Sunday, February 22, 2009

Avos as Jews, Part 3

If a couple was married in Mitzrayim, but their relationship was considered - after Matan Torah - to be ervah, could they remain married? For example, Amram (father of Moshe, Aharon & Miriam) was married to his aunt, Yocheved bas Levi. After Matan Torah, their relationship was asur. Were they allowed to remain married (being grandfathered in) or did they divorce?

The Daas Zekanim Mibaalei Hatosfos, Bamidbar 11:27, discusses Eldad and Meidad: Eldad and Meidad were brothers of Moshe, for when the Torah was given and the arayos (plural of ervah, it means incestouous relationships) all separated [from their spouses] at it says 'vayishma Moshe es ha'am bocheh lemishpechosav' (and Moshe heard the nation crying to their families) - the drasha is "about their families" [(i.e., wives) becoming forbidden]. Also Amram the father of Moshe separated from Yocheved who had been his wife, and he married another women and bore from her Eldad and Meidad.

He holds they were not allowed to remain married. (He can hold that ervah depended on the kedushas haprat.)

The Meshech Chochma (Devarim 5:27) states: The Chasam Sofer (Avodah Zarah 63b) is unsure as to the source that a ger who converts is like newborn child. To me it is simple that undoubtedly among those men who left Mitzrayim many women (wives) who were from those [relationships] that are not forbidden to Bnei Noach. And Amram is a case in point, he was a gadol hador married to his aunt...these men who were married to their relatives would have had to separate from their wives [but this pasuk says "return to your tents", i.e., your wives, implying that they remained married to their wives] and thus we see that a ger who converts (meaning the Jews at Matan Torah) is like newborn child.

He holds that they were allowed to remain married because the geirus at Matan Torah made them be considered not related.

The Gur Aryeh, Breishis 46:10, says that "a ger who converts is like newborn child," did not apply to the Jews at Matan Torah since G-d lifted the mountain over them as a tub [and pressured them to accept the Torah], so they could not be considered like a newborn. But regular geirim are considered as newborns.

The Gur Aryeh uses this idea (the same idea as the Meshech Chochma) to explain how Yaakov Avinu married two sisters - after geirus, they were not halachikly sisters. The famous Ramban (Breishis 26:5) says Yaakov married two sisters because he only kept the Torah as "mi she'eino metzuve v'oseh" (not out of an obligation) when he was in Eretz Yisrael, and he married Rachel and Leah outside of Eretz Yisrael. (This Ramban needs some discussion. His question includes how did Amram marry to his aunt and how did Moshe build 12 matzevos. But in the midbar, after Matan Torah, they were obligated in the Torah, so having not yet entered Eretz Yisrael would not have allowed them to not fulfill a mitzvah. Perhaps Moshe's building the matzeivos was a hora'as shaah. Still, it is unclear if the Ramban would agree with the Daas Zekanim or the Meshech Chochma about Amram remaining married to Yocheved after Matan Torah.)

(I would like to acknowledge that I first heard this Gur Aryeh, the above Meshech Chochma and the Ritva Kesuvos 11 [in the first post about Avos as Jews] from R. Aryeh Shtern at KBY in Sivan 5764.)

Saturday, February 21, 2009

More on Ohel Hames & Parshas Shkalim

There is an machlokes (Tanaim) if there is an issur dirabanan (see Ohalaos Ch. 3) to import vegetables from chutz la'aretz to Eretz Yisrael because we are concerned that there will be some dirt on the vegetables and the dirt of chutz laaretz is tamei because we're worried there are human remains mixed with the dirt. See Sanhedrin 12a and Nedarim 53b. Tosfos (Sanhedrin) says the problem is that one may touch the dirt and become tamei. Rashi (ibid.), however, says the problem is that one will become tamei when they will be under the same ohel as the vegetable and will become tamei from ohel. Rashi apparently holds like the strict opinion (Rabbeinu Tam) - that a non-Jewish corpse is metamei b'ohel. (While this is only tamei midirabanan, Rashi apparently held the chachamim made it tamei to the same extent as it would be had it been dioraissa - even in an ohel.) It also seems Rashi holds this way in Ramban Yevamos 61a. I just want to remind everyone that not all rishonim agree with Rabbeinu Tam (see Ramban Yevamos 61a s.v. ha, and Nimukei Yosef Bava Metzia 69b bedapei haRif s.v. ein), and the Shulchan Aruch paskens like Rabbeinu Tam lechumra - "it is correct for kohanim to not go..."

