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Daf Yomi

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Too Little, Too Late?
‘Break Down the Door and Enter…’
(Arachin 31b)

The Torah says that someone who sells a house in a walled city in Eretz Yisrael may redeem it during the first year after the sale by returning the money to the buyer. If the buyer is unavailable on the last day of that year, can the seller still redeem his house?

Conditional Sale

All authorities agree that selling a house in a walled city in Eretz Yisrael is a conditional sale. The question is: What is the condition? According to the Ketzos Hachoshen (55:1), the sale is conditional on the seller not canceling it during the first year by returning the money. The Nesivos Hamishpat (ibid.), on the other hand, maintains that the sale is conditional on the seller endorsing it. The seller’s endorsement is expressed by not returning the money to the buyer. Hence, if the seller returns the money, the sale is retroactively not valid. If the seller does nothing, the sale is valid.

This disagreement of Acharonim conforms to a famous disagreement of Rishonim concerning the definition of oneis.

Oneis on the Last Day

What is the din if a person vowed to perform a certain act within a certain amount of time and put off the task until the very last day, at which time he was unavoidably prevented from fulfilling it? On the one hand, we can argue that since he was unable to fulfill his vow to due to an oneis, he should not be considered as having transgressed his vow. On the other hand, we can argue that he is at fault and did transgress his vow since he delayed fulfilling it until the very last day.

The Agudah and the Ran disagreed about this question (see Rema, Y.D. 232:12). According to the Ran, “oneis on the last day” is considered oneis and according to the Agudah, it is not considered oneis. The Agudah cites proof for his opinion from our mishnah. Our mishnah states that people who bought a house in a walled city would hide at the end of the year so that the seller couldn’t find them to return their money and invalidate the sale. When Hillel saw that people were acting in this manner, he ruled that the seller need not return the money to the buyer directly. Rather, he could deposit the money in a certain chamber of the Temple.

Hillel Enacts

What need was there for Hillel’s enactment? After all, the seller sought the buyer but could not find him – an oneis. Why should he lose the house? The Agudah argues that we see from Hillel’s enactment that an oneis on the last day is not considered an oneis. If it were, Hillel’s enactment would be unnecessary.

The Ketzos Hachoshen, though, disputes this proof. He says that oneis is never a valid excuse concerning redeeming houses in a walled city – not on the last day, not on the first day. As we said above, according to the Ketzos Hachoshen, the sale of a house in a walled city is valid provided that the seller doesn’t return the money within the first year. If he didn’t return the money, the sale is valid – oneis or not. Oneis can only exempt a person from obligations or punishments; it cannot, though, serve as a legal fiction to pretend that something that was supposed to happen really did happen. As the Yerushalmi says, “We don’t say that oneis is as though he performed the deed.” The situation is analogous to someone who misses a train due to an oneis. He’s not to blame, but the train (the sale in or case) left, and legalities will not change that fact.

The Agudah, however, maintains that oneis is a valid excuse concerning redeeming houses (with the exception of the last day). And he thinks like the Nesivos that the sale is valid provided that the seller endorses it. If an oneis prevents him from returning the money, he can legitimately claim that he never endorsed the sale.


Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters are published by the Sochachover Kollel of Bnei Brak, led by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kovalsky. Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters in Hebrew and/or English, are available for simcha dedications as well as for memorials such as yahrzeit, shloshim, etc., and are distributed by email dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

About the Author: RABBI YAAKOV KLASS, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com. RABBI GERSHON TANNENBAUM, rav of Congregation Bnai Israel of Linden Heights, Boro Park, Brooklyn, is the Director of Igud HaRabbanim – The Rabbinical Alliance of America.

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  1. Naftali Landerer says:

    Dear Rabbis Klass and Tannenbaum,

    I read with interest your Chidush on Menachos 11B (see below), and have the following questions. ( I tried sending to the link at the end of the article dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com but did not go through)

    Both the Tchebiner Rov and the Kochav Mi’Yaakov state that “writing the same word twice is Kosher just like separating two komtzim levonah and separating two lugin are Kosher because each one by itself is good.” Now, the Gemara on the previous daf (11a) clearly says that R’ Eliezer holds that separating two lugin disqualifies the Korbon even though each one by itself is good in contrast to separating two komtzim levonah. I wonder why they included “two lugin” in their statement?

