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.

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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).

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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.

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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).

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