to Rebbe Baruch of Mezhbuzh for an approbation. The Rebbe replied, “I wonder how you could write such a commentary. When I come to this chapter, I begin to imagine bringing sacrifices to the Temple and the service of the kohanim. My stomach turns over and I’m full of tribulations and suffering” (Ma’yanah shel Mishna).

What Is a Sacrifice?

Our Mishna says “What is the place of the sacrifices?” – i.e., all the sacrifices. Rabbi Avraham Ibn Ezra writes in his commentary on the Torah (Shemos 20:20): “I saw an apostate…who challenged the chachamim because they said „What is the place of the sacrifices (zevachim)‟. He said that in all the Torah he found zevichah referring only to shelamim, such as „‘olah uzevachim as an ‘olah is a thing for itself and the zevachim are shelamim, as in „…and they offered ‘olos and slaughtered zevachim shelamim” (Shemos 24:5) and thus we find everywhere. I showed him that he wasn’t speaking correctly as we are told: „…and you will slaughter (vezavachta) on it your ‘olos and shelamim.” He then admitted to his sin…that he had disputed men greater than all following generations”

Read more!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Story on the Daf

The Gemora states that the terms Mishkan and Mikdash are interchangeable. One must wonder if the terms are interchangeable, why Scripture would not just employ one term, either always using the term Mishkan or always using the term Mikdash. An answer to this puzzle can be found with a story that occurred many years ago.

Rabbi Stein, an executive director of a well-known Yeshiva, rand the doorbell one evening at the Miller’s home. Mr. Miller invited Rabbi Stein inside to partake of supper with Mr. Miller’s family. Rabbi Stein began apologizing for interrupting the family, when Mr. Miller said, “Please, I am certain you are here for an important reason. How can I be of help to you?”

Rabbi Stein explained that the yeshiva was in desperate need of funds, so Mr. Miller sent his son to bring his checkbook. After writing out a very generous check to the Yeshiva and handing it to Rabbi Stein, Rabbi Stein thanked Mr. Miller and rose to leave. “I would like to apologize again for coming at such an inconvenient time,” Rabbi Stein said. “The opposite is true,” declared Mr. Miller. “Let me share with you something.

Reb Yitzchak Hutner of Yeshivas Chaim Berlin calls me from time to time asking for financial assistance for his Yeshiva. When Rav Hutner once called me while I was eating supper, I told Rav Hutner the following: I am very organized in my method of giving tzedakah. I set aside ten percent of my income and I distribute the funds systematically. I would probably give the Rosh HaYeshiva a donation even without the Rosh HaYeshiva calling me, but I actually appreciate the call. I would never interrupt my supper to pay a utility bill, but I will interrupt my supper to give tzedakah, because I feel that this is something that is every important for my children to witness. Rabi Stein, I must thank you too for ringing my doorbell as we were about to commence our supper. You could not have arrived at a better time.”

This story teaches us that there is a Mikdash, a shul, a yeshiva, or any worthy Jewish organization, but there is also a Mishkan, from the generosity and beauty of performing the mitzvah of tzedakah, that allows the Divine Presence to reside in the homes of those who support the Torah.

Sent out of a Walled City

The Gemora mentions that there is a special sanctity regarding cities in Eretz Yisroel that were surrounded by a wall in the times of Yehoshua. Rashi writes some of these halachos: One who sells a house inside a walled city has one year to redeem the house, but if he chooses not to redeem the house, it becomes the property of the buyer permanently; sending a metzora outside the city; and that the open space (1,000 cubits) surrounding the city should be left uncultivated.

Why does a Metzora need to leave a city that is surrounded by a wall, but may otherwise remain in all other cities--as long as they are unwalled? The Be'er Yosef provides a fascinating p'shat based on the Chazal in Erachin (15b) which states that Hashem provided for the tongue two protections -- two walls: one of flesh--the lips, and one of bone--the teeth. A metzora breached his very own walls of protection by speaking lashon hora; he cannot therefore remain in a city protected by a wall!

Hakhel Note: An average city has only one wall--yet Hashem in his benevolence gives us a truly enhanced fortification--a dual safeguard! How can a person be so imprudent, so unwise, so as to take down not only one wall made for his own protection--but two! We will add one other point, as well. One of the most famous Metzora scenes in Tanach is that of Gechazi and his sons outside the city of Shomron (the Haftorah for Parshas Metzora)--perhaps a lesson to us that the sin of Lashon Hora is easily spread within or among a family(Miriam and Aharon speaking regarding Moshe Rabbeinu provides a similar lesson)--and this may be why it is easier to succeed at taking down the 'double wall'--it is an unfortunate and misguided team effort, and one family member encourages the next in what to the casual observer may otherwise be described as a self-defeating struggle. If one sees a weakness in his family--or in a particular family member (even if that family member is himself) -- he should bolster the fortifications--so that the security of the entire family is not breached--and the lips and tongue can take their noble places in protecting home, life and family!

Read more!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Sent Goat and Yom Kippur

The Gemora discusses who is the author of the Mishna, which says that the sent goat atones for all sins, apparently even without repentance. The Gemora concludes that Rebbi is the author, as Rebbi says that Yom Kippur atones for all sins, except for three very severe ones, even without repentance. The commentators note that Rebbi does not make any direct mention of the sent goat, but only of the day of Yom Kippur, which seems to be at odds with the Mishna. A number of answers are offered to this question:

1. The day atones partially, and the sent goat achieves full atonement (Tosfos 13a d'ovad)
2. The day atones, but the repentance requirement is waived only if the goat is sent (Ritva)
3. The sent goat atones, but its atonement is due to the power of Yom Kippur day (Tosfos, Rashba)
4. The day atones, but when there is a Bais Hamikdash, it depends on the sent goat being brought (Minchas Chinuch 364)

The Gemora had objected that if one did not repent, the goat cannot atone, as it is a sacrifice of the wicked, which is an abomination. The Ritva explains that Rebbi says that the goat is an exception, and the rule of a sacrifice of the wicked applies only to other sacrifices. The Rashba suggests that since the goat only completes the atonement of the day (following the first explanation above), it is not simply a sacrifice of the wicked, and therefore is effective.

The Gemora introduces a sifra which states that the day of Yom Kippur atones even if the sinner did not commemorate it. The Gemora says that this sifra implies that Yom Kippur atones even without repentance. The Ramban explains that if Yom Kippur needs repentance, it is like any other sacrifice, e.g., chatas, which is not effective if the sinner denies its effectiveness.

Rava says that Rebbi agrees that Yom Kippur does not atone for infractions of the day without repentance. Rava says this must be so, since otherwise there would be no case of one being punished for Yom Kippur prohibitions, since the day itself would atone for them. The Gemora objects, and provides two cases where the day would not atone for the transgression, even if repentance is not generally necessary:

1. The person died choking on food he ate, leaving no time after the transgression for atonement
2. The person ate at the end of the day, leaving no part of the day to atone
Tosfos (13a d'ovad) notes that the goat atones even for sins committed later on the day of Yom Kippur, since otherwise the Gemora should have suggested that the case is one who ate after the goat was sent. Some texts of the Gemora continue by citing a braisa, comparing the atonement of the goat and the day. The braisa states that the goat has the advantage of atoning right away, while the day atones only at the end. The day has the advantage of atoning without a sacrifice, while the goat atones only with a sacrifice. Rashi cites this text and rejects it, noting that it is incompatible with the answers provided by the Gemora, which both imply that any part of the day would atone, not just the end. The Ramban and Rabbeinu Chananel keep the text, and the Ramban explains that this is an alternate answer offered by the Gemora. According to this approach, only the end of the day atones, and therefore one would be liable for violating Yom Kippur if he died before the end of the day.

The Rashba offers two explanations of the advantage of Yom Kippur cited in the braisa:
1. The “sacrifice” refers to sending the goat off the azazel cliff. The braisa refers to this as a “sacrifice” since it is considered a sacrifice like standard ones, and follows its rules.
2. The “sacrifice” refers to the chatas goat whose blood was sprinkled inside the mishkan. The braisa is stating that the atonement of Yom Kippur is independent of this sacrifice, while the sent goat only atones if this sacrifice is also brought.
These two explanations seem to differ as to whether the sent goat is considered a standard sacrifice or not. The answer cited by the Ritva for how the goat atones without repentance seems to consider it a standard sacrifice, while the fact that the goat atones for sins committed later seems to indicate it is not.

The Rambam (Teshuva 1:2) rules that the sent goat atones on all lenient prohibitions (i.e., generic positive and negative commandments) even without repentance, but on all others only with repentance. The commentators attempt to explain the Rambam's source for this ruling, since the Gemora presents the opinions of the Sages, who require repentance, and Rebbi, who does not, with no indication of a middle position. The Lechem Mishne says that the Rambam rules like the Sages, but attempts to limit the extent of the dispute between Rebbi and the Sages. The braisa in which they differ on the explanation of the verse mandating karais is discussing only severe prohibitions, and only in that case do we find the Sages explicitly requiring repentance. The Rambam therefore says that the Sages agree with Rebbi that the sent goat atones for lenient transgressions without repentance. The Meshech Chochma (Vayikra 16:30) explains the Rambam based on the Gemora in Yoma (85b), which says that Rebbi holds that Yom Kippur atones for severe transgressions without repentance, but repentance does not atone for them without Yom Kippur. From here we see that Yom Kippur is more potent that repentance alone. Therefore, the Sages, who say that repentance alone atones for lenient prohibitions, surely say that Yom Kippur alone atones for these.

Sifra's authorship

The Gemora states that an anonymous sifra is Rabbi Yehuda, and therefore proves that Rabbi Yehuda requires repentance for the atonement of Yom Kippur. The Gemora then cites another sifra, which indicates that repentance is not required. Abaye answers that the first sifra is Rabbi Yehuda, while the second is Rebbi. The Ritva asks how Abaye can offer this answer if the Gemora stated that an anonymous sifra is Rabbi Yehuda. He offers two answers:
1. The two sifras are different opinions of Rabbi Yehuda's position. Thus, both follow Rabbi Yehuda, but differ on what Rabbi Yehuda holds on this point.
2. The rule of authorship is a general rule for most sifras, but has exceptions. Similarly, the Gemora identifies anonymous mishnas as Rabbi Meir, since most are, but there are many exceptions to this rule.

Read more!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Gezeirah shavah and Rhymes

Gezeirah Shavah
Rava praises Rebbe for his connection of olah v’yored with the prohibition on an impure person eating kodesh, by a gezeirah shavah – a common phrase, since behemah temai’ah – non kosher animal is used in both sections. Tosfos Harosh (7a Doleh) asks why this is so praiseworthy, as one can only use such the textual device of gezeirah shavah if he learned it from his teacher. Therefore, Rebbe must have learned this from his teacher, and showed no innovation. Tosfos Harosh answers that all that one learns from his teacher is the common phrase of the gezeirah shavah, but it is up to the student to know which phrases to use, and what to learn. It is Rebbi’s application of the gezeirah shavah which Rava praised.

Rhymes Purer Than Gold

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

The Chasam Sofer revered his mentor – “the great eagle,” Rabbi Nasan Adler zt”l. We see his admiration in a poem he composed in his honor, whose beginning copies the style of our sugya, in which Rava praises Rebbe. The interesting rhymes are written in a style now unknown.
He draws water from deep wells
From him they built eternal ruins; he establishes the institutions of each generation.
His words raise those who falter and are sweeter than honey and mead.
The master’s mouth emits flashes of fire, desirable more than refined gold.
The great Kohen – we shall seek Torah, judgment and rulings from him.
He is the teacher who quenches the thirst of the parched, like flowing water-brooks.
The light of Israel, the strong hammer, cast solid as lustrous bronze,
Nasan the Kohen, a tzadik above chasidim and tzadikim.
He is the great eagle who hovers over his nestlings, his veteran students.
Wings of a dove coated in silver and its wings are like brilliant green-gold
And I am among the young, not from the seasoned,
But from the fragile kids (Responsa Chasam Sofer, Y.D. 167).

Read more!

Shades of Leprosy and "the Bald One"

Varying Degrees of White

The Gemora discusses Rabbi Akiva’s and the Sages’ positions on the four categories of whiteness of tzara’as. Rabbi Akiva lists them in order of whiteness, while the Sages list them as two categories, each with its own subcategory.

Rashi explains that Rabbi Akiva holds that the main categories are baheres (snow), and the duller se’ais (wool), but that se’ais has two subcategories, plaster and the duller egg membrane. Therefore, Rabbi Akiva says that the two main categories can combine with each other, since they are on equal footing, but the subcategories only combine with each other and with se’ais, their parent category, but not with baheres, which has no relation to them.

Tosfos (6a Af) disagrees, and says that Rabbi Akiva agrees to the general formulation of two categories, each with a subcategory, but just disagrees on the rules of combinations. Therefore, Rabbi Akiva agrees that the subcategory of baheres is plaster, and the subcategory of se’ais is egg membrane, but says that since plaster is two steps duller than its parent, it can only combine with se’ais.

The Raavad says that, according to the Sages, each subcategory can combine with its parent, and each category can combine with each other.

The Rambam (Tumas Tzara’as 1:1-3) says that all four levels of whiteness can combine with each other.

See the Kesef Mishneh (1:1) for a lengthy discussion of how the Rambam learned our Gemora, and his suggestion that the Rambam understands that the Gemora concludes that there is no dispute between Rabbi Akiva and the Sages. He notes that the Gemora is not clear as to whether a source was provided for Rabbi Akiva’s position on the combination of the differing shades of white.

Rabbi Akiva’s Son

The Gemora cites a braisa which records a dialogue between Rabbi Akiva and his son, Yehoshua. Rashi says that this son is Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah. Since Rabbi Akiva was bald, his son was referred to as the son of Karchah – the bald one.

Tosfos (Bechoros 58a Chutz) disagrees, noting that the chronology would not place Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah early enough to be Rabbi Akiva’s son. Tosfos also says that Rabbi Akiva would not be constantly referred to as karchah – the bald one, as that is a derogatory term. Rather, Tosfos says Rabbi Yehoshua ben Karchah was a later Tanna, whose father was named Karchah.

Read more!

Shame of Tzara'as

Shame and Embarrassment

The examination of the nega’im detailed in our sugya requires much study. When a Kohen goes to see a suspect tsara’as, he is accompanied by many young kohanim who come to learn. It is obvious that the person afflicted does not enjoy great honor in such a situation. According to the Netziv, this is explicitly mentioned in the Torah: “This is the law…to teach about the day of becoming tamei and the day of becoming tahor” (Vayikra 14:54-57). In other words, a kohen calls his students to come with him to be taught. The Torah thereafter concludes: “…this is the law of tzara’as” – this is the penalty of a slanderer, who insulted others (Ha’amek Davar).

Three Sorts of Metzora’im

There are three types of tzara’as: s’eis, sapachas and baheres. HaGaon Rav Moshe Sternbuch explains that these names express the nature of those who slander:
1. S’eis (a raised mark): someone who slanders with the object of rising above another.
2. Sapachas (an “accompanying” mark): someone who slanders because he blindly follows those around him.
3. Baheres (a bright mark): someone who slanders with the object of “clarifying” the truth…
But all of them are “the plague of tsara’as (Ta’am Veda’as, Vayikra 13:2). (Hame’or)

Read more!

Redeeming with a Check

The Gemora cites a braisa: Rebbe says that a person can use anything to redeem his firstborn son from the Kohen, aside from documents. The Rabbis say: A person can use anything besides for slaves, documents, and land.

The Chasam Sofer in a teshuva (Y”D 134) discusses if redemption would be valid when the father pays the Kohen by check. Is a check regarded as money because it is accepted as cash all over or do we say that it is regarded as a document since there is no inherent value in the paper itself?

He concludes that a check can be regarded as money for some things, but as a document for others. If it is regarding a matter which is between people, then a check would be considered money, since it is commonly accepted. However, regarding redemption of a firstborn, which is between man and Hashem, a check would be regarded as a document and the redemption would not be valid. He explains: The father is actually redeeming his firstborn son from Hashem, but He gave over the monetary rights to the five selaim to the Kohen. Since it is the Torah that set the requirement for the money, the redemption will only be valid if the father gives to the Kohen something that is itself valued at five selaim.

The Chazon Ish (Y”D 72:10) disagrees and maintains that a check would be regarded as money and the redemption would be valid.

Read more!

Poor Man

The Bartenura asks, why did the Tanna use the example of the poor man and not merely state, “the person standing in the public domain?”

1. The Bartenura answers that the Tanna is teaching us that although the householder is giving the poor man charity, he has still violated the Shabbos, because this is what is known as a “mitzvah haba’ah b’aveirah, a positive commandment that was fulfilled by committing a sin.

2. The Tosfos Yom Tov, however, contends that this idea only holds true according to the opinion in the Gemora that one who erred in assuming that he is performing a mitzvah is liable. This would not be reconciled, however, with the opinion that posits that one who erred in assuming that he did a mitzvah is not liable. The Tosfos Yom Tov therefore writes that only regarding mitzvos that one is allowed to perform on Shabbos, such as bris milah, can one suggest that if he performs the mitzvah through the means of a sin, he is not liable. Concerning the mitzvah of tzedakah, however, one is not allowed to give tzedakah on Shabbos, and therefore he is certainly deemed punishable for giving charity to the poor person. [Rabbi Akiva Eiger, questions this, however, as we see that one is not allowed to fulfill the mitzvah of lulav on Shabbos, and yet there is an opinion that maintains that one who was involved in handling a lulav on Shabbos would not be liable a punishment.]

3. The Chemdas Shlomo writes that the only case where we say that one may be exempt from punishment is when he is obligated to perform some act for the mitzvah. In such a situation we can seek leniency for someone who was involved in performing the mitzvah even at a time when he was prohibited to do so. Regarding charity, though, one is not obligated to hand the poor man the article. The householder can leave the article for the poor man, without having to transfer the article from the private domain to the public domain. By transferring the article from one domain to another, the householder has incurred a sin that is liable a punishment.

