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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Beshalach, Shirah. Bird Food, in Three Parts. (Final)

 I Bird Food for Birds

II Bird Food for People

III People Food for Birds

Section I deals with the issue of feeding wild birds on Shabbos, which is generally prohibited, but commonly done on Shabbos Shira.  

The discussion in Section I is well known. 

Section II speaks about the odd minhag of eating cooked whole grain on Shabbos Shira, such as wheat kernels or buckwheat, things that we would generally think of as bird food.

Although this minhag is brought in the Bach, it is little-known.  

Section III addresses the Rav Huna problem.  Rav Huna in Taanis says that it is prohibited to feed animals food that is meant for people, such as bread or bread crumbs, or even vegetables that are sold in the market. Rav Huna was so makpid on this that he spent his own money to buy whatever vegetables were left unsold erev Shabbos and threw them into the river to ensure they would not be fed to animals.

I am told that Rabbi Heinemann paskens that if one has food that is fit for people, and the choice is whether to feed it to animals or throw it in the garbage, one must throw it in the garbage and let it rot. Rabbi Heinemann is one of the generation's Gedolei HaPoskim and a man of magnificent middos and yashrus haseichel. Having said that, the idea severely distresses what the Mahari Veil would accurately describe as my daas baal habayis. I don't really care much who paskens like Rav Huna, although I will cover that briefly; what I want is to discuss is  how Rav Huna learned the many mishnayos that seem to contradict him, and to understand what Rav Huna's reasoning was, ending with some idle speculation about Rav Huna anticipating Marx and Keynes.


Section I; Bird Food for Birds    

Shabbos 155b; Chazal prohibited feeding animals on Shabbos if they do not depend on you for their food. 

נותנין מזונות לפני כלב, ואין נותנין מזונות לפני חזיר. ומה הפרש בין זה לזה? זה מזונותיו עליך, וזה אין מזונותיו עליך.

The basis of the issur is that it is unnecessary effort and conflicts with Shabbos rest. As the Ramban says in Shabbos, it is   דכל דשכיחי להו מזונות טרחא בכדי הוא

Because of this, the Mishna Berura (from Magen Avraham) paskens that you can't throw food to birds on Shabbos Shira.

324:sk31- note that he does not say not assur, just "ואינו נכון," which is also the nusach of the Magen Avraham. I suppose this is because the lashon of the Gemara is not "assur," but rather "ein," that it is inappropriate to be matri'ach or to demonstrate tircha. (I know that this is not pashut, and it is possible that the two are used synonymously, as appears from the Beis Yosef in sk10.)

יש נוהגין ליתן חטים לפני עופות בשבת שירה ואינו נכון שהרי אין מזונותן עליך:

The Aruch Hashulchan there sk:3 is mattir.

יש מתרעמים על מה שהמנהג בשבת שירה לזרוק חטין לפני העופות, והרי אין מזונותן עליך (מג"א שם). אבל נראה לי דמנהג ישראל תורה, שהרי אין אנו טורחים בשבילם אלא בשבילנו, דמרגלא בפי ההמון שהעופות אמרו שירה על הים, ולכן אנו מחזיקין להם טובה, ואם כן הכוונה כדי לזכור שמחת שירת הים, ולית לן בה, ויש מי שכתב כיון דכונתינו לשם מצוה - מותר (ת"ש).

The Nesivos in his Mekor Chaim also is mattir - and his hetter applies year round. Just put the food where there are no birds at the moment, and if they come later, it's not your problem. This certainly would apply where you have leftover bread and you have to get it out of the house anyway. Instead of throwing it into the garbage, you can just put it out in the back.

ולי נראה דלא נאסר רק כשנותן לפניהם דמינכרא לכל שטורח בשבילם, וכאן דמניח לפני החלון מאי קעביד. 

Similarly, the אשל אברהם  (Butschatsch) is mattir putting out the bread if you had to get rid of it anyway. 324:11.

 גם דאין ליתן בשבת ויו"ט מזונות לפני בע"ח שאין מזונתם מוטל עליו מכל מקום כשמשליך מאכל מידו בלאו הכי והי' זורק למקום אחר י"ל שמותר לזרוק לפני בע"ח כן נ"ל וכ"ש אם בלאו הכי הי' זורק שם 

In our time, Rav Ovadiah was mattir as well.  He says that since it is not for the animals, but for the minhag, it might be muttar, so 

הנח להם לישראל, יש להם על מה שיסמוכו  


Section II; Bird Food for People

I think that cooked whole wheat kernels or buckwheat groats are more bird food than people food. This is not just my opinion. This is clear in OC 208:4 and Mishna Berura there sk15. Nonetheless, there is an obscure minhag to eat cooked whole grain on Shabbos Shira, either relating to the Man or to birds or just general Yetzias Mitzrayim. As my friend Rabbi Yitzchak Resnik once said, "It's symbolic," the point being that knowing that it is meant as a symbol invites interpretation; and exactly what event it originally commemorated or what emotion is was originally meant to elicit doesn't really matter.

Here is an excellent brief on the topic by הרב צבי וינברג.

מקור אכילת חיטים בשבת שירה מובא לראשונה בב"ח (או"ח סי' רח אות ג' ד"ה ומ"ש והתוספות), שדן לגבי ברכה על אכילת חיטים שלמים, ובתוך דבריו כתב: "ולכן יש ליזהר לפי המנהג שאוכלין בשבת שירה חיטין שלמים מבושלים, שאין לאוכלן אלא בתוך הסעודה".

במנהגי אמשטרדם (פ"ג סעי' ו' אות ז) מובא, שבשבת שירה אוכלים קוגל מחיטים זכר למן. בספר 'נוהג כצאן יוסף' (מנהגי פרנקפורט פ' בשלח עמ' קצג אות ג'), כתב: 'ונוהגין לאכול חיטין בשבת שירה, ושמעתי סמך לזה בשלח נוטריקון בשבת שירה לאכול חיטין'.

ב'עוללות אפרים' (לבעל ה'כלי יקר' ח"ג אות שעז עמ' קכג), הביא מנהג זה והוסיף, שכן נוהגים לאכול חיטים בחתונות, וביאר שם הטעם שאוכלים בשבת שירה ע"פ דברי חז"ל (ברכות נז.), שחיטים רומזים ל'שלום', ובזמן ששלח פרעה את העם נעשה שלום בגבול בית ישראל, עי"ש.

בליקוטי מהרי"ח (ח"ג עמ' קטו) מביא בשם ספר 'הדרת קודש' (דף מ), להביא טעם למנהג זה, ע"פ מה שמובא בספר נחל קדומים (להחיד"א במדבר כג,ה), בשם רבינו אפרים עה"ת, שמהמן נעשה כגרעיני חיטה מגובלין כעיסה שיש בה מים, וזהו "ודגן שמים נתן למו" (תהלים עח, כד), וכיון שבשבת בשלח קורין את פרשת המן, לכן נוהגין לאכול חיטים זכר למן שירד כחיטין.

בספר הקדום 'כח יהודה' (כת"י), על מנהגי פפד"מ (להג"ר יהודה בינגא זצ"ל, הובא בס' פרדס אליעזר) כתב טעם מקורי למנהג אכילת חיטים בשבת שירה, ע"פ ההלכה ששואלין ודורשין שלשים יום קודם הפסח בפרטות הלכות פסח ודיניהם וחומרותיהם. ומנהג זה בא להזכיר לכל ישראל בחדש שבט, לתקן ולהכין לקנות חטים למצה של פסח, אפילו שזה יוצא שני פעמים שלשים יום לפני פסח.

אולם כיון שצריך לזה הרבה טירחות והכנות ויגיעות ושמירות וטחינה ורקידה ואפייה וכדו', ובלבד שאין כל עתים שווים בימות החורף, ולפעמים אין כתקון לטחינות החטים מפני הקרירות בכל אותו הזמנים. לכן היו הקדמונים זריזים ומקדימים עצמם לתקן מפרשת בשלח לקנות חיטים לפסח כדי שימצא בביתם חטים מוכן לזמן הטחינה לקמח של מצה.


Section III; People Food for Birds.

This is the real reason for the post.

