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.