Pesach Sheini

Question #1: Seder Pesach Sheini

“Could you please review for me the order of pesach sheini night?”

Question #2: Conversion

“I wanted to become Jewish before Passover, but it looks like it won’t happen. Is there any way for me to make up the korban Pesach that I will miss?”

Question #3: Bar Mitzvah

“I become bar mitzvah during the beginning of sefirah. Does this affect when I will bring korban pesach?”

Introduction

This week’s article explains the Torah’s mitzvah of pesach sheini, offering the korban pesach on the 14th of Iyar. I am not discussing any laws or customs germane to the observance of pesach sheini today, since we cannot offer the korban, a topic that I have discussed previously. Please note that, to avoid confusion, throughout this article, the holiday of Pesach will be capitalized, whereas the offerings, whether referring to the one offered on the 14th of Nisan or on the 14th of Iyar, will be lower case (except when the word begins a sentence or heading).

Parshas Beha’alosecha teaches the fascinating mitzvah of observing korban pesach a month later than usual, called pesach sheini. Someone unable to observe the mitzvah of sukkah during the current week does not accomplish anything positive by eating his mealsin a sukkah a month later. Someone unable to kindle the Chanukah lights does not have the opportunity to do so on the 25th of Teiveis, nor on any other “make-up” days after Chanukah. But in the instance of korban pesach, the Torah teaches: “And Hashem spoke to Moshe in the Sinai Desert, in the second year of their leaving the land of Egypt, in the first month [Nisan], saying: ‘The Bnei Yisroel shall offer the pesach in its correct time, on the 14th of this month, in the afternoon…. They shall prepare it, following all its laws and ordnances…’ There were men who were temei meis, thus, unable to observe korban pesach on the correct day, who approached Moshe and Aharon that day [the 14th], saying… ‘We are temei meis; why should we lose out and not be able to offer the korban of Hashem in its proper time, as part of Bnei Yisroel?’” (Bamidbar 9, 1-7).

Moshe responded that he would ask Hashem what to do. Hashem instructed that an individual who was either tamei or at a distance and therefore unable to offer the korban pesach, is commanded to offer it during the second month, Iyar, on the afternoon of the 14th. The Torah then proceeds, “It should be eaten together with matzos and bitter herbs. It should not be left over until morning, nor should any bone be broken; they should prepare it like all the laws of the pesach” (ibid. 11-12). This is very interesting, because, although the Torah appears to be comparing pesach sheini with the korban pesach usually offered on the 14th of Nisan, the Torah never teaches us how to observe the regular korban pesach. The only other description of the korban pesach in the Torah is when the Jews were still in Egypt, and describes the temporary mitzvah called pesach Mitzrayim, and not all of the laws of that offering apply to the korban pesach brought in the years after the Jews exited Egypt. The laws that apply to a regular korban pesach are taught by the Torah she’be’al peh.

Pesach rishon versus pesach sheini

The Mishnah (Pesachim 95a) states: “What are the differences between the korban pesach offered on Erev Pesach [hereafter called pesach rishon] and the one offered on pesach sheini? The prohibitions of bal yei’ra’eh bal yimatzei [against owning chometz] apply on pesach rishon, whereas when observing pesach sheini, he can have chometz and matzoh together in his house. The first korban requires reciting Hallel while eating it, and the second does not. Both require Hallel while the korban is offered, and are eaten roasted, eaten together with matzoh and bitter herbs. Furthermore, if the 14th falls on Shabbos, their shechitah (of both pesach rishon and pesach sheini) and other steps required in offering them supersede Shabbos.”

As we noted, the Mishnah states that it is permitted to have chometz in your house while offering and eating the pesach sheini. But are you permitted to eat chometz while eating the pesach sheini? The late halachic authorities dispute whether it is permitted to eat chometz together with the korban pesach sheini (Minchas Chinuch, Mitzvah 381; Meshech Chachmah, Bamidbar 9:10; Avi Ezri, 5: Korban Pesach Chapter 10).

More on pesach sheini

How else is this night of pesach sheini different from all other Pesach nights? The Tosefta (Pesachim Chapter 8) adds to the list supplied by the Mishnah that, when the pesach rishon is offered, those bringing it are divided into three groups, as described in the Mishnah, who take turns entering the Beis Hamikdash to offer the korban. Pesach sheini has no such requirement and all those interested in offering it are granted entry to the Beis Hamikdash at one time. Tosafos (Pesachim 95a s.v. mah) notes that the Gemara (Pesachim 90a) mentions another difference between pesach rishon and pesach sheini: the first pesach requires that the animal be selected and placed in your house four days before it is offered, on the tenth of Nisan, so that the animal can be observed for four days to ascertain that it has no blemish rendering it invalid. Pesach sheini has no such requirement, meaning that, it is sufficient to examine the animal carefully that it has no blemishes before offering it. There is no obligation to select it four days earlier and examine it frequently in the course of those four days.

As the Rambam and others explain, all the laws regarding when and how the korban pesach is eaten — that it is eaten only on the night of the 15th, that it is barbecued, whole, on a spit made of pomegranate wood and that it should be eaten to complete being satisfied, not when you are hungry (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3-4) — apply equally to pesach rishon and pesach sheini. The individuals required to offer the pesach, either rishon or sheini must eat at least a kezayis of the korban pesach. It is worthwhile noting that, to the best of my knowledge, the only time a Jew is required min haTorah to eat meat is the kezayis of korban pesach, either on pesach rishon or pesach sheini. Otherwise, someone can freely remain vegan if he prefers.

Why is this night different?

In explaining why there are halachic differences between pesach rishon and pesach sheini, the Gemara returns to the above-quoted pesukim. The Torah states that the korban pesach sheini should be brought kechol chukos hapesach, “like all the laws of the pesach.” The Gemara asks why the posuk mentions, specifically, that pesach sheini should be eaten together with matzoh and marror, that no bone may be broken and that it should be consumed during the night and not left, uneaten, until morning. Are these not laws that apply to the first korban pesach and that there is, therefore, no need to repeat them?

The Gemara concludes that certain mitzvos related to pesach rishon apply to pesach sheini, even though they are not mentioned specifically in the Torah. These include the requirements of roasting the korban pesach and eating it in one place, since these halachos are details in the preparation and consumption of the korban pesach. On the other hand, halachos that are not details in the preparation and consumption of the korban pesach, such as the requirement to dispose of all of one’s chometz before offering the pesach, apply only to pesach of the 14th of Nisan and not to pesach sheini.

Other details

The posuk states that pesach Mitzrayim required that the lamb or kid to be offered as korban pesach is selected already on the tenth of Nisan, a mitzvah called bikur. The Gemara explains that pesach sheini does not require bikur.

Does a pesach offered on the 14th of Nisan require bikur? Although, as I mentioned above, Tosafos (Pesachim 95a s. v. mah) requires bikur of four days for pesach rishon but not for pesach sheini, other rishonim require bikur only for pesach Mitzrayim and the daily korban tamid, but not for either pesach rishon or pesach sheini (Rashba, Menachos 49b).

Seder pesach sheini

At this point, we can now address our opening question: “Could you please review for me the order of pesach sheini night?”

We are all familiar with the steps of our Seder night: Kadeish, Ur’chatz, Karpas, Yachatz, Magid, Rachtzah, Motzi, Matzoh, Maror, Koreich, Shulchan Oreich, Tzafun, Bareich, Hallel, Nirtzah. The question now is: how many and which of these steps does someone observe if he is bringing pesach sheini?

Kadeish

There is no recital of Kiddush on pesach sheini, since it is not Yom Tov. Furthermore, there is no mitzvah to have four cups of wine.

There is no mitzvah of magid, recital of the Exodus story, on pesach sheini. In other words, a person who was tamei or distant from the Beis Hamikdash, and, therefore, could not offer korban pesach, observes his Seder on Pesach rishon, the night of the 15th of Nisan, the way that we observe our Seder today without a korban pesach. On that night, he fulfills all the mitzvos of pesach night, including magid, matzoh, four cups of wine and Hallel. The only mitzvah of the night that is postponed for a month is offering and consuming the korban pesach,

Ur’chatz, Karpas

The purpose for the dipping of karpas and, therefore, the washing of hands that takes place before it, is to arouse the children’s attention, so that they should be alert to the events that we are discussing Seder night. But this is included within the mitzvah of magid, which does not exist on pesach sheini.

Yachatz

Splitting the matzoh in half so that the rest of it is eaten as the afikomen is to remind us that the korban pesach is eaten as the final item on the pesach-meal menu. Presumably, yachatz was not observed at all when the Beis Hamikdosh was standing, since we would be eating the korban pesach itself.

Magid

Since there is no mitzvah of magid, reciting the Exodus story, there is also no asking of the four questions at the Seder of pesach sheini. (However, see Sefas Emes, Pesachim 95a and Shu”t Benei Tzion 1:30.)

Rachtzah, Motzi, Matzoh, Maror, Koreich

All of these are part of the observances of pesach sheini.

Shulchan Oreich

There is no requirement of serving a festive Yom Tov meal, although there is a requirement to eat the korban pesach al hasova. There is a dispute between the Rambam and the Yerushalmi exactly what this requires. According to the Rambam, eating korban pesach al hasova means that you should eat of it as much as you want with gusto – you should not feel restricted from eating large portions of it,. According to the Yerushalmi (quoted by Tosafos, Pesachim 70a and Mahari Kurkus, Hilchos Korban Pesach 8:3), this means that you should not be extremely hungry when you eat the korban pesach. This is a rabbinic requirement to make sure that no one comes to break the bones of the korban pesach, in his haste to eat it.

Either approach should apply to pesach sheini. But a difference between the two approaches is that, according to the Rambam, there is no need to eat a meal with pesach sheini – it is adequate to serve matzoh and marror with the korban pesach and make that your full meal. According to the Talmud Yerushalmi, enough of a meal should be served before the korban pesach so that people are not ravenously hungry when it is served (Mahari Kurkus).

Tzafun

See our discussion above regarding mitzvas afikomen.

Bareich

Since there is a requirement to eat matzoh, there is a requirement to bensch after the meal on pesach sheini. Yaaleh Vayavo is not recited, because it is not Pesach.

Hallel

As mentioned above, Hallel is recited only on the afternoon of the 14th of Iyar, when the korban pesach is offered, but not in the evening or the next morning, neither in shul, nor as part of the “Seder.”

Nirtzah

It seems to me that the customs of nirtzah all relate to the mitzvah of magid and the specific sanctity of the night of Pesach and not to the observances of pesach sheini.

Seder Plate

Does the pesach sheini Seder plate reflect this difference? It should contain marror and charoses, but there will be no need for any other items, since there is no mitzvah of karpas. Bear in mind that when we will again be able to offer korban pesach and korban chagigah, there will no longer be small roasted items on the Seder plate, what we usually call the zero’a and the beitzah, because the korban pesach is a full roasted lamb that will require a platter, and the korban chagigah is probably much larger.

Women and pesach sheini

There is a very major difference between men and women regarding pesach sheini. For women, offering pesach sheini is an opportunity, not a requirement. Therefore, if they were unable to offer pesach rishon and choose not to offer pesach sheini, there is no punishment of kareis. Also, they cannot bring their own pesach sheini, unless a man is involved who is required to do so.

Similarities

There are other ways, not mentioned in the Torah, in which pesach sheini has similar laws to pesach rishon. Both korbanos require that you stay overnight in Yerushalayim until the morning of the 15th of Nisan, a mitzvah called linah (Pesachim 95b). (If not for this requirement, someone could eat his korban pesach in Yerushalayim during the early part of the evening, and then sleep outside the walls of the old city [Rashi ad loc.].)

Both pesach rishon and sheini are offered on the afternoon of the 14th of the month, whether it is Shabbos or not (Pesachim 95b).

Violating either one intentionally incurs kareis, a characteristic these mitzvos aseih share with only one other positive mitzvah, bris milah.

Not tamei

Although the Torah mentions pesach sheini only in the context of someone who was either tamei or distant, the halacha is that pesach sheini applies to anyone who missed pesach rishon, whether it was because he was hospitalized, uncircumcised, ill, an onein (the first stage of mourning when he is not permitted to participate in korbanos) or even because he simply forgot. The reason the Torah singles out someone who was tamei meis or distant is because someone who failed to bring pesach rishon because of these two reasons and failed to bring pesach sheini is exempt from kareis, whereas anyone who missed pesach rishon for one of the other reasons and then missed pesach sheini intentionally is punishable by kareis (Piskei Hilchos Pesach Sheini Biketzarah). However, the exemption from kareis for a tamei is only for someone who could not have made himself tahor for pesach rishon.

A 12-year-old boy who turns bar mitzvah between the 15th of Nisan and the 14th of Iyar, or someone who converted to Judaism during those days should observe pesach sheini. However, if the child was already included in someone’s pesach rishon, he does not bring pesach sheini.

Someone who intentionally did not offer pesach rishon is chayov kareis for not having done so, but if he then brings pesach sheini, he removes the punishment of kareis from himself. But this is true only if he actually offers pesach sheini. If he was unable to offer pesach sheini, even if this was beyond his control, he is liable for kareis for not bringing pesach rishon intentionally.

This latter rule is true, also, regarding someone who is uncircumcised. If he could not bring pesach rishon because he was uncircumcised, received his bris milah sometime after Erev Pesach, and, intentionally, missed pesach sheini, he will be subject to kareis for not having offered the korban pesach.

Someone who brought pesach rishon and subsequently discovered that he was tamei and not permitted to offer the korban pesach is obliged to bring pesach sheini (Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach 6:12).

Only for the individual

When the Torah introduces the mitzvah of pesach sheini, it says ish, ish, repeating that the concept of pesach sheini is only for the individual. For this reason, should most of the community be tamei, there is no pesach sheini (Pesachim 79a; Rambam, Hilchos Korban Pesach, 7:1). There are many detailed rules that we will not discuss in this article that determine whether they will offer pesach rishon while they are temei’im, or will be exempt from korban pesach (and the punishment for not offering it) that year.

Conclusion

In explaining the mitzvah of pesach sheini, the Torah taught that several aspects of the laws of the korban Pesach are observed, but not all the laws of the Pesach holiday. This creates a very interesting combination. Although we have become accustomed to observing the holiday of Pesach without its unique korban, this is really one of the most important, if not the most important, observances of Pesach. It is actually so important that the men who were tamei and could therefore not be part of the communal korban Pesach, realized that they were deprived of a basic mitzvah observance. Indeed, they were correct, and the observance of korban Pesach is so important that it has a make-up a month later, something unique among mitzvos.

Missing the Reading

Question #1: The Missing Speaker

The audience waited patiently for the guest speaker from America who never arrived, notwithstanding that he had marked it carefully on his calendar and was planning to be there. What went wrong?

Question #2: The Missing Reading

“I will be traveling to Eretz Yisroel this spring, and will miss one of the parshios. Can I make up the missing kerias haTorah?”

Question #3: The Missing Parshah

“I will be traveling from Eretz Yisroel to the United States after Pesach. Do I need to review the parshah twice?”

Question #4: The Missing Aliyah

“May I accept an aliyah for a parshah that is not the one I will be reading on Shabbos?”

Introduction

The Jerusalem audience is waiting for the special guest speaker. The scheduled time comes and goes, and the organizer is also wondering why the speaker did not apprise him of a delay. Finally, he begins making phone calls and discovers that the speaker — is still in Brooklyn!

What happened? Well… arrangements had been made for the speaker to speak on Wednesday of parshas Balak. Both sides confirmed the date on their calendars — but neither side realized that they were not talking about the same date!

This year we have a very interesting phenomenon that affects baalei keri’ah, calendar makers, those traveling to or from Eretz Yisroel, and authors whose articles are published in Torah publications worldwide. When Acharon shel Pesach falls on Shabbos in a leap year, there is a difference in the weekly Torah reading between what is read in Eretz Yisroel and what is read in chutz la’aretz – for a very long period of time – over three months  – until the Shabbos of Matos/Masei, during the Three Weeks and immediately before Shabbos Chazon. Although Acharon shel Pesach falls on Shabbos fairly frequently, most of the time this is in a common year, and the difference between the observances of chutz la’aretz and of Eretz Yisroel last for only a few weeks.

Why the different reading?

When the Eighth Day of Pesach, Acharon shel Pesach, falls on Shabbos, the Jews of chutz la’aretz, where this day is Yom Tov, read a special Torah reading in honor of Yom Tov that begins with the words Aseir te’aseir. In Eretz Yisroel, where Pesach is only seven days long, this Shabbos is after Pesach (although the house is still chometz-free), and the reading is parshas Acharei Mos, which is usually the first reading after Pesach in a leap year (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 428:4). On the subsequent Shabbos, the Jews of Eretz Yisroel already read parshas Kedoshim, whereas outside Eretz Yisroel the reading is parshas Acharei Mos, since for them it is the first Shabbos after Pesach. Until mid-summer, chutz la’aretz will consistently be a week “behind” Eretz Yisroel. Thus, this year in Eretz Yisroel, the Wednesday of parshas Behar is the 10th of Iyar or May 11th. However, in chutz la’aretz, the Wednesday of parshas Behar is a week later, on the 17th of Iyar or May 18th.

This phenomenon, whereby the readings of Eretz Yisroel and chutz la’aretz are a week apart, continues until the Shabbos that falls on July 30th. On that Shabbos, in chutz la’aretz, parshios Matos and Masei are read together, whereas in Eretz Yisroel that week is parshas Masei, parshas Matos having been read the Shabbos before.

The ramifications of these practices affect not only speakers missing their engagements, and writers, such as myself, who live in Eretz Yisroel but write parshah columns that are published in chutz la’aretz. Anyone traveling to Eretz Yisroel during these three months will miss a parshah on his trip there, and anyone traveling from Eretz Yisroel to chutz la’aretz will hear the same parshah on two consecutive Shabbosos. Those from Eretz Yisroel who spend Pesach in chutz la’aretz will find that they have missed a parshah. Unless, of course, they decide to stay in Eretz Yisroel until the Nine Days. But this latter solution will not help someone who is living temporarily in Eretz Yisroel and therefore observing two days of Yom Tov. Assuming that he attends a chutz la’aretz minyan on Acharon shel Pesach, he will miss hearing parshas Acharei.

Several halachic questions result from this phenomenon. Is a traveler or someone who attended a chutz la’aretz minyan on Acharon shel Pesach required to make up the missed parshah, and, if so, how? During which week does he review the parshah shenayim mikra ve’echad Targum? If he will be hearing a repeated parshah, is he required to review the parshah again on the consecutive week? Can he receive an aliyah or “lein” on a Torah reading that is not “his” parshah? These are some of the questions that result from this occurrence.

Why doesn’t chutz la’aretz catch up earlier?

But first, let us understand why this phenomenon lasts for such a long time! After all, there are numerous weeks when chutz la’aretz could “double up” two parshios and thereby “catch up” to Eretz Yisroel. Why don’t they double up Acharei Mos/Kedoshim the week after Pesach, or Behar/Bechukosei, which is only a few weeks later, rather than reading five weeks of sefer Vayikra and virtually all of sefer Bamidbar, before straightening out the problem?

Even more, when Shavuos falls on Friday in Eretz Yisroel, or on Friday and Shabbos in chutz la’aretz in a common year. When this happens in a leap year, in chutz la’aretz the parshios of Chukas and Balak are combined in order to “catch up.” Why not follow the same procedure when acharon shel Pesach falls on Shabbos, instead of waiting until Matos/Masei.

As you can imagine, we are not the first to raise these questions. They are discussed by one of the great sixteenth-century halachic authorities, the Maharit (Shu”t Maharit, Volume II, Orach Chayim #4). He answers that the reason why chutz la’aretz does not double the parshah earlier is because this would make Shavuos fall earlier than it should. Ideally, Shavuos should be observed between Bamidbar and Naso, and combining either Acharei Mos with Kedoshim, or Behar with Bechokosai pushes Shavuos until after parshas Naso.

Shavuos after Bamidbar

Why should Shavuos be after Bamidbar? The Gemara establishes certain rules how the parshios should be spaced through the year. “Ezra decreed that the Jews should read the curses of the tochacha in Vayikra before Shavuos and those of Devarim before Rosh Hashanah. Why? In order to end the year together with its curses! [The Gemara then comments:] We well understand why we read the tochacha of Devarim before Rosh Hashanah, because the year is ending, but why is that of Vayikra read before Shavuos? Is Shavuos the beginning of a year? Yes, Shavuos is the beginning of a new year, as the Mishnah explains that the world is judged on Shavuos for its fruit” (Megillah 31b).

We see from this Gemara that we must space out our parshios so that we read from the beginning of Bereishis, which we begin on Simchas Torah, until parshas Bechukosai at the end of Vayikra before Shavuos. We then space our parshios so that we complete the second tochacha in parshas Ki Savo before Rosh Hashanah.

One week or two?

However, this Gemara does not seem to explain our practice. Neither of these parshios, Bechukosai or Ki Savo, is ever read immediately before Shavuos or Rosh Hashanah. There is always at least one other Shabbos wedged between. This practice is already noted by Tosafos (Megillah 31b s.v. Kelalos). The Levush (Orach Chayim 428:4) explains that, without the intervening Shabbos as a shield, the Satan could use the tochacha as a means of accusing us on the judgment day. The intervening Shabbos, when we read a different parshah, prevents the Satan from his attempt at prosecuting, and, as a result, we can declare: End the year together with its curses!

The Maharit explains that not only should we have one intervening Shabbos between the reading of the tochacha and the judgment day, we should preferably have only one Shabbos between the two. That is why chutz la’aretz postpones doubling a parshah until after Shavuos. (Indeed, parshas Naso is read in Eretz Yisroel before Shavuos in these years, but that is because there is no better option. In chutz la’aretz, since one can have the readings occur on the preferred weeks, Shavuos is observed on its optimal Shabbos reading.)

Why not Chukas/Balak?

However, the Maharit notes that this does not explain why the parshios of Chukas and Balak are not combined, although he notes that, in his day, some communities indeed did read the two together when Acharon shel Pesach fell on Shabbos. The Syrian communities followed this practice and in these years combined parshios Chukas and Balak together, and read Matos and Masei on separate weeks. There is no Jewish community in Syria anymore today that reads kerias haTorah according to this custom – for that matter, there is, unfortunately, no longer any Jewish community in Syria that reads kerias haTorah according to any custom. I am under the impression that the communities of Aleppo Jews currently living in Flatbush and in Deal, New Jersey, although they strictly follow the customs that they have practiced for centuries, do not follow this approach. I am not familiar with  the custom of other Syrian communities.

To explain the common custom that does not combine the parshios of Chukas and Balak, the Maharit concludes that once most of the summer has passed and the difference is only what to read on three Shabbosos, we combine Matos with Masei which are usually combined, rather than Chukas and Balak, which are usually separate. The two parshios, Matos and Masei, are almost always read together, and are separated only when the year requires an extra Shabbos reading, as it does this year in Eretz Yisroel. Truthfully, we should view Matos and Masei as one long parshah (making the combination the largest parshah in the Torah) that occasionally needs to be divided, rather than as two parshios that are usually combined.

The Maharit explains further that combining the parshios of Matos and Masei emphasizes that the reading for Shabbos Chazon should be parshas Devorim and for Shabbos Nachamu should be parshas Va’eschanan. This is important, because parshas Va’eschanan includes the section of the Torah that begins with the words Ki solid banim… venoshantem, which includes an allusion to the fact that Hashem brought about the churban two years early, in order to guarantee that klal Yisroel would return to Eretz Yisroel. Since this is part of the post-Tisha Be’Av consolation, it is appropriate that people see that our reading was doubled just now, for the sake of making these readings fall on the proper Shabbosos.

One could also explain this phenomenon more simply: Matos and Masei are read on separate weeks only when there simply are otherwise not enough readings for every Shabbos of the year.

In these occasional years when Matos and Masei are read separately, parshas Pinchas falls out before the Three Weeks — and we actually get to read the haftarah that is printed in the chumashim for parshas Pinchas, Ve’yad Hashem, from the book of Melachim. In all other years, parshas Pinchas is the first Shabbos of the Three Weeks, and the haftarah is Divrei Yirmiyahu,the opening words of the book of Yirmiyahu, which is appropriate to the season. The printers of chumashim usually elect to print Divrei Yirmiyahu as if it is the haftarah for parshas Matos, and then instruct you to read it, on most years, instead as the haftarah for Pinchas. What is more logical is to label this haftarah as the one appropriate for the first of the Three Weeks, and to print both after Pinchas. The instructions should read that on the occasional year when Pinchas falls before the 17th of Tamuz, they should read Ve’yad Hashem, and when Pinchas falls on or after the 17th of Tamuz, they should read Divrei Yirmiyahu. A note after parshas Matos should explain that when this parsha is read alone, they should read the second haftarah printed after parshas Pinchas. But, then, the printers do not usually consult with me what to do, electing instead to mimic what previous printers have done. This phenomenon affects practical halachah, but that is a topic for a different time. However, the printers’ insistence to call Ve’yad Hashem the “regular” haftarah for parshas Pinchas has lead to interesting questions.

Click here for part II of this article.

Cutting Corners

Question #1: Idolatrous shavers

What does my style of haircut have to do with idolatry?

Question #2: Women shaving

Are women included in the prohibition of shaving?

Question #3: Tweezing my beard

May I tweeze out my facial hairs?

Question #4: Am I square-headed?

Where are my head’s corners? My head is round!

Introduction

In two places in the Torah, the mitzvos not to shave the “corners” or “edges” of one’s head and beard are discussed. In parshas Kedoshim, the Torah states, “Lo sakifu pe’as roshechem velo sashchis eis pe’as zekanecha, “Do not round the corners of your head, and do not destroy the corners of your beard” (Vayikra 19:27). We should note that the first part of the posuk states sakifu and roshechem, both plural, whereas the latter part of the posuk states tashchis and zekanecha, which are both singular and masculine. This observation will be significant in our forthcoming discussion.

The other place where the Torah discusses the prohibition not to shave is in parshas Emor,where the Torah states, “They should not shave the corners of their beard” (Vayikra 21:5). Just reading these two pesukim already raises questions: What does the Torah mean in referring to the “corners” of your head and beard. I, like most people, have an oval-shaped head that has no straight lines or corners! My barber tells me that my beard is roundish also, so, pray tell, where are the corners of my beard?

Even should we explain the posuk to mean “edges” rather than “corners,” it is still unclear. Where are the “edges” of my head, or those of my beard? We will return to these questions shortly.

Shaving and avodah zarah

The Rambam discusses these laws in a place that we might find somewhat unusual — at the end of Hilchos Avodah Zarah, the laws of idol worship. As he explains himself: “It is prohibited to shave the edges of the head, as the idol worshippers and their priests used to do.” Clearly, he understands that this prohibition is linked to the general laws prohibiting idol worship, notwithstanding that these laws apply only to Jews and not to non-Jews, whose responsibility not to worship idols is the same as that of a Jew.

Similarly, when the Rambam introduces the lo saaseh not to shave, he states as follows: “The approach of the priests of idolatry was to shave their beards. Therefore, the Torah forbade shaving the beard.” It is also interesting to note that, although I translated the Rambam as “shaving,” he actually here uses the word hashchasah, which, as in the translation of the posuk in parshas Kedoshim above, means “destroying” the beard.

Both of these statements of the Rambam are unusual. Although he often quotes reasons for mitzvos before concluding the laws of that mitzvah, he rarely introduces a mitzvah with an explanation of the reason for the mitzvah. Here, he obviously felt that there was a reason to do so, which provoked other rishonim to take issue with him, as we will soon see. It is fascinating to note that today there are idolatrous practices that involve shaving the sides of the head in a way somewhat reminiscent of the Rambam’s description. It is also interesting to note that the Yiddish word for a priest, “galach,” is derived from the word giluach, shaving.

Women and hair corners

The two mitzvos, “rounding” the head and “destroying” the edges of the beard, apply only to men and not to women, but where does the Torah teach this? The question is even stronger, since neither of these mitzvos is timebound, and they are both mitzvos lo saaseh, prohibitions of the Torah. The general rule is that women are exempt only from time-bound positive mitzvos (mitzvos aseih) and not from mitzvos lo saaseh, nor from mitzvos that are not time-bound!

To answer this last question, let us quote the Mishnah, which states, “Men are obligated and women are exempt from positive time-bound mitzvos (mitzvas aseih shehazeman grama). Men and women are equally obligated to observe positive mitzvos that are not timebound (mitzvas aseih shelo hazeman grama). Men and women are equally obligated to observe all prohibitions (lo saaseh), except for “Don’t round (bal takif),” “Don’t destroy (bal tashchis),” and “Don’t become tamei to the dead (bal tetamei lameisim)” (Kiddushin 29a).

Thus, we are taught that there are three mitzvos lo saaseh that are discriminatory – they apply only to men, but not to women. In other words, male kohanim may not become tamei to a human corpse, but women who are wives or daughters of a kohein (called kohanos in numerous places) may become tamei. Male Jews are prohibited from “rounding out” the “edges” of their heads, but women are exempt from any prohibition of “rounding out” the “edges” of their heads. And male Jews are prohibited from “destroying” the “edges” of their beards, whereas women are exempt from any prohibition of “destroying” the “edges” of their unwanted facial hairs.

We do not yet know why these mitzvos should be exceptions and not apply to women. The Gemara asks (Kiddushin 35b), “What is the hermeneutic basis for these rulings?” In other words, how do we see in the Written Torah that this is true, based on the thirteen midos of Rabbi Yishmael.

I will note that the Gemara is not questioning why these three mitzvos are exceptions. This we know via our mesorah, the Torah she’be’al peh. The Gemara’s question is how are these laws derived from the Torah shebiksav (see Rambam, Introduction to Commentary on the Mishnah).

The relevant passage of Gemara explains that the law that a kohein may not become tamei through contact with the dead applies only to men and not to women is clearly implied in the posuk (in parshas Emor), where it states: “Speak to the kohanim who are the sons of Aharon,” implying that the prohibition applies only to the male descendants of Aharon, but not to his female progeny. However, from where in the verse would we know that the two prohibitions of rounding the head and destroying the beard apply only to men? The Gemara first explains how we know that the prohibition against destroying the beard applies only to men. The proof for this returns us to the observation we made above: When the Torah states, Lo sakifu pe’as roshechem velo tashchis eis pe’as zekanecha, “Do not round the corners of your head, and do not destroy the corners of your beard,” the beginning of the posuk is plural, whereas the latter part is masculine singular. This change and emphasis implies that lo tashchis eis pe’as zekanecha, which translates, “You (male, singular) are not to destroy the corners of your beard” applies only to men. (This is not the only approach mentioned in the Gemara, but it is the clearest.) The Gemara also demonstrates the hermeneutic source why the lo saaseh of Lo sakifu pe’as roshechem,“Do not round the corners of your head,” also applies only to men, but not to women.

Tweezing my beard

At this point, let us examine one of our opening questions: “May I tweeze out my facial hairs?” We have already learned that a woman is permitted to do this, but we do not know what the halacha is regarding a man. In this context, we should study the Mishnah in Makkos (20a), in which the tanna kamma rules that the prohibition is violated min haTorah only by shaving with a razor, whereas Rabbi Eliezer prohibits min haTorah using either a malkeit or a rehitni. What are these two instruments? According to many rishonim, a malkeit is a pair of tweezers, and the word’s root lelakeit indeed can be translated as “to tweeze” (Bartenura, Makkos 3:5; however, cf. Rashi, Shabbos 97a). Rehitni is understood by most rishonim to mean a plane or similar implement, which has a single blade as sharp as a razor, but is meant for purposes other than shaving (Rashi, Shabbos 48b, 58b, 97a; Rambam Commentary and Bartenura, Makkos 3:5). Notwithstanding that the rishonim differ regarding the correct identification of malkeit and rehitni, they appear to agree regarding the halachic issues that result.

At the beginning of this article, we noted that there are two pesukim banning shaving, one in parshas Kedoshim, which prohibits “destroying” your beard, and the other in parshas Emor, which prohibits shaving. The Gemara (Makkos 21a) explains the tanna kamma to mean that the two pesukim, together, mean that the lo saaseh applies only when someone uses an implement that is both a normal way of shaving and destroys. Although both tweezers and planes will “destroy” the beard, the Gemara explains that neither is commonly used to shave, and, therefore, they are excluded from this prohibition, at least min haTorah. Rabbi Eliezer contends that although they are not the most common shaving instruments, it is still called shaving when they are used and, therefore, it is forbidden min haTorah to shave with them (Rivan ad loc.). Although Rabbi Eliezer disagrees with the tanna kamma, since the majority opinion rules that these two instruments are permitted, this is the halachic conclusion.

The Gemara then makes a distinction between scissors, on the one hand, and tweezers and planes on the other, explaining that even Rabbi Eliezer rules that this prohibition of the Torah does not include cutting the beard with scissors, since this does not “destroy” your beard. Since Rabbi Eliezer rules that scissors do not violate the prohibition of shaving the beard, certainly the tanna kamma agrees. Therefore, this lo saaseh is not violated when cutting beard hairs with tweezers, planes or scissors. We should note that many authorities, nevertheless, prohibit shaving using these items, for a variety of different reasons, which we will explain in a future article.=

One blade

Even when using scissors or a beard trimmer, one must be extremely careful not to shave the beard only with the lower blade of the scissors, since this is halachically the same as cutting with a razor and prohibited min haTorah (Rema, Yoreh Deah 181:10). In other words, scissors’ action is not a razor only because the cutting uses both blades. Should one blade of the scissors be used by itself, it is functioning as a razor – the upper blade may be hanging on for the ride, but the lower blade is shaving as a razor does.

Similarly, it is prohibited min haTorah to shave using a flintstone (which was apparently common at one time in history), since this is equivalent to shaving with a razor (Shu’t Noda Biyehudah, Yoreh Deah 2:81).

Powders and Creams

Several halachic authorities rule that, just as a scissors may be used to shave the beard, so can depilatory powders and creams be used to remove the beard (Shu’t Noda Biyehudah, Yoreh Deah 2:81; Shu’t Shemesh Tzedakah Yoreh Deah #61; Birkei Yosef, to Yoreh Deah 181:10; Tiferes Yisroel, Makkos 3:5 #34). They caution against using a knife or other sharp implement to scrape off the powder or cream, since this may result in using a razor-type instrument to remove the hair, if the powder or cream did not yet separate the hair from the face. Instead, they recommend using an implement made of wood or a smooth piece of bone to wipe off the powder or cream.

We will continue this topic in a future article.

Prepared to DeLIVER

In many places, the Torah forbids the consumption of blood. In chutz la’aretz, this week’s parsha is Acharei, which is one of the places where this prohibition of blood is mentioned. In Eretz Yisrael, the reading is Kedoshim, in which there are nine references to blood, in the context of different prohibitions. This makes it an appropriate week to discuss the laws of preparing livers according to halacha.

Question #1: Just a sLIVER

May a liver be broiled whole?

Question #2: DeLIVERed Electronically

May I kasher livers on an electric grill?

Question #3: Special DeLIVERy

I was told that if I plan to fry the livers I receive from the butcher, I must tell this to him when I order them. Why?

Question #4: Not Chopped LIVER

How broiled does liver need to be before I cook it?

Introduction:

In ancient times, it was noted that liver could be used to treat night blindness. With time, it was discovered that liver contains an organic chemical called retinol, C20H30O, which was called a vitamin, because it helped life (vita-), and it was thought to be an amine (-amin). However, all amines contain nitrogen (think of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins), and retinol does not. Consequently, the term “vitamin” was redefined to mean complex, organic substances, naturally occurring in plant or animal tissue, that are essential for metabolism.

Missing letters

Since retinol was the first vitamin to be identified, it was given the name vitamin A. (Today, retinol is called vitamin A1, and is usually extracted from fish liver oils.) As other vitamins were discovered, they were identified by subsequent letters of the alphabet. Eventually, some, such as vitamins G and H, were recategorized as part of the “vitamin B” group, whereas others, such as vitamins F and I, were dropped from the vitamin list and categorized differently, which is why the vitamin list is missing letters. Vitamin F contains nitrogen and is now categorized as an amino acid, and vitamin I is now categorized as an anti-inflammatory.

Our own liver has many important functions, including the manufacture of cholesterol and bile and also removal of cholesterol from the blood. However, our article will discuss neither human nor fish liver, but the kashrus of beef and poultry liver. As we all know, the meat of these animals can be consumed when they have had a proper kosher slaughter, shechitah, and, in the case of beef, after certain fats, nerves (the gid hana’sheh, the sciatic nerve) and blood      vessels are removed via a procedure called nikur (in Hebrew), or traberen (in Yiddish, from the Aramaic word tarba, which means cheilev, non-kosher fat).

Poultry must also have its blood extracted, but the gid hana’sheh does not need to be removed from fowl, nor does any fat need to be removed.

Removing blood

In many places, the Torah forbids the consumption of blood. But all meat contains blood! After all, it is the hemoglobin in the blood that provides meat with its red color. And even poultry and other meats that are not red contain blood. So, how can we eat meat?

Chazal explain that the forbidden blood is extracted from the meat either by soaking and salting the meat, or by broiling. The salt or the fire extracts the forbidden blood from the meat, and whatever remains is not considered blood, according to halacha.

The blood of liver is usually removed by broiling. This article will examine when broiling works for kashering both meat and liver, and we will discover that there are early opinions that permitted preparing liver for the Jewish table without broiling it.

For most of mankind’s history, kashering meat and liver was always performed at home. However, in the last two generations, it became commonplace that the butcher takes care of it, and, within the past decade, meat is often kashered at the abattoir. Still, there are individuals who kasher their own meat, which allows them to follow certain practices that usually qualify as chumros, and which are impractical to follow on a commercial basis. (Our readership should be aware that, due to government regulations in certain countries, kashering meat on a commercial basis involves serious halachic compromises. In these countries, none of them in North America, arrangements should be made to kasher meat at home.) In addition, I have personally witnessed both meat and liver kashered inadequately or inappropriately in commercial facilities. However, a responsible hechsher will make certain that this does not happen.

Broiling meat

Halachically, it is perfectly acceptable to broil meat to remove its blood, rather than salt it. However, usually, it is soaked and salted. We should be aware that someone whose health requires them to be concerned about the elevated sodium content that results from kashering should explore with their rav or posek the possibility of purchasing unkashered meat and broiling it, without salt. (Although we salt meat slightly when kashering it by broiling, this salt may be omitted for someone who must be concerned about sodium consumption.)

Liver

The Gemara (Chullin 110b-111a) provides a lengthy and fascinating discussion whether liver, which is the bloodiest organ in the body, can be kashered by soaking and salting. To quote the Gemara: Abayei said to Rav Safra, “When you go to Eretz Yisrael, ask them what they do with liver.” When Rav Safra reached Eretz Yisrael, he asked Rav Zereika, who answered him, “I boiled liver to serve Rav Asi, and he ate it.” (We would find this strange, but this will be explained shortly.) Many months, or perhaps years, later, when Rav Safra returned to Bavel, he reported his findings to Abayei, who answered him: “I know that preparing liver this way is not a problem. The question I wanted you to find out was whether the blood of liver can be removed while you are kashering other meat.” Abayei then quoted a Mishnah (Terumos 10:11) that preparing liver in certain ways prohibits food upon which the blood splatters, but the liver itself is permitted. This is because, while extracting blood from the liver, it does not absorb blood (provided that the blood can drain; removing blood from meat or liver always requires that the extracted blood drains as it is salted or broiled). However, extracting blood from the liver might prohibit other meat that is kashered with it.

The story that Rav Zereika tells us is unclear. Was the liver that Rav Zereika cooked to serve Rav Asi already broiled? If it was, what new halachic idea was he teaching Rav Safra? Both of them were major Torah scholars, and Rav Safra presumably asked Rav Zereika a question that was now answered, even if this was not the issue bothering Abayei.

To resolve this question, Rabbeinu Tam explains that liver does not require salting or broiling, unless you want to cook it together with other meat (Tosafos, Chullin 110b s.v. Kavda). This appears to also have been Rashi’s approach. The reason is because the liver is basically blood, yet the Torah permitted its consumption. The assumption of Rabbeinu Tam is that the blood in the liver is permitted. This would explain the conversation of Abayei and Rav Safra.

The Tur (Yoreh Deah 73) cites this opinion of Rabbeinu Tam, but does not accept it.

Most authorities disagree with Rabbeinu Tam and understand that Rav Zereika soaked and salted the liver first, the same way we kasher meat, and then cooked it. Abayei’s question was whether it is permitted to cook liver that has been salted this way with other meat, or whether this will prohibit the meat with which it is cooked. According to the latter alternative, liver may be soaked and salted to serve as chopped liver, or may be broiled and eaten without any other ingredients. The reason we do not soak and salt liver is because, usually, we want to cook or fry it subsequently with other ingredients, and that is prohibited (unless you hold like Rabbeinu Tam).

Later, the Gemara (Chullin 111a) cites different authorities who would not eat liver prepared by soaking and salting, but only by broiling.

It is unclear what the Gemara concludes, as evidenced by the dispute among rishonim what to do. Practical halacha accepts that, whereas meat is usually kashered by soaking and salting, liver may kashered only by broiling (Rema, Yoreh Deah 73:5, Shach and Taz). The Rema does not rule like Rabbeinu Tam, and, furthermore, prohibits salting liver to remove its blood, out of concern that someone will forget that he kashered the liver this way, and will mistakenly cook it with other ingredients.

How long?

For how long a period of time must you broil liver until it is kosher?

The halacha is that, once most people consider the liver minimally edible, all the blood has been removed (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 76:5). “Minimally edible” is defined as half the time it usually takes to grill this piece of liver until it is fully cooked (Rema ad locum).

Not chopped liver!

If you do not intend to cook the liver after broiling, most authorities permit broiling an entire beef liver without cutting or slicing it, provided the prohibited cheilev is fully removed (Rema, Yoreh Deah 73:3). This is not relevant to kashering of liver at home, since a beef liver is much larger than most households want to broil as one piece, and, particularly, since broiling the whole liver will probably burn the thinner parts of the liver before its thicker parts are sufficiently broiled.

However, should you intend to cook the liver after broiling, most authorities rule that, before broiling, one must make incisions into the liver and place the sliced side down while broiling so that the blood drains properly (Taz, Yoreh Deah 73:5; Pri Megadim; Gra; Be’er Heiteiv; Darchei Teshuvah). An alternative, easier option is to cut the liver into slices and broil them until edible.

According to many authorities, broiling an entire unsliced beef liver and then cooking or frying the liver makes the food and the pot or pan non-kosher (Shu’t Mahari Asad, Yoreh Deah #115, quoted in Darchei Teshuvah 73:23. Note that the Darchei Teshuvah there quotes Shu’t Ateres Zekeinim, Yoreh Deah #6, who allows the individual posek to decide whether everything is non-kosher. Darchei Teshuvah also quotes Yad Yehudah, Peirush Ha’aruch 73:9, as ruling stringently in this matter, but I have not found where Yad Yehudah says this.)

Rule of 72

The Geonim enacted that meat must be salted within seventy-two hours of its shechitah. They contended that, after three days, blood inside the meat hardens and is no longer extractable through soaking and salting. Should meat not be soaked and salted within 72 hours, they ruled that the only way to successfully remove the blood is by broiling (Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 69:12). It is also prohibited to keep meat for 72 hours without salting it, figuring that you will broil it to extract its blood. This is prohibited, because of concern that someone will forget that the meat is past its “good by” 72-hour timetable and wrongly attempt to kasher it by salting (Rema, Yoreh Deah 69:12 and Shach). Furthermore, it is prohibited to cook the meat if it passed 72 hours, even after the meat was broiled. (If, be’di’eved, it was cooked after broiling, the meat may be eaten [Shulchan Aruch, Yoreh Deah 69:12]. Although the Maharshal prohibits the meat, the Bach, Taz, Gra and many others agree with the Shulchan Aruch that the meat is permitted.)

72 and liver

Since we rule that liver can be kashered only by broiling, there is no halachic concern that someone will mistakenly attempt to kasher it via salting. Therefore, it is permitted to leave liver for 72 hours without broiling it.

Assuming that someone waited more than 72 hours after slaughter before broiling liver, may he cook the liver after broiling it? We mentioned above that, concerning other meat, you are not permitted to cook the meat if 72 hours have passed since shechitah, even if you broiled the meat first. (We noted above that if the meat was cooked, it is permitted to eat it.)

What is the halacha if you broiled liver more than 72 hours after shechitah? May you now cook it after broiling? This issue is disputed. The Kereisi Upeleisi, Chachmas Odom, Aruch Hashulchan all permit cooking the liver after it was broiled, whereas the Shach seems to prohibit it (see Mateh Yehonasan to Yoreh Deah 69:12), as do the Shu’t Tzemach Tzedek (#121, quoted by Minchas Yaakov 4:3), Pri Megadim and Darchei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 69:224).

Special DeLIVERy

At this point, we can address another of our opening questions: “I was told that if I plan to fry the livers I receive from the butcher, I must tell this to the butcher when I order them. Why should this be true?”

This question is based on the fact that kashering liver in certain ways makes it prohibited to cook or fry afterwards, at least according to some authorities. The person who told you that you need to tell this to the butcher is under the impression either that the butcher may kasher livers more than 72 hours after shechitah, or that he does not need to slice the beef livers when he broils them whole. As I mentioned above, since both of these matters are dependent on a dispute among halachic authorities, the local hechsher may be more lenient than your friend feels that you should be.  However, the butcher can provide you with the more mehudar broiled liver, in which case everyone permits you to cook it afterward.

Livery procedure

To kasher liver, we follow these steps.

1. Slice off any fat of the animal that is attached to the liver. This fat may be cheilev that, at times, is attached to the liver.

2. Slice the liver so that its blood drains properly. At home, it is usually easiest to cut the liver into slices, although, halachically, it is adequate to slice deeply into the liver both horizontally and vertically, and broil it with the sliced side downward so the blood drains.

Livers of chickens and other fowl do not require slicing. Since they are small, broiling extracts the blood properly even without slicing the livers. Just check that the gallbladder, which attaches to the liver, has been removed.

3. Rinse blood off the surface of the liver.

4. Place the liver onto racks or coals to broil.

5. Salt the liver somewhat as you place it to broil.

6. Broil the liver until it is minimally edible, which is about half the amount of time you would broil it to eat it without further cooking.

7. After the liver has broiled sufficiently, you may remove it from the fire or heat and rinse off the blood that is now on its surface.

8. Liver is now kosher. Should you desire to cook it, you may do so immediately; there is no requirement to wait until the liver cools off from the broiling.

DeLIVERed Electronically

At this point, we are prepared to consider a different one of our opening questions: May I kasher liver on an electric grill?

Let me explain the question. Since we rule that you may kasher liver only by broiling, this means that its blood can be extracted only via direct heat. Does this require the drawing abilities of an open fire, or is heat sufficient to extract the blood?

Proof of the halachic ruling in this case may be brought from a passage of the Noda Bi’yehuda in his commentary Tzelach (to Pesachim 74a). The Tzelach mentionsthat he was asked frequently whether liver may be kashered on the bottom of a hot oven after the coals have been swept out. The Tzelach rules that this is problematic because the blood cannot drain when it is extracted from the liver. Thus, the liver lies broiling in the blood, which prohibits it. (Shu’t Har Hacarmel, Yoreh Deah #14, quoted by Pischei Teshuvah, Yoreh Deah 73:1 permits this, but the Pischei Teshuvah himself is uncomfortable with this.)

However, the Tzelach rules that if the liver was placed inside an oven in a way that blood extracted by the residual heat in the oven has a place to drain, the liver is perfectly kosher. Thus, we see that it is acceptable to kasher liver on an electric grill, as long as the blood can drain off while the heat extracts it. In other words, no flame is required to extract the blood.

Conclusion

There is a very interesting comparison between two halachos that involve salt; one, the extraction of blood via salt, and the other, salting korbanos that are burned on the mizbei’ach. Although both items are salted in a similar manner, the purpose is very different. Whereas the salting of our meat is to remove the blood, and this blood and salt are then washed away, the salted offerings are burned completely with their salt. Several commentaries note that salt represents that which exists forever, and can therefore represent the mitzvos of the Torah, which never change.

Eruv Tavshillin

At the end of Pesach, we must remember to prepare an eruv tavshillin.

Freeimages/Eitha

Question #1: Where?

“Is it true that eruv tavshillin is more common in chutz la’aretz than in Eretz Yisroel?”

Question #2: What?

“What is the reason that many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”

Question #3: When?

“In what way is the halacha of eruv tavshillin different on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach from other Yomim Tovim?”

Foreword

With Shevi’i shel Pesach beginning on Thursday evening, the laws of eruv tavshillin are germane both to those living in Eretz Yisroel and to those living in chutz la’aretz. In order to reply accurately to the above inquiries, we must first examine several aspects of this mitzvah that Chazal implemented – particularly, the whys, hows, and whats of eruv tavshillin. Because of space considerations, this article will not be able to address all the issues of eruv tavshillin, but will answer the opening questions that were posed. However, there are other articles on the topic that may be read on RabbiKaganoff.com.

First, the basics: When Yom Tov falls on Friday, an eruv tavshillin must be made on erev Yom Tov to permit cooking and other preparations on Yom Tov for Shabbos. As it turns out, making an eruv tavshillin is much more common in chutz la’aretz than it is in Eretz Yisroel. Since, in our calendar devised by Hillel Hanasi, the beginning of Sukkos, Pesach and Shmini Atzeres never falls on Friday, the only time there is a need for an eruv tavshillin in Eretz Yisroel is when Shavuos or the seventh day of Pesach falls on Friday, or when Rosh Hashanah falls on Thursday. On the other hand, in chutz la’aretz, in additional to these instances, often the two days of Yom Tov fall on Thursday and Friday.

Introduction

When discussing the laws of Yom Tov, the Torah teaches kol melacha lo yei’aseh bahem, ach asher yei’acheil lechol nefesh hu levado yei’aseh lachem,“No work should be performed on these days; however, that which is eaten by everyone (kol nefesh), only that may be prepared for yourselves” (Shemos 12:16). We see from the posuk that, although most melachos are forbidden on Yom Tov, cooking and most other food preparations are permitted. However, cooking is permitted on Yom Tov only when it is for consumption on that day. It is forbidden to cook on Yom Tov for the day after, and at times this is prohibited min haTorah. There is, however, one exceptional situation – when Yom Tov falls on Friday and an eruv tavshillin was made, it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

To quote the Mishnah (Beitzah 15b), “When Yom Tov falls on erev Shabbos, it is prohibited to begin cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos. However, it is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos. Furthermore, (there is a way in which it is permitted to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos) by preparing a cooked food from before Yom Tov which he leaves for Shabbos. According to Beis Shamai, this must be (at least) two cooked items, and, according to Beis Hillel, one cooked item suffices.” (As we are aware, we also set aside a baked item for the eruv tavshillin, but this is not essential.)

Prior to quoting the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel, the Mishnah has expressed three distinct concepts:

No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

1. It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos (without making the eruv tavshillin).

Marbeh be’shiurim

2. It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, planning to have leftovers for Shabbos.

Eruv tavshillin

3. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Each of these concepts, which we will explain one at a time, requires clarification:

1. No cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos

It is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Let me explain a question that is implicit here. If it is prohibited to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, why does an eruv tavshillin permit it? Or, in other terms, there are three types of eruv that Chazal instituted, eruv techumim, eruv chatzeiros and eruv tavshillin. All three of these mitzvos have the status of a takanas chachamim, which means that they were instituted by Chazal to permit something that is otherwise prohibited because of a rabbinic injunction. An eruv techumim permits walking on Shabbos and Yom Tov beyond the techum Shabbos, the distance outside the city or other “Shabbos residence;” an eruv chatzeiros permits carrying on Shabbos from one individual’s jurisdiction to that of another. Both of these prohibitions permitted by their respective eruvin are rabbinic injunctions. An eruv, which is a rabbinic introduction, cannot permit something that is prohibited min haTorah, as the Gemara asks, “Can an eruv tavshillin permit a Torah prohibition” (Pesachim 45b)?

If cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, and it is prohibited only because of a rabbinic injunction, we can understand how Chazal could create a rabbinic innovation called eruv tavshillin and thereby permit this cooking. To paraphrase this expression of the Gemara, since Chazal created the prohibition, they can also reverse it (ibid.). However, if cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is prohibited min haTorah, how do Chazal have the authority to permit that which the Torah forbade?

Two differing approaches

How we answer this conundrum is dependent on a debate between two amora’im, Rabbah and Rav Chisda (Pesachim 46b), which has major ramifications specifically for this coming Yom Tov, when Shevi’i shel Pesach falls on Friday.

Rav Chisda contends that, min haTorah, it is always permitted to cook on a Friday Yom Tov for Shabbos. This is called tzorchei Shabbos na’asin beYom Tov, literally, “Shabbos needs may be performed on Yom Tov.” Since Shabbos and Yom Tov both have kedusha, and are both sometimes called “Shabbos” by the Torah, cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos is permitted min haTorah, just as cooking on Yom Tov is permitted for the same day (Rashi ad loc.). The prohibition not to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos is a rabbinic injunction; Chazal prohibited this in order to make sure that people do not cook on Yom Tov for a weekday, or on the first day of Yom Tov for the second, both of which might be prohibited min haTorah. Making an eruv tavshillin permits cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since a person thereby realizes that, without an eruv tavshillin, he cannot cook on Yom Tov even for Shabbos — therefore, he understands that he certainly cannot cook on Yom Tov for any other day.

The other position — ho’il

Rabbah contends that it is often prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos. In other words, he maintains that tzorchei Shabbos einam na’asin beYom Tov – notwithstanding that Yom Tov is sometimes called Shabbos, it is still prohibited min haTorah to cook on Yom Tov for any other day, including Shabbos!

If that is true, how can an eruv tavshillin, which is a rabbinic solution, permit that which is prohibited min haTorah?

The answer is a halachic concept called ho’il, which permits cooking on Yom Tov min haTorah whenever you might have a need for extra cooked food on Yom Tov itself, even when you are not expecting to need the extra food and it is unlikely that such a situation will arise. For example, after finishing the Yom Tov day seudah, min haTorah it is permitted to cook another meal, provided it will be ready to eat before the Yom Tov day is over. This is because it is possible that unexpected guests may arrive at your door, and you now have a meal ready to serve them. The idea that perhaps something will happen is expressed as the word ho’il; this word is now used as a brief way of referring to a complicated legal concept.

Therefore, whenever it is possible that guests may yet arrive on Yom Tov, it is permitted to cook for them min haTorah. Although miderabbanan it is not permitted to rely on ho’il to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos, since this is only a rabbinic injunction, eruv tavshillin can permit the cooking.

However, this heter applies only as long as the meal will be ready to be eaten while it is still Yom Tov. There is no heter to begin cooking a meal on Yom Tov that will not be ready until Yom Tov is over. In other words, according to Rabbah, when ho’il does not apply, it is prohibited min haTorah to cook. Under these circumstances, an eruv tavshillin will not permit someone to cook on Yom Tov for Shabbos.

Thus, there is a halachic difference between Rabbah and Rav Chisda that affects us! According to Rabbah, it is not permitted to put a cholent on the fire on Friday that will not be ready to eat until sometime on Shabbos. Usually, it is perfectly fine to cook food on Friday that will be left on a properly covered fire when Shabbos starts and not ready to eat until the Friday night seudah. However, this Yom Tov it is not permitted to do this, according to Rabbah. Since this food will not be ready to eat on Yom Tov, the law of ho’il does not apply. Since the rule of ho’il does not apply, there is no heter to cook the cholent on Yom Tov for Shabbos, even if one makes an eruv tavshillin! Thus, the menu for Shabbos may have to depend on what one is planning to cook, or, more accurately, on whether it will be cooked in a way that it can be eaten on Yom Tov.

How do we rule?

The Mishnah Berurah, in Biur Halacha (527:1), notes that it is unclear whether we rule according to Rabbah or according to Rav Chisda. He concludes, therefore, that it is preferred to be machmir and have the food cooked for Shabbos in a way that ho’il applies, particularly when we are dealing with a potential question of a Torah law, such as when the first day of Yom Tov falls on Friday, as it does this Shevi’i shel Pesach. This means that all the food cooked for Shabbos should be edible before Shabbos arrives. The Biur Halacha rules that, under extenuating circumstances, it is permitted to rely on the rishonim who rule according to Rav Chisda’s opinion, but it is preferable lechatchilah to have the food for Shabbos cooked in a way that it will be already edible on Friday.

When the the first day of Yom Tov falls on Thursday, and, therefore, Friday Yom Tov is miderabbanan, there is more latitude to be lenient.

Why is Shevi’i shel Pesachdifferent?

At this point, we can answer the third of our opening questions: Why is eruv tavshillin more significant on Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach than any other Yom Tov?

In the calendar we currently use, the first day of Shavuos and Shevi’i shel Pesach never fall on Thursday, although they both often fall on Friday. When this happens, Friday is Yom Tov min haTorah, and it is important to plan the menu such that the meals cooked on Friday for Shabbos will be ready to eat when there is still time to eat them on Yom Tov.

Marbeh be’shiurim

At this point, we will examine the second point that we derived from the Mishnah, where it stated, “It is permitted to cook for Yom Tov, and, if there are leftovers, plan them to be for Shabbos.” In other words, even without having made an eruv tavshillin, there is a way to cook more than you need on Yom Tov in order to have plenty of leftovers, or, shall we call them, “plan-overs.” One may cook amply for the Yom Tov meal, knowing that there will certainly be leftovers that can be served on Shabbos. As a matter of fact, if one follows the halacha correctly here, it is even permitted to cook on the first day of Yom Tov planning to have enough leftover to serve on the second day, or even on a weekday. This is provided that each dish is, or could be, served at a Yom Tov meal on the day that it was prepared.

This plan-over preparation is called marbeh beshiurim, literally, “increasing the quantities,”which means that, while preparing food on Yom Tov, it is permitted to include a greater quantity while cooking, provided no additional melacha act is performed. For example, if you need to heat a small amount of water for a cup of tea, you may place a large pot of water on the fire, since only one act of heating water — placing a pot on the fire — is being performed.

However, it is prohibited if an additional melacha action is performed. For example, if the pot is already on the fire, you may not add extra water to it, since this involves a new melacha action.

Adding more

Here are other examples. You are making a cholent or cooking soup; you may add greater quantities of meat, beans or other ingredients than you will need for your Yom Tov meal into the pot before it is placed on the stove, because you place the entire pot onto the fire at one time.You may fill a pot with meat on the first day of Yom Tov, even though you need only one piece for the first day.

However, it is prohibited to prepare individual units of a food item, knowing that you are preparing more than can possibly be eaten on Yom Tov. For this reason, you may not fry more schnitzel or similar items than you will possibly need for a Yom Tov meal, since these involve separate melacha actions. Similarly, it is forbidden to bake more than what you will possibly need for the day (Beitzah 17a). Adding water or meat before putting the pot on the fire simply increases the quantity cooked, but does not increase the number of melacha acts, whereas shaping each loaf or roll is done separately, thus increasing the number of acts performed.

Why is this permitted?

Why is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov by use of marbeh beshiurim? We would think that cooking extra on Yom Tov is forbidden, just as in a situation of pikuach nefesh, where it is forbidden to cook more than what is necessary for the needs of the ill person. Why, then, is it permitted to cook extra on Yom Tov, as long as no extra melacha actions are performed?

The Ran (Beitzah 9b in Rif pages, s.v. Umiha) explains that there is a qualitative difference between the performance of melacha actions on Shabbos (or Yom Tov) to save someone’s life, and cooking on Yom Tov. Although saving lives is a huge mitzvah and supersedes Shabbos, the act performed is still an act of melacha. On the other hand, prohibited activities on Yom Tov are defined as melachos that are not food preparatory. Preparing food on Yom Tov involves no melacha activity whatsoever, and is as permitted on Yom Tov as it is to set the table on Shabbos. Since no melacha activity is performed, there is nothing wrong with adding more to cook while the Yom Tov meal is prepared, provided that no additional melacha action is done.

Hard-boiled eruv?

At this point, let us examine one of our opening questions: “Why do many people use a hard-boiled egg for eruv tavshillin?”

It is permitted to continue cooking on Yom Tov for Shabbos only as long as the eruv tavshillin, or at least a kezayis of the cooked part of the eruv tavshillin, still exists. In the days before refrigeration, someone who prepared meat or a different food on Wednesday or Thursday for eating on Shabbos was faced with a practical problem. Once you cook food, it begins to spoil very quickly, if it is not refrigerated. Therefore, notes the Aruch Hashulchan, it was not uncommon that the eruv tavshillin was no longer edible when people were cooking on Wednesday for Shabbos, and an inedible eruv tavshillin is considered the same as one that no longer exists. If your eruv rots, there is no heter to permit cooking for Shabbos.

Using a hard-boiled egg for the eruv tavshillin resolved this problem, since an egg cooked before Yom Tov and kept without refrigeration will still be edible on Shabbos.

However, in today’s world, when you can place the cooked part of your eruv tavshillin in the refrigerator and it will last until Shabbos, it is preferred to use as eruv tavshillin a cooked delicacy that you intend to serve at the Shabbos meal. For this reason, my practice is to use for the eruv tavshillin the gefilte fish that will be served on Shabbos.

Conclusion

The Torah refers to the Yomim Tovim as mo’ed. Just as the word ohel mo’ed refers to the tent in the desert which served as a meeting place between Hashemand the Jewish people, so, too, a mo’ed is a meeting time between Hashemand the Jewish people (Hirsch, Vayikra 23:3 and Horeb). Unlike Shabbos,when we refrain from all melacha activity, on Yom Tov the Torah permits melacha activity that enhances the celebration of the Yom Tov as a mo’ed. Permitting us to cook delicious, fresh meals allows an even greater celebration of this unique meeting time with Hashem.

The Literary Legacy of Horav Shlomo Wolbe

The seventeenth yahrzeit of Rav Shlomo Wolbe, the most published mussar and hashkafah author of our generation, falls on the 17th of Nissan. I would like to share with our readers what I wrote at the time:

Rav Shlomo Wolbe passed on to the yeshivah shel ma’alah during Chol Hamo’eid Pesach, leaving the following tzava’ah:

“I request and command that I not be eulogized in any format whatsoever. Furthermore, I should not be described by any title or honor, not as a gaon, and not as a tzadik, not even by initials such as zt”l.”

In keeping with the Rav’s wishes, we are providing a brief sketch of his life, followed by a description of part of the rich legacy of writings he left behind, but we are omitting the appropriate hesped.

Born in Berlin shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, Rav Wolbe’s early education was in Berlin, in the Frankfurt yeshivah, and then in Rav Botchko’s yeshivah in Montreux, Switzerland. In the 1930’s, he attended yeshivah in Eastern Europe, spending several years in Mir, Poland, where he became a talmid of the mashgiach, Rav Yerucham Levovitz, and, after Rav Yerucham’s passing, of Rav Chatzkal Levenstein, his successor. Throughout Rav Wolbe’s life, he viewed himself as a talmid muvhak, a disciple, of Rav Yerucham and as a transmitter of the mussar tradition that traces back to Rav Yisroel Salanter.

THE WAR YEARS

When the Soviet armies overran the town of Mir in the opening weeks of World War II, the yeshivah fled to Lithuania. Rav Wolbe, who was a German national, was forced to separate from the yeshivah and spent the war years in neutral Sweden. While in Sweden, Rav Wolbe lectured to the local Jewish population, in essence creating what may have been the first kiruv rechokim program in the modern world. He and Rav Wolf Jacobson, who was the rav there, became the Swedish contacts for the Vaad Hatzalah. They created a seminary for young women, who were often the only members of their families that survived the inferno of Europe. During this period of his life, Rav Wolbe authored hashkafah sefarim in both Swedish and German for outreach purposes.

After the war, Rav Wolbe moved to Petach Tikvah, Eretz Yisroel, where he married a daughter of Rav Avraham Grodzinsky, Hy”d, the last mashgiach of Slobodka. Through his rebbitzen, Rav Wolbe was a nephew of Harav Yaakov Kamenetsky, zt”l, and a brother-in-law of Harav Chayim Kreiswurth, zt”l.

AS A MASHGIACH

In 5708/1948, Rav Wolbe joined Rav Moshe Shmuel Shapiro in opening the Yeshivah Gedolah of Be’er Yaakov. Rav Shapiro was the Rosh Yeshivah, and Rav Wolbe was the mashgiach, a position he held for over 35 years. Later, he served as mashgiach in the Lakewood Yeshivah, in Eretz Yisrael, and he opened Yeshivas Givat Shaul. Rav Wolbe gave “mussar shmoozen,” “va’adim” (more informal lectures, usually to smaller groups) and lectures in many public and private forums. He also created batei mussar, where he delivered shmoozen and va’adim to long-standing talmidim, seasoned talmidei chachamim who developed into great gedolim and mussar experts themselves.

Rav Wolbe published the substance of many of his lectures in several sefarim on a wide variety of topics. In each volume, he wrote a forward, explaining the purpose for that particular sefer and the place and context in which he had delivered the original lectures, shmoozen, or va’adim. His name does not appear in any of his sefarim.

DERECH HALIMUD – LEARNING STYLE

Rav Wolbe, himself, points out a key component to much of his teaching: “One must learn how to approach a statement of Chazal – to study the depths of its peshat and to experience it, until the hidden light of Chazal’s statement illuminates you” (Alei Shur, pg. 9).

What did he mean? This sounds very confusing.

Often, the simple meaning of Chazal’s statement is unclear. Yet, if we review the statement over and over, suddenly we realize a deeper and truer understanding of what Chazal meant. At this point, the meaning of the statement illuminates us – whereas before, it had eluded us.

ALEI SHUR

Rav Wolbe published his first Hebrew work, Alei Shur, to provide today’s yeshivah student with a basic guide to assist him in becoming a ben Torah. This book, which the author spent thirteen years writing and revising, clarifies the basic areas to develop for someone to ascend to higher levels in his personal service of Hashem. It swiftly became a classic and is a standard, studied text.

Alei Shur defines a yeshivah as a place where one learns to live, not just to study (pg. 31). Based on sources in Chazal, Rav Wolbe contends that learning Torah with bad midos, such as hate, competition, or jealousy, is not considered learning Torah. Learning Torah must assist in the development of one’s midos, or it is without value.

In the same context, Rav Wolbe quotes the Rambam who notes that the word “chaver” carries two different meanings. It means a close friend, but it also means a talmid chacham (see Rambam, Peirush Hamishnayos, Demai 2:3). This is because talmidei chachamim become the only true, close friends, since their bond to others is based on their essence as giving people. Thus, someone intensely involved in learning Torah will be extremely careful that all interactions he has with people are pleasant.

WHY DO WE KEEP MITZVOS

Rav Wolbe points out the following anomalous problem that sometimes afflicts Torah Jews. Many people observe mitzvos because of habit – that is how they grew up – but not because they enjoy observing the mitzvos. If you ask them, “Why do you keep mitzvos?” their true answer is, “Because that’s how I was brought up.”

Rav Wolbe notes that this is equivalent to asking someone, “Why are you eating lunch?”, and he answers, “Because that’s how I was educated.” This answer is obviously ridiculous. We eat because we are hungry.

Similarly, we should be observing mitzvos because we are hungry for these mitzvos. Therefore, we should perform mitzvos with enthusiasm, because we enjoy them (Alei Shur, Pg. 51).

ALEI SHUR AS A GUIDE

Rav Wolbe felt a yeshivah bachur must develop expertise in four basic areas, aside from the regular Gemara curriculum of the yeshivah.

1. He must know the halacha that affects him. In Rav Wolbe’s interpretation, this means he should learn all of Mishnah Berurah.

2. He should know Chumash with Rashi and Ramban. This forms the basis for one’s hashkafah on Yiddishkeit.

3. He should know Pirkei Avos, with the commentary of Rabbeinu Yonah. Chazal gave us Mesechta Avos as a basic primer in midos, and Rabbeinu Yonah’s commentary on Avos is the best method for internalizing this primer.

4. He should be conversant in Mesilas Yesharim, which Rav Wolbe calls “the dictionary for midos.”

Rav Wolbe contends that one who devotes a small amount of his yeshivah learning to each of these pursuits, consistently, will complete all four projects within four years.

This assumes, of course, that the person is highly organized. Rav Wolbe believed strongly in being structured. In his own words, “The greater the person is, the more organized is his life” (Alei Shur, Pg. 68).

TEFILLAH

In the second chapter of Alei Shur, Rav Wolbe discusses the importance of tefillah to a human being. “The ability to pray defines a human being. Animals also wage war, construct homes and live social lives. But only mankind can relate to the Ribono shel Olam and daven” (Alei Shur, Pg. 27). Thus, someone who does not pray properly performs daily activities no differently than does an animal. Only one devoted to tefillah demonstrates the uniqueness of the human being.

“Each davening performed with understanding is a qualitatively different experience and has its own unique feeling and quality. It is indeed impossible that two tefillos should be identical — even though the words are identical. One can compare this to riding a train watching a beautiful landscape. Although the scenery may appear the same, the experience is different from moment to moment. At each moment, one sees the scenery from a different perspective.

Similarly, someone davening should constantly see himself and his relationship with Hashem from a different perspective — just as the traveler is looking at the scenery with a different, fresh perspective.”

UPS AND DOWNS

Alei Shur even addresses the emotional ups and downs of the typical yeshivah bachur.

Chapter 6 consists of a correspondence with a yeshivah bachur going through a difficult time, where he sees no success in his learning — he is not remembering what he learned, nor is he focusing enough to understand the shiur or the sugya.

Rav Wolbe points out that a person goes through cycles. Sometimes a bochur is not learning well, and his davening and midos also suffer. Rav Wolbe notes that the source of this difficulty is usually because he is comparing himself to others. Instead, acknowledging my one’s skills and qualities and recognizing my shortcomings is a much better approach. Although I may not remember a sugya as well as others do — if I need to review it many times to retain it, I will have a much greater kinyan on the information than those who absorb the information quickly. (Apparently, Rav Wolbe wrote thousands of such chizuk letters during his lifetime!)

Rav Wolbe focused on his talmidim’s needs, both individually and as a group. He directed his topic and the intensity of his delivery to his audience. One talmid, who returned to Yeshivah Be’er Yaakov many years after he had studied there in the ‘50s, noted that Rav Wolbe’s shmooze was less intense. When he asked the mashgiach about this, Rav Wolbe answered: “You belong to a different generation. The generation born before the war received shmoozen that were very intensive experiences. Today’s generation cannot tolerate this type of shmooze.”

Yet, when Rav Wolbe published the second volume of “Alei Shur,” thirty years after the first, he notes that the style of the second volume is more intense — since the audience for these shmoozen were his older, more seasoned talmidim. Thus, there is a vast difference between Volume 1 of Alei Shur, which is general hadracha for a ben Torah, and volume 2, which reflects the result of “workshop va’adim” for developing elevated midos.

A talmid once asked Rav Wolbe how long it takes to prepare a shmooze. He answered: “It takes five years to learn how to give a shmooze, five years to learn how to give a va’ad, and five years to learn how to talk to someone.”

This was, indeed, another facet of Rav Wolbe’s personality – the ability to empathize with the suffering of another. Someone bringing him a problem could see the intensity and anguish on his face, as he identified with the questioner’s difficulty. Recently, someone related that he was unable to discuss a personal matter with Rav Wolbe, because of the latter’s weak condition, and, instead, discussed the matter with one of Rav Wolbe’s talmidim. He described how he witnessed the same intensity and anguish on the talmid’s face that he was familiar with seeing on Rav Wolbe’s. Thus, Rav Wolbe had successfully trained a new generation of leaders of mussar for Klal Yisrael.

EDUCATING A GENERATION

Among his many works, Rav Wolbe authored two very important guidebooks: one to teach chassanim how to be good husbands, and the other on the Torah’s fundamentals of childrearing. In both instances, the purpose of the sefarim was to teach principles to a larger audience.

Rav Wolbe noted that sometimes people think they are giving their children proper chinuch, but, in reality, just the opposite is happening.

He provides the following examples:

(1) Insisting that a child remain at the Shabbos table, when he is too young to do so.

In this instance, although the parents feel that this is important for the child’s chinuch, it is totally counterproductive to force a child to do what he is not ready for. The expectations for a child must always be appropriate to his age.

(2) Parents who grew up in impoverished homes often raise their children by spoiling them- to “make up” for their own origins. However, this is counterproductive for the child’s needs.

(3) Often parents say, or imply, that their child should achieve what the parents accomplished, or what the parents aspired to accomplish – even when this may not be within the child’s capabilities or inclinations. The parents may want their son to be a rosh yeshivah or at least to be involved in full-time learning, but the child’s personality is more appropriate to being an elementary school rebbe, an outreach professional, or a frum businessman!

The result is that the child never learns to serve Hashem in his own, unique way. He is being forced to be what he cannot be, and, therefore, will not be successful at it — while, at the same time, he is being hampered from developing to his own, greatest potential. Eventually, he ends up becoming a non-success.

Timing is everything in child-rearing. One should neither start too early nor wait until too late. Also, there must be a tremendous balance between too much involvement in the child’s growth and too little.

Rav Wolbe was opposed to hitting children, both by parents and by mechanchim. He had his own original way of explaining the passage from Mishlei (13:24) “Chosech shivto soneh beno,” “One who withholds the rod, hates his child.” To fully appreciate Rav Wolbe’s explanation of this passage and his approach, I refer you to read what he writes, himself. (The book is available in English translation.)

OUTREACH MANUALS

Possibly the most unusual of Rav Wolbe’s writings are his books “Bein Sheishes Le’asor” and “Or Lashav,” which are based on lectures he gave to non-observant audiences, after the Six Day War.

During the Six Day War, a new teshuvah movement began, as many secular people recognized the miracle of the war. Rav Wolbe asked a shaylah from Rav Chatzkel Levenstein, who was at the time the mashgiach in Yeshivas Ponevitz, whether he should become involved in outreach, in addition to his other responsibilities. Rav Chatzkel ruled that whoever is capable of being involved in kiruv rechokim is obligated to do so, and that Rav Wolbe should be involved to the extent that it did not disturb his responsibilities in the yeshivah.

As a result, Rav Wolbe gave lectures on the basics of Jewish belief at army bases, in secular Kibbutzim and to academic audiences. Rav Wolbe began his first lecture with these words, “You invited me to tell you about Judaism, and why the religious parties often create problems for the general public.” (Bear in mind that non-observant audiences in Israel are, unfortunately, often hostile to Torah and observant Jews.) Another lecture began, “Many ask, is it possible to change halacha to accommodate the modern world, and how can a modern world be run according to halacha?”

Notice that he was unafraid to deal with controversy and felt that he could convince his hostile audience of the beauty of Torah. As a well-known mechanech once told me, “I doubt that there is a ba’al teshuvah today who is not influenced by his teachings.”

In these lectures, Rav Wolbe blended halacha and hashkafah in such a way that someone who was totally non-observant would be drawn to the beauty of Yiddishkeit, while, at the same time, someone halachically committed would suddenly gain new insights into his observance of mitzvos. A secondary purpose in publishing these lectures was to teach frum people how they could influence others and be mekareiv rechokim.

Rav Wolbe’s scientific knowledge of the world shows through in these lectures, as well as the importance he placed on being able to communicate the beauty of Torah in a sophisticated manner. Indeed, a talmid told me that he once gave a va’ad in the yeshivah on the correct way to write a letter!

BECOMING A “BAR DA’AS

Personally, I have found one of Rav Wolbe’s smaller sefarim to be even more powerful. A few years before his passing, he published a volume entitled “Pirkei Kinyan Da’as,” “Chapters on Acquiring Da’as.” (I have intentionally not translated the word “da’as,” because translating it defeats the purpose of Rav Wolbe’s work.) This book is based on seventeen lectures (shmoozen) given over a period of 40 years.

Rav Wolbe notes the following:

To grow as a Torah Jew, a person must have da’as.

Most individuals do not have a natural sense of da’as and need to be taught. Our generation is particularly short on da’as. This can be demonstrated by the following:

1. The rampant problem today of lack of self-confidence, which he contends is a modern phenomenon.

2. People being frozen into indecision by their “feelings.”

3. Accepting certain realities that we should endeavor to change, while at the same time attempting to change things that we should accept.

4. Overreaction to frustration.

5. Lack of marital stability.

What is da’as, and how does one achieve it? This is the subject of the sefer, which is a “must read.” But then, all of Rav Wolbe’s writings are “Must Reads!”

יהא זכרו ברוך

The Bracha on Blossoming Trees

Question #1: How Many?

“May I recite birkas ilanos when I see only one blossoming tree?”

Question #2: What Type?

“Must it be a fruit-bearing tree?”

Question #3: When?

“Must I recite this bracha in the month of Nissan? I live in Australia!”

Foreword:

Since Chodesh Nissan is arriving, we will discuss birkas ilanos, the special bracha that Chazal instituted to be recited when observing trees in bloom. As an introduction, I note the words of the Aruch Hashulchan about this bracha, “The observance of reciting this bracha is weak among the common people. Furthermore, the Bedek Habayis (notes that Rav Yosef Karo, himself, added afterward to his Beis Yosef commentary) writes that the custom is not to recite this bracha. However, all talmidei chachamim and G-d-fearing people are meticulous about observing this bracha.”

Introduction:

The Gemara that provides the source of this bracha is extremely brief and in an unusual location. Whereas other similar brochos recited upon items that one sees are discussed in the last chapter of mesechta Brochos, birkas ilanos is discussed in the sixth chapter of Brochos, which is the source for the brochos recited before eating and drinking. In the midst of a discussion of the brochos on fragrances, the Gemara inserts the following passage:

Rav Yehudah said,  “Someone who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees that are blooming, says  ‘Blessed (is Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe) Who did not leave anything lacking in His universe, and He created good creations and good trees so that mankind can have pleasure from them’” (Brochos 43b).

As we will soon see, although the Gemara mentions only the first word of the bracha, Boruch,it means that we should recite a full bracha. The Gemara then resumes its discussion on fragrances, without any further mention of birkas ilanos.

The wording of the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 226) is remarkably and unusually similar to that of the Gemara. To quote the Shulchan Aruch: “Someone who goes out during the days of Nissan and sees trees that are blossoming, recites, ‘Blessed is Hashem, our G-d, King of the universe, Who did not leave anything lacking in His universe, and He created good creations and good trees so that mankind can have pleasure from them.’ This bracha is recited only once each year, and if he waited until after the fruits are grown, he should no longer recite it.” (See also Mishnah Berurah 225:12.) The wording of the bracha as quoted in Shulchan Aruch is Boruch Attah Hashem Elokeinu Melech ha’olam shelo chisar be’olamo kelum, uvara bo beriyos tovos ve’ilanos tovos leihanos beham benei adam.

It is surprising that there is very little Mishnah Berurah on this halacha, and no Biur Halacha at all, but there is much discussion on this bracha in the writings of other halachic authorities, such as the Kaf Hachayim, who lived shortly after the Mishnah Berurah.

Required?

The wording of the Gemara implies that there is no requirement to look for a blooming tree – if you happen to notice one, you should recite a bracha. This sounds similar to the bracha we recite upon hearing thunder, seeing lightning or a rainbow, or seeing something very unusual. There is no requirement to look for them, but a bracha praising Hashem is recited when you see any of these natural phenomena. This is as opposed to the bracha on kiddush levanah, which is a requirement. Perhaps this explains why the common people were not so concerned about reciting birkas ilanos, as the Aruch Hashulchan reports.

However, notwithstanding this point, the sifrei kabbalah assume that this mitzvah is an obligation, or, at least, a very important bracha to recite. The fact that this bracha assumes a greater role in kabbalistic sources than in halachic sources may explain another phenomenon that I will discuss shortly.

Season or date?

Reading the Gemara carefully, we should ask several questions. For example, the words of the Gemara say that you should recite this bracha “in the days of Nissan.” If this means during the month of Nissan, then the Gemara should say “the month of Nissan,” not the “days of Nissan,” which implies that the season is important. On the other hand, if the season is the most important factor, then the Gemara should have said, “in the spring,” and not mentioned Nissan at all.

This question results in a dispute among halachic authorities. The Birkei Yosef writes that it is preferred to wait until Nissan to recite birkas ilanos. On the other hand, the Mishnah Berurah rules that the Gemara mentions Nissan only because it was written in a place where fruits usually began blossoming then, but that you should recite the bracha whenever you first see trees blossom in your climate and place. Thus, the Mishnah Berurah rules that you should recite it whenever you see the first blossoms, and the Aruch Hashulchan, who also lived in a cold climate, notes that, where he lived, the bracha was usually not recited until Iyar or even Sivan, when it finally became warm enough for fruit trees to blossom. The Kaf Hachayim quotes several sources who contend that this bracha should not be recited before Nissan. Specifically, he quotes authorities who rule that birkas ilanos should not be recited when seeing the blossoming of almonds, which bloom well before Nissan; the same is true of the loquat, called shesek in Modern Hebrew, which also blossoms in the middle of the winter.

The conclusion of most authorities is that it is preferred to wait until Nissan in order to recite the bracha according to all opinions, but not required. Based on the conclusion of these authorities, we can answer one of our opening questions:

“Must I recite this bracha in the month of Nissan? I live in Australia!”

Australia, South Africa and most of South America are located in the southern hemisphere, where the month of Nissan is in the fall and Tishrei occurs in the spring. The answer to the question is that you can recite the bracha of birkas ilanos in whatever season fruits blossom, in your climate. If you live in a place where there are blossoming trees readily available in the month of Nissan, but some trees already blossom earlier, there are authorities who suggest waiting until Nissan to recite the bracha.

One or more?

The Gemara states that birkas ilanos is recited when a person sees “trees.” Does he recite this bracha if he sees only one blossoming tree?

The Birkei Yosef mentions that there must be at least two blossoming trees, and this is quoted subsequently by the Kaf Hachayim. However, I note that the Mishnah Berurah does not quote this halacha, although he had ready access to the Birkei Yosef and quotes him innumerable times in the context of many other laws.

Among those who require that there be at least two trees, the Kaf Hachayim mentions that there is no requirement that there be trees of more than one species.

Two date palms

While researching materials for this article, I found the following curious question, raised by Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, son-in-law of Rav Elyashiv and a well-respected rav in Bnei Brak.

“Do you recite birkas ilanos if you see two date palms?”

What is the question? The Gemara (Pesachim 111a) rules, ha’oveir bein shenei dekalim damo berosho venischayov benafsho,“someone who walks between two palm trees, his blood is on his head and he is obligated for the damage that he will bring upon himself.” Rashi and the Rashbam there explain that the concern is because of ruach ra’ah.

A question regarding birkas ilanos is that since the wording of the bracha states “for mankind to benefit,” perhaps it should not be recited over two palm trees, since this might be harmful for someone who walks between them. The case in question was when there is a path running between the two trees that individuals walk through. Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein suggests that, since the halacha is that you may recite this bracha when you see only one tree, and one palm is not dangerous, you may recite it. Then he asks that since the two trees together are dangerous, one of them should be removed, so that they not continue to present a hazard to people walking between them. Since we are not sure which tree will ultimately be removed, perhaps you cannot recite the bracha!

We should note that this question is probably theoretical. Dates do not usually blossom until late in the season, and, since are other fruit trees that blossom much earlier. Someone concerned about reciting the bracha would have recited it already — unless he lives in an area where there are few other species of trees that blossom.

As many as possible?

Some authorities quote that, according to kabbalah, you should try to recite this bracha in a place where there are as many trees as possible. I have been told that even among those who do practice according to the kabbalah, most do not follow this approach. There are also opinions quoted that you should not recite this bracha while in the city, but should go outside the city (Kaf Hachayim quoting Rav Chayim Palagi). I personally do not know of anyone who observes the bracha this way. Again, Mishnah Berurah does not mention this.

Many Sefardim make it a lengthy procedure, including going as a group. They recite several chapters of Tehillim, then an extensive lesheim yichud, some other kabbalistic prayers, and a tefillah that our bracha should be valued as if we had all the deep kabbalistic ideas that are included in this bracha that Chazal implemented. They also recite the versesof Ve’yitein lecha and Vihi noam (recited on Motza’ei Shabbos), before making the birkas ilanos (Kaf Hachayim). After reciting birkas ilanos in a very loud voice, each person sets aside three coins for tzedakah. They then recite several more chapters of Tehillim, a tefillah that is taken from the middle of the musaf shemoneh esrei of Yom Tov, a tefillah that moshiach come, and the part of the Zohar that begins with the words Patach Eliyahu that many Sefardim recite daily before davening mincha. They conclude the procedure with the passage that begins with the words Rabbi Chananya ben Akavyah omer, and then recite a kaddish derabbanan. This is the procedure that I saw followed in the Kaf Hachayim. In the Sefardic siddurim that I examined, I found similar procedures. All of this means that it is a far more elaborate procedure than that followed by Ashkenazim, who simply recite the bracha without any fanfare.

Edible fruits?

There is no mention in the Gemara that the bracha is recited only if the tree bears edible fruit. However, this halacha could perhaps be inferred from the wording of the bracha, since it implies that mankind receives some direct pleasure from this tree, which is the case when people will enjoy eating its fruit. The halachic conclusion of the late authorities is that it should be recited on a tree whose fruit is edible (Be’er Heiteiv, Mishnah Berurah, Kaf Hachayim).

How many species?

Do we recite this bracha for each species that we see blossoming, just as we recite a bracha for each species of new fruit we observe or eat in the course of the year, or is this bracha recited only once each year? The Mordechai, a rishon, implies that this bracha is recited only once each year, and when the Mishnah Berurah discusses this question, he reaches the same conclusion.

Missed first time?

If someone did not recite birkas ilanos the first time he saw a blossoming tree, can he still recite the bracha the next time he sees one? The halachic conclusion of the Mishnah Berurah is that he can still recite the bracha, even if the blossom has already developed into a fruit, as long as the fruit is not fully grown.

Shabbos or Yom Tov

The prevalent custom is not to recite this bracha on Shabbos or Yom Tov, although the Mishnah Berurah makes no mention of such a rule. The Kaf Hachayim does, prohibiting it because of a gezeirah that you might pull off leaves or flowers. He also mentions that there are kabbalistic reasons not to recite this bracha on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

Prohibited fruit

Can you recite this bracha on a tree planted (or transplanted) within the previous three years, whose fruit, when it grows, will be prohibited because of orlah? The Kaf Hachayim rules that you should not. The reason is, presumably, because the wording of the bracha is that these blossoms are for mankind to benefit from, and any benefit from the fruit of this particular tree is prohibited. Nevertheless, I note that the Mishnah Berurah does not mention anything about this ruling.

Grafted trees

Can you recite birkas ilanos on a grafted tree? Several late authorities discuss whether you can recite this bracha for a tree that is grafted from different species, such that it would be forbidden for a Jew to graft these trees. (The fruit of this tree may be eaten, so this is a different question from the previous one, regarding a tree producing orlah fruits.)

There is a dispute among earlier acharonim regarding whether you can recite a shehecheyanu on a fruit from a tree that was grafted. Quoting the Halachos Ketanos (1:60) as his source, the Be’er Heiteiv (Orach Chayim 225:7) rules that you cannot recite shehecheyanu on a fruit from a grafted tree. However, the She’eilas Yaavetz (#63) disagrees and rules that you may. Among later authorities, several discuss how we rule between these authorities. Biur Halacha 225:3 s. v. Peri quotes both opinions, but implies, slightly, that the bracha can be recited. (See also Shu”t Igros Moshe, Orach Chayim 2:58.) Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak 3:25 concludes that it is better to find something else on which to recite the shehecheyanu.

Regarding birkas ilanos, I found one responsum among the late halachic authorities, which concluded that it is preferred not to recite the bracha on a tree grafted in a way that would violate halacha (Shu”t Minchas Yitzchak 3:25). This case is actually quite common, since most fruit trees today are grafted, and frequently from one species onto another. There is an article on this subject on RabbiKaganoff.com

From a passing vehicle

If you see the blossoming tree while you are in a passing vehicle, can you recite the bracha? Rav Yitzchok Zilberstein, whom we quoted above, discusses this question. He compares it to a Biur Halacha (218:1 s. v. Bimkom), which is based on the law regarding the bracha recited upon hearing thunder (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 227:3). The Biur Halacha concludes that you can recite the bracha on a place where a miracle occurred only as long as you see the place. Rav Zilberstein adds that the Shulchan Aruch rules that you can recite the bracha for thunder, as long as it is within the period of time of toch kedei dibbur, enough time either to say shalom alecha rebbe, or shalom alecha rebbe umori (this is a dispute among halachic authorities), which is only a few seconds after you heard the thunder. The same halacha, concludes Rav Zilberstein, should be true regarding someone who sees the blossoming trees while traveling – if it is within a few seconds, he may still recite birkas ilanos, but if more time has elapsed since he saw the blossoms, he may not (Chashukei Chemed, Pesachim 111a).

Ripping up a tree

Rav Zilberstein has another teshuvah about the following question: An ailing father wants desperately to recite birkas ilanos, but cannot physically be taken outdoors to see a tree. Is it permitted to rip up a blossoming tree by its roots and bring it to the ill man, so that he may recite the bracha? Since this question is not about birkas ilanos, but about the issue of bal tashchis (destroying fruit trees), we will not discuss it in this article.

Conclusion

In a monumental essay, Rav Hirsch (Bereishis 8:21) explains that the expression rei’ach nicho’ach that we find in the context of korbanos, usually translated as “a pleasant fragrance,” should more accurately be rendered “an expression of compliance.” He demonstrates that the word nicho’ach means “giving satisfaction” and the concept of “rei’ach” is used, because fragrance implies receiving a very slight impression of something that is distant. Thus, when a korban is offered as a rei’ach nicho’ach, it means that it shows a small expression of our fulfilling Hashem’s will.

Similarly, the concept of birkas ilanos is that we thank Hashem, not only for the essential things in life, but also for the extras – the things that we can live without, but that Hashem gave us as extra pleasures. Fruits are usually not essential for life, but make our sojourn through earth a bit more pleasurable. And for that also, we must be sure to thank Hashem.

An Unusual Haftarah

Question #1: Haftaras Tzav

Why do we read the haftarah that we do this week?

Question #2: Shabbos Hagadol

What does parshas Tzav have to do with Shabbos Hagadol?

Question #3: Purim Meshulash

What is Purim Meshulash and what does it have to do with this week’s parsha?

Answer:

Although every chumash has a haftarah printed for parshas Tzav, in reality, we rarely read this haftarah, for several reasons:

(1) In all common (non-leap) years, which are 12 of our 19-year cycle, parshas Tzav falls on the Shabbos immediately before Pesach and is Shabbos Hagadol. On this Shabbos, accepted practice is to read the haftarah that begins with the words Ve’orvoh laHashem at the end of Malachi that closes the book of Trei Asar, the era of the prophets, and the section of Tanach that we call Nevi’im.

According to the Abudraham, Levush (Orach Chaim 428: 4), Knesses Hagedolah, and Elyah Rabbah (428: 5), the reason Parshas Tzav generally falls out on Shabbos Hagadol is that it mentions the halachos of kashering keilim (Vayikra 6:21), albeit regarding the korban chatas, thus reminding people of the preparations necessary for Pesach. In leap years, parshas Metzora is usually Shabbos Hagadol, and this parsha mentions kli cheres yishaver, that earthenware dishes cannot be kashered, again an appropriate reminder for Pesach.

(2) In leap years, parshas Tzav usually falls on parshas Zochor, in which case its haftarah discusses the war that Shaul fought against Amalek and how Shemuel admonished him. This haftarah, which is in the book of Shemuel, is usually referred to as Pakadti, as the haftarah begins with the words Koh amar Hashem Tzevaos pakadti eis asher assah Amalek le’Yisroel.

(3) On the occasional leap year when parshas Tzav does not fall on parshas Zochor, it sometimes falls on parshas Parah, in which case its haftarah is from the book of Yechezkel, often called Ben Adam, the first words of the second posuk of the haftarah. (We call it by the words of its second posuk, since the first posuk reads simply Vayehi dvar Hashem eilai leimor, “and the word of Hashem came to me, saying,” an expression that shows up several dozen times in sefer Yechezkel alone, as well as appearing many times in the seforim of both Yirmiyohu and Zecharyah.)

Thus, notwithstanding that the chumashim all instruct you that the haftarah for parshas Tzav is from the book of Yirmiyohu, in reality, the only time that we read the haftarah printed in the chumashim for parshas Tzav is (1) in a leap year, and when parshas Tzav is (2) neither parshas Zochor (3) nor parshas Parah. The only leap year when parshas Tzav does not fall on either parshas Zochor or parshas Parah is when Purim falls on a Thursday or Friday. In these years, Zochor falls on the Shabbos before Tzav and Parah on the Shabbos after.

