Monday, November 29, 2010

Economy of Scale

Economies of scale, in microeconomics, refers to the cost advantages that a business obtains due to expansion. There are factors that cause a producer’s average cost per unit to fall as the scale of output is increased. "Economies of scale" is a long run concept and refers to reductions in unit cost as the size of a facility and the usage levels of other inputs increase. (Wikipedia)

See this Rambam, Ishus 18:4

ד] ברכת הבית, מרובה. כיצד: חמישה שהיה מזונות כל אחד מהן קב, כשיאכל לבדו, אם היו חמשתן בבית אחד ואוכלין בעירוב, מספיק להן ארבעת קבין; והוא הדין, לשאר צורכי הבית. לפיכך אלמנה שאמרה, איני זזה מבית אבי, פסקו לי מזונות, ותנו לי שם--יכולין היורשין לומר לה, אם את אצלנו, יש לך מזונות, ואם לאו, אין אנו נותנים לך אלא כפי ברכת הבית. ואם הייתה טוענת, מפני שהיא ילדה, והם ילדים--נותנין לה מזונות המספיקין לה לבדה, והיא בבית אביה. ומותר מזונות האלמנה ומותר הכסות, ליורשין.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Surrogate Pregnancy Clarification

Relating to this post, in Parshas Vayeitzei.

When some rishonim mention that the fetuses of Yosef and Dina were switched, the outcome is that the surrogate mother is the mother. According to those who use this midrash to explain that Shimon married Dina, they would have to hold that on some level the surrogate mother is the mother - because Yosef is the son of Rachel and Dina is the daughter of Leah - but they'd also have to hold that for some things the genetic mother is the mother, otherwise, Shimon and Dina would be full siblings and not have been allowed to marry.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Parshas Chayei Sarah: Gittin-related Halachos

First, From Haftorah:
אמר להו קראו לי לבת שבע וכתיב (מלכים א א) ותבא בת שבע אל המלך החדרה אמר רב יהודה אמר רב באותה שעה קינחה בת שבע בשלש עשרה מפות
(Sanhedrin 22)
Rashi says we know Bas Sheva wiped herself 13 times because there are 13 words in the Pasuk:
טו וַתָּבֹא בַת-שֶׁבַע אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ הַחַדְרָה וְהַמֶּלֶךְ זָקֵן מְאֹד וַאֲבִישַׁג הַשּׁוּנַמִּית מְשָׁרַת אֶת-הַמֶּלֶךְ
So, the Gra said we see from this that the name Bas Sheva is one word - if it is 2 words, then this Pasuk has 14 words - so in a Get it is written as one word.
--Kol Eliyahu, Sanhedrin 22

In a Get, we write the city and the water sources of the city - river, ocean, sea, wellsprings, wells, etc. (see here for an example). See Shulacha Aruch E"H 158. Haghos Ashri (Gittin 4:7) says we write the river just as a siman (perhaps if there are multiple cities with the same name. For example, in The Aryeh Kaplan Reader, there is an article about how to spell Monsey in Hebrew in a Get. He mentions that there are 3 cities in the US with that name, (one is spelled Muncie in English). The significance of that is in the determination of the proper pronunciation of Monsey (e.g., not Moonsey). Then they (meaning Rav Moshe Feinstein) had to determine if Lake Suzanne was a nahar or not. [I think Lake Suzanne has since dried up, but that's a different issue.] So we would know that a Get from "Monsey on Nahar Lake Suzanne" was not the Muncie in Indiana.)

Meshech Chochma proves from our Parsha that Maayan and Be'er are used interchangeably in the Torah and Gemara. Because one Pasuk says Rivka came to the Maayan and in another Pasuk it says she ran back to the be'er.
--Meshech Chochma, Breishis 24:16

Sunday, September 26, 2010

9th Yahrzeit of Harav Ahron Halevi Soloveichik zt"l


Gittin 68 says that Shlomo Hamelech was cast away by Ashmedai, the king of sheidim (demons). So I want to bring some opinions about what sheidim are.

Ramban to Vayikra 17:7 (tha pasuk says "do not sacrifice to seirim, which Onkelos translates as sheidim) says that people are made up of all four elements - fire, water, earth and air, but sheidim consist of only fire and air, and therefore cannot be perceived by the senses. They can fly because they consist of only light elements. They know what will happen because they hear things when they fly (near the heavens).

Rav Ahron zt"l said that sheidim are germs, a disruptive force that cannot be seen. When the Gemara (Gittin 66a) says sheidim have shadows it means hallucinations can be lifelike (sheidim are also psychological).

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Eating on Erev Yom Kippur, Part 2

See Rav Zevin's Moadim B'Halacha for Yom Kippur "Tzom He'asor." The achronim he cites all seem to focus on the last of the reasons offered by Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva.

What are some nafka minas between the different answers of R"Y? One would be if you're not fasting (As R' Zevin mentions). To the third reason, there is no reason to eat a special meal. To the second reason, if someone is not fasting, perhaps they should eat a yom tov meal on Yom Kippur itself. To the first reason, they should perhaps eat on Erev Yom Kippur, since that is when everyone also is celebrating the kaparah.

As a note to the very last point, Rav Yoshe Ber zt"l said Sukkos is Zman Simchaseinu - the simcha is that of receiving the Kapparah on Yom Kippur, and we just wait a few days to celebrate.

Another Nafka mina would be should you eat the night before Erev Sukkos. The mashmaus of Rashi (Kesuvos 5a s.v. shechal lihyos) is that you do eat the night before Erev Yom Kippur, but no one has such a custom. To the first and third reasons, there is little rationale for eating on the night before Erev Yom Kippur. To the second reason, if we keep Erev Yom Kippur special because we can't eat on Yom Kippur itself, maybe there is some rationale to eat on Erev Yom Kippur eve.

On this second reason of R"Y, my Rebbi Rav Ahron zt"l explained that Yom Kippur should be a Yom Tov like Shavuos because Moshe returned with the second Luchos on Yom Kippur. So really Yom Kippur is a joyous celebration of receiving the Torah and that is why we have a seudah on Erev Yom Kippur.

Then there is a possibility that Erev Yom Kippur has some of the sanctity of Yom Kippur itself. One source is the din of tosefes Yom Kippur. The Gemara discusses this (Yoma 81b). "Bitisha lachodesh ba'erev, mi'erev ad erev..." The inui of Yom Kippur starts on the ninth of Tishrei. Rambam, however, only mentions tosefes for Yom Kippur (Shevisas Asor 1:6) and not for Shabbos or Yom Tov. We see, therefore, that Erev Yom Kippur already has some element of Yom Kippur. (And see Harirei Kedem I 47, you can interpret it like I am saying or you can interpret it differently.) Another possibility for this is in the Rambam, Hilchos Teshuva 2:7 regarding saying viduy before the seudas hamafsekes. Rav Yoshe Ber said (see Machzor Mesoras Harav, p. xix) that "Erev Yom Kippur is appended to Yom Kippur in respect to the kedushas hayom." We could suggest, though it is not totally compelling, that if the ninth is special, its uniqueness begins the night before - that is, the night before the ninth of Tishrei.

According to this, let me depart for a moment from my normal rigid seriousness. The mekubalim say Yom Hakippurim means "the day which is like Purim." Now Yom Kippur is from Har Sinai and Purim was not until after chrurban bayis rishon? Using the previous idea - that Yom Kippur is really 2 days (or 1+ days), we can compare it to Purim. See Rambam Taanios 5:5 that 13 Adar, commonly known as Taanis Esther, is midivrei Kabbalah, because it is from the pasuk in the megillah "divrei hatzomos vezaakasam." (Note: this Halacha in the Rambam needs a lot of explanation. The simple reading says that we fast the 4 fasts as minhag, but Taanis Esther is midivrei Kabbalah. See Magid Mishna, that Taanis Esther is not mentioned in the Gemara. But the 4 fasts are, so it seems that the fast mentioned in the Gemara would have a higher status? One answer is that Taanis Esther is midivrei Kabalah. And if you want to suggest the 4 fasts are also divrei kabbalah because of the passuk in Zecharya tzom harevii vetzom hachamishi - please comment, because I don't think that is a compelling question. A simple but elegant explanation is that of Rav Zelmeleh, the brother of Rav Chaim Volozhiner, that remove the vav from "u'v'yud-gimmel baAdar." Thus this entire Halacha is only discussing Taanis Esther and none of the 4 fasts.) Now, my brother told me that our Rebbi Rav Moshe shlit"a and his brother Rav Yosef shlit"a gave the same shiur with opposite conclusions. In 2 sentences, why is Taanis Esther called Yemai Hatzomos - that would include Purim as a tzom? They both answered that Purim and Taanis Esther are one combined holiday. However, Rav Moshe said that Taanis Esther is a happy fast, and Rav Yosef answered that Purim is a sad holiday. regardless of that dispute, having a holiday where one day you fast and one day you eat, would be like Purim, and thus Yom Kippurim - that we eat on the ninth and fast on the tenth - is like Purim, where we fast on the 13th and eat on the 14th.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Eating on Erev Yom Kippur

Rabbeinu Yonah, Shaarei Teshuva 4:8
The Gemara (Rosh Hashana 9a) says whoever has a set meal on Erev Yom Kippur is as if he was commanded to fast on the ninth and tenth [of Tishrei] and he did, because he shows his excitement at the arrival of the day of his atonement, and it testifies his worry for his guilt and his sorrow for his sins.

[9] The second reasonis on holidays we have a meal for the happiness of the mitzvah...but because we must fast on Yom Kippur, we are obligated to have the meal on Erev Yom Kippur.

[10] And the third reason is to strengthen ourselves to be able to say the many prayers and supplications on Yom Kippur and to be able to make personal resolutions about Teshuva.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Added Aliyas on Haazinu

I was asked the following Shaila: This Shabbos we lain Haazinu. We are not allowed to make the aliyos during the shira in places other than where the aliyas are. Can we add aliyas during shevii?

Everything very quickly: the prohibition to make extra aliyos in Haazinu is in Rosh Hashana 31a. Shulchan Aruch paskens it in 428:5. From Rambam's lashon (Tefila 13:5) it sounds like you can't add in the shira, but in shevii you may add. Mishna Brurah brings Eliyahu Rabbah and Pri Megadim that you may add an aliya in shevii. Aruch Hashulchan (428:5) says you may not add aliyas in Haazinu at all.

Rav Tzvi Hirsch Grodzinsky says not to add an aliya, because you would make it at the place we read maftir, and then you will read the same aliya two aliyos in a row (as acharon and maftir). But he mentions that Shaar Efrayim says you may add an aliya there in Haazinu.

It seems that we may add an aliya in shevi'i of Haazinu.

Intermarriage Article

An interesting article about the prohibition of Intermarriage in The Jerusalem Post.

To everyone, have a Happy and Healthy New Year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

13 Elul

Today was the 7th yahrzeit of Rabbi Dr. David Appelbaum and his daughter Nava. They were killed in a terrorist bombing in Jerusalem the night before Nava's wedding. Reb David was a highly accomplished individual. I am not qualified to address the greatness of Reb David, but besides for being a physician who revolutionized emergency medicine in Israel and a talmid chacham (see the obituary in The Lancet), he had many - like dozens and dozens - other talents and skills. One of them was coming once a week, every week, to learn with his sons in yeshiva.

This week's parsha, Ki Tavo, begins with laws about Bikkurim. In Makos (18b) there is a machlokes tanaim if the main part of bikkurim is placing them in front of the mizbe'ach, or is the main part when the kohen takes the hand of the bringer and they wave the basket together.

Sometimes in life we have to do things ourselves. Just putting the basket down fulfills the mitzvah. But sometimes we cannot do things alone. Sometimes we must be a member of a group to accomplish things, like the waving which could only be while the bringer and the kohen hold the basket.

In life, Dr. Applebaum inspired thousands of people by the way he cared for and about people. His murder incited outrage.

Seven years later, the pain has not diminished. There are many projects that are left unfinished because Reb David is no longer with us. What remains with me is that there is no limit to what man can accomplish. Reb Dovid accomplished so much in his short life, but doubtless would have accomplished mush more had he not been stolen from us so soon. The terrorist murderer destroyed so much - a young couple's journey of life together, as well as the many projects that Reb David had in progress (some of which were completed), but others are still in progress, and some are, unfortunately, lost. But the perseverance of Reb David, and his knowledge of when to act alone, when to act as part of a group, when to assemble a team, and when to let someone else take the lead (at Reb David's insistence) was a rare talent indeed.

ה' יקום דמם

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Rambam about Lo Yihye Kadesh (Parshas Ki Seitzei)

יח לֹא-תִהְיֶה קְדֵשָׁה מִבְּנוֹת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא-יִהְיֶה קָדֵשׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל. (Devarim 23)

Onkelos says A Jewish woman may not marry an eved, and a Jewish man may not marry a shifcha. Rashi, however, says a woman must not be available for illicit activities, and a man may not be available for mishkav zachor. Rambam, Ishus 1:4 says from this passuk we see kedeisha became forbidden after matan Torah. (see Pilegesh posts here; scroll down). Chinuch 570 says this pasuk is a mitzvah that you may not live with a woman without chuppa and kiddushin.

But what I want to discuss here is the Rambam, Issurei Biah 12:11-14
הלכה יא -העבדים שהטבילו אותם לשם עבדות וקבלו עליהם מצות שהעבדים חייבים בהם יצאו מכלל העכו"ם ולכלל ישראל לא באו לפיכך השפחה אסורה לבן חורין אחד שפחתו ואחד שפחת חבירו והבא על השפחה מכין אותו מכת מרדות מדברי סופרים שהרי מפורש בתורה שהאדון נותן שפחה כנענית לעבדו העברי והיא מותרת לו שנאמר אם אדוניו יתן לו אשה.
הלכה יב -ולא גזרו חכמים בדבר זה ולא חייבה תורה מלקות בשפחה אא"כ היתה נחרפת לאיש כמו שביארנו.
הלכה יג -אל יהי עון זה קל בעיניך מפני שאין בו מלקות מן התורה שגם זה גורם לבן לסור מאחרי י"י שהבן מן השפחה הוא עבד ואינו מישראל ונמצא גורם לזרע הקדש להתחלל ולהיותם עבדים הרי אונקלוס המתרגם כלל בעילת עבד ושפחה בכלל לא יהיה קדש ולא תהיה קדשה
הלכה יד -הבא על שפחה ואפילו בפרהסיא ובשעת עבירה אין הקנאין פוגעין בו וכן אם לקח שפחה דרך חתנות אינו לוקה מן התורה שמעת שטבלה וקבלה מצות יצתה מכלל העכו"ם.

Avnei Milu'im 16:5 says that that from these Halachos we see Rambam holds it is only asur to marry a shifcha midirabanan, because he does not agree with Onkelos as to the pshat in this passuk.

However, my Rebbi zt"l said that his father Hagaon Rav Moshe zt"l did not agree with the Avnei Miluim, because the Rambam cites Onkelos in Halacha 13! If so, why is there no malkos? Because there is a principle that you only get malkos for the main issur of the passuk. If there is an additional law extended fro mthe main law, there is no malkus. For example, there is an isur to destroy a fruit tree, punishable by makos. But that lav extends and tell us we may not destroy any usable object. However, for the extended lav, there is no malkos. So too, explained Rav Moshe zt"l, is this Halcha about shifcha here. Rambam holds the main lav of the pasuk is about not being allowed to cohabit outside of marriage. But he agrees that Onkelos' explanation is an extension of this lav. So marrying a shifcha is asur midioraissa according to the Rambam, but there is no malkos because it is not the main issur of this passuk.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Tax Rates and Halacha

In last week's Parsha, the Torah lists a command for the king: he may not amass large quantities of gold and silver (see 17:17). Why not?

Rabbeinu Bechaye explains the ibn Eza that the reason for this prohibition is so the king does not excessively tax the people.

So, Torah says High taxes = Bad!
What exactly is considered high? Not sure.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Seudos Mitzvah and Bas Mitzvah

There is a very famous Yam Shel Shlomo Bava Kama, Perek 7 siman 37, and also after the end of Chapter 7 there is a paragraph, (it begins "garsinan") about siyum being a seudas mitzvah. He makes a new principle, that a feast for completing or publicizing a mitzvah is a seudas mitzvah, as we see from the end of Taanis about Tu B'av. He discusses Bar Mitzvahs, Chanukah, a new house and more; see there if each of these things are seudas mitzvah or not. He says a siyum is definitely a seudas mitzvah, and we see from Shabbos 118b-119a that Abaye would make a yom tov for all the students when a young talmid chacham finished a masechta, yom tov meaning a seuda, that there is an inyan to make a seuda for a siyum. Magen Avraham, O"C 591:33 (commenting on Rama there) cites this.

It is a little surprising that he does not mention an early source - a Midrash - for making a seudah on finishing learning Torah. In Melachim I 3:5-15 Hashem offered Shlomo, in a dream, a choice and Shlomo chose to understand everything, and he did not choose wealth or power over enemies. After he woke up and had so much understanding, he made a big feast. Shir Hashirim Rabbah 1:9 says: R. Elazar said from here we learn to make a seudah on the completion of the Torah.

A few days before we graduated high school, Rav Ahron Solovechik zt"l told us that Chosson Breishis is more important than Chosson Torah. Finishing isn't what's important. The more important thing is to start learning the completed books again, in greater depth, with deeper understanding. (See Reshimos Shiurim of the Rav on Sukkah at the very end, beinyan siyum, similar thoughts are presented there in Rav Ahron's name).

While we're on the topic of this Yam Shel Shlomo, he very strongly supports the minhag of making a seuda for a Bar Mitzvah. He feels "ein mitzvah gedola mizu." However, Igros Moshe O"C I 104 (from the year 1957) says if it were up to him, he would not have anyone make a bar mitzvah the way they make them in the US.

Some points about Bas mitzvah-
Rav Ahron Soloveichik in Perach Mateh Ahron Tefila 7:6 discusses making "barush sheptarani" on one's daughter's bas mitzvah. Basically, he says according to the Levush you would, and according to Magen Avraham peopel claim you would not, but he rejects that and says even to M"A you would.

Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l was very much against Bas mitzvah seudas (and above we said he wasn't thrilled with Bar Miztvahs either). See Igros Moshe O"C I 104, O"C II 30 & 97 (cites Magen Avraham O"C 225:4 & Dagul Mervavah Y"D 391:2). He syas Bas Mitzvah is no different than a birthday party. It's not a seudas mitzvah, it can't be in a shul, and a reason why Bas Mitzvah is different tyhan Bar Mitzvah is that when a boy turns 13 we see something has changed - before we can't count him in a minyan but now we can. But for a girl there is no recognizable change before 12 and afetr 12, so there is no inyan to have a seuda.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Rav Ovadia Yosef's Recent Psak Allowing Pregnant Woman to Marry

See ynet for the story. What are the issues involved?

The Gemara in Yevamos 42 a-b says that the sages decreed that a pregnant woman or a nursing mother can't marry because if she's nursing and gets pregnant again, she will not be able to produce milk to feed the older baby, and if she's pregnant she can't marry because her new husband may injure the fetus during marital relations, and the father of the fetus has an interest in the fetus. (I'm skipping a few details because it's not our issue.)

Rambam paskens in Geirushin 11:25:

כד המארס בתוך תשעים יום, מנדין אותו; אירס וברח, אין מנדין אותו. כנס בתוך תשעים יום, מפרישין אותן עד אחר הזמן; ויעמוד עם אשתו.

כה וכן גזרו חכמים שלא יישא אדם מעוברת חברו, ומניקת חברו, ואף על פי שהזרע ידוע למי הוא: מעוברת--שמא יזיק הוולד בשעת תשמיש, שאינו מקפיד על בן חברו; ומניקה--שמא יתעכר החלב, והוא אינו מקפיד לרפאות החלב בדברים המועילין לחלב כשיתעכר.

כו כמה הוא זמן היניקה--ארבעה ועשרים חודש, חוץ מיום שנולד בו ומיום שתתארס בו. [כז] כשם שאסור לישא, כך אסור לארס עד אחר זמן זה; ואפילו נתנה בנה למניקה, או שגמלתהו בתוך ארבעה ועשרים חודש--לא תינשא; מת בנה--מותרת לינשא, ואין חוששין שמא תהרגנו.

כז [כח] עבר ונשא מעוברת, או מניקה בתוך זמן זה--יוציא בגט, ואפילו היה כוהן; ואם היה ישראל, יחזירה אחר עשרים וארבעה חודש של מניקה. נשאה וברח, ולאחר זמן בא--יישב עם אשתו, ואין בכך כלום. אירס מעוברת או מניקה, אין כופין אותו להוציא; ולא יכנוס עד אחר זמן היניקה, או עד שימות הוולד.

