Friday, March 31, 2006

VaYikra: Why "divrei kevushim" were needed for BN"Y to accept korbanos

"VaYikra el Moshe Leimor... " Rashi explains that Hashem told Moshe to speak to Bnei Yisrael with "divrei kevushim", words of supplication to win over their hearts. " Hashem speaks to me only because of you", Moshe told Bnei Yisrael. Moshe is told to respond to Hashem if Bnei Yisrael agree to accept these mitzvos of korbanos.
Why davka by the mitzvos of korbanos was Moshe told to preface the commands with "divrei kevushim"? And why do these mitzvos in particular require explicit acceptance by Bnei Yisrael?
If one is chotei b'mazid, the halacha is that through tshuvah m'ahavah the aveira can turn into a zechus. However, if one is chotei b'shogeg,the aveira even through tshuvah m'ahavah still obligates bringing a korban. How can that be true if shogeg is a lesser crime than mazid? The Imrei Elimelech explains that precisely because the crime is lesser, the deterrent must be stronger. A person who does a cheit b'mazid eventually realizes the enormity of the sin and returns to Hashem b'lev shaleim. A person who is chotei b'shogeg might tend to minimize the cheit as just a mistake - not so bad. Therefore, even after tshuvah, a korban is required.
The dor de'ah, the generation who received the Torah, was fully aware of the significance of shogeg as a cheit. They did not need the reminder of korbanos. Therefore, Hashem instructed Moshe to approach them with "divrei kevushim". Moshe was on even a higher madreiga than the dor de'ah and did not need Hashem's explicit "dibbur" for him to intuit the razton Hashem. "But", said Moshe to Bnei Yisrael, "For 40 years I listened to the "dibbur" of Hashem on your behalf, so you could listen in as well, even though this was beneath my madreiga. So too, I ask that even if it is below your madreiga, for the future doros who need it, accept upon yourselves the parsha of korbanos."

Thursday, March 30, 2006


VaYikra el Moshe VaYidaber Hashem eilav...
Why does Hashem's name appear only in the middle of the pasuk, after vaYidaber, and not at the pasuk's opening? - i.e. the pasuk could have said VaYikra Hashem el Moshe vaYidaber... The Noam Elimelech makes this diyuk, along with noticing the little "aleph" in Vayikra that every darshen comments on. This may be derush, but I think lots of times a person feels a calling to engage in a project l'shem shamayim but it thenhas trouble getting off the ground. There is a VaYikra, but the aleph that represents the Shechina is small and hiding, and Hashem's name is not mentioned because his presence is still hidden. Is it worth going forward and continuing? Will this project bear fruit? Sometimes it is only after you decide to jump in and risk going forward, then VaYidaber Hashem.

Eating before "kiddusha rabbah" - Rambam vs. Ra'avad

The Rambam (Shabbos ch 29) paskens that it is forbidden to eat before kiddush during the day ("kiddusha rabbah") just like at night. The Ra'avad disagrees, arguing that since one can say kiddush over bread, and kiddusha rabbah is no more than a birchas hane'henin, there can be no issur of eating before kiddush because the bracha on the seudah IS kiddush. The simple approach to understanding the Rambam is that he holds one may not say kiddush over bread during the day. The seudah requires some way to demarcate it as a seudas shabbos beyond saying hamotzi. I am more concerned with the Ra'avad's objection. Why did the Ra'avad not think there can be an issur of eating before kiddush? Even if you assume you can say kiddush on bread, what if I wanted to eat an apple before kiddush - that is certainly not a seudah which qualifies as seudas shabbos, so according to the Ra'avad, how was I yotzei kiddush before eating?
It seems to me that the dispute between the Rambam and Ra'avad is how to understand the issur of eating before kiddush. According the the Rambam, it is an issur gavra independent of what one is saying kiddush on. According to the Ra'avad, it is a din in seudas shabbos, i.e. that seudas Shabbos must be preceded by kiddush. Therefore, there is no kashe from eating an apple - since by definition that is not a seudas Shabbos, there is not halacha (acc. to Ra'avad) which would prohibit eating it without kiddush.

Emunah, skepticism, and the j-blogosphere

Why did I devote a post to Torah min haShamayim? Do I really think I am going to win over the skeptics of the world?
In a nutshell, No. And I will limit my postings on these type topics, bli neder.
However, I must admit that there is a trend out there which concerns me. A recent letter to a 5T newspaper had a wife writing (I quote), "Probably just as disturbing, and in some ways more so, is that he reads blogs that relate to Judaism. People post blogs about the credibility of everything that has always been the foundation of our lives, our upbringing, and our Torah." Personally, I have my doubts about the letter's authenticity, but I think the attitude is real. Pseudo-intellectual debate is entertaining! Suddenly it is "smart" to be "orthodox", but what passes for "orthodoxy" in a far cry from the basic truths picked up in elementary school. Instead, many people pick up a more "sophisticated" view on the historicity of Tanach, on the ikkarei emunah, on the truths of many of the minhagim. Having never opened a Moreh Nevuchim to check what the Rambam really says, or learned sifrei machshava, or thought about what the ikkarei emunah really mean, a guy suddenly finds himself with all sorts of questions and doubts that a 20 minute Shabbos morning derasha is not going to solve.
I don't necessarily have all the answers, and I don't want this blog to turn into an emunah question and answer forum, but I think someone better grab the bull by the horns before a lot of damage is done.

Here's my 2 minute answer to emunah questions: learn gemara. Put your skeptical baggage to the side, and sit on a blatt in Bava Kamma. Not the Artscroll blatt, but the REAL THING. Work through every kashe and teirutz, asking what did the gemara think in the hava amina, what did the maskana resolve. Ask on every Rashi why did Rashi offer the comment, what is he trying to explain, and if you have a different pshat, why did Rashi not learn that way. Same approach for every Tosfos. Try to get to the conceptual underpinnings of every machlokes rishonim. What bothered R' Akiva Eiger? What insight did the Ktzos have? Why does the Nesivos disagree? etc. etc. Repeat for 6 months daily for as much time as possible.
At the end of 6 months come back to all the skeptical baggage and see if you still have any doubts as to the Divinity of Torah. See what perspective you have on Torah SheBa'al Peh.

Isn't this just sweeping all problems under the psychological rug? Nope. It's called keeping perspective. I need some minor repairs done in my home that have not been taken care of for months - does that mean I should move out of the house? Or not enjoy living there? That would be stupid. The same with theological issues. To someone who is captivated with the beauty of limud haTorah and shmiras hamitzvos, so there is a kashe here and there, a repair that is needed. Maybe I will fix it, maybe it will linger because I don't know how to fix it. But I'm not moving out! To a guy who spent a week on a kashe of R' Akiva Eiger (and R' Akiva Eiger spent a lifetime on it!) and then discovers a yesod in R' Chaim that answers it up and clarifies the whole sugya, mattan Torah is not a historical event, it is a daily experience.
Historically even Volozhin produced its share of high-level apikorsim who could learn up a Ktzos while smoking a cigarette on Shabbos. IMHO this is not a danger for our times. I'm far more afraid of the guy who can't read a Ktzos, but feels free to offer comprehensive theories on theology and philosophy of yahadut.
(Lest anyone take unnecessary umbrage: this post is not meant as an "attack" on anyone or any particular hashkafa - don't take it as such. I'm just reflecting on what I perceive as general trends).

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Chameitz sh'avar alav hapesach

Just as R' Shimon and R' Yehudah disagree whether there is an issur lav on chamietz after chatzos (but before nightfall) on Erev Pesach, they also disagree whether chameitz sh'avar alav hapesach, chameitz which was owned over Pesach, is assur because of an issur d'oraysa or derabbanan (a penalty, knas, for failing to fulfill bal yera'eh). We saw that the Rambam and Ra'avad disagree whether we pasken like R'SH or R"Y on Erev Pesach. However, almost all Rishonim hold that chameitz after Pesach is an issur derabbanan because of the knas of having violated bal yera'ah.
Returning to the Noda B'Yehudah's case, everyone agrees that the Torah does not force yerusha of issur to occur. If a father died r"l during Pesach, no yerusha of his chameitz would take place by his children. If he dies on Erev Pesach after chatzos without doing bittul chameitz, then either already violated bal yera'eh (Rambam's view) and the chameitz is assur, or (acc. to Ra'avad) his children yarshen the chameitz and they violate bal yera'eh at nightfall, and the chameitz is still assur.
Here is where the Noda b'Yehudah comes to the rescue with a chiddush. In many places in shas the gemara debates whether a knas extends to the children of the person who did an issur - e.g. the gemara in Moed Katan discusses whether "kansu b'no acharav" with respect to one who intentionally does work on chol hamoed. The N.B. suggests that perhaps the knas on chameitz applies only one who intentionally violated bal yera'eh, not that chameitz simply by virtue of "avar alav hapesach" becomes a cheftza shel issur. Therefore, if the owner of the chameitz dies, his chameitz cannot be subject to the knas.
The N.B. in the end rejects his own chiddush. It would be too much to summarize the whole pilpul, but one diyuk he makes shows how much can hang on a word of the Rambam. The Rambam writes "chameitz sh'avar alav haPesach assur L'OLAM". The N.B. is medayek from the extra word "l'olam" that even if the ba'al hachameitz dies, the knas of "chameitz sh'avar alav hapesach" still applies.

