Friday, May 31, 2024

sometimes it's all or nothing

 וְאִם תֵּלְכוּ עִמִּי קֶרִי (26:21)  Rashi explains רבותינו אמרו: עראי, כמקרה שאינו אלא לפרקים, כך תלכו עראי במצותיו.  It sounds from the pasuk, writes Rav Shteinman, that doing mitzvos in a haphazard, careless way of עראי is worse than not doing them at all.  He then quotes a fascinating comment that he heard from the Brisker Rav in the name of R' Chaim.  When Eliyahu had his standoff with the nevi'ei ha'Baal, he challenged Bnei Yisrael (Melachim I 18:21)  עַד מָתַי אַתֶּם פֹּסְחִים עַל שְׁתֵּי הַסְּעִפִּים.  Choose -- either follow Hashem, or follow Baal, but you can't do both.  R' Chaim asked: if someone took a bite of treif, instead of telling them to stop, would you instead tell them that they might as well finish the whole meal?  מי שאכל שום יחזור ויאכל שום ?  Obviously you can't compare the issur of taking one bite to an entire meal.  Why then did Eliyahu tell the people that they might as well become 100% idol worshippers?  Isn't 50% observance better than nothing?

R' Chaim answered that when it comes to shemiras ha'mitzvos, every single mitzvah counts, every aveira avoided counts, even if a person cannot reach 100%.  However, when it comes to emunah, there is no such thing as 50%.  Either you believe, or you don't believe.  There is no such thing as hedging your bets.  Eliyahu was dealing with a crisis of emunah.  In that case, it's all or nothing.

וְאִם תֵּלְכוּ עִמִּי קֶרִי doesn't mean you make minyan only 50% of the time.  It means, based on this R' Chaim, that a person's emunah is at 50%, and because of that, their commitment is lacking.  

is learning without ameilus considered bitul Torah?

1) Rashi famously comments that אם בחקותי תלכו refers to ameilus in Torah.  Why ameilus in particular -- maybe the pasuk is referring to limud haTorah?  The meforshim generally go in one of two directions.  Some say Rashi was medayek in the pasuk's use of the word תלכו (see Gur Aryeh).  As my wife's grandfather explained (see her post here), one can only progress and grow, as connoted by the term הליכה, through hard work.  Others say Rashi was medayek in the pasuk's use of the word בחקותי.  The root of the word is חקק, to engrave.  Engraving is hard work and toil (see sicha of the L Rebbe on this Rashi), and similarly, it is only hard through work and toil that words of Torah will engrave themselves upon a person's heart.

R' Shteinman in Ayeles haShachar has an amazing safeik  whether learning without ameilus constitutes bitul torah.  I certainly hope the answer is no! 

2) Is ameilus a kiyum of talmud torah, or is it a seperate kiyum in its own right?  He quotes Menachos 7 which tells us that Avimi forgot masechta menachos and he travelled to his talmid, Rav Chisda, to relearn it.  Asks the gemara: why didn't he send for his talmid to come to him?  Answers the gemara:  סבר הכי מסתייעא מילתא טפי, he thought he would have more success if he did the travelling.  Rashi explains: משום יגעתי ומצאתי  Here you have ameilus for the sake of learning, but it is not the ameilus of breaking your head over a sugya.   The ameilus of breaking your head over a sugya is t"t, but travelling to go to the shiur may be it's own kiyum.  (I am not sure what the nafka minah would be.)

It's interesting that in that sugya Avimi made the job harder for himself than it needed to be -- he created the יגעתי ומצאתי even though there was a way around it.  Is there a mitzvah, for example, to look up every difficult word in a gemara using a dictionary rather than read the sugya in an English translation just because the former is more difficult than the latter?  Or do you get more schar for taking a bus to a shiur because it makes the trip harder than just driving?  Seems like a strange conclusion.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

halacha based on nevuah - lo ba'shamayim hi

The gemara (Meg 3 and other places) derives from the last pasuk in our parsha,  אֵלֶּה הַמִּצְוֺת אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה׳ אֶת מֹשֶׁה אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּהַר סִינָי, that a navi is not permitted to introduce a new din or mitzvah beyond what was given at mattan Torah at Sinai.  

Chasam Sofer asks: what then was the hava amina of R' Eliezer in trying to prove he was correct in the famous tanur shel achna'i sugya by calling on a bas kol to affirm his position?  Lo ba'shamayim hi -- you cannot create halacha from nevuah.

I am a bit befuddled by the question.  The assumption that we ignore a bas kol because lo ba'shamayim hi is not so simple.  The gemara (Eiruvin 13b) tells us that it was on the basis of a bas kol that we pasken like beis hillel over beis shamai.   Tos discusses why we rely on the bas kol in this case but not with respect to tanur she achna'i and offers two answers:

 וי"ל משום דבת קול דר"א לא יצאה אלא לכבודו שאמר מן השמים יוכיחו כדאמר התם

1) The bas kol came out in support of R' Eliezer because R' Eliezer called upon it to do so, so it was bound to be mechabeid his wishes.  The bas kol came out in support of hillel without being prompted to do so.

 א"נ בההיא בת קול שהיתה כנגד רבים דרבנן הוו רובא (ב) דודאי אין הלכה אבל כבת קול דב"ה קי"ל משום דהוו ב"ה רובא אלא דב"ש מחדדי טפי

2) R' Eliezer was opposed by the majority; beis hillel was in the majority.  The reason the bas kol was needed was because beis shamai were brighter/sharper, and so we have conflicting halachic rules -- follow majority vs. follow the sharpness.    

According to the first answer of Tos, it seems like a bas kol does carry weight so long as it is an unprompted revelation.  The second view limits the role of the bas kol to cases where the halachic process does not leave us with a clear resolution, but it still has a role.  

The Rambam (Yesodei haTorah 9:1) sounds like he categorically rejects any use of bas kol to determine halacha:

ונאמר לא בשמים היא. הא למדת שאין נביא רשאי לחדש דבר מעתה. לפיכך אם יעמוד איש בין מן האומות בין מישראל ויעשה אות ומופת ויאמר שה' שלחו להוסיף מצוה או לגרוע מצוה או לפרש במצוה מן המצות פירוש שלא שמענו ממשה. או שאמר שאותן המצות שנצטוו בהן ישראל אינן לעולם ולדורי דורות אלא מצות לפי זמן היו. הרי זה נביא שקר שהרי בא להכחיש נבואתו של משה

Be that as it may, just because Tos wants to have its cake and eat it and accept the bas kol with respect to paskening like beis hillel but reject it when it comes to tanur shel achna'i doesn't mean R' Eliezer has to agree.  R' Eliezer b'pashtus would tell you that it's all or nothing -- what's good for the goose, i.e. affirming beis hillel, is good for the gander, affirming his own view.  

