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August 30, 2014 / 4 Elul, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Sotah’

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part XIII)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shemoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shemoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashanah 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that one not appear as a denier of G-d to whom the congregation is praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan and compares the question of what congregants should do during Modim to the question of what congregants should do during Birkat Kohanim, as discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Birkat Kohanim is part of chazaras hashatz but is said by kohanim (unless none are present in which case the chazzan says it). One prayer recited during Birkat Kohanim is “Ribono shel olam,” which the Mechaber (Orach Chayim 130:1, citing Berachot 55b) states should be said by anyone who has a dream which he doesn’t understand. The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 128:58) says this prayer should be recited while the kohanim are melodiously drawing out the last word of each verse. He and the Aruch Hashulchan also discuss saying the “Adir bamarom” prayer at this time.

Now we turn to an important matter that relates to the actual procedure of Nesiat Kappayim.

* * * * *

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 128:23) states: “When [the kohanim] bless the people, they should not to look [about] and should not interrupt their concentration. Rather, they should look downward just as they do when in the midst of prayer. The congregation [as well] should concentrate on the blessing as they and the kohanim face each other and they should [take care] not to gaze upon the kohanim.”

The Rema (in his glosses, ad loc., citing the Bet Yosef in his longer commentary to the Tur) adds: “The kohanim should also gaze upon their own hands [when duchaning]. Therefore, it has become the custom for the kohanim to spread out the tallit over their faces with their hands outstretched from under the tallit. The Rema also notes that there are places where the kohanim keep their hands under the tallit so that the congregation not gaze upon them.”

The Mishnah Berurah (op cit. 128:89-92) explains that a momentary gaze is technically permitted. Only when the Holy Temple stood, when the kohanim would bless using the shem ha’meforash, and the shechinah was upon them, was there a prohibition to gaze even for a moment. Nevertheless, it has become the custom not to gaze upon the kohanim even nowadays as a remembrance of former times when we possessed the Holy Temple. Just like the congregation shouldn’t look at the kohanim, so too the kohanim should not to gaze upon the congregation as it will interrupt their concentration. Citing the Darkei Moshe (the Rema’s short commentary to the Tur), the Mishnah Berurah notes our present custom of people covering their faces with the tallit to avoid looking at the kohanim.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VIII)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shlichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amidah, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amidah). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amidah after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Modim D’Rabbanan is discussed in the Gemara in Sotah. Rav offers a text to recite for Modim and Shmuel, R. Simai, and R. Acha b. R.Yaakov all add more verses to recite. R. Papa says to recite them all – hence the name “Modim D’Rabbanan,” the Modim of (all) the Sages. Our Modim text also includes additions by sages listed in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Horav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation must listen to Modim of the chazzan. Rabbi Soloveitchick acknowledges the similarity between the recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan and the practice of reciting pesukim during Birkat Kohanim, discussed in Sotah 39b-40a. He cites R. Chanina b. R. Pappa, who argued against doing so, as does the Tur (Orach Chayim 128). Others favor the practice. Rabbi Soloveitchick suggested that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim out loud, pause for the congregants’ Modim D’Rabbanan, and then continue with his Modim blessing out loud.

Sefer Kol Bo (siman 11, hilchot tefillah) points out that the gematria of Modim equals 100, corresponding to the 100 blessings that a Jew is required to say every day (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 46:3, also see Tur ad loc. who attributes this enactment to King David). I pointed out that the number of words in the opening paragraph of Modim added to the number of words in Modim D’Rabbanan (Nusach Sefard, exclusive of the concluding blessing) also yields the number 100. These gematriyos hint at the importance and efficacy of reciting Modim.

Q & A: Chazzan And Congregation (Part VII)

Thursday, July 5th, 2012

Question: I understand that at a minyan, the chazzan is required to repeat Shmoneh Esreh out loud so that people who may not know how to daven can fulfill their obligation to daven with the chazzan’s repetition. What, however, should the chazzan do when he reaches Kedushah and Modim? I hear some chazzanim say every word of Kedushah out loud and some only say the last part of the middle two phrases out loud. As far as the congregation is concerned, I hear some congregants say every word of Kedushah and some say only the last part. Finally, some chazzanim and congregants say Modim during chazaras hashatz out loud and some say it quietly. What is the source for these various practices?

A Devoted Reader
(Via E-Mail)

Answer: The Shulchan Aruch Harav (Orach Chayim 124:1) explains that a chazzan repeats Shmoneh Esreh out loud to fulfill the prayer obligation of those who can’t pray on their own (see Rosh Hashana 33b-34a).

The Mechaber (Orach Chayim 125:1) states that congregants should not recite Nakdishach [Nekadesh] together with the chazzan; rather they should remain silent and concentrate on the chazzan’s recitation until he finishes that portion, at which point they should say, “Kadosh, kadosh…” The Mishnah Berurah (ad loc. sk1) explains that congregants should remain quiet because the chazzan is their messenger, and if they say Nakdishach along with him, he no longer appears as their messenger.

Many do not follow the correct responsive procedure for Kedushah, and since the practice is widespread, it may have to be overlooked (Berachot 45a). If the congregants will miss z’man tefillah, however, the Rema (Orach Chayim 124:2) writes that they should quietly recite along with the chazzan until after Kedushah. At least one person who already prayed, even a child, should answer “Amen” to the chazzan’s blessings to substantiates the shlichut of the chazzan. Those praying with the chazzan may not respond “Amen.”

Another prayer style when time is pressing is as follows: The chazzan begins the Amidah, and after “HaKel HaKadosh,” everyone begins their silent Amidah (while the chazzan continues quietly with his own Amidah). (See Mishnah Berurah, Orach Chayim 124 sk8.) This procedure is commonly performed for Mincha, especially in yeshivot.

The tefillah of Modim within the Amidah is so important that Berachot 21b instructs one who arrives late (after kedushah, explains Orach Chayim 109:1) to begin praying only if he will conclude before the chazzan reaches Modim. The Mishnah Berurah (sk2) notes that this applies to a latecomer in middle of birkat keriat Shema attempting to catch up to the minyan and debating whether he should start his personal Amidah after the congregants have started theirs. Tosafot explain that one must bow with the congregation at Modim in order that he not appear as a denier of G-d to whom they are praying (see Rabbenu Tam, Tosafot s.v. “ad sh’lo yagia…” Berachot 21b).

Modim D’Rabbanan is discussed in the Gemara in Sotah. Rav offers a text to recite for Modim and Shmuel, R. Simai, and R. Acha b. R.Yaakov all add more verses to recite. R. Papa says to recite them all – hence the name “Modim D’Rabbanan,” the Modim of (all) the Sages. Our Modim text also includes additions by sages listed in the Jerusalem Talmud (Berachot 1:5).

We now continue with an important observation by the gaon Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchick, zt”l.

* * * * *

Rabbi Soloveitchik (as cited in Nefesh Harav by Rabbi Herschel Schachter, p. 128-129) notes that the congregation should say Modim D’Rabbanan and also listen to the entire Modim of the chazzan. This position is similar to that of several Amora’im who maintain that congregants should recite pesukim during Birkat Kohanim in addition to listening to the kohanim.

Not all sages, however, agree with this position. In Sotah 39b-40a, R. Chanina b. R. Pappa asks, “Is it possible that a servant is being blessed and he does not listen?” The Tur (Orach Chayim 128) adopts this standpoint and states that congregants should not say any pesukim while the kohanim are blessing them because, if they do, they will be unable to concentrate fully on Birkat Kohanim.

Rabbi Soloveitchick reasons that the same logic applies to the recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan. Even if the chazzan says his Modim very loudly, congregants will still find it impossible to both listen to the chazzan and concentrate on their own recitation of Modim D’Rabbanan. Therefore, in his synagogue in Boston as well as at Yeshiva University, Rabbi Soloveitchick instituted that the chazzan recite the beginning of Modim in a loud voice and then pause somewhat to allow the congregation time to recite Modim D’Rabbanan. The chazzan would then continue with his Modim out loud.

