Monday, June 30, 2008

Sotah 38a - Rules of Birkas Kohanim

Based on the gemara 38a, the Shulchan Aruch (128:14) paskens that one can only do birkas kohanim in loshon hakodesh, standing, raising his hands, and with a medium level voice. The M.B. also says that it must be panim k'neged panim and that most poskim say that all these things are l'ikuva and m'akeiv even b'dieved. Furthermore, the Mishna Berura writes that by all these details, if the kohen is unable to do these things even though he is an o'nes i.e. too weak to stand, unable to lift his hands, can't raise his voice, he cannot to birkas kohanim.
Rashi seems to contradict this approach. The gemara says 38b that those who are out in the fields b'ones i.e. busy with work (rashi) and cannot come to the shul for birkas kohanim are included in the bracha. Rashi (d.h. d'lo) explains that those who are present in the shul and make it obvious that the bracha is not important enough for them to come in front and face the kohanim to be "panim k'neged panim" are not included in the bracha because we require "panim k'neged panim" [Biur Halacha (128:24) writes that included in this will be people who are in their homes and opt not to come to shul are also showing that the bracha is not important to them and therefore are excluded from it. He is medayek this from rashi who describes those who aren't o'nes to be "those in shul behind the kohanim" implying that if they aren't in shul even if they are in front of the kohanim they are also not included]. Clearly, rashi indicates that the din of panim k'neged panim which is d'oraysa like all the other things mentioned, only applies when the people are making a concious decision to violate the halacha, but in a situation of o'nes such as the am sh'bsados, the bracha will be effective even though we are not fulfilling the principle of panim k'neged panim. Similarly, rashi should say that by all the other details as well, if the kohein is an o'nes and cannot do them, we will allow him to duchan anyway?
A possible distinction would be that even in a case of o'nes the kohein is not allowed to violate the any of the halachos and therefore does not duchan. But as far as the chalos of the bracha, it is chal on those who are absent due to o'nes. However, this doesn't seem to be sufficient because the gemara says that if the entire shul were kohanim they would all go up to duchan (if there isn't a minyan that remains) and the bracha is chal on the am sh'bsados. How can they lichatchila go up to duchan, it is a violation of "panim k'neged panim"? We obviously see that in a case of o'nes we allow the kohein to duchan l'chachila even though he will not fulfill panim k'neged panim. So too we should allow a kohein who cannot duchan in loshon hakodesh, or cannot lift his hands, or cannot stand or cannot talk in a loud voice to duchan since it is a case of o'nes?!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sotah 34b - Yehoshua vs. Kaleiv

Why did Moshe Rabbeinu daven for Yehoshua, and leave Kaleiv on his own to fend for himself? The Chofetz Chaim (on the Torah) explains that Moshe realized that Yehoshua and Kaleiv had opposite approaches. Yehoshua's approach was to fight for what he beleived in, and not even for a second give the impression that he agrees with the meraglim. Kaleiv's approach was logistical tactics that would be most effective in winning the litigation, which involved giving the impression that he agrees until the ideal opportunity presents itself to express his true feelings. Moshe Rabbeinu was concerned that with Yehoshua's antagonistic method, his life was endangered because the mergalim may try to harm him, therefore he davened fro him. Kaleiv on the other hand pretended to be on their side until they returned. As Rashi writes on the pasuk - ועבדי כלב עקב היתה רוח אחרת עמו, his heart did not match his mouth; he pretended to agree with the meraglim until the opportune time to quiet them down. However, when they began conceiving their hideous plans, Kaleiv was concerned they by pretending to agree with them he may actually become influenced and felt it was necessary to protect himself by going to chevron to beseech the avos to protect his convictions.
I would like to add to this approach and explain why each one chose the tactic that they did. The major tactic that Kaleiv used is to pretend that he was also against Moshe, as we see in the gemara 35a - אמר להן, וכי זו בלבד עשה לנו בן עמרם, סברי בגנותיה קא משתעי, אשתיקו, אמר להו הוציאנו ממצרים וקרע לנו את הים והאכילנו את המן וכו
Yehoshua was unable to stomach such a tactic because Yehoshua could not tolerate any denigration of Moshe as we see when eldad and meidad were saying nevuah -
ויען יהושע בן נון משרת משה מבחריו ויאמר, "אדני משה כלאם"- פרק יא פסוק כח
The Meshech Chochma explains that Kaleiv's not only used this as a tactic but truly believed that the success of klal yisroel is mutually exclusive from Moshe Rabbeinu. The Pasuk says:
ויהס כלב את העם אל משה, ויאמר עלה נעלה וירשנו אותה כי יכול נוכל לה
What does it mean - "אל משה"? It means that he was downplaying Moshe's role. Part of the meraglim's claim is that without Moshe leading them into Eretz Yisroel they won't be able to conquer it, to which kaleiv responds, "We don't need moshe, we can go up and succeed with or without Moshe". Basically, Kaleiv's whole approach was based on his ability to give the impression that he was against Moshe, and actually downplaying the need for Moshe. Yehoshua, as an absolute talmud muvhak of Moshe could not take any approach that would degrade Moshe at all, and was therefore forced to use the antagonistic tactic of fighting with the meraglim directly. Moshe realized this and therefore only davened for Yehoshua and not Kaleiv.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Sotah 33a - Davening in Languages other than Loshon Hakodesh

The gemara says that one may daven in any language because tefilla is rachamim, as rashi explains that it is appropriate to daven in whatever language one is able to concentrate on best. However, the gemara qualifies this to be only when one davens with a minyan, but when one davens privately and requires intervention from the mal'achim then they can only daven in Hebrew. This is based on those Rishonim (see maharsha in chidushei agados and Taz Y.D. 338:4) that all languages are like aramaic, but according to thos rishonim who hold that the issue is specific to aramaic, then even an individual can daven in any language. The Shulchan Aruch (101:4) at first says that a yachid must daven in loshon hakodesh, but then brings those who say that any established tefillah such as shemoneh esrei can be said in other languages even by a yachid. Furthermore, he cites those rishonim who limit the concern to aramaic, but other languages can be used even by a yachid. The Biur Halacha (101:4) cites advantages to the hebrew language, but acknowledges that if one davens [in a tzibur where there one is technically allowed to daven in other languages] in a language they understand for the purpose of having better kavana, it is commendable [as rashi seems to imply].
The Mishna Berura (101:13) quotes from the chasam sofer that the heter to daven in other languages is only temporarily, but it is forbidden to establish the tefillah in other languages (even and especially b'tzibur). The M.B. references the sefer habris where many gedolim wrote teshuvos bashing the movements that formally changed the language of tefillah from loshon hakodesh. He also bashes them for omitting the brachos for yerushalaim and the kibutz galiyos, and concludes (his language paraphrases the chasam sofer (C.M. 193 last paragraph) -
"וכשם שרוצים להשכיח זכרון ירושלים כן רוצים להשכיח לשון הקודש מישראל, פן יגאלו בזכות שלא שינו את לשונם, הקב"ה ישמרנו מדעות אפיקורסות כאלו". The Chasam Sofer (C.M. 192) has a teshuva to his father in law, R' akiva eiger, explaining that the tefillah was originally instituted in loshon hakodesh even at a time where most jews where not familiar with the language, therefore it denigrates Hashem to change it -
"ואם אנשים וקטנים אינם מבינים יטריחו להבינם וללמדם לשון הקודש שאפילו לשונות הגויים לומדם, ואיך לא ינהוג כבוד זה לה' אלקינו".
But, the most powerful statement is made by the Tiferes Yisroel (Boaz). He is bothered by why the Rabbonim even bothered to deal with this issue from a halachic perspective whether you can or cannot daven in other languages. The rationale is simple:
כיון שרוב חכמי ישראל שהן הן עמודי התורה חוששים שעל ידי זה יפול כבוד קדושת הישנות, אשר בכללם שמירתנו החוקים הישנים הנושנים, אפילו יהא חששתם עוד כ"כ רחוקה וחלשה, צותה התורה בלאו ד"לא תסור" לשמוע בקולם...ולא תהא המשנה הקדושה גדולה מפסוק שלם, ואפילו היה מצוה שלימה מפורשת בתורה להתפלל בלשון אשכנז יש כח ביד חכמי הדור לפי אומד דעתם לפי הזמן לעקור דבר מה"ת בשב וא"ת כשעושין כן למגדר מלתא, ואפילו היו החולקים עלינו בזה תלמידי חכמים וצדיקים, הלכה כרבים, ולכן כל המשנה ידו על התחתונה

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sotah 32a - 4 points on Tosafos regarding Understanding what you are saying

1. The mishna lists certain things that can be said in any language and others that we insist on loshon hakodesh. Tosafos asks why we leave out Hallel, kiddush, and brachos from the list. Tosafos answers that the mishna only lists things that can be said in a language that one understands, but these 3 things can be said even in a language that one does not understand.

It seems that Rashi avoids Tosafos question differently. Rashi writes that there is a hava amina that parshas sotah would need to be said in loshon hakodesh because we may learn from chalitzah (rashi implies that for viduy ma'aser there is also a hava amina of loshon hakodesh). Apparently rashi understands that the mishna does not intend to give a exhaustive list, rather only picks on items where there is a chiddush that they can be said in all languages. Therefore, hallel, kiddush and brachos aren't listed since it is pashut that they can be said in all languages.

Perhaps Rashi and Tosafos go lishatasam. Tosafos Shantz (33a) [see also tosafos brachos 13a] explains that the hava amina that we would require loshon hakodesh for everything is the idea thatכל התורה כולה בלשון הקדש נאמרה and without a specific list of exceptions, i would have assumed that everything needs loshon hakodesh. Tosafos would apply this principal to literally everything, and therefore there would be a hava amina that hallel and kiddush require loshon hakodesh. That is why Tosafos asks that the mishna should list hallel and kiddush also, since there is a chiddush that they can be said in any language. However, Rashi goes lishitaso that the statement כל התורה כולה בלשון הקודש נאמרה is limited to Torah readings in a shul and therefore has to come up with specific rationale to explain why there is a hava amina that the items in the mishna would require loshon hakodesh, but hallel, kiddush and brachos are poshut that they don't need loshon hakodesh so they are not even listed in the mishna.

2. Pri Megadim (psicha kolleles, Tefilla) points to a machlokes whether tefillah can be accomplished through hirhur, without speaking. With this possibility he answers the question as to why we don't make a birchas hamitzvah on tefillah, since it can be achieved without speech similar to bitul chametz that we don't make a bracha on devorim sh'bleiv (rather we make a bracha on the biur). Our mishna that lists tefillah as something which can be fulfilled in any language implies that without speech one cannot be yotzeh, because if hirhur would be enough then it is obvious that there isn't any kepeida on loshon hakodesh.

3. Pri Megadim (Psicha kolleles, ch. 3:6) writes that Tosafos holds that the items listed in the mishna one has to understand their meaning even if they are reading in loshon hakodesh [to the exclusion of the mishna berura (62) who writes that when done in loshon hakodesh one does not have to understand what he is saying]. This is clear from Tosafos when they write that megilla is not listed in the mishna because one can be yotzei in "ashuris" without understanding, which implies that everything else listed in the mishna one must understand even if it is written in loshon hakodesh. Based on this, he asks what is the kavana needed specifically by the first pasuk of shema, since one must understand what they are saying for the entire shema. Pri Megadim answers that for the list in the mishna of things that can be said in any language, one must understand that language, even if is being read in hebrew because it only qualifies as a "language" for them if they understand it. But, they are not required to concentrate on the meaning as they are reading it, whereas for the first pasuk of shema one must concentrate on the meaning as he is reading it.
Aside from having to understand what is being said the Biur Halacha writes that one can only read in other languages when that is the spoken language of the country, but it is not sufficient if just a small group of people speak that language.

4. Pri Megadim (P.K. 3:7) offers a simple answer to Tosafos question. The mishna only lists d'oraysa mitzvos, and therefore doesn't list Hallel, kiddush on a cup (based on tosafos shita in pesachim) and brachos and even megillah which are only d'rabonon. Therefore, the pri megadim argues on the magen avrohom (62) who brings Tosafos l'halacha that for the hallel, kiddush, brachos one does not have to understans, since if we answer tosafos question simply by saying that the mishna leaves out d'rabonons then we are not forced to be mechadesh tosafos answer. Therefore it is possible that even in loshon hakodesh, one cannot be yoztei hallel, kiddush and brachos without understanding what they are saying. Based on this it works out better that there is no distinction between brachos and birchas hamazon, that birchas hamazon you need to understand and brachos you don't need to understand, rather כעין דאורייתא תקנו that even brachos must be understood.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Sotah 31a - Serving Hashem out of "love"

The statement of the gemara "מה ירא אלקים האמור באברהם מאהבה וכו", always bothered me. If Avrohom truly achieved a level of ahavas Hashem through the akeida then why does the pasuk say that "עתה ידעתי כי ירא אלקים אתה"?
What is the difference between ahava and yirah (we are not referring to fear of punishment rather awe of Hashem as rashi explains)? It seems that Tosafos tries to illustrate this idea by quoting the Yerushalmi of R' Akiva. יראה is apparent by one's actions, but אהבה cannot be shown by once actions only by their attitude. A ירא would act the same as an אוהב when faced with any challenge, whether it is the challenge of shechting his son, or giving his life for קבלת עול מלכות שמים like R' akiva. The difference is that one who only achieves יראה would rather have not been in the situation to begin with. But one who achieves אהבה is eager to be in a situation where they can demonstrate their commitment. R' Akiva's actions to give up his life does not demonstrate אהבה, but his attitude of smiling indicating that he was eager to be faced with the challenge truly demonstrates his אהבה.
The Meshech Chomchma points out on the pasuk "עתה ידעתי כי ירא אלקים אתה ולא חשכת את בנך את יחידך ממני", the pasuk conspicuously leaves out the term "אשר אהבת", why? He answers that the mal'achim don't know inner thoughts of a person -
ואהבה היא מכוחות הנפש הנסתרים מהנבראים זולת הבורא יתברך
Meaning, אהבה can never be determined by a persons actions, it is a reflection of attitude. That is why the angel that calls to Avrohom cannot conclude from Avrohom's actions that he is a אוהב, it can only conclude from his actions that he is a ירא אלקים. But the pasuk that refers to Avrohom as "זרע אברהם אוהבי" indicates that Avrohom's actions were controlled by an attitude of ahava. That is why the gemara considers both one who serves out of ahava and one who serves out of yir'ah, to be tzadikim gemurim, but their reward reflects their attitude.

Sotah 30b - Removing the Challah at the moment of krias hashem

Rashi on the top of 30b explains that the "פחות מכביצה" of dough that attaches the tamei dough with the tahor dough is removed immediately with the krias Hashem. Presumably, rashi is writing this to explain why the tahor dough is considered chulin and not teruma, since it will be turning into challah during the process. However, at this point rashi is explaining the braisa of where the dough attaching is less that a beitza and is therefore too small to be metamei anything else, so why would it have to be removed at the time of krias hashem? Is rashi just saying this to explain the braisa that says the attaching dough is a beitzah, in which case it would clearly have to be removed at the time of krias hashem so that it is not metamei the tahor dough that was just turned into challah? Rashi himself (d.h. mai lav) says that the advantage of using less than a beitzah is that you won't have to be so careful to break that attachment at the time of krias hashem.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Sotah 28a - husband being 'clean' from sin

The gemara darshens that the sota waters effectively check the wife only if the husband is clean from sin. rashi explains that it only works if the husband didn't have relations with her after stira. r' shlomo eiger points out that rashi on 47b seems to contradict himself because there he explains like the rambam that aside from being clean from bi'as issur with his wife, he must be clean from all bi'as issur, even from other women who are assur to him for the sota water to work.
i would like to suggest that the gemara actually makes 2 seperate drashos (using the same language). on 28a the gemara is saying that even at times when klal yisroel is zocheh to sota waters checking, it only works if the husband didn't have bi'ah with her aftr she became assur. BUT the gemara 47b is saying like the ramban explains in chumash that klal yisroel are only zocheh to the process of the sotah waters when they are on a high level of shemiras hamitzvos; to the exclusion of a time in history where immoral behavior becomes the norm. therefore, on 47b rashi explains that when husbands in general became involved in znus with either his wife who is assur or any other woman who is assur, the sotah waters stoppe working altogether.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

sotah 26a - sotah waters and zechus for children

The tosfos shantz 25a is mechadesh that 'stira' can be achieved even without an issur yichud. For example if he goes into a private area that has a door open to reshus harabim, and also having her husband present in the city qualifies as stira but it is not yichud. Similarly, rambam writes that stira with 2 men at the same time and even with relatives that yichud is permitted with would qualify as stira.
i have a very strong proof that yichud can be accomplished without an issur yichud. According to r' yishmael that if she is found to be tahor by the water she will be zocheh to children, the gemara says in brachos31b that chana threatened hashem that if she doesn't have a child she will behave in a way where elkana will give her kinuy and she will have stira, drink the water and be found innocent to be zocheh to the bracha. ho could a tzadekes like ghana put herself in a situation where sheould violate an issur yichud. Clearly, it must be possible to accomplish stira without an issur yichud and that is what chana was threatening to do.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Sotah 25a - Consent to Kinuy and Mechila