A second point: if C"S is correct, Tos should have asked a simpler question.  How could the bas kol affirm the halacha is like beis hillel when we have a rule that אין הנביא רשאי לחדש דבר מעתה  -- no need to mix in the sugya of tanur shel achna'i.  It sounds like the Tos rejection of the bas kol is only predicated on that sugya, not the derasha from our parsha.  Also worth noting that the Rambam does not cite the derasha either (see Lechem Mishne).  


For a general overview of what role nevuah or ruach ha'kodesh (e.g. "sod Hashem l'yireiav," as we saw in the Raavad a few weeks ago) can play in halacha, see R' Kook's comments at the end of Mishpat Kohen herehere.

Thursday, May 23, 2024

shemita, ona'ah. and lag ba'omer

Our parsha opens with the sugya of shemita and yovel, and then proceeds to tell us the halachos of ona'as mamon and ona'as devarim.  The parsha then returns to the sugya of shemita/yovel, and responds to the farmer's worry (25:20-21):

וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ מַה⁠ נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת הֵן לֹא נִזְרָע וְלֹא נֶאֱסֹף אֶת⁠ תְּבוּאָתֵנוּ

 וְצִוִּיתִי אֶת⁠ בִּרְכָתִי לָכֶם בַּשָּׁנָה הַשִּׁשִּׁית וְעָשָׂת אֶת⁠ הַתְּבוּאָה לִשְׁלֹשׁ הַשָּׁנִים

Why does the Torah wait until after the parsha of ona'ah to respond to the farmer's concern about going hungry during shemita and yovel?  Shouldn't these pesukim appear earlier?

My wife's grandfather, R' Dov Yehudah Shochet, answers (see my wife's post here)  that the very same worry of  מַה נֹּאכַל that the farmer feels free to openly express (וְכִי תֹאמְרוּ...) during the shemita year also lives in the back of the mind of the person who violates the issurim of ona'ah.  It's the fear of not being able to make a go of it unless you chisel more out of the other guy, or put down the other guy so that you are not left with less.  If you trust that Hashem will always give you your fair share, then overcharging the next guy accomplishes nothing. Therefore, the Torah waits and puts the response of וְצִוִּיתִי אֶת בִּרְכָתִי לָכֶם after the parsha of ona'ah, as the message of bitachon, the message that Hashem will ensure you get what you deserve, undercuts not just the worry of shemita observance, but undercuts the temptation for ona'ah as well.

This same theme is at the root of our celebration of Lag baOmer.  The Yerushalmi (Sheviis 9:1) records that when Rashb"i came out of the cave, he saw a hunter trying to trap birds.  He heard a voice in shamayim declare that the bird should go free, and off flew the bird.  He heard a bas kol declare that a bird should be caught, and so it was:

רִבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן יוֹחַי עֲבַד טְמִיר בִּמְעַרְתָּא תְּלַת עָשָׂר שְׁנִין בִּמְעָרַת חָרוּבִין. (דתרומה)  עַד שֶׁהֶעֱלָה גוּפוֹ חֲלוּדָה לְסוֹף תְּלַת עָשָׂר שְׁנִין. אֲמַר לֵינָה נְפַק חָמִי מַה קָלָא עָֽלְמָא נְפַק וְיָתִיב לֵיהּ עַל פּוּמָא דִמְעַרְתָּא חָמָא חַד צַייָד צְייַד צִיפּוֹרִין פְּרַס מְצוּדָתֵיהּ שְׁמַע בְּרַת קָלָא אָֽמְרָה דִימִוס וְאִישְׁתֵּיזְבַת. אֲמַר צִיפּוֹר מִבַּלְעֲדֵי שְׁמַיָּא לָא יִבְדָּא. וְכָל־שֶׁכֵּן בַּר נַשָּׁא

Rashb"i concluded that if the fate of birds is determined by hasgacha pratis, kal v'chomer the fate of man.  

It's not our own efforts and actions that determine our success or failure.  Working an extra day, an extra year more than everyone else, charging more than everyone else, will get you nowhere.

Chasam Sofer in his derashos cites a Midrash that says that the matzah from Egypt lasted until 15 Iyar, and then Bn"Y went three days with nothing. They complained (Shmos 16:3):

וַיֹּאמְרוּ אֲלֵהֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מִי יִתֵּן מוּתֵנוּ בְיַד ה׳ בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם בְּשִׁבְתֵּנוּ עַל סִיר הַבָּשָׂר בְּאׇכְלֵנוּ לֶחֶם לָשֹׂבַע כִּי הוֹצֵאתֶם אֹתָנוּ אֶל הַמִּדְבָּר הַזֶּה לְהָמִית אֶת כׇּל הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה בָּרָעָב

This is the desert version of the farmer's complaint of מַה נֹּאכַל בַּשָּׁנָה הַשְּׁבִיעִת.  On 18 Iyar = Lag Ba'Omer Hashem responded by giving the people mon.  In other words, on 18 Iyar Hashem fulfilled וְצִוִּיתִי אֶת בִּרְכָתִי לָכֶם -- sans hishtadlus, sans any effort, food literally fell from the sky.  

Rashb"i, the baal hilula,opined (Brachos 35b)

 ר"ש בן יוחי אומר אפשר אדם חורש בשעת חרישה וזורע בשעת זריעה וקוצר בשעת קצירה ודש בשעת דישה וזורה בשעת הרוח תורה מה תהא עליה אלא בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום מלאכתן נעשית ע"י אחרים שנא' ועמדו זרים ורעו צאנכם וגו'

What the famer lived for one year, what we live one day out of seven, Rashbi lived year round (perhaps this is why the Zohar refers to tzadikin as "shabbos.")

Coming back to the opening of our parsha:

 דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם כִּי תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ **אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם** וְשָׁבְתָה הָאָרֶץ שַׁבָּת לַה׳.

Do we need a reminder that Eretz Yisrael was promised to us by Hashem -- הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי נֹתֵן לָכֶם -- a fact we know from many earlier places in the Torah?  (See Oznayim laTorah)?  

In light of the above, perhaps we can say that these pesukim perhaps set the stage for us for the rest of the parsha.  It's the recognition that Hashem is in chage that makes the observance of shemita, yovel, avoiding ona'ah, all possible.  If you think you are the baal ha'bayis, that your actions alone that determine success or failure, then you are walking into the parsha with the wrong attitude from the get-go.

Friday, May 17, 2024

limud vs shemira

Rashi comments on וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם מִצְוֺתַי וַעֲשִׂיתֶם אֹתָם (23:31) that    

ושמרתם – זו המשנה.

ועשיתם – זה המעשה.

Rashi's source is the Toras Kohanim (see also Kiddusin 37a).

R' Shteinman asks in Ayeles haShachar: peshita that without studying the laws, one will be unable to do mitzvos.  What's the chiddush of this pasuk?

My wife's grandfather, R' Dov Yehudah Shochet, posed another difficulty with this Rashi.  We read in VaEschanan (5:1) וּלְמַדְתֶּם אֹתָם וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם לַעֲשֹׂתָם.  If shemira mean mishna, learning the halachos, then what is וּלְמַדְתֶּם אֹתָם? 

He answered based on a Seforno later in Bechukosai (26:3):

ואת מצותי תשמרו – הנה השמירה במצות היא ההשגחה באופן עשייתם ובמכוון מהם, וזה בעיון נאות, כאמרם ז״ל: ״שמר״ זו משנה

Limud is the basic level of knowledge necessary to do mitzvos.  Shemirah is, as Seforno explains, is a deeper level of learning --  בעיון נאות -- which brings a person to a richer, more spiritual life. 

I would add that the Netziv in many places writes that לַעֲשֹׂתָם actually means being mechadesh in halacha, expanding on what one already knows (e.g. see in Acharei Mos 18:5: וע״ז הכונה תנן במס׳ אבות פ״ד הלומד ע״מ ללמד מספיקין בידו ללמוד וללמד הלומד ע״מ לעשות מספיקין בידו ללמוד וללמד לשמור ולעשות. ואם הכונה ולעשות פעולת המצוה. פלא וכי ברישא מיירי ללמד ולא ע״מ לעשות ח״ו והרי זה רשע גמור. וכבר נדחקו בזה הר״ב ובתוי״ט. אבל הפי׳ הברור ע״מ לעשות לחדש בעיונו ולהוסיף לקח בלימודו).  Chiddush is only possible after one attains a deeper understanding of Torah.  Merely knowing what is required for the practical task of doing mitzvos would not be enough.

Seems to me that this distinction resolves R' Shteinman's question.  Of course certain basic knowledge is needed to do mitzvos, but what the pasuk demands of us is far more than that.  What it asks of us is a level of learning, "shemira," that calls on us to focus on ההשגחה באופן עשייתם ובמכוון מהם in doing mitzvos, as Seforno writes, or as Netziv suggests, expands our learning in new directions.

yiras Hashem tehora

 The Midrash comments on the opening of our parsha:

 אֱמֹר אֶל הַכֹּהֲנִים – הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (תהלים י״ט:י׳): יִרְאַת ה׳ טְהוֹרָה עוֹמֶדֶת לָעַד, אָמַר רַבִּי לֵוִי מִיִּרְאָה שֶׁנִּתְיָרֵא אַהֲרֹן מִלִּפְנֵי הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא, זָכָה וְנִתְּנָה לוֹ הַפָּרָשָׁה הַזּוֹ שֶׁאֵינָהּ זָזָה מִמֶּנּוּ וְלֹא מִבָּנָיו וְלֹא מִבְּנֵי בָנָיו עַד סוֹף כָּל הַדּוֹרוֹת, וְאֵיזוֹ זוֹ פָּרָשַׁת הַמֵּת, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: וַיֹּאמֶר ה׳ אֶל משֶׁה אֱמֹר אֶל הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי אַהֲרֹן.

What's the midah k'neged midah here?  What does yiras shamayim have to do with the parsha of tumas kohanim?

Shem m' Shmuel (5672) has a hesber in which he tackles this question by way of resolving a stira between the AR"I and the Zohar, but I don't understand such things, so I will do him the injustice of boiling what he says down to its essence: A person who has yiras shamayim keeps away from the tumah'dik things in this world that he is supposed to keep away from.  Midah k'neged midah, Hashem keeps the kohanim, who have yiras shamayim, away from the tumah and defilement of death.  The same, writes the Shem m'Shmuel, is true of tzadikim, who are zocheh to die b'neshika.

I would like to suggest a different hesber based on a well known gemara in Brachos (5a):

א"ר לוי בר חמא אמר ר"ש בן לקיש לעולם ירגיז אדם יצר טוב על יצר הרע שנא' רגזו ואל תחטאו. אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יעסוק בתורה שנאמר אמרו בלבבכם אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יקרא קריאת שמע שנאמר על משכבכם אם נצחו מוטב ואם לאו יזכור לו יום המיתה שנאמר ודומו סלה.

The gemara suggests various antidotes to combat the yetzer ha'ra -- learning Torah, reading shema -- and then says that if all else fails, think about the day of death and that will get rid of the yetzer.

The question is asked: if thinking about the day of death is the ultimate trump card against the yetzer, then why got through the process of first learning Torah, then if that doesn't work reading shema, etc.?   Just cut to the chase and think about yom ha'misa!  

Chazal apparently understood that taking the strongest medicine sometimes has unintended consequences that may not be desirable.  Sure, the patient will be cured, but at what cost?  In this case, Chazal understood that living life obsessed with the thought if impending death is not psychologically very healthy.  Sure, it works to ward off the yetzer ha'ra, but the costs of the cure are great.  Better to try safer methods first and hold this one back unless all else fails.

Last Sunday it was my FIL's yahrzeit, so we visited the cemetery in the morning, followed later that same day by a shiva visit to other relatives because my wife's aunt passed away.  In the back of our minds as well was the thought that just two weeks from now is the first yahrzeit of a cousin who unfortunately died in his 50's after a bout with cancer.  When you are in your 20's, it seems like 50+ is old, but once you get to your 50th birthday, your perspective changes completely.  The day last week was filled with the gloom of yom ha'misa.  Sometimes, for whatever reason, Hashem gives us one of those days to wake us up and remind us of what our priorities should be, but if every day were like that day, it would be very hard to get on with life.

What the Midrash is telling us, I think, is that Aharon and sons did not need days like that.  When you are overflowing with yiras shamayim, that is enough to keep the yetzer ha'ra at bay.  You don't need יזכור לו יום המיתה.  You don't need the medicine of tumas meis to give you the right perspective on life. 

Monday, May 13, 2024

a Yom ha'Atzmaut not of simcha or sasson, but of chedva

R' Lerrer from Merkaz haRav said that R' Tzvi Yehudah would quote from the teshuvos Ye'shuos Malko from R' Yehoshua m'Kutna (from the likutim section in the back) on the pasuk וַיִּחַדְּ יִתְרוֹ עַל כׇּל הַטּוֹבָה.  Rashi there quotes two interpretations.  One pshat is that Yisro was overjoyed at the deliverance of Am Yisrael, which is certainly the peshuto shel mikra, as Ibn Ezra comments ויחד – מגזרת: חדוה.  But then Rashi quotes a second interpretation ומדרשו (בבלי סנהדרין צ״ד.): נעשה חידודין חדודין, מיצר על איבוד מצרים.  Why does Rashi need to quote a Midrash and throw cold water on the simcha of Yisro [this is the Mizrachi's question as well]?  Why was Rashi not happy with the peshuto shel mikra as is?  

That shoresh of ויחד -- the term חדוה -- appears in a famous pasuk that Rashbam there alludes to.  When the handful of people returned with Ezra to build Bayis Sheni, there were those among them who cried when they saw their accomplishments.  They remembered the glory of Bayis Rishon, and knew that what they had was a pale comparison.  It was to them that Ezra directed his words לְכוּ אִכְלוּ מַשְׁמַנִּים וּשְׁתוּ מַמְתַקִּים וְשִׁלְחוּ מָנוֹת לְאֵין נָכוֹן לוֹ כִּי קָדוֹשׁ הַיּוֹם לַאֲדֹנֵינוּ וְאַל תֵּעָצֵבוּ כִּי חֶדְוַת ה׳ הִיא מָעֻזְּכֶם  There are different terms for happiness, says the Ye'shuos Malko.  Simcha is the joy of a new experience; sasson is the joy of rediscovering that which had been lost.  Chedva is a different animal entirely.  Chedva is when one's heart is breaking inside, but nonetheless, one rejoices.  Sometimes joy does not come easily; a person needs to coax themselves into finding it.  

Rashi's second interpretation does not mean to say that Yisro was not happy.  Both pshatim agree in that regard, that he was.  What the second interpretation adds is that Yisro's happiness did not come naturally at this time.  Yisro pushed himself to celebrate even though inside his heart was heavy.  It was not a joy of sasson or simcha, but merely a joy of chedvah.

This year we have a Yom ha'Atzmaut not of simcha, not of sasson, but of chedvah.  We have to celebrate even as we still grieve and mourn the events of 10/7 and for those who have fallen in battle.

That being said, rest assured that the words of the navi (Yeshayahu 51) will be ultimately be fulfilled:

כי־נחם ה׳ ציון נחם כל־חרבתיה וישׂם מדברה כעדן וערבתה כגן־יהוה שׂשׂון ושׂמחה ימצא בה תודה וקול זמרה׃

how a college president from the past dealt with student rebellion

I'm in the middle of Ronald White's biography of Civil War hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.  Towards the end he mentions an incident that occurred in 1875 while Chamberlain was serving as president of Bowdoin College in Maine.  The college had introduced mandatory military drills as part of the academic requirements.  Many students voiced their unhappiness with the requirement, but Chamberlain did not back down.  Things came to a head when the junior class voted to no longer participate in artillery drills, with the sophomore and freshman classes soon following suit.

White writes (p 294) that the faculty responded by summoning each student individually and asking if he would abide by the college rules.  When the student refused, he was sent home.

A few days later, Chamberlain sent a letter to each students' parents advising them that their son had 10 days to return to campus and pledge to adhere to the college rules and participate in the drills or they would be permanently expelled.

All but 3 of the students returned and resumed the drills.

What worked in 1875 would undoubtedly work on 2024, but they don't make men like Chamberlain anymore.

Friday, May 10, 2024

pe'ah and connecting to the Land

Why does the Torah instruct the farmer to leave pe'ah in his field for the poor to cut?  Wouldn't it be easier if he cut it for them and distributed it, like other matnos aniyim?

R' Aharon Bakst gave a mashal: imagine a mother who is angry at her child and instead of preparing his peanut butter sandwich for lunch and giving it to him herself, she allows his older brother to make the lunch and put it in his lunchbox. The loss of connection to his mother would be more painful to the child than having to eat whatever his older brother concocts. 

By telling the farmer to leave the wheat uncut and unharvested, Hashem allows the poor person to have a connection directly to the land of Eretz Yisrael, the "mother" earth where his sustenance comes from.  

Chazal tell us that the Amoraim would kiss the rocks of Eretz Yisrael before leaving the country.  They treated the land like like giving your mother a hug and kiss before you go on a trip.  

וְכִי⁠ תָבֹאוּ אֶל הָאָרֶץ וּנְטַעְתֶּם כׇּל⁠ עֵץ מַאֲכָל וַעֲרַלְתֶּם עׇרְלָתוֹ אֶת⁠ פִּרְיוֹ (19:23)  

Ohr haChaim comments:

ג׳ מצות נאמרו כאן. א׳ ביאת הארץ על דרך אומרם (כתובות קי:) הכל מעלין לארץ ישראל וכו׳. ב׳ לנטוע כל עץ מאכל לשבח הארץ. ג׳ לנהוג שני ערלה.

Simple pshat in the pasuk is that there is a mitzvah to plant trees in Eretz Yisrael (see also Ayeles haShachar here.)  

He goes on to say further:

עוד ירמוז באומרו וכי תבאו אל הארץ שלא תהיה הכוונה לתיאבון המורגשות אלא תהיה כוונת הביאה אל הארץ לחיבוב ולחשק הארץ הקדושה אשר בחר ה׳ בה הר ה׳ שמה, ואמר כי אין כוונת דיבור זה להחליט המניעה מהשתדל בישוב הארץ אלא ונטעתם וגו׳, הא למדת שמה שהתנה במאמר אל הארץ הוא בבחינת תכלית המחשבה שתהיה למעלת הארץ במושכלות לא להנאת הגוף.

Baruch Hashem we live in a time where Hashem has given us the opportunity to live this as a reality.  My daughter called me one day this week because she had some question about being mafrish tru"m from some vegetables she bought.  Whose children asked them questions like this 100 years ago?!  

How can we not give thanks for this not only next week on Yom ha'Atzmaut, but each and every day?  

the most dangerous and common lifnei iveir

The Chazon Ish (YD 62:25) raises a very interesting question: does the issur of lifnei iveir apply only to misleading other people, or does it apply to oneself as well?  I think this is the most egregious, most common, and most dangerous form of lifnei iveir.  It is very hard for a person not to have a higher opinion of himself than is warranted by reality, and it's also hard to make good choices when you are nogei'a ba'davar, and there is no bigger negi'ah than a person's own self.  We therefore end up putting ourselves in bad situations and making bad choices.  We put stumbling blocks before ourselves, both in gashiyus and in ruchniyus.  

(For the record, R' Avraham Genechovsky addressed this safeik and brought proof from the following din that there is no lifnei iveir viz a viz oneself : the din is that a שׁבועה to violate an explicit mitzvah is not chal; however, a שׁבועה to violate a din not spelled out explicitly in the Torah, e.g. if someone takes an oath to eat a chatzi shiur of issur, is chal. 

Here's R' Genechovsky's logic: 

The Minchas Chinuch has a chiddush that a person who causes someone else to violate an issur derabbanan is over lifei iveir on a d'oraysa level.  Since lifnei iveir applies even to giving bad advice, causing someone to violate an issur derabbanan is at least as bad as giving them bad advice.  

By the same logic, taking an oath to feed someone else a chatzi shiur of issur should violate lifnei iveir d'oraysa, as it too is at least as bad as giving them bad advice.  

If that is true of feeding someone else, then the same should be true with respect to feeding oneself -- the שׁבועה effectively would be a violation of the issur d'oraysa of lifnei iveir viz a viz onself, if such an issur exists.

How then could such a שׁבועה be chal?  The din of eating chatzi shiur may not be explicit in the Torah, but the issur of lifnei iveir involved in eating the chatzi shiur is explicit, and that should negate שׁבועה?

QED from the fact that we don't say that, and the din is that such a שׁבועה is chal, that there must not be an issur of lifnei iveir with respect to onself, only with respect to others.)

Thursday, May 09, 2024

kedushas makom mikdash b'zman ha'zeh

The Minchas Chinuch on the first mitzvah of last week's parsha (184:5)  tries to make a l'shitaso in the Rambam/Raavad. The Rambam distinguishes between kedushas ha'aretz and kedushas Yerushalayim, and holds that while with respect to the former there is a machlokes whether קידשׁה לשׁעתא or קידשׁה לעתיד לבא, the latter was sanctified for all eternity (Hil Beis haBechira 6:14):

כל מקום שלא נעשה בכל אלו וכסדר הזה אין קדוש גמור וזה שעשה עזרא שתי תודות זכרון הוא שעשה לא במעשיו נתקדש המקום שלא היה שם לא מלך ולא אורים ותומים. ובמה נתקדשה בקדושה ראשונה שקדשה שלמה שהוא קידש העזרה וירושלים לשעתן וקידשן לעתיד לבא:

The Raavad's view is 180 degrees the opposite based on gemaras as well as based on סוד הּ ליראיו as revealed to him:

א"א סברת עצמו היא זו ולא ידעתי מאין לו ובכמה מקומות במשנה אם אין מקדש ירקב ובגמּ אמרו דנפול מחיצות אלמא למ"ד קדושה ראשונה לא קדשה לעתיד לבא לא חלק בין מקדש לירושלים לשאר א"י ולא עוד אלא שאני אומר שאפילו לרבי יוסי דאמר קדושה שנייה קדשה לעתיד לבא לא אמר אלא לשאר א"י אבל לירושלים ולמקדש לא אמר לפי שהיה יודע עזרא שהמקדש וירושלים עתידים להשתנות ולהתקדש קידוש אחר עולמי בכבוד ה׳ לעולם כך נגלה לי מסוד הּ ליראיו לפיכך הנכנס עתה שם אין בו כרת:

According to Raavad, even according to the view that קידשׁה לעתיד לבא with respect to the kedusha of Eretz Yisrael, the kedusha of Yerushalayim and the makom mikdash is not eternal.

Nafka minah: according to the Rambam, a person who is tamei is prohibited from entering the makom mikdash.  According to Raavad, we would expect there to be no issur.  Raavad rather cryptically writes  אין בו כרת, which leaves open the possibility of there being no onesh, but still assur for some other reason.

Minchas Chinuch suggests that there should be other nafka minot as well.  In last week's parsha we had a din of באת יבא אהרון אל הקודשׁ, that kohanim can enter the mikdash only to do avodah, but not without any purpose.  Does this issur apply b'zman ha'zeh?  M.C. suggests that it depends on this machlokes Rambam and Raavad whether there is kedushas mikdash or not post churban or not.

He repeats the same idea this week at the end of the mitzvah of mora mikdash  (mitzvah 254). Here too, whether or not the issur applies b'zman ha'zeh would seem to depend on this machlokes Rambam and Raavad whether or not there is kedushas mikdash after the churban or not.  Rambam who holds there is kedusha l'shitaso in Beis haBechira 7:7 holds that there is an issur d'oraysa of morah mikdash even b'zman ha'zeh:

אע"פ שהמקדש היום חרב בעונותינו חייב אדם במוראו כמו שהיה נוהג בו בבניינו. לא יכנס אלא למקום שמותר להכנס לשם ולא ישב בעזרה ולא יקל ראשו כנגד שער המזרח שנאמר את שבתותי תשמורו ומקדשי תיראו. מה שמירת שבת לעולם אף מורא מקדש לעולם שאע"פ שחרב בקדושתו עומד:

Presumably the Raavad would disagree.

One "little" problem: if the M.C. is correct, where is the hasagah of the Raavad there stating his disagreement?  Where is the Raavad to tell us that the issur of mora mikdash no longer applies?

R' Soloveitchik explained (see footnote to Reshimos Shiurim Yevamos p 134) that even according to Raavad there can be an issur of mora mikdash even though there is no kedushas mikdash.  The halacha is that there is an issur of offering korbanos on a bamah in your backyard b'zmah ha'zeh.  This shows that irrespective of whether there is kedushas mikdash or not, the makom mikdash remains for all eternity the place chosen by Hashem to the exclusion of any other area.  The din of mora similarly is not dependent upon the place having kedusha, but rather of the place of the mikdash being chosen by Hashem to be special and unique.  

R' Betzalel Zolti  in Mishnas Yaavetz O.C. 47:5 (see this post as well) draws a similar distinction between kedushas mikdash and what he calls kedushas machneh, and in this way explains why even though Raavad holds there is no kareis for entering the makom mikdash, there is still an issur.  With respect to kareis, the Torah refers to defiling the "mikdash Hashem," (Bamidbar 19:20)  וְנִכְרְתָה הַנֶּפֶשׁ הַהִוא מִתּוֹךְ הַקָּהָל כִּי אֶת⁠ מִקְדַּשׁ ה׳ טִמֵּא, meaning the onesh depends on keduash mikdash.  However, with respect to entering whole tamei, the Torah speaks only about the "machaneh" which is holy,  (Bamidbar 5:3)  וְלֹא יְטַמְּאוּ אֶת⁠ מַחֲנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי שֹׁכֵן בְּתוֹכָם.  The makom mikdash may, according to Raavad, lack kedushas mikdash, but it still remains the machaneh Shechina.  

Monday, May 06, 2024


Just a small snippit regarding R' Dov Lior's escape from the Shoah and what greatness means.

what haftarah did you read this week?

