Friday, June 14, 2019

Proper pronunciation

There is a din of "amor lahem" in birchas kohanim that requires the kohen to articulate the bracha. The Beis haLevi writes that there is no din of shomea k'oneh by birchas kohanim-- it must be spoken and heard (Chazon Ish disagrees.)

In Rav Shteinman's sefer Ayeles haShachar on the parsha 6:23 he quotes a first hand account from someone who learned by the Chofetz Chaim when the yeshiva in Radin was first started.  The CC had to travel to Warsaw after Pesach to take care of the publication of the Mishna Berura and en route, he remarked to this individual that he was worried about being stuck over Shavuos because he was mesupak how to recite birchas kohanim in Poland: must he pronounce the words in Polish accented Hebrew, the way everyone else in Warsaw speaks, or can he pronounce the words in his Litvishe accented Hebrew?  Apparently the CC assumed that the bracha being spoken means pronouncing the words the way everyone else does.

The individual relating the story added that he quoted to the CC from some unnamed sefer that claimed that the Polish pronunciation was erroneous and should be disregard, but the CC paid this no heed.  Later, he learned that the author of the unnamed sefer (any guesses?) was a maskil and that's why the CC, he assumes, ignored it.  Rav Shteinman then adds icing on the cake and claims that he heard from R Zak's, the CC's grandson, that the CC would often deliberately mispronounce the word "atah" as mil'eil instead of milra "l'hotzi mi'lev hamaskilim."

So let me get this straight: the CC deliberately introduced errors into the way he pronounced words in davening just because the maskilim were the one's doing the right thing?  Since when do we deliberately do something wrong "l'hotzi mi'lev...?"

End of the story: the CC duchened using the Litvishe pronunciation.  Adds R Shteinman, it is well known that the Litvishe pronunciation is close to the Teimani pronunciation.

Not sure what he means by that final comment.  Does R Shteinman think the Yemenite pronunciation is most exact and therefore whatever is closest to Yemenite is more correct?  So why not simply duchen using the Yemenite havara?  Or does he mean that since the Litvishe and Yeminite pronunciations are close (are they really?), it is like having 2 eidim that they are the correct havara?  Should we all make sure to read krias shema in a Teimani or Litvishe accent to make sure we are pronouncing the words lichatchila correctly?

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Obligation of blind person in mitzvos

R Yehudah holds that a blind person is patur from mitzvos; however, R Akiva Eiger (shu"t 169) qualifies this view and says that even R Yehudah agrees that a blind person is obligated to keep lavim.  His proof: Tos (R"H 33) writes that a blind person can recite a bracha on mitzvos because even though according to R Yehudah a blind person is exempt mdoraysa from mitzvos, he still has a chiyuv mederraban to do them.  The source for the obligation to keep dinim derabbanan (and the source for reciting brachos) is the lav of lo tasur, the lav of not disobeying beis din.  If a blind person is exempt even from lavim, what would obligated him to keep a derabbanan?  How can he recite vi'tzivanu on them?  QED there is a chiyuv in lavim.

There seems to be a Yerushalmi against this view.  The Yerushalmi (13a in vilna pages, end of second perek in sota) darshens from "vne'elan mei'euney isha" that the wife of a blind person does not drink sota water.  The gemara then writes that this follows R Yehudah's view that a blind person is exempt from mitzvos.  

What the Yerushalmi seems to be saying is that since the blind person is exempt from mitzvos, even issurim, there is no problem with him living with his potential sota wife (see Korban Ha'eidah.  The Ohr Sameiach does not understand the Yerushalmi this way, but I don't understand what he is saying.)

So it could be that R Akiva Eiger's chidush is a machlokes Bavli and Yerushalmi.  (Other Achronim take issue with the proof itself.  As we've discussed before, there are reasons other thsn lo tasur that might obligate a person to keep dinim derabbanan.)

