Monday, July 24, 2017

ח: מחלוקת לשם שמים

בשלמא (לרבא) תבעו ממון תחלה בשלשה תבעו נפשות תחלה אפילו ממון בעשרים ושלשה אלא לעולא קשיא אמר רבא אני וארי שבחבורה תרגימנא ומנו רב חייא בר אבין הכא במאי עסקינן...

The משנה in אבות ה:י”ז speaks about the difference between a מחלוקת לשם שמים and a מחלוקת שלא לשם שמים. One of the prevailing interpretations of the מחלוקת לשם שמים, exemplified by הלל and שמאי is that both sides of the dispute actually share a common goal. They are each seeking to reach the common goal of the proper way to understand a סוגיא and thus, the proper way to serve the רבש”ע.

This is – perhaps subtly – on display in this גמרא. The גמרא asks a קושיא on עולא’s opinion cased on a ברייתא. But רבא, in conjunction with רב חייא בר אבין offers an understanding of the ברייתא which evades the קושיא. But wait, who was עולא arguing with? None other than רבא himself. So even while רבא is embroiled in this dispute with עולא over how to understand our משנה, he nevertheless comes to his defense to reject the גמרא’s question.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

.מד Protecting the Sinners

רבי יוסי הגלילי אומר הירא ורך הלבב זהו המתיירא מן העבירות שבידו לפיכך תלתה לו התורה את כל אלו שיחזור בגללן
Well, I wasn't as active as I had hoped to be for סוטה. To end off, I want to quote one of my favourite הערות - because it is from my son, Efrayim. He made this observation a couple of years ago when he was 10 years old:

In a book of meshalim on the parsha, it is told that a group of maskilim once produced a satirical play about a Jewish army that was led to war according to the guidelines spelled out in פרשת שופטים  (20:5-8). The officer first announced that anyone who recently built a new house should return, upon which a thousand men got up and left the battlefield. The same occurred after the following announcements regarding having planted a vineyard or having recently betrothed a future wife. In the end, only the Vilna Gaon and the Sha'agas Aryeh remained.

The Brisker Rav, upon hearing of this production, commented that it was completely accurate, only that they left out the most important part - that they still win the war! 

Efrayim took issue with the way the process was related in the play, based on our משנה. There is a dispute over the term ירא ורך לבב. Rabbi Akiva asserts that it is understood literally as someone who is fearful of combat. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili, however, maintains that it refers to someone who is fearful based on his transgressions that he will not merit to survive the war. He goes on to explain that this is why the Torah created the other exceptions, to save the fearful one from embarrassment as no one will know exactly why he is leaving the battlefield. Efrayim objected that in order for this arrangement to work, it would be futile to dismiss each group after each announcement. Clearly, they must have made all four declarations at once at which point all those subject to exemptions would leave together, thus concealing those who left because of their sins.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

.יד Moshe's Burial Location

It is somewhat ironic that while in my car this day, one of the songs that popped up on my stereo was Tzadikim by Yaakov Shwekey. You can hear it here. From my research, it appears the words come from the עין יעקב on our very דף and go as follows:

(א"ר חמא בר חנינא) מפני מה נסתתר קברו של משה מעיני בשר ודם, מפני שגלוי וידוע לפני הקב"ה שעתיד בית המקדש ליחרב ולהגלות את ישראל מארצם שמא יבואו לקבורתו של משה כאותה שעה ויעמדו בבכיה ויתחננו למשה ויאמרו לו משה רבינו עמוד בתפלה בעדנו ועומד משה ומבטל את הגזרה, מפני שחביבין צדיקים במיתתם יותר מבחייהם.
I happen to think it's a very nice song and the words are most intriguing. There's certainly much to discuss regarding praying to intermediaries but ... not now.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Egyptian Holocaust

The end of the first פרק goes into great detail in expounding upon the פסוקים in the beginning of שמות. It is therefore appropriate to point you to an essay written by my good friend and scholar, David Farkas, entitled The Egyptian Holocaust, detailing the many chilling correlations between the machinations of פרעה thousands of years ago and those of Hitler and the Nazis, ימח שמם וזכרם.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

.ו Enlighten Us

אמר רב עמרם הא מילתא אמר לן רב ששת ואנהר לן עיינין ממתניתין


It would seem that רב עמרם chose these specific words, "he enlightened our eyes," very deliberately. רב ששת was blind. This is not ח"ו to insult רב ששת but rather as a form of extended praise, as if to say "we can physically see and he cannot. Nevertheless, it is he who enlightens our eyes with his exposition of the משנה. In fact, שוב מצאתי, in the Artscroll that they make the very same observation and also point out that this terminology is actually used quite often, specifically with regards to רב ששת.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

.ה In the Right Time

ואם חוזר בו נאסף בזמנו כאברהם אבינו שנאמר והומכו ככל יקפצון כאברהם יצחק ויעקב דכתיב בהו בכל מכל כל


I am somewhat puzzled as to the exact meaning of נאסף בזמנו. Does it mean they will die in their proper time? If so, that is slightly troubling per the well-known רש"י in next week's  פרשה (כ"ה:כ"ט) which states that אברהם passed 5 years before his time so as not to see his grandchild stray from the path. Regarding יעקב as well, we are told that years were taken off his life. What, then, is the meaning?