Tuesday, November 13, 2012

.מ"א One last thing

ר' זירא הוה קא משתמיט מדרב יהודה דבעי למיסק לארעא דישראל דאמר רב יהודה כל העולה מבבל לא"י עובר בעשה שנאמר בבלה יובאו ושמה יהיו אמר איזיל ואשמע מיניה מילתא ואיתי ואיסק אזל אשכחיה דקאי בי באני וקאמר ליה לשמעיה הביאו לי נתר הביאו לי מסרק פתחו פומייכו ואפיקו הבלא ואשתו ממיא דבי באני אמר אילמלא (לא) באתי אלא לשמוע דבר זה דיי
 I had some difficulty with this opinion of רב יהודה when it appeared in ברכות. See my comments there. Interestingly, there it is רבי אבא and here it is רבי זירא. It seems רב יהודה had a group of תלמידים, each with the same fear of him due to his opinion on עליה and each with the sam thought - to hear one more teaching  from him before leaving. And, of course, each got his own teaching.

Monday, November 12, 2012

:מ Do thoughts have language?

תוס' ד"ה וכי תימא בלשון חול קאמר ליה. ואע"ג דאסור להרהר נימא דאין אסור להרהר אלא בלשון קדש והוא הרהר בלשון חול:

The question could certainly be asked – when one thinks, is he thinking simply of actions or is he thinking of actual words and therefore, his thoughts have language. According to the above תוספות, it appears to be the latter – or at least that the latter is a possibility. So, for example, if one is in the bathroom and when he is about to leave, he thinks to himself that since it is שבת, it is forbidden to turn off the light, he is not simply imagining the action of switching off the lights and that it is forbidden. He is actually pondering the words “it is forbidden to turn off the lights.”

Monday, November 5, 2012

יעקב - לג and רשב"י

אמר הואיל ואיתרחיש ניסא איזיל אתקין מילתא דכתיב ויבא יעקב שלם ואמר רב שלם בגופו שלם בממונו שלם בתורתו ויחן את פני העיר אמר רב מטבע תיקן להם ושמואל אמר שווקים תיקן להם ור' יוחנן אמר מרחצאות תיקן להם
רבי שמעון בן יוחאי learns from יעקב אבינו that upon a miracle being performed for your sake, you should endeavour to do something productive for the good of the masses. Certainly the parallels between רשב"י and יעקב run far deeper than simply a single miracle. יעקב was running away from his brother עשו who had sworn to kill him. He was forced to flee. Although he wasn't in hiding, per se, he had to travel a certain distance to ensure he was out of harm's way. רשב"י was fleeing a death sentence from none other than עשו's Roman descendants.

I also couldn't help but notice another interesting irony in the parallel between יעקב אבינו and רשב"י. The incident which led to רשב"י's death sentence was a comment as to the ulterior motives behind the Romans' establishment of marketplaces, bathhouses and bridges. According to שמואל and ר' יוחנן, when יעקב arrived in שכם his public service was actually establishing either a marketplace or a bathhouse (or both, I suppose.) Perhaps recalling that civic contribution on the part of יעקב was a discrete way of רשב"י expressing some regret for the comments he had made.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

:כ"ז Intersection

As I've mentioned previously, it's always fun when דף יומי intersects with other items on the calendar. Sometimes the פרשת השבוע will come up. Every now and then דף יומי and משנה יומית intersect. Yesterday, we discussed whether a תחש was בהמה or a חיה. And today, משנה יומית covers נזיר ה:ז which discusses a נזירות on the condition of whether or not a כוי is a חיה or בהמה. Neat!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

.זריזים כ

משלשלין את הפסח: מ"ט משום דבני חבורה זריזין הן
רש"י י"ט: ד"ה משלשלין את הפסח כו'. והוא נצלה והולך משתחשך ואע"ג דבעלמא אין צולין כדאמרן הכא שרי דבני חבורה זריזין הן ומדכרי אהדדי ולא אתו לחתויי בגחלים:
וכהנים זריזין הן
רש"י ד"ה אברים ופדרים הוא דאתא. ... וסמוך לחשיכה היינו טעמא דלא גזור משום דכהנים זריזין הם שכולם היו בני תורה וחרדים ונזכרים ולא אתו לחתויי משתחשך:
In this סוגיא, we are introduced to two groups of זריזים. However, there is an interesting disparity between them and in the way רש"י interprets them. The בני החבורה are not inherently זריזים. After all, all of בני ישראל would have been part of one חבורה or another. That would make everyone זריזים. Rather, they are זריזים of the moment. The task at hand - preparing the קרבן פסח - renders them זריזים. Clearly, the כהנים are different. They are always זריזים by nature.

Interestingly, when רש"י explains the זריזות of the בני החבורה it is one of dependency. That is to say that we are relying on others in the group to correct another who might attempt to stoke the coals. According to ר' יוסי in פסחים ח:ז a קרבן פסח may be shechted for a single person. According to רש"י's understanding here, it would seem that a single person cooking his own קרבן פסח would not be subject to this exemption. But the כהנים, as רש"י explains, are independently זריזים and thus, even a lone כהן would be subject to the exemption. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

.י"א The Tallest Building

ואמר רבא בר מחסיא אמר רב חמא בר גוריא אמר רב כל עיר שגגותיה גבוהין מבית הכנסת לסוף חרבה שנאמר לרומם את בית אלהינו ולהעמיד את חרבותיו וה"מ בבתים אבל בקשקושי ואברורי לית לן בה
As I saw in the Artscroll - according to the רא"ש, the reason why קשקושי ואברורי are not a problem is because they do not serve a functional purpose i.e., they are not inhabited. It would therefore stand to reason that the roofs of present-day houses, which are often sloped and therefore cannot be used for any purpose, need not be lower than the shul.

I believe there is some requirement in Muslim villages that no building be higher than their house of prayer and that is partly the purpose of the minaret. If this is true, it is quite ironic that this גמרא is immediately followed by a passage discussing working for an Ismaelite. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

:ס”ג Egyptian Hospitality

פתח ר' יוסי בכבוד אכסניא ודרש לא תתעב אדומי כי אחיך הוא לא תתעב מצרי כי גר היית בארצו והלא דברים קל וחומר ומה מצריים שלא קרבו את ישראל אלא לצורך עצמן שנאמר ואם ידעת ויש בם אנשי חיל ושמתם שרי מקנה על אשר לי

Perhaps I am alone here. But I always thought that the תורה was teaching us in extraordinary – almost incomprehensible – lesson. We are instructed to show grace towards the Egyptians for having hosted in their land even while subjugating us and treating us poorly as slaves. After seeing this גמרא, I think I have a different understanding. It would be foolish to show gratitude to a nation had they “imported” us for the purpose of enslaving us. We are not showing gratitude for those 210 years of subjugation. Rather, we are showing kindness to the Egyptians for their hosting our fledgling nation in the days of יעקב and יוסף for the years leading up to פרעה’s change of heart, when the Egyptians truly showed a degree of grace towards us (even if for ulterior motives as exposed in our גמרא.)

:ס”ג In Praise of Alexander Graham Bell

הסכת עשו כתות כתות ועסקו בתורה לפי שאין התורה נקנית אלא בחבורה כדר' יוסי ברבי חנינא דאמר ר' יוסי ברבי חנינא מאי דכתיב חרב (על) הבדים ונואלו חרב על שונאיהם של תלמידי חכמים שיושבים בד בבד ועוסקים בתורה

This גמרא speaks pretty harshly of those who learn alone. So certainly one should be going to a shul or בית מדרש to learn with a חברותא. But wait, the .גמרא סנהדרין צ”ב states:

כל בית שאין דברי תורה נשמעים בו בלילה אש אוכלתו שנאמר כל חשך טמון לצפוניו תאכלהו אש לא נופח ירע שריד באהלו

So even if one were to go to his חברותא’s home to learn, his own home would remain devoid of תורה learning. Fortunately, in our time, the telephone has allowed us to accomplish a both of these.

.ס"ג Good Fences

כבר גדרת ואי אתה יכול לפרוץ
Please see this recently written shtikle on Koheles referencing this גמרא.

:ס”ג Honouring the Host

תנו רבנן כשנכנסו רבותינו לכרם ביבנה היו שם רבי יהודה ורבי יוסי ור' נחמיה ור' אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי פתחו כולם בכבוד אכסניא ודרשו פתח רבי יהודה ראש המדברים בכל מקום בכבוד תורה ודרש

It is common custom for a speaker at some sort of gathering to be פותח בכבוד אכסניא as these תנאים were in כרם ביבנה. According to the simple reading of our גמרא, it would seem that רבי יהודה opens with tangential remarks extolling the virtues of those who study תורה, especially making extra efforts to do so. But perhaps this is not at all departure from פותחים בכבוד אכסניא. The אכסניא here are those who have opened their homes to the תלמידי חכמים who have come to study in יבנה. It would not be sufficient to simply say “thanks for having us.” First, רבי יהודה  sets the stage by impressing upon the crowd the importance of what is going on there. With the newly instilled appreciation for the greatness of לימוד התורה, the crowd was then able to fully appreciate the greatness of the הכנסת אורחים on the part of the hosts.

.ס”ג You’re the Man!

דרש בר קפרא זלת קבוץ קנה מינה באתר דלית גבר תמן הוי גבר אמר אביי ש"מ באתר דאית גבר תמן לא תהוי גבר

The מפרשים have already drawn comparisons between this passage from בר קפרא and the well-known משנה in אבות ב:ו:

במקום שאין אנשים השתדל להיות איש

The מהרש”א addresses how בר קפרא lesson is no superfluous in light of the משנה. Without actually answering any questions, I wish to simply draw attention to an interesting discrepancy between the two. The משנה is in fact often misquoted with the short form במקום שאין איש. The משנה actually uses the plural – אנשים. In a place where there are no men, you should strive to be a man. Here, however, בר קפרא only instructs הוי גבר where there is not a single man. I’m not quite sure what to make of this distinction.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

:ס Man of Compromise

א"ר פפא הלכך נמרינהו לתרוייהו
This phrase should be somewhat familiar. We had it back on .נ"ט and yet again on :נ"ט. What is most intriguing, however, is that each time the suggestion to resolve a dispute on the wording of a ברכה by including both opinions, it is made by רב פפא. This seems to be a unique trait of רב פפא.

.ס The Switcheroo

ואחר ילדה בת ותקרא את שמה דינה מאי ואחר אמר רב לאחר שדנה לאה דין בעצמה ואמרה י"ב שבטים עתידין לצאת מיעקב ששה יצאו ממני וארבעה מן השפחות הרי עשרה אם זה זכר לא תהא אחותי רחל כאחת השפחות מיד נהפכה לבת שנא' ותקרא את שמה דינה
There is some discussion in the ספרי אגדה as to what exact נס transpired here. רש"י in ויצא, whose source is פרקי דר' אליעזר, seems to imply that the fetus was simply switched from a male to a female, as our גמרא would seem to indicate. However, תרגום (המיוחס ל)יונתן בן עוזיאל, explains that דינה and יוסף switched wombs.

Here is an old וישב shtikle on the topic and the possible conflation of these two accounts:


The parsha begins with a description of the life that Yosef lead and the relationship he had with his brothers. Rashi (37:2) comments on the words "vehu na'ar," that Yosef had some tendencies like those of na'aros, young girls. He would comb is hair and beautify himself.

Rashi (30:21) in explaining the reasoning behind Dena's name, writes that the fetus was initially a male in Leah's womb and she prayed to give birth to a female so that Rachel would not have less males than the maidservants. The fetus subsequently turned into a female. Targum Yonasan writes that at the same time, Rachel was pregnant with Dena and Yosef was in Leah's womb. The fetuses switched wombs. Dena was born to Leah and Yosef to Rachel instead of the reverse. The source for Rashi is in Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer. Radal comments there that this is why we see some male tendencies in Dena, that she "went out" and explored in Shechem

R' Yaakov Kaminetzky, in Emes l'Yaakov takes this one step one further. He writes that this is also why we find female-like tendencies in Yosef. This suggestion troubled me greatly. First, Rashi does not seem to hold like Targum Yonasan*. According to Rashi, Yosef really had nothing to do with the whole Dena episode. And even according to Targum Yonasan, there is no switching of gender at all but rather the fetuses switched wombs. Even Radal's suggestion does not fit with Targum Yonasan, let alone R' Yaakov's.

*Incidentally, רש"י's approach is problematic with his commentary to פרשת וישב מ"ו:ט"ו where he explains the attribution of the boys to their mothers and daughter to her father with our later גמרא of 'איש מזריע תחילה וכו. The מהרש"א answers the difficulty in רש"י with the תרגום יונתן.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

:נ”ה Descendants of יוסף

ולימא הכי אנא פלוני בר פלוני מזרעא דיוסף קאתינא דלא שלטא ביה עינא בישא שנאמר בן פורת יוסף בן פורת עלי עין וגו' אל תקרי עלי עין אלא עולי עין ר' יוסי בר' חנינא אמר מהכא וידגו לרוב בקרב הארץ מה דגים שבים מים מכסים עליהם ואין עין רעה שולטת בהם אף זרעו של יוסף אין עין רעה שולטת בהם

This גמרא has already popped up earlier on דף כ. (Make sure to see the related shtikle there.) In that גמרא, it was ר’ יוחנן speaking as to why עין הרע did not apply to him. At the time, I simply understood that he somehow knew he descended from יוסף. But in this גמרא, we are giving general counsel to anyone wishing to be saved from עין הרע. So I’m not understanding how any Jew can lay claim to being from the progeny of יוסף.

Friday, September 21, 2012

.נ"א Asparagus

Isn't this ironic? Today's דף discusses אספרגוס. Yesterday's משנה יומית, the end of נדרים פרק ו also discusses אספרגוס!
(Although it would seem this is not a reference to the asparagus we know of today.)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

:נ Respect for Bread

והתניא כשם שאין זורקין את הפת כך אין זורקין את האוכלין א"ל והתניא אף על פי שאין זורקין את הפת אבל זורקין את האוכלין אלא לא קשיא הא במידי דממאיס הא במידי דלא ממאיס ...וזורקין לפניהם קליות ואגוזים בימות החמה אבל לא בימות הגשמים אבל לא גלוסקאות לא בימות החמה ולא בימות הגשמים
רש"י ד"ה אבל לא גלוסקאות. שהרי אף בימות החמה הן נמאסין בזריקתן
It seems clear from the גמרא that although throwing food is only problematic if the food will become disgusting as a result, such a stipulation does not exist for bread. It would seem that it is more than a matter of whether anything will actually happen to the bread. Because bread is considered more חשוב we are forbidden from throwing it under all circumstances. 

That makes the above רש"י somewhat puzzling. The גמרא asserts that one doesn't throw גלוסקאות - definitely a bread product - in the winter or the summer. Based on the preceding a גמרא, I would have explained that it is because throwing bread is always forbidden. Why, then does רש"י explain that the reason it is forbidden is because bread will become disgusting if thrown even in the summer? Whether or not it becomes disgusting is not the issue.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

.המלך מ"ט

אמר רבה בב"ח א"ר יוחנן הטוב והמטיב צריכה מלכות מאי קמ"ל כל ברכה שאין בה מלכות לא שמה ברכה והא א"ר יוחנן חדא זימנא א"ר זירא לומר שצריכה שתי מלכיות חדא דידה וחדא דבונה ירושלים אי הכי נבעי תלת חדא דידה וחדא דבונה ירושלים וחדא דברכת הארץ
 Not exactly a פרשה bonus but the timing of this גמרא is quite apropos. Right in the middle of עשרת ימי תשובה, we are delving into the necessity to express השם's מלכות in every ברכה.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

:מ"ח Joining the מזומן

הלכתא אכל עלה ירק ושתה כוס של יין מצטרף
I find this to be a common misconception among the masses. When two people have eaten bread and trying to join up with another for a מזומן people seem concerned as to whether or not the other has had a מזונות. It is clear from here and the הלכה that a מזונות is not needed. As long as the third (or for 10 - 3 out of the 10)  has eaten or drunk anything requiring a ברכה אחרונה other than water, they may combine.

(The הלכה that emerges from the previous עמוד, that only 7 out of 10 need to have eaten bread in order to say אלוקינו also seems to be one that is not as well-known as it should be.)

Thursday, September 13, 2012

:מ"ג Jasmine, and other fragrances

אמר רב גידל אמר רב האי סמלק מברכין עלויה בורא עצי בשמים
רש"י ד"ה סמלק. יסמי"ן קורין לו בלשון ישמעאל והוא מין עשב
אמר רב ששת הני סיגלי מברכין עלייהו בורא עשבי בשמים
 It is difficult to reconcile the רש"י here with what רש"י writes על התורה in פרשת ויצא on the word דודאים:
ל:י"ד ד"ה דודאים: סיגלי, עשב הוא ובלשון ישמעאל יסמי"ן
So if in the חומש we find that סיגלי is Jasmine, how come in the גמרא we find that סמלק is Jasmine and סיגלי is something else?

שערי אהרן on פרשת ויצא mentions this question as well without an answer. רמב"ן apparently has a separate issue with רש"י in that the :גמרא שבת נ discusses יסמין. So we see that it is something in the גמרא's lexicon. So why would a different word in the גמרא be a reference to יסמין?

.רב יהודה מ"ג

א"ל הכי אמר רב יהודה בורא שמן ארצנו א"ל בר מיניה דר' יהודה דחביבא ליה ארץ ישראל לכולי עלמא מאי
It seems altogether probable that this is the same רב יהודה mentioned on :כ"ד who held that it was forbidden to go up from בבל to ארץ ישראל. We see clearly that his strong stance against עליה is not necessarily in contrast to a genuine love of ארץ ישראל. On the contrary, not only did רב יהודה genuinely love ארץ ישראל his love was greater than any other's and actually influenced his position on the נוסח of ברכות.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

.מ"ב No more eating.

תכף לנטילת ידים ברכה
From here we derive that once one washes מים אחרונים, he should not eat anything further before ברכת המזון. [The language would definitely seem to imply, on the surface, like it is referring to נטילת ידים before eating and the גליון הש"ס points out that we find in other places that is the actual intent but it clearly is not here.] The משנה ברורה קע"ט:א is quite strict on this matter and adds that even talking or any other form of הפסק should be avoided, based on the specific language of the גמרא as תכף obviously implies immediacy. Indeed, you do find individuals who are careful in this matter. However, ערוך השלחן in קפ"א:א very strongly disagrees and asserts that speaking is not a הפסק of any concern in this situation. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

:מ"א Closest to ארץ

זה שני לארץ וזה חמישי לארץ
This basic guideline establishes the rules that govern much of the topic of קדימה. But the question must be asked - why was the פסוק written this way? Why does the word ארץ appear twice?

I have previously covered this question on an עקב shtikle.

Interestingly, the משך חכמה's answer works very well with the הלכה we find in our גמרא. The olives and dates have extra special prominence and that is would explain why they would get prominence with regards to the ברכה by being closer to ארץ.

However, it is more difficult to reconcile the גר"א's explanation with this הלכה. Olives and dates are broken off into a separate category since the essence of what we derive from them is not the fruit itself but its extracts. What would be the reason then for the elevated prominence with regards to the ברכה?

.מ"א Dip the Apple ...

דאמר רב יוסף ואיתימא רבי יצחק כל המוקדם בפסוק זה מוקדם לברכה שנאמר ארץ חטה ושעורה וגפן ותאנה ורמון ארץ זית שמן ודבש
It is most fitting that we encounter this גמרא leading up to ראש השנה. One of the very first songs any Jewish child learns is "Dip the apple in the honey, say a bracha loud and clear." Unfortunately, there is a halachic issue with this song. Although there some disagreement between אשכנזים and ספרדים when it comes to קדימה, we are in agreement (או"ח רי"א:א) that if we have in front of us two fruit of identical ברכה, i.e. העץ, and one is from the שבעה מינים e.g. dates or pomegranates, the ברכה is to be recited on the fruit from the שבעה מינים, not on the one that is more favoured (חביב). Therefore, if one has dates or pomegranates on the table, which we usually do on ראש השנה night, the העץ is to be recited on one of those (the date preferably, based on the מסקנא of the גמרא) rather than the apple.

Perhaps the ברכה in the song is referring to the יהי רצון.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

:המוציא ל”ח

מה הוא אומר המוציא לחם מן הארץ רבי נחמיה אומר מוציא לחם מן הארץ אמר רבא במוציא כולי עלמא לא פליגי דאפיק משמע דכתיב אל מוציאם ממצרים כי פליגי בהמוציא...והלכתא המוציא לחם מן הארץ
תוספות here ask a very simple question: If everyone agrees that מוציא fits the bill, why don’t we just go with that? They answer that it is preferable to say המוציא in order to make a separation between the מ”ם at the end of העולם and at the beginning of מוציא. They go on to explain that while a similar concern exists with לחם – מן, since that phrase comes from a פסוק we aren’t going to change it. We have already seen that it is important to be careful with pronunciation of קריאת שמע and of course קריאת התורה as well. But this תוספות shows us the importance of דקדוק with ברכות as well.

That said, there is a discussion as to the proper pronunciation of the word המוציא. The rule of נסוג אחור would determine that since the accent on לחם is on the first syllable, the accent on המוציא is moved back and it would be ha-MO-tzi. The discussion revolves around whether or not this rule is applicable to ברכות. Indeed, we do employ that rule for ברכת התורה as we say אשר בחר בנו – BA-char, instead of ba-CHAR. Nevertheless, the סידור עליות אליהו maintains that the rule is not applied to המוציא and it should be pronounced ha-mo-TZI.

.ל”ח Beer

תוס' ד"ה האי דובשא דתמרי מברכין עלויה שהכל. וכן משקין מכל מיני פירות בר מתירוש ויצהר כדאמרינן גבי ערלה ולאפוקי מה"ג שפירש דמיירי שנתן לתוכן מים ושכר דידן אע"ג דשמא יש בהן כזית בכדי אכילת פרס לא מברכין עליו בורא מיני מזונות אלא שהכל ואפי' לרב ושמואל דאמרי כל שיש בו מחמשת המינין מברכין עליו בורא מיני מזונות הכא לא הוי בהו ממש שעורים ואין שכר אלא טעמא בעלמא ועוד משום שיש בו עלויה אחרינא בפת ועוד בשתיה אומר שהכל:
Has anyone ever wondered why we don’t make בורא מיני מזונות on beer? If so, the above, quote תוספות has the answer. It includes some important limitations to the rule of כל שיש בו.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

:ל”ה Avoiding מעשר

ואמר רבה בר בר חנה אר"י (ר’ יוחנן) משום ר"י בר' אלעאי בא וראה שלא כדורות הראשונים דורות האחרונים דורות הראשונים היו מכניסין פירותיהן דרך טרקסמון כדי לחייבן במעשר דורות האחרונים מכניסין פירותיהן דרך גגות דרך חצרות דרך קרפיפות כדי לפטרן מן המעשר דא"ר ינאי אין הטבל מתחייב במעשר עד שיראה פני הבית שנא' בערתי הקדש מן הבית ור' יוחנן אמר אפי' חצר קובעת שנא' ואכלו בשעריך ושבעו
Something doesn’t quite add up here. ר’ יוחנן holds that the חצר is already קובע for מעשר. So according to him, this “trick” of the דורות האחרונים wouldn’t even work. That’s all fine. But isn’t this the same ר’ יוחנן quoting רבי יהודה בר’ אלעאי contrasting the two in the first place? Why would he quote this position if it does not concur with his own halachic position?

UPDATE: The note in the Artscroll mentions this point and points out that when this piece appears in other locations, the words "דרך חצרות" are not included, which would solve the problem. However, the צל"ח apparently keeps the גרסא as is and has an explanation but I have not seen that yet.

.ל”ה Before and After

ר' לוי רמי כתיב לה' הארץ ומלואה וכתיב השמים שמים לה' והארץ נתן לבני אדם לא קשיא כאן קודם ברכה כאן לאחר ברכה

The פשט understanding of this passage is simple: השם owns the land and all the food within it. Recognizing this and reciting a ברכה allows us to take ownership and partake of that food.

However, R’ Yaakov Moshe Kulefsky, זצ”ל, would often say a beautiful דרוש in the name of the אפיקי יהודה. You may learn this passage vice versa. Before we make a ברכה, food is a mundane object with nothing but this-worldly attributes. It is on a human level. When we make a ברכה on our food, we elevate to a higher level – a Godly level. So indeed after the ברכה it is לה’ הארץ ומלואה!

.ל”ה When you’re hungry

לא קשיא דאתיא בקל וחומר כשהוא שבע מברך כשהוא רעב לא כל שכן

This קל וחומר bothered me for quite some time. How does the logic actually work? Wouldn’t you be more thankful after being given something than you would before receiving it? I found an answer to this quandary in the most unlikely of sources – a Jerry Seinfeld comedy routine. He was going on about how difficult it is to pay the bill at a restaurant at the end of your meal, when you are full and satiated since you no longer appreciate how much you wanted the food. And I realized that this was indeed quite a profound observation. If you go to a fast food restaurant and pay for your food up front, somehow, it’s not as difficult. You’re really hungry. You really want that burger. You’re staring straight at it. So you can easily part with the money to obtain it. But when you’re finished eating and fully satisfied, the food is out of sight and you no longer appreciate how much you needed and wanted that food and thus, paying for it becomes more difficult. Likewise, with ברכות, it is not as easy to appreciate how indebted we are to השם for providing us with sustenance when we are satiated. But still we are commanded to do so. How much more so, when we are hungry and in need, we should certainly more easily come to the recognition that HaShem provides us with all and express that by means of a ברכה.

.ל”ה What happened to מזונות?

ועל פירות הארץ הוא אומר בורא פרי האדמה חוץ מן הפת שעל הפת הוא אומר המוציא לחם מן הארץ
רש"י: כיצד מברכין וכו' חוץ מן היין. שמתוך חשיבותו קבעו לו ברכה לעצמו וכן הפת
As רש”י explains, the משנה lists the exception where the ברכה is changed due to a certain level of importance. Indeed wheat is elevated to המוציא when in the form of bread. But it can also be elevated to a בורא מיני מזונות when in a processed form. Why is there no mention of that in the משנה as here would seem to be the proper place for it. Upon further inspection, it doesn’t seem בורא מיני מזונות is mentioned anywhere in the משנה at all! Why would that be?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

.ל”ד Three Things in Moderation

ת"ר שלשה רובן קשה ומיעוטן יפה ואלו הן שאור ומלח וסרבנות
Just three things? It would seem that perhaps we could include another. The .גמרא סוטה ה states with regards to גסות הרוח:
א"ר חייא בר אשי אמר רב ת"ח צריך שיהא בו אחד משמונה בשמינית
So an eighth of an eighth of haughtiness is good, at least for a תלמיד חכם. So why isn’t this included in the list of things that are nice in moderation? I think the answer lies in the גר”א’s insightful approach to the גמרא in סוטה. He asks why the גמרא chose that specific number. Doubling up the number has a certain poetic effect. But why not a seventh of a seventh, or a ninth of a ninth? The גר”א answers that an eighth of an eighth is 1/64, just less than 1/60. In other words, the גאווה should be בטל בשישים. So then you can’t even consider it a מעוט since it is בטל. So it does not qualify for this list.

Monday, September 3, 2012

:ל”ג Gold and Silver

ההוא דנחית קמיה דר' חנינא אמר האל הגדול הגבור והנורא והאדיר והעזוז והיראוי החזק והאמיץ והודאי והנכבד המתין לו עד דסיים כי סיים א"ל סיימתינהו לכולהו שבחי דמרך למה לי כולי האי אנן הני תלת דאמרינן אי לאו דאמרינהו משה רבינו באורייתא ואתו אנשי כנסת הגדולה ותקנינהו בתפלה לא הוינן יכולין למימר להו ואת אמרת כולי האי ואזלת משל למלך בשר ודם שהיו לו אלף אלפים דינרי זהב והיו מקלסין אותו בשל כסף והלא גנאי הוא לו

I think the conventional way to understand this גמרא is that by listing additional praises of השם, we are actually doing a disservice since we could not possibly complete the list of praises. However, I have a slightly different approach, based on a nuance in the parable that is given at the end. The king has thousands upon thousands of gold coins and yet he is praised for his silver. Now, it was never mentioned that he had any silver at all. (Yes, I know, most kings would probably have a significant collection of silver as well.) So the problem is not that the praise simply falls short. Rather, the praise is completely off the mark and doesn’t even touch on the king’s actual possessions. The נמשל, then, is as follows. While לשון הקודש is a rich and vast language, we mortals simply do not possess the vocabulary to properly praise השם. Only those words which we find משה רבינו using are at least sufficient to be used in this context.

[I understand that the phrase סיימתינהו לכולהו שבחי דמרך is problematic with this approach. Also, we do find, in אדיר הוא, for example, that we use these words to praise השם.]

.ל"ג The Three Inserts

מזכירין גבורות גשמים בתחיית המתים ושאלה בברכת השנים והבדלה בחונן הדעת
It is interesting that the three are not listed in the order in which they appear in שמנה עשרה. In the משנה, since there is a מחלוקת, perhaps it was preferable to leave the מחלוקת to the end. However, when this is repeated in the ensuing גמרא, it follows the same order even though they are dealt with separately. (I suppose you could say it was just following the order of the משנה.) But it would seem to me that the listing in the משנה is specifically ordered by תדיר. That is to say that גבורת גשמים is clearly said most often - from סכות to פסח. And of course we say ותן טל ומטר less often as it only starts Dec 4. Lastly, we say אתה חוננתנו least often - around 60 times per year or so. (Even if גבורות and שאלה refer to whichever is inserted, including מוריד הטל for נוסח ספרד, etc. it is still said more often since שאלה is not said on שבת and יום טוב.)

Saturday, September 1, 2012

:ל"א Misreading the חושן

אמר עולא ואיתימא רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמרה ליה לא אדון אתה בדבר זה ולא רוח הקודש שורה עליך שאתה חושדני בדבר זה
There is a famous פירוש of the גר"א on the episode of חנה. To summarize, he writes that עלי looked at the חושן for the letters to light up and give him guidance. He observed what he thought was the word שכרה, meaning that she was drunk. However, it really was meant to read כשרה. Now, I always had thought the proper word was כְּשֵׁרָה. However, in פנינים משלחן הגר"א it is explained that the intended word is definitely כְּשָׂרָה - like שרה אמינו. That being the case, there is an interesting דקדוק revelation that comes out of this episode – that שׁי"ן and שׂי"ן are fully interchangeable. After all, there are both on the חושן. But yet, whichever letter did light up, it could be interpreted as either. We never think of the two as being the same letter just like בּ and ב but perhaps we should? I’ve always wondered how far this theory goes with respect to correcting a בעל קריאה who interchanges the two.

Friday, August 31, 2012

.ל Which Direction to Face?

היה עומד בח"ל יכוין את לבו כנגד ארץ ישראל שנא' והתפללו אליך דרך ארצם היה עומד בארץ ישראל יכוין את לבו כנגד ירושלים שנאמר והתפללו אל ה' דרך העיר אשר בחרת היה עומד בירושלים יכוין את לבו כנגד בית המקדש שנאמר והתפללו אל הבית הזה היה עומד בבית המקדש יכוין את לבו כנגד בית קדשי הקדשים שנאמר והתפללו אל המקום הזה היה עומד בבית קדשי הקדשים יכוין את לבו כנגד בית הכפורת היה עומד אחורי בית הכפורת יראה עצמו כאילו לפני הכפורת נמצא עומד במזרח מחזיר פניו למערב במערב מחזיר פניו למזרח בדרום מחזיר פניו לצפון בצפון מחזיר פניו לדרום נמצאו כל ישראל מכוונין את לבם למקום אחד
There are many interesting discussions related to the topic of which way to face when davening. If we assume that we should at least attempt to face ירושלים directly from wherever we are (more on that later) there are two ways to accomplish that. The לבוש and others seem to suggest that we should draw a straight line to ירושלים as if on a flat map in order to establish the proper direction. This is known as the Rhumb Line.The ספר אמונת חכמים (somewhere in פרק כ"ד) takes umbrage with that approach and maintains that we should follow what is known as the Great Circle Route. That is the shortest actual distance between two points on the globe, taking into account the curvature of the Earth. For example, when a plane travels from New York to Israel, it will actually head out North-East as it will get there faster. To get an idea of how this works, take a string and place it on the two points on a globe and make the string as tight as possible. You will see that the path does not start out South-East as you might have suspected.

So this is all fascinating but what do we do with all this information? That's where KosherJava.com comes in. This is a brilliant site dedicated to software development for the purpose of calculating זמנים and זמנים-related issues. One of the more fascinating creations found there is the Zmanim / Bearing to Yeushalayim Map which allows you to click on any point on a Google Map (or search) and get not only the זמנים for that point but the exact bearing to ירושלים according to the above שיטות.

I will bring in some concrete examples of this map in a moment. But first, I want to discuss the position of the ערוך השלחן. He discusses (או"ח צ"ד:ז-ח) this issue at great length. He has a fascinating observation on the גמרא to support his conclusion. The פסוקים brought in reference to one davening outside of ירושלים or ארץ ישראל read "והתפללו אליך דרך ארצם," and "והתפללו אל ה' דרך העיר." But for someone in ירושלים, the פסוק states "והתפללו אל הבית הזה," and so on. The word דרך does not appear. He suggests that outside of ירושלים, although one's mindset should be focused on the בית קדש הקדשים, there is no way face exactly in that direction. Rather, one should simply face in the approximate direction. If I am understanding correctly, according to this, in North America, it would be sufficient to simply face East. But it would seem that wherever you are, you should at least make sure to face towards the principal direction. In other words, since ארץ ישראל from North America is certainly more East than South (or North according to אמונת חכמים) it is East that is important. 

This leads further to a statement made by רמ"א צ"ד:ב that since where he is situated is West of ארץ ישראל, they face East (sounds a lot like the ערוך השלחן.) Let us return to the handy bearing map from KosherJava.com. Below is bearing map from the רמ"א's home city of Krakow (you can drag the map around to move it) showing that the angle to ירושלים is at least 142° which is more South than East. So shouldn't they have been facing South.


Let us use this fabulous tool for even further investigation. It is important to note the language of the אמונת חכמים in taking the לבוש to task:
במ״ש הרב בעל הלבושים סימן צ״ד סעיף ג׳ ז״ל, ודע שכל הארצות האלו אשר אנו מפוזרים בהם כולם הם כנגד מערבית צפונית של א״י ואינם מכוונים במערב של א״י ממש וכו׳ לפיכך נ״ל וכו׳ שיזהר שיעשו הכותל מזרחי כו׳ שיהא נוטה קצת לצד מזרחית דרומית וכו׳ עכ״ל, ואמת הוא שבארץ אשכנז ופולוניא וכו׳ האמת הוא כדבריו וכו׳ אבל כל מ״ש בטעם זה אחרי המחילה הראוי טעות הוא בידו ואינו ענין לדבר זה כלל, וכבר נמצאו כמה מקומות ומדינות שאעפ״י שנמצאו בהם אותם תנאים שכתב הרב בעל הלבושים עכ״ז הרוצה לפנות כלפי א״י ממש צריך לנטות קצת כלפי צפון עכ״ל.
Now, let us observe the lines from the לבוש's home city of Prague, below. Due to the proximity to ארץ ישראל the actual difference between the two is minute, at best. If you click around, you'll find that you have to go as far South as Morocco to find a discrepancy which would lead to a dispute as to whether to turn slightly North or South. And there also the difference is minimal. (The אמונת חכמים lived in Mantua, Italy where the difference would also have been minimal.) The actual significance of this discrepancy is really only truly felt in the Western Hemisphere. (It does seem the אמונת חכמים acknowledges that the לבוש's פסק would be sufficient for his own land.)

As long as this post is, it only really scratches the surface of this vast topic. For more reading, please see the following extended essays (links also thanks to KosherJava.com):
ישורון article
Which way shall we turn?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

.כ”ט The Divine Hand

והתועים על דעתך ישפטו ועל הרשעים תניף ידיך
There is something that struck me as slightly odd about this pharse. ידיך is clearly in the plural form. I am not by any means an expert with the full of knowledge of all Jewish texts at my fingertips but to my limited recollection, it seems that whenever we refer to the Divine Hand it is in the singular form, as in היד החזקה and וירא ישראל את היד הגדולה. I can’t recall any instance where we refer to HaShem’s having hands. And it would stand to reason. Any limb which we would attribute to the Divine through anthropomorphosis should be perfect and not need a companion.

Perhaps I’m on to something. Speaking of היד החזקה, I was intrigued to explore how the text of this תפילה is presented in the later works. It is not uncommon to see the text of the גמרא undergo a certain degree of metamorphosis in the פוסקים (e.g. the תפילה for the בעל הבית in ברכת המזון.) While the ערוך השלחן preserves the spelling of ידיך I found that רמב”ם הל’ תפלה ב:ג has ידך without the יו”ד!

I would be most interested to hear any arguments for or against my assertion above.

Update: When I mentioned this to my brother he almost instantaneously pointed me to the .גמרא כבובות ה which references מקדש ה' כוננו ידיך and discusses why, in fact, it is in the plural form. Nevertheless, I still maintain that it is an exception and the norm is to refer to יד in the singular. The גירסא in the רמב"ם still supports that assertion.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

.כ"ז The right time for מנחה

השתא דלא אתמר הלכתא לא כמר ולא כמר דעבד כמר עבד ודעבד כמר עבד
At first glance, this statement certainly seems to present a leniency when it comes to when מנחה and מעריב should be davened. Much has been written about how what can be done on a daily basis as well as leniencies that might exist for ערב שבת. However, the ערוך השלחן או"ח רל"ג:ז has and interesting take on it. He writes that the intent of the גמרא is not to give you a choice. Rather, ideally, one should account for both opinions by making sure to finish מנחה before פלג המנחה like רבי יהודה but then not to start מעריב until after שקיעה like the רבנן. Of course, that is very difficult to do, especially in the winter.

.כ”ז What is תדיר?

היו לפניו שתי תפלות אחת של מוסף ואחת של מנחה מתפלל של מנחה ואחר כך של מוסף שזו תדירה וזו אינה תדירה

Interesting little observation on this halachic tidbit. This seems to be a blanket statement which applies across the board to ראש חודש, חול המועד. שבת and יום טוב. When it comes to שבת or יום טוב, one might have suggested that since the structure of the תפילה has changed, the מנחה is no more תדיר than מוסף. That is to say, we say מנחה of שבת just as often as we say מוסף of שבת. Nevertheless, we see that is not the case. Despite the change in structure, we still judge the overall regularity of מנחה in whatever form it may take. I can’t think of any other case where this rule would be applicable. But I’m sure there’s one out there.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

:כ"ה Donkey Meat

עכו"ם אצטריכא ליה מהו דתימא הואיל וכתיב בהו אשר בשר חמורים בשרם אימא כחמור בעלמא הוא
This passage is actually teaching a separate הלכה which may or may not have been obvious - that a naked animal is not a problem of ערוה (although a pig is problematic due to the excrement that is always found on it as we have seen previously.) I don't think this is otherwise completely obvious. Although the root of the prohibition of ערוה seems to be attraction and distraction, one might have thought that the תורה prohibition of ולא יראה בך ערות דבר is absolute. In fact, it is, just that it seems from the way this גמרא plays out that the nakedness of animal is simply not called ערוה at all.

I am adding a new tag to my list - מאאקמל - standing for מלתא אגב אורחיה קמשמע לן - to include points that are derived from the גמרא only by reading between the lines.

:כ"ה I don't know

מאן שמעת ליה דאמר כוליה בית כארבע אמות דמי ר"ש בן אלעזר היא
רש"י: מאן שמעת ליה וכו'. לא ידעתי היכן היא
There is a marking on this רש"י which leads to the גיליון הש"ס of ר' עקיבא עיגר. One would have hoped to find there רע"א tracking down this lost reference to ר"ש בן אלעזר's opinion. However, what we find instead is a lengthy list of everywhere else in ש"ס where רש"י states that he does not know. At first, this might seem to be a bit demeaning, as if to say "Not only did רש"י not know this, here is a whole list of other things he didn't know." However, there is another way to look at it. Rabbi Berel Wein, in Buy Green Bananas (page 22) discusses רש"י's tendency to go out of his way to mention what he does not know, rather than simply pass it over:
"The ability to respond "I don't know" or "I am not sure" to questions and problems that life or individuals pose is the hallmark of true intellectual and human honesty. I am skeptical about people who know everything and always have an answer. The great Biblical and Talmudic commentator, Rabbi Shlomo Itzchaki (Rashi), often states in his works, "I do not know the meaning of this word or phrase." Well, if he doesn't know the meaning of the word or phrase why doesn't he just ignore it? Of what purpose is his stating that he doesn't know the correct meaning? I have always felt that his purpose in including in his commentary the admission that "I don't know. . . " is an enormous educational lesson for life and true scholarship. Otherwise, we, the students of his commentary, would have assumed that the word or phrase in the Bible or Talmud is so simple and self-understood that it requires no comment. Rashi alerts us to the fact that just the opposite is true. He is teaching us this is an obscure and difficult phrase or word and will require great effort on the part of the reader/student to interpret it. "I don't know" or "I am not at all sure of the answer" are the phrases that often are the most illuminating."
Although R' Wein is referring to matters of word meaning and our example is that of a talmudic reference, I think the lesson applies just the same.

:כ"ה Priorities

לימא תנא סתמא כר' אליעזר דאמר עד הנץ החמה אפי' תימא ר' יהושע ודלמא כותיקין דא"ר יוחנן ותיקין היו גומרין אותה עם הנץ החמה
Once again, in a not-so-obvious manner, the גמרא reveals a matter of priorities. Clearly, to recite קריאת שמע in the water and not come out and fully clothe is not ideal in the least bit. However, the גמרא's conclusion above seems to suggest that it is still preferable to recite it in this manner in order to do so כוותיקין. So the specific timing of קריאת שמע takes some degree of precedence over some laws pertaining to the ideal manner in which to recite it. I have a suspicion, however, that this would only apply to those who regularly daven כוותיקין as opposed to a casual occurrence.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

:כ"ד Stay in Bavel

רבי אבא הוה קא משתמיט מיניה דרב יהודה דהוה קא בעי למיסק לארעא דישראל דאמר רב יהודה כל העולה מבבל לא"י עובר בעשה שנאמר בבלה יובאו ושמה יהיו עד יום פקדי אותם נאם ה
The main stage for this גמרא is :כתובות ק"י which leads into the famous גמרא discussing the ג' שבועות. What is troubling about רב יהודה's position is that this פסוק is from ירמיה. It is clearly pertaining to the גלות בית ראשון. The פסוקים from which the ג' שבועות are derived are from שיר השירים. Since שלמה המלך did not live in a time of גלות those פסוקים are somewhat ambiguous and obviously prophetic, speaking of a later time. So they could conceivably be referring to the גלות בית שני. However, the words of ירמיה are clearly for the "here and now" of his time. תוספות in כתובות are actually bothered by this very point:
אע"ג דהאי קרא בגלות ראשון כתיב י"ל דבגלות שני נמי קפיד קרא
I couldn't find anything else more detailed on the topic.

.כ”ד Different Levels of ערוה

א"ר יצחק טפח באשה ערוה ... אמר רב חסדא שוק באשה ערוה שנאמר גלי שוק עברי נהרות וכתיב תגל ערותך וגם תראה חרפתך אמר שמואל קול באשה ערוה שנא' כי קולך ערב ומראך נאוה אמר רב ששת שער באשה ערוה שנא' שערך כעדר העזים
It would appear that there are two degrees of ערוה – literal ערוה and pseudo-ערוה. The most stringent הלכות apply exclusively to the actual מקום ערוה. But when חז”ל say that שער or טפח מגולה are ערוה, it is not meant literally so as to apply all הלכות ערוה to them but only to apply certain stringencies such as not reading קריאת שמע in its presence.
An interesting nuance is observed on this point in the סימן in שלחן ערוך או”ח ע”ה dealing with these matters. First, the title of the סימן is להזהר מגלוי שער וקול אשה בשעת ק”ש וכן שלא לקרותה כנגד הערוה. The distinction is made subtly right off the bat. Then, throughout the סימן, it seems clear that the מחבר is deliberately avoiding the use of the word ערוה when discussing pseudo-ערוה (although the רמ”א uses it freely) until סעיף ד when the laws of real ערוה are discussed.
In my mind this theory was only supposition until I found it validated in the works of מרן ר’ עובדיה יוסף זצ"ל. As is revealed in the משנה ברורה there is a difference of opinion between אשכנזים and ספרדים regarding the acceptability of closing of one’s eyes in front of ערוה. While the מחבר in סעיף וclearly states that it is sufficient, the משנה ברורה quotes פוסקים to the contrary. אשכנזים generally follow the משנה ברורה’s position while ספרדים, as expected, follow “מרן.” In ילקוט יוסף, as well as his other ר’ עובדיה ,ספרים discusses contemporary issues that arise with regards to these matters. There he states unequivocally that even those who do not permit the closing of the eyes as a means of avoiding ערוה, only hold that way with regards to ערוה ממש. But with regards to other areas, closing of the eyes is sufficient. I have included links to two pages of ילקוט יוסף below:
Page 1    Page 2

Thursday, August 23, 2012

:כ"ב Which direction?

תניא אידך היה עומד בתפלה וראה צואה כנגדו מהלך לפניו עד שיזרקנה לאחוריו ד' אמות והתניא לצדדין ל"ק הא דאפשר הא דלא אפשר 
רש"י: לא אפשר. כגון יש נהר לפניו מסתלק לצדדים
Let's analyze the scenario as רש"י describes it. The ideal is to have the צואה directly behind him. However, the only way to accomplish would seem to be by moving forward. If one is davening with a river directly in front of them, they certainly cannot move forward. Therefore, in such a case, it is sufficient to move to the side, even though the צואה will then be to the side of the מתפלל. Isn't there a simple solution? After moving away, turn your body so that the צואה is now behind you. 

We will learn later on (דף ל) that one needs to face a specific direction when davening, depending on where they are. It would seem from the מסקנא of this גמרא that the direction requirements are more stringent than the לכתחילה aspect of having the צואה directly behind. Rather than turn one's body to have the צואה behind him, we are told that what should be done is to maintain the same direction and rely on the בדי עבד of having the צואה on the side.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

:כ”א Make it for מודים

אמר רב הונא הנכנס לבית הכנסת ומצא צבור שמתפללין אם יכול להתחיל ולגמור עד שלא יגיע ש"ץ למודים יתפלל ואם לאו אל יתפלל
תוספות ד"ה עד שלא יגיע: ור"ת היה רגיל כשהיה מתפלל ביחיד כשהחזן מגיע למודים היה כורע עם הקהל בלא אמירה כלל ודוקא באמצע ברכה אבל בסוף ברכה לא דאמר לקמן (דף לד.) דאסור לשחות בסוף כל ברכה וברכה מיהו לכתחלה אין לעשות כן כדמשמע הכא
תוספות write that רבינו תם, when he would find himself in the middle of a ברכה when the ש”ץ reaches מודים would bow down since the only issue with bowing during other ברכות is at the beginning or the end. So, for example, in the middle of על הצדיקים, which is quite long, there is ample opportunity to be able to bow with the rest of ציבור at מודים. This is actually brought להלכה by שולחן ערוך או”ח ק”ט:א. However, it is only בדי עבד. In other words, one who comes late to davening should not start שמונה עשרה with the plan to bow in the middle of a ברכה.

It is interesting to note that the verbiage in תוספות is "...ור"ת היה רגיל" I think we ought to give רבינו תם the benefit of the doubt that he was not רגיל to come late to davening. Therefore, it must mean that his שמונה עשרה regularly went so long that he was still in the middle (and presumably not yet close to מודים) when the ש"ץ reached מודים. 

. כ”א Oops, I forgot

והאמר רב נחמן כי הוינן בי רבה בר אבוה בען מיניה הני בני בי רב דטעו ומדכרי דחול בשבת מהו שיגמרו ואמר לן גומרין כל אותה ברכה הכי השתא התם גברא בר חיובא הוא ורבנן הוא דלא אטרחוהו משום כבוד שבת
It is important to note that this סברא would not hold true for מוסף. Since we don’t say מוסף during the week, you can’t say that a full שמונה עשרה is relevant. Nevertheless, שולחן ערוך או”ח רס”ח:ב brings two opinions as to whether one should finish the ברכה in מוסף. I do believe, though, that the accepted custom is not to.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

:כ Kezayis and Kebeitzah

דרש רב עוירא זמנין אמר לה משמיה דר' אמי וזמנין אמר לה משמיה דר' אסי אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקב"ה רבש"ע כתוב בתורתך אשר לא ישא פנים ולא יקח שחד והלא אתה נושא פנים לישראל דכתיב ישא ה' פניו אליך אמר להם וכי לא אשא פנים לישראל שכתבתי להם בתורה ואכלת ושבעת וברכת את ה' אלהיך והם מדקדקים [על] עצמם עד כזית ועד כביצה
There is a fascinating explanation of the גר"א on this גמרא which I don't think I could properly write up. But thanks to modern technology, I can simply link to it (it starts about 5 lines from the bottom and goes over to the next page.)

.כ R' Yochanan's Beauty

ר' יוחנן הוה רגיל דהוה קא אזיל ויתיב אשערי דטבילה אמר כי סלקן בנות ישראל ואתיין מטבילה מסתכלן בי ונהוי להו זרעא דשפירי כוותי
As is documented in a number of places, ר' יוחנן was quite a noticeably attractive individual. However, earlier on, at the beginning of the second י"ג:) פרק) we find that he was also quite a large man - not just overweight or even clinically obese - so large that it was too difficult for him to sit up to recite קריאת שמע when he was on his bed. Clearly, in the times of the גמרא these two attributes were not mutually exclusive.

.כ Like the Fish in the Sea

רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר מהכא וידגו לרוב בקרב הארץ מה דגים שבים מים מכסין עליהם ואין עין הרע שולטת בהם אף זרעו של יוסף אין עין הרע שולטת בהם

For a fascinating scientific approach to this גמרא, please check out this shtikle.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

:י”ח The Living Dead

על פי שנים עדים או (על פי) שלשה עדים יומת המת חי הוא אלא המת מעיקרא

On the topic of מת referring to living individuals “on their way to death,” see this old shtikle from פרשת בלק.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Welcome

I am proud to announce the unveiling of the latest addition to the Weekly Shtikle blog network. This one will be slightly more challenging to keep up with since it requires my following of Daf Yomi (so far, so good.) Also, I will need to post in a timely manner while readers still have the relevant daf in mind.

Let me explain the name. I wanted to come up with something original. The first ideas that popped into my mind - On the Daf, Daf Thoughts, etc - just didn't fit the bill. The name is inspired by a speech I heard at the Toronto Siyum HaShas by R' Yair Adler where he pointed out that a daf of gemara is sometimes referred to as an עלה, a leaf. This was as he was introducing the guest speaker at the event, Rabbi Moshe Tuvia Lieff (his pun, not mine. I promise.) So, there you have it - "The Daily Leaf."

.ט”ו Reverse Logic

תנן התם חרש המדבר ואינו שומע לא יתרום ואם תרם תרומתו תרומה מאן תנא חרש המדבר ואינו שומע דיעבד אין לכתחלה לא אמר רב חסדא ר' יוסי היא

It is intriguing to me that the logic employed throughout this דף seems to be directly contrary to that which used at the beginning of the פרק. When רבי declares that שמע must be read as it is written, in לשון הקודש, based on the word והיו, (and the רבנן hold to the contrary based on the word שמע) the assumption made by the גמרא is that if this is רבי’s opinion here because of the specific wording of the פסוק, that must mean that he holds exactly the opposite in all other instances.

In our גמרא we also find that ר’ יוסי bases his opinion on the word שמע which would seem to imply that it is exclusive to the realm of קריאת שמע. Nevertheless, the גמרא then proceeds to assume this opinion, that one requires to hear what they are saying is common to ר’ יוסי in all other realms. This seems to be the exact opposite logical flow is that on דף י”ג.

(תוספות ask a number of similar questions on the flow of the גמרא but I don’t think they are formulated in quite the same manner.)

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

:י"ג Four Dimensions

כיון דאמליכתיה למעלה ולמטה ולארבע רוחות השמים תו לא צריכת
Here is a shtikle I wrote many years ago on פרשת בראשית which pertains to the ideas mentioned in our גמרא.

The advances in modern science over the years have allowed us to learn much about the history of the world.  Scientists have been able to establish a pretty clear picture of all that preceded us. However, the instant of creation is a point beyond which no discoveries may be made. Even the most prominent of scientists, such as Stephen Hawking of the University of Cambridge, have come to the realization that "the creation lies outside the scope of the presently known laws of physics." What existed before the creation of the world is beyond human understanding. The simple explanation for this is that before the world was created, whatever it was that existed lacked the basic components necessary for human conception.

All the matter in the universe exists in three dimensions - length, width and height. We do not live in the two-dimensional world of comics and cartoons, nor can our minds conceive of something physically consisting of more than three dimensions. When a cube of a given volume is removed, it leaves behind a space, filled with air, of identical volume. However, before the creation of the world, there was nothing. The second pasuk of the Torah asserts that before creation, the world was "tohu vavohu." Rashi explains "vohu" as emptiness and void. He writes that "tohu" denotes astonishment and wonderment, as one would have been astounded by the emptiness that existed. Indeed, we are astonished to the point of incomprehension at the very idea of nothingness. It is beyond the grasp of human thought and will never be understood. An integral component of creation was the establishment of the infrastructure necessary for the existence of the world as we know it. On the second day, the waters are divided into the upper and lower waters. This is the first evidence of a dimension in creation. However, there was only one. Left, right, forward and backward did not yet exist - only up and down. The next day the waters were collected to form the oceans and reveal land. The three dimensions were now in place.

 Although a physical object may be comprised of no more than three dimensions, there is another dimension commonly included as the fourth - time. Before the creation of the world, time did not exist either. In fact, the word "before" is probably a misnomer. Before implies that which preceded in time. If there is no time, there can be no precedence. This, too, is beyond the comprehension of the human mind. With the first day of creation, the concept of time was implicitly infused into the universe.

Perhaps, these ideas are directly pertinent to one of the central laws of Keriyas Shema. The essence of Shema is the acceptance of HaShem’s kingship upon us. One is required to include this concentration with the recitation of Shema or he does not properly fulfill the mitzvah (Shulchan Aruch OC 60:5). Ideally, this is accomplished with specific focus on the "ches" and "dalet" of "echad," as explained in 61:6. The ches corresponds to HaShem’s rule over the earth and the seven levels of Heaven. This is a one-dimensional focus in concurrence with the events of the second day of creation. The dalet corresponds to the four directions, essentially, the other two dimensions, over which HaShem rules. This coincides with the events of the third day. Hence, HaShem’s dominion over the three physical dimensions. The Mishnah Berurah (63:11), in the name of Levush and Magein Avraham, writes that "Baruch Sheim Kevod, etc." is subject to the same concentration requirements as the first pasuk. In this pasuk, as the words clearly indicate,  we assert the eternity of HaShem’s kingship. In essence, we are declaring HaShem’s rule over the fourth dimension, time.

.י"ג Only during the day?

והיה אם שמוע לויאמר שוהיה אם שמוע נוהג בין ביום ובין בלילה ויאמר אינו נוהג אלא ביום בלבד
The גמרא will indeed discuss other distinctions between והיה and ויאמר but the one listed in the משנה seems to be based on an overly superficial assessment of ויאמר. Indeed, the מצוה of ציצת is only during the day and that does appear to dominate this section. However, on the very previous עמוד we stated the following:
פרשת ציצית מפני מה קבעוה א"ר יהודה בר חביבא מפני שיש בה חמשה דברים מצות ציצית יציאת מצרים עול מצות ודעת מינים הרהור עבירה והרהור ע"ז
There is so much more to that פרשה. And והיה contains the מצוה of תפילין which is also only applicable during the day. So in this matter, they seem equal to me.

.י"ג Why not answer אמן?

אלו הן בין הפרקים בין ברכה ראשונה לשניה בין שניה לשמע
The (שולחן ערוך (או"ח נ"ט:ד states that one should not answer אמן to the ברכה right before שמע. This is based on a number of ראשונים as indicated in באר הגולה. The משנה ברורה explains that it is treated like a ברכת המצוה. It is therefore the practice of many to say the ברכה with the חזן in order to avoid requiring an אמן. This הלכה has bothered me for quite some time based on our משנה. The משנה lists all of the points which are considered בין הפרקים. There is nothing to indicate that there should be any difference between any of them. They seem to be perfectly equivalent. Why, then, would one be treated more seriously than the other? All the rules of permissible interruptions should apply after הבוחר בעמו ישראל באהבה just as they do after יוצר המאורות. What is the basis for this distinction?

Monday, August 13, 2012

:י"ב All of your days

א"ר אלעזר בן עזריה הרי אני כבן שבעים שנה ולא זכיתי שתאמר יציאת מצרים בלילות עד שדרשה בן זומא שנא' למען תזכור את יום צאתך מארץ מצרים כל ימי חייך ימי חייך הימים כל ימי חייך הלילות וחכ"א ימי חייך העוה"ז כל להביא לימות המשיח
Another "פרשה Bonus" this week as the above פסוק appears in פרשת ראה. The גר"א explains the מחלוקת in our משנה. The word כל can have two different meanings, much like the English word "all." It can mean "all of," in other words, the totality of. Or, it can mean "each and every." The discussion here is which does it mean in this specific instance. ר אלעזר בן עזריה understands it to mean the totality. So כל ימי חייך therefore means that your day should be "completely covered" by זכירת יציאת מצרים - once in the day and once in the night. The חכמים however take כל to mean "each and every." So the פסוק is therefore teaching us that we must remember יציאת מצרים every single day - even in the time of משיח.

:י"ב Other Additions

Although it is not our practice to follow this opinion, it is worth drawing attention to תוספות ד"ה והלכתא in which it is stated that even if one of the more minor additions for the עשרת ימי תשובה are omitted, one must repeat שמונה עשרה for it is considered a deviation from מטבע שטבעו חכמים.

:המלך המשפט י"ב

The term המלך המשפט is somewhat anomalous. Typically, when there is an adjective identifying a definite noun, the prefix ה is put on the second word*. This is what is "bothering רש"י" and why he has to give other examples in תנ"ך where we find similar phrases to prove that it is a somewhat common anomaly.

* Funny story: Our גבאי, when delivering the מי שברך following an עליה will, if asked, mention the בעל קורא. Last time I got an עליה I asked him to include the בעל הקריאה. That kind of caught him off guard and he said הבעל קורא instead. But now I have him saying הבעל קריאה. Close enough, I suppose.

Live Daf

Thanks to Yeshiva World News, I just found out about a brand new site, Live Daf, based out of Toronto, which provides video and audio shiurim on the daf. The video feature is nice for those who feel their attention is kept better when the shiur is visual, even if it's just someone giving a shiur. But the true uniqueness of the site is its interactivity. You are able to submit questions on the daf and have them answered and there is a Question of the Day feature on each daf. I guess it's kind of the interactivity I hope to accomplish with this blog one day. But there's always room for more - להגדיל תורה ולהדירהּ!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

:י Don’t Eat until you …

א"ר יצחק א"ר יוחנן א"ר יוסי בר' חנינא משום ראב"י כל האוכל ושותה ואח"כ מתפלל עליו הכתוב אומר ואותי השלכת אחרי גויך אל תקרי גויך אלא גאיך אמר הקב"ה לאחר שנתגאה זה קבל עליו מלכות שמים
It seems odd to me that the introduction talks about one eats before he is מתפלל. That would seem to refer to שמונה עשרה. However, the explanatory phrase of chastisement - לאחר שנתגאה זה קבל עליו מלכות שמים – seems to indicate that the issue here is eating before שמע. There are obvious halachic implications. Would it be enough to simply recite שמע in order to allow eating?

Indeed, the (באור הלכה (פ”ט:ג ד”ה ולא לאכול is sensitive to this point. However, he points out that there is a tandem of the this פסוק as well as לא תאכלו על הדם which seems to focus on תפילה. Nevertheless, he does suggest that someone who needs to eat for medical reasons should also make sure to say שמע first.

.י Abolishing Sin

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
ברוריה seems to make a beautiful point here but the problem is that is not the actual meaning of the פסוק. The word חטאים is also used to refer to sinners using the same בנין as, for example a גַמָל, referring to a camel rider. I recall R' Moshe Eisemann mentioning once, "didn't ברוריא learn דקדוק in seminary?" He offered the following answer: Surely, ברוריא knew that the actual meaning of the פסוק is that the sinners themselves should pass away. But the point that ברוריא was making was that since the פסוק could conceivably be read differently to mean "the sins," you, רבי מאיר, since you are involved in the conflict and thus נוגע בדבר, you have a responsibility to err on the side of caution and understand the פסוק otherwise. It is a similar theme we find later on (:כ"ח) that there was no one who was capable of properly arranging the extra ברכה to combat the heretics. Only שמואל הקטן whom, as we know (אבות ד:י"ט) was the champion of בנפול אויבך אל תשמח, was capable of arranging the ברכה with the proper intent.

Friday, August 10, 2012

.ט What would אברהם say?

דבר נא באזני העם וגו' אמרי דבי ר' ינאי אין נא אלא לשון בקשה אמר ליה הקב"ה למשה בבקשה ממך לך ואמור להם לישראל בבקשה מכם שאלו ממצרים כלי כסף וכלי זהב שלא יאמר אותו צדיק ועבדום וענו אותם קיים בהם ואחרי כן יצאו ברכוש גדול לא קיים בהם
The גר"א has an interesting approach to this גמרא which I once used to answer a question from my father in פרשת כי תשא. Read on.

:ט Discerning

דא"ר יוחנן לעולם ישתדל אדם לרוץ לקראת מלכי ישראל ולא לקראת מלכי ישראל בלבד אלא אפילו לקראת מלכי עכו"ם שאם יזכה יבחין בין מלכי ישראל למלכי עכו"ם
Every now and then, there will be a really nice קדוש in shul with fancy food and cholent. Just happened this past שבת. (I'm going somewhere with this.) One might be tempted to eat the cholent but instantly be plagued by feelings of guilt. "My wife made a delicious cholent, waiting at home. How can I have this cholent?" I suggest, based on the above גמרא that you should, in fact, partake of the cholent. The מלכי עכו"ם are not deserved of such respect in their own right. But nevertheless, we are strictly instructed to go out of our way to make sure to greet them. Why? The sole purpose is so that then we may truly merit to behold the distinction between מלכי ישראל and מלכי עכו"ם. So, too, if you do partake of the cholent at the קדוש, you will (hopefully) come to an even greater appreciation of your wife's cholent.
!בתאבון

.ט A little redemption here, a little redemption there

א"ר אבא הכל מודים כשנגאלו ישראל ממצרים לא נגאלו אלא בערב שנאמר הוציאך ה' אלהיך ממצרים לילה וכשיצאו לא יצאו אלא ביום שנא' ממחרת הפסח יצאו בני ישראל ביד רמה
We have already had two gemaras discussing the two-phase redemption in the night and morning (See also :ד). So I thought it would be fitting to reference an old shtikle from פרשת בא.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Fastest דף יומי in the West

We've already had some גמרא's that address the concept of not making מצות or תפילה appear as a burden. Nevertheless, is one has difficulty fitting דף יומי into the schedule and is looking for the quickest online shiur, it appears the best option is the שיעורים provided by the Young Israel of Century City, CA given by Rav Yitzchak Etshalom. One slightly frustrating thing about the audio, however, is that although it seems these were designed for דף יומי the files are not divided exactly by דף. So listening to the day's דף will often entail listening to portions of two separate files.

Thanks to my father-in-law for this tip.

.ח In Case of Emergency

רבי אבהו נפיק בין גברא לגברא
Although the גמרא seems to state quite casually that רבי אבהו would leave between עליות, it seem quite clear from the later פוסקים that this is only for a צורך גדול and should still be avoided if possible. The ערוך השלחן  או"ח קמ"ו:א goes so far as to suggest that קריאת התורה is at least at the same level of being in the middle of שמונה עשרה and thus, even if one has to go to the bathroom, he should wait it out to the best of his ability.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

:ז Reuvein's Name

ראובן א"ר אלעזר אמרה לאה ראו מה בין בני לבן חמי דאילו בן חמי אע"ג דמדעתיה זבניה לבכירותיה דכתיב וימכר את בכרתו ליעקב חזו מה כתיב ביה וישטם עשו את יעקב וכתיב ויאמר הכי קרא שמו יעקב ויעקבני זה פעמים וגו' ואילו בני אע"ג דעל כרחיה שקליה יוסף לבכירותיה מניה דכתיב ובחללו יצועי אביו נתנה בכורתו לבני יוסף אפי' הכי לא אקנא ביה דכתיב וישמע ראובן ויצילהו מידם

The famous question on this גמרא (which is quoted by רש"י in ויצא) is that the פסוק clearly recounts לאה's reasoning for ראובן's name -כִּי אָמְרָה כִּי רָאָה ה' בְּעָנְיִי כִּי עַתָּה, יֶאֱהָבַנִי אִישִׁי. So why does the גמרא give an alternate reasoning? This is discussed in a shtikle from a few years ago.

.ז It's all about when you begin

דעו כמה צדקות עשיתי עמכם שלא כעסתי בימי בלעם הרשע שאלמלי כעסתי לא נשתייר משונאיהם של ישראל שריד ופליט

Here lies an interesting example of the intersection of הלכה and אגדתא. On this point, תוספות are bothered by what בלעם could possibly have accomplished in such a short span of time. The second answer that all he would have had to do was begin his curse at that moment and his entire curse, no matter how long it took to utter, would take effect. או"ח ק"י:ה) ערוך השלחן) actually deduces from this idea that if one is running up against the end of זמן תפילה, he need not daven הביננו, (contrary to מגן אברהם) since as long as he starts before the end of זמן תפילה, his entire davening would be considered at the proper time.

Monday, August 6, 2012

:ה Not enough Torah?

א"ל אמאי קא בכית אי משום תורה דלא אפשת שנינו אחד המרבה ואחד הממעיט ובלבד שיכוין לבו לשמים
This exchange reminded me of a גמרא in :סנהדרין צ"ח
כן אמר [רבה] ייתי ולא איחמיניה רב יוסף אמר ייתי ואזכי דאיתיב בטולא דכופיתא דחמריה אמר ליה אביי (לרבא) [לרבה] מאי טעמא אילימא משום חבלו של משיח והתניא שאלו תלמידיו את רבי אלעזר מה יעשה אדם וינצל מחבלו של משיח יעסוק בתורה ובגמילות חסדים ומר הא תורה והא גמילות חסדים
רבה expresses his fear of חבלי משיח for which he is assured that he will be spared since he was plenty involved in תורה וגמילות חסדים. Doesn't it seem like ר' יוחנן is selling ר' אליעזר a little short in our exchange? Would it not have been more comforting to ר' אליעזר to assure him that he should not worry for he has certainly devoted his life to לימוד התורה. Rather, he seems to say, "Don't worry that you didn't learn enough תורה. Even if you learned less than you should have - as long as your heart is the right place, it is okay."

.ה Trials and Tribulations for ארץ ישראל

תניא רבי שמעון בן יוחאי אומר שלש מתנות טובות נתן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל וכולן לא נתנן אלא ע"י יסורין אלו הן תורה וארץ ישראל והעולם הבא... ארץ ישראל דכתיב כי כאשר ייסר איש את בנו ה' אלהיך מיסרך
It's always nice when the דף יומי intersects with פרשת השבוע.
See last year's Weekly Shtikle which is relevant to the above passage.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

:ד Benefits of אשרי

אמר רבי אלעזר א"ר אבינא כל האומר תהלה לדוד בכל יום שלש פעמים מובטח לו שהוא בן העולם הבא מאי טעמא אילימא משום דאתיא באל"ף בי"ת נימא אשרי תמימי דרך דאתיא בתמניא אפין אלא משום דאית ביה פותח את ידך נימא הלל הגדול דכתיב ביה נותן לחם לכל בשר אלא משום דאית ביה תרתי
So when the גמרא first suggests that the specialty of אשרי is the line-by-line אלף-בית, they suggest that תהלים קי"ט would be preferable since it has each letter 8 times (that would make מנחה quite a bit longer, wouldn't it.) It is clear that the גמרא is suggesting a better option. One would have to assume that the next step in the גמרא is also suggesting a better option. If so, what exactly is better about נותן לחם לכל בשר more so than פותח את ידיך? Not sure.

There's something I do based on this גמרא if I arrive at a מנין for מנחה  which is already davening שמונה עשרה and I am in the middle of אשרי. I know the הלכה is that one should commence שמונה עשרה immediately so as to accomplish some degree of תפלה בצבור (unless it will cause you to miss קדושה.) However, if I'm in the middle of אשרי, my thinking is - why am I saying this? If I stop before פותח את ידיך I have accomplished neither of the special attributes of אשרי mentioned above. So I try to at least make it to פותח את ידיך.

.ד To Whom was Moshe Talking?

רב אשי אמר בפלגא אורתא דתליםר נגהי ארבסר הוה קאי והכי קאמר משה לישראל
I found this line quite troubling. It is clear from the פסוקים that משה was talking to פרעה. Why would רב אשי say   והכי קאמר משה לישראל?? Am I missing something?

.ד David's Night

רבי זירא אמר משה לעולם הוה ידע ודוד נמי הוה ידע וכיון דדוד הוה ידע כנור למה ליה לאתעורי משנתיה
This is a fitting answer from רבי זירא. On the previous עמוד we were questioning what exactly happened leading up to חצות. One answer from רב אושעיא was that he was up well before חצות. It was רבי זירא who suggested that דוד was learning and dozing off like a horse. It is only according to רבי זירא that דוד would need an alarm clock. According to רב אושעיא he was always fully awake already.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

:ג Harp Strings

כנור היה תלוי למעלה ממטתו של דוד וכיון שהגיע חצות לילה בא רוח צפונית ונושבת בו ומנגן מאליו
רש"י comments on this: ונקביו לצד צפון כיון שהגיע חצות הלילה רוח צפונית מנשבת בו. I initially found this quite puzzling. רש"י  seems to be describing a wind instrument which the harp clearly is not. However, a footnote in the Artscroll explained what רש"י was referring to, based on the שלטי הגבורים. The holes are the holes of the harp's soundboard. This actually changes how I had envisioned the harp facing. Without knowing much about how a harp is played, I would have thought the broad side of the harp would face North but that, in fact, is not the case. See more about how the sound of the harp is produced.

.ג Roaring over the Churban

ועל כל משמר ומשמר יושב הקב"ה ושואג כארי ואומר אוי לבנים שבעונותיהם החרבתי את ביתי ושרפתי את היכלי והגליתים לבין אומות העולם
I was wondering why it is specifically this time of the day/night which השם chooses to roar over חורבן. Perhaps it can be explained as follows: Although we do not have the בית המקדש today, there are various actions that serve, to some degree, as a replacement in the realm of ונשלמה פרים שפתינו. Throughout the course of the day, כלל ישראל are almost constantly davening and if they are not davening, there is plenty of learning going on, such that perhaps the full brunt of the חורבן is not felt Above. It is only at night, when we are sleeping for the most part, and the תפילה and לימוד התורה ceases that the true void is felt.