Thursday, February 02, 2017

teaching others for your own sake

The purpose of the makkos, says the Torah, is "l'ma'an tisaper b'oznei bincha u'ben bincha," so that we will relate what happened to our children and to our grandchildren, "v'yidatem ki ani Hashem," and to know that Hashem is the One in charge (10:2)  Seforno comments that "v'yidatem" means so that YOU should know, whereas the beginning of the pasuk, "l'ma'an tisaper," is speaking about what future generations will know. 

Isn't that backwards?  Shouldn't the "v'yidatem" come first, i.e. don't you need to understand the lesson yourself first, and then "l'ma'an tisaper," you can give it over to your children and their children?

The lesson here between the lines is that teaching our children Torah is not just something we need to do for their sake -- it's something we need to do for our OWN sake.  Teaching others is a tnai in our own understanding and yediya.  The best way to solidify your own beliefs is to express them and try to impress them upon others, especially those who matter most to you, like your own children. 

Moshe told Pharoah that the terrible plague of grasshoppers will be something that, "lo ra'u avosecha v'avos avosecha," the parents and grandparents of the Egyptian people had never before seen. (10:6)   Why didn't the Torah just say that there was never something like this before in Egypt?  Why stress specifically that their parents and grandparents had never seen anything like it?

The Sefas Emes (5644) quotes a Zohar that when a child gets married, even if c"v his/her parent has passed away and is in gan eden, the parent's neshoma is allowed to go down to the world to be at the chuppah with their child.  The same is true on the opposite side of the coin as well.  When the Egyptians were punished, the neshomos of their parents and grandparents were sent out of gehenom to be with their offspring on earth.  The parents and grandparents of the Egyptians had never seen such grasshoppers in their lifetime -- but now, they were going to see it.

Maybe this is also part of what the Torah is telling us by putting "v'yidatem ki ani Hashem" at the end.  A person may have already passed into the next world, but because they fulfilled "l'ma'an tisaper," because their children and grandchildren continue to grow in Torah, then through "b'ra mizakeh aba," they too are their vicariously sitting alongside their children and grandchildren in the beis medrash, reaping "v'yidatem ki ani Hashem" in greater measure.      

On a final note, last week I posted my wife's query whether a place that women meet in for davening has kedushas beis knesset.  Aruch haShulchan 154:7 writes:

 וכן בית הכנסת של נשים – יש עליה קדושת בית הכנסת, כיון שהנשים מתפללות שם.


  1. I don't want to get between a nazgul and its prey, but to quote the AH regarding Ezras Nashim is not "the whole truth." I haven't done a formal count, but my feeling is that most poskim, for what it's worth, hold that the EN certainly has a lower kedusha, if any kedushas beis haknesses at all. Examples: Avnei Nezer OC 33:4, who, while displaying some ambivalence, is pretty clear lehalacha:
    ד אולם הדבר ברור אף לשיטת האלי רבה אין היתר אלא בצריך לדבר הקדש דכהאי גוונא לא חשיב מקלקל מה ואף ועיין במג"א שאין כן בנידון דידן שצריך לחלון בעזרת נשים והנשים אינם מצטרפות לדבר שבקדושה שיכולות לענות מכל מקום אינם מחויבין בדבר גם לא חשיב בית הכנסת ואפילו מאה כחד דמיין עיין ריש פרק כיצד מברכין ואין בו משום קדושה ועל כל פנים לאו כקדושת בית הכנסת ובכהאי גוונא ודאי חשיב השחתה לבית הכנסת כיון שאין צריך להקדש בית הכנסת כמו השורף עצי הקדש דאף שצריך להם לוקה משום לא תעשון וזכר ה ברור
    I think the best way to put it is like Rav Ovadia said in his Yabia Omer VII OC 24
    לגבי קדושת עזרת הנשים כתבו חלק מהפוסקים שיש בה קדושה ויש לנהוג בה כבוד כמו בבית הכנסת ובית המדרש אם כי קדושתה פחותה מעט
    If you would ask me, I would say two things. First, designating a room for a mitzvah does not give it kedusha. That only applies to a Mikdash M'aht, and MM requires Shechina, which does not apply where there's no din minyan. Second, given the choice, I would go with women's tefilla over that of men. The women that I know are more sincere and more spiritual than the men I know. True, nebach, they are often emotionally deranged. even borderline psychotic- we all "talk to God," in a sense, but they really Talk to God, like we talk to someone that's in the room- and they think the dead really hear us and care about us, etc. etc., but as far as kedusha and tefilla go, I think they come out ahead, din minyan or not.


    1. A"H in 153:3 quotes Ramban that the basis for kedushas B"K is its being tashmishei mitzvah; according to Ran the kedusha is derabbanan. Leaving aside the shitas haRambam (which is in the minority anyway), according to either of these 2 views, why would a room where women pray be different than a room where men pray? What's the sevara to be mechaleik?

      The fact that its kedushah is lower when weighed against that of the main shul doesn't prove it has no kedushah. You can sell a bimah to buy a sefer Torah -- both have keudah, but one is greater.

    2. I agree that it ought to have some kind of kedusha, I just was going with the idea that the kedushas Beis Haknesses was as a mikdash me'aht, and to me, that depends on the din of Tefilla b'tzibur. And even with the Ramban about tashmishei mitzvah, I strongly disagree with the AH's application to the EN. As I said, I hope that nobody would say that a room that is designated to put on your tallis kattan, or take a lulav, has a din of tashmishei K. It would have such a din if there was some relationship between the place and the mitzva, some appropriateness to the location. Please allow me to explain.

      I think, and I think Chazal think, that there is a fundamental difference between the tefilla of men and that of women. Men need to leave their house and daven in shul, while women lechatchila ought to davka stay home and daven in their house. A man's work is to bring kedusha to the world, and a woman's to bring kedusha to her home. As most seminary girls know, the Medrash in Breishis 17:7 says that "hakol min ha'isha," that it is the woman's job to create kedusha davka in the home. A man davening at home, and a woman in shul, are simply not doing what they ought to be doing.
      מעשה בחסיד אחד שהיה נשוי לחסידה אחת ולא העמידו בנים זה מזה, אמרו אין אנו מועילים להקדוש ברוך הוא כלום, עמדו וגרשו זה את זה, הלך זה ונשא רשעה אחת ועשתה אותו רשע, הלכה זאת ונשאת לרשע אחד ועשתה אותו צדיק, הוי שהכל מן האשה.
      I know this contradicts Avoda Zara 36b, but I think it's true. Every one is different, and some women need to be Michal bas Shauls, and some men belong at home, but in general, I think the Medrash is the one that reflects Chazal's reality. So a place in shul for a woman to daven is no shaichus to tashmishei mitzva.

    3. Igros Moshe chelek alef, 51 about converting an ezras noshim to a mikvah. It starts off by stating that the ezras noshim has kedusha, but continuing, it seems to conflate the entire bais hakneses with the ezras noshim.

    4. If conflate connotes improper combination, I would say he equates them. In any case, yes, that's a great mareh mokom; he clearly holds that there is no halochic difference between the kedusha of a men's beis haknesses and the ezras noshim. Ofor ani tachas kapos raglov, and I am mekabel as far as halocho lemaiseh both mitzad Reb Moshe and the Aruch Hashulchon, but I see a strong svoro to be mechaleik.

    5. I said conflate not in the sense of "improper" but rather in the sense "it confuses me". Already at the beginning he says it has kedusha because it is a makom tefilla and torah. Torah??? This teshuva was written in Russia in 1931, not the right place, nor yet the time to attribute torah-learning to women.

    6. >>>that depends on the din of Tefilla b'tzibur.

      R' Hershel Shachter's sefer Eretz Tzvi p89 quotes R' Soloveitchik on the geder of mikdash me'at = a place designated to meet with the Shechinah. (So why not a meditation room or something like that? I don't know. Probably because in Brisker-land there is no chalos to simply meditating about G-d.)
      from Chaim
      BTW, nice to see updates on your blog again.

  2. And thank you for that Sfas Emes about the often asserted and rarely supported statement that generations that passed on attend family smachot. Now I know the makor in the Zohar in Balak, I still wouldn't put any money on it, but it's nice to think so.