NOTE: BETWEEN DECEMBER 2013 AND JANUARY 2019 NEW POSTS OF SERIOUS DIVREI TORAH WERE POSTED ONLY AT Beis Vaad L'Chachamim, beisvaad.blogspot.com AS OF JANUARY 2019 I PLAN TO POST IN BOTH PLACES


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Friday, March 18, 2022

Tzav. Three He'aros on Zerizus

1. Rashi in the beginning of the parsha:

צו את אהרן. אֵין צַו אֶלָּא לְשׁוֹן זֵרוּז מִיָּד וּלְדוֹרוֹת; אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן, בְּיוֹתֵר צָרִיךְ הַכָּתוּב לְזָרֵז בְּמָקוֹם שֶׁיֵּשׁ בּוֹ חֶסְרוֹן כִּיס (ספרא):

Rashi in Devarim 1:16:

ואצוה את שפטיכם. אָמַרְתִּי לָהֶם הֱווּ מְתוּנִין בַּדִּין – אִם בָּא דִּין לְפָנֶיךָ פַּעַם אַחַת, שְׁתַּיִם, וְשָׁלוֹשׁ, אַל תֹּאמַר כְּבָר בָּא דִּין זֶה לְפָנַי פְּעָמִים הַרְבֵּה, אֶלָּא הֱיוּ נוֹשְׂאִים וְנוֹתְנִים בּוֹ (שם):

Rav Bergman (Ma'amarim here in Tzav) points out that Mesinus in the context of din means moving slowly - as in Brachos 20a,

כי הא דרב אדא בר אהבה חזייה לההיא כותית דהות לבישא כרבלתא בשוקא סבר דבת ישראל היא קם קרעיה מינה אגלאי מילתא דכותית היא שיימוה בארבע מאה זוזי א"ל מה שמך אמרה ליה מתון אמר לה מתון מתון ארבע מאה זוזי שויא:

Rashi there:

מתון מתון - לשון מאתן:

ד' מאות - ב' פעמים ב' מאות כלומר השם גרם לי לשון אחר מתון מתון לשון המתנה אם המתנתי הייתי משתכר ד' מאות זוז:

So what does Tzav connote? Alacrity or deliberation? Rav Bergman answers that there is physical atzlus and there is mental atzlus. A person that is mentally lazy will answer questions by rote. A person that is a mental Zariz will think through the question and the circumstances and quickly review the basis for the psak.

So Zrizus is always speed and alacrity. But in the case of psak, it means to be mentally agile and quick, and to use every iteration of a question as an opportunity to reexamine old certainties.

2.  From Reb Yerucham.  The word tzivui was used in regard to the exact same dinim in Tetzaveh. Two ziruzim were needed, exactly as the Mesillas Yesharim says in perek 7. I am widely known as something of an expert on atzlus, so trust me when I tell you that the Ramchal is right. Sometimes you decide something needs to be done, and somehow you congratulate yourself on your strength of character as demonstrated by your decision, and the self-congratulatory satisfaction replaces the actual motivation to get it done. The same happens when you begin a project that takes time and work, and after a day or two..... 


3.  Reb Moshe, in the new Kol Rom, says that the instruction of zerizus is particularly important in the parsha of Olah. A person brings an olah, which seems to yield very little practical benefit to anyone, and it reminds him that our efforts are not tied to our success. The Ribono shel Olam decides what will succeed and what we will have. A person might use this faith, this sharp spiritual perception, to justify sloth. So the Torah says No, whatever you choose to do for a parnassah, don't do it half heartedly. Do it with energy and diligence and focus - with Zerizus!

(You need to see it inside, but I can't quote it verbatim because A, it's copyrighted, and B, even if I decided it's ok to steal someone's hard work, it's not available online.)

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Tazria, Vayikra 13:3. A Kohen Must See the Tzara'as.

 The Torah says that if a nega appears, only a kohen may pasken whether it is Tzara'as. If he is not a Talmid Chacham, he has to take a lamden with him to tell him what to pasken. But the Kohen has to examine the nega'im, and, ultimately, he has to pasken.


Rabbi Dr. Gary Schreiber pointed out that the avoda of the miluim, the process by which the Kohanim were inaugurated, has similarities to the tahara process of the metzora. If you carefully compare the two, you will find that they have avodos in common which are rarely found elsewhere. He said an excellent, and, I think, new, pshat that explains both connections of Kehuna to Tzara'as.

A kohen is subject to the temptation of gaavah, because of his entitlements (the twenty four Matnos Kehuna) and his kedusha (which enables him to do the avodah and requires him to be tahor). Also, Kohanim are aware of everyone’s sins, because whoever brings a korban chatas has to be misvadeh; furthermore, when someone brings a chatas, he has to clearly explain to the Beis Din of the Kohanim why he is bringing it, so they can be sure that the Korban Chatas is indeed required and that it is not chulin ba'azara. So he might say lashon hora. This is a dangerous position to be in: you are born with superior kedusha, Klal Yisrael has to sweat to wrest a living from the earth while you sit at home and get your food-- grain, fruit and meat-- delivered tied with a bow, and you are privy to all their embarrasing failures and sins. It would not be surprising if Kohanim viewed the rest of Klal Yisrael as if they were a bunch of donkeys. This natural tendency to ga'avah and lashon hara can bring Tzara'as.

So the Torah says that the kohanim must personally look at nega’im. They need to see what the result of gaavah and lashon hara are. This constant visual reinforcement will help them control their yetzer hora. Very few oncologists smoke, and many dermatologists obssesively avoid exposure to sunlight, because day after day they see the deadly results of irresponsible and self destructive behavior; so, too, Kohanim are obligated to closely examine the nega'im of Tzara'as, and this will remind them to eschew the traits that bring Tzara'as - Ga'avah and Lashon Hara.

And this explains why the Avodas HaMilu'im recalls Taharas Metzora. The foundation ritual of Kehuna mirrors the taharas metzora process, so that every kohen will read this parsha and remember that the superior status he was granted brought with it a concomitant danger, and that every day he must be on guard against the temptations of ga'avah and lashon hara. Indeed, this concept is found in the Bracha the Kohanim give Klal Yisrael: Yevarechacha Hashem Veyishmerecha: every blessing brings along a heightened risk and the need for shemira. Kohanim, too, are blessed with many things, and these blessings create the need for greater shemira.

(Dr. Schreiber's words:
"...the similarity between the avoda of the taharas hametzora and the miluim of the kohanim which requires blood placed on the the bohanos of each of them. The kohen will hopefully carry the initial impression with him through his years of avodah and refrain from the failings that lead to one becoming a metzora.")

Update 2017: R Avrohom Bukspan sent a comment that connects a Medrash on this inyan. Vayikra Rabba 15.

רבי בשם רבי חמא בר חנינא: 
צער גדול היה לו למשה בדבר, כך הוא כבודו של אהרן אחי להיות רואה את הנגעים?! 
אמר ליה הקב"ה: לא נהנה (אותו) מהם כ"ד מתנות? 

מתלא אמר: דאכיל בהדי קורא ילקה בהדי קילא, (= האוכל מן הקור לוקה מן הקורה).

There are too many pshatim on the words דאכיל בהדי קורא so we won't go into that, but, as I responded to Reb Avrohom, 

Very interesting pshat in the Medrash. Pashtus, it means that if a person shares his blessings with you, you can't turn your back on him when he's suffering and say it has nothing to do with you, you have to share his pain as well. But the way you're connecting it to this pshat, it's Chazal's way of describing what Gaavah is all about- that when it comes to taking, you think you're entitled, so that when the man needs sympathy, you don't feel any obligation to him. "I took because I deserve, and it's an honor for him to give me. I owe nothing to him!" So the Torah says, no. It was a gift, and you should be makir tov to the extent that his pain is your pain.


Update 2021:

Just to outline the similarities between Taharas Metzora and Chinuch Kohanim and Leviim. Chinuch Leviim is in Behaaloscha, and Kohanim is in Tzav.

1. Taglachas: 

Metzora, (ויקרא יד, ט) 

וְהָיָה בַיּוֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִי יְגַלַּח אֶת כׇּל שְׂעָרוֹ אֶת רֹאשׁוֹ וְאֶת זְקָנוֹ וְאֵת גַּבֹּת עֵינָיו וְאֶת־כׇּל־שְׂעָרוֹ יְגַלֵּחַ 

Leviim וְהֶעֱבִירוּ תַעַר עַל כָּל בְּשָׂרָם" (במדבר ח, ז)

2. Kibus:

Metzora וְכִבֶּס אֶת בְּגָדָיו" (ויקרא יד, ט) 

Leviim וְכִבְּסוּ בִגְדֵיהֶם וְהִטֶּהָרוּ" (במדבר שם)

3. Tevilla.

4. Tenufa, by Metzora on his living Korban, by the Leviim on them personally.

5. Dam and Shemen on the persons:

Metzora  וְלָקַח הַכֹּהֵן מִדַּם הָאָשָׁם וְנָתַן הַכֹּהֵן עַל תְּנוּךְ אֹזֶן... וכו" (ויקרא יד, יד, י'ז)

וּמִיֶּ֨תֶר הַשֶּׁ֜מֶן אֲשֶׁ֣ר עַל־כַּפּ֗וֹ יִתֵּ֤ן הַכֹּהֵן֙ עַל־תְּנ֞וּךְ אֹ֤זֶן הַמִּטַּהֵר֙ הַיְמָנִ֔ית וְעַל־בֹּ֤הֶן יָדוֹ֙ הַיְמָנִ֔ית וְעַל־בֹּ֥הֶן רַגְל֖וֹ הַיְמָנִ֑ית עַ֖ל דַּ֥ם הָאָשָֽׁם׃

Kohanim, (ויקרא ח, כד-ל)וישחט ויקח משה מדמו ויתן על־תנוך אזן־אהרן הימנית ועל־בהן ידו הימנית ועל־בהן רגלו הימנית


UPDATE 2022.

