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Monday, May 18, 2009

Bamidbar 3:12 and 3:46. The mitzva of Pidyon Haben.

On Shabbos erev Rosh Chodesh Sivon ‘66/May 27, 2006, Reb Yaakov Feigenbaum sponsored Shalesh Seudos in honor of his first personal making of a siyum. He has been coming to the Daf since Me’ilah, which is not the masechta I would advise starting at, but Pesachim was the first masechta he made the Siyum himself. He said that he was motivated to join the Daf because R’ Shteinman said he should be kovei’ah ittim, and mostly because his son, Josh the Brisker, asked him why he wasn’t taking part in the Daf. I said the following, which has to do with the mitzva of pidyon.

The last Gemora in Psachim brings that R Simla’i attended a pidyon haben and was asked who should make the She’hechiyonu. Should the Kohen make it because he gets the pidyon, or should the father since he gets the mitzvah.

The Rashash asks, Why does Reb Simla’I assume that it’s an either A or B bracha? Why shouldn’t both the father and the Kohen each make a bracha? The Rashash answers that since it is one ma’aseh mitzvah that is being done, it’s more proper for the individual who is the greater neheneh, the one who has the more pleasure, to make the brocha, and the other to respond with Amen.

The Tzlach asks, why should the Kohen make any she’hechiyonu at all? You don’t make a bracha when you make some profit on a business deal, so why would the Kohen make a bracha here? He answers that the Kohen is also participating in the mitzvah, so his profit is connected to a kiyum hamitzva, and that’s why there’s a hava amina.

The Rosh at the end of Bechoros says that there’s no reason on Earth for the Kohen to make a birchas hamitzva here, because he’s just getting the money, and he’s not doing any mitzva at all.

It seems that the Rosh is contrary to the Tzlach, and also contrary to the hava amina here.

The answer is that there’s a big difference between birchas mitzva and she’hechiyanu. Birchas hamitzva only applies where you are being m’kayeim a chiyuv, when you are fulfilling an obligation, because doing the mitzva as you were commanded is m’kadesh you. This does not apply to the Kohen. But She’heciyanu refers to the hana’ah that results from doing the mitzva. Of course the Kohen is ne’heneh from the mitzva, because he gets the pidyon.

But now, the question arises again. If both the father and the Kohen are being neheneh from the doing of the mitzva, it is obvious that the primary beneficiary of the mitzva is the kohen. The whole point of the mitzvoh is that the Kohen should get the money! So of course as far as the hana’as kiyum hamitzva, the primary beneficiary is the person for whom the whole mitzva was created! So why shouldn’t the Kohen make the she’hechiyanu?

The answer is that the question is based on a false premise. The tachlis hamitzva is not so that the Kohen should get money. Hashem has many methods of getting money to people that should have it. The tachlis hamitzva is so that we should give money to a kohein. The fact that the kohein is ne’heneh is tangential. The same is true wherever we are commanded to give money– to the poor, for machtzis hashekel– the purpose of the mitzva is that the person should give the money to the other. The purpose of every mitzva is that the person should be influenced and elevated by the mitzva, by the act of giving. The primary beneficiary is the benefactor.

Some people do mitzvos or learn in an indifferent manner, and walk out no different that they walked in. Baruch Hashem, we have an olam that allows their learning to change their perspective, who learn with interest and enthusiasm. I mentioned then, and time has borne out the observation, that Yaakov in particular is a seeker of growth in learning, and he, and others in the shiur, have, through their participation and the example they provide, reinvigorated the shiur so that it is like we are learning it for the first time.


Chaim B. said...

For a cute spin on that gemara see the Shu"t Chasam Sofer Y.D. 294 (in the middle), and also what he writes in the last paragraph of 293. He ties the bracha question to an explanation of the Rama's din not to use a shliach for pidyon.

Barzilai said...

Thank you, CHaim. I will read the CS over again, and add it to the post.

William Dwek said...

1. The Dweks from Aleppo, Syria, are the only family of the true Cohanim.

We are the only true descendants of Aharon HaCohen, the Cohen HaGadol.

And, we are the only true descendants of Pinhas ben Elazar ben Aharon HaCohen.

It was the great act of Pinhas, who stopped the plague in Am Yisrael, when he struck the spear into Cozbi and Zimri. 24,000 died in a plague from the sins of idolatry and immorality with the Midianite women.

William Dwek said...

2. Anyone who has taken on the surname, ‘Cohen’/’Kohen’ is clearly identifiable as a fraud, a liar and an imposter of the true Cohanim.

This goes right back to his original ancestor who LIED, and said he was a Cohen when he was not.

Anyone called, ‘Mr. Cohen’ or ‘Rabbi Cohen’ is definitely NOT a Cohen. Someone who calls himself, ‘Mr. Cohen’ or ‘Rabbi Cohen’ is effectively calling himself, ‘Mr. Torah!’

3. The Kohanim are part of the Torah – but they are not called, ‘Mr. Torah.’

It is preposterous for a man to call himself, ‘Mr. Torah!’

If someone makes you a cup of coffee, or sells some bread to you, will you say, ‘Thank you Mr. CoffeeMaker!’ or, ‘Thank you Mr. Baker?!’

4. The coffeemaker and the baker have a Family Name.

Similarly with the true Cohanim.

And that family name is, ‘DWEK.’