עֵקֶב is a remez to רבי עקיבא who heeded all the mitzvos, even to the extent of sacrificing his life to serve G-d.
Rabbi Menachem Genack
Shiur of Achila For Birchat Hamazon Deorita
The verse says, “When you have eaten and are satisfied…” (Deuteronomy 8:10). The Baal HaTurim notes that the gematria of “Veachalta” is “Zehu Kzayit.” There’s an argument among the Rishonim if one has to make a Birkat Hamazon mideorita after eating a Kzayit. Rambam, Tosefos and many other Rishonim hold a Kzayit is only miderabanan, because mideorita you need “seviah.” The Raavad and Ramban hold a Kzayit obligates one mideorita. Therefore, according to the Rishonim who say “seviah” is needed, if one ate a Kzayit and was in doubt whether he said Birkat Hamazon, he would not repeat it as it will be a safek miderabanan lekula, for only eating to “seviah” would require one to repeat. In that case, the words of the Baal HaTurim need explanation, for he says “Veachalta” equals in gematria “Zehu Kzayit,” which should only be mederabanan.
We must say the Tur holds like the Raavad, that a Kzayit is mideorita. In Orach Chaim (Siman 184) the Tur writes with no differentiations, “if one ate and he doesn’t know if he said Birkat Hamazon, he must repeat it.” It would seem to apply then even to a Kzayit, because the Tur holds a Kzayit is mideorita. However, the Shulchan Aruch (Siman 184: Seif 4) writes the same language of the Tur and the Magen Avraham understands this only to apply to a case of “seviah.”
We may however say that even if the Tur holds Kzayit is miderabanan (like his father the Rosh), there is still an aspect of deorita, because besides “seviah,” “achila” is needed. The Minchat Chinuch writes (Mitzvah 430), that if one ate less than a Kzayit and he was satiated, he is not chayav in Birkat Hamazon because a Kzayit is needed to be yotze a “shem” achila because “veachalta” is written. The Minchat Chinuch further writes that he is in doubt in a case where one ate a Kzayit “bechdai achilas pras” and the rest to reach “sevih,” but it wasn’t done “bechdai achilas pras,” whether one is then obligated in Birkat Hamazon deorita or not. For indeed a Kzayit is deorita, for you need “bechdai achilas pras,” but you also need to be full. This must be what the Baal HaTurim means when he alludes to the fact that Kzayit is mideorita, because according to everyone there is an aspect of a Kzayit deorita by Birkat Hamazon.
Tosefos (Brachot 39a s.v. Batzar) brings two opinions regarding one who ate a “predah” of a grape that was less than a Kzayit, if this person must make a bracha achrona since it was a “beriah” (the fruit in totality). It would seem this in fact is the machlokat about a Kzayit for bracha achrona. If the reason for a Kzayit is that “achila” is necessary, then a “beriah” is considered “achila” even without a Kzayit. But if the Kzayit for the bracha achrona is not only because a shem achila is necessary but because “seviah” and benefit is needed as well, then the fact that it’s a “beriah” won’t help.
From the Baal HaTurim it seems there is more of a Kzayit by Birkat Hamazon than “achila” in all of the Torah, because the Baal HaTurim’s remez just relates to Birkat Hamazon even though by “maachulos assuros” and Matzah that are mentioned in the Torah, a Kzayit is required as well, but Rabbi Genack concludes that it is possible to refute this proof.
Birchat Yitzchak – Pages – 257-258
Rav Avraham Genechovsky Zt”l
Shulchan Aruch: Siman 184 Seif 4
A Safek Whether One Ate to a Level of “Seviah” – Must He Make Birkat Hamazon Mesafek
The Aruch Hashulchan writes (Siman 184, Seif 6) that the only time one must repeat Birkat Hamzon mideorita from a safek is when he knows he ate but he remains in doubt whether he actually bentched, for then there is a “chezkat” chiyuv. However, if he is unsure whether he ate, he would not repeat Birkat Hamazon. (As will be mentioned, his sevara is that there is a safek deorita which would go lechumra, but there is also a safek issur derabanan of a bracha levatala which is also assur due to a safek [derabanan] and since he might not have eaten there is no chazaka to bentch).
This opinion of the Aruch Hashulchan is not agreed to by most other opinions. The Beir Heitev (Siman 184, Seif Katan 6) brings in the name of the Tshuvat Kol Ben Levi that one would be required to repeat bentching in the scenario of the Aruch Hashulchan. Also, Rabbi Akiva Eger says that in such a case there is no concern about a bracha levatala in a case where he is unsure whether he bentched since he is obligated me’safek and not based on a chezkat chiyuv. The Pri Megadim echoes this idea as well.
However, the Aruch Hashulachan’s sevara is still worthy, since on the one hand there is a safek deorita but there is also a safek issur derabanan of a bracha levatala which is also assur from a safek. But since we hold like those that say in such a case, me’safek deorita one must bentch again, the sevara of sefaka deorita lechumra will take hold.
(Rav Avrohom then brings a further proof that one must bentch me’safek from another Magen Avraham and a Mate Ephraim).
Rav Venkin Shlita asks on the Aruch Hashulchan that since he has a chiyuv Birkat Hamazon me’safek, but he can’t say it because of the chashash of bracha levatala, let him eat a Kzayit of “pas” or be yotze from someone else, for who exempted one from searching to complete the mitzvah, as we find by shofar, where in a case of safek one must travel to another city.
The Halachos Ketanos argues that this should be a sefek sefeka for maybe he didn’t eat at all and if he did maybe he didn’t eat a Kzayit. However, Rav Avrohom wants to suggest that the safek of Kzayit doesn’t have “mamashos” and in fact there’s only one “shem” here.
In a case where he is in doubt whether he is still within the shiur “ikul” or not, and he ate to a level of “seviah” he would definitely have to repeat bentching, even though it could be a bracha levatala, just as we see in the case of when one is not sure whether he ate and we established most opinions say a repetition is necessary.
Sefer BarAlmugim – Siman 56 – Pages – 292-294
Rabbi Yakov Nagen (Genack)
Brachos Perek 6 Mishna 1
Lechem Min Hashamayim U’min Ha’aretz
Though the Mishnayos of brachos begins with discussing Kriyat Shema, it is not named for that nor is it named for Tefillah, even though it is discussed often. Instead it’s named for the sixth Perek, Mishna Aleph regarding the topic of how one recite blessings for fruits. On fruits growing on a tree, one says, “Who created the fruit of the tree,” for wine; one says, “Who created the fruit of the vine.” On fruits growing from the earth, one says, “Who created the fruit of the ground,” on bread, one says, “Who brings forth bread from the earth.” On vegetables, one says, “Who created the fruit of the ground.” Rabbi Yehudah says: [One should say instead,] “Who created various types of herbs.” (For a deeper discussion of this theme see Nishmat Hamishna: Pages 81-82).
It’s clear that one central aspect gleaned from this Mishna is that the fruits of Eretz Yisroel are the point of emphasis. The brachos in the Mishna are discussing blessing G-d for his creations. The question then remains, what is the connection between blessing creation and the land of Eretz Yisroel. The answer can be found in the manna that sustained Bnei Yisroel in the desert. The manna is called “bread from heaven” (Exodus 16:4).
Deutoronomy tells us the lesson we must take form this manna upon entering Eretz Yisroel, as it says: And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy G-d chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy G-d, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. For the LORD thy G-d bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy G-d for the good land which he hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy G-d, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy G-d, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. (Deuteronomy 8: 3-17).
The story of “creation” and the blessings on the foods of creation teaches about the direct connection of the giving between G-d and man. However, as generations passed man forgot that G-d was the provider of everything. Towards that end, G-d changed nature and brought manna from the heavens, teaching us what we forgot from the beginning of creation. Upon entering the land therefore, we must remember this miraculous giving and realize all fruits from the ground are given directly from G-d as well. This is the foundation of these aforementioned pesukim, to make a blessing after we eat, as it says, “thou shalt bless the LORD thy G-d for the good ‘land’ which he hath given thee” (Id. 8:10).
Further, it can be noted, the bracha we say before we eat bread is “hamotzei lechem min haaretz,” (for not only does G-d deliver bread from “shamayim” but also min “haaretz”).
Translated excerpt from Nishmat HaMishna Pages – 89-90
Eretz Yisrael (the Land of Israel) is the land that Hashem looks after. His eyes are constantly upon it, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.
Throughout the ages, Eretz Yisrael has been known to us as the Holy Land; it is the land that was chosen by Hashem for His people. The unique holiness of Eretz Yisrael is a recurring theme in the words of the Torah and Midrash (see esp. Ketubot 110a). Why was it that Hashem chose this land rather than any other land in the first place? In what way did is it more prepared for spirituality than all other lands? Or, touching upon a broader subject, how can the presence of Hashem dwell in one land more than in others? Doesn’t Hashem’s presence fill all that exists? If so, in what way can one place be more holy than another?
Undoubtedly, these questions can be approached from many different perspectives. Each answer will fill in another part of the full picture. I would like to offer an insight based on the words of this week’s Parsha that addresses this question, in the hope that it may add its own trace of color to that picture.
The land to which you are coming is not like Egypt. [In Egypt] you could sow your seeds and irrigate them by foot [with water from the Nile River], like a vegetable garden. But the land you are going to inherit is a land of mountains and valleys, which depends upon rainwater…. If you keep the Mitzvot that I am commanding you, and you love Hashem and serve Him with all of your hearts and souls, I will make the rain of your land fall as it should…. Take care not to be persuaded to stray from Hashem and serve idols and to bow to them. [If you do so, G-d forbid,] Hashem will be incensed and He will stop the heavens from giving forth rain.
In what way is Eretz Yisrael “blessed” by the fact that it relies upon rain as its water source? Is it not preferable to have non-seasonal rivers providing a constant source of water for the country’s crops, as in Egypt? Perhaps this verse means to convey the following thoughts.
There are two types of miracles that Hashem performs on this world. The first is an obvious miracle, involving a change in the natural processes to which we are accustomed. Examples of this would be the splitting of the sea during the Egyptian exodus, and the survival of Chananya Mishael and Azarya in a fiery furnace, to name a few. Such miracles are few and far between (see Ramban Devarim 11:10). Hashem, after all, impressed upon the world the laws of nature for a reason. From the faithfulness and dependability of nature, we can ourselves learn to be faithful to our Creator (see for example Chulin 7a, in reference to the Gina’i River).
With the second type of miracle we are more familiar: a miracle that works within the framework of nature. Examples of this would be rain that comes with perfect regularity (Devarim 11:14), and the protection of the property of the festival pilgrims (that is, those who observe the Torah’s commandment to visit Jerusalem three times a year during the 3 Torah festivals, leaving their possessions behind unattended — Shmot 34:24). In these instances, what happens seems to be perfectly natural. Over X number of years, there will generally be X inches of rainfall, over X square miles. What is supernatural, is the timing of the event. If rain falls with perfect with regularity when the nation follows the word of Hashem and stops when it when the nation does not, or if worthy individuals are spared from a calamity that befalls all of their surrounding neighbors, the hand of Hashem is evident. It is justified to call such a phenomenon “miraculous”. (See Ramban Vayikra 18:29, 26:11, for a lengthy discussion of this subject.)
This is why it is a “blessing” for Eretz Yisrael to have to rely upon rainwater. In Egypt, the Torah tells us, there will be a constant water supply. Therefore, it will be natural for the toil of the farmer to bear fruit. It would be disrupting nature for the Nile River to suddenly stop flowing. Hashem would therefore intervene with the Egyptians’ means of earning a livelihood but rarely. Because of this, the hand of Hashem would never become evident to them.
In Eretz Yisrael, on the other hand, “nature” is much more fickle. Its water supply is not guaranteed. Hashem uses it freely to measure the devotion of its inhabitants. When they are worthy, it rains; when they are not, the rains cease. Since the livelihood of its inhabitants depends upon the regularity of the rain, they will feel dearly the fact that Hashem rewards the righteous and punishes those who are undeserving. In this manner, Hashem will reveal his presence to the inhabitants of the land. It is certainly a blessing to have a *less* reliable livelihood. (See Ramban ibid., Rabbeinu Bachye Devarim 11:17).
It is now clear how Eretz Yisrael is a land of spirituality. Since it is dependent upon daily and monthly rainfall, it is in this land that Hashem constantly shows His presence to His people.