So: a woman always needs 3 months, actually 94 days, between being divorced or widowed and getting remarried. If she became pregnant from the first (or earlier) husband, her pregnancy will be noticed by 3 months, and that husband is the child's father, and if she is not pregnant by then, if she has a baby, even if it is born early, at 6 or 7 months, we will know it is from the second (or later) husband, since she was not pregnant at the time of the wedding.

If, upon divorce or after her husband's death, she is pregnant, or if she is nursing (until the baby is 24 months old), she cannot remarry. This is a Rabbinic decree. (I know that the Rabbanut in Israel, if they issue a get and the couple has a child under age 2, they document that the woman cannot remarry until that child reaches age 2.)

Shulchan Aruch also paskens this in E"H 13:11.

In this situation, where the woman is pregnant, if the woman becomes pregnant again after giving birth to the child she is currently carrying, she will not be able to produce milk to nurse the baby. For this issue, Rav Ovadia Yosef said they can feed baby formula to the baby. (While this option was not available in the time of the Gemara, there is a discussion about hiring wetnurses.)

This solves the meinekes issue. But how does it help the other issue in this case how can they get married because she is pregnant, and therefore they can't have relations lest the baby be harmed? The Pischei Teshuva there says: if a woman conceived artificially (b'ambatya), see Birkei Yosef. He does not say what Birkei Yosef says.

But we see a point: where the woman underwent IVF with semen from a sperm bank, and not from a husband, there is a biological father, but in the legal framework, it is almost as if there is no father. In that case, does the Rabbinic decree still apply?

Even though I don't know what the Birkei Yosef says, the Otzar Haposkim (os 71b) mentions other shitos who do weigh in on this matter:
Toras Chesed (by R'S"Z MiLublin) 13 says as a simple matter that she may marry because the Sages did not make their decree in an unusual case like this [meaning insemination without bi'ah]. However, Kerem Shlomo E"H (to R"Sh. Ha'elm) says that when the Sages made the decree, they made a blanket decree and it applies even in an unusual situation.

So the easiest way to understand Rav Ovadia Yosef's psak - I have not seen a teshuva, so I am only speculating on his reasoning - is like the Toras Chesed, that the Sages did not make their decree in an unusual situation like this.

Another explanation, though much more far-fetched, is along the same lines: we can say that the decree wasn't a blanket decree, it only applied when the rationale for such a decree applies: not harm the unborn child of Mr. Ex-Husband. But here, there was no husband and there was no bi'ah, the Tzitz Eliezer has a possibility that for such a child there is no halachik father. It is very difficult, and I have no reason to suspect Rav Ovadia Yosef would accept this even for a ruling like this, but if there is no father, there is no reason to make the decree in this situation.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Rashi & Yerushalmi

Some wonder why Rashi only rarely quotes the Yerushalmi while Tosfos frequently quotes it. This morning I found an intriguing answer offered in the name of Rav Chaim Volozhiner.

Kerem Yehoshua By Rabbi Yehoshua Cohen, Chapter 10

For all disagreements between Rashi and Tosfos, we will find that the simple explanation of the Gemara at hand is according to Rashi and not Tosfos...Tosfos usually attacks Rashi by showing his interpretation contradicts some Gemara or Tosfos offers a different explanation of the Gemara, which does not fit so well with the plain meaning of the text....

Did Rashi fail to see those difficulties which were raised by Rabbeinu Tam, Rabbeinu Yitzchak and others based on other Gemaras or logic?...The Gaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin showed that...there is only one dispute - a dispute about convention, tradition and method - from which stem the vast majority of disagreements.

We see many places where the Gemara shows two parts of a single Mishna or braisa seem to contradict each other....If no simple explanation exists, there are two ways to resolve the problem - although neither one is completely satisfactory. One way is to conclude that the mishna or braisa contains the conflicting opinions of two different tanaim...tavra...or the beginning is the opinion of Rabi Yishmael and the end is the opinion of Rabbi Akiva....The other way is to conclude that both parts of the mishna do indeed reflect the opinion of a single Tanna, but each part refers to a different case (see BM 41a, Sanhedrin 62b, Kiddushin 63b, Shabbos 86a).

A careful examination shows Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbah almost always resolve the problem by saying "it is split - whoever taught this did not teach that." On the other hand Rava always takes the other approach, attributing the mishna to a single author, but concluding that it deals with two different topics.

(Similarly...Rav Nachman Bar Yitzchak takes a third approach called litzdadim ketani...but we will not elaborate).

Why did Rava not use the other approach and why didn't Rabbi Zeira et. al. use Rava's approach?

The Gaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin explained that what divides the two groups is the tradition which they received from their teachers. Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbah had a tradition that Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi wrote the mishnayos in clear, simple language, to be understood by everyone, not only his greatest disciples. This also applies to braisos....Thus they could not accept Rava's explanation that the beginning and end of a mishna are speaking of two separate topics. If it were so, then according to their tradition, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi would have said so explicitly. If he did not say so, it must be that there is no change of subject. Thus Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbah have no choice but to say Tavra....

Rava sees things differently, for he had a different tradition....Occasionally he would write a complex sharpen the minds of his students....He assumed his students' hard work would yield them the correct understanding of the mishna and bring them to the conclusion that the end of the mishna dealt with a different subject....Rava maintains Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi did this on purpose....

In light of all this, the gaon Rabbi Chaim of Volozhin elegantly explains the disagreements between Rashi and Tosfos. Just as Rabbi Zeira, Rabbi Elazar and Rabbah disagreed with Rav over how Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi wrote the Mishna, so Rashi and Tosfos disagreed how Rav Ashi and Ravina transmitted the Gemara.

According to the tradition Rashi received from his teachers, when Rav Ashi and Ravina compiled the Talmud they wrote in such a way than anyone could understand their words, with no need to employ hair-splitting logic or search for some restricted case (okimta) to which the Gemara might apply. Now, when Rashi encountered a difficult passage, he could explain the Gemara according to its simple meaning, even though that meaning might contradict some other Gemara or might involve certain logical problems, or he could depart from the simple meaning of the Gemara and assume the Gemara referred to some special, restricted case. Faced with such a choice, and based on the tradition he recieved form his teachers, Rashi could not by any means adopt the second alternative. He was forced to adopt the first one, and interpret the meaning according to its simple meaning.

However, Rabbeinu Tam, Rabbeinu Yitzchak and the other Tosafists had a different tradition. They were taught that occasionally Rav Ashi and Ravina would teach a law without mentioning that it applied only to a certain restricted case. They did this in order to sharpen their students and force them to work harder....After much hard work and deep thoughts, the students on their own accord would come to the proper conclusion: the Talmud is not to be understood according to its simple meaning and applied to all cases, but refers only to one particular and unstated case....

(form here to end is verbatim)
I would like to take this insight one step further and apply it to a fact noted above. In the more than 500 disagreements between Rashi and Tosfos which are connected to the Jerusalem Talmud, we see that Rashi never adopts the viewpoint of the Jerusalem Talmud, while Tosfos always does. This cannot be merely because Rashi lacked certain parts of the Yerushalmi while the Tosafists, who lived 100 years later, had these parts. Rather, in my humble opinion, when we clsoely examine these disagreements between Rashi and Tosfos, we will find that in the cases where Rashi interprets contrary to the Jerusalem Talmud, the Jerusalem Talmud cannot be easily reconciled with with the wording of the Babylonian Talmud. Thus Rashi simply remained true to his tradition that Ravina and Rav Ashi, the compilers of the Babylonian Talmud, always wrote in such a way that anyone could understand their words. Based on this tradition, he maintained that if the Babylonian Talmud had agreed with the Jerusalem Talmud, Rav Ashi and Ravina would have written their text to express this agreement more clearly. They would have stated the law in phraseology parallel to that of the Jerusalem Talmud; or they would have restricted the law to the same specific case to which the Jerusalem Talmud restricted it. If they did not do so, this shows (according to Rashi) that they disagreed with the Jerusalem Talmud.

The Tosafists' opinion, however, maintained that not evey law in the Babylonian Talmud is stated in the clearest possible way. Rather, Rav Ashi and Ravina, in order to sharpen their students, would occasionally teach a law without mentioning that it applied only to a certain restricted case. Wherever there is an apparent disagreement between the Babylonian Talmud and Jerusalem Talmud - for example, where the Babylonian Talmud presents a law as being broadly applicable, while the Jerusalem Talmud presents it as applying to one restircted case - Tosfos reasons as follows: why should we assume the Babylonian Talmud disagrees with the Jerusalem Talmud? Let us assume instead that the Babylonian Talmud agrees that the law applies only to one restricted case, but this is one of those places where Rav Ashi and Ravina deliberately did not mention it. Although this involves interpreting the Babylonian Talmud in a way that does not fit the plain meaning of the words, Tosfos does not see this as far-fetched. Tosfos maintains that such occasional discrepancies were intentional. According to Tosfos, it is better to interpret the Babylonian Talmud in this way than to assume a disagreement between it and the Jerusalem Talmud.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Tanchuma Bamidmar 4 & Shavuos

There is a beautiful Tanchuma this week (maybe more, but I saw this one). Comments as we go along:
סימן ד
וידבר ה' אל משה במדבר סיני. זה שאמר הכתוב, שררך אגן הסהר, אל יחסר המזג, בטנך ערמת חטים, סוגה בשושנים (שה"ש ז ג). מדבר בסנהדרין של ישראל, שהיתה נתונה בלשכת הגזית, והיא משולה בשרר הזה. ולמה נמשלה בשרר. מה השרר הזה נתון באמצע הגוף, כך הסנהדרין יושבין באמצעית של בית המקדש. אל יחסר המזג, שלא היו חסרין אחד משלישתן. אל יחסר המזג. מי שהוא מוזג כראוי, מוזג שלישי של כוס יין ושני חלקים מים. כך היו סנהדרין יושבין מתמיד של שחר עד תמיד של בין הערבים. ולא היה אחד מהן נפנה לצרכו. ומה היו עושין כשהיה אחד מהם מבקש לצאת היה סופר, אם היה שם עשרים ושלשה, היה יוצא. ואם לאו, אינו יוצא. למה. שכך כתיב, אל יחסר המזג.
Parts are very similar to Sanhedrin 37a and some aren't.
The belly is the center of a person - see Sotah 9:4 - this is like R' Eliezer.
1/3 & 2/3 seems to be that they sit between tamid shel shachar & tamid shel bein ha'arbaim, which is 1/3 of the day, about 8 hours. See Pesachim 5:1 & Yoma Ch 3; Rambam Temidin Umusafim 1:2-3. Just like you would fill the cup with 1/3 wine and 2/3 water, 1/3 of the day was "filled" with the very fine, valuable Sanhedrin (derech agav compared to wine) and 2/3 was not. Additionally, we could have explained al yechsar hamazeg referring to the fact that 1/3 of the Sanhedrin must always be there - not all 70 members must sit at all times, but at least 23, a third of 70, must remain there during the day.

