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: