Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dancing at a distant Wedding


Reb Wolf Eiger, the uncle of Reb Akiva Eiger was unable to attend his nephew’s wedding. He made a simultaneous banquet of his own to celebrate the occasion. Reb Shaya Pik and other Rabbanim attended the festivities. He wrote to his nephew about the halachic issues (if one can fulfill the mitzvah of counting the omer by way of writing) which were discussed at the banquet.

What was the point of such a celebration? They weren’t dancing before the groom or the bride; they weren’t praising the groom in front of the bride. What caused these Rabbonim to celebrate in such a manner?

In the West (Eretz Yisroel) they would say: (A man who does not have a wife lives) without Torah.

Why is not having a wife like living without Torah; if anything, there exists more time for Torah study, not less?

Our Gemora refers to Ben Azzai as the “Talmid chaver” of Rabbi Akiva. Ben Azzai was considered somewhat of a disciple of Rabbi Akiva.

Rabbeinu Gershom comments: Since Ben Azzai was a “bochur,” he was unable to comprehend halachic logic as well as Rabbi Akiva.

What is the connection between being a “bochur,” and not comprehending to the fullest extent?

I once heard from my Rosh Yeshiva, HaRav Chaim Schmelczer zt”l that Rabbeinu Gershom means that Ben Azzai was a bachelor, and one who is not married does not have the same level of contentment as one who is married. Torah study requires one to be at ease; one must have a menuchas hanefesh in order to comprehend the depths of the Torah. This is what Ben Azzai was lacking.

This is the explanation of the Gemora. One who is not married is akin to living without Torah. He may have more time for Torah study, but he is lacking the inner contentment which is a prerequisite for Torah.

Perhaps this can explain what caused Reb Wolf Eiger to celebrate the wedding of his nephew Reb Akiva Eiger even though the bride and the groom were not present; in fact, they were miles away. Reb Wolf understood that the marriage of Reb Akiva Eiger will result in his becoming the Reb Akiva Eiger that we know now. The wedding was not only a private joy for the families of the bride and groom, but rather, it was a simchas hatorah; a celebration in the honor of Torah. Reb Akiva Eiger’s Torah would spread throughout the world. This could be celebrated anywhere, even without the choson and kallah.


A Husband and Wife Die in a Building

The Shulchan Aruch (Even Ha’ezer 90:6) rules in accordance with Beis Hillel. In the case where both the husband and wife die due to a building collapsing and it’s not clear who died first, the halachah is that the kesuvah goes to the inheritors of the husband; the nichsei melog to the inheritors of the wife, and the nichsei tzon barzel they split evenly. Obviously this only applies if they didn’t have children together, for if they did, it wouldn’t make a difference who died first, since the children would inherit everything.

Although a woman normally needs to take an oath (that she never collected it yet) in order to collect nichsei tzon barzel (ibid 96:1), in this case, we allow her, and now that she died - her inheritors collect it. Since the reason why a woman needs to take an oath is because we are suspicious that she might have taken some items before he died, in our case, where he died suddenly, we don’t assume that she took anything (Celkas Michokek).