Rama paskens in the end of siman 428:

כשקורין שתי פרשיות מפטירין באחרונה (מרדכי פרק בני העיר) ובלבד באחרי מות וקדושים דמפטירין הלא כבני כושיים שהיא הפטרת א"מ

Mishne Berura comments:

פני שההפטרה של פרשה שניה מזכרת מתועבת ירושלים משא"כ כשהן נפרדות שכבר קראו הלוא כבני כושיים בפרשת אחרי בהכרח להפטיר בפרשת קדושים התשפוט. והנה הלבוש חולק על רמ"א ודעתו דגם כשהיא כפולה קוראין הפטרה אחרונה דהיינו של פרשת קדושים אבל הב"ח וש"א כתבו שנתפשט המנהג בכל הקהלות כהרמ"א

I happened to daven in a different minyan than my usual one on shabbos morning and was surprised when the person reading the haftarah read the perek from Yechezkel and not the haftarah of כבני כושיים.  Not only does the Rama say otherwise, but even the posek acharon of shuls in our time, i.e. the Artscroll, says that minhag Ashkenaz is like the Rama.  No one else said anything, and I figured I was not a regular there, so what do I know (the Rabbi of this shul davens at the later minyan, so he was not present). As the baal koreh was finishing, finally someone knowledgeable did walk up to the bimah and asked the gabai what's going on.  Someone else then yelled out that the reader was correct, as that is what the luach says.  Curious, I went over and asked to see the luach.  It's published by Heichal Shlomo and it's available online, so you can see for yourself here on p 64  that this person is indeed correct.  

So do the Rama and Mishne Berura and even the Artscroll have it all wrong?

Here is my conjecture.  R' Y.M. Tukachinsky, author of Gesher haChaim and other works, also wrote a luach of minhagei Eretz Yisrael.  This issue came up, and he was mechadesh that the minhag in Eretz Yisrael is not like the Rama.  This elicited a backlash from the Chazon Ish and others, who disagreed.  The occurrence of Acharei Mos and Kedoshim as separate parshiyos where the potential for this question to arise is fairly infrequent, so it's not you can just ask someone what was done last year.  As luck would have it, you can read about the controversy in this month's edition of HaMaayan, and so you don't need me to spell out the details of the back and forth.  In terms of our story, my hunch is that the luach printed by Heichal Shlomo is built around Rav Tukachinsky's luach of minhagei Eretz Yisrael, and therefore, assumes not like the Rama. (I wish I could find contact info to confirm this.) That's fine and dandy if you live in Eretz Yisrael and think R' Tukachinsky got it right, but it seems to me to be a very questionable stretch to assume this is the minhag Ashkenaz in the US and elsewhere.  

Afterwards, the person who read the haftarah came over to the person who tried to correct him and admitted that in retrospect he thinks he made a mistake, as he found a parsha sheet that said the haftarah should be כבני כושיים. (I learned from this that a random parsha sheet trumps even the heilege Artscroll.)  Assuming like the lishna basra that this was an error, I wonder what this minyan should do next week.  Should they read the haftarah of התשפוט like everyone else reads for Kedoshim?  Or since they already read that haftarah of התשפוט for Achrei Mos, albeit in error, should they read  כבני כושיים for Kedoshim? I hope someone there asks their Rav what to do before next shabbos rolls around.  I also hope I get myself out of bed up on time to get to my normal place of worship so I avoid situations like this : ) 

It's worth mentioning that there is yet a third minhag, minhag Yerushalayim, to read the same haftarah of כבני כושיים for both Acharei Mos and Kedoshim (see here).  The essential background to all this is the last line of the last Mishna in Megillah, which says  רַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר אוֹמֵר, אֵין מַפְטִירִין בְּהוֹדַע אֶת יְרוּשָׁלַיִם.  Bartenua comments: משום יקרא דירושלים.  We don't want to read a haftarah that speaks badly of Yerushalayim.  He adds that we don't pasken like R' Eliezer.  Tos Y"T asks: the stam Mishna earlier writes that we do read the maaseh ha'eigel even though the sin is an embarrassment because there is a silver lining to that embarrassment -- suffering the embarrassment enables us to get kaparah.  Why does R' Eliezer agree with the sevara there, but not with respect to reading about the sins of Yerushalayim?  Why not read about the wrongdoing of Yerushalayim to suffer embarrassment and get kaparah?  Furthermore, adds the Tos Y"T, if R' Eliezer is correct, he should have a problem with the haftarah of Kedoshim as well:   וכן הפטרה דקדושים התשפוט התשפוט את עיר הדמים (יחזקאל כ"ב) וכו' He goes on to try to answer this question, but is his answer, which you can look up, really satisfying?  This story speaks for itself:

קרה מקרה בבית הכנסת אשר בבתי ברודא כאשר התחיל הקורא לקרוא בפרשת קדושים את הפטרת הלא כבני כושיים, קרא לעומתו רב גדול אחד מהעולים החדשים אז, – קוראים התשפוט! ירד בעל הקריאה מעל הבימה ואמר: אני אינני מוכן לעמוד בהקפדתו של ר' אליעזר, אם כת"ר רוצה דוקא בהפטרת התשפוט, יעלה כת"ר ויקרא! ולבסוף הכריעו המתפללים והקורא קרא את הפטרת הלא כבני כושיים".

Besmirching  יקרא דירושלים is not something to take lightly.

Final point: a takeaway from the above story to keep in mind not just for this week, but for every week, is that the words of the navi are to be taken seriously and taken to heart.  The haftarah is not just a time to shmooz with a neighbor or go out of shul for a stroll or for some liquid fortification while the person called for maftir struggles to read words that are incomprehensible to him and most of the listeners.  The haftarah is the navi speaking to us from the page, across history.  When you read about to'eivos, you should look at what goes on around you and your eyes should fill with tears.  And when you read about the redemption of Yerushalayim, you should also look around you and fill your heart with joy.

Friday, May 03, 2024

the greater the potential gain, the greater the obstacles to get there

A)  דַּבֵּר אֶל בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְאָמַרְתָּ אֲלֵהֶם אֲנִי ה׳ אֱלֹקיכֶם

 כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם בָּהּ לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וּבְחֻקֹּתֵיהֶם לֹא תֵלֵכוּ

 Rashi comments:

 ר׳ אומר: גלוי וידוע לפניו שסופן לנתק בעריות בימי עזרא, לפיכך בא עליהם בגזירה: אני ה׳ אֱלֹקיכֶם – דעו מי גוזר עליכם, דיין ליפרע ונאמן לשלם שכר.

It sounds like Rashi means that this is a prelude to the parsha of arayos which follows, and Hashem is warning in advance that Bnei Yisrael would succumb to these issurim.  The only problem is that the sin committed in the days of Ezra to which Rashi is referring is the sin of taking a non-Jewish wife.  Look through the parsha of arayos and you will not see this sin mentioned anywhere there!  R' Shteinman raises the question but offers no answer.