Now, if saying Modim D’Rabbanan causes such difficulties, why say it altogether? After all, many authorities rule that we should not say pesukim during Birkat Kohanim. Why should Modim D’Rabbanan be different?

To answer this, we have to take a better look at the Gemara’s question in Sotah 40a: “At the time that the chazzan recites Modim, what does the congregation say?” We should wonder why the Gemara only asks this question about Modim. Why doesn’t it ask, for example, what the congregation says during the berachah of Techiyat Hameitim, Ata Chonen, or Shema Kolenu? Why does the Gemara assume that the congregation should say something during Modim when none of the other blessings of chazarat hashatz have a corresponding prayer?

The Abudarham (Seder Shacharit shel Chol, p.115) resolves our difficulty. He states: “And when the chazzan reaches Modim [in his repetition] and bows, all the congregation bow [as well] and recite their “hoda’ah ketana – small thanks” [i.e. Modim D’Rabbanan]…because it is not proper for a servant to praise his [human] master and tell him, ‘You are my lord,’ by means of a shliach (messenger). [How much more so when the recipient of praise is Hashem.] Rather, every person has to express with his own voice his acceptance of the yoke of the Heavenly Kingdom upon himself. If he accepts via a messenger, it is not a complete acceptance, as he can always deny that acceptance and say ‘I never sent him as my agent.’

“However,” the Abudarham continues, “as regards to the rest of the [blessings in the Amidah that the chazzan recites aloud], which is supplication, one can request one’s needs via a messenger because every person seeks that which benefits him. Thus, he will not deny and say, ‘I never sent him [as my messenger].’ ”

The Sefer Kol Bo (Siman 11, Hilchot Tefillah) interestingly points out that the gematria of the word Modim equals 100. This corresponds to the 100 blessings one is required to say each day (Mechaber, Orach Chayim 46:3; also, see Tur ad loc. who attributes this enactment to King David). We thus see an allusion to the additional efficacy of Modim.

If I may, I might add the following. If one adds the number of words in the opening paragraph of Modim to the number of words in Modim D’Rabbanan (nusach sefard, exclusive of the chatimah, “Baruch E-l Ha’hoda’ot”) one arrives at that same number of 100. Thus, it would seem that the efficacy of this blessing enjoys even further enhancement when the prayers of the chazzan and the yachid are combined.

As we thank Him for all His munificence, we hope and pray that Hashem answer all our supplications.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

Tal Law And Jewish Law – Is There A Conflict?

Wednesday, June 20th, 2012

In February, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled the Tal Law discriminatory and unconstitutional in a vote of six to three. The law, which provides exemptions for young men studying in yeshiva full time, has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.

Advocates of maintaining the status quo argue that those studying Torah provide a spiritual protection to the state of Israel. They also believe Jewish Law requires exemptions for yeshiva students.

But what does Jewish law really require?

The Mishnah (Sotah 8:7) states: “…In a milchemet mitzvah, all go out [to war], even a groom from his room and a bride from her wedding canopy.” While many explain that women are exempt from combat, they are to assist by “providing food and fixing roads” (Tiferet Yisrael, ad loc.), for example. By including bride and groom, based on Yoel 2:16, the Mishnah emphasizes that all are required to participate in the war effort, without exception.

Rambam defines a milchemet mitzvah as, “war [against] the Seven Nations, war [against] Amalek, and assisting Israel from the hand of the enemy who comes up against them” (Hil. Melachim 5:1). This last definition informs our discussion. With a nuclear threat from Iran looming, enemy states on the borders, and the constant threat of terrorism within, anyone who is intellectually honest must admit that Israelis find themselves embroiled in a milchemet mitzvah, a national security situation that demands the help of all.

Those who advocate exemptions for students studying Torah full time also find support in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. Rambam writes at the end of Hilchot Shemitta v’Yovel that the tribe of Levi is exempt from going to war as they are the “army of Hashem,” so to speak. They do not inherit a portion in the Land and their material needs are provided for. They are the spiritual leaders of the Jewish people.

Rambam adds: “And not only the tribe of Levi, but also each and every individual whose spirit moves him and whose knowledge gives him understanding to set himself apart in order to stand before the Lord, to serve Him, to worship Him and to know Him, and releases his neck from the yoke of the many considerations that men are wont to pursue – such an individual is consecrated as the Holy of Holies, and his portion and inheritance shall be in the Lord forever and ever….”

Rambam allows for anyone “whose spirit moves him” to devote himself solely to Torah study, free from the burden of army service and divorced of all material concerns.

But this passage is problematic. Later commentaries struggle to find a Talmudic source for Rambam’s ruling. Some suggest the passage is based on Nedarim 32a, where our patriarch Avraham is criticized for drafting Torah scholars in the War of the Four Kings against the Five. Others point to Sotah 10a, which describes how King Asa was punished for mobilizing talmidei chachamim.

What is clear is that Rambam’s ruling here is not the rule but the exception. His allowance is for a select few individuals who are able to devote themselves wholly to avodat Hashem. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein asks, “To how large a segment of the Torah community – or, a fortiori, of any community – does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five percent? Can anyone who negotiates the terms of salary, perhaps even naden or kest or both, confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum in the Rambam’s terms?”

Exempting entire sectors of the Jewish community from army service and from pursuing a parnassah is not what the Rambam intended.

In the early days of statehood, when Rabbi Avraham Yeshaya Karelitz, the famed Chazon Ish, and other leading rabbis reached a compromise with David Ben-Gurion to provide military exemptions for yeshiva students, only 400 were exempted. Writing about a milchemet mitzvah, the Chazon Ish himself recognized that “if there is a need for them, they must come to the aid of their brethren” (Orach Chaim, Eiruvin, no. 114). Today, the number of exemptions has grown to well over 60,000. How the words of the Chazon Ish ring true today.

Those who do not serve in the IDF claim exemption under the guise of Toratan omanutan, their complete commitment to Torah study. But the real issue is not one of halacha. The truth is that for many, the insistence on exemption is out of convenience. Yet others are motivated by anti-Zionism. They do not want to recognize the state of Israel or serve in its army. But halacha requires some form of service for everyone. No exceptions. No exemptions.

The Tal Law and Jewish Law – In Conflict?

Monday, June 11th, 2012

In February, Israel’s Supreme Court voted the Tal Law discriminatory and unconstitutional in a vote of six to three. The law, which provides exemptions for young men studying in yeshiva full-time, has been the subject of much criticism and controversy.

Advocates of maintaining the status quo, argue that those studying Torah provide a spiritual protection to the State of Israel. They also believe that Jewish Law requires exemptions for yeshiva students.

But what does Jewish Law really require?

The Mishnah (Sotah 8:7) states: “…In a Milchemet Mitzvah, all go out [to war], even a groom from his room and a bride from her wedding canopy.” While many explain that women are exempt from combat, they are to assist by “providing food and fixing roads” (Tiferet Yisrael, ad loc.), for example. By including bride and groom, based on Yoel 2:16, the Mishnah emphasizes that all are required to participate in the war effort, without exception.

Rambam defines a Milchemet Mitzvah as, “war [against] the Seven Nations, war [against] Amalek, and assisting Israel from the hand of the enemy who comes up against them” (Hil. Melachim 5:1). This last definition informs our discussion. With a nuclear threat from Iran looming, enemy States on our borders, and the constant threat of terrorism within, anyone who is intellectually honest must admit that we find ourselves today embroiled in a Milchemet Mitzvah, a national security situation that demands the help of all.

Those who advocate exemptions for students studying Torah full-time also find support in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah. Rambam writes at the end of Hilchot Shemitta v’Yovel, that the Tribe of Levi is exempt from going to war as they are the ‘Army of Hashem,’ so to speak. They are to fulfill their role as spiritual leaders of the Jewish People. They do not inherit a portion of he Land and their material needs are provided for. Rambam then continues and writes:

And not only the Tribe of Levi, but also each and every individual whose spirit moves him and whose knowledge gives him understanding to set himself apart in order to stand before the Lord, to serve Him, to worship Him and to know Him, and releases his neck from the yoke of the many considerations that men are wont to pursue – such an individual is consecrated as the Holy of Holies, and his portion and inheritance shall be in the Lord forever and ever. The Lord will grant him in this world whatsoever is sufficient for him, as He has granted the Kohanim and Levi’im (Hil. Shemitta v’Yovel 13:13).

With this addendum, Rambam allows for anyone “whose spirit moves him” to devote himself solely to Torah study, free from the burden of army service and divorced of all material concerns.

But this passage is problematic. Later commentaries struggle to find a Talmudic source for Rambam’s ruling. Some suggest that this passage is based on Nedarim 32a, where our patriarch Avraham is criticized for drafting Torah scholars in the War of the Four Kings against the Five. Others point to Sotah 10a, which describes how King Asa was punished for mobilizing talmidei chachamim.

Rambam himself rules that even a bride and groom must assist in the war effort (Hil. Melachim 7:4). If bride and groom are not exempted, how can a yeshivah student, “whose spirit moves him,” escape the draft? And by suggesting that Torah scholars can look to their brethren for financial support, Rambam also appears to contradict what he writes in his commentary to Avot 4:5 and in Hilchot Talmud Torah 3:10-11, where he decries the practice of relying upon others and emphasizes the importance of balancing Torah study with a livelihood.

What is clear is that Rambam’s ruling here is not the rule, but the exception. His allowance is made for the elite, the select few individuals that are able to devote themselves wholly to avodat Hashem. Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein asks,

To how large a segment of the Torah community – or, a fortiori, of any community – does this lofty typology apply? To two percent? Five percent? Can anyone who negotiates the terms of salary, perhaps even naden or kest or both, confront a mirror and tell himself that he ought not go to the army because he is kodesh kodashim, sanctum sanctorum in the Rambam’s terms? (“The Ideology of Hesder,” Tradition, Fall 1981).

Exempting entire sectors of the Jewish Community from army service and from pursuing a parnassah, is not what the Rambam intended.

Safek K’vadai: When Doubt Becomes Certain

Friday, June 1st, 2012

In this week’s parshah the Torah writes about the halachos of a sotah. A sotah is a woman whose husband warned her, in the presence of two witnesses, not to go into seclusion with a specific man – but two witnesses saw her in seclusion with that man. Even though the only testimony that we have is that she was secluded with this man, she is nevertheless forbidden to be with her husband as she is an adulteress. This is in effect until she drinks the sotah water.

The Gemara in Sotah 28a says that concerning a sotah, the Torah treats every doubt as if it is certain (safek k’vadai). The Gemara then extends this halacha to the halacha of safek tumah (a doubt as to whether something became tamei). In other words, if there is a doubt whether something became tamei, it has the status of something that definitely became tamei. If the doubt occurred in a private place (by definition less than three people; similar to a sotah), it is viewed as certainly having become tamei. If the doubt occurred in a public place (by definition three or more people), it is deemed as certainly pure.

Reb Chaim Soloveitchik (Stencils) debates what the intention of the halacha was when it says that every doubt should be treated as if we were certain that it was tamei. Did the Torah intend that we should assume that all the necessary details that need to occur in order for it to be tamei actually occurred, thereby rendering it tamei, or should we just render it tamei without assuming that we know what exactly happened? For example, do we assume in the case of a sotah that the woman committed adultery and is thus forbidden to be with her husband, or is she forbidden to be with her husband even though we are unsure whether she indeed committed adultery?

Reb Chaim suggests that there is a proof that we do not assume we know what happened; rather we issue the p’sak with certainty without knowing the story’s details. The Gemara in Sotah says that an adulteress is forbidden regarding three things: to be with her husband; to be with the adulterer (she can never marry the adulterer even after she is divorced from her husband); and participating in terumah. The Gemara derives from the Torah’s written word, “v’nitmah” (written three times) that these same halachos apply to a sotah as well.

Question: Why does the Gemara require three pasukim to teach us these halachos? If we are to assume that we know what happened, i.e. that she was mezaneh, one pasuk would have been sufficient. Since we are to assume that we know with certainty that she committed adultery, all the halachos of an adulteress should apply to her. It seems clear from this that the Torah only intended that we render the sotah forbidden, and not assume that we know the details. Therefore, if the Torah only had one pasuk teaching us that we are to certainly render her forbidden to be with her husband, we would not apply all the halachos of an adulteress to her.

Based on this we can explain the machlokes between Tosafos in Yevamos (11b, d”h mai) and Tosafos in Sotah (28a, d”h ma). Lashes can only be administered to one who transgresses a lav (negative commandment). If, however, one transgresses a positive commandment or even a lav haba michlal assei (a prohibition that is derived from an assei), no lashes are administered. If there is a doubt whether it was forbidden, one does not receive lashes. On this issue, there is a lav for a husband to live with his wife after she commits adultery. This lav is punishable by lashes. The prohibition written in the Torah regarding a safek sotah is a lav haba michlal assei, which is not punishable by lashes.

Tosafos in Sotah says that even though the Torah said with certainty that a safek sotah is forbidden to be with her husband, it is only a lav haba michlal assei; therefore, if her husband transgresses and lives with her, they do not receive lashes. Tosafos in Yevamos disagrees, stating that since the Torah said to treat the doubt as if it were certainly a forbidden act, they receive lashes. The latter Tosafos is difficult to understand as to why there should be lashes by a safek sotah, as the only certain prohibition is a lav haba michlal assei – for which one does not receive lashes. One cannot receive lashes in the case of a safek sotah for having transgressed the lav of living with one’s wife after she committed adultery since it is a safek whether she is an adulteress.

Reb Chaim explains that Tosafos in Yevamos must hold that the Torah’s intention was for us to assume that we knew all the necessary details of the doubt with certainty. In this case we should assume that she committed adultery, and that that is the reason why she is prohibited by a lav haba michlal assei. So even though the Torah does not say explicitly that we should treat the doubt as if it were certain regarding the lav prohibiting the husband from living with his wife after she committed adultery, we can apply lashes if her husband lives with her because we assume with certainty that she committed adultery.

Tosafos in Sotah understands that when the Torah said to treat the doubt as if it were certain, the intention was only to render it as certainly forbidden – and not to assume that we know the details with certainty. Hence we can only treat the doubt with certainty regarding the three things that the Torah said (see above). Since the Torah only said to treat with certainty that which regards the lav haba michlal assei, they do not receive lashes.

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

Torah Video From Israel for Parshat Naso (ENGLISH)

Friday, June 1st, 2012

JewishPress.com presents two weekly Parsha video series in English made in Israel by young rabbis determined to reach out to inspire the world from their beloved homeland. This week, Rabbi Shlomo Katz (the famous Israeli inspirational folk/rock musician) speaks to us on the question, “Does Torah Life Have to Be Heavy”. Based on a beautiful concept taught by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, Rabbi Shlomo speaks from an idyllic country setting in Israel which will warm your heart this erev Shabbat wherever you are.

Rabbi Chaim Richman (Director of the Temple Institute in Jerusalem) asks the question, “What’s In A Name?”. He answers, “Everything – if we’re talking about the name of G-d. Just as G-d willingly allows His name to be erased for the sake of exonerating the accused Sotah, He allows for His name to be desecrated for the sake of proving Israel’s fidelity.” To learn how this can be true, what is a national sotah test, and more, … click on the video to hear the entire lesson.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/torah-video-from-israel-for-parshat-naso-english/2012/06/01/

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