Shabbat Parshat SH'LACH (M'vorchim)
ZMANIM - HALACHIC TIMES
All other places at some height above sea level have similar problems.
Tzfat lights candles 30 minutes before sunset. Official candle lighting for Petach Tikva is 40 minutes before sunset, just like Jerusalem. Not everybody holds by that timing.
Some communities calculate
Shabbat out at 33 minutes after sunset. Some use the angle of the
sun below the horizon to “end Shabbat” (8.5 deg).
Also realize that Sfardim and
Ashkenazim often has differences in minhag.
Sunset, on the other hand, is given for an elevation of 825m and, in parentheses, as if at sea level. There are different opinions as to which sunset time should be used for halachic purposes. We present both times.
The deadlines for the SH'MA and the Shacharit Amida can be calculated in two ways. Either considering the day to be from sunrise to sunset or from dawn to stars out. The first way of reckoning is known as the opinion of the GR"A, and is the first time given in each case. The second method is known as the Magen Avraham, and is presented in parentheses.
Aside from candle lighting and havdala, the times are presented as a range, from the current Thursday of the issue of Torah Tidbits until the coming Thursday, a span of 8 days. Days between the two Thursdays can be determined by interpolation (which means: a method by which to estimate a value of between two known values - this is something that people above a certain age might remember from high school trigonometry and logarithms, but younger people who went to school during the calculator era might not be familiar with).
It is usually wise to "pad" the
times with a minute or two in the "play it safe" direction. E.g.
Plag Mincha. Better to finish Mincha a minute or two before the
given time. But, better to not light candles until a minute or two
after the given time.
This Shabbat we bench Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, which will be next Shabbat and a week from Sunday. Since Sivan has 30 days in our fixed calendar, Rosh Chodesh Tammuz is two days.
ROSH CHODESH TAMMUZ YIH-YEH B'YOM
SHABBAT KODESH U'L'MOCHRATO B'YOM RISHON HABA ALEINU V'AL KOL
HAMOLAD YIH-YEH B'YOM CHAMISHI
BA'LAYLA (LEIL SHISHI), SHALOSH DAKOT V'AR'BAA ASAR CHALAKIM ACHAREI
Every year we read Parshat Sh'lach. Every year we read about the terrible decree on Dor HaMidbar, the terrible consequences of not heeding G-d's call of Lech L'cha and Kalev's echo of ALOH NAALEH. And as the joke would go, every year we want to scream at the Meraglim not to do what they did.
But in this context, it is no joke. Those Meraglim will continue to make the same mistake every time we reread Sh'lach. They are like the racecar driver at 6:00 and 11:00 o'clock. But every generation of Jews has its Meraglim and has people who have a choice to harken to the call of Kalev and Yehoshua or to succumb to the specious arguments of "we have everything we need to live a full Jewish life here in (you fill in the blank) - why live in Israel?
The episode of the Meraglim in Parshat Sh'lach is NOT a rerun of last year's Torah reading. It is a fresh, ongoing reminder and warning to the Jewish People to learn the lessons of Jewish History and to choose wisely and properly at every crossroad of one's life.
"Why did G-d bring us to this
land to fall by the sword...?" That's one of the Meraglim's
questions. Seriously flawed question - unacceptable premise. Think
Kalev - If this is what G-d wants of us, then we will prevail. Just
[P> X:Y (Z)] and [S> X:Y (Z)]
indicate start of a parsha p’tucha or s’tuma respectively. X:Y is
Perek:Pasuk of the beginning of the parsha; (Z) is the number of
p'sukim in the parsha.
The representatives of each tribe are named and the Torah, further testifies to the high caliber of each man.
SDT Back in Bamidbar, when the Tribal leaders were named, both Efrayim and Menashe were identified as the sons of Yosef - both within the same pasuk. Here, only Menashe is identified with Yosef, and Efrayim's scout - Yehoshua - is listed 3 p'sukim earlier, without reference to Yosef. Commentaries note that Yosef had been involved in "negative reports" against his brothers, as was the scout of Menashe, Gadi b. Susi. Yehoshua, of course, remained clear of the taint of DIBA RA'A and is therefore not mentioned together with Yosef, in this context.
And Moshe called Hoshea bin Nun, Yehoshua.
SDT Rashi says that by adding a YUD to Hoshea's name, he was giving him a bracha that he should be saved from the group decision of the other Meraglim. Question: MIMA NAFSHACH (whichever way you want to look at the situation) - Why did Moshe not “bless” the others scouts similarly? And why would Yehoshua need a bracha when Kalev apparently did not?
Whether a Scout will come back with the proper attitude or not was based on each individual's personality, perceptions, and conclusions. That was up to each of the 12 individuals. That's not why Moshe gave a special bracha to Yehoshua. Moshe had a separate fear concerning Yehoshua. He could imagine Yehoshua joining the ten Meraglim in discouraging the People from entering the Land so that Moshe's life would be prolonged. Eldad and Meidad had prophesied that Moshe would die and Yehoshua would lead the people into the Land, and Yehoshua heard that. Moshe's bracha to Yehoshua was to keep Yehoshua honest, so to speak, so that he would not join the "evil advice" for any reason, even one to benefit Moshe himself.
Moshe gives the scouts instructions and an itinerary, hoping that they will return with an encouraging report for Bnei Yisrael. It was the time of the ripening of the grapes, Bikurei Anavim.
Twelve years ago, Erev Shabbat Parshat Sh'lach, we photocopied a schedule of activities of the Israel Center on one side of a page and photocopied a page containing an explanation of the situation then (not this year) of our reading Sh'lach when B'haalotcha was being read all over the world. The page also contained a D'var Torah on the Meraglim and a crude graphic of two spies carrying a large cluster of grapes on a stick. All this was under the heading TORAH TIDBITS, and so the 60 copies of issue number one (not even numbered then) was distributed in two shuls for that Shabbat. Here is that first Torah Tidbits Dvar Torah from 12 years ago. It all started with a DT from MAAYANA SHEL TORAH...
On the description of the time that Moshe sent the scouts as being, Y’MEI BIKUREI ANAVIM, the ARI Z”L states that the mitzva of BIKURIM (first fruits) is a TIKUN (combination repair, atonement, and “let’s do it right this time”) for the Sin of the Spies. “These (referring to the “scouts”, not including Yehoshua and Kalev) vilified the Land, and, in contrast, the mitzva of Bikurim was given because of love of the Land”. The Meraglim brought fruits of Eretz Yisrael and used them to frighten and discourage the People from going into Eretz Yisrael. The Bikurim bringer uses the fruits of Eretz Yisrael as a joyful and thankful expression of love of Eretz Yisrael. Furthermore, the Meraglim SPOKE against the Land; the Bikurim bringer SPEAKS in grateful acknowledgement of G-d’s bringing us to the Land of Israel. This aspect of WORDS makes the connection and contrast between the Sin of the Meraglim and the mitzva of Bikurim very strong. Maayana Shel Torah continues with a comment of HaRav Menachem Zemba, HY”D (one of the leading rabbis in the Warsaw ghetto; he perished during the uprising). Rav Zemba observed that the Mishna in Bikurim that describes how to do the mitzva, gives examples of a person going into his field and seeing a fig ripening, a cluster of grapes ripening, a pomegranate ripening... The Mishna names three of the seven species - the very same species that the Meraglim brought back with them. This serves as a sharp demonstration of the point of the ARI Z”L.
Let every Jew who heeds the words
of Kalev - ALO NAALEH - and comes to live in Eretz Yisrael be a
TIKUN for the Sin of the Scouts, and let us merit the day when we
will be able to further repair the damage caused by the Meraglim and
their generation by joyously bringing Bikurim to the Beit haMikdash
and declaring our thanks to HaShem for giving us this wonderful
land, speedily in our time, AMEN.
They showed the samples of the fruits they brought back with them. They described the apparent strength of the inhabitants (in an attempt to scare the people).
And they mentioned Amalek and other nations (knowing it would have a discouraging effect).
Kalev silenced the people and tells them that they should go to the Land; "we can do it!". The other ten scouts objected and spoke against the Land, causing widespread panic among the people. Moshe, Aharon, Kalev, and Yehoshua are greatly troubled by the words of the Meraglim and by the reaction of the people. Kalev and Yehoshua proclaim the goodness of the Land.
SDT ...and we were in our eyes like grasshoppers (compared to the giants of Canaan) and so we appeared to them. The Kotzker Rebbe and others define two components of the Sin of the Spies from this part of the pasuk. First, that we saw ourselves as small and insignificant, compared with the nations in Eretz Yisrael. Second, that we were concerned about how others perceived us. With G-d obviously on our side (we know what happened to Egypt and we witnessed so many miracles performed on our behalf), we should not have viewed ourselves that way. And, how others perceive us is their problem, not ours.
SDT Rashi says that when the Meraglim stressed how strong the people in K'na'an were, they were including an insult to G-d as well, as if to say, they are stronger even than G-d.
Notice how the first time the Meraglim spoke to the people, they did not say that we shouldn’t go into Eretz Yisrael. They “just” described some of the difficulties we would face and apparently hoped that their report would scare off the people. After Kalev took the microphone, so to speak, and gave a brief but enthusiastic “Aliya pep-talk”, the Meraglim dropped the subtle approach and spoke out openly against going into Eretz Yisrael. This is what the Torah described as DIBA RA’A AL HA- ARETZ, Lashon HaRa, against the Land.
It might be said that people who
tell other Jews about terror attacks and other difficulties that we
face in Israel are “guilty” of “first-stage” Meraglim- talk. Those
who add “you gotta be crazy to live there” or words to that effect,
are repeating and perpetuating what is maybe the greatest communal
sin in the history of the Jewish People. The sin of the Meraglim
created the blackest day on our calendar, Tish’a b’Av. The
destructions of the two Batei Mikdash and the various causes of the
CHURBAN were “merely” add-ons to Tish’a b’Av. When we totally
repudiate - by action, not just by word - the Sin of the Spies, and
embrace - by action, not just by word - the righteous behavior of
Kalev and Yehoshua, then we can hope for the fulfillment of the
prophecy of Zecharya that will see Tish’a b’Av and the other Churban-
related fasts become YAMIM TOVIM.
[P> 14:11 (15)] G-d is "angered" by the people and "suggests" to Moshe that He will destroy them. Moshe argues on behalf of the people. His (main) argument is that other nations will say that G-d did not have the ability to bring Bnei Yisrael into K'na'an, so He killed them in the wilderness. This would be a Chilul HaShem. Moshe then invokes a modified version of the Divine Attributes and pleads for forgiveness for the people. (Part of Moshe's words at this point have been incorporated into our davening.) G-d agrees to Moshe's pleas. (G-d's response to Moshe also becomes part of the Yom Kippur davening.) G-d declares that this is the tenth time that the People have "tested" His patience (so to speak). He promises that the men of this generation will not enter the Land - except Kalev (and Yehoshua).
The People are told that Amalek and the Canaanites occupy the valley and that they (the People of Israel) will have to divert towards the Midbar.
Compare and Learn
There is more to this than "simply" two examples of Lashon HaRa, one about a person and one about Eretz Yisrael. There are important elements and details to be learned one from the other.
For example, it is not just the speaker of Lashon HaRa that transgresses. Those who listen to LH passively, without objecting, those who accept the LH as truth - they too transgress. The Sin of the Spies was not restricted to 10 people. Thousands of those who heard what was said and accepted it, and panicked because of it, they too were guilty. And they were punished, as we know.
Translate this into our time. It
is not enough for one to refrain from bad- mouthing Eretz Yisrael,
one cannot stand by idly when others do it. Kalev jumped up as soon
as he heard what the Meraglim said. He did his best to repudiate the
words of the Meraglim and then made his own impassioned pitch for
One commentary turns the question
of juxtaposition around. Something has to follow something else in
the Torah. Going to ask about every two things that come together?
He answers based on the explanation of the function of the parsha
that is bracketed with the backwards NUNs (in last week’s sedra). It
was to separate between tragic episodes. If so, then why not
separate between the episode of Miriam and that of the Spies?
Answer: To note the parallels.
Clarification: The Sin of the Spies occurred on Tish'a b'Av 2449, more than a year out of Egypt. The total time in the Midbar from Exodus to entry into the Eretz Yisrael is 40 years (less a few days). So the punishment is really for less than 39 years, not 40. The answer is that the Sin of the Spies is the culmination of the "angering" of G-d. We can say that it began back at the Sin of the Golden Calf (or even before that - we "complained" when were hardly out of Egypt). The 40-year punishment is retroactive to Cheit HaEigel (or earlier).
The people deeply regret their
behavior and NOW decide to enter the Land immediately. Moshe warns
them not to, because G-d no longer wants them to do so (at this
point). Some of the people went anyway - without the protection of
the Aron, so to speak - and are defeated and repelled by Amalek and
It is important to note the
context of these laws. Right after being told that the older
generation (males) will not enter the Land, G-d comforts the people
by teaching procedures that will apply in Eretz Yisrael,
specifically mitzvot that are to be "pleasing to G-d". It is as if
G-d says, "Don't be too dismayed; your children will live in Eretz
Yisrael and will serve Me in the Beit HaMikdash" in this special
way. Note also that the Aliya-break comes in mid-topic, leaving us,
at the break, to ponder and savor the fact that we will yet bring
about REIACH NICHOCH L'HASHEM.
Secondly, the fact that we are to give Challah to a Kohen - specifically after most of the work has been done, meaning that we give Challa from ready-to-pop-into-the-oven dough rather than the raw produce of other gifts to the Kohen - indicates that it is not merely the gift that is significant, but the service to the Kohen that we perform that is important as well.
Challah is one of the Mitzvot that our Sages have kept active by rabbinic decree since the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash, so that its practice and lessons should not be lost to us. Furthermore, Challah is rabbinically required in Chutz LaAretz, although the Torah introduces the mitzva with, "with your coming to the Land". This too helps keep "Torat Challa" alive among the Jewish People. Often, reciting and learning appropriate Torah passages is sufficient to remember a "suspended" mitzva. Not with this one. Actual performance of the mitzva continues.
[S> 15:22 (5)] Next the Torah
presents the details of the Chatat (sin offering) of the community
(in cases where the leaders of the community inadvertently misled
the people (in Avoda Zara related matters.) Here again it seems
obvious that this topic is brought up because of the Sin of the
Spies. This mitzva is not counted here, but it certainly conveys G-d's
attitude (so to speak) about Cheit HaMeraglim. We recognize that
sometimes our leaders must bear the responsibility of leading us
astray (but not always - often we must be accountable and not claim
that we were just following orders). The ideas (and text) of this
portion form part of our Yom Kippur service.
Following Cheit HaMeraglim and preceding the episode of the wood- gatherer, the Torah presents us with both types of Chata’ot - communal and individual. These topics are dealt with (and counted among Taryag) else- where. Again, we are seeing (perhaps) an example of repeating something in a specific context or juxtaposition in order to make a point and deliver an important message to us.
[P> 15:32 (3)] The Torah next tells us of the woodgatherer (Tradition identifies him as Zelafchad) who was locked up pending details from G-d as to how a public desecrator of Shabbat is to be executed. (That it is a capital offense was already known.)
[S> 15:35 (2)] G-d's command was to stone the violator. And so it was done.
[P> 15:37 (5)] The final portion of the sedra is the third passage of the Sh'ma - the portion of Tzitzit. It contains the mitzva to put Tzitzit on the corners of a four-corner garment [386,A14 15:38] and that one of the strings of each corner should be dyed t'cheilet, the special blue dye.
Our Sages went out of their way to involve us in the mitzva of Tzitzit - with Talit Gadol and Talit Katan - although we could technically not be required to fulfill this mitzva because our regular clothing does not usually have four corners. Perhaps they did so because Tzitzit is not merely a mitzva that we "perform", it is a mitzva that we wear. It is an integral part of our everyday lives. It is part of our Jewish uniform. What a shame to be without this inspirational mitzva because the style of clothing has changed and we no longer wear four-cornered garments.
Furthermore, the Torah links the
mitzva of tzitzit with all the mitzvot of the Torah; tzitzit (and/or
the P'til T'cheilet) serve as a reminder of the Jew's
all-encompassing commitment to G-d. This is followed by the warning
not to follow the evil temptation of the eye (mind) or heart
(emotion) [387,L47 15:39]. The Torah then reiterates the importance
of belief in G-d in general, and in His having redeemed us from
Egypt, in particular. Thus, the twice daily recitation of the Sh'ma
constitutes the fulfillment of the mitzva to remember the Exodus
"all the days of your life", in addition to its own mitzva, the
recitation of the Sh'ma. It follows that when one recites the Sh’ma,
one should have specific KAVANA at the end of the third passage to
fulfill the mitzva to remember the Exodus all the days of our lives.
These last 5 p'sukim, Parshat Tzitzit, are reread for the Maftir.
We now come to the order of inheritance when there is no will.
A few rules:
(1) The halacha assumes that
every Jew has relatives surviving him. That is, except for a
proselyte who dies without leaving surviving children or the
descendant of his children. They are his heirs only if the children
were conceived after his conversion into Judaism.
We shall deal with a typical married couple, Jacob and Rachel. They have three sons, Reuven, Shimon, and Levi and three daughters, Dina, Yael, and Devora. Assume that Dina is the first born.
1. Jacob dies first. The widow does not get any inheritance, since a wife never, never, never inherits a husband. (This is without a will). The estate will be divided equally among Reuven, Shimon and Levi.
2. Rachel dies first. Jacob inherits her entire estate.
3. Jacob dies and Reuven, Shimon and Levi died before Jacob died. The sons of Jacob left children, Seth the son of Reuven, Ralph, the son of Shimon, and Harriet, the daughter of Levi. Seth, Ralph and Harriet divide the estate (each being the heir of a son).
4. When Jacob died, he had no sons or offspring of his three sons surviving him. His daughters Dina, Yael, and Devora will inherit the estate of Jacob.
5. Jacob dies leaving no sons or descendants from sons; he leaves no daughters surviving him. But his daughters Dina, Yael, and Devora each left a child, Amnon, Shirley, and Chaim respectively. Amnon, Shirley, and Chaim will inherit the entire estate of Jacob, each being the heir of their mothers (who are the heirs of Jacob, as in #4).
6. [Ed. clarification, based on #5] If Dina and/or Yael and/or Devora had more than one child, then sons would inherit their mother's share in Jacob's estate equally, and daughters would inherit only if their mother had no sons.
Example... Dina has two sons and a daughter, Yael has one daughter, Devora has five sons. Dina's two sons share Dina's third of Jacob's estate; their sister does not inherit. Yael's daughter gets Yael's full third. And Devora's five sons share Devora's third of Jacob's estate.
7. Jacob dies leaving no
descendants, neither sons, nor daughters nor offspring of sons or
daughters. Isaac the father of Jacob inherits Jacob’s estate.
9. Jacob dies leaving no descendants and his father and his brothers Oded, Shmuel, and David are all dead. The brothers leave sons Peretz, Bernard, and Hillel respectively, who survive Jacob. Peretz, Bernard, and Hillel inherit the entire estate although they also have sisters. Again, if any of the brothers had daughters only, they would inherit just as their male cousins would.
11. Jacob dies leaving no descendants and his father and brothers are all dead as are Preretz, Bernard, and Hillel leaving no descendants. Oded, Shmuel and David did leave daughters surviving Jacob - Sally, Sheila, and Adele, respectively. Sally, Sheila and Adele inherit the entire estate of Jacob
12. Jacob dies leaving no descendants nor father nor brothers or any descendants from the brothers surviving Jacob. Jacob did have sisters, Jane, Sandra and Renee, who are the daughters of Isaac, irrespective of whether these sisters have the same mother as the decedent, that is whether half sisters or full sisters. As it were, the sisters do not inherit directly from Jacob, but take the share that their father Isaac would have inherited from Jacob.
There are of course so many other combinations. In Volume 8 of A Restatement of Rabbinic Civil Law, I give 28 examples on pages 122 to 125.
I would now like to discuss the heirs of a woman, Sarah, who died.
Either she was married at the time of her death or was a widow (or divorcee) at the time of her death. If Sarah and her husband were divorced, for the purposes of this section it is the same as if she was a widow: A husband is the heir of his wife, and if he is not alive, then her estate is inherited by her sons and their descendants. If she left no sons or descendants of sons surviving her, her estate is inherited by her daughters and their descendants if her daughters predeceased her. If she left no daughters or descendants of daughters, her estate is inherited by her father. If she is not survived by her father, then her father's sons inherit her. If there are no sons of her father or their descendants surviving Sarah, then her father's daughters are Sarah's heirs, and if she had no such sisters or sister's descendants surviving her, the estate goes to her father's father, her grandfather. If he did not survive her, the estate goes to the grandfather's sons and descendants; or then to the grandfather's daughters and their descendants.
A son who predeceased his mother is not her heir so as to transmit his inheritance to his brothers by his father only. Reuven, the sole son of Sarah died and then his mother, Sarah, a widow died. Reuven's sons inherit Sarah, since Sarah does not have a husband surviving her. If Reuven left no descendants and his next of kin is his brother, Levi, from the same father but not from Sarah, Levi does not inherit Sarah.
However, if Reuven had survived Sarah and inherited her, then his heirs are the same as listed above; if his brother Levi is his heir, then Levi will inherit that which Reuven inherited from Sarah, although Levi is not related to Sarah.
The subject matter of this lesson
is more fully discussed in volume VIII chapters 273 of A Restatement
of Rabbinic Civil Law by E. Quint. Copies of all volumes can be
purchased via email: firstname.lastname@example.org and via website:
www.israelbooks.com and at local Judaica bookstores. Questions to
Rav Natan suggests that giving gifts seems to be against the educational message of the Torah. “The main point of the giving of the Torah seems to be so that a person can receive the reward of the World to Come as the earnings for his labors, and not as a free gift”. He makes reference to the concept, emphasized by Rav Moshe Chaim Luzatto and others, that our effort in carrying out the mitzvot gives us an inner attachment to the spiritual reward, making it our own, and not the “bread of shame” of a handout. In effect, when we occupy ourselves with the transcendental tasks of mitzva observance this creates an attachment to the transcendental reward of experiencing the Divine presence.
By the same token, our human conduct should be focused on giving people material rewards that constitute at least nominal return for their efforts. (As we explained last week, the main objection does not seem to be to charitable gifts, which are given in order to fulfill vital needs, for we certainly recognize HaShem’s role in providing for the needs of all. Rav Natan’s focus would seem to be social gifts among those who are not needy.)
Rav Natan answers this objection by pointing out that before the Torah was given, the spiritual sustenance of humanity was not through the merit of Torah study and Torah observance, for the Torah had not yet been given. Rather, a unique Divine dimension inhered even in worldly pursuits, “derekh eretz”, through a hidden or latent Torah, which was given to humanity as a gift, not as a recompense. He speaks of a “treasury” of gratuitous bounty through which HaShem provides some level of spiritual attainment even in the absence of Torah study and observance.
Rav Natan further demonstrates that this dimension of reward, one not predicate on Torah study and Torah observance, was not extinguished at the moment of the Giving of the Torah. On the contrary, it is this dimension that provides us with spiritual sustenance during those moments of the day when we are not occupied directly with learning or with mitzvot. In these moments also, HaShem enlivens us through the latent aspect of Torah in our mundane concerns. (These mundane actions are “plugged in” to Torah through the actions of the outstanding saints of each generation. Such individuals, such as Rav Nachman, are constantly bound to Torah through their intense scholarship, devotion and righteousness; yet they also are occupied at times with mundane concerns. This “distraction” of the tzadik actually enlivens routine everyday activities for all, demonstrating to everyone that even these routine acts can be done with an intense consciousness of G^d’s presence and influence.)
Thus, while the giving of the Torah introduced a unique dimension of reward into the world, providing a means for individuals to attain enlightenment through their efforts, Torah did not completely efface the prior aspect of enlightenment through Divine grace, as a freely willed gift. This aspect remains a complementary dimension of G-d’s plan for humanity. Thus it is appropriate for us too, at times, to give voluntary gifts to our friends.
As always, Rav Natan connects his profound spiritual insight with a specific halakhic rule. He writes that this approach to gift-giving can explain why the halakha requires gifts to be given openly and publicly (See SA CM 242:3). The spiritual importance of the “gift” aspect of G-d’s providence is that it enlivens our mundane everyday activities, those that are seemingly far from Torah. This aspect of life is often connected with the street or the “public domain”, as we have written in other columns (for example, on carrying and the eiruv). Thus the gift itself should be given openly, in the marketplace or “public domain”.
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Our text does not use the phrase 'to rebel' but rather 'to sin'; seeing how not fulfilling a promise is considered a sin as G-d always is a witness to our contracts.
The same phrase is used to describe Moav's previous behavior at the time of Achazyahu, Yehoram's brother who had died after ruling only 2 years. His death had been prophesied by Eliyahu, as had been Achav's in the battle against Aram. This phrase suggests that the reason for the wars in all these cases was not geopolitical or strategic but rather the sins of both kings; a cause we saw repeatedly expressed openly in the book of Judges. The sins of Achazyahu are clear to us; he was as evil as his father and as sexually immoral as Jezebel, his mother. Regarding Yehoram, while he did demolish the House of Baal erected in Shomron by his parents, he still followed in the ways of Yeravam ben Nevat and continued the worship of the Calves, one at Dan and the other at Bet El, thus continuing the spiritual division of Am Yisrael.
Now Yehoram called on Yehoshafat, king of Judah, to join him in a joint military campaign; the dynasty of Achav is one of the few examples where good relations existed between the two Jewish kingdoms rather than the bickering and wars that characterized their history. Chazal see this partnership, that contrasted with his refusal to accept the offer from Achazayu of a joint maritime venture from Etzion-Gever [Aqaba] to the gold fields of Ofir [Abyssinia?], as evidence of the spiritual decline of Yehoshafat. Whilst generally he was pious, nevertheless he did not remove the local altars thus allowing sacrifices apart from the Bet HaMikdash.
The two kings, accompanied by the king of Edom, at that time a vassal of Judah, set out to attack Moav from the southeast through the mountain ranges of the desert of Edom that lie South of Yam HaMelach. Although the terrain was more difficult, nevertheless it gave them the element of surprise. After a march of 7 days, the army was without water, giving the alternative of retreating or of defeat at the hands of Moav, so Yehoshafat asked that they call for a prophet of G-d, without whom Israel never made war. One of the officers said that Elisha, unbeknown to them, had accompanied the armies, and so the kings went down, as a sign of respect, to him to ask the word of G-d. Elisha's answer to Yoram was that he was unable to look at the face of evil so Yehoram should rather call on the false prophets of his parents Achav and Jezebel. This is simply another example of the reluctance of righteous people to even face evil ones. "Rabbi Eliezer said: We learn that the eyes of the righteous are blinded by looking at evil people as it is written, 'and the eyes of Yitzchak became dulled' from looking at Eisav" (Megila 28a). However Elisha's words were said in angry rebuke so they caused prophecy to depart from him. "Resh Lakish taught: when anger occurs to a wise man, wisdom departs, and if he is a prophet, prophecy departs as in the case of Elisha. So when Moshe was angry at the commanders of the war against Midian, the laws of battle spoils were taught by Elazar HaKohen instead (Bamidbar, 31:14-24).
"The Shechinah does not dwell amidst despair and sadness but rather only when there is the simcha of mitzva" (Shabbat 30b) and the Radak adds that ever since Eliyahu departed from him, Elisha was in a state of mourning, so that his prophecy had departed from him. Then "when the harpist played before Elisha [stimulating joy and spirituality], the spirit of the Lord descended on him'" (Pesachim 66b).We should worship G-d in simcha; the Admor Simcha Bunem of P'shischa taught that simcha is the overflowing of kedusha.
Elisha foretold a great outpouring of water in the desert without them witnessing any wind or rain and that would be sign that Hashem would deliver Moav into their hands. As a punishment for Moav's breaking their covenant with Achav, Elisha told them to practice a scorched earth policy there that would include the towns, the springs and wells and even the fruit trees. The last named seemed to contradict the isur in the Torah against destroying fruit trees during war, as it was an affront to G-d who provided them for Mankind's benefit. The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabba 21:6) points out that Moav's sin of ingratitude towards Israel for not attacking them when they left Egypt made this universal injunction not applicable to them.
Although their armies defeated
Moav as Elisha foretold, the victory of the three kings was not
conclusive so that struggles with Moav continued. The temporary
victory is ascribed to Yehoshafat's modesty and piety that is
recalled in his previous war with Moav (2 Chronicles 20). Then he
prayed, "We have no might against this great multitude neither do we
know what to do; but our eyes are upon You". So alongside the
justice that punishes sin comes G-d's mercy: "Mercy and Truth have
met" (Tehilim 85:11).
Q Our son’s Pidyon HaBen (=PHB) (redemption of the firstborn) falls on Shabbat, and so we push it off until after Shabbat. Must we do it on Motzaei Shabbat, which is late this time of year, or may we do it the next day (before nightfall) when it is easier for our guests and us?
A Mazal Tov! You seem to assume that Motzaei Shabbat is the halachically preferable time. Let’s first check that assumption, and then we will be more equipped to deal with your specific question.
The Torah says that PHB is to be done from the time the child is a month old (Bamidbar 18:16). The Talmud is replete with references to its being done after 30 days. A basic question arises whether the key time factor is an astronomical month (which is slightly more than 29½ days) (Shach, Yoreh Deah 305:19) or whether a PHB is done on the 31st day of the child’s life, which, depending on the time of birth and the time of the PHB, could be anywhere from just over 29 full days after birth to just under 31 (Magen Avraham 339:8). Our clear minhag is never to do a PHB before day 31. However, it is less clear whether this is sufficient or whether we must also ensure that it be done when an astronomical month is complete.
This may be the rationale for the Shach’s (ibid.:12) minhag not to do a PHB at night, as it is likely that the night of the 31st is not yet after the passing of an astronomical month (see Dagul Meir’vava on Magen Avraham 568:10). Although most Ashkenazim follow this minhag (Pidyon HaBen K’hilchato 6:7)¸ the rationale is not unanimous, and this is crucial for our case. The Shaarei Teshuva (568:8) says that we do a PHB during the day in order to better publicize the mitzva. This factor is less applicable today when people are more available to take part in such mitzva events at night than they are during the day. Other more spiritual, esoteric reasons are proposed, as well (see Pidyon Haben K’hilchato ibid.:(23)). One practical difference between the reasons for doing a PHB during the day is the case of a PHB delayed until Motzaei Shabbat. In this case, when the month is undoubtedly over, the first reason does not apply, and it becomes appropriate to do the PHB at night. This may also be preferable, at least if it solves other problems (Dagul Meir’vava, ibid.; Mishna Berura 568:20 - see their context). According to the other explanations, a delayed PHB is no different from a regular one.
If we assume that it is fine to do the PHB on Motzaei Shabbat, is it preferable to do so, and, if so, how preferable? While the prompt performance of a Brit Mila is more pressing than that of a PHB, the Shulchan Aruch (YD 305: 11) does say to do a PHB “miyad (right away) and not let the mitzva be delayed”. His source (see Beit Yosef in the name of the Rosh) seems to understand the need for diligence as the general one not to delay mitzvot. While we do not want to under- estimate this factor, general diligence does not get most of us up by sunrise to do the various mitzvot of the day. Additionally, the importance of doing a PHB “right away” when it has already been delayed may be diminished (Tosafot, Moed Katan 8b; Magen Avraham 568:10).
After seeing some of the sources, it is time to try to put things in perspective. Any time from Motzaei Shabbat to nightfall on Sunday is valid, and it is unclear whether it is preferable, all things being equal, to do a delayed PHB on Motzaei Shabbat or the next day (see Otzar Pidyon Haben 17:2, who claims that the minhag is on Motzaei Shabbat). Either way, the halachic difference is not a great one. It is prevalent nowadays that we do a regular PHB during the afternoon when it is easier to get a bigger crowd to publicize/celebrate the mitzva despite the delay of a few hours (see ibid. 16:(10)). Therefore, feel free to do what works best for you, based on religious but also personal considerations. As you are probably already experiencing, the birth of a firstborn brings much elation but also a fair share of fatigue and even emotional stress. May you experience the mitzva and simcha of PHB with as much peace of mind as possible.
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"My friends", he told them, "when
a person slaughters an animal, he is to give the kohen three parts
of the animal: the zero'a (arm), the lecha'ayim (tongue with the
cheeks), and the keivah (stomach). I too want to ask these three
gifts of you: the zero'a - that you should put on tefillin daily;
the lecha'ayim - that your tongue should not speak evil of others
nor should you shave your cheeks with a razor, and the keivah - that
you should not eat non-kosher food."
There are many answers to this question, but perhaps the most significant is the resolution offered by Ramban. He argues that the spies’ report was essentially not sinful. Their terrible wrongdoing consisted of only one small segment of their account. They stated: “Efes ki az ha’am”, “But the people are strong”. Ramban understands that the word “efes” implies impossibility, that is to say, we cannot possibly overcome the mighty people of the land. Perhaps it would be difficult, or even logically inconceivable, but IMPOSSIBLE? That word does not apply to the Jewish people, for it is G-d who guides their destiny.
This idea governs our present situation as well. Many aspects of our con- temporary plight may be perceived as difficult to overcome, and it may be illogical to assume that we will be successful. Yet we constantly overcome the most difficult obstacles that lie before us, because for the Jewish people, who place their trust in G-d, absolutely nothing is truly impossible, for He continues to guide our destiny.
Rabbi Moshe Chaim Sosevsky, Har Nof, Jerusalem
TORAH THOUGHTS as contributed by
Aloh Naaleh members for publication in the Orthodox Union's 'Torah
Insights', a weekly Torah publication on Parshat Ha'Shavuah
There are two main species of
sloths. The Unau sloth and the Ai sloth. While the Unau sloth has
two toes on the front feet, the Ai sloth has three. Male sloths are
solitary, shy animals. Females sometimes congregate. Sloths are
nocturnal; they are most active at night and sleep all day.
Rashi explains that these men were the leaders of the community, men of stature, some even greater than Moshe’s 2nd-in-command Hoshea Bin Nun. And, indeed, despite G-d’s promise to bring the people to “a good land”, these twelve good men go to “spy” that Land.
From the term “V'yaturu” we might learn that what Hashem really wanted was that these initially righteous representatives would bring “Torah” to the Holy Land. It was as if G-d said that if you want to have your say regarding the character of the Jewish State, your criteria should be based on Torah values.
In the last analysis only two of the leaders lived up to the challenge: Yehoshua was inspired by Moshe’s addition of the sacred letter “yud” to his name; Calev garnered personal spiritual resources as both men proclaimed faith in G-d. It seems that today, as Israel’s detractors abound, we are still in need of Yehoshua and Calev’s eternal legacy.
Shabbat Shalom Menachem Persoff
Korbanics at a Glance - Last
Chagigat Arba Asar, another variety of Shelamim, was brought with Korban Pesach so that there would be enough meat to satiate all in the Chavura (pre-registered members of the Pesach group) before they ate of the K.P. If the number of people in the Chavura was small, and the meat of the Korban Pesach would suffice, Chagigat Arba Asar was not required. Chagigat Arba Asar was not brought when Erev Pesach fell on Shabbat.
Korban Toda (Thanksgiving Offering) an- other kind of Shelamim, was brought by one if he was liberated from prison, recovered from a serious illness, returned from a sea voyage or if he returned to ‘civilization’ after being lost in the wilderness (Vayikra 7:11-17). According to Berachot 54b, the Sages derived this ruling from Tehilim 107:23-31. [Today, we would say Birkat HaGomel.] The blood application of the Korban Toda was identical with that of other Shelamim. After the Emurim were burnt on the Mizbei'ach, some of the meat was retained by the Kohanim and the rest was eaten by the Ba’al HaKorban together with his family and friends. Unlike other Shelamim which could be eaten "during two days and (the intervening) night (but note Ramban on Vayikra 7:16), the meat of the Korban Toda could be eaten only on the day of sacrifice and on the night following until midnight. Korban Toda was accompanied by forty loaves of four different kinds (Menachot 77b), one kind leavened, the others, unleavened. One loaf of each variety was given to the Kohanim.
Bechor – Firstborn Animals - Firstborn males of cattle, sheep, and goats, were given to a Kohein who in turn offered it in the Mikdash as a Korban. The Emurim were burnt on the Mizbei'ach and the meat was eaten by the Kohanim and their households in a state of purity within the boundaries of Jerusalem "during two days and (the intervening) night" (Shemot 13:2, Zevachim 5:8). Bechorot, like all Kodashim Kalim - sacrifices of a lower level of sanctity - were brought into the Azara through the Sha'ar HaBechorot, a gate located on its southern side. Tif'eret Yisrael contends that the Mikdash authorities named this gate after the firstborn animals "because similar to the meat of Kodshei Kodashim (sacrifices of a higher level of sanctity) all the meat of the Bechorot was assigned to the Kohanim. For this reason, the possibility existed that someone would err and claim that if Bechorot were slaughtered in the southern area of the Azara, they would be invalidated. Therefore, they ordained that Bechorot should be brought into the Azara through Sha'ar HaBechorot, the southern gate named after them. This accentuated the fact that Bechorot were indeed Kodashim Kalim and could be slaughtered in the southern part of the Azara" (Midot 1:4, Tif'eret Yisrael 33). Unlike Kodshei Kodashim which could be slaughtered only north of the Mizbei'ach, "Kodashim Kalim could be slaughtered anywhere in the Azara" and not only in the south (Zevachim 5:6,7,8).
Ma’aser Beheima – the Tithing of Kosher domesticated Animals - One out of every ten cattle, sheep or goats, male or female born each year was brought to the Mikdash as a Korban. The Emurim were burnt on the Mizbei'ach and the meat was eaten by the Ba'al HaKorban, his family and guests in a state of purity within the boundaries of Jerusalem ‘during two days and (the intervening) night.’ (Zevachim 5:8).
Chatat, Asham, Bechor, Ma’aser
Beheima, and Korban Pesach were at all times obligatory; Olah,
Shelamim and Korban Toda were considered voluntary.
Catriel is in the process of
writing a book: The Temple of Jerusalem, A Pilgrims Prospective; A
Guided Tour through the Temple and the Divine Service
R'UVEIN, eldest son of Yaakov. His name begins with a REISH voweled with a SH'VA NA. The first syllable of his name is R'U. When a LAMED is prefixed, the LAMED gets a CHIRIK and the SH'VA of the REISH changes to a NACH. The first syllable is now LIR and the word continues as U-VEIN. It might seem awkward that the LAMED breaks the REISH away from the rest of the name, but that's what happens.
As another example, it used to bother me to say (in the SIM SHALOM bracha of the AMIDA), UTZ-DAKA and UV-RACHA. The word without the conjunctive VAV is TZ'DAKA. It seemed reasonable to let the VAV (as a SHURUK) stand in its own syllable - especially because a SHURUK is a major vowel (T'NU'A G'DOLA). It turns out that the SHURUK which results from a VAV/SH'VA that needs to change because (in this case) it would precede a letter with a SH'VA, does not behave like a major vowel and does capture the first letter of the word to form a closed syllable. When this happens, the SH'VA NA becomes NACH. (Not always, as we shall see, but often. Patience, please.)
B'RACHA becomes UV and then RA-CHA.
AL was particularly "upset" by Z'VULUN. With the prefixed LAMED, it becomes LIZ-VULUN. If, in fact, the ZAYIN now has a SH'VA NACH, then by the rules of DIKDUK we learned back in elementary school or high school (or wherever), the VET should get a DAGESH KAL and we should say LIZ-BULUN. Which we don't. The answer is that the ZAYIN's SH'VA is NACH and the DAGESH does NOT go into the VET.
There are many words like this
and we will have to modify and firm up the rules of DAGESH KAL to
explain words like ET-CHEM (or ES-CHEM as we would say in Ashkenazis),
where a CHAF follows a SH'VA NACH and does not become a KAF. Let's
take this as the beginning of a topic, to be continued, IY"H next
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