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.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Maalin mishtaros leyuchsin

Please keep davening for Moshe David ben Devorah.

Kesuvos 24 says (abridged): If one wrote 'I, ploni the Kohen, lent money to ...' and witnesses signed on it, can we consider the man a kohen? Do we consider the witnesses to be testifying only about the loan involved, or on everything in the document, including the fact the ploni is a kohen? It's a machlokes Rav Huna and Rav Chisda. One said we can consider him a kohen based on this and one said we may not.

Tosfos s.v. Chad seems to pasken that this is good enough, and in Kiddushin 76b s.v. ein is more explicit. But Rambam (Issurei Biah 20:9) says this is not good enough. Shulchan Aruch 3:2 paskens like Rambam. Rashba also argues on Rambam (like Tosfos), see Beis Shmuel 3:8. A question on the Rambam - why in Halacha 4 does he say maalin mitruma leyuchsin, but in Halacha 9 he departs from the words the Gemara uses and he says maalin mishtaros likehuna, and not leyuchsin? I'm not sure.

Ketzos Hachoshen asks (28:6) why doesn't the Gemara ask "isn't this mipi ksavam? Meaning, testimony is oral. If we consider someone a Kohen because of a signed document, that is written testimony and not oral testimony and should not be accepted? He answers that because all families are bechezkas kashrus, and because one witness is enough in Issurim if not for the fact that the chachamim made yuchsin special and they required two witnesses, so this requirement (to consider them meyuchasim) is only midirabanan, and in this case they accepted written testimony, but he concludes that this question still needs a good answer.

I'm wondering if the yichus is determined from the document itself, or do we use the document to determine what the chazakah of that person was then. If the latter, we are only using the document to see what the chazaka was, not to decide based on this document.

Also, the mishna in Kiddushin 76a says one who was signed as a witness in the registers of Yeshana near Tzipori is considered meyuchas. Rashi seems to say two explanations, but they it is unclear if they are different. He says because they used to record who was meyuchas and only use them to judge. But what does witnesses have to do with judges? Apparently Rashi is very medayek in "kol hakasher leha'id kasher ladun" (see Nida 49b). So they kept a list of kosher eidim not for their use as eidim, but for their use as dayanim. (Because there is no halacha you need a meyuchas to testify). However, Tosfos Yom Tov bring Rashi - and Rashi also says this on the mishna - there was a sanhedrin that investigated people to determine if they were meyuchas. So it wasn't a register of dayanim, it was a register of investigated people. Tosfos Y"T also says didn't have the word "eid" in his mishna. Others discuss if the word Archei is spelled with an ayin, which means register or aleph, which means the elders. Rambam in Peirush Hamishna says if someone was an eid in this register, then they were meyuchas. He mentions nothing about a register due to a beis din investigating their yuchsin.

So it's possible that the register is not what makes us decide he's meyuchas, the register is a record of what was previously decided by a beis din investigating someone's status.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Adoption, Part 2

For a refua shleima for Moshe David ben Devorah.

Yichud - some poskim prohibit adoption because it will lead to yichud problems with the parent of the opposite gender. I understand Rav Moshe Feinstein in Igros Moshe E"H IV 64:2 as holding there isn't a problem to adopt a girl because there is a super din of "ishto imo" so there is no concern of yichud. His heter apparently would not apply to a couple adopting a boy, because of the yichud problem between the adoptive mother and the boy. I previously mentioned that my rebbi zt"l paskened there is no problem of yichud because Meiri Kiddushin (81b s.v. Kevar) says: "...However, whomever does this without the intent of yichud and for unclean thoughts, rather, the way of the love of 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." He expanded on this and said from Tosfos, Sanhedrin 37a s.v., Hatorah, that sometimes a the thorn around roses - sugah bashoshanim - is a stronger barrier than an iron fence. The sugah bashoshanim of the child-parent relationship in case of adoption will form a psychological barrier against issur, and there will not be an issur yichud.

Writing name on Kesuva - How do we write the name of an adopted person in a shtar (contract)? Rama in Shulchan Aruch C"M 42:15 allows one to wrote "ploni ben ploni" even when it is only an adoptive relationship. For an aliya, most use the adoptive father's name, and some say ploni hamegadlo (who raised him). In a kesuva, the old custom was to write the biological parents (when they were also Jewish). I have heard that R' Moshe Feinstein said they can write the adoptive father's name without hamegadlo. (See also E"H I:99; E"H IV:26). Rav Yitzchak Yaakov Weiss in Minchas Yitzchak is very much opposed to using the adoptive father's name in a kesuva and even for calling the boy up for an aliya, because he is worried that people will make incorrect assumptions by hearing him called up as ben ploni. See Minchas Yitzchak I:136, IV:49, V:44, and VI:151. (He also prohibits yichud in an adoption).

(You could make several distinctions: an adopted non-Jewish child who underwent geirus katan: should he be called ben Avraham Avinu like a Ger ,which s/he technically is, or ben ploni hamegadlo? Because what about a non-Jewish man married to a Jewish woman and later the father converts - especially in a case where the community does not know the father wasn't Jewish, could be call him up ben ploni hamegadlo? What about where the father was Jewish, the mother wasn't, and then the mother & child convert? Can we use hamegadlo or must we use ben Avraham Avinu? (I think Nachalas Tzvi would allow us to use hamegadlo in this last case.) Also, an Igros Moshe EH I:99 has a case where nobody remembered the boy's father's name. Probably that case was where his father died when she was very young and her mother remarried, and this man raised this girl. Rav Moshe paskened to write bas mi shenishkach shmo venikra ben ploni shegidlo. I mention these possibilities because there are several distinctions we can make, plus there may be social considerations where to use the word hamegadlo or shegidlo will cause scrutiny.)

A frum family had to give up a child for adoption, and the child was adopted by another frum family who allowed the child to have contact with his biological parents. When the child got married, the biological parents insisted on walking the child to the chuppa, while the adoptive parents who raised the child wanted to. They had a Din Torah by my rebbi Rav Ahron Soloveichik zt"l. He paskened, based on the Shemos Rabba 4:2, which states: When Hashem told Moshe 'go now, I send you to Paroh,' Moshe responded I cannot, because Yisro accepted me and opened his home to me and I am like his son, and one who opens his home to his fellow, his soil is obligated to him...and more than that, whoever opens his home to his fellow, he is required in honoring him more than his father and mother... So Moshe told Hashem Yisro accepted me and honored me, I cannot go unless he gives his permission. From this Midrash, my Rebbi paskened that the adoptive parents who raised the child should walk the child to the chuppa. Rav Aharon Kotler agreed with this psak.