Rav Huna in Taanis 20b, 

אמר ליה רבא לרפרם בר פפא לימא לן מר מהני מילי מעלייתא דהוה עביד רב הונא אמר ליה בינקותיה לא דכירנא בסיבותיה דכירנא דכל יומא דעיבא הוו מפקין ליה בגוהרקא דדהבא וסייר לה לכולה מתא וכל אשיתא דהוות רעיעתא הוה סתר לה אי אפשר למרה בני לה ואי לא אפשר בני לה איהו מדידיה וכל פניא דמעלי שבתא הוה משדר שלוחא לשוקא וכל ירקא דהוה פייש להו לגינאי זבין ליה ושדי ליה לנהרא וליתביה לעניים זמנין דסמכא דעתייהו ולא אתו למיזבן ולשדייה לבהמה קסבר מאכל אדם אין מאכילין לבהמה

Rashi

אין מאכילין אותן לבהמה. משום ביזוי אוכלין ומחזי כבועט בטובה שהשפיע הקב"ה בעולם אי נמי משום דחסה תורה על ממונן של ישראל וזרק לנהר והולכין למקום אחר ומוצאין אותם בני אדם ואוכלין אותן כך שמעתי: 

משנה ברורה קע"א י"א

 כגון אגוזים וכו' - שהם קשים ואינם מתמעכים ומיירי שזרקו במקום נקי דאל"ה אסור אפילו באגוזים וכדלקמיה בסעיף ד'. כשרואין אוכלין מונחים על הארץ אסור לילך ולהניחם אלא צריך להגביהם אם לא במקום דאיכא למיחש לכשפים כגון ככר שלם [עירובין ס"ד]. איתא בגמרא [תענית כ'] דרב הונא סובר מאכל אדם אין מאכילין אותו לבהמה [וה"ה לעופות] אמנם בא"ר מסתפק אם הלכה כר"ה בזה ועיין במחצית השקל שמצדד דאם אין לו דבר אחר להאכיל כ"א מאכל אדם לכו"ע מותר ואפשר דמשום זה נוהגין העולם היתר להאכיל לעופות פת:

Rav Huna's shitta is perplexing on its face, a perplexity that is expressed in the Rishonim.

First. There seem to be numerous mishnayos that contradict this idea, and even Rav Huna is a baal memra of a sugya that seems to contradict it.

Second. The whole idea is totally not understandable. We're not talking about bread. We're talking about bunches of leftover vegetables. What is wrong with giving leftover food to animals?  This is a בעיטה בטובה??? This is bal tashchis???  And in order to prevent this "sin," this "sin" that the merchants - not him; the local storekeepers - might chalila feed their leftover scallions to their cows,  for this he had to spend his cash money???

Third.  Even given the basic idea, how likely is it that throwing it into the river is going to benefit the downstream poor? Is this a wise and prudent use of money?? Bishlema if it's bizui ochlin, maybe it's worse to be mevazeh ochlin than it is to be mevazeh money that can be used to buy ochlin. It's muttar to throw money. But if it is התורה חסה, why wouldn't that apply even more to Rav Huna's money? And were the merchants all Jews, that Rav Huna was worried about their money?

If we pasken like Rav Huna, not only would it be assur to give people food to animals, it would certainly be assur to spend money to buy food for animals unless you are obligated to take care of them, מזונותן עליך. If you stam want to buy bird seed to thrown out for the sparrows, how could that be muttar according to Rav Huna, especially according to Rashi's second pshat? If התורה חסה means that it's assur to waste people food on animals, kal vachomer it's assur to waste money that could buy food on animals that you have no obligation to take care of.

So you have to say that the two pshatim in Rashi are entirely disparate. The mehalach of one tzad yields a completely different halacha than the other. According to ביזוי, Rav Huna either wanted to prevent bizayon to the food; (I find it hard to believe that he wanted to prevent the merchants from being over on bizui.) We do find such a concept by bread on the ground, that every passer-by is obligated to move the bread to a place where nobody will tread on it. (Brought in Mishna Berura 171sk11, same place he brings Rav Huna.) Rav Huna is just expanding that halacha to all food in addition to bread, and even to the extent of not feeding it to animals in addition to preventing it from being stepped on. If it a din of התורה חסה, then Rav Huna's action, his spending money to prevent feeding it to animals, must have been for purposes of demonstration: "Look, see what I am doing, I am making sure that good food goes to a better purpose than just giving it to animals. You, too, should not waste your money by giving people food to animals."  All this is possible, but not found anywhere in the Mefarshim.

It is not only me. The Rishonim also express their perplexity with Rav Huna's idea.

Ritva Shabbos 156b

הא דתנן מחתכין את הדלועים לפני בהמה פירש רש"י ז"ל מחתכין את הדלועים התלושים. ומיהו סתמייהו לאו למאכל בהמה קיימי אלא לאדם ע"כ. ונראה מדבריו דהא נמי בכלל פלוגתא דר' יהודה ות"ק דהיינו ר"ש דפליגי במקצת במוקצה. ולא נהירא דהא ודאי ליכא מידי דחזי לאדם ולא חזי לבהמה דהא פת סתמא לאדם קיימא, ובודאי לא אסר ר' יהודה לתת פתו לפני בהמה. ומה שאמרו פסחים  ע"ב דמוכן לאדם אינו מוכן לכלבים אינו אלא לענין דבר שהיה עושה למאכל אדם ונדחית בשבת ממאכל אדם והוא עומד למאכל בהמה כגון נבלה שנתנבלה בשבת וכגון בני מעים דאסרות לעיל קמ"ב ע"ב וכיוצא בהם אבל כל זמן שהן ראויים עדיין לאדם דכ"ע מותרים הם לבהמה דברי הכל  

Tosfos HaRosh there

קנו ב מתני מחתכין את הדלועין פרש"י התלושין ומיהו סתמא לאו למאכל בהמה קיימי אלא לאדם וקשיא לי מאי נפקא מינה אם לאדם קיימי אטו לא מצי למיתב לחם ובשר לבהמה משום דקיימי לאדם 

Tosfos HaRosh in Taanis on 20b

פרק סדר תעניות אלו מאכל אדם אין מאכילין כתב הראב"ד לא ידעתי למה אי משום זלזול אוכלים כ"ש כשמשליכין אותם לנהר איכא זלזול טפי שהרי הולכים לאבוד לתת פת לבהמה ושמא איכא זלזול כשנותנו לפני יאמרו כשמשליכו לנהר כעובדא דשמואל וליכא ישוב אלא משום שכיחא שיירתא כה ב כאן 

The Raavad, quoted by the Chida in Taanis in Pesach Einayim:
קסבר מאכל אדם אין מאכילין לבהמה כתב הראב"ד לא ידעתי למה אי משום זלזול אוכלים כ"ש כשמשליכין אותו לנהר איכא זלזול טפי שהרי הולכין לאיבוד ועוד וכי אסור לתת פת לבהמה ושמא בדבר מרובה איכא זלזול כשנותנו לפני הבהמה אבל כשמשליכו לנהר יאמרו אירע בהם דבר שלא היו ראוים לאכילה שאין דרך בני אדם להשליך אוכלים לנהר ולאבדם בידים ועוד כשמשליכין במים מוליכן הנהר למקום אחר ובני אדם לוקחין אותם וליכא איבוד אוכלים

The Meiri in Taanis brings the Raavad, and disagrees.

וכלי אדם אין מאכילין אותם לבהמה ופירשו גדולי המחברים מפני בזוי אוכלים ואעפ"י שבמעשה זה אמרו שהיה משליכם בנהר הם סוברים שההשלכה כנהר אין בה בוזוי שבני אדם מוצאים אותם ואוכלים, או שמא תולין הם באי זו סבה. 
ומ"מ גדולי המפרשים (הקשו) והרי אמרו מחתכים את הדלועים לפני הבהמה אעפ"י שהם מאכל אדם, ואף בשנשרפה בשאין ראוי לאדם או שאינו מוצא מי יקנם ואינם צריכות לו, והותר בכך שלא להביאם להפסד אבל לקנות ולהאכיל לבהמה לא, אטו תמרים וחרובין אין נותנים אותם לבהמה או אפילו פת? עד שהם תירצו שלא נאסר אלא כדבר מרבה אבל כדבר מועט מותר. 
 ואין הדברים נראים שאם מטעם זלזול הוא מה לי מרבה מה לי מועטי. 
ויש מפרשים שלא אסרוה אלא בשיש לו להאכילה מצד אחר אבל אין לו מותר, וכמו שאמרו במסכת שבת ח האי דאפשר ליה בדשערי ואכיל בדחיטי עובר משום בל תשחית. ואף זה אין נראה לי דודאי במעשה זה הרבה היה להאכיל לבהמה. 
אלא יראה לי שלא על כל אוכל אדם אנו אוסרים שהרי התמרים והדלועים אוכלי אדם הן וכן החרובים ואין נמנעים מלתתם לפני בהמה ולא אף הפת כמו שכתבו גדולי המפרשים אלא לא נאמר אלא על מאכל שסתמו ומינו מאכל אדם ושהוכן למאכל אדם בפרט בשעה זו אבל הוכן לבהמה אעפ"י שסתמו מאכל אדם אין חוששים לו 

Now we will deal with the apparent contradictions to Rav Huna.