בטנך ערמת חטים. למה נמשלו לחטים. מה ערמת חטים זו נכנסה לאוצר במנין ויוצא' במנין, אף כאן אמר הקדוש ברוך הוא, שיהיו נמנין בכל שעה. לכך נאמר, בטנך ערמת חטים.
At this point the Midrash seems to still be talking about the Sanhedrin - because no one can leave without counting and checking that a quorum of 23 dayanim remain, they are considered always being counted. However, from the continuation of the midrash this seems to be discussing Bnei Yisrael (they were counted in this week's Parsha). Why does it jump from Sanhedrin to Bnei Yisrael? Maybe like Rav Yoshe Ber Soloveitchik's yesod that Sanhedrin is a judicial body, but they are also representatives of Bnei Yisrael. So what is true of the Sanhedrin is true to an extent, in regard to Bnei Yisrael.

And regarding comparing counting Bnei Yisrael to the wheat which is counted by number to & from the storehouse - a friend (M. Kanter) once told me a vort on this week's parsha, comparing counting Bnei Yisrael to what is considered in Y"D 98 "davar shebiminyan" - something always counted (I think they give eggs as an example - maybe because they are sold "by dozen" - a number, not a weight) each and every Jew is important, and none are batel.

אבל התבן והקש אינן נמנין ולא נמדדין. כך אומות העולם נמשלין כתבן וכקש, שנאמר, יהיו כמוץ לפני רוח (תהל' לה ה). וכן הוא אומר, ובית עשו לקש (עובדי' א יח). למה. שאין לו להקדוש ברוך הוא מהן הנאה, שנאמר, כל הגוים כאין נגדו, מאפס ותוהו נחשבו לו (ישע' מ יז). אבל ישראל להקדוש ברוך הוא, הנאה לו בהן, קורין קריאת שמע ומתפללין, ומברכין שמו בכל יום ובכל שעה על כל דבר ודבר, לפיכך הם נמנין בכל שעה. ולכך נמשלו בחטים, בטנך ערמת חטים:

What is the Hana'ah?
Kriyas Shma is simple - Yichud Hashem; we acknowledge Hashem as the One, Supreme G-d.
Davening - even though the chiyuv to daven 3 times a day is midirabanan, when we do daven and say Borchu and Kiddusha, we have a kiyum of "Venikdashti besoch bnei Yisrael."
But we can't say that for every Bracha we make. But there are at least 2 answers to explain the Hanaah Hashem gets when we say Brachos. There are two opinions of what is a Bracha - what do we mean "Baruch Atah Hashem..."? One explanation is that we acknowledge that Hashem is the source of Bracha. So Hashem gets hanaah when we make a Bracha. But the other opinion of Bracha is somewhat Kabbalistic, that when we make a Bracha, we give Hashem more power, because our deeds affect the upper worlds (see Nefesh Hachaim). Then, too, whenever we make a bracha, we are giving Hashem hanaah.

Boaz was a member of Sanhedrin. (Even out of session, members of Sanhedrin had a special status - see Chidushei HaGram, Hil. Kiddush Hachodesh.) While he did not make his drasha of Moavi v'lo Moaviah in the Sanhedrin, the Brisker Rav says he took 10 people - a minyan, to make the drasha birabim. Tosfos somewhere explains when the Gemara says "pasach rabi ___ v'darash" that he opened a sefer Torah, started reading, and then made drashos. Maybe Boaz did that also, and maybe you would have a kiyum of kriyas Hatorah bitzibur when you would do this, so it requires a minyan, and also you would have a kiyum of Venikdashti besoch bnei Yisrael.

Furthermore, Rus was in Boaz's field to get matanos aniim, which you had to COUNT to see if 2 sheaves fell (& it is mutar for the ani to take, because it is shichicha), or if 3 sheaves fell.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happy Yom Yerushalayim

Yes, that is snow in Meah She'arim, very close to the pre-1967 border...

...and this is what we fought for.

To connect this to Asarah Yuchsin, Rav Chaim Zimmerman zt"l did not visit the Kotel because he felt that, as a Levi, he would have to remain there to do shmiras hamikdash (I guess so tamei people don't go up there). I don't know if there is a discussion about "Levi Meyuchas" or "Leviim Bizman Hazeh."

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mumar Lechalel Yom Tov

A mechalel shabbos befarhesia is like an oveid avodah zarah. What about a mechalel Yom Tov?

About Shabbos, see Rambam, Shabbos 30:15
טו השבת ועבודה זרה--כל אחת משתיהן, שקולה כנגד שאר כל מצוות התורה; והשבת היא האות שבין הקדוש ברוך הוא ובינינו, לעולם. לפיכך כל העובר על שאר המצוות, הרי הוא בכלל רשעי ישראל; אבל מחלל שבת בפרהסיה, הרי הוא כעובד עבודה זרה--ושניהם כגויים, לכל דבריהם.

טז לפיכך משבח הנביא ואומר, "אשרי אנוש יעשה זאת, ובן אדם יחזיק בה--שומר שבת מחללו . . ." (ישעיהו נו,ב). וכל המשמר את השבת כהלכתה, ומכבדה ומענגה כפי כוחו--כבר מפורש בקבלה שכרו בעולם הזה, יתר על השכר הצפון לעולם הבא, שנאמר "אז, תתענג על ה', והרכבתיך, על במותי ארץ; והאכלתיך, נחלת יעקוב אביך--כי פי ה', דיבר" (ישעיהו נח,יד).

See Rashi Vayikra 23:3
(ג) ששת ימים -
מה עניין שבת אצל מועדות?
ללמדך שכל המחלל את המועדות מעלין עליו כאלו חלל את השבתות.
וכל המקיים את המועדות, מעלין עליו כאלו קיים את השבתות:

What about Yom Tov? See Rambam Geirushin 3:19
[יט] הכותב גט בשבת או ביום הכיפורים בשגגה, ונתנו לה--הרי זו מגורשת. כתבו וחתמו בו ביום טוב בזדון, ונתנוהו לה--אינה מגורשת, שהרי העדים פסולין מן התורה; כתבו ביום טוב בזדון, ונמסר לה בפני עדים כשרים ביום טוב--הרי זה גט פסול. See also Frankel Rambam.
Tur E"H 123 has a slightly different girsa. The differences between the Rambam and Tur are discussed at length. See, for example, Beis Yosef & Kesef Mishna.

I have heard that Rav Chaim Heller's Sefer Hamitzvos includes Yom Tov, not just Yom Kippur. But I have not found it inside.

Mishna, Avos 3:11 (or 14)
[יא] רבי אלעזר המודעי אומר, המחלל את הקודשים, והמבזה את המועדות, והמפר בריתו של אברהם אבינו, והמלבין פני חברו ברבים, והמגלה פנים בתורה--אף על פי שיש בידו מעשים טובים, אין לו חלק לעולם הבא.
Rabbeinu Yonah there says Yom Tov is like Shabbos (and this mishna is talking about Chol Hamoed). Other Rishonim, however, seem to hold this Mishna is talking about Yom Tov itself, not Chol Hamoed. See, however, Shavuos 13 and Kesef Mishna, Hilchos Teshuva 1:2 - the Gemara and Rambam don't mention everything listed in this Mishna.
Psachim 118 &
ואמר רב ששת משום ר"א בן עזריה כל המבזה את המועדות כאילו עובד ע"ז שנאמר (שמות לד) אלהי מסכה לא תעשה לך וכתיב בתריה את חג המצות תשמור
Makos 23a
ואמר רב ששת משום ר' אלעזר בן עזריה כל המבזה את המועדים כאילו עובד <עכו"ם> {עבודה זרה} דכתיב (שמות לד) אלהי מסכה לא תעשה לך וסמיך ליה (שמות לד) את חג המצות תשמור

Is there a difference between המועדות (feminine plural) and המועדים (masculine plural)?

Mishkenos Yaakov (I believe in O"C 38) says that Rambam's opinion is that a mechallel Yom Tov befarhesia is a mumar lechol Hatorah.

Summary of Shitos cited in Encyclopedia Talmudis vol 22 column 608, ff328
Mechalel Yom Tov is Mumar lechol Hatorah:
Shut R' Shimshon
Shut Mabit I:38
Radvaz II:796 (published at the end of chelek Sheni)
Nekudos Hakesef Yoreh Deah 124
Or Zaru'a I:367 at end
Shut Maharsham III:5 s.v. uvn"d

Mechalel Yom Tov is not Mumar lechol Hatorah:
Chelkas Mechokek E"H 123:11, also Beis Shmuel
Pri Megadim, hakdama to Hilchos Shabbos s.v. Ode Zos
Baruch Taam Din 74 L"T din ! end of Ch. 2
Shut Binyan Tzion Hachadashos 23 (ad kan Encyclopedia Talmudis.)

Darkei Teshuva Y"D 2 end 70 brings Shut R' Betzalel Ashkenazy 3 that Mechalel Yom Tov is Mumar lechol Hatorah (this was censored and is not found in most editions; it goes from 2 to 4 and skips 3. A few have 3 published in the back. Here is part of the teshuva which relates to our issue:

Additionally, it seems the Meiri also held this way. See his perush to the mishna in Avos - he seems to understand it literally, that is is talking about Yom Tov, not Chol Hamied (still, is mevaze same as mechalel? Probably - he cites the Toras Kohanim that Rashi above quoted with the phrase "hamevaze umechalel hamoados is a kofer). In his perush to Makkos 23a, Meiri says "whoever is mevazeh the holidays, he is like an oved a"z because in belittling them there is a facet (tzad) of denying reward and punishment and changes of nature (miracles), and from this he will eventually deny creation..."

