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August 29, 2014 / 3 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Mishna Berura’

Parshas Devarim

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 30 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
July 27, 2012 – 8 Av 5772
7:56 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 9:06 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Devarim
Weekly Haftara: Chazon Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:1-27)
Daf Yomi: Nidah 67
Mishna Yomit: Kesuvos 5:4-5
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 91:3-5
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Shemitah v’Yovel chap. 12; Hilchos Beis Ha’Bechirah chap. 1
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:44 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:25 a.m. NYC E.D.T.

Fast of Tisha B’Av (nidche – delayed one day): The fast begins Shabbos after Mincha at 8:15 p.m. and concludes Sunday evening (August 10) at 9:05 p.m. (NYC E.D.T.).

This Shabbos is Shabbos Chazon. Some have a custom to sing Lecha Dodi at the Friday evening Kabbalas Shabbos service to the melody of Eli Tziyyon (one of the concluding kinos of Tisha B’Av).

Shabbos morning the Haftara, Chazon Yeshayahu (Isaiah 1:1-27), is read to the melody of Eichah (until Ve’shaveha).

As on Tisha B’Av, some restrictions apply regarding Torah study. From chatzos hayom – after noon (1:02 NYC E.D.T.) – we only study matters relating to Tisha B’Av: Eichah and its Midrashim and Perek Hanizakin in Tractate Gittin. Thus we do not study the usual Pirkei Avos, which resume the following week. Following Mincha, which is the usual Shabbos Tefilla except for Tzidkas’cha, we eat the Seuda Shelishis, we may even eat meat and wine at this meal.

We return to the synagogue for Maariv. Following Barechu we remove our shoes and don sneakers. We also remove the Paroches, the curtain of Aron Hakodesh. We sit on low chairs (without leather) and continue with the usual Tefilla, followed by Kaddish Tiskabbel. After Maariv when we view a flame we utter the blessing “… Borei Me’orei Ha’esh” (Havdala in the Shemoneh Esreh – Ata Chonantanu). We then read Eichah, plus several selected Kinos, Ve’Ata Kadosh, Kaddish Shalem without Tiskabbel, Aleinu and Mourner’s Kaddish.

Sunday morning, Tisha B’Av day (delayed), we do not put on Tallis or Tefillin when we daven Shacharis. However, we do put on the tallis katan without a beracha. Others say that we do make a beracha (see Mishna Berura, Orach Chayyim 555:1). In the Korbanos section we omit Pitum Haketores. In Shacharis only the ba’al tefilla says Anenu in his repetition between Refa’einu and Go’el Yisrael, but he does not say Birkas Kohanim. We do not say Tachanun or Avinu Malkenu. We take out a Torah scroll and read in Parashas Va’es’chanan (Devarim 4:25-40), Ki Solid Banim, and say half Kaddish. We read the Haftara, Asof Asifeim (Jeremiah 8:13-9:23) to the melody of Eichah. We then begin saying the Kinos (a collection of Lamentations). We say Ashrei, no Lamenatze’ach. We say U’va Letziyyon (but we omit Ve’ani Zos Brisi) then Kaddish Shalem without Tiskabbel, and Aleinu. We do not say the Shir Shel Yom at Shacharis. We remain seated on the ground until Chatzos Hayom (midday – we do take into account Daylight Savings Time).

At Mincha we don our Tallis and Tefillin with the appropriate blessings. We then say Shir Shel Yom (others say Kerias Shema as well), followed by Mourner’s Kaddish. We say Ashrei followed by half Kaddish, we take out the Torah scroll from the Ark and read Vayechal (Shemos 32:11-14, 34:1-10); no half Kaddish. We read the Haftara, Dirshu Hashem (Isaiah 55:6-56:80), we return the Torah scroll to the Ark and say half Kaddish. We recite the Shemoneh Esreh, adding Nachem in Boneh Yerushalayim and Anenu in Shome’a Tefilla. The chazzan in his repetition, however, places Anenu between Go’el and Refa’einu. We do not say Avinu Malkenu or Tachanun. The chazzan says Kaddish Tiskabbel, Aleinu followed by Mourner’s Kaddish.

We conclude with Maariv. We then recite Havdala over wine (the one reciting may drink – See Mishna Berura, Orach Chayyim 556, Hilchos Tisha B’Av). However, we continue to abstain from meat and [other] wine until Monday at noon.

Kiddush Levana at first opportunity – until Wednesday evening, 14th Av [or as a last resort, Thursday evening, 15th Av].

