web analytics
December 28, 2014 / 6 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Sefer Hamitzvos’

Kavanah In Davening

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah gives us the mitzvah of tefillahdavening to Hashem – for as the pasuk says, “oso sa’avod – you shall serve Him.” The Torah repeats this mitzvah several times, with another mention further in this week’s parshah: “uleavdo bechal levavchem – serve Him with all of your heart.” The Sifri explains that one serves with his heart by means of tefillah.

The Torah did not set any time for davening or write how often one must daven. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 1:2) says that min haTorah one must daven one time daily. The Ramban (commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos 5) argues that mi’de’oraisa there is no set time to daven, not even once a day. Rather, the obligation to daven is mi’de’rabbanan. The Ramban adds that perhaps there is a mitzvah mi’de’oraisa to daven to Hashem when one is in an eis tzarah.

The Rambam writes in Hilchos Tefillah 4:1 that there are five things that are crucial to tefillah, and that without them the davening is invalid. One of these is kavanah. The Rambam continues (halacha 15) by saying that any tefillah that is said without kavanah is not a tefillah. If one davens without kavanah, he must repeat the davening. One is forbidden to daven until one’s mind is at ease and the person is able to concentrate.

Achronim ask a question on this ruling. The Rambam seems to indicate that one needs to have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah, and if one does not have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah the tefillah is invalid. However, the Gemara in Berachos 34 and the Rambam in Hilchos Tefillah 10:1 say that it is sufficient if one has kavanah in the first berachah alone. From the later Rambam it seems that one is only required to have kavanah in the first berachah – and not in the entire Shemoneh Esrei.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik, in his sefer on the Rambam, explains that the Rambam is referring to two different types of kavanah. One is kavanah of the translation and explanation of the words of davening. The other is the kavanah that one must know that he is standing in front of Hashem when he is davening.

The first Rambam that indicated that one must have kavanah throughout the entire tefillah is referring to the kavanah that one must know that he is standing before Hashem when he is davening. If one is not conscious about this throughout one’s davening of Shemoneh Esrei, his tefillah is invalid.

The Gemara in Berachos 34 and the second Rambam, that say that – bedi’eved – it is sufficient if one only has kavanah in the first berachah of Shemoneh Esrei, are referring to understanding the explanation of the words one is saying in davening. It is sufficient if one only understands the words of the first berachah. However, one must have kavanah that he is standing before Hashem when he is davening throughout the entire Shemoneh Esrei.

Reb Chaim explains that the first kavanah of knowing that one is standing before Hashem when davening is required for two reasons, and that both reasons are responsible for applying this kavanah to the entire Shemoneh Esrei. One reason is so that one is not considered mesasek (if one does not have kavanah, it is as if he is doing something else). The second reason is because of the general rule that mitzvos require kavanah. This general rule obligates one to have kavanah throughout the entire mitzvah, for it is not sufficient to have kavanah during only part of the mitzvah. But the kavanah of understanding the explanation of the words that one is saying is a specific kavanah that only applies to the mitzvah of davening. Therefore the Gemara can say that it only applies to part of the mitzvah, namely the first berachah.

Reb Chaim also points out that the Rambam only says that the tefillah is invalid and that one is forbidden to daven until his mind is at ease and he is able to have kavanah as it regards the kavanah of knowing that one is standing before Hashem. Regarding the second kavanah (knowing the explanation of the words), the Rambam does not use the same words. He only says that if one davens without this kavanah he must repeat the Shemoneh Esrei. It seems that there is a difference between the two kavanos. If one does not know that he is standing before Hashem when davening, the tefillah is not a tefillah. However, if one does not know the translation of what he is saying in the first berachah, the tefillah is still a tefillah; one has simply not fulfilled his obligation with that tefillah.