4. Reb Aharon Leib Shteinman answers that we only say that one who erred in performing a mitzvah is not liable when the involvement in the mitzvah led the person to sin. In the case of the Mishna however, the mitzvah of giving charity did not distract the householder. Rather, the householder erred in not remembering that it was Shabbos or not being cognizant that this was a forbidden act of labor. In such circumstances one is not exempt from the punishment of having committed a sin.

Read more!

Temple Mount

Entering the Temple Mount

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

In our Mishna Rabbi Meir says, “All the goats serve to atone for the defilement of the Temple and its holy objects.” In other words, all the goats of the additional sacrifices (musafim) served to atone for prohibitions of defilement committed in the Temple by eating kodoshim (parts of sacrifices) while being defiled (tamei) or by entering the Temple when being tamei.

Does the sanctity of the site of the Temple depend on the Temple’s existence? A defiled person (tamei) who enters the site of the Temple transgresses a prohibition of the Torah and is punished with kareis. According to Rambam (Hilchos Beis HaBechirah, 6:16) and many Rishonim (Tosfos, Yevamos 82b, s.v. Yerushah; Rash on Shevi‟is 6:1; Semag, ‘asin 163; Yereiim Hashalem, 277; Ritva, Megillah 10b and Shevuos 2b; Sefer HaChinuch, mitzvos 184, 362 and 363), the prohibition and the resulting kares are still valid after the Temple’s destruction as “the first sanctification sanctified the place in its time and for the future.” In other words, the site of the Temple was consecrated forever with an unconditional sanctity, independent of the existence of the Temple.

Raavad (ibid) disagrees and believes that once the Temple was destroyed and the gentiles conquered the Temple Mount, its sanctity was rescinded.

Some hold that even according to Raavad, it could be that only the punishment of kares was revoked whereas the Torah prohibition to enter remains (see Responsa Binyan Tziyon, 2, and Responsa Mishpat Kohen, 96). Even if not so, all agree that Chazal decreed that we mustn’t enter the site of the Temple after its destruction because of two reasons: (a) so that when the Temple will be rebuilt, everyone should remember that a tamei must not enter; (b) to preserve the respect for the Temple. Indeed, leading authorities testified that after the destruction of the Temple Jews were always careful to avoid entering the site as the prohibition to enter is also valid in our era from the Torah (d’oraisa) and those who enter are punished with kares (Rabeinu Ovadyah Bartenura in his letter from Eretz Israel of 5248; Maharam Chagiz in Parashas Mas’ei; and see Binyan Tziyon, that that is the ruling of all the poskim).

Rambam’s letter that caused a sensation: A letter sent by Rambam during his visit in Eretz Yisroel (printed in Sefer Chareidim, 65) aroused a great commotion when he wrote that on coming to Yerushalayim, he prayed in the “great and holy house.” Some interpreted this as meaning a synagogue built on the site of the Temple – a contradiction to his ruling that one mustn’t enter there in our era. Still, poskim reject the attempt to present the letter as proof that Rambam changed his ruling, and proved that he referred to a large synagogue called Midrash Shlomo, located near the Temple Mount, whose windows faced the whole area of the site of the Temple (see Responsa Minchas Yitzchak, V, 1, and Responsa Tzitz Eli’ezer, X, 1, and XI, 15, in the name of HaGaon Rav Y. Chai Zarihan).

Montefiore’s visit to the Temple Mount: 136 years ago, in 5627 (1867), Sir Moses Montefiore visited Eretz Israel, accompanied by his private secretary, Dr Levi. To the great surprise of the Yerushalayim community, the two entered the Temple Mount with a special permit issued by the Sultan in Istanbul, attained by the Pashah of Yerushalayim who had been well paid by Montefiore’s aides. The Jerusalemites were shocked and HaGaon Rav Yosef Moshe of Lissa, the son of the author of Nesivos HaMishpat and Chavos Da’as, even blew a shofar in the streets and excommunicated Montefiore. Being deeply religious, the latter rushed to the rabbis and scholars of Yerushalayim and apologized, claiming that he had acted sincerely, having been misled by a certain rabbi that Raavad’s opinion was accepted as halachah. He then accepted certain orders of teshuvah and the commotion subsided (Responsa Tzitz Eli’ezer, XI, 15:5).

May non-Jews enter the Temple Mount?

Now that we know that the Torah’s prohibition to enter the site of the Temple and the penalty of kares are valid in our era, we should examine the halachah pertaining to gentiles. The Mishna in Keilim 1:8 explains that non-Jews must not enter further than the cheil (the fence around the Temple) – i.e., the area of the Temple Mount (except for the cubits adjacent to the surrounding wall) – and Rambam (Hilchos Bias HaMikdash, 3:5) rules accordingly, that “at the cheil gentiles should be sent away.”

The halachos of defilement are only for Jews: The Torah does not apply halachos of defilement (tumah) to non-Jews (Nazir 61b; Rambam, Hilchos Tumas HaMeis, 1:13), just as animals do not become tamei. As a result, the Torah’s prohibition that temeiim must not enter the site of the Temple refers only to Jews. Nonetheless, Chazal decreed tumah on gentiles and the Mishna therefore explains that they must not penetrate the cheil.

May a non-Jew enter the Temple Mount? Some explain (Magid Meireishis in Kuntres Derech HaKodesh) that though non-Jews are allowed to enter the site of the Temple, we are commanded by Chazal to prevent their entry, as Rambam states: “gentiles should be sent away.”Still, the Maharit (cited in Derech HaKodesh by Rav C.A. Alfandari) indicates that Chazal also actually forbade them to enter the site of the Temple (Chazon Nachum on Keilim 1:6).

How the Greeks defiled the oil of the Temple: Every year on Chanukah we praise Hashem for the miracle of the single sealed jug of pure oil found remaining from all the other oil defiled by the Greeks. Apparently, since non-Jews are never tamei, we must understand how they managed to defile the oil.

Tosfos (Shabos 21b, s.v. Shehayah, and see Maharsha, ibid) indicate that the decree to apply tumah to gentiles could have been very early, even before the Mishnaic era, whereas the Re’eim (on the Semag at the beginning of Hilchos Chanukah) remarks that the Greeks defiled all the oil when they entered the Temple because of their garments which were tamei.

Buying water from a well on the Temple Mount: Sdei Chemed (Ma’areches Vav, Kelal 26, os 33) refers to the question of the Jerusalemites as to if they may buy water from Arabs who draw it from a well on the Temple Mount, as they suspected that their demand for water caused the Arabs to go there. He replied that as the water-drawers stay on the Mount all day anyway, there is no prohibition to buy the water. On the contrary, the demand for water causes them to leave the site of the Temple when they bring water to the Jews.

Inserting fingers in the Western Wall: Over three years ago we treated the topic of putting one’s fingers in the cracks of the Western Wall. In that article we cited the Aderes (Mishkenos L’Abir Ya’akov, II) who forbids such for fear of entering the site of the Temple while being tamei. On the other hand, some believe (Maharil Diskin, cited ibid, etc.) that the walls of the Temple Mount were never sanctified and that there is no prohibition (see sefer Meoros HaDaf HaYomi, Vol. II, p. 249).

Permission by the Avnei Nezer: Still, it is interesting to note that the Sochatchover Rebbe zt”l, author of Avnei Nezer (Responsa Avnei Nezer, Y.D., II, 450-51), writes that even if the walls were consecrated, there is no prohibition to put one’s fingers therein because of two halachos: (a) The prohibition to enter refers to the normal manner of entry whereas entry in an unusual fashion is allowed; (b) the prohibition to enter is only for the ways of access to the Temple. Putting a finger in a hole in a wall is not considered a normal manner of entry and is therefore allowed and even if we say that it is a form of entry, that place cannot be reached from inside the Temple and is not regarded as entering a sanctified place (see other reasons ibid).

Read more!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Makkos 21 (insights all about shaving)

You can see the most recent Daf at:

Please click here to view "peyos" poster:

For additional material please visit


Read more!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Makkos 20 (plus important detailed poster)

You can see the most recent Daf at:

Please click here to view "peyos" poster:

For additional material please visit


Read more!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Makkos Daf 19

You can see the most recent Daf at:

For additional material please visit

Read more!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Atonement of an Olah

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

Rabbi Yosi HaGelili (Yoma 36) states that a korban olah is brought for the sin of not giving the poor people from your grain, which one is obligated to do. Rabbi Akiva disagrees and holds that a korban olah is brought to atone for transgressing a positive commandment. Chazal say that an olah is a doron - a present to Hashem. The Seforim say that an olah shows a tremendous amount of love between the person and Hashem. The Ramban writes that when one brings a chatas or an asham, he should feel as if he is bringing himself as a sacrifice, for in truth, that is what he deserves. By an olah, it is as if he is giving himself to Hashem out of love.

How do we reconcile an olah being a present and a sign of love with the fact that Chazal say it is brought for transgressing certain sins?

The Aruch L'neir (Makkos 17b) explains the Ritva. The Gemora contrasts a chatas and asham that is coming for atonement and an olah is not. The Ritva asks from the Gemora in Yoma and Zevachim that it does provide forgiveness for some sins, and he answers that when one brings an olah as a donation, it atones for those sins.

Reb Chaim HaQoton elaborates: Rashi, quoting the Midrash, explains that an olah sacrifice is an atonement for one who violates a positive commandment or for one who violates a negative commandment and fails to perform the positive commandment that is supposed to rectify the negative commandment. Rashi explains, in a point further explained by Nachmanides and Rabbi Yaakov Ettlinger, that one is never obligated to bring a olah as an atonement, rather, if one does, he attains his atonement.

Tosfos write that after bringing an olah one’s atonement is “floating. Rabbi Meir Lublin explains that the Tosafists mean that an olah offering only atones for lenient sins, not for the more strict and severe sins.

Rabbi Shlomo Luria explains that the atonement is “floating” inasmuch as the atonement does not occur automatically when one offers an olah sacrifice, rather one must first perform teshuvah (repentance) and return to God before the offering of the sacrifice will complete its powers of atonement.

His words echo that of Rabbi Yaakov ben Asher who explains that the olah only serves as atonement for failing to perform a positive commandment or violating a negative commandment which is to be repaired by a positive commandment, if one repents from one’s sin.

Other Tosafists write that the olah offers an atonement for one who sinned and never knew of his sin. According to this explanation, obviously one cannot be obligate to being an olah for such a sin, because if he never knew about his sin, how can he be obliged to offer a sacrifice to atone for it? Rather, if one brought an olah offering, then it atones for sins unbeknown to him, but if he did not bring one, he is not required to do so. Another Midrash says that an olah is an atonement for one who thinks about sinning and thus has sinned with his intellect, not for one who violates a positive commandment.

Read more!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Hasra'ah and Witnesses

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The Purpose of Hasra’ah

By: Rabbi Avi Lebowitz

The Gemora cites various verses as the source for the requirement of hasra’ah (warning).

The Maharatz Chayus points out that there are two sources for hasra’ah. The first is a sevara, - this serves to make sure that the person is aware of the severity and consequences of his actions. Included in the hasra’ah is both the education of the halachah, and the awareness of the action that he is about to do. The second source is the verses that the Gemora quotes which serve as a gezeiras hakasuv, whether they apply or not, that no punishment can be carried out unless there is a warning.

The Maharatz Chayus deduces this from Tosfos who is bothered why the Gemora has to find a source for hasra’ah, to which they answer that it is needed for a non-chaver (someone who isn’t educated in the laws). It is obvious from logic that he requires hasra’ah, because otherwise, he would have no idea whether the action that he is doing is prohibited by the Torah, but, a chaver, who is well educated, knows very well what he is doing and understands the consequences. He shouldn’t require hasra’ah if not for the fact that the Torah would demand it as a gezeiras hakasuv. The verses are the rationale for requiring the details of hasra’ah, such as killing him within the time of an utterance (and perhaps having to accept the hasra’ah).

Based on this, he points out that Tosfos, who asks regarding the source for hasra’ah by an ir hanidachas (subverted town), is difficult. Who says that ir hanidachas has the gezeiras hakasuv requirement of hasra’ah that would involve the details? Perhaps it would only have the sevara aspect of hasra’ah to differentiate between unintentional and deliberate, so that no source is necessary. Clearly, Tosfos assumes that the type of hasra’ah necessary by ir hanidachas is the gezeiras hakasuv type - with all the details, and not just the determination that he was aware of the consequences of his actions.

The Rambam, however, doesn’t seem to follow this same approach. The Gemora 8b and 41a quote Rabbi Yosi bar Yehudah, who says that a Torah scholar doesn’t require hasra’ah, since the sole purpose of hasra’ah is to differentiate between unintentional and deliberate. This would imply that the Rabbis, who hold that even a Torah scholar requires hasra’ah, would hold that hasra’ah is a gezeiras hakasuv, and NOT just to distinguish between unintentional and deliberate. However, the Rambam (Sanhederin 12:2) writes: A torah scholar and an unlearned man require hasra’ah, for the sole purpose of hasra’ah is to differentiate between unintentional and deliberate. This seems to be very strange. The Rambam cites the rationale of Rabbi Yosi bar Yehudah, yet requires hasra’ah even for a chaver! Why?

The Kesef Mishneh and Lechem Mishneh explain that according to the Rambam, the Rabbis don’t disagree with Rabbi Yosi bar Yehudah in principal; rather, they hold that because of his concern, we require hasra’ah even by a chaver who knows the law, since he may not be aware of the action he is about to do. The Rambam clearly learns that the concept of hasra’ah is only meant to make him aware of his actions, and educate him about the halachah, not just a gezeiras hakasuv. Nevertheless, the Rambam requires hasra’ah within the time of an utterance of the action, implying that this concept isn’t merely a gezeiras hakasuv, but an actual concern that he may have a very short term memory. It seems that the Rambam doesn’t buy into the two sources for hasra’ah approach; rather, he understands that the rationale for the sources of hasra’ah cited in the Gemora is to differentiate between unintentional and deliberate - to educate and inform.


Eidim P’sulim

The Gemora learns that even if there are a hundred witnesses that witnessed an event, but included in those witnesses were relatives or otherwise disqualified witnesses, then the all the witnesses may not testify. Rebbe clarifies that this is only true when the relatives or otherwise disqualified witnesses also gave the warning, but if they merely witnessed an event along with others, they can’t nullify the testimony of the other witnesses. Rashi explains that by giving the warning, they show that they too want to be considered witnesses, therefore they negate the other witnesses’ testimony, since part of the witnesses are disqualified.

Who is considered disqualified for testimony?

1) Relatives - Relatives: There are many different scenarios; we will only touch on a few.

We learn that relatives cannot be considered witnesses from the verse: Fathers shall not die through their sons. The Chachamim derived from this verse that the father cannot die due to testimony from his son, and vice versa. Aside from a son there are other relatives that cannot testify; a) brothers, b) grandson, c) first cousins, d) second cousins. All these cases apply to females as well, meaning a sister cannot testify on a brother and vice versa etc. (Choshen Mishpat 33:2)

If one cannot testify regarding a woman (for example a sister), he is similarly prohibited from testifying for her husband, and conversely, if one cannot testify for a certain man, he also may not testify for his wife (ibid 33:3). However, he may testify for that spouse’s relative (ibid 33:5).

Mechutanim may testify for each other (ibid 33:6).

2) Oivrei Aveirah - One Who Committed a Sin: If one transgressed any prohibition that is punishable by either death or lashes, he is disqualified for testimony until he repents. It makes no difference if he sinned due to desire, or if he sinned as an act of rebellion (ibid 34:2).

If one transgressed a Rabbinic prohibition, he is disqualified only on a Rabbinic level (there are halachic differences between them).

3) Other P’sulei Eidus: A minor is disqualified for testimony, even if he is very bright. One leaves the status of a minor once he shows signs of physical maturity, usually when he turns thirteen years old.

One who is incoherent in a certain issue is also disqualified (ibid 35:8). If he is mentally deranged, he is also disqualified (ibid 35:10).

Read more!

As they Intended

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The Mishna teaches us that the zomemin witnesses are only punished if they attempted to have someone executed, but they were found to be zomemin before the defendant was executed (as long as it was after the verdict was handed down). However, if they were discredited through hazamah only after the defendant had been executed, they will not be punished. This is derived from the Scriptural verse: as they intended to do; but not as they actually accomplished.

The Kesef Mishnah explains this seemingly perplexing halachah in two manners:
1. When the zomemin witnesses actually carry out their plan and the accused is executed - such a sin is of such a magnitude that they cannot get punished in this world. The punishment for such a hideous sin can only take place in the next world- in Gehinnom.
2. Alternatively, he explains, if the accused was actually executed, we assume that he was indeed guilty and deserved to die. Hashem is present by every court case and it must be attributed to Divine Providence that the second set of witnesses did not arrive until after the defendant was executed.

Read more!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Paying and Piercing

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The Mishna stated: “We testify that this particular person owes his fellow two hundred zuz,” and they are found to be zomemin, they receive lashes and must pay, for the Scriptural verse that makes him liable for the lashes is not the same as that which makes him liable for compensation; these are the words of Rabbi Meir. But the Chachamim say: Whoever is liable to pay does not receive lashes.

Based upon this, the Panim Yafos answers the following question: The Gemora in Kiddushin states: Why was an ear chosen (to be pierced - when a Jewish servant wishes to stay by his master even after the six years) more than other limbs of a person’s body? Hashem says that the ear that heard on Mount Sinai, “For to Me Bnei Yisroel are servants,” and not servants to servants, and he went anyway and chose a master for himself, his ear should be pierced. The question begs to be asked: If the piercing is because of his stealing, why don’t we pierce his ear immediately? Why do we wait until he wants to stay longer?

Our Gemora states that whoever is liable to pay does not receive lashes. If one is liable a punishment of lashes and money for one action, he does not receive lashes and pay, but rather, he pays and he does not incur the lashes.

Accordingly, we can say that the thief was deserving of getting his ear pierced immediately – except, since he is required to pay for that which he stole, and selling him as a servant is instead of his payment, he is therefore exempt from the piercing, for he cannot pay and receive “lashes.” However, after he served his six years, and he says, “I love my master, my wife and my children; I do not want to go free,” he is revealing to us that his serving as a servant was not a punishment for him. Retroactively, he reverts to the halachah that he should be punished for selling himself as a servant through piercing.

Read more!

Monday, June 07, 2010

Lottery ticket from Maaser and Shemittas Kesafim

Lottery Ticket

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Buying a lottery ticket for a charitable cause from ma’aser money

Many charitable institutions raise funds by promising prizes to be awarded in a lottery among the contributors. HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Responsa Igros Moshe, O.C., IV, 76) was asked if a person could purchase such a ticket from his ma’aser money or if the ticket should be considered as having a monetary value to its holder and thus forbidden to be purchased from ma’aser.

Two types of tickets: Rav Feinstein remarks that we should divide this question into two parts – i.e., two types of lottery tickets. Some institutions issue a fixed amount of tickets, promising that at a certain date or when all of them are sold, the raffle will be held. In such a lottery even the first purchaser knows his chances of winning.

Nonetheless, there is another sort of ticket: Some institutions do not limit the amount of tickets and fix no final date for the raffle. It is obvious, then, that such tickets have no monetary value. A person who purchases such a ticket has no investment, as he has been promised nothing. It is not an investment but a form of charity and may be purchased from ma’aser.

What is the nature, though, of the first type of ticket? First of all, we must examine if we can define the value of something whose worth is unknown. In other words, is a lottery ticket regarded as an item of monetary value although the vast majority of purchasers win nothing?

Estimating the worth of an item whose value is unknown: Rav Feinstein proves from our sugya that we can regard such an article as having value. Our sugya explains that we can estimate the worth of a kesuvah of a woman who has not been divorced by examining the amount merchants would be willing to invest to purchase the rights to the kesuvah once it can be realized. The merchants examine the state of the couple’s health, their relationship and the like. They then estimate the wife’s chances to survive her husband or get divorced and earn her kesuvah. We thus see that we can regard an item whose worth is unknown as an article of monetary value. One should therefore not purchase a ticket of the first sort from ma’aser as the purchaser immediately gets the worth of his investment.

The winner of a lottery: Rav Feinstein adds that if a purchaser of the second type of ticket wins a prize, he should better return the cost of the ticket to his ma’aser money (see Derech Emunah on Matenos ‘Aniyim, Ch. 7, in Beiur Halachah, s.v. V’echad).

Reasons for Shemittas Kesafim

By: Rabbi Moshe Donnebaum

As strange as the mitzvah of relinquishing one's loans may seem, there are important lessons in regard to this commandment. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that the first useful benefit to be gained is the characteristic of generosity. There is none so generous as he who gives without hope of receiving anything in return. So too, relinquishing a loan with no benefit or gain in mind imbues a person with this noble character trait.

The second lesson mentioned in the Chinuch relates to the mitzvah of bitachon - trust in Hashem. Anyone who, upon command, relinquishes all outstanding debts, is continuously strengthening his level of trust in Hashem. The creditor displays trust that any losses incurred will be fully reimbursed to his allocated and pre-determined wealth. The knowledge of G-d as the source of all livelihood and provider of all one's needs is confirmed, and substantiated when releasing a debtor from his debts.

The Chinuch continues that the mitzvah of Shemittas kesafim is also a 'barrier' to keep away from robbery and any desire to own the possessions of one's neighbor, via a kal vachomer. If the Torah decrees that one should leave a loan in his neighbor's hand concerning money that is rightfully owed to him, then certainly he may not obtain his neighbor's belongings, in any way, without his neighbor's consent.

Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Read more!

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Makkos, Forty and Zomemin

Makkos and Forty

The Chidah writes that he heard from an elderly mekubal that it is advantageous to study Tractate Makkos, for it is the same numerical value as “hirhurim” – “thoughts,” and it will be an assistance to those who wish to rid themselves from any impure thoughts.

It is stated in the Medrash Tanchuma that one who transgresses a negative prohibition incurs forty lashes because a person is created in forty days, and he violated the Torah which was given to Moshe in forty days.

Warning not Necessary

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

We are now learning the sugya of eidim zomemim, false witnesses who testify that they saw an act performed by a certain person and are later contradicted by others who assert that the witnesses were with them elsewhere at the time of the supposed act and could not have seen it. The false witnesses are punished with the punishment they intended to mete on the person about whom they testified. At the beginning of Makkos we should cite the explanation of HaGaon Rav Shimon Shkop zt”l about this halachah.

False witnesses are punished without being warned: A Beis Din does not punish a person unless he was warned before his act that he is about to transgress a prohibition of the Torah and will be punished accordingly. Still, false witnesses are punished without such warning (Kesuvos 33a), as the Gemora (ibid) explains, since they wanted to punish someone whom they never warned. Rambam (Hilchos ‘Edus, 20:4) adds that even unwitting false witnesses (shogegim), who did not know about the prohibition of false testimony, are punished.

Two reasons for warning: There are two reasons why we can’t punish someone without warning him: (a) He should not be considered shogeg (Makkos, 6b), unaware that he is transgressing a Torah prohibition, and (b) He should know that by his act he decrees a punishment on himself (Sanhedrin 41a and Rambam, Hilchos Sanhedrin, 12:2; see ibid, that the transgressor must explicitly acknowledge his penalty). Apparently, the Gemora’s explanation, that we don’t have to warn false witnesses because they wanted to punish an unwarned person, means that we can punish the witnesses even though they didn’t know that they could be punished with death. Still, what is Rambam’s basis for saying that we don’t have to verify that the witnesses acted willfully (see Raavad, ibid)?

False witnesses are punished for their cruelty: Rav Shkop explains that Rambam assumes that false witnesses are not punished for transgressing but “because of their wickedness, acting against characteristic human decency. Even though they didn’t know of the prohibition by the Torah, since they knew that they were falsely incriminating a person…that is the main point of their evil…” (Chiddushei Rabbi Shim’on Yehudah HaKohen, Kesuvos, #39, and see Ketsos HaChoshen, 25, S.K. 8, and Sefer HaMafteiach as for other explanations for Rambam’s ruling).


By: Reb Avi Lebowitz

In a situation where two groups of witnesses contradict one another about an event; it is classified as contradictory witnesses, where we have no reason to believe one any more than the other. Under these circumstances the Gemora in Bava Basra has a discussion about what to do - it is an uncertainty, so follow the chazakah. One thing, however, is clear, that we do not believe the latter group any more than the first. However, where the second group doesn't testify about the event, rather about the validity of the first two as being valid witnesses, such as testifying that they are thieves, the second group is completely believed to overthrow the testimony of the first group. This is not considered a novelty, since everything that the first group is saying is true, just that by believing the second group that the first are thieves, we automatically do not accept their testimony.

Rava (in the first version) holds that a zomeim is a novelty and therefore only becomes disqualified from the time of the hazamah, and not retroactively from the time of the testimony. Abaye would presumably agree with Rava that zomemin is a novelty, just that it is not logical for them to be disqualified from the time of the hazamah; therefore we disqualify them retroactively from the time of their testimony.

It seems that the concept of “novelty” by zomemin is that rather than considering it to be a case of contradictory witnesses, where the second group are merely disagreeing about the event, we consider it as if the second group are actually testifying about the character of the first group, invalidating them as witnesses. (See Tosfos who explains that the novelty of zomemin more than contradictory testimony is either that the second group is entirely believed, or that the first group is definitely disqualified, not just out of uncertainty. Assuming like Tosfos’ second approach that the novelty of zomemin is to view the testimony to be on the character of the witnesses, not on the event, in which case it is not a novelty to directly disqualify the first or to validate the second, rather it is a novelty in classification).

Why are zomemin somewhere in between? In essence, the second group is not making a character judgment; they are only contradicting the facts – “these two witnesses could not have possibly witnessed what they claim to have witnessed since they were with us elsewhere.” Had it not been for the novelty of the Torah that we believe the second group, we would view it as if they just contradicting the first group about the events, where we would have a legitimate doubt as to who to believe. We would interpret their intent as simply being that the event was not witnesses by these two witnesses because they were with us elsewhere. But the Torah teaches us that we are not to regard the hazamah as just undermining the plausibility of the event, rather they are giving a character testimony similar to claiming that the first group were thieves. Why?

It would seem that the reason is because when testifying about an event, it is sometimes possible to misinterpret the event, or not have a clear picture as to what actually happened, so we give each group the benefit of the doubt. But, by zomemin, the second group is claiming that it was clearly premeditated lying that is taking place, not an innocent mistake. People who would fabricate a story when they were in an entirely different location have a fatal character flaw just as thieves do, and therefore they are not admissible as witnesses in any court.

Read more!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eretz Yisroel - Highest Point

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

Eretz Yisroel and the Beis HaMikdash is Higher than all other Places

Does High and Low Apply to Spherical Objects?

