Shavuos – Genack/Genechovsky Torah

Rabbi Menachem Genack & Rabbi Eliyahu Levine zt”l (Great Grandfather of Eliyahu Moshe Genachowski)

*Maariv as a Reshut

The 3 tefillos we daven every day is sourced in one of two places. The Gemara (Berachos 26b) records that Rebbe Yosi B’Rebbe Chanina says it is in direct correlation to the prayers of the Avot whereas Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Levi says it’s based on when the daily karbanos were brought.

Maariv was for the prayer of Yaakov. The difficulty emerges based on the Gemara (ibid. 27b) where Rav holds maariv is a reshut (which will be soon defined), and we hold like Rav in esurim. If the prayer was instituted based on tefillos Avos, how can maariv be a reshut, as Yaakov prayed at that time. (If maariv is sourced in the karbanos, it is very logical why it would be a reshus, for shacharis is in place of the tamid shel shachar, mincha in place of  the tamid shel bein ha’arbaim and maariv in place of the emurim of the karbonos – and emurim do not nullify the effectiveness of the karban.)

Three answers are proffered. The Netziv (Sheilta 8) explains that the nature of Yaakov’s tefilla was characterized in the Torah as “Vayifga Bemakom” (Genesis 28:11). The Gemara (Chulin 91b) explains this to mean that Yaakov was proclaiming, “Here I am passing through Charan where my forefathers prayed so I must pray as well.” It was a prayer more based on circumstances than need, thus making it a reshut. The Pnei Yehoshua (Berachot 26b s.v. mihu) says Yaakov didn’t intend to pray at night but G-d caused the sun to set suddenly giving Yaakov no choice but to pray then, thus deeming it a reshut. The Zohar says it’s a reshut because no later individual can match the kavana of Yaakov.

An outright Gemara seems to challenge the fact that maariv is a full-fledged reshut. The Gemara (Berachos 26a) says that if one mistakenly didn’t daven maariv, he must daven shacharis twice. If maariv is a full-fledged reshut then why must it be repeated?

The Rishonim deal with this question and four major opinions emerge all suggesting that maariv is not a full-fledged reshut.

The Behag (as cited in Tos. Yoma 87b) says that if one davens maariv in general than he subjectively creates maariv as a chova for him and therefore if he should miss maariv such a person would have to repeat it. Tosefos (Berachos 26a) understands that maariv is only a reshut if there is not another mitzvah passing, but if another mitzvah would be lost by praying maariv – one must perform the mitzvah. The Rif (Berachos 19a) holds that all of Israel has taken it upon themselves to daven maariv making it a chova. Rabbi Levine zt”l (Yad Eliyahu Siman 1 Page 3) notes a difference of opinion between the Rambam and the Rif. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 1:6) says, “Tefillas maariv is not a chova like shacharis and mincha, nevertheless it has been accepted like a tefillas chova.” Rabbi Levine zt”l (ibid.) points out that the Rambam says maariv is “like” a chova but not a full-fledged chova like the Rif.

We see another chiddush in the opinion of the Rambam. The Gemara (Berachos 21a) says that if one is davening shacharis or mincha and realizes that he already recited it, he must cease davening immediately. However, by maariv, the Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 10:6) says that one need not stop but can continue davening maariv as a nedava. The question is why is maariv different if it’s like a chova. Reb Chaim Soloveitchik zt”l explains that according to the Rambam maariv is a chefsa dereshut. That means even if it was metakaen like a chova it’s inherently a reshut type of davening and that is why one can continue to daven maariv as a nedava.

Rabbi Genack (Sefer Gan Shoshanim Chelek Beit, Sefer Chazon Nachum: Siman 11 Page 33) uses a similar sevara to explain Tosefos – (Brachot 26a s.v. Ta’aa). Tosefos brings down the Gemara (Berachot 27b) where Rav holds maariv is a reshut. Then Tosefos asks from the Gemara (ibid. 30b) that if one forgets to say Rosh Chodesh at night, he need not go back because we are not mekadesh the chodesh at night. Tosefos asks why didn’t the Gemara simply answer that one must not go back since maariv is a reshut. As already mentioned, [because of this question], Tosefos learns there is still a mitzvah and one is only excempt from maariv if another mitzvah is passing.

Rabbi Genack asks why Tosefos didn’t suggest another answer where everyone would hold it’s chova, that is, by the mere fact that there’s a din of tashlumin to daven maariv twice if one mistakenly didn’t daven mincha, therein lies a proof that maariv is a chova because you can’t daven tashlumin if not for the fact that you recited the first tefillah at its designated time. Therefore, when mincha is missed both tefillas recited at maariv should be considered chova’s. Rabbi Genack answers that Tosefos didn’t offer this explanation because even though there is a din of tashlumin, maariv is a chefsa dereshut, deeming it impossible to have the din of tashlumin transform the tefilla’s to chova’s.

*Excerpts from the writings of Rabbi Menachem Genack (Sefer Gan Shoshanimm Chelek Beit, Chazon Nachum Siman 11 Page 33) & Rabbi Eliyahu Moshe Levine zt”l (Sefer Yad Eliyahu Siman 1 Page 3).

 

Rav Avraham Genechovsky zt”l

*Tefillas Mincha After lighting Candles on Erev Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios

On Shabbas, after one lights the candles, he may no longer daven mincha, as he would be offering a tefillas Chol on Shabbas (Orach Chaim: Siman 263; Mishna Berurah, Seif Katan 43).  Does the same law apply on Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios when you light the candles on Erev Yom Tov of the first day for the second? The logical answer, is that in this case, you can daven mincha as it’s the same nusach as maariv and you’re not davening Chol on Yom Tov.

 

However, this premise isn’t necessarily true, for if the first day is Yom Tov then the second day is Chol and if the first day is Chol then the second day is Yom Tov, either way causing a Chol to be said on Yom Tov.

 

Therefore, the answer lies in an argument between the Magen Avraham (Siman 108) and the Tzlach. The case relates to one who who forgot to recite the Yom Tov portion of mincha on Erev Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios. The question is whether he can repeat mincha and daven maariv twice. According to the Magen Avraham one can repeat it, whereas according to the Tzlach one cannot. The Mishna Berurah (Siman 108: Seif Katan 34) is not doche the opinion of the Magen Avraham indicating that this is the Halacha. Therefore, according to the Magen Avraham if you lit candles on the first day for the second day you can still say mincha.

*Sefer Bar Almugim

Siman 82 Section 3 – Pages 436-438

 

*Vacation

In the middle of a shiur, Rav Avraham made the following remark. People look for all kinds of vacations, including entering the water and such. He said; let me tell you about a real vacation. It would be to enter the Beis Medrash with air conditioning, or even without air conditioning and open a Shelot Veteshuvot Maharsham, and to begin to look inside. Then, to read one Teshuva and review it over and over, several times, and then you will feel a real vacation. There you will find beautiful waters, rivers and springs, and you go deeper and deeper and feel greater satisfaction. There you will find mountains to climb and descend. In fact, he said, this week I read a Teshuvat Maharsham on Shleichos Ledavar Avera, and this is the greatest vacation one can derive pleasure from.

*Avraham, Avraham, Vayomer Heneini – Page 42

 

Rabbi Menachem Genack

*“This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it” (Deuteronomy 30:14)

The verse (Deuteronomy 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” Rashi says on this verse, [this] thing is very close to you: The Torah was given to you in writing and [accompanied by an] oral [explanation]. In the previous verses of the Parsha it says, (ibid. 30:11) “For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away,” and (ibid. 30:12), “It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”, on which Rashi comments, “It is not in heaven,” for if it were in the heavens, you would have to climb up after it [in order] to learn it (quoting Eruvin 55a). So according to Rashi that which is very close to you in your mouth and heart refers to Torah.

This explanation seems to be going on the simple meaning of the words – (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” With the mouth one can read the Torah Shebichtav and with the heart one can understand Torah she-be-`al peh. Rabbi Genack heard from the Rav zt”l that Torah Shebichtav is different from Torah she-be-`al peh, in that Torah Shebichtav – one has a kiuyim of Talmud Torah by just reading the words even without understanding them whereas Torah she-be-`al peh, if one learns a Halacha or Gemara and doesn’t understand it – one does not fulfill Talmud Torah.

This is further evidenced by the Halacha relating to Megillat Esther that even though we don’t understand the explanation of some of the words, such as האחשתרנים בני הרמכים  (Esther 8:10), we are still yotze.

The notion of differentiation between Torah Shebichtav and Torah she-be-`al peh is further illustrated by the following story. The Griz zt”l was walking with Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt”l and they were discussing Torah. As they were speaking in Torah, Rav Elchanan zt”l mentioned that perhaps they should look inside to get reward for otiot machkimos (The letters bring wisdom). The Griz zt”l responded that such a notion only applies to Torah Shebichtav and not Torah she-be-`al peh. In regards to Torah she-be-`al peh, it’s the understanding of the sugya that brings fulfillment of Talmud Torah, not the reading of the letters.

While Rashi understood the above mentioned verses (Deuteronomy 30:11,12,14) to be going on Torah, the Ramban understands the verse (ibid. 30:11), “For this commandment which I command you this day” is going on Teshuva and the verse (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart” refers to vidui on sins with the mouth and returning to Hashem with the heart.

There seems to to be a proof to Rashi from the Tanna Dvei Eliyahu Zuta (14:1), where it’s written that Eliyahu encountered a fisherman that didn’t know how to read or learn Torah. The fisherman remarked that he wasn’t given the intelligence nor ability to learn. Eliyahu countered by saying – being that it’s true that you have the ability to weave a net from flax that is then placed in the water to trap fish, certainly you have the ability to learn the Torah, as the verse (ibid. 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” This seems to be a direct proof for Rashi as Eliyahu uses this verse to reference Torah and not Teshuva.

*Birchat Yitzchak – Deuteronomy – Section 3 – Pages 287-288

 

 

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

*Giving of the Torah

In the Shavuos davening, we describe the Yom Tov as “The time of the giving of the Torah.” However, according to the Zohar every day G-d teaches the Torah anew, implying the Torah is transmitted each day as well, not just on Shavuos. Therefore, how is Shavuos unique and why don’t we hear G-d’s voice talking to us on a daily basis?

The Chasid, Rabbi Yaakov Leiner, answers that G-d keeps the world moving at a constant and gives us the Dibros to us on a daily basis (see Zohar: Siman 71, relating to the words in the verse  “with a great voice, which did not cease” (Deuteronomy 5:19) and see also Berachos (17b)), but because of the noise and dealings that we are preoccupied with, a separation is created between us and G-d and we don’t hear the daily expressions from Heaven. By Matan Torah, G-d himself silenced the outside noise allowing us to hear the Dibros [that are present every day], but after that experience, the regular noise of our lives consistently drowns out G-d’s voice (paraphrased from “Beit Yaakov” by Eliyahu Kitov; Order of Parshios: Book of Exodus: Volume 2, Page 130, 1985).

For years, I took the time to walk from my home to the Beis Medrash, preoccupied with preparing for the daily shiur. However, when I began to live in the present and sensed all the sweetness around me, I was awakened to my immediate surroundings. Already, on the first day, the voices that were hidden from me appeared. The birds sang “all” day, not just in the morning and at sunset.

Soon I realized that life’s journey is not over time, but exists in the present, and should therefore compel one to delve deeper into his current reality. Now, I’m trying to establish the life of the order, “Seek out my face every day.”

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) brings down the story of one who asked, “When will Moshiach come?” and he was answered, “Today.” The questioner waited until the evening and was disappointed when the redemption didn’t materialize. Then they explained to him, “Indeed it will come today, if you hearken unto the voice of G-d.”

Listening to the present after undergoing spiritual preparation for seven weeks is the purpose of Shavuos. On this day, a person must try to tear down the walls that separate him from the “here and now” so that he may hear the voice of G-d that is speaking to us on a constant basis.

*A Translated Version from the writings of Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

 

Notes From the Editor

Every Friday night we say in Eishet Chayil, Gimalto tov vilo ra, “She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). In the simple peshat this is referring to the female gender, however allegorically, it is referring to Torah.

Rav Avraham asked on the redundancy of the verse, if the Torah is good then by definition it’s not bad. He answered that some things in life have good and bad elements attached to them, such as a dish of food that may have some good elements and some lacking. However, the Torah is not only good but it has no element of bad to it; it’s perfection.

Rav Avraham’s drash inspired me to another drash on the verse (Numbers 19:2), Zot chukat hatorah asher-tziva Hashem lemor daber el-benei Yisrael v’yikchu eleicha para aduma t’mima asher ein-ba mum asher lo-ala aleiha ol, “This is the statute of the Torah which the Lord commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Israel and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.” This verse has many allusions and hints to the Torah, one striking one that is based on what Rav Avraham said.

Certain words in this pasuk point to the fact that we are dealing with Torah. Firstly, the wording of the verse is saying, this is the “chok of the Torah.” Torah here is a noun not an adjective (as in Zot Torat…this is the status of). The simple meaning is that this chok – represents the whole Torah. However, on a simple level – based on drash – we can certainly say the verse is saying that what will be mentioned in this verse is “the Torah,” and therefore keywords ensue.

The word “take” refers directly to Torah as it corresponds to the verse (Mishlei 4:2), Ki lekach (a taking) tov natati lachem, torati al taazovu, “For I give you a good doctrine; forsake ye not my teaching.” The end of the verse, “forsake ye not my teachings,” is evidence that the beginning of the verse is discussing Torah.

The verse discussing the chok continues – “Take a complete (Tamim) red heifer.” The word complete – “tamim” also references Torah as we know the verse says (Tehillim 19:8), Torat Hashem temimah, “The Torah of the law of the Lord is perfect.”

Now, Rav Avraham’s chiddush illuminates the middle of the pasuk as it says, “Bring this red heifer which must be complete with no blemish” (Tamim asher ein ba mum). The question ensues – if it must be complete then obviously it must have no blemish, similar to the original redundancy, “She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). The message is the same in both cases; that the Torah is not only complete but it has no blemish.

The verse ends by saying that no yoke (ol) may be upon it. This is a clear reference to Torah (connoting the idea ol malchut shamayim), but a specific kind of Torah, a perfect Torah that was not worked yet, that has no ol on it, that exists in its purest form. (Should the verse be discussing an animal that had an ol on it, this would already be referring to human Torah that was worked through, but we are discussing with no ol. It’s our responsibility to be mekabel ol malchut shamayim twice a day and consecrate perfection in a manner that can be applicable to our lives but this verse gives insight into the nature of Torah and its perfection.)

With Shavuos upon us another drash is appropriate. תּוֹרָה  (Torah) spelled backwards is  הַרוּת  (“Ha”Rut) “The Rut” (and with the “hey” closed תּוֹרָה  spelled backwards is חֵרוּת, for it says, “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved [charut] on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16). Read not charut, “engraved” but cherut, “freedom,” for the only person who is truly free is one who occupies himself with Torah study. (Avot 6: 2)). Rut truly represents the Torah as she sacrificed all, a similar requirement in Torah for “The words of Torah only exist by one who ‘kills himself’ over it” (Shabbos 83b).

Lastly Rut in English is pronounced as “Root.” She is the essence and root of all that Judaism requests.

 

Pesach – Genack/Genechovsky Torah

Rabbi Genack

*Maror In These Times

The Rambam (Hilkhot Hamez u-Mazzah 7:11) says that eating maror on its own is not a mizvah min haTorah, but rather it is dependent on the eating of the korban Pesah, because there’s one mizvah to eat the korban Pesah with mazzah and maror. These days it’s a mere mitzvah mi-divrei sofrim to eat the maror on its own on the night of the Seder even without the korban Pesah. The Rambam (Hilkhot Korban Pesah, 8:1) enunciates the same idea that maror without the korban Pesah is not a mizvah mi-de-oraita as he says, the eating of the korban Pesah on the 15th is a Positive commandment as the Torah says, “Eat this meat on this night roasted, and with matzos and maror it should be eaten.” However, mazzah and maror are not necessary for the fulfillment if they could not be found, for it is the eating of the meat of the Pesah alone that brings fulfillment of the commandment. The Rambam concludes that eating maror without the Pesah is not a mizvah mi-de-oraita for it only says that maror and mazzah you shall eat together.

Rabbi Genack asks on the Rambam that when he mentions maror in Hilkhot Hamez u-Mazzah, he does not bring it until the end of chapter 7, that discusses topics relating to sipur Yezi’at Mizrayim such as arba kosot and the eating of the haroset. Logically, however it should have been mentioned at the end of chapter 6, after he discusses the mizvah of the eating of the mazzah.

It must be that according to the Rambam the eating of maror in these times is not a mizvah onto itself in terms of eating maror but rather mederabanan it’s a part of sipur Yezi’at Mizrayim, similar to the arba kosot of wine which is a fulfillment as well of sipur Yezi’at Mizrayim.

(Rabbi Genack then brings a proof to this suggestion).

The Rosh (Arvei Pesahim Chapter 25) writes that maror needs a ka-zayit because we say in the nusach of the bracha “al achilat maror” and an eating cannot be less than a ka-zayit.  The Shagat Aryeh (Chapter 100) asks on this Rosh that the reason maror mi-de-oraita, should need a ka-zayit is because it is hukush to mazzah. Rabbi Genack further asks on the Rosh, why in fact was a nusach of akhilah attached to maror at all? The bracha should be “al mizvah’s maror” and then an eating of a ka-zayit wouldn’t be required.

Rabbi Genack wants to explain in the Rosh that mi-de-oraita, surely a ka-zayit is required, however regarding the mizvah derabanan of maror (in our days) that’s not dependent on the eating of the korban Pesah, it may be said that there is no mizvah of akhilah because it is a kiyum of sipur Yezi’at Mizrayim alone similar to haroset that doesn’t need a shiur of ka-zayit, since its sole purpose is to be a remembrance to the bricks and mortar. This explains the Rosh when he says from the fact that a bracha is necessary we see that even though maror is a kiyum of sipur Yezi’at Mizrayim, nevertheless the rabbis required a shiur of akhilah because through the akhilah the mizvah of sipur is fulfilled. So the requirement of the ka-zayit is not because of the bracha, it’s only that the bracha shows that even though maror is mederabanan it requires a shiur of akhilah, and therefore even in a case where a bracha is not said like by Korekh, nevertheless a ka-zayit of maror is required.

(Rabbi Genack provides another way to interpret the Rosh as well.)

*Sefer Gan Shoshanim Chelek Beit/ Sefer Chazun Nachum – Siman 27 page 72

 

Rav Avraham Genachawski zt”l 

*Korekh and Sefekos Medarabanan

(Rav Avraham discusses Korekh under the umbrella of sefekot mederabanan, namely when we say safek derabanana lekula, does that mean if you are not sure whether you made a bracha we are mekal and there’s a petur legamrei deeming a new blessing a bracha levatala or that we are unsure whether there is a petur or a chiyuv and based on that we are mekal and say there is a petur. Numerous differences emerge. (In the first footnote of Bar Almugim, Rav Avraham brings a proof from an inference Rabbi Genack makes on the Rambam that it’s a petur legamrei.)

The halakhah says that if one didn’t recline when he ate mazzah, he must do it over (and recline). The Maharsham (Section 6 Siman 38) asks that this seems unnecessary; for let the reclining by Korekh be enough for reclining is only mederabanan. The answer would be that in these days whether reclining is in fact meakev is an argument. The Ravya says that in these days reclining is not necessary and therefore even if one didn’t recline by mazzah he would be yotze. Therefore if one did recline by Korekhmazzah as a reshut would be mevatel the maror.

This answer, however, is not sufficient because if we look at the opinion of the Mechaber who doesn’t take the Ravya’s opinion into consideration, the question resurfaces. The Mechaber says that if one didn’t recline for the second or third cup he must drink again and recline and the Mechaber is not concerned about adding onto the arba kosot. Therefore, in our said case if one didn’t recline during the eating of mazzah, let him do it by Korekh and be yotze his maror and mazzah (both according to the opinions of Hillel and the Rabbanan).

However, it’s not so simple that one would be yotze in this scenario. Because even according to those who argue on the Ravya it would be a safek and with a safek we go lekula, and then the mazzah as a reshut would be mevatel the maror.

Now Rav Avraham proposes that this exact point might enter the question of sefekot mederabanan, whether it’s a petur legamrei or there’s a safek chiyuv; safek petur and we go lekula. For if it’s a petur legamri then it will be a reshut and mevatel the other, but if it’s a safek derababnan is in a state of talia, then it can be judged as half lechiyuv and half le’petur thus remaining a safek and it wouldn’t be mevatel the other be’torat vadai, but only be’torat safek and then we would say there would be a kiyum of mazzah and maror.

So the fundamental question of the Mahrsham is answered based on the Ravya, but not according to the Mechaber, and there’s no proof from this case to answer whether a safek derabanan lekula is talia or a haphkaha legamrei.

(Rav Avraham brings one last point from the Tshuvos of Rabbi Shlomo Eiger that seems to mirror the question of the Maharsham.)

*Sefer Bar Almugim – Siman 1 Page 42

Rav Avraham 

*A verified Ladder

The story is told that one day in Yerushalayim there was a noise of loud crying coming from an above ground apartment. Many people on the sidewalk heard the crying. Rav Avraham was walking by at the time. Upon hearing the crying, he immediately started asking people to borrow a ladder for the apartment was above ground level. After a long search he finally retuned with a ladder and climbed to the window where the crying was coming from. It turned out the parents of these children went out for a walk and the kids were alone, awake and crying. From the window Rav Avraham spoke to the children and calmed them down and remained until the parents returned. Later Rav Avraham would deny the story until a picture surfaced. He said one of the lessons from this story is that one should never think they are alone. G-d is always watching and is always there to give comfort.

*A Touch of Chizuk – Stories of Strength – to Lift, Build and Encourage (Artscroll Series), By Rabbi Yechiel Spero – Page 138

Rav Eliyahu Moshe Levine zt”l

*Kiddush and Zechirat Yezi’at Mizrayim

The Magen Avraham (Siman 271 Seif Aleph) says that we are yotze Kiddush mi-de-oraita by Arvit of tefillah Shabbat. The Minchat Chinuch (Mizvah 31) asks on this Magen Avraham that this doesn’t seem feasible because there’s no mention in tefillah Arvit of Yezi’at Mizrayim and Rav Acha bar Yaakov (Pesahim 117b) learns through a gezera shava that you must mention Yezi’at Mizrayimin in Kiddush, so it would seem that min haTorah Yezi’at Mizrayim must be mentioned.

Rav Levine answers that the gezera shava is really an asmachta alone and the real reason the chachamim placed Yezi’at Mizrayim in the Kiddush of Shabbat is based on a Tur in Orach Chaim (Siman 271) in the name of the Rambam that says we mention Yezi’at Mizrayim in Kiddush as it is a direct proof to Maase Bereshit; for the miracles of Egypt were seen by human eyes as opposed to the miracles of creation which were not, and therefore should one need testimony that G-d created the world, he may look upon the miracles of Egypt as substantiation.

The nafka mina now is that if one were mesupek whether he mentioned Yezi’at Mizrayim in Kiddush he would not have to go back as it is only mederabanan.

Rav Nachum Genachawski zt”l was very fond of this peshat and almost without fail told me this every Shabbat I went to him.

Rabbi Yonason Sacks, Rav of Agudas Yisroel Bircas Yaakov in Passaic, NJ and Rosh Hayeshiva of Beis Medrash L’Talmud at Lander college for Men (LCM) noted one Shabbat in discussing this matter that in mizvos of amera (such as Kiddush) it could be that the nusach is not meakav.

*Sefer Yad Eliyahu – Siman 6 Page 19

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen/Genack

*Hamez and Mazzah

For over two centuries the Jews were waiting to be redeemed from their bondage and when the day came, they were ordered to leave “immediately” at that exact moment for if they tarried one more second, the opportunity would pass and the Egyptians would overcome them and the moment would yuchmatz (be elongated and lost).

The lesson of the story of Egypt is not to push off the moment but act with immediacy. Immediate change is perhaps the greatest challenge we face. We are often caught up in the day to day conundrums of life and any change, however small, seems overwhelming. This over-occupation with our lives and failure to engage in change often results in lost opportunities.

Hamez speaks to this idea of the weakness of man to act. Bnei Yisrael left Mizrayim in haste but there were those that wanted to leave with bread, with full provisions, but by taking this approach they were left alone in Mizrayim and the gates of freedom closed upon them.

The rabbis have compared hamez to the yetzer hara. Often we imagine the yetzer hara as an evil force that is overtly pushing us to sin. However, this doesn’t match the Talmud’s comparison here, for hamez is something that enhances, that tastes good.

The Talmud (Berakhot 17a) comments on the tefillah, “Master of the universe, it is known before you that we want to perform your will, and who prevents this? The leaven in the bread.”  Rashi explains the leaven in the bread to be the yetzer hara that holds our heart back. The way of the yetzer hara is not to convince us to do bad things but instead to choose the easier route thus stripping from us the desire to effectuate real change, leaving us in a predicament of the status quo or less (to hold back and lehachmitz).

(Rabbi Nagan relates this idea to Shir Hashirim and discusses two more points.)

*Awaking to a New Day: Stories and Insights from Life – Parsha Bo – Page 119

Notes from the Editor

I once called Rav Avraham before Pesah and asked if he could share a d’var Torah. He told me that if you take the words hamez and mazzah as they are spelled in the Torah, they practically share the same letters except that the hey of mazzah and chet of hamez have a slight difference. The hey (ה) doesn’t quite connect to the top whereas the chet (ח) fully connects. Therefore the difference between hamez and mazzah is a miniscule protrusion of space. He said that in life the difference between living a life of hamez or mazzah is comparable to the minuscule opening that exists between the letters; teaching that through miniscule action one can transform his existence.

As a chiddush relating to this time of year, I once thought that a drash could be offered on the words of Shlomo, “Ein chadash takhat ha-shemesh, There is nothing new under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9).  In essence, based on drash, it may be said that the meaning is “Ein chadash” it is not “chadash” (new grain) under the sun (in the season of the sun) for then it would be “yashan.” By then the 16th of Nissan passed and the korban omer would be a matir (assuming we are talking about wheat from before that year’s 16th of Nissan for otherwise the issur of “chadash” can materialize at any moment on this post 16th grain).

Purim – Genack/Genechovsky Torah

Rabbi Menachem Genack

Megillat Esther is not Batul

The Rambam (Hilchos Megillah 5:18) says that all of the books of Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul when Mashiach comes except Megillat Esther and it will remain intact like the 5 books of the Torah and the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe which are never batul. And even though all the remembrances of tragedies will be forgotten …Purim will not be batul..as it says..the days of Purim will pass from the Jews and its remembrance won’t. The Raavad, in his hasagot, comments that none of the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul as they all have limud in them, and the only exception relating to the Megillah is that should the other sefarim be deemed not to be read from anymore amidst the tzibur the Megillah will still be read betzibur.

The source for the Rambam is a Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek1 Halacha 5) relating to an argument between Rav Yochanan and Reish Lakish. Rav Yochahnan says the Nevi’im and Ketuvim will be batul in the future but not the 5 books of the Torah while Reish Lakish says even Megillat Esther and its halachos won’t be batul.

It needs explanation in the Rambam why he says Megillat Esther will remain like the 5 books of the Torah and like the Halachos of Torah She’bal Pe that are never batel. What’s the connection between the Halachos Torah She’bal Pe and Megilla?

The link has been alluded to in the Yerushalmi where it says the halachos of Megillah won’t be batul just like the Torah won’t. The essence of the Torah to which the Yerushalmi compares the Megillah and the Torah is regarding it’s halachos that will never be batul. This is unlike all other Nevi’im and Ketuvim that don’t stand to teach halachos. A Navi isn’t allowed to mechadesh (teach anything new) rather he offers words of mussar and reproof. In stark contrast, we see in the beginning of Gemara Megilla that all of the laws of Purim are extrapolated from the Megillah itself. The Megillah stands as a manifestation of Torah that stands to be darshened from.

This explains why the Megilla needs Sirtut. For the Griz proves from the Rambam that the reason the Torah needs Sirtut is not because it’s a book of Torah but because it’s a source of Divrei Torah, and Divrei Torah needs Sirtut. And we find this explicitly written in the Yerushalmi (Megillah: Perek 1 Halacha 1) where a gezera shava is made to say the Torah and the Megillah both need Sirtut.

The Raavad understood that the mussar and illustrations of how to walk with G-d are also considered Torah and therefore would never be batul, whereas the Rambam holds it’s all dependent on whether you can learn halachos and whether it is given to be doresh from.

Purim was a time for acceptance of Torah as the Gemara in Shabbas (88a) enunciates. It was a time when, Kemu ma she keblu kvar (we upheld anew what we already received from before), an acceptance out of love. And this can be another reason why Megillat Esther is considered like the Torah itself and was given to be darshened halachos from.

The Zohar compares Purim to Yom Kippur and darshens on the words Yom Kippurim, that it is a day like Purim. They were both days of giving of the Torah, for the second luchos were given on Yom Kippur, and the Gemara Taanis (30b) says there were no better days for Bnei Yisrael than Yom Kippur and Tu B’Av. Thus on Yom Kippur the Torah was given to Bnei Yisrael and on Purim we received the Torah anew.

Rav Avrohom Zt”l

Can a Rabbinic Obligation Excempt a Torah-Based One

Rabbi Akiva Eiger (Shulchan Aruch Siman 186 Seif 2) writes that in a case when a katan (child before bringing simanim) washes and has bread and reaches a point of sevia (satiation, the trigger that necessitates birchat hamazon) and then blesses on a derabanan level he’s not yotze his deorita level when he turns a gadol, as long as he is still within the shiur ikul (digestion time that determines when still obligated to say birchat hamazon). Therefore he must bentch a second time as a gadol to fulfill his deorita obligation.

Similarly, the Kapot Temarim (in his Sefer Yom Teruah on Rosh Hashanah, Page 27) says a katan that hears the shofar and then that day shows simanim and becomes a gadol will have to hear shofar again as his derabanan obligation earlier in the day is not able to exempt his deorita obligation as a gadol.

The Teshuvat Meishev Davar (Chelek Aleph, Siman 18) argues on both Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim and says that a derabanan will help a deorita.

According to Rabbi Akiva Eiger and the Kapot Temarim, a katan who shows simanim and becomes a gadol on shabbas, if he made kiddush mebeod yom, he would have to make kiddush again.

It may be proffered that we see the words of Rabbi Akiva Eiger in the Biur Halacha (Siman 184 s.v. be’kzayit) that says if one ate a kzayit and bentched then continued eating to a point of satiation, even though the second eating itself wouldn’t bring on a deorita obligation, however he is still chayav from the Torah since the first eating was not exempted by the derabanan bentching.

The Chazon Ish (Siman 34 Seif Katan 4), however, differentiates the above case, saying since there was no casual connection between the 2 eating’s you wouldn’t be chayav to bentch again on a deorita level, however, if one did have in mind to continue eating after he says birchat hamazon, such as on Erev Pesach that falls on Shabbas, then he would have to bentch again.

We see again that a birchat hamazon mederabanan will not help for a deorita.

The Mordechai in Megilla (Siman 798) brings a differing opinion, that of Rav Tuvia who holds a that a kiddush made during Tosephet Shabbas (a Rabbinic time period) fulfills one’s deorita obligation, exhibiting that a derabanan does help for a deoriata.

There seems, however, to be an explicit Gemara in opposition to Rav Tuvia. The Magen Avraham (Siman 267 Seif Katan 1) asks from a Gemara in Brachot (20b) that says a katan can’t be yotze a gadol because he is only chayav mederabanan and the gadol is chayav medeorita. One must therefore answer for Rabbi Tuvia that it depends on whether we are discussing one’s own obligation versus 2 people’s obligations. So when a person for himself, on Tosephet Shabbas, makes kiddush it helps, but a derabanan won’t help for a deorita if two people are involved as in the case of Gemara Brachot, where one katan is trying to be yotze another gadol.

However, there’s still a difficulty because Rav Tuvia seems to apply his concept with 2 people as well. He says a blind man (who has a Rabbinic obligation) can be yotze his family (who are under a deorita obligation) for kiddush, indicating that even in the case of 2 separate obligations the derabanan helps for the deorita. Therefore, we must say either Rav Tuvia is not Gores the Gemara in Brachos, as many nussach’s don’t have it or he holds like the Ramban who understands the Gemara to be saying that even medarabanan the katan can’t be yotze the gadol because the mitzvah of chinuch is on the father and not the katan.

Based on the major holdings of the achronim that a derabanan can’t help a deorita even with one person, the Birkat Hatorah of a katan (Rabbinic) that he says in the morning should not help his deorita obligation at night.

The Teshuvat Eretz Tzvi (Siman 16) answers that the katan can be yotze with ahavat olam if he says it after tzeit hakochavim. Therefore if the katan davened Maariv while still day or he doesn’t daven at night then he can’t learn. The Eretz Tzvi brings the opinion of Rav Tuvia and says that his reasoning will not help for Birkat Hatorah. Only by Kiddush made on Tosephet Shabbas can it help, in concordance with the Rambam, as it’s Samuch Le’Shabbas and the reasoning can only be applied when its “memela ka ati la” unlike from katnut to gadlut where your missing the maase of simanim. (Regarding the blind person who made kiddush one can say it’s not mechusar maase because he can be healed).

We know women are chayav in Birkat Hatorah because they must learn about the mitzvos they are obligated in. And after they say Birkat Hatorah it helps when they then say yivarechech. There are numerous opinions whether women are obligated Min Ha Torah or not in Birkat Hatorah, however if they are obligated Min Ha Torah then according to the Eretz Tzvi, every girl should be taught when she becomes Bat Mitzvah to have kavana in ahavas olam and we don’t find as such. The Rav leaves this as a Tzarich Iyun.

Finally, a proof is brought against the Eretz Tzvi because the Rama (Siman 53 Seif 10) writes that a katan shouldn’t be the shliach tzibur for Maariv if the minyan takes place before shekiah. It can be inferred from the Rama that if the katan is not the shliach tzibur his davening helps, even though he’s saying ahavas olam while he’s still a katan. What will then be with his Birkat Hatorah at night for there an obligation to learn at night (even more so according to the opinions that kriyat shema needs Birkat Hatorah).

We find according to Rabbi Akiva Eiger, the Mishnah Berurah, the Magen Avraham and the Chazon Ish a deraban won’t help for a deorita.

Stories of Rav Avrohom Zt”l

A Shirt Exchange

Rav Avrohom encountered a young man on the bus in Yerushalayim and asked him where he was going. The young man replied he was going to see the Western Wall. Rav Avraham asked him how he planned to rip as he would be at the makom hamikdash and the young man was not sure. Rav Avraham told the young man to come back to yeshiva with him where they could exchange shirts, for the halacha is that you need not rip if the shirt does not belong to you. It was noticed in shiur that day that Rav Avraham took all safeguards to keep the shirt in its original condition.

Rabbi Menachem Genack

Vayikra

 

1:1 “And He called to Moses, and the Lord spoke to him from the Tent of Meeting, saying.”

Rabba said: Whence do we know that if a man had said something to his neighbor the latter must not spread the news without the informant’s telling him ‘Go and say it’? From the scriptural text: The Lord spoke to him out of the tent of meeting, lemor [saying] (Yoma 4:2).

We see these words were specifically spoken to Moshe and if not for the fact that Hashem gave him permission to share them with Bnei Yisrael they would be just for him. This was a personal dialogue of love as further evidenced by Rashi on the word “Vayikra” – “that G-d spoke in a language of love, using language that the malachai hasheret use.” This idea is further bolstered by the Gemara Nedarim (38a) where it says the Torah was given to Moshe as a present and he treated it with favor and gave it over to Bnei Yisrael. The original giving over was personal and just for Moshe but he chose to share it with Klal Yisrael. This relationship of love is further personified by the fact that Hashem speaks to Moshe in the voice of his father, Amram.

1:2 “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man brings a sacrifice from [among] you to the Lord; from animals, from cattle or from the flock you shall bring your sacrifice.”

There is a famous diyuk on the pasuk that by its specific order of wording, the verse is telling man that when he brings a sacrifice he should in fact view himself as the one being sacrificed (as the verse says a man when he brings himself…whereas it could’ve said…when a man amidst yourself brings). This idea that a person should view himself as the karban is premised on Akeidut Yitzchak, where Yitzckak himself was bound to the altar. Yitzchak’s binding set the precedent for the understanding of all future sacrifices. This explains why we have the minhag in the morning davening to say the Parsha of Akeidah before the saying of the karbanos. The Rambam (Hilchos Beit Ha’bechirah 1:3) says the altar is specific in nature and its place can never change, as it says this is the altar to go up for Israel. And in the mikdash Yitzchak was sacrificed as it says go up to Har Hamoria and it says in Divrei Hayamim Shlomo began to build the House of G-d in Yerushalayim in Har Hamoria. It’s clear from the Rambam that the sacrifice of Yitzchak was the sino qua non for understanding all future offerings

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

“The Animal from Within”

Man tends to take offense when compared to animals. Even non-Darwinists that don’t believe in ape lineage cringe at the comparison. However, it is in the nature of things that we all have an animal side, a positive phenomenon.

The Zohar in his work, Safra de Tzniuta, believes man has divine basics and fundamentals bestial. This idea is known to many of us through the teachings of Tanya. However, the Tanya and Zohar disagree on how to understand this phenomenon.

The Tanya is of the belief that man is an a continual struggle between these two forces, of human versus bestial, as opposed to the Zohar who believes it’s as a bridal relationship, accentuating the necessity of both the human and bestial elements to exist in harmony.

The Zohar brings the verse that equates beast to man. “And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kind, cattle and creeping things and the beasts of the earth according to their kind, and it was so” (Genesis 1:24). The verse specifically identified the beasts as “living creatures” (nefesh chaya – a living soul), just as man himself was a living creature (nefesh chaya). This explains, says the Zohar, the verse in Tehillim (36:7), “Save O’ G-d, man and beast.” With clarity the verse is saying that within man exists animal.

As has been discussed (See the Divrei Torah of Rabbi Menachem Genack above), Vayikra is the Parsha of karbonos. A man who sacrifices an animal should feel as if he, himself, is being sacrificed. It’s no coincidence that the word “karban” (sacrifice) and “kerevah” (close) have the same root. By sacrificing to G-d one becomes closer to Him.

However, says the Zohar, the aforementioned idea contradicts the next verse. “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them: When a man from [among] you brings a sacrifice to G-d; from animals, from cattle or from flock you shall bring your sacrifice” (Leviticus 1:2). The first part of the pasuk says it must come from “among” you (from you) yet when the pasuk continues it says the karban is from the animal. The Zohar answers this contradiction in saying the “animal is in you.” In other words the animal that man is sacrificing is the animal within him. Man must dedicate his brute and animalistic tendencies towards G-d as well, for these tendencies have inherent Kedusha if utilized properly. The sacrificing in the mikdash was not a wholly spiritual manifestation, but also a physical one, as one had to physically rise up and travel to the mikdash, purify his body and eat the karbanos.

These 2 sides that exist within us were placed inside of us by G-d at the time of creation. According to the Safra de Tzniuta, when man comes down to this world he has two sides to him, the right and left. On the right side is the neshama and on the left side is the soul of the animal. Man was created in the image of G-d and as such we have two sides. Not only were we imbued with the neshama that has its roots with G-d but also with the animalistic side.

If the animal soul is part of the natural essence of man, how does sin arise? Safra de Tzniuta further explains that “the sin of Adam spread left.” Sin is the violation of the balance, when the animal side spreads across borders. Rav Kook echoes this sentiment for he doesn’t see material desires as such a calamity. Desire to sample the material world and attain mental tendency is originated in holiness. But when this desire becomes all the rage, with all powers pledged to achieve material desires, the balance is disturbed and the person loses the power of self control and falls into the depths of darkness.

But according to Safra de Tzniuta when they work in harmony, they can give birth to and breathe life into new creations. To bring a new neshama into the world we need our physical body. This concept holds true in the arts; in dance, sculpture and painting; in the Torah and literary works. In all of them there is a combination, a partnership, between the two forces of man, the spiritual and bestial.

When analyzing a pivotal pasuk in Lech Lecha we see the above mentioned interpretations come to light. The famous verse says about Avraham, “Lech Lecha Me’artzhecha” (Go from your land) (Genesis 12:1). The Maggid of Mazrich darshens the pasuk to mean, in order to reach yourself (licha), you must go (lech) and leave the land to free yourself. This interpretation would follow the understanding of the Tanya that within man there always exists an existential battle between man’s soul and animalistic tendencies. Rabbi Naftali of Ropshitz says just the opposite. He darshens it to mean – go out with your earthliness (Artzecha) and use your human and bestial side to conquer the world in balance and harmony. This is in tune with the Zohar who views our earthliness as an asset and a phenomenon that exists within all of us.

Lekavod Shavuos – Genack/Genechovsky Torah

Rabbi Menachem Genack & Rabbi Eliyahu Levine zt”l (Great Grandfather of Eliyahu Moshe Genachowski)

*Maariv as a Reshut

The 3 tefillos we daven every day is sourced in one of two places. The Gemara (Berachos 26b) records that Rebbe Yosi B’Rebbe Chanina says it is in direct correlation to the prayers of the Avot whereas Rebbe Yehoshua Ben Levi says it’s based on when the daily karbanos were brought.

Maariv was for the prayer of Yaakov. The difficulty emerges based on the Gemara (ibid. 27b) where Rav holds maariv is a reshut (which will be soon defined), and we hold like Rav in esurim. If the prayer was instituted based on tefillos Avos, how can maariv be a reshut, as Yaakov prayed at that time. (If maariv is sourced in the karbanos, it is very logical why it would be a reshus, for shacharis is in place of the tamid shel shachar, mincha in place of  the tamid shel bein ha’arbaim and maariv in place of the emurim of the karbonos – and emurim do not nullify the effectiveness of the karban.)

Three answers are proffered. The Netziv (Sheilta 8) explains that the nature of Yaakov’s tefilla was characterized in the Torah as “Vayifga Bemakom” (Genesis 28:11). The Gemara (Chulin 91b) explains this to mean that Yaakov was proclaiming, “Here I am passing through Charan where my forefathers prayed so I must pray as well.” It was a prayer more based on circumstances than need, thus making it a reshut. The Pnei Yehoshua (Berachot 26b s.v. mihu) says Yaakov didn’t intend to pray at night but G-d caused the sun to set suddenly giving Yaakov no choice but to pray then, thus deeming it a reshut. The Zohar says it’s a reshut because no later individual can match the kavana of Yaakov.

