Tuesday, March 03, 2015

a few quick thoughts

My head is not in blogging right now, but I wanted to throw out a few scattered quick thoughts:

1) I regret not getting around to posting this last week, but better late than never: one of my father’s neighbors has a daughter who needs a refu’ah for issues with her eyes, so they started a project called “Ayin Tovah” in which you pledge to speak only positive things during whatever block of time you take on as a zechus for this individual.  If you are interested in participating, please e-mail me privately. 

2) The gemara (Meg 7) suggests that one can do mishloach manos and matanos l’evyonim in one shot by giving a gift to one person.  Question: why is this not a problem of doing mitzvos chavilos chavilos? 
3) In hil aveilus there are Rishonim who hold that the issue talmud torah applies only on the first day so as to not disrupt the mitzvah of learning for a full week.  Ramban disagrees and says that talmud torah is not suspended – you read kri’as shema every morning and are yotzei talmud torah that way.  Why do the other views argue?  Reviewing mes megillah brought to mind the gemara of “mevatlin talmud torah” for the sake of mikra megillah.  Even though you are reading pesukim, it’s still called “bitul torah” and not learning.  You still need to explain why this should be true – I’m just doing a superficial job of lining up the ducks in a row since I happen to be in both sugyos.  

Why can you not be yotzei talmud torah in aveilus by learning bad things like Iyov or hil aveilus itself?  It could be that the heter of learning devarim ra'im applies only to 9 Av, but in aveilus, where  the issur of talmud torah stems from the pasuk of "ha'aneik dom" and is related to sitting silently, there is no such heter.  Or it could be that the heter to learn devarim ra'im is simply so that you are not sitting and doing nothing, but is not a kiyum of t"t.  (This would relate to the machokes in the Geonim whether you need to recite a birchas haTorah on 9 Av.) 

4) The Yalkut gives a mashal to explain the mitzvah of remembering Amalek: one day the king’s son snuck into the king’s vineyard to steal some grapes and the vicious dog that the king used to guard the vineyard attacked him.  The king wanted his son to remember what he did wrong, but he didn’t want to label him a thief and embarrass him.  Therefore, instead of telling his son to remember that he tried to steal the grapes, the king told his son to remember how the dog attacked him.
The premise of the Midrash seems to be that the Torah does not want to call out the Jewish people and remind them of their errors, so instead it uses remembering Amalek as a trigger.  It’s a nice thought, but we know the premise is not true.  The Torah tells us, “Do not test G-d like you tested him in Massah” (Devarim 6:16).  The Torah in many other places does not hesitate to remind us of mistakes.  So why does the Torah here not address our behavior directly?

The Sefas Emes explains that what the Midrash is teaching us is that the zecher of Amalek remains only because we need it as a reminder.  If not for the fact that the king suspects that his son might steal again there would be no need for that vicious dog.  We need to eliminate the need for reminders.
5) I'm not in the mood to discuss politics, but I can't help but take note of the fact that I'm writing this before what I think will be a historic speech by Netanyahu at a historic moment.  Of course we need to make whatever hishtadlus – political or other means – to deter Iran, but let’s be clear about one thing: Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel.  Israel will continue to exist because that is the ratzon Hashem.  Let’s not get carried away and lose sight of bitachon.

For the Chuck Schumer’s and Diane Feinstein’s (yes, I know she doesn’t really count) out there and others like them, come or don’t come to the speech, it’s your choice, but at the end of the day, “Mi yodei im l’eis ka’zos higa’at l’malchus?”  Life will go on for us, and “Revach v’hatzalah ya’amod la’yehudim m’makom achier.”  We read the megillah ever year and we are reminded that we've been through this before -- and we always come out on top.


  1. Regarding remembering to erase Amaleik, your pshat can explain the Siman in Bava Basra 46b, where before bringing rayos from Areiv, Malveh, Lokei'ach, and Kablan, the Gemara says "Amaleik siman." The Yaavetz in back finds this perplexing. He says
    חידוש שנתנו סימן כזה במי שנאמר בו תמחה את זכר עמלק אולי מצאו לו רמז מן התורה במאי דסיים קרא לא תשכח שתיבת לא מופסקת בטעם טפחא להורות שיש בו מקום לשכחה ולהתיר להשתמש בו לאוקמי אגרסא דכל מה דאסר שרי להכניס מנוול לבית המדרש לשבר כחו ולהוציא ממנו ניצוץ קדושה שיש בו

    The Yaavetz also explains some of the behavior one occasionally encounters in Batei Medrash.

  2. "Iran does not pose an existential threat to Israel. Israel will continue to exist (because) [if] that is the ratzon Hashem."

    There, I fixed it for you.

    1. http://www.yutorah.org/lectures/lecture.cfm/735796/Rabbi_Hershel_Schachter/Land_for_Peace:_A_Halachic_Perspective

      see p.15 regarding the Ramban's view on churban -- only two, impossible for there to be a third.

    2. Thank you. I needed that.

      However, I was told, bo ba'yom, by a talmid who was there, that Rav Nevenzhal rysed kri'ah [I don't remember with or without a brocho] on the day of the Oslo Accords because, he said, until then he had felt that Yerushalyim had a din of b'binyana, and at that moment, he realized otherwise.

      But...Rav Shachter's ma'amar is indeed uplifting.

  3. Question: why is this not a problem of doing mitzvos chavilos chavilos?

    I can only suggest like the gemoro says in pesachim about YAK'N'HAZ. Its all one mitzvah. There are numerous proofs that the four mitzvas of purim are b'etzem one. Two of them are the introduction of the Rambam and the halochoh that you should intend the brochoh on the megilla to also be for the other three mitzvos hayom. This is not really understandable if they are four separate mitzvos.

    1. Interesting. This would need explanation, though, something along the lines of "different ways of fulfilling pirsum haneis" or something. It needs more. After all, even the Meiri would not say that if you don't have poor people to give to, you should say Hallel.

    2. Din in simcha v'rai'us. However, each is a different aspect thereof. Pirsuma nisa is one type of simcha, as is Hallel [again, see Meiri]. After all, if Megilla <=> Hallel, and Hallel = simcha... However, each one carries aspects unique to its mechanism.

      See Rav Gustman [first one on Kiddushin] how different mechanisms can complement and subsume each other in creating the same challos [singular, not the ones for Shabbos and Yom Tov].

      עד דלא ידע בהידור

    3. Hallel=pirsumei nissa, megilla=pirsumei nissa. Simcha may be a necessary catalyst for Shira, but Shira/Hallel≠simcha. This all accepts the premise that Shalach manos is a manifestation of simcha. Maybe it's only rei'us? Unless you mean that Purim has one din of mitzvas hayom, and that din is Simcha + Rei'us, and you fulfill that one din by fulfilling its component elements. To me its more mistavra that there are two mitzvos hayom, simcha and rei'us. I do agree that it is possible that the purpose of this dual mitzva is to generate pirsum haneis.

      What I really want is a good svara for saying that simcha/pirsum/rei'us all are expressions of the one thing that is essential to what the Neis of Purim means.

    4. The only pirsuma in Hallel is yetzias mitzrayim. Also, ein odom shor shira ela mitoch simcha.
      Pirsum is not what the neis means - pirsum is about the neis, not part of the neis.
      Rei'us is the tikum for mefozar u'mforad. Simcha is the corollary of hadar kibluha.

      And making one shehechiyanu on multiple chronologically-connected mitzvos is hardly unique: Pesach on all the mitzvos hayom, including matzo, marror, hagaddah, hadlakas neiros. Succos on yeshivas succah and asiyasa...

  4. I got off track. Chaim asked about the chavilos issue of giving shalach manos and matanos l'evyonim together. There, of course one could say that despite the disparate halachos of the two, one being rei'us and the other a time specific type of tzedaka, according to many rishonim, they both are basically simcha and rei'us. But that has no shaychus to Hallel and Megilla.