Remembering Har Sinai

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

In this week’s parshah Moshe Rabbeinu recounts ma’mad Har Sinai – the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai. Additionally, the Torah warns us earlier in the parshah not to forget the revelation that we witnessed at Har Sinai, for as the pasuk says: “Only beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul, lest you forget the things that your eyes have seen and lest you remove them from your heart all the days of your life, and make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Devarim 4:9).

The Rambam does not count this as a negative commandment. The Ramban, in his commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos (in the section of the prohibitions that the Rambam neglected to count mitzvah 2), writes that we learn from this pasuk that there is a prohibition for one to forget ma’mad Har Sinai and that the Rambam forgot to count it. He continues by explaining the importance of this mitzvah: for if we were to believe that our Torah came from a navi, even a true navi whom we trust, it would not be the same; another navi or dream could then discredit the Torah, creating doubt in our minds. However, now that we know that the Torah was given by Hashem to millions of people, no doubt could ever arise in our minds, since we were the ones who witnessed Hashem’s act of giving us the Torah.

The Magen Avraham (60:2) asks why Chazal did not decree that we should read from the Torah about the giving of the Torah, similar to the decree that we read about annihilating Amalek – since we must remember both events. He answers that it is because we have the Yom Tov of Shavuos to read about it – and that is sufficient.

The Aruch Hashulchan suggests another reason why we do not have a special reading on Shabbos to remember the giving of the Torah. He writes that even according to the Ramban’s view that it is a negative commandment to forget the giving of the Torah, it is only a prohibition to forget and not a positive commandment to remember. We only have special Torah readings when there is a mitzvah to remember, not against forgetting.

However, other Rishonim argue with the Ramban by saying that there is no negative commandment to forget ma’mad Har Sinai; rather the pasuk is prohibiting forgetting the Torah itself. The Yereim (359) says that the pasuk is referring to forgetting Torah, and draws a proof from the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos (3:8) that says that anyone who forgets what he has learned is considered to be deserving of death. The Mishnah quotes this pasuk as a reference. The same is implicit from the Sefer Mitzvos Ketanos (96).

The sefer Megillas Esther (commentary to the Ramban’s commentary to the Rambam’s Sefer Hamitzvos) explains that the Rambam did not count this pasuk as a negative commandment because he understood (like the other Rishonim) that it is referring to forgetting the Torah itself. This makes it a general mitzvah that encompasses all of the Torah, commanding us to follow the Torah and its mitzvos. The Rambam does not count this type of mitzvah in his count of mitzvos.

The Ramban asks on himself a question from the Gemara in Kiddushin 30a, which derives from this pasuk that when one learns Torah with his grandchildren Hashem considers it to be as if he himself accepted Torah on Har Sinai. Seemingly, the Gemara understands that this pasuk is referring to learning Torah and not remembering about the giving of the Torah. The Ramban answers that learning about emunas haTorah (belief in the Torah) is learning Torah as well.

The sefer Hararei Kedem suggests that the Rambam agrees with the Ramban that the pasuk is referring to forgetting the giving of the Torah on Har Sinai, yet the Rambam did not count it (among his mitzvos) because he believes that the prohibition of forgetting ma’mad Har Sinai is a part of the mitzvah of learning Torah. The Ramban explained that the teaching of emunas haTorah is also regarded as learning Torah.

This can be interpreted this way: There are two parts to the mitzvah of learning Torah. One is to learn Torah; the second is to teach emunas haTorah. It is regarding the second aspect of the mitzvah that the Gemara in Kiddushin said that one who learns with his grandchildren is considered as having accepted the Torah on Har Sinai himself. This is because when one learns Torah with his grandfather, it is as if he is learning with someone from one generation closer to Har Sinai. This learning has both aspects of the mitzvah in it. It has the actual learning, and it strengthens the grandchild’s belief in the Torah. Thus, regarding emunas haTorah, the Gemara reveres a grandfather who teaches Torah to his grandchildren – for it is as if he has accepted the Torah on Har Sinai.

