Sunday, April 17, 2011

Menachos 40b - Tzitzis at Night

Rav Zeira says that the reason for the Rabbonon uprooting the mitzvah of tzitzis on a linen garment is because it would lead to a violation of shatnez on a כסות לילה. Rashi explains that the concern is that one will wear the linen garment with his wool ticheiles even at night when there is no mitzvah of tzitzis thereby violating the prohibition of wearing kelaim even in the absence of a mitzvah of tzitzis. Rashi seems to hold like the opinion of the Rambam that everything depends on actual day and night. All garments are obligated in tzitzis by day and are exempt at night. However, Tosafos (d.h. mi'shum) says in the name of Rabbeinu Tam that the issue isn't dependent on actual day and night, rather a day garment is obligated in tzitzis even at night, whereas a night garment is exempt from tzitzis even during the day. Tosafos explains that even according to Rabbeinu Tam we regard the mitzvah of tzitzis as a time bound mitzvah from which women are exempt because ultimately the time is responsible for determining whether this particular garment is obligated in tzitzis. According to Rabbeinu Tam who considers everything to be dependent on the garment, there is no concern that one will wear a day garment of linen and ticheiles even at night, because according to R"T a day garment at night is obligated in tzitzis. The concern has to be that if we allow one to put ticheiles on a linen day garment, they will also come to put it on a linen night time garment.
Tosafos (d.h. ticheiles) writes that a linen garment with ticheiles can be worn even at a time and even by a person that is not fulfilling a mitzvah (such as a woman). Tosafos here seems to understand that a daytime garment is exempt from tzitzis at night, like rashi and not rabbeinu tam, yet when worn at night there is no violation of kelayim (against rashi).
The Sha'agas Aryeh (siman 30) asks on Rabbeinu Tam from the gemara in brachos which says that in ma'arava they didn't say the entire parsha of tzitzis at night (only the beginning and end) because there is no mitzvah of tzitzis at night. The Sha'agas Aryeh asks that the mitzvah of tzitzis applies by night as it does by day so long as it is a day garment, so we should be saying the parsha of tzitzis at night? One of the commentaries (printed in the back of the gemara) answers that since night garments are exempt, there is a precedent for the parsha of tzitzis being skipped at night - similar to what rabbeinu tam himself says to justify how it is a time bound mitzvah.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Menachos 35b - Hesech HaDa'as in Tefillin

The gemara learns out that one is obligated to continuously touch their tefillin while wearing them to avoid a "hesech ha'da'as", from the tzitz. The gemara seems to make a real kal v'chomer and regards this as a din d'oraysa. The Shita (5) asks, how then is one allowed to daven or read shema while wearing tefillin, since by concentrating on the davening they will inevitably not be concentrating on the tefillin? He answers that in truth it is a violation of hesech ha'da'as from tefillin, but it is permitted based on the concept of עוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה. Since he is involved in the mitzvah of concentrating on the davening, he is exempt from the mitzvah to concentrate on the tefillin. The application of עוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה assumes that the prohibition of having a hesech ha'da'as from tefillin is an outgrowth of a positive mitzvah to concentrate on the tefillin, and is therefore regarded as a mitzvah rather than an issur. The concept of עוסק במצוה פטור מן המצוה would only entitle one to forgo a mitzvah, but not to violate an issur.
The Biur Halacha (44:1) quotes the pri megadim who says that even during davening one's mind should be on the tefillin and not entirely focused on the davening. However, the biur halacha says that the Ari z"l always had his mind on his tefillin even during davening, except during shemoneh esrei and learning Torah, implying that during shemoneh esrei one doesn't need to have their mind on the tefillin. The Biur Halacha quotes a fascinating Ohr Zarua -
וצריך אדם כשהוא לבוש תפילין לזכור שתפילין עליו ולא להסיח דעתו מהם, שלא יישן בהם ולא יפיח בהם, כי מחמת שזוכר שנושא שם הנכבד עליו אינו בא לידי קלות ראש ותופס יראת שמים בלבו וכו' הלכך כשאדם מכוין לבו בתפלתו או בהלכה שלו אין זה היסח הדעת דכל שכן דאיכא יראת השם
The Ohr Zaruah holds that the ikar mitzvah is not to be focused on the tefillin but rather to be focused on yir'as hashem. So long as a person is involved in service of Hashem, such as learning and davening, it isn't considered a hesech ha'da'as even though his mind is not at all on the tefillin. Based on this we don't need the concept of עוסק במצוה to justify how one can concentrate on their davening while wearing tefillin.
In truth, the violation of hesech ha'da'as isn't just a lack of concentration, but would only be violated if one is actively involved in light headed behavior. The Shulchan Aruch (o.c. 44:1) paskens that one may sleep a temporary sleep in their tefillin. The Mishna Berura (3) struggles with the issue of hesech ha'da'as and explains that the violation of hesech ha'da'as is only if one is involved in frivolous or silly behavior, but the absence of concentration on the tefillin doesn't constitute a hesech hada'as. When one is sleeping and has nothing whatsoever on their mind, it isn't considered a hesech hada'as. This approach seems to contradict our gemara. Why would one have to constantly touch tefillin to avoid a hesech hada'as, if the issue of hesech hada'as cannot be violated by a passive unawareness of the tefillin? The M.B. himself deals with this question and explains that we learn from the tzitz that it is forbidden to have a hesech ha'da'as, but the Rabbonon instituted as an ideal to constantly touch their tefillin to avoid one's mind from wandering and leading to improper thoughts. However, the violation is only if one would be actively thinking about other thoughts.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Menachos 34b - Tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam (Rav Moshe's reservation)

The gemara discusses the proper order for the parshiyos of tefillin. Rashi interprets that the order is: קדש, והיה כי יביאך, שמע, והיה אם שמוע. But Rabbeinu Tam disagrees with rashi's reading of the gemara and says that it is קדש, והיה כי יביאך, והיה אם שמוע, שמע. It is interesting to note that even those who wear tefillin of Rabbeinu Tam aren't really fulfilling the mitzvah according to Rabbeinu Tam because Rabbeinu Tam brought in Tosafos 33a holds that the parshiyos have to be lying down in the tefillin, not standing upright, just like he holds by mezuza. It is clear from the gemara by mezuza that if it's placed upright according to Rabbeinu Tam, it is passul. Since Rabbeinu Tam assumes the same halacha should apply to tefillin, the placement of the parshiyos upright would invalidate the tefillin.
Rav Moshe (Igros Moshe O.C. 4:9) was asked by the Lubavitcher Rebbe why he doesn't wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin. Rav Moshe responds very sharply that the minhag of sofrim in writing tefillin nowadays seems to be against the halacha in the way that they do the פתוחות and סתומות. Rav Moshe explains that when it comes to tefillin of Rashi who everyone agrees is the ikar, we have no choice but to wear what is available. But, regarding R"T, since it is only a chumra, he is only willing to wear it if it is done according to his standards.
To understand R. Moshe's reservation, it is necessary to understand the rules of פתוחות וסתומות. All agree that if the first paragraph would end in the middle of a line with space of 9 letters left and the next parsha begins at the start of the next line, it is a pesucha. All agree that if there is space of 9 letters left in the middle of a line separating between two parshiyos, that is a setuma. If the first parshah doesn't leave space of 9 letters and the second parsha begins at the start of a line but there is a blank line in between, the Rosh considers it a setuma and the Rambam considers it a pesucha. If the first parsha goes to the end of the line and the second begins with an indentation of 9 letters, that is setuma according to the rambam but pesucha according to the Rosh. The halacha is that the parsha of והיה אם שמוע needs to be a setuma. The Shulchan Aruch (32:36) explains that since we can't write them in the same paragraph, it is impossible to do a setuma according to everyone. Therefore, we have no choice but do pick the Rambam or the Rosh. We follow the Rambam and do a setuma by not leaving 9 letters of blank space after שמע and indenting with a space of 9 letters the parsha of והיה אם שמוע. The problem is that the sofrim leave 9 letters of blank space after the parsha of shema AND before והיה אם שמוע. Rav Moshe holds that leaving blank space at the end of the parsha preceeding והיה אם שמוע indicates an interest in making a pesucha, and then indenting at the beginning of והיה אם שמוע indicates a setuma which creates a תרתי דסתרי. He considers this to be a potential p'sul, and wasn't willing to wear Rabbeinu Tam tefillin unless they are makpid not to leave space of 9 letters at the end of the parsha that proceeds והיה אם שמוע (which according to Rabbeinu Tam is והיה כי יביאך).
R. Moshe writes that the source for this custom of leaving 9 letters both at the end of the previous parsha and before והיה אם שמוע comes from the kunteros acharon in shulchan aruch ha'rav where it says in parenthesis that the ba'al hatanya retracted from his original agreement to shulchan aruch and commanded the sofrim to leave space both at the end of the parsha proceeding והיה אם שמוע and at the beginning of והיה אם שמוע. Rav Moshe notes that there is no explanation for such an opinion and strongly rejects it. However, in the very first teshuva printed in the back of the shulchan aruch ha'rav he justifies this position by saying that according to the Rambam that indenting 9 letters in the parsha of והיה אם שמוע creates a setuma, it makes no difference whether in the previous parsha there was space of 9 letters left or not. Apparently, Rav Moshe didn't see this teshuva of the shulchan aruch ha'rav.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Menachos 33a - Halachos of Mezuza

I am posting a link to a kunteros that I plan on publishing one day on hilchos mezuza. In the meantime, click here.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Menachos 30a - Torah Min HaShamayim

The gemara quotes a machlokes whether the last eight pesukim in the sefer torah (from וימת שם משה עבד השם), were written by Yehoshua, or whether Moshe wrote them "in tears" [rashi explains the idea of writing in tears to mean that Moshe normally would repeat back the Torah as he transcribed it to avoid errors, but the last eight pesukim he was too distressed to repeat it and therefore wrote it without repeating it back]. The gemara concludes that this machlokes has very little bearing an anything we do practically because even the opinion who says that it was written by Moshe considers it to be distinct from the rest of the Torah and that it should be read by one person. Therefore, it would seem irrelevant to say that we "pasken" like one opinion rather than the other since there is not halachic debate between them. However, Rabbeinu Bachya (on the pasuk of moshe dying) argues on the Ibn Ezra who says that it was written by Yehoshua. Rabbeinu Bachya writes -
ואינו אמת, ואין פירושו נכון, אבל הנכון להאמין והקבלה האמתית שיש לנו, כי משה כתב התורה כולה מבראשית עד לעיני כל ישראל הכל מפי הגבורה, והנה משה כמעתיק מספר קדמון מתחלה ועד סוף אות באות, וזו היא דעת רבי מאיר (דלא כגירסא שלנו) שאמר אפשר ס"ת חסר אות אחת וכו' ונ"ל שאין לתמוה אם יכתוב משה "וימת שם משה וכו' שהודיע בזה מה שעתיד להיות וכו' שכל הנביאים נוהגים המנהג הזה בדבריהם לדבר עבר במקום עתיד
It seems strange for Rabbeinu Bachya to argue strongly about something which is an earlier Tamudic debate. Clearly, Rabbeiu Bachya understands that the "halacha" is like the latter opinion that we must believe that Moshe wrote the entire Torah beginning to end. Perhaps he understands this from the fact that the gemara tries to fit the statement of Rav with R. Shimon who says that Moshe wrote even the last eight pesukim. Nonetheless, Rabbeinu Bachya considers this opinion to be the prevailing opinion and calls it the קבלה האמתית - the true tradition.
A few months ago I gave a shiur on the topic of Torah Min HaShamayim where I discussed the yesod of the Rambam and what exactly we are obligated to believe - download here. Rav Moshe has a Teshuva where he considers an old sefer to be a forgery due to it's claim that parts of the Torah were inserted after Moshe Rabbeinu. Rav Moshe considers it an unequivocal violation of Torah min HaShamayim to claim that even a single letter in the Torah was written by somoene other than Moshe Rabbeinu (with the exception of the last 8 pesukim which is the discussion in the Talmud).

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Menachos 29b - Understanding the Contribution of Rebbi Akiva

The gemara tells us an amazing story where Moshe Rabbeinu watched Rebbi Akiva lecture was "weakened" by Rebbi Akiva's ability and understanding of the Torah. Finally, when Moshe Rabbeinu heard that Rebbi Akiva attributed a halacha to הלכה למשה מסיני, he was comforted.
Throughout the Talmud we are given tidbits of information that can be pieced together like a puzzle to understand the personality of Rebbi Akiva, his accomplishement, and why Moshe Rabbeinu was initially "weakened" and then comforted.
Pesachim 49b - Rebbi Akiva originally had tremendous antagonism toward talmidei chachamim that he wanted to bite them as a donkey would bite crushing the bone.
Avos D'rabbi Nosson (6:2) - Famous story with Rebbi Akiva being inspired by a drop of water that was capable of penetrating a rock through it's continuity.
Nedarim 50a - Rebbi Akiva is sent by his wife to study Torah and returns with 24,000 pair of disciples.
Yevamos 16a - Rebbi Akiva earned a world renowned reputation and impressed Chanina Ben Hurkenos.
Chagiga 14b - Of all the great scholars who were נכנסו לפרדס, Rebbi Akiva is the only one to go out in peace.
Yevamos 62b - Rebbi Akiva's disciples all die for not showing proper respect for one another, he then chooses five of the greatest minds and teaches them Torah. Rebbi Akiva becomes an essential link on the chain of the mesorah.
Makos 23b - Rebbi Akiva has an outlook where he is able to provide hope for the Jewish people by showing that since the bad prophecies have come true, the good one's are also going to come to fruition. The hope he provides is another essential aspect in the survival of klal yisroel.
Brachos 61b - Rebbi Akiva becomes so attached to the Torah that he can't fathom separating from it, and draws the parallel of a fish being taken from water.
Sotah 49a - When Rebbi Akiva dies, "kavod ha'torah" is gone. This refers to his ability referenced in Menachos to be able to darshen every letter and every "crown" of the letter, displaying the depth and greatness of the Torah.
Sanhedrin 86a - Stam mishna, tosefta, sifra and sifri are all אליבא דרבי עקיבא. Rebbi Akiva is responsible for the existence of Torah sh'bal peh.
In a nutshell, Rebbi Akiva begins from nothing with tremendous animosity toward Torah scholars. He is inspired by water being able to penetrate a rock, that it could also penetrate him. He is sent by his wife to study and spends double the time alloted studying Torah until he returns with 24,000 students. Aside from earning a world renowned reputation, he becomes so attached to the Torah that he compares himself to a fish being removed from water and proudly sacrifices his life for Torah. His ultimate accomplishment is being responsible for the continuation of klal yisroel by providing hope, and being a major link in the chain of Torah sh'bal peh and showing the depth of Torah in that there is much to learn from even the crowns on the letters.
The Shita Mikubetzes (kesubos 40a) says that the disciples of Rebbi Akiva who follow his opinion are called the praiseworthy of the scholars - ורבי עקיבא היה להם במקום משה רבינו אדון הנביאים לפי שהיה כבר נשתכח תורה שבעל פה עד שבא הוא ושנאה.
What specifically was Rebbi Akiva's contribution to Torah?
Ohr HaChaim (Vayikra 13:37) explains that although Moshe Rabbeinu had the tradition of how to interpret Torah She'biksav, such as the understanding of what G-d means by a פרי עץ הדר and correctly being able to identify it as an esrog (as the Rambam writes in his preface to his commentary on mishna), Moshe Rabbeinu didn't merit being able to bridge and connect the Torah Sh'bal peh with Torah She'biksav. Both were given to Moshe mi'sinai, but each as a separate corpus. The person who would be able to connect them had to be someone who was built from nothing and attached himself to the Torah so that he was inseparable. Rebbi Akiva was exactly that, therefore he merited to be the first to connect Torah shebiksav and Torah she'bal peh and show how much of the oral torah is hinted to within the written Torah. This is why Moshe Rabbeinu feels so "weak" upon seeing Rebbi Akiva able to darshen the crowns.
When Moshe Rabbeinu sees that his entire accomplishment which was the transmission of the oral torah became unnecessary because Rebbi Akiva was able to draw it all from the written torah directly, he had tremendous חלישות הדעת to the point where he felt that the Torah should have been given by Rebbi Akiva instead of himself. It is only upon hearing that even Rebbi Akiva had to answer something by saying it is a הלכה למשה מסיני and cannot be extracted from Torah she'biksav does Moshe Rabbeinu realize that he himself is the most important link in the chain of the mesorah being the one who brought down Torah sh'bal peh from heaven. It was only through the הלכה למשה מסיני being transmitted initially by Moshe, that Rebbi Akiva had the tools to show how many of them are hinted to within the written Torah itself.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Menachos 28a - Menorah

