Friday, April 26, 2024

seeing Hashem's goodness

 המאכילך מן במדבר למען ענותך  What kind of suffering could there be in having mon to eat?  The gemara in Yoma (74b) comments  אמר אינו דומה מי שרואה ואוכל למי שאינו רואה ואוכל אמר רב יוסף מכאן רמז לסומין שאוכלין ואין שבעין If you thought of steak when eating the mon, you tasted steak, but the food still looked like mon; therefore, a person was never fully satiated or satisfied.  From here, says the gemara, we learn that a blind person who cannot ever see his food never really feels satiated either.

I saw quoted in the name of the Damesk Eliezer that this is why we daven on Yom Tov שׂבּענו מטובך.  We don't just want Hashem to give us טובה, all that is good for us.  He does that all the time.  The problem is that we don't see His goodness for what it is, as we live in a world of hester.  שׂבּענו מטובך -- we want to be able to see the goodness, not just believe in it, as only then will we feel satiated from Hashem's blessing.

הפּסח נאכל על השׂובע.  The korban pesach was eaten only after one was satiated and full, as a desert.  We have to be satiated and full from Hashem's goodness to truly take away the message of Pesach with us.

Monday, April 22, 2024

teeth and our spiritual DNA; why I don't like vegetables, haseiba and chipazon; the seder as a re-enactment of Yakov receiving his father's blessing

1) The scariest thing about what is going on at Columbia, Yale, MIT,  et al, is that the radical Jew hater students of today are the professors, business leaders, and politicians of tomorrow.  There is little future for Jews in America, and I've been writing that for years.  

My hunch (I would love to see if anyone has done a study on this) is that had you taken a poll before events of the past few months of 12th graders in your average Jewish day school high school, you would have found more students aspiring for a spot in an ivy league college than students aspiring to make aliya. 

Hashem has forced us the hard way to reassess our values.  

2) For some reason someone in my house last night mentioned using teeth to identify a body through DNA (don't ask).  I said that I thought teeth were usable if there were dental records like X-rays or impressions of the teeth, but not for DNA.  Turns out I was wrong.  Punkt fahrkert -- the first hit in my google search says, "DNA is an excellent means for identification of unidentified human remains. As dental pulp is surrounded by dentin and enamel, which forms dental armor, it offers the best source of DNA for reliable genetic type in forensic science."  

My wife heard this and immediately chimed in that this is the pshat in הקהה את שיניו.  The rasha wants to eliminate his spiritual DNA, his connection to Klal Yisrael.  It's the teeth that are the best means of preserving DNA, so that's what we point to when we reply to him.  I think it's a great pshat.

3) The gemara in Eiruvin (4a) quotes a Mishna in Negaim:

הנכנס לבית המנוגע וכליו על כתיפיו וסנדליו וטבעותיו בידיו הוא והם טמאין מיד היה לבוש כליו וסנדליו ברגליו וטבעותיו באצבעותיו הוא טמא מיד והן טהורין עד שישהא בכדי אכילת פרס פת חיטין ולא פת שעורין מיסב ואוכל בליפתן

Why does is the eating davka  מיסב ואוכל, b'haseiba?  Rashi writes:   מיסב. שהייה זו בהסיבה שיערוהו ולא בנאכלת בעמידה והולך ובא שהוא שוהה באכילתו יותר  When you recline and are engaged in doing nothing but eating, the eating goes faster than when you are walking around with your plate (hence the reason people linger at smorgasbords).

Maybe another reason to do haseiba on Pesach night is as a sign of chipazon, because when you eat that way you eat faster.

4) R' Tzadok haKohen writes that the reason we start the seder with karpas, a vegetable, is because Adam haRishon, in response to his eating eitz ha'daas, was cursed וְאָכַלְתָּ֖ אֶת־עֵ֥שֶׂב הַשָּׂדֶֽה.  (Adam complained that he cannot be so degraded as to eat like an animal of the field,  so Hashem softened the blow a bit and allowed him to eat bread, בְּזֵעַ֤ת אַפֶּ֙יךָ֙ תֹּ֣אכַל לֶ֔חֶם. )  Pesach is not just about the release from Egypt, but is about the tikun of man's earliest sin as well.  That is the ultimate goal of geulah, which is still in process.  

I don't like eating vegetables.  Most parents have to twist their kids' arms to get them to eat veggies.  I think this may be a remnant deep in our psyche of Adam haRishon's reaction.   Either that, or vegetables just don't taste very good.  

