We have the good fortune in and around our neighborhood this week to have three distinguished visitors. Sunday night the Rishon l’Tzion R’ Yitzchak Yosef spoke, last night R’ Dovid Lau was in town, and tonight R’ Jonathan Sacks will be speaking at an AIPAC event.
technical part of R’ Yosef’s shiur was devoted to answering a R’ Akiva
Eiger. If a person has a safeik whether or
not he said a birchas hane’henin, the rule of thumb is safeik brachos l’hakeil. Yet, the halacha is that someone who has hana’ah
from this world without saying a bracha violates an issur me’ila. Since a safeik bracha amounts to a safeik
issur, so why not just skip eating the food and avoid the issur?
Yosef suggested that it’s not that there’s an issur me’ila that a bracha comes
to remove, but rather it’s the failure to say a bracha which creates the issur. Since the chachamim never
obligated a person to say a bracha in a case of safeik, m’meila there is no issur. He brought a number of proofs that I won’t go
into, among them the fact that an onein can eat without a bracha even though an
onein obviously cannot do issurim.
highlight for me was the tangents that he interspersed throughout the talk. For example, on the topic of chumra, he
mentioned a Shu”T Ginas Veradim (not the PM”G – not sure who it is) that holds
that if all the poskim in Klal Yisrael are meikil on a certain issue, someone who chooses to be machmir is an apikores for disregarding the views of
chachamei yisrael! A person needs to
have a Rav who is competent to advise on what chumros are proper chumros to
take on and what chumros are unnecessary and strange. He did offer some interesting examples of “good”
chumros: 1) waiting for the Rabeinu Tam zman to end Shabbos, as Maran the beit
Yosef paskens like R”T (even though m’ikar hadin the minhag is like the
Geonim); 2) wearing Rabeinu Tam tefillin; 3) women should avoid wearing
I've only seen videos of R' Ovadya zt"l, but from the tinted glasses and turban to the ability to quote Maran in Shulchan Aruch all over without opening a sefer, his son is the spitting image of his father.
Dovid Lau said over a nice vort in the name of his grandfather, R’
Yedidya Frankel. Rashi writes at the
beginning of Netzavim that when Klal Yisrael heard 100 minus 2 kelalos in the
tochacha of Ki Tavo, they were crestfallen.
Therefore, Moshe Rabeinu told them that despite all the threatened
punishments, “Atem Nitzavim hayom kulchem lifnei Hashem Elokeichem,” they
remain standing proudly before G-d and will always remain that way. Three questions on the Rashi: 1) Why does Rashi
say “100 minus 2” – is this a math test?
Why did Rashi not just say 98? 2)
The tochacha in Ki Tavo includes the line that “kol choli v’kol makah asher lo
kesuvim” will also be brought on them, so there are actually more potential punishments
then the 98 that are spelled out; 3) Why were Klal Yisrael crestfallen
after the tochacha in Ki Tavo but not after the tochacha in our parsha of
Lau answered that at the end of the tochacha in
Bechokosai we have the pesukim of “Lo me’astim v’lo ge’altim…” and “v’Zachti
lahem bris rishonim…” After all the
threats and punishments, there is a nechama.
When Rashi in Nitzavim says that Klal Yisrael were afraid because they
had heard “100 minus 2” he doesn’t mean that they heard two kelalos short of
100 –- what Rashi means is that they heard kelalos short the two pesukim of
nechama found in our parsha. Tochacha
without nechama is unbearable.
would like to suggest at least to answer question #3 that the difference
between the two parshiyos is that the tochacha in Bechukosai was said by G-d;
the tochacha in Ki Tavo was Moshe’s words.
Even if G-d himself is giving the tochacha, so long as Moshe Rabeinu and
our others leaders are standing with us, then we are not that afraid. But if Moshe Rabeinu, if our leaders, turn against
us and they too beat us down with words of rebuke, then we know we are in
seen the Rishon l’Tzion and R’ David Lau, I feel pretty confident that our
leaders stand with us as our noble defenders should c”v there be tochachos against