Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Note-worthies and Curiosities. (מערקווערדיג)

1. Tefilla: Sibah or Siman- Causal or Correlational
A dear friend of mine has wonderful children- exceptional talmidei chachamim and baalei middos tovos who are effectively engaged with their families and their communities.  He is often asked how he was zocheh to such children, what is his secret (just as Kimchis was asked, as we are told in Yoma 47a.)  His usual answer is that he was lucky to marry a women that says tehillim all the time, and also to have zechus avos.  The Maharsha in Yoma, by the story of Kimchis, asks, why did they ask her, maybe it was the father's zechus.  One of the answers to that question is that they knew the father, and they knew that whatever the zechus was, it wasn't his.  I, too, knowing my friend well, and with all due respect, I have to agree that whatever it is, it is not because of him.

I just want to point out that I am not sure whether the Tehillim answer is a siman or a sibah.  In other words, it's not necessarily the pshat that saying Tehillim yields good children.  Saying Tehillim expresses and reinforces the awareness that everything is be'yad Hashem, that you need siyata dishmaya for hatzlacha, that without Hashem's help, we are lost.  It could be that this attitude is the secret of their success. Children that grow up in a milieu of Ahavas and Yiras Hashem, where bitachon and yir'ah are merged with hasmada, hishtadlus and openness to others, where parenting decisions are made with humility and faith and careful thought, those children are on the right path to hatzlacha in Avodas Hashem.

Please note that this approach to tefillah will be familiar to any talmid of the Rambam.  In particular, here is what the Mabit says in בית אלקים שער התפלה פ"ב

כי לא היתה תכלית התפלה כדי שיענה, אלא להורות שאין בעולם למי שראוי להתפלל אלא לקל יתברך, ולהכיר שהוא חסר מכל וכל בזה העולם, ואין מי שימלא חסרונו אלא הוא יתברך, ומספר לפניו חסרונותיו להורות זה הענין, וסוף השכר לבוא, אבל לא שתהיה התפלה לתכלית השגת המבוקש

2.  Business is business.
 עפר אני תחת כפות רגליו, but I saw what seems l'aniyus daati to be a wild Maharsham.  It is in the fourth volume of teshuvos in Siman 28, and it goes like this: If a person buys a sefer Torah from another individual, is the buyer over on lifnei iver. He says: Yes, certainly, one who sells his sefer and he has no other, is mevatel the mitzva deoraysa of kesiva sefer. If he has another, it is not a bittul asei, but it is bizui mitzva.  As far as the buyer, though, he is called a chotef mitzvah, but he's not over on lifnei iver. Why? 
ונראה דבקונה ס"ת בלא הגיהו דהוי כחוטף מצוה היינו משום דמחסר אח חבירו מצוה והיינו דודאי ליכא משום לפ"ע דהוא רוצה לזכןת אח נפשו בקיום מצוה וחייו קודמים ואם מחסר אה חבירו ממ"ע הרי ממלא אה נפשו בקיום המצוה ועי׳ שע״ת או"ח סי׳ תפ"ה

I love the idea that it's not lifnei iver by causing him to be mevateil an assir if I am being machshil him for my own need to be mekayeim a mitzvah. To me, it sounds like a variation on "Business is Business."

3.  The Korban Pesach is a Korban of Geirus.
Reb Meir Simchas in Be'haaloscha, Bamidbar 9:7, says that the Korban Pesach is essentially a korban of Geirus.  Normally, a Ger must bring a korban Olas HaOf (Krisus 8b.) But, he says, if a Ger had not yet brought his korban Geirus, and he already brought or participated in the Korban Pesach, he does not have to bring his personal korban Geirus.  This seems like an example of Reb Meir Simcha's Nevi'us.  Who would say such a thing without evidence?  He is surprised himself.  He says
ויתכן דאף דגר צריך להביא קרבן עולת העוף זה דוקא בלא עשה פסח אבל עשה פסח עם הצבור סגי בלא קרבן והוא כאזרח הארץ ותו אינו צריך להביא את קרבנו ואוכל אח"כ בקדשים כמו שישראל אכלו פסח בלא קרבן ולכן אמר שמות יב מח וכי יגור אתך גר ועשה פסח לה' המול לו כל זכר ואז יקרב לעשותו והיה כאזרח הארץ פירוש שמעתה יהיה ככל כשרי ישראל לכל הלכותיו בלא קרבן ואם כי זה חדש ולא נזכר כלל רק כן משמע ממשנה סוף פרק האשה דערל גוי טובל ואוכל פסחו לערב ולא נזכר קרבן כלל יעיין מה שכתבתי בספר אור שמח בזה 

But my friend (not the one in the first paragraph,) Harav Shimon Kalman Goldstein Shlitah, showed me that Rashi later there, in 9:14, on the passuk 
וכי יגור אתכם גר ועשה פסח ליהוה כחקת הפסח וכמשפטו כן יעשה חקה אחת יהיה לכם ולגר ולאזרח הארץ
brings from the Sifrei as follows:
וכי יגור אתכם גר ועשה פסח: יכול כל המתגייר יעשה פסח מיד, תלמוד לומר חקה אחת וגו', אלא כך משמעו, וכי יגור אתכם גר ובא עת לעשות פסח עם חביריו כחקה וכמשפט יעשה:
The Sifrei says very clearly that without a passuk, we would think that every Ger should bring a personal Korban Pesach after he's misgayer.  Evidently, the Korban Pesach was the korban geirus of Klal Yisrael, and we would think that individuals should bring it after their geirus, so the passuk tells us no, regular Geirim only bring the Pesach on the fourteenth, like the rest of us.  In any case, it's clear that the Korban Pesach can be a Korban of Geirus, and that it functioned in that capacity in Mitzrayim. When it says Mishchu u'kechu, and the Mechilta in 20 says it means mishchu from Avoda Zara through dam pesach and dam milah, that is because those are elements of Geirus. 
And no, Kuperman does not bring the Sifrei.


  1. >>>I love the idea that it's not lifnei iver by causing him to be mevateil an assir if I am being machshil him for my own need to be mekayeim a mitzvah. To me, it sounds like a variation on "Business is Business."

    I think you have a similar idea by lo tachmod, where achronim say there is no issur in coercing someone to sell you his nicer esrog or other mitzvah object because it's not for your enjoyment, it's for the good of your soul. Sounds like the same sevara here -- mitzvos are in a different category than regular business deals.

  2. You're 100% right. That is the Shaarei Teshuva the Maharsham cites at the end. BUT I think there is a tremendous difference. The sources cited by the Shaarei Teshuva legitimize duplicity where you are competing for a mitzvah. The Maharsham is saying that even where your act will result in the other guy being over an issur, there is no lifnei iver problem.