Thursday, April 28, 2022

safeik tumah, Ibn Ezra on chiyuv mitzvos of a ger toshav, Sefas Emes on the parsha, and a Shaul Lieberman anecdote

1) One more point of catch up from Pesach... The gemara learns the din that safeik tumah b'reshus ha'yachid is tamei from the parsha of sotah.  The flip side of that coin should be that in all other cases, i.e. s"t b'reshus ha'rabim, the din is tahor.  That's your baseline; the case of rh"y is the exception.  The Rambam, however, quotes a makor for the din of s"t b'reshus ha'rabim from hilchos pesach (Hil Avos haTumah 16:1):

מפני מה טהרו חכמים ספק טומאה בר"ה. שהרי הציבור עושין פסח בטומאה בזמן שהטמאים מרובין אם טומאה ודאית נדחית מפניהן קל וחומר לספק טומאה שאיסור כל הספקות מדבריהן כמו שביארנו בהלכות ביאות אסורות. ומפני מה החמירו בספק רה"י. שהרי סוטה שנסתרה אף ע"פ שהדבר ספק הרי היא טמאה לבעלה עד שתשתה:

The source for the Rambam in a Tosefta in Taharos, which gives another reason as well, quoted by Raavad:

א"א ובתוספתא מפרש עוד טעם אחר מפני שאפשר להשאל על היחיד וא"א להשאל על הרבים:

Aside from the question of whether there is a a machlokes here or just two possible reasons, the more fundamental question is why we need a makor at all.  The baseline does not need a makor, only the exception needs a makor.

Just wanted to mention the question.  Od chazon la'moed...

2) There is a well known Ramban in our parsha that says that outside Eretz Yisrael mitzvos are just done for practice, but the real fulfillment can only take place in E"Y.  Less well known (I think) is a chiddush of the Ibn Ezra which also shows the centrality and importance of Eretz Yisrael (good week to discuss the topic given the upcoming chag).  Commenting on וְכׇל־נֶ֗פֶשׁ אֲשֶׁ֨ר תֹּאכַ֤ל נְבֵלָה֙ וּטְרֵפָ֔ה בָּאֶזְרָ֖ח וּבַגֵּ֑ר (17:15), Ibn Ezra writes:

ואם טען טוען והלא הכתוב אמר: לגר אשר בשעריך תתננה ואכלה (דברים י״ד:כ״א). התשובה: כי זה הגר גר תושב, וכן כתוב: והגרא הגר בתוככםב (ויקרא י״ז:י״ב) לא נעזבנו שיאכל נבלה, רק הנכרי שיבוא בשערינו נתן אותה לו ויאכל אותה לחוץ.

The usual assumption is that a ger toshav has to keep just 7 mitzvos.  Ibn Ezra writes that you see from our pasuk (he interprets וּבַגֵּ֑ר as ger toshav) that a ger toshav cannot eat neveila either.  

But, you will ask, the Torah itself writes in P' Mishpatim that neveilah and treifa can be disposed of by giving them to a ger?  Answers Ibn Ezra, there is a difference between a ger who lives in E"Y and a ger from outside.  E"Y demands a higher standard of behavior even from everyone, even the ger.

In case you are not convinced, he says it again in P' Kedoshim.  Notice there how the Torah itself there connects the issur of maachalos assurus with the command of yishuv haaretz (20:24-25):

וָאֹמַ֣ר לָכֶ֗ם אַתֶּם֮ תִּֽירְשׁ֣וּ אֶת־אַדְמָתָם֒ וַאֲנִ֞י אֶתְּנֶ֤נָּה לָכֶם֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֹתָ֔הּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָ֑שׁ אֲנִי֙ ה׳ אלקיכם  אֲשֶׁר־הִבְדַּ֥לְתִּי אֶתְכֶ֖ם מִן־הָֽעַמִּֽים

 וְהִבְדַּלְתֶּ֞ם בֵּֽין־הַבְּהֵמָ֤ה הַטְּהֹרָה֙ לַטְּמֵאָ֔ה וּבֵין־הָע֥וֹף הַטָּמֵ֖א לַטָּהֹ֑ר וְלֹֽא־תְשַׁקְּצ֨וּ אֶת־נַפְשֹֽׁתֵיכֶ֜ם בַּבְּהֵמָ֣ה וּבָע֗וֹף וּבְכֹל֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר תִּרְמֹ֣שׂ הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁר־הִבְדַּ֥לְתִּי לָכֶ֖ם לְטַמֵּֽא

Ibn Ezra comments:  על כן גר תושב לא יאכל טמא בארץ טהורה, כי על זה התנאי ידור בתוכנו.

Avoiding maachalos assuros is a tnai in living in E"Y, regardless of whether you are a Jew or not.

In the back of the new Oz v'Hadar Mikraos Gedolos they have additional notes, and I found that they put together a whole list of other places the Ibn Ezra says this same chiddush with respect to other issurim.  Being in E"Y is a privilege that demands a greater level of observance.

3) The Toras Kohanim has an interesting comment on the pasuk כְּמַעֲשֵׂ֧ה אֶֽרֶץ־מִצְרַ֛יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יְשַׁבְתֶּם־בָּ֖הּ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֑וּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂ֣ה אֶֽרֶץ־כְּנַ֡עַן אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֲנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶתְכֶ֥ם שָׁ֙מָּה֙ לֹ֣א תַעֲשׂ֔וּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶ֖ם לֹ֥א תֵלֵֽכוּ׃  It writes:

מְנַיִן לַמָּקוֹם שֶׁבָּאוּ בוֹ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכִבֵּשׁוּ, שֶׁהִתְעִיבוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן יָתֵר מִכֻּלָּם?

תִּלְמֹד לוֹמַר ״אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ״.

מְנַיִן שֶׁבִּיאָתָן שֶׁלְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּרְמָה לְכָל הַמַּעֲשִׂים הַלָּלוּ?

תִּלְמֹד לוֹמַר ״אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ״

Not only are the aku"m in E"Y the most depraved, but, say Chazal, it is our coming into the land which causes it.   How and why are we the cause of the aku"m doing wrong?

Ksav Sofer (see Netziv as well) explains that since the aku"m know that ultimately the land will be ours, they have no incentive to behave or take care of the land.  When you know there is no future, then you live for the moment, and indulge, enjoy, and abuse.

Sefas Emes has a different approach.  Just like we have a principle that "kol ha'gadol mei'chaveiro yitzro gadol mimenu," that the greater a person, the greater their yetzer ha'ra pushing back against whatever they try to achieve, so too with respect to a place -- the greater the kedushas ha'makom, the greater will be the obstacles and challenges, the greater the klipos, standing in the way of realizing that place's potential.  

Because E"Y is promised to us, because it is invested with such great spiritual potential for us to realize, davka there the aku"m are the most immoral.  Davka there we find the greatest obstacles to ruchniyus.  On Har haBayit you now have the aku"m having riots, throwing stones, etc.  Even on a regular day, they have picnics there and use it as a playground.  The holiest place in the world should have such tumah there?!  The answer is yes, because it's the holiest place in the world that's what happens there.  You need a lot of pushback, a lot of hester, a lot to hide the irrepressible force of kedusha that is bursting to escape. 

4) Lastly, in Hillel Halkin's new book A Complicated Jew: Selected Essays, I found the following wonderful anecdote about his uncle, R' Shaul Lieberman: 

A Lithuanian Jew with a no-nonsense attitude toward religion, he once, when I was a college student, startled me by saying that he considered prayer a waste of time, since it interrupted his study of Talmud and he had nothing to say to G-d.  I did not contradict him by remarking that, standing diagonally behind him as a boy on Yom Kippur, the only day of the year on which he covered him head with his prayer shawl, I had glimpsed beneath it the tears running down his cheeks."  (p 34-35)

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure the כלי חמדה asks the question you asked about the mekor for ס"ט ברה"ר ספקו טהור.
    Also, Dr. Marc B. Shapiro mentioned that factoid about Shaul Lieberman in his YouTube series about him: