Sunday, July 03, 2022

mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho

Shu"T Mahara"Ch Ohr Zaru'a 128 raises three very fundamental questions:

1. Since there is a din of mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho, why isn't anyone careful to shecht his own meat or be mafrish challah (apparently the common practice was to appoint a shliach to do so)?

2. How can a shliach say a bracha on shechita or hafrashas challah when the shliach has no mitzvah to shecht the animal or be mafrish challah from that dough -- the mitzvah is on the owner?

3. Why can you appoint a shliach for a mitzvah like hafrashas challah but not for a mitzvah like putting on tefillin or eating matzah?

He makes a few important distinctions:

A. Shechita and hafrashas challah is different than tefillin and matzah because in the former cases all we care about is the end result, i.e. knowing that the food was properly prepared through slaughtering or through hafrasha being done.  In the latter case, it's the process, the putting on of the tefillin, consuming the matzah, which is important.  (See his hesber of why you can appoint a shliach for gittin/kiddushin but not chalitzah and compare with Tos Kesubos 74a d"h tnai.)

B. Mitzvah bo yoseir mi'bshlucho applies in the case of kiddushin because the one performing the mitzvah has everything to gain and nothing to lose, as opposed to the shliach, who gains nothing, and loses the ability to marry the kallah.  It's a one sided deal.  When it comes to shechita, hafrasha, other mitzvos, neither the shliach or the m'shaleiach has a greater or lesser stake in the outcome.     

Friday, July 01, 2022

chut shel chessed

Back in 2012 I wrote:

Rashi writes that Moshe was asking Hashem to not count Dasan and Aviram's portion of the korban tamid, which was a korban tzibur. (It seems from this Rashi that the korban tzibur was a type of large shutfus, a partnership among all members of Klal Yisrael, such that an individual share could be excluded. See Ramban at the beginning of VaYikra who discusses whether this is indeed the case, or whether a tzibur is a whole that transcends its individual parts and cannot be sliced and diced.) 

B'pashtus there is a difference between a shutfus and a tzibur.  A tzibur is like a corporation -- it exists as an entity in its own right, distinct from the individuals of which it is comprised.  How then are we to understand Moshe's request?  10 years later I see R' Moshe Tzvi Neriah in Ner LaMaor writes in a footnote:

תמה מו"ר הגרי"מ חרל"פ זצ"ל: והרי על פי דברי הרמב"ן אין בקרבן ציבור דין שותפין - חלק פרטי - ומהו חלקם של עדת קורח בקרבן? [ועיין משנת ראשונים לחתנו הר"י בארי ז"ל - ירושלים תש"י - עמ' רעג]. אכן המעיין במדרש רבה [יח ט] שהוא מקור דברי רש"י, ימצא תוספת לשון: "הואיל ופירשו מבניך", ונראה לבאר שכיון שעדת קורח פרשו מכלל ישראל, לא היה להם חלק בכלל ישראל, ואם כן נשאר חלקם רק כשותפות, ובכהאי גוונא ניתן לומר שחלקם הנבדל לא יקובל. ומצאתי שכן כתב ב"שם משמואל" [דברים, לקוטים עמ' רנו]: "מאחר שהם פגמו בכללות ישראל ונדבקו בכללות כתרי דמסאבותא, ועל כן הם ממילא נדחין מכלל ישראל, חזר חלקם כחלק שותף, על כן "תניחנו האש ולא תאכלנו".

Korach and his followers chose to cut themselves off from the klal, and therefore, they participated in the korban tamid only as shutfim, as partners WITH the tzibur, rather than members OF the tzibur.  

Perhaps Korach's point in arguing "ki kol ha'eidah kulam kedoshim" is that Klal Yisrael is a partnership of equals.  Everyone gets a say and has a voice.  However, in reality, Klal Yisrael is a tzibur, not a shutfus.  

2) The Midrash writes that as a reward for Avraham telling the King of Sdom that he will not take even "mi'chut v'ad sroch naal," even a single threat from him, his descendents were given the mitzvah of a thread of techeiles.  Avraham chose to do 100% chessed for Sdom; there was no gain at all for him.  Techeiles represents the chut shel chessed that Hashem in turn guarantees us.  No Jew is totally cut off.  He may be hanging by a thread -- the thread of techeiles, that chut shel chessed -- but that thread will not be broken.

This is why we put on tzitzis before tefillin.  First comes the chut shel chessed, the fact that Hashem will hold on to us no matter what.  Only then do we put in tefillin and tackle what we can accomplish ourselves with our ability and brains, the shel yad and shel rosh. 

Korach rebelled against the idea of a chut shel techeiles.  Sefas Emes (5642) explains that Korach argued that there are no free gifts.  The idea of Aharon being chosen simply for who he was rather than what he accomplished was foreign to him.  Korach felt that it was the Leviim who had not sinned in cheit ha'eigel who should be in charge, and he should replace Aharon, as unlike Aharon, who had a hand in making the eigel, his hands were clean.  Moshe's response was that "boker v'yoda Hashem es asher lo v'es ha'kadosh v'hikriv eilav," there certainly is a place for those who were "asher lo," i.e. those responded when he called at at Sinai, "Mi la'Hashem eilay."  They had earned their place and position.  But there was also a place for "es asher yivchar bo yakriv eilav," Hashem sometimes reaches out and chooses someone even if we don't understand or appreciate why.  

Friday, June 24, 2022

a period of transition

The gemara (Sota 34) darshens that the names of the meraglim reveal their flawed character:

תניא, א״ר יצחק, דבר זה מסורת בידינו מאבותינו, מרגלים על שם מעשיהם נקראו, ואנו לא עלתה בידינו אלא אחד, סתור בן מיכאל, סתור – שסתר מעשיו של הקב״ה, מיכאל – שעשה עצמו מך א״ר יוחנן, אף אנו נאמר, נחבי בן ופסי (פ׳ י״ד) נחבי – שהחביא דבריו של הקב״ה, ופסי – שפסע על מדותיו של הקב״ה

It seems that these were not very nice guys.  However, Rashi tells us

כלם אנשים – כל אנשים לשון חשיבות הוא, ואותה שעה כשירין היו.

Indeed, if the meraglim were as bad as their names suggested, it begs the question of why Moshe selected them for the mission. Why invite trouble by choosing the bad apples?

Furthermore, why would Moshe have davened only for Yehoshua if he knew that the other mergalim were going to cause mischief? Aderaba, he should have davened for them, as they were more in need for his tefilos than Yehoshua!  

Transitions are difficult.  Ibn Ezra famously writes that even though Bn"Y at Yam Suf vastly outnumbered the mere 600 chariots Pharaoh had, they would not have been able to fight.  Psychologically, they could not stand up to the people who had been their masters just a short time earlier.  The transition from slavery to freedom is not so simple.  Bn"Y in the midbar were surrounded by the miracles of the mon, the be'er, the ananei ha'kavod.  All their needs were miraculously taken care of.  The transition to life in Eretz Yisrael, a life of working the land, a life that would require their effort, not miracles, to create a all the trappings of a functioning country, was bound to be difficult as well.

The gemara does not mean that the spies were at that moment flawed individuals.  What the gemara means is that the 12 spies were flawed individuals who had managed to overcome the defects inherent in who they were and become better people.  Each one of them, as their name indicates, had a weakness.  Each one of them managed to make the transition to greatness.  

Who better, writes the Tiferes Shmuel (Aleksander), to lead when facing a period of national transition?  Who better to see and explain how a wasteland inhabited by immoral, antagonistic enemies can become gan Hashem?

This is why Moshe prayed for Yehoshua alone.  It was davka Yehoshua's great piety which gave rise to Moshe's concern that he, more than the others, would not be successful.  Not having to overcome any inherent flaw, not having to make a transition to become something better than who he was "meant" to be, was in this case, in Moshe's view, a defect.

Thursday, June 23, 2022

entering into a situation of ones

Saw the following question:

The Mordechai holds that if one has a garment missing tzitzis, there is no problem in wearing it on shabbos.  The logic is that there is no issur in putting on a four cornered garment.  Once the garment is on, one becomes obligated to put tzitzis on it, but at that point, since it is shabbos and one cannot tie tzitzis, ones Rachmana patrei.

