Tuesday, May 24, 2011

[KollelH blog] Bamidbar - The Redemption of the 273 B’chorim

In this week's parsha in perek 3 we learn of the appointment of the Levi'im (Levites) and their replacement of the B'chorim. In passuk 12 Hashem says that He has taken the Levi'im from among the b'nai yisroel, in place of every b'chor. Hashem then told Moshe to count the Levi'im and the b'chorim, in order to equally replace them. The Levi'im amounted to 22,000 and the b'chorim amounted to 22,273. This meant that there were 273 b'chorim that were unable to be replaced by a levi. Hashem then commanded that the 273 b'chorim be redeemed with money; 5 shkalim per person to be given to Aaron and his sons. (The Gimorah in B'choros 5a says that actually there were an additional 300 Levi'im amounting to 22,300, however they were b'chorim themselves and could therefore not redeem other b'chorim rather they redeemed themselves.)
The Meshech Chachma (Reb Meir Simcha) points out that the amount of b'chorim that exceeded the Levi'im is divisible by three, which is proportionate to the three kohanim the Torah designated to receive the redemption money. This allowed Aaron and his two sons, to redeem 91 b'chorim evenly.

The Gimorah in Baba Basra (143a) says when one says he will give something to a specific person and to a group of people (if we cannot clarify his intentions by asking him) we should assume he meant that the person that was singled out should receive half and the group should split the remaining half, and not that they all should divide it equally. The Gimorah learns this from the passuk by the lechem hapanim ( Vayikra 24: 9) that says Aaron and his sons are to eat from the bread, and we know that Aaron received half and his sons split the remaining half. Reb Meir Simcha assumes that we can learn from this Gimorah that whenever the Torah says something is to be given to Aaron and his sons, the intention is not for them to divide it into thirds, rather that Aaron is to receive half and his sons are to split the other half.

If we are to apply the Gimorah in Baba Basra to our parsha it would mean that the 273 b'chorim that exceeded the Levi'im would be divided into two, half to be redeemed by Aaron and the other half by his sons. Additionally the Medrash Rabba (4:10) on this parsha explains that half of the b'chorim were redeemed by Aaron and half were redeemed by his sons. Needless to say, 273 is not evenly divisible by two. Reb Meir Simcha therefore assumes that the last b'chor gave half of his redemption money (2.5 shekel) to Aaron hakohen and the other half to his sons.

With this Reb Meir Simcha explains why the Torah occasionally includes the amount that a shekel is worth (20 gairas) and other times It does not mention its value. He says in a scenario when one will have to split a shekel the Torah includes the value of the shekel. For example in the parsha of machtzis hashekel one must give exactly a half a shekel therefore the Torah writes the value of a shekel in that parsha. In the parsha of eiruchin in b'chukosai the Torah does not include the value of a shekel because there are no fractions of a shekel in that parsha, only whole numbers. Based on the Medrash and the Gimorah in Baba Basra we explained that in this redemption process it was necessary to split a shekel in half therefore the Torah includes in this parsha the value of a shekel.

The Gimorah in B'choros 51b discusses whether one may give the 5 sla'im for pidyon haben to different kohanim or all of the money must it be given to one kohen. The Gimorah quotes a Tosefta that says that one may give the pidyon haben to several different kohanim. Reb Meir Simcha suggests that the source for this halacha is derived from this parsha of the redemption of the b'chorim; as we proved earlier there was one kohen who had to give half of his redemption to Aaron hakohen and half to his sons.

The Or HaChaim asks the following question: The passuk says (3:51) that Moshe gave the redemption money to Aaron and his sons "Al pi Hashem kasher tziva Hashem es Moshe". Once the Torah said that Moshe did it by the word of Hashem, why is it necessary to state that he did it as he was commanded?

I want to suggest that based on the Meshech Chachma we can answer the Or HaChaim's question. According to the Meshech Chachma the Torah is teaching us something regarding the halachos of giving pidyon haben. The Gimorah in Kidushin(29b) says that the word tziva is to teach us that it applies for all generations. Therefore the passuk repeated and said that Moshe did it as he was commanded (tziva) to tell us that this halacha that one can divide his pidyon haben to be given to more than one kohen is applicable for all generations.