    Moreover, to explain the difference between separating two komtzim levonah, which is kosher, and two lugin oil, which is not kosher, I saw two explanations in the notes of the Art Scroll edition. The Taharas Hakodesh explains that the levonah is not mixed with the rest of the minchah but is kept separate, in cotrast to the oil which is mixed with the rest of the minchah. Therefore, by the levonah you can say that each one by itself is good, so separating two komtzim levonah is kosher. You cannot say the same for the oil which is mixed with the rest of the minchah. The Chazon Ish explains that because the oil is mixed with the flour, by increasing the amount of oil to two lugin you are changing the texture of the korban. Therefore, two lugin of oil is possul and two komtzim of levonah remains kosher.

    It would seem to me that according to the Chazon Ish’s sevara, doubling the words in a sefer Torah does not change the sefer and therefore a duplicated word is similar to two komtzim of levonah and is therefore kosher. According to the Tharas Hakodesh duplicating a word is similar to two lugin of oil since the words are part of the rest of the sefer and should therefore be possul.


    Naftoli Landerer

    p.s. You can see by my name that I am a grandson of R’ Zev Landerer who asked the question of the Tchebiner Rov.


    Daf Yomi
    By: Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum

    Date: Wednesday, March 16 2011

    Double Trouble?
    ‘Two Handfuls’
    (Menachos 11b)

    During WWII Jews were exiled from their homes. A letter was sent during that time by Rabbi Zev Landerer, a prominent personality of Krakow, who was then in exile in Siberia, to the gaon of Tchebin, who was then in Buchara.

    Hashem’s Name Written Twice In
    A Sefer Torah

    The letter contains a question that characterizes the era. The exiles in Siberia had only one sefer Torah. The trouble was that in two places, in Parashas Vayera and in Parashas Pinchas, the sofer erred and wrote Hashem’s name twice. The Tchebiner Rav sent them his decision, based on our sugya which treats the kemitzah (taking a handful) of menachos (Responsa Dovev Meisharim 3:63).

    An Extra Word Disqualifies,
    A Duplicate Word Does Not

    According to the author of Avnei Nezer (Responsa, Yoreh Deah 2:301), the Rambamand the Raavad disagreed as to whether adding words disqualifies a sefer Torah and tefillin just as missing words disqualifies them (see Rambam, Hilchos Mezuzah 5:3-4; Magen Avraham 33, s.k.32, who cites the Raavad, and Responsa Noda BiYehudah, 1st edition, Yoreh Deah 74, and Pri Megadim, Orach Chayyim, end of 143 in Mishbetzos Zahav).

    The Tchebiner cites his father, the author of Kochav Mi’Yaakov (122), who disagreed and claimed that everyone admits that extra words disqualify but that everyone maintains that duplicate words do not disqualify sifrei Torah and tefillin. What’s the difference?

    The answer lies in our sugya. Our Mishnah (11a) says that the amount of frankincense (levonah) needed for a korban minchah is enough to fill a kohen’s hand (kometz) and if one put on less, the minchah is disqualified. The Gemara explains that if one puts too much frankincense on the minchah, such as a kometz and a half, he also disqualifies it. The Gemara finds difficulty with the Mishnah’s two contrasting statements “put on less,” “put on more.” Rami b. Chama explains that he set aside two handfuls and one was lost before the taking of the flour, the offering remains valid.

    Tosafos (s.v. Kegon) explain that though adding half a kometz disqualifies a minchah, one who adds an entire kometz does not disqualify the minchah. As each entire kometz is kosher there is no reason to disqualify it, and even where it was not lost before taking the handful of flour.
    Doubling Is Not Considered A New Entity

    We thus learn that doubling something does not create a new entity and therefore a duplicated word in a sefer Torah is kosher. (See Dovev Meisharim, ibid., that this depends on the disagreement of the tannaim about five corners regarding tzitzis, but, regardless, the halacha was thus decided.) Nonetheless, he concludes, all the aforesaid relates to repeating any word aside from Hashem’s name, whose repetition does disqualify a sefer Torah as it resembles two deities (according to tractate Soferim, chap. 5, cited by poskim as halacha).

    Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters are published by the Sochachover Kollel of Bnei Brak, led by Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kovalsky. Meoros Hadaf Hayomi Newsletters in Hebrew and/or English, are available for simcha dedications as well as for memorials such as yahrzeit, shloshim, etc., and are distributed by e-mail dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com

    Copyright ©2012 JewishPress.com.

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