The gemara questions whether a husband has the right to keep a wife who is "עוברת על דת" and tries to prove it from the mishna that says when the husband is unable to do kinuy the beis din will to it for him. Now, if the husband has the prerogative to keep her even if she is acting improperly then how can the beis din determine that he would want to do kinuy and act as his agent, maybe he would be willing to keep her. Rashi explains that the question of the gemara is based on the concept of אין חבין לאדם שלא בפניו and he may not want the kinuy. To that the gemara says that since most people want it we assume it is a zechus.
The next gemara questions whether a husband can be mochel on his kinuy. The gemara tries to prove it from the same case in the mishna where the beis din will do kinuy for the husband when he is unable to do it. If the husband has the right to be mochel, how can the beis din give kinuy in his absence since he may not want the kinuy at all. At this point rashi cannot explain as he did earlier that the question of the gemara is based on the concept of אין חבין לאדם שלא בפניו because the logic would be exactly the opposite. Meaning, since the husband has the ability to be mochel the kinuy, the beis din should be able to serve as his agent since it is an absolute zechus because if later he comes and decides that the didn't want it he can be mochel at that point. Therefore, rashi assumes that the issur is not chov or zechus, rather the issue is that it will be degrading to the beis din if they do a kinuy today and tomorrow the ba'al shows up and is mochel on the kinuy. Therefore, if he has the option to be mochel they should never have the right to give the kinuy in the first place. To this the gemara answers that it is highly unlikely that he will be mochel since he will rely on the beis din.
The question is: The question of the gemara which according to rashi is based on זילותא דבי דינא assumes that we insist on the beis din to do the kinuy (which is the implication of the mishna) and do not let a private person do the kinuy. Why? Since kinuy is dependent on the concept of זכין לאדם שלא בפניו as indicated by rashi, why would a beis din have to do it? Shouldn't a friend of the husband also be able to serve as the agent to give kinuy to his wife? Perhaps we only consider it a zechus if the beis din properly asseses the situation to be one where a stam person would want to do a kinuy, and only after that assessment is it considered to be a zechus for the husband. But if the assessment is made by just a friend of the husband, it will not be considered a zechus and he therefore cannot serve as his agent.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Sotah 24a - Mitzvah to drink

Often the mishna sneaks a chalutzah in the context of gerusha, without differentiation, almost hiding the fact that chalutzah is only passul to a kohen m'drabonon. Here too, a chalutzah married to a kohen is listed as a woman who cannot drink. The Tosafos Yom Tov explains that although there is a d'oraysa chiyuv to give her to drink, the Rabbonon were "oker davar min hatora" since it is a passive uprooting and they have the power to do that as the gemara explains in the 10th perek of yevamos. The Rashash voices a strong opinion arguing on the Tosafos Yom Tov, and explains that it is not necessary to use the concept of oker davar min hatorah here since the Torah does not obligate the husband or the beis din to give her to drink. The rashash writes:
דאין זה מצוה חיובית אלא דהתורה חדשה לנו תקנה להיותה מותרת לבעלה ע"י שתייה אם תנקה, לכן אם אינן חפצין בתקנה שומעין לה
Since there isn't any obligation to give her to drink, it is not considered uprooting a d'oraysa when the chachamim say that a chalutzah doesn't drink.
Perhaps the approach of the Rashash can be used to answer another question. Many meforshim (Maharatz chiyus, malei haroim, mitzpeh eisan) ask how the mishna can list a pregnant or nursing woman who violated the rabbinic institution not to marry until the child is 2 as one of the woman who doesn't drink. This seems to assume that the Torah recognizes issurei d'rabonon as people who are not allowed to be married to their husbands and therefore do not drink. This should be dependent on a machlokes R' Yehuda and R' Meir in Succah 23a, whether a succah on an animal is kosher since m'drabonon it cannot be used on yom tov, it is a succah that is unfit for all 7 days. R' Meir holds that since it is only unfit for use m'drabonon, but m'doraysa it is fit for 7 days, therefore it qualifies as a kosher succah. Here too R' Meir should hold that since m'dorasya this pregnant or nursing woman can be married to her husband, she should be able to drink.
Based on the Rashash, the question doesn't even begin. There is no mitzvah obligation to give her to drink, rather it is a right that the husband has. Including the pregnant and nursing woman in those who don't drink doesn't imply that the torah recognizes the prohibition, because there is not obligation to drink. Rather, under the circumstances where the rabbonon don't permit the marriage we consider her m'drabonon unfit to drink and therefore revoke this privilege and take it away from the husband.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sotah 20a - Forcing her to drink

The Mishna says that after the name has been erased we force her to drink. Rashi writes (based on the gemara 19b) that the reason we force her is because we assume that she is really innocent and nervous that the waters will kill her anyway. The Rambam also implies this because immediately after the Rambam writes that we force he to drink, he continues by writing that we explain to her that if she is truly innocent the waters will not effect her at all.
However, Tosafos quotes from the Yerushalmi why we force her to drink:
למה? שגרמה לשם שימחק
What does this mean? A. By drinking the water it will retroactively fix the issur of erasing Hashem's name in vain [we already showed from rashi 7b that he rejects this idea). B. We punish her by forcing her to drink for causing us to erase the name of Hashem (if this is true then we should even force her to drink if she admits her guilt). C. Tosafos just brought a Braisa in the yerushalmi that the water has kedusha, presumably because the name of Hashem has been erased into it. Therefore if she refuses to drink we will have to spill out the "holy water", therefore we force her to drink to prevent having to spill out the water.
Tosafos also quotes from the Yerushalmi a machlokes between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel regarding how much of the megilla (specifically the name of Hashem) has to be erased. Both seem to understand that they don't have to erase the entire megillah. However, the Minchas Chinuch points out that the Rambam (sotah 4:10) who says:
נשאר במגילה רושם כתב ניכר פסולה עד שימחוק יפה יפה
implies that the entire megilla must be erased in the waters. The gemara which implies that we need the entire parsha of Sotah to be written without kankantum so that it is erasable, implies like the Rambam because otherwise their should only be a concern for a few letters of the parsha not containing kankantum.

Sotah 19a - Touching for the Tenufa

The mishna and gemara imply that the kohen and woman touch each others hands while waving the korban mincha. Tosafos quotes from the Yerushalmi "ואין הדבר כיעור"? At first the yerushalmi tries to suggest using a cloth to seperate from direct physical contact, but then says that it would be a chatzitza problem, so the yerushalmi concludes: ואפילו תימא כהן ילד, שאין יצר הרע מצויה לשעה. The Yerushalmi seems to imply that this type of touching even by an erva such as an eishes ish would not be d'oraysa. If this type of touching would be d'oraysa it would seem odd for the yerushalmi to suggest that it was done by an elderly kohen - would we make such distinctions between a young and older kohen if it were d'oraysa!
This would support the approach of the Shach. There is a Machlokes Rambam and Ramban whether touching including chibuk v'nishuk would be an issur d'oraysa. The Rambam holds that it is d'oraysa (Shulchan Aruch even haezer 20) paskens like the Rambam. But the Ramban holds that it is only d'rabonon. There is a machlokes between the Shach (y.d. 195:20) and the Beis Shmuel (E.H. 20:1) whether the Rambam holds it to be an issur d'oraysa only when it is derech chibas biah, meaning an intimate type of touch (Shach) or even a casual touch (Beis Shmuel). Based on the Shach's understanding that all would agree that if it is merely a casual touch it would only be assur m'drabonon, he permits jewish male doctors to treat female patients even if she is a nida or eishes ish, since it is an issur d'rabonon b'makom choleh. The Yerushalmi seems to support the approach of the shach, that it is only an issur d'rabonon, therefore the yerushalmi only questions this from a "ki'ur" perspective, rather than asking that it is an issur.
However, even the Shach should only allow touching for the sake of a choleh {this itself seems to be a machlokes whether we are matir all isurei d'rabonon for a choleh sh'ein bo sakana. The Mishna l'melech (yesodei hatorah 5:6) quotes a radvaz that we are matir all isurei d'rabonon just as we are matir bishul akum, but the mishneh l'melech himself quotes a teshuvos harashaba who disagrees}. But, how can a doctor touch an eishes is for a routine checkup where the patient would not have a status of choleh at all? Perhaps we can prove from the yerushalmi that to remove an issur d'rabonon of touching a "mapeh" would be sufficient. Therefore, if the doctor were to wear gloves which is somewhat routine, it would be mutar.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Sotah 14b - To drink or not to drink

The gemara concludes that we make her hold on to the korban mincha to tire her out so that she will be more likely to admit her guilt and not bring the korban mincha so that she will not be killed by the sotah waters. This implies that even after the name of Hashem is erased we try to get her to admit rather than to follow through with the process. Tosafos asks that the gemara on 7b indicates that once the name of Hashem has been erased, we try to get her to drink and no longer attempt to deter her or to sabotage the process? Tosafos answers that it must be a machlokes.
According to rashi's explanation on 7b the question of Tosafos is answered. Rashi indicates that even after the name of Hashem is erased we would theoretically continue convincing her not to drink, but we can no longer use scare tactics because we are concerned that she will be afraid to drink even if she is innocent and remain assur to her husband forever unnecessarily. But, the gemara here is speaking after she already drank and is saying that we would still try to convince her to admit her guilt rather than to drink the water and be killed. At this point there is no longer a concern that she will remain assur forever even if she is innocent because she has already done the scary part which is the drinking. Unless she would admit her guilt the process would continue and verify her innocence, and we therefore try to get her to admit her guilt if she is in fact guilty rather than be killed by the waters.
Tosafos who considers this to be a question must have understood the gemara on 7b that after the name of Hashem is erased we want the process to follow through (perhaps because it would be a tikkun for the erasing if it was not done completely in vain). Therefore Tosafos understands that the gemara here which implies that we try to stop the process even after the name has been erased (and she already drank) contradicts the gemara on 7b.

Sotah 13a

The gemara says that Miriam said a nevuah predicting Moshe's birth, but when he was put in a basket and placed in the river they thought it was all over so Amram gave her a slap on the face saying "what happened to your nevuah?". Why such an aggressive response?
Perhaps this can be explained based in a principal of the Rambam that the meshech chochma uses often to explain various pesukim. The Rambam writes that when a navi says a positive nevuah, it will be fulfilled even if the jews do aveiros (because otherwise it will be impossible to test to determine if a navi is a navi emes or navi sheker), but a negative nevuah can alway change with teshuva. Amram thought that when moshe was being thrown in, he would not survive. Since a positive nevuah cannot change, this would indicate that miriam was a neviah sheker. The aggressive response was because moshe being placed in the river indicated retroactively that what miriam was claiming to say b'navuah was not navuah at all and therefore indicated that she was a neviah sheker.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Sotah 12a - Gezerios of Pharoh to Throw in River

The Pesukim imply that there were 2 stages of decrees. The first was to the מילדות that they should kill the Jewish boys immediately as they are being born (abortion as i explained yesterday). The second was כל הבן הילוד היאורה תשליכוהו - that the boys are to be thrown into the river. However, the gemara says there were actually 3 stages of gezeiros:
1. The midwives should abort the boys.
2. The boys should be thrown into the river [rashi 12a seems to explain that the difference between #1 and #2 is that for the first there weren't any guards set up to enforce and for the second there were guards to enforce, but i am not sure why he doesn't simply explain that the first was to abort and the second was to throw in the river?].
3. He extended the gezeira to include even egyptian boys.
There seems to be a contradiction between the gemara 11a and 12b as to why Pharoh chose water as the method to anihilate the boys. On 11a the gemara says the reason is that they assumed Hashem would punish them מדה כנגד מדה (as we see in the end that they were in fact punished by water) and by using water they would be safe since Hashem promised not to bring a mabul (this was also their justification to enter the sea even though they clearly recognized that it split as a miracle for the jews). Yet on 12b the gemara says that there was a prediction from the future tellers that the savior of yisroel will be hurt by water, so Pharoh decreed that the children should be thrown into water as an attempt to kill their savior. Which one is it?
Moshe was born on Adar 7 (according to the second answer of the gemara it was adar rishon). Rashi (12a d.h. ul'basof) explains that on that day Pharoh's future tellers notified him of the birth and Pharoh responded by making the 3rd gezeira to throw even the egyptian children in the sea (which lasted for 3 months until 6th of sivan when he placed in the sea in a basket, and on that day Pharoh was comforted that he was killed so the gezeira was nullified).
Tosafos asks, how does the gemara say that moshe took credit for the fact that all those born after him were alive since he was the cause for the gezeira to stop; he was also the cause for the gezeira to exist in the first place!? Tosafos answers that gezeira #1 for the midwives to kill the boys was not attributed to moshe, rather attributed to the concern of the Jews overpowering the egyptians. Therefore, moshe was the first baby placed in the river (since the gezeira began at the time of his birth) and he can therefore take credit for the ending of the gezeira. The Maharsha asks on Tosafos that Moshe was certainly not the first baby thrown into the sea. If Tosafos is correct then no jews would have been thrown in the sea, yet many midrashim imply that they were (also, since gezeira #3 began on moshe's birth and lasted 3 months until moshe was placed in the sea, there were certainly many babies thrown in over the 3 months. But perhaps there were no babies thrown in for those 3 months, because everyone divorced their wives when amram did, moshe was born 6 months after amram took her back because she was 3 months pregnant, so no jewish babies would have been born until the day moshe was put in the sea which is 9 months from when they would have followed amram's lead and remarried their wives). Furthermore, although the 3rd gezeira to throw even the egyptian babies into the sea occurred when moshe was born, the 2nd gezeira to throw the Jewish boys into the sea preceded Moshe's birth.
The Maharsha explains that the 1st and 2nd gezeira both preceded Moshe's birth and were implemented out of concern that of הבה נתכחמה לו...פן ירבה...ועלה מן הארץ, only the 3rd gezeira was implemented because of Moshe. Once Moshe was thrown into the river and Pharoh thought that the leader was killed, he was mevatel all the gezeiros.
Now, the rationale for the choice of using water for gezeira #2 which preceeded the knowledge of Moshe being born, could not be because of Moshe. That is why the gemara on 11a attributes it to the fact that they determined that it was a good method to avoid being punished since Hashem would not bring another mabul. But, when it came to the "prophecy" that the savior was born and that he will be hurt by water, Pharoh extended the gezeira to the egyptian boys as well and insisted on water as the gemara 12 b explains since they knew Moshe would be hurt by water (which was true and fulfilled by mei meriva).
However, Rashi in chumash definitely doesn't prescribe to this approach because Rashi explains that even gezeira #1 when the midwives were told to kill the boys was because Pharoh already knew that Moshe would be born to save them.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Sotah 11b - Shifra and Puah

Maharal (Gur Aryeh) asks why does the Torah refer to yocheved and miriyam as shifra and puah rather than referring to them by their actual names? He explains that prior to the birth of moshe the torah did not want to give any recognition to his family members, especially his parents, because that would indicate that Moshe's parents were responsible for who he was. Although normally that is the case, that the zechuyos and contributions of the parents form the child and without these specific parents the child will not exist, by Moshe this was not the case, his existence was not dependent on amram and yocheved as his parents. Moshe was already set and destined from the six days of creation to lead the Jews out of mitzrayim. That is why the torah doesn't even mention amram and yocheved when describing moshe's birth.
The Chasam Sofer (Torah Moshe, but i added a lot to his yesod) explains that Pharoh specifically requested of the Jewish women to murder the children, rather than asking the non-jewish midwives because he realized that the Jewish woman are not chayev misah for abortion, whereas the non-jewish woman are chayev misah for abortion. Pharoh wanted them to use the siman of "avnayim" to determine when the labor will begin so that they can be present and then use the siman of which way the child is facing to determine if it is a boy or a girl as the gemara explains, and to abort all the boys before the head comes out while it still has a status of an "u'bar". Pharoh's logic in why they would listen is because normally one is not allowed to commit murder to save their life because "מי יימר דדמא דידך סומק טפי דלמא דמא דהאי גברא סומק טפי", but this would only apply to a murder of a "life". For the goyim even the fetus has the status of "life" since they are chayev misah on abortion, and the sevara of מי יימר וכו would apply equally to murder and abortion. But for the Jewish women the fetus was not considered a full "life" since they are not chayev misah for abortion, therefore they should be able to determine that their lives are more precious than that of the child and abort the fetus to fulfill the command of the king and save their own lives. However, when confronted by Pharoh for not following through with this partial birth abortion, their claim was that by the time the arrived the fetus was fully born כי חיות הנה and they were not allowed to kill a born child even if it would cost them their own lives.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Sotah 10b - Feeding people without a Bracha

The gemara says that Avrohom would feed his guests and then explain to them that the food is not his own, but rather from Hashem and that would convince them to make Brachos. Tosafos Shantz quotes the midrash: שלא רצו לברך ברצונם עד שאמר להם אברהם פרעו מה שאכלתם ושתיתם, והיה אומר להם שהוא עולה למנין גדול כי היו במדבר והיה טורח גדול להביא שם המאכל והמשתה, וכשראו כך כי היה רוצה אברהם שיפרעו הכל אז ברכו הקב"ה שלא ברצונם על מנת של איפרעו שום דבר
Basically, through some religious coercion Avrohom managed to get them to make brachos.
The Rama writes in hilchos netilas yadayim (163:2) that one is not allowed to give food to a guest who did not wash netilas yasayim because of lifnei iver. However, the shulchan aruch (169:2) writes that one is not allowed to give food to guests that he knows will not make a bracha [although the shulchan aruch's language implies that you must know they will definitely make a bracha, the biur halacha explains that you can give as long as they are muchzak as kasher and will likely make a bracha). The Rama argues and says that some are lenient if it is being given as tzedaka even if he won't make a bracha. There seems to be a contradiction in the Rama whether one can provide food for poor guests, by netilas yadayim he is machmir [because he doesn't make an exception for tzedaka] and by bracha he is meikil. The Mishna Berura quoting pri megadim seems to understand that if we are sure that he will not make a bracha, as we are sure that he did not wash his hands, you would not be allowed to give him. Based on this, there isn't any distinction between washing hands and making a bracha, rather so long as we are sure that he will not make a bracha, you cannot give him food.
So, how did Avrohom avinu give them food? Although they made a bracha achrona, they ate without a bracha rishona? Of course this question can be answered simply that a bracha rishona was not yet instituted as a chiyuv besides the fact that his guests were not jews, but birchas hamazon is a basic way of recognizing Hashem, so avrohom avinu was makpid about it. A slightly more halachic approach would be that bracha rishona is only d'rabonon so it is lifnei iver on a d'rabonon which perhaps avrohom wasn't machmir about, whereas birchas hamazon is lifnei iver on a d'oraysa.
R' Moshe (Igros Moshe, O.C. 5:13:6) asks what is one supposed to do when they want to feed an apikores. R' Moshe explains elsewhere (O.C. 2:50) that the bracha of an apikores is not regarded as a bracha at all, just as we burn the sefer torah of an apikores without worrying about erasing the names of Hashem since his writing or pronouncing Hashem's name is not sanctified with kedushas Hashem. How then can we give an apikores food, since even if he makes a bracha it will not be regarded as a bracha. R' Moshe explains that if he makes a bracha it is possible that he is doing it based on the instruction of the ba'al habayis and the bracha is being made to Hashem. Although he is a known kofer, we can rely that maybe he is doing teshuva at that moment (like the gemara in kiddushin 49)! Perhaps this gemara complimented by the midrash support R' Moshe's approach, because otherwise it is difficult to understand what avrohom avinu was accomplishing by coercing them to make brachos since they clearly were non-believers. However, in light of R' Moshe's approach we can assume that if we get them to make brachos that they do have the creator of the universe in mind at that moment.

Sotah 10a - Shalom: Name of Hashem

Tosafos seems to conclude that "shalom" is a name of hashem that is not allowed to be erased. The Rama (Y.D. 276:13) paskens based on this that many are careful not to write the full word of "shalom" in a letter because it will likely be thrown out and treated b'bizayon. The Shach writes that most people are not careful about this and is matir based on a teshuvos harosh. In the nekudas hakesef, the shach cites our Tosafos as the source for shalom being assur to erase. The nekudos hakesef says that although some understand tosafos to be only in the hava amina of the gemara when the gemara thinks that the name "shemesh" should also not be erased, but according to the maskana even tosafos agrees that shalom is not a name of hashem since it is not listed in maseches sofrim among the sheimos sh'einan nimchakim. The nekudos hakesef says that one who learns tosafos carefully will see that they are saying even l'maskana that shalom cannot be erased. However, other poskim assume not like tosafos and leaves tzarich iyun l'maseh. However, the pischei teshuva (28) cites a radvaz that it is only considered a name of Hashem in the context of giving shalom as we find by boaz, but in the context of referring to peace it is definitely not the name of Hashem.
Why would Shalom be the name of Hashem more than every other mida such as chanun, rachum....?
The gemara says in megilla 18a that shemoneh esrei ends with "shalom" because the bracha of Hashem is peace as it says "ה' יברך את עמו בשלום". Rashi writes in Parshas Bichukosai (26:6): שמא תאמרו הרי מאכל והרי משתה, אם אין שלום אין כלום וכו' מכאן שהשלום שקול כנגד הכל. Meaning, that since shalom is necessary for any other bracha and it is all encompassing, it becomes THE bracha of Hashem. It becomes such an integral part of Hashem that it is an attribute that describes Hashem Himself.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Sotah 9b - Shimshon and his Marriages

