Wednesday, August 31, 2022

GR"A on repeating insertions of zachreinu l'chaim etc during chazaras ha'shatz

I think in every shul or yeshiva I have ever davened in on the Yamim Noraim or aseres ymei teshuvah, when the shat"z got to the spot where you insert zachreinu l'chaim, mi kamocha, ksov l'chaim tovim, etc., the shat"z would pause and everyone would say those lines out loud together, and then the shat"z would say it and continue.

The GR"A in Maaseh Rav #204 writes that this is incorrect.  According to GR"A, the shat"z should daven straight through with no pause and no interruption by the tzibur.  Like most everything else in Maaseh Rav, there is no explanation as to why the GR"A held this way, but some of the meforshim link it to the GR"A's opposition to the tzibur saying "baruch HU u'baruch Shmo" during chazaras ha'shat"z (Maaseh Rav #43) and suggest that the GR"A treats chazaras ha'shatz as if the shat"z is being motzi the tzibur in the brachos of shmoneh esrei, so no interruptions are allowed.  

I'm not sure that works, because 1) the GR"A does allow piyutim to be inserted, 2) and even if you treat chazaras ha'shatz like something you have to yotzei in, the insertions of zachreinu etc. are part of the shmoneh esrei recited by the shat"z, unlike baruch Hu ub"S.  Even if the tzibur is being yotzei, why can't the they say a section of the bracha themselves instead of relying on shomeh k'oneh?  (I believe whether you can reply on shomeh k'oneh for only part of a bracha is a debate in Achronim, but it would be a chiddush to say the GR"A is taking a stand on that issue here.)  

There is a third minhag that is interesting.  Some are noheig to only recite the last two insertions, the ksov l'chaim tovim etc. out loud during chazaras hashat"z.  The logic here is that the insertions build upon each other.  First we ask zachreinu l'chaim, then we build on that and ask not just l'chaim, but ksov l'chaim tovim.  Once you ask for that in your shmoneh esrei, to go back during chazaras ha'shatz and just ask zachreinu l'chaim again without tovim is a step down, a step backwards.  That we don't want to do.  

Monday, August 29, 2022

shooting yourself in the foot

In New York, street harassment, minor assaults, and even full-on beatings of visible Jews are almost a banality now, too frequent over too long of a period to be considered an active crisis, even in the communities most affected. The city reported a 76% year-over-year rise in hate crimes during the first three months of 2022—attacks on Jews more than tripled, accounting for much of the spike. When reached for comment by email, the NYPD’s public information office stated that the Hate Crimes Task Force has made 44 arrests related to attacks on Jews so far in 2022 compared to 33 in all of 2021.

Israel Bitton, executive director of Americans Against Antisemitism and one of the co-authors of the report, said the study aimed “to answer a simple question: Are there consequences for anti-Jewish hate crimes?” The document gives a clear answer: “In the majority of trackable cases, prosecution has been effectively nonexistent.” Some unknowable number of the 118 anti-Jewish hate crime suspects whose cases showed up in the state’s WebCrims database since 2018 were sent to state psychiatric institutions for an unknown period of time, instead of being criminally charged, Bitton explained. Fifteen took plea deals, although the study found no evidence that any of these agreements involved jail time. In 23 cases, the charges were dropped. The only conviction was for a relatively high-profile incident, in which the suspect choked and beat a visibly Jewish man in his mid-50s while he walked home from Shabbat day services in Crown Heights.

2. And in other headlines: Gov. Kathy Hochul doubled down on bail reform Monday, saying there is no evidence it has contributed to rising crime rates.

From the same article: According to the NYPD, overall crime was up more than 30% in New York City last month compared to the same period last year. Grand larceny was up over 40%. Critics have blamed bail reform enacted by Democrats for contributing to the increase. But Hochul maintains one has nothing to do with the other.

And finally, given all of the above, our local leaders respond as follows:

3.  Orthodox leaders in Queens and Long Island to endorse Hochul for governor.  

The support from Five Towns and Far Rockaway comes as leaders praise her commitment to fighting antisemitism.

protecting the creditor as well as the debtor

Even though the superficial reading of the parsha of shemitas kesafim sounds like a windfall for borrowers who have overextended themselves and need debt relief, in fact, the Torah is equally concerned with protecting the creditor from financial loss.

Rashi writes that there seems to be a contradiction between the statement (15:4):

 אֶ֕פֶס כִּ֛י לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־בְּךָ֖ אֶבְי֑וֹן כִּֽי־בָרֵ֤ךְ יְבָֽרֶכְךָ֙ יְהֹוָ֔ה בָּאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ נֹֽתֵן־לְךָ֥ נַחֲלָ֖ה לְרִשְׁתָּֽהּ׃

 and the statement a little later in the parsha (15:11):

כִּ֛י לֹא־יֶחְדַּ֥ל אֶבְי֖וֹן מִקֶּ֣רֶב הָאָ֑רֶץ

It's clear from the question that Rashi read the pasuk אֶ֕פֶס כִּ֛י לֹ֥א יִֽהְיֶה־בְּךָ֖ אֶבְי֑וֹן as referring to those in need.  Ibn Ezra explains (see Seforno, Malbi"M, Abarnanel) understood the pasuk that way as well, and writes that even though the Torah commands that all loans be forgiven during shemitah, potentially wiping out lenders, the Torah wants to reassure:

דע כי זה שצויתיך: שלא תגש לאחיך (דברים ט״ו:ב׳), אין צורך אם היו כל ישראל או רובם שומעין לקול השם, אז לא יהיה בך אביון שהוא צריך אליך להיותך מלוה אותו.

So long as most people are doing mitzvos, there will not be that many people in debt or in need with outstanding loans, and so lenders won't suffer extraordinary losses.  

Netziv, however, read the pasuk as referring to the lender:

שלא תגרום השמטת כספים שתהיה (אתה) אביון,

He does not mean there is some supernatural protection against falling into poverty as a result of forgiving debt, but rather he sees this as an encouragement to Beis Din to institute takanot like pruzbul that protect creditors.  כי ברך יברכך ה׳, G-d wants to bring them blessing as well, not destroy the economy or their livelihood.

a shul in every backyard

One of the interpretations Rashi offers of "lo taasun kein l'Hashem Elokeichem" is that we should not be like the aku"m who have a multitude of forms of worship -- mizbechot, metzeivit, asheirot, etc.  We have one G-d and serve Him in one place, the Beit HaMikdash. 

It struck me how relevant this Rashi is to our times.  Just a few weeks ago I was invited to a simcha on Shabbos and the Friday night davening was in a tent in someone's backyard, Shabbos davening was going to be in someone's house, and this was considered normal.  Just like in the old days where everyone could set up their own bamah or asehirah/matzeivah/mizbeiach in their own backyard, these days you can now do the same, thanks to policies set in place as an overreaction to Covid.  

This is a tragedy. 

On 3/26/2020, day #2 of NY entering lockdown, and I wrote:

Step aleph: What confronts us is not a choice of whether to lock down our cities in order to save some unknown % of people, but rather a choice of whether to lock down our cities to save some unknown % of people AT THE EXPENSE of the cost IN LIVES (literally) of some other unknown % of people.  In other words, this a large scale version of the trolley problem, except here you don't know how many lives it will cost to save how many other lives.

Maybe I am wrong, but I think doctors in particular have a hard time wrapping their heads around this.

In an interview with the Spectator, Rishi Sunak, a top candidate for British PM, gives us a behind the scenes look at the thinking in England at that time:

Imperial stressed it did ‘not consider the wider social and economic costs of suppression, which will be high’.  This was the crux: no one really did. A cost-benefit calculation – a basic requirement for pretty much every public health intervention – was never made. ‘I wasn’t allowed to talk about the trade-off,’ says Sunak. Ministers were briefed by No. 10 on how to handle questions about the side-effects of lockdown. ‘The script was not to ever acknowledge them. The script was: oh, there’s no trade-off, because doing this for our health is good for the economy.’

If frank discussion was being suppressed externally, Sunak thought it all the more important that it took place internally. But that was not his experience. ‘I felt like no one talked,’ he says. ‘We didn’t talk at all about missed [doctor’s] appointments, or the backlog building in the NHS in a massive way. That was never part of it.’ When he did try to raise concerns, he met a brick wall.

It was the same brick wall that was put up here in the US, where, for example, doctors who signed the Great Barrington Declaration were isolated, dismissed, banned from social media.  Anyone who disagreed, and to this day, anyone who disagrees with the "official" policy, is branded as "anti-science" and dismissed as a quack.  Meanwhile, millions of people have lost jobs, children's education has been set back irreparably, depression and other mental illness is at an all time high, and general public health as suffered due to missed cancer screenings, surgeries, even missed common vaccinations for kids.  

And the effect on religious life?  

You can now have a shul in every backyard.

Friday, August 26, 2022

where were Har Grizim and Har Eival

 וְהָיָ֗ה כִּ֤י יְבִֽיאֲךָ֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּ֥ה בָא־שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּ֑הּ וְנָתַתָּ֤ה אֶת־הַבְּרָכָה֙ עַל־הַ֣ר גְּרִזִ֔ים וְאֶת־הַקְּלָלָ֖ה עַל־הַ֥ר עֵיבָֽל׃

הֲלֹא־הֵ֜מָּה בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֗ן אַֽחֲרֵי֙ דֶּ֚רֶךְ מְב֣וֹא הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ בְּאֶ֙רֶץ֙ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּעֲרָבָ֑ה מ֚וּל הַגִּלְגָּ֔ל אֵ֖צֶל אֵלוֹנֵ֥י מֹרֶֽה׃

You would think that once Bn"Y crossed the Yarden they could just ask for directions, but maybe anticipating the male reluctance to do such things, the Torah has to spell out in exacting detail just where Har Grizim and Har Eival stood.

The chapter then continues and ends

 כִּ֤י אַתֶּם֙ עֹבְרִ֣ים אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָבֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ אֲשֶׁר הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיכֶ֖ם נֹתֵ֣ן לָכֶ֑ם וִֽירִשְׁתֶּ֥ם אֹתָ֖הּ וִֽישַׁבְתֶּם־בָּֽהּ׃

וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֵ֥ת כׇּל־הַֽחֻקִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם

Repeating again that Bn"Y will be entering the land to conquer it, but this time adding that we will be crossing the Yarden, another unnecessary detail that could have been mentioned earlier, before וְהָיָ֗ה כִּ֤י יְבִֽיאֲךָ֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ אֲשֶׁר־אַתָּ֥ה בָא־שָׁ֖מָּה לְרִשְׁתָּ֑הּ

There is a strange gemara in Sanhedrin 44 that faults Yehoshua for delaying the giving of brachos on Har Grizim and Har Eival the time it takes to travel 60 mil:

 ויאמר ה' אל יהושע קום לך דריש ר' שילא א"ל הקב"ה שלך קשה משלהם אני אמרתי והיה בעברכם את הירדן תקימו ואתם ריחקתם ס' מיל 

Tos on the spot asks the obvious question: Our parsha gives directions to the mountains to give the brachos on.  Yehoshua had no choice other than to wait until they got there before fulfilling Hashem's command!

In a nutshell (I am oversimplifying), Tos answers that there is a Har Grizim and Har Eival location that is close to the Yarden, and one that is further away.  Yehoshua erred in going to the further one rather than giving the brachos and kelalos at the closer one.

Chasam Sofer suggests a different answer, one that also resolves the difficulties in the pesukim.  There is only one set of mountains called Har Grizim and Har Eival.  However, whether it is one day's journey from the Yarden or not depends.

 כִּ֤י אַתֶּם֙ עֹבְרִ֣ים אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּ֔ן לָבֹא֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֶת־הָאָ֔רֶץ, if YOU cross the Yarden of your own accord, intent on the conquest of Eretz Yisrael, committed to Torah and mitzvos, then וּשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֵ֥ת כׇּל־הַֽחֻקִּ֖יםשְׁמַרְתֶּ֣ם לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת אֵ֥ת כׇּל־הַֽחֻקִּ֖ים וְאֶת־הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֧ר אָנֹכִ֛י נֹתֵ֥ן לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם הַיּֽוֹם you will fulfill the chok and mishpat of giving the brachos and kelalos immediately, that same day.  You will get to Har Grizim and Har Eival, even if they are 60 mil away, right away.  

On the other hand, וְהָיָ֗ה כִּ֤י יְבִֽיאֲךָ֙ הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ אֶל־הָאָ֕רֶץ, if Hashem is the one bringing you into the land willy nilly, not because of your zechuyos, not because you are motivated, but in spite of the fact that you don't really deserve it, then הֲלֹא־הֵ֜מָּה בְּעֵ֣בֶר הַיַּרְדֵּ֗ן אַֽחֲרֵי֙ דֶּ֚רֶךְ מְב֣וֹא הַשֶּׁ֔מֶשׁ בְּאֶ֙רֶץ֙ הַֽכְּנַעֲנִ֔י הַיֹּשֵׁ֖ב בָּעֲרָבָ֑ה מ֚וּל הַגִּלְגָּ֔ל אֵ֖צֶל אֵלוֹנֵ֥י מֹרֶֽה׃, you have a long way to shlep to get to those mountains.

It is not the 60 mil delay per se that the gemara is faulting Yehoshua for, but rather it is what those 60 mil represented -- a lack readiness and motivation to fulfill the dvar Hashem, for otherwise, it would have been a minor one day journey (see Chasam Sofer d"h v'haya because I am simplifying a lot.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

could the Rambam have forgotten a gemara?

Rambam Shegagos 7:6 writes

עשה תולדה של אב זה ותולדה של אב זה בהעלם אחת. יראה לי שהוא חייב שתי חטאות:

Why does the Rambam need to write "yireh li" for this halacha when it is a black on white gemara on the first daf in Bava Kamma:

נפקא מינה דאילו עביד שתי אבות בהדי הדדי אי נמי שתי תולדות בהדי הדדי מחייב אכל חדא וחדא ואילו עביד אב ותולדה דידיה לא מחייב אלא חדא 

So you can twist yourself into a pretzel and try to spin the gemara as possibly not aliba d'hilchisa, or maybe the Rambam had a different girsa, but the Rambam's son (quoted in Kesef Mishne) gave a far simpler explanation:

אפשר שנתעלם זה המקום ממנו ז"ל בעת שכתב יראה לי ומ"מ הדין אמת ואליבא דהלכתא 

He writes that the Rambam forgot the gemara when he was writing this din, but who cares, so long as he got the din right!

Maybe it's me, but I find that to be pretty astounding.