Torah: Divine Inspiration vs. Min haShamayim

Elsewhere in the Blogosphere, the debate is on whether there is any difference between saying the Torah is Divinely inspired vs. the concept of Torah min haShamayim. This started I think with a comment to Harry Maryles's blog worth quoting:
>>>As a former Conservative Jew (JTS undergraduate) and now MO Jew (somewhat centrist in orientation), here's the fundamental difference between what I view as the MO outlook and the Conservative outlook.The Torah is divine. End of story. ...The Conservative movement, by way of contrast, rejects the idea that any part of the Torah is divine (both oral and written). Both are the products of man, with varying degrees of "divine inspiration."There's a big difference between questioning the historicity of certain parts of the Torah and questioning the divine authorship.<<<
GH ( ) has devoted an entire analysis to why this distinction holds no water and Divine Inspiration and Torah min HaShamayim are one and the same idea. I don't know why I am moved to write about this one in particular, other than the fact that a comment of mine was highlighted in one of his postings. As an aside: I find there is a lot of healthy skepticism in the blogosphere, a lot of good questions asked, yet not a lot of rishonim or gemaras brought to address the issues. The issues get further clouded by fundementalist responses that engender more extreme skepticism, and so the vicious cycle of skepticism (hey, I think I just coined a new phrase) is perpetuated.
I think even the rational/skeptics, or whatever they are, will agree that (1) There have been many Divinely inspired prophets. In fact, Chazal tell us that the few works of Nach we have written are but a small sample of the many prophets who lived and spoke to klal yisrael. (2) There is only one unique work of Torah.
If Torah is just a Divinely inspired work which could have been composed at any point in time by anyone, how can (2) and (1) simulatenously be correct? Why is every Divinely inpired work not THE Torah? If Ezra could indeed have written the Torah, why is Sefer Ezra itself on a lower level of kedusha than Sefer VaYikra? Was this an arbitrary decision by G-d? If so, then we just lost any attempt to rationally understand things, which is what I thought the skeptics' goal was. Was this a result of people's whim of choice and in reality the truth of the 5 Books are not superior to those of any other sefer? Are some people just endowed with more inspiration than others (which leads us in circles: the Torah is Torah because it was composed by the most supremely inspired prophet, who we know was supremely inspired because after all, he wrote the Torah)?
There is a big difference between Divine inspiration and Torah. The Rambam in Moreh (II:39) explains that the nevuah of Moshe was unique. All other prophets transmitted the philosphical message of G-d's truth; only Moshe transmitted Mitzvos. Torah as a book of halacha is categorically different from all other prophecy; Moshe as the bearer of that unique truth was categorically different from all other prophets (II:33)
This distinction has halachic consequence. One who violated the words of a Navi is over a lav. The Minchas Chinuch asks, why does this lav not apply when one violates any mitzva of the Torah, which is the nevuah of Moshe? R' Soloveitchik explained that Torah is categorically distinct from prophecy. No other Navi created or could create Torah except for Moshe.
The Conservative movement sees no difference between the Divine inspiration of Moshe, Yirmiyahu, perhaps even Chazal, etc. Their human hand was guided to compose great works of inpiration that contained the truth of Judaim.
Orthodox Judaism goes beyond that. Torah is unique; sui generis. Whether Moshe composed every word of Torah or parts were added later is irrelevant. The significance of the event of ma'amad Har Sinai is that a new CATEGORY of revelation was introduced to the world which transcended normal prophecy or Divine inspiration. Therefore, matan Torah could only occur through Moshe Rabeinu, the only Navi who attained this level (see Moreh Nevuchim II: 33 and 39. If you want a more technical analysis, see Ch. haGRI"Z on Baba Basra re: the pesukim that Moshe wrote b'dema.)
Is belief in ma'amad Har Sinai just a "historical fact" and of no theological consequence? As a historical fact, can it cavalierly be dismissed without harming the halachic or ideological framework of Judaism?
One of the Taryag mitzvos according to the Ramban's count is to remember for eternity the historical event of "ma'amad Har Sinai" and transmit the experience to future generations. I don't see how anyone can denying one of the 613 mitzvos without pretty deep theological ramifications. Please don't argue that the Rambam did not count it - that is a technicality of how to count mitvos, not because the Rambam denied the significance of the event (see those chapters in Moreh!). It is requires more than a strong question or doubt in order to reject a shitas Rishonim.
What would a theology of Judaism without the historical event of matan Torah be like? Just to raise a theoretical question: is it rational to think one can celebrate Pesach by eating matzah, a korban, haseibah, haggadah, etc. but deny that there was a historical event called "Yetziyas Mitzrayim" which is referenced by so many mitzvos in the Torah? Is is all just an elaborate hoax that became part of our cultural consciousness?
I can maybe celebrate Shavuos without cheesecake; asking me to celebrate it without mattan Torah is not possible.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The best jewish wedding magazine

...Is of course the one edited by my wife, which she has now uploaded in .pdf format to her website, which also has many other nice tidbits. So if you have not seen a print copy, you can still read it online at (and of course enjoy the article by me).

chameitz on erev pesach - issur lav? (II)

The Noda B'Yehudah has a famous tshuvah discussion a father who passed away on Erev Pesach, leaving chameitz b'yerusha to his children. In the middle of the tshuvah he addresses this Rambam (see previous post). Unlike most achronim (see Magid Mishne) who rejected the idea that the Rambam really held that there was an issur of bal yera'eh on erev pesach, the N.B. writes this this indeed is the Rambam's opinion. He bases this chiddush on the assumption that once we have a gezeirah shava of "se'or-se'or" from bal yera'eh to bal yimatzeih (see Pesachim 5), we also employ the same limud to connect "se'or" in the pasuk "tashbisu se'or m'bateichem" to these lavim. All three mitzvos - tashbisu, bal yera'eh, bal yimatzeih - always go hand in hand! Not only does this explain why there is bal yera'ah on Erev Pesach, but it answers another fundemental question: the mitzva of tashbisu is stated only by Erev Pesach - how do we know it applies during the duration of the chag? Answers the N.B., if bal yera'eh applies for all seven days, then tashbisu automatically goes hand in hand with it.
Based on this, the machlokes Rambam and Ra'avad works l'shitasam. The Ra'avad paskens like R' Shimon (daf 28) that there is no issur lav on chameitz until nightfall of Erev Pesach; the Rambam, however, paskens like R' Yeshudah that there is a lav from after chatzos. The Rambam l'shitaso holds that the gezeirah shavah of "se'or" extends bal yera'eh down to chatzos as well. The Ra'avad l'shitaso holds that once we establish that the lav of "lo tochal" applies only at nightfall, the hekesh between the lavim limits bal yera'eh to nightfall and overrides the gezeirah shavah . [I am not clear why that should be so].
The Rambam opens each section of his halachos with a heading listing the mitzvos that apply in that section. In the opening to Hil Chameitz u'Matzah, the Rambam lists the lav of "bal yera'eh" as applying for the seven days of Pesach. The Rambam l'shitaso is difficult, as he seems to tacitly grant the Ra'avad's point and clinh the argument in favor of the Magid Mishne's reading of the Rambam which assumes that bal yera'eh does not apply before the seven days of Pesach start! The N.B. brilliantly writes that the Rambam in his heading is simply reflecting his "minyan hamitzvos", the count of the mitzvos that apply to that section. The Rambam in his Sefer haMitzvos teaches that anything learned through a derasha of torah sheb'al peh cannot fomally be counted as a mitzvah. Therefore, even though bal yera'eh does apply on Erev Pesach, since that is derived from a gezeirah shavah, it cannot be included as part of the minyan hamitzvos.
As to how this applies to the practical question of the yorshim - stay tuned...

Monday, March 27, 2006

Chameitz on Erev Pesach - issur lav?

The Rambam (1:8) writes that in addition to the mitzva of tashbisu, there is an additional lav of "lo tochal alav chamietz" (do not eat chameitz with the korban pesach) that applies after chatzos on 14 Nissan during the timeframe the k.p. was offered. The Ra'avad comments that it specifically says by bal yera'eh ubal yimatzei the words "shivas yamim" -- they only apply during the actual seven days of Pesach, not Erev Pesach. It is hard to understand this hasaga. The Rambam only suggested that the lav of "lo tochal" applies, not bal yera'eh! Apparently the Ra'avad assumed that if there is an issur lav on eating chameitz, there must also be bal yera'eh. Why should this be the case and does the Rambam agree?
Once again, no time for a full answer now - I hope I am accomplishing something by at least raising the issues (she'eilat chacham chatzi tshuvah). I get depressed over the time pressure of dealing with job, family, and trying to learn something, but that's life.

Chatzi shiur by chameitz

The Rambam writes (1:7) that even a "kol she'hu" of chameitz is prohibited because of the pasuk "lo ye'achel chamietz". The achronim all ask: achila in the Torah always means a k'zayis. There is a machlokes R' Yochanan and Reish Lakish (Yoma 85) whether less than the shiur of k'zayis (a "chatzi shiur") is assur min haTorah or only m'derabbanan, based either on a limud from a pasuk by cheilev or because of a sevara that each chatzi shiur is "chazi l'itztarufei", it can potentially combine with another chatzi to become a complete shiur. So here we have the Rambam (1) using the pasuk "lo ye'achel", with the term achila which means k'zayis, to prove the halacha of chatzi shiur; and (2) citing a makor for chatzi shiur that is unique to chameitz and distinct from the sugya in Yoma.
I unfortunately am pressed for time, so I will just be m'orer the difficulty for now. Maybe at some other point I can offer more.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

gedolim cards

My son informs me that Gedolim Album II is out (Gedolim Strike Back?), which has gotten some comment in the blogosphere. My 2 cents on the matter is that this is pure shtick , a waste, and sends the wrong message. I won't even discuss the choice of who is on the cards, but will just take as a given that these are really the "gedolim" we want kids to emulate. Even so, I don't see the value. The reason why these cards are put out is simple. Everyone knows boys like baseball cards. So why not redirect the collecting habit toward "gedolim" instead of the Yankees? The message is that our heroes are not Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter, but R' Elyashiv and R' Shteinman. So where is the downside?
The reason a kid wants a Mariano Rivera or Derek Jeter card is because unless he has been living in a cave the past 5 years, he knows Mariano is the best closer is baseball and Jeter comes through with the 110% effort in the clutch. And if you need reminding, the back of the card gives you the stats year by year, and sometimes you get a bit of trivia too. What does my son know of R' Elyashiv or R' Shteineman other than that they have black hats and long beards? Can he say over any Torah from them? A chiddush that really impressed him? Absolutely not. He has a completely superficial non-appreciation of what a gadol is - a man in a long white beard and black hat.
I am not anti-gadol veneration. I revere R' Chaim Brisker even though I have seen maybe 1 or 2 pictures of him in my life and have none hanging on my wall. That veneration comes from being exposed to R' Chaim's thinking and developing an appreciation for it. When I am learning a sugya b'iyun, my thought process (hopefully!) seeks out an approach that I feel emulates R' Chaim on some level. It's not the same as just looking at the card of Mariano Rivera - it's like holding the ball like Mariano, trying to imitate the windup of Mariano, trying to learn a cutter to be like Mariano, etc. My BIL once wrote a humorous essay on the different darchei halimud of Brisk, Telz, etc. It's like knowing who is a power pitcher vs. a knuckleballer, etc. Each player is valuable because you appreciate the nuance each one brings to the game. It is true that I have a job and am not sitting in Bais Medrash all day, but my antenna have not picked up "torah" from R' Shteineman the way "torah" of the Brisker Rav has permeated every Bais Medrash. My son has cards, but he can't tell me a chiddush of any of these gedolim. He does not appreciate the thought process of any of them. All he sees is hats, beards, and frocks, and they all look the same. What is being reinforced? Conformity and superficiality.
On a different critical note, (perhaps my wife will do her own posting on this), what inspiration can my 3 daughters draw from gedolim cards? Are there any role models for women to look at and aspire to emulate???

Tovas hana'ah mamon and tashbisu (II)

It seems to me that you can resolve the Sha'agas Arye's "kusha atzuma" based on the Shita Mekubetzet in B.M., which writes that when the gemara says that "tovas hana'ah aino mamon l'knos b'chalipin" it means that "even if you hold tovas hana'ah is mamon, it is not 'mamon chashuv' to be bought/sold via chalipin, and therefore the sugya follows either opnion of 'tovas hana'ah mamon' or 'aino mamon'" (rough translation). IOW, the gemara in B.M. is concerned with the general debate of tovas hana'ah mamon or not (which is what R' Eliezer and R' Yosi in Pesachim are arguing about), but is a seperate discussion about the scope of kinyanim - can a kinyan agav or a kinyan chalipin (which are lower levels of kinyanim) work on this "inferior" type of possession called "tovas hana'ah"? The Shita Mekebetzet writes that this is meduyak in the gemara - the gemara doesn't say "aino ma'amon v' aino niknais" but rather "aino mamom liknos" , meaning only with respect to kinyan is tovas hana'ah aino mamon.
The only missing step is if kinyanim don't work on tovas hanaah, how did R' Gamliel transfer his ma'aser? The Ktzos (who also discusses the Shita Mekubetzet and the entire sugya) addresses this issue in a long discussion (275:1), the punchline of which is that if the kinyan to the other party fails, the tovas hana'ah becomes hefker, and kinyan agav will work on hefker.

Tovas hana'ah mamon and tashbisu (I)

The Sha'agas Arye (#77), in the middle of the discussion of tashbisu mentioned last post, asks what he calls a "kusya atzuma", a great question. The Mishna in Pesachim (46) records a machlokes R' Eliezer and R' Yosi regarding what to do with dough which became tamei on Y"T before hafrashas challah - baking challah is not tzorech ochel nefesh because it cannot be eaten, but just leaving the dough will cause it to turn into chameitz. R' Eliezer says to bake all the dough into matzah before desiginating the loaf for challah until after the baking - since each loaf is potentially usable, that is permissable cooking. R' Yosi argues and says even if it turns into chameitz, one does not violate bal yera'ah for challah. The essential point of the machlokes if whether "tovas hana'ah mamon" - does the right to give the challah to one's desginated kohein count as a right of ownership? R' Eliezer holds tovas hana'ah mamon and therefore one would in theory violate bal yera'ah on challah; R' Yosi hold "tovas han'ah aina mamom" and one has no responsibility for that chameitz (this is a greatly simplified reading of the gemara, ayen sham).
The Sha'agas Arye quotes the gemara in B.M. (10) which indicates that R' Gamliel distributed his ma'aser ani and terumos via a kinyan agav, and that Mishna tells us that R' Yosi acted in the same way. The gemara rejects the hava amina that "tovas hana'ah aino mamon l'kinos b'chalipin" or with a kinyan agav - meaning, R' Gamliel and R' Yosi both hold "tovas hana'ah mamon" and therefore kinyanim can be made on the distribution of terumos and ma'asros. Here R' Yosi holds "tovas hana'ah mamon"; in Pesachim he holds "aino mamon"!?
Stay tuned...

Thursday, March 23, 2006

The mitzva of tashbisu

The gemara (daf 4) tells us that although bittul chameitz is sufficient min hatorah, Chazal required that one eliminate chameitz before Pesach. How does bittul fulfill the Biblical mitzva of "tashbisu se'pr m'bateicheim"? Rashi writes that since the Torah uses the term "tashbisu" instead of directly telling us to burn chameitz (tiva'aru), it implies that bittul is sufficient. Tosfos disagrees and explains that bittul works through the mechanism of hefker. The Ran elaborates: theoretically all chameitz is by definition assur b'hana'ah and ownerless, but the Torah still considers it on your possession, just like a pit (bot b'reshus harabim) in a public domain is not in your possession but you are liable for damages that occur because of it. To avoid having chameitz thrust back into one's possession because of bal yera'eh, a simple declaration suffices.
According to Rashi, tashbisu entails the active removal of chameitz from one's possession, either through bittul or destruction. According to Tosfos, all bittul does is prevent chameitz from becoming one's responsibility. It is not an active removal or destruction, but a passive avoidance of ownership reasserting itself.
The Rambam paskens that if one purchases chameitz during Pesach one would receive malkos. Any lav which is connected with a mitzvas aseh which serves as a correction to the lav is exempt from malkos - "lav hanitak l'aseh". Why should there be malkos for buying chameitz when it is subject to the corrective aseh of "tashbisu"? R' Chaim (al haRambam) answers that the aseh of tashbisu is an "issur aseh" - it does not entail actively destrying chameitz, but functions itself as a prohibitition of bringing chameitz into one's possession. This chiddush of R' Chaim may depend on the machlokes between Rashi and Tosfos with regard to the nature of tashbisu (see Minchas Chinuch).
The Sha'agas Arye discusses a possible nafka mina between the two approaches in the case of one who accepts someone else's chameitz for safekeeping, including achrayus so that if lost/stolen one would have to repay the owner. The gemara is mechadesh that even though the potential liability in case of loss is merely a "goreim l'mamom", and the one watching does not actually own the chameitz, he would violate bal yera'eh for keeping that chameitz over Pesach. According to Rashi that bittul is the same as a destructive act on the chameitz, bittul would remove the issur in this case. However, according to Tosfos, how can one do bittul on such chameitz? If bittul is merely a form of hefker, how can one be mafkir what one already does not own? It is the liability for loss, not ownership, which causes bal yera'eh in this case!

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Chareidi logic - take 3

Consider the following statements:
1. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of Torah study to their lives.
Not too many people would disagree with that one, for obvious reasons.
2. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of the value of life .
Again, not much disagreement.
But, we have now run into trouble. If it comes to saving a life or studying Torah, the halacha is clear: saving a life wins. Pikuach nefesh is doche everything. So how can we affirm the centrality of Torah study AND also affirm the value of human life?
I hope it is clear that this is a klutz kashe. We can affirm the centrality of both because they are simultaneously of greatest importance viz. a viz. all the many other competing values and interests that are peripheral to our lives. There can always be extreme cases where the values we hold most dear come into conflict, forcing a painful choice, but that does not negate their relative supreme importance over all else.
So when someone tries to argue that the two statements:
1. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of the State of Israel to their values.
2. Orthodox Jews affirm the centrality of Torah study to their lives.
are mutually exclusive because when a conflict between State and Torah arises, one must choose Torah over State, I don't buy it at all. How is it different than the example I have offered above?