The gemara says that shimshon's first "kilkul" was in azza. Although his first marriage was actually to a woman from Timna, the Maharsha explains that the woman in azza was not converted, but the woman from timna was converted before he married her. Nevertheless, his parents considered it as if he were marrying a non-jewish woman (when he married the one from timna) because she originated from "zerah passul". The Maharatz chiyus claims that the Rambam already preceeded the maharsha in this explanation. However, when you look at the Rambam (Issurei Biah 13:14) he clearly seems to hold that shimshon would never have married a woman without converting her, and therefore even the woman he married from azzah was first converted. The Mahratz chiyus understands the Rambam to be saying that the woman from timnah was a jew that he married, but the woman from azza was a goy that he took derech z'nus (the rambam's assumption that shimshon would never marry a non-jewish woman, was limited to marriage but not to z'nus).
Rambam writes:
אל יעשה על דעתך ששמשון המושיע את ישראל או שלמה מלך ישראל שנקרא "ידיד ה'" נשאו נשים נכריות בגיותן, אלא סוד הדבר כך הוא, שהמצוה הנכונה כשיבא הגר או הגיורת להתגייר וכו' שכל החוזר מן העכו"ם בשביל דבר מהבלי העולם אינו מגירי הצדק, ואעפ"כ היו גרים הרבה מתגיירים בימי דוד ושלמה בפני הדיוטות והיו ב"ד הגדול חוששין להם, לא דוחין אותן אחר שטבלו מכ"מ, ולא מקריבין אותן עד שתראה אחריתם, ולפי שגייר שלמה נשים ונשאן וכן שמשון גייר ונשא, והדבר ידוע שלא חזרו אלו אלא בשביל דבר, ולא על פי ב"ד גיירום, חשבן הכתוב כאילו הן עכו"ם ובאיסורן עומדין, ועוד שהוכיח סופן על תחלתן שהן עובדות כו"ם שלהם ובנו להן במות ע"כ
The Rambam implies that both shlomo and shimshon would never have married non-jewish woman, rather they took woman who were converted not following the proper process of accepting the mitzvos and in a ad hoc beis din, rather than a formal beis din. The Rambam categorizes such conversions as "לא דוחין אותן וכו' ולא מקרבין אותן". This seems to imply that conversions without following the process of accepting mitzvos and may be happening for ulterior motives, is pending. We don't push them away nor do we fully accept them. When the Rambam writes "ועוד שהוכיח סופן על תחלתן שהן עובדות כוכבים", he seems to imply that if they choose to return to their idolatry, their conversion is void retroactively and they are therefore considered goyim.
BUT, the Rambam in the very next halacha (13:17) seems to contradict this because he writes:
גר שלא בדקו אחריו או שלא הודיעוהו המצות וכו' אפילו נודע שבשביל דבר הוא מתגייר הואיל ומל וטבל יצא מכלל העכו"ם וחוששין לו עד שיתבאר צדקותו, ואפילו חזר ועבד כוכבים הרי הוא כישראל מומר שקידושיו קידושין וכו' ולפיכך קיימו שמשון ושלמה נשותיהן ואע"פ שנגלה סודן
R' Moshe (Even Ha'ezer 4:7) points out that the Rambam in Halacha 17 clearly states that even if they were converted for the wrong reasons and the return to their idolatry, they are considered Jewish in every respect. Therefore, even the wives of shlomo and shimshon are only called goyim by the pasuk but are not actually goyim. He struggles with understanding what the Rambam means by the phrases "חוששין לו עד שיתבאר צדקתו" and "לא דוחין אותן וכו' ולא מקרבין אותן", which imply some sort of pending conversion. R' Moshe explains that the conversion is not at all pending, it is an absolute conversion. The Rambam just means to say that we don't give them the perks and special treatment that the torah instructs us to give to geirim until we determine their sincerity.
It seems to me that the Rambam means to say slightly more than what R' Moshe suggests. Although they are considered jews for everything, we are suspect that since they never properly accepted mitzvos they have the status of "yisroel mumar" and therefore are not given even privileges that a regular jew would have such as a mitzvah l'hachayoso. Normally the halacha by "ישראל מומר להכעיס" is like the gemara says in avoda zara 26b - מורידין ולא מעלין, since this ger may be a yisroel mumar, we are not willing to help him out and be ma'alin but we are also not moridin until he proves himself to return to avoda zara and be a yisroel mumar.

Sotah 9b - Nachash Hakadmoni

The gemara says that the snake had a plan to kill Adam and marry Chava. Rashi in chumash comments that the snake tried to get adam to eat first, so that adam will die and chava will remain for the snake to marry. The maharsha has difficulty with this peshat because it seems pretty clear from the pesukim that the snake was trying to convince chava to actually eat from the tree in which case she would die first, so what was the snakes plan? Maharsha explains that Adam was told not to eat from the tree prior to chava being created. However, adam understood that chava was equally commanded in this mitzvah, and therefore passed on the message that Hashem said not to eat from the tree. Adam also added on his own that Hashem said not to even touch the tree. The snake believed that since chava was not around at the time of the command of Hashem, she would not be killed by eating from the tree, but knew that from the perspective of adam and chava they were equally obligated not to eat from the tree. His plan was to push chava into the tree, since in her mind she was not allowed to even touch the tree. When nothing happens by touching the tree he would convince her to eat from it, and then when adam sees that nothing happened when she ate from it, he would eat from it as well. Being that from the snakes perspective chava would not die from eating from it, adam would die and chava would remain for the snake to marry - pretty sly snake!
There is a machlokes Rambam and Ra'avad regarding the issur of Bal Tosif. The Ra'avad holds that it only applies to adding positive mitzvos, but the chachamim are allowed to add negative prohibitions (as we see they set up gezeiros). But the rambam says that the issur applies even to negative prohibitions, unless they specify that it is not d'oraysa. I quoted in Nasiach B'chukecha that the Minchas Chinuch (454) brings a support to the Rambam from the gemara in sanhedrin 29a that proves כל המוסיף גורע from the fact that adam adding on the prohibition to touch the tree caused the violation of eating from it. Clearly the gemara implies adam did something wrong. According to the Ra'avad it is difficult to see what he did wrong, since the Rabbonon have the jurisdiction to add prohibitions without specifying that they are Rabbinic in nature. But according to the Rambam that was precisely the mistake of Adam; his failure to specify the nature of the prohibition and that it is only Rabbinic led to all the problems.