Thursday, August 04, 2011

shabbos devarim - chazon

Some random thoughts for the end of the week:

1. Let me start with a little halacha. Hat tip to Havolim for his discussion last week on the issue of mara d'asra, ayen sham. I just want to mention on point applicable to the 9 days.
The Rama writes that on Shabbos Chazon weekday clothes, not Shabbos clothes, should be worn. The minhag of most of the world is not like this Rama, as even during aveilus, one is not permitted to publicly show signs of mourning on Shabbos (see the Aruch haShulchan who tries to justify both positions). The Rivevos Ephraim (II:157) discusses the case of travellers who are in Europe and stay in Cracow over Shabbos Chazon -- should they follow the prevelant custom of wearing regular Shabbos clothes, or follow the custom of the Rama, the m'ara d'asra of Cracow, and wear weekday clothes? His conclusion is that we cannot apply the principle of minhag hamakom to a place like Cracow which no longer has any established Jewish community. Sounds from some of the sources cited in B's post that perhaps the idea of following the mara d'asra is an independent din, perhaps an extension of kavod harav, not just an offshoot of minhag hamakom, but you can argue otherwise if you like.

2. Moshe opens Sefer Devarim by giving tochacha regarding the many sins that took place in the midbar: he cheit ha'eigel, the complaints about the man, the rebellion of Korach, etc. All of these were done by the generation which left Mitzrayim, the generation which perished during the 40 year trek through the desert. The generation to whom Moshe was speaking played no role in these events. Why was Moshe speaking to them about past history?

Sefas Emes explains that each generation is responsible to try to rectify the faults of the past, not just focus only on the present. This is what Chazal meant when they said any generation that does not have the Mikdash rebuilt in its lifetime is as if it was destroyed during its lifetime. The blame for the faults of the past may lie in the past, but if you do nothing to make things better, you are just as culpable.

3. "B'shuv Hashem es shivas Tziyon hayinu k'cholmim." R' Zevin (in his sefer on Torah u'Moadim) explains that when one is dreaming, one is unencumbered by the constraints of logic -- mutually exclusive opposites have no problem coexisting. In galus a person can rise to the greatest heights for a few minutes each morning during tefilah and then fall into the opposite abyss of gashmiyus once he leaves to deal with the outside world. Once the geulah comes we will realize "hayinu k'cholim," this type of existance is possible only as a dream, but is not reality.

4. Some more Rav Zevin: The Midrash teaches that had we been zoche, we would read, "Eicha esa levadi...," but now that we have not been zoche, we read, "Eicha yashva badad..." A person can stand out, alone, for different reasons. There is the person who stands apart because he has risen above his colleagues through hard work and effort -- it's lonely at the top. There is the loneliness that occurs when everyone sinks and just being left standing sets one apart. "Eicha esa l'vadi" is the cry of struggling to stay on top of the mountain of ticha and burdens once one has risen above them. "Eicha yashva badad" is the cry of one left standing after everyone else has sunk and been crushed.

5. Why did Moshe share with Klal Yisrael the fact that he was overburdened and overwhelmed and therefore needed to appoint helper judges? Shouldn't Moshe's job problems have been shared only with his manager (Hashem), not his customers? Pashut pshat is that Moshe was telling Klal Yisrael they were being too troublesome, but the Ishbitzer has another twist. Moshe made the plan to appoint assistant judges public because he was hoping Klal Yisrael would take a hint -- instead of applauding the plan, he was hoping they would protest and clamor for his leadership alone. This would (Moshe hoped, at least) have given him a leg to stand on in requesting to stay on and guide Klal Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael. Unfortunately, Klal Yisrael were perfectly happy accepting the lesser judges. They just listened to the plan and went along without a murmur. So many other times Bnei Yisrael gave voice to protest one imagined injustice after another, yet here -- silence! Moshe ends his tochacha by telling Klal Yisrael that he found chachomim to appoint, but he could not find nevonim -- he could not find anyone who could infer his intent and realize what the situation called for.


  1. great unknown1:22 PM

    re 1: It can be argued that it is not a din in kavod harav but rather a din in the asrah, i.e., the kehillah. See the linked analysis by Rav YG Bechhoffer. Therefore, the dissolution of the kehillah ends any continuity of the the din morah d'asrah.

  2. By your logic, for example, the German community should have no obligation to follow their minhagim once they transplanted to Washington Heights since the "asra" has changed. I don't think that is correct.

  3. great unknown8:45 PM

    I very advisedly used the word "kehilla". Rav Bechhoffer ties the morah d'asrah to the needs and character of a particular kehilla, not a physical location. Had the Cracower kehilla been displaced en masse and reestablished itself elsewhere, they would have taken the Rama's psokim with them. However, individuals and particularly their descendents, would have to adopt the local psokim of their new environs.

    Of course, in the post-war re-diaspora, this gets into lo sisgod'do, two batei dinim in a city, and all the other tzoros that the Masaich will save us from bkarov.