In our sugya the Gemora cites a verse in Yirmyahu (23:7) “…Who brought Bnei Yisrael up from the land of Egypt” and a verse in Devarim (17:8) “…then you shall arise and go up unto the place which the Lord thy G-d shall choose” to demonstrate that Eretz Yisrael is higher than any other land, and that the Beis HaMikdash is the highest point in Eretz Yisrael. The wording of the Gemora seems to indicate that Eretz Yisrael is physically higher. In fact, the Yam Shel Shlomo (Kiddushin Chap. 4, 1) goes so far as to say that if someone standing in Eretz Yisrael says, “I vow to go up to Chutz La’aretz,” the vow is considered to be made in vain and is invalid. Leaving Yerushalayim or Eretz Yisrael is always referred to as “going down.”

Many commentators maintain that our Gemora should not be interpreted literally. The Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Part II, Y.D. §234) stresses this point, writing, “…in fact, those who are somewhat familiar with the world map can see otherwise…actually the world is round, and high and low do not apply to spherical objects; from any given point one sees the skies high overhead and low on the horizon, forming a dome. Someone who approaches from a point on the horizon appears as if he emerged from a deep pit, and high and low do not apply.”

Furthermore the Maharal of Prague (in his book on Talmudic Aggados and in Tiferes Yosef, Chagiga 3b, s.v. Eizehu) writes that the Gemora is referring to the spiritual loftiness of Eretz Yisrael, and not to its physical height.

It is interesting to note that the Chasam Sofer (ibid) writes that Eretz Yisrael is said to be “higher than all other lands” because Creation began from the even shesiya [foundation stone] located on Har HaBayis (see Rashi, Sanhedrin 26b, s.v. veshesiya). Thus all eyes are raised to Eretz Yisrael and Har HaBayis because mankind lifts its gaze to the spot where the ground beneath its feet was first created.

Read more!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Marrying an Old Man

by: Rabbi Yaakov Montrose
(printed in Halachic World)

Reb Muttel was not sure what to do. On the one hand, his daughter simply had no luck with shidduchim, and she was already thirty-nine. On the other hand, though the potential shidduch his daughter was now being offered was a person who was well known to be a tremendous Tzadik, and a kind and wealthy person, he thought that marrying off his daughter to someone thirty five years older than her might be transgressing the Gemora that says that one should not marry off his daughter to an older person. As any Torah abiding person would do when he was unclear about a certain Halachah, he went to ask his Rav to advise him as to whether or not the Shidduch was permitted.

The Gemora says that three types of people transgress the verse of “Lemaan Sefos Haravah Es HaTzemei’ah” - “In order to add the watered upon the thirsty.” One of them is someone who marries off his daughter to an old man. The Shulchan Aruch rules that this is also a prohibition against a young man marrying an old woman. The reason for the prohibition is that the younger partner will not be satisfied with the relationship, and will probably end up acting in a promiscuous fashion.

The Sefer Chasidim says that this a prohibition against being “married off” to an old man. If a woman wants to marry an old man - for example, if she wants to do so because she wants to be the wife of a Tzadik - she would be permitted to do so. This Sefer Chasidim is quoted by the Beis Shmuel and Chelkas Mechokek.

There seem to be at least two clear proofs to the Sefer Chasidim. We know that Rus married Boaz, who was extremely old at that time. Additionally, we find in Avos D’Rebbi Nasan (ch.16) that Rabbi Eliezer was already an old man when his young niece wanted to marry him. After he tried to discourage her and she still insisted, he agreed to marry her.

The Aruch HaShulchan qualifies the Sefer Chasidim. He explains that even if the girl readily agrees to the marriage, if Beis Din sees that the woman’s motives are to share (or take over) her husband’s wealth, it is not appropriate to perform such a wedding. Being that she is not really interested in the marriage, she will end up being unfaithful to her husband.

Conclusion: It is permitted for a woman to marry an old man if we see that the reason for her agreement to the marriage is worthy. One is not allowed to pressure his daughter into such a marriage against her will.

Read more!

Monday, March 08, 2010


Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

By: Reb Avi Lebowitz

The Mishna lists gamblers among those who are unfit to judge, and as Rashi points out, unfit to testify, since they are regarded as re’shaim. There is a discussion in the Gemora as to why a gambler is unfit to testify or judge. Rami Bar Chamah holds that it is an issue of “asmachta,” which means that the money he wins is regarded as stolen. Rav Sheishes disagrees and attributes the disqualification to not being involved in furthering the general welfare of the public. The Gemora points out that the difference between the two opinions would be a situation where he has another job aside from gambling. The issue of “asmachta” would apply regardless of whether he has another means of support, whereas the issue of furthering the general welfare of the public would only apply if he has no other means of support.

Tosfos points out that both opinions in the Gemora agree that the disqualification is only Rabbinic, because even the opinion who considers it theft due to “asmachta,” since he doesn’t realize the severity of the prohibition; he is not invalidated as a witness on a Biblical level. Regardless, we rule according to Rav Sheishes that the disqualification is attributed to him not being involved in furthering the general welfare of the public which would surely be Rabbinic.

There is a dispute between the Rambam and Rashi as to the nature of the disqualification of not being involved in furthering the general welfare of the public. The Rambam associates this with theft. Since the looser isn’t willingly forfeiting his money to the winner, it is considered “avak gezel.” The S”ma (C.M. 34:40) explains the position of the Rambam - since it is not technically theft, the Rabbis only considered it to be a problem if his main livelihood was coming from his gambling earnings. When the Gemora stipulates that he is only disqualified if he doesn’t have another means of earning a living, the Gemora really means to say that he doesn’t have another source of income. If he has another source of income, or is wealthy so that he doesn’t need the gambling earnings for support, he would be eligible to serve as a witness. However, if he had another income, but required the earnings from gambling to support himself, he would be disqualified. The Gr”a (C.M. 203:44) disagrees with the approach of the S”ma and explains that the Rambam actually rules like Rami bar Chamah that an “asmachta” is not binding, and therefore, he considers it to be theft. But, the Gr”a holds that even though it is stealing, the Sages only invalidated him when he has no other livelihood.

Rashi considers the issue of not being involved in furthering the general welfare of the public to have nothing to do with theft. Rashi considers the issue to be an indication of a very low level of fear of Heaven. The S”ma explains that this only applies to someone who doesn’t work and doesn’t realize the difficulties involved in earning money and would be prone to testify falsely (because he associates money as “easy-come, easy-go,” and doesn’t take it seriously). But someone who works, even if he can’t support himself without the added income from gambling, wouldn’t be disqualified for testimony since he realizes the challenges of earning a living.

The Shulchan Aruch, who follows the Rambam, and considers the problem of gambling to be associated with theft, follows his own opinion (c.m. 370:3) where he writes that one who gambles with gentiles would not be in violation of theft (since only actual and direct theft is forbidden from a gentile, but not when he loses in gambling and agrees to give the money). Rashi would certainly not make this distinction and would hold that even one who gambles with gentiles would be disqualified to testify. Even according to the Rambam, the Shulchan Aruch frowns upon gambling and writes: However, it is forbidden to occupy oneself with matters of vain, for a person should only occupy his time with wisdom and matters that benefit the general welfare of the public.

Rules of the Game and the
Rules of Life

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Rabbi Nachum of Stepinesht, the son of Rabbi Yisrael of Ruzhin, once entered his beis midrash during Chanukah and saw some chasidim playing checkers. Seeing their Rebbe, they were taken aback, but Rabbi Nachum approached and asked them, “Do you know the rules of the game? Now listen carefully:
1) You give one piece to get back two.
2) You mustn’t avoid your move.
3) You mustn’t make two moves with one turn.
4) Go forward, but never backward.
5) When you get to the top, you can go anywhere (Rav S.Y. Zevin, Sipurei Chasidim al HaMo’adim, p. 267).



The Gemora rules that one may be matmin (insulate) a cold food or drink on Shabbos. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 257:6) clarifies that one may only do so when the insulation does not add heat (eino mosif hevel), and his whole purpose of doing so is to ensure that the item will not become too cold. If however it does add heat (mosif hevel), then it is forbidden to insulate it even prior to Shabbos.

In generations past, in order to keep the cooked food warm once it was taken off the fire, it was insulated. Although there isn’t any issur melachah with hatmanah per se, the Chachamim nevertheless forbade it so as not to violate the issur of bishul in the event that before the insulation he would find that the item cooled off and then he would return it to the fire. Therefore one may not do hatmanah on Shabbos even when the insulation is not mosif hevel (ibid 257:1).

The Chachamim additionally forbade insulating an item in a place where it’s mosif hevel even before Shabbos. The reason being since in the times of the Gemora the ideal place for mosif hevel was in the ash next to the fire, and he might come to stir the ash on Shabbos to heat up the insulated food, thereby violating a form of mavir (ibid).

Reb Moshe Feinstein (Igros Moshe Orach Chaim 4:74 - Hatmanah) explains that it is forbidden to insulate an item in a manner of mosif hevel even early Friday morning. [One cannot infer that Reb Moshe held that there isn’t any problem of hatmanah if it was insulated before Friday, since the question he was addressing was regarding Friday morning. On the contrary, it is pretty clear from his wording that it would be forbidden to do so no matter when it was insulated.]

Read more!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Choosing Judges; Sitting with Judges and Table Manners

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The Tur writes that any judge who knows that a different judge is a thief or otherwise evil should not sit in judgment with him. And this is how the pure-minded people of Yerushalim conducted themselves. They would not sit in judgment unless they knew who was sitting in judgment with them.

The Perishah asks that the Tur’s language is not precise, for it would seem from his words that the pure-minded people of Yerushalayim would not sit in judgment except with people whom they knew to be thieves or evil!? And behold, in truth, they would not sit with people about whom they were even uncertain about their character! The Rambam’s language, however, is more precise.

The Perishah explains the Tur as follows: There is a strict prohibition against sitting in judgment with someone who is known to be a thief or otherwise evil. This is not merely pious conduct, but rather, it is something which is forbidden to do. There is a level higher than that, and that is not to sit in judgment with people that you are unsure about. This is how the pure-minded people of Yerushalayim would conduct themselves. Even if they did not know for certain that the other person was evil, they still, as an act of righteousness, would not sit with them.

The Bach reaches a slightly different conclusion. He states that an ordinary person should not sit with others in judgment only if he knows that they are evil; however, if he does not know, there is no concern whatsoever. However, prominent people, such as the pure-minded people of Yerushalayim, they should not sit in judgment with others unless they are certain as to their character.

The Aruch Hashulchan writes l’halachah that since we can presume that all Jewish people have a fine character, there is no reason to assume that someone is a thief, and therefore, there is no prohibition against sitting in judgment with someone that you do not know. It is regarded as “hiddur” to be wary of such people.

The Shvus Yaakov holds that if one of the judges does not know the other two, he should not sit in judgment with them; however, if two of the judges know each other, but they do not know the character of the third, there is no prohibition against sitting in judgment with him, for the majority of the Beis Din is proper. This is the case that the pure-minded people of Yerushalayim were strict about; they were extra careful even if it was only one of the judges that they were uncertain about.

Each Litigant Chooses a Judge

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

Our Mishna addresses one of the basic rules pertaining to a beis din: One litigant chooses a dayan, the other chooses another and both dayanim choose a third. The rule applies to financial or property cases and describes the method of composing the required beis din of three dayanim. Nonetheless, the rule is characterized by a serious lack of clarity. The Panim Meiros already protested several hundred years ago: “I have seen a scandal in our generation regarding this rule: Each litigant first explains his claims to the dayan he chooses and, moreover, promises him a certain amount if he acquits him…and justice becomes distorted and the light of the Torah is extinguished and the name of Heaven is profaned” (Responsa Panim Meiros, II, 159).

Those learning the beginning of Sanhedrin may wonder: We are told, after all, that three dayanim may judge a defendant against his will (Tosefos 5a, s.v. Dan), so how can the above rule be applied? Anyone may summon another to a beis din and the defendant, willingly or not, must accept the judgment of that beis din. This question caused the misunderstanding that a beis din of which two dayanim are chosen by the litigants lacks the authority of an ordinary beis din. Furthermore, each litigant tries to choose a dayan he has known well and before the hearing he sets forth his claims to convince him to agree with him even though the dayanim are forbidden to hear only one side.

The Rishonim (Chidushei HaRan, Hagahos Ashri) explain that a beis din may judge a defendant against his will only if he refuses to appear for a din Torah. If, however, he agrees to appear, each litigant chooses a dayan and the two dayanim then choose a third. Still, asserts the Rosh (#2), we should not think that the dayanim chosen by the litigants are meant to act in their favor. Rather, the possibility to choose dayanim is intended to perfect a true verdict as each dayan presents every possible claim to justify his litigant that would otherwise escape the attention of the beis din. Hearing all the claims, the beis din can then issue a true verdict. The Rosh adds that if a litigant insists on appointing an unsuitable dayan, the beis din ignores his request and forces him to be judged by themselves or by a beis din they appoint. In other words, the rule of litigants choosing dayanim is not meant to effect any kind of arbitration. A beis din chosen by litigants has full authority and its dayanim must be as qualified as any others.

Despite all the above, the Remo asserts (C.M. 3:1) that wherever there is a regular, established beis din, a defendant must not refuse to be judged by them or demand to choose his own dayan. The Acharonim explain that the Remo refers to towns whose residents have accepted the authority of certain dayanim as a permanent beis din with no conditions. This acceptance of authority excludes any permission to refuse to be judged by them (Tosfos Yom Tov on our Mishna; Aroch HaShulchan, ibid, 2). In our era HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt”l referred to the city of New York (Responsa, C.M. 2:3) and ruled that the residents had not appointed permanent dayanim, “especially being that there are many rabbinical associations which have never convened to jointly appoint even one dayan; if a litigant wants to choose his own dayan, we must therefore obey his wish.”


Table Manners

The Gemora mentions that the pure-minded people of Yerushalayim did not enter to eat a meal unless they knew who would be eating with them. Rashi explains that it was considered degrading for a Torah scholar to eat with an unlearned person.

The Be'er Heitiv (Orach Chaim 170 s.k.) cites Mateh Moshe who holds that this halachah applies even by a seudas mitzvah. The Biur Halachah cannot find a source for his ruling, and notes that we don't refrain from doing so. Furthermore, he maintains that even the Mateh Moshe would agree in an instance where there is a benefit for the participants when a talmid chacham enhances a seudah with his presence, then, he may do so. Also it is possible that the Mateh Moshe would concur that a talmid chacham may participate in a regular seudas mitzvah, if a) there are other talmidei chachamim there as well, or b) if he is sitting by himself (he deduces this from the above mentioned Rashi who states that it is g’nai for a talmid chacham to sit next to an am ha'aretz at a meal).

The reason for this halachah is because a talmid chacham eats in a more refined manner than the am ha'aretz. This is not simply a matter of finesse, rather, there are explicit halachos that are mentioned in the poskim (aside from the halachos that the Shulchan Aruch in siman 170 speaks about), on how to conduct oneself during a meal.

A small sampling:

1. Talking while eating is discouraged (Mechaber ibid 170:1).
2. The proper amount to eat at a time is less than a k'beitzah (ibid 170:7).
3. When drinking, the entire cupful should not be consumed in one gulp, rather it is proper to finish it in two swallows (ibid 170:8).
4. It is improper to take a bite out of the food and then leave it on the table (ibid 170:11).
5. One should not eat or drink while standing (Be'er Heitiv ibid citing Rokeiach).
6. It is proper for the host to show the guests where the restroom is (M'kor Chaim).
7. One should not lick his fingers during eating (Rokeiach).
8. It is impolite to wolf down the food, rather, eating should be done slowly (Ben Ish Chai).

Read more!

Matchmaker, L'chaim and Bas-sheva

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The Gemora discusses the process of matching a man and woman together for marriage, and states that for the first match, a heavenly voice proclaims who will marry whom, while for a second match, the process is as difficult as the splitting of Yam Suf. Rav says that the heavenly voice announces forty days before the forming of a fetus, “The daughter of So-and-so will marry So-and-so.” The Ran explains that this at the point of conception, since an embryo is halachically considered a fetus at forty days from conception.

The Maharsha (Sotah 2b) says that the voice comes out at the time of the husband’s conception, which is why the wife is referred to only as the daughter of someone, and not by name.

Tosfos (22a Arbaim) states that through prayer, one can modify the match that he gets, even in his first match.

The Chasam Sofer (7:34) writes in the name of the Arizal that the “first match” referred to is not necessarily a first marriage. When a soul is created and placed in the world, it has a matching half in someone of the opposite gender. This match is the first match. As the person grows up, they develop, sometimes positively, and sometimes negatively. When they marry, their “first match” may not still be appropriate for who they have become, necessitating a “second match,” based on their actions since birth, and this match is the more difficult one.

The Gemora brought a braisa, in which Rebbe said that although a Kohen who does not know his rotation week should never drink wine, he is allowed to by dint of his problem. Rashi explains that Rebbe is not concerned with the imminent rebuilding of the Bais Hamikdash. Therefore, Rebbe is saying that destruction of the Bais Hamikdash, which led to the problem of not knowing the rotation, also is the solution which allows them to drink nowadays.

Tosfos Harosh says that Rebbe is saying that a decree that a Kohen can never drink wine is too onerous. Therefore, the problem of not knowing which rotation he is in, also leads to the untenable situation, which therefore allows them to drink wine.

The Rambam (Bias Mikdash 1:7) rules that a Kohen who does know which rotation he is in may not drink wine during his week, even nowadays. This seems to follow the Tosfos Harosh, who says that the license to drink is only for someone who would otherwise never drink.

The Raavad rules that all Kohanim may drink nowadays, which seems to follow Rashi, who says that the license to drink is due to the absence of a Bais Hamikdash, which applies to all Kohanim.

The Shulchan Aruch (OH 128:38) rules that a Kohen who drank a revi’is of wine may not bless Birchas Kohanim, since it is a form of service. The Gemora (Taanis 26b) states that we therefore do not say Birchas Kohanim at Minchah, since it is after a meal, at which the Kohen may have ingested a revi’is of wine. This concern also is the rationale behind the custom in some congregations to shift the Birkas Kohanim on Simchas Torah to Shacharis, lest the Kohanim drink a revi’is of wine after the reading of the Torah, before Musaf.

