By Shlomo Katz
Volume 19, No. 15
5 Shevat 5765
January 15, 2005
Martin and Michelle Swartz
in memory of Martin's grandmother, Elise Hofmann a"h
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Nidah 28
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Bava Kamma 35
This past Tuesday was Rosh Chodesh Shevat. Although our Sages
tell us that "Mi'shenichnas Adar marbim be'simchah" / "We increase our
joy when the month of Adar arrives,"R' Avraham Shalom Halberstam
shlita (the Stropkover Rebbe in Yerushalayim) reported that his father
used to feel added joy as early as when the month of Shevat began.
This was because, beginning with Rosh Chodesh Shevat,we observe a
special day on the calendar at least once every two weeks, i.e., Rosh
Chodesh Shevat, Tu B'Shevat, Rosh Chodesh Adar, Purim, Rosh Chodesh
Nissan, Pesach, Rosh Chodesh Iyar, Pesach Sheni, Rosh Chodesh Sivan
R' Halberstam also observed that beginning with Parashat Bo, the
next seven parashot allude to the major holidays in order, as follows:
Bo describes the Exodus, which occurred on the first day of
Beshalach describes the splitting of the Yam Suf / Red Sea, which
occurred on the seventh day of Pesach.
Yitro describes the Giving of the Torah, which occurred on
Mishpatim speaks of judgement, which alludes to the Days of
Tetzaveh speaks of the oil for the Temple menorah, and thus
alludes to Chanukah.
Finally, Ki Tissa speaks of the shekalim / the coins that were
donated to the Mishkan, and thus alludes to Purim. [The Megillah
records that Haman offered shekalim to Achashveirosh as payment for
the right to kill the Jews. However, says the Midrash, the mitzvah of
shekalim protected the Jewish People.] (Heard from R' Halberstam on
29 Tevet 5765)
"Hashem said to Moshe and Aharon, `This is the decree of the
Pesach-offering -- no alien person may eat from it'."
The Gemara (Pesachim 3b) relates that a certain gentile bragged
to the sage Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteirah that he (the gentile) went to
Yerushalayim on Pesach and ate from the Korban Pesach even though the
Torah prohibits it. The Gemara then tells how Rabbi Yehuda tricked
the interloper into giving away his identity the next time he (the
gentile) went to Yerushalayim for Pesach.
The Talmud commentary Tosfot asks: It is apparent from this story
that Rabbi Yehuda himself did not go to Yerushalayim to fulfill the
mitzvah of Aliyah La'reggel / making the pilgrimage to Yerushalayim
for the holidays. Why not? Tosfot answers that only landowners are
obligated in that mitzvah. Perhaps Rabbi Yehuda did not own land.
R' Yechezkel Landau z"l (the Noda B'Yehuda; died 1793) asks: Why
was Tosfot bothered by the fact that Rabbi Yehuda did not fulfill the
mitzvah of Aliyah La'reggel, but seemingly not bothered by the fact
that Rabbi Yehuda did not fulfill the mitzvah of Korban Pesach?
R' Landau answers: Unlike the mitzvah of Aliyah La'reggel, the
mitzvah of Korban Pesach does not impose an obligation to travel to
Yerushalayim. Rather, only a person who is in Yerushalayim on the
fourteenth of the month of Nissan is obligated to bring the offering.
Rabbi Yehuda lived far from Yerushalayim and had no obligation to go
there. Indeed, since the mitzvah to bring a Korban Pesach does not
begin until the fourteenth, there cannot exist an obligation to travel
to Yerushalayim before the fourteenth in order to be in a position to
perform the mitzvah.
(Tziyun L'nefesh Chayah)
R' Yosef Babad z"l (19th century Poland) takes strong exception
to R' Landau's suggestion that one is not obligated to travel to
Yerushalayim in order to bring a Korban Pesach. R' Babad writes: I do
not understand his words at all, for of course every Jew is obligated
to bring a Korban Pesach! Moreover, a Jew is obligated to travel from
the end of the world to be in Yerushalayim for Pesach! There simply
is no rational basis for contending that a person is not obligated
bring himself to Yerushalayim in order to offer the Korban Pesach, R'
Elsewhere R' Babad writes similarly: Technically, a person who
owns no Chametz on the 14th of Nissan is not obligated to burn
Chametz. Likewise, a person who has no four-cornered garment has no
obligation to wear Tzitzit. Nevertheless, a Jew is obligated to love
mitzvot and to cause himself to become obligated. In this way, he
emulates Moshe Rabbeinu who wanted to enter Eretz Yisrael in order to
become obligated in the agricultural mitzvot.
(Minchat Chinuch: Mitzvah #5 and Mitzvah #2)
"It shall come to pass when Hashem will bring you to the land
of the Canaanites . . . And it shall be a sign upon your arm
and an ornament between your eyes . . ." (13:11 & 16)
The Gemara (Kiddushin 37b) asks: Why are the entry into Eretz
Yisrael and the mitzvah of tefilin mentioned in the same paragraph?
The gemara answers: It was taught in the yeshiva of Rabbi Yishmael,
"Do this mitzvah so that you will enter the Land."
R' Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook z"l (died 1935; first Ashkenazic
Chief Rabbi of Palestine) explains the connection between tefilin and
Eretz Yisrael as follows:
Tefilin, by virtue of where they are worn, parallel the heart and
the mind, the organs through which the neshamah and the intellect
reveal their powers. However, the heart and the mind, being physical,
are subject to man's will, and the powers of the neshamah and the
intellect can be lessened by the choices man makes. Therefore, Hashem
commanded that we wear tefilin, a crown which is separate from the
body and which therefore will be unaffected by man's will. To the
contrary, the holiness of the tefilin causes rays of spiritual light
to spread out over the entire body and reach the heart and the mind.
As a result, the power of the intellect dominates over the power of
R' Kook continues: The Gemara (Menachot 44a) states: "One who
wears tefilin lengthens his life." Why?
Long life usually is dependent on having a healthy constitution.
Thus, the person who lives long is not necessarily the most fortunate,
for the stronger and healthier a person is, the more likely he is to
be challenged by physical desires and other destructive traits. The
exception is a person who wears tefilin, because the external "mind"
and "heart," which the tefilin are, rein in this person's desires and
reinstate his intellect to its proper place. For such a person, long
life is a true blessing.
The uniqueness of Eretz Yisrael lies in the fact that there a Jew
can reach such a lofty level that the bounty of the land enhances,
rather than challenges, his spiritual growth. This explains why the
Torah repeatedly promises material blessings, the very things that a
wise person avoids. When a Jew is under the influence of his tefilin,
he can live in Eretz Yisrael and enjoy its bounty without being
(Chavash Pe'er, Drush 1)
R' Yosef ibn Tzaddik z"l
born approx. 1075 - died 1149
R' Yosef was born in southern Spain and died in Cordova, Spain.
As a dayan / rabbinical judge in that city for the last eleven years
of his life, R' Yosef served on the same bet din / court as R' Maimon,
father of Rambam.
R' Yosef, a disciple of R' Yitzchak ibn Giat, delved deeply into
philosophy, and his fame rests upon his religious philosophical work,
Olam Kattan, in which man is portrayed as a miniature world.
Originally written in Arabic, Olam Kattan was translated into Hebrew
by R' Moshe ibn Tibbon. Rambam, in a letter to R' Shmuel ibn Tibbon
(father of R' Moshe), wrote, "Although I have not seen Olam Kattan, I
am familiar with the man and his work, and I recognize both his and
his book's value." In later centuries, when the study of philosophy
became a matter of controversy, Olam Kattan was cited by poskim /
halachic authorities as an example of an unobjectionable philosophical
R' Yosef also wrote a book on logic, which is quoted in Olam
Kattan, but has been lost. Later writers acclaimed R' Yosef's poetry;
however, only a few pieces and some liturgical compositions appearing
in North African machzorim have been preserved. (Sources: The
Artscroll Rishonim, p. 73 & 177; She'eilot U'teshuvot HaRashba Vol. I,
No. 418; She'eilot U'teshuvot Rema No. 7. Note that the cited
responsum from She'eilot U'teshuvot HaRashba is a letter to Rashba,
not by him. The letter, known as Iggeret Ha'hitnatzlut / "Letter of
Apology" was written in response to Rashba's banning the study of
philosophy for those below the age of 25. Its author was R' Yedayah
Ha'penini, a 13th century sage from France's Provence region, who also
cites R' Yosef's Olam Kattan in his other works)
Copyright © 2005 by Shlomo Katz
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