Shmura matzah - eight days or one

The Torah commands "Ushamrtem es hamatzos", to guard matzah. Exactly what the parameters of this halacha are is not clear. The gemara in Pesachim quotes Rava as saying matzah needs shmira from the time of cutting the wheat for harvest (ketzira), while the opposing view holds that shmira from the time of kneading the dough (lisha) is sufficient. The simple pshat in the gemara, which is how the Rambam and RIF pasken, is that shmira is needed for the wheat to not turn into chameitz. However, Rashi writes that the shmira we are speaking of is shmira for the purpose of the mitzva of matzah, i.e. "lishma". What compelled Rashi to learn that way is another braysa that tells us that matzah baked by an aku"m is perfectly acceptable for eating during Pesach with the exception of the miztva of achilas matzah. The Rambam, lshitaso, does not cite this braysa l'halacha. The Rosh stakes out an interesting middle ground and argues for shmira from the time of grinding the wheat when it potentially could come in contact with water (the Rishonim were speaking of water wheel mills), which is not an option the gemara mentioned.
The upshot of all this is a chumra and kula for each approach. The chumra of Rashi is that you need shmira "lishma", which precludes a katan or aku"m from baking matzah, but the kula is you only need this for matzas mitzva. The Rambam's chumra is that you need shmira m'sha'as ketzira for all your matzah, but the kula is that a katan or aku"m can bake matzah.
For those who have the hakpadah for the Rambam's opinion of using only shmura matzah for all of Pesach, it seems to me (and I'm not anyone's posek) that aside from leil haseder, you would be fine using only machine matzah. According to Rashi you don't need shmura except leil haseder, and according to the Rambam you don't need lishma, so you have nothing to lose even if you hold a machine cannot bake "lishma". For the leil haseder, you would have to determine the status of machinary viz. "lishma" in order to be yotzei the shita of Rashi.

Baking matzah erev pesach

The Rishonim highlight the connection between korban pesach and matzah and suggest (as an asmachta b'alma - not a real limud) that matzah should ideally be baked on erev pesach when the korban pesach was offered. Other Rishonim reject this idea. While baking bo bayom offers the hiddur of fresher (and tastier) matzah, baking earlier has a halachic advantage in that before the time of issur chameitz set in, chameitz can be bateil. Therefore, waiting until the last minute carries with it the danger of not having bittul to fall back on in case of error.
I have yet to understand why some people try to bake their own matzah. The mitzva is eating not baking. The people who bake all day can probably do a better and faster job than I could.

Chareidi logical fallicies - take 2

Another logical trap is "begging the question" - when you assume your own premis as part of an argument. Suppose my son complains he does not want to eat vegetables. Were he to argue that "children should not be forcefed food that is tasteless", he would merely be begging the question: he has assumed his concluding premis - supposedly tasteless food need not be eaten by children- as part of his argument. It is verbiage without content.
In response to the comment that explained that Avi Shafran is after all a chareidi, and therefore he sees Torah and State as mutually exclusive values, I agree wholeheartedly, but that is not an argument - that is begging the question. An argument (or opinion essay) should explain to others why they should share your POV, not repeat your premis.
I made no attempt to defend the argument that the centrality of the state and torah are not mutually exclusive because as long as that possibility exists - and even the comment admitted it does, just labelled "religious zionism" - then Shafran's claim of either/or is a false dilemma.
Anyway, enough with the mini-logic course. Here is the real question that needs to be addressed by Shafran or anyone else in chareidi-land. Without labels that beg the question - e.g. "I believe X because I am chareidi and that's what we do", or "I don't believe Y because that is religious zionism and I don't do that", WHY is the belief in the centrality of the State and the centrality of Torah mutually exclusive values?

The charedi false dilemma and WZO elections

My wife used to incorporate a lesson on logical fallacies in one of her writing courses because errors in logic are so easy to fall into and sometimes hard to spot. One of the classics is the fallacy of "false dilemma" (sometimes knows as either/or fallacy). The idea is that a complex issue is misrepresented as a choice between only two options, one obviously positive and one negative. An example: "Vote for teacher's raises or oppose education", implying the only possible result of a oppossing raises is acceptance of poor education - the dilemma is a false either/or because one can very well oppose raises and at the same time champion good education. The point is the logical issue, not the politcs, and I am sure you get the idea. I bring all this up because of Avi Shafran's latest gem on the WZO elections. I quote:
>>>In order to vote in the elections, one must affirm a set of ideas known as "The Jerusalem Program." It is the credo of the contemporary Zionist movement, and stresses the "centrality" of the "State of Israel" in "the life of the [Jewish] nation." There are no greater "zionists" than haredim, who pray daily and fervently for the Jewish return to Zion; who are so disproportionately overrepresented in the rolls of both those who make aliyah and those who visit Israel regularly; and who are so strongly supportive of ensuring Israel’s security. Yet, for haredim, Israel the state is one thing; Eretz Yisrael, the holy land promised by G-d to His people, another. And to a haredi, the "centrality" of the Jewish people can be only one thing: our Torah.<<<
Its either the centrality of the State or the centrality of the Torah, and we must obviously choose the latter. A classic false dilemma if I ever saw one, yet guaranteed to take in a good many readers of the propaganda machine. Did Avi Shafran consider that it just be possible to affirm the centrality of the State in our lives and at the same time affirm the centrality of Torah? Might it not be the case that Torah can only be actualized in Eretz Yisrael with "kol yoshveha aleha", or that the Torah is itself a blueprint for Jewish nationhood, so that affirming the centrality of Torah is impossible without at the same time affirming the centrality of a State?
As I wrote before, I could never run dry of topics if I all did was respond to the absurd arguments that come from the self-proclaimed defenders of chareidihood, but it is shooting fish in a barrell and only fun when I am annoyed.
(BTW: notice how Shafran puts "zionists" in quotation marks when referring to charedim. That could lead to another whole rant, but I'll save it.)

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yeshiva d'Kilayim

I know nothing factual re: the rumor that has appeared on other blogs ("chavrach chavrah is lei" has new meaning in the internet age) of the merger of two local yeshiva high schools, but my impression of such a mix can be summed up in one word: Kilayim.

(I apologize to those of you who thought this was going to be a post on the yerushalmi yomi).

Matzah vs. Man: giluy and hester

Today is the yahrtzeit of R' Elimelech m'Lizensk, so a bit of "machshava":
The letters Mem-tzadi represent concealment. The Berdichiver explains the word Mitzva to be a reflection of the shem Havaya - the last two letters are obvious, but the first two letters are concealed: mem-tzadi is at-bash code for yud-key. Part of the function of a mitzvah is to reveal the yud-key which is hidden and unite it with the vuv-key.
The Maor V'Shemesh writes that man and matzah are opposites - the 40 years in the midbar when man fell were marked by no korban Pesach and hence no real kiyum of achilas matzah (certainly acc. to the opinion that it would be derabbanan, but even if d'oryasa, not a full kium). When Klal Yisrael come to E.Y., they renew the korban pesach and at the same time the man stops.
Based on the Berdichiver, we can explain this phenomenon: man=giluy, lechem abirim, food of the malachim bestowed directly by Hashem to the dor de'ah. The mem-tzadi of matzah=kisuy, hester. They can never go together. During the 40 years of the dessert Hashem's presence was fully felt, but with the return to Eretz Yisrael came a return to life led b'derech hateva, where Hashem's presence must be revealed by man, and eating matzah returned as well. The goal, however, is to realize that matzah and man are one and the same - matzah is man in potential, waiting to be revealed for what it is.
With this we can better explains the question of the gemara in B.M. 86, "Did the Malachim who came to Avraham really eat"? There is no a priori reason that a malach cannot eat (in fact, Tos. brings a Midrash that they did eat - hard to imagine a machlokes in metziyus). Rather, since the essence of a malach=giluy ratzon Hashem, it cannot absorb the matzah=hester, concealment.
The Ba'al haTanya teaches that Chochma=koach m-h, the power of "what", the smallest degree of intellectual awakening in man. Matzah= this power of chochama, m-h, but with the letter "tzaddi" in the middle. The Noam Elimelech (p' noach) explains that the letter 'tzadi' is a combination of 'nun' and 'yud':yud=the smallest letter, occupying almost no space yet also representing a complete unit, represents the tzaddik, who channels Hashem's munificence to the rest of the nation, represented by the letter "nun", which has a narrow top but a wide base, as the haspa'ah lows downward to the masses. The hashpa'ah that flows down to the 50 levels of 'nun" must be channeled and flow through the tzaddik to be realized. By pesach mitzaryim, the 'mah' of chochma had to be channeled through the tzaddi so it was accesible to the hamon am, hence the food became 'm-tz-h'.
In the midbar, once we were elevated by a yetziyas mitzaryim, that same chochma became 'man' - it went directly to the 'nun', it was accessible to even those on the lowest madreigos without needing the yud on top, the tzaddik, to be mavarer the hishpashtus first.
This perhaps is the meaning of the pasuk 'Va'yikr'u es shmo man ki lo yad'u mah hu'. They called this food of the malachim with the new name 'man' because they didn't realize it was the same 'mah', meaning koch mah, the same bechina of chochma found within matzah.

Ta'aroves chameitz - bal yera'eh

Last week I devoted a post or two to the issue of eating a ta'aroves chameitz. There is more to chameitz, however, than eating. On the first mishna in "Eilu Ovrin", Rashi writes that ta'aroves chameitz is also subject to the issurim of bal yera'eh u'bal yimatzei. Tosfos disagrees, arguing that "kol machmetzes" which prohibits ta'aroves is a specific issur achila, but we have no makor that would indicate ta'aroves chameitz is subject to bal yera'eh u'bal yimatzei.
The Kesef Mishna questions according the Rashi's view, shared by the Rambam, how much chameitz is in this ta'aroves? Some explain that the Rambam is referring only to a k'zayis b'kedei achilas pras of chameitz in a mixture. Any mixture which contains a kzayis b'kdei achilas pras of issur is the same as the issur itself (i.e. not in a mixture). [Note: see last week's post on the Rambam's unique shita by ta'aroves chameitz]. However, the KS"M suggests that even if there is less than a k'zayis b'kdei achilas pras there would still be an issur of bal yera'eh. Even though if you eat such a ta'aroves you cannot consume a kzayis in the time frame that would result in an issur achila, with respect to bal yera'eh we look at the sum total of the mixture - does this mixture as a whole contain a k'zayis in it, irrespective of how long it would take to consume it?
What emerges from the KS"M is an interesting chiddush - with respect to achila, there can be so little chamietz that is it bateil in the mixture, but with respect to bal yera'eh the same chameitz in the same mixture creates an issur . We do find similar issues elsewhere - in Bechoros 23 the gemara discusses neveila being bateil to shechuta with respect to removing an issur achila from the mixture, but tumas neveila still applies (see Tos.) The Pri Megadim (intro to 452) discusses this concept at length (meaning, too much to blog about : )

Sunday, March 19, 2006

A question of psychology

Bnei Yisrael were found guilty of creating an eigel hazahav at the precious moment of kabbalas haTorah and Moshe dares ask, "Lamah Hashem yechere apcha b'amecha asher hotzeisa m'Eretz Mitzrayim" , why Hashem are you angry at your nation that you took out of Egypt? How can one question "why" in this circumstance?! - such a blatant show of defiance justifiable should arouse Hashem's anger and dries out for punishment.
The Ramban suggests that Moshe's intent was to plead for the nation as a whole. True, a small group had sinned, particularly the eirev rav who Moshe himself had insisted be redeemed from Egypt, but the nation as a whole whom Hashem chose to redeem from bondage was not guilty.
I liked the Abarbanel's approach to the pasuk. Bnei Yisrael had been living in the surroundings of pagan idolotrous Egyptian society for 2 - 3 generations until Hashem took them out just a few short weeks before kabbalas haTorah. It takes more than a few weeks to undo the effects of years and years of cultural influence. Moshe pleaded to Hashem to not be angry at a people who just recently redeemed from Egypt, yet who were psychologically still very much under the Egyptian influence (compare with Ibn Ezra, Shmos 14:13 why BN"Y did not fight against a mere 600 chariots at Yam Suf).
I am tempted to rant, but am holding back - day l'chakima b'remiza that even if you are committed to the philosophy of Torah but are steeped in a culture that opposes that, you may be headed for trouble.

M'cheini na m'sifricha

Moshe Rabeinu argues that if Hashem will not forgive Bnei Yisrael, "M'cheini na m'sifricha", to which Hashem responds, "Mi asher chata li emchenu mi'sifri". What was Moshe's "hava amina" and what was the maskana?
The "hava amina": 1) Ramban suggests that Moshe's claim was that if BN"Y were guilty, then he as their leader shares responsibility for that guilt and should also suffer the consequences. 2) The Seforno writes that Moshe asked that some of his zechuyos be transferred to BN"Y to mitigate their punishment.
The maskana: 2) According to Seforno, it is categorically impossible to transfer zechuyos from one party to another - everyone must succeed or fail based on his/her own merits. 1) More difficult to understand is the Ramban - do we not subscribe to the notion that a leader is responsible for the dor and can even be punished in their place? Was this not applicable to Moshe, and if so, why not?
I have not found an explanation for the repitition of possessives in the pesukim: Moshe stresses "m'sifriCHA and katavTA" - YOUR sefer that YOU wrote (which may be because Hashem himself inscribes tzadikim to the sefer hachaim, assuming that is what is being referred to). Hashem's reply stresses "mi asher chatah LI" - who sinned against ME, "emchenu m'-sifRI", will be erased from MY BOOK.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Censorship by Chazal and Chachamim - when appropriate?

The Mishna at the end of the 4th perek of Pesachim tells us that the Chachamim approved of the "geniza" of Sefer Refuos by Chizkiyahu haMelech. Rashi explains that the Sefer Refuos was a book of remedies for sickness - in other words, a medical textbook - and the Chachamim were concerned lest people become overreliant on medicine and neglect tefillah and bitachon. (The Rambam has quite a different view - see Chazon Ish in Emunah U'Bitachon who has a careful analysis).
I am simply throwing out the question: when medicine, science, or "knowledge" of some type has the potential to lead people astray from halacha or belief, under what circumstances should there be censorship or "geniza"?
Is this the type enactment only Chazal could make, or is this in the hands of the chachamim of each dor to determine? What are the bounderies?
This concern was raised specifically in the times of Chizkiyahu haMelech, about whose generation the gemara in Sanhedrin tells us that even "tnok v'tinkoes" knew hilchos tumah v'tahara. Should we draw a kal v'chomer and be more concerned for our lesser dor, or could one argue that specifically because there was hightened religious awareness, the Sefer Refuos became "obsolete" (so to speak), but when science and secular knowledge is more prevelant, censorship is determental?

Ta'aroves chameitz and the shiur for bittul

Chameitz is not bateil in 1/60 like most issurim - even a "mashehu", the smallest amount of chameitz, if found on Pesach, is not bateil. The Rishonim give different reasons why this should be so. The Rosh explains that chameitz is treated more stringently because it is an issur kareis. However, the Rambam writes that the reason is because chameitz is a "davar she'yesh lo matirin" - something which will become permissable of its own accord at some later time is never bateil, because why rely on bittul when it will eventually be permissable anyway. The Aruch haShulchan writes that if the chameitz in question would spoil over Pesach, then the Rambam's reason would not apply. I had understood the Rambam as meaning to explain the takkanah of Chazal - since chameitz as a category of food usually will become permissable, therefore the Chachamim were gozeir a smaller shiur of bittul. According to my original reading, even if the particular food in question will spoil, the gezeirah still applies.
If the chameitz in question is not an issur kareis, then the Rambam's reason still applies, but the Rosh's does not. This would be the case for chameitz nokshe as well as for a ta'aroves chameitz according to the opinion of the RI"F (see post from Wednesday).
The Rambam interestingly adds (Ma'chalos Asuros 15:12) that even though davar shyesh lo matirin is usually permitted in a ta'aroves of min b'aino mino, by chameitz we are strict because the Torah commands "kol machmetzes". This is the same pasuk the Rambam cited with respect to a ta'aroves with less than k'zayis b'kdei achilas pras, where we ran into the difficulty that it follows the derasha of R' Eliezer and not the Chachamim.

Nes Nistar greater than Nes Galuy

Echoing the MahaRaL's idea of nes nistar davka being on a higher madreiga than nes galuy (see previous posts), R' Nachman writes (56:4): "Know that the Torah dressed in the garment of 'hatara b'toch hastara' is specifically a very profound Torah, which means secrets of Torah. Since the Torah must descend to the lowest places, to those who have transgressed often, to those to whom Torah is hidden in a 'hastara toch hastara', Hashem needed to design a vessel to act as a levush from which the klipos cannot draw inspiration and cause great harm. Therefore Hashem hid and clothed there profound and very deep secrets of Torah, which is Hashem's own Torah, so that the klipos should not draw influence from it. This is like "V'avarti b'Eretz Mitzrayim" - I and not a Malach, I and not… etc., I Hashem, etc. Specifically in Mitzrayim, the land of many klipos, there was found hidden and clothed the presence of Hashem himself, meaning Hashem's Torah itself, the secrets of Torah…"
R' Nachman himself clothed his deepest insights in simple folktales that have profound meaning.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Ta'aroves chameitz

OK, here goes the plunge into the world of chamietz and matzah...

Those who have been learning the daf will recall the machlokes (Pes 43) R' Eliezer and the Chachamim regarding ta'aroves chameitz. If a mixture contains more chameitz than the quantity of k'zayis b'kdei achilas pas (i.e. if you munch on that ta'aroves for the time it takes to eat a loaf of bread of 3 or 4 beitzim, you will have eaten at least a kzayis chameitz as part of the mixture) then everyone agrees you are chayav kareis - there is no difference between eating a slice of bread and eating a slice of bread in a mixture. The Tanaim dispute whether there is an issur kareis where the mixture contains **less** than this quantity of chameitz. R' Eliezer learns from the pasuk "kol machmetzes lo tocheilu" that you are chayav kareis, and the Chachamim argue.
The RI"F has a chiddush that even though the Chachamim hold there is no kareis, they do hold there is an issur of eating such a mixture.
The striking difficulty is the Rambam's opinion. The Rambam paskens (Chameitz 1:6) that if you consume a k'zayis chameitz within the shiur of achilas pras you have violated the lav of "kol machmetzes" but are not chayav kareis. (1) If there is a kzayis b'kdei achilas pras, eveyone - both R' Eliezer and Chachamim - say you are chayav kareis, because this is just like eating a slice of bread; why does the Rambam here say you are chayav only a lav? (2) The Rambam quotes the pasuk of "kol machmetzes" which is used by R' Eliezer for his drasha but rejected by the Chachamim. Since the Rambam paskens like the Chachamim (otherwise, even if the mixture had less than a kzayis you should be chayav), why does the Rambam quote this pasuk? No great answers yet for this one...

Asher yishlitu hayehudim heima b'soneihem

"Asher yishlitu hayehudim heima b'soneihem". The meaning of the phrase would be clear without the word "heima", so why is it added? My wife suggested that the word "heima" is b'gematriya 50, which corresponds to the eitz Haman wanted to use. It is also spelled the same backwards and forwards, which is a remez to "v'nahapoch hu" - the very tree used my Haman became an instument of his downfall. Finally, it hints to Haman, as "heima"= "heim" + "hey" and Haman = "heim" + hey*10="nun". I could not beat that...