The first Mishna in Beitza says that if one did not prepare anything to do kiseui ha'dam with, one cannot shecht on Y"T.  Why not apply the Mordechai's logic and say that there is no issur in doing shechita, just once the shechita is done, there is a chiyuv to do kisuei ha'dam; at that point, if one has no dirt prepared that is not muktzah, ones Rachamana patrei? 

What's the difference between these cases?

Wednesday, June 22, 2022

tzitzis worn without kavanah - lack of kiyum mitzvah or bitul aseh?

The M.B. in Biur Halacha (siman 60) says a big chiddush: if a person puts on tzitzis but fails to have kavanah to be yotzei the mitzvah, they are mevateil a mitzvas aseh.  Therefore, he writes, a person needs to be careful when they are called up for an aliyah and they grab a talis, to make sure to have kavanah l'shem mitzvas tzitzis.  (He then backtracks a bit and suggests that since the talis in this case is being worn momentarily only for the sake of getting an aliya, it may not really be a "levisha" which is chayav in tzitzis.)

I saw some assert that this chiddush contradicts a Minchas Chinuch.  The gemara darshens that "v'asu LAHEM tzitzis" excludes using a stolen item for the mitzvah.  Why do we need a derasha to give us this new din when we already have a principle of mitzvah ha'baah b'aveira?  Minchas Chinuch answers that mitzvah ha'baah b'aveira negates the kiyum mitzvah.  It is as if the person did nothing, and therefore gets no credit.  The derasha goes a step further and teaches us that using stolen goods results in a bitul aseh.  It's worse than doing nothing -- it's like wearing a 4 cornered garment with no tzitzis.  (M.C. says the same chiddush by sukkah where there is a derasha to pasul a stolen sukkah on top of the din of mitzvah ha'baah b'aveira.)  

According to MB, failure to get credit for the kiyum mitzvah, e.g. where there is a lack of kavanah, results automatically in a bitul aseh.

R' Elchanan in Koveitz Shiurim (Kesubos 250) questions whether tzitzis worn without kavanah is doche kilayim.  This safeik should hinge in part on whether you accept the chiddush of the MB.  If a lack of kavanah is equivalent to being mevateil the mitzvah, there is no aseh to be doche the lav of kilayim.  According to MC, however, the gavra may get no credit for the mitzvah, but l'maaseh he wearing a garment with tzitzis, and perhaps the issur of kilayim does not apply to a garment that has proper tzitzis on it.

Friday, June 17, 2022

a gift is a mechayeiv

I work close to midtown Manhattan in a building, one of many in the neighborhood, that has a giant pride flag hanging over the front entrance.  Every morning I am greeted with a colorful flier pasted on the entranceway to our floor encouraging people to join a group that engages in "advocacy" and promotes "visibility" of people engaged in a to'eivah lifestyle.  As part of the celebrations this month, there are conferences and events being held with participation of C-level executives, just to make sure you get the message that toe'aveh is supported at the highest levels in the company.  All this is in addition to the regular barrage of emails I get offering me things like voluntary (for now)  unconscious bias training and the like.  

I remember back in the good ol' days where the biggest issues working in a corporate environment were things like making sure you could leave early on erev Shabbos, or a woman manager offering a handshake after a meeting or interview.  Now, in many companies there is no problem even getting kosher food at meetings (offered alongside vegetarian, vegan, hallal, and a gamut of other selections).  What you put in your mouth may be kosher, but everything else in the environment is treif! 

I'm not surprised that a judge ruled this week that Yeshiva Universtity must recognize a LGBT group.  You can't be a square and claim you are really a circle.  You can't claim to be a "non religious organization" but then exclude LGBT because you want to keep religious values.  Circle or square -- which is it?  Torah u'Mada maybe makes sense if you are dealing with 1950's liberal values, with what was once thought of as the great ideas of Western civilization.  Maybe there is something we can take away from those ideas.  These days, forget it.  To even talk about Western civilization will get you banned.  The world is not interested in our values, and I don't see how we can gain much from being interested in the ones in vogue out there.  

Anyway... something on the parsha:

1. Bn"Y complain about the mon and Moshe is ready to throw in the towel:

הֶאָנֹכִ֣י הָרִ֗יתִי אֵ֚ת כׇּל־הָעָ֣ם הַזֶּ֔ה אִם־אָנֹכִ֖י יְלִדְתִּ֑יהוּ כִּֽי־תֹאמַ֨ר אֵלַ֜י שָׂאֵ֣הוּ בְחֵיקֶ֗ךָ כַּאֲשֶׁ֨ר יִשָּׂ֤א הָאֹמֵן֙ אֶת־הַיֹּנֵ֔ק עַ֚ל הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר נִשְׁבַּ֖עְתָּ לַאֲבֹתָֽיו (11:12)

Rashi already asks: when did Hashem ever say that Moshe has to serve as a nursemaid, to be like a kindergarten teacher and baby people?

R' Yerucham Lebovitz answers that the very fact that Hashem gave Moshe the gift of leadership, the power to deal with the people even when they are rebellious, even when they test his patience, is mechayeiv him to do so.  

When Hashem gives a person a talent, a gift, that's Hashem's message to the individual that their mission is to use that ability to its fullest.  

2. How is a leader supposed to react when the flock lets him down?  וּבְעֵינֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה רָֽע׃ (11:9)  Rather than asking for mercy from Hashem, this time Moshe shows his disapproval (see post here), and in the very next pasuk says to Hashem:

 לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָ֙ לְעַבְדֶּ֔ךָ וְלָ֛מָּה לֹא־מָצָ֥תִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ לָשׂ֗וּם אֶת־מַשָּׂ֛א כׇּל־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה עָלָֽי

Sounds like Moshe is bemoaning his lot, asking Hashem why he has to put up with the complaints.  The Noam Elimelech, however, k'darko reads the pasuk quite differently.  לָמָ֤ה הֲרֵעֹ֙תָ֙ לְעַבְדֶּ֔ךָ -- why, Hashem, have you made it so that  I see the רָֽע in the people -- וּבְעֵינֵ֥י מֹשֶׁ֖ה רָֽע -- and not the good?  וְלָ֛מָּה לֹא־מָצָ֥תִי חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֶ֑יךָ לָשׂ֗וּם אֶת־מַשָּׂ֛א כׇּל־הָעָ֥ם הַזֶּ֖ה עָלָֽי -- why have I not found favor to be charged with carrying the people's burdens rather than become a leader who cannot see the good in his people?

As discussed once before, the greatness of Moshe was "temunas Hashem yabit" -- when he looked at a simple Jew, maybe even a rebellious Jew, he saw temunas Hashem.




Friday, June 10, 2022

parshas sotah and mechikas Hashem: hutra or dechuya?

The gemara (Sukkah 53) relates then when David dug the shitin drainpipes for the mizbeyach, the waters below started coming up through the drains and threatened to flood everything.  David thought of a solution: write the shem Hashem on a piece of earthenware and throw it into the drain to stop the water.  However, he did not know whether it would be permissable to erase shem Hashem to do this or not, so he announced that anyone who knows the answer should come forward.  Continues the gemara:

נָשָׂא אֲחִיתוֹפֶל קַל וָחוֹמֶר בְּעַצְמוֹ: וּמָה לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם בֵּין אִישׁ לְאִשְׁתּוֹ, אָמְרָה תּוֹרָה: שְׁמִי שֶׁנִּכְתַּב בִּקְדוּשָּׁה יִמָּחֶה עַל הַמַּיִם, לַעֲשׂוֹת שָׁלוֹם לְכׇל הָעוֹלָם כּוּלּוֹ — עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. אֲמַר לֵיהּ: שְׁרֵי.

Achitofel drew a kal v'chomer: if to make peace between husband and wife the shem Hashem can be erased, as we read in the parsha of sotah, certainly it can be erased to make peace for the whole world.