5) R' Noson Gestetner points out that there are a number of parallels between what we do on Pesach night and the events surrounding Yaakov getting the bracha from Yitzchak.  Yaakov wore special clothes; on leil ha'seder we wear a kittel.  The  שְׁנֵ֛י גְּדָיֵ֥י עִזִּ֖ים טֹבִ֑ים are an allusion to the korban pesach and the korban chagiga.  Yaakov said to his father קֽוּם־נָ֣א שְׁבָ֗ה וְאׇכְלָה֙ מִצֵּידִ֔י upon which Rashi comments שבה – לשון מיסב על השלחן, that this means haseiba.  Yakov brings wine,  וַיָּ֧בֵא ל֦וֹ יַ֖יִן וַיֵּֽשְׁתְּ, which may be an allusion to the 4 kosos.  Rashi comments on  וַיָּ֛רַח אֶת⁠־רֵ֥יחַ בְּגָדָ֖יו וַֽיְבָרְכֵ֑הוּ וַיֹּ֗אמֶר רְאֵה֙ רֵ֣יחַ בְּנִ֔י כְּרֵ֣יחַ שָׂדֶ֔ה  that  שנתן בו ריח טוב, וזהו שדה תפוחים.  Rashbam adds  את השדה שהוא מלא נרד וכרכום קנה וקנמון.  These are the basic ingredients of our charoset.  

Why do we have this strange minhag of stealing the afikoman?  It all harkens back to Yaakov "stealing" the brachos, which we re-enact this night of leil ha'seder.  

There is a Midrash Pli'ah on the words  בָּ֥א אָחִ֖יךָ בְּמִרְמָ֑ה וַיִּקַּ֖ח בִּרְכָתֶֽךָ that that says that Yitzchak showed Eisav the afikoman.  The Sheivet haMussar quotes that the word בְּמִרְמָ֑ה is equal to the gemastriya of afikoman -- pretty incredible.  

This explains, says R' Gestetner, why Yitzchak told Eisav that he already ate from the meal brought to him earlier and so there was nothing he could do for Eisav.  Why not eat again?!  There's always room for desert!  The answer is that Yitzchak had already eaten afikoman, and אין מפטירין אחר הפּסח אפיקומן.

Chag kasher v'sameich!  

Friday, April 19, 2024

paskening tzaraas al tnai

If you're still a reader here you know in the past few weeks we've been doing some of R' Shteinman's torah on the parsha.  It's shabbos ha'gadol and everyone is into inyanei Pesach, but at this point I feel bad skipping a week.  

R' Shteinman raises the question of whether a kohen can be metaheir a metzora al tnai.  Tos (Kesubos 74) holds that you can only make a tnai in a matter that lends itself to shlichus (see this post).  The ability to appoint a shliach to take care of something indicates that you have control over the outcome, and that is the key ingredient necessary in order to be able to make a tnai that will effect the outcome.  In the case of tzaraas, the kohen has to personally declare whether something in tamei or tahor -- he cannot appoint a shliach to do so on his behalf.  It would seem, therefore, that he cannot make a tnai either.

There seem to be exceptions to the above rule, e.g. you can make a tnai in nezirus (see Tos Nazir 11), or in nedarim.  R Akiva Eiger writes that someone who is afraid that they will miss zman krias shema should read shema before davening al tnai that if they make the zman during birchos krias shema, they want to be yotzei only with the later recitation with the brachos. You can't have a shliach read k"s for you, so this sounds like yet another exception to the rule.  A number of Achronim hold that Tos rule is limited to cases where an action is being done.  However, when it comes to dibur -- the case of neder, nezirus, etc. -- a tnai can be made to undo dibur even if a case where a shliach cannot be appointed.  This would seem to cover the declaration of the kohen as well.

The reason R' Shteinman has this on his radar is because Rashi at the beginning of the parsha quotes a din ביום טהרתו – מלמד שאין מטהרין אותו בלילה.  What would happen if the kohen saw the nega during the day, and declared it tamei or tahor al tnai that the psak goes into effect after dark?  Is it the maaseh of psak at night which is barred, or is it the chalos of the psak?  Would such a tnai even work?  (This is reminiscent of R' Akiva Eiger's safeik with regards to the issur of mekach u'memkar on shabbos -- is it the act of buying/selling which is prohibited, or is it the chalos of the sale?  What if you made a sale on Friday which is chal on Shabbos?)  

Later on in the parsha (14:36) by nigei batim there is a din  וְצִוָּ֨ה הַכֹּהֵ֜ן וּפִנּ֣וּ אֶת־הַבַּ֗יִת בְּטֶ֨רֶם יָבֹ֤א הַכֹּהֵן֙ לִרְא֣וֹת אֶת־הַנֶּ֔גַע to clear out the house before the kohen comes to pasken on the nega afflicting it so that the kelim inside do not become tamei.  If it is possible to pasken on a nega al tnai, why couldn't the kohen give his psak al tnai that it does not take effect for another hour or however long so that the house can be cleared?  It seems from here that tnai does not work.

R' Shteinman rejects this proof.  Forget about tnai; one can ask more fundamentally why the house needs to be cleared before the kohen gets there -- let the kohen just hold off on paskening until the kelim are removed?  It must be (as Ohr haChaim spells out) that the kohen is obligated to pasken as soon as he sees the nega and put the house in a state of hesger, if required.  By that same token, tnai cannot work either because of that same obligation to enforce hesger as soon as the nega is seen.

2) Rashi comments that nigei batim is a gift from Hashem.   וְנָתַתִּי֙ נֶ֣גַע צָרַ֔עַת בְּבֵ֖ית אֶ֥רֶץ אֲחֻזַּתְכֶֽם Rashi writes 

בשורה היא להם שהנגעים באים עליהם, לפי שהטמינו אמוריים מטמוניות של זהב בקירות בתיהם כל ארבעים שנה שהיו ישראל במדבר, ועל ידי הנגע נותץ הבית ומוצאן.

R' Shteinman points out that the gemara implies that negaim come as punishment for sin.  How then can Rashi tell us that Hashem did this in order to give a person a rewrd and allow them to find buried treasure?

He answers that there is no contradiction.  A person might need to receive a punishment, but at the same time, Hashem can bless them with a buried treasure.  Had they not sinned, they might have gotten that treasure without having to destroy their house, but given the circumstances, this is how it had to work out.

what our response should have been this week

The day after the Iran attack, I thought we should say hallel.  Whether the "we" should be everyone, or those living in Eretz Yisrael alone, I don't know.  But what I do know is that it is incredible that over 300 drones and missiles should be fired and cause just about no damage.  I don't care how good you think the IDF is, and how good the cooperation is with other forces, it's still incredible.  Just like the Rambam says in Hil Taanis (1:3)

אבל אם לא יזעקו ולא יריעו אלא יאמרו דבר זה ממנהג העולם אירע לנו וצרה זו נקרה נקרית. הרי זו דרך אכזריות וגורמת להם להדבק במעשיהם הרעים. ותוסיף הצרה צרות אחרות.

The same is true of salvation.  We should not say דבר זה ממנהג העולם because it absolutely is not.  

Unfortunately I only saw this video now otherwise I would have posted it earlier.  Baruch she'kivanti, R' Ouri Cherki said to say hallel shaleim without a bracha:

When things are bad, everyone pulls out a Tehillim and we cry to Hashem, as it should be.  

But when thing are good, you have to remember to also pull out a Tehillim, to sing shirah and say thank you.  

Kozhiglover on why this shabbos is called shabbos ha'gadol

My son quotes a letter of the L Rebbe in which he writes that it's not by accident that Pesach comes in chodesh ha'aviv.  During the long winter months it looks like nothing is alive, nothing can grow, but then suddenly the weather changes, the trees are blossoming and we can say birkat ha'ilanot, and the flowers and grass start sprouting again.  These winter months were a necessary preparatory step to allow things to bloom again; just because nothing was visible on the surface does not mean nothing was taking place.  So too in life, there are periods when we feel like we are stagnating and in a funk and not progressing, but these are just passing winters, and a new spring will eventually arrive.  This is the lesson of galus Mitzrayim, where it seemed we had sunk to irredeemable levels, but suddenly geulah happened and we blossomed forth as a nation. 

I would add the words of the Midrash Rabbah (Braishis 10:6):

 אָמַר רַבִּי סִימוֹן אֵין לְךָ כָּל עֵשֶׂב וְעֵשֶׂב, שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מַזָּל בָּרָקִיעַ שֶׁמַּכֶּה אוֹתוֹ, וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ גְּדַל

It is Shabbos haGadol.  Throughout the year we may be unaware of that malach standing above and may not hear the whisper commanding  גְּדַל.  This Shabbos, this time of year, all of us hear it's call.

But it is not just a whisper.  מַּכֶּה אוֹתוֹ**, וְאוֹמֵר לוֹ גְּדַל**.  Growth is hard and growth can be painful.  That is true for us as individuals and true for us as a nation.  But grow we must.

Why is this shabbos called Shabbos haGadol?

In Parshas Braishis we read (1:16) that Hashem made אֶת⁠־שְׁנֵ֥י הַמְּאֹרֹ֖ת הַגְּדֹלִ֑ים, but then the pasuk continues and tells us  that there is    אֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַגָּדֹל֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַיּ֔וֹם וְאֶת־הַמָּא֤וֹר הַקָּטֹן֙ לְמֶמְשֶׁ֣לֶת הַלַּ֔יְלָה.  Rashi comments:

  שוים נבראו, ונתמעטה הלבנה על ידי שקיטרגה ואמרה: אי איפשר לשני מלכים שישתמשו בכתר אחד.  

The Kozhiglover explains that the difference between the sun and the moon is not merely a matter of size, but rather lies in the fact that the sun gives light, but the moon merely reflects light.  The gemara in Bava Metziya (12b) tells us  גדול וסמוך על שלחן אביו זהו קטן קטן ואינו סמוך על שלחן אביו זהו גדול  A gadol gives; a katan receives.  Similarly the gemara in Nedarim (24a) writes that a neder made to force someone to reciprocate a gift is taken seriously because the noder might be thinking  לאו מלכא אנא דמהנינא לך ואת לא מהנית לי .  I don't want to be like a melech, as a melech gives without taking in return.  The moon argued that there could not be two melachim, two gedolim, two bodies that give off light independent of each other.  As a result, it became a katan.  It no longer is able to give off light, only to receive and reflect it.

The masechta in shas dedicated to the laws of chol ha'moed is called Moed Katan.  Chol haMoed receives its kedusha from the days of Y"T that precede and come after it.  These days are the sibah for its issurim; chol ha'moed merely reflects their light.  The Kozhiglover explains that the machlokes whether to put in tefillin on chol ha'moed revolves around this point: do we look at the fact that it has no independent kedusha apart from that which comes from the days of Y"T that surround it and therefore treat it like chol, or do we say that sof sof the fact that it reflects that light of Y"T is enough to push of tefillin. 

This is also the difference between Eretz Yisrael and chutz la'aretz.  Ramban famously writes in P Acharei Mos that mitzvos should in theory only apply in Eretz Yisrael, but in chu"l we do them in order to keep in practice.  Eretz Yisrael is the source of light; chu"l merely reflects what Hashem channels through Eretz Yisrael.

Pesach is the first of the regalim and is called a day of shabbos (the omer is brought "mi'macharas ha'shabbos"), but there is a source of light even greater than itself.  Shabbos is תחילה למקראי קודשׁ, it is the primal source, the source from which springs the kedusha of all the other Moadim of the year, the first of which is Chag haPesach.  This is why our shabbos is called Shabbos haGadol.  It is the well from which Pesach and the other Moadim all draw, the source of the kedusha that we will IY"H receive and grow from in the upcoming week.

Thursday, April 11, 2024

the override switch

1)  Just to make it a chazakah of 3 weeks in a row with R' Shteinman's torah: R' Shteinman has a safeik whether the kohen who rules whether a nega is tamei or tahor recites a bracha, something like, "v'tzivanu liros v'lifsok ha'nega."  Beis din does not recite a bracha when they pasken, so why should this case be any different?  

The difference is that the role of beis din is birur -- they are just there to clarify the facts, and m'meila what the din should be is clarified.  The kohen's psak is not birur.  The facts on the ground -- whether the afflication in question is a nega -- might be perfectly clear before the kohen says anything.  However, until the kohen declares something to be a nega, it's like it does not exist.  The kohen's psak does not merely clarify; it creates a new reality.

My 2 cents: whether b"d's function is just a matter of birur may not be so simple.  The Rashba (B"K 90) writes that lo te'hey shmiya gedolah m'reiya only works for a beis din of three, but not a yachid mumcheh.  From the perspective of ascertaining the facts, there is no difference between the re'iya of the mumcheh and the re'iya of a b"d of three.  It would therefore seem that there is some extra ingredient involved in the mix.  See Sharei Yosher 7:1    For a different approach, see also R' Amiel in his Darkei Kinyanim.  

2) There is a derasha (Nida 41) on the second pasuk of our parsha, אִשָּׁה֙ כִּ֣י תַזְרִ֔יעַ וְיָלְדָ֖ה זָכָ֑ר:  

א״ר יצחק א״ר אמי, אשה מזרעת תחלה יולדת זכר, איש מזריע תחלה יולדת נקבה, שנאמר אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר.

The gemara at the end of Brachos (60) raises the possibility of a person davening for their child to be a boy, at least within 40 days from conception, and asks how this is possible given that everything is determined already at the moment of conception, by whether אשה מזרעת תחלה or איש מזריע תחלה: 

 והא"ר יצחק בריה דרב אמי איש מזריע תחלה יולדת נקבה אשה מזרעת תחלה יולדת זכר שנאמר אשה כי תזריע וילדה זכר הכא במאי עסקינן כגון שהזריעו שניהם בבת אחת 

The dochak seems evident. The Zohar raises the same issue in a slightly different way, but the answer is unclear (to me at least):

אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ. תָּנֵינָן, אִשָּׁה מַזְרַעַת תְּחִלָּה יוֹלֶדֶת זָכָר. רִבִּי אֲחָא אָמַר, הָא תָּנֵינָן, דְּקוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא גָּזַר עַל הַהִיא טִפָּה, אִי אִיהוּ דְּכַר אִי אִיהִי נוּקְבָּא, וְאַתְּ אַמְרַת אִשָׁה מַזְרַעַת תְּחִלָּה יוֹלֶדֶת זָכָר. אָמַר רִבִּי יוֹסֵי, וַדַּאי קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא אַבְחִין בֵּין טִפָּה דִּדְכוּרָא וּבֵין טִפָּה דְּנוּקְבָּא, וּבְגִין דְּאַבְחִין לֵיהּ, גָּזַר עָלֵיהּ, אִי לִהֱוִי דְּכַר אוֹ נוּקְבָּא.

The difference between the Zohar and the gemara is that the gemara seems like a "G-d of the gaps" type argument.  Most things are determined by the teva of whether אשה מזרעת תחלה or איש מזריע תחל, but where that's not possible, G-d steps in to take over.  The Zohar sees G-d as taking a hand in everything and somehow ironing out there being a need for that alongside how teva works.

In short, we are left with this tension between whether the determining factor of things is G-d or teva, which the Chasam Sofer encapsulates nicely with the following question: We thank Hashem every morning שׁלא עשׂני אשׂה.  What are we thanking Hashem for?  אשה מזרעת תחלה יולדת זכר, איש מזריע תחלה יולדת נקבה, it's determined by nature?

Chasam Sofer answers that there is in effect a two track system.  There is the derech ha'teva system of  אשה מזרעת תחלה יולדת זכר, איש מזריע תחלה יולדת נקבה.  On top of that, there is the system that Klal Yisrael operates under, the system that transcends teva, that allows for Hashem to step in and direct things.

He then reads this into the pesukim.  The parsha starts  אִשָּׁה כִּי תַזְרִיעַ וְיָלְדָה זָכָר, which is the normal progression of teva. The continuation  וְאִם נְקֵבָה תֵלֵד וְטָמְאָה שְׁבֻעַיִם כְּנִדָּתָהּ is not the flipside case of איש מזריע תחלה and having a girl.  Were that the case, ikkar chaseir, why not say אישׁ כּי תזריע...?   Rather, the continuation is this second track, the l'maalah min ha'teva track.  Even though al pi teva אשה מזרעת תחלה יולדת זכר, sometimes Hashem will redirect things.  Even though it's a case of אשה מזרעת תחלה, it can still come out that וְאִם נְקֵבָה תֵלֵד... In such a case you might have thought that the dinei tumah should be like a  זָכָר, like the case of אשה מזרעת תחלה, which is what happened, kah mashma lan that it doesn't work that way.

The lesson here does not just apply to our parsha.  Al pi derech ha'teva all kinds of things are determined -- how much $ you will make, how good you will do in school, etc. -- but there is an override switch to everything.  Only Hashem has the final say.

Maybe that's why this parsha of tumas leida appears as an introduction to the rest of our parsha, which deals with the issue of negaim.  A nega can come as a result of disease; it can be the result of teva.  But that does not make a person tamei.  Without the declaration of the kohen, the nega is meaningless.  There is the override switch that determines the true reality of what is and what will be. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

matzah shrinkflation

One or more of the local supermarkets has for years has offered a free box of 5lbs of matzah if you spend some amount on groceries before Pesach.  When we were shopping on Sunday we noticed the box is a little small.  Lo and behold, instead of 5lbs, the package now contains 4lbs of matzah.  We have always gotten a 5lb box.  My parents had 5lb boxes of matzah in the house.  Amazingly, for literally decades, none of the manufacturers thought they could get away with "shrinkflation" and selfishly make more $ by selling you less in the package until the Biden presidency.  Has absolutely nothing to do with the roaring rate of inflation caused by mismanagement of the economy, of course.

The same is true of Trader Joe's bananas, which have been $.19 cents each for decades until they recently went up to $.23 each.  Government mis-spending is not to to blame.  As the AP points out, "Such concerns go well-beyond bananas. Researchers expect food prices and inflation overall to rise as temperatures climb with climate change."  If it wasn't climate change, my money would have been on racism or sexism as the cause for the price increase, as those two get the blame for just about everything these days.

Monday, April 08, 2024

ra'uy l'chimutz -- siman or sibah

Last week I mentioned the Rogatchover's chakira whether the simanei kashrus of an animal are a siman or a sibah, i.e. is it the actual presence of simanim that make the animal kosher, or are the simanim just a means of identifying what species an animal belongs to, and it is being a member of a kosher species that makes the animal kosher.  Nafka mina: what if you have a member of a kosher species that lacks simanin?  What if you genetically engineer a non-kosher species so that it does have simanin?  