Chasam Sofer explains derech derush (d"h dabeir) that Rashi's comment is not a prelude to the parsha of arayos, but rather a prelude to the sin of כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם בָּהּ לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן אֲשֶׁר אֲנִי מֵבִיא אֶתְכֶם שָׁמָּה לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ, which is not just about who you can or can't marry.  We find in Nac"h the term for relationship between man and woman, בּעילה, is used as a metaphor for our relations to other nations and to Hashem. Yeshayahu (26:13) describes our becoming subservient to the nations as בְּעָל֥וּנוּ אֲדֹנִ֖ים זֽוּלָתֶ֑ךָ.  Similarly, the geulah is described (63:5) as a bride coming to her groom כִּי יִבְעַל בָּחוּר בְּתוּלָה יִבְעָלוּךְ בָּנָיִךְ וּמְשׂוֹשׂ חָתָן עַל כַּלָּה יָשִׂישׂ עָלַיִךְ אֱלֹקיִךְ.  When the Torah tells us כְּמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם ***אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם בָּהּ*** לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ what it means that we should not become subjegated to Mitzrayim and fall into the orbit of Mitzrayim.  The same warning applies when entering Canaan.  Our job there is to setup our own independent society, not become subjects of others or subservient to their whims.  A wife cannot have two husbands; this is arayos.  Klal Yisrael cannot be both subjects of Hashem and subjects of other nations; this is metaphorically arayos.  This was the sin of Erza's days. The marrying of non-Jewish wives was a siman that the people thought of themselves as part of the non-Jewish society at large. 

B) The Toras Cohanim writes on these pesukim: 

מְנַיִן שֶׁלֹּא הָיְתָה אֻמָּה בָּאֻמּוֹת שֶׁהִתְעִיבוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן יָתֵר מִן הַכְּנַעֲנִים?

תִּלְמֹד לוֹמַר ״וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן... לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ״.

מְנַיִן לַדּוֹר הָאַחֲרוֹן שֶׁהִתְעִיבוּ מַעֲשֵׂיהֶן יָתֵר מִכֻּלָּם? תִּלְמֹד לוֹמַר ״וּכְמַעֲשֵׂה אֶרֶץ כְּנַעַן... לֹא תַעֲשׂוּ״.

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״.

What does that last line -- בִּיאָתָן שֶׁלְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּרְמָה לְכָל הַמַּעֲשִׂים הַלָּלוּ -- mean?  How could Bn"Y coming into Eretz Canaan be the cause of the base behavior of the inhabitants?  

Malbim says you have to flip the phrase around and read it as the behavior of the inhabitants of Canaan rubbing off on Bn"Y and the acting as the cause of their going astray:

שמצד שישבו שם יהיה גרמה לישראל שיעשו התועבות האלה כי למדום מן המצריים, וכן מצד שיבואו לכנען יהיה זה גרם לישראל לעשות כן כמ״ש ״כי אתם ידעתם את אשר ישבנו בארץ מצרים ואת אשר עברנו בקרב הגוים...ותראו את שקוציהם...פן יש בכם איש או אשה וכולי״. וז״ש ומנין למקום... ומנין שישיבתם של ישראל גרמה להם (פירוש: שהוא יהיה גרם לישראל בעתיד 

Sefas Emes (5648) reads the phrase to mean just what it says.  In order to understand his approach, two points of introduction are needed:

1) The Midrash (Braishis 34) writes:

ר' שמעון בן לקיש היה יושב ויגע בתורה באלסיס זו של טבריה. יצאו שתי נשים משם. אמרה אחת לחברתה: ברוך שהוציאנו מן האוויר הרע הזה. צווח ואמר להן: מהיכן אתן? אמרו לו: ממזגא; אמר: אני מכיר את מזגא ואין בה אלא שתי דירות. אמר: ברוך שנתן חן מקום על יושביו. תלמיד אחד משל ר' יוסי היה יושב לפניו, היה (ר' יוסי) מסביר לו ולא סבר. אמר לו: למה אין אתה סובר? אמר לו: מפני שאני גולה ממקומי. אמר לו: מהיכן אתה? אמר לו: מגובת שמאי. אמר לו: ומה הן האוירות של שם? אמר לו: כשתינוק נולד, אנו גובלים לו אדמדמנים7 וטשים את מוחו, שלא יאכלוהו היתושים. אמר: ברוך שנתן חן מקום בעיני יושביו.

People can live in the most ugly places, but to them it is home, and they can't function outside their "natural habitat."  חן מקום על יושביו.  You can put a polar bear in Hawaii, and no matter how delightful it is sitting under a tree on the beach, it won't be happy because it's home is the Arctic.  There were many stories written about Gus, the famous polar bear of the Central Park Zoo, suffering depression.  I don't blame him; anyone stuck living in NY would and should be depressed.  Yet there are NYers who would not trade their home in the Big Apple for anything in the world.  

Sefas Emes explains that it's not just a matter of becoming acclimated to a place.  A polar bear born in Hawaii would still feel out of place.  What makes a person feel at home in the innate connection his/her soul has with that place.  

We all belong somewhere.  Where all have a place that we feel is home.  What that place is is determined by our neshoma.  

What is true of individuals is true of nations. The soul of Frenchmen causes them to feel at home in France.  The soul of Italians makes them long for Italy.  The soul of a Jew tells him that only Eretz Yisrael is home.

2) Sukkah 52a:

כִּדְדָרֵשׁ רַבִּי יְהוּדָה: לֶעָתִיד לָבֹא, מְבִיאוֹ הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא לְיֵצֶר הָרָע, וְשׁוֹחֲטוֹ בִּפְנֵי הַצַּדִּיקִים וּבִפְנֵי הָרְשָׁעִים. צַדִּיקִים נִדְמֶה לָהֶם כְּהַר גָּבוֹהַּ, וּרְשָׁעִים נִדְמֶה לָהֶם כְּחוּט הַשַּׂעֲרָה. הַלָּלוּ בּוֹכִין וְהַלָּלוּ בּוֹכִין. צַדִּיקִים בּוֹכִין וְאוֹמְרִים: הֵיאַךְ יָכוֹלְנוּ לִכְבּוֹשׁ הַר גָּבוֹהַּ כָּזֶה! וּרְשָׁעִים בּוֹכִין וְאוֹמְרִים: הֵיאַךְ לֹא יָכוֹלְנוּ לִכְבּוֹשׁ אֶת חוּט הַשַּׂעֲרָה הַזֶּה! וְאַף הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא תָּמֵהַּ עִמָּהֶם, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״כֹּה אָמַר ה׳ צְבָאוֹת כִּי יִפָּלֵא בְּעֵינֵי שְׁאֵרִית הָעָם הַזֶּה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם גַּם בְּעֵינַי יִפָּלֵא״.

The yetzer ha'ra doesn't waste effort.  If a person has his sights set only on little things, then there is no point in the yetzer putting up much of a fight.  However, when there are big things at stake, he pulls out all the stops.  

Sefas Emes puts the two ideas together.  

It's because Eretz Yisrael is destined specifically for Am Yisrael -- it is a place of greatness destined for great people -- that the yetzer ha'ra pulls out all the stops there and unleashes defilement, temptation, confusion, and all sorts of difficulties there.  Yes, בִּיאָתָן שֶׁלְּיִשְׂרָאֵל גָּרְמָה לְכָל הַמַּעֲשִׂים הַלָּלוּ.  

The war in Eretz Yisrael, the challenges that exist there, the secular and even anti-religious environment in certain places, this is the yetzer ha'ra pulling out all the stops.  This greater the ohr, the greater the hester trying to get us to turn away. 

תְּבִאֵמוֹ וְתִטָּעֵמוֹ בְּ**הַר** נַחֲלָתְךָ -- this is צַדִּיקִים נִדְמֶה לָהֶם כְּהַר גָּבוֹהַּ 

כֹּה אָמַר ה׳ צְבָאוֹת כִּי יִפָּלֵא בְּעֵינֵי שְׁאֵרִית הָעָם הַזֶּה בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם גַּם בְּעֵינַי יִפָּלֵא 

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Did Bnei Ephraim try to leave Egypt early?

In sefer Tehillim (78:9) there is an allusion to a battle fought and lost by Bnei Ephraim, בְּנֵי אֶפְרַיִם נוֹשְׁקֵי רוֹמֵי קָשֶׁת הָפְכוּ בְּיוֹם קְרָב.  Rashi quotes from Chazal that the Bnei Ephraim tried to leave Egypt early and were attacked and killed:

בני אפרים – שיצאו ממצרים בזרוע לפני הקץ ובטחו בגבורתם ובחציהם וסופם הפכו לנוס ביום קרב, כדמפורש בדברי הימים

I think that this Chazal is fairly well known, but less well known is the fact that al pi peshuto, it is not accepted by all.  In Divei haYamim I 7:21 we read:

 וְזָבָד בְּנוֹ וְשׁוּתֶלַח בְּנוֹ וְעֵזֶר וְאֶלְעָד וַהֲרָגוּם אַנְשֵׁי⁠ גַת הַנּוֹלָדִים בָּאָרֶץ כִּי יָרְדוּ לָקַחַת אֶת⁠ מִקְנֵיהֶם

Radak comments:

ולפי דעתי כי ״הנולדים בארץ״ שב לבני אפרים; ולפי שזכר בבני אפרים הנולדים במצרים, והם בניו ובני בניו כמו שאמ׳ ״וירא יוסף לאפרים בני שלשים״ (בראשית נ׳:כ״ג), אמ׳ כי בני אפרים הנולדים בארץ – שהוליד הוא בארץ – ירדו לארץ גת לקחת מקניהם והרגום אנשי גת. וזה היה במדבר; כי בארץ ישראל לא יכול להיות, לפי שאמ׳ ״ויתאבל אפרים אביהם ימים רבים״ (להלן פס׳ כב), ואפרים לא נכנס לארץ, כי לא נכנסו מיוצאי מצרים מבן עשרים שנה ומעלה כי אם יהושע וכלב (במדבר י״ד:כ״ט-ל׳). לפיכך אני אומר כי המעשה הזה היה במדבר או בארץ הגלעד, ועדין אפרים חי; כי זה יכול להיות, כי מכיר בן מנשה היה מכובשי ארץ גלעד (יהושע י״ז:א׳), והנה בני מכיר בן מנשה ילדו על ברכי יוסף (בראשית נ׳:כ״ג). ומה שמוכיח הפיר׳ הזה, כי תמצא מספר בני אפרים בצאתם ממצרים כשנמנו במדבר סיני בשנה השנית ארבעים אלף וחמש מאות (במדבר א׳:ל״ג), וכשנמנו בכניסתן לארץ בערבות מואב בשנת הארבעים לא היו אלא שנים ושלשים אלף וחמש מאות (במדבר כ״ו:ל״ז); ואלו שמונת אלפים שחסרו במדבר הם שהרגו בני גת.

According to Radak, this episode of Bnei Ephraim being killed took place after yetzi'as Mitzrayim while Bn"Y were wandering in the desert.  Interestingly, according to Radak, Ephraim himself was alive still and mourned the death of his grandchildren. This stands in contrast to the Chazal that teaches that the shibud in Egypt started only after all the shevatim died.

The Daat Mikra (ibid) quotes a fascinating comment of R"Y haChassid on the pasuk  כִּי תִקְרֶאנָה מִלְחָמָה וְנוֹסַף גַּם הוּא עַל שֹׂנְאֵינוּ וְנִלְחַם בָּנוּ וְעָלָה מִן הָאָרֶץ.  According to R"Y haChassid, there were members of Bn"Y that stayed behind in Eretz Yisrael while the rest of the family went down to Egypt.  These stragglers worked the land, raised crops, and helped support their brethern in Egypt.  At some point the Bnei Ephraim attempted to build up communities on the border between Egypt and Israel to join these two communities together, and it was the fear of the internal Jewish community uniting with the community outside the borders of Egypt that concerned Pharoah.  R"Y haChassid then quotes a R' Yitzchak mi'Russia who explained that the community in Israel paid a tax to their brothers in Egypt, and the conflict with Pharoah started when Pharoah tried to divert this tax to his own treasury. In either case, it is the failed attempt to link the community in Egypt with that in Eretz Yisrael which the pesukim are referring to. 

why spill off wine when reading the 10 makkos

Why dip your finger in wine and spill off a it when you read the makkos in the haggadah?  My wife suggested that it is not because we feel bad for the Egyptians; it's because we feel bad for our fellow Jews who witnessed the makkos and yet many of whom still wanted to stay behind in Egypt.  

Parenthetically, we tell the ben ha'rasha that had he been in Egypt he would not have experienced geulah, but in fact, we know that there were resha'im who did leave Egypt with Klal Yisrael, e.g. Dasam and Aviram.  The Nesivos in his haggadah Maaseh Nissim explains that a person can be a mechalel shabbos, for example, but still believe in geulah and by virtue of that belief, earn geulah.  I would add that I assume the flipside of the coin is also true -- one can be shomer shabbos 100% but fall short in one's belief in the potential redemption of Klal Yisrael.