Next Thursday evening and Friday is Chamisha Asar B’Av – the 15th of Av, no Tachanun (see next week’s luach).

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Chofetz Chaim – Join the Army and Go on Aliyah!

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

Rabbi Yisrael Meir HaCohen, from Radin, better as the Chofetz Chaim, composed the unparalleled halachic work, the “Mishna Berura,” the definitive compendium of practical Jewish law. In addition, his writings on good deeds and kindness, “Ahavat Chesed,” and his treatise on evil speech, “Shmirat HaLashon,” show his great piety and saintliness. He is known never to have spoken unfairly about anyone.

In spite of the fact that the Chofetz Chaim was vehemently opposed to the non-religious spirit of the secular Zionists, he encouraged the aliyah of God-fearing Jews. He saw the surge of mass aliyah from Russia as “the footsteps of the Mashiach,” and the beginning of the ingathering of the exiles which precedes the Mashiach’s coming. “If we had the capability,” he wrote to his son, “it would be appropriate to buy land and make aliyah to Eretz Yisrael” (Letters of the Chofetz Chaim to His Son, Reb Aryeh Leb HaCohen, pgs. 43-44.)

He even approved of Jews enlisting in the gentile armies of Europe, indicating that it would be good training and preparation for our own Jewish army. He told them: “In a short time the Mashiach will come, and we will have a State, and a State needs an army. Will you wait until then to learn how to be soldiers? Now you have the opportunity to learn how to fight. This is very important to us. The Master of the World is arranging this opportunity for practice to prepare you for service in our own Jewish army” (See, “Torat Eretz Yisrael, Ch7; L’Netivot Yisrael, by Tzvi Yehuda Rabbi Kook, 2:6; Mishna Berura, Shabbat, 329:7: sub-section 17.)

The following story is brought down by the revered scholar Rabbi Dichovsky, in his comentary, “Neot Desha,” on the Talmud. In the introduction, he recounts his visit to the Chofetz Chaim to ask him a question about moving to Israel at a time of clear and present danger, when Arabs were waging pogroms in the Holy Land. We quote his account verbatim:

“I saw it proper to record a statement made to me by the most pious of all of the kohanim, the Rabbi of all Israel, the glory of the generation, the holy of all Israel, may he be blessed in memory, in the matter of aliyah. I asked him about this question, and the following are the details of our encounter.

“It was the beginning of the year, 1933. There was a group of Torah scholars who had organized themselves to go together to Israel to learn Torah. I too was amongst them, but I had many doubts, because I knew that many of the great gedolim (Torah scholars) of Israel were opposed. The heads of my yeshiva were especially opposed to the idea that yeshiva students would go to Eretz Yisrael, even for the sake of studying Torah. They said that the proper conditions had not as yet been established in order to facilitate Torah study with the proper diligence in the Holy Land, to the extent that we are able to study Torah in the yeshivot in the Diaspora. Therefore, I said in my heart, that I must not ask my rabbis in this matter, for obviously their answer will be no.

“Like Rabbi Zera, who ran away from his teacher, Rav Yehuda, when he wanted to make aliyah to Israel (Tractate Ketubot, 110B,) I decided to go and ask the counsel of the righteous tzaddik of our generation, our revered master, and to receive his blessing before I departed. Therefore, just before the Day of Atonement, I journeyed to the yeshiva of the Chofetz Chaim in the town of Radin, where I stayed in the shadow of this great, righteous individual. This was, as is known, the last Yom Kippur of this special tzaddik, for at the end of the year, in the month of Elul, he was taken to the yeshiva Above, may his merit be a shield to us and all Israel.

“In spite of his great physical weakness, a Heavenly Providence was with me, and I merited to see him the day after Yom Kippur. I told him my situation, and that I had a good chance of making aliyah to Israel as a Torah student, only I had lingering doubts if I would be able to learn Torah with the same diligence with which I was learning now. Immediately, he answered, in his famous sweetness of speech, that there was no room at all for my wariness. Why in the world would I not be able to learn Torah there with absolute diligence, he said? Just the opposite would seem to be true, for the Land of Israel, without question, was more conducive for steadfast immersion in Torah. He recited the verse, ‘The gold of the Land is good,’ on which the Midrash says, ‘This gold are the words of Torah, for there is no Torah like the Torah of Eretz Yisrael; and there is no wisdom like the wisdom of Eretz Yisrael.’

Parshas Behar-Bechukosai

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

Vol. LXIII No. 20 5772
New York City
CANDLE LIGHTING TIME
May 18, 2012 – 26 Iyar 5772
7:49 p.m. NYC E.D.T.

Sabbath Ends: 9:03 p.m. NYC E.D.T.
Weekly Reading: Behar-Bechukosai
Weekly Haftara: Hashem Uzzi (Jeremiah 16:19-17:14)
Daf Yomi: Tamid 33
Mishna Yomit: Yevamos 4:9-10
Halacha Yomit: Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 55:6-8
Rambam Yomi: Hilchos Ishus chap. 23-25
Earliest time for Tallis and Tefillin: 4:33 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Latest Kerias Shema: 9:15 a.m. NYC E.D.T.
Pirkei Avos: 5 Sefiras HaOmer: 41

This Shabbos is Shabbos Mevarchim, Rosh Chodesh Sivan is 1 day, Tuesday; the molad is Sunday evening, 1 minute and 4 chalakim (a chelek is 1/18 of a minute) past 11:00 p.m. (in Jerusalem). Shabbos Morning: After Yekum Purkan we do say Av Harachamim, however, no Kel Moleh.

This Motzaei Shabbos and Sunday, the 28th of Iyar, is Yom Yerushalayim.

Rosh Chodesh, Monday eve. – At Maariv we add Ya’aleh VeYavo. However, if one forgot to include Ya’aleh VeYavo (at Maariv only) one does not repeat (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 422:1, based on Berachos 30b, which explains that this is due to the fact that we do not sanctify the month at night). After the Shemoneh Esreh the chazzan recites Kaddish Tiskabbel followed by Aleinu, Sefiras HaOmer and Kaddish Yasom.

From Rosh Chodesh until Isru Chag we do not say Tachanun (others extend this practice until the 12th day of Sivan). Before taking out the Sefer Torah we do say Kel Erech Appayim. At the conclusion of Kerias HaTorah we do not say Yehi Ratzon nor Hazkaras Neshamos, though we do say Lamenatze’ach.

Wednesday evening is the onset of the 3 days of Hagbala – the preparatory period before Shavuos. According to some minhagim, the same relaxation of Sefira observance that we allow on Lag BaOmer applies to the days before Shavuos as well. See Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayyim 493, and Mishna Berura (ad. loc.), where the various minhagim are clearly delineated..

The following chapters of Tehillim are being recited by many congregations and Yeshivos for our brothers and sisters in Eretz Yisrael: Chapter 83, 130, 142. – Y.K.

Title: Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Title: Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple!Author: Joe BobkerPublisher: Gefen Publishing House

The ArtScroll and Feldheim halacha books are comprehensive, well researched, clear, practical and among the best that the two publishers have to offer. But I think they’d be the first to admit that their halacha volumes are not playful.

 And I think Joe Bobker would be the first to find that description for his new book on the halachot (and much else) of Shabbas a compliment.

 In Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple! Bobker, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Times, addresses Shabbas topics as diverse as how to warm up pre-cooked food, explanations of parts of the Shabbas davening, and Shabbas’ relationship to time and space. Most of the book speaks to halachic concerns, but plenty touch on philosophy and hashkafa, and some seems to be the whimsical preferences of the author, as when he gives bar mitzvah boy d’var Torah suggestions, and when he presents the challah recipe that he “borrows” from his wife, “the world’s second best cook after my mother.”

 Even for the halachic questions (Can I Play Chess on Shabbas is written in a question and answer format), Bobker’s unique and fun approach makes the book such a delight. “Can I open beer bottle on Shabbas? Why would you want to? Try orange juice, it’s much better for you! But, if you insist ” Or, “Can I make ice cream for the kids on Shabbas? To make ice cream you must beat eggs. To beat eggs you need to use a beater. So no, you can’t make ice cream for the kinderlach on Shabbas.”

 Sometimes Bobker is unequivocal (“When is Shabbas over? Seventy-two minutes past sunset”). And other times he provides several opinions, including Sephardic ones, which is a nice touch (“Can I add salt [to soup] on Shabbas? The Shulchan Aruch says no, the Mishna Berura says yes, on condition that the salt’s precooked. The Kaf Hachayin doesn’t say no, he says absolutely not!”). But he’s always entertaining and informative. (Footnotes on almost every page provide detailed sources.)

 If other Shabbas guides and halachic compendiums have not hit the spot for you in the past, try Can I Play Chess on Shabbas – it’s constantly hitting several spots.

Title: Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple!

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Title: Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple!
Author: Joe Bobker
Publisher: Gefen Publishing House



The ArtScroll and Feldheim halacha books are comprehensive, well researched, clear, practical and among the best that the two publishers have to offer. But I think they’d be the first to admit that their halacha volumes are not playful.


 And I think Joe Bobker would be the first to find that description for his new book on the halachot (and much else) of Shabbas a compliment.


 In Can I Play Chess on Shabbas: The Do’s and Don’ts of Shabbas, Made Simple! Bobker, the former publisher and editor-in-chief of the Los Angeles Jewish Times, addresses Shabbas topics as diverse as how to warm up pre-cooked food, explanations of parts of the Shabbas davening, and Shabbas’ relationship to time and space. Most of the book speaks to halachic concerns, but plenty touch on philosophy and hashkafa, and some seems to be the whimsical preferences of the author, as when he gives bar mitzvah boy d’var Torah suggestions, and when he presents the challah recipe that he “borrows” from his wife, “the world’s second best cook after my mother.”


 Even for the halachic questions (Can I Play Chess on Shabbas is written in a question and answer format), Bobker’s unique and fun approach makes the book such a delight. “Can I open beer bottle on Shabbas? Why would you want to? Try orange juice, it’s much better for you! But, if you insist ” Or, “Can I make ice cream for the kids on Shabbas? To make ice cream you must beat eggs. To beat eggs you need to use a beater. So no, you can’t make ice cream for the kinderlach on Shabbas.”


 Sometimes Bobker is unequivocal (“When is Shabbas over? Seventy-two minutes past sunset”). And other times he provides several opinions, including Sephardic ones, which is a nice touch (“Can I add salt [to soup] on Shabbas? The Shulchan Aruch says no, the Mishna Berura says yes, on condition that the salt’s precooked. The Kaf Hachayin doesn’t say no, he says absolutely not!”). But he’s always entertaining and informative. (Footnotes on almost every page provide detailed sources.)


 If other Shabbas guides and halachic compendiums have not hit the spot for you in the past, try Can I Play Chess on Shabbas – it’s constantly hitting several spots.

Q & A: Meat And Milk Issues (Conclusion)

Wednesday, August 4th, 2004
QUESTION: I am presently nursing. I would like to know until what age it is permissible to nurse my child soon after feeding him chicken. In general, how long do we wait between eating meat and dairy?
A Concerned Mother
New York City
ANSWER: The prohibition against eating meat and milk together, “…Lo tevashel gedi bachalev immo…,” is stated three times in the Torah: Exodus 23:19 and 34:26, and Deuteronomy 14:21. Three warnings are learned from the repetition, one against eating basar bechalav, one against deriving benefit therefrom, and one against cooking the mixture (Chullin 115b). Other exegeses were also derived from this unusual repetition. The types of meat included in basar bechalav were extended by the Rabbis to include fowl and non-domesticated animals’ flesh as well (Chullin 103b).We discussed the Gemara in Ketubbot (60a) that serves as a source for allowing mother’s milk (for babies), as presented by Rambam (Hilchot Ma’achalot Asurot 3:2) and the fact that it is considered pareve (Yoreh De’ah 87:4). Issues of mar’it ayin apply to mother’s milk with regard to cooking meat, but where this does not apply, as with a nursing infant, there is no need for concern.

We continued with an examination of the necessary waiting time between consuming meat and milk. We also addressed the question of the necessary waiting time between the consumption of dairy foods (milk, as well as soft or hard cheeses) and meat. There are various opinions, but one common requirement is that the hands be washed and the mouth rinsed after dairy.

We then proceeded with a discussion regarding the age at which a child is required to wait the full time between meat and milk, as an adult does. Whereas the set age for the obligation to fulfill mitzvot is 12 years and a day for girls, and 13 years and a day for boys, there are various subjective definitions as to when a child can be considered capable of understanding, and therefore parents have to be meticulous in training the child in the fulfillment of mitzvot.

* * *

We find a more precise definition in this regard in the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De’ah 245:5), where R. Yosef Caro states, “From when [at what age] must one begin to teach his son [Torah]” From the time he starts to talk. He then begins to teach him the verse in Parashat VeZot HaBeracha (Deuteronomy 33:4), ‘Torah tziva lanu Moshe morasha kehillat Yaakov – The Torah that Moses commanded us is the inheritance of the Congregation of Jacob,’ and the first verse of the Shema recital as found in Parashat VaEt’chanan (Deuteronomy 6:4), ‘Shema Yisrael, Hashem Elokeinu, Hashem Echad – Hear, O Israel, Hashem is our G-d, Hashem is one.’”

He continues, “And later on [as he attains more understanding] he teaches him more, until the child reaches six or seven years of age, and then he sends him to the melamdei tinokot – the teachers for young children.”

He reiterates further (245:8), “We bring the young children [to the school] to be taught when they a full five years of age, but they are not to be brought earlier than that. And if the child is delicate, we bring him [there] when he is a full six years of age.”

The Vilna Gaon explains that this halacha is not inconsistent with R. Yosef Caro’s earlier ruling (245:5) because the numbers are essentially the same, for “age five” is understood to mean up to the sixth birthday…

R. Caro’s source is the Gemara in perek “Lo yachpor” (Bava Batra 21a), where it is concluded that when a child reaches six years of age, or seven if he is delicate, we are to begin instructing him in Torah, and thus his chinuch (education) commences.

The Gemara (ad loc.) adds the instructions of Rav to R. Samuel b. Shilat, who was a teacher of young children: “Do not accept children before the age of six; from that age you can accept them, and stuff them with Torah like [one feeds] an ox.”

Obviously, Rav’s opinion is that a child before that age is not ready to learn, and teaching him at that time will be counterproductive.

Kashrut matters are also an area of study that we engage in all our lives, considering how often we eat meals – three times a day, seven days a week. We wish to ensure that what we eat and how we eat it is fully in accord with Halacha. Thus, there must be an age when we start the kashrut education of our young children.

We find the view of the Gaon R. Moshe Stern, zt”l (Responsa Ba’er Moshe Vol. 3:36), who deals with this question specifically: “Starting at what age do we wait before we feed a young child milk after he ate meat? We only begin at age three. Before that time one feeds a child milk even immediately [after meat]. The only requirement is that one wash out the child’s mouth so that there is no residue of meat therein. After three years of age we begin to train the child [to wait] one hour, and then subsequently two and three hours, until the child reaches six years of age, because they [the halachic authorities] did not set a requirement of six hours [for such a young child]. For a child who is delicate, or who will not drink any other beverage before going to sleep, or in other similar situations, the [halachic authorities] were more lenient up to age nine but suggested waiting three hours whenever possible. However, even regarding a healthy child they were not very meticulous in this matter, that is, to wait beyond three hours. After age nine - that is when they are stricter…”

In Responsa Teshuvot VeHanhagot (Vol. 1:435) we learn that the Gaon R. Moshe Sternbuch rules similarly in a related case. There we read, “It would seem that as soon as [the child] understands the prohibition of milk after meat, even at age two, it is proper to educate (chinuch) him as we do with all other mitzvot in regard to violations [of Halacha], as we note from the halachic authorities (Orach Chayyim 343; Mishna Berura 343:3) who state, ‘…and it is proper to wait one hour (after the child’s mouth has been washed and the teeth brushed).’ One hour is the essential waiting period of the Rema (Yoreh De’ah 89). However, when the child reaches age five or six, which is the age when we begin the education for mitzvot, we have to start teaching him to wait three hours before drinking milk after eating meat. (Ed.: But, note Mishna Berura and Orach Chayyim 70:6 and 70:1.) At age nine or ten, we teach the child to wait the full required time.

“The Chochmat Adam (40:13) is lenient regarding an ailing person, whom he permits to consume milk as soon as one hour after eating meat, and the rule for a minor child would be the same.”

However, R. Sternbuch advises that [even with the very young] there should be some sort of chinuch in this matter. It is thus proper that as soon as feasible, a young child should be trained to wait six hours. He adds that he has not found this matter extensively discussed in the works of the poskim. Nevertheless, the concept is that the young child should be educated, the goal being the regular observance of mitzvot when the age of obligation is attained.

Q & A: The Mitzva Of Maggid

Wednesday, April 28th, 2004
QUESTION: Does a katan (minor) exempt the father or leader of the Seder from having to recite the Mah Nishtanah? The father could continue with Avadim hayyinu, as stated in the Shulchan Aruch (473:7, Hilchot Pesach). The poskim bring proof from Tractate Pesachim (116a), where R. Nachman continued with Avadim hayyinu, as did Abaye and Rava. I put this question to my grandfather, Reb Beryl Ackerman, and he responded that in the margin of the Shulchan Aruch the Chatam Sofer quotes Rambam, who states that the reader of the Haggadah must repeat the Mah Nishtanah. His Rosh Yeshiva, Rav Binyomin Paler, understands Rambam to mean that since a child is not a bar chiyyuva, the father must repeat the Mah Nishtanah, and the cases cited in the Talmud do not deal with a minor. In light of the above, why do certain poskim such as the Mishna Berura state that he does not have to repeat the Mah Nishtanah?
Pinchus Cynamon
Bais Medrash of Flatbush
ANSWER: Indeed, the Mechaber (Orach Chayyim 273:7) states as follows: “We pour the second cup immediately so that the children ask, ‘Why do we drink a cup [of wine] before the meal?’ If the son lacks sufficient intelligence, his father teaches him; if he has no son then his wife asks him; if he has no wife then he himself asks; even two scholars ask one another the Mah Nistanah.” The Rema notes, “If the son or wife asks, there is no need to repeat the Mah Nishtanah and we continue with Avadim hayyinu, etc.” The Mishna Berura ad loc. adds that where there are two scholars and one asks the other, there is no further need to repeat the Mah Nishtanah, and we continue with Avadim hayyinu.We find that even though the Rema states that there is no need to repeat, and the Mishna Berura further includes that rule for all cases, there are many whose custom it is to repeat the questions.

Let us now examine the procedure for the Seder on Pesach to help clarify the source of this particular mitzva.

We read in the Torah (Exodus 13:8) as follows: “Ve’higad’ta le[b]incha bayom hahu le’mor, ba’avur zeh asah Hashem li betzeiti mimitzrayim – You shall tell your son on that day, saying, ‘It is on account of that which Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.’” Rambam lists this precept in Sefer Hamitzvot as the mitzva of “sippur yetziat mitzrayim - relating about the exodus from Egypt,” a positive commandment (Mitzva 157).

Rashi ad loc., citing the Mechilta, sees this as a hint to the answer one gives the wicked son: Hashem did it for me, but had you been there, you would have been unworthy of redemption. Rashi is actually citing the Jerusalem Talmud (Pesachim 10:4), a text source for our Haggadah [which differs somewhat from the text in our Haggadah], which states as follows, “R. Chiya learned in a baraita that the Torah speaks of four sons: one who is wise, one who is wicked, one who is foolish, and one who does not know what to ask.”

The Pnei Moshe in his commentary ad loc. explains that we find in the Torah four times a “haggadah,” lit. a telling, of a father to a son. The Gemara now explains to us why we refer to four sons.

The first verse we refer to concerns the wise son, who asks (Deuteronomy 6:20), “Ki yish’alcha [b]incha machar lemor, Mah ha’edot vehachukim asher tziva Hashem Elokeinu et’chem – When your son asks you tomorrow, saying, What are the testimonies, the decrees and the ordinances that Hashem our G-d commanded you?”

Pnei Moshe notes that the verse concludes with “commanded you,” but the Gemara quotes it as “commanded us.” He explains that in so doing the wise son manifests his wisdom because he does not wish to utter the words “commanded you,” for these words, on the face of it, appear to exclude him. Additionally, even though the verse states “commanded you,” he still prefaces his words with “Hashem our G-d,” unlike the wicked son who makes no mention of Hashem.

Therefore we answer him, pursuant to the verse in Exodus (13:14), “Bechozek yad hotzianu Hashem mimitzrayim mibeit avadim – With a strong hand Hashem brought us out of Egypt, from the house of bondage.”

The Gemara continues, “The wicked son, what does he say (Exodus 12:26)? ‘Mah ha’avoda hazot lachem – What is this service to you?’” The Gemara explains this to mean, “What is the great effort that you expend each and every year?” Since he has excluded himself from the community, you must tell him (Exodus 13:8), “… Ba’avur zeh asah Hashem li… – It is on account of that which Hashem did for me.” For me it was done, but for the wicked son it was not done, for had he been in Egypt, he would never have been worthy of redemption.

The Gemara then states, “The foolish son, what does he ask (Exodus 13:14)? “… Mah zot … – … What is this…- Therefore you must teach him the laws of the paschal offering ? that one may not partake of the afikoman after the paschal lamb [i.e., one may not leave his chabura (group) that partakes of the Korban Pesach, and subsequently join another group].”

Finally, the Gemara concludes with “the son who does not know what to ask.” Upon reviewing the four verses that we have repeated numerous times in relation to those questions, one verse, the one we cited originally (Exodus 13:8), lacks the preface of a question. Therefore you initiate the query. R. Yosah quotes the Mishna (Pesachim 116a; Jerusalem Talmud Pesachim 10:4) that if the son lacks the intelligence to inquire, his father teaches him.

It appears from all of the above that a main element of the Haggadah is the instruction of the children, who should be encouraged to make inquiries.

The Mishna Berura (Orach Chayyim 473, cited at the outset) is essentially explaining the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema ad loc., who in turn are codifying the law based on the Gemara (Pesachim 116a), which states as follows, “We learned in a baraita: if the son is intelligent he asks [the father], if the son lacks intelligence, his wife asks him, and if [he has no wife] he himself asks, and even two scholars who are well versed in the laws of Pesach ask one another.”

The Rema deduces from this Gemara – and the Mishna Berura rules accordingly – that in the event the son or wife asks the Mah Nishtanah, the father continues with Avadim hayyinu and there is no need for him to repeat the questions of the Mah Nishtanah.

The Chatam Sofer, whom your grandfather quotes as found in the margins of the Shulchan Aruch, cites Rambam (Hilchot Chametz U’Matza 8:2), who states: “… We pour the second cup [of wine] and the son asks [the Mah Nishtanah], and then the Reader says Mah Nishtanah, etc.”

The Chatam Sofer notes that this text of Rambam appears to be at odds with what we conclude from the Gemara, upon which the Rema and the Mishna Berura seem to base their ruling. The Chatam Sofer leaves this question unanswered, which only further confounds us in regard to this matter.

In attempting to answer your question, we must establish where the actual “haggada” begins, i.e., the requirement of “maggid,” according to our texts.

The Gaon R. Yehuda Loew, zt”l, known as the Maharal of Prague, prefaces the recitation of “maggid” in his Haggadah with the following: “Hineni muchan u’mezuman…” lit. “I am prepared and ready” to fulfill the obligation of the commandment to recount the deliverance from Egypt, as the verse states (Deuteronomy 6:20), “Ki yish’alcha [b]incha… - When your son will ask you tomorrow, saying, ‘What are these testimonies, statutes and laws that Hashem our G-d has commanded you?’ you shall answer ‘Avadim hayyinu…’ – We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt and Hashem took us out of Egypt with a strong arm.”

The Maharal continues with “Leshem yichud… For the sake of the unification of the Holy One, blessed be He, and His presence, through Him who is hidden and inscrutable, I pray in the name of all Israel. May the pleasantness of the L-rd our G-d be upon us. May He establish our handiwork for us; our handiwork may He establish.”

In this text of “Hineni muchan” we see that the mitzva of the Seder night is dependent on the she’ela (“Ki yish’alcha [b]incha”), the question of the son.

Thus, it seems that according to the Maharal, the Haggadah begins at Mah Nishtanah, the questions. Yet we see that “Hineni muchan” is immediately followed by “Ha lachma anya,” lit. “This is the bread of affliction.” The Divrei Negidim commentary (Maharal Haggadah ad loc.) explains that the Sages (Pesachim 114a, Mishna) enacted that matza be a staple of the Seder. In the Gemara (115b) Shmuel, based on the verse in (Deuteronomy 16:3), “Shiv’at yamim tochal alav matzot lechem oni… ? Seven days shall you eat because of it unleavened bread of affliction…” explains that lechem oni, the bread of affliction, is “lechem oneh,” the bread [which] answers (oneh) many questions. Thus, this is the appropriate place for us to commence the recitation of the Haggadah.

Similarly, we find in the early authority Kol Bo that the Haggadah starts from “Ha lachma anya.”

The Satmar Rebbe, Admor R. Joel Teitelbaum, zt”l, in his Haggadah “Divrei Yoel,” disputes the text of “Hineni muchan” of the Maharal, who bases his opinion on the verse “Ki yish’alcha” (Deuteronomy 6:20). He states that “Hineni muchan” is based on the verse at the beginning of Parashat Bo (Exodus 10:2), “U’lema’an tesapper be’oznei [b]incha u’[b]en bincha … – So that you may relate to your son and your son’s son…” This verse indicates that no question is meant to preface the father’s statement.

Possibly, when Rambam in his Sefer Hamitzvot (which we cited at the outset) refers to this as the mitzva of sippur (relating), he derives it from this verse as opposed to the verse “Ve’higad’ta – You shall tell” (Exodus 13:8) which he quotes in his Mishneh Torah. It should be noted that the Sefer Hachinuch, which lists sippur yetziat mitzrayim as Mitzva 21, also derives it from the verse “Ve’higad’ta le[b]incha,” as does Rambam in his Mishneh Torah.

Notwithstanding the above, we can understand the Satmar Rebbe’s reasoning when he explains that the entire purpose of man is to fear Hashem and to propagate further generations who will also fear Hashem, as we find in Genesis (18:19), “Ki yeda’tiv lema’an asher yetzaveh et banav ve’et beito acharav veshamru derech Hashem… – For I know him (Abraham) that he will command his children and his household after him that they keep the way of Hashem….” Thus, the entire process of sippur yetziat mitzrayim is that they should be aware of the miracles and wonders that were performed and thus know that “I am Hashem.”

This may be a hint that the actual mitzva of “maggid” first begins at “Avadim hayyinu,” which starts the narrative of the great miracles and wonders that led to our exit from Egypt.

Indeed, Hagaon R. Shmuel HaKohen Burstein, zt”l, of Sha’tava, Ukraine, the grandfather of our good friend, colleague, and columnist, HaRav J. Simcha Cohen, explains in his Ma’adanei Shemuel on Kitzur Shulchan Aruch (Hilchot Pesach) that the entire obligation of the Seder is for the father to explain to the children the great wonders and miracles that Hashem wrought for us. Thus he stresses that it is important that it be explained in a language that they can comprehend. From here, too, we see that the essence of maggid starts at “Avadim hayyinu.”

Additionally, if we consult the Shulchan Aruch HaRav (473:43, Hilchot Pesach) we see that he states openly that “the essential text” of the Haggadah (“maggid”) which our Sages enacted as a requirement for all is from the beginning of “Avadim hayyinu” (the view of the sage Shmuel, Pesachim 116a).

We further find that the Gaon R. Moshe Sternbuch in his responsa Teshuvot VeHanhagot” (Orach Chayyim 236) cites the following in the name of the Brisker Rav, R. Chaim Soloveichik, zt”l: “The essential requirement of the son is that he ask ‘Why is this night different?’ He need not ask the four questions. Therefore, as the Sages say, we return the ke’ara (the Seder Plate) and we distribute parched stalks of grain (to the children) in order that the child be moved to ask. In fact, this is what Rambam states, ‘Here the son asks, and then the reader [father] says Mah Nishtanah etc. [all four questions].’”

The Gaon R. Chaim explains that the son simply asks about the difference of this night, but the adult (gadol) asks all the four questions so that the Haggadah will be in the style of an answer to a question, for this is the essence of sippur yetziat mitzrayim.

On the other hand, if the child did indeed ask all four questions, it would seem that according to the Rema, as interpreted by the Mishna Berura, there is no need for the adult to ask the questions, and one can proceed to the main mitzva of sippur yetziat mitzrayim.

I was very fortunate to find a similar explanation in the Haggadah Kol Dodi (p. 104) by the Gaon R. Dovid Feinstein, shlita, Rosh Yeshiva of Mesivta Tifereth Jerusalem, which we now quote:

“If one’s child or wife asked the Mah Nishtanah, the one who has been asked need not himself recite it… (Rema, ibid.)

“We note two implications: (a) Only when asked by his child or wife is the leader of the Seder exempt from reciting the Mah Nishtanah, but not if the questions are asked by another participant. (b) All other participants at the Seder must say the Mah Nishtanah regardless of who asked [the questions] out loud to the leader. However, [the] Mishnah Berurah (ibid. 473:70) interprets Rema to mean that the one questioned need not recite the Mah Nishtanah, regardless of who asked it.

“It seems to me, though, that when the questions are asked by a child or other unlearned persons, the narrative of the Haggadah is literally a response to the questions, so that there is no need for the questions to be repeated. But if the participants of the Seder are scholars who know the Haggadah, the recitation of the Four Questions is in order not to tamper with the Haggadah’s text. If so, the participants, including the leader, must also adhere to the text and repeat the Mah Nishtanah, for the mitzvah does not consist of teaching unknown facts to the questioner. Since the participants, too, do not fulfill the mitzvah of answering the questions and informing the questioner, they, too, must recite the Four Questions. From this practice, that the participants repeat the questions, the custom developed that even the leader repeats the questions.”

On the other hand, the Gaon R. Paler, zt”l, whom your dear Zeide cited, probably was following the opinion of R. Chaim Brisker which we previously cited, who says that the gadol (which might be read as the bar chiyyuva, the one who is obligated in mitzvot) asks the questions. Yet I am sure that even he would agree that the mitzva of “Ve’higad’ta le[b]incha” does not precisely require that the child be a gadol, a bar chiyyuva, to exempt the father from asking the questions. Rather, a child or any other unlearned person who asks the questions prompts the response which is the Haggadah, namely, the mitzva of maggid, as the Gaon R. Dovid Feinstein states. But he also adds that it has become the custom for the leader to repeat the questions.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-the-mitzva-of-maggid/2004/04/28/

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