In summary, the haftarah printed in the chumash for parshas Tzav is read only in a leap year when Purim falls on Thursday or Friday.

Purim Meshulash

To make things even more unusual, in a leap year when Purim falls on Friday, in Yerushalayim a special haftarah is read. This is because, in Yerushalayim, Purim is observed on the fifteenth of Adar, a day later than outside Yerushalayim. In a year when this happens, Purim everywhere else falls on Friday, but, in Yerushalayim, Purim falls on Shabbos. This creates a very complicated combination of practices commonly called Purim Meshulash, literally, triple Purim, so-called because, in common practice, the observances of Purim are divided among three days.

The Megillah is read and the mitzvah of matanos la’evyonim is observed on Friday, the same day everyone else is observing Purim.

On Shabbos, the fifteenth of Adar, in Yerushalayim recite Al Hanissim, read Vayavo Amalek for maftir and a special haftarah in honor of Purim. This is the same haftarah that everyone reads for Shabbos Zochor, Pakadti. (In Yerushalayim, the same haftarah is read on two consecutive weeks!)

The mitzvos of Purim seudah and shalach manos are on Sunday, thus earning the observance its moniker of Purim Meshulash.

For the purposes of our topic, in those years, residents of Yerushalayim miss reading the haftarah of parshas Tzav. As a result, the only time in Yerushalayim the “regular” haftarah for parshas Tzav is read is in a leap year when Purim outside Yerushalayim falls on Thursday and in Yerushalayim on Friday – which is the case this year. So, this year is one of the very rare years in which the haftarah printed in the chumashim for parshas Tzav is read everywhere.

Everyone reads the same haftarah

On the other hand, when there is no “special Shabbos” on parshas Tzav, it appears that all the various different customs that we have, Ashkenazic, Chassidic, Sefardic and Italian, all read the same haftarah. Even the Abudraham, who upon occasion cites a different choice or choices for haftarah than we are accustomed to, also cites the same haftarah for this week. Although, in all likelihood, there once were places in which the custom was to read a different haftarah for parshas Tzav, I am unaware of any such custom. If any readers are aware of a different custom that exists or once existed, I would appreciate if you would let me know.

What is the name of the haftarah?

Although haftaros do not have a “name,” most of them are called by the words that open them or are near their beginning, similar to the way we name our parshi’os. In this instance, the first words of the haftarah are Koh amar Hashem Tzeva’kos Elokei Yisroel oloseichem sefu al zivcheichem, ve’ichlu basar,“So said Hashem of Hosts, the G-d of Yisroel: Add your korbanos olah to your korbanos shelamim that you bring – and eat meat!” (Yirmiyohu 7:21).

Since the first words of the haftarah, Koh amar Hashem Tzeva’kos Elokei Yisroel, “So said Hashem of Hosts, the G-d of Yisroel,” are not particularly descriptive of the uniqueness of this haftarah, it is usually called Oloseichem sefu, which is a brief way of referring to the unique words at the beginning of this haftarah. It is interesting that the naming of the parsha is also similar in this way in that its title, Tzav, is not in the first posuk of the parsha, but in the second, since there is nothing unique in the first posuk, Vayedabeir Hashem el Moshe leimor.

Where is the haftarah?

The haftarah is taken from one of the most difficult sections of the book of Yirmiyohu. The haftarah itself is not a pleasant one to read. The difficulty is not because the words are hard to translate, but because we do not want to think of the level to which the Jewish people (that means us) had fallen and the extent to which Yirmiyohu Hanavi was required to rebuke them – and apparently they (we) did not listen!

It is interesting to note that the haftarah that we read closes with the very same pesukim that close the haftarah that we read every year on Tisha B’Av, which begins with the words Asof asifeim (literally, “I will completely destroy them”). The reason for this is that Asof asifeim, which is taken from the same rebuke that Yirmiyohu was required to deliver, closes with a positive ending, “The wise man should not glorify himself with his wisdom, nor should the powerful man with his power, nor the rich man with his wealth. Only with this should someone glorify himself – by studying and knowing Me” (Yirmiyohu 9:22-23). The reading of Oloseichem sefu would end with a very negative closing (I refer our readers to Yirmiyohu 8:3), and so, custom developed to skip ahead and read the closing of Asof asifeim, in order to end the haftarah on a positive note.

What is the theme of the haftarah?

Yirmiyohu is telling the people, sarcastically — since you are not observing the mitzvos properly, why bother offering korbanos olah? Instead, eat them, and at least get the protein benefit from eating meat!

In a korban olah, the entire animal, except for its hide, is burnt on the mizbei’ach. The korban is called olah, an elevation offering, because it goes “up” entirely to Hashem, and, when bringing this korban, a person is to look at himself as completely submitting to Hashem’s Will – thereby, he “goes up” to Hashem, the same way.

In the case of korbanos shelamim, it is a mitzvah to eat the meat of the korban – some of the meat is given to the kohanim, who eat it with their families, and some of it is given to the person who offered the korban. This facilitated a huge celebration, since his family and friends would gather to eat the korban in Yerushalayim.

Yirmiyohu Hanavi is talking to the Jews in a derisive way. He takes issue with what had, apparently, become a very stylish observance of the Jewish religion in the period just before the destruction of the first Beis Hamikdash. People had taken a much dichotomized approach to religion. Outside the Beis Hamikdash, they did whatever they felt like doing. Even such serious crimes as murder did not disturb them. But they would bring korbanos to the Beis Hamikdash and treat it with respect. Of course, this is not an acceptable observance of Hashem’s Torah.

According to Rav Yosef Breuer’s commentary on the posuk: If the Sanctuary no longer bears the message… to proclaim the truths symbolically taught — that the olah expresses moral dedication to Hashem, and the shelamim declares a vow to dedicate all of life’s joy to Him — then the “sacrificial cult” that remains is throwing animal flesh into the fire for no useful purpose. Instead, add your olah to your regular meals, and at least enjoy a decent meal!

Second posuk of haftarah

The second posuk of the haftarah looks at a similar theme, but from a different vantage point: Ki lo dibarti es avoseichem velo tzivisim beyom hotzi osam mei’eretz Mitzrayim al divrei olah va’zavach, “Because I did not speak with your fathers, nor did I command them on the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt concerning the korbanos olah and shelamim.” The navi notes that the people have made the “sacrificial cult” of the korbanos into the most important aspect of their being Jewish. Yet, no mention of these mitzvos was mentioned when the Jews were redeemed from Egypt and became a nation! Korbanos are to be observed as part of a framework of keeping all the mitzvos – they are never the primary focus.

We don’t identify with this view that Judaism is a sacrificial cult, because we have no Beis Hamikdash. However, people who park their observance of Torah in shul, and do not allow it to spill over into their personal or business lives are guilty of the same fallacy! Someone who wears Jewish garb, but runs his business without constantly recognizing Torah, is guilty of the same crime.

Therefore, Yirmiyohu tells the people: Since you lack the basic acceptance of the values and requirements of the Torah, why not just eat the korban. At least this way, you are getting some nutrition from the animal, whereas when slaughtering as a korban without any commitment to the Torah, you are getting no benefit from the korban, and it is a complete waste.

Why this haftarah?

An obvious question is: Why was Oloseichem sefu designated as the haftarah for parshas Tzav? Before answering this question, we need to analyze why we read the haftaros altogether.

Haftarah History

Early sources present two completely different reasons for the origin of the mitzvah to read the haftarah.

Reason #1:

Some early sources report that, in ancient times, a haftarah was recited towards the end of Shacharis every day of the year. At the point of davening when we recite Uva Letziyon, they would take out a sefer Navi and read about ten verses together with their Aramaic translation, the common Jewish parlance at the time. Then, they recited the two main pesukim of kedushah, Kodosh Kodosh Kodosh Hashem Tzvakos melo kol ha’aretz kevodo, and Boruch kevod Hashem mi’mekomo, together with their Aramaic translation. In those days, all men used to study Torah for several hours after davening, before occupying themselves with their daily livelihoods. The Navi was recited to guarantee that people fulfilled the daily requirement to study some Biblical part of the Torah, in addition to the daily requirement of studying both Mishnah and Gemara (Teshuvas Ha’ge’onim #55).

Why did this practice end?

This daily practice of incorporating some “haftarah” reading ended when people needed to spend more time earning a living (Teshuvas Ha’ge’onim #55). To ensure that this practice of studying some Tanach daily at the end of davening would not be forgotten, they still recited the verses of kedusha, a practice mentioned in the Gemara (Sotah 49a). Around the recital of these two verses developed the prayer we say daily that begins with the pasuk “Uva Letzion.”

Although the daily “haftarah” ceased at this time, on Shabbos and Yom Tov, when people do not work, the haftarah readings continued. As a result, there is no need to mention Uva Letzion immediately after  kerias haTorah on Shabbos and Yom Tov, since that is when we recite the haftarah.  For this reason, Uva Letzion is postponed until Mincha (Shibbolei Haleket #44).

A second reason for the haftarah

Other, later authorities cite a completely different historical basis for reciting the haftarah. At one time in antiquity, the gentiles prohibited the public reading of the Torah, but they did not forbid reading from the Nevi’im in public. Therefore, in lieu of krias haTorah, Jewish communities began reading selections from the Nevi’im that would remind people of the Torah portion that should have been read that day (Abudraham). Many of the haftarah readings were chosen to remind people of the observances of the day, such as the special haftaros for the Yomim Tovim, the four parshi’os, Shabbos Hagadol, Shabbos Shuva, and mochor chodesh, or to remind and console people for the seasons. Examples of the latter include the three haftaros read during the Three Weeks, and the seven haftaros, called the shivah de’nechemta,that are read from the Shabbos following Tisha B’Av until Rosh Hashanah.

Although the gentiles eventually rescinded the prohibition against the public Torah reading, the practice of reading the haftarah continued, even after the reinstatement of the Torah reading. At that time, it was instituted that the person reading the haftarah should first receive an aliyah to the Torah, which we call maftir (Megillah 23a), in order to emphasize that the words of the Nevi’im are not equal to the Torah in kedusha or in authority.

It is noteworthy that although the second reason is better known and is quoted frequently by halachic commentaries (from the Bach, Orach Chayim 284, onwards), I found the first reason in much earlier sources. While the earliest source I found mentioning the second approach was the Abudraham, who lived in the early fourteenth century, the first source is found in writings of the Geonim, well over a thousand years ago.

I suspect that both historical reasons are accurate: Initially, the haftarah was instituted when the Jews were banned from reading the Torah in public; they instituted reading the haftaros as a reminder of the mitzvah of public Torah reading. After that decree was rescinded and the mitzvah of kerias haTorah was reinstituted, Jews continued the practice of reading the Nevi’im and even extended it as a daily practice to encourage people to study the Written Torah every day. When this daily practice infringed on people’s ability to earn a living, they limited it to non-workdays.

According to the second reason, each week’s haftarah should serve as a reminder either of the Torah reading that should have transpired or of some other special occasion that Chazal wanted us to remember.

Haftaras Tzav

At this point, we are in a position to answer our opening question: Why is it that we read specifically this haftarah this week?

Some answer that the reason is to teach people that we should not lose sight of the reason why the korbanos are offered. Someone might think that the korbanos are, inherently, of the greatest importance, without realizing that their purpose is to bring us closer to Hashem in our observance of all the mitzvos (Commentary of Rabbi Mendel Hirsch).

Conclusion

I remember, as a child, assuming that the word haftarah was pronounced half-Torah, because it was always much shorter than the Torah reading. Unfortunately, I occasionally hear adults mispronounce the word this way, too. Although there are several interpretations of the word haftarah, it is usually understood to mean completing, as in “completing the reading of the Torah” (Levush, Orach Chayim 284:1). Recital of the weekly Haftarah is an ancient custom and a takanas Chazal,and must be treated with respect. The entire purpose of its reading is to ensure our study of some of the Written Torah, and to incorporate its eternal messages into our lives.

The Shabby Cabby

At the end of parshas Vayikra, there is discussion about someone who is dishonest in his dealings.

It had already been a really tough day. Now, on top of that, Mrs. Gartenhaus (all names in this story have been changed) was very unhappy with the cab driver she had hailed. Aside from his discourteous behavior, she sensed a certain shadiness to his personality. She just couldn’t wait to get home and out of his vehicle.

To compound everything, on her way home Mrs. Gartenhaus realized that she had no more money in her wallet — and she also realized that Mr. Gartenhaus would not be home from his chavrusa for a while. She really did not want to disturb his learning, just because she had forgotten to bring enough money for the cab home. But what was she to do?

She wondered whether one of the neighbors might be home, and whether she could remember their phone numbers. Sure enough, Mrs. Horowitz’s phone number popped into her head — if only she was home. Mrs. G. dialed the number on her cell phone, and, Baruch Hashem, Mrs. Horowitz answered! Mrs. G. quickly explained her predicament, and Mrs. Horowitz answered, “No problem. I have a 100-shekel bill in my wallet. That will be more than enough for your fare.”

Mrs. G. breathed an audible sigh of relief. “The fare should actually not be more than 40 shekalim, so I don’t need to borrow that much,” she told Mrs. Horowitz.

“I happened to check my wallet this morning and noticed that I have only one single 100-shekel bill,” Mrs. H. replied. “But feel free to borrow it. I have to go to the bank later today, anyway, to withdraw some money. I’ll send my