Even though it sounds like a mechalel shabbos bifarhesia is a complete goy, see Otzar Haposkim 44:9 that his kiddushin may be effective - whether midioraissa or midirabanan, it is a machlokes. Also recall Rama Yoreh Deah 372:2 says the grave of a mumar is tamei like a Jew's grave. (this post )

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mumar Lechalel Shabbos Bifarhesia

Toras Chaim - compendium of statements attributed to Rav Chaim on Parsha. This is from Beshalach, p. 67 “Mie’amtem Lishmor mitzvosai vesorosai.” (Shemos 16:28)

Chulin 5a says a mechalel shabbos is like an oveid kochavim; see Rashi there. Tashbatz III:43 writes that the Baal HaItur that that chilul shabbos is only by working the land (avodas karka), and Beis Yosef quotes this in E”H 44. The Netziv asks if this Baal HaItur holds like the Geonim who learn it from (Shemos 31:13) ach es shabsosai tishmoru, if so, why is avods karka different than other melachos? Therefore it seems the source for the Itur is in Mishpatim (23:12) 6 days you will do your work and on the seventh you will rest...and keep everything I told you, and the name of another god you shall not mention.” From this we learn that a mechalel shabbos is like oveid a”z and denies the entire torah, that “do your work” refers to avodas karka because it is talking about shmitta (i.e., agricultural laws) there.

Rav Chaim explained this matter based on Yerushlami Nedarim (end of 3rd chapter) “In Torah, Neviim and Kesuvim we find that Shabbos is equal to all the other mitzvos in the Torah as it says “ad anah mei’antem lishmor mitzvosai vesorosai.” And it is written: “Re’u ki Hashem nasen lachem hashabos...” We see that the pasuk that they did not keep shabbos and they went to gather Mon on Shabbos “mei’antem lishmor mitvosai vesorosai,” implying that not keeping shabbos is like transgressing all of the mitzvos of the Torah, and this language is also written by idolotry in Bamidbar 15:22 “vechi sisgu velo saasu es kol hamitzvos ha’eileh,” which also sounds like you transgress the entire Torah.

However, Shavuos 29a that Tzitzis is equal to all of the mitzvos, is not like Shabbos. Because by tzitzis it doesn’t say it in the negative; it does not say if you don’t keep tzitzis it is like you have transgressed all of the mitzvos of the Torah. However, by Shabbos and Avodah zarah it does make the negative comment.

Source: Netziv, Harchev Davar, Ki Tisa 31:17; Mishulchan Gevohah II p. 104. (ad kan Toras Chaim.)

The Baal HaItur is also cited by Rabi Akiva Eiger, Y”D 2:5

My Rebbi shlit"a discussed this on 11 Adar I 5768: Why does the Itur hold you're only a mumar if you do avodas karka?

I suggested that the source is “ha’aretz” in Ki Sisa. My Rebbi explained that Shabbos commemorates both the creation of the world and yetzias mitzraim. This parsha mentions both- 31:13 is yetzias mitzraim, and pasuk 17 for in 6 days I created the world... And meforshim say shabsosai (plural) includes Yom Tov.... In summary, 2 parts to shabbos: Yom Tov is identical to shabbos in commemoration of yetzias mitzraim. But the Melachos we can figure out ourselves is zecher lemmasei breishis. Once we say there are two elements to shabbos, we can suggest passuk 17, os hee - lemaaseh breishis, and creation is like avodas karka, which are known without Mishkan.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Yom Ha'atzma'ut

My Rebbi zt"l had an interesting psak: if one sings only the first stanza of Hatikva, one must replace the word chofshi with kadosh. As I understood it, singing the first stanza alone is a very secular song. Replacing chofshi with kadosh gives the first stanza religious content. (In fact, I think he held "chofshi" had antireligious connotations.) But religious ideas are found several times throughout the complete Hatikva - 9 stanzas.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15th

April 15th is the anniversary of the day Rabbi Meyer Juzint was liberated from Bergen-Belsen. In his own words:

The Miracle in the Most Glorious Day of my Liberation
Bergen-Belsen 1945
I was liberated, Be’ezras Hashem, from the hands of the murderers on April 15, 1945 at 4:00 pm through the English army that came to occupy the camp of the murderers. This day will always be engraved on my memory, heart and soul. To describe that day exactly one needs not a human pen but a heavenly pen....

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Intermarriage (Addendum) & Parshas Acharei-Mos (a week early)

Rashi, Megilla 25a s.v. ha'omer says if you translate the psuk of "mizaracha lo sitein le'haavir lamolech" as "don't have relations with a non-Jewish woman, becuase that child will serve avodah zarah" you change the meaning of the pasuk, and give kares to a ba al hakusis etc. We see Rashi holds haba al hakusis does not get kareis, not like the Rambam. However, Maharsha ibid. brings the Aruch who says the reverse of Rashi: the pshat of that pasuk is that haba al hakusis does get kareis, and if you say the pasuk deals with bringing your child as a human sacrifice, that is perverting the Torah. Furthermore, Targum Yonasan on Vayikra 18:21 explains the pasuk like the Aruch. The Aruch and Targum Yonasan, then, argue on Rashi and agree with Rambam. And, if you look at the context of the psukim, the Aruch & Targum Yonasan make more sense because all the psukim before it and after it discuss sexual sins. According to their explanation, this pasuk also deals with a sexual sin. However, according to Rashi, this pasuk deals with avodah zarah, and seems out of place.

This updates the following post:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Ger Katan Situation

Igros Moshe E"H IV:26
11 Av 5734 (1974) in the Camp of Mesivta of Staten Island near Ellenville
To my dear, honored Rabbi Moshe Friedman, Rabbi and Av Beis Din of Indianapolis
(part c)

And regarding the matter of the day school which was founded by bnei Torah and yerei Shamayim, and the principal and the teachers are all fearful [of G-d] and shleimim, and they were informed (maybe: it was known) that many of the students are [born] to non-Jewish women who converted by Reform and Conservative [groups] which has no legal standing, and it is impossible to remove them from the school for they [the teachers] would lose their livelihood, it is difficult for me to say definitively when it relates to their livelihood when it is a great test for something that is not discussed by the poskim, and because of that we do not know the intricate laws in this matter. Even though they consider themselves to be Jewish and they attend a school to learn about Judaism because it is the Jewish way, there is no prohibition. It is also possible because the teacher teaches primarily to kosher Jews there is no prohibition when also some non-Jewish children also learn at the same time, and that which Tosfos state in the name of Rabbeinu Elchanan (Chagigah 13a) that there is a prohibition of "lifnei iver" because a non-Jew is prohibited to learn Torah, perhaps on their young children there is no prohibition; also, the prohibition is not for a Gentile who "learns" Torah, but who is "engrossed", perhaps it does not refer to what a teacher teaches young children. Therefore it is very difficult to say that they must leave their livelihoods, even though it if the most fitting thing to do. If they would, the school would close and all of the children, including the Jewish ones, would go to public schools where they will learn kefirah, so it is much better to remain in their positions so the school will continue to operate. Also, if they leave their positions, [and the school does not close down] they will be replaced by minim and kofrim and they will teach the Jewish children kefirah chas veshalom, which is something we cannot allow. But there is a fix: convert the children. They do not need to accept the mitzvos (because they are minors) and convert them according to the decision of the Beis din, and it is a merit to them, because they already learn in a religious school under teachers who fear G-d, it is possible [or even likely; "matzui"] they will grow up keeping the Torah, even though it is a doubt if it is a complete merit. And even if they do not grow up to keep the Torah, it is a merit becuase sinners of Israel do have kedushas Yisrael, and the mitzvos they do are mitzvos, and aveiros they transgress are like shogeg, so it is a merit, rather than they remain non-Jews. And I think the baalei batim will agree to this. Even the children above bar and bat mitzvah age, if they are told they need to convert, they will certainly agree, and this is what you must try to do, and it goes withuot saying to present this issue in a nice, pleasant and respectful way so they will follow this [plan].

Thursday, April 8, 2010

73a Safek Mamzer

When we have a doubt (safek) in a dioraissa, we must act strictly. For example, if you can't remember if you said kriyas shma, you must repeat it. However, for a safek dirabanan we act leniently. For example, brachos are midirabana (though Ramban holds Birchas Hatorah is midioraissa) so if you forgot if you made a bracha, or if it is uncertqain if you need to make a bracha in a certain case, you do not make the bracha. That which we act strictly for a safeik dioraissa, is that itself midioraissa, or do we only treat it lechumra midirabanan? Rashba says it is midioraissa, but that Rambam holds it's only midabanan.

The Rashba says that Rambam's source is this Gemara: A safek mamzer is midioraissa allowed to enter the khal, but midirabana is not permitted. Rambam cites this in Issurei Biah 15:21. Rashba assumes that because safeik mamzer is mutar, all safek midioraissa cases are mutar midoraissa. Rashba argues and feels that Safek mamzer is an exception, and that's why there is a gzeiras hakasuv to allow safek mamzer in the khal. (The teshuvas Harambam that Rashba cites is nebulous - I am not aware that we have such a teshuva by the Rambam.)

Rambam in Tumas Mes 9:12 also discusses safek dioraissa lekula. Raavad asks that normally we say safeik dioraissa lechumra [like Rashba]. See Kesef Mishna there (who says Raavad seems to contradict himself in Kilayim 10:27), quoting from Ran Kiddushin 15b in Rif pages.

See Shev Shmaitsa Shaar 1 for more discussion about safeik dioraissa.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

75b Kusim - Geirus shelo lishma

I know I said I would not discuss geirus issues, but I can't help myself. Here are 2 Geirus things:

1) The following clip (in Yiddish with English subtitles) has a hilarious example of converting for an ulterior motive. It's not for a job or to marry a Jewish person.

2) Addendum A in So Strange My Path: The story of a former Catholic Priest, by Abraham Carmel (the former Father Kenneth C. Cox), published by MBY Foundation, 1960 has some very intersting facts about Conversions in England in 1959(!). It is eerie how much of it applies today. This selection is extracted "from David Pela's article "The Chief Rabbi's Court", which appeared in the Jewish Chronicle, London, July 10, 1959."

"Probably the most difficult problem facing the Beth proselytisation. In many cases the applicant is married, or is about to marry a Jew who is anxious for the sake of the children or parents, to secure the admission of his non-Jewish partner into Judaism. The Beth Din is frankly alarmed at the high incidence of intermarriage, and applicants for conversion are automatically discouraged. (The current rate of intermarriage is unknown, but in 1953 was estimated to be between ten and twelve per cent. The figure for the provinces are believed to be particularly high.) What is certain is that the number of applications for proselytization [unsure why a z here and an s in first sentence -ShasDaf] have increased in the past three years. Applications in 1958 totalled 137 (of whom 21 were admitted) and in 1957 they were 121 (9 admitted) and the previous year 120 (23 admitted)....

"What is the Beth Din's attitude to these application? This is what the Chief Rabbi says: 'We are slow in dealing with these cases. Not many are admitted. We must be sure of their moral and social bona fides before dealing with the religious situation. We must be sure the applicant is one who really wants to become a Jew. We do not close the door, but we accept only those who convince us that they will genuinely adhere to Judaism. There has been no change in policy in recent years. We handle each application with care and a great sense of responsibility. We must think in terms of the kehilla (community).' In general, according to the Beth Din, there is a big gap between the Court's requirements and applicants. In most cases, it says, there is no genuine desire for conversion, and, in this connection, the Dayanim (5 'Eccleciastical Assesors' to the Chief Rabbi) emphasize that where mixed marriages break down the proselyte partner almost invariably abandons Judaism.

"But the Beth Din insists that it treats each case on its merits and hears every applicant (last year 315 interviews were granted in proselytization cases...Special consideration, say the Dayanim, is given to children of mixed marriages, and they claim, the Court goes out of its way to help these youngsters. If it is satisfied that such children are brought up in an Orthodox atmosphere it will give them priority....But as has been indicated, the Beth Din is strongly against proselytization. They regard this and intermarriage as among the great Jewish social problems of our time. Their attitude is: 'If the community will not support us on this issue, it will undermine all the Jewish communities in Europe, where the situation - regarding intermarriage - is much worse. The community is not aware of the gravity of the problem....We are not too rigid....Intermarriage is the greatest evil. Who gains from encouraging it? Frequently the parents of both partners are against it. The marriages often break down because the partners come from different religions.'"

I searched and searched for the original of this article, and the best I came up with was searching for the keyword "proselytisation" for the year 1959. Here is a partial screenshot:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Π and Other Precise Measurements in Halacha

Π (pi) is an irrational number 3.14159... and it never ends. There is discussion in the literature (I haven't read any of it) whether 22/7 (=3.14285...) was the value of pi used by the Ancient Israelites and Greeks, which is not mathematically too close to the actual value.

There are at least two halachos in which Π plays an important role (excluding astronomy): Sukkah and Tefillin. In Sukkah the issue is the area of a [round] sukkah, and in Menachos the discussion is what is square, because our tefillin must be square. Recall the Pythagorean theorem which states that a^2 + b^2 = c^2, that is the square of the hypotenuse of a right triangle is equal to the sum of the square of the sides. That means that the length of the hypotenuse equals the square root of a^2+b^2. For a right triangle where the sides are 1 amah (or any unit), the hypotenuse equals the square root of 2=1.414. Critics claim, because the Gemara (Sukkah 8a; see also Shulchan Aruch O"C 32:39 from Menachos 35a) says that this hypotenuse equals 1.4 amos ("an amah and a fifth of an amah") that Chazal had an imprecise value of irrational numbers such as the square root of 2 and pi.

Dr. David Medved in his book "Hidden Light: Science Secrets of the Bible" quotes sources that Chazal had an extremely accurate measurement of pi; so accurate, in fact, that a more accurate value was not found for another 1000 years. While the vort he quotes, dealing with the word kav in Melachim and Divrei Hayamim, seems to be a cute vort but not pshat, I am willing to agree that Chazal may have had an accurate value, but they publicized a less accurate but far simpler value to use in calculations when needed.

Several prominent Torah personalities, such as Harav Chaim Zimmerman zt"l held that Chazal knew all scientific discoveries that would ever be found. Some of Rav Chaim Zimmerman's ideas on this topic might be found in his book "Torah and Reason," which I have not read, but I heard his views from several of his talmidim. (Rabbeinu Avraham ben HaRambam, in his famous essay on aggadah, found at the beginning of Ein Yaakov clearly disagrees with this view and says Chazal could have made mistakes in science.)

I believe I can prove that Chazal made use of less accurate values even when they knew of more accurate values, to keep things simple. When calculating the tekufos, the solar seasons, we have two values: the tekufa of Shmuel and the tekufa of Rav Adda. Shmuel holds (Eruvin 56a) each season lasts 91 days and 7.5 hours. Rav Adda holds the tekufa is 1 1/8 minutes shorter than Shmuel's tekufa. (See Rabbi J. David Bleich, "Bircas Hachammah," 1st edition, ArtScroll, p.49 for the calculation). It is a very involved calculation, especially compared to Shmuel's calculation.

Rav Bleich writes:
"This does not mean that Shmuel must have been ignorant of Rav Adda's method of calculation. Despite acceptance of Hillel's calendar based upon the divergent calculations of Rav Adda, Shmuel is depicted in the Gemara, Brachos 58b, as being familiar with the "paths of the sky" as he was with the alleys of his own city of Nehardea. It may be assumed that Shmuel adopted a simpler method of calculation in order to avoid the necessity of manipulating fractions. This is noted by so early an authority as R. Abraham Ibn Ezra who states in Sefer haIbbur, p. 8, that the tekufah of Shmuel is not the true tekufa, and, moreover, that Shmuel knew his announced calculations to be imprecise. Nevertheless, Shmuel chose a close approximation because of the difficulty which most people have in working in fractions. The same explanation is also advanced by the 17th-century Sephardic scholar, R. David Nieto in his Kuzari Sheni, Vikuach Chamishi, no. 146."

I feel they held people could use easy fractions like 2/5 and 1/4, but uglier fractions were more difficult to use.

Rav Bleich then brings another interesting and very logical possibility in regard to the use of Shmuel's tekufa in the calendar, but it is not so relevent to the simpler value of pi.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Adar Fun

As we are in the last day of Adar, I have a humorous post to share.

I cooked an old family recipe from
me Bubby. You can see it on the right.

I invited guests - the MacGraggers. They posed for a picture, here:

This year we don't have to worry about that serious shailah of what if March 17th falls on a Friday? There's a heter for that:

Corned beef gets blessing for St. Pat's
Chicago Tribune (IL)-March 16, 2006
Author: Manya A. Brachear, Tribune staff reporter.

Tipping his red hat to Chicago's Irish Catholic heritage, Cardinal Francis George has again taken action to resolve a St. Patrick's Day dilemma:

Every few years, the holiday falls on a Friday during Lent, when consuming meat is traditionally forbidden. But what would St. Patrick's Day be without corned beef and cabbage?

So George has declared an exception that permits his flock to eat meat on Friday. At least 76 other U.S. bishops reportedly have granted similar dispensations, including Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch.

While eating meat on a lenten Friday isn't a mortal sin, many look to the church for guidance before bending the rule.

"So many of the oldest Irish are faithful to the sacrifice the faith asks them to make," said Rev. Dan Brandt, pastor of Nativity of Our Lord parish in Bridgeport, where Celtic crosses are etched into the doors and walls and the pews are filled with O'Malleys, O'Donnells and Slatterys. "They need to hear a dispensation has been granted before they keep their tradition."

Both George and Imesch have asked Catholics who choose to eat meat on Friday to substitute another act of penance or abstain on a different day.

"Fridays during Lent are days of discipline," Brandt said. "We try to do something to remind ourselves of the excess in which we live."

Though there are no official records, the archbishop of Chicago has granted the dispensation as far back as anyone with the archdiocese can remember. The last time was in 2000.

The dispensation applies only to parishioners within the archdiocese. Catholics traveling outside the boundaries would seek permission from the bishop of their destination diocese or abstain from meat as usual.

Technically, Catholics could take advantage of the one-day dispensation to indulge in other meaty delicacies, whether fried chicken, pigs' feet or steak. In fact, the cardinal also granted a dispensation to the Young Irish Fellowship's annual banquet last Friday where chefs prepared filet mignon.

Still, Brandt said the St. Patrick's Day dispensation was meant to recognize a time-honored Irish-American tradition--not to give Catholics in the Chicago area a "get out of jail free" card.

"The spirit of the dispensation was in keeping with Irish roots, so those for whom it is a tradition to eat corned beef and cabbage on Friday can go ahead and do it," said Brandt.

Brandt also said it's important to keep the act of penance in perspective, saying that any good deed or act of self-denial can serve the same purpose as abstaining from meat, which in reality is not much to ask.

"Crab cakes, tuna melts--it's really no great sacrifice," Brandt said. "It makes us mindful perhaps that we are a country of excess. It helps us relate to those who aren't so fortunate."

Before the Vatican II Council in the 1960s, Roman Catholics were prohibited from eating meat every Friday. The council recommended that the abstention be limited to Fridays during Lent instead.

Some theologians say a bishop's dispensation is not strictly required for a Catholic to eat meat on the holiday--that believers can make an exception if circumstances call for it. Others say there are rules and only local bishops have the authority to bend them.

Few seem to object to making an exception for St. Patrick. Even Bill Donohue, president of the conservative Catholic League, commended George's decision.

"It's one of the church's manmade rules having nothing to with dogma," Donohue said. "It would be imprudent for Cardinal George not to cede to this reality that corned beef and cabbage and green beer are the staples to an Irishman's diet on St. Patrick's Day."

In Ireland, where the holiday is considered more a day to lift a saint up rather than let the hair down, dispensations are routinely granted, according to the Irish consulate in Chicago.

Corned beef is more of an Irish-American tradition, and Catholics in Ireland would be more likely to indulge in boiled bacon, said Rev. Tom Reynolds, an Irish-born priest who helps run the Missionary Society of St. Columbine in Rogers Park.

"St. Patrick would take to drink in heaven if he thought we weren't eating meat on his feast day," Reynolds joshed.

But since his arrival, Reynolds added, he has developed a taste for corned beef.

"I was delighted when I came to the states and tasted it for the first time," he said. "I can't imagine not eating corned beef on St. Patrick's Day."

St. Patrick is best known as the man who converted Ireland to Christianity. Born in Scotland in 387, Patrick was made a bishop by the pope and dispatched from Rome to Ireland as a missionary. Using the three leaves and single stem of the shamrock, Patrick illustrated the concept of the trinity--"even as there are three leaves on this one stem so there are three persons in one God."

For many Americans, Irish and otherwise, the holiday has evolved into an excuse to celebrate the onset of spring with parades, a platter of corned beef and a pitcher of green beer.

For that reason, Brandt said, he will still be making a sacrifice this Friday. "I gave up beer for Lent," he said. "I'd rather drink beer than eat corned beef any day of the week."

Rev. Jim Donovan, pastor of Our Lady of Loretto parish in Hometown, sees nothing wrong with a little revelry, as long as the reason behind it is remembered.

"We're celebrating our faith. We get so far away from why we're doing things," Donovan said. "It's more than just a party. It's about our faith and identity as a Christian people."

"In the grand scheme of things, one day every other year is not that big of a deal," he said of the cardinal's dispensation.

Even Christ liked to live it up at times, Donovan said. "What would Jesus say? He turned the water into wine."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

דרשו ה' בהמצאו

I See Him
by Dr. Samuel Soloveichik zt"l (1908-1966)

I see Him in a sick's recovery
In a scientific discovery.
I see Him in creative tension,
Realization, materialization, and invention.

I see Him in the voice of our Tano'im,
In the discussion of the Amoraim.
I see Him in the Rishonim's debate,
And in my ancestor's faith.

I see Him in my mother's devotion,
In a little girl's emotion.
I see Him in Beethoven's inspiration
And in a doctor's devotion.

I see Him in a gale's soar,
In the sea's mighty roar.
I see Him in heaven's silence
And in nature's thundering violence.

I see Him in Jewish History,
Highly complex and full of mystery.
I see the Great Sire,
Even in Treblinka's and Oswiecim's fire.

On a rainy day I see Him on the cloud's roof,
Cold, far distant, aloof.
And on a warm day, in prayer I see Him clear,
Glorious, majestic and yet close and near.

I see G-d the Universe Creator,
In science, the innovator.
I see G-d the Great Judge,
in human misery and grudge.

I believe in the uniqueness of our religion and race,
I believe in the righteousness of our case.
When I see the weak's survival,
I am sure of the Messiah's ultimate arrival.

I believe that all people are of one stock,
Yet I am aware that I am of the minority block.
A lost sheep of Jacob's flock,
And G-d is my fortress and rock.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Raavan's Shita

I now see that my answer for the Raavan has some holes, which include:
If the mamzerus comes from the isur of goy, why isn't there mamzeirus from a pnuyah?
Why does the issue of the act making her asurah libaalah play any role here? In other words, why is vlad pnuyah and eishes ish be'ones not a mamzer?

Therefore, I will refine the last post to say a slightly different pshat in the Raavan. The main points are:
1) His girsa is goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael havlad kasher, but he holds that that doesn't apply to 100% of the situations, only 75%; for the remaining 25% he holds it is vlad mamzer.
2) The mamzeirus does not come from the isur of cohabitation with a goy, it comes from the isur of eishes ish! (Bnei Noach are also muzharim on eishes ish). And more specifically, the mamzeirus comes from the woman violating this isur. A pnuyah does not violate the isur of eishes ish because she is not an eishes ish, and be'ones a married woman does not violate the isur.
3) When we say there is no Mamzeirus for a goy, that is for a complete goy. But the Raavan will hold that when the mother is Jewish, the child has enough yichus to have a psul of mamzeirus (somewhat connected to the last paragraph in the previous post).

So: when there is a rape, an eishes ish did not commit any isur, so a child from a goy who raped her will not be a mamzer. Only if she willfully cohabited with the goy will the child be a mamzer. Also, because by definition a pnuyah is not an eishes ish, her child cannot be a mamzer, even beratzon.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

69a Akum Sheba al bas Yisrael, Part 4 - Raavan's shita

Rav Gedalya Felder in Nachalas Tzvi I p. 115 brings a strange shita: the Raavan on Yevamos 45 says: "Hilchesa, a goy and eved haba al bas yisrael, bein pnuyah bein eishes ish havlad kasher. Vehani mili be'ones, aval beratzon lo b'eishes ish, aval pnuyah afilu beratzon." Then he discusses Rav Mari bar Rachel. It is on p. 242b in the standard Raavan. This Raavan is very difficult because no Gemara makes such a distinction between goy haba al pnuyah and goy haba al eishes ish.

I think we can understand this shita. First of all, there is a very important machlokes rishonim about the proper girsa in the gemara about "goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael" if the girsa is "havlad mamzer" or "havlad kasher." (Most rishonim who say havlad kasher say there is a psul in the child, but the term kasher is used to mean 'not a mamzer.') The second thing to keep in mind is the halacha of Shvuya. (See Kesuvos 3b and 26b). A married woman who was captive can return to her husband, because even if she was raped, a rape does not disqualify her from her husband, but the wife of a kohen may not return to her husband because rape makes her a zona and thus asura l'kohen. For pnuyos it depends if they may still eat trumah (if they are kohanim) or if they can marry a kohen (no). But a married woman who committed adultery cannot return to her husband (nor can she return to the adulterer; there is a halacha kesheim she'asurah lebaal, kach asurah le'boel).

It seems the Raavan had the girsa "goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael havlad mamazer. He also holds there is mamzeirus from a non-Jewish father, but mamzeirus (at least in this case) happens where the woman becomes asurah libaalah (note: there are cases where there is mamzeirus but no isur to the husband, like rape). Hence it's only mamzer to an eishes ish biratzon.

Why might Raavan hold mamzeirus is possible with a non-Jewish man and a Jewish woman? There is a chakira - what causes mamzeirus? Is it the forbidden act, or incompatible yichus of a married woman with a strange man? When a non-Jewish man is involved it is difficult to say there is incompatible yichus, but we can discuss the isur of the act. Tosfos Yevamos 16b s.v. kasavar holds it's not asur midioraissa, but I've discussed that to many opinions there is an isur dioraissa. If Raavan holds that the forbidden act causes mamzeirus, and like Rambam that cohabitation with a non-Jew is an isur dioraissa or even chiyuvei kareis, there might be mamzeirus. (There is a big Machlokes Rabbeinu Tam & Rivam in Tos, Kesuvos 3b & Sanhedrin 74b about bi'as goy, very huge topic, I can't discuss it now).

This chakira I heard from my rebbi shlit"a when he discussed artificial insemination; he feels the two sides to the chakira correspond to the two explanations the Rambam gives in Moreh Nevuchim (III:49) for mamzeirus.

Let's make another chakira: does the non-Jewish father have no yichus in regard to his Jewish child, or do we say the mother's yichus eclipses this non-Jewish father's small yichus?) From Bechoros 47, Levi Pasul mikrei, he has some pgam from the father, so there must be at least a little yichus from the father. But we can make another chakira: does the pgam come from the little Yichus from his non-Jewish father, or is it that because he has no yichus at all of mishpachas av, and that itself is a pgam? In other words, if goy haba al bas yisrael havlad pagum - commonly we say the pgam is that the daughter is asurah to a kohen. But is there any psul to the son? Recall the machlokes Ran/Rambam about daughter of ger & yisraelis. Ran says without mishpachas av is there nothing. Or we can say there's some type of nebulous category (which one amora calls khal geirim), which we call "pgam."

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

69a Akum Sheba al bas Yisrael, Part 3 - Rashi's shita continued

I would be remiss if I did not mention the probably most famous explanation in this Rashi, offered by R' Naftoli Trop. He says there are two parts to Yisrael - shem yisrael and kedushas yisrael. Rashi holds this child has shem yisrael from birth, but lacks kedushas yisrael until geirus.

Rabi Akiva Eiger seems to pasken like Rashi, whom he references several times in Kiddushin and Yevamos; for example, see Gilyon Hashas Kiddushin 68b, and in his comments to Yoreh De'ah 266:12, that toRashi's opinion, we would not to bris milah of a goy sheba al bas yisrael on Shabbos, instead we'd push it off to Sunday. This implies he held to Rashi the kid is a full goy, not like Rav Ahron explained. What I don't understand is that in a Teshuva (#91) he says the opinion that the vlad is pagum (i.e., like Shulchan Aruch paskens), it may only be a problem dirabanan, but midioraissa she may marry a kohen. He makes no mention of his strict shita. After looking in Chiddushei R' Akiva Eiger to Yevamos 45 we see he held like Yam Shel Shlomo that goy haba al bas yisrael is only pagum midirabanan. So Rabi Akiva Eiger himself does not pasken like Rashi! He just feels that when Rashi says havlad kasher after geirus, means before geirus the child is a complete non-Jew.

Pischei Teshuva EH 4:1 has a decently sized discussion on this matter using completely different sources (except the Shaar Hamelech), and says this opinion is not accepted l'Halacha. Also see Otzar Haposkim 4:10.

Or Sameiach (IB 15:3) views the matter from a slightly different perspective. He says there are shitos which differentiate between thegoy or eved being boel a pnuyah, or an eishes ish Shulchan Aruch paskens they are the same). If the din applies to a pnuyah only, that the child is kosher, we see the mother's status is involved: this unmarried mother does not produce a mamzer (an unmarried woman could produce a mamzer through a case of incest, but that's not our case). But for a married woman the child would be a mamzer because the woman's status of married means this relationship was adulterous and the child is thus a mamzer. However, to the opinion (like which we pasken) that it doesn't matter if the mother is unmarried or married,the child is not a mamzer, we see the paternity is important. Non-Jews have no mamzeirus. Since this child is not a mamzer, the father's non-Jewish status must be passed down to the child in some way.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

69a Akum Sheba al bas Yisrael, Part 2 - Rashi's shita

See Tosfos 75b s.v. v'Rabi Yishmael. (I already mentioned this shita in my very first post.) Rashi 68b s.v. leima - havlad mamzer and we don't say he's a goy. Implication is, if we say havlad kasher (which is what we do say) the vlad is a goy and if he converts he's kosher. Some (Maharsha 75b s.v. v'Rabi Yishmael) ask that Rashi contradicts
himself because on 76a s.v. u'parchinan he says goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael havlad kasher, ela shifcha vladah eved, which implies the child with a Jewish mother is Jewish, and does not need geirus. Rashi also seems to contradict himself on 70 s.v. kol that Herod probably did not marry Jewish wives. That implies had he married Jewish wives, his children (he was an eved) would be full Jews. But Rashi holds goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael havlad kosher but needs geirus! But the answer is a non-Jewish father is worse than an eved father. See Shaar Hamelech, Issurei Biah 15:3, and Rav Moshe Soloveichik zt"l in Chiddushei Hagram Halevi Issurei Biah 15:3. A non-Jewish father
passes on his psul of non-Jew to the child. But an eved has no yichus (pedigree) so he has no psul to pass on. So When Rashi says goy v'eved haba al bas yisrael havald kasher but needs geirus, he only means goy haba. But eved sheba is completely Jewish and needs no geirus. This shita is also brought in Piskei Tosfos, Asara Yuchsin, 142.

Rav Ahron Soloveichik zt"l explained that Rashi doesn't mean - in the case of goy haba - the child is a goy. The child is Jewish, but he has a psul kahal (he's not allowed to enter the community), but that psul is removed with tevila. It is similar to a ger who had kabalas mitzvos, milah and tevila but didn't bring his korban (in the time of the mikdash) that he is Jewish but may not marry a Jewish woman until he brings his korban, according to Shita Mekubetzes, Kerisus 9a. (See Perach Mateh Aharon, Milah 1:7. The application to this Rashi is not in that piece, but he said it in shiur on Bava Basra.)

An almost identical explanation like Rav Ahron was offered by Rav Itzele Ponovicher in Zecher Yitzchak, siman 4. His thesis is that all aspects of gerus - milah, tevila and korban - are to purify the ger from his previous state of non-Jewishness. He then says with this we can explain [Rashi's shita] that the child is Jewish but needs tevila because he has the psul of goy, that the psul is the psul of both of the parents, but the yichus is after the mother... He is a full Yisrael but needs tevila to marry a bas yisrael....

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Updated Guide to Chodosh

This is the third edition of the Chodosh guide. It is usually the last update of the season.


Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Mamzer & Mishpachas Av

The Mishna, Kiddushin 66b, states: "Whenever kiddushin would not take effect between she and he, but she would have kiddushin with another man, the offspring is a mamzer. What case is this? This is one who came upon one of the arayos in the Torah." That the offspring is a mamzer requires further elaboration: does the fatehr's lineage still exist (and if the father was a kohen, the offspring will be a kohen mamzer) or does the mamzerus uproot the mishpachas av?

Koveitz He'aros 44:2 says: "In Shu"t HaRashba...without the Rashba we could have said another thing regarding that which a mamzer does not have kehuna - the psul removes him from from the kedushas kahal, it certainly removes him from the status of kohen....and we see this in Gittin 59 and Tosefta Yevamos 8:1 a female Levi who was held captive.... It is simple from this that mamzeirus removes the mishpachas av.

This is also implied in Mishna Brurah 135:30: "Even if they know their father is a Levi, we must suspect that their father married a mamzeres or nesina and disqualified his children from the kedushas Leviyah, and as a mamzer he reads from the Torah (i.e., gets an aliya) like any other Yisrael.

Chidushei Hagram Halevi (p. 54) s.v. Yevamos 87 says: the din that the offspring follows the psul of either of them is only a status of psul. The offspring of a regular Yisrael and an Egyptian convert is in the khal Yosrael and not in khal geirim, because his family is his father's mishpachas av. Only, he also has a status of psul of Mitzri...

This is also the shita of Rav Chaim, Isurei Biah 15:9.

See Tosfos Kiddushin 68b s.v. vladah kimosah: He explains the question of the gemara that how do we know the vlad of a non-Jewish woman follows her - "what is the source that the offspring is like her, that it will not be called his offspring for anything, not even his son but [a son who is] a mamzer...." According to Koveitz He'aros, if mamzeirus removes mishpachas av, what is Tosfos saying? We see Tosfos holds like Rav Moshe and Rav Chaim that the offspring is a mamzer and has mishpachas av. But the son of a non-Jewish woman will not be considered the Jewish father's son at all.

--Heard from Rav Chaim Ilson

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Duration of Makos & Kiddushin 30a

Shemos 7:25 And seven days were complete, after G-d smote the river. Rashi explains that each makah lasted seven days, and Moshe warned Paroh for the rest of the month (three weeks). Ibn Ezra and Rashbam argue and say the makah of blood lasted a week because the verse tells us so, but there is no reason the think that all the other plagues lasted seven days.

(Everyone seems to agree Makas Bechoros happened at once, and did not last seven days. Regarding darkness - three days of darkness and then three days of thick darkness that inhibited movement - that's less than seven days! Sifsei Chachamim discusses it. Regarding Dever - from Rashi to 14:7, the righteous Egyptians' animals did not die. Rashi to 9:10 explains that the animals that were kept indoors did not die. It can therefore be that the plague lasted seven days even according to Rashi, for if animals were indoors at the beginning of the plague, if they came outdoors during the seven days, they would die. (about dever was mipi Mori Shlit"a answering my question.))

What is the significance of seven days that Rashi holds all of the plagues lasted that long? Rambam in Moreh Nevuchim 3:43 discusses why do Pesach and Sukkos last seven days? He says because seven days is long enough to realize that something was different. Not eating bread for a couple of days isn't so out of the ordinary. But when you don't eat bread for seven days you realize it happened, and you also realize why - because of the mitzva. We can likewise explain the duration of the makos similarly. Had they only been a day or two, it was likely that some people didn't realize anything happened. But because they all lasted a week, everyone in the entire Egypt realized that all of these miracles took place.

With this we can understand another Rashi. The Gemara (Kiddushin 30a) says we must split our learning into thirds - a third of the time we must learn Tanach, a third must be Mishna and a third must be Talmud. Rashi (s.v. leyomi) explains that it means every week we split up our learning, so that two days are Tanach, two are Mishna and two are Talmud. Tosfos (s.v. Lo) finds this difficult and explains that every day we must learn all three, so that our daily learning is split up three ways. Rambam (Hil. Talmud Torah 1:11-12) agrees with Tosfos. Tosfos has a good point with his question against Rashi. Why, then, does Rashi not say we must split our daily learning into thirds? He holds that as long as you did something within seven days, it is considered to be current. We know one might get involved and engrossed in a certain topic for a couple of days. Doing so does not indicate that he is ignoring the other two parts of Torah. But engrossing in one of the three parts for a week does indicate that you are ignoring the other two parts. Therefore Rashi says the learning only must be split up weekly, but not daily.

There is another answer we can give for Rashi. The Gemara asked how do you split up your learning into thirds, for how do you know when you will die? Rashi says you split your weeks in to thirds - two days, two days, two days, but Tosfos still asks, maybe you will die before the week is complete? The Shu"t Kesav Sofer O"C 103 brings a Chacham Tzvi 106 who shows from Tosfos Gittin 28a, Rosh Nedarim 3b and Gemara Sukkah 23b that there is a machlokes Rashi and Tosfos if we are worried that one may die within a week. Tosfos has such a concern, but Rashi does not. Thus, here, in regard to splitting your learning into thirds, Tosfos is worried you may die within a week and not have learned all three parts of Mikra, Mishna and Gemara, but Rashi is not worried about dying within one week.

(With this Ksav Sofer we can explain the machlokes Rabi Yehuda/Chachamim at the beginning of Yuma if they need to appoint a back-up wife for the Kohen gadol lest she dies before Yom Kippur, and the Kohen Gadol must be married: R"Y holds like Tosfos and we're worried she will die within a week, so we appoint a back-up wife, but Chachamim hold like Rashi and we're not worried the kohen gadol's wife will die.)

Tosfos gives some other ways how we fulfill our need to learn all three parts of the Torah daily. One is Rabbeinu Tam, who explained that Talmud Bavli is like balul, a mixture, of all three, so by learning Talmud Bavli you fulfill learning all three. Rav Amram Gaon says that is why we say psukim, mishnayos and the braissa of Rabi Yishmael every morning before davening - to have learned a little of all three parts every day.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Yevamos 61b discusses the many shitos regarding who is a zonah.
Rabi Yehuda: an aylonis (a woman who will never have simanim of naarus; she never reaches sexual maturity) is a zonah.
Rabi Eliezer: zonah is literally a zonah (i.e., an unfaithful wife).
Rabi Akiva: mufkeres (available to anyone).
R' Masya ben Charash - he was going to have her drink the mei sotah and he had relations with her (it is prohibited once he decided she will drink before she actually does).
Chachamim: giyores or freed slave or one who had a forbidden be'ilah.
R' Elazar: two unmarried people having relations. (Tosfos s.v. adds even a married man with an unmarried woman.) (See Shita Kesuvos 13a s .v. ela harei zu, from the Likutei Hagaonim that this is only R' Elazar's opinion and it is rejected. The Shita much later on brings a Ritva who says that some amoraim in Sanhedrin follow this opinion.)

I'd like to give some sevaros for these opinions.

Rabi Yehuda might hold when there will be no fulfillment of perya verivya due to the physical inability of the woman to have children, she is a zonah.

Rabi Eliezer understands the word zonah literally, not as a din.

What is the difference between Rabi Akiva and Rabi Elazar? Tosfos Yeshanim say the nafka mina is the first biah: to Rabi Elazar she will become a zonah from the first biah, and to Rabi Akiva she won't become a zonah until the second biah.

R' Masya ben Charash might hold when there is any prohibition, even though it is not arayos (and does not carry the death penalty), it makes her a zonah. See Rashi Bamidbar 5:31 in the davar acher.

Chachamim hold it's someone who had an arayos relationship or anyone not born Jewish. If she is allowed to marry a psul (like a giyores marrying a mamzer) that same woman cannot marry a kohen, because she is a zonah. Or if she had a relationship where the child born would have been a mamzer, that makes her a zonah. (Rabi Shimon ben Gamliel on 60b holds if she converted before age three she may marry a kohen. This would be because she can be examined and if her hymen is intact she is not a zonah, and the hymen will grow back if penetrated before age three.)

Rabi Elazar can hold one of several things. He can hold like the Rambam in Sefer Hamitzvos (L"S 355) that the mitzva of perya verivya is to get married with chuppa and kiddushin. If you violate that, you become a zonah. Or he can hold slightly different, like the Raavad in Shita Mekubetzes Kesuvos 7 (discussed here) and say that one who violates an isur aseh becomes a zonah.

We pasken like Chachamim (and not like Rabi Shimon ben Gamliel about a girl who converted before the age of three. A question I have is what if a pregnant woman converted and then gave birth to a girl, can she marry a kohen? The baby would not require geirus because we say "ubar yerech imo (the fetus is an appendage to the mother)." I'm not positive, but I don't think she can marry a kohen. I think Ramban considers that a geirus on the fetus. So she would be a considered a giores.