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April 20, 2014 / 20 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Rabbi Akiva Eiger’

Daf Yomi

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

Beware Of The Fruit!
‘A Mis’asek Is Excluded’
(Kerisos 19a)

Our sugya distinguishes between a shogeg and a mis’asek. A shogeg must bring a korban chatas while a mis’asek is exempt. A shogeg is someone who intentionally commits a forbidden act, such as plowing a field in Eretz Yisrael during shemitah, but forgets that doing so is forbidden. In contrast, a mis’asek is someone who, for example, pulls a plow to a storeroom during shemitah, unintentionally plowing his field in the process. In other words, he acted willfully but never intended to do anything forbidden. The forbidden act was a byproduct of his action. The shogeg therefore must bring a chatas as he intended to do a forbidden act, while the mis’asek is exempt as he did not intend to do a forbidden act.

Free Of Sin Or Free Of Penalty?

Most commentators on the Gemara maintain that a mis’asek is completely exempt. He is not obligated to bring a chatas, and he is not guilty of any violation. However, Rabbi Akiva Eiger offers proofs that a mis’asek is considered an unwitting sinner. He may be exempt from bringing a chatas, but he still sinned (Responsa Rabbi Akiva Eiger 1:8).

What are the implications of Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s opinion? First, since the mis’asek sinned, he needs atonement. Second, it has ramifications for the rule of “kim lei bideraba minei –the harsher penalty is adequate.” This rule dictates that that if a person faces two punishments for the same act – for example, the death penalty and a financial penalty – he only receives the harsher penalty. This rule also applies to a shogeg. Even though a shogeg doesn’t receive the death penalty, he can commit sins that, in theory, are punishable by death (if committed intentionally). Thus, this rule can also exempt a shogeg from financial penalties. If Rabbi Akiva Eiger is right, the rule can exempt a mis’asek as well. (It does not, however, concern a mis’asek who did a melachah on Shabbos because to violate Shabbos one must act intentionally; meleches machsheves is required.)

Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s position aroused a great deal of discussion among the Acharonim. Both sides adduced piles of proofs for their position. Is a mis’asek a sinner who needs atonement, or not?

Waking Up A Sleeping Kohen

Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s son, Rabbi Shlomo, brings a proof for his father’s position from his pupil Rabbi M. Yafeh. The halacha is (Rema, Y.D. 374:1) that if a person dies in a home, one should immediately wake up any kohanim in the house and urge them to leave since tumas meis rests in the house. If a mis’asek, however, is regarded as though he did not sin at all, why should we wake up the tired kohanim? After all, they knows nothing, they’re busy sleeping. Can we think of a greater example of a mis’asek? And yet, the halacha is that we do wake up the kohanim. We thus see that a mis’asek is considered to be a sinner even though he acts unintentionally (Responsa Rabbi Shlomo Eiger, kesavim, 20).

Two Types Of Prohibitions

The Gaon of Lissa, author of Mekor Chayim and Nesivos HaMishpat, rejects this proof. He writes that we must distinguish between two different types of prohibitions. Most prohibitions involve an active deed. To violate Shabbos, for example, one must do a melachah. The prohibition for a kohen to become impure, however, involves “avoidance behavior.” The kohen must do everything possible not to become impure. He violates this prohibition not by doing something but by not doing something.

Thus, Rabbi Shlomo’s proof doesn’t work. For even if Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s disputants are correct – and a mis’asek is completely free of sin – we would still have to wake up the kohanim. The category of mis’asek only exempts one from a sin which requires a deed. It doesn’t exempt one from a sin which requires “avoidance behavior.” These kohanim may be doing nothing to become impure, but that is precisely what the Torah forbids – doing nothing.

Rabbi Yisrael Salanter’s Question To Rabbi Akiva Eiger

In Rabbi Akiva Eiger’s old age, a young Rabbi Yisrael Salanter sent him a letter. He wanted to know why a great commotion was made about eating wormy fruit. After all, a person who eats wormy fruit is considered a mis’asek since he intends to eat the fruit and not the worm. And since a mis’asek isn’t even considered a shogeg, there is no reason to forbid eating wormy fruit.

Rabbi Salanter waited a long while but did not receive a reply from Rabbi Akiva Eiger. He eventually met Rabbi Shlomo Eiger who told him that his father did not reply because an elderly rabbi lived in Salant (where Rabbi Yisrael lived), and his father did not want to answer a question which rightfully should have been addressed to Salant’s rabbi. Nonetheless, Rabbi Shlomo Eiger said it is well known that his father maintains that a mis’asek is considered to have sinned; thus, there is no basis for Rabbi Yisrael’s question (see Teshuvos Vehanhagos by Rabbi Moshe Sternbuch 4:190).

Restoration Of Poznan Cemetery

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

      A few weeks ago I wrote about the ceremony in Poznan, rededicating the Jewish cemetery, in which the famous Rabbi Akiva Eiger is interred. I received great response regarding the article with requests for additional pictures of the event.