One interesting MahaRal: although we would think a nes nigleh is greater than a nes nistar, the opposite is true. Even as we reveal ourselves in conversation and action, we keep our deepest thoughts and feelings secret. We know in Torah there is the revealed halacha, and there are the kabbalsitic secrets of nistar. The same holds true of nissim: Hashem has revealed his presence openly using nes nigleh, but there is still a deeper level of nistar that is waiting for us to discover.

I guess I have to switch gears to the Pesach mood, but there is so much torah and so much preparation, the thought of it is overwhelming!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Have a great Purim

I probably won't get back to posting till sometime after Purim, so have a great Purim everyone! And special thank you to everyone who offered comments on the posts to help clarify the sugyos that relate to the chag - your feedback is much appreciated.
I don't know how to tackle the sugyos and halachos of Pesach bloggerwise, as there is just too much, but I guess we shall see....

"Esther min haTorah..."

"Esther min haTorah..." Why do Chazal look for hints specifically to Mordechai, Esther, and Haman and not other nevi'im or heroes? Does having a "remez min haTorah" add significance to these personalities? See my answer here: on the homepage

Megillah nikreis...

The Mishna opens Mes. Megillah with the phrase "Megillah nikreis..." and lists the possible days to read the megillah. Why does the Mishna use the passive voice, "nikreis...", instead of the more direct "korin es hamegillah"? The Turei Even answers that the Mishna could not write "korin..." because each location, kfar, krach, and ir, reads on a different day - you cannot instruct to read, "korin..." because that has to be qualified by the location of the reader.
The Ritv"a explains that the Mishna uses the term "nikreis" because the Megillah is not read by everyone - we listen to the baa'l koreh and are yotzei through shomea k'oneh. However, continues the Ritva, the Mishna in Brachos uses the term "korin es shma" because each person must read shma independently and not rely on shomea k'oneh. This idea is usually quoted in the name of the GR"A in Shnos Eliyahu on the first Mishna in Brachos. Of course, the question to think about is why keriyas shma cannot be fulfilled through shomea k'oneh???
R' Tzadok haKohen writes that the essential nature of the day of Purim is our strength to defeat Amaleik, which is the power of the yetzer hara. "Ilamalei ozro lo yachol lo", without Hashem's help we would not have the power to accomplish this ourselves. Therefore, "megillah nikreis..." it is not our active efforts which bring about the megillah, but our being recipients of siyata d'shemaya. "V'zichram lo yasuf", the same occurs each year, even in our times.

Second leining of parshas zachor

I previously touched on the difference between a chovas hatzibbur vs. a chiyuv on the yachid to fulfill in a tzibur with respect to megillah; the same applies to keriyas hatorah, as Chaim Markowitz discusses here: According the the Ramban in Milchamos (page 3 in dapei hari"f) in Megillah, it sounds like keriyas haTorah is a chiyuv that applies only to the tzibbur, not each individual yachid. In R' Rakkefet's book about the Rav, this issue is mentioned in passing with regard to R' Soloveitchik's commute from Boston to NY, which sometimes entailed missing tefillah b'tzibbur and keriyas haTorah - if I recall correctly from the book, the Rav's practice was to take out a sefer and lein, despite the fact that he was only a yachid who was mechuyav and the tzibur was already yotzei. This despite the fact that the idea of kr"ht being a chovas hatzibur is often quoted in the name of R' Chaim. I am not sure why the Rav was unconvinced.
Despite mentioning this lomdus by megillah, I did not realize the implication with respect to the common practice of leining zachor a second time for women after the regular davening. I have always had a pet peeve with these leinings because there are usually done without a bracha. According to R' Chaim (quoted in GRI"Z al haRambam, see also Emek Bracha) birchas haTorah is on the cheftza shel Torah, not the chovas hagavra. Even if you are leining for women who have no chiyuv, you should say a bracha because you are engaged in reading a text of Torah, irrespective of the chovas hagavra.
However, I missed the real issue here. Yesterday the minyan did not do a second leining for the ladies who missed the first. R' Z. Friedman explained that if keriyas haTorah is a chovas hatzibur, then unless there is a tzibur of people who did not hear leining, one cannot just take out a Torah and lein for a yachid - that is not called keriyas haTorah! Of course, those who were affected by this issue simply walked to a neighboring shule where I guess they are less convinced of Brisker lomdus and do do a second leining, but unless you reject the Ramban, it would seem this chiddush is correct.

Megillah as kitvei kodesh (II) - can a woman write a megillah?

With respect to writing Sifrei Torah, tefillin, and mezuzos (STA"M) the gemara derives from the juxtoposition of the mitzva of kesiva to the mitzva of tefillin that whomever is not obligated in "u'kshartam", tying tefillin, is not obligated in "u'ksavtam", in writing. Therefore, women, who are not obligated in tefillin are psulos to write STA"M. The achronim debate whether this same psul applies to writing the megillah. R' Akiva Eiger (siman 691) lumps everything together, while the Birkei Yosef distinguishes - since women are indeed obliagted in reading the megillah, they are ksheiros to write it as well.
Perhaps this issue depends on the 2 dinim developed by the Brisker Rav (see previous post). If the psul of an isha is a disqualification of her writing per se as kesiva, then even for kesivas megillah her writing is not considered writing. But if the disqualification is based on her writing being disqualified from having kedushas STA"M, then megillah may be different because the dinim of kedushas kitvei kodesh are not derived from STA"M to megillah.

Megillah as kitvei kodesh

Shmuel (Meg 7) holds Megillas Esther is not metamei yadayim because it was given b'ruach hakodesh to be read, but not written. The gemara in Shabbos tells us that to discourage the practice of storing terumah (which was assumed to be kodesh) next to kitvei kodesh which caused mice to nibble at the kitvei kodesh with the terumah food, the chachamim were gozeir that handling kitvei kodesh make the hands tamei and hence would cause terumah to be tamei (under the right conditions).
Tosfos cites a number of gemaras that indicate that the megillah must be written - in fact, a braysa tells us later that it is assur to read by heart not from a text. If so, how can Shmuel tell us that the megillah was not given to be written? Tosfos distinguishes between the halacha of kesiva that is divrei kabbalah, and a din derabbanan not to read without a text. However, the Ritva gives a far more compelling answer. There is a difference between simply writing a text for the sake of avoiding the issur of reading by heart and writing to establish a canonized text as one of the kitvei kodesh. Shmuel did not mean to say there was no halacha of writing the megillah - Shmuel meant that even if written, the Megillah does not have the status of other canonized kitvei kodesh with respect to the gezeirah of tumas yadayim.
The Brisker Rav (al haRambam) elaborates on this idea with many other proofs. The Rambam paskens against the majority of the Rishonim and holds that ibud (tanning) of the megillah klaf does not have to be done lishma despite the fact that megillah is called "sefer" and is treated like a sefer Torah with repect to many other halachos of kesiva. Why is the halacha of ibud different? The Brisker Rav explained that the Rambam understood that we learn formal halachos of "writing" from the dinim of sefer Torah, but not halachos of kedushas sefer, as we see from Shmuel's din. The machlokes between the Rambam and others is whether ibud is a halacha in kesiva or is a halacha in defining the kedusha of the text.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Mishloach manos for one's wife

My wife was in Brooklyn today and picked up an advertising magazine that had a short article of he'oros on kashrus and Purim by a Rav who lives inthe 5T-Far Rock area. He mentioned that one must renounce ownership over the funds and food for mishloach manos and matanos l'evyonim given to one's wife, because otherwise the food and money is not hers based on the principle of "mah shekansa isha kanah ba'alah".
B'mchilas kvodo, I do not think this is correct. Such a hakna'ah would be necessary if there was a halacha of "lachem" (like by lulav) which indicated that the mitzva must be performed specifically with one's own funds and food. (Parenthetically, I have yet to see anyone be makneh one's lulav to one's wife on Y"T rishon). There is no such requirement of "lachem" for mishloach manos or matanos l'evyonim.
(See Halichos Baisa ch 24 footnote 55 in the name of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach who makes the same point. For those intrigued by the lulav issue for wives, see The Tosefes Bikkurim in the back of the Aruch l'Ner on Sukkah on S"A siman 657)
One other note in passing: according to the Pri Chadash and GR"A mishloach manos is davka "ish" l're'eyhu, to the exclusion of women, who have no obligation.

