Thursday, October 27, 2022

Rav Amiel on how the mavul was midah k'neged midah for the sin of חָמָֽס, means vs end in building the ark, and how even a whiff of Torah makes a difference

1) The dor ha'mabul was punished because  וַתִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ חָמָֽס.  What is  חָמָֽס?  The Midrash writes that the issur gezel is when you steal the amount worth a perutah; חָמָֽס is when you steal less than a perutah.  Technically, it's not theft.  The gemara (BK 62) gives a slightly different definition. Gezel is when you don't pay for what you've taken; חָמָֽס is where you paid, but twisted the seller's arm to force the sale and get what you want. The gemara itseld writes that people think that 'lo tahcmod' only applies if you force someone to sell and then never pay, but if you pay, then you did nothing wrong.  True, it's not gezel, it may or may not be lo tachmod, but it is חָמָֽס.  The common denominator of both definitions: obeying the technical details of the law but circumventing the intent and spirit of the law.

What's less than a perutah?  It's a nothing.  What can it hurt to steal it?  And in truth, that's what a person is not chayav for doing so.  But when everyone starts behaving that way, when תִּמָּלֵ֥א הָאָ֖רֶץ חָמָֽס, society goes down the drain. 

R' Moshe Avigdor Amiel writes in Hegyonot El Ami that the punishment of the mabul is midah k'neged midah.  What's a single drop of water?  Water can even be a positive thing -- nothing can grow or exist without rain.  But when you put together all those drops, and you keep it up non stop for days, the world is destroyed.

2) וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵ֗הוּ הָ֚בָה נִלְבְּנָ֣ה לְבֵנִ֔ים וְנִשְׂרְפָ֖ה לִשְׂרֵפָ֑ה וַתְּהִ֨י לָהֶ֤ם הַלְּבֵנָה֙ לְאָ֔בֶן וְהַ֣חֵמָ֔ר הָיָ֥ה לָהֶ֖ם לַחֹֽמֶר

וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ הָ֣בָה׀ נִבְנֶה־לָּ֣נוּ עִ֗יר וּמִגְדָּל֙ וְרֹאשׁ֣וֹ בַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְנַֽעֲשֶׂה־לָּ֖נוּ שֵׁ֑ם פֶּן־נָפ֖וּץ עַל־פְּנֵ֥י כׇל־הָאָֽרֶץ

The process seems out of order.  You would expect the Torah to tell us that the dor ha'palaga wanted to build a city, a migdal, and therefore they began making bricks to accomplish that task.  You first need a goal and then you devise the process to get there.  Instead, we are told that they made bricks first, and then they came up with a goal and decided to make their migdal.

R' Yosef Chaim Zonnenfeld (quoted in Binah u'Bracha by R' Baruch Sorotzkin) explained that it's not the desire to make a migdal and rebel against G-d which drove the creation of new technology of brick making, but rather the new technology of brick making, which may have been developed with no nefarious purpose in mind (see Seforno), inflated man's ego and drove him to rebellion.

This was R Y C Zonnenfeld's answer to Franz Joseph as to why the more civilization advances, the weaker religious committment seems to grow.

3) Speaking of pesukim out of order, in 6:14 Noach is given the command to build a teivah, עֲשֵׂ֤ה לְךָ֙ תֵּבַ֣ת עֲצֵי־גֹ֔פֶר קִנִּ֖ים תַּֽעֲשֶׂ֣ה אֶת־הַתֵּבָ֑ה, which is followed by a few pesukim in which the dimensions of the ark and how it should be made are spelled out.  Only after completing that description, Hashem tells Noach that he is going to bring a flood, וַאֲנִ֗י הִנְנִי֩ מֵבִ֨יא אֶת־הַמַּבּ֥וּל מַ֙יִם֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לְשַׁחֵ֣ת כׇּל־בָּשָׂ֗ר אֲשֶׁר־בּוֹ֙ ר֣וּחַ חַיִּ֔ים מִתַּ֖חַת הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם.  Shouldn't it have been presented in the reverse order, i.e. first tell Noach there is going to be a flood, and then tell him that he has to make an ark to be saved?

