Friday, August 28, 2020

.י"ט Past and Present

מתקיף לה רב כהנא השתא דאמרת הפושעים דפשעי ואזלי אלא מעתה דכתיב המוציא והמעלה דמסיק ודמפיק הוא אלא דאסיק ואפיק הכי נמי דפשעי הוא

See this shtikle relating to the understanding of the word המעלה (which appears in this week's פרשה.)

Sunday, August 23, 2020

:י"ד Pair of Lechis

לחיין שאמרו כו' לימא תנן סתמא כר"א דאמר לחיין בעינן לא מאי לחיין לחיין דעלמא אי הכי קורה נמי ניתני קורות ומאי קורות קורות דעלמא הכי קאמר אותן לחיין שנחלקו בהן ר' אליעזר וחכמים גובהן עשרה טפחים ורוחבן ועוביין כל שהוא

There is a grammatical significance to this discussion. In the end, the גמרא concludes that we are in fact referring to ר' אליעזר's position and the subsequent dispute regarding it. The first word of the משנה is therefore written/pronounced לְחָיַיִן, the exact translation of which would be a pair of lechis, following a similar structure to עינים or אזנים. If the משנה were to have been interpreted as the גמרא first suggested - referring generally to multiple lechis as they pertain to multiple alleyways, the word would be a simple plural and would probably be punctuated differently, although I'm not quite sure exactly how.

[תש"ף] How fitting that this סוגיא comes immediately after פרשת שופטים. Not only is the grammatical structure of a pair evident in שופטים, as per this Dikdukian piece but the actual word לחיים is also mentioned.

Monday, August 17, 2020

:ח A Pythagorean Question

אמר רב כהנא הואיל ושמעתתא דכהני היא אימא בה מילתא הא דאמרת מניח הקורה באלכסון לא אמרן אלא שאין באלכסונו יותר מעשר אבל יש באלכסונו יותר מעשר דברי הכל אינו מניח אלא כנגד הקצר
רש"י ד"ה שאין באלכסונו יותר מעשר. שהמבוי קצר לרחבו הרבה ואין ברוחבו ובארבע אמות הנמשכין להצטרף יותר מעשר
This line in the גמרא seemed fairly simple to me. However, I found the way רש"י explained it to be somewhat troublesome. If I'm understanding correctly, he is suggesting that the מבוי would need to be extremely narrow in order for the אלכסון to be less than 10 אמות. But the simple Pythagorean calculation suggests otherwise. By the Pythagorean Theorem, as illustrated below, a 10 אמה diagonal is achieved only with an approximately 9.2 אמה width, given the extra 4 אמות of wall. A מבוי anyways has to be less than 10 אמות wide. So what exactly does Rashi mean?



Tuesday, August 11, 2020

.ב No other משכן?

בשלמא מקדש דאיקרי משכן דכתיב ונתתי משכני בתוככם
וכשנאמר מקרא זה כבר הוקם המשכן שהרי בתורת כהנים נכתב וכל אותו הספר באהל מועד נאמר כדכתיב (ויקרא א) וידבר ה' אליו מאהל מועד ועל איזה משכן היה מבטיחן עוד אם לא על המקדש

I found this assertion in רש"י somewhat troubling. Indeed, the משכן had already been built. But this was not the only משכן. On a number of occasions, the משכן was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt. Could it not be that the פסוק is saying that if we do 'ה's will, he will rebuild the משכן after it has been destroyed?

Friday, July 31, 2020

:קמז Diumsis

רבי אלעזר בן ערך איקלע להתם אימשיך בתרייהו איעקר תלמודיה כי הדר אתא קם למיקרי בספרא בעא למיקרא החדש הזה לכם אמר החרש היה לבם בעו רבנן רחמי עליה והדר תלמודיה

I heard the following from my Zadie, R’ Chayim Yaakov Bulka, ז"ל:

In parshas Bo, (12:2) B'nei Yisrael are given their first mitzvah as a nation, the mitzvah of Kiddush HaChodesh. This mitzvah deals, in general, with the setting of our calendar. It vests in the Sanhedrin and those empowered by the Sanhedrin, the authority to intercalate months or years (i.e. determine the length of the month or the occurrence of a leap year). The complex calculations and procedures pertaining to intercalation are called "Sod haIbur." As the word "sod," secret, implies, this is part of the deeper realms of Torah.

The above gemara relates a story about the dangerously mystical powers of the wines of Prugaisa and waters of Diumsis. The great Rabbi Elazar ben Arach visited these wonders and was overcome and forgot his learning. When he returned, he got up to read the aforementioned pasuk. Instead of reading "HaChodesh hazeh lachem," this month shall be for you, he switched the dalet for a reish, the zayin for a yud, the chuf for a beis and misread, "hacheireish hayah libam," and their hearts were deafened and muted. The Rabbis prayed for him and he returned to his normal self. Nevertheless, it is quite shocking for such a notable sage to be overcome to such an extent. Is it possible that R' Elazar was so deeply influenced that he forgot how to read an elementary pasuk?

This mysterious performance of R' Elazar may, perhaps, be explained by referring to a beautiful explanation by the Gaon of Vilna. The pasuk (Yeshayah 6:10) says "Make the heart of the people fat, make their ears heavy and smear over their eyes; lest they see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and return..." The pasuk, referring to the sealing off of the path of repentance, starts off with the heart, then the ears and then the eyes but continues backwards from the eyes, then the ears then the heart.

The GR"A explains that eyes, ears and heart correspond respectively to Torah ShebiChsav, the Written Tradition, Torah SheBa'al Peh, the Oral Tradition, and Sodos HaTorah, the deep secrets of the Torah . The study of Torah ShebiChsav and Torah SheBa'al Peh, will ultimately lead to understanding of Sodos HaTorah. The neglect of Torah study will first deprive an understanding of Sodos HaTorah, to be followed by forgeting of Torah SheBa’al Peh and finally, even Torah ShebiChsav will no longer be comprehensible. However, if diligent and continuous study is resumed again, first the eyes will begin the study of the Written Tradition, followed by careful and concentrated attention with the ears to the Oral Tradition and, eventually, by persistent study, the heart will regain the ability to penetrate and comprehend the deep secrets of Torah.

We can assume that R’ Elazar ben Arach, the "ma'ayan hamisgabeir," (Avos 2:8) did not forget the Written and Oral traditions. However, by reading "Their hearts were deafened," he made a personal statement, a cry for help. This pasuk, "HaChodesh hazeh lachem," which commands us to put into practice the Sodos HaTorah, was now beyond his reach. By allowing himself to be drawn to the wines of Prugaisa and waters of Diumsis, his heart became deafened and no longer had the capacity to comprehend Sodos HaTorah, including Sod HaIbur. The rabbis answered his outcry and prayed for him and his mastery of Sodos HaTorah was returned to him.

Friday, June 26, 2020

:קי"ב Angels and Donkeys and Everything in Between

אמר ר' זירא אמר רבא בר זימונא אם ראשונים בני מלאכים אנו בני אנשים ואם ראשונים בני אנשים אנו כחמורים ולא כחמורו של ר' חנינא בן דוסא ושל רבי פנחס בן יאיר אלא כשאר חמורים

The following is from a הספד delivered by R' Yaakov Weinberg, זצ"ל at the end of the שבעה for R' Ruderman, זצ"ל.

 R' Weinberg explains that we all appreciate that the previous generations were on a much higher spiritual level than we are. This is not the message the גמרא is trying to convey. The גמרא is not coming to give a comparison. Rather, the גמרא is teaching us that one who looks upon the ראשונים as sons of angels, he has the status of a בן אדם. This is the way a normal person should view the ראשונים.  However, if we look at the ראשונים  as simple בני אדם, we are lowering ourselves to donkeys. Why donkeys? The pasuk (ישעיה א:ג) states יָדַע שׁוֹר קֹנֵהוּ וַחֲמוֹר אֵבוּס בְּעָלָיו, The ox knows his owner, and the donkey his master's trough. The ox is an animal that knows his owner and therefore appreciates where his food is coming from. The donkey, however, knows only his master's trough. He knows where to get the food, but he does not recognize its source. Therefore, one who views the ראשונים as mere בני אדם is cutting himself off from the previous generations and although he may be thoroughly well-versed in תורה, he has no appreciation of where it has come from and who has passed it down to him. Thus, he is like a donkey. [And not like the donkey of ר' פנחס בן יאיר who recognized his owner but like other donkeys.]