Kilayim vs. nezikim - akira tzorech hanacha

My esteemed BIL wrote on his blog (link on the side) as follows:
>>>There's a machlokes in Yerushalmi Kilayim between R' Yochanan and Reish Lakish as to when the zeri'ah of kilayim is considered to have been done - according to R' Yochanan it is only when the zera'im hit the ground; while according to R"L it is once you release it from your hand:תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת כלאים דף ה/אזרע שני מינין בבקעה שני מינין בחורבה שני מינין וחלקן גדר. ר' יוחנן אמר פטור. ר"ש בן לקיש אמר חייב. מודה ר"ש בןלקיש בזורע ע"ג הים ע"ג פטרה ע"ג סלעים ע"ג טרשים שהוא פטור. מודה ר"ש בן לקיש בזורע ע"מ לחלקן גדר שהוא פטורBut we find in the Bavli the famous machlokes R"Y and R"L on aish:תלמוד בבלי מסכת בבא קמא דף כב/אאתמר רבי יוחנן אמר אשו משום חציו וריש לקיש אמר אשו משום ממונו וריש לקיש מאי טעמא לא אמר כרבי יוחנן אמר לך חציו מכחו קאזלי האי לא מכחו קאזיל ורבי יוחנן מאי טעמא לא אמר כריש לקיש אמר לך ממונא אית ביה ממשא הא לית ביה ממשאIsn't this a contradiction?Isn't R"L in Kilayim more in sync with chitzav?Any suggestions?Let's see if my BIL has something to say.<<<

Let me just note that the Ridba"z starts his very lengthy comments to Kilayim 5 "Hasugya hazos hachamura...", which is never a good sign. Warning: I am going to tackle this halfway, the rest you will have to look up : ) Reading Ridba"z, Reish Lakish seems to hold by Kilayim that the oseir is the akira, even without a hanacha. The way I understand that is through the principle (Kesubos 31) that "akira tzorech hanacha hi" - since the akira leads to a hanachas issur, the chiyuv starts from the moment of akira. The gemara writes that if I shoot an arrow on Shabbos and it rips clothes in the way, I am patur on the clothes because "akira tzorech hanacha", the shooting of the arrow already had the potential for the chiyuv misa of Shabbos and kam leih b'derrabah minah, you cannot be chayav misa and mamon in one act.
When it comes to "isho m'shum chitzav" or "m'shum ma'mono", at first glance the debate seems to center on this very principle of whether you say "akira tzorech hanacha" or not. However, if you look at the case in B"K 22, an eved is chained to a haystack and burning the eved creates a situation of kam leih b'derrabah mineh so you are patur on the haystack. The Rashba asks why this should be so: the eved inevitably dies first before the burning of the property (the haystack)? Conspicuously absent from the Rashba is the teirtuz I would have given: Akira tzorech hanacha, i.e. once the fire is lit, the potential it has to consume both the eved and the haystack causes the chiyuv immediatly. QED that the machlokes R"Y and Reish Lakish in B"K has nothing to do with this principle (and is therefore also unrelated to the issue in Kilayim)!
Now comes the hard question: why indeed are the 2 sugyos not related, and why does the Rashba not use the teirutz of "akira tzorech hanacha"? I don't know if I can do justice to explaining this, so if you are interested, ayen Birchas Shmuel B"K #17:5. In a nutshell, "akira' tzorech hanacha" is invoked to define what constitutes an "action" - shooting an arrow is the same as physically walking along and ripping everything in the arrow's path. If I want to know what the act of planting kilayim constitutes, this issue comes into play. When you start talking about nezikin, it is entirely possible to be chayav even when no overy action occurs, provided you are a cause of the damage that transpires.
Intellectual honesty causes me to just note that there is an answer of "akira tzorech hanacha" given by some, so the kashe would need some more work.

Mishloach manos and dinei shlichus - can a child be a shliach?

There is a minhag that mishloach manos be sent via messenger and not delivered directly. I remember as a kid being driven around by the principal of our elementary school to help him deliver mishloach manos so I could act as his "shliach" for the mitzva. The Dvar Avaraham (I:13 who incidentally is not convinced there is any basis for this practice) points out that one of the achronim took issue with this practice based on the principle that a katan is pasul for shlichus. How then can a katan deliver mishloach manos as one's shliach?
The Dvar Avraham makes a brilliant distinction between the principle of "shlucho shel adam k'moso" and the general rule of shlichus. Shlichus actually accomplishes two goals: 1) an effect such as a kinyan, a delivery, etc. is accomplished by one's agent 2) that effect is ascribed to the sender as if he/she had directly performed it. The Dvar Avraham notes that for many mitzvos, as long as the first aim is achieved, the second is not necessary. When that is the case, even a katan can serve as a shliach. For example, if I were to appoint a shliach to place an eiruv techumin for me (it comes to mind because I am learning mishnayos eiruvin with my son), the Mishna says it can be done by a child. There is no halacha that the eiruv be placed by me personally - as long as it is left in the required location, however it got there, the eiruv is chal. But, when shlichus demands that I be recognized as the party performing the action through the principle of "shlucho shel adam k'moso", then a katan is pasul. For example, a katan cannot serve as a shliach for kiddushin, because it is not sufficient for the ring to be delivered to the bethrothed, but the ba'al/husband has to be the one creating the status of kiddushin (see R' Chaim stencils on this din).
With respect to mishloach manos, there is no need for the din of "shlucho shel adam k'moso" to be invoked and a katan to be excluded. As long as the mishloach manos is delivered on behalf of the sender, the first din of shlichus, this is sufficient.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Parshas Zachor and today's daf

Today's daf records the derasha of the gemara that "Ki gadol ad shamayim chasdecha" refers to shelo lishma, but "Ki gadol m'al hashamyim" refers to lishma. The Yismach Moshe (end of parshas Ki Teitzei) brings from the Rebbe of Zutmir who heard from R' Levi Yitzchak m'Berdichiv that lishma means only for the sake of the Shechina. Even avodas Hashem has to be done simply to raise the Shechina from galus, not for the ulterior motive of reward or even achieving our own shleimus. The tachlis of Amalek was to cause us to insert our own agenda into our avodah so we never end up completely "lishma". "Rimche es zecher Amalek **m'tachas hashamayim**" - remove the shelo lishma that only goes up until shamayim and not m'al l'Shamayim!

Mishloach Manos

Along the mishloach manos run it is ienitable to hit the person who is not home and face the dilemma of do you leave it at the doorstep or not. The Aruch haShulacan writes that the recipient of mihsloach manos must get it on Purim day - leaving it on someone's doorstep for them to discover when they get home is not enough. The point is to enhance the simchas Purim of the recipient or their seudah bo bayom. An even bigger chiddush in the A.H. is that the "shlichus" of mishloach manos must also be done bo bayom - if you ship a parcel before Purim, even if the recipient gets it on Purim day, you would not be yotzei. Finally, with respect to the shiur of mishloach manos, the Aruch haShulchan writes that "manos" means something substantial, not just a k'zayis or k'beitzah. It is clear from the gemara that the shiur is relative to what a person considers "chashuv" (the gemara says that Abaye send back Rabbah's gift after Rabbah became Rosh Yeshiva and demanded something better from him in line with his lofty position). The Chayei Adam brings this from the Ritva l'halacha. I told my wife that since we are living in the 5 Towns I feel in somewhat of a quandry - perhaps mishloach manos should be a bottle of champagne and a catered platter of food? I hope not!

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Saying haRav es Riveinu when leining for women

I think the common practice (at least as far as my wife has observed) is that if a second leining of megillah is done only for women, the ba'al koreh omits the bracha of HaRav es Riveinu. This is based on the psak of the Rama 692 that it is only recited when a minyan is present. I would argue that this is not necessarily correct. See the previous post that the halacha of minyan by megillah is not based on the chiyuv of tzibur for davar shebekedusha, but on the obligation to publicize the nes. Many achronim (e.g. R' RTzvi Pesach Frank, Mikrai Kodesh #35) write that for pirsumei nisa women count as well as a men toward the minyan for this purpose. My argument is that the Rama means "no minyan" to exclude a yachid, not a group of 10 women. (And for those who are doubtful, you can be metzaref the Aruch haShulchan who paskens against the Rama and holds there is no need for minyan at all).

Does megilla need to read in a minyan

The gemara quotes a machlokes whether reading megillah requires a minyan. Rav holds b'zmana (on 14 or 15) it does not, shelo b'zmana it does; Rav Asi disagrees and says it always requires a minyan. Rashi explains the purpose of the minyan here is for pirsumei nisa. The gemara concludes that Rav was choshesh for Rav Asi's opinion and gathered a minyan even when he read b'zmana.
Based on a statement of R' Yochanan in the next perek that mentions reading b'yachid, Tosfos paskens l'halacha that m'ikkar hadin Rav's chiluk is correct - a minyan is not required m'ikkar hadin for the reading b'zmana. The Ba'al haMaor, however disagrees. Ba'al haMaor understands that the whole machlokes Rav and Rav Asi was only l'chatchila what the optimum practice should be; however, b'dieved (as R' Yochanan's statement reflects) everyone agrees reading without a minyan is permitted if not minyan is available. The Ba'al haMaor cites proof to his position from the Mishna that lists mitzvos that must be done b'tzibbur, and kerias hamegillah is not on the list!
According to Tosfos, how do you explain this Mishna? The Ramban answers that there is a difference between mitzvos that must be done b'tzibur and mitzvos that are a chovas hatzibbur. Keri'as hamegillah is a chiyuv on each yachid, but which (according to Rav Asi) should be performed in the public setting of a minyan. The mitzvos listed in the Mishna are chovos on the tzibur as a whole, not each individual. (See Chaim Markowitz's discussion of keri'as hatorah, which is subject to the same machlokes
Based on Rashi, perhaps one could also distinguish between two different halachos with respect to the idea of minyan. By the cases of the Mishna, the requirement of 10 is part of the formal definition of tzibur inherent in those mitzvos as divrei kedusha. By megilla, the keri'ah per se is not mechayav minyan as a dvara sheb'kedusha, but rather the din of pirsumei nisa requires a public recognition of the nes.

Monday, March 06, 2006

When is the ikkar kriyas hamegillah - day or night?