May Beis Din Punish On Shabbos?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

The Yerushalmi, in Sanhedrin 4:6, derives from the pasuk in the beginning of this week’s parshah, “lo seva’aru eish b’chol moshvoseichem b’yom HaShabbos – and you shall not ignite a fire in any of your dwellings on Shabbos,” that Beis Din is prohibited from judging on Shabbos. The Rambam, in Hilchos Shabbos 24:7, rules that Beis Din may not carry out the punishment of either death or lashes on Shabbos. He cites the same pasuk of “lo seva’aru” as the source for this halacha. In his Sefer Hamitzvos the Rambam lists as a separate negative commandment (number 322) that Beis Din may not judge or carry out a punishment on Shabbos.

The simple understanding of this halacha is that even though it is a mitzvah to kill someone who is chayav misah (deserving death) on Shabbos, it is forbidden. Despite being a mitzvah it may not be performed on Shabbos, when killing is prohibited, since the Torah says that the Shabbos should not be desecrated for this purpose. However, the Minchas Chinuch asks why the Rambam lists this as a separate mitzvah, when in fact it is the regular prohibition of not killing on Shabbos. This implies that the prohibition to judge and carry out punishments is a new prohibition, separate from the prohibition to kill on Shabbos.

The Magen Avraham, in Orach Chaim 339:3, discusses this matter and proves that there is a new prohibition to judge and exact punishment on Shabbos. He cites the above mentioned Rambam in Hilchos Shabbos and points out that the Rambam includes in the prohibition that Beis Din may not administer lashes on Shabbos. The Magen Avraham says that there is no prohibition of giving someone lashes on Shabbos, but rather that this is forbidden because there is a new prohibition not to judge and punish on Shabbos. He concludes that this is not a clear proof since often, when Beis Din administers lashes bloody wounds are created – which is forbidden on Shabbos.

The Rashba, in Teshuvos 1:357, holds that Beis din may appoint a non-Jew to carry out their verdicts. This is because the one who carries out the punishment does not have to be a real shaliach of Beis Din; rather it merely must be done on their behalf. Reb Elchanon Wasserman, zt”l, Hy”d, in Kovetz Haurus 76:18, explains that Beis Din does not have to carry out the actual punishment; instead they must arrange for it to be executed, and therefore they may appoint someone who is not generally suitable for shalichus. Alternatively the Rashba can be explained, based on the ruling of the Nesivos Hamishpat (Choshen Mishpat 182:1) that says that a non-Jew is fit for shalichus when all that is required is an action. A non-Jew is only unfit for shalichus of a transaction. Therefore Beis Din may appoint a non-Jew to execute their punishments.

Several Achronim ask the following question concerning the ruling of the Rashba: The Gemara, in Yevamos 6b, implies that there is never a situation whereby Beis Din may execute the death penalty on Shabbos. Since Beis Din may appoint a non-Jew to carry out their punishments, why then can they not punish on Shabbos by appointing a non-Jew to kill? However, if we say that there is a separate prohibition to judge and punish on Shabbos, aside from the actual killing, then Beis Din would be prohibited to do so – even if they were to appoint a non-Jew to carry out their verdict.

The Mishnah in Sanhedrin 73a says that if one is chasing after another in an attempt to kill him, everyone must prevent the attempted murder by any means – even by taking the life of the attempted murderer. The Mishnah says that this halacha also applies when one is chasing after one of the arayos. If one is chasing another man on Shabbos, there is no doubt that the halacha applies and that he may be killed since it is a matter of pikuach nefesh. However the Mishneh L’melech says that he is unsure whether the halacha applies to one who is chasing after one of the arayos, since it is not a matter of pikuach nefesh. The reason that he says that perhaps one would not be allowed to kill someone who is chasing one of the arayos is because it is a punishment that cannot be administered on Shabbos.

For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/may-beis-din-punish-on-shabbos/2012/03/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: