Friday, October 30, 2009

reciting oseh ma'aseh braishis on yam hamelach

I happened to be looking at R' Shteineman's sefer Ayelet haShachar, so a few parsha ideas from there:

A mussar idea: Rashi quotes the Midrash which explains “hanefesh asher asu b’Charan” as referring to converts which Avraham and Sarah attracted. Earlier in the week I saw that R’ Aviner discusses what happened to these people. He suggests that they were not geirei tzedek, as no such concept existed before matan Torah (I’m surprised he writes this so unequivocally; see Brisker Rav al haTorah, P’ Bo), but were geirei toshav who later became the chassidei umos ha’olam. He does not quote the Meshech Chocma (21:33) who also deals with this issue and writes, based on Midrash, that these converts eventually reverted to their idolatry.

R’ Shteineman notes that rather than view the time and energy Avraham expended on being makreiv these people as wasted effort because of the the lack of long-term results (at least acc. to Meshech Chochma), the Torah credits Avraham for what he accomplished. He quotes R' Yisrael Salanter and the Brisker Rav as teaching that our goal should be to simply do what is right; what the ultimate results will be, what dividends our efforts will pay, is b'yad Hashem and not our concern.

A halachic idea: Rashi writes (14:3) that the Yam haMelach during Avraham's time was not a sea, but was dry land. The gemara (Baba Basra 74b), however, writes that when Hashem created the world he made the Yam of Sdom, which is Yam haMelach, as one of the seven seas which surround Eretz Yisrael. Was it a sea from the time of creation or did it become a sea later? A simple answer is that a small sea existed from the time of creation, but expanded later in history.

This actually has a halachic nafka minah which R' Shteineman quotes from R' Elyashiv. The bracha of "oseh ma'aseh braishis" can only be recited on something created during ma'aseh braishis. Since we don't know what part of Yam haMelach was created originally and which part of the sea was a later addition, R' Elyashiv holds that the bracha can only be recited if the entire sea can be seen at one time. R' Shteineman is not convinced. Perhaps the majority of the sea existed from creation and only a small part was added later -- based on rov one should be able to recite the bracha on any part of the sea. My 2 cents: since we don't know the percentage, i.e. did rov exist from the time of creation, shouldn't we say safeik brachos l'hakeil and follow R' Elyashiv's guideline?


  1. Anonymous1:47 PM

    see shevet halevi 9 47

  2. Anonymous7:35 PM

    Parsha Potpourri this week:Rav Shmuel Vozner rules that one should not recite a blessing upon seeing the Dead Sea because it wasn’t created at the time of Creation. Even though the Gemora indicates that it was, we must be concerned that perhaps it expanded or changed its location at the time of the destruction of Sodom, and the part that we are seeing may not have been part of the original lake. Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv is quoted as ruling that if one sees the entire Dead Sea simultaneously; it would then be permitted to say a blessing since he is certainly seeing the part that was originally created. Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman questions this ruling, as if it is true that one should in fact recite the blessing when seeing the entire Dead Sea but not when seeing only a part of it, earlier legal authorities should have mentioned this distinction. He suggests that if in fact the majority of the Dead Sea was formed at the time of Creation, it would be permissible to recite a blessing even on the portion which was added subsequently, as the blessing is determined by the nature of the majority of the lake. The Nimukei Orach Chaim rules that one should not recite a blessing on the Dead Sea, because it represents punishment and it would be inappropriate to recite a blessing thanking Hashem for a form of Divine curse and retribution.

  3. Mike S.10:52 PM

    There is a similar thought to the first you mentioned in the gemara Sanhedrin that is brought down by the meforshei Tanakh. When Yishayau rebuked Chiskiyahu over not having children, the latter replied that he had seen b'ruch hakodesh that his children would be idol worshippers. Yishayahu told him to fulfill the mitzvah and not to try to out think God.

  4. Anonymous8:46 AM

    What a great resource!