Sunday, April 13, 2014

Why We Don't Make A Bracha on Matza After the First Night.

A דבר בעתו for Erev Pesach.

The Gaon (Maaseh Rav 185) says that eating Matza is a mitzva the whole yomtov of Pesach.  On the first night, it is obligatory, chiyuvis, and the rest of yomtov it is optional, kiyumis.  If you choose to eat matza at any time on Pesach, you fulfill a mitzva.  The question is this:  If we hold that women make a bracha on Zman Grama, you see that you make a bracha for a kiyumis.  If so, why don't we make a bracha on the mitzva of achilas Matza the whole yomtov of Pesach.  It should be no different than Yeshivas Sukkah, that we pasken that we make a bracha every day, every time you sit down to eat in the Sukkah.

There's a lot going on in the house, and I don't have time right now, so I will just note that the Dvar Avraham, Rabbeinu Bachay by Shiluach Hakan, and the Baal Hamaor in Pesachim 26b in dafei haRif, each independently say that you don't make a bracha on a Mitzva Kiyumis.  Also, HaRav Yisrael Taplin of Lakewood wrote a piece on this in the Am HaTorah thirty five years ago, available here, with tremendous mareh mekomos, but he doesn't mention the Dvar Avraham or Rabbeinu Bachay, or, I think, the Baal HaMaor.  Also, anonymous sent a link to a sefer Toras Michoel from Rabbi Forshlager who says that the mitzva after the first night derives from/extends the mitzva the first  night, so it doesn't require a new bracha.  I just read it.  I find what he says unconvincing and speculative, lacking supportive evidence.  (I WAS WRONG.  PLEASE SEE MY NOTE AT THE END OF THIS POST! In any case, I actually would bring a raya to his hanacha from Rashi in Taanis 28b, referring to the whole/half Hallel on Sukkos/Pesach, brings the Gemara in Archin about the daily change of Korbanos on Sukkos, and says that this shows that every day is a Chag Bifnei Atzmo. We can say that the converse, regarding Pesach, is that all the days are Chag Echad.  If so, we can use the Netziv in the Sheiltos in Yisro, and say that the ikkar mitzva of matza is on day one, and any matza you eat afterwards is an addition to the mitzva. I have to say that it's a stretch in the Gaon, but it's possible.)

The Dvar Avraham is in 2:8:21, and he says (bad OCR, sorry,)
 ולכן נראה לומר דמשילוח דמעיקרא לא הוקשה להרשב״א כלל למה אינו מברך, לפי שאינה מצוה חיובית שאם אינו רוצה ליקח האם אינו מחויב בשילוח וכל כי האי אין מברכין. והא דמברכין על השחיטה אע"פ שאינה  מצוה חיובית שאם לא יאכל א"צ לשחוט, י"ל משים דבקדשים הוי עשה חיובית להכי מברכין נמי בחולין, כמו שהזכירו הראשינים ז"ל סברא זי, יעי" בחמים רעים שם. ולכאורה ע"כ אתה צ"ל כ; לועח הריצב"א בתוס' שבועות (דף כיו עיא ויה האוכל), עי״ במשבציח זהב יייו (מי ייט סקיא), אבל אין הדברים מכרחין דייל ונס להריצב"א מצות הכשר ואכח״ל. ולפ״ז בעיקר מצות שילוח הקן ניחא ליה להרשב"א שאין מברכין

Rabbeinu Bachay is in Ki Seitzei 22:7 at the very end, here:
ומצוה זו מן המצות המקובלות והחכמים ז״ל תקנו ברכה בכולן ולא תקנו בזו לפי שאינה מצוה מחוייבת כמו שאר מצות ואינו חייב לחזר אחריה במתכוון אלא כשיזדמן לו וזהו לשון כי יקרה ועוד שאינו חייב בשלוח אלא כשהוא רוצה ליקח הבנים

I mentioned that the Baal Hamaor asks this question.  Here is what he says.
ויש ששואלין באכילת מצה מה טעם אין אנו מברכים עליה כל ז' כמו שמברכים על הסוכה כל ז', דהא גמרינן מהדדי שלילה הראשון חובה מכאן ואילך רשות בין במצה בין בסוכה, כדאיתא בפרק הישן. ויש להשיב לפי שאדם יכול בשאר ימים לעמוד בלא אכילת מצה, ויהיה ניזון באורז ודוחן וכל מיני פירות, משא"כ בסוכה שאין יכול לעמוד בלא שינה ג' ימים והוא חייב לישן בסוכה ולטייל בה [...] זהו טעם שמברכין על הסוכה כל ז' ואין מברכין על מצה כל שבעה. וטעם נכון הוא

He says that the reason we make a bracha every day on Sukkah, but not on Matza, is because it is possible and muttar to not eat any Matza after the first night.  But you can't stay awake the whole yomtov of Sukkos, and when the time comes when you have no choice but to sleep, you will have to sleep in the Sukkah.  So it makes sense that you would have to make a bracha.
This is a very novel pshat in Chiyuv/Reshus.  Normally, we define chiyuv as something the Torah obligated as a mitzva.  He is saying that you make a bracha on Sukkah because since you can't live without sleeping, you'll have to sleep in the Sukkah, so it is unavoidable, so  you can make a bracha.  There is a big difference between unavoidable and mitzvah, I think, but that's what he says as far as Brachos are concerned.

So now there's a big problem.  The bracha on Shechita doesn't bother me, because there's an element of avoiding neveilla.  But why do you make a bracha on Tzitzis?  If what obligates a bracha is the fact that you can't avoid doing the mitzva, well, by Tzitzis you certainly can avoid the mitzva.  Don't wear Daled Kanfos.  True, once you have them on, you're obligated, but the Baal Hamaor doesn't seem to care about that.  What he cares about is whether you can legally manage to live without doing the Mitzva.  He doesn't say that you make a bracha on Sukkah because now that you're eating, you're absolutely chayav to eat in the Sukkah.  Only sleeping, where the circumstances of chiyuv are inevitable, creates a din bracha.  If so, he should hold that even though when you put on daled kanfos you're absolutely chayav to put in tzitzis, that's not enough of a reason to make a bracha.

I guess you can answer that birkas tzitzis- ahl mitzvas tzitzis- can be construed (as the Darkei Moshe says in OC) as a kind of a birkas shevach, as opposed to Leishei'v, but if that were true, you ought to make ahl achilas matza just as well, and call it a birkas shevach.  

Unless you say that the Baal Hamaor doesn't mean like the Gaon at all, and he holds that Matza on the rest of Yomtov is totally reshus, not even kiyumis, but then his tzushtell to Sukkah, and his need to answer the kashe, is hard to understand.  So I'm stuck.

Avrohom, in the comments, suggests that Tzitzis is the exception to the rule, because of the Gemara in Menachos 41a that says that avoiding the mitzva of tzitzis is punished much like the transgression of a prohibition, like being over on a lav.  While it's possible that Tzitzis, in that Gemara, is just used as the example, and this is true by any long term failure to do optional mitzvos, we do find that Tztizis is a special mitzva.  For example, you have the Medrash the Taz brings down in OC 10 sk 10 that it was in the zechus of tzitzis that the Yam Suf split.

Here are the comments from the first time I posted this.
Rav Forshlagger answers that the mitzva kiyumis of the rest of Pesach is not an independent mitzva; rather its "nimsheches" from the obligatory mitzva of the first night. So the bracha of the first night covers the eatings of the rest of Pesach.
I saw this in a lengthy shtikkle written by R Ezra Schwartz on the subect of the Gra's chiddush, I'm not technologically advanced enough to figure out how to link it here.

I'm going to look at it over Shabbos, bln, but from the first look, it feels like hashkafa, not lomdus. Who says it's nimsheches? 
But I do know that the Baal Hamaor asks the kashe in Pesachim in the Rif pages 26b, and he says that you never make a bracha on a kiyumis. I realize that this might not be a good answer if you hold noshim somchos reshus, but there's a lot more to say on this. 

He asks the kasha from Sukka and says its muchrach to sleep sometime over Sukkos...not sure if it's going to answer your kasha from Zman Grama.
In the shtikkel, he brings a Netziv in Meishiv Davar and a Maharsham that talk about this question, but they don't say a teretz.

I didn't get a chance to read it, what with Shabbos Hagodol responsibilities and so forth. But I put the link to his piece into the post.


Despite spending ten years in yeshiva in Baltimore, I never heard of Harav Forshlager.  When I read his shtikel Torah, I thought it was terrible.  I have done some research, and after weighing the evidence, I've come to realize that if there's anything wrong with someone here, it is me, not him.  I've also thought about his Rebbi's Torah in the Eglei Tal, and I now realize that the Sochotchover also had this style, to some extent.  It's very, very different from Slabodka and Brisk and Volozhin, and it wouldn't fly in either of those places, but they have their own way, and I shouldn't have been so dismissive.  All I can say is that it sounded a false note to my ear.

The first thing I read that made me reconsider was the following by Rabbi Avrum Moshe Friedman:
When Harav Mordechai Gifter, zt”l, who was at the time giving a shiur for a chabura at Ner Yisrael concurrent with a pulpit in the Lubavitch shul in the city, was asked to become a rosh yeshiva at the Telshe Yeshiva in Cleveland, the rosh yeshiva and founder of Telshe, Harav Elimeir Bloch, zt”l, asked him whom he learned with in Baltimore. Rav Gifter’s response was that he learned with a rav who was not well known in the yeshiva world, Harav Michoel Forshlager. The response was totally unexpected. Rav Bloch replied, “When I arrived in America after the war, I traveled the entire country from North to South, East to West, looking up any and all rabbanim, rabbis, grand rabbis, and reverends to meet them and discuss Torah. Among all whom I met, I found only one gaon amiti, (true Torah genius), Harav Michoel Forshlager, with whom you studied.
Rav Bloch’s opinion was not an isolated one; many gedolei Torah expressed similar views. An example was Harav Yisroel Gustman, zt”l, who stated that “easy” sheilos he answered himself, but the difficult ones he sent to Rav Forshlager in Baltimore. This despite the fact that he was a major rosh yeshiva and posek and there were numerous big poskim in New York, where Rav Gustman resided, after the Second World War.
Another example is the Satmar Rov, Harav Yoel Teitelbaum, zt”l, who was quoted as exclaiming as he was sending a shaila to Rav Forshlager: “Who am I to send a shaila to Harav Michoel Forshlager?”

Then, I read the following, by Isaac Draiman in Baltimore Jewish Life

Baltimore, MD - Dec. 26 - This past Motzoei Shabbos, December 21, a melaveh malkah was hosted by Mr. and Mrs. Shlomo Spetner, to celebrate the release of an astounding biography of Harav Michoel Forshlager, zt”l.
Harav Forshlager, a talmid of The Avnei Nezer, Harav Hagaon R’ Avraham Borenstein, ztvk”l, was a tremendous gaon and expert in all parts of the Torah, who lived in Baltimore in the first half of the twentieth century. He was instrumental in supporting Harav Yaakov Yitzchok Ruderman, zt”l in his establishment of Yeshivas Ner Yisroel. Both Harav Ruderman, and Harav Aharon Kotler, zt”l, referred to him with the greatest respect, the latter calling him the Gadol Hador.
Harav Yitzchok Hutner, zt”l, said “He is the greatest gaon to ever set foot on American soil,” and when Harav Gifter, zt”l, addressed the Agudah Convention of 1989, he quoted the Telshe Rosh Yeshivah, Harav Itzele Telsher, zt”l, in reference to Harav Forshlager as ‘the only Gaon in America.’ Rav Gifter told his chaverim in Europe, “You should learn your whole life and maybe come to a crumb of his ability to immerse yourself in learning.”
The sefer was the result of the efforts of Rabbi Benzion Bergman and assisted by Rabbi Avrum Moshe Friedmann, a grand nephew of Rav Forshlager, who recently established the Avnei Choshen Foundation, dedicated to publishing Rav Forshlager‘s Torah treasures which lay dormant for over half a century.
Rav Forshlager’s writings comprise some 45 volumes, with an additional 1000 pages unbound. However, publishing these works proved to be a daunting task as the writing was barely legible and difficult to decipher.
R’ Benzion set out to gather information for a biography of Rav Forshlager, literally scouring the world for letters written by Rav Forshlager, and reaching out to people who knew him personally. The recently published biography is a result of those efforts.  Efforts to prepare Rav Forshlager's sefarim for publication continue.
At the melaveh malkah, which was extremely well attended by over one hundred individuals, including many Rabbanim from the Baltimore community, about fifty volumes of the biography were distributed. The turnout was especially encouraging since it competed with at least three other events that night within the growing, k'ah, Baltimore Orthodox Jewishcommunity. Rabbi Dovid Katz, whose weekly lecture series is extremely popular, hurried to participate after he finished his lecture.
As soon as the special guest speaker of the evening, Rav Shmerel Shulman, entered, he recognized and embraced his chaver from the earliest days of Ner Yisrael, Harav Moshe Shuvalsky, Shlita. Together with his son, Harav Yakov Shuvalsky, the Shuvalsky’s helped keep Rav Forshlager’s memory alive. Their memories were a major contribution to the Biography.
The evening was initiated by Mr. Shlomo Spetner, whose daughters along with the Wealcatch and Scheller families worked tirelessly to provide a beautiful and elaborate buffet for the Melave Malkah.  Mr. Spetner commented, that he recently attended a funeral of someone from an illustrious Baltimore family and decided to visit the kever of the Patriarch of that family.  Immediately, he realized, upon approaching that kever, that right next to it was the kever of Harav Forshlager.  It should be noted that the Spetners agreed to host this Melava Malkah way before this occurred.
Rabbi Friedmann, who acted as master of ceremonies, began with some reminiscences of Baltimore of 50 years earlier, mentioning the families and Rabbonim who kept the memory of Rav Forshlager alive. After this introduction, he introduced the surprise guest speaker.
Harav Yissocher Frand described Harav Forshlager's influence on the city, as he guaranteed Harav Ruderman's position as Rav in the Tiferes Yisrael shul while Ner Yisroel was being established. In addition, he continued to support the yeshivah by soliciting funds from his own baalei batim, who helped supply basic foodstuffs to the yeshivah bachurim during the war years. He concluded by saying that our community rests on the shoulders of the giants of the past and that we owe a special debt of gratitude to Rav Forshlager.
Harav HaGaon Rav Shmerel Shulman, a musmach of Ner Yisroel, a man over 90 years old, ad meah vesrim, who knew Harav Forshlager personally, made a special trip to spend Shabbos in Baltimore and share his memories of Harav Forshlager's immense genius and gadlus. 
Rabbi Yaakov Bergman, father of Reb Bentzion Bergman, praised his son's devoted efforts to find anecdotes and divrei Torah from Harav Forshlager.
Finally Rav Bentzion ended the program with an appeal to the city,
The event was a true kiddush Hashem, one that paid tribute to a true gaon who helped shape Baltimore's frum community.

For more information on the Avnei Choshen Foundation, or on the new sefer, please contact Rabbi Avrum Friedman at 410-720-9478 (leave message) or  


  1. Not sure if this suggestion makes sense and whether one can be mechalek like this, but maybe there are different levels of kiyumis. Tzizis may be on a higher level (see shulchan oruch 24:1 in that it is nachon to wear it all day and one should be careful to wear it at least beshaas tefila and krias shema) whereas Matza is purely optional although a kiyumis. Certainly don't have any proof of such a distinction except for your kasha.

  2. I suppose you could say that, because one who doesn't take advantage of the opportunity to wear tzitzis is punished, not merely "not rewarded," as we see in Menachos 41a. You also find that Taz in OC 10 sk 10 brings a Medrash that it was in the zechus of tzitzis that the Yam Suf split. Good.

  3. Maybe the Baal HaMaor is saying that the fact that one cannot go 3 days without sleeping indicates that the words Basukos Teishvu Shivas Yomim must be a Chiyuvis. YO

    1. In other words, the musog of yeshiva can't be avoided, because at some point in the week, you're going to have to sleep. So when the Torah said Teishvu, it meant chiyuvis. Interesting. Of course, there are cases where the chiyuv wouldn't apply, like a person whose chiyuv mitzvos began in middle of yomtov, a geir or a kotton. But I don't know if that matters.