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October 1, 2014 / 7 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Magen Avraham’

Daf Yomi

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Pomp And Circumstance
‘Endeavor to See the King’
(Berachos 58a)

Our Sages composed two berachos to say upon seeing a king. We say, “Blessed are You Hashem…who apportioned from His honor to those who fear Him” upon seeing a Jewish king and “Blessed are You Hashem… who gave from His honor to flesh and blood” upon seeing a gentile king.

The Gemara states that a person should always run to meet kings of Israel, or even kings of other nations. That way, when Moshiach arrives, he will be able to discern the difference between the honor of kings in this world and the far greater honor and greatness of Moshiach. He will then see the great reward for those who observe Hashem’s mitzvos (Magen Avraham, O.C. 224, s.k. 7).

A Queen?

There are certain circumstances under which one should not look at a king. For example, it is forbidden to look at the face of a wicked person. Therefore, one should not look at a wicked king.

Some poskim also say one should not look at a queen who has the halachic status of a king if she rules a country in place of a king. One should say the berachah, but looking at her directly is immodest, these poskim explain.

The Entourage

Under certain circumstances, a person might recite a berachah upon seeing a king’s entourage, his marching band, or a ceremony held in his honor, yet not when seeing the king himself!

How so? Poskim conclude (see Responsa Shevet HaLevi 1:35) that in situations where one is proscribed from directly gazing at a monarch, it is sufficient to contemplate the honor that is shown to him or her by the assembled crowds and their gazes of admiration in order to recite the berachah. The impression upon encountering royalty (see Shaarei Teshuvah 224:2) can be realized simply by looking at the entourage and ceremonial procession.

On the other hand, a person who sees a king without the fanfare that usually accompanies him does not gain this impression. In such circumstances, therefore, he should not say the berachah (Kaf Hachayim 224; see Shevet HaLevi ibid.; and Responsa Betzeil Hachachmah 2:13).

Melech HaMoshiach

Based on this, we can understand why Rebbi Yehuda HaChassid rules (Sefer Chassidim 950) that a person only needs to interrupt his Torah studies to see a king once. After he has already seen a king’s honor once, he can compare it to the honor of Moshiach and the Jewish people in the future. He need not trouble himself to see a king again unless the king makes an appearance with even greater ceremony and honor (see Machatzis HaShekel 224 on Magen Avraham ibid.). He then will see that even the greater honor shown to the king is nothing compared to the honor of Moshiach, may he come speedily and in our days.

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 and memorial dedications and are distributed by e-mail, dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com.

Daf Yomi

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Can’t Have It Both Ways
‘A Minor Who Reaches Maturity’
(Niddah 46a)

Our Gemara familiarizes us with a basic concept in the Babylonian Talmud: “Rava’s chazakah.” As we know, a minor is exempt from mitzvos and an adult is obligated in them. Who is an adult and who is a minor? There are two signs of adulthood: age and physical features. A boy is obligated to perform mitzvos at the age of 13 and a girl at the age of 12 providing they have physical signs of maturity. Rava posits that a 13-year-old boy is considered an adult even without clear confirmation of signs of maturity because of the chazakah that he possesses the simanim just like most people his age. This is known as “Rava’s chazakah.”

Rabbinical Vs. Biblical

The halacha is that we can rely on Rava’s chazakah concerning rabbinical obligations but not biblical ones (Rema, O.C. 55:5; Magen Avraham, s.k. 7; Mishnah Berurah, s.k. 31 and 40; Rema, 199; Magen Avraham, s.k. 7; Mishnah Berurah, s.k. 27). Thus, a boy who just turned 13 can be counted as part of a minyan since prayer in a minyan is a rabbinical mandate (Rema and Mishnah Berurah, O.C. 55). He may also be a shliach tzibbur and lead birkas hamazon (zimun) since these matters, too, are rabbinical. However, he cannot blow shofar for an adult or say birkas hamazon or kiddush on Shabbos evening for him (see Bi’ur Halachah, 271:1) since these are all biblical obligations.

What about exempting the biblical chiyuv of a fellow 13-year-old who has also not been checked for simanim? Rabbi Efrayim Zalman Margaliyos, zt”l, asserts that he cannot do so (Mateh Efrayim589:7).

A Doubt Of A Doubt

In truth, this case should be one of s’fek s’feika (doubt of a doubt) and therefore the 13-year-old boy should be able to exempt his fellow 13-year-old. For example, suppose boy A wants to blow shofar for boy B. There are two doubts here. Doubt number one: The blower may in fact be a full-fledged adult. Doubt number two: Even if he is a minor, the boy he is blowing for, boy B, may be a minor as well. This is a case of s’fek s’feika and therefore boy A should be allowed to blow shofar for boy B.

Tosafos, however, set a fundamental principle in our tractate concerning s’fek s’feika which dictates that it cannot be applied to our case. Tosafos (above, 29a, s.v. “Teisheiv lezachar”) state that one should not use s’fek s’feika if it creates contradicting leniencies. For example, suppose in our case that boy B, after hearing shofar form boy A, decides to say kerias Shema on behalf of boy A. Again, we could argue that there are two doubts here. Perhaps boy B is an adult and perhaps boy A is a minor. However, this contradicts our previous line of thinking – i.e., that boy A may be an adult and boy B may be a minor. We cannot use the same logic to contradictory ends. Hence, we cannot use s’fek s’feika in a case like this (see Turei Even, Rosh Hashanah 29a, s.v. “Tumtum” and see Halachos Vehalichos Bar Mitzvah, p. 43).

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 and memorial dedications. They are distributed by e-mail, dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com.

Daf Yomi

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

A Bride And Groom On Their Wedding Day
‘Except For The Day After Yom Kippur’
(Kerisos 25a)

The mishnah on our daf tells of a pious custom practiced by Bava ben Buta who brought an asham talui every day for fear that he had committed a transgression. In his opinion, an asham talui is an asham chassidim, as the mishnah terms it, and a person may donate a sacrifice every day to atone for unwitting sins that he is unaware of. Bava ben Buta would offer his sacrifice every day aside from the 11th of Tishrei, as he figured that he surely did not commit a transgression on the day following Yom Kippur.

Omit The Yehi Ratzon

The Shulchan Aruch states: “It is good to say the parshah of the Akeidah and the parshah of the manna and the Ten Commandments and the parshah of the olah, minchah, shelamim, chatas and asham, and say afterwards, ‘May it be His will as though I sacrificed….’ ” The Shav Yaakov (I, 2) writes that on the 11th of Tishrei, one should not say “Yehi ratzon…” after saying the verses of the asham talui since we do not suspect a person of sinning within one day of Yom Kippur (and the doubtful sins he perhaps committed before Yom Kippur were already atoned for and forgiven on the Holy Day itself).

To Fast Or Not To Fast?

A couple who were to be married on the eve of the 12th of Teves asked Rav Moshe Feinstein, zt”l (Igros Moshe, O.C. 1:167) whether they should fast on the day of their wedding as is customary (to atone for their sins). Perhaps since they already fasted on the 10th of Teves, there is no reason to fast again on the 11th on the assumption that they would not have sinned within such a short span of time.

The Efficacy Of A Fast

Rav Moshe Feinstein replied that not only must they fast but even a chasan marrying on the 11th of Tishrei must fast (see Magen Avraham 573:1). Rav Moshe writes that we do worry that a person will commit unintentional sins on the day after Yom Kippur. However, the fast of the bride and groom also atones for intentional sins and for those, it is fitting to fast even on the day after Yom Kippur.

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 dedications (simchas as well as yahrzeiten, shloshim, etc.) and are distributed by e-mail, dafyomi@hadaf-yomi.com.

Q & A: Two Adars (Conclusion)

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

    QUESTION: I have a few questions regarding the Jewish leap year. Why do we always add a second Adar as opposed to adding a second Tevet or Iyar for example? Why do we call it Adar Alef? Why is Purim celebrated in the second Adar? And which Adar is the real Adar?

 

Shea Aronovitch

(Via E-Mail)

 

ANSWER: Jews add a month periodically to our lunar calendar after the twelfth month as per the beraita in Rosh Hashanah (7a) (see also Pesachim 6a), the Babylonians did not. The second of the two Adars (Adar Sheni or Adar Bet) is considered the leap month, during which we read the four special Torah readings (Shekalim, Zachor, Parah and Parashat Hachodesh) as well as celebrate Purim (Orach Chayyim 685:1). R. Eliezer b. R. Yosi argues that we observe the mitzvot of Purim during the Adar closest to Shevat, while R. Shimon b. Gamliel argues for current practice.
   Rabbi Dov Aaron Brisman of Philadelphia ponders (Responsa Shalmei Chova, Yoreh De’ah 94) the proper leap-year observance of a yahrzeit for a man who died during a non-leap year on the second day of rosh chodesh, the first day of Adar. There is agreement that Kaddish is recited on that date in both Adars, while when to fast is more controversial, mostly because of uncertainty about which of the two Adars is added (see Nedarim 63a-b – the dispute between R. Meir and R. Yehuda about whether reference to “Adar” is understood as Adar Sheni or Rishon) and what that means for performance of mitzvot.
   The Mechaber and Taz go along with R. Meir (Adar Sheni) while Rema and Terumat Hadeshen do not, and Rabbi Brisman discusses various issues and opinions regarding yahrzeit observance when there are two Adars in effort of resolution.

   We continue with his insight.

 

*     *     *
   Rabbi Brisman comments that, in fact, each Adar possesses the characteristics of Adar, enough so that each one is eligible to have all Adar-related mitzvot and observances performed. However, each side of the dispute offers a special reason not to observe on one Adar or the other. He also notes Magen Avraham (op. cit. Orach Chayyim 568:sk20) who sees the Gemara’s statement of connecting one redemption to the other as the reason why we only observe Purim and Megilla in the second Adar and not during both.
   There is a clear difference when it comes to fasting, as Rabbi Brisman points out. Those who are more stringent, the machmirim cited by Rema, are stringent because they have vowed to fast. This is not aveilut itself being upheld on a yahrzeit, but an additional vow to fast on the yahrzeit. Generally, halacha follows the lenient opinion with regard to aveilut matters, so the stringent interpretation to fast during both Adars on the yahrzeit date is because of the vow.
   The Adar referred to in the original vow might be understood as both Adars. According to Rema, Kaddish though, would only be recited on the yahrzeit in one of the Adars. Magen Avraham, who considers both Adars to be the true Adar, would rule that Kaddish and lighting the memorial candle is relevant in both Adars.
   Rabbi Brisman relates the view of Tashbatz who says that the first year after the death of one’s parent, the fast would be on the first Adar because of the premise that mourning concludes at twelve months after the death. (Shach adds that according to this view, the fasting would be in the first month but the Kaddish and candle lighting would be done during both Adars during the first year.) Subsequent years would have the yahrzeit and fast held during the second Adar when there are two.
   However, we, who follow Rema (where there is no contrary custom), would fast only on the yahrzeit in the first Adar.
   As you see, the question is not simply which is the real Adar, but rather when are the time-related mitzvot to be performed during these two months.

   We wish all an enjoyable Purim and may we all merit a speedy redemption where our dearly departed will join together with us to welcome Moshiach and then celebrate Pesach in the rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem.

 

 

   Rabbi Yaakov Klass can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

A Torah Perspective On Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part X)

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

As we have been discussing, it is essential for parents to take an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas in regards to sexuality and modesty.

This is necessary because of the invasive exposure they experience from secular sources and culture, and also because we can no longer afford to be na?ve about the existence of sexual predators in our midst. If children do not possess clear knowledge and age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused, how can they protect themselves?

To quiet those who think it is forbidden to expose children and adolescents to sexual ideas, we referenced a halachic ruling from the Ezer Mekodesh (Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23:3) where he states that it is permitted even for a young man to study parts of the Torah related to sexuality.

In addition, in order for us to be effective parents, we must adapt with the times. As certain social and psychological norms have changed over the years, our response to them must change as well. Keep in mind; halacha recognizes that over time, certain biological realities are subject to variations and change. (See for example, Magen Avraham, O.H., 179:8) Certainly then, it is a reasonable conjecture that our cultural, social, and emotional realities, are also subject to change.

In this final article we will discuss an important and pertinent aspect of a Torah-based sexual education. Today, our adolescents mature relatively early and are in excellent physical shape. However, they have no outlets for their sexuality until marriage, which in many cases happens more than a decade after they reach sexual maturity. Many young men and young women live away from home in dormitory settings and may turn to members of their own gender for some form of sexual contact. In addition, though the Torah forbids masturbation, many adolescents find it almost impossible to resist.

Parents and educators may feel quite uncomfortable with this topic and hope that by ignoring it, it will go away. However, that is not a solution. In the vacuum of guidance and leadership from caring adults, these youngsters experience acutely destructive guilt and shame. While these acts are forbidden, they are not unnatural, and we must provide them with appropriate direction that balances Torah concerns with common sense. Too much guilt and pressure on children will cause excessive anxiety or other pathological reactions, and therefore, we must make every effort to present these halachos in an emotionally sound manner without sacrificing halachic integrity. This takes sensitivity and compassion. We must help our children understand that managing sexual desire is an ongoing process, and it is not at all unusual for adolescents to struggle with this. Excessive guilt or worry is counterproductive, and so our focus should be on engaging in constructive and healthy activities in the future.

We owe it to our children not to deny them the rich and comforting heritage we have. As Jewish parents we need to craft an approach that is psychologically healthy as well as in adherence with the strict parameters of tradition and halacha. It is not always easy to do the right thing, but it can be rewarding once we do. The increased prevalence of divorce, infidelity and sexual abuse in our community demands of us to courageously enter into dialogues with our children about morality, sexuality and marriage, so we can help them grow into true bnei and bnos Torah.

A Torah Perspective on Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part VII)

Wednesday, October 7th, 2009

Over the past few weeks we have been focusing on how necessary it is, especially today, that parents take an active role in teaching their children the Torah’s view on sexuality and modesty and how important it is that first images to fill a child’s mind in regards to these concepts be appropriate ones.

We have discussed how pervasive the secular culture is, how much it has affected our children and how we can no longer afford to be naive about the existence of sexual predators in our midst. We reminded you that if children do not possess clear knowledge and an age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused, they would not be able to protect themselves from those who seek to abuse them.

There is a school of thought that exposing children and adolescents to sexual ideas will arouse in them a yetzer hara. We referenced a halachic ruling from the Ezer Mekodesh (Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23:3) that makes it clear it is permitted for even a young man to study the sections of the Torah that relate to sexuality.

An additional point to consider is that in order for us to be effective parents, we must adapt with the times. As certain social and psychological norms have changed over the years, our response to them must change as well. Keep in mind; halacha has recognized that over centuries, even biological realities and makeup of humans are subject to variations and change. (See for example, Magen Avraham, O.H., 179:8.) Certainly then, it is a reasonable conjecture that our cultural, social, and emotional realities, are also subject to variation from generation to generation.

What holds some people back from providing children with this basic and essential part of Torah knowledge? It appears that it is shame. Now, shame is both a positive and negative character attribute. Indeed, the Gemara states: “It is evident that regarding he who does not have shame, his forefathers were not at Mount Sinai. [In other words, he is not part of the Jewish covenant.]” (Nedarim 20a.) The Gemara also states that the Jewish people have the following three character attributes: “Mercy, shame and kindness.” (Yevamos 79a.) On the other hand, common sense tells us that shame can be harmful if it prevents a person from social functioning, for example being too shy or timid. So, we can see that not all types of shame are constructive.

A Jewish Philosophical Perspective on Shame:

In Beraishis (2:25) Adam and Chava before they sinned and ate from the Tree of Knowledge are described as follows:

“And they both were naked, the man and his wife, and they were not ashamed.”

Seforno teaches: “[They were not ashamed] because all their actions and all their organs were only to fulfill the will of their Creator. These organs were not for the purpose of obtaining fleeting sensual gratification. Sexual activity for them was no different than one who eats or drinks simply for the purpose of sustaining nourishment. Therefore, the sexual organs for them felt no different than the mouth, face or hands feel for us.” (Ramban ibid 2:9 concurs with this view.)

What the Torah and commentaries seems to be telling us is that Adam and Chava felt no shame at their nakedness because they felt no arousal when they saw each other. Thus, according to this view, shame comes from being aroused and feeling sinful, lustful urges that are not quite under the person’s control. Presumably, one who discusses sexual matters or issues with pure intent has no reason to feel shame.

(To be continued)

A Torah Perspective on Educating Our Children About Sexuality (Part V)

Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

In the past several articles we have discussed the importance of parents taking an active role in teaching their children Torah ideas about sexuality and modesty. This is because it is essential that the first images to that fill their developing minds on these concepts must be appropriate ones. There is so much invasive exposure they experience from secular culture, and much to be concerned about in regards to the existence of sexual predators in our midst. If children do not possess clear knowledge and an age-appropriate understanding of the parts of their body and how they can be used or misused it is hard for them to protect themselves.

There are those who may feel that it may be forbidden to expose children and adolescents to sexual ideas because it will arouse in them a yetzer hara. Last week we discussed a halachic ruling where this issue is dealt with clearly. The Ezer Mikodesh tells us (Ezer Mekodesh, Shulchan Aruch, E.H. 23:3) that it is permissible for a young person to study those sections of the Torah that relate to sexuality.

We also stressed that in order for us to be effective parents, we must adapt with the times. What one-generation considered inappropriate to discuss with children, is not necessarily true today. Halacha has recognized that even biological realities and makeup of humans are subject to variations and change. (See for example, Magen Avraham, O.H., 179:8.) Certainly then, it is a reasonable conjecture that our cultural, social, and emotional realities, are also subject to variation from generation to generation.

Since there are dozens of halachos that are impossible to understand without knowledge of the mechanics of human sexual intercourse and reproduction, it is clear that teaching a child about sex is part and parcel of the commandment to teach Torah. After all, how can one possibly teach the laws of family purity, the laws of sexual immorality and the laws of marriage without also teaching about sexual matters?

Just as one example, Meseches Kiddushin, which is taught in many junior high and high schools for relative beginners in Gemara, clearly describes sexual intercourse as one of the three methods by which Jewish marriage is accomplished (ibid 2a.) Some might argue a child does not need to know explicitly the mechanics of sex to understand that intercourse is one of the ways to consummate marriage. But such an approach will result in a loss of clarity and true understanding of the material. It can be compared to asking a person who comes from a primitive country with no monetary currency to try to understand the stock market. He might grasp it, conceptually, but he really will not have a true understanding. Nothing in the Torah is accidental; therefore the emotional and physical process of sexuality is not coincidentally related to the conceptual understanding of how the marriage bond is enacted according to the halacha. If a child is not taught this, he is then deprived of an opportunity to benefit from this aspect of the Torah. He may be able to repeat segments of the Talmudic discussion as a parrot might do, but he cannot understand it in the way chazal meant for it to be taught and learned.

Furthermore, there are also important moral teachings that cannot be understood without a real understanding of sexuality. In Mishna Avos (3:1), man is taught to reflect upon his humble origins as a way of realizing his mortality and warding off sin. Surely this is an important lesson young men should learn, yet the Mishna makes its point by stating: “From where did you come from? A putrid drop.” It is fair to say that the rabbis are suggesting, that in order to fully grasp the magnitude of the universe and the potentially small place we occupy in it, we need to conceptualize that we were once a drop of human seed.

(To be continued)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/parenting-our-children/a-torah-perspective-on-educating-our-children-about-sexuality-part-v/2009/09/23/

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