Monday, August 22, 2022

who were the ringleaders of Korach's rebellion

At the end of the parsha (11:6) special mention is made of Dasan and Aviram having been swallowed up by the earth:

 וַאֲשֶׁ֨ר עָשָׂ֜ה לְדָתָ֣ן וְלַאֲבִירָ֗ם בְּנֵ֣י אֱלִיאָב֮ בֶּן־רְאוּבֵן֒ אֲשֶׁ֨ר פָּצְתָ֤ה הָאָ֙רֶץ֙ אֶת־פִּ֔יהָ וַתִּבְלָעֵ֥ם וְאֶת־בָּתֵּיהֶ֖ם וְאֶת־אׇהֳלֵיהֶ֑ם וְאֵ֤ת כׇּל־הַיְקוּם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בְּרַגְלֵיהֶ֔ם בְּקֶ֖רֶב כׇּל־יִשְׂרָאֵֽל

Why mention Dasan and Aviram, asks Ramban, but omit Korach, the ringleader?  Ramban answers that the focus of the parsha is the miracles that occurred in the midbar.  That someone who offers ketores improperly is punished is not a miracle unique to the desert -- that's what is supposed to happen l'doros as a punishment for that sin.  (See Netziv as well and see this post).

The Ohr haChaim does not mention his answer to Ramban here, so you need to look back or remember what he wrote in Parshas Pinchas.  In the middle of recounting the lineage of all the families at the beginning of that parsha, the Torah mentions the punishment of Dasan and Aviram.  Why single them out, asks Ohr haChaim?  If they were the end of their family line, then just by omitting their names we would know they had no future decedents.  Why rehash the story of what happened in Parshas Korach, and only with respect to their fate?

Here's what he writes (26:9):

ונראה כי לא בא הכתוב כאן אלא לומר שהן הנה היו סיבה לכל מעשה קרח, כי יחפוץ ה׳ לפרסם הרשעים שהם סיבה לרשע הנעשה, והוא אומרו הוא דתן וגו׳ אשר הצו וגו׳ פירוש את אחרים על ה׳ ומשה עבדו, וכן פרש״י, הא למדת שהם המחטיאים העדה הנועדת, ואפשר שגם את קרח הם החטיאוהו, והגם שאמר הכתוב ויקח קרח שנראה שמעצמו עשה, אפשר שהיה למה שקדם לו מהם ולעולם הם הצו אותו. ואומרו ותפתח וגו׳ אחר שהדברים כבר כתובין בפרשת קרח, נתכוין לומר שגם בליעת קרח ואכילת האש ר״ן איש הם היו סיבה למאורע מתחלה ועד סוף, הא למדת שהגם שנקהלו היהודים על משה ועל אהרן היו חוזרים בהם אם לא היו ב׳ הרשעים.

וזה לך האות כי האיש משה לא היה משתדל לרצות אלא להם דכתיב (ט״ז י״ב) וישלח משה לקרא לדתן וגו׳, וכתיב (שם כ״ה) וילך משה אל דתן וגו׳ שהרגיש שבהם הדבר תלוי, מעתה נפשות כל המתים תלויים בב׳ הרשעים ההם, ויש בזה לימוד זכות על קרח ועל הר״ן איש וכן תמצא שאמר הכתוב בפרשת עקב (דברים יא) ואשר עשה לדתן ולאבירם וגו׳ שאינו מונה המאורע אלא לדתן ואבירם, וכפי זה יכולין אנו להעמיד סברת האומר (סנהדרין קח.) עדת קרח אין להם חלק לעולם הבא בדתן ואבירם, ולהעמיד סברת האומר עליהם אמר הכתוב מוריד שאול ויעל בשאר העדה חוץ מהם.

It was Dasan and Aviram, not Korach, who were the ringleaders!  That is why Moshe sent messengers to them in particular to try to dissuade them from rebellion.  That is why, as Ohr haChaim there goes on to say, the Torah mentions them and not Korach in our parsha.

My wife asked a simple question.  We don't have a parsha called Parshas Dasan V'Aviram.  It's called Parshas Korach --  וַיִּקַּ֣ח קֹ֔רַח בֶּן־יִצְהָ֥ר בֶּן־קְהָ֖ת בֶּן־לֵוִ֑י וְדָתָ֨ן וַאֲבִירָ֜ם בְּנֵ֧י אֱלִיאָ֛ב וְא֥וֹן בֶּן־פֶּ֖לֶת בְּנֵ֥י רְאוּבֵֽן׃.  VaYikach in the singular, implying he was the one who pushed the others and instigated.  

Friday, August 19, 2022

it's the little things that make the difference

The Midrash Tanchuma opens out parsha as follows:

וְהָיָה עֵקֶב – זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: לָמָּה אִירָא בִּימֵי רָע, עֲוֹן עֲקֵבַי יְסוּבֵּנִי (תהלים מ״ט:ו׳). יִתְבָּרֵךְ שְׁמוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶׁנָּתַן תּוֹרָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהּ שֵׁשׁ מֵאוֹת וּשְׁלֹשׁ עֶשְׂרֵה מִצְוֹת, וְיֵשׁ בָּהֶן קַלּוֹת וַחֲמוּרוֹת. וּמִפְּנֵי שֶׁיֵּשׁ בָּהֶן מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת שֶׁאֵין בְּנֵי אָדָם מַשְׁגִּיחִין בָּהֶן אֶלָּא שֶׁמַּשְׁלִיכִין אוֹתָן תַּחַת עִקְבֵיהֶן, כְּלוֹמַר שֶׁהֵן קַלּוֹת, לְפִיכָךְ הָיָה דָּוִד מִתְיָרֵא מִיּוֹם הַדִּין וְאוֹמֵר: רִבּוֹנוֹ שֶׁל עוֹלָם, אֵינִי מִתְיָרֵא מִן מִצְוֹת הַחֲמוּרוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה, שֶׁהֵן חֲמוּרוֹת. מִמָּה אֲנִי מִתְיָרֵא. מִן הַמִּצְוֹת הַקַּלּוֹת, שֶׁמָּא עָבַרְתִּי עַל אַחַת מֵהֶן, אִם עָשִׂיתִי אִם לֹא עָשִׂיתִי, מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהָיְתָה קַלָּה. וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ, הֱוֵי זָהִיר בְּמִצְוָה קַלָּה כִּבְמִצְוָה חֲמוּרָה. לְכָךְ אָמַר, לָמָּה אִירָא בִּימֵי רָע וְגוֹ׳ וְהָיָה עֵקֶב תִּשְׁמְעוּן. זֶה שֶׁאָמַר הַכָּתוּב: הַנֶּחֱמָדִים מִזָּהָב וּמִפָּז רָב וְגוֹ׳ (תהלים י״ט:י״א). וּכְתִיב: גַּם עַבְדְּךָ נִזְהָר בָּהֶם בְּשָׁמְרָם עֵקֶב רָב (שם פסוק יב). בֹּא וּרְאֵה הֵיאַךְ דָּוִד מְשַׁבֵּחַ אֶת דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה, שֶׁאָמַר, הַנֶּחֱמָדִים מִזָּהָב וּמִפָּז רָב. וְלֹא עוֹד, אֶלָּא שֶׁאֵין בְּכָל מִינֵי תְּבוּאָה חֲבִיבָה מִסֹּלֶת נְקִיָּה, שֶׁהִיא צָפָה בַּפֶּה, וְדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָה חֲבִיבִין מִמֶּנָּה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וּמְתוּקִים מִדְּבַשׁ וְנֹפֶת צוּפִים (שם פסוק יא). אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא, אִם תֹּאמַר, שֶׁאֵין בְּכָל מִינֵי הַמַּשְׁקִין מְתוּקִין מִן הַדְּבַשׁ וְדִבְרֵי תּוֹרָה מְתוּקִין מִכֻּלָּם, שֶׁכָּתוּב בָּהֶן, וּמְתוּקִים מִדְּבַשׁ וְנֹפֶת צוּפִים. אָמַר דָּוִד לִפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, רִבּוֹן הָעוֹלָמִים, שֶׁמָּא מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהֵן מְתוּקִין מִדְּבַשׁ, בָּסַרְתִּי בָּהֶן חַס וְשָׁלוֹם. אֶלָּא, גַּם עַבְדְּךָ נִזְהָר בָּהֶם בְּשָׁמְרָם עֵקֶב רַב, מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת. לְפִיכָךְ כְּתִיב: מָה רַב טוּבְךָ אֲשֶׁר צָפַנְתָּ וְגוֹ׳ (שם ל״א:כ׳), זוֹ הִיא שְׂכָרָן שֶׁל מִצְוֹת קַלּוֹת.

Later in the parsha we have the famous pasuk  וְעַתָּה֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מָ֚ה הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ שֹׁאֵ֖ל מֵעִמָּ֑ךְ כִּ֣י אִם־לְ֠יִרְאָ֠ה .  All Hashem wants from us is yiras shamayim.  What's the measure of yiras shamayim?  The end of our Midrash connects the עֵקֶב רַב, doing the "little" mitzvos, with the reward if  מָ֤ה רַֽב־טוּבְךָ֮ אֲשֶׁר־צָפַ֢נְתָּ לִּירֵ֫אֶ֥יךָ. It's אֲשֶׁר־צָפַ֢נְתָּ לִּירֵ֫אֶ֥יךָ, so what does that have to do with the little mitzvos?  The answer is that when someone cares, they take time to do the little things, not just the big things.  Yirah can mean fear of punishment, but it's also about awe, it's also fear of becoming separated, fear of losing a connection to something special.  Someone who has yiras shamayim proves it by investing the time not just for those big mitzvos that everyone who identifies as an orthodox Jew keeps, but even for the little things.  

וְעַתָּה֙ יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל מָ֚ה הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ שֹׁאֵ֖ל מֵעִמָּ֑ךְ כִּ֣י אִם־לְ֠יִרְאָ֠ה אֶת הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ לָלֶ֤כֶת בְּכׇל־דְּרָכָיו֙ וּלְאַהֲבָ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ וְלַֽעֲבֹד֙ אֶת הֹ׳ אֱלֹקיךָ בְּכׇל־לְבָבְךָ֖ וּבְכׇל־נַפְשֶֽׁךָ  It's not just one thing, but it's a whole laundry list!  But not really.  What the pasuk means is that when you have yirah, when you are afraid of losing that relationship, it drives everything else, it drives the ahavah, it drives the dveikus, it drives the avodah.  Just like the kiyum of those little mitzvos is also a kiyum in the mitzvah of yirah as well, so too, all the other elements mentioned in the pasuk are also be a kiyum of yirah as well as values in their own right.

an obligation to be yotzei kol ha'deyos?

I saw something that struck me as very hard to understand in R' Moshe Shternbruch's teshuvos (vol 1 #18).  Without getting into the specific topic of the teshuvah, he makes the point that when it comes to fulfilling a mitzvas aseh, one is **obligated** to try to be yotzei kol ha'deyos and not simply rely on being yotzei according to rov poskim.  Rov, he writes, is sufficient when dealing with a lav, e.g. if you have a taaroves of kosher and treif meat, you can rely on rov and assume the meat is kosher.  However, when you are dealing with a mitzvas aseh, there is a special chiyuv of "u'shmartem is ha'matzos" / mitzvos which obligates a person to go the extra mile and ensure 100% that the mitzvah is done properly.

To back up this chiddush he refers to a Meshech Chochma at the end of P' Bo (here).  There is a Mechilta that says you have to check your tefillin once a year.  Mishkenos Yaakov infers from here that there is also a chiyuv d'oraysa to check the lungs of an animal to make sure it is not a treifa.  M.C. disagrees and distinguishes between mitzvos aseh and lo taaseh.  When it come to a lav, you can rely on rov because even if you end up eating maachalos assuros, the halacha excuses you -- acharei rabim l'hatos.  When it comes to a kiyum aseh, that doesn't work.  Even if you have an excuse for failing to do the mitzvah, bottom line is that you haven't done it.  You only get credit for what was done, not for excuses.

This is not quite the same thing as R' Shternbruch's chiddush.  The M.C. is talking about a rov in metziyus, the physical fact of whether the tefillin are damaged or whether the lung is punctured.  R' Shternbruch is talking about a rov of poskim.  The entire Shulchan Aruch is built on the premis of ruling based on rov when there are competing views!

Thursday, August 11, 2022

not too distant

My wife and I have been learning Mishlei with the GR"A and when I came across the GR"A's comments to the pasuk (1:24)  יַ֣עַן קָ֭רָאתִי וַתְּמָאֵ֑נוּ נָטִ֥יתִי יָ֝דִ֗י וְאֵ֣ין מַקְשִֽׁיב I thought of this week's haftarah.  GR"A explains that the pasuk is referring to Hashem reaching out to bring someone back. There pasuk describes two stages: קָ֭רָאתִי is when the person is not too far away and can still hear Hashem's call.  נָטִ֥יתִי יָ֝דִ֗י, when the person is too distant, Hashem kavyachol waves to try to get the person's attention.  

Maybe that's what the navi means when Yeshayahu says  דַּבְּר֞וּ עַל־לֵ֤ב יְרוּשָׁלַ֙͏ִם֙ וְקִרְא֣וּ אֵלֶ֔יהָ. Yeshayahu is saying that we are not so distant, we have not strayed too far.  קִרְא֣וּ אֵלֶ֔יהָ, call to Yerushalayim -- we are still within earshot, we just need to open our ears to listen.

Friday, August 05, 2022

not by chance

We end off Eichah with the pesukim

 לָ֤מָּה לָנֶ֙צַח֙ תִּשְׁכָּחֵ֔נוּ תַּֽעַזְבֵ֖נוּ לְאֹ֥רֶךְ יָמִֽים

הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ הֹ׳  אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם

כִּ֚י אִם־מָאֹ֣ס מְאַסְתָּ֔נוּ קָצַ֥פְתָּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ עַד־מְאֹֽד

and then we repeat again

הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ הֹ׳  אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם

Why do we repeat the next to last pasuk again?  The simple pshat is that we want to end on an uplifting note.  Rav Teichtel in his derashos Mishnas Sachir offers a different explanation.  The gemara in Brachos (7b) writes:

זמור לדוד בברחו מפני אבשלום בנו מזמור לדוד קינה לדוד מיבעי ליה אמר ר' שמעון בן אבישלום משל למה הדבר דומה לאדם שיצא עליו שטר חוב קודם שפרעו היה עצב לאחר שפרעו שמח אף כן דוד כיון שאמר לו הקב"ה הנני מקים עליך רעה מביתך היה עצב אמר שמא עבד או ממזר הוא דלא חייס עלי כיון דחזא דאבשלום הוא שמח משום הכי אמר מזמור

David said a mizmor of joy when he found out his punishment was not that he would have a child who is a mamzer or an eved, but rather than Avshalom his son would try to get rid of him.  

This is why David was happy and saying a mizmor?!  If his own flesh and blood was trying to do away with him, all the more reason he should be upset!

R' Yehonasan Eibshitz answers that there are two types of punishment.  There is one type of punishment where Hashem simply turns his back on a person or on a nation, and fate has its way with them, and there is another type of punishment where Hashem himself intervenes to afflict the person or people who need to be taught a lesson.  David haMelech was more troubled by the thought of the first punishment than the second.  If he must suffer, he thought, let it be b'yad Hashem and let there at least still be a connection.  Let it be b'yad Hashem so that what happens brings kaparah and is not simply happenstance.  

When David saw that his own son rose against him, he realized that this is something unnatural, outside the bounds of what you would expect b'derech ha'teva.  Mizmor l'David, he said, that Hashem has not tossed me to fate, but is still personally involved.  If he is involved, everything that happens is a kaparah.