1. I'm starting with a trivial little question, but someone needs to ask it, and that's me.

Shmuel II 12:3, in the fictional story Nassan HaNavi told Dovid HaMelech:

ולרש אין כל כי אם כבשה אחת קטנה אשר קנה ויחיה ותגדל עמו ועם בניו יחדו מפתו תאכל ומכסו תשתה ובחיקו תשכב ותהי לו כבת

It may have been a fiction, but it was meant to be believed.  How does Rav Huna explain that the man gave his shepsaleh bread from his table? It's people food, it is assur to give it to an animal. 

As we will see, there are many exceptions given to Rav Huna's issur. The Mishna Berura above brings from the Machtzis HaShekel that (שמצדד) it may not apply where you have nothing else to feed your animal, and this would explain Nassan HaNavi's sheep. I personally think that even Rav Huna would agree that it is normal for a person to "love" a pet, and in that case, he would be mattir to share food with it.

Along the same lines, the Ksav Sofer (OC 33) says that Rav Huna was not talking about any animal that you own. The fact that you benefit from your animal's eating is mattir giving them whatever you want. לעניית דעתי his raya from the Mishna in Challa 1:8 is not a raya, and to say that Rav Huna was mattir for any animal that you own is impossible, because then he wouldn't have to buy the leftover vegetables from the merchants and throw them into the river. But lemaiseh, he's the Ksav Sofer and he is mattir.

2. As the Meiri brought, Rav Huna is shver from מחתכים את הדלועים לפני הבהמה in Shabbos 156b  Rashi says they are people food, and so according to R Yehuda they are muktza for animals and according to R Shimon they are not.  Similarly, Shabbos 155a,

 אין מרסקין לא את השחת ולא את החרובין לפני בהמה, בין דקה ובין גסה. רבי יהודה מתיר בחרובין לדקהת. 


3. Kedushas Sheviis means that you have to use food for its highest and best use. Therefore, you can't give people food to animals: This is brought in the Rambam Shmita 5:5, quoting from the Tosefta:

פירות המיוחדין למאכל אדם אין מאכילין אותן לבהמה לחיה ולעופות. הלכה הבהמה מאליה לתחת התאנה ואכלה אין מחייבין אותו להחזירה שנאמר ולבהמתך ולחיה אשר בארצך תהיה כל תבואתה לאכול:

The Braisa states the issur as only pertaining during Sheviis and because of the kedusha of the peiros. Otherwise, it would be muttar. How would Rav Huna learn the Tosefta? According to him, it is assur all year round. True, during Sheviis it is an issur deoraysa mamash and not just a middah ra'ah, but how could the Braisa say that the issur is exclusive to Sheviis?

4. Mishna Challah 11:8

עסת הכלבים, בזמן שהרועים אוכלין ממנה, חיבת בחלה, ומערבין בה, ומשתתפין בה, ומברכין עליה, ומזמנין עליה, ונעשית ביום טוב, ויוצא בה אדם ידי חובתו בפסח. 

As the Ksav Sofer (OC 33) asks, if mezamnin, then it must be people food. If it's people food, how can it be muttar to give it to animals. I don't think this is such a kashe. It's called Isas Klavim because it is often given to animals, so it's not like normal people food. 

5. Psachim 23a, Tos dh קוצר לשחת ומאכיל לבהמה. 

אלא מאכיל לבהמה היינו אפילו חיטין גמורין

Although it is easy to answer that raw wheat is not in its current form people food, as we mentioned above from OC 208:4 and Mishna Berura there sk15. Still, if Rav Huna's issur is התורה חסה, then wheat should be no less assur than bread.


So it is clear that there are many Mishnayos and Braisos that seem to be incompatible with Rav Huna's issur. The Rishonim deal with many of them, and propose many loopholes in the issur that would resolve these problems. They are:

1. Rav Huna's din does not apply to animals you own. (Ksav Sofer OC 33.) Others say that this is true only where you have to buy them food and using people food would save you money - such as a dairy farmer that has a deal with a big bakery to take their stale bread and feed it to his cows.

2. It does not apply where you have nothing else to feed them (Meiri brought above, which he rejects, Machtzis Hashekel 171:sk1, Shoel uMeishiv II:72.)

3. It does not apply where the animal is suffering or might get sick or die.

4. It does not apply where the food is going to spoil soon. (Pardes Yosef Chayei Sara (24:19,) Beis Baruch on Chayei Adam (45:35.)

5. It only applies by large amounts, not by small amounts. (Meiri above, which he rejects.)

6. It only applies where the food was brought here and prepared now for people, like the din of Zimun or Hekdesh. Otherwise, even if it is perfectly good for people, the issur does not apply. (Meiri above.)


I don't need to tell you that all these teirutzim are dochak and are hard to read into the story of Rav Huna, who paid for the unpurchased vegetables and threw them into the river. True, that river might have been the lifeline of the communities it passed through and whatever floated by would be snatched up, but to say that none of the heteirim applied to the animals in Rav Huna's city is a very big dochak. What the Meiri says about the first teirutzim he brings, I say about the Meiri's pshat and all the other pshatim. But then, what do I do with Rav Huna?? I don't know. I remain perplexed.

The fact remains that the Magen Avraham, the Aruch HaShulchan (171:sk5,) and the Mishna Berura in 171 all are machmir, despite the many poskim that are mattir, like the Elya Rabba.  And Rav Huna was so worried about this, not that he would do the issur but that the local merchants might come to do the issur, that he paid for all the leftover produce out of his pocket to prevent this from happening. 

Still and all, if you want to put out your crusts and crumbs for the local birds, which is certainly what my mother's family did in Kelm, I don't think you have to worry.  If you are still worried, then put it into the cholent, or make a leftover-bread kugel, or save it all for Erev Pesach and burn it.

To be perfectly honest, what Rav Huna did seems to be a good example of a bal achrayus ensuring that producers would continue to bring produce to market and not shrink supply, while also preventing the poor from relying on an unpredictable welfare program. Sometimes, produce has to be purchased and destroyed to balance the market; to prevent overproduction (because producers knew that overproduction would not be rewarded by Rav Huna,) or underproduction (because producers knew that they would not lose if demand lagged) of vital commodities, a Keynsian intervention safeguarding effective supply and demand. Of course, only a fool would suggest that Ravina and Rav Ashi did not understand Rav Huna as well as he does.

Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Lechem Mishna is Deoraysa and Outweighs Chanuka

 Just a surprising Taz that tangentially relates to Chanuka.

Mechaber in 678:

נר של שבת קודם לנר של חנוכה

מי שאין ידו משגת לקנות נר חנוכה ונר שבת יקנה נר שבת מפני שלום ביתו [וע"ל סי' רס"ג סעיף ג'] ואם יש לו לשל שבת ואין לו לנר חנוכה וליין לקידוש היום יקנה לנר חנוכה משום פרסומי ניסא:

Taz there:

כ' הר"ן וב"י אף ע"ג דקידוש דאורייתא ונ"ח דרבנן, כיון דאפשר לקדש על הפת שמן לנ"ח עדיף ע"כ. ולפי זה אם אין לו פת, אז פת עדיף, שצריך לקדש עליו מדאורייתא. 

אבל הרמב"ם כ' כאן דנ"ח וקידוש היום שניהם מד"ס, ונ"ח עדיף מקידוש היום משום פרסום נס. וא"כ אפי' אין לו פת נ"ח עדיף. 

אבל נראה דלענין פת דכ"ע פת קודם, דמ"ש בסי' רע"א דקידוש קודם לצרכי סעודה נרא' דהיינו שאר צרכי סעודה כגון תבשילין, וקראוהו בגמ' בפרק ע"פ כבוד יום. אבל הפת דלחם משנה הוא קודם ליין קידוש. דהא לחם משנה לכ"ע דאורייתא, כדאמר ר' אבא בפ' כ"כ דכתיב לחם משנה. ושלש סעודות ג"כ דאוריי' ופת בעינן כדאי' בסי' רע"ד. וא"כ כ"ש שהיא קודם לנ"ח שאינו אלא מדרבנן כנ"ל:

So according to the Taz, the order of importance is:

  • Lechem Mishneh, because it is Deoraysa.
  • Neir Shabbos, because of Shalom Bayis, and Shalom Bayis is very weighty, as in  גדול שלום שבין איש לאשתו שהרי אמרה תורה שמו של הקב"ה שנכתב בקדושה ימחה על המים
  • Neir Chanuka, because of Pirsum.
  • Wine for Kiddush.

(although to be honest, I don't know what the Taz holds about the kedima between Lechem Mishneh and Neir Shabbos. Maybe Shalom Bayis is docheh the deoraysa of Lechem Mishneha just like it's docheh mechikas Hashem. I doubt it, but I don't know. It's not a blank check to be docheh every mitzva deoraysa. However, it could be argued that just as in Brachos 20a it is mashma that כבוד הבריות  is docheh by a שב ואל תעשה, and Tosfos in Shvuos 30b applies it generally, maybe the same is true for שלום בית.  I have a Rabbi/Chaplain friend that uses Shalom Bayis like a battering ram, but that's just him. Most likely the deoraysa would come first, especially since most Rishonim hold that כבוד הבריות is never docheh, not even by a שב אל תעשה.)

(Another thing - Shalom Bayis by Neiros is lav davka for a married couple, ( Rashi שבת כ"ג ע"ב- שבני ביתו מצטערין לישב בחשך: and כ'ה: ובמקום שאין נר אין שלום שהולך ונכשל והולך באפילה:) because if it were, all the rules of kedima would only apply to a married couple, and nobody says that's the case. If so, it's hard to know where this idea of kedima of the kind of Shalom Bayis that you shouldn't walk on a lego comes from. It must be just a svara of Chazal with no makor but itself.)

The Aruch Hashulchan also holds that the drasha of Lechem Mishneh is a real deoraysa.

274 sk 4:

גרסינן בשבת (קי"ז:): "אמר ר' אבא: בשבת חייב אדם לבצוע על שתי ככרות, דכתיב: "לחם משנה". כלומר במן כתיב: "ויהי ביום הששי לקטו לחם משנה, שני העומר לאחד", והך 'לחם משנה' מיותר, דהווה ליה לכתוב 'לקטו שני העומר לאחד', ואין זה אלא כפל דברים. ולזה דרשינן שזהו עניין בפני עצמו, והכי פירושו - דהלחם של סעודות שבת תהיה משנה. ובמכילתא איתא גם כן: 'לחם משנה - ר' יהושע אומר לחם כפול' ע"ש. ונראה שזהו דין תורה ולא אסמכתא בעלמא, דבאמת הך 'לחם משנה' מיותר לגמרי כמ"ש.


However, according to those that hold that eating a meal bichlal on Shabbos is an asmachta derabanan, as brought in the Pri Megadim (291 MZ 1), then of course Lechem Mishneh would be derabanan as well and the Taz's order would not pertain.



UPDATE:

In a comment, R Abbie Jakubovic asked as follows:

If lechem mishneh is d’oraysa, why does the Gemara in Beitzah (21b) say that if someone forgets eruv tavshilin they can only bake pas achas and not be matir 2 challos to be able to do the d’oraysa?


I responded 

Goooot gefregt! I have no answer. If with an eiruv you can bake two, then the no-eiruv hetter of the minimum ought to include two as well because of the Deoraysa.

Especially since the Mishna Berura there in תקכ"ז ס"ק ס"ב says

{סב} בצמצום פת אחד - היינו אפילו פת גדול שיהיה די לו לכל השבת והתירו לו בכל זה כדי חייו משום כבוד שבת. ופשוט דאם יש לו פת אחד שנשאר לו מיו"ט אסור לו לאפות משום לחם משנה:

Especially interesting that he says ופשוט הוא. 

-Good, he doesn't pasken like the Taz. But Pashut? Maybe it's pashut to the Mishnah Berura that nobody paskens like the Taz.  

But the question remains, how did the Taz understand that Gemara?  Especially when the Gemara goes on to say that it's also muttar for him to light a candle, presumably lekavod Shabbos. Especially since the Gemara is mattir for him to light a neir, presumably lekavod Shabbos. 

דאמר רב הונא: מי שלא הניח עירובי תבשילין — אופין לו פת אחת, ומבשלין לו קדרה אחת, אומדליקין לו את הנר.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Vayeishev, Breishis 37:3, Ben Zekunim, Chanuka, (and Keats.)

The Baal Haturim here says that זקונים is an abbreviation for the five orders of Mishnayos that Yaakov had learned with Yosef.

זקנים. נוטריקון זרעים קדשים נשים ישועות מועד:

Everyone wants to know why he didn't learn Taharos with him. There are so many 'meileh' (in modern English, "meh,") teirutzim out there: "He was a bachur, so he didn't learn ALL of Taharos with him, because a bachur does not learn Niddah," or "Yaakov saw that Yosef was 100% pure in the middah of Yesod, so there was no need to learn Taharos," or "Taharos requires your own ameilus, not just hearing it from a Rebbi," or "to learn Taharos, you need מי יתן טהור מטמא, and that required that Yosef experience the tumah of Mitzrayim," or "he began learning Mishnayos at ten, and at one a year, he only got to five of the six.

I appreciated how Rav Steinman put it in the Ayeles Hashachar. Instead of flailing around with unconvincing answers, he puts a better focus on the question:

הבעל הטורים כתב זקנים נוטריקון זרעים קדשים נשים ישועות מועד ויל"ע אם הי' סיבה שלא למדו גם סדר טהרות או דעדיין לא הספיקו 

But still, it seems לעניות דעתי, that focusing the question on "Why" is off target, and mimeila, the answers are useless. Even if one of those answers would be acceptable, it wouldn't explain the Baal HaTurim. The Baal Haturim could have read Taharos into the word זקונים by writing it מלא and using the vav for "ודעת." Even more, if there was no reason for the Baal Haturim to find this remez davka to five and not six, he should have just skipped it. Who says there has to be a remez to Sidrei Mishnayos, especially if it just doesn't work?  

The question ought to be, "What was the Baal HaTurim's reason for deciding that this should be a reference to five of the six sidrei Mishhah." 

Then I saw what Rav Bergman says in his Shaarei Orah/Maamarim, and I was reminded that טבא חדא פלפלתא חריפתא ממלי צנא דקרי

Rav Bergman doesn't ask why he didn't learn Taharos, he just points out that had Yosef learned Seder Taharos, he would have learned Negaim. Had Yosef learned Nega'im, he would have known the Rambam (Perek 16) in the end of Tzaraas:

הצרעת הוא שם האמור בשותפות כולל עניינים הרבה שאין דומין זה לזה. שהרי לובן עור האדם קרוי צרעת. ונפילת קצת שיער הראש או הזקן קרוי צרעת. ושינוי עין הבגדים או הבתים קרוי צרעת. וזה השינוי האמור בבגדים ובבתים שקראתו תורה צרעת בשותפות השם אינו ממנהגו של עולם אלא אות ופלא היה בישראל כדי להזהירן מלשון הרע. שהמספר בלשון הרע משתנות קירות ביתו. אם חזר בו יטהר הבית. אם עמד ברשעו עד שהותץ הבית משתנין כלי העור שבביתו שהוא יושב ושוכב עליהן. אם חזר בו יטהרו. ואם עמד ברשעו עד שישרפו משתנין הבגדים שעליו. אם חזר בו יטהרו ואם עמד ברשעו עד שישרפו משתנה עורו ויצטרע ויהיה מובדל ומפורסם לבדו עד שלא יתעסק בשיחת הרשעים שהוא הליצנות ולשון הרע. ועל עניין זה מזהיר בתורה ואומר השמר בנגע הצרעת זכור את אשר עשה י"י אלהיך למרים בדרך. הרי הוא אומר התבוננו מה אירע למרים הנביאה שדיברה באחיה שהיתה גדולה ממנו בשנים וגידלתו על ברכיה וסכנה בעצמה להצילו מן הים והיא לא דברה בגנותו אלא טעתה שהשותו לשאר נביאים והוא לא הקפיד על כל הדברים האלו שנאמר והאיש משה ענו מאד ואע"פ כן מיד נענשה בצרעת קל וחומר לבני אדם הרשעים הטפשים שמרבים לדבר גדולות ונפלאות. לפיכך ראוי למי שרוצה לכוין אורחותיו להתרחק מישיבתן ומלדבר עמהן כדי שלא יתפס אדם ברשת רשעים וסכלותם. וזה דרך ישיבת הלצים הרשעים בתחילה מרבין בדברי הבאי כענין שנאמר וקול כסיל ברוב דברים. ומתוך כך באין לספר בגנות הצדיקים כענין שנאמר תאלמנה שפתי שקר הדוברות על צדיק עתק. ומתוך כך יהיה להן הרגל לדבר בנביאים ולתת דופי בדבריהם כענין שנאמר ויהיו מלעיבים במלאכי האלהים ובוזים דברים ומתעתעים בנביאיו. ומתוך כך באין לדבר באלהים וכופרין בעיקר כענין שנאמר ויחפאו בני ישראל דברים אשר לא כן על י"י אלהיהם. והרי הוא אומר שתו בשמים פיהם ולשונם תהלך בארץ מי גרם להם לשית בשמים פיהם לשונם שהלכה תחילה בארץ. זו היא שיחת הרשעים שגורמת להן ישיבת קרנות וישיבת כנסיות של עמי הארץ וישיבת בתי משתאות עם שותי שכר. אבל שיחת כשרי ישראל אינה אלא בדברי תורה וחכמה. לפיכך הקדוש ברוך הוא עוזר על ידן ומזכה אותן בה. שנאמר אז נדברו יראי י"י איש אל רעהו ויקשב י"י וישמע ויכתב ספר זכרון לפניו ליראי י"י ולחושבי שמו:

Mimeila, you can say that all the Baal HaTurim means is that Yosef was a Ben Zekunim - that he knew everything, but he did not know Taharos as well as he should have. Had he fully understood and embodied the knowledge of Taharos, he would have been more careful about how he spoke about his brothers.

The pshat is one of those classical cases where as soon as you hear the teretz, you say, well of course, I knew that. PSA; You didn't.

Reb Chaim Brown added a thoughtful insight. Instead of using the Rambam, you could simply say that since Taharos is called Da'as in that passuk-

 (שבת ל'א:, אמר ריש לקיש: מאי דכתיב ״והיה אמונת עתיך חוסן ישועות חכמת ודעת וגו׳״. ״אמונת״ — זה סדר זרעים. ״עתיך״ — זה סדר מועד. ״חוסן״ — זה סדר נשים. ״ישועות״ — זה סדר נזיקין. ״חכמת״ — זה סדר קדשים. ״ודעת״ — זה סדר טהרות. ואפילו הכי, ״יראת ה׳ היא אוצרו״.)

there must be a fundamental connection between that subject and pshuto kimashma'o, Da'as.  Gufa Yosef's behavior was a rayah that there was a chisaron in Da'as on his part, and this shows that he was lacking in the yesod of Seder Taharos. (One thing needs to be expanded- what kind of da'as that relates to Taharos would have helped Yosef to avoid antagonizing his brothers.)

Reb Chaim once used this to explain the story of Chanuka. Since the main pegam of what we call "Yavan" is their anthropocentric and materialistic view of Da'as, it was the purity of the Pach Hashemen that signalled the success of the Chashmona'im. Tahara, and the Da'as of Torah, is the antithesis of Chochma Yevanis, a da'as that does not stem from Kedusha and Tahara.  

EVEN more - you realize that it is the shemen for the menora we are talking about, the menora that represents Man's understanding of Godly knowledge. So it is perfect - the symbol of the victory over the Greek Da'as of Tumah, is the Shemen that burned in the Menora that symbolizes the Da'as of Tahara. Of course it had to be absolutely tahor!! Da'as Torah is Taharah, and Tahara is Da'as Torah.

That the Menora symbolizes Da'as of Torah is Aleph Beis. But just to be sure, here are mekoros.

ב"ב כ"ה עמוד ב

אמר רבי יצחק הרוצה שיחכים ידרים ושיעשיר יצפין וסימניך שלחן בצפון ומנורה בדרום ורבי יהושע בן לוי אמר לעולם ידרים שמתוך שמתחכם מתעשר

ברכות נ"ז עמוד א

הרואה שמן זית בחלום — יצפה למאור תורה, שנאמר: ״ויקחו אליך שמן זית זך״.

פרי צדיק בהעלותך ט:ב

ענין הדלקת המנורה הוא שיהיה בא והאיר לי שהוא בחינת אור תורה שבעל פה מצד האדם.

נציב העמק דבר שמות כז:כ בדיוק כמו ר' צדוק

-באריכות בענין כפתור ופרח ושבעת הקנים


In light of the above, it is ironic that Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," ends with the words    

   "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"—that is all

        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

Perhaps we would say it differently. Keeping in mind the Pach HaShemen, we would title it "Ode on a Yerushalmi Urn,"  and we would say

   "Taharah is truth, truth Taharah,"—that is all

        Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 

__________________________________________________________


From Reb Chaim Kanievsky: 

Rabbi Reuven Chaim Klein tells us that Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Lehrfeld asked this question to Reb Chaim Kanievsky, and Reb Chaim answered that in early times, Taharos was included in Kodshim.  I've seen this elsewhere, but I don't remember the makor that this was the case. 

Coincidentally, I came across the scintillatingly luminous new sefer from Artscroll “Rav Chaim Kanievsky on Chumash”. This vort is included, and the singularly gifted translator, who was tasked with elucidating and sourcing the often cryptic words of Rav Chaim, asked his contacts in Beis HaRav whether a source for this assertion could be found. He was told that Rav Chaim said this misevara, and this is how he presented the vort:  

Rav Chaim explained that it seems that originally Kodshim and Taharos were a single Seder; they deal with the same basic set of laws — a requirement to approach that which is sanctified with the utmost purity, whether entering the Mikdash or eating kodesh. Taharos are required for Kodshim, and there is no way to fulfill Kodshim without Taharos. Once the discussions of the Tannaim became numerous, it was decided to split them onto separate Orders. At this juncture, though, they were still united, and therefore Taharos is not mentioned separately.

It goes without saying that when Reb Chaim Kanievsky says a pshat in the Baal HaTurim, it is as reliable as it would be if the Baal HaTurim said it himself.

Af al pi kein, I think the Baal HaTurim would like Rav Bergman's pshat.


Wednesday, November 17, 2021

A Puzzling Thought from Reb Akiva Eiger on Mashiv HaRuach

 OC 114:5

בימות הגשמים אם לא אמר מוריד הגשם מחזירין אותו.

Reb Akiva Eiger there, 114 sk 5

מחזירים אותו. נלע"ד בליל שבת אם שכח לומר משיב הרוח דאין מחזירי' דהא אם התפלל רק מעין שבע יצא כדאית' בסי' רס"ח במג"א סקט"ו אף בברכות מעין שבע אינו מזכיר גשם א"כ במה שהתפלל סדר התפלה כראוי רק שלא הזכיר גשם הא לא גרע ממעין שבע וצל"ע לדינא:

So, he says it may be that if you forget Mashiv HaRuach Friday night, you don't repeat Shmoneh Esrei. Proof - since you can be yotzei Shmoneh Esrei Friday night by listening to the Mei'ein Sheva, and the Mei'ein Sheva does not mention Mashiv HaRuach, you see that Mashiv Haruach is not essential for the nusach of Shmoneh Esrei Friday night.  (I've seen this brought lehalacha, because Reb Akiva Eiger's צריך לי עיון is plenty to create a safek brachos.)

My question: Why would this be true? Why would missing Mashiv HaRuach for six months mean that you weren't yotzei Shmoneh Esrei, and punkt Friday night it doesn't matter.

The truth is, it's not really a kashe on Reb Akiva Eiger. Once Reb Akiva Eiger pointed out that Mei'ein Sheva does not include Mashiv, and that you're yotzei with Mei'ein Sheva itself, then the question is, if Mei'ein Sheva is really a tefilla gemura, why doesn't it contain Mashiv Haruach? It should!

(Please do not tell me "But what about הביננו?" Havineinu is said after the full nusach of the first three, including Mashiv, and followed by the full nusach of the last three.)

Maybe there's something different about Friday night, but I doubt it, because aderaba, rainfall davka Friday (and Wednesday) night is most propitious. Taanis 23 - 

גשמיכם בעתם בלילי רביעיות ובלילי שבתות, שכן מצינו בימי שמעון בן שטח שירדו להם גשמים בלילי רביעיות ובלילי שבתות עד שנעשו חטים ככליות ושעורים כגרעיני זיתים ועדשים כדינרי זהב 

Maybe there's something about ויכולו that alludes to Geshem. If there is, I haven't found it. Yes, the following pesukim mention that no rain had fallen before Adam davenned, but that is not in Vayechulu.

So I'm stuck. I'd appreciate your thoughts.

UPDATE:

The Reb Akiva Eiger is really not well known, so it was a real surprise when Rav Bukspan came up with a tshuva from Rav Wosner exactly on this topic. 

Here is the question.

Someone mistakenly said Ha'el hakadosh in his quiet Shmoneh Esrei, and it was suggested that he doesn't have to repeat because of Reb Akiva Eiger. 

As far as Hamelech, as Rav Wosner says, Reb Akiva Eiger's raya for Geshem is not fully applicable to the question of Hamelech. It is true that Reb Akiva Eiger's opinion in 583:3 is that if you say Ha'eil instead of Hamelech in מעין שבע you do not have to repeat it, but mei'ikar hadin you are supposed to say Hamelech, unlike Geshem, which does not appear there at all. So even if you wouldn't have to repeat מעין שבע if you say Ha'Eil hakadosh, it could be this is because there is a kullah in מעין שבע to the extent of not requiring repetition bedieved, but that does not apply to the personal Shmoneh Esrei.  Whereas the fact that Geshem is not there at all indicates that mentioning Geshem is not important on Friday night, not even in the personal Tefilla.

Rav Wosner also addresses the question of Geshem. He says that first, Reb Akiva Eiger's idea is very hard to accept - it is a puzzlement.  He is docheh the raya;  and I have to say that his dichui of Reb Akiva Eiger's raya is not very convincing. Who cares that this is the nusach? הא גופא קשה, why is the nusach like that?? Then he says that it seems from the Biur Halacha at the end of רס"ח that he holds not like Reb Akiva Eiger.  


He paskens that you can not rely on Reb Akiva Eiger, certainly not on Hamelech, but also not on Geshem, and you have to repeat Shmoneh Esrei.

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Vayishlach, Breishis 32:8. Vayiroh Yaakov me’ohd vayeitzer lo. What did Yaakov Fear?

This was originally posted in 07, and I haven't gotten any smarter. I am adding something Larry (BlackLeibel) Schwartz ע'ה showed me from the Satmarer and several good updates.


The passuk says that when Yaakov prepared for his confrontation with Eisav, he was stricken with fear and with terrible trepidation. Why the double expression?


Rashi explains that his yirah was because he might be killed, and his tzarah/distress was because he might have to kill others. 

ויירא ויצר. וַיִּירָא שֶׁמָּא יֵהָרֵג, וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ אִם יַהֲרֹג הוּא אֶת אֲחֵרִים (בראשית רבה ותנחומא):

You would think that the second half is testament to Jewish rachamim, the recognition that killing a human- no matter how much he deserves it or how immediate his threat is- brutalizes the killer and leaves indelible spiritual trauma. 
Or you might think that it is along the lines of the Gemara (Ber 32b) כהן שהרג את הנפש לא ישא את כפיו, שנאמר (ישעיהו א, טו): “וּבְפָרִשְׂכֶם כַּפֵּיכֶם אַעְלִים עֵינַי מִכֶּם וכו’ יְדֵיכֶם דָּמִים מָלֵאוּ”, or Dovid Hamelech’s preclusion from building his Beis Hamikdash because “דם לרב שפכת ומלחמות גדלות עשית לא תבנה בית לשמי כי דמים רבים שפכת ארצה לפני” 

But you would be wrong. I have not found one mefareish of Rashi– or the Medrash Rashi is based on– that learns pshat like that. The only one that says that derech was Golda Meir. Golda Meir may deserve our love and gratitude for her loving and courageous heart and for what she did for Klal Yisrael, but a mefareish of Chumash she was not. 

The pshatim I saw range from his fear of Yitzchok’s reaction to his fear of killing non-combatants, to a fear that the death of one brother would precipitate the death of the other, as per the concern/nevu'ah Rivkah had expressed. Nobody that I saw says that Yaakov was having nightmares about possibly killing someone who needed killing. I may have missed something, and I would appreciate a mareh makom if you have one.

Leibel Schwartz ע'ה showed me what the Satmarer brings in his Divrei Yoel from the Ateres Tzvi:

He asks, as we did, what would Yaakov be afraid of? הבא להרגך! and באבוד רשעים רנה!  Pshat is that in Eisav were many neshamos of tzadikim, such as Rav Akiva, none of whom would be born if Yaakov killed him, and Yaakov was distressed about preventing these holy neshamos from coming to this world. Or more precisely, ח'ו אם יעקב יהרגם שלא יתענש על ידם. 
I guess it's similar to Moshe Rabbeinu's ויפן כה וכה, that when you are using nissim and ruchniyus to eliminate a threat, you have to be sure that you are not interfereing with a potential tzadik in the future. By Moshe, he saw there were none. Here, Yaakov saw there were, so he was in a predicament.

In any case, you see that he assumes, as we did, that protecting yourself and your family from a violent savage by killing him is nothing to be afraid of.

UPDATE:
Rav Moish Pollack called in a he'ara on the Ateres Tzvi. At this point, Eisav's children were already born, so what does it mean that he was afraid to destroy Eisav's descendants? 
Rabbi Pollack is a talmid chacham, and I am assuming that the basis of his question is correct - that no children were born to Eisav later. If so, I would answer that Yaakov really did not have the option of killing only Eisav. A battle would have involved all of Eisav's children, and Yaakov would have had to kill them all to save himself.


Rav Avraham Bukspan directed our attention to a similar drasha on the passuk in Tehillim 142:2, 
קולי אל ה' אזעק קולי אל ה' אתחנן
The Medrash there says
קולי אל ה' אזעק קולי אל ה' אתחנן. למה ב' פעמים קולי. וכן אמר הכתוב (שם נז ב) חנני ה' חנני. ב' פעמים. אלא כך אמר דוד חנני שלא אפול בידו וחנני שלא יפול בידי. וכן קולי אל ה' אזעק שלא אפול בידו קולי אל ה' אתחנן שלא יפול בידי:

The two drashos are certainly mirror images. But if Rav Bukspan meant it as evidence of how Chazal read Yaakov's words here, I disagree. I do not think it is reasonable to compare David HaMelech's fear of harming the Meshiach Hashem, about whom the Ribono shel Olam said 
וידבר דוד לה' את דברי השירה הזאת ביום הציל ה' אותו מכף כל אויביו ומכף שאול אמר לו הקב"ה לדוד דוד שירה אתה אומר על מפלתו של שאול אלמלי אתה שאול והוא דוד איבדתי כמה דוד מפניו היינו דכתיב (תהלים ז, א) שגיון לדוד אשר שר לה' על דברי כוש בן ימיני וכי כוש שמו והלא שאול שמו אלא מה כושי משונה בעורו אף שאול משונה במעשיו 
with Yaakov's confrontation with Eisav. 


REB CHAIM BROWN to the rescue. 
Reb Chaim showed me something I would never have found, in that the author is not part of the ASU, the Artscroll Universe. I never heard of him, but he seems to have been a man that was not afraid of controversy.  See here and here
From Harav Chaim Hirschensohn, his sefer נמוקי רש"י - חידושי הרח"ה, page 53b, in the HebrewBooks site page 124:
... השתדלות המפרשים לבאר מדוע צר לו אם יהרג אחרים, הלא המה רודפים, והבא להרגך השכם והורגו, לא נחוץ כלל, כי גם ההורג בהתר את חבירו צר לו לאדם נכבד שבא לידי מדה זו.

So I guess it boils down to the old machlokes about whether certain mitzvos, even though required and important, can leave a stain on a person's middos. We've discussed this many times, and in this post I have a link to other places plus something from Reb Chaim on the subject.  (There's a whole world out there - the Or HaChaim, the Shiurei Da'as, Reb Aharon, lhbchlch Rav Sternbuch, and others.) Rav Hirschensohn's use of the idea to explain the words of Chazal here is novel, but it is no longer only Golda Meir.

Reb Chaim also showed me the Ksav Sofer that says pshat in the passuk is that Yaakov was bichlal not afraid of getting killed. He had a havtacha. He was afraid that he would have to kill Eisav, and as a result, it would distance him from the Ribono shel Olam and he would end up dying as a result of that richuk. This is all based on the Gemara in Shabbos 149b, 
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יַעֲקֹב בְּרֵיהּ דְּבַת יַעֲקֹב: כָּל שֶׁחֲבֵירוֹ נֶעֱנָשׁ עַל יָדוֹ — אֵין מַכְנִיסִין אוֹתוֹ בִּמְחִיצָתוֹ שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא. מְנָלַן? ...
מֵהָכָא: ״גַּם עֲנוֹשׁ לַצַּדִּיק לֹא טוֹב״, אֵין ״לֹא טוֹב״ אֶלָּא רָע, וּכְתִיב: ״כִּי לֹא אֵל חָפֵץ רֶשַׁע אָתָּה לֹא יְגוּרְךָ רָע״ — צַדִּיק אַתָּה ה׳ וְלֹא יָגוּר בִּמְגוּרְךָ רָע. 

So the idea is that it didn't bother him a ki hu zeh that he might have to kill Eisav. What bothered him was being the instrument of middas hadin that brings death to others. (This did not bother Moshe Rabbeinu when he brought the makkos, and it did not bother Moshe or Dovid or Avraham Avinu when they engaged in several wars. Perhaps the difference is whether you're in the War Room or on the battlefield.)  (That Ksav Sofer is also fascinating because in the second half of the paragraph he quotes Reb Yonasan Eibschutz's Luchos Ha'Eidus, where he bitterly complains about the horrible injustice of being a nirdaf from the Chacham Tzvi for the vile and unfounded accusation of following Shabtai Tzvi. It begins on page 148 of the לוחות העדות. I have it in the Otzar, but otherwise it's not available online.)


UPDATE:
Rav Bukspan sent me this geshmakkeh insight into what Chazal meant when they said וַיֵּצֶר לוֹ אִם יַהֲרֹג הוּא אֶת אֲחֵרִים . and relating to the Ateres Tzvi.
AGADAH: CONCERN FOR "ACHERIM" 
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that the Mishnah often refers to Rebbi Meir as "Acherim," because Rebbi, the redactor of the Mishnah, did not want to refer to Rebbi Meir by his name. Rebbi Meir had attempted to unseat Rebbi's father, Raban Shimon ben Gamliel, from his position as Nasi, and therefore Rebbi, in deference to his family's honor, referred to Rebbi Meir as "Acherim."
Rav Naftali Maryles (1828-1890), the Rov of Litovisk and the son of the Yoruslaver Rebbe, Rav Shimon Maryles zt'l, points out that this Gemara reveals a deeper meaning behind the words of Rashi in Parshas Vayishlach. The Torah (Bereishis 32:8) says that when Yakov heard of Esav's impending approach, "he became very afraid, and he was distressed." Rashi explains that he became "afraid" lest he be killed, and he was "distressed" lest he kill others ("Im Yaharog Hu Es Acherim"). Why, though, was Yakov worried that he would have to kill someone else? Yakov was being pursued by Esav, who wanted to kill him, and the Torah teaches that if one person is being mortally pursued by another, then he is bidden to kill the pursuer in order to protect his own life! Why, then, was Yakov concerned?
Also, why does Rashi say that Yakov was afraid that "he would have to kill others (Acherim)"? He should have said that Yakov was afraid that "he would have to kill Esav"! Maharal)
ANSWER: The Gemara in Gitin (56a) relates that one of the Roman leaders, Niron (the Caesar Nero), converted and became Jewish, and one of his descendants was Rebbi Meir. The Romans descended from Esav, as Rashi points out at the end of Vayishlach. Rashi, therefore, is saying that Yakov was distressed that he might be forced to kill Esav and thereby prevent the birth of Rebbi Meir, who was called "Acherim"!
Rav Naftali of Litovisk points out that a similar theme is found in Rashi in Parshas Shemos (2:12). The Torah there teaches that before Moshe Rabeinu killed the Egyptian slave-master, he looked to all sides to make sure "that there was no one." Rashi explains that this means that he looked into the future to make sure that none of the future descendants of this Egyptian would ever convert and become Jewish, and only then did he kill him. (Sefer Ayalah Sheluchah, Parshas Shemos, republished in 2001 by his descendant, Rabbi Ari Maryles. See also Peninim Yekarim, Parshas Vayishlach, and Kanah Avraham.)

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Vayeira, Worshipping the Dust on Their Feet

Rashi 18:4

ורחצו רגליכם. כַּסָּבוּר שֶׁהֵם עַרְבִיִּים שֶׁמִּשְׁתַּחֲוִים לַאֲבַק רַגְלֵיהֶם וִהִקְפִּיד שֶׁלֹא לְהַכְנִיס עֲ"זָ לְבֵיתוֹ;

This morning, someone asked me what that means. Simple enough; why would anyone worship the dust on their feet? Not stam the Earth, davka the dust on their feet.

I'm told that some say they didn't worship just dust, but it was dust from their Beis Avodah Zarah. That's fine, but that is not what Rashi says, and it is not what the Gemara in BM says, or Rashi in Kiddushin that brings it as well. Instead of saying it's not shver according to X or Y, let's focus on explaining what it means according to the Gemara and Rashi.

I suggested that it was a form of ancestor worship. 

The concept is not uncommon. The Brittanica says that "Ancestor worship, prevalent in preliterate societies, is obeisance to the spirits of the dead."  I believe that it persists even today in spiritually primitive countries, such as China, and certainly in obdurately uncivilized countries such as Haiti and Togo.  

As applies to dust, of course we have Breishis 3:19,  עפר אתה ואל עפר תשוב. 

See also Shabbos 113b, that eating the dirt of Bavel is like eating one's ancestors. 

אמר ר' אמי כל האוכל מעפרה של בבל כאילו אוכל מבשר אבותיו 

Rashi

מבשר אבותיו. שמתו שם בגולה


And Hamlet act five:

“Imperious Caesar, dead and turned to clay,

Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.

Oh, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,

Should patch a wall t'expel the winter’s flaw!”


Perhaps the people of Avraham Avinu's time time worshipped their ancestors, and saw the dust that clung to their feet as the dust of their ancestors magically adhering to them.

If I were to attempt relevance, I would suggest that when we go to kivrei tzadikim, we should not ask the niftarim to give us what we need.  This is both Avoda Zara and doreish el hameisim, and, as such, is best avoided.  At most, (see Minchas Elazar 1:68, but see Igros OC 5:143:6) we might ask them to intercede with tefilla to the Ribono shel Olam on our behalf. So pay your respects, and remember that all the tefillos at that makom kadosh are to the Ribono shel Olam, instead of being משתחוה לאבק רגליך.

Monday, October 18, 2021

Vayeira, Breishis 19:19. Are We Graded on a Curve?

 Lot sought refuge as he fled from the destruction of S'dom.  The angels suggested that he find refuge in the mountain, but he did not accept their advice.   Something about "the mountain" frightened him.  The Medrash (50:11)explains that it was no mountain he was afraid of; "mountain" means Avraham.  The angels were suggesting that he go back to his uncle, that he rejoin Avraham.  But Lot was afraid to do so, and the rationale for his fear was echoed by the Tzarfis woman in the time of Eliahu.  When her son died, the Tzarfis woman came to Eliahu, and she said "Eliahu, until you began visiting me, God saw my actions and those of my neighbors and by comparison I was a holy woman.  Now that you visit me, God sees my failings, and this caused my son to die."  Here, Lot said, "While I was in Sdom, I was, compared to them, a holy man.  If I were to rejoin Avraham, I would not survive."


Rashi here brings the Medrash.
פן תדבקני הרעה. כְּשֶׁהָיִיתִי אֵצֶל אַנְשֵׁי סְדוֹם הָיָה הַקָּבָּ"ה רוֹאֶה מַעֲשַׂי וּמַעֲשֵׂה בְנֵי הָעִיר, וְהָיִיתִי נִרְאֶה צַדִּיק וּכְדַאי לְהִנָּצֵל, וּכְשֶׁאָבֹא אֵצֶל צַדִּיק אֲנִי כְרָשָׁע, וְכֵן אָמְרָה הַצָּרְפִית לְאֵלִיָּהוּ בָּאתָ אֵלַי לְהַזְכִּיר אֶת עֲוֹנִי (מלכים א י"ז), עַד שֶׁלֹא בָאתָ אֶצְלִי הָיָה הַקָּבָּ"ה רוֹאֶה מַעֲשַׂי וּמַעֲשֵׂה עַמִּי, וַאֲנִי צַדֶּקֶת בֵּינֵיהֶם, וּמִשֶּׁבָּאתָ אֶצְלִי, לְפִי מַעֲשֶׂיךָ אֲנִי רְשָׁעָה:

The Shem MiShmuel uses this to explain a parsha in Eikev, Devarim 9:4:

אל תאמר בלבבך בהדף ה' אלקיך אתם מלפניך לאמר בצדקתי הביאני ה' לרשת את הארץ הזאת וברשעת הגוים האלה ה' מורישם מפניך. 

לא בצדקתך ובישר לבבך אתה בא לרשת את ארצם כי ברשעת הגוים האלה ה' אלקיך מורישם מפניך 

ולמען הקים את הדבר אשר נשבע ה' לאבתיך לאברהם ליצחק וליעקב

Do not think, when Hashem drives away the Canaanites from before you, "Because I am righteous Hashem brought me here to inherit this land and because the original residents were wicked Hashem disinherits them."  No, it is not that you are righteous, it is because they are wicked, and because Hashem promised the land to your forefathers.


He brings this Medrash to explain what error they were being warned about, what the אל תאמר בלבבך was. Hashem told us "Don't think that the Canaanites are going to die because when you arrive the contrast between your spiritual greatness and their relative failings will tip the scale against them.  You're not so special.  They were just fundamentally wicked people who deserved to be eliminated irrespective of your presence."


The idea that the צרפית was afraid of being judged negatively because of the contrast between her and Eliahu is also stated in Tosfos in Kiddushin 71a in the name of Avrahan Ger (discussing קשים גרים לישראל כספחת on the previous daf. Interestingly, Tosfos hedges the concept by saying 
שמתוך שהוא צדיק גמור היה נראה לה שמזכיר השם עונה


Reb Chaim Brown showed me this idea in the Ohr HaChaim by Kayin and Hevel:
אכן הכוונה היא להיות כי קין נתקנא בהבל בחושבו כי הוא סיבה להשפלתו כי באמצעותו הוכר אופלו, וחשב כי כשלא יהיה הבל במציאות יתרצה ה׳ בקין כי אין עוד אחר לבחור בו, וחשב להורגו,

Let's think about this, a concept that the Tzarfis woman and Lot assumed to be true, and that Hashem had to tell us was not the reason for the elimination of the Canaanites.  It appears to mean that people are judged by comparison to the others in their community.  That means that the standard of justice is relative to the other people that are being judged.  That means that Hashem grades us on a curve.

I choose that expression intentionally.  One might read the Medrash and nod his head and agree.  But when you realize that this is exactly what grading on a curve is all about, it becomes untenable.  

As I understand it, the rationale of grading on a curve is as follows: Prospective employers have an idea of the general quality of the students and the education at any given institution.  But they want, and are entitled, to know where an individual student stands within that segment.  The only way to rank students is through a curve- these are the best, these are average, and these are on the lower side.  This makes perfect sense in a market.  It makes absolutely no sense when it comes to Schar ve'Onesh.  Another reason to grade on a curve is when the instructor is inexperienced, or emotionally unfit, and might not be educating the students effectively, or the teacher is excessively strict or lenient.  If very few students do well on the examination, the problem lies with the teacher, and the students should not be penalized.  This is even less applicable to heavenly judgment.

Let me make this more clear with an analogy to the Special Olympics. If you put the winner of the Special Olympics on the medal stand with the winner of the regular Olympics, would anyone denigrate or deride the former? I hope not. You judge the athlete's achievement by his effort and skill in overcoming, in using what he has, not in comparison to the uniquely gifted and physically perfect athlete. It is an entirely different metric. When we say "מתי יגיעו מעשי למעשי אבותי"  you don't mean that you should speak to the Ribono shel Olam באספקלריא המאירה or do an akeida on your son. You mean that are the best possible Zeesheh.
Reb Moshe, in the Fishelis'es wonderful new Kol Rom, says (Shemos 6:26)
דאע"ג שמשה רבנו היה יותר גדול מאהרן, מ"מ היו שקולים במה שכל אחד עבד את ה' בכל כשרונותיו וכוחותיו שהיו לו.
והנה כל אדם נולד עם כשרונות וכוחות ואין בזה כל מעלה, כי זו מתנת שמים, אבל כל אחד צריך לעבוד ולשפר את עצמו, ולראות שיקיים את מצורה והמצות בכל כוחותיו, וזה כל תפקידו בעולם.
And Reb Chaim Brown said "pshat in the Yalkut on Shir haShirim 7:6 הדלים שברשים הם חביבים לפני כדניאל is because there is relative judgment -- in context of his challenges, the 'dal' may deserve as much credit for whatever he does as Daniel, even though on an absolute scale there is no comparison."

It might be that Chazal are telling us that the idea is totally false, that what the Isha Hatzarfis and Lot thought, and what Bnei Yisrael might have thought, was simply wrong.  But I do not believe this is true.  We can make mistakes on our own, and if Chazal tell us what some biblical figures were thinking, unless they tell us clearly that they are talking about something which is false, it should be taken seriously.

The initial response I get from people is that Chazal are talking about people who consciously refuse to be influenced by the righteous people to whom they are exposed.   They could and should be inspired by them, and emulate them, and their refusal to allow righteousness and spirituality to affect them is a terrible sin, it is an affront to Hashem.  You have before you an example of what you ought to be, you have a teacher, and you affect deliberate blindness?  That is a terrible sin.

This is certainly true.  We are told טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו, and אוי לרשע ואוי לשכנו (see Rashi Bamidbar 23:29 and 38,) and that means that it is good and wise to associate with a Tzadik because he will influence you to be better, and it is dangerous to associate with a Rasha, because he will influence you to become a rasha like him.  It stands to reason that if, despite  אוי לרשע ואוי לשכנו, one overcomes the influence of his neighbor the Rasha, and remains a tzadik, as Noach did (see Rashi Breishis 6:9 and Sanhedrin 108a,) it is a tremendous merit; if, despite טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו, a person rejects the influence of a Tzadik and remains a rasha, it is a terrible sin.

But I don't believe that this explains our Medrash.  Lot is one thing: the Isha Hatzarfis is something else entirely. Everything we know about her tells us that she was a holy and righteous person.  Hashem sent Eliahu to find shelter in her home, and she merited an awe-inspiring miracle. We have absolutely no right to say that she did not allow Eliahu's presence to inspire her or elevate her spirituality.  On the contrary.  The operative principal ought to be טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו.
So what is the pshat in the Medrash?

Here are some interpretations that we found reasonable.

1.  In the censuses in the Midbar, Shevet Levi was the smallest of the tribes.  One of the reasons is that their work in the Midbar involved a constant presence in the Mishkan and the carrying of the holy utensils (see, e.g., Rashi in Vayeitzei, Breishis 29:35.)  If a Levi was carrying the Aron Kodesh, and his mind wandered, and for a moment he thought about something trivial or foolish, he would die on the spot.  Similarly, a Kohen Gadol, while in the Kodesh Kadashim, had absolutely no leeway.  Any infinitesimal failure or distraction would be immediately fatal.  Being in the area of such holiness creates a condition of Middas Hadin.  The same may be true of the environment of a Tzadik, who embodies the kedusha of the Beis Hamikdash.

2.  Similarly, we have a passuk in our parsha that says that the degree of Hashgacha on Eretz Yisrael is qualitatively different than that of the Hashgacha on the rest of the world.  Devarim 11:11-12  והארץ אשר אתם עברים שמה לרשתה ארץ הרים ובקעת למטר השמים תשתה מים.  ארץ אשר ה' אלהיך דרש אתה תמיד עיני ה' אלקיך בה מרשית השנה ועד אחרית שנה.  If so, we might say that the degree of Hashgach in the proximity of a tzadik is far greater.  Greater Hashgacha means close scrutiny, the kind of examination that every person eventually undergoes, but usually only at the judgment of Beis Din shel Maalah in the Olam Ha'emes after death.  Behavior that would otherwise pass might not survive this kind of close scrutiny.

I personally don't like this pshat.  To say that being near a tzadik is like walking under a קיר נטוי to the extent that it operates to turn upside down the whole concept of טוב לצדיק טוב לשכנו, and that there is some chiluk between them, doesn't appeal to me.  If you like it, זאלסטו זיין געזונט

3.  The Chazon Ish says that in our time, people can be defended on the basis of תינוק שנשבה. 
Life is so confusing, there was an absolute hester panim during the Holocaust, tefilla is totally ignored during the pandemic, and whenever an adam gadol offers guidance others say the opposite. But when you have Eliahu Hanavi in your house, you no longer have a din of תינוק שנשבה

4.  When a tzadik lives near you, you realize that you could be greater, that you should grow.  Unfortunately, inertia makes growth difficult.  Even if we know we ought to change, it is difficult to act upon what we know.  Sometimes, people only change in reaction to a traumatic event that forces them to reexamine their lives.  In cases like that, Hashem might help that person take that difficult step by shaking them up, by bringing difficult challenges to them.