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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sifsei Chachamim’

How Did Yitzchak Eat From Eisav’s Shechitah?

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

In this week’s parshah we read about the berachos that Yitzchak had intended to give Eisav, but instead (unintentionally) gave to Yaakov Avinu. Yaakov was able to receive the berachos instead of Eisav because Yitzchak had requested Eisav to go out to the field and hunt game for him. This provided Yaakov sufficient time to prepare everything in order for him to receive the berachos. When Yitzchak requested of Eisav that he hunt game for him, he told him to “…sa na keilecha telyecha vekashtecha – sharpen your gear, your sword, and your bow” (Bereishis 27:3). Rashi explains that Yitzchak was telling Eisav to sharpen his knife so that he would shecht (slaughter) properly; thus the food would not be a neveilah. The Sifsei Chachamim explains that by sharpening his knife he would ensure that there were not any nicks on the knife. Regarding this pasuk, the ba’alei Tosafos and the Rush add that the word in the pasuk, “tzayid,” is written with the letter “hay” although it is not pronounced. This is to inform us that Yitzchak taught Eisav the five (the numerical value of the letter “hay”) halachos of shechitah that can disqualify a shechitah.

The Chasam Sofer (She’eilos U’teshuvos, Yoreh De’ah 15) asks the following question regarding Yitzchak’s request to Eisav: Why did Yitzchak have to tell Eisav to sharpen his knife now? For if Yitzchak was indeed concerned that Eisav would otherwise not have sharpened his knife, how could he trust him now? And if Yitzchak felt confident that Eisav would generally check his knife, why was he compelled to remind him now? Similarly, one could ask why Yitzchak would now teach Eisav about hilchos shechitah. Shouldn’t he have taught him many years earlier, as Eisav was already 63 years old at the time of the berachos? Additionally, the ba’alei Tosafos ask another question on this episode. The Gemara in Chullin 5a says that a mumar (heretic) is unfit to shecht. How then could Yitzchak have eaten from Eisav’s shechitah, since the Gemara in Kiddushin 18a says that Eisav was a mumar?

As a result of this and other questions, the Chasam Sofer disagrees with the Sifsei Chachamim, saying that Yitzchak told Eisav to sharpen his blade for a different reason other than to ensure that it did not contain nicks. He explains that the purpose of telling Eisav to sharpen his knife was to remove the fat that was remaining on the knife from the avodah zarah foods that Eisav’s wives would serve. Generally this would not have prohibited the meat if it was rinsed, but since Yitzchak had asked for tzeli (roasted meat), as it was a korban Pesach, the meat would otherwise be prohibited unless the knife was cleaned via sharpening.

I would like to suggest the following solution to explain the opinion of the Sifsei Chachamim: The Gemara in Chullin 4a says that there are two types of mumars: a mumar leteiavon – one who sins out of temptation – and a mumar lehachis – one who sins without temptation but solely to spite Hashem. The halacha that a mumar is disqualified from shechting only applies to a mumar lehachis. A mumar leteiavon may shecht, provided that a trustworthy person checks his knife. In order to shecht properly there must not be any nicks on the blade of the knife. If there is, the shechitah is invalid. Therefore one must carefully check the blade prior to shechting, to ensure that there are no nicks on the blade. Since the process of checking the blade is burdensome, we may not rely on a mumar leteiavon exerting himself and checking his knife properly. Thus if a mumar leteiavon shechts without anyone checking his blade for him, the shechitah is invalid – for we assume that he did not properly check his blade and there may have been a nick on it. However, if someone else checks the blade, a mumar leteiavon may shecht.

Did Avraham Own The Land Yet?

Thursday, November 17th, 2011

In this weeks parshah we read about Avraham’s purchase of Me’aras HaMachpelah. Prior to any negotiations Avraham said to the bnei Cheis, “Ger v’soshav anochi…” – I am a stranger and a resident… (Bereishis 23:4). Rashi quotes a medrash that explains the apparent paradox in Avraham’s words as follows: Avraham was telling the bnei Cheis to treat him like a stranger and sell the property to him, and, if not, he will be forced to act as a resident and take what is rightfully his – for Hashem has already said to Avraham that this land will belong to his children.

The meforshim are bothered by this interpretation and ask the following question: In parshas Lech Lecha we learned about the dispute between Avraham’s and Lot’s shepherds. The pasuk does not inform us regarding the details of the dispute – but Rashi does. Rashi says that Lot’s shepherds were resha’im, and would allow their animals to graze in private property. Avraham’s shepherds chastised them for this, as these were acts of stealing. In defense Lot’s shepherds responded that what they were doing was not stealing, since Hashem gave this land to Avraham and Lot was his only inheritor (at the time). Rashi concludes by quoting the end of that pasuk, …veha’Canna’ani veHa’prizi az yoshev ba’aretz – and the Canna’ani and the Prizi were still occupying the land), indicating that Avraham had not yet acquired the land and therefore allowing the animals to graze in private property was indeed stealing.

The two explanations from Rashi seem to contradict one another. In this week’s parshah he says that Avraham could take the land as its rightful owner, and in parshas Lech Lecha he said that Avraham had not yet acquired the land.

The Chizkuni and the Sifsei Chachamim both suggest the following answer: Hashem promised Avraham that his children would inherit the land of Eretz Yisrael. In parshas Lech Lecha, Avraham had not yet had any offspring; therefore Hashem’s promise did not come into effect. In parshas Chayei Sarah, Yitzchak had already been born. Thus Hashem’s promise was applicable, and Avraham could demand the land as its rightful owner.

My rebbe, Reb Shmuel Birembaum, zt”l, suggested another answer to this question, based on an explanation from the Malbim on a different point in this episode. The Malbim explains that Avraham Avinu intended to accomplish more than merely acquiring a piece of land; he wanted to teach the public that there was an afterlife. The general consensus of that time was that there was nothing after one dies, and Avraham wanted to use this opportunity to teach the people otherwise. With this the Malbim explains why Avraham informed them of his intentions with the field in the first place, and continuously stressed and reiterated several times that he is acquiring the land for a burial. Avraham attempted to instill in the bnei Cheis the belief that there is an afterlife.

Reb Shmuel proved from a Gemara (Gittin 47a) that there are two separate levels of acquisition: the monetary aspect and the level of acquisition that affects issurim and mitzvos. For example, if a non- Jew acquires land in Eretz Yisrael, he completely owns the land as far as monetary issues are concerned. This enables him to do whatever he pleases to the land. However, regarding terumah and ma’aser and other mitzvos, the land is not considered owned by a non-Jew, which would exempt him from those mitzvos. Rather the non-Jew is obligated in these mitzvos, since he cannot acquire the land on the level that affects mitzvos.

Now we can understand the seemingly contradictory explanations from Rashi. Regarding monetary issues, Avraham had not yet acquired the land. However, regarding mitzvos, Avraham had already acquired Eretz Yisrael. In parshas Lech Lecha, Rashi was addressing a monetary issue (i.e. whether one may allow his cattle to graze in someone else’s field. In that regard Rashi explained that the land belonged to the current residents of the land, as Avraham had not yet acquired the land.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/did-avraham-own-the-land-yet/2011/11/17/

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