The gemara identifies 4 features of the menorah, and explains that none of them are essential (under certain circumstances). 1. Gold. 2. Kikar (quantity) of metal. 3. gevi'im, kaftorim and perachim 4. Hammered from a solid piece. The gemara says that the last three requirements are all dependent on the first. If made of gold, it must contain a kikar, must have gevi'im kaftorim and perachim, and must be hammered from a solid piece. But, if made from other metals, none of these requirements are necessary.
The Mishna L'melech (Beis HaBechira 3:4) in explaining the Rambam writes that the latter 3 requirements are contingent on it being gold, but when not of gold we treat each of these requirements slightly differently. The requirement of a kikar doesn't apply at all when made out of other metals. One can choose to use a kikar of silver, or more or less. The requirement of gevi'im kaftorim and perachim doesn't apply and is actually forbidden. One is not allowed to make these designs on any menorah made from materials other than gold (unlike rashi d.h. eina, who says that one doesn't need to put these designs into the menorah but is allowed to). Finally, the requirement of being hammered out from a solid piece, is preferable even when made from other materials but not essential. All these points are deduced from the language of the Rambam. On the first point of not requiring a kikar he derives from the language אין מקפידין על משקלה that it makes no difference. On the second point of gevi'im kaftorim and perachim he derives from the language אין עושין בה גביעים כפתורים ופרחים that one is not allowed to make them on a menorah of another material. The third point that it should be hammered out but doesn't need to be, is derived from the Rambam who says ואם היתה חלולה כשרה. The Kesef Mishneh explains that the Rambam means to say that it can be hollow, meaning that it need not be hammered out, but the Mishneh L'melech understands that ideally it should be hammered out even when made from other materials.
After all these halachos, the Rambam writes in halacha 5 - ואין עושין אותה לעולם מן הגרוטאות בין שהיתה של זהב בין שהיתה של שאר מיני מתכות. The mishneh l'melech understands that this is only lichatchila because the requirement of being hammered out is tantamount to the requirement of not being made from small pieces of metal. The source of not using גרוטאות is the word "miksha" which requires it to be hammered out. Since the Rambam holds that the requirement to hammer out is only lichatchila, so the problem with using small pieces of metal is only lichatchila. The approach of the mishna l'melech doesn't fit into the language of the Rambam. The Rambam seems to write clearly that even a menorah constructed of other material is passul if made from small pieces of metal. The Rambam seems to understand that the term מקשה has a double implication - 1. hammered, 2. not using multiple pieces. Although the gemara says that the din of מקשה only applies to gold, the Rambam understands that to refer to the requirement to hammer and therefore allows it to be hollow (which cannot be hammered). BUT the problem with making it from גרוטאות, small pieces of metal, which is derived from the term miksha, the Rambam considers to apply even to a menorah made from other metals.
The gemara 28b says that the menorah of chashmonaim was made of שפודים. Tosafos says that they weren't actually poles, probably because that would be a violation of making it out of multiple pieces of metal, just that they didn't have the gevi'im kaftorim and perachim since it wasn't from gold. The Ben Aryeh (back of gemara) says that the pesikta (2) impli8es that it was actually made of poles of metal. He explains that according to the Mishnah L'melech's understanding of the Rambam that using pieces of metal is only a problem lichatchila, the menorah of the chashmonaim may literally have been made from poles. However, according to my understanding of the Rambam that גרוטאות are passul, the Rambam would have to agree with Tosafos that the menorah of the chashmonaim wasn't actually made from שפודים. It was made from one piece just that it didn't have the gevi'im kaftorim and perachim.

Monday, April 04, 2011

Menachos 27a - Taking all 4 species at once

The gemara learns from the pasuk ולקחתם that one can only fulfill the mitzvah of taking the 4 species if it is "complete", meaning that he must have them all. However, the gemara qualifies this by saying that so long as he has all 4, the taking need not be "complete". Tosafos quotes a machlokes between the Be'hag and Rabbeinu Tam about what this means. The Be'hag says that one can fulfill the mitzvah even by picking up one after another, whereas Rabbeinu Tam says that they must all be picked up together just that they don't need to be bound together. Tosafos writes that according to all opinions it is still considered a beautification of the mitzvah to bind them together (as the gemara writes explicitly), but not necessary to fulfill the obligation (since we don't pasken like R. Yehuda). Rashi seems to hold like Rabbeinu Tam because he says that as long as you have all 4 "even if they aren't bound togehter" you are yotzei, implying that they must be lifted up together.
In Shulchan Aruch (651:12) the mechaber paskens like the be'hag that they don't need to be picked up together, not like rashi and rabbeinu tam. The Rama comments on this ובלבד שיהיו כולם לפניו (from the Rosh). The Sha'ar Hatziyun (67) cites a machlokes between the pri megadim and the gr"a why the Rama requires all four to be on the table in front of him. The Pri Megadim holds that one can fulfill his obligation so long as he owns all four at the time he picks up the first. The advantage of being all on the table in front of him is only in regard to the bracha so that he won't have to interrupt. However, the Gr"a explains that it isn't merely a consideration for the bracha but rather part of the requirement of לקיחה תמה that all 4 minim be in front of him and ready to be picked up at the time he picks up the first. According to the gr"a if one one a lulav here and an esrog in a different place he wouldn't be yotzei by picking up one and then the other, even according to the be'hag.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Menachos 24a - Tziruf Keli

The gemara asks whether a keli combines the two half עשרון that are in it even though they aren't touching. The gemara then questions whether one can take a kemitza from one half עשרון that is in a keli with the other half but isn't touching - the gemara understands that this question is fundamentally whether the concept of tziruf keli is d'oraysa or d'rabonon. The Rambam (Hil. Pesulei HaMukdashin 11:23) paskens that it is a safeik whether one can take the kemitzah on a half עשרון and have it count for the other half. The Steipler (kehilas ya'acov 16) asks, why does the Rambam consider this a safeik? The gemara makes it very clear that the only possibility of the kemitzah on one half working for the other is if tziruk keli would be d'oraysa, but the problem is that the Rambam himself paskens (sha'ar avos ha'tuma 12:7) that tziruf keli is only d'rabonon. Therefore, the Rambam should have paskened that a kemitza on one half definitely doesn't work for the other?
The steipler explains that the concept of tziruf keli in the world of tu'mah is very different from the concept of tziruk keli to allow kemitzah from one half on the other. To allow kemitzah the tziruf keli wouldn't have to consider the two halves to be one unit, because kemtiza is always done from flour that is not really one "gush" or unit. The concept of tziruf keli for kemitza would only require that we consider the two parts to be together, but the concept of tziruk keli for tu'mah would literally have to consider them as one unit. Therefore, the rambam can pasken in hilchos tu'mah that tziruk keli is only d'rabonon, yet have a safeik whether kemitzah on one half עשרון works for the other since for this purpose the tizruf keli may be d'oraysa.