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April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Holy Temple’

‘Geh Avek’ (‘Go Away’)

Wednesday, November 1st, 2006

       The question that is on many people’s mind these days is why the organizers of the international “Pride Parade” chose the holy city of Jerusalem as the venue for their exhibition. There are so many other cities on this planet that would be better suited for the festivities that they have planned – and where their activities would be accommodated and even welcomed. Why davka choose a place seeped in a tradition that totally rejects the lifestyle they are celebrating and whose residents in the great majority will be extremely antagonized and anguished by their presence and antics?


         I’m not by any means a psychologist, but their behavior triggered a memory of a long ago incident that I observed, and therefore I have my own theory as to why they are doing what they are doing.


         Many years ago, when I was 19, I spent a summer in Israel and have many interesting memories of that visit, but one sticks out to this day since it revealed a fascinating aspect of human nature.


         It was a sweltering Tisha BeAv and it seemed that every space at the Kotel was taken. There was a sea of humanity on both sides of the mechitza and all were occupied doing the same thing – praying.


         However, out of the corner of my eye I saw something that was different from the activity around me, causing me to take a second look. It was a bare-headed man who somehow had found a spot, perhaps on a nearby ledge that made him conspicuous – at least I noticed him. But what had captured my interest was that he was happily munching on a large slice of watermelon and being quite public about it.


         I have to admit that I was impressed. He was being quite ingenious. How better to show contempt for your religion and the beliefs of thousands of its adherents, how better to “rub their faces in it” than by eating refreshing, thirst-quenching watermelon on a hot summer’s fast day?


         The question that begs to be asked is – why did this obviously secular Jew deliberately eat his snack in full view of observant Jews keeping to themselves and mourning the anniversary of the destruction of the Holy Temple by fasting and praying? Why not just eat at home, as usual? He could do “his thing” privately, just like the religious people were doing theirs.


         My hunch is that on a psychological level he couldn’t, because, as the saying goes, “the best defense is a good offense.” Take this to the extreme and the offense becomes offensive. You can see this kind of behavior in children. When a child, for example, is chided for grabbing a toy from his playmate, his reaction is to toddle over and hit him. He’s trying to make the point that what he is doing is so OK, so right to that he will do more of it.


         This secular Jew followed this dictum and dealt with his defensiveness by going on the offensive – a self-serving form of denial that enables someone to “save face” and legitimize or whitewash one’s questionable actions or beliefs.


         Which leads to the next question that begs to be asked – why was this secular Jew being defensive? In the privacy of his home, there was no one to castigate and criticize him for eating and drinking on Tisha BeAv. With his doors closed and the curtains drawn, there was no one to make him feel that he was doing anything wrong.


         Except for himself. Deep inside him, a silent voice was telling him that he was doing something sinful. The pintele Yid – the spark of yiddishkeit that is buried in a Jew’s psyche was making him feel uncomfortable about his actions. His soul was making him feel guilty – albeit on a subconscious level which made him feel defensive, resulting in his offensive – and ultimately obnoxious behavior.


         There is no doubt that the spark of decency that resides in each human being is shouting out to the organizers of “The Parade” to put a stop to what many consider abominable behavior – and that is why they are so driven and so adamant to see its actualization on the sacred streets of Jerusalem. It’s not enough to indulge in immoral behavior in the privacy of their homes but they have to, out of pure spite, publicly “eat their watermelon,” fuelled by an internal guilt that they desperately are trying to extinguish.


         After all – the best defense is to be offensive.

The Niggun In Jewish Music

Wednesday, January 4th, 2006

In honor of Chanukah, a time of joy, I have been delving into the realm of Jewish music. Of the three types of Jewish music, klezmer (instrumental), chazzanut (cantorial) and the niggun (wordless tunes), it is the niggun that has evolved and is the most popular today.

There is no way to trace the exact origins of the niggun, a wordless tune that has become an integral part of Jewish culture. In my research I have read that one plausible origin is that at first musical instruments were not used in Jewish music, as an expression of mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. It was also deemed not proper to use words from the Torah or from the prayers when one was not either learning praying, so the wordless tune was created.

In more modern times the niggun was adopted by the chasidic movement as a way to achieve dveikut, the goal of every chasid of being in the presence of Hashem and serving Him with complete and utter joy.

The pure niggun was used whenever musical instruments were not available such as on Shabbat and Chagim. The Rebbe’s tish, where the Chasidic leaders would entertain their followers on Friday nights was a prime example of when niggunim were sung. The niggun was also used at the slightest provocation and can still be heard whenever the spirit overtakes a person. It is not unusual in a beit medrash to hear someone break out in song out of pure pleasure of being in the service of Hashem.

The chazzanim of pre-war Europe and even those dating back to the mid-18th century, when Chasidism first began to spread, performed in the great synagogues, often receiving large amounts of money for their services. The chasidim rarely used chazzanim from outside their group, and often the Rebbe would be the one leading the prayers. Chazzanim were also notorious for stretching the prayers and even repeating words to showcase their own talents. The chasidim were more concerned with the participation of every Jew in the prayers, and believe that there should be no repetition of words. Instead of the formal tunes of the chazzan, prayers were often sung to niggunim unique to either the Chasidic group, and sometimes to a region.

In chasidic thought, music brings a soul closer to Hashem. They believe that words constrain the melody, whereas the wordless tune repeated over and over can produce a sort of hypnotic state bringing the singer to ever-higher levels of oneness with the creator.

Many chasidic groups were famous for their singing ability. The Modzitzer chasidim who settled in Demblin, Poland, were renowned for their compositions, many of which are still sung today. In recent years there is hardly a chasidic group that does not have a record of their songs, and every record includes a few niggunim.

The chasidim incorporated niggunim into the prayers. These wordless tunes were then brought home and taught to family members at the Shabbat table and used during the singing of zmirot, the songs sung during the Shabbat meals.

Today the niggun has evolved words often are added and when permissible there – is instrumental accompaniment. The boundaries between the three types of Jewish music have blurred. Chasidic music is often today defined as any song whose words originate from a religious source, either the Torah, prayers or rabbinic writings. Most of today’s popular Jewish music is a combination of the three but can be traced to the niggun more readily than to klezmer or chazzanut.

Human Chain

Wednesday, August 25th, 2004

Two events that seemed to fit the days before Tisha B’Av happened recently. A few days ago, representatives of many communities met in Hashmonaim with Pinchas Wallerstein, the chairman of the Binyamin Region, and with an army spokesman. The army spokesman made a presentation using colored maps of the security fence’s new planned route.

The Israel Supreme Court decision in favor of the Leftists and the Arabs forced the army to redesign the fence route and to bring it much closer to Jewish communities. The court and the U.S. pressure forced the army to ignore land purchased by Jews and Jewish public land. All the army did was design a plan to satisfy the Leftists and the Arabs. The spokesman could not explain, for example, why the planned fence route took a strange detour to within 100 yards of my home nor why it almost touched the houses of part of the City of Modiin in the Macabbim suburb.

The sighs that emanated from Pinchas Wallerstein, who sat next to me every time the army spokesman showed how the fence route cut up a planned Jewish neighborhood or decimated a Jewish industrial area, sounded like the sighs of those mourning for the destruction of the Holy Temple. The conceit and hatred of one Jew for another caused the destruction of the Holy Temple, and the non-religious Leftist hatred of Right wing religious Jews will, G-d forbid, cause the loss of huge sections of Israel for no good reason. We all left the meeting sad and depressed and with little hope that the government would change the route of the fence.

The second event also took place before Tisha B’Av. Over 200,000 Jews of all backgrounds formed a human chain from Gush Katif in the south to the Kotel in Jerusalem in protest against the government’s plan to force every Jew out of the Gaza Strip. As we waited for everyone to arrive, some people read Tehillim while others learned or commiserated with their friends. At 7:00 p.m., we joined hands to form a solid chain, sang Hatikvah and then sang Ani Maamin. We fervently hoped for a change in government policy, but the media reports all spoke with confidence that Sharon and his new coalition will ignore the amazing sight of men, women, children and babies in carriages who all left their homes and traveled to their appointed areas.

We stood in the sun and waited peacefully for the time when we were told to join hands. What an uplifting feeling it was to be part of this human chain. Sadly, the Israeli government can ignore this human outpouring of solidarity and emotion.

I guess we are prepared to begin our fasting and lamenting. (Comments may be sent to dov@gilor.com)

Q & A: Bal Tash’chit During The Nine Days (Conclusion)

Wednesday, August 18th, 2004
QUESTION: May leftover meat from the Sabbath during the Nine Days be used during the week so as not to violate “bal tash’chit” – the prohibition against wastefulness?
Rabbi Yaakov Spivak, Rosh Kollel
Kollel Ayshel Avraham
Monsey, NY
ANSWER: The Rabbinical prohibition of eating meat during the Nine Days (from Rosh Chodesh Av until Tisha B’Av) as part of a general aveilut custom, the mourning for the loss of the Holy Temple, was discussed (Rambam, Hilchot Ta’aniyot 5:1). The goal is to inspire repentance.The Biblical prohibition of bal tash’chit is based on Deuteronomy 20:19, which specifically mentions fruit trees. Our Rabbis explain that this concept extends to any deliberate, unnecessary loss (Bava Kamma 91b).

This week we discuss the avoidance of bal tash’chit regarding meat during the Nine Days.

* * *

The Gaon R. Shimon Greenfeld, zt”l, was asked this very question (Responsa Maharshag Vol. 4, Orach Chayyim, Responsum 20).