Tosfos and the Ran hold that the primary kri'as hamegillah is during the day, as reflected in the gemara's (daf 4) limud from the pasuk "ekra yomam...v'layla lo dumya, which places "yom" first. Tosfos rules therefore that even though the bracha of shehechiyanu is recited on k'rias hamegillah at night, it must be repeated during the morning kri'ah as well when the primary pirsumei nisa takes place. The Rambam (1:3) however rules that the bracha of she'hechiyanu is not repeated.
This machlokes can be understood in one of two ways: 1) the Rambam argues with Tosfos's fundemental point and holds that the kri'ah of day is no more significant than the kri'ah of megillah at night; 2) the Rambam agrees with Tosfos's fundemental point regarding the primacy of kri'ah during the day, but holds that two brachos of she'hechiyanu may not be recited over the same mitzva.
This issue is raised by the Aruch HaShulchan with respect to the question of which megillah reading one should aim for - day or night - if one has the opportunity to attend only one of the two.
Perhaps there is a third way to understand the machlokes. Tosfos writes that the kri'ah of day is primary because "ikkar pirsumei nissa" is by day. Kri'as hemegillah has two aspects to it: 1) the mitzva of kri'ah 2) a kiyum of pirsumei nisa. Perhaps Tosfos and the Rambam both agree that one cannot recite she'hechiyanu twice over the same mitzva, and with repect only to the kri'ah night and day are equal. The chiddush of Tosfos is that only the kriah of the day reflects this additional kiyum of pirsumei nisa, and it is the additional kiyum of pirsumei nisa which is now mechayeiv the bracha of she'hechiyanu. The Rambam, however, holds that since the ma'aseh mitzva of kriah is exactly the same as was done the night before, not additional she'hechiyanu should be said.
(As an aside: the gemara has a hava amina that there is no chiyuv of kriya at all during the day, but rather a chiyuv of "shinuy", to learn the halachos of the day. This perhaps indicates that the kri'ah is primarily a kiyum of pirsumei nisa and not an end in itself, otherwise what justification could there be for substituting learning for leining?)

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Shiur of matanos l'evyonim

The Pri Megadim has a safeik what the shir of matanos l'evyomim is, but the Ritva (Megilla 7) writes that is is a perutah based on the recent daf yomi Pesachim 32 "ain nesina p'chusa m'shaveh perutah". Tos in Pesachim which we discussed here writes that the shiur of shaveh perutah is only a din in tashlumin (see Ritva Gittin 20a that has a slight variation on Tos teirutz; the "old" Ritva is actually the R"Y Kreskas and is published as such by Mossad haRav Kook) which obviously does not apply by matanos l'evyonim where you don't owe anyone money.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

How could Esther fast on Pesach?

Yesterday my daughter told me her Morah said she asked a good question for which her Morah had no answer. I am always more convinced my kids are actually learning something when they are asking good questions rather than functioning like parrots of all the good information they learn (do parrots, or children trained to be parrots, actually learn anything?) But I digress...
My daughter Rachel asked: how is it that Esther fasted instead of fulfilling the mitzvos of Pesach night (which require eating)?
The simple answer probably is that while you cannot take a shevua which would cause you to violate a mitzva, the Mishna in Nedarim tells us that a neder is chal even on a dvar mitzva. So you can take a neder not to eat and fulfill the mitzvos halayla of pesach.
On a less simple level, the Radomsker asks: how is it that Esther knew that the zechus of ta'anis would overcome the gezeirah? Why didn't she think that the zechus of the mitzvos of leil haseder would do the trick, and by enacting a ta'anis she was sacrificing the necessary zechoyus? Explains the Radomsker: every year, on lein haseder, the malachim sit in shamayim waiting to carry the zechuyos of our mitzvos up to the kisei hakavod. On the year of Purim, as every year, the malachim stood waiting... and waiting... and waiting, and nothing happened. When the malachim realized there were no mitzvos, there was a tremendous tumult in shamayim to discover what was wrong and what caused there to be no Pesach that year. If all the malachei hasahreis were commotion for this one lost pesach, kal v'chomer the uproar if chas v'shalom Haman's gezeirah was brought to fruition. This was the pleading and limud zechus on behalf of klal yisrael that turned the tide.

Bittul by basar b'chalav

I argued earlier this week that when you cook basar b'chalav and there is no ta'am that is not a halacha of bitul (which means there is an issur which is nullified), but there is simply no issur because "derech bishul asra torah" and cooking with no ta'am is not called bishul. If so, I was stumped because this leads to the conclusion that there should be no din of "ain mevatlin issur l'chatchila" by mixing a drop of milk into meat.
I thank Chaim Markowitz for pointing out that this exact argument is made my R' Akiva Eiger, Shut Mahadura Kamma #207. Baruch she'kivanti!

Af hein hayu b'oso hanes (part II)

Yesterday I touched on the issue of "af hein hayu b'oso hanes". The Rishonim debate whether this means that women caused the nes (by Purim, Esther caused the salvation of klal yisrael) or were included in the nes (obviously they were part of the hatzalah).
There is a machlokes between Ran and Rabeinu Tam why women are obligated in eating three seudos on Shabbos (I hope it does not come as a chiddush that women are obligated to eat seudah shlishis just like men are, meaning washing and bentching, etc.) Is it because of the hekesh of zachor-shamor, which means anyone who is obligated in the lav of shabbos is included in all the mitzvos aseh, or is it because "af hein hayu b'oso hanes" of the mun? Obviously, this application of "af hein" assumes being included in the nes is sufficient, which might be the point of machlokes.
The Rambam paskens that a freed eved is chayav in megillah. At first glance, even an eved still enslaved should be chayav, because an eved has the same status as a woman with respect to mitzvos aseh - why does the Rambam specify "eved m'shuchrar"? Perhaps this issue depends on how to understand "af hein". If "af hein" means simply included in the nes, even an enslaved eved should be included, but if "af hein" means causing the nes, perhaps the chiyuv is limited specifically to women and not an enslaved eved.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Women's obligation in mikra megillah ("af hein...")

Mishenichnas Adar time to start learning Hil Purim and Megillah!!!

Tosfos in Megillah 4 asks a similar kashe as tosfos pesachim 43b (today's daf): if we have a principle of "af heim hayu b'oso henes", since women caused or were part of the nes they become obligated in the mitzvos hayom, why do we need a separate limud to teach us that women are obligated in the mitzvah of matzah? Women were the cause of and were certainly part of the shibud and geulah of mitzrayim? Tos. in megillah gives two answers: 1) "af hein" is a sevara that would create a chiyuv derabbanan; the limud creates a chiyuv d'oraysa; 2) without a separate limud, we would have used the gezeirah shava of 15-15 connecting sukkot and pesach to say that just like women are pturos from sukkah, they are pturos from matzah.

Tosfos quotes the opinion of the BH"G that a woman cannot be mozti a man in keri'as hamegillah. Why should that be true - if both men and women have parallel chiyuvim on a derabbanan level, then they should be able to be motzi each other? Rashi in Archin suggests that the BH"G understood that women have only a mitzva of hearing the megillah, not reading it, so the chiyuvim are not parallel. The Aruch haShulchun suggests that the basis for this chiddush is Tosfos's kashe - the fact that we need a limud to teach us that there is a chiyuv of matzah indicates that "af hein" is not equivalent to the chiyuv on men generated by the pasuk!

Achronim give other answers for the BH"G. If one assumes that "af hein" is not more than a din derabbanan, one can distinguish between the chiyuv of a man in mikra megillah, which is divrei kabbalah, and a woman's chiyuv, which is on a lower derabbanan level. This would be a nafka minah between the two deyos of Tosfos's answer.

Two other answers worthy of note: 1) the Brisker Rav suggests that "af hein" is not just a giluy milsa that women are included in the chiyuv of k'rias hamegillah, but is itself the mechayeiv. Based on that, the mechyeiv for men is mikra megillah; the mechayeiv for women is "af hein" and they therefore are not parallel chiyuvim. 2) The gemara later in megillah which asks why there is no hallel on Purim and answers that kri'as hamegillah is a kiyum of hallel on the nes. Based on this, the Marcheshes suggests that a woman can be motzi a man is the chiyuv of mikra, but cannot be motzi him in the additional chiyuv of hallel which she is not obligated in (parenthetically: the Marcheshes writes in his introduction that he does not like the "new" brisker derech halimud that has become popular - a bit of irony that he should discuss two dinim in reading megillah).

100th posting!

We have now passed 100 posts! I hope someone is actually reading them ; )

Ta'am basar b'chalav (part II)

Yesterday's post touched on the idea that basar b'chalav that is less than a shiur is not assur because "derech bishul asra torah" and one does not cook a drop (see Tosfos Avodah Zarah 65b). Tosofs im A"Z does not quote the gemara in Chulin 108, but it seems to me that is their source. The Mishna in Chulin says that if there is no ta'am, there is no issur of basar b'chalav. Abaye extrapolates from basar b'chalav to all issurim and says ta'am is a din d'oraysa everywhere, because otherwise, if it is a special din chiddush only in basar b'chalav, why is there a shiur that depends on taste? Rava argues and holds that even if there is not a halacha of ta'am in kol hatorah kula, basar b'chalav is still assur only if there is a shiur of ta'am because "derech bishul asra torah". In other words, you need ta'am to be considered cooking; if there is no ta'am, then it is not derech bishul.
So why can't I cook a drop of milk in my cholent - it's not derech bishul?!

(My wife thought of a joke to insert here. The couple was invited to the non-religious in laws for dinner, which led to kashrus concerns for the newly religious couple. "No problem", said the husband, "Your mother's cooking has no ta'am anyway.")