Thursday, December 22, 2011

Testimony if you Recognize Someone's Voice

Can people testify based on recognizing someone's voice without seeing them (tevias eina dikala)?

See Chullin 95b-96a Rava says I know Tevias Ayin is greater than a siman, for if not, how could a blind man be allowed to his wife (maybe it is not his wife, but he cannot see her), and how can any man be allowed to his wife at night [when he cannot see her, maybe it is not his wife], the answer is teviyas ayin of [recognizing their] voice.

Ketzos 81:13 from Chullin, (the continuation is:
אמר רב יצחק בריה דרב משרשיא: תדע, דאילו אתו בתרי, ואמרי: פלניא דהאי סימניה והאי סימניה, קטל נפשא - לא קטלינן ליה, ואילו אמרי: אית לן טביעות עינא בגויה - קטלינן ליה
However, he brings Rashi Sanhedrin 67a - if eidim are hidden and they hear someone being meisis others to avodah zarah, he is not put to death if they only identified the meisis through his voice.  You need a light so the eidim can see the person's face (even though he doesn't see the eidim).  Therefore Ketzos says tvias eina of kol does not work for dinei nefashos, and if ti doesn't work for dineo nefashos, it doesn't work for dinei mamonos either.  Then he quotes Shiltei Giborim Sanhedrin Ch 3 (8a in Rif) that tevias eina of kol only works for issurim - to recognize your wife, for example - not for mamonos or nefashos.

Nesivos 81:7 argues and says for mamonos, tevias eina dikala does work because Bava Metzia 20 regarding Simanim, isur is stricter than mamon, so if it is accepted for isur it is accepted for mamon, but dinei nefashos needs re'iah and yediah.  (It is pretty clear that recognizing someone through their voice is yediah but not reiyah.)

Meshoveiev Nesivos rejects this because if so, umdena should work - but it doesn't from the case where Shimon ben Shetach saw someone chase aperson into a deserted building and Shimon ben Shetach followed them in and found one man dead and the other brandishing a bloody knife and no one else in the building.  Shimon ben Shetach knew the guy killed the other guy, but said "al pi shnei eidim yumas hameis" prevented him from killing him (what about the fact that there only would have been one witness - Shimon be Shetach himself; it does not say anyone was with him?).  This is on Sanhedrin 37b.  (Regarding umdena see Rav Elchanan koveitz shiurim 2:38) but, conludes the Ketzos in Meshoveiv Nesivos, we see we need re'iah mamash.

Now I'm not sure this Ketzos is right.  In an umdena, we didn't actually see the murder or event take place in front of our eyes, we can only infer it.  But in our case, the Nesivos is talking about where they hear it happening as it happens.  That very well might be yedia without rei'ah, but it is much stronger than an umdena!

One very surprising nafka mina comes up according to this Nesivos in a case where we have yediah and it is sufficient for dinei mamonos but not for dinei nefashos.  Haghos Ashri, Bava Kama chapter 4 says if Ruvein kills Shimon, even though he's put to death, he is chayav to pay his (probably Shimon's, but it probably depends on the machlokes on Makos 2b if kofer is dmei mazik or dmei nizak) value to Shimon's heirs, but because of Kam Lei bidiraba minei, Beis Din cannot force him to pay it.  If Shimon's heirs grabbed the money from him we don't take it away from them.  But in this case, where we are sure Ruvein killed Shimon because we hear Ruvein in the room with Shimon saying I'm going to kill you and we hear an attack and Shimon crying out and later we find Shimon's corpse, we have yedia, more than umdena! - that Ruvein did kill Shimon.  But without actually seeing it, we cannot put Ruvein to death.  So, Beis Din should obligate Ruvein to pay Shimon's heirs, because the yedia eidus is good enough for dinei mamonos, according to the Nesivos.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Neemanus of a Midwife

In Vayeishev, when Tamar's twins were born, the one baby stuck his hand out during labor, and the midwife tied a string around it to show that that was the firstborn (see 38:28).  (The baby actually stuck its hand back inside Tamar and the other baby came out first.