About the machlokes if one may import vegetables - I'd like to add one point. The problem of the vegetables is that they grow in the ground, and some dirt may be attached to them. This wouldn't apply to grain or fruit, which grows higher off the ground and would not have dirt sticking to it. It seems to me that there is a hint to this halacha in a pasuk in Eishes Chayil (Mishlei 31:14) haysa ka'anios socher, mimirchak tavi lachmah, she was like a merchant's ship, from far-away places she brings her bread. Shlomo Hamelech is alluding to this halacha that bread (wheat) may be imported from far away lands, but vegetables may not be imported.

Another point that only Yisrael is called Adam, and adam is plural as well as singular - perhaps this is a reason why it is forbidden to count Jews 1, 2, 3, ..., instead we count their shkalim (or we say "hoshia es amech" to count a minyan) - to reduce Jews to individuals we negate the unity aspect - the Adam - of Klal Yisrael.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Avos as Jews, part 2

As I mentioned, Rav Ahron Soloveichik held that all Rishonim held the Avos (and Jews before matan Torah) had individual kedusha. However, I found one Rishon who may not agree. The Gemara (Bava Basra 58a) mentions (it's an agadata) how Rav Banah went in to Mearas Hamachpela to measure it, and he later marked off the area from the outside so Kohanim will not walk there and become tamei (from ohel hames, that a roof over the corpse transmits Tumah to everywhere under the roof). The Nemukei Yosef there (31a in Rif s.v. garsinan) quotes rishonim who learn from this Gemara that a non-Jewish corpse does emanate tumah in an ohel, because Avraham was from the Bnei Noach. From the fact the Nemukei Yosef shows that Avraham's grave transmits Tumah in spite of the fact that Avraham was a ben Noach, shows that Avraham probably didn't have any kedusha. Because they learn from Avraham that all non-Jewish corpses transmit Tumah. Unless tumah is independent of all kedusha, individual and communal, but then the last statement of the Shulchan Aruch (next paragraph) is strange.

This is a machlokes in the mishna and among the poskim. Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 372:2) says: It is proper [for a kohen] to refrain from walking on the graves of non-Jews. Rama: even though some are lenient, it is correct to be strict. And the grave of a mumar is tamei like a Jew's grave. (Note: the lenient opinion Rama brings, even though he does not accept it, argues on this Nimukei Yosef. That opinion, the Yera'im, holds a non-Jewish corpse does not transmit Tumah in an ohel, and is only forbidden for a kohen to touch it. This shita is used when a kohen wants to attend medical school - to this most lenient opinion, a kohen may be under the same roof as a corpse or cadaver, but he may not touch it.) Rav Ahron explained that a mumar, even though he loses his Jewish status, that's only kedusha of the community. But his individual sanctity remains. If so, this halacha has little in common with the first halacha mentioned - if a non-Jewish corpse transmits tumah, certainly a mumar should. Unless you'd think a mumar is worse than a non-Jew (whether because of moridim v'lo maalin or some other sevara).

A side point about a non-Jewish corpse causing tumah - Rav Yitzchok of Volozhin, the son of Rav Chaim of Volozhin, the author of Nefesh Hachaim, explained that in the mishna, Rabi Shimon Bar Yochai's opinion (Bava Metzia 114) that a non-Jewish corpse does not cause tumah is learned from a psauk "adam ki yamus ba'ohel" only tells us that a Jewish corpse causes Tumah in an ohel because only a Yisrael is called adam, emanates from the communal kedusha. The word adam is singular and plural, because the Jewish people as a whole can be considered one unit, and anyone else cannot be called adam. (See R. Joshua Hoffman's Netvort and also to Tazria 5768, but archives are unavailable for that one. Also see Tosfos, Avodah Zarah 3a s.v. Kohanim.) With this in mind, perhaps we can explain a well-known law in a new light: a non-Jew acts "for himself" according to Halacha - not just that he doesn't halachikly act on behalf of a Jew, but he only works on his own behalf, and not as part of a greater unit. (Again, I stress this is a strict Halachik framework. There are many selfless non-Jews who act for others and the public good, and some do so even at great personal risk, like Wallenberg and Schindler who saved many Jews in the Holocaust. They are michasidei Umos Haolam.) (For more on adam/haadam, see Bava Kama 38a, Yevamos 61a, Gur Aryeh Breishis 46:10.)

There is a famous book of drashos, Prashas Drachim by Rav Rozanes, also the author to Mishna Lamelech (published in the standard Rambam) who discusses whether the Avos had kedushas yisrael or were bnei Noach. He brings many midrashim back and forth, at one time bringing a medrash that Yosef felt they were Yisraelim, and his brothers felt they were Bnei Noach. It is the first and second drasha in the sefer, IIRC.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Avos as Jews, part 1

In this post I mentioned there is discussion if the Avos were Jewish or had the status of Bnei Noach. In Parshas Yisro, according to the Ramban, Yisro came and converted before matan Torah, so to him (at least) there must have been yahadus (Judaism), or more specifically, kedushas yisrael, before Har Sinai. We will see this is so, and much more.

Ramban Vayikra 24:10 discusses whether the son of Shlomis bas Divri and the Egyptian man was Jewish or not. He cites the French (i.e., Baalei Hatosfos) as saying before matan Torah, lineage followed the father, so this man was not Jewish. Ramban himself argues and holds from the time of Avraham, Yisrael was a distinct people, and certainly this man whose mother was Jewish was also Jewish, from the descendants of Avraham.

We also see this from Ramban in Yevamos 46 when the Gemara says a ger must undergo milah, tevilah and bring a korban, when the Gemara says a ger needs tevilah like the imahos (mothers), Ramban explains it refers to Sarah, Rivka, Rochel and Leah. Rashi, however, explains mothers as the Jewish women who left Egypt.

Rav Ahron Halevi Soloveichik zt"l explained (See Mesorah 19, Teves 5763) that there are two sanctities (kedushos) that a Jew has - the individual sanctity and the communal sanctity. The Avos had individual sanctity (according to all opinions). Ramban Yevamos holds the laws of geirus are learned from one acquiring the individual sanctity, which the Avos had. Rashi there learns the laws from the communal sanctity, which did not exist until Har Sinai. (And when we say a mumar loses his kedushas yisrael - that's only his communal sanctity, but he does not lose his individual sanctity.) He also explained that the argument between the Ramban and the French rabbis regarding the son of Shlomis bas Divri was whether religion following the mother was dependent on having the individual sanctity (Ramban; hence the man was a Jew) or having the communal sanctity (French rabbis; hence that man who was born before Har Sinai was not a Jew like his mother, rather an Egyptian like his father).

The Ritva (Kesuvos 11 s.v. mai) agrees with the Ramban. The gemara there discusses converting a minor (child younger than 12 or 13). He asks why don't we bring a proof that such a conversion is valid from the fact that there must have been children who left Egypt and they converted with their parents at Har Sinai? His second answer is: the seed of Avraham were already commanded to do milah and to to bring them [their children] into the covenant [of Avraham] from their youth, and this [procedure at Har Sinai] was only a completion of Geirus.

The Ritva's answer is that the Jews had individual kedushas Yisrael before Har Sinai, and they added on the communal kedushas Yisrael at Har Sinai. (It seems the Ritva in his question held like Rashi).

Thursday, February 12, 2009

75a - Ger & Parshas Yisro

First, Parsha: See 18:9: "Vayichad Yisro on all of the good that G-d did to Yisrael..." What does vayichad mean? Rashi says the pshat is he was happy. Rashi then quotes a midrash (really a Gemara Sanhedrin 94a -Perek Chelek) "that his flesh had goosebumps (vayichad) he was troubled on the destruction of Egypt. And this is why people say a ger - until 10 generations do not put down an arami (generic for non-Jew) in his presence."

I was thinking, what if this Gemara is based on our Gemara in Kiddushin 75a that "Rav Yosef says until 10 generations, a ger may marry a mamzeres. And some say until the shem ger is removed." This statement Rashi brings seems to be like Rav Yosef's statement. And then, (because someone asked me to look something up in the Mizrachi) I saw the Gur Aryeh (Maharal) who says this explicitly in Rashi.

I recently posted about the Machlokes Rambam and Ran about Ger marrying a bas yisrael, will the daughter be allowed to marry a kohen. And we've discussed that a ger can marry a mamzeres (and vice verca) - Be'er heitev 4:27 points out it's not prohibited (midioraissa) from the lav not to marry a mamzer, but he says it is prohibited (sounds like midirabanan) because we do not want to have more mamzeirim (i.e., they are allowed to marry, but their children will be mamzeirim).

I've been thinking - I think the Ran paskens like the Mishna on 66b [almost] all the way, but the Rambam does not pasken like that Mishna in all its details, because he pasken like later mishnayos on Daf 75 & 77 regarding ger & mamzeres & certain people who can marry a kohen (see E"H 4:5 & 4:19, I hope to discuss that machlokes rishonim in another post.)

And about 10 generations about Ger - those who pasken like Rav Yosef will say the male son of a male ger 10 generations later will be prohibited to marry a mamzeres (this is where all of the men married a giores or regular bas yisrael, not someone pasul). The Rambam paskens like the second opinion, not Rav Yosef, and he says such a person will be allowed to marry a mamzeres, because we don't follow the 10 generation thing. However, if any of his forefathers married a regular bas yisrael, the shem ger is removed (it could even be after 1 generation) and none of the descendants from that point forward may marry a mamzeres.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

80b-81b Yichud & Adoption

An issue in adoption is that the adopted child and the adoptive parent of the opposite gender will cause yichud (shall we translate that as seclusion?) problems. I just want to quote the Meiri (81b s.v. Kevar): "...However, whomever does this without the intent of yichud and for unclean thoughts, rather, the way of the love of (parents?) the ones who raise a child (derech hamolidim) to publicise and make known that their children are very dear to them, it is permitted. And on this it is said: hakol lesheim shamayim."

With this Meiri, there is no problem of yichud between adopted child and parent. Mipi rabbeinu zt"l.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

75b Kusim, and Content Note

I will B"H not discuss if Kusim were Geirei Arayos or geirei emes. When Geirus issues relate to our inyanim (like Srarah or the child of a ger to a kohen) I will discuss it, but I don't want to discuss inyanim of what constitutes a kosher geirus.

75a - Offspring of Geirim for Kohanim & Mamzerim

75a - We learned in a Braisa: a ger until 10 generations is allowed to marry a mamzeres; from then on he is prohibited to marry a mamzeres. And some say until the non-Jewish identity is removed from him.

Rambam (Isurei Biah 15:8-9) paskens like the latter opinion, that the son of ger and giores can marry a mamzeres (the offspring will be mamzerim) and (Isurei Biah 19:12) cannot marry a kohen. Rambam rejects 10 generations and holds once either the mother or father is a yisrael, even though one parent is a ger, that child may marry a kohen (IB 19:12 & 16, from Rebi Eliezer Ben Yaakov in the mishna on 77a) and is forbidden to marry a mamzer/mamzeres, because one yisrael parent removes the non-Jewish identity. Ran (30b in Rif, s.v. umutar) (also see Chelkas Mechokek & Beis Shmuel on S"A 4:22) asks on Rambam that if a ger marries a bas yisrael, their daughter should be forbidden to marry a kohen, because the mishna on 66b says if there is kiddushin and no aveirah the vlad follows the father, which is a ger, who is not allowed to a kohen? A simple answer to the Ran's question is, we pasken khal geirim is not a khal, but there is a khal for kohanim, leviim and yisraelim. When the mishna says follow the father, that's when the father has a khal (or a psul). If the mother is a yisraelis, that's enough to put the child into the khal. But if the father is a ger, he has no khal, so he can't pass on nothing to his child. If the mother is also a giores, the child would have the same status of a ger and be asur to marry a kohen. (Note that the hava amina in Bechoros 47 holds that a son of a goy and a bas levi would be a levi, because where there is no mishpachas av the child would get mishpachas eim.)

The Rosh paskens like the first lashon in the Gemara, the we do follow the 10 generation bit. See how the Shulchan Aruch brings this halacha in 4:22.

Reb Chaim (Issurei Biah 15:9) is about this Ran & Rambam. His answer is more complex, and I direct interested readers there.

(It's interesting - see Aruch Hashulchan 4:11 and 7:39 - ger biyamim kadmonim - he says it that way because it was prohibited from the dina d'malchusa (the Czar) to convert to Judaism. See his lashon in his title to Y"D 268: "Laws of converts in the early days, and in our countries we have no authority to accept converts due to the law of the land." Has anyone written on the historical aspects of conversion? We know that the Gra accepted R' Avraham ben Avraham, the Ger Tzedek of Vilna (the former Polish count who converted), but that was 100 years before the Aruch Hashulchan, and probably a different country also, (but I'm not well versed in 18th and 19th century Eastern European history either).

Monday, February 2, 2009

Addendum to Srarah Part 4

I forgot to include the following in Srarah Part 4.

The Ramban Shemos 6:23 discusses why certain people's wives (and the wife's fathers) were mentioned when discussing the lineage of Moshe & Aharon. He says "al derech hapshat" that the mothers of kings are frequently mentioned, and he mentions Divrei Hayamim II Ch 20 and Melachim I 15 (even though in Nach, the meforshim explain she was mentioned because of how evil she was, not exactly high praise). Perhaps the Ramban is trying to say like Tosfos (the basic answer) that a melech must have his mother from Yisrael also, not just the father. This is debatable, but it's a possibility.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Srarah Part 5: Women & Srarah (and loose ends)

Tosfos in Bava Kama 15, Gittin 88, Nidah 50a, Shavuos 29 ask: women can't be judges, so how did Devorah judge bnei Yisrael (Shoftim 4)? There are three answers:
1) it was kiblu alaihu - the people accepted her as judge. (This continues a point I made in Part 3, that you can accept someone as a judge who couldn't be appointed).
2) she only taught them the halacha, but did not actually judge
3) it was horaas shaah, at that time it was necessary to have Devorah judge, but otherwise a woman cannot judge. Maybe some people will understand this answer as an appendage to answer #1.

Woman as Mashgiach (in Kashrus)
Igros Moshe YD II 44-45 permits it because she doesn't have authority by herself, the authority stems from the rav hamachshir. Also, because of the aforementioned Tosfos, since Devorah was accepted she may judge, similarly, this mashgicha was accepted. My rebbi zt"l felt it was mutar without resorting to the reasons of R' Moshe, because many Rishonim say women (and geirim) cannot be appointed to Srarah positions that involve coersion (kefiya), but in the USA, a mashgiach has much less authority than that.

Women on Synagogue Boards
See Rabbi J. David Bleich in Contemporary Halakhic Problems II, Chapter 12.

Firing a Rabbi
Rabbi Gedalia Dov Schwartz, Shaarei Gedula, pp.118-120, and 370 n11.

See Rambam, Hil. Sanhedrin Ch. 25 for some laws relating to the people in srarah positions, and how they should be treated, and how they should act.

Some important responsa regarding these issues may be found in: Chasam Sofer O"C 12, Marashdam 85, Mabit ibid, Avnei Nezer Y"D 312. (These sources are quoted by R. Yitzchak Ralbag in his notes to Ritva, Makos 13a, published by Mossad Harav Kook. These are not easily accessible to me at this time.)

Let me end my discussion of Srarah by quoting the end of the last Ritva in the second perek of Makos:
Tangentially, we learn from our sugya (that someone who killed beshogeg and went to ir miklat and returned home after the death of the kohen gadol returns to the srarah position he previously held) that anyone whose forefathers held any appointment or srarah and he is fitting for that position, for the only argument here was when he because tainted due to his actions. It is not necessary to say that anyone who had a plain appointment without a term, that he may not be removed without a valid claim against him. I similarly saw in a responsa from Rabbeinu Meir regarding a Shliach Tzibur (aka Chazzan). And my teacher R. Meir would say in the name of his teacher, our master the Ramban that we learn this from the verse (Devarim 17:20) "so that the days of he and his sons will be lengthened among Yisrael," all appointments shall be for he and his sons.