web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Daf Yomi

Daf-Yomi-logo

The Carpenter’s Folly
‘All Holy Writings…Require Geniza’
(Shabbos 115a)

As we know, it is forbidden to simply discard worn-out Torah scrolls or other holy books. When sifrei Torah or other sefarim are no longer useable, we are supposed to bury them with the utmost respect. The halacha which forbids us to destroy documents that contain Hashem’s name is based on Devarim (chapter 12) which states, “You shall destroy their name from that place [a reference to avodah zarah]; you shall not do this to Hashem your G-d.” Destroying Hashem’s name is punishable by flogging (Makkos 22a, Rambam, Yesodei HaTorah 6:1).

Even Torah writings without Hashem’s Name may not be destroyed. The Magen Avraham (O.C. 154:9) rules that the above-mentioned Torah prohibition covers these writings as well. Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzensky, zt”l, however, rules that destroying Torah writings without Hashem’s name is only rabbinically prohibited (Teshuvos Achiezer 2:48:3). According to both opinions, the punishment of flogging for destroying them is only m’derabanan, as the Rambam writes explicitly (Yesodei HaTorah 6:8).

Our sugya states that not only is it forbidden to destroy Torah writings, but we are obligated to protect them from destruction or disgrace. The Gemara rules that even those Torah writings that may not be saved from a fire on Shabbos still require geniza when disposed of on a weekday.

The Moroccan Funeral Procession

In Morocco, old Torah writings were buried amidst a funeral procession that took place each year on the day following Shavuos. Special piyutim were sung for the occasion, such as “It is a merit for Israel, on the conclusion of the festival of the Torah. Just as we protect the holy names of Hashem and show them great respect, so may Hashem protect His nation…” (Nesivos Hamaarav, p. 111).

On many occasions, burial places later became invaluable treasure houses of rare documents. One of the most famous examples is the Cairo Geniza, a precious collection of old writings found 110 years ago in the hidden attic of an ancient shul in Postat, Egypt. The dry desert conditions helped preserve approximately 200,000 pages of Torah writings.

The Vandalized Geniza

In the community where the Shvus Yaakov presided as rav, the attic where old Torah writings were discarded filled up and couldn’t hold any more material. To fix this problem, the caretakers of the shul gathered all the writings into barrels and brought them to a graveyard for burial. Gentile neighbors, however, discovered the buried writings and began using them for personal hygienic purposes – an unspeakable disgrace to the Torah.

Left with no other alternative, the Shvus Yaakov (3:10) ruled that the writings should be burned discretely and respectfully – not all at once in a giant bonfire, but little by little in earthenware vessels. The ashes, he directed, should be put in storage until the passing of a Torah scholar, upon which they should be buried with him in his grave. In the course of a lengthy responsa, he explains his reasoning in reaching this conclusion but argues that this leniency should not be applied to sifrei Torah. Since there aren’t so many old sifrei Torah, other alternatives can be found.

The Shvus Yaakov’s ruling was challenged by other poskim, who reasoned that we may not destroy Torah writings in order to prevent others from profaning them (Knesses Yechezkel 37; Sho’el U’meishiv 2:15; Chasam Sofer’s commentary to O.C. 154; Kaf Hachaim ibid, s.k. 37).

Printed Sefarim

Contemporary poskim discuss whether the laws of respecting Torah writings also apply to printed sefarim. Some hold that the holiness which rests upon Torah letters depends upon the intent of the person who writes them. Since a machine has no intent whatsoever, the letters contain no holiness and therefore sefarim shouldn’t need to be buried. Other poskim, however, reject this reasoning and rule that even if a sefer is published by a non-Jewish printing press, it still possesses holiness (Tzitz Eliezer 3:11; Minchas Yitzchak 1:17; 8:12).

One of the most common mishaps vis-à-vis disposing Torah writings occurs when these writings are hidden in an otherwise mundane text. People don’t realize that the text contains kedushah and disgrace or even destroy it (Ginzei Hakodesh, chapters 9 and 14). This happened in 2004 when a carpenter who specializes in shul furniture submitted an ad to the Jerusalem Chareidi phone book with a photograph of his handiwork – a beautiful amud tefillah with Hashem’s name in the picture. According to what we have discussed above, it is a Torah prohibition to throw away such a picture. The Geniza Society of Israel posted signs across the city warning people to tear out this page and put it in geniza before discarding the book.

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.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Daf Yomi”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Which glass has the poison?
State Dept. Complains New Homes in Jerusalem ‘Poison’ US Peace Plan
Latest Judaism Stories
Duxvielfalt_2011

Contrary to popular belief, the Talmud never explicitly limits the ban on footwear to leather shoes.

On Sunday, Jews will be refraining from food and drink from dawn until sunset to commemorate the Fast of Gedaliah. Following Nebuchadnetzar’s destruction of the First Temple and exile of most of the Jews, the Babylonians appointed Gedaliah ben Achikaam as governor of Judea. Under Gedaliah’s leadership, Judea and the survivors began to recover. On […]

On the beach

As we enter the Days of Awe, we must recognize that it is a joy to honor and serve true royalty.

On Rosh Hashanah we are taught that true self-analysis involves the breaking down of walls

When we hear the words “Rosh Hashana is coming” it really means Hashem Himself is coming!

Who am I? What are the most important things in my life? What do I want to be remembered for? If, as a purely hypothetical exercise, I were to imagine reading my own obituary, what would I want it to say? These are the questions Rosh Hashanah urges us to ask ourselves. As we pray […]

We recently marked the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11 – that terrible day when the symbols of man’s power and achievement crumbled before our eyes and disappeared in fire and smoke. For a very brief moment we lost our smugness. Our confidence was shaken. Many of us actually searched our ways. Some of us even learned […]

Why am I getting so agitated? And look how we’re treating each other!

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

We must eat, sleep, work, and care for our dependants. How much time is left over after all that?

Once we recognize that our separation from God is our fault, how do we repair it?

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

To choose life, you must examine your actions in the period preceding the Days of Awe as an unbiased stranger, and render your decision.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass and Rabbi Gershon Tannenbaum
Daf-Yomi-logo

Chatzitzah And Its Applications
‘Greater Stringency Applies To Hallowed Things…’
(Chagiga 20b-21a)

Daf-Yomi-logo

A Role Reversal
‘Return, O Wayward Sons…’
(Chagigah 15a)

An Astonishing Miracle
‘Why Bring the Infants to Hakhel?’
(Chagigah 3a)

A Blast At A Funeral?
“R. Hamnuna Came To Daramutha…”
(Moed Kattan 27b)

Untimely News
‘A Mourner Is Forbidden To Wear Shoes…’
(Mo’ed Katan 20b)

Discretion
‘Vendors Of Fruits And Clothing…May Sell In Private’
(Mo’ed Katan 13b)

An Outcast
‘He Shall Dwell Outside His Tent’
(Moed Katan 7b)

Pondering A Kapandria
“It Should Not Be Used As A Shortcut”
(Megillah 29a)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/daf-yomi-61/2013/01/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: