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.