Since it's shloshim yom kodem ha'chag, let's use the same chakira in hil chametz u'matzah.  The Mishna (Pes 35) lists 5 species of grain that can be used to make matzah.  The gemara explains that only grain which can potentially become chamtez is acceptable.  Yesh lachkor: is this quality of being ראוי לחימוץ a siman to identify whether a grain is one of the 5 acceptable species, or is it the sibah that makes that particular grain usable for matzah?

There is a safeik of the MG"A that may reflect the 2 sides of this chakira.  Rashi holds that one can use the shell of the grain, סובּין, in order to make matzah.  (We don't pasken this way.)  The MG"A (OC 454:1) writes:

סובין. פירש"י קליפת חיטים הנושרים בשעת כתישה ומורסן הנשאר בנפה ע"ש מוכח קצת דבא לידי חימוץ מדיוצאין בהם י"ח מצה לדעת רש"י ואפשר לומ' כיון שהוא ממין הבא לידי חימוץ יוצא בה י"ח

Does Rashi mean that סובּין can actually become chameitz, or does Rashi just mean that סובּין are part of a species of grain that can become chameitz?  

Lichorah the safeik of the MG"A is this issue of siman vs sibah. If ראוי לחימוץ is the sibah that makes something usable for matzah, then סובּין must themselves be capable of becoming chametz.  If ראוי לחימוץ is just a siman, a way to identify whether a grain belongs to one of the 5 acceptable species, than even if סובּין never turn into chametz, it doesn't matter, since we know that סובּין are a byproduct of wheat, which is one of the 5 acceptable species.  (See Shu"T L'Horos Noson vol 14 #25

Friday, April 05, 2024

the privilege of teaching Torah; tamei birds - why not rely on rov; Bruriah's attitude towards wrongdoers vs the bracha of la'malshinim

Like I said last week, the Ayeles haShachar provides a lot of food for thought, and I could go on and on, but just a few more highlights:

1)  וַיְדַבֵּר ה׳ אֶל מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל אַהֲרֹן לֵאמֹר אֲלֵהֶם

 דַּבְּרוּ אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר זֹאת הַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכְלוּ מִכׇּל הַבְּהֵמָה אֲשֶׁר עַל הָאָרֶץ. (11:1-2) 

Rashi comments that the  אֲלֵהֶם in the first pasuk refers to Elazar and Itamar.

  אמור שיאמרו להם לאלעזר ולאיתמר, או אינו אלא לאמר לישראל? כשהוא אומר: דברו אל בני ישראל (ויקרא י״א:ב׳), הרי דבור האמור לישראל, הא מה אני מקיים: לאמר אלהם – לבנים, לאלעזר ולאיתמר 

The word דַּבְּרוּ in the next pasuk refers to Moshe, Aharon, and his children together.  Rashi comments:

 את כולם השוה להיות שלוחים לדבור זה, לפי שהושוו בדמימה וקבלו עליהם גזירת המקום מאהבה.

The reward given to Aharon and his children was their being given the opportunity to teach this parsha.  We see a beautiful chiddush : The capacity to teach Torah is a gift from Hashem, it's a reward.  Don't take it for granted! 

2) Yesterday I touched on the mitzvah of bedikas simanin to check whether an animal is kosher.  R' Itzelege Ponovicher has a chiddush based on a Rivash that R' Shteinman ties to another din in our parsha.  The gemara (Chulin 63b) writes that the Torah only lists the tamei birds because most birds in the world are kosher.  Tos asks: if we are unaware of the identity of a bird, why can't we rely on rov and assume it is kosher?  Tos answers that there might be multiple subspecies of each tamei bird, so they outnumber the kosher ones and there is no rov.  (Alternatively, one could say that even if the # of kosher species is greater than th # of tamei species, there are more individual tamei birds.)  R' Shteinman offers a more "lomdish" answer and suggests that  whether a bird is kosher or not is a safeik in din, and a safeik in din cannot be resolved with a rov in metziyus.  According to these answers either there is no rov, or rov is not good enough to resolve the issue.  R' Itzele Ponovicher (Zecher Yitzchak #80) writes that in fact the rov is a good rov and takes off the lav of eating a tamei animal -- the metziyus as determined by the rov is that the bird is a kosher bird.  However, the mitzvah of bedikas simanim tells us that knowing that a bird is kosher based on rov is not enough.  Eating such an animal violates the aseh of bedikas simanim.  

R' Shteinman understood the Rivash a little differently.  He understood that the din of bedikas simanim precludes relying on the rov.  The mitzvah tells us thsat in this case so long as you cannot identity the animal with simanin, you must be choshesh for the miyut and there would therefore be a lav.  

3) Rashi comments regarding the deaths of Nadav and Avihu (10:3) ועל פני כל העם אכבד – כשהקב״ה עושה דין בצדיקים מתיירא ומתעלה ומתקלס: אם כן באילו, כל שכן ברשעים.  This piece that R' Shteinman quotes from R' Chaim has little to do with the parsha, but it's R' Chaim, so how could I leave it out?   We say in kedusha of musaf that the angels turn to each other and ask, "Where is the place of kavod Shamayim?"  משׁרתיו שׁואלים זה לזה אי׳ מקום כּבודו.  R' Chaim explained that the angels' safeik is whether there is greater kvod Shamayim in Hashem bestowing goodness on the tzadikim for all to see, or is there greater kvod Shamayim in Hashem punishing tzadikim for transgressions so all can see the demonstration of justice.  The angels bleibt by a safeik.  We therefore continue and say given all things being equal, ממקומו הוא יפן בּרחמים לעמו..., let the kvod Shamayim come through rachamim, by giving us good things, not through onesh.  (Note from me: קטונתי מכל החסדים ומכל האמת...  Sefas Emes explains that there are two ways that Hashem can make a person feel small: 1) by punishing them and knocking them down to size; 2) by giving them so much goodness that they feel unworthy of the gift.  Yaakov Avinu asked that קטונתי come from the latter, מכל החסדים ומכל האמת, rather than the former).    

Rashi tells us that a greater kavod Shamayim than either the carrot or stick for tzadikim is the punishment of reshaim.  This is why we daven, says R' Shteinman, "V'lamalshinim al t'hi tikvah..."  The problem is this seems to fly in the face of a well known gemara (Brachos 10a):

הנהו בריוני דהוו בשבבותיה דר"מ והוו קא מצערו ליה טובא הוה קא בעי ר' מאיר רחמי עלויהו כי היכי דלימותו אמרה לי' ברוריא דביתהו מאי דעתך משום דכתיב יתמו חטאים מי כתיב חוטאים חטאים כתיב ועוד שפיל לסיפיה דקרא ורשעים עוד אינם כיון דיתמו חטאים ורשעים עוד אינם אלא בעי רחמי עלויהו דלהדרו בתשובה ורשעים עוד אינם בעא רחמי עלויהו והדרו בתשובה

Bruriah told R' Meir that he should daven for troublemakers to repent, not for their elimination.  So how do we explain the bracha in our shmoneh esrei?  

R' Shteinman makes no attempt here to offer an answer, but many others already address this question.  Maharal in Be'er haGolah reinterprets the bracha of lamalshinim as a request to eliminate wickedness, not the evildoers themselves, in concert with Bruriah's approach. Maybe one can distinguish between different types of evildoers.  Or maybe the truth is far simpler: who says we pasken like Bruriah and not R' Meir?  Sure, Bruriah's sentiments sound nice, but that doesn't mean she was correct.  

4) Lastly, a question that only a Litvishe Rosh Yeshiva could ask.  וַיֹּאמֶר מֹשֶׁה אֶל⁠ אַהֲרֹן קְרַב אֶל⁠ הַמִּזְבֵּחַ (10:7)  Rashi comments שהיה אהרן בוש וירא לגשת, אמר לו משה: מה אתה בוש? לכך נבחרת  Aharon was hesitating, so Moshe had to encourage him to step up to the plate.  R' Shteinman asks: so what if Aharon felt a sense of unworthiness or shame?  Hashem gave the command for him to do the avodah, so what difference should his emotional reaction make?  A command is a command!

I think I've written this about the Ayeles haShachar before.  Certain questions are ra'uy specifically for the person asking them.  Only someone who is capable of overcoming the challenge of putting aside their own emotions to do whatever Hashem asks can ask such a question on this Rashi.

Thursday, April 04, 2024

parshas hachodesh; simanei kashrus - sibah or siman; achila less than k'zayis - ptur onshin or not a maaseh achila; and more

1) The gemara (Pesachim 6) has a din שואלין ודורשין בהלכות הפסח קודם הפסח שלשים יום which is derived from the fact that Moshe taught the halachos of Pesach Sheni one month in advance, on Pesach Rishon שהרי משה עומד בפסח ראשון ומזהיר על הפסח שני שנאמר ויעשו בני ישראל את הפסח במועדו וכתיב ויהי אנשים אשר היו טמאים לנפש אדם.  R' Chaim Kanievsky held that this is a real derasha, not just an asmachta, and is therefore a din d'orasya.  Rokeach writes that reading parshas Parah and HaChodesh is a kiyum of this din of being shoel v'doresh hil ha'chag, as the whole point of these parshiyos is to teach us the halachos of becoming tahor and offering korban pesach.  Acc to R' Chaim, the reading would therefore be a kiyum d'orasya.  Rama (282:4, see R' Akiva Eiger there) quotes a yesh omrim that a katan should not be called by for any of the 4 parshiyos.

I enjoyed posting the Ayeles haShachar pieces last week, so I am going to do more of the same this week, with a mix of halacha and aggadah.

2)  זֹאת הַחַיָּה אֲשֶׁר תֹּאכְלוּ -  מלמד שהיה משה אוחז בחיה ומראה אותה לישראל.  Why did Moshe have to hold up the animals for display?  What was the necessity of having a show and tell session instead of just teaching the halachos?

The Rogatchover has a chakira whether the simanei kashrus are a siman or a sibah for a creature's kashrus (see post here, also here ).  Tos (Nida 50b) writes with respect to some kind of wild chicken that lives by a pond:

 תרנגולתאדאגמא. הזכר אסור לפי שאין לו סימני טהרה ולא שרי מטעם כל היוצא מן הטהור טהור שהרי האם לא ילדה האפרוח אלא ביצים הטילה והאפרוח מעפרא קא גדיל ונאסר ממילא ע"י סימני טומאה ונקבה נמי אין לאוסרה למאן דאסר זה וזה גורם דהא אפרוח לא יצא אלא מן הביצה ומעפרא קגדיל כדפרישית.

Even though we know that this chicken is born from the egg of a kosher mother bird, it is considered a min tamei because it lacks simanim.  It seems from Tos that simanim are a sibah -- even though we know the family the bird is related to, it still needs simanim to be kosher.  Ralbag on our parsha seems to disagree and hold that simanin just serve to identify the species of the animal, and it's by virtue of being a member of that species that it is kosher.  

R' Shteinman suggests that our Rashi speaks to this issue.  Let's say a person could genetically engineer a tamei animal and cause it to be born with simanei kashrus, or genetically engineer a kosher animal so it was not born with simanim.  What would be its status -- tamei or tahor?  Are the simanim the sibah for the animal's status, and without them it is tamei, or are the simanim just a siman that help us identify the species?  R' Shteinman writes that Moshe held up each animal so that we can recognize it and know what species it is because that is what determines whether it is tamei or tahor, not the presence/absence of simanin.

Rashi works well l'shitaso, as he writes at the end of the parsha (11:47) writes that the mitzvah of knowing the simanei kashrus is לא בלבד השונה, אלא שתהא יודע ומכיר ובקי בהן.  Theoretical knowledge is not enough; you have to be able to recognize the physical signs of what makes an animal kosher.  

3) וְאֶת הַשָּׁפָן...וְאֶת הָאַרְנֶבֶת  For those interested in this sort of thing (which, for the record, I am not), R Shteinman quotes R' Hirsch who writes  והנה, רגילים לפרש ששפן וארנבת הם בעלי החיים הקרויים כן בימינו. אך פירוש זה לא ייתכן, אלא אם כן שני בעלי חיים אלה יהיו מעלי גרה, ודוחק לומר כן and then adds that today we know that the ארנבת actually does chew its cud, but it is almost undetectable.  (I'm not sure why this piece is in brackets.)  

4) Yesh lachkor whether אין אכילה פּחותה מכּזית means it is not a maaseh achila, or whether it is a maaseh achila but there is a ptur onshin? 

Rashi comments on the pasuk  וְהָאֹכֵל מִנִּבְלָתָהּ יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב וְהַנֹּשֵׂא אֶת נִבְלָתָהּ יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְטָמֵא עַד הָעָרֶב that the reason the pasuk mentions eating is to tell us that the shiur of noge'a or nosei is the same amount as that which constitutes achila, namely, a k'zayis:

  האוכל – ליתן שיעור לנושא ולנוגע כדי אכילה, והוא כזית.

It sounds from here like the definition of achila is a k'zayis.  

However, R' Shteinman points out that the implication of there being a chiyuv for eating a chatzi shiur (according to R' Yochanan Yoma 74) is that the shiur k'zayis is a maaseh achila, just there is a ptur onshin.  If achila less than a shiur is not a maaseh aveira, then the sevara of "chazi l'itztarufei" makes no sense -- 0+0 is still 0.   

Wednesday, April 03, 2024

if you see this on your host's seder table, get ready for a long night

Yes, I know it's too early to do posts about Pesach, but saw this in the supermarket and can't resist.  If you see these candles on the table, get ready for a long night, as in, "Raboseinu, it's zman kri'as shema shel shacharis," long.