I just saw an email from R Zweig's yeshiva in Miami. He says that the lesson of davka these three limbs is that a kohen, elevated to Keser Kehuna, holier than every other Jew, needs to be reminded that his is a position of service, not self-aggrandizement. So you put the dam on his hand, leg and ear - The kohen is charged with the work of doing for others, and going to others, and listening to others.  The same lesson is taught the Metzora, who needs to change from self centered to sympathetic.

His words:

In this week’s parsha, we find Hashem giving Moshe instructions for the official installation of Aharon and his sons as kohanim – the priestly class of Bnei Yisroel. Moshe then gathers all of Bnei Yisroel to watch as he follows a step-by-step process for initiating Aharon and his sons as the kohanim.

Aside from the steps that might be expected in the process of elevating their status – immersion in a mikveh, dressing them in priestly vestments, applying and sprinkling the special anointing oil to all the vessels in the Mishkan and to Aharon and his sons as well, etc. – we find a very unusual ritual.

Several sacrifices were offered: a bull was brought as a sin offering, a ram was brought as a burnt offering, and a second ram was brought as a peace offering (see 8:22 and Rashi ad loc). Moshe then applied the blood of the peace offering to Aharon’s and his sons’ right ear lobes, right thumbs, and right big toes.

This ritual is only performed in one other place in the Torah: by the purification of a person who has been struck by tzora’as – commonly (and incorrectly) translated as leprosy.

hat is the meaning of this enigmatic ritual and what is the relationship between initiating the kohanim and cleansing one who has recovered from tzora’as?

Aharon and his sons were being elevated to a new status over the rest of the Jewish people. They were now receiving forevermore one of the three crowns that Hashem gifted to this world; they were receiving the crown of kehuna. Without proper perspective, being crowned can be a dangerous affair as it can easily lead one to harbor false notions of self-importance. A person can actually begin to believe that he is receiving this honor because there is something intrinsically great about himself.

The unique ritual of placing the blood on the ear lobe, thumb, and big toe is intended to address this issue. The unifying connection between all of these parts of the body is that the ears, fingers, and toes represent the person’s extremities. When a person gets cold, the first parts that are affected are the extremities – namely the ears, fingers, and toes – because they are the furthest from the core of the body. Yet, when a person is asked to point to himself, he always points to his core. Thus, by emphasizing the extremities, this ritual demonstrates that the position is not about them personally, it’s about what they can do for others.

The message they receive is that while being anointed a kohen is an honor, it is more significantly a great and awesome responsibility. The Talmud has a dispute about whether the kohanim are agents of the people to Hashem or agents of Hashem to the people, but everyone agrees that they are merely agents. In other words, they are facilitators not principals. This is the message conveyed by placing the blood on the extremities.

This is also true of a person who has been struck by tzora’as. This punishment comes as a consequence of speaking loshon hora. The core motivating force of one who speaks loshon hora is the desire to elevate oneself by putting others down. While every sin contains an element of self-centered behavior, loshon hora is the sin of focusing on the perceived importance of oneself and trying to elevate the opinions of others regarding one’s own self-importance. This is why a person needs a kohen to declare them unclean and the process of purification is the same as the kohen’s initiation. The message they are supposed to receive and internalize is that they need to focus less on themselves and their own importance.

ADDITIONAL UPDATE 2022

Dr. R' Hertzka Grinblatt offered another very good explanation for the commonality among Metzora and Kohen and Levi. He said that all three need to be kovei'a themselves in a machaneh.

The Metzora needs to be allowed into Machane Yisrael; the Levi into Machane Levi'ah; the Kohen into Machane Shechina.

This is a case of תן לחכם ויחכם עוד, and also an application of די לחכימה ברמיזה. Because you can cavil that the Metzora was already muttar to enter the machane after the Shtei Tziporim; and the Levi? He doesn't need any hetter to go into the Har HaBayis. But the point is still excellent. There are three machanos. Each of the three is the place of the parts of Klal Yisrael. For all three of these people, it is part of the process that is KOVEI'A them into their machane position. Again, I can explain it for you, I can not understand it for you. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Vayikra. Nochach and Nistar, Second and Third Person by Korbanos. Ich und Du

The instructions of Korbanos are in third person- he. See 1:3, 1:14, 1:10, 3:1 - יקריב אתו, והקריב מן התרים,  זכר תמים יקריבנו, אם־זכר אם נקבה תמים יקריבנו . 

However, the Korban Mincha is stated in second person- you. See 2:11, 2:12, and 2:13 - אשר תקריבו, קרבן ראשית תקריבו , וכל קרבן מנחתך במלח תמלח. 

In Shmoneh Esrei, all brachos follow the format of Nochach/Nistar, with one exception. Modim could follow the same format and end with Hatov Shemo, veLo na'eh lehodos. But it doesn't. It is stated in second person - hatov shimcha, lecha na'eh lehodos.

Reb Yaakov Emden in Beis Yaakov says that the eighteen verses in Yehi chevod correspond to the brachos in Shmoneh Esrei. It has been pointed out that all but one are lashon nistar - the fourth verse, Hashem Shimcha leolam va'ed Hashem Zichrecha ledor vador. It seems that this verse corresponds with Modim. 

Why? What is the common denominator?

Rav Bergman (Shaarei Orah/Maamarim/Vayikra) points out that whereas other korbanos yield a benefit to the baalim, this is not true by a minchas nedava. No kapara at all (he quotes the Steipler in Zevachim as stating this) and the baalim never ever eats any of it. Even a Kohen doesn't eat from his own Mincha, because it's kallil. (This is an oddity that I never saw an explanation for until now!) Indeed, when discussing the Minchas Chotei, the Torah does not use the lashon nochach. 

Lechoira, you can ask that one of the Menachos mentioned above is the Minchas Ha'Omer, that is mattir Chodosh, which is a tremendous benefit. But, remarkably enough, the Sifra says that the Torah introduces the parsha of Minchas Haomer with Im to teach you that you should be makriv as a nedava, not for the toeles of hetter - ואם תקריב מנחת בכורים!
ספרא, ויקרא דבורא דנדבה, פרשה יג ב-ג
[ב] ר' שמעון אומר "ואם תקריב מנחת בכורים לשם" – זו מנחה באה חובה. יכול נדבה? כשהוא אומר (ויקרא כג, י) "והבאתם את עמר ראשית קצירכם אל הכהן" למד שאינה באה אלא חובה.
[ג] ואם כן למה נאמר "ואם"? לומר אם אתם מביאים אותה לרצון מעלה אני עליכם כאילו נדבה הבאתם אותה, ואם אין אתם מביאים אותה לרצון מעלה אני עליכם כאילו לא הבאתם אותה אלא לצורך עצמכם.

Pretty cool, no?

Rav Bergman has a different mehalach, but I would suggest that the common denominator is that both by Modim and by Korban Mincha, you are not there to get anything. By Modim, you're not saying "Give," you're saying "thank you for what you've given." Sure, there are plenty of unctuous sycophants who only express gratitude to ingratiate themselves, but that is not the intent of the bracha of Modim.

The idea is that in both cases, one is approaching the Ribono shel Olam with absolutely no self interest, only to express respect and love and gratitude. Such a person is a ben bayis, not an outsider, and the relationship is Ich/Du, Lashon Nochach.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Vayakhel, Shemos 35:30, 31. Betzalel ben Uri ben Chur l’matei Yehudah....Chochmoh, tvunoh, vodaas.

Originally published in 2007. It's very good, so I'm putting it in the front of the line.


Reb Meir Simchah here (Meshech Chochmoh) asks, why does the possuk list Betzalel’s yichus selectively, noting specifically his ancestors Chur and Yehudah.


He answers that one is faced with the possibility of the ultimate sacrifice, of martyrdom, close and meticulous rational analysis is untimely. When Nachshon and Shevet Yehudah were faced with the test of whether they would jump into the Red Sea, and when Chur was faced with a mob of hysterics demanding an Eigel, if Nachshon and Chur had indulged in careful critical analysis and deep consideration of the alternatives and ramifications, they never would have moved: they would have suffered from “the paralysis of analysis.” But they had the deeper wisdom and strength to do what needed to be done without hesitation, and what they did echoes throughout all time. He brings an epigram from the Chosid Yaavetz– "analysis saps the strength of the will." 
  דהחקירה תעכב [ברצון הפנימי] מלמסור נפשו על קדוש השם יתברך

So, middoh k’neged middoh, Hashem filled Betzalel with wisdom. When the time came, and there was a need for careful and prudent wisdom, Hashem granted that as a gift to the descendant of these two people who had shown they knew the limits of chochmoh.

Reb Meir Simcha 35:30
ראו קרא ד' כשם כצלאל כו' כן חור למטה יהודה כו' הענין דמסירת נפש צריך להיות שלא בחקירה והתחכמות יתירה ויהודה מסר עצמו בים במסירת נפש כמו דאיתא בתוספתא דסוטה וכן חור מסר עצמו בעגל דהחקירה תעכב [ברצון פנימי] מלמסור נפשו על קדוש השי"ת כעדות יעב"ץ החסיד לכן אמר שבעבור זה שלא חקרו ולא נתחכמו יותר מדאי לכן וימלא אותו בחכמה ובדעת כו' והבן 

Reb Meir Simcha ends his discussion with with “vehovein.” He clearly means to say that his pshat is not just his usual standard of a brilliant and deep vort, or a new iteration of a truism. And the reason is because at first glance, he seems to be advocating imprudence and foolhardiness! This, obviously, is not what he wants us to come away with. We are all too familiar with the delusional extremists whose acts of 'martyrdom' fill the newspapers. What, then, does he mean?

The answer is this: Reb Meir Simcha is not saying that there is an alternative to prudent wisdom. He is saying that along with chochmas hatorah, you have to develop another kind of chochmoh, and that is the chochmoh of mussor and hashkofoh. This is what the Torah means by "chochmo, tevuna, voda'as. Only when you combine Chochmas Hatorah with the Binoh of mussor and hashkofo do you come to Da'as, the knowledge of what needs to be done right now. If you only have the wisdom of havonas hatorah, you are lacking a crucial part of what a ben Torah must develop. People talk about ‘the fifth shulchon oruch.’ Everyone has their own opinion of what comprises this part of shulchon oruch, and it is usually cited in support of some unsupportable and foolish opinion that contradicts daas torah. In fact, however, this part of Shulchon Oruch is not an alternative to the first four parts. The fifth shulchon oruch is the mussor and hashkofoh that cannot be written on paper. Only if a person knows and understands kol hatorah kuloh, and he also is a godol in hashkofoh and mussor, only then can he trust that his kol demomoh dakoh comes from an inculcated sense of what the right thing to do is.

My father (Shlitah) Hareini Kapparas Mishkavo, liked to say that if someone would open a store that sold common sense, it would go bankrupt, because everyone thinks he has plenty of common sense. In fact, though, common sense is a rare and precious commodity. The same is true regarding the Tevunoh VoDa'as the Torah mentions here.

In Parshas Titzaveh, 30:7, it says B’heitivo es haneiros yaktirenu. The ketores is brought in middle of the hatovas haneiros. While this is a well known halachah which many of us say before pesukei de'zimra every day, did you ever wonder why this is so? Why must we interrupt the preparation of the menorah in order to burn the ketores? Where do we find a Gzeiras Hakasuv that requires that Oseik Bemitzvah should davka stop in middle to do a different mitzvah? Reb Moshe in the original Dorash Moshe says that a talmid chochom (the menorah) needs to have a sense of smell (the ketores) – to be able to discern that something is wrong even when nothing apparent is evident, to be able to sense when people are using the Torah to trick others into following false philosophies. He brings Sanhedrin 93b about the Melech Hamoshiach who is “morach v’do’in.” He explains that this is not a din of nevu’ah, it is simply a sense that every yorei shomayim develops to some degree.

This is what Reb Meir Simcha is talking about. A talmid chochom that does not develop this extra sense, and who relies on just his wisdom, is incomplete, and he should remember that the ketores is an essential part of the hatovas hamenorah.

Here is what bothers me. Why was this quality necessary, or relevant, to davka Betzalel? Of course you need kavana, and chachma, and daas, to fabricate the keilim and invest them with kedusha. As we have said elsewhere, the degree and quality of kavana is an essential part of the keilim and the begadim, no less than in writing a Sefer Torah. But why this particular techunas hanefesh? There was no mesiras nefesh involved here.

My nephew, Harav Yitzchak Buchalter, suggested the following. We know the story said about the Ramak, who said in a drasha that total bitachon will mean the Ribono shel Olam will take care of you 100%. A simple Jew listened, and sold his horse and wagon, we all know the story. The lesson is that the talmidim of Reb Moshe Cordevero were each and every one a gadol in Chochma and Mussar and Kabbala. But they were not simple Jews, they were great thinkers. As such, they had the problem the Chosid Yaavetz described. When Betzalel made the keilim, he had to have the deep wisdom of the heart, which entails dakusdikkeh kavanos that are entirely outside of a normal person's comprehension. To make the keilim with these kavanos required a faith in siyata dishmaya that the kavanos were exactly as they needed to be, with no sfeikos at all. 

  A young medical school student I met, Reb Jacobowitz from Baltimore, said the following, and I think it's superb. Chazal tell us again and again that Betzalel and Ahaliav and indeed all the craftsmen were איש אשר נשאו לבו וכל אשר נדבה רוחו אותו, which means they didn't apprentice, they didn't practice, they were inspired with divine wisdom and skill which expressed itself in their sublime work.  As the Ramban says in 35:21,
כי לא היה בהם שלמד את המלאכות האלה ממלמד, או מי שאימן בהן ידיו כלל, אבל מצא בטבעו שידע לעשות כן, ויגבה לבו בדרכי ה' (דה''ב יז ו) לבא לפני משה לאמר לו אני אעשה כל אשר אדני דובר 
 If so, the type of chochma needed here is beyond learned chochma. It is the tevunas haleiv that was exemplified by Nachshon and Chur, a direct connection to kedusha and truth. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

Ki Sisa, Shemos 34:34. The Masveh and Hiskashrus with a Rebbi

 Upon returning with the second Luchos, Moshe Rabbeinu was granted a Keren of light, an illumination that bespoke his embodiment of the Torah, as the Kiryas Sefer says in the Hakdama. This light frightened everyone, so he covered his face. He removed the cover only when he spoke to Hashem and when he taught Klal Yisrael what Hashem had imparted to him.

ויהי ברדת משה מהר סיני ושני לחת העדת ביד־משה ברדתו מן־ההר ומשה לא־ידע כי קרן עור פניו בדברו אתו

וירא אהרן וכל־בני ישראל את־משה והנה קרן עור פניו וייראו מגשת אליו

ויקרא אלהם משה וישבו אליו אהרן וכל־הנשאים בעדה וידבר משה אלהם

ואחרי־כן נגשו כל־בני ישראל ויצום את כל־אשר דבר ה אתו בהר סיני

ויכל משה מדבר אתם ויתן על־פניו מסוה

ובבא משה לפני ה לדבר אתו יסיר את־המסוה עד־צאתו ויצא ודבר אל־בני ישראל את אשר יצוה

וראו בני־ישראל את־פני משה כי קרן עור פני משה והשיב משה את־המסוה על־פניו עד־באו לדבר אתו

The Gemara in Chagiga 16a says that one who looks at three things weakens his eyesight: the rainbow, Kohanim during duchening, and a "Nasi." 

It is clear that this ״ונתת מהודך עליו״ refers to the keren ohr of Moshe, because of the Medrash Tehillim 21, which equates the וייראו מגשת אליו in our parsha by the keren of light with the "וייראו אותו כאשר יראו את משה by Yehoshua and states that this was a result of ונתתה מהודך עליו :

מדרש תהלים (בובר) מזמור כא 

"גָּדוֹל כְּבוֹדוֹ בִּישׁוּעָתֶךָ הוֹד וְהָדָר תְּשַׁוֶּה עָלָיו" (תהלים כא ו) הוד של רב, והדר של תלמיד, כענין שנאמר: "ונתתה מהודך עליו" (במדבר כז כ). מהודך ולא כל הודך. והיכן ניתן לו ליהושע? ר' יודן אמר: בירדן ניתן לו. במשה כתיב: "וייראו מגשת אליו" (שמות לד ל), וביהושע כתיב: "וייראו אותו כאשר יראו את משה" (יהושע ד יד).

Question: If the luminous countenance of Moshe Rabbeinu was so fearsome, indeed dangerous, such that he covered it to protect all that saw him, why did he not cover his face when he taught Klal Yisrael Torah?

Certainly there was the benefit described in the Ramban, that everyone that saw and heard him knew that when he said "I am your God," he was repeating verbatim the words of Hashem, and not his own thoughts. (One might ask, on the contrary, there is a greater concern of misinterpretation when a man that shines with supernal light says "I am your God."  I suppose the answer is that because Moshe was careful to cover his face all the time except when giving over Hashem's words, it was clear to everyone that when he had the mask on, he was functioning as Moshe ben Amram, and when he removed his mask he was delivering a message from Hashem.)

רמב"ן ויקרא י"ח ב
וטעם דבר אל בני ישראל ואמרת אליהם אני ה' אלהיכם כאילו הוא אומר "ואמרת אליהם בשמי אני ה' אלהיכם" וכן קדושים תהיו כי קדוש אני ה' אלהיכם (ויקרא י״ט:ב׳) ואפשר כי הטעם כי בצאת משה מלפני השם בלא מסוה ויצא ודבר אל בני ישראל את אשר יצוה איננו צריך לומר להם "כה אמר ה'" כי ידוע להם כי רוחו ידבר בו ומלתו על לשונו לא ידבר מעצמו וכן במקומות רבים במשנה תורה כך ידבר כמו והיה אם שמוע תשמעו אל מצותי אשר אנכי מצוה אתכם היום ונתתי מטר ארצכם ונתתי עשב בשדך (דברים יא יג טו) ואין משה הנותן מטר על פני ארץ ושולח מים על פני חוצות ומצמיח עשב בשדה אלא ה' יתברך 

But that does not explain why he couldn't say "Koh Amar Hashem." There has to be a direct reason for removing the mask while teaching Torah.

Reb Moshe, in the new Kol Rom, says that the light was the Hod of Hashra'as HaShechina that rests on those that learn Torah, just that for Moshe it was open and brilliant, and for others, it is internal - 

האור שקרן מעור פניו של משה הוי הוד של השראת שכינה לאלו שעוסקים בתורה, והוא היה למשה בגלוי ולכל ישראל הוא בפנימיות

Therefore, when Klal Yisrael was learning Torah, they, too, had this light, and they were worthy to see the light shining from the face of Moshe Rabbeinu.

ולכן בעת שלמדו את התורה אצל משה גם להם היה אור זה בפנימיותם, והיו ראויים לראות באור שהיה על פניו.

The idea that this light shines from every oseik baTorah is also found in the Zohar, and it doesn't matter much whether it is the light of Hashra'as HaShechina or the Ohr Haganuz.

But even with Reb Moshe's pshat, that when they were learning they were worthy to see the light, that when they were learning it did not frighten or harm them, there has to be a reason why is was necessary for Moshe to take off the mask when he taught them Torah.

The answer, of course, is that a  talmid has to see his rebbi when he learns, as the Netziv says in 34:35.
הוריות י"ב
"וכי יתביתו קמי רבכון, חזו לפומיה דרבכון, שנאמר: (ישעיהו ל') והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך".
עירובין י"ג
אמר רבי: האי דמחדדנא מחבראי דחזיתיה לרבי מאיר מאחוריה, ואילו חזיתיה מקמיה הוה מחדדנא טפי — דכתיב: ״והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך״.

It is true that the Mahrsha sees this as a purely rational, technical idea - that facial expressions communicate more than words alone.
הוה מחדדנא טפי כו'. דבהסברת פנים הוה מחדדי טפי דיש להבין בקריצת עינים וברמיזת שפתים והיינו רואות את מוריך שמראה לו  פנים טפי וק"ל:

But others, including the Radbaz, learn that there is more to it.
אמרו בספרי החכמה כי בהיות האדם מתכוון אל רבו ונותן אליו לבו תתקשר נפשו בנפשו ויחול עליו מהשפע אשר עליו ויהיה לו נפש יתירה וזה נקרא אצלם סוד העיבור בחיי שניהם. וזה הוא שנאמר "והיו עיניך רואות את מוריך"

The Radbaz, of course, was among the greatest of the Mekubalim and among the greatest of the poskim. The Arizal learned in his yeshiva, he was on the Beis Din with the Beis Yosef, and in general he was a living Sefer Torah by the standards of his generation of malachim. Every word he says has to be measured like diamonds.
Here you see that he says that in order to understand Torah properly, you need a kesher to a rebbi, and that is created by looking at him and hearing his divrei Torah.

The lesson here is that learning Torah requires a kesher to a Rebbi. When that kesher is created, the light of the Torah that he has is shared with his talmid. This does not happen with a tape recorder or a book. It is personal and intimate.  As explained by Rav Chatzkel Levenstein -  
תלמידי הגה"צ רבי יחזקאל לוונשטיין זצ"ל שאלוהו: מדוע שיחה הנשמעת מטייפרקורדר אינה משפיעה כל כך חזק כמו שיחה ששומעים מפי החכם עצמו? והוא ענה: בשיחה מוקלטת חסר הצלם אלוקים"


This concept of creating a kesher with a rebbi in order to be spiritually elevated is found in other sefarim, primarily among the Chasidim, which has been inflated into a serious problem. For example, the Breslevers are famous for saying 
“הריני מקשר עצמי.., לכל הצדיקים האמיתיים שבדורנו , ולכל הצדיקים האמיתיים שוכני עפר קדושים אשר בארץ המה, ובפרט לרבינו הקדוש, צדיק יסוד עולם, נחל נובע מקור חכמה, רבינו נחמן בן פֵיגֶא, זכותו יגן עלינו, ועל כל ישראל, אמן.
But it's not only the Breslevers. It is pretty fundamental in Chabad as well. From the Sefer HaTanya:
בכל דור ודור יש ראשי אלפי ישראל שנשמותיהם הם בבחינת ראש ומוח לגבי נשמות ההמון ועמי הארץ... יניקת וחיות נפש רוח ונשמה של עמי הארץ הוא מנפש רוח ונשמה של הצדיקים והחכמים, ראשי בני ישראל שבדורם... על ידי דביקה בתלמידי חכמים קשורות נפש ורוח ונשמה של עמי הארץ ומיוחדות במהותן הראשון ושורשם שבחכמה עילאה

On the other hand, Reb Chaim in Nefesh HaChaim, describing Avodah Zara deoraysa:
נפש החיים שער ג פרק ט
ומהם שהיו משתעבדים ומזבחים ומקטרים לאיזה אדם שראו שכח ממשלת מזלו גדול מאד. בחשבם שע''י השתעבדם ועבודתם אליו יעלה מזלם עם מזלו.
ומהם אף שלא היתה כוונת עבודתם להשפעת הנאות עוה''ז. אבל כוונתם היתה להשיג עי''ז איזה השגות שכלים שחמדו להם. כמו חכמת הקסמים וכיוצא איזה השגות.
ומהם שהתדבקו לעבודת איזה אנשים כדי להמשיך השפעת אמונת אמון ועניני עתידות. וזהו הכל עכומ''ז גמורה. ובכלל לא יהיה לך אלהים אחרים כמ''ש הכל הרמב''ן ז''ל בפירושו על התורה שם. ועיין לק''ת ס''פ נח בענין דור הפלגה:
ואפילו להשתעבד ולהתדבק באיזה עבודה לבחי' רוה''ק שבאיזה אדם נביא ובעל רוה''ק. גם זה נקרא עכומ''ז ממש. כמו שמצינו בנבוכדנצר שהשתחוה לדניאל. ג''כ לא בעבור שהחזיקו לאלוה בורא כל. אלא שכיון בהשתחויתו להשתעבד ולהתדבק לרוח הקדש שבו. כמ''ש (דניאל ב׳:מ״ו) באדין מלכא נבוכדנצ' נפל על אנפוהי ולדניאל סגיד ומנחה ונחחין וכו' מן קשוט די אלהכון הוא אלם אלהין כו' וגלה רזין. די יכלת למגלא רזא דנה ושם (סי' ד') ועד אחרין על קדמי דניאל כו' ודי רוח אלהין קדישין בי' וכו'. ורז''ל אמרו (סנהדרין צ''ג א') הטעם שלא היה דניאל בעת ציווי ההשתחוי' לצל' שאמר דניאל איזיל מהכא דלא לקיים בי פסילי אלהיהם תשרפון. ונ''נ אמר ג''כ יזיל דניאל מהכא דלא לימרו קליי' לאלהי' בנורא. וע' ז''ח רות ס' ע''ב. ובב''ר פ' ל''ו ובתנחומא ר''פ ויחי וכן אתה מוצ' בדניאל וכו' מה כתיב באדין מלכא נבוכדנצ' וכו' ומנחה ונחחין אמר לנסכא לי' אבל דניאל לא קיבל למה שכשם שנפרעין מעובדי עכומ''ז כך נפרעין מהעכומ''ז עצמה. וכן אמרו שם זה הטע' גם על יעקב אבינו ע''ה שלא רצה ליקבר במצרים הרי שקראו ז''ל ענין זה עכומ''ז. אף שהכוונה היתה לרוח אלהין קדישין דבי'.

I am not competent to decide whether Reb Chaim's definition would cast Breslevers, and to some extent most Chasidim, as ovdei avodah zara deoraysa, and if you can bring rayos from reality, it is apparent that the war against Chasidus is long finished, and they won. But I do know that because of a technicality, it does not matter. Avoda Zara requires specific acts, and talk is not among them. As Reb Chaim goes on to say,
ועם כי עיקר אזהרת הכתוב על כל העבודה זרה הנ"ל היינו בארבע עבודות דוקא. אמנם עתה שעבודת התפלה ובהשתעבדות כוונת הלב הוא במקום עבודת הקרבן ודאי גם על זה שייך האזהרה וזהו שאמר הכתיב שמות זובח לאלהים יחרם בלתי לה' לבדו היינו שלא לכוין חס ושלום בשום עבודה וענין לאיזה כח פרטי מכחות שקבע הבורא יתברך כי שם אלקים משותף לכל בעל כח פרטי שיהיה כידוע וכמו שנתבאר לעיל רק לכוין לשם העצם המיוחד לו יתברך לבד שפירושו מהוה הכל היינו כללא ומקורא דכל הכחות כולם כנ"ל וזהו שמע ישראל ה' אלקינו ה' אחד רצה לומר שכל הכחות פרטיים שנמשכים מהויי"ה ברוך הוא המה מאוחדים ונקבצים בכחו יתברך שמו כלל מקור אחדותו הוהוא מצד התחברותן יתברך עם העולמות 

Still, one has to wonder. For us Bnei Yeshiva, non-chasidim, followers of the derech of Reb Chaim, is there a problem taking the Radbaz literally? Even if it is not יהרג ואל יעבור, is it not fort a hashkafa that we totally reject?
The answer is, no, of course not. As Reb Moshe said in the Kol Rom at the beginning, we are talking about a Rebbi Talmid relationship that arises from teaching and learning. The kesher created by this act of lilmod ule'lameid is not Avodah Zara, it is exactly what mesoras Hatorah is meant to be, it is pure Avodas Hashem.

So the answer to the questions we posed is that the mesora of Torah requires a personal, direct, visual, intimate connection between Rebbi and Talmid. Without dwelling on it, the term the Radbaz uses, סוד העיבור, is meant seriously. When that happens, Klal Yisrael had no fear of the "קרן עור פניו" because that "Torah התקשרות" between Rebbi and Talmid elicited within Klal Yisrael the very same Karnei Ohr that Moshe Rabbeinu had.   

I once printed these mugs and gave them to certain members of my shiur.

UPDATE:
I asked two of my grandchildren the question. Their answers are better than mine. One of them, Yaakov Jofen, is named after his great grandfather, Rav Yakov Jofen the Rosh Yeshiva of Beis Yosef in Flatbush. The other is Moshe Eisenberg, named after his great great grandfather, Reb Moshe Feinstein. Yakov said something deep, something his namesake would have enjoyed. Moshe said what Reb Moshe says in his Kol Rom.

Moshe's answer was, like Reb Moshe's that I mentioned above, that the Kedusha of Torah protected them. The light from Moshe Rabbeinu was kedushas haTorah, and when they were learning, that light was in them as well. 

My nephew, Harav Yitzchak Buchalter, added something important to Reb Moshe's answer.  He pointed out Rashi in 34:30,
וייראו מגשת אליו. בֹּא וּרְאֵה כַּמָּה גָדוֹל כֹּחָהּ שֶׁל עֲבֵרָה שֶׁעַד שֶׁלֹּא פָשְׁטוּ יְדֵיהֶם בַּעֲבֵרָה מַהוּ אוֹמֵר? וּמַרְאֵה כְּבוֹד ה' כְּאֵשׁ אֹכֶלֶת בְּרֹאשׁ הָהָר לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל (שמות כ"ד) – וְלֹא יְרֵאִים וְלֹא מִזְדַּעְזְעִים, וּמִשֶּׁעָשׂוּ אֶת הָעֵגֶל אַף מִקַּרְנֵי הוֹדוֹ שֶׁל מֹשֶׁה הָיוּ מַרְתִּיעִים וּמִזְדַּעְזְעִים (ספרי):
Rashi/the Sifri is saying that the fear was a consequence of their yerida. It makes perfect sense that when they were שקוע in לימוד התורה that they would be able to look and not be harmed or afraid.

Yaakov's answer I never would have thought of. He said that they were only afraid when "a man" shone with the light of God. But when Moshe was teaching them Hashem's words, he was representing and channeling the Ribono shel Olam, שכינה מדברת מתוך גרונו של משה, and it made perfect sense for him to shine with divine light. Just like it was natural for Har Sinai to be קולות וברקים ועשן ואש, it was natural for Moshe to appear like that. In his swift mashup of an answer, he said that it was both the shock of the uncanny, of the Godlike visage of the Man, and the discomfort that they were merely men while he was the ideal, the perfected man.  


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 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, 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.)

Saturday, October 23, 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.