Posted By Dovi milstein to KollelH blog at 5/25/2011 12:35:00 AM

Sunday, May 22, 2011

[KollelH blog] Ma’aser B'haimah

At the conclusion of this week's parsha (27:32) the Torah discusses the obligation to give ma'aser (tithe) from one's animals. The newborn cattle are put into a corral with a narrow opening big allowing for only one animal to leave at a time. As the animals leave they are counted, and every tenth one is marked as ma'aser to be given to a kohen.
The Mishnah in Bichoros( 58b) discusses a scenario where during the counting before the owner had reached number ten, one of the animals that were already counted jumped back in to the corral and he cannot distinguish between the animals. The Mishnah says that all the animals are exempt from ma'aser. The Gimorah in Baba Mitzeia (6b) explains this ruling based on a drasha from the passuk "hasiri yiheye kodesh l'Hashem". The Gimorah explains that the Torah requires that one be certain that the tenth animal is the tenth. If there is any doubt that this animal is the tenth it is not ma'aser (asiri vadai vilo asiri safek). Additionally once an animal was counted it cannot be counted again. Since he cannot distinguish between the animals he might count the animal that was already counted, thereby making it impossible to count with certainty. Therefore all of the animals are exempt from ma'aser since we cannot ensure that any of them will be the definite tenth one out of the corral.

The shita mikubetzes in Baba Mitzeia (6b) cites a R"Ash that asks: why does the Mishnah say that since the animals cannot be counted precisely all of the animals in the corral exempt from ma'aser, why can't we apply the rule of kal d'parish mairuba parish- if something separates from a group we can assume it belonged to the majority of the group? Since the majority of animals in the corral were not counted, as each animal separates and passes through the door of the corral we should assume that it was never counted, thus enabling the animals to be counted properly and be obligated in ma'aser.

The R"Ash answers that although the Torah allowed us to rely on a rov (majority) in most scenarios, nevertheless it remains a safek (doubt). Therefore with regard to ma'aser where the Torah requires that we know with certainty that the tenth animal is the tenth we cannot rely on a rov.

Reb Akiva Aiger (in tishuvos tinyana 108) asks the following question: An animal that is a traifa is exempt from ma'aser. The only way to know that an animal is not a traifa is to rely on the rov that most animals are healthy and not traifos. However according to the Rush that said that even though the Torah allowed us to rely on a rov it still remains a safek how can we ever have an animal that is obligated in ma'aser? We will not know with certainty that it is the tenth since possibly the first nine were traifos. And even though there is a rov that says that they were not traifos according to the Rush that is not considered knowing with certainty.

The Shev Shimaitza (2 :15) answers that there are two different types of rov; ruba dilesa kaman, and ruba dieisa kaman. A ruba dilesa kaman refers to tendencies in nature or habit. For example that most animals are healthy and not tiraifos, or that most babies born are healthy, or that most people who will shecht(slaughter) know how to do so properly. A ruba dieisa kaman refers to the majority of present chances. For example if there are ten pieces of meat of which nine are kosher and one is not and one is selected the rov says it is a kosher piece of meat.

The Shev Shimaitza says that the Rush only said that even after applying a rov it still remains a safek regarding a ruba dieisa kaman such as in the case of the animal that was counted that jumped back into the coral. Whereas regarding a rov such as the rov that most animals are not tiraifa which is a ruba dilesa kaman the Rush would agree that in applying the rov there remains no safek and one can be certain that it will be from the rov. Therefore regarding the doubt if the animals are tiraifos we can say with certainty that they are not traifos and therefore the tenth animal is with certainty the tenth and thus obligated in ma'aser.


Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 5/22/2011 11:02:00 PM

Sunday, May 15, 2011

[KollelH blog] Sefirah and Aleinu

We count siferas haomer at the beginning of the night at the conclusion of Maariv. There
are different customs regarding the proper order in which to recite the counting of sefiras
haomer; before or after Aleinu.

The sefer Sharai Rachamim from the Vilna Gaon says that one should first say Aleinu and count siferas haomer afterwards. The Chak Yakkov (489:20), and the Pri Migadim (A"A 489:15), and the Mishnah Birurah (489:2) say that the proper order is to count siferas haomer first and then to say Aleinu.

In order to better understand the basis for this machlokes we must look at the origin
of the custom to say Aleinu at the end of davening. Was Aleinu instituted to be the
conclusion of each Tefila, or was it instituted to be the last prayer that we recite prior to
leaving the shul?

The Bach in Orach Chaim 133 explains that Aleinu was added at the conclusion of
davening before people left the shull in order to instill faith of the Oneness of Hashem's
kingship, and in order to strengthen our emuna that He will one day remove idolatry from the earth, thus preventing Jews from being tempted to follow the beliefs and lifestyles of the nations among whom they dwell and engage in business with. It seems clear that the Bach is of the opinion that Aleinu was instituted primarily as the last tefila prior to leaving the shul.

The Sharei Teshuva in Orach Chaim 233:1 cites the Ar"i z"l that one must recite Aleinu
after each of the three tifelos of the day. The Ar"i z"l seems to hold that Aleinu was
instituted as part of davening.

The Chasam Sofer was accustomed not to say Aleinu after Mincha on erev Shabbos
since we remain in shul for Maariv. This is in accordance with the Bach that said Aleinu
was instituted as the last tifela prior to leaving the shull. It is for that reason that we do
not say Aleinu after Mussaf or Mincha on Yom Kippor, since we do not leave the shul
after these tefilos.
Perhaps this is the reason why many have the custom not to recite Aleinu after Shacharis
on Shabbos, even though it is the end of a tefila, since we do not leave the shull until
after the conclusion of the next tefila; Mussaf. There are those that have the custom to
say Aleinu after Shacharis on Shabbos and to repeat it after Mussaf. This custom is in
accordance with the opinion of the Ar"i z"l that Aleinu was instituted as a part of each
tefila. It is possible that even the custom of not saying Aleinu after Shacharis on Shabbos
is in accordance with the Ar"i z"l, since we daven Shacharis and Mussaf together they are
considered as one tefila therefore one need not say Aleinu after Shacharis.

Based on this, the sefer Harirai Kedem explains that we can understand the machlokes
regarding the proper order in which to count siferas haomer in respect to Aleinu. If
Aleinu is a part of tiffela then it should precede counting siferas haomer, since siferas
haomer is a mitzvah that can be performed after maariv as well we can apply the rule of
tadir v'sheaino tadir tadir kodem- the more frequent precedes the less frequent. As Aleinu
is a part of maariv and maariv is more frequent, the entire maariv (including Aleinu)
should precede counting siferas haomer. Whereas if Aleinu was instituted as the last
tefila said prior to leaving the shul then one should first count siferas haomer and allow
for Aleinu to be the last tiffela said prior to leaving the shul.

I thought that perhaps this is the basis for the different customs regarding the order in
which we recite Aleinu and the shir shel yom at the conclusion of Shacharis each day.

Most people who daven Nusach Ashkenaz recite Aleinu after ashrai uva litzion which is the conclusion of the tefila. They say the shir shel yom following Aleinu.
Sefardim and those who daven Nusach Sefard recite the shir shel yom
first and Aleinu last.
Nusach Ashkinaz seems to be in accordance with the Ar"i z"l that Aleinu is a conclusion to the tefila. The Sefardim and Nusach Sefard seem to go in accordance with the Bach that Aleinu is to be said as the last tefila prior to going out among the nations which we dwell between. This is interesting as it is usually Sefard that follows the customs of the Ar'i z"l and not Nusach Ashkenaz, here we see the opposite.


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Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 5/15/2011 11:13:00 PM

Friday, May 6, 2011

[KollelH blog] Emor - Chadash and Yoshon

The passuk in this week's parsha (23: 14) says : ולחם וקלי וכרמל לא תאכלו עד עצם היום הזה עד הביאכם את קרבן אלוהיכם - And you shall not eat bread etc. until this very day,  until you bring the offering of your God. This passuk teaches us that all of the five grains (wheat, spelt, rye, oats, and barley) from the time they are harvested are forbidden until after the korban Omer is brought. However if the grain had already
taken root prior to the bringing of the korban that grain is permitted. Today that we do not
have a bais hamikdash and cannot bring the korban Omer the new grain is permitted after
the day the korban would have been brought; in Eretz Yisroel after the 16th day of Nissan,
and in Chutz L'aretz it is permitted after the 17th day of Nissan.

The Rama in Yorah Deah (293:3) cites the Tur in the name of the R"Ash that says that
if one has grain that he does not know when it grew it is permitted to eat because of a
s'fek s'faika (double safek). One safek is did it grow entirely before pessach or after. The
second safek is that even if it grew after pessach perhaps it took root before pessach and
would thus be permitted.

Many Achronim (R' Akiva Aiger, the Nisivos, the Kraisi Uplaisi) were bothered by
this p'sak. They asked that this is not two separate sifakos rather it is one safek; did
the korban Omer pass and permit this grain. What does it matter if it grew entirely
before pessach or only took root by then, in both scenarios the korban permits the grain.
Therefore it should not be regarded as a s'fek s'faika, and should be forbidden.
The Uruch Hashulchan in Yorah Deah 293:16 suggests the following explanation for the
p'sak of the Rama. He says that if there is a nafka mina (halachic difference) between the
two sifakos then we can still apply the rule of s'fek s'faika even if they are essentially one
safek. He writes that there is a nafka mina between whether the grain grew last year or
if it only took root before the korban Omer. If it grew last year we would not be able to
use it in the korban Omer, whereas if it grew this year and took root before the korban we
would be able to use it for the korban. He adds although this difference is not applicable
nowadays nonetheless it is sufficient to separate the two s'faikos and apply a s'fek s'faika.

The sefer Harirai Kedem suggests that indeed there is a difference whether the grain
grew before the korban Omer was brought and if the grain had only taken root before
the korban was brought. Grain that grew at least a third before the korban was brought
becomes forbidden as chadash as it has grown enough to be considered eatable. Upon
bringing the korban Omer that grain looses its issur and becomes permitted. Whereas
grain that had not grown a third but had taken root prior the bringing of the korban
Omer was not considered a food, therefore it did not attain the issur of chadash. After
the korban Omer was brought this grain too would be permitted to eat for it was now
not chadash. The korban accomplished different things for each of the grains. If a grain
was already a food and was already forbidden as chadash the korban would remove the
issur chadash. If a grain had only taken root the korban would render it yoshon (old)
without it having ever entered into the prohibition of chadash to begin with.

Therefore we can understand the p'sak of the Rama that grain in which you are uncertain of when
it grew is permitted by means of a sifek sifaika, because there are indeed two separate
s'faikos. One safek is did it grow prior to bringing the korban and become a food which
was prohibited as chadash which would receive the heter from the korban, or did it grow
after the korban was brought and therefore did not yet become mutar. The second safek
is that even if it grew after the korban was brought and did not receive a heter from the
korban nonetheless perhaps it took root before the korban was brought and therefore did
not require a heter because it was deemed old grain without ever becoming prohibited.


Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 5/06/2011 01:24:00 PM

[KollelH blog] Emor

Parshas Emor begins warning a Kohein from becoming Tam'ei by attending a burial, except for that of his own family members. It is well known that there is a general exclusion from this rule; a meis mitzvah - a corpse that has no one to take care of it. It is generally understood that the meis mitzvah 'variance' is due to the great importance of kavod habri'os - the care and concern for the respect of G-D's creations. I would like to share another aspect of the allowance for the Kohein to become tam'ei for a meis mitzvah.

One of the expressions that the Torah uses for the prohibition of tum'ah is לא יטמא בעל בעמיו להחלו - The commentators offer different translations for this difficult pasuk. The following is a qoute from Artscroll, based on Rashi. "A husband among his people shall not contaminate himself to one who desecrates him."

The Ramban explains the pasuk not in reference to a husband whose innappropriate wife desecrates him, (as Rashi learns,) but rather - "A master, among his people should not desecrate himself by attending a (typical) burial."

R' Yeruchom Levovitz za"tzal gleans from here a very important lesson. Although attending a funeral is an important deed - so much so, that in many instances it requires one to interrupt his Torah study for its procession, still, there is something that one may not give up or even temporarily disturb, for this. A 'master', who in some way is "a head above the rest", whether through a trait that was worked upon until acquired, or because of a G-D-given special character trait that sets him apart from the masses, may not allow himself to lose that uniqueness by socializing too much with the public. Just as a young prince would not be allowed to play in the streets with the commoners, as he may lose his sense of royalty, so too a kohein is witheld from some social obligations that even just temporarily oppose his status as a servant in the royal palace - the Beis Hamikdash.

Similarly, Maran Rav Shmuel Berenbaum za"tzal used to say, we find that doing a prohibited melachah on Shabbos is punishable with death, not only because of the severe prohibited act, but because the act is mechalel shabbos - it renders Shabbos as a simple, regular, mundane day of the week.

Lowering one's lofty spiritual status or giving up a positive trait may be alot more costly than many mitzvos demand of us to spend! Not only are we not required to give that up, but it may actually be prohibited!

This allows us to say that burying a meis mitzvah, which obviously does not involve the rest of common society, being that no one else is there to care for the meis, does not affect the kohein's status among men, rather it is a private act of great importance and not a self desecration at all.

We must be careful both with ourselves and our children, to ensure that with who and how we interact socially does cause a loss to the wonderful traits we've worked so hard on to instill!

Have a wonderful, special Shabbos!


Posted By KH to KollelH blog at 5/06/2011 03:05:00 AM