Monday, July 1, 2019

:ט”ו Snake Attack

ואמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב אם ישוך הנחש בלא לחש ואין יתרון לבעל הלשון לעתיד לבא מתקבצות כל החיות ובאות אצל נחש ואומרות ארי דורס ואוכל זאב טורף ואוכל אתה מה הנאה יש לך אומר להם וכי מה יתרון לבעל הלשון

I have always found this allegorical discourse troublesome. From the little I know about snakes, they don’t actually attack for no reason whatsoever. They attack as a defense mechanism when they feel threatened.

But it occurred to me - perhaps that actually works into the analogy perfectly. As is often discussed regarding לשון הרע, the urge to speak לשון הרע comes from a feeling of inferiority and that one needs to share this juicy piece of information in order to get a leg up. Although a snake attacks when they feel they are under attack, that doesn’t mean it is actually the case. Very similarly, the tongue speaks לשון הרע when it is deluded to believe it would be otherwise disadvantaged.

.ט”ו Defining the Dibah

אמר רבה אמר ר"ל אמר קרא וימותו האנשים מוציאי דבת הארץ רעה על דבת הארץ שהוציאו
See this shtikle discussing exactly at which point the report of the מרגלים went sour.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

:י A Perspective on סוכות

כל יומא דחג חלוקין בקרבנותיהן דפסח אין חלוקין בקרבנותיהן
See this old סוכות shtikle referncing this גמרא.

Monday, June 24, 2019

:ח Delayed Bris

מתני' אין קטן נימול פחות מח' ולא יתר על שנים עשר

A ברית may not be performed at night. Why is this significant? It occurred to me that if that were not the case, there might actually be a remedy for a child born בין השמשות on Friday. Suppose he was born exactly 15 minutes after שקיעה. What if we were to perform the ברית exactly 15 minutes after שקיעה on the next Friday. That would work with the following logic: If 15 minutes after is still day, then he was born יום ששי and is נמול ביום ששי. If 15 minutes after is in fact already night, well then he was born on שבת and נימול בשבת. But that would work in reality since we can’t do the ברית at night.

I suppose once I am venturing into fantasy worlds with alternate halachic realities, we might has well create one in which we know exactly when night begins and then the whole issue would be a non-starter.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

.ו His Word is his Bond

אמר ליה אביי שאני מלכותא דלא הדרא ביה דאמר שמואל אי אמר מלכותא עקרנא טורי עקר טורי ולא הדר ביה

Interesting how sometimes the דף seems to curiously coincide with current events. I thought it was ironic that this גמרא appears right when their happens to be a current controversy regarding the President of the United States and a possible military strike against another country. Without getting into too many details, he is being criticized for having ordered the strike but cancelling it at the last moment. I suppose it can be argued that the statement of the גמרא does not apply to a democratically elected leader who is accountable to the people.

Friday, June 21, 2019

:ה Gentile Contributions

הלכתיה דרבי מאיר מסתברא דכתיב לא לכם ולנו לבנות בית אלהינו...ורבי יהודה האי לא לכם ולנו מאי עביד ליה ... אלא אמר רבא משום רפיון ידים הוא
רש"י ד"ה משום רפיון ידים. משום שלא היו מתכוונים לטובה אלא שיסמכו גם עליהם וישמעו לעצתם והם יאחרו הבנין עד שיסיבו את לב כורש שלא לבנותו

It would seem that the dispute between רבי מאיר and רבי יהודה is not confined to סברא as far as how they understood the rejection of the contributions for the בית שני. There would have to be a practical halachic implication as well. As רש”י explains, the pledges of those with ill intentions will prevent others from making their genuine pledges and the fundraising process will ultimately be stalled. But if a Gentile were to deliver the funds in hand, this concern would no longer apply. רבי יהודה would reject their pledges but not their actual donations. רבי מאיר, conversely, would seem to reject all outside contributions regardless. (I’m not quite sure how to understand the issue raised at the end of this סוגיא regarding the contribution of beams. The גמרא seems to only answer according to רבי יהודה’s reasoning.)

Considering this matter led me an insight regarding the growing trend of match-based charity initiatives where people are urged to donate to a specific cause within a certain time frame and each dollar will be doubled or tripled by matches pledged by larger donors. The program must hit a certain goal or it all collapses and all pledges are returned. I’m not sure who originally invented this brilliant idea but one of the more popular sites is I have heard a common gripe about these programs that the money is really all “ready” and larger donors have already assured ahead of time that no matter what, by the time the campaign is over, they will reach their goal. So why the whole charade?

We have learned from רש”י that the reality of human nature is that people’s desire to donate is driven by need. If people think that the money is already there or on its way, they will refrain from contributing. These larger donors could likely fund the whole campaign on their own. But participating in this “ruse” ultimately moves others to jump in and get involved. We should probably be looking at this whole idea as a fulfillment of the משנה in פרקי אבות:

ה:י”ג ארבע מדות בנותני צדקה:... יתן ויתנו אחרים, חסיד

Thursday, June 20, 2019

.ג Wozuman?

נשים מזמנות לעצמן

The concept of women having their own מזומן when they eat together seems to be generally regarded as a modern, non-mainstream practice. However, our גמרא would seem to imply that it is the correct one. Now, of course we can't go jumping to conclusions based on just the גמרא. After all, we are also taught here that boys under בר מצוה who understand to whom they are benching can be included to establish a זימון. Nevertheless, although ספרדים do actually abide by this, the practice of אשכנזים is to refrain from doing so. But this issue of women and זימון is even discussed in ביואר הלכה. It seems although the הלכה should be that women are required to, it seems the general accepted practice is that they do not.

What is accepted, however, is that in a meal with men, they are required to participate in the זימון just as the men are. R' Moshe Feinstein (אגרות משה או"ח חלק ה' סימן י) quite sternly points out that while a mother's tending to household matters determine that she is not part of the set group and might be exempt under certain circumstances, it is incumbent upon the husband to delay the זימון in order to call her and include her.

:ג Priestly ציצית?

הכל חייבין בציצית כהנים לוים וישראלים פשיטא כהנים איצטריך לי' סד"א הואיל וכתיב לא תלבש שעטנז גדילים תעשה לך מאן דלא אישתרי כלאים לגביה בלבישה הוא דמחייב במצות ציצית והני כהנים הואיל ואשתרי כלאים לגבייהו לא לחייבו קמ"ל נהי דאישתרי בעידן עבודה בלא עידן עבודה לא אישתרי

So, they are certainly not exempt from ציצית while they're out and about. But what about while they are actually performing the עבודה? This is discussed in this shtikle on פרשת תצוה.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

:ב A Child's Obligation for Sukkah

הכל חייבין בסוכה לאיתויי מאי לאיתויי קטן שאינו צריך לאמו דתנן קטן שאינו צריך לאמו חייב בסוכה

Please see some related thoughts I shared on the occasion of our son's birth on סוכות תשע"ז.

:ב Why are we here?

תקנתם את רבו ואת עצמו לא תקנתם לישא שפחה אינו יכול בת חורין אינו יכול ליבטיל והלא לא נברא העולם אלא לפריה ורביה שנאמר לא תהו בראה לשבת יצרה
תוספות (חגיגה ב:) ד"ה לא תהו בראה. האי עשה אלים טפי מפרו ורבו כדאמר במגילה בפרק בתרא (דף כז.) מוכר אדם ס"ת לישא אשה וללמוד תורה ומייתי לא תהו בראה

Surely, the very first מצוה in the תורה is פרו ורבו. However, תוספות here indicate that the פסוק of לא תהו בראה is of some greater value. It doesn't seem that תוספות actually go into detail as to how that is, only to dispel the notion that this פסוק is used due to the absence of the real מצות פרו ורבו. 

I believe the following is the utility of the פסוק in ישעיה - either as an explanation of תוספות or an alternate approach: The main source for the מצוה is surely from בראשית. However, it is only one מצוה among 613. The פסוק in ישעיה is brought into play when the מצוה of פרו ורבו finds itself in a conflict with another מצוה, in order to establish the supremacy of the מצוה of פרו ורבו. Once we understand that the very purpose of the creation of the world was for us to inhabit it, the מצוה of פרו ורבו can take precedence over certain other מצוות.

As תוספות reference, one may sell a ספר תורה to enable the מצוה of פרו ורבו. In our case here, the emancipation of the second half of the servant is problematic with the מצוה of לעולם בהם תעבדו, prohibiting the freeing of an עבד כנעני. Neverheless, since פרו ורבו has been established as the "purpose of our creation," it is preferable to transgress לעולם בהם תעבדו or to sell a ספר תורה in order to enable its performance.