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September 16, 2014 / 21 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Kesef Mishneh’

Daf Yomi

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Rebirth Of Sorts
‘Immersing Contaminated, Emerging Pure’
(Niddah 42a)

A mikveh purifies the impure. Utensils, clothing, and impure persons who immerse or are immersed in a mikveh become pure. When exactly does that transformation take place? Can we pinpoint the moment?

An interesting statement appears in the Rambam (Hilchos She’ar Avos Hatumah 6:16). He writes that if a person in a mikveh is touching a neveilah, sheretz, or some other impure object, he is impure, “but when he emerges from the mikveh he becomes pure…and the same applies to someone who stepped on a mishkav lying in a mikveh.” Concerning a zav, who defiles an object on which he sets his weight, the law is as follows: If he enters a mikveh and steps on an object on the floor of the mikveh, the object becomes impure, “but when the mishkav emerges from the mikveh, it becomes pure again.” In other words, when the object emerges from the mikveh, its status metamorphoses into one of purity.

Emerging From A Mikveh Purifies

A sensational chidush emerges from the Rambam’s words, as the Kesef Mishneh writes (ibid): “It seems that the impure becomes pure when he emerges from the mikveh but not while he is still inside it.” Thus, if someone touches an impure person while he’s still immersed in the water, one becomes impure even though he is standing in a mikveh. Hence, in theory, it’s possible for someone to immerse in a mikvehand not become pure!

Immersion At Sunset

Impure kohanim need to immerse in a mikveh and await the arrival of sunset. That is, an impure kohen must immerse before the sun sets and afterwards, “when the sun sets, he becomes pure” (Vayikra 22:7). After sunset, these formerly impure kohanim may eat terumah (before sunset they may eat maaser sheini), and after they offer the required sacrifices, they may eat the meat of sacrifices.

If an impure kohen immerses right before sunset but only sticks his head out of the water after sunset, the law is that he isn’t pure until after sunset of the following day (Gilyonei Hashas, Shabbos 35a; Or Sameiach, Ch. 12, Hilchos Metamei Mishkav Umoshav). The author of Gilyonei Hashas (ibid.) writes that the source for this law is the Gemara (Shabbos, ibid.), which says that an impure person who awaits the arrival of sunset to be completely pure “should immerse in the sea and emerge.” The Gemara emphasizes that he must emerge from the water before sunset. If he doesn’t, he only becomes pure after sunset of the following day.

The Achronim discuss this Kesef Mishneh at length and assert that the statement of the Rambam is “a very new thing.” This interpretation of the Gemara, they believe, is not evident in the words of other Rishonim (see Or Sameiach, ibid, and Makor Baruch, 39).

He Who Immerses With A Sheretz In Hand

Many are familiar with the Gemara (Taanis 16a) that immersion does not purify a person who immerses in a mikveh while holding a sheretz: “If a person holds a sheretz, even if he immerses in all the water in the world, the immersion is to no avail; if he discarded it, as soon as he immerses in 40 se’ah, the immersion helps him.”

It is interesting to discover that different poskim derive different proofs regarding the Kesef Mishneh’s interpretation of the Rambam from this famous law. Rabbi Meir Arik, zt”l, writes that it teaches us that someone who immerses in a mikveh becomes pure while still in the water since, as the Gemara says, “if he discarded it, he is pure.” Why “if he discarded it”? Doesn’t he have to emerge from the water? Evidently not (Tal Torah, Yerushalmi, Terumos).

Kisvei Eish (3:32), on the other hand, derives the opposite conclusion from this case. Why does the Gemara say “as soon as he immerses”? After all, he’s already in the water. The Gemara evidently means that the person must immerse again. In other words, a person who enters a mikveh holding a sheretzis impure until he discards it, emerges from the water, and then immerses himself again.

Immersion As Being Born Anew

We should conclude with the careful clarification of Rabbi Yonah Mertzbach, zt”l, as to why immersion helps the impure person only when he emerges from the water. He writes that the inner essence of immersion is the sinner’s “disappearance” in the water and his rebirth, figuratively speaking, when he emerges, since a human being cannot exist in water. The person leaves, so to say, his previous world and enters a new one. Therefore, he becomes pure only when he leaves the water (Aleh Yonah).

Why Women Are Obligated To Build The Beis HaMikdash

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

The Rambam, in Hilchos Beis Habechirah 1:12, derives from the pasuk in this week’s parshah, “u’veyom hakim es haMishkan… – and on the day the Mishkan was set up…” (Bamidbar 9:15), that the Beis HaMikdash can only be built by day, not by night. Further in that halacha the Rambam writes that both men and women are obligated in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash. The Kesef Mishneh explains that the source for the halacha that women are obligated in this mitzvah is from the pasuk in parshas Vayakhel: “v’kol ishah chachmas lev beyada tavu – and every wise-hearted woman spun with her hands.”

The Achronim are bothered by this obvious question: Why are women obligated in this mitzvah? Since it only applies by day, it should fall under the category of mitzvos assei she’hazman gramma (time- sensitive mitzvos) that women are exempt from fulfilling?

The answer by some Achronim is based on the following Yerushalmi: The Yerushalmi Yoma 1:1 says that the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash essentially applies even by night – except that if it is built at night it is not fit for the avodahs of the daytime. If the mitzvah only applied by day, a Beis HaMikdash that was built at night should not be fit for any avodah. This indicates that the mitzvah applies even by night; thus it is not a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma, and women are obligated in it.

Another suggested answer is that the Rambam says in Sefer Hamitzvos (mitzvas assei 20) that the building of the Beis HaMikdash’s vessels is included in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash. The Aruch Laner, on Sukkah 41a, says that the vessels of the Beis HaMikdash can be built at night. Therefore the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash applies by night as well. It is therefore not a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma.

Even according to the Achronim who disagree with the Aruch Laner and hold that the vessels must be built by day (just as the Beis HaMikdash itself), they nevertheless agree that the Menorah may be built at night since its avodah (lighting it) may be performed at that time. Since in the Rambam’s view the mitzvah to build the Menorah is included in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash, part of this mitzvah is continuous and thus not considered a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma.

The sefer, Har Hamoriah (Beis Habechirah 1:28), says that there are two parts in the mitzvah of building the Beis HaMikdash: the actual building, and the planning, measuring and bringing of supplies. Only the actual building may not be done at night. The other aspects of the mitzvah, however, may be performed at night. Hence it is not a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma.

The Rishonim, on Kiddushin 29a, ask why the Torah feels the need to write a pasuk exempting a woman from the obligation to perform the mitzvah of bris milah on her son. After all, she should obviously be exempt since it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma? The Ramban and the Ritvah answer that women are only exempt from mitzvos assei she’hazman gramma on mitzvos that pertain to themselves. But when the mitzvah requires them to do something for someone else, they are not exempt. For example, without the exemption in the pasuk, a woman would be obligated to perform a bris milah on her son.

The Minchas Chinuch (mitzvah 112:3) understands the Ritvah’s answer to mean the following: Mitzvos can be classified into two categories; those that are obligations on the individual to perform, and those that require that a certain situation take place (gavra or cheftza). The Minchas Chinuch explains that the mitzvah on the parents to perform a bris milah on their son is not a mitzvah whereby they are obligated to perform a certain act; rather that they ensure that a certain situation is accomplished – namely that their son should have a bris milah. Regarding these types of mitzvos women are not exempt, even if it is a mitzvas assei she’hazman gramma. Therefore, if the Torah did not write a pasuk that exempted women, they would be obligated to ensure that a bris milah was performed on their son.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/why-women-are-obligated-to-build-the-beis-hamikdash/2012/06/06/

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