Wednesday, January 25, 2012

sippur yetzi'as Mitzrayim as a kiyum of talmud Torah

Hashem told Moshe at the opening of Parshas Bo that the makkos will be so great that the story of yitzias Mitzrayim will be something passed on and related to both children and grandchildren, "l'ma'an tisaper b'oznei bincha u'ben bincha."   R' Leibele Eiger asks why the Torah goes out of its way here to emphasize not only children but grandchildren as well.  When it comes to the mitzvah of Shabbos, but example, the Torah only mentions, "atah u'bincha," you and your children -- there is no added mitzvah to see that one's grandchildren observe Shabbos.  When one's children grow up and have children of their own, they can take care of them -- children eventually become their own "atah" of the "atah u'bincha" of the next generation.  Why here does the Torah go out of its way to add a responsibility for the third generation as well? 

Rav Gifter (in Pirkei Torah) explains that the inclusion of grandchildren here hints to the nature of the mitzvah of sippur yetzias Mitzrayim.  The gemara (Kiddushin) tells us that there are certain mitzvos that a father is obligated to do for his son, e.g. milah, pidyon haben, to teach him a parnasa (that's not too popular these days).  The mitzvah of talmud Torah is unique in that it requires not only that a father teach his sons, but requires that he teach his grandsons as well.   The Torah mentions the obligation to tell the story of yetzias Mitzrayim to grandchildren to convey that the mitzvah of sippur is itself part and parcel of the mitzvah of talmud torah -- the Torah commands us to engage in the talmud Torah of a particular sugya (yetzias Mitzrayim) on a particular night, leil haseder.  

This idea helps explain why there is no birchas hamitzvah on the mitzvah of sippur or on the haggadah -- since sippur is a kiyum of talmud Torah, it is exempted by the birchas haTorah one recites in the morning. 

Rav Gifter suggests that krias shema shares a similar geder.  The Torah requires that we learn a particular parsha twice daily.  There is no birchas hamitzvah on shema because again, krias shema is a kiyum of talmud torah of a specific parsha and is therefore exempted by birchas haTorah.  (2 cents of mine: see the Sha'agas Arye siman 1.) 

(Achronim discuss whether/how one can be yotzei sippur yetzias Mitzrayim through shome'a k'oneh.  Does every person have to read every passage of the haggadah, or is listening to one reader enough?  My first thought was that if the geder hamitzvah of sippur is one of talmud torah, the question is exacerbated.  Surely there is no mitzvah in listening to someone else learn and having kavanah to be yotzei!  But on second thought, maybe the question of shomea k'oneh is even easier to resolve now.  There is a kiyum of talmud torah in just thinking about torah.  If one person reads and everyone else is attentively listening and thinking about what is being said, even without saying the words themselves, isn't that talmud torah?)   


  1. Eliezer8:02 PM

    1. Reb Moshe, in talking about feering a seder when there's a gentile there, discusses the problem of teaching Torah to a gentile. YD II 132. This is not tied to what you're saying, because with or without Rav Gifter, it's divrei Torah, but perhaps according to Rav Gifter the issue would be aggravated, because the Torah aspect is no longer mis'asek, it's the whole purpose.

    2. Reb Akiva Eiger in the teshuvos (starting at #29) in discussing kesiva ke'dibbur regarding Oaths, sefiras ha'omer, and other things, says that it is not ke’dibbur, and that you do not fulfill the mitzva of Talmud Torah by thinking the words of Torah.

  2. 1. Agreed.

    2. The Biur Halacha at the beginning of siman 47 disagrees because even if hirhur (or kesiva) lav k'dibur, so what? -- the mitzva of T"T is the hirhur itself, even if it doesn't count as words. (IIRC the Sha'agas Arye gets discusses this sevara somewhere as well...)

  3. Eliezer10:46 PM

    Thanks for the Biur Halacha.
    As you'll see in the RAE, he bases his idea on the fact that, as the Rambam states, the Torah never states explicitly that there is a mitzva to sit and learn. The entire mitzva of TT is derived from ולמדתם אותם את בניכם, teach others. The fact that the Torah chose to describe the mitzva in a context of being melameid, says RAE, shows that it's only a kiyum of TT if someone else can hear it and learn from you.

  4. Anonymous2:59 PM

    >>> it's only a kiyum of TT if
    someone else can hear it and learn
    from you (comment 3)

    how is one yotzei birchos hatorah
    by privately murmuring the 3
    morning selections from chumash/
    mishnah/gemora? who else heard
    him & learned? or must he recite
    these in the presence of sons &
    grandsons of the klal (of an age less than 13)?

  5. Eliezer5:39 PM

    It doesn't matter if anyone hears you. It's a siman, not a siba. It just needs to be in a form which could generate the spread of Torah, which others could learn from- spoken or written. But mere thought cannot possibly be shared in that form. That's the whole point of RAE, that it's not relevant to the question of is kesiva k'dibbur, because here you don't need dibbur per se, you just need a form of learning that can spread. Look at it inside, siman 29. You want to say like the Biur Halacha, fine. But the approach to RAE is to sweat until you understand what he's saying, not to ask a kashe from the people that mumble pesukim after birkas hatorah.

  6. Anonymous9:04 PM

    >>> the approach to RAE is to sweat

    why sweat it if already yotzei
    TT by this morning's big 3 after
    birkas hatorah? (ok, l'chatchilah such an approach leaves something to be desired, but bedi'avad there's what to rely on...)

    otoh, how can one be yotzei
    by the big 3 on pesach, if "the
    Torah commands us to engage in the
    talmud Torah of a particular sugya... on a particular night"?
    or yotzei day-by-day if the Torah "requires that we learn a particular parsha twice daily"?
    but then why does the siddur imply,
    & why do we consider, that we're
    yotzei by the big 3? & if we're
    not thus yotzei, why then don't
    we recite birchas hamitzvah
    on sippur or shema??