It seems that this pasuk is hinting to a certain halacha.  See Kiddushin 74a: "Rav Nachman says: Three people are beleived to tell us which child is the firstborn: the widwife, mother and father.  The midwife is believed [only] immediately [after birth], the mother for seven days [as Rashi says until the Bris] and the father forever."

Here the midwife immediately took steps to identify the firstborn - because, as midwife, that is the only time she has neemanus to do so.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Chodosh Guide Update!

Yasher Koach to R' Yoseph Herman.

Chodosh Guide 5772 Pt2

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Using Oz VeHadar Makes You Think Less

While newly re-typeset books are much easier to read, your cognition decreases compared to reading the same words in a less clear font.

[P]erformance was better with the bad font.  Cognitive strain, whatever its source, mobilizes System 2, which is more likely to reject the intuitive answer suggested by System 1.
      - Daniel Kahneman, Thinking, Fast and Slow, page 65

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Voice and Erva, part 1

This post is not about Kiddushin 80 - kol b'isha erva, but we will end up there in this series.

Parshas Vayeitzei 29:25, see Rashi.

Bava Basra 123a says Rachel gave the simanim to Leah, and Eicha [Rabasi] Pesichta 24 says Rachel hid under the bed and gave them to Yaakov.  What is the difference between the two midrashim?  Sanhedrin 38 says everyone is unique in three ways: appearance, voice and thoughts.  Appearance and voice for Erva purposes - so you can recognize your spouse.  Therefore the midrash said Rachel hid under the bed so it was her voice - which Yaakov knew - answering Yaakov with the simanim.  What would the Gemara Bava Basra (that Rachel told the simanim to Leah, so Leah gave them to Yaakov) do with the Gemara in Sanhedrin - Yaakov should have realized the voice did not belong to Rachel?

Maybe, as siblings, Rachel and Leah had similar voices and could not be distinguished accurately.   Maybe that they didn't have too much to do with each other until the marriage so they didn't know each other's voices too well (Torah Shlayma Breishis 29:25:84 cites this possibility in the names of Ri miVina, Riva in Drashas ibn Shavib and Baalei HaTosfos).  And maybe the siman was not verbal, but was an amulet (Torah Shlayma brings such a possibility) so voice never came into play.  And see Maharsha, Bava Basra 123a s.v. Vehaynu.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel - Vayishlach 5760

These are my notes of the Schmuess delivered by the Rosh Yeshiva of Mir Yerushalaim, Rav Nosson Tzvi Finkel, for Parshas Vayishlach 5760.  Rav Nosson Tzvi's shloshim is this week.

First, Yaakov Avinu sent a message to Eisav: im lavan garti.  Rashi  has two peshatim.  The first pshat is Yaakov telling Eisav that he lived as a stranger, not as an important person and Eisav should not hate him for receiving the brachos.  His second pshat is while he lived with Lavan harasha, Yaakov kept all the mitzvos.

Secondly,  we see Yaakov said Katonti mikol hachasadim.  Rashi says his zechuyos were decreasing in number and shema nislachlachti bechait.  The Ramban and Sforno say Yaakov wasn't deserving of the chasadim.  The Rashbam says a third pshat.  Hashem did chesed and Yaakov did not fulfill his duties to Hashem.  This is really a machlokes in midrash.  Rabi Abba said aini kedai, Rabi Levi said kedai, but katonti mekol hachasadim.  The meforshim explain Rabi Abba like the Sforno and the Ramban, and Rabi Levi like Rashi.  The pshat is that it's not a machlokes, it's just two dargos.  He said I'm not fitting but if I am, maybe I used the zechuyos up and even so, maybe I'll do a chait.

Thirdly, vayei'aveik ish imo ad alos hashachar.  It was vayivaser Yaakov levado - a chisaron:  since he went alone, the saro shel eisav attacked him.  From here we learn it is asur for a talmid chacham to go somewhere alone at night.

The midrash says just like it says venisgav Hashem levado, also by Yaakov - vayivaser Yaakov levado.  The Midrash brings down levado is one of the middos of Hashem.  So levado is a ma'aleh in Yaakov, not a chisaron.  What is the ma'aleh of  levado, and ho does one reach it?

From the three things we mentioned, Yaakov reached vayei'aveik ish imo.  I'm not saying pshat, but to reach each of the three dargos lies in a Mishnah in Avos 1:14.  Im ain ani li mi li uchshe'ani le'atzmi ma ani ve'im lo achshav masai.

Im lo achshav aimasai.  As it says in Chazal, one shouldn't say I'll learn when I have time because maybe he won't have time.  Don't push it off as it says if you leave it, it will leave you.  If you push it off one day it will turn into two days.  Im lav garti was Yaakov's first taina - the entire time he was oseik betorah umitzvos.

Keshe'ani le'atzmi ma ani.  I think one pshat is - I know there are several peshatim - a person succeeded.  But if he thinks he will pat himself on the back and think he did it himself, he is missing middos tovos and is a ba'al ga'ava.  Keshe'ani le'atzmi a ani - if you think you did it all yourself, ma ani - what's it worth?  You must have middos- anava, chessed - all the middos tovos.  How do you reach this?  Only by learning Mussur.  As the Gaon says it's the hardest thing in life is to break a middah ra'ah.  Besides taryag midos shamarti, you need good middos.  Without them you can't succeed.  If a person doesn't know how to treat his friend, his roommate, his chavrusa, his family, he is lacking in his Torah. Im ain ani li mi li.  Baruch Hashem, in our gashmiyosdike world, a person can have everything he wants.  Today luxury has become neccesity.  But a person can have gashmiyos also.  You can have chavrusos, sefarim, what's missing?  Im ain ani li mi li. One can have everything, but if he doesn't work onhimself, mi li? Who will think of him if he doesn't think of himself?  How does a person get to levado?  Ameilus - im brchukosai teileichu - ameilus batorah.  This week's parsha teaches us exactly what a shiv is all about.  Taryag mitzvos shamarti, middos tovos (katonti mikol hachasadim), and ameilus batorah (levado).  If a person doesn't work on himself and doesn't rely on anyone else to feed him,if t to grow in learning or middos tovos, become a gadol batorah, have

When  is the matziv of levado?  Why does the Torah say here that Yaakov reached the darga of levado?  The pshat is simple.  First it says vayomer lo ma shimech vayomar Yaakov.  Vayomer lo Yaakov yai'omair od shimcha ki im Yisrael.  First his name was Yaakov - Veyaakveini zeh paamayim, and after this fight with saro shel Eisav he was zoche to be named Yisrael.  He reached a higher level.  To reach this higher level of Yisrael, he had to reach the darga of levado.  What is the name Yaakov?  Veyaakveini zeh pa'amayim.  Because of his desire for shleimus, he fooled Yitzchak and received the berachos.  It's a maaleh that he did it to become shaleim.  Because of this desire to become shaleim, he was zoche to the name Yisrael.

How does a person reach levado?  He must have a desire to be shaleim, to be a complete person in all respects - Torah and mitzvos, yiras Shamayim and middos tovos.  If a person's desire is to be partial, halevai he will get up to being partial.  If he wan to get complete, he can be complete.  It doesn't have to do with brains or how smart you are or how quick you are - it's only dependant on your desire.

Klal Yisrael needs gedolim and shleimim that are shaleim in all his avodas haBorei.  If a bachur strives for shleimus, he will get there.  And that's all dependant on im ani li mi li:  if he has a small goal, maybe he will reach it.  If he has a bigger go , he can reach it, but you need ameilus.

In this lies another nekudah.  Sometimes one feels all alone; he feels lost.  It could be it's the opposite - Hashem gives him a test to see if he can pass that test.  That's one of the dargos of levado - that he can pass the tests.  He doesn't need any help.  If he does it alone, he can be zoche to become Yisrael.  How does he do that?  His desires.  Hashem should help the zechus of ain ani li mi li that we should all be zoche to taryag mitzvos shamarti, katonti mikol hachasadim and lo Yaakov yai'omair od imcha ki im Yisrael.