Friday, June 07, 2019

Torah as a mitaheir

Imagine you are going out to a great steak restaurant.  You are looking forward to that delicious steak, but decide to start with an appetizer to whet your appetite.  You ask the waiter to recommend something, and he suggests... a steak.  You want a first course before the main dish?  The waiter recommends more steak.  By the time you get to the main dish, you don't even want to see a steak!

We want to appreciate kabbalas haTorah that takes place Shavuos morning, so what do we do?  We stay up all night learning.  Steak before the steak!  By the time the baal koreh gets to aseres hasibros half the shul is asleep, not sitting in excitement and anticipation.

The Zohar writes that on the night of Shavuos the goal is l'natra dachya ila'ah -- one can have great taharah on this night (see post from 2013).  How does one achieve tahara?  Sefas Emes answers: through torah. There is limud hatorah that is done for the sake of knowledge, and there is limud hatorah which purifies and elevates the person.  

Our first course is limud hatorah which is a mitaheir.  That meal, that experience, is completely different than the limud hatorah of the rest of the year.  It transforms a person and makes the rest of learning possible.

Make it a habit

I am not such a big fan of Shavuos all nighters. Rambam writes in Peirush Hamishnayos that it's better to give $1 to tzedaka 100 times than to write one check for $100 because the former inculcates giving as a habit while the lattter does not.  If Shavuos is one and done, then its value (there certainly is some value to spending hours learning even once) is minimized.  If it is something done to be mechazek a regular learning routine, then it makes more sense.

Let's be real: how many shuls have a vasikin minyan on day one of Yom tov, but on the second day davening is scheduled for 9:00, too late to even make zman krias shema?  And how many people show up at 9:15 or 9:30 or later for that minyan?  

And how many shuls get a crowd to sit and listen to lectures for a few hours Shavuos night, but next day and next Shabbos afternoon etc there is not even a minyan (and maybe not even a zimun) of people who have a seder in beis medrash on these long shabbos afternoons?

The spiritual energy of Yom Tov is something that has to be incorporated into everyday life, part of a consistent  routine, not be an oasis in a desert.  

"Yom chasunaso -- zu mattan Torah," the mishna in Taanis tells us.  Imagine a chassan and kallah who have a great wedding, are so happy for a few hours, but then don't talk to each other for weeks afterwards except for maybe a few sentences.  Shavuos is the chassunah and Torah is the kallah.  You can have a great wedding party Shavuos night, but if you then ignore your kallah, if you don't connect with Torah but instead go back to your pre-chasunah routines, what kind of marriage is it?

Thursday, June 06, 2019

Toldos Aharon u'Moshe

Rashi (3:1) writes that Aharon's children count as "toldos Aharon **u'Moshe**" because since Moshe taught them Torah it is as if he was their father.

The meforshei Rashi all ask: Moshe taught Torah to all of Klal Yisrael.  What was special about his teaching Torah to Aharon's children that created a father-son relationship?

Maharal in Gur Aryeh answers that without Klal Yisrael to teach to, Torah would never have been given to Moshe.  Moshe was obligated to teach them.  However, what Moshe taught to bnei Aharon was above and beyond what was demanded of him.

What does Maharal mean?  There is no shiur to the mitzvah of talmud torah saying you have to teach others up to point X and no more. There is no point which is above and beyond one's obligation.  So how could what Moshe taught bnei Aharon be above and beyond what was required?

See R Gifter's answer in his Pirkei Torah. 

I would suggest as follows: last night I posted R Wahrman's chidush that for something to be defined as part of the cheftza shel torah it is not enough for Moshe to have received it from Hashem -- it also has to be passed on to others.  A kabbalas hatorah without mesorah of Torah is by definition incomplete.

The chovas hagavra of what one is obligated to teach others has no bounds.  However, perhaps not every detail need be taught before one can say a halacha is part of the cheftza shel torah. As an analogy, it's fair that say someone who knows shulchan aruch with Shach and Taz etc knows basar bchalav, but that doesn't mean they are exempt from continuing to learn those sugyos, as Torah is endless.  What Maharal may mean is that Moshe had to transmit some basic level of Torah to all of Klal Yisrael for there to be a cheftza shel Torah.  However, when it came to the chovas hagavra of limud Torah, the endless depths of learning, he devoted his energies in particular to teaching Aharon's children.

More on shemiras hamikdash

V'atah hafkeid es halevi'im... v'saviv lamishkan yachanu (1:50)

V'halevi'im yachanu saviv lamishkan... (1:53)

Why the repitition?

Earlier in the week I pointed out that the inclusion of the din of shmiras hamikdash in Mes Midos shows that it is a din in the tzuras habayis, not a chiyuv avodah incumbent upon the levi'im.

The Brisker Rav says it's both, and that's why we have 2 pesukim.  

In the first pasuk the din of camping around the mishkan appears in the context of "heim yis'u es hamishkan v'heim yisharsuhu" -- the avodah of leviim.

In the second pasuk it appears In the context of "v'chanu Bnei Yisrael..." -- the tzurah of the encampment.

Similarly, there are two different halachos in the Rambam.  In Beis haBechira 7:11 the Rambam describes the 3 machanos in the midbar and he quotes the pasuk of "saviv la'mishkan yachanu" as the source for establishing a machaneh levi'ah.  This is a din in the tzurah if the encampment. 

In Klei haMikdash 3:2 the Rambam writes "avodah she'lahen hi she'yi'hiyu shomrim es hamikdash" -- shemira is an avodah job assigned to the levi'im.

Wednesday, June 05, 2019

kabbalas haTorah and mesorah

The Pnei Yehoshua points out a seeming contradiction between the following two gemaras:

1) The gemara (Megillah 2) writes that nevi'im instituted using final letters mem-nun-tzadi-pey-kaf that are different than the regular letters.  Asks the gemara: we have a principle that a navi is not allowed to create a new law; how could they invent this new din?  Answers the gemara: the concept of final letters existed in the past but was forgotten.  The nevi'im were not instituting a new law, they were just re-establishing past practice.  (See Sukkah 46 for a similar idea.)

2) The gemara (Temurah 16) writes that 3000 halachos were forgotten in the days of mourning following Moshe's death.  Asks the gemara: why didn't Yehoshua or Shmuel use nevuah to rediscover those lost laws?  Answers the gemara: a navi has no right to be mechadesh new halachos.  The laws were only restored through the brilliant pilpul of Osniel ben Knaz.

The sugya in Megillah allows for a navi to use the power of prophecy to re-establish laws that were previously known and forgotten, yet the sugya in Temurah tells us that nevuah could not be use to rediscover the halachos forgotten upon the death of Moshe.  How do you resolve the contradiction?

Rav Wahrman in his She'eiris Yosef vol 4 suggests that the two sugyos are addressing two different problems, as the principle of ain navi rashay l'chadesh davar is two dinim in one: 1) the navi cannot use prophecy to rule on halacha; 2) prophecy is not a cheftza shel Torah, but is in a category of knowledge all its own. The gemara in Megillah is addressing the second problem only.  Since final letters existed in the past as a cheftza shel Torah, the navi is not creating new law.  The gemara in Temurah is addressing the former issue, and dealing with the right of the navi as a gavra to pasken using nevuah.  Whether or not these halachos existed in the past is irrelevant to this question, as it is an issue of process, not outcome.

Rav Wahrman (link) in a few parenthetical lines snuck into the middle of the piece offers a possible second answer, which is the one I want to focus on.  He writes  that in order for something to be a cheftza shel Torah it is not enough for it to have simply been received by Moshe Rabeinu.  Torah = mesorah.  For something to become a cheftza shel Torah it has to be passed on to future generations.  The nevi'im who lived generations after kabbalas haTorah were restoring a tradition that had existed once upon a time, but been lost over the years.  However, the halachos that were forgotten immediately upon the death of Moshe were too new, too fresh, to have yet been incorporated into the mesorah.  They were lost right out of the starting gate, at generation 1 after kabbalas haTorah.  When there is no mesorah to start with, a navi has to right to create a new one.

