Monday, March 21, 2016

was Mrs. Rambam a better cook than Mrs. Ramban, "divrei kibusin," geder of hefker, and other assorted issues

1) Rashi comments at the beginning of the parsha (“leimor”) that Moshe was told to speak “divrei kibushin” to Bnei Yisrael. “Divrei kibushin” usually means words of mussar (e.g. see Mishna Ta’anis 2:1). Rashi continues that Moshe was told to say, “bishvilchem nidaber imi,” “Because of you Hashem is speaking to me.” What kind of mussar is this? Bnei Yisrael should be flattered, overjoyed, not contrite at hearing these words.

Last week we discussed the Ramban’s view that the purpose of korbanos is to come closer to Hashem. Adam, Kayin and Hevel, Noach, all brought korbanos, as did the Avos, without being given a mitzvah to do so. Even Yisro brough korbanos. Surely Moshe Rabeinu himself understood the meaning behind korbanos without instructions. So why do we need an entire Sefer VaYikra? That’s the “divrei kibushin” – we need it for us. “Bishvilchem nidaber imi” – Moshe told Bnei Yisrael, “I don’t need Hashem to command this to me – but you do.” We were unable to intuit the meaning of korbanos on our own, we lacked that inner drive to come closer to Hashem that naturally gives rise to an understanding of parshas hakorbanos, so it had to be given to us as a commandment.

2) Ramban (1:14) explains the reason korbanos are brought from pigeons and turtledoves by quoting a Midrash that says Hashem asked for korbanos from farm animals because these were readily available. The Torah made it easy – you don’t have to go on a safari to find a korban. Rambam gives a different reason: these birds are tasty. Ramban rejects the Rambam’s reason. Not only are they not tasty, says Ramban, but small turtledoves are almost inedible.

What’s the nekudas hamachlokes here? Was Mrs. Rambam and better cook than Mrs. Ramban and therefore the Rambam’s turtledoves tasted great? Was there a secret recipe the Rambam had that Ramban didn’t know about? 
3) Rashi tells us at the opening to VaYikra that there were times Hashem called to and spoke with Moshe and there were times that Moshe was given a break so that he could think and absorb what he had learned.

Instead of giving Moshe a break so he could mull over what he learned, why didn’t Hashem just give him more intelligence so that he could comprehend Torah faster or better and absorb it without the break? The Midrash tells us that at mattan Torah Hashem gave Moshe Torah as a gift because otherwise he could never have absorbed it. Why not do the same thing here? Taz in Divrei David answers that Hashem did not want someone to say that, “If Moshe can get it with no need for breaks, I can get it with no breaks.” It’s like a lo plug gezeirah. I would suggest that what happened at har Sinai was kabbalas haTorah; what Hashem was doing with Moshe now was limud haTorah. Study by definition includes taking breaks to think.   

4) Rashi comments on“Adam ki yakriv mikem…” that just as Adam haRishon did not offer korbanos from stolen property, as the whole world was his, so too, we are not allowed to offer korbanos from stolen goods. R’ Shteinman in his Ayeles haShachar asks what Rashi means by, “the whole world was his.” What kinyan had Adam made to acquire the entire world? He certainly could have acquired it, as there was no owner, but who says potential ownership is not the same as actual ownership?

He doesn’t use the word, but I think what R’ Shteinman is suggesting is that the most of the world in Adam’s time was hefker – absent any owner. Perhaps Rashi in principle agrees with that assessment, but Rashi understands that the definition of hefker is not that which is ownerless, but rather that which is owned by everybody (maybe this is the machlokes whether nichsei hefker konim shevisa.) If there happens to be only one person in the world, he owns everything.

5) In a few of his sichot R’ Nevenzahl quotes Chasam Sofer (end of P’ Titzaveh p165) who asks: why were Chazal metakein two separate days of celebration, 14 and 15 Adar, instead of having everyone celebrate on 13 Adar, the day of the battle  . We don’t celebrate the day after kriyas Yam Suf – we celebrate the day of kriyas Yam Suf, the day the Mitzrim met their end . So too here, we should all celebrate on the day of the 13th.

Chasam Sofer answers that were everyone to celebrate on the same day, everyone in Klal Yisrael would be in a state of ad d’lo yada at the same time. Who would be learning Torah then? Therefore, we need to celebrate in shifts.

See the Meshech Chochma in Parshas Bo who gives a different reason for our not celebrating on 13 Adar, but the Chasam Sofer is an unbelievable mussar haskel.

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