This line of reasoning suggests a general approach to the concept of “holiness.” If Hashem fills all of creation, in what way can one place be holier than another? The answer may be that there actually is no difference between the various places from Hashem’s perspective. The holiness of a place is simply a reflection of *our* closeness to Hashem; in certain places Hashem’s presence is more obvious to us than in others. This is what the Torah means by saying that Hashem’s “rests His presence among us” (Vayikra 26:11) at certain times and in certain places. (As noted above, this is simply one perspective of “holiness.” There certainly are more esoteric angles to holiness which are far beyond the scope of our present discussion.)
The irregularity of rain in Eretz Yisrael is only the starting point. Hashem chose Eretz Yisrael as the place in which He demonstrates to the world His divine presence. Therefore, His hand is more evident in Eretz Yisrael in every way. Whether He is protecting us from enemy tanks and missiles or helping us settle the land, His Hand is more obvious in Eretz Yisrael than in the Diaspora.
What we have shown may serve to clarify numerous cryptic statements in Chazal:
“V’haya Emunot Itecha…” (Yeshaya 33:6). [The word] “Emunot” [faith], in this verse refers to the section of the Mishnah that deals with the laws pertaining to plants grown in Eretz Yisrael, since when a farmer plants crops, he is expressing his faith in Hashem (the He will send rain to water the seeds, rather than letting them rot in the soil).
(Gemara Shabbat 31a, and Tosefotad. loc. from Yerushalmi)
Specifically In Eretz Yisrael, sowing the soil is truly an act bound to strengthen one’s faith. The large number of offerings a farmer separates from produce grown in Eretz Yisrael demonstrates as well that the farmer in Eretz Yisrael has a greater obligation to thank Hashem for his crops. The farmer in the land of Egypt, or in other lands, has not been shown nearly as much divine mercy as the farmer in Eretz Yisrael has been shown.
“One who lives outside of Eretz Yisrael, is as if he does not have a G-d” (Ketubot 110b). [What this means is,] the other lands all have angels appointed over them [that perform the task of delivering the needs of the land’s inhabitants as Hashem wills.] But in Eretz Yisrael, Hashem Himself cares for us directly.
(Ramban Vayikra 18:25- see also Ramban to Devarim 11:10).
Because His involvement is more evident in Eretz Yisrael, it can be said that Hashem deals with it in a more direct manner. In other countries, however, He remains less conspicuous, cloaked in the guise of nature!
Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld, founder and Rosh Kollel of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, has been teaching Torah in Israel for over ten years. A close disciple of Hagaon Rav Yisroel Zev Gustman, zt’l, Rabbi Kornfeld works tirelessly on behalf of Torah dissemination. He was one of the first Rabbis to use the Internet to teach Torah, as his innovative insights in the “Weekly Parasha-Page” has been e-mailed to thousands of readers across the globe since 1993.
Rav Yosef in the Gemara is quick to note that although marriage can be accomplished by means of a messenger, that is not the ideal situation, and that “mitzva bo yoter mi-bi-sheluho – it is a greater mitzva for a person to perform the act themselves,” rather than have someone else perform the mitzva for him. This concept applies not only with regard to the mitzva of marriage, but to other areas of halacha, as well. (Kiddushin 41a).
What a wonderful lesson we learn from Rav Yosef. He was known to be blind and yet he valued mitzvos with such intensity that his halachic rulings were reflective of his position in life. He wasn’t willing to let others stand in his place to perform the commandments, even though he couldn’t “see” the action he was performing. Indeed, how lucky we are to get the benefit and privilege to see our own engagements in mitzvos.
We say in “Modim,” וְעַל נִשְׁמותֵינוּ הַפְּקוּדות לָךְ – The soul entrusted to you. Rabbi Levine zt”l (Rav Avrohom Genechovsky’s zt”l and Rabbi Menachem Genack’s great-great-grandfather) notes the deeper meaning. The soul must be on “watch” over the body and control its desires. The “neshama,” whose job it is to delve into the Torah of fire must guard the physical “guf” from engaging in sinful behavior.
Based on Rabbi Genack quoting his Rebbe, Rabbi Soloveichek zt”l – Avelus “requires” Nechama. May the Nechama following the 9th Year arrive quickly.
וָאֶתְחַנַּן hints to חַנָּה, the manifestation of prayer.