In light of this chiddush I would suggest that the Mishna in Avos that tells us "Moshe kibeil Torah m'Sinau u'mesarah l'Yehoshua" is not telling us about two events, namely 1) kabbalas haTorah and 2) its transmission to Yehoshua, but rather is telling us about one event only: kabbalas haTorah.  What the Mishna is telling us is that a kabbalas haTorah is a true kabbalah only when there is a "mesarah..." that follows -- when the kabbalah impacts and effects the future.

Rashi in Pesachim (68) writes that the chiyuv simcha of Shavuos is  "...l'har'os she'noach u'mekubal yom zeh l'Yisrael she'nitna Torah bo."  R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (posted here) was medayek from Rashi that the simcha of Torah that we celebrate on Shavuos is something that we have to show to others, to demonstrate.  Perhaps if kabbalas haTorah is complete only if Torah is given over to others, the simcha of kabbalas haTorah is complete only if we give it over to others as well.

More on aliya laregel

Just to clarify a bit as a follow-up on yesterday's post:

The problem with learning that the Rambam understood that the mitzvah d'oraysa of "yeira'eh kol zechurcha" includes bringing one's children to the Mikdash is that the Rambam himself writes in Hil Chagiga 2:3 that bringing children is "kdei lchancho b'mitzvos" -- a din in chinuch.

You could say the Rambam in Mishne Torah recanted on his position in Sefer Hamitzvos if you like, but that is a bit of a dochak.

To be fair, the Rambam in Mishne Torah continues and adds after "kdei lchancho... she'ne'emar yeira'eh kol zechurcha." So we have to fudge something here-- either the "kdei lchancho" is lav davka or the pasuk is lav davka.

The tzad to say the quote of the pasuk is a lav davka is the fact that the gemara 4a quotes a braysa that uses the same pasuk to explain why a katan is chayav but then reinterprets the braysa to be an asmachta.  The Rambam is simply echoing the braysa's language with the gemara's interpretation (Lechem Mishne).

My son pointed out a piece from R Dovid Soloveitchik in which he argues that this cannot be a regular din of chinuch because the katan does only half the mitzvah -- he comes to the Mikdash, but does not have to offer korbanos (see the meforshei haRambam who point out that this is a machlokes Rashi and Tos).  How can you have chinuch to do half a mitzvah?  He therefore concludes that the words "kdei lchancho" cannot be taken at face value and ketanim come so that their father fulfills the d'oraysa din of "yeira'eh kol zechurcha." Note to that the Rambam does not just say "chayav l'ha'aloso" but adds "l'haros bo," implying a chiyuv on the father to appear with his children.

Sof kol sof: no simple conclusion here.

Tuesday, June 04, 2019

Shemiras hamikdash

The first mishna in Midos tells us that kohanim stood guard in three places in the Mikdash (leviim stood guard in another 21 locations).  This din is derived from our parsha where Aharon and his sons are told to be "shomrim mishmeres hamikdash" (3:38).  Torah Temimah explains that some varient of the word "shemira" occurs 3x in the pasuk (shomrim, mishmeres, l'mishmeres) and hence we learn that a kohen guard is needed in three locations.

From the placement in our parsha in the context of the discussion of who camps where and the placement of this din in Midos, it seems that this din is not a chovas hagavra obligation on the kohanim, but rather is part and parcel of how the camp should be arranged and how the Mikdash should be setup and built (see Tiferes Yisrael).

According to most Rishonim the chiyuv of shemira is only at night.  Even though the purpose of shemira is to honor the Mikdash -- this is an honor guard, not  a guard to catch thieves -- and therefore there should be no difference between day or night, nonetheless, the tzurah of the mitzvah of shemira matches what would be done if the guards were there for protection.  A shomer by day when not needed does not have a shem shomer.