We beg Hashem to put aside our wrongdoings and return us to Him because we have been in galus so long, but maybe it's just our fate to be exiles, maybe that's just how history plays itself out.  Maybe Hashem has turned his back on us and left us to the forces of teva, and our suffering has just been happenstance, not kaparah, not a result of leading to some final goal or redemption.  What right do we have to demand הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ ?  Says the navi, that can't be.  כִּ֚י אִם־מָאֹ֣ס מְאַסְתָּ֔נוּ קָצַ֥פְתָּ עָלֵ֖ינוּ עַד־מְאֹֽד.  The amount we have suffered  עַד־מְאֹֽד is not normal, is beyond what any other people in history ever suffered or experienced.  It cannot be simply derech ha'teva, but rather must be yad Hashem.  Therefore, if it is yad Hashem, if everything we have gone through is for the sake of kaparah, we reiterate our request, and have every right to ask  הֲשִׁיבֵ֨נוּ הֹ׳  אֵלֶ֙יךָ֙ וְֽנָשׁ֔וּבָה חַדֵּ֥שׁ יָמֵ֖ינוּ כְּקֶֽדֶם. 

hedging one's bets

The Sheiris Menachem contrasts the story of the maapilim after cheit ha'mergalim as recorded in Shlach (14:40-44):

וַיַּשְׁכִּ֣מוּ בַבֹּ֔קֶר וַיַּֽעֲל֥וּ אֶל־רֹאשׁ־הָהָ֖ר לֵאמֹ֑ר הִנֶּ֗נּוּ וְעָלִ֛ינוּ אֶל־הַמָּק֛וֹם אֲשֶׁר־אָמַ֥ר הֹ׳ כִּ֥י חָטָֽאנוּ׃

 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר מֹשֶׁ֔ה לָ֥מָּה זֶּ֛ה אַתֶּ֥ם עֹבְרִ֖ים אֶת־פִּ֣י הֹ׳ וְהִ֖וא לֹ֥א תִצְלָֽח

וַיַּעְפִּ֕לוּ לַעֲל֖וֹת אֶל־רֹ֣אשׁ הָהָ֑ר וַאֲר֤וֹן בְּרִית־יְהֹוָה֙ וּמֹשֶׁ֔ה לֹא־מָ֖שׁוּ מִקֶּ֥רֶב הַֽמַּחֲנֶֽה׃

with the way the same episode is recounted in our parsha (1:41-43):

תַּעֲנ֣וּ׀ וַתֹּאמְר֣וּ אֵלַ֗י חָטָ֘אנוּ֮ לַהֹ׳ אֲנַ֤חְנוּ נַעֲלֶה֙ וְנִלְחַ֔מְנוּ כְּכֹ֥ל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּ֖נוּ  הֹ׳ אֱלֹקינוּ וַֽתַּחְגְּר֗וּ אִ֚ישׁ אֶת־כְּלֵ֣י מִלְחַמְתּ֔וֹ וַתָּהִ֖ינוּ לַעֲלֹ֥ת הָהָֽרָה׃

 וַיֹּ֨אמֶר הֹ׳ אֵלַ֗י אֱמֹ֤ר לָהֶם֙ לֹ֤א תַֽעֲלוּ֙ וְלֹא־תִלָּ֣חֲמ֔וּ כִּ֥י אֵינֶ֖נִּי בְּקִרְבְּכֶ֑ם וְלֹא֙ תִּנָּ֣גְפ֔וּ לִפְנֵ֖י אֹיְבֵיכֶֽם׃ 

 וָאֲדַבֵּ֥ר אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם וְלֹ֣א שְׁמַעְתֶּ֑ם וַתַּמְרוּ֙ אֶת־פִּ֣י הֹ׳ וַתָּזִ֖דוּ וַתַּעֲל֥וּ הָהָֽרָה

Notice the additions here, the stress on תַּחְגְּר֗וּ אִ֚ישׁ אֶת־כְּלֵ֣י מִלְחַמְתּ֔וֹ, on taking up arms, the plan נַעֲלֶה֙ וְנִלְחַ֔מְנוּ to go up and to wage war, Moshe's admonition not only not to ascend the mountain, but again, the repitition לֹ֤א תַֽעֲלוּ֙ וְלֹא־תִלָּ֣חֲמ֔וּ not to wage war.  

Why did Hashem reject the teshuvah of the maapilim?  Why was it not possible for them to pick up where things left off before the meraglim episode?  The Torah here is cluing us in to the answer.  

Rashi comments earlier in the parsha (1:8) on  רְאֵ֛ה נָתַ֥תִּי לִפְנֵיכֶ֖ם אֶת־הָאָ֑רֶץ that אין מערער בדבר ואינכם צריכים למלחמה. אילו לא שלחו מרגלים, לא היו צריכים כלי זיין.  Hashem promised Eretz Yisrael would be ours without the need for battle, without the need to even take up arms.

The meraglim were not ready to accept Hashem's promises at face value.  Although it seemed like they wanted to make amends, the maapilim were not ready to do so either.  נַעֲלֶה֙ וְנִלְחַ֔מְנוּ ...תַּחְגְּר֗וּ אִ֚ישׁ אֶת־כְּלֵ֣י מִלְחַמְתּ֔וֹ  They were ready to go up to Eretz Yisrael, but just in case that promise of not needing arms and not needing battle did not materialize, they wanted to hedge their bets.  Better to pack some ammunition as well.

You can't hedge your bets on emunah.  Either you trust or you don't trust, but it can't be both.

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

does a choleh have to eat less than the shiur on 9 Av?

Aruch haShulchan writes in 554:7 that someone who is ill on 9 Av does not have to eat little bits at a time, each less than the shiur, like on Y"K

פחות מכשיעור לא שייך בתשעה באב, שהוא מדרבנן.  

This is not the same case as the Biur Halacha (on 554:6) we discussed a few years ago who writes that when there is a danger of cholera, a person should eat less than the shiur.  In that case, the person is not yet ill -- there is just a great potential of them becoming ill in the future.  Therefore, B.H. advises to eat less than the shiur, which is not considered achila, so that the day still has a shem taanis.  The Ah"S is talking about where someone already is ill and therefore cannot fast.

It's not clear exactly what the Ah"S means when he says the difference between Y"K and 9 AV is that 9 Av is derabbanan.  You could read it as suggesting a chiddush that is often quoted in the name of R' Chaim Brisker, namely, that when the Chachamim instituted the taanis, they were never gozeir on those who are sick.  For someone ill, the day does not have a shem taanis, and so they gain nothing by fasting. 

(I saw R' Mutzafi goes so far as to ask whether someone who is ill and exempt from fasting has a chiyuv melaveh malka since the day is not a taanis for them.  He writes that the Chachamim did not institute a chiyuv m"m on 9 Av, but the point is that the question clearly assumes like R' Chaim.)

The Marcheshes (siman 14) disagrees.  He writes that he took ill one 9 Av and he ate in bits less than the shiur because 9 Av, as divrei kabbalah, is as stringent as Y"K.  

The difference between R' Chaim and the Marcheshes could boil down simply to whether we treat divrei kabbalah as more stringent than a regular derabbanan or not, an issue that comes up in other sugyos with respect to krias ha'megillah and halachos of Purim.  

Or it could be that even if you accept that 9 Av is treated as a regular derabbanan, you can still take issue with R' Chaim's chiddush based on the principle that kol d'tikun derabbanan k'ein d'oraysa tikun.  If the d'oraysa of Y"K requires eating less than the shiur when one is ill, the takanah derabannan of taanis may parallel that.

Monday, August 01, 2022

chiddush of netziv regarding shehechiyanu during the 3 weeks

Rama (O.C. 223) paskens that the bracha of shehechiyanu is optional, not a chiyuv. This is based on Eiruvin 40b:

 ואמר רבה כי הוינא בי רב הונא איבעיא לן מהו לומר זמן בראש השנה וביום הכפורים כיון דמזמן לזמן אתי אמרינן או דילמא כיון דלא איקרו רגלים לא אמרינן לא הוה בידיה כי אתאי בי רב יהודה אמר אנא אקרא חדתא נמי אמינא זמן א"ל רשות לא קא מיבעיא לי כי קא מיבעיא לי חובה

The gemara there discusses whether a person has to recite shehechiyanu only on the 3 regalim, or even on R"H and Y"K.  R' Yehudah answers that of course you need to recite shehechiyanu -- if you recite shehechiyanu even on a new fruit, certainly you can recite it on the holidays of R"H and Y"K.  The gemara rejects R' Yehudah's argument.  The shehechiyanu on new fruit is RESHUS, optional.  The question with regards to R"H and Y"K is whether there is a CHIYUV to recite a bracha.  

QED, says Rama, that there is no chiyuv bracha on a new fruit, new clothes, etc.  If you want to celebrate the enjoyment of something new, you CAN say a bracha, but you don't have to.

Netziv in Haamek Sheila on Shi'ilta 171 (p336) disagrees and draws a distinction between shehechiyanu on zman, on reaching a particular milestone in time, and shehechiyanu which is recited on buying new clothes and the like.  Netziv is mechadesh that the bracha on a new fruit is not on the enjoyment of the fruit, like the bracha on a new garment, but rather it is on having reached the season in which that new fruit ripens, a bracha on zman.  

It is only the bracha of shehechiyanu on zman, like a new fruit, which the sugya in Eiruvin proves is RESHUS.  The shehechiyanu on the enjoyment of buying something new is obligatory.

This chiddush of the Netziv leads to a nafka minah during the three weeks.  The S.A. paskens that one should not recite a shehechiyanu on a new garment or a new fruit during this time period.  The logic behind the din is that you don't want to say a shehechiyanu and give thanks for reaching an inauspicious time period.  That sevara makes sense when dealing with the shehechiyanu on zman, on the time period, like the shehechiyanu over a new fruit.  However, the shehechiyanu on a new garment and the like is not a bracha on zman -- it is on the enjoyment from the newly purchased item.  There is a separate din, says the Netziv, not to buy new things during the three weeks so m'meila you have nothing to recite shehechiyanu on, but if a new items falls into someone's lap, e.g. they got an inheritance or won the lottery, then according to the Netziv, a shehechiyanu would be recited.