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.