The anonymous mifareish on MesTamid is the lone view that holds shemira must be done by day as well, and Achronim have such difficulty with this opinion that some claim it is not really what anyone holds.

I prefer conceptual questions to practical ones, but here is what Rashash on the mishnayos in Midos asks: when Moshe gave this mitzvah, there were only three kohanim in the world -- Aharon and his two sons.  If three kohanim were required to do shemira during the day, then who was left to do the avodah?

Aliya la'regel

The Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos aseh # 53 writes that the mitzvah of aliya la'regel includes bringing along one's sons who can walk. 

This seems to be a strange formulation, as bringing one's sons along is not part of this mitzvah d'oraysa but rather is simply a kiyum of the mitzvah of chinuch.  The Rambam doesn't include the side kiyum of chinuch when he speaks about other mitzvos, so why mention it here?

See Ner Mitzvah in Chemdas Yisrael  (R Meir Dan Plotzki) who leaves this b'tzarich iyun.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Yeish sachar l'peulaseich

Next week we will IY"H read Boaz's blessing to Rus that in response to her having come out to the field to meet him "yishalem Hashem paaleich u'tehi maskurteiach shleima..." (2:12).

The GR"A explains that there is a difference between being paid for "paaleich" and getting paid schar, "maskurteiach." A worker gets paid by the day or by the piece - that's "paaleich" pay. At the end of the year the worker gets a bonus.  The bonus is not for any particular day of work or any particular project -- it's for the overall assessment of the gavra as a loyal and dedicated employee.  That's "maskurteiach," schar.

The Malbim says something similar.  Your dry cleaner is a poel.  He gets paid for doing the job of cleaning your clothes.  If your suit is still dirty when you pick it up, don't pay the cleaner.  Jabob De Gram is a sachir and gets paid schar.  Whether he wins another Cy Young award or whether the Mets have to send him down to the minors, his contract guarantees him the same pay.  Schar is not for the individual act, the individual game or pitch.  It's for being a member of the team.

What Boaz was telling Rus is that Hashem will pay her like a poel for each mitzvah that she does, but by joining the Jewish people, she will get much more than that - Hashem will give her schar as well.  We get paid simply because we are members of the team, we get paid a bonus just for being employees, irrespective of and above and beyond what we earn for each individual act that we do.

Our parsha promises all kinds of great rewards for "im bechukosai teileichu..." Everyone asks: schar mitzvah b'hai alma leika?  Reward is received only in olam ha'ba?

Based on the GR"A and Malbim we can answer that true, schar = the bonus pay, what you get just for being a member of the team, is reserved for olam ha'ba.  However, you still can still earn pay for being a poel in olam hazeh based on what work you complete successfuly.

"Anu ameilim umekablim schar..." we say at a siyum.  "Im bechukosai teileichu" - Rashi explains that the pasuk is referring to ameilus in Torah.  Schar is for your efforts, not for the results, the peulah.  Even if you don't complete the job, you get points just for being a good employees and working at it.

Now that we learned this GR"A and Malbim, I think we can appreciate a pasuk we all know in a deeper way.  Yirmiyahu (ch 31) describes our mother Rachel Imeinu crying for us as we were led into galus.  Hashem turns to Rachel and tells her not to worry.  "Yesh **sachar** l'peulaseich v'shavu meiEretz oyeiv." Hashem is telling Rachel that she and Klal Yisrael don't just receive payment based on whether we succeed in doing mitzvos or whether we manage to accomplish what we are meant to.  What we also get is "sachar." Even if we have to be sent to the minors for a tune up, the contract is still in place, we are still valued employees of the firm.

This is Yom Yerushalayim -- yesh sachar l'peulaseich v'shavu meiEretz oyeiv.  We've been in the minors a lot of years.  We did not earn much as poelim because the cleaner doesn't get paid for dirty clothes.  But we are still on the team and ultimately, the reward of schar, the reward for hanging in there for 2000 years of ameilus, gets paid.