Rabbi Schlesinger of London, who initiated the cemetery project, talking with Chief Rabbi of Poland, Rabbi Michael Shudrich.






Leader of the Jewish community in Poznan, Alicia Kobus, addresses the distinguished guests.





Saying prayers for the departed

Restoration Of Poznan Cemetery

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

         During my trip to Poland last year, I witnessed the restoration project underway in the city of Poznan. There was no outward sign of where the old Jewish cemetery had been, but records showed that it had been situated in an area covered by an apartment complex. The only part of the cemetery that was at all recoverable was now part of the backyard parking lot.


         The most important of the many Jewish personalities that lived and were buried in Poznan was Rabbi Akiva Eiger. It was recently discovered that the area of his gravesite was in the locale that had not been drastically changed; it had simply been paved over as part of the parking lot.


         The community had taken it upon themselves to build an ohel over the site of Rabbi Eiger’s grave, and return the area to a respectful and dignified resting place for the thousands that had been entered there.


         My friend and guide to Jewish communities around Poznan, Czeslaw Pardela of Wrzesnia, sent me a report on the Poznan ceremony at the rededication of the cemetery and ohel.


         On June 3, a double ceremony took place in Poznan. The long-neglected cemetery had been cleaned up and set in order. The unmarked grave of Poznan’s greatest rabbi now has an ohel, with many people coming to honor him as part of the ancient Jewish heritage of the city. Local officials, national Jewish leaders, and even church leaders came to pay tribute at the cemetery.


         “He was for us all a father, and a great, great man. Please remember that today is a happy day,” Great Britain’s Rabbi Moses Stone said emotionally. “I would number him as one of the 10 most prominent rabbis of the last few hundred years,” explained Rabbi Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland.


         The cemetery at Gogowskiej and Åšniadeckich Streets was destroyed by Germans during World War II, and subsequently almost entirely forgotten during the communist era. The grounds of International Poznan, markets and tenement buildings were built in its place.


         Using old photographs, it was discovered that the site of Rabbi Eiger’s grave was in a place little disturbed by the construction. It turned out that there was a small yard pressed between tenements and the building of one of Poznan’s current universities. This paved-over yard was used as a parking lot.


         Alicia Kobus, president of the local Jewish community of Poznan, said that when work on the site began, neighboring occupants asked, “We have to live on the cemetery? I answered, ‘The cemetery is already here and can’t be moved.’ “


         Work on the cemetery took several years. The Jewish community gained the support of the London-based Committee for the Reconstruction of Jewish Cemeteries. They had to purchase several garages standing in the cemetery. Negotiations with the occupants of the estate relating to prices and other sale conditions took several months. Thus construction only began in the spring of last year.


         The neglected graveyard was beautified after several months of work. The green square appeared with several matzevot. Plaques in several languages tell the history of the site, and a special water tap for hand washing was also installed in the gate leading to the courtyard. The terrain was also surrounded by a wall for the site’s protection.


         “Today in Poznan, something happened that several years ago seemed impossible. It is so important for our nation that the great sages’ remains were sanctified in a suitable way – at last,” Rabbi Schudrich said during the ceremony. “This is not just a Jewish matter, that we Jews are proud of Rabbi Eiger. All the citizens of Poznan and all Poles should be proud that he lived here in this city.”


         From the cemetery, the guests and dignitaries gathered in the square before the former synagogue. The square’s name was officially renamed for Rabbi Akiva Eiger. Samuel and Joshua Halpern, descendants of Rabbi Eiger, unveiled the plaque in his honor. “This is an unusual day for the history of our family and the whole Jewish community,” Samuel Halpern said. “There had been no place [like this] until now where one could come and pray in his memory. Such a place is in Poznan now.”


Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

         Before Rosh Hashanah – Yom Kippur, it is customary to pray at the graves of one’s parents. This year, as I am in Poland, and many miles from my parents, I visited some of the better-known gravesites in Poland. Next week I will continue my journey to the different shtetls and go to many more holy sites.


         I have to thank Rabbi Chaim Baruch Gluck for allowing me to accompany him on his travels and spend Rosh Hashanah with him in Krakow, in the shadow of many great tzaddikim such as the Remah and the Bach.


         As is customary I recited some Tehillim at each site, having in mind all my family, friends and readers, wishing all a Ketivah v’Chatimah Tovah.




Rabbi Ben Tzion Halberstam, zt”l, of Bobov.






The Divrei Chaim of Sanz, zt”l.







The Yid HaKadosh, zt”l; Rebbe HaRabanim, zt”l;

and the Peshischa Maggid, zt”l, in Peshischa.







The Chidushei ha’Rim, zt”l; and the Sfas Emes, zt”l of Gur.





The new Ohel being built of the grave of Rabbi Akiva Eiger zt”l, in Poznan.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/po-lin-2/2007/09/19/

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