His questioner, a noted scholar, cited the Bnei Yissaskhar (by the Admor R. Zvi Elimelech Shapira, the Dinover Rebbe, zt”l) who quoted the sefer Ikrei Dinim in the name of Kol Eliyahu, where we find a view that if meat is left over from the Sabbath meal during the Nine Days, it would be proper to eat it even during these days. He cites as proof the Talmud (Chullin 17a), where the Gemara discusses “evarei besar nechira – limbs of meat from an animal killed by stabbing,” i.e., not ritually slaughtered. Such meat was permitted to the Children of Israel prior to their entry to Eretz Yisrael, as the verse states (Deuteronomy 12:21), “Ki yirchak mimcha hamakom asher yivchar Hashem Elokecha lasum shemo sham, ve’zavachta mi’bekarcha u’mitzoncha asher natan Hashem lecha ka’asher tziviticha, ve’achalta bi’she’arecha bechol avat nafshecha – If the place where Hashem, your G-d, chooses to put His name will be far from you, you may slaughter from your cattle and your sheep that Hashem has given you, as I have commanded you, and you may eat within your cities according to your heart’s desire.”

From this verse we see that after they finally entered the Land of Israel, besar nechira is no longer permitted even if they subsequently travel to other lands outside Israel, and meat may only be consumed after ritual slaughtering.

The Gemara then discusses whether the limbs of animals that were stabbed prior to entry into Israel were permissible. The Gemara concludes “Teiku,” (Tishbi yeva’er kushiyot u’ve’ayot – When the prophet Elijah (who lived in Tishbi, a town in the territory of Naphtali) heralds the arrival of Mashiach, he will personally resolve this particular question).

The Rosh (Chullin ad loc. siman 23) explains the practical difference resulting from this Gemara. When someone vowed to abstain from eating meat during a certain period of time, but some meat was left over from a time prior to his vow, or there was an enactment of the Beit Din to prohibit a certain substance, we would be more lenient in allowing its use since the Gemara remains unresolved (teiku). It would seem that, similarly, meat left over from the Sabbath during the Nine Days would be allowed. Is this so?

The questioner points out - and R. Greenfeld agrees – that the Gemara cannot be taken as proof for our situation: for instance, would we assume that the prohibition of chametz on Pesach means only chametz that is newly acquired on Pesach, and not chametz possessed before Pesach? Of course not! The Sages extend this prohibition even to wheat of Kardunia (Cordyene), which, Rashi (Pesachim 7a) explains, is hard wheat that does not easily become chametz.

We see that regarding a Rabbinical prohibition it does not matter if the prohibited item is possessed before or after the prohibition takes effect.

If so, how can a scholar, as quoted by the Bnei Yissaskhar, wish to make a comparison and permit meat or wine that has been left over from an earlier period of time once the prohibited time, namely, the Nine Days, has arrived?

This view has to be reconciled not only with that of the scholar who wishes to opt for permissibility but also with that of the Rosh as well, who stated the practical difference between a case where one vowed to abstain from eating a certain food [such as meat] or where the Beit Din enacted a decree to prohibit a substance [such as cheese or cooked vegetables], and the case of besar nechira, i.e., meat from a stabbed animal, because his setting the time [or the Beit Din setting the time] when the prohibition is to take effect is not the same as a Torah-set time; we cannot differentiate between that which remains from before and that which he will now aquire ? both should be prohibited to him.

R. Greenfeld now seeks to explain and reconcile these views according to the Gemara in Chullin, for in regard to the vow the Torah did not prohibit that particular substance at that time, but rather the individual accepted upon himself a prohibition as a seyag (lit., a fence around the Torah law) or, similarly, the Beit Din did likewise, and there is now a doubt as to what the intention of the individual who made the vow or the Beit Din’s intention was. Does the prohibition apply only to that which will be acquired at the set time, or also to that which is in one’s possession already?

Since we find regarding besar nechira that the Torah only prohibited such limbs from the time of the Children of Israel’s entry into the land, [perhaps] the Torah had no intention of prohibiting that which they already possessed, but rather only newly acquired meat from a stabbed animal.

Thus, though normally we would say that in the case of any set time at which a matter becomes prohibited, such as chametz before Passover or food on Yom Kippur and Tisha B’Av, there is no distinction between the newly acquired food or that already in one’s possession, as all are prohibited. However, since there is a doubt in the Gemara regarding meat from a stabbed animal, we should apply the same rule regarding every enactment and individual vow – the intention may not have been to include that which was in one’s possession from before. Since it is a safek, a doubt regarding the enactment or vow (which is of Rabbinic rather than Biblical origin), we would be lenient.

As to the scholar who wished to be lenient, his leniency only referred to eating meat on the Nine Days, which is not specifically prohibited according to the law. Rather, eating meat is only specifically forbidden from erev Tisha B’Av at chatzot (noon), when it is surely forbidden [even if some meat were left over from the Sabbath - there is no doubt about this]. As to the rest of the Nine Days, the Sages only enacted a ‘fence’ in order to ensure our discomfort and to make us mourn the destruction of the Holy Temple. If this is the case, possibly they only made an enactment regarding that which one will acquire or cook, but as to that which is already in our possession or was previously cooked, its consumption would be permitted.

Regarding wine, R. Greenfeld notes that if this prohibition only applies to that which we will acquire during this period, but not to that which one already has, there are many people who have extensive stocks of wine and, as such, we will cause the entire minhag of aveilut during the Nine Days to be cast aside.

We must thus understand that this aveilut is not a din but a minhag that our Sages imposed in earlier times. For this reason they allowed us to eat meat and drink wine at a seudat mitzva such as a brit, a pidyon ha’ben or a siyyum, the completion of a tractate. If this were based on a din, we would not be allowed to consume wine and meat.

Therefore, if one prepared food for the Sabbath, and due to means beyond his control some of the food was left over for weekday consumption, i.e., due to his being incarcerated on the Sabbath for a minor offense (something that often happened in Europe in R. Greenfeld’s time), since the food was prepared for the Sabbath it is considered food left over from a seudat mitzva, and leftovers from a seudat mitzva should be permitted for consumption during the Nine Days.

R. Greenfeld adds: “We must also state that to waste food is a prohibition of bal tash’chit, and if he prepared food for the Sabbath and, due to some unexpected reason beyond his control, he was unable to eat it and he were to discard this valuable meat, this would be a violation of bal tash’chit. Our Sages never intended the custom of aveilut to override a clear prohibition.

This rule, however, applies only to meat or a cooked dish that will spoil. Wine, which keeps for many days (and may improve with time), does not warrant leniency. Fear of bal tash’chit does not allow consumption of wine during the Nine Days.

One who would rely on this scholar should only do so where there will be a loss due to food spoilage, namely, food prepared for the Sabbath or another seudat mitzva (meals eaten at a celebration of mitzvot such as a brit milah, pidyon ha’ben of a firstborn son or a siyyum of a significant portion of Torah study).

The fact that the threat of spoilage of food causes leniency during the Nine Days is a demonstration of how meticulous our Torah is regarding the money of a Jew, “Chassa haTorah al mamon Yisrael” (Chullin 49b).

However, we caution that in today’s times of ample refrigeration, freezers and food storage options including sealing products to preserve food quality, storable food should be treated as wine. Leniency would not be warranted during the Nine Days, as bal tash’chit is not a viable threat. Rather, to ensure the freshness of the food to be stored, be sure to wrap it well and freeze it as soon as possible for later use.

Q & A: Effort And Diligence In Torah Study (Conclusion)

Wednesday, August 20th, 2003
QUESTION: I recently read your Daf Yomi column (JP, June 13, 2003), where you cited the Chikrei Lev’s comments regarding the standard of ‘Sinai’ in Torah study, that is, having extensive knowledge of the Torah. He stated that this is not as important today because the Mishna has been recorded.
My question is: Was the Mishna not recorded in Rashi’s time? Commenting on the first verse in Parashat Bechukotai, Rashi notes (based on Sifra) that “Im bechukotai tele’chu” means “shetih’yu amelim baTorah.” In yeshiva I was taught that this means that one must toil with much effort to learn and understand Torah. If so, how can one not be expected to have an extensive knowledge and yet be amel baTorah?
Zvi Kirschner
(Via E-Mail)
ANSWER: Last week, we referred to Leviticus 26:3, where we are commanded, “Im bechukotai tele’chu - If you follow My decrees.” We concluded that this verse serves as the Biblical source for the requirement to be amel baTorah, lit., to work in Torah study. We also discussed the machloket (argument) in the Gemara (Horayot 14a) over whether the goal of “Sinai,” extensive Torah knowledge, or “Oker Harim,” sharp analytic ability, is the preferred method or goal of Torah study, taking into account that we now have the necessary sources available in print.

* * *

A discussion relevant to our subject is found in the newly released Shemen HaTov on Torah by the renowned scholar R. Dov Zev Weinberger. R. Weinberger is the rabbi emeritus of Young Israel of (Williamsburg) Brooklyn.

R. Weinberger is perplexed by the Gemara (Arachim 11a) discussing the singing required in the Holy Temple as the sacrifices were offered is discussed. The verse in Parashat Naso (Numbers 7:9) is given as a biblical source: “Veli’venei Kehat lo natan ki avodat hakodesh aleihem bakatef yissa’u – But to the sons of Kehat [of the Levite tribe] [Moses] did not give [wagons] because the service of the sanctuary was upon them; they carried on their shoulders.” Rashi (ibid.) explains that the burden of the holy items (i.e., the ark, the table) was upon them, therefore it is stated, “they carried on their shoulders.”

The Gemara asks: Since the verse specifies “on their shoulders,” is it not clear that “they carried”? What does the word “yissa’u” teach us? The answer provided is that “yissa’u” is another term for song, as we have the verse in Psalms (81:3), “Se’u zimra u’tenu tof ? Take up the melody and sound the timbrel.” Similarly, there is a verse (Isaiah 24:14), “Yis’u kolam yaronu – They raise their voice and sing,” which also refers to song with the word for carrying (yis’u).

Thus, the verse in Numbers serves as a Biblical source for the requirement of song in the Holy Temple.

R. Weinberger points out that the Gemara (ad loc) states that a Levite who sings, known as a meshorer, was not allowed to assist the sho’arim, the doorkeepers, and vice versa. Every Levite had his specific labor and duty and was liable for death if he went beyond his own requirement into that of his fellow Levite. If so, how could we say that those who carried also sang, or that the verse regarding those who carried can serve as a source for the requirement to sing?

In answer to his question, R. Weinberger cites Torah Temima (Numbers 7:9), which explains that the Sages did not intend this to be the simple explanation of the verse, but rather to be an asmachta, a support for the concept of song.

However, R. Weinberger finds this solution incomplete, as the Gemara (ibid. 11a) did seem to cite the verse in Numbers as the source of the requirement of song to accompany the sacrifices in the Temple.

To solve the difficulty, R. Weinberger points out that after the sons of Kehat carried the ark on their shoulders and were successful in that task, including refraining from any sin even in thought or manner of carrying, and reached their destination, they put down their loads and broke out in song. They had been in mortal danger (improper behavior while carrying brought severe punishment), and the joy upon completion of the task caused them to break out in songs of joy.

Similarly, after the service of the Kohen Gadol (the High Priest) was completed on Yom Kippur, he would exit the Holy of Holies to songs of joy and festivities. The tenseness of the wait to see wether the Kohen Gadol would come out alive gave way to celebration as he appeared. (See our Yom Kippur prayers for a description.)

We derive from the above an understanding that where the effort is increased according to the difficulty of the task, the resulting joy upon completion of the task becomes greater as well.

R. Weinberger describes an event of this kind. The Gaon R. Yitzhak Hutner, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Rabbenu Chaim Berlin, met the Gaon R. Aharon Kotler, Rosh Yeshiva of the Beth Medrash Govoha of Lakewood, at a wedding. R. Hutner told R. Kotler about a great scholar who was approached regarding a prospective marriage partner for his daughter. The young man was described as a matmid, greatly diligent in his studies, and of refined character. It was explained that he had the finest of traits; however, he was not a ba’al kisharon, that is, he lacked in aptitude and understanding at Torah study.

The scholarly father was in doubt as to whether to consider this young man for his daughter. Finally, the one who approached him reminded the father of what we learn in the Mishna (Avot 4:9), “R. Yonatan says, ‘He who fulfills the Torah in poverty will ultimately fulfill it in a state of wealth,’” and that the poverty mentioned in the Mishna does not refer exclusively to monetary poverty but to intellectual deficit as well.

The father was convinced, and the marriage took place. The young man labored with great diligence and perseverance in his Torah study, with encouragement from his wife and father-in-law, and emerged as a great scholar.

Shortly after relating this story, R. Hutner noticed that R. Kotler had disappeared. R. Hutner found R. Kotler crying in another room. When questioned, R. Kotler explained that he himself had never experienced such tribulations, and had never had to resort to such diligence and effort in his Torah studies. R. Kotler was sad that as a result of never undergoing the “poverty” he had lost out on the promised “wealth”.

R. Weinberger concludes that we might see from here how far these matters reach. [As we read in Avot (5:23), Ben Heh Heh states, "Lifum tza'ara agra - The reward is in proportion to one's pain (and effort required in the course of a task)." This, of course, can be applied to Torah study as well.]

We may now be able to understand the comments of Chikrei Lev – if one immerses himself in the analytical approach to study, even though one may not aim toward the goal of extensive knowledge of the Torah, one will end up accomplishing the standards of both Oker Harim and Sinai.

R. Kotler, who notwithstanding his emotional reaction to R. Hutner’s story, did study with due diligence, was just the opposite of the above. R. Kotler had vast knowledge of Torah as well as the great power of dialectic analysis. We see that diligence in Torah study will result in increasing both these attributes in the scholar.

Q & A: Pesach Sheni

Friday, June 13th, 2003

QUESTION: What is the significance of Pesach Sheni, which seems to be just another notation on the calendar?
Shlomo Feivelson
Coconut Creek, FL

ANSWER: Pesach Sheni is indeed more than just a mere notation on the calendar. We find the following in a mishna in Tractate Rosh Hashana (18a): “For six [different] months, the messengers would go forth [Rashi explains s.v. "shisha chodashim" that this was in the earlier times, before our pre-calculated calendar was put into use, when Beit Din would send messengers, upon whose testimony they relied, to report if a new moon was present in order to calculate the start of the months and holidays]; Nissan [calculations were made] for Passover, Av for the fast [Tisha B'av], Elul for Rosh Hashana, Tishrei for the setting of the Festivals. Kislev for Chanukah, and Adar for Purim. When the Holy Temple stood, they would go forth even on Iyar for Pesach Kattan (lit., little Passover, meaning that this was a minor festival).”

Rashi s.v. “Pesach Kattan” explains this as referring to Pesach Sheni [which occurs on the 14th of Iyar, based on the verses in Parashat Beha'alotcha, Numbers 9:9-11] “Daber el B’nei Yisrael lemor, ish ish ki yi’hiyeh tamei lanefesh, o b’derech rechoka lachem, o l’doroteichem ve’asa Pesach L’Hashem bachodesh hasheni b’arba’a asar yom bein ha’arbaim ya’asu oto al matzot u’merorim yochluhu - [G-d told Moses] Speak to the Children of Israel saying, if any man will become impure through a corpse or [will be] on a distant road, whether you or your [future] generations, he shall make the Passover offering for G-d in the second month [Iyar], on the 14th day in the afternoon shall they make it, with matzot and bitter herbs shall they eat it.”

Thus, the Torah offered one who was either ritually defiled or who was kept away from the Beit Hamikdash another opportunity to bring his Passover offering, on Pesach Sheni. Rashi seems to be the first to refer to this minor Passover as ‘Pesach Sheni,’ lit., the second Pesach.

As to the mishna’s referring to the day as Pesach Katan, meaning little or minor Passover, Rabbi Zev Cohen, in his sefer Bein Pesach L’Shavuos (Kitzur Hadinim 5:37-38) explains that it is only observed for one day and not seven, as the first Passover is. Also, the second Passover has many leniencies. Thus, compared to the first Passover, the second is ‘minor’.
Rabbi Cohen adds that it is proper to learn about Pesach Sheni (in Parashat Beha’alotcha) and its laws on the 14th of Iyar, when the offering was made, and again on the following evening (the 15th of Iyar) when the offering was eaten.

Further, R. Cohen states, “Though Pesach Sheni is not a festival and one is permitted to perform labor, it is nonetheless proper to rejoice somewhat.”

We find other halachos pertaining to Pesach Sheni, as well, including those regarding prayer. Sha’arei Teshuva (Orach Chayyim 131), quoting the Sha’arei Tziyon, states, “Those that do not fall Nefilat Apayim (lit., the falling on one’s face) in prayer and say Tachanun on the 14th of Iyar because of Pesach Katan, do so on the 15th. In Saloniki they protest strongly against one who does not do this, and such is the custom as well in Kushta, in Israel and in Egypt – to say it on the 15th.”

Sefer Likutei M’harich (p. 113) mentions the above, and also quotes Pri Megadim, Orach Chayyim (ad. loc.), who states that our custom is to say Tachanun on the 14th of Iyar as well. In addition, Likutei M’harich discusses Sefer Eishel Avraham (Orach Chayyim, ad. loc.) who had the custom not to say Tachanun on the 14th. Eishel Avraham further comments that as we are t’mei’ei meitim - all considered as virtually defiled via a corpse, and thus we would not have been able to offer a sacrifice at the appropriate time, we fulfill our obligations on Passover at the seder with the recitation of the Hagada. [It would thus seem that Pesach Sheni is of no consequence to us.] Nevertheless, it is correct to remind G-d of the merit of the Pesach Sheni, which was offered in the time the Holy Temple stood.

Sefer Likutei M’harich also discusses the opinion of Hagashot Yad Shaul (Yoreh Deah 401) which is that even though in the Gemara (Pesachim 95) we rule that the evening is not sanctioned as a festival and one does not say Hallel (Rashi ad. loc. defines the evening as that of Pesach Sheni) nevertheless, neither do we say Tachanun. The custom of the Gaon of Liske (Sefer Hayashar V’Hatov Vol. 2) is also mentioned. He did not say Tachanun for seven days (on Pesach Sheni and afterward). Hagashot Yad Shaul (ad. loc.) further rules that as regard the fast of B’hab (lit., Monday, Thursday, Monday), referring to the custom of fasting on
these three days following a festival, if this occurred on Pesach Sheni, one would not fast.

Eishel Avraham (ad. loc.) disagrees and rules that not only would one fast, but Selichot would be recited as well; however, Tachanun would be omitted just as we are accustomed to
doing when a brit occurs on a fast day.

Likutei M’harich then notes that it is the custom of people of piety and great deeds to eat matza on Pesach Sheni, the 14th of Iyar. He poses a question: Was not Pesach Sheni observed by eating the sacrifice on the next evening (the 15th) as well, and how can that be commemorated today? The explanation provided is that indeed, the Gaon Imrei Esh, as
well as his father-in-law Rabbi Dovid Deitch, would eat matza on the eve of the 15th as well, together with a cooked egg, and they also studied the subject of Pesach Sheni in the Torah
along with its halachot, as described in Sefer Zichron Yehuda.

It is our custom today to eat matza at least at one meal, even with chametz present in the house [at the table]. This is based upon the mishna (Pesachim 95a), ‘… on the second (Pesach Sheni) one may have in his house both chametz and matza.

In the sefer of Rabbi Z. Cohen (ad. loc.), we find three other halachot regarding Pesach Sheni, dealing with death and mourning: One does not offer a eulogy or say Tzidduk Hadin. One does not recite the Kel Maleh, hazkarat neshamot for the memory of the souls. Finally, unveilings of monuments for the departed are not performed on this day.

In the merit of this discussion, may we again rejoice in our Holy Temple with the bringing of the Passover sacrifices. May it be built speedily in our days.

Q & A: Al Achilat Matza (Part I)

Friday, May 2nd, 2003

QUESTION: I have noticed that when we eat the matza at the seder on Passover, we recite the blessing of Hamotzi lechem min ha’aretz, followed by Al achilat matza. Why don’t we say Al achilat matza when we eat matza during the remainder of Passover?

Moshe Jakobowitz
Brooklyn, NY

ANSWER: To answer your question, let us review the pertinent halachot related to the proper time and place for the blessing of Al achilat matza.

Rambam (Hilchot Chametz U’Matza 6:1) rules as follows: “It is a mitzvat aseh, a positive precept from the Torah, to eat matza on the eve of the fifteenth [day of Nissan], for it states,
‘Ba’erev tochlu matzot… – In the evening you shall eat matzot…’ (Exodus 12:18). This applies everywhere and at any time [that is, even in the Diaspora and even today, when we do not offer sacrifices in the Holy Temple].

“The [mitzva] of eating [the matza] is not dependent on the paschal sacrifice; rather, it is a distinct mitzva on its own. Its proper time of performance is during the course of the entire
evening. However, for the remainder of the festival the eating of matza is optional. If one wishes, one eats matza or if he so wishes, he may (Note: this is according to the Sephardic
tradition) eat rice or millet, or parched ears of corn or fruit.

“But on the evening of the fifteenth of Nissan, it [the eating of matza] is obligatory, and when one has eaten an amount equivalent to the size of an olive, he has discharged his obligation.”

Rambam bases this ruling on the Gemara (Pesachim 120a), where we find the following discussion: “Rava says, ‘Nowadays [when there is no paschal sacrifice] matza is a Biblical
obligation whereas maror (bitter herbs) is only a Rabbinic obligation.’” The Gemara asks: “How does maror differ? It is written (Numbers 9:11) ‘[Bachodesh hasheni be'arba'ah asar
yom bein ha'arbayim ya'asu oto] al matzot u’merorim yochluhu – [In the second month (Iyar) on the fourteenth day in the late afternoon shall they make it (the Pesach Sheni offering, for
those who could not offer the regular Passover sacrifice in its proper time)], with matzot and bitter herbs shall they eat it.’”

It thus follows that when there is a paschal sacrifice [or the one offered on Pesach Sheni] there is an obligation to eat the bitter herbs; but when there is no paschal sacrifice there is no Biblical requirement to eat bitter herbs either.

The Gemara proceeds to ask: “If so, don’t we say the same regarding matza, for it is also included in the quoted verse, ‘al matzot u’merorim yochluhu,’ yet we do not offer the Passover
sacrifice nowadays? The answer provided is: “The verse (Exodus 12:18) repeats the precept ‘…Ba’erev tochlu matzot… – …In the evening you shall eat matzot…’ [in effect making the eating of matza a Biblical requirement].”

R. Aha b. Jacob disagrees and says, “Both [matza and maror] are [only] Rabbinical requirements.” The Gemara responds with the argument that “it is stated, indeed (loc. cit.) ‘…In the evening you shall eat matzot…’ [which classifies eating matza as a Biblical requirement].”

R. Aha b. Jacob will argue: “That verse is necessary in the instance of one who was defiled (through contact with a corpse) [but who will be cleansed by the evening], or one who was on
a journey some distance away (during the day). One might assume that since they do not (i.e., cannot) partake of the paschal sacrifice, they are exempt from eating matza and maror. Therefore the verse tells us that they are nevertheless required to eat matza.”

Rava argues that regarding one who is ritually defiled or on a distant journey, there is no need for a special mention in the verse to include them in the requirement of eating matza, since
they are in no worse situation than one who is uncircumcised or an alienated Jew, i.e., an apostate. As we learned in a baraita, the verse in Exodus (12:48) states, ‘…Vechol arel lo yochal bo – No uncircumcised man shall eat thereof (the paschal sacrifice).’ But he must eat matza and maror.

R. Aha b. Jacob would argue that the requirement to eat matza stated in Exodus (12:48) applies to the uncircumcised and the apostate, while the other verse (Numbers 9:11) refers
to the ritually defiled or one who is on a distant journey, and therefore both verses are necessary. (Rashbam ad loc. - s.v. ketiv behai u’chetiv behai – explains: “I would not derive the case of one who is defiled and one who is on a journey from the case of an uncircumcised man and an alienated Jew, for the former two have an opportunity to fulfill their obligation on
Pesach Sheni (the 15th of Iyar), whereas the latter two may never partake of the paschal sacrifice. Therefore I would argue that the former should wait until Pesach Sheni and then
discharge their obligation to eat matza and maror with the paschal sacrifice, whereas the latter should eat matza and maror on Passover itself, as they will not be able to partake of the paschal sacrifice even on Pesach Sheni [should they remain in their present status]. Thus I can’t derive one from the other [and the verses are not repetitive].”)

The Gemara concludes with a baraita that agrees with Rava. “The Torah states (Deuteronomy 16:8), ‘Sheshet yamim tochal matzot u’vayom ha’shevi’i atzeret la’Hashem Elokeicha, lo ta’aseh melacha - Six days you shall eat matzot and on the seventh day there shall be an assembly for Hashem, your G-d; you shall not perform any labor.’ We deduce that just as on the seventh day the eating of matza is optional, so, too, is it optional on the [other] six days.”

The Gemara then asks: “What is the reason [for this interpretation]? It [the seventh day] was included in a general category and was subsequently singled out to teach a law. [One of the principles of exegesis is: kol davar shehaya bichlal ve'yatza min ha'clal le'lammed ... - Anything that was included in a general statement, but was then singled out from the general statement in order to teach something, was not singled out to teach only about itself...] The Gemara now
explains that it was singled out to teach regarding the entire general category.

We would have thought (according to this exegesis) that the eating of matza on the first night [of Passover] is also optional, therefore it states, “with matzot and bitter herbs shall they eat it.”

The Gemara now reasons: “We would assume that this only applies in the time of the Holy Temple. But how do we know that today, when we are bereft of our Holy Temple, one is still
Biblically obligated to eat matza [the first night(s)]? The verse states, ‘In the evening you shall eat matzot’. The verse thus established it as a requirement [even though there is no possibility of a Passover sacrifice].”

We now refer to the Gemara’s earlier discussion (115b) of the seder – literally, the “order of the ritual” on the first night of Passover. There we find the following statement: “Samuel said, ‘Lechem oni (Deuteronomy 16:3), lit. bread of affliction,  can be interpreted as bread over which we recite (onin) many words. In support of this interpretation there is a baraita that
refers to lechem oni as bread over which we answer many things. Another interpretation of lechem oni is lechem ani, bread of the poor. Just as the poor person usually eats a broken-off piece [of bread], so here too (at the seder) we eat a broken piece [of matza]…”

We find similarly in Tractate Berachot (39b): “R. Pappa says, ‘All are in agreement that on Passover [at the seder] one places the broken piece [of matza] under the whole one and breaks them together. What is the reason? It states, ‘Lechem oni – bread of affliction (poverty)’.”

Rashi and Rashbam (Pesachim 116a s.v. af kan bi’perusa) comment that (at the seder) we bless Al achilat matza on the broken piece of matza, and on the whole matzot we bless Hamotzi, as Passover is no different than other festivals (and Shabbat – to which they are all compared), when one is required to bless over two whole loaves and one then slices and
eats from one of those whole loaves.

Tosafot (ad. loc.) s.v. “Mah darko shel ani bi’perusa” note an inconsistency. Rashi and Rashbam (in Berachot) state that we bless Hamotzi on the whole matza together with the broken one, not on the two whole matzot. Tosafot reconcile this last statement with R. Pappa’s, noting that we indeed bless Hamotzi on the whole matza together with the broken one, and include the third whole matza for the purpose of lechem mishneh, which is the requirement to use two whole loaves (challot or matzot). Yet Tosafot also cite the R”I, who would bless Hamotzi on the whole matza and recite Al achilat matza on the broken piece, and then include the third [whole] matza in order to accomplish the mitzva with all three.

Whichever way we view this Gemara, we note that it is only at the seder that we require a perusa, a slice or broken piece (which symbolizes the special mitzva of the evening, namely,
to eat matza for its own sake as a remembrance of lechem oni), and only there do we recite Al achilat matza. Indeed, based upon these Talmudic passages, the Tur and R. Yosef Caro, (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 473-475) describe the seder plate, the ke’ara, as containing, among other items, three matzot [in accordance with Rashi, Rashbam, Tosafot and the Rosh, but at variance with the Rif ad. loc. and Rambam (Hilchot Chametz U'Matza 8:6), who require only two matzot]. The Mechaber continues (ibid. 475) by saying, “We take the
matzot the way they have been placed in one’s hand, the two whole ones with the broken one in the middle, and we bless [first] Hamotzi and then Al achilat matza”.

The Taz ad. loc. explains the reason and expounds that according to some poskim, we bless Hamotzi on the whole matza and Al achilat matza on the broken one.

Thus it should be clear that only when we have a perusa, a broken piece of matza, together with other matzot do we utter the blessing of Al achilat matza.

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/torah/q-a-al-achilat-matza-part-i/2003/05/02/

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