R' Yichiel Michel Feinstein quotes the Rashi on 6:14:  הרבה ריוח והצלה לפניו בשבילם.א ולמה הטריחו בבניין זה? כדי שיראוהוב דור המבול עסוק בבניין זהג מאה ועשרים שנה, ושואלים אותו: מה הוא זאת לך, והוא אומר להם: עתיד הקב״ה להביא מבול לעולם, אולי ישובו  It was not the flood which was the cause pushing Noach to build an ark to save himself.  Aderaba, it was the building of the ark, the warning flag Hashem put up and which was ignored by the dor ha'mabul, which sealed their fate caused the flood.

4) See here and here for posts on the Midrash's comment on "Vayarach Hashem es rei'ach ha'nicho'ach" that Hashem was smelling not just the fragrant odor of Noach's korban, but was also smelling Avraham in the furnace of Nimrod, he was smelling Chananya, Mishael, v'Azarya in their oven, he was smelling the sweet scent of all those who sacrifice their lives al kiddush Hashem.  I don't want to repeat everything I wrote before, but b'kitzur, smell is a special sense, the one sense that was uncorrupted by the cheit of Adam haRishon, and therefore is the key to man rehabilitation, his return to Eden, it is the promise of a better future when all seems lost and corrupted.  I was thinking about this topic again this week because my SIL was talking about whether odor can be transmitted electronically.  Ain beit medrash b'li chiddush, so I want to add just one point to those older posts.  The gemara (Zevachim 113) asks how the giant animal called the re'em was saved from the flood.  It was so big, says the gemara, that even its head alone could not fit in the teivah.  Answers the gemara, it stuck just it's nose in and was able to survive.  Rav Ben Tzion Kook writes that even if a person is outside the beis medrash, so long as they are connected to the "reiach haTorah," there is hope.  Even if the rest of a creature is underwater, so long as the nose, the kli for the sense of smell, is still in the teivah, there is hope for survival.  

Friday, October 21, 2022

R' Akiva Eiger's chiddush in a case where one forgot mashiv ha'ruach in Fri night davening

The S.A. paskens (OC 268) that if you accidentally daven a weekday shmoneh esrei on Friday night, you can listen to the chazan say the bracha mei'ein sheva and have in mind to be yotzei because it is like a chazaras hashat"z. 

אם התפלל של חול ולא הזכיר של שבת או שלא התפלל כלל ושמע משליח ציבור ברכה מעין שבע מראש ועד סוף יצא: 

R' Akiva Eiger (quoted in Biur Halacha from RAKE in OC 114) extends this chiddush to someone who forgot to say mashiv ha'ruach in their Friday night shmoneh esrei and is therefore not yotzei.  Here too, RAKE writes that one can just listen to מעין שבע and there is no need to repeat the entire tefilah.  Even though there is no mention of mashiv ha'ruach in the מעין שבע, so you don't gain anything, it doesn't matter, because Chazal were metakein that מעין שבע counts as a tefilah without it.

R' Akiva Eiger in OC 114 (not quoted in BH in 268) goes even a step further and suggests that if you forgot mashiv ha'ruach on Friday night maybe you are yotzei even without hearing מעין שבע.  How can it be, says RAK"E, that the מעין שבע, which is a substitute for the real tefilah, does not need mashiv ha'ruach, but the real tefilah counts for nothing without it?!  The tafeil can't be better than the ikar! He leaves off with a tzarich iyun on whether this argument is correct.  Most Achronim do not seem to accept the point (see Chazon Ovadya Shabbos vol 1, p 386 who quotes a list of mareh mekomos).

why Adam needed Chavah to be complete, the nachash's challenge, and Chanoch the shoemaker

 1) "Lo tov heyos ha'adam levado..."  Why not?  What was missing in his life?  He was living in Gan Eden with all his needs fulfilled!

What was missing is the ability to share with others, to give.  Without that, life has no purpose or meaning (R' Chaim Shmuelevitz).

According to Ramchal, Hashem created the world to be meitiv, to share his goodness with us, to give to us.  Humans are created b'tzelem Elokim.  We have an innate need to share, to give to others.  That is what gives our life meaning and purpose.

2) When the snake first approaches Chavah, the Torah relates:

וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ אֶל־הָ֣אִשָּׁ֔ה אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹקים לֹ֣א תֹֽאכְל֔וּ מִכֹּ֖ל עֵ֥ץ הַגָּֽן׃

The pasuk is a bit cryptic.  Targum translates אַ֚ף as  בְּקוּשְׁטָא, a statement of truth.  It's hard to know (see Mizrachi) whether Targum read the pasuk as a real question being posed by the snake, i.e. "Did G-d tell you...?" or as a statement of fact posed as a rhetorical question, i.e. "Is it not true...?"  Rashi understood that it was a question: אף כי אמר וגו׳ – שמא אמר לכם לא תאכלו מכל וגו׳ – ואף על פי שראה אותם אוכלים משאר הפרות, הרבה עליה דברים כדי שתשיבנו, ויבא לדבר באותו עץ.  The nachash saw Adam and Chavah eating and knew (see Sifsei Chachamim) that they were not prohibited from doing so but he asked anyway as a means of eliciting a response and thereby engaging Chavah in conversation.  

Radak reads the pasuk as a challenge by the snake.  The nachash told Chavah that G-d must despise humans, as He did not allow them to eat all of the fruits in the garden:

באמרו אף שמורה תוספת על הדברים שקדמו, נראה כי דברים אחרים קדמו בין חוה ובין הנחש, ודומה שאמרה חוה לנחש על הכבוד שעשה להם האל שהשכינם בגן עדן, אמר לה הנחש אני רואה שהקב״ה שונא אתכם אף על פי שהגדיל אתכם משאר היצורים שלא יעשה לכם מעלה כך וכך, וכל שכן שאמר אליכם שלא תאכלו מכל עץ הגן בזה תוכלו להכיר שהוא שונא אתכם ואינכם חשובים בעיניו כמו שאת אומרת, והכתוב הניח ראשי הדברים ולקח סופם, וכן הוא מנהג הכתוב במקומות רבות

Remember the cheit ha'meraglim?   בְּשִׂנְאַ֤ת ה׳ אֹתָ֔נוּ הוֹצִיאָ֖נוּ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם (Devarim 1:27).  Once again, just as Bnei Yisrael are prepared to enter Eretz Yisrael, a return to Eden, if you will, the same sin, the same fear that G-d has rejected them, rears its ugly head.  The aleph of alephs of the yetzer ha'ra, the first and best weapon of the nachash, is to tell us that we are rejects, that G-d, or our rebbeim, or our parents, or whoever, does not love us, does not want us.   

Netziv is a contrarian here and reads the pasuk not as questioning why Adam and Chavah were eating, as Rashi assumes, but rather questioning why they were NOT eating.  אַ֚ף כִּֽי־אָמַ֣ר אֱלֹקים – ״מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל״ (לעיל ב,טז), מכל מקום --לא תאכלו מכל עץ הגן.  Netziv explains that Adam and Chavah were in a state of dveikus with Hashem, and when you are close to G-d, you don't have an appetite, you don't worry about what's for lunch.  Even if you could eat on Yom Kippur, is that really what's on your mind on the holiest of days?  In steps the nachash: על כן בא הנחש בפיתוי — שהרי לא בחנם נברא העולם ומלואו, ואין רצון ה׳ שלא תהיו נצרכים לתענוגי העולם, וא״כ אין ראוי להיות שקוע באהבת ה׳ ובדבקות שהוא מהביל ומפריע כל תענוג גשמי, והוא נגד רצון ה׳ שהרי אמר ״מכל עץ הגן אכל תאכל״  Not only are you permitted to eat, argues the snake, but it's a mitzvah to eat, or why else would G-d have created a world and put you in it.  וכזה הוא פיתוי היצר בכל דור, כידוע, מתחילה משיא את הדבק בתורה ע״י איזה מצוה או דרך ארץ שהוא ישר באמת לשאר בני אדם, ואחר שמושכו מבית המדרש מוסיף והולך לפתות.  This is the argument the snake uses in every generation to draw us out into the world, to draw us away from the beit medrash, and once we are exposed to the tastes and temptations of the world, the slide down the slippery slope is almost inevitable.

3) The Midrash writes that Chanoch was a shoemaker, and with every stich he made on the shoes, he was m'yached yichudim.  Chasidim interpret this to mean that Chanoch's mind was on deep, Heavenly thoughts while he was stitching those shoes,while the aalei mussar (see Michtav m'Eliyahu in vol 1) interpret this to mean that by doing his work faithfully and avoiding gezel Chanoch was fulfilling the ratzon Hashem.  In the Mir yeshiva parsha sheet they quote a different hesber from Rav Shmuel Charkover, one that, as someone who goes to work every day, resonated with me.  R' Shmuel Charkover explained that with every stitch Chanoch made he said to himself, "I am not a shoemaker."  Next stitch, again, "I am not a shoemaker."  This was how he was m'yached yichudim.

People go through life thinking, "I am a <blank>," and that definition of who they are influences their whole approach to their avodas Hashem, to how they live.  Learn more than daf yomi?  "I'm a <blank>, not a masmid!"  Daven a little longer shacharis?  "I'm a <blank>, not a tzadik!"  Chanoch reminded himself constantly that his job was not his identity; it was just something he needed to do at that moment.  

Friday, October 07, 2022

birchas haTorah

The gemara darshens from the pasuk  כִּ֛י שֵׁ֥ם הֹ׳ אֶקְרָ֑א הָב֥וּ גֹ֖דֶל לֵאלֹקינוּ that there is a chiyuv to say birchas haTorah.  (Why does the pasuk use the word הָב֥וּ, which is Aramaic, instead of the Hebrew תנו?  Chazal tell us that the angels do not understand Aramaic.  [see this post]  The Ishbitzer in Ne'os Deshe explains that when there is כִּ֛י שֵׁ֥ם הֹ׳ אֶקְרָ֑א, you can approach Hashem without the need for the intermediary of malachim.)

Bnei Yisrael had been learning Torah for 40 years in the desert.  Why tell us now that there is a din to say a bracha? 

You could answer the question using the chiddush of the Brisker Rav that birchas haTorah is on the cheftza shel Torah, not on the chovas ha'gavra to learn (see Emek Bracha).  Even though the Mechaber paskens that women cannot say a bracha on mitzvos they are not obligated in, the Mechaber paskens that they do say a birchas haTorah because it has nothing to do with the person's obligation to learn, it has to do with the fact that there is a Torah text being studied.  Therefore, until last week's parsha where Moshe received the mitzvah of kesivas sefer Torah and wrote a sefer, there was no text that existed.  It's only now, in our parsha, that there is a cheftza shel Torah to say a bracha on.

Al derech machshava, you can maybe say something more.

 יַעֲרֹ֤ף כַּמָּטָר֙ לִקְחִ֔י  The word כַּמָּטָר֙ written with a 'patach' under the כַּ , which means grammatically it's like there is a ה הידיעה there, it's a definite article.  We're not just talking about any dew, but rather THE dew, something specific.  What specific dew is the Torah being compared to?

In a few short weeks we will be reading Braishis where the Torah tells us (2:5) וְכֹ֣ל׀ שִׂ֣יחַ הַשָּׂדֶ֗ה טֶ֚רֶם יִֽהְיֶ֣ה בָאָ֔רֶץ וְכׇל־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶ֖ה טֶ֣רֶם יִצְמָ֑ח כִּי֩ לֹ֨א הִמְטִ֜יר הֹ׳ אֱלֹקים֙ עַל־הָאָ֔רֶץ וְאָדָ֣ם אַ֔יִן לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃ -- the dew had not fallen because man was not yet created to work the ground.  Rashi explains:

כי לא המטיר – ומהג טעם לא המטיר? לפי שאדם אין לעבוד,ד ואין מכיר בטובתן של גשמים. וכשבא אדם וידע שצורך הם לעולם, התפלל עליהם וירדו, וצמחו האילנות והדשאים.

Maharal in Gur Aryeh formulates it even more sharply: ואין מכיר בטובתם. כלומר, ואסור לעשות טובה לאיש שאין מכיר בטובה, ולפיכך כל זמן שלא היה האדם - לא המטיר

You are not allowed to do a tovah for someone who will not appreciate it, who does not feel a need for it.  

Until there was a human being who could appreciate the need for dew and rain, G-d did not provide dew and rain.  Only once man was created and could daven and ask G-d for help did the dew fall.

Explains the Shem m'Shmuel: For 40 years there was שׁכינה מדבּרת מתוך גורנו שׁל משׁה, it was like mattan Torah every day because G-d spoke through Moshe's mouth.  Ramban writes in Ki Tisa that the Mishkan was like a mini Har Sinai where the process of revelation continued.

That's not the norm.  Mattan Torah was a one time in history unique experience.  For the rest of time, Torah is meant to be acquired through toil and effort, not received as a gift.  לִקְחִ֔י, like כִּי לֶַֿקח טוֹב נָתַֿ תִּי לָכֶם, means you have to do something to make a kinyan, not passively accept what is handed to you.   כּי יקח אישׁ אישׁה Ran in Nedarim 29 writes that the baal has to be the one to make the kinyan kiddushin but the woman's role is to be passive, to make herself like hefker.  

That's the change Moshe is preparing the people for. יַעֲרֹ֤ף כַּמָּטָר֙ לִקְחִ֔י Don't expect G-d to serve up Torah on a silver platter.  It's like THE dew, the dew of creation, that will only come to those who recognize the need for it, those who ask for it, those who are prepared לַֽעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־הָֽאֲדָמָֽה׃, to work for it.  

As Rashi on Braishis writes כשבא אדם וידע שצורך הם לעולם, התפלל עליהם וירדו.  That's birchas haTorah.

Motzei Y"K at Yeshiva in Sderot:

Tuesday, October 04, 2022

מחה פּשׁענו מנגד עינך

Read k'peshuto, you have to at least admire the brazenness of the statement מחה פּשׁענו מנגד עינך.  We know how bad we are; G-d, You of course know how bad we are, but do us a favor and turn your eyes away and pretend not to notice.  Are sins like Schrodinger's cat, i.e. so long as they are not נגד עינך and noticed, they cease to exist?

There are a lot of ways to get rid of sin.  First and foremost, there is onesh and yisurim.  If you know that when you do wrong you get a smack for it, you are not going to keep doing wrong.  However, there are better ways to go about curing the penchant for wrongdoing.  Says the Sefas Emes, when a person is really close to G-d, it becomes impossible to sin.  Think of your relationship to your wife, to your child, to your parents.  Surely you don't intentionally act in a way to harm them, not because of the negative consequences of having to sleep on the couch or your child hiding in their room, but simply because these are people you are close to and therefore do not want to hurt.  In that same vein, when you are close to someone, it becomes easier to forgive as well.

When we say מחה פּשׁענו מנגד עינך the letter מ in מנגד is the מ indicating a sibah, a cause.  We are asking G-d to forgive not through yisurim, not by punishment, not by demanding other forms of kaparah, but simply because we are נגד עינך, we are close, and when you are close, you don't want to cause harm, you don't want to linger on faults.  That should be the motivation behind and the vehicle for our kaparah.