Tuesday, June 16, 2020

:צ"ב Different types of sheep?

There is no mention of sheep anywhere on דף צב. Or is there? It's not often that I will have something to say about a note in the מסורת הש"ס but one in particular caught my attention at the bottom of the דף. It pertains to a discussion we've had over at Dikdukian as to whether there is a difference between the words כבש and כשב. I have posted this comment there as well:

Towards the bottom, the word מלגז is used. רש"י translates as "forke." The מסורת הש"ס comments: פי׳ מזלג ע״י חילוף האותיות כמו כבש כשב מוסף ערוך To me, that seems to imply that the words are the same but the letters can simply switched around. But I suppose that is up for interpretation.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

.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 same thought - to hear one more teaching  from him before leaving. And, of course, each got his own teaching.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

: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.”

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

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.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

.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. 

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

.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. 

Friday, March 6, 2020

: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.

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

: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. See the מסורת הש"ס on .נ"ט for more references including the text of הרב את רבינו which we will be saying very soon (:מגילה כ"א).

.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 Kamenetsky, 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.

Monday, March 2, 2020

:נ"ט Niagara Falls

הָרוֹאֶה פְּרָת אַגִּשְׁרָא דְבָבֶל, אוֹמֵר: ״בָּרוּךְ … עוֹשֵׂה בְרֵאשִׁית״. וְהָאִידָּנָא דְּשַׁנְיוּהּ פָּרְסָאֵי — מִבֵּי שַׁבּוּר וּלְעֵיל.
An interesting שאלה that arises for me quite often is whether or not one should make a ברכה when they see Niagara Falls. A significant component of that discussion relates to the above passage. A good friend of mine, Rabbi Mordechai Hochheimer, who used to be a Rav in nearby Rochester, NY wrote an essay on the subject. Unfortunately, the blog no longer exists but Google Cache was able to help restoring the source:


Now, there is an opinion (mentioned in this exchange in the name of R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach) that a natural wonder that "formed later" is not subject to this ברכה since it is not literally part of מעשה בראשית. I have always had difficulty with this approach. When we make the very same ברכה on lightning, this is not a bolt of lightning that HaShem created in the first 6 days. Rather, HaShem infused the בריאה with the energy and power to create these wonders over time. Can the same not be said about natural wonders that were formed naturally over the course of history, without human intervention? Niagara Falls might not have existed when HaShem created the world. But the forces that would eventually make the Falls a reality certainly were.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

: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.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

:נ"ד The Four

מַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר רַב: אַרְבָּעָה צְרִיכִין לְהוֹדוֹת: יוֹרְדֵי הַיָּם, הוֹלְכֵי מִדְבָּרוֹת, וּמִי שֶׁהָיָה חוֹלֶה וְנִתְרַפֵּא, וּמִי שֶׁהָיָה חָבוּשׁ בְּבֵית הָאֲסוּרִים וְיָצָא.
Yes, I know we have to get through Purim first but Pesach is also right around the corner. Here is an old shtikle on ליל סדר that involves this גמרא:

:נ"ד משנכנס אדר...

עָבְדִי לְהוֹן נְקִירָתָא וּטְשׁוֹ בְּהוֹן
and prepared caves for themselves and they hid in them
I've got to imagine there's a really good chance that this Aramaic word is derived from the Yiddish word tasch, as in the taschen we eat on Purim. Ok, ok, ונהפוך הוא, it would be the other way around. Even though there is usually an opening, the contents are technically "hidden" inside.

:נ"ד Bible Stories

תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: הָרוֹאֶה מַעְבְּרוֹת הַיָּם, וּמַעְבְּרוֹת הַיַּרְדֵּן, מַעְבְּרוֹת נַחֲלֵי אַרְנוֹן, אַבְנֵי אֶלְגָּבִישׁ בְּמוֹרַד בֵּית חוֹרוֹן, וְאֶבֶן שֶׁבִּקֵּשׁ לִזְרוֹק עוֹג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן עַל יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְאֶבֶן שֶׁיָּשַׁב עָלֶיהָ מֹשֶׁה בְּשָׁעָה שֶׁעָשָׂה יְהוֹשֻׁעַ מִלְחָמָה בַּעֲמָלֵק, וְאִשְׁתּוֹ שֶׁל לוֹט, וְחוֹמַת יְרִיחוֹ שֶׁנִּבְלְעָה בִּמְקוֹמָהּ — עַל כּוּלָּן צָרִיךְ שֶׁיִּתֵּן הוֹדָאָה וָשֶׁבַח לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם.
Growing up we learn about all sorts of fascinating and captivating stories that appear in the מדרשים. As we mature, as disappointing as it might be, we become aware that perhaps not all מדרשים are meant to be taken literally. I do not dare enter into that debate but only want to point out that considering the topic at hand, the events mentioned in the ברייתא above must have actually happened as they were described. Otherwise, it would not seem logical to make blessings on the great miracles told in an allegory.  

Saturday, February 22, 2020

: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.

[5780 addendum] See the discussion in the comments below. It certainly seems that תוספות understood the גמרא the same way I am proposing:
תוספות ד"ה אין זורקין... ואין זורקין את הפת אפילו לא ממאיס

Thursday, February 20, 2020

: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.)

Sunday, February 16, 2020

:מ"ד Covering Your Bases

אָמַר רַב יִצְחָק בַּר אַבְדִּימִי מִשּׁוּם רַבֵּינוּ: עַל הַבֵּיעָא וְעַל מִינֵי קוּפְרָא, בַּתְּחִלָּה מְבָרֵךְ ״שֶׁהַכֹּל״, וּלְבַסּוֹף ״בּוֹרֵא נְפָשׁוֹת רַבּוֹת וְכוּ׳״. אֲבָל יַרְקָא לָא. וְרַבִּי יִצְחָק אָמַר: אֲפִילּוּ יַרְקָא, אֲבָל מַיָּא — לָא. וְרַב פָּפָּא אָמַר: אֲפִילּוּ מַיָּא.... אָמַר רַב אָשֵׁי: אֲנָא, זִמְנָא דְּכִי מִדְּכַרְנָא, עָבֵידְנָא כְּכוּלְּהוּ.
רש"י ד"ה ככולהו. אף כרב פפא:
Artscroll explains Rashi's comment: I even make a בורא נפשות on water. There are two difficulties רב אשי's statement. The first, regardless of how we understand רש"י, is the strange qualifier he uses, "when I remember." This is unusual if we are talking about פסק. Why would he not remember? But Artscroll's understanding adds some more difficulty. How can this be considered to be in accordance with all of the opinions? This is not a simple חומרא. We are dealing with ברכות. According to the first two opinions, a בורא נפשות on water is a ברכה לבטלה.

Perhaps רב אשי's statement and רש"י's comment can be understood differently. There is a way to actually act in accordance with all three opinions - two ways, actually. One can make sure never to enter the realm of uncertainty by not having enough of a vegetable or water to necessitate a ברכה אחרונה, although that would be rather difficult. Alternatively, one can make sure that whenever a vegetable or water is consumed, it is in the presence of eggs, meat, etc. which certainly require a בורא נפשות. This way, the ברכה is certainly warranted. 

This approach also accounts for the phrase זמנא דכי מדכרנא. It is not a matter of פסק דין. Rather, it is indeed a חומרא and would require extra diligence and it would be understandable that there are times when might forget to make sure to have the other items present.

.מ"ד Brothers and Sisters

עִיר אַחַת הָיְתָה בְּאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל וְגוּפְנִית שְׁמָהּ, שֶׁהָיוּ בָּהּ שְׁמֹנִים זוּגוֹת אַחִים כֹּהֲנִים נְשׂוּאִים לִשְׁמֹנִים זוּגוֹת אֲחָיוֹת כֹּהֲנוֹת. וּבְדַקוּ רַבָּנַן מִסּוּרָא וְעַד נְהַרְדָּעָא וְלָא אַשְׁכַּחוּ בַּר מִבְּנָתֵיהּ דְּרַב חִסְדָּא, דַּהֲווֹ נְסִיבָן לְרָמִי בַּר חָמָא וּלְמָר עוּקְבָא בַּר חָמָא. וְאַף עַל גַּב דְּאִינְהִי הֲווֹ כָּהֲנָתָא, אִינְהוּ לָא הֲווֹ כָּהֲנֵי.
This is certainly interesting. But the גמרא is in the midst of discussing some pretty impressive areas of ארץ ישראל and the various forms of abundant sustenance they provide. What is this part doing here? How is this a praise of ארץ ישראל?

It can be suggested that when a couple marry, it is perfectly natural for them to be some degree of strife - hopefully minimal - between the two families. That two families come together and maintain such a positive relationship with each other that they are inclined to do it all over again is something special indeed. While this might not speak to a quality of the land of ארץ ישראל, it certainly speaks to the quality of its inhabitants and their ability to get along.

Now for the ironic twist: while I was learning this גמרא this morning, just two rows ahead of me was someone - a כהן no less - who he and his brother are married to sisters (cousins of mine, in fact.)

Saturday, February 15, 2020

:מ"ג Punt?

וְלָא אֲמַרַן אֶלָּא בְּפַנְתָּא
And we only said this with regard to patches on the upper part of the shoe
Could this possibly be related to the etymology of the word "punt?"

: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.

Friday, February 14, 2020

.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. 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

: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 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
[5772]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 is 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.

Monday, February 10, 2020

: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, quoted תוספות has the answer. It includes some important limitations to the rule of כל שיש בו.

Friday, February 7, 2020

: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? Was it only instituted by the אמוראים? Did know practical food applications exist for it prior to that?

Thursday, February 6, 2020

.ל”ד Three Things in Moderation

ת"ר שלשה רובן קשה ומיעוטן יפה ואלו הן שאור ומלח וסרבנות
The גמרא states that there are three things which are damaging in large quantities but are pleasant in small quantities: leavening, salt and refusal. 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, it is as if it is not even there. So it does not qualify for this list.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

: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
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 other supplications, such as אדיר הוא, where 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 סוכות to פסח. And of course we say ותן טל ומטר less often as it only starts at the earliest, shortly after סוכות in ארץ ישראל. 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.)

Monday, February 3, 2020

: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.

Sunday, February 2, 2020

.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?
[Update תש"ף: It should be noted that רמ"א is quoting the טור who lived in Toledo, Spain, which is much more to the west than Krakow is.]
(For some reason, I can't get the iframe to work. Please see the map here.)


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.)
(For some reason, I can't get the iframe to work. Please see the map here.)

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?

Saturday, February 1, 2020

:כ"ט Something New

מַאי ״קֶבַע״?... רַבָּה וְרַב יוֹסֵף דְאָמְרִי תַּרְוַיְיהוּ: כֹּל שֶׁאֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְחַדֵּשׁ בָּהּ דָּבָר
רש"י ד"ה לחדש בה דבר. בבקשתו והיינו לשון קבע כיום כן אתמול כן מחר:
So what exactly constitutes חידוש דבר? I have seen a modern translation explain this as any addition to the standard text. According to that definition, however, if someone inserts his own personal prayer - the same one each time - it will still constitute חידוש. This does not seem to jive with רש"י's approach. If your תפילה today is the same as it was yesterday and the day before, that would appear to fit רש"י's definition of קבע.

I have an interesting distinction to offer on this topic. Let us contrast two different types of personal prayers. Suppose someone has a test coming up next week and he inserts a prayer asking for success on that test. If he once again prays for success on that test in a subsequent תפילה, it can certainly be suggested that nothing has changed and there is nothing new from the previous prayer to this one.

However, suppose you are inserting a prayer for a present need such as someone who is sick and needs a רפואה שלמה. You want that prayer to be answered immediately. If you prayed for it in the morning, and now it is the afternoon and the subject of the prayer is still in need, that is essentially a new need. Even if the words of the extra prayer are exactly the same, I suggest that the mere fact that this need is ongoing should be enough of a "newness" to satisfy the definition of חידוש דבר.

.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 (ironically, the author of the יד החזקה) 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.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

.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 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 Removal from Office

תא ונעבריה
I couldn't resist pointing out the glaring coincidence of this famous גמרא coming up right in the thick of - להבדיל אלף אלפי הבדלות - the US presidential impeachment proceedings. 

.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.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

: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 have added a 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 clothed 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.

Monday, January 27, 2020

: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 ו clearly 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

Saturday, January 25, 2020

: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.

Friday, January 24, 2020

: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.

Side note: I find it quite intriguing that many people seem to be unaware of this הלכה. I have observed many individuals - whom I would expect to otherwise be knowledgeable of הלכה - walk into shul and start שמונה עשרה right away without taking into consideration what they will be missing. In fact, I just observed this a number of minutes ago. Unfortunately, I get to see this as I myself am waiting for חזרת הש"ץ after having arrived late.

. 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.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

: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.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

: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.

Monday, January 20, 2020

.י"ז Children in Shul?

אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַב לְרַבִּי חִיָּיא: נָשִׁים בְּמַאי זָכְיָין? בְּאַקְרוֹיֵי בְּנַיְיהוּ לְבֵי כְנִישְׁתָּא, וּבְאַתְנוֹיֵי גַּבְרַיְיהוּ בֵּי רַבָּנַן, וְנָטְרִין לְגַבְרַיְיהוּ עַד דְּאָתוּ מִבֵּי רַבָּנַן
:רש"י ד"ה לבי כנישתא – תינוקות של בית רבן היו רגילין להיות למדים לפני רבן בבית הכנסת
There is something very significant to be gleaned from this innocent line - from the "What's bothering Rashi" department. We are talking about younger children as older children are (or should be) already responsible for themselves. So Rashi is perturbed - what are these kids doing in shul? Surely, they are not there for davening! So it must be that they are there because that was traditionally the location of their cheder.

Saturday, January 18, 2020

.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.)

Thursday, January 16, 2020

: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?

היה 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?

: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
[5772: 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

רש"י ד"ה המלך המשפט - כמו מלך המשפט. כמו נושאי הארון הברית (יהושע ג) כמו ארון הברית וכן המסגרות המכונות (מלכים ב טז) שהוא כמו מסגרות המכונות וכן העמק הפגרים (ירמיהו לא) כמו עמק הפגרים :

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.

.י"ב If only...

אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה אָמַר שְׁמוּאֵל: אַף בִּגְבוּלִין בִּקְּשׁוּ לִקְרוֹת כֵּן, אֶלָּא שֶׁכְּבָר בִּטְּלוּם מִפְּנֵי תַּרְעוֹמֶת הַמִּינִין.
רש"י ד"ה המינין - עכו"ם:
Could you even imagine if the מינין of today were "that bad" and actually adhered to at least the עשרת הדברות? Wouldn't that be something.

Monday, January 13, 2020

: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 who 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  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

אָמְרָה לֵיהּ בְּרוּרְיָא דְּבֵיתְהוּ: מַאי דַּעְתָּךְ — מִשּׁוּם דִּכְתִיב ״יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים״, מִי כְּתִיב ״חוֹטְאִים״? ״חַטָּאִים״ כְּתִיב. וְעוֹד, שְׁפֵיל לְסֵיפֵיהּ דִּקְרָא ״וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם״, כֵּיוָן דְּ״יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים״ ״וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם״? אֶלָּא בְּעִי רַחֲמֵי עִלָּוַיְהוּ דְּלַהְדְּרוּ בִּתְשׁוּבָה, ״וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם״.
ברוריא 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.

I recently heard a beautiful answer to this question, more along the lines of פשט. (Unfortunately, I can't recall where I heard this from.) Indeed, the word חַטָּאִים does mean sinners. However, there is a difference between חַטָּאִים and חוֹטְאִים. A חַטָּא is when for whom sin is an essence of his being. It is the same construct as גַמָל or חַמָר referring to a camel or donkey driver as that is their profession. A חוֹטֵא, however, is someone who sins casually. They are heavily influenced by the חַטָּאִים to follow in their ways. What the פסוק in תהילים is teaching us is that when the חַטָּאִים are no longer they will cease to influence the חוֹטְאִים and all other רשעים and they will naturally do תשובה. Beruriah was cautioning her husband that these men are not really חַטָּאִים. They are merely חוֹטְאִים and he should not pray for their demise.

.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.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

.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 seems 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.

: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.