An outright Gemara seems to challenge the fact that maariv is a full-fledged reshut. The Gemara (Berachos 26a) says that if one mistakenly didn’t daven maariv, he must daven shacharis twice. If maariv is a full-fledged reshut then why must it be repeated?

The Rishonim deal with this question and four major opinions emerge all suggesting that maariv is not a full-fledged reshut.

The Behag (as cited in Tos. Yoma 87b) says that if one davens maariv in general than he subjectively creates maariv as a chova for him and therefore if he should miss maariv such a person would have to repeat it. Tosefos (Berachos 26a) understands that maariv is only a reshut if there is not another mitzvah passing, but if another mitzvah would be lost by praying maariv – one must perform the mitzvah. The Rif (Berachos 19a) holds that all of Israel has taken it upon themselves to daven maariv making it a chova. Rabbi Levine zt”l (Yad Eliyahu Siman 1 Page 3) notes a difference of opinion between the Rambam and the Rif. The Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 1:6) says, “Tefillas maariv is not a chova like shacharis and mincha, nevertheless it has been accepted like a tefillas chova.” Rabbi Levine zt”l (ibid.) points out that the Rambam says maariv is “like” a chova but not a full-fledged chova like the Rif.

We see another chiddush in the opinion of the Rambam. The Gemara (Berachos 21a) says that if one is davening shacharis or mincha and realizes that he already recited it, he must cease davening immediately. However, by maariv, the Rambam (Hilchos Tefillah 10:6) says that one need not stop but can continue davening maariv as a nedava. The question is why is maariv different if it’s like a chova. Reb Chaim Soloveitchik zt”l explains that according to the Rambam maariv is a chefsa dereshut. That means even if it was metakaen like a chova it’s inherently a reshut type of davening and that is why one can continue to daven maariv as a nedava.

Rabbi Genack (Sefer Gan Shoshanim Chelek Beit, Sefer Chazon Nachum: Siman 11 Page 33) uses a similar sevara to explain Tosefos – (Brachot 26a s.v. Ta’aa). Tosefos brings down the Gemara (Berachot 27b) where Rav holds maariv is a reshut. Then Tosefos asks from the Gemara (ibid. 30b) that if one forgets to say Rosh Chodesh at night, he need not go back because we are not mekadesh the chodesh at night. Tosefos asks why didn’t the Gemara simply answer that one must not go back since maariv is a reshut. As already mentioned, [because of this question], Tosefos learns there is still a mitzvah and one is only excempt from maariv if another mitzvah is passing.

Rabbi Genack asks why Tosefos didn’t suggest another answer where everyone would hold it’s chova, that is, by the mere fact that there’s a din of tashlumin to daven maariv twice if one mistakenly didn’t daven mincha, therein lies a proof that maariv is a chova because you can’t daven tashlumin if not for the fact that you recited the first tefillah at its designated time. Therefore, when mincha is missed both tefillas recited at maariv should be considered chova’s. Rabbi Genack answers that Tosefos didn’t offer this explanation because even though there is a din of tashlumin, maariv is a chefsa dereshut, deeming it impossible to have the din of tashlumin transform the tefilla’s to chova’s.

*Excerpts from the writings of Rabbi Menachem Genack (Sefer Gan Shoshanimm Chelek Beit, Chazon Nachum Siman 11 Page 33) & Rabbi Eliyahu Moshe Levine zt”l (Sefer Yad Eliyahu Siman 1 Page 3).

 

Rav Avraham Genechovsky zt”l

*Tefillas Mincha After lighting Candles on Erev Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios

On Shabbas, after one lights the candles, he may no longer daven mincha, as he would be offering a tefillas Chol on Shabbas (Orach Chaim: Siman 263; Mishna Berurah, Seif Katan 43).  Does the same law apply on Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios when you light the candles on Erev Yom Tov of the first day for the second? The logical answer, is that in this case, you can daven mincha as it’s the same nusach as maariv and you’re not davening Chol on Yom Tov.

 

However, this premise isn’t necessarily true, for if the first day is Yom Tov then the second day is Chol and if the first day is Chol then the second day is Yom Tov, either way causing a Chol to be said on Yom Tov.

 

Therefore, the answer lies in an argument between the Magen Avraham (Siman 108) and the Tzlach. The case relates to one who who forgot to recite the Yom Tov portion of mincha on Erev Yom Tov Sheini Shel Galios. The question is whether he can repeat mincha and daven maariv twice. According to the Magen Avraham one can repeat it, whereas according to the Tzlach one cannot. The Mishna Berurah (Siman 108: Seif Katan 34) is not doche the opinion of the Magen Avraham indicating that this is the Halacha. Therefore, according to the Magen Avraham if you lit candles on the first day for the second day you can still say mincha.

*Sefer Bar Almugim

Siman 82 Section 3 – Pages 436-438

 

*Vacation

In the middle of a shiur, Rav Avraham made the following remark. People look for all kinds of vacations, including entering the water and such. He said; let me tell you about a real vacation. It would be to enter the Beis Medrash with air conditioning, or even without air conditioning and open a Shelot Veteshuvot Maharsham, and to begin to look inside. Then, to read one Teshuva and review it over and over, several times, and then you will feel a real vacation. There you will find beautiful waters, rivers and springs, and you go deeper and deeper and feel greater satisfaction. There you will find mountains to climb and descend. In fact, he said, this week I read a Teshuvat Maharsham on Shleichos Ledavar Avera, and this is the greatest vacation one can derive pleasure from.

*Avraham, Avraham, Vayomer Heneini – Page 42

 

Rabbi Menachem Genack

*“This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it” (Deuteronomy 30:14)

The verse (Deuteronomy 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” Rashi says on this verse, [this] thing is very close to you: The Torah was given to you in writing and [accompanied by an] oral [explanation]. In the previous verses of the Parsha it says, (ibid. 30:11) “For this commandment which I command you this day, is not concealed from you, nor is it far away,” and (ibid. 30:12), “It is not in heaven, that you should say, “Who will go up to heaven for us and fetch it for us, to tell [it] to us, so that we can fulfill it?”, on which Rashi comments, “It is not in heaven,” for if it were in the heavens, you would have to climb up after it [in order] to learn it (quoting Eruvin 55a). So according to Rashi that which is very close to you in your mouth and heart refers to Torah.

This explanation seems to be going on the simple meaning of the words – (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” With the mouth one can read the Torah Shebichtav and with the heart one can understand Torah she-be-`al peh. Rabbi Genack heard from the Rav zt”l that Torah Shebichtav is different from Torah she-be-`al peh, in that Torah Shebichtav – one has a kiuyim of Talmud Torah by just reading the words even without understanding them whereas Torah she-be-`al peh, if one learns a Halacha or Gemara and doesn’t understand it – one does not fulfill Talmud Torah.

This is further evidenced by the Halacha relating to Megillat Esther that even though we don’t understand the explanation of some of the words, such as האחשתרנים בני הרמכים  (Esther 8:10), we are still yotze.

The notion of differentiation between Torah Shebichtav and Torah she-be-`al peh is further illustrated by the following story. The Griz zt”l was walking with Rav Elchanan Wasserman zt”l and they were discussing Torah. As they were speaking in Torah, Rav Elchanan zt”l mentioned that perhaps they should look inside to get reward for otiot machkimos (The letters bring wisdom). The Griz zt”l responded that such a notion only applies to Torah Shebichtav and not Torah she-be-`al peh. In regards to Torah she-be-`al peh, it’s the understanding of the sugya that brings fulfillment of Talmud Torah, not the reading of the letters.

While Rashi understood the above mentioned verses (Deuteronomy 30:11,12,14) to be going on Torah, the Ramban understands the verse (ibid. 30:11), “For this commandment which I command you this day” is going on Teshuva and the verse (ibid. 30:14), “It is in your mouth and in your heart” refers to vidui on sins with the mouth and returning to Hashem with the heart.

There seems to to be a proof to Rashi from the Tanna Dvei Eliyahu Zuta (14:1), where it’s written that Eliyahu encountered a fisherman that didn’t know how to read or learn Torah. The fisherman remarked that he wasn’t given the intelligence nor ability to learn. Eliyahu countered by saying – being that it’s true that you have the ability to weave a net from flax that is then placed in the water to trap fish, certainly you have the ability to learn the Torah, as the verse (ibid. 30:14) says, “This thing is very close to you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can fulfill it.” This seems to be a direct proof for Rashi as Eliyahu uses this verse to reference Torah and not Teshuva.

*Birchat Yitzchak – Deuteronomy – Section 3 – Pages 287-288

 

 

Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

*Giving of the Torah

In the Shavuos davening, we describe the Yom Tov as “The time of the giving of the Torah.” However, according to the Zohar every day G-d teaches the Torah anew, implying the Torah is transmitted each day as well, not just on Shavuos. Therefore, how is Shavuos unique and why don’t we hear G-d’s voice talking to us on a daily basis?

The Chasid, Rabbi Yaakov Leiner, answers that G-d keeps the world moving at a constant and gives us the Dibros to us on a daily basis (see Zohar: Siman 71, relating to the words in the verse  “with a great voice, which did not cease” (Deuteronomy 5:19) and see also Berachos (17b)), but because of the noise and dealings that we are preoccupied with, a separation is created between us and G-d and we don’t hear the daily expressions from Heaven. By Matan Torah, G-d himself silenced the outside noise allowing us to hear the Dibros [that are present every day], but after that experience, the regular noise of our lives consistently drowns out G-d’s voice (paraphrased from “Beit Yaakov” by Eliyahu Kitov; Order of Parshios: Book of Exodus: Volume 2, Page 130, 1985).

For years, I took the time to walk from my home to the Beis Medrash, preoccupied with preparing for the daily shiur. However, when I began to live in the present and sensed all the sweetness around me, I was awakened to my immediate surroundings. Already, on the first day, the voices that were hidden from me appeared. The birds sang “all” day, not just in the morning and at sunset.

Soon I realized that life’s journey is not over time, but exists in the present, and should therefore compel one to delve deeper into his current reality. Now, I’m trying to establish the life of the order, “Seek out my face every day.”

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 98a) brings down the story of one who asked, “When will Moshiach come?” and he was answered, “Today.” The questioner waited until the evening and was disappointed when the redemption didn’t materialize. Then they explained to him, “Indeed it will come today, if you hearken unto the voice of G-d.”

Listening to the present after undergoing spiritual preparation for seven weeks is the purpose of Shavuos. On this day, a person must try to tear down the walls that separate him from the “here and now” so that he may hear the voice of G-d that is speaking to us on a constant basis.

*A Translated Version from the writings of Rabbi Yaakov Nagen (Genack)

 

Notes From the Editor

Every Friday night we say in Eishet Chayil, Gimalto tov vilo ra, “She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). In the simple peshat this is referring to the female gender, however allegorically, it is referring to Torah.

Rav Avraham asked on the redundancy of the verse, if the Torah is good then by definition it’s not bad. He answered that some things in life have good and bad elements attached to them, such as a dish of food that may have some good elements and some lacking. However, the Torah is not only good but it has no element of bad to it; it’s perfection.

Rav Avraham’s drash inspired me to another drash on the verse (Numbers 19:2), Zot chukat hatorah asher-tziva Hashem lemor daber el-benei Yisrael v’yikchu eleicha para aduma t’mima asher ein-ba mum asher lo-ala aleiha ol, “This is the statute of the Torah which the Lord commanded, saying, Speak to the children of Israel and have them take for you a perfectly red unblemished cow, upon which no yoke was laid.” This verse has many allusions and hints to the Torah, one striking one that is based on what Rav Avraham said.

Certain words in this pasuk point to the fact that we are dealing with Torah. Firstly, the wording of the verse is saying, this is the “chok of the Torah.” Torah here is a noun not an adjective (as in Zot Torat…this is the status of). The simple meaning is that this chok – represents the whole Torah. However, on a simple level – based on drash – we can certainly say the verse is saying that what will be mentioned in this verse is “the Torah,” and therefore keywords ensue.

The word “take” refers directly to Torah as it corresponds to the verse (Mishlei 4:2), Ki lekach (a taking) tov natati lachem, torati al taazovu, “For I give you a good doctrine; forsake ye not my teaching.” The end of the verse, “forsake ye not my teachings,” is evidence that the beginning of the verse is discussing Torah.

The verse discussing the chok continues – “Take a complete (Tamim) red heifer.” The word complete – “tamim” also references Torah as we know the verse says (Tehillim 19:8), Torat Hashem temimah, “The Torah of the law of the Lord is perfect.”

Now, Rav Avraham’s chiddush illuminates the middle of the pasuk as it says, “Bring this red heifer which must be complete with no blemish” (Tamim asher ein ba mum). The question ensues – if it must be complete then obviously it must have no blemish, similar to the original redundancy, “She bestows good and never bad all the days of her life” (Mishlei 31:12). The message is the same in both cases; that the Torah is not only complete but it has no blemish.

The verse ends by saying that no yoke (ol) may be upon it. This is a clear reference to Torah (connoting the idea ol malchut shamayim), but a specific kind of Torah, a perfect Torah that was not worked yet, that has no ol on it, that exists in its purest form. (Should the verse be discussing an animal that had an ol on it, this would already be referring to human Torah that was worked through, but we are discussing with no ol. It’s our responsibility to be mekabel ol malchut shamayim twice a day and consecrate perfection in a manner that can be applicable to our lives but this verse gives insight into the nature of Torah and its perfection.)

With Shavuos upon us another drash is appropriate. תּוֹרָה  (Torah) spelled backwards is  הַרוּת  (“Ha”Rut) “The Rut” (and with the “hey” closed תּוֹרָה  spelled backwards is חֵרוּת, for it says, “The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved [charut] on the tablets” (Exodus 32:16). Read not charut, “engraved” but cherut, “freedom,” for the only person who is truly free is one who occupies himself with Torah study. (Avot 6: 2)). Rut truly represents the Torah as she sacrificed all, a similar requirement in Torah for “The words of Torah only exist by one who ‘kills himself’ over it” (Shabbos 83b).

Lastly Rut in English is pronounced as “Root.” She is the essence and root of all that Judaism requests.