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Friday, September 18, 2020

Rosh HaShannah Before Yom Kippur

Part of this was first posted in 2010. This adds something very good that I heard from my brother R Akiva shlitah this morning at his Zoom Siyum on Tamid, Erev Rosh HaShanna תשפ"א הבא עלינו לטובה ולברכה.


Yesterday, a friend was in the local Hebrew bookstore, and a woman with very little Jewish background was talking to the clerk about the Yamim Noraim.  She said that she knew that Rosh Hashanna is the day of judgment, and Yom Kippur the day of forgiveness, but she said she always wondered why judgment would come before forgiveness - Reb Yisrael Salanter's famous question.

 Coincidentally, yesterday I heard a shiur daas from Rav Avraham Chaim Levin on that topic.  Rabbi Levin said in the name of his wife's grandfather, Reb Chatzkel Levenstein of Ponevezh, an answer in the name of Reb Yitzchak Blahzer.  He said that only after Klal Yisrael is mekabel ol malchus shamayim is it possible to have a day of kapara.  Only after we realize that Hashem is our king, and that by not doing what Hashem wants we are mored bemalchus, then Hashem is willing to be mochel.

I recently saw someone an interesting and relevant mashal that clarifies his idea.  A king sends two servants to do some menial job.  One is very skilled at this work, and does it perfectly, but feels that is an unfair imposition, and so he does it with resentment and a scowl.  The other is not particularly good at this kind of work, but he does it with pride, happy to be able to serve his king.  What is the difference between the two?  Who is the better eved?  The difference is not just who is the better eved.  The first one is not an eved at all, he is a moreid bemalchus.  The second one is a loyal eved.

So it's not just a matter of doing aveiros.  When we do mitzvos, if we do them besimcha, then our actions proclaim that we are avdei Hashem.  If we do the mitzvos, but we do them as if they are a burden, then we are moreid bemalchus.

As we say,  לקונה עבדיו בדין

Reb Chatzkel added that there is a difference between a melech and a talmid chacham.   A talmid chacham has the right to forgo his kavod; machal ahl kvodo, kvodo machul.  A king has no such right; melech shemachal ahl kvodo, ein kvodo machul.  But why can't a king be mochel?  Because his malchus is not his, it is a stewardship granted by the Ribono shel Olam, and the king can't be mochel on what is not his.  The Ribono shel Olam, on the other hand, is a King whose malchus belongs to Him, and so He can be mochel on His kavod.  But the Ribono shel Olam is only willing to be mochel on his kavod for his avadim.  First, we have to be Avdei Hashem.  Only once Klal Yisrael firmly and proudly declares, and demonstrates through their behavior, that Hashem is their king, only then is Hashem willing to be mochel ahl kvodo.  After Rosh Hashanna, when Klal Yisrael is mamlich the Ribono shel Olam, only then Hashem chooses to be mochel ahl kvodo.  Only then is the mechilla of Yom Kippur possible.

In fact, we can say that asking for kapara on Rosh Hashanna would be contrary to the idea of Malchus.  Why should a melech be mochel?  A melech is makpid that his servants do his will with pride and alacrity.  Bringing up our failings and asking that they be dismissed diminishes the whole concept of Malchus.

This enables us to discuss another question.  The Gemara in Bava Kamma 50a says "One who says Hashem is a "Vatran," his life will be mevutar.  In other words, one who says that Hashem dismisses sin, may his life be dismissed.  The point of the Gemara is that Hashems's justice is immutable and inexorable.  So how canYom Kippur bring forgiveness?  Isn't clemency a waiver?  The answer is that just as the Rama MiPano said that the din of Rove is not vitur


 [עשרה מאמרות מאמר חקור דין ח"א פ"ט]
 שהקשה הלא קיי"ל כל האומר הקדוש ברוך הוא וותרן הוא וכו', וקיי"ל במשפט הקדוש לאל איום מי שרובו זכיות ומיעוט עונות נקרא צדיק ויצא בדימוס, מחצה על מחצה הש"י כובש נושא מעביר ראשון ראשון [ר"ה יז ע"א], וקשה הלא אפילו במיעוט עונות נקרא ויתור כיון שמוותרין לו עונות שבידו? ותירץ הרב הקדוש הנ"ל, שאינו נקרא ויתור רק כשמוותרין שלא כמשפטי התורה, אבל מה שנמצא כך במשפטי התורה בעולם הזה לא נקרא ויתור, והנה נמצא במשפטי התורה "אחרי רבים להטות" [שמות כג, ב], א"כ גם למעלה במשפט הקדוש כשהרוב זכיות הולכין אחריהן (וכן במחצה על מחצה נקרא ספק בכאן, ופסקינן ספק נפשות להקל [יומא פג ע"א], אם כן גם בבית דין של מעלה עושין טצדקי לפטור) ולא מיקרי ויתור.

If so, we can say that the din of Yom Kippur, even if it is mechapeir without teshuva, is that once Klal Yisrael as a whole is Mamlich the Ribono shel Olam, Hashem is mochel to His avadim.  This is a din, a result of what we do on Rosh Hashanna, and not vitur.

And what is the best way to be makabel ol malchus shamayim?  Chazal say that it is through Malchiyos, Zichronos, and Shofros.  But I like to say over the Tanchuma in Parshas Tzav, which I think is also key to kabalas ol malchus shamayim:

שאין תשובה לפני הקב״ת יותר מן הודייה



Perhaps we can apply the Tanchuma to the Gemara in Brachos as well:

ויאמר אני אעביר כל טובי על פניך ונו' וחנותי את אשר אחון, ורחמתי את אשר ארחם.(שמות לג יט)

וחנותי את אשר אחון : אע״פ שאינו הגון. ורחמתי את אשר ארחם : אע״פ שאינו הגון.
(ברכות ז א׳)

What's the shaichus of Hashem being ma'avir kol tuvo, and the kapara?  Maybe the pshat is that when a person realizes Chasdei Hashem and the opportunities Hashem has given him as a gift, then Hashem will be meracheim on him, even if he doesn't deserve it.  Hakaras Hatov is the key to Yiras Shamayim and to Kapara.

UPDATE ער"ה תשפ"א

I was speaking to my brother HaRav Ha'illui Akiva, the מרא דאתרא of Manchester, New Hampshire.

He said that to seek Kapara, you have to know who you are. Realizing who you are, the relationship the RBSO offers to have with you, is the illumination that allows you to do teshuva. This makes perfect sense. Teshuva means that you realize what you could have been, what you should have been, and what you failed to achieve, what you refused to see and to do. 

This is why Chazal say (ויק"ר כ"א ד)

רבנן פתרין קרא בראש השנה ויום הכפורים, אורי בראש השנה וישעי ביום הכפורים

This is actually close to Reb Yisrael's answer.

Akiva's words: 
Tshuva requires self-awareness; you cannot create [brias ha'olam] anew you if you don't know the raw material
with which you are working with.  which requires Ori.  Perhaps the difficulty is in the concept that some people think tshuva is the total rejection of who you were in order to create a new order.  Hardly: the raw materials were always in place; you have to find them and use them properly.  

Once again, we see the idea of Gilu bir'ada, that Rosh Hashanna's avoda is to rejoice and to fear, to rejoice that Hashem allows us to serve Him as His avadim, and to fear His judgment.  A person who is properly mekabel ol malchus shamayim is in a position that enables the kapara of Yom Kippur.

A slight variation - Rosh Hashannah is the opportunity to be zocheh under Middas HaDin. Yom Kippur is the opportunity to be zocheh with Middas HaRachamim.

Which brings us back to the Ibn Gabirol we once discussed.


אלהי, אם עוני מנשוא גדול
מה תעשה לשמך הגדול
ואם לא אוחיל לרחמיך
מי יחוס עלי חוץ ממך
לכן אם תקטלני לך איחל
ואם תבקש לעוני
אברח ממך אליך
ואתכסה מחמתך בצלך
ובשולי רחמיך אחזיק
עד אם רחמתני
ולא אשלחך כי אם ברכתני

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Condensed Nusach Hataras Nedarim

 If you need to do Hataras Nedarim quickly, you have the Chayei Adam's shorter nusach as an alternative to the longer nusach from the Shelah that is printed in the siddurim

The Chayei Adam has it in German, because hataras nedarim requires that the applicant understand what he is saying. Rav Steinman translated it into Hebrew.

Rav Steinman offered this option for cases where there is some time pressure, such as a High School where only the rabbeim are old enough to have beards, and they would have to sit there for a long time. If you have any other personal need to make it shorter, this option is available.


מספר כאיל תערוג   בעניני המועדים  תשע"ח
סדר התרת נדרים הקצר 
במקומות שיש הרבה אנשים שרוצים להתיר נדרים, ויש רק מעט הכשרים לדון, כגון כלל לצעירים, ואם יאמר כל אחד כל הנוסח יארך זמן רב מאד. הנה כתב בחיי אדם ( חיי ארם כלל קל"ח סימן ח')  
נוהגין לעשות התרת נדרים בער"ה כדי להנצל מעונש נדרים ואמנם ראוי לכל אדם שילמוד הל' נדרים (ומבוארים בחכמת אדם) כי יש הרבה נדרים שא"א להתיר אותם ונכשלין בהם. צריך כל אדם שיהיה נזהר שיבין מה שהוא אומר ולא כמו שחושבין הע"ה שהוא איזה תחינה וראיתי מהיראים שאינם מבינים בלה"ק שאומרים הנוסח של התרת נדרים בלשון לע"ז 
(דיא נדרים אדר שבועות וואש איך האב גיטאן אונ מען קען זייא מתיר זיין האב איך חרטה אז איך האב אויף מיר גנומן בנדר אדר שבועה) ויתירו לו ואז יאמר (איך בין מוסר מודעה אז ווען איך ווער טאן איין נדר זאל ער גאר ניט חל זיין): 
עד כאן דבריו 
ולשם כן תירגם רבנו נוסח זה ללשון הקודש 
מתחרט אני על כל הנדרים ושבועות וכן כל מנהג טוב שנהגתי ולא אמרתי שיהא בלי נדר ואם הייתי יודע שאתחרט לא הייתי נודר או נשבע  ובמנהג טוב הייתי מתנה שיהיה בלי נדר ומבקש שתתירו לי את כולם

מתחרט אני על כל הנדרים ושבועות וכן שנהגתי ולא אמרתי שיהא בלי נדר ואם הייתי יודע שאתחרט לא הייתי נודר ובמנהג טוב הייתי מתנה שיהי' בלי נדר ומבקש שתתירו לי את כולם 
והדיינים משיבים מותר לך ג"פ 
(קובץ אגרות אגרת מ'ו) 

This nusach is only for the basic Hataras Nedarim. As the Chayei Adam says, you will still want to say the Mesiras Modaah. 
You can say what the Gemara in Nedarim 23 says,  
הרוצה שלא יתקיימו נדריו כל השנה יעמוד בראש השנה ויאמר
כל נדר שאני עתיד לידור יהא בטל
or you can say the longer version that is in the siddurim.


 Also worth knowing - Rav Steinman skipped the word Mumchim and just said "Dayanim." Mumchim is not only rarely true, it is irrelevant when you have three dayanim. (But maybe it's ok now, when every putterer is called "Harav HaGaon.") Also, he did not say the words "Nezirus Shimshon."
הג"ר שמואל איינשטיין היה מצטרף לרבנו מידי שנה להתרת נדרים באחד הימים אחר תפילת מנחה בישיבה קטנה בחדר שיעורים ונשאל הגר"ש איזה חידושים נדרים של רבנו והשיב א' שהשמיט תיבת מומחים ואמר רק שמעו נא רבותי והב' שהשמיט תיבות ואפילו נזירות שמשון 

If you're nervous about relying on this, it might help to know that the תשע"א sefer שערי ימים נוראים  by יהודה טשזנר says that Rav Chaim Kanievsky and להבדיל בין חיים לחיים  Rav Michel Lifkovitz said that the nusach is good even lechatchila.
וכשראו הגרמ"י ליפקוביץ שליט"א והגר"ח קניבסקי שליט"א נוסח זה הסכימו גם הם שאפשר לאומרו לכתחלה


One more thing. Please forgive me for saying something obvious to you, but the reality is that many people make this mistake. People worry about getting dayanim that have a חתימת זקן. Don't worry about it. You don't need a beard to be a dayan. You do have to be an adult, and we don't rely on חזקה דרבא where we can avoid it, so we prefer people that can grow a full beard, because it is evidence of physical maturity.  But there is no advantage in the dayanim actually having a beard. A clean shaven talmid chacham is far better than an amoretz with a beard, unless you're worried about י"ג תיקוני דיקנא, and then I can't help you.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Shofar on the Second Day of Rosh HaShannah

UPDATED TZOM GEDALIAH תשפ"א

Everybody knows that Shofar on the second day, and the daled minim on all the days after the first, are derabannan. Everybody knows that in those years, such as this, when the first day is Shabbos, we completely lose out on the mitzva of Shofar and daled minim. It may be that we gain by our loyalty to Chazal and our protection of Shabbos at least as much as we lose by not doing the Mitzva as given, as Achronim have said.  Some say that this is especially true for Shofar, which is a remembrance of the Akeida; by sacrificing our mitzva l'sheim kvod shamayim, we are re-enacting the akeida, which is better than just commemorating it.

Yes, the Zohar says that our יומא אריכתא was engineered by the RBSO in order to grant us extra time, so there is an element of the true Rosh Hashanna even on day two, but I am thinking on a nigla level.

I have another idea to consider: that being mekayeim the Derabanan is also a kiyum of the Mitzva Deoraysa of Shofar.

This is based on the מרדכי in Megilla פרק הקורא את המגילה סימן תשצ"ח, and on Reb Chaim brought by Reb Elchonon in קובץ שיעורים ח"ב קונטרס דברי סופרים סי' א אות לב. 

I personally feel that this has elements of truth but also some degree of exaggeration. Just because the Mordche says you can be yotzei that night's deoraysa before it's night time because Chazal said you can make Kiddush doesn't mean you can be yotzei yesterday's deoraysa today because Chazal said you should blow a second time. But you can't throw out the nekudas ha'aemes just because it's stated too broadly.  Let's put it this way. It is possible that they would hold you were mekayeim some kind of din deoraysa of Shofar. At least it's possible that Reb Chaim might agree that the Mordechai might agree. Bottom line, תן לחכם ויחכם עוד הודע לצדיק ויוסף לקח.  I think that Rav Shach would like it. I know for sure Rav Rudderman would not.

Just to remind you, 
Mordechai-
נשאל לה"ר טוביה מווינ"א איך סגיא נהור פוטר בניו ובני ביתו מקידוש והא לרבי יהודה דאמר סומא פטור מן המצות פרק החובל א"כ לא מיחייב אלא מדרבנן והיכי אתי דרבנן ומפיק דאורייתא. והשיב דאשכחן דכוותיה גבי קידוש גופיה דאמרינן פרק תפלת השחר מתפלל אדם של שבת בע"ש ואומר קדושה על הכוס והתם מוכח דהיינו שעה ורביע קודם הלילה שעדיין לא קידש היום וכו' ואפ"ה נפיק בההוא קידוש דמקדש מבע"י דאינו אלא מדרבנן ידי קידוש דאורייתא שיתחייב לאחר שתחשך. גם בנידון זה דהאי סגי נהור יש לומר שמוציא אחרים המחויבים מדאורייתא אעפ"י שאינו מחויב הוא אלא מדרבנן  ע"י קידוש דאורייתא שיתחייב לאחר שתחשך, וה"ה לענין סגיא נהור. ואע"ג דגבי נשים גבי בהמ"ז אמרינן היכי אתי דרבנן ומפיק דאורייתא, י"ל דשאני נשים דלא יבואו לידי חיוב לעולם, אבל זה יכול לבוא לידי חיוב דאורייתא כו',

and there's the Magen Avraham's kashe on the Mordchai in  רס"ז סק"א  and the Chayei Adam's answer in ח"א כלל ו' סעי' ג and so forth.

Reb Elchonon-
ושמעתי ממו"ר הג"ר חיים הלוי זצ"ל מבריסק לפרש פלוגתא זו דהרמב"ן ס"ל דנהי נמי שנצטווינו בסיני לשמוע לדברי חכמים והעובר על דבריהן עובר על הציווי הזה אבל אין בהן איסור מצד עצמן. ולדוגמא שבות דדבריהן אין בהן מדאורייתא איסור שבת כלל. וכן שניות לעריות מדאורייתא אינן איסור ביאה, אלא שיש ציווי כללי מדאורייתא שלא לעבור על דבריהן, ולדוגמא במלך שאסור להמרות את פיו. 
והרמב"ם ס"ל דיש על כל דבר של דבריהם איסורו המיוחד, כגון איסור ארוסתו בבית חמיו הוא מדאורייתא מאיסורי ביאה, ומה"ט אין המים בודקין את אשתו. וכן איסורי דרבנן שבג' דברים החמורין הוויין מאביזרייהו. 
וזהו טעם פלוגתתן לענין אם נעשה זקן ממרא באיסור חמץ דרבנן, דלהרמב"ם הוא איסור חמץ, וחמץ הוי דבר שיש בו כרת אם הוא חמץ דאורייתא. ולהרמב"ן אין זה איסור חמץ כלל, ואינו שייך להכרת שיש באיסור חמץ. 

This idea kind of echoes the Beis Yosef in 530 about Chol HaMoed, and the Ritva on Shofar, that נמסר הדבר לחכמים .  Of course, you have to figure out where נמסר הדבר לחכמים  ends and בל תוסיף begins. 

UPDATE צום גדליה
I gave this some thought over Rosh Hashannah, and I realized what was bothering me, why I said Rav Rudderman would not like it. The problem is that if  you have no idea what the מרדכי is talking about, how can you use it? Nobody understands it. It is a mystery. Unless you have a mechanism of some sort, it is foolish to extrapolate.

But I also have an idea that has potential. Perhaps pshat in the Mordechai is that he is indeed going like Reb Chaim in the Rambam, but more than that. He holds there is a din Migo. Just as we find in Sukkah 7 שתים כהלכתן כו': אמר רבא וכן לשבת מגו דהויא דופן לענין סוכה הויא דופן לענין שבת. So, too, now that Chazal, with the koach of lo sasur, gave this act a din of kiddush, you can say
מגו דהויא קידוש לענין תוספות שבת הויא קידוש לענין שבת.
This despite the fact that as far as the Torah is concerned, it is Friday, not Shabbos. If the din Migo helps for kiddush, we can say 
מגו דהויא מצות שופר לענין יום שני שתיקנוה נביאים הראשונים הויא קיום מצות שופר לענין ראש בשנה גופה

Friday, September 11, 2020

Chazal on Sexual Arousal and Disgust - מגעל ועוררות מינית

 I've been thinking about this for quite a while, and, of course, I remain very ambivalent about posting it. But I finally decided that there is a benefit to be gained for Lomdei Torah, and that makes it worth it.

If you disagree, please let me know. It's easy enough to move it back to the Draft folder. But I am pretty sure that the pshat is correct and that you won't find this pshat in the Gemara elsewhere. I fear that this post might make the website inaccessible to people with web filters. If that turns out to be the case, I will move it to a different website.

There is a Gemara in Shabbos (152a) that is somewhat disturbing. 

אמר רב כהנא, מאי דכתיב: ״כי הוא אמר ויהי״ — זו אשה. ״הוא צוה ויעמוד״ — אלו בנים. תנא: אשה חמת מלא צואה, ופיה מלא דם — והכל רצין אחריה.

Rashi

זו אשה - אם לא על פי גזרת המלך לא היתה ראויה להתאוות לה שהיא כחמת מלאה מיאוס והכל רצים אחריה:

An uninformed reader might feel that the Gemara smacks of misogyny.  But look at the following study, published in 2015.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479551/

and the relevant line is here

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479551/#:~:text=Sexual%20Arousal%20and%20Disgust%20Reactivity&text=Borg%20and%20de%20Jong%20%5B23%5D%20found%20that%20sexually%20aroused%20women,disgusting%20but%20Lee%20et%20al.&text=Thus%2C%20the%20evidence%20that%20sexual,reactivity%20in%20women%20is%20mixed.

with the idea boiled down here

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120912184518.htm

and if the links aren't working, here is the methodology of the study:

The authors of the study, led by Charmaine Borg of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, asked female participants to complete various disgusting-seeming actions, like drinking from a cup with an insect in it or wiping their hands with a used tissue. (The participants were not aware of it, but the insect was made of plastic and the tissue was colored with ink to make it appear used.)

Sexually aroused subjects responded to the tasks with less disgust than subjects who were not sexually aroused, suggesting that the state of arousal has some effect on women's disgust response.


The point is not that sexual arousal is a stronger motivator than the revulsion of disgust.  The study involved drinking from a cup with an insect in it, which has nothing to do with the arousal. The point is that a person that is sexually aroused will simply not notice or care about things that would otherwise disgust him or her. It eliminates a certain level of sensitivity.  Things that would elicit immediate revulsion from a regular person simply do not matter, they do not exist, for a sexually aroused person. 

I believe this is exactly what Chazal are telling us. It is common knowledge that arousal weakens the conscience and obscures negative future consequences. But there is more to be aware of: There are deep natural barriers, rational barriers, that simply fall when instinctive sexual arousal occurs. It is important for people to bear this in mind before giving rein to impulse.

(I think this is far more significant than the famous Beer Goggle phenomenon.)

Please note!

The baal memra in Shabbos is Rav Kahana. Rav Kahana was famous, even in the company of those great tzadikim of his time, as being purely rational, as one who dispassionately and unembarrassedly analyzed things that would overwhelm others with shame. I believe that for Rav Kahana, the rational and analytical faculty was at every moment absolutely dominant, if not absolute. Rav Kahana is indeed the perfect person to have made this observation.  

See, for example, Brachos 62a

רב כהנא על, גנא תותיה פורייה דרב. שמעיה דשח ושחק ועשה צרכיו. אמר ליה: דמי פומיה דאבא כדלא שריף תבשילא. אמר ליה: כהנא, הכא את? פוק, דלאו ארח ארעא. אמר ליה: תורה היא, וללמוד אני צריך.

Rashi

דשח ושחק – עם אשתו שיחה בטלה של ריצוי תשמיש:

ועשה צרכיו – ושימש מטתו:

כדלא שריף תבשילא – כאדם רעב כמו שלא שמשת מטתך מעולם שאתה נוהג קלות ראש זה לתאותך:




Additional Note: 

Yybturner pointed out that the simple meaning of Rav Kahana's words seem to refer to normal Tashmish HaMittah - that a purely rational man would find normal tashmish hamittah revolting. I, on the other hand, am saying that he is referring to other behaviors or experiences that that are outside the parameters of normal tashmish, such as "הפיכת שולחן" etc. in Nedarim 20b, or bad personal hygiene, והמבין יבין, והמבחין יבחין.

Netzavim and Vayeilech. Guest Post and New Video

The first part is from Rabbi Avraham Bukspan, author of several excellent Parsha works, whose Frand-like style begins with likkut but ultimately creates something special and uniquely his.

This is followed by a video by Rabbi Sendy Shulman. Rabbi Shulman is one of the new Musmachim at my son's kollel, KHA, Kollel Horaah of America, in Marlboro New Jersey. They just successfully concluded a fund-raising campaign, and in his well-crafted speech Rabbi Shulman used an insight from Harav Shmuel Brudny to express the feelings of the Yungeleit.

A moment's thought will reveal that the two divrei Torah are contradictory. Rabbi Bukspan says that a Rebbi has to consciously abandon his focus on personal growth in favor of his Talmidim, while Rabbi Shulman says that the path to one's greatest growth in Gadlus BaTorah comes from dedicating your life to your talmidim!

Of course, it is not a stirah at all. 

מתלמידי יותר מכולם!!!!

After the bechina, my son told the musmachim that the Rabbi Heinemann they saw is not the same as the Rabbi Heinemann of fifty years ago. His dedication to the tzibur has resulted in growth in gadlus far greater than focus on himself. As Reb Chiya said to Reb Chanina (BM 85b), his dedication to his talmidim resulted in his Torah being greater and truer than Reb Chanina's, who was far more talented than him.   בהדי דידי קא מינצית?

כי הוו מינצו ר' חנינא ור' חייא אמר ליה ר' חנינא לר' חייא בהדי דידי קא מינצית ח"ו אי משתכחא תורה מישראל מהדרנא לה מפילפולי אמר ליה ר' חייא לר' חנינא בהדי דידי קא מינצית דעבדי לתורה דלא תשתכח מישראל מאי עבידנא אזלינא ושדינא כיתנא וגדילנא נישבי וציידנא טבי ומאכילנא בשרייהו ליתמי ואריכנא מגילתא וכתבנא חמשה חומשי וסליקנא למתא ומקרינא חמשה ינוקי בחמשה חומשי ומתנינא שיתא ינוקי שיתא סדרי ואמרנא להו עד דהדרנא ואתינא אקרו אהדדי ואתנו אהדדי ועבדי לה לתורה דלא תשתכח מישראל היינו דאמר רבי כמה גדולים מעשי חייא


Vayeilech 1 — Standing or Walking?

 ועתה כתבו לכם את השירה הזאת ולמדה את בני ישראל שימה בפיהם למען תהיה לי השירה הזאת לעד בבני ישראל 
So now, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the Children of Israel, place it in their mouth, so that this song shall be for Me a witness against the Children of Israel (Devarim 31:19).
               From the phrase, “Ve’simah be’fihem — Place it in their mouth,” the Gemara (Eruvin 54b) concludes that a rebbi must present his lessons to his students: “ad she’tehei sedurah be’fihem — until it is organized in their mouth.”  Torah must be taught in a clear manner, allowing for the talmid to absorb and internalize the information properly, without any confusion. 
           In HaKsav VeHaKabbalah, Rav Yaakov Mecklenburg says that the Gemara learns this from the Torah’s use of the root ש.י.מ.  for putting or placing, as opposed to the verb נ.ת.נ.. While נ.ת.נ. denotes any kind of placement, ש.י.מ. refers to a careful, deliberate, and methodical arrangement. 
            We see this from the mitzvah for the Kohen to take the ashes from the korbanos that are on top of the Mizbe’ach and place them alongside it: “Ve’samo eitzel haMizbe’ach” (Vayikra 6:3). In Toras Kohanim (Tzav 2:4), Chazal define the word “ve’samo” as calmly placing, in a way that the ashes do not scatter. Thus, the shoresh of ש.י.מ.  implies placement in an unhurried and careful manner.
            HaKsav VeHaKabbalah uses this definition to explain “Ve’simah be’fihem.”  Torah needs to be taught in an organized and calculated fashion, guaranteeing that the information is not scattered in the students’ minds, but is neatly arranged.  At times, a rebbi may need to give his talmidim large amounts of information. But if the material is transmitted in a disorganized or  an unsystematic way, the students become overwhelmed and find it difficult to integrate the lesson in their minds, to understand how the various pieces of information fit together.  By use of the word “simah,” which implies a more measured and purposeful method, Chazal associate the preferred procedure of teaching Torah to the careful placement of the ash in a neatly arranged and organized pile. All teachers are thereby urged to put forth their best effort at presenting the material in a slow, patient, and organized manner. This way, all the critical information can be properly and precisely understood and put into its proper context.
Rav Yaakov Kamenetsky discusses the ideal rebbi described by our Chazal. In Malachi (2:7), we are taught: “Ki sifsei Kohen yishmeru daas ve’Sorah yevakshu mi’pihu ki malach Hashem Tzevakos hu — For the lips of the Kohen should safeguard knowledge, and people should seek Torah from his mouth; for he is a malach of Hashem, Master of Legions.” Based on this verse, the Gemara (Chagigah 15b) tells us that if a rebbi is “domeh le’malach Hashem, similar to an angel of G-d, we should learn Torah from him. If not, we should not.
            What exactly does a malach look like? How can we recognize the rebbi we are looking for? Rav Yaakov explains that malach is an omeid, a stationary being. It does not grow or evolve, but always stays the same. A human, however, is a mehalech, with the capacity to move, to grow and evolve (see Zecharyahu 3:7); he is, hopefully, in a constant state of forward progress. (See Tetzaveh, Staying Alive, on this subject.) A rebbi, though, explains Rav Yaakov, must be like a malach, where he is not concerned about his own growth and development, but the growth and development of his students.
            A true rebbi is only focused on the proper presentation of the appropriate material, and when needed, presents it in a simplified fashion. His role is to see that his students are the ones going places; they are the ones who need to grow as they learn, digest, and retain the material. Such a rebbi is like a malach, for his only ambition is to see his talmidim progress.
             “Nitzavim or Vayeilech?” Standing or going? From a play on words on these two parashiyos, we have a question every person must ask himself. Am I standing still or am I going and growing?
            Every rebbi must ask the same question in a slightly modified form: “Nitzavim or Vayeilech?” Am I willing to stand still, putting aside an aspect of my personal growth, so that my talmidim can move forward and develop as they should?

Ahd kahn divrei Rabbi Bukspan. 
And now Rabbi Shulman's speech.



Sunday, September 6, 2020

Ki Savo Devarim 26:16. Compromise

 היום הזה ה' אלהיך מצוך לעשות את החקים האלה ואת המשפטים ושמרת ועשית אותם בכל לבבך ובכל נפשך

The question is obvious. Why does it say החקים האלה, specific to Eileh, but המשפטים unmodified?

I heard a very nice pshat from the Satmarer. It is from a pre-war sefer he wrote himself, not written by R Ashkenazi, called Tiv Leivav. (I checked, it is not in his ייטב לב or any of his sefarim in Otzar Hachochma. It is not online anywhere.)

He asks, why did the Baal HaTurim organize his sefer in the order Orach Chaim, Yoreh Dei'ah, Even HaEzer, and then Choshen Mishpat?  Why is Choshen Mishpat last? Going by the order in the Torah, right after Matan Torah we were taught Mishpatim. On the other hand, much of Even HaEzer comes from Devarim.  

He answers that one of the first discussions in Choshen Mishpat is the idea of P'shara (compromise) in Siman 12.  Although we have an encyclopedic body of law for civil disputes, we encourage the litigants to submit to mediation and to seek compromise. The Baal HaTurim left Choshen Mishpat for last because he did not want people to think that the idea of Peshara has any application outside of Dinei Mamonus. In civil law, you can tell the baalei din, Reuven, you want 100. Shimon, you want 0. Why don't you try to find a middle ground that you can each live with?  But in Chukim, in bein adam lamakom, you can not say, "Ribono shel Olam, You do not want me to do this. I, on the other hand, really want to do it. Why don't we make a compromise? I'll do it, but never on a Sunday?" That does not work.

When it comes to chukim, it's Eileh. Do as you are told. You don't make any p'sharos with the Ribono shel Olam. But Mishpatim, in money matters, feel free to seek a compromise with the other party.

His words - 

והנה אילו היו מסדרים את חלק חושן המשפט ראשונה לפני שאר חלקי השו"ע, היה מקום לחשוש שיטעה האדם לומר שגם בשאר חלקי השולחן ערוך הבאים אחריו ישנו מקום לפשרה בדיני השולחן ערוך, ויפוק מיניה חורבא לעשות פשרות במצותיה של תורה למחצה לשליש ולרביע וח"ו על ידי זה תפוג תורה, ולכן סדרו לנו את חלק חושן המשפט אחר שאר חלקי השו"ע, כדי להורות לנו בזה שבג' חלקים הראשונים אין שום מקום להעלות על הדעת לעשות איזה פשרה....

(Heard from Rabbi Harvey Zupnik.)


(Additionally, in dinei mamonus the parties are allowed to agree beforehand to different rules, certainly if you hold מתנה על מה שכתוב בתורה בדבר שבממון דבריו קימים  (Ksuvos 56a Rebbi Yehuda.) A couple can make a premarital agreement that the husband and wife will be financially independent. But a couple can not agree beforehand that the husband will not have the right of הפרת נדרים. Certainly, a pre-Bar Mitzvah boy, or a geir, can not say that he is only mekabeil mitzvos x, y, and z, but not others. Ok, the Biur Halacha holds that a geir can do a partial kabbalah that is binding, but then he is a Ger Toshav, not a full Ger.  ביאור הלכה סימן ד"ש ס"ג.  But I don't think that applies now: Now, geirus is all or none, and the same way we don't accept geir toshav, we can not accept a partial geirus.

Here's the relevant part of the Biur Halacha. He is explaining a Magen Avraham, and he says

דס"ל דגר תושב גופא אם רצה לקבל עליו בעת תחלת גירותו עוד מצות מלבד השבע ג"כ חלה קבלתו שמחוייב אח"כ לקיים אלא דמה דנקטו שבע רבותא אשמועינן דאף ששבע מצות מחוייב לקיים כל בן נח ומאי רבותייהו אפ"ה חלה הקבלה ובכלל גר תושב הוא לענין שמצווין להחיותו וכ"ש אם קבל עליו יתר מצות בודאי מהני ולא תקשה ע"ז דאיך ישמור שבת והלא גר תושב ג"כ אסור לשמור שבת כדמוכח ביבמות מ"ח ע"ב בתוד"ה זה גר וכו' דזהו בסתם גר תושב שלא קבל עליו רק שבע מצות כנהוג וא"כ הוא לענין שאר מצות כא"י גמור משא"כ כשקבל עליו עוד מצות בתחלת גירותו ובכללם היה ג"כ שבת בודאי יכול לקיימם ומחוייב לקיימם ומה דאיתא בבכורות דא"י שרצה לקבל כל התורה חוץ מד"א אין מקבלין אותו היינו לענין לעשותו ישראל גמור אבל לא לענין גר תושב.

I do have a problem with this Biur Halacha, though, because he implies that this Magen Avraham is talking about practical halacha, and of course we have no din of Geir Toshav בזמן הזה.)

Thursday, September 3, 2020

Words at a Shloshim Siyum Mishnayos

It is an irony of mourning that the greater the loss, the more the family feels comforted. It would seem that if one would tell the aveil that the person who died did not really matter, they really didn't lose that much, and the world goes on. Imagine that someone had a priceless, unique glass vase, and it fell off of the shelf and shattered. Will he feel better if you tell him how beautiful it was? How irreplaceable?  If the niftar was such a precious and important person, then how much greater the loss! But that's not the case. Telling how wonderful the niftar was, in so many ways, and to so many people, comforts the aveil.  Why is this?


Shabbos 152a-ab

אָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה: מֵת שֶׁאֵין לוֹ מְנַחֲמִין — הוֹלְכִין עֲשָׂרָה בְּנֵי אָדָם וְיוֹשְׁבִין בִּמְקוֹמוֹ. הָהוּא דִּשְׁכֵיב בְּשִׁבָבוּתֵיהּ דְּרַב יְהוּדָה, לֹא הָיוּ לוֹ מְנַחֲמִין, כׇּל יוֹמָא הֲוָה דָּבַר רַב יְהוּדָה בֵּי עַשְׂרָה, וְיָתְבִי בְּדוּכְתֵּיהּ. לְאַחַר שִׁבְעָה יָמִים אִיתְחֲזִי לֵיהּ בְּחֶילְמֵיהּ דְּרַב יְהוּדָה, וַאֲמַר לֵיהּ: תָּנוּחַ דַּעְתְּךָ שֶׁהִנַּחְתָּ אֶת דַּעְתִּי.


This thought is brought in Yoreh Deiah, (although the Rama says it is not done exactly as the Gemara says.)

יורה דעה שע״ו:ג

מת שאין לו אבלים להתנחם באים עשרה בני אדם כשרים ויושבים במקומו כל ז' ימי האבלות ושאר העם מתקבצים עליהם ואם לא היו שם עשרה קבועים בכל יום ויום מתקבצים עשרה משאר העם ויושבים במקומו: הגה ולא ראיתי נוהגין כן וכתוב במהרי"ל נוהגים להתפלל בעשרה כל ז' במקום שנפטר שם האדם והיינו על אדם שלא הניח קרובים ידועים להתאבל עליו אבל יש לו בשום מקום שמתאבלים עליו אין צריך (וכזה ראוי לנהוג):


What is the point of Nichum Aveilim if there are no aveilim? The only possible explanation is that Nichum Aveilim is not only for the living, it is for the niftar as well. The Niftar needs tanchumin. He has had a traumatic and confusing experience, and he needs to hear that he is missed, that people care about him, that he made a difference in the world, and that he still makes a difference in the world of the living.


I remember when Reb Moshe was sitting shiva for his sister, Rebbitzen Small, some said to him "המקום ינחם אותך," because he was sitting alone. He corrected them and said that even when there is only one aveil, you say אתכם, the plural, because the neshama is also being מקבל תנחימין. 


I believe that when people speak of the good qualities and achievements of the niftar, this is a great consolation to the neshama. Everyone that is sitting shiva is part of one bond, a tzeror hachaim, that binds together the aveilim and the niftar. When the neshama feels consolation, everyone else feels a burden being removed from their shoulder. Suddenly, the grief is more bearable. The neshama feels relief, and without even knowing why, the aveilim sense that relief, and the cloud lifts, just a little bit.


I was speaking to someone about the nifteres, and she said that the quality that immediately comes to mind is נעימות, pleasantness, kindness. But we are not talking about a superficial pleasantness, the kind of pleasant that gives rise to the word "pleasantries," a ritualistic, saccharine, non-committal "How are you?" Fine! That's nice" kind of platitude. The נעימות we are talking of something categorically different.


In Neila, when Yom Kippur is about to end, we are beyond Al chet, we are beyond the recitation of sins, and we ask, several times, Ribono shel Olam, save me from "Oshek." למען נחדל מעושק ידינו. What is this Oshek? Oshek means withholding from another what they are entitled to, what you ought to be giving them. Why is this what we pray for Hashem's assistance to avoid it at Neila? How hard is it to avoid? Oshek is mentioned twice in the Torah. In fact, we just had it in Parshas Ki Seitzei, Devarim 24:14-15

לא תעשק שכיר עני ואביון מאחיך או מגרך אשר בארצך בשעריך


ביומו תתן שכרו ולא תבוא עליו השמש כי עני הוא ואליו הוא נשא את־נפשו ולא יקרא עליך אל ה' והיה בך חטא


Rashi says that the repetition in the Torah is because one issur is not enough. It is a terrible sin and it needs a double issur.  And, evidently, it is very hard to overcome! Why? 


Because for most people, sympathy means that the other is a mirror that reflects your own face. You don't really see them at all. I remember how bad I felt for my mother zichronah livracha, who suffered from crippling and painful arthritis in her knees in her last years. But when I wrenched my knee, and needed to wear a brace for a month, suddenly I had much more sympathy for my mother.  It's sad, but it's true.


When a laborer works for you, and you owe him ten dollars, it's easy to say "I'll pay him tomorrow." That is because if you have ten dollars, it is not a lot of money. But if you do not have ten dollars, then it is all the money in the world. The Torah says "It is his life! Don't you dare put off paying him even for one night!"


It's not just money, not by far. People have serious emotional needs. They need a thank you, smile, a sympathetic ear, and sometimes they need good advice, but most of all they need for someone to care.  You, and only you, have the ability to help this person, but we so often simply don't think about it.  Nobody realizes it, nobody pays attention, אין איש שם על לב,  and they go beaten down, hungry and miserable and lonely.  That is עושק! The person has great need, and you don't even realize how much they need you. Mrs. ...........  had that goodness and the emotional wisdom, that נעימות! that nourished people, that filled a deep need in their souls. 


Mrs. ............. was a role model.  Her extraordinary family has many great qualities, as everyone knows, Baruch Hashem. But this might be the greatest of them all - this rare quality of hers, this נעימות, this is a hallmark of her entire family.  It is right and good that those that love her shed precious tears for her, and those tears are the greatest consolations for a nifteres. But the time for tears is coming to an end. I hope that she has real tanchumin knowing how much she is loved and missed, and of how she changed the lives of so many people, in the family and far beyond. So, too, may the whole family be comforted knowing how proud she is of them, of what they are, and of what they will continue to be, and may the words of David Hamelech be said for her and the entire family, 

ויהי נעם ה' אלקינו עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננה עלינו ומעשה ידינו כוננהו




Rav Chaim Brown sent in the following:


Midrash Rabbah at the end of Koheles:

א, שֶׁבְּשָׁעָה שֶׁאָדָם נִפְטָר מִן הָעוֹלָם, הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא אוֹמֵר לְמַלְאֲכֵי הַשָּׁרֵת רְאוּ מָה הַבְּרִיּוֹת אוֹמְרוֹת עָלָיו, כָּשֵׁר הָיָה, יְרֵא שָׁמַיִם הָיָה פְּלוֹנִי זֶה, מִיָּד מִטָּתוֹ פּוֹרַחַת בָּאֲוִיר.

"Mah briyos omros" = what difference the person made to those left behind. "Mitaso porachas" = it gifts the niftar a lift, so to speak.

Quoted by Rav Zalman Nechemiah Goldberg זצ"ל 's son at his Levayah.