Wednesday, November 20, 2013

.יב The Big City Synagogue

הא דכרכים והא דכפרים ודכרכים אין מטמא בנגעים והתניא אחוזתכם אחוזתכם מטמאה בנגעים ואין ירושלים מטמאה בנגעים אמר ר' יהודה אני לא שמעתי אלא מקום מקדש בלבד הא בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות מטמאין בנגעים ואע"ג דכרכים נינהו אימא אמר רבי יהודה אני לא שמעתי אלא מקום מקודש בלבד

I'm having difficulty understanding how the גמרא actually answers the question here. The subject here is the גמרא's suggestion that the rural shuls may be subject to נגעים whereas urban shuls may not. So we directly question the assertion regarding urban shuls. The implication of the ברייתא is that any edifice at least outside of ירושלים may be subject to נגעים. So in the end, we understand רבי יהודה to mean that any מקום מקודש would be exempt. But then doesn't that exempt all shuls? How does this solve our problem. Yes, we have found an exemption for the urban shuls but we have not found a source to differentiate between urban and rural shuls whatsoever. Now, in truth, the גמרא eventually discards this approach for a similar reason later on. But couldn't they have done so already at this point?

Sunday, November 17, 2013

ירידת הדורות ט

The גמרא discusses the various reasons for the destruction of the משכן and בתי מקדש as well as the level of severity of each. It is interesting to note a nuance in this discussion which is not discussed explicitly. There is a definite progression in the "literal" nature of the critical offenses. 

Let me explain by starting with the בית שני. There we are told that שנאת חינם was the culprit. As we all know, it was pure, unadulterated שנאת חינם.

The בית ראשון was because of the ג' חמורות. But exactly was the גילוי עריות? The גמרא explains that it refers to immodest conduct on the part of בנות ישראל. They conducted themselves in such a way as to incite the יצר הרע. It does not say that actual ג"ע was rampant.

The conduct of בני עלי in the time of the משכן is yet an even more far-fetched classification of גילוי עריות. What I believe this nuance is indicating is the degree to which הקב"ה is מדקדק throughout the generations. The generation of משכן שילה was on a much higher level and therefore judged with much greater scrutiny, ultimately being punished for something which only remotely resembled גילוי עריות. As the generations progressed, more explicit transgressions were needed to mete out justice. 

:ט Let the Building bear witness

I found this exchange most intriguing. The גמרא is comparing the merits of the generations that saw the destruction of each בית המקדש. The consensus seems to be that the fact the בית המקדש has not been rebuilt, in contrast to the relatively short initial exile of 70 years, is proof of the greater merit of the earlier generations.

We are taught (actually ירושלמי in this פרק)
כל דור שאינו נבנה בימיו מעלין עליו כאילו הוא החריבו
It would seem that the responsibility for bringing the בית המקדש back would lie in the hands of the subsequent generations in exile. Yet, the גמרא seems to tie it back to the generation in which it was destroyed. I suppose one support for this could be that the prophecy of the 70-year exile was already given to ירמיהו כ"ט:י. The גמרא must understand that it was due to the merit of the generation of the destruction that an expiry was put on the ensuing exile from the very beginning, whereas as no such favour was granted the second time.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

:ח A Sprinkling Every Day... Almost

כהן גדול ביום הכפורים דלא בדידן תליא מילתא אלא בקביעא דירחא תליא מילתא בתלתא בתשרי בעי לאפרושי וכל אימת דמתרמי תלתא בתשרי מפרשינן ליה
רש"י ד"ה וכל אימת דמתרמי מפרשינן ליה. ואע"ג דלא הוי רביעי שלו בשבת ונמצאת הזאתו בטלה שני ימים:

Indeed, as רש"י asserts, it is possible that we might miss two days of sprinkling. But is that really the maximum? Suppose יום כפור falls out on a Thursday. Therefore, Day 1 of separation is Thursday. Day 3 will be skipped because it is שבת (as will Day 4.) But now, when we reach Day 7, what is the purpose of sprinkling? Since we did not sprinkle on Day 3, sprinkling on Day 7 accomplishes nothing. Accordingly, if Days 1 or 2 were to fall out on שבת there would be no use in sprinkling on Day 5 or 6, respectively. So there would be three days on which we don't sprinkle. That being said, if Day 1 was Thursday and he somehow did manage to become טמא for real before being separated, we would have a serious issue since we would not be able to do both sprinklings before יום כפור.

:ח Sprinkling on Day 3

שלישי שמא שלישי
רש"י ד"ה בשלמא. ... וכן שלישי שמא שעה אחת קודם פרישתו נטמא:
We are entertaining the possibility that he became טמא on Day 1. This contradicts what we saw on .ו
רב שימי מנהרדעא אמר אפי' תימא בועל נדה כנדה דמפרשינן ליה שעה אחת סמוך לשקיעת החמה
If he is separated before sunset on Day 0, how is it possible for him to become טמא on Day 1?
Now, in the end we reject רב שימי's suggestion so certainly it comes out that practically we need not separate the כהן גדול before the onset of Day 1. So this isn't a serious difficulty. However, that being the case, could the גמרא not have brought this as a proof against רב שימי?

Thursday, November 14, 2013

:וA Slight Correction

רש"י ד"ה לטמא אוכלין ומשקין. ולא לטמא אדם וכלים... ואנא ידענא דמשכבה טמא כמשכב נדה דהא כתיב ותהי נדתה עליו (שם) :

The above highlighted text is found in most versions up until the modern printings. Even my Telman version has it that way. But it should certainly be דמשכבו in masculine. Sure enough, the modern עוז והדר versions incorporated that correction without even making a note of it.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

:ד Need to Know Basis

דאיתמר מלואים ר' יוחנן ורבי חנינא חד אמר כל הכתוב בהן מעכב בהן וחד אמר דבר המעכב לדורות מעכב בהן שאין מעכב לדורות אין מעכב בהן

It took me a while to get to the bottom of this but it does appear that this מחלוקת has no practical ramifications after the מילואים in the מדבר. Furthermore, not only is this discussion historical, it is also hypothetical. It relates only to what would have happened if someone would have left out one of these components. It is ironic that on the very next page, the גמרא asks כיצד הלבישן, how did they dress the כהנים? This question is immediately attacked - whatever was, was. And as far as what we might need to know in the end of days - משה and אהרן will tell us then! Quite a contrast.

There is one simple answer: Although the direct halachic ramifications are indeed constrained to the מילואים we do see from the exchange between ר' יוחנן and ריש לקיש that the understanding of those laws does impact how we would understand the laws governing the yearly separation of the כהן גדול. So it is important on that account.

Perhaps there might be a deeper answer to the general approach given to these issues. There are many times in ש"ס that the גמרא will seem to go a circuitous route to reach a final conclusion. Various approaches and understandings are suggested and debunked, some even seeming illogical from the start. Why arrange the גמרא this way? Why not just get to the end point directly? Clearly, רבינא and רב אשי intended the גמרא to be more than a collection of הלכות. We have ראשונים like the רי"ף and רמב"ם to zero in on what we need to know. But the גמרא is meant to mold are minds and train our brains for the analytical thinking that is required to fully grasp any one subject matter.

In addition to the irony mentioned above, תוספות ה: ד"ה מאי דהוה הוה also asks that the גמרא in סנהדרין discusses how an ox that made contact with הר סיני would have been judged and no objection is brought there either. So how are we to understand this? I believe that really, there is no problem with discussing a legal issue which has no practical import. If it was worthy of discussion then it is just as worthy of discussion now. So why then did the גמרא object to כיצד הלבישן? I think the answer might just be that the גמרא asked the question because there was an answer. The question was posed solely for the purpose of exposing the give and take that would ultimately teach us that there are two contradictory פסוקים which we need to understand. If there's no real answer to the question "why do I need to know this?" then the גמרא simply won't ask it. I hope this approach is not too controversial.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

.ב Deliberate טומאה

מטמאין היו הכהן השורף את הפרה ומטבילין אותו להוציא מלבן של צדוקין שהיו אומרים במעורבי השמש היתה נעשית
תוס' ד"ה להוציא מלבן של צדוקין. לאו בטומאה דאורייתא מטמו ליה דלא הוי מזלזלי בה כולי האי

One question that arises from this explanation of תוספות is that in the end, how are we any better than the צדוקים if we too are careful not to make him טמא מדאורייתא?

However, what bothered me was that our practice doesn’t really make the intended point to the צדקים. We want to show them “Ha. You say the one who burns the cow can’t be a טבול יום but we’ll show you that he can be.” But if they have a complete disregard for any תורה שבעל פה, this טומאה דרבנן is absolutely meaningless to them and as far as they are concerned, he is completely טהור.

I went searching in the מתיבתא edition where I found a lot of attention devoted to the first question and finally, my question is addressed by מעיל שמואל. He writes the להוציא מלבן של צדוקין does not mean that we are addressing them directly. Rather, what is really meant is that we need to make the point to ourselves, to the masses, that they are incorrect. Therefore, the masses who recognize the reality of טומאה דרבנן will see that in fact a טבול יום may burn the cow and will know the צדוקים are wrong. We don’t concern ourselves with what the צדוקים will think.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

:ט”ז Three boxes

ר"ח (בן גמליאל) אמר שלש תיבות עשאו שתים של זהב ואחת של עץ נתן של זהב בשל עץ ושל עץ בשל זהב

See this old shtikle of mine on פרשת תרומה regarding רש”י’s version of this גמרא.