Bas Sheva or BasSheva?
By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

HaGaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin wondered if one should write the name Bas-Sheva in a get as one or two words and he asked his mentor, the Vilna Gaon. The gaon told him that “I have supported my foundations on 13 words” (from the selichos prayers). Rabbi Chaim then remembered our Gemora in which Rashi remarks that the above verse contains thirteen words (s.v. Kinechah). Counting the words, though, he found fourteen! The only solution, then, is that Bas-Sheva should be written and counted as one word (Kol Eliyahu in the name of Emunah Vehashgachah).


Mentally Preparing for Shemoneh Esreh
The Gemora mentions in passing that according to one explanation, the verse of “Shivisi Hashem l’negdi samid” teaches us that when one davens, he should visualize that the Divine Presence is in front of him. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 98) writes an entire siman on the topic of realizing that one is talking to Hashem and how we should approach the mighty concept of tefillah.

First of all when davening, we must concentrate on the explanation of the words that our mouths are saying. Mishnah Berurah stresses that one must understand the simple meaning, and not delve into the esoteric depths of tefillah, and furthermore, all the mental preparations that are required, should be done before one starts Shemoneh Esreh, for during davening, one must solely focus on the simple translation.

One must expel all of his thoughts until his mind is clear, and he should meditate as to what amount of meticulous preparation he would put in when speaking before an earthly king, how much more so when speaking to Hashem. If a thought does enter his mind during davening, he should wait quietly until the thought goes away. The Mishnah Berurah cites an interesting She’lah who states that as a segulah not to be interrupted with other thoughts during tefillah, before davening. one should say the pasuk “Lev bara li Elokim v’ruach nachon chadash b’kirbi” three times, and each time he recites it he should pass his right hand over his forehead. If thoughts enter during davening, he should do as the above; just instead of reciting the verse out loud, he should think it in his mind.

The Rema adds that before davening one should ponder the greatness of Hashem and conversely the smallness of man.

One must daven as a poor person pleading for mercy, slowly enunciating each word. One must make sure not to daven in a way that it seems that he can’t wait to finish. Mishnah Berurah points out that one must be exceedingly careful in this regard, since there are poskim which hold that if one davened in such a manner he must daven again. Although we don’t rule in accord with these poskim, it shows the severity of not davening properly.

Read more!

Superstition and Gazing at Women

Ulla says: A dargash bed is a bed of good fortune.

The Rishonim ask: Shouldn’t such a bed be forbidden on account of the prohibition of nichush; One should not act upon the basis of omens or lucky times (Vayikra 19:26)?

The Radvaz answers that it is being used as a sign to strengthen one’s luck, but not to be superstitious about it. R’ Eliezer MiMitz disagrees with him and maintains that even that would be forbidden.

The Shitah Mikubetzes explains that this is a bed designated for the guardian angel of the house. It was done for the purpose of honoring the Holy One, blessed is He. This is similar in the manner that we prepare a chair for Eliyahu Hanavi by a bris milah.

The Ra”n in Sanhedrin explains that it is a bed which is constantly made and kept empty in order to demonstrate that the household has more than they need. Through this, one is recognizing that Hashem has blessed him with wealth and thanking Him for it.

The Rambam writes that dargash is a small bed that is placed before a larger bed; it is used as a stepping-stool in order to climb onto the higher bed.

The Rosh explains that the angel in charge of poverty resides in a dirty house and the angel in charge of riches and success resides in a clean house. The dargash is a bed which always remained clean in order to beckon the angel of wealth to reside in the house.

The Wisdom of Rabbi Yehonasan

By: Meoros HaDaf HaYomi

And he may break through property to make a way for himself.

Rabbi Yehonasan Eibschitz was familiar with the royal family. Once the king was about to enter the city and to test Rabbi Yehonasan’s wisdom, asked him to guess the gate through which he would enter. Rabbi Yehonasan replied that he would put his answer in writing, to be opened only after the king’s entry to the city. The king thought of a trick and broke through the city wall, making a new gate and imagining that Rabbi Yehonasan could never foresee such a ploy. After his arrival, the reply was opened, showing the excerpt from the Mishna: “…the king may break through property to make a way for himself.”


Gazing at Women

The Gemora records a dispute between the Chachamim and Rabbi Yehudah regarding where the women stand when attending a funeral. Chachamim are of the opinion that they may stand both in front and behind the coffin, while Rabbi Yehudah maintains that they may only stand in front.

Tosfos explains that since when attending a funeral it is a time of anguish, we are not concerned that the men will see the women and have illicit thoughts, therefore we allow the women to stand in front of the coffin while the men are behind them. However, Tosfos continues that there are those who have the custom to position the men in front of the coffin and the women behind it, for it is improper for the men to gaze at the women.

There are many things men are forbidden to do, so as to distance themselves from immorality. Obviously these laws do not apply to one’s wife. Due to the severity of these laws and the fact that it is unknown to many people, these halachos will be a bit explicit.

It is forbidden to:

1) Wink, snap the fingers or any other bodily movement that is considered flirting.

2) Joke around with a woman, or to act in a light-hearted manner.

3) Gaze at her beauty. This also applies to an unmarried girl.

4) Smell the perfume that a woman is wearing.

5) Gaze at the clothing of a woman that one knows, even if she is not wearing it at the time.

6) If one is walking down the street and a woman is walking in front of him, it is forbidden to continue to walk behind her; rather, he should quicken his pace and get in front of her. If this is not possible, then he should either go to the side or wait until she is sufficiently ahead of him. There is a dispute as to how much of a distance needs to be between them. Mahari and others hold that it is enough if a man is four amos behind a woman, while the Radvaz rules that one must distance himself until he can’t clearly see her walking and movements. This applies even where ladies go covered from head to toe.

7) Pass the house of a prostitute.

8) Gaze at any part of a woman’s body.

9) Listen to a woman singing.

Read more!

Freezing Mikvah and Returning a Lost Article

Subscribe to the Daily Daf Yomi Summary

The king or the Kohen Gadol may not be members of the Beis Din involved with the intercalation of the year The king cannot on account of the upkeep of his army (since they are paid annually, he might wish to make a leap year in order to save money). The Kohen Gadol cannot because of the cold the following year (since he might be against intercalation of this year, for if the year is extended, Yom Kippur, being a month later, will be colder, and it will cause him distress during his five immersions on that day).

Tosfos asks from a Gemora in Yoma (31b) which states that if the Kohen Gadol found it difficult to immerse in a cold mikvah, iron bars were heated prior to Yom Kippur and placed into the mikvah to warm it up!?

Tosfos learns that the Kohen Gadol would be cold from the floor of the Beis Hamikdash, since he performed the Temple service while barefoot.

The Margoliyos Hayam answers Tosfos’ question by saying that the Mishna is Yoma states that they would only do that if the Kohen Gadol was finicky or elderly; otherwise, it would not be done for him. Accordingly, a healthy Kohen Gadol would not want the year extended.

Alternatively, he answers based upon Reb Akiva Eiger, who asserts that this allowance was not permitted for his first immersion on Yom Kippur, since that did not take place in the sanctified part of the Temple; rather, it was done outside. The Rabbinic prohibition against throwing a heating element into the cold mikvah was only permitted in the Mikdash (based upon the dictum of “ein sh’vus ba’Mikdash). Accordingly, the Kohen Gadol would not want the year extended, for there was no way to avoid the cold water of the first immersion.


When is One Exempt from Returning a Lost Item

The Mishna had stated: The Kohen Gadol may testify and others may testify about him

The Gemora asks from a braisa: And you will look away. This teaches that sometimes one looks away (from returning a lost article), and sometimes one cannot look away. What is the case? If a Kohen saw a lost object in the cemetery, or an elderly man saw an object that it was not honorable for him to carry, or if his work is more valuable that the lost object of his friend, this is why it says: And you will turn away from them. [Seemingly, it should not be respectful for a Kohen Gadol to testify on behalf of a common person!?]

The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 263:1) clarifies that even a young Torah scholar, or a well respected person (Aruch Hashulchan), is exempt from returning a lost item which is below their dignity to deal with, for example a bale of hay.

Although they are usually exempt from returning a lost item that is beneath their dignity to deal with, they will be required to do so if they actually moved or picked up the item, since they started the mitzvah (ibid 263:2).

The Shach directs us to a halachah (in 261:2) where the Shulchan Aruch rules that if one found an animal grazing in someone else’s vineyard or field, then he is obligated to return it, because the animal is damaging that property. This is termed aveidas karka (in other words, the owner of the vineyard is being caused a loss, so the person seeing the animal grazing has an obligation to return it to his owner, so as not to cause a loss to the owner of the field).

At first glance it is difficult to see the apparent connection. Rabbi Akiva Eiger explains that the Shach is proving that since the Shulchan Aruch does not state that he should just simply move the animal to a ownerless field, that shows that once he moved the animal he is obligated to return to its owner. However, the Or Zerua cites Ritva who disagrees and maintains that it is enough if he merely moves it to an ownerless field.

The Shulchan Aruch (ibid 263:3) rules that if the these people want to go beyond the call of duty and lower themselves to return the lost item, they may do so. The Rema disagrees, and quotes Rosh that the most such people are allowed to do is to pay the owner for the lost item.

Read more!