In the Reshimos Shiurim, R' Soloveitchik is quoted as learning from here that the din of mechikas Hashem by sotah is dechuya, not hutra.  

מכאן מוכח דהא דמוחקין את השם בסוטה אינה מדין הותרה אלא מדין דחויה, שיש במחיקת השם מעשה איסור אלא דשלום בית דוחה את איסור המחיקה, דהא יליף אחיתופל לכל התורה כולה מסוטה, דאילו הותרה למצות סוטה איך אפשר ללמוד לשאר התורה.

Were mechikas Hashem hutra just for the sake of sotah, then that would preclude generalizing from there to other cases.  It must be that there is an issur of mechika even in the sotah case, but the need for shalom pushes it off.  Therefore we can generalize to other contexts.

RYBS brought further proof from the last Rambam in Hil Chanukah:

היה לפניו נר ביתו ונר חנוכה או נר ביתו וקדוש היום נר ביתו קודם משום שלום ביתו שהרי השם נמחק לעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו. גדול השלום שכל התורה ניתנה לעשות שלום בעולם שנאמר דרכיה דרכי נעם וכל נתיבותיה שלום

Rambam learns that just like for the sake of shalom the issur of mechikas Hashem is pushed off, so too, for the sake of shalom lighting shabbos candles takes precedence over kiddush.  Again, we see the principle derived from sotah being generalized to other instances.

Afar ani tachas kapos raglav, but I think the Shu"T haRama (100:10) learns differently.  Rama quotes a teshuvah from Rav Hai Gaon: a husband took an oath to divorce his wife.  Can the husband violate his shevu'a for the sake of shalom bayis and remaining married?  Rav Hai Gaon responded that he may not.  This case is not comparable to the parsha of sotah, Rav Hai somewhat cryptically explains, because there violating the issur of mechikas Hashem is 'motzei mi'dei safeik u'mi'dei issura,' but here, with respect to shevu'a, there is an issur of 'lo tisa." 

What exactly is the chiluk Rav Hai is making between the two cases?  Rama explains that the issur of mechikas Hashem is derived from, "lo taasun kein l'Hashem Elokeichem...," not to destory our holy things the way avodah zarah must be destroyed.  The issur of mechikas Hashem, he writes, only applies when done with a destructive intent.  However, if done for a constructive purpose, e.g. shalom bayis, there is no issur. 

Were shalom bayis **doche** the issur of mechikas Hashem, then shalom bayis should be doche the issur of shevu'a as well.  Rama says this equation does not work because the issur of mechikas Hashem is **hutra**, i.e. there is no issur when done for a constructive purpose.  This does not apply to the issur of shevu'a, which has completely different parameters.  Achitofel could generalize from sotah to his scenario because he was dealing with the same issur of mechikas Hashem done for a constructive purpose.

The proof from hil chanukah is not convincing to me because in that case we are speaking about a din derabbanan of ner shabbos taking precedence over other dinim derabbanan like drinking wine for kiddush, or ner chanukah.  There many takanos derabbanon instituted for sake of darkei shalom, so it's no surprise that one derabbanan would outweigh another for that reason.

I saw quoted b'shem R' Elyashiv a different pshat in this Rav Hai Gaon.  R' Elyashiv suggested that the woman involved suffers tremendous embarrassment by being put through the sotah process to determine her guilt or innocence.  This is why the Torah promises that if indeed she is innocent, meaning she did not have relations with a stranger, she is rewarded and will have a child.  Eevn though she is not truly 100% innocent -- she certainly violated the issur yichud -- the great burden of embarrassment inflicted upon her demands some compensation.  Davka in this instance, where a woman's reputation is on the line, when she is suffering great pains of shame, the Torah allows shem Hashem to be erased.  This is far beyond the normal bounds of ordinary shalom bayis, and therefore, one cannot generalize from here regarding shalom bayis being doche other issurim.

I only saw this quoted second hand in a parsha sheet, but it seems to me that it leaves unresolved how Achitofel could derive anything from the parsha of sotah given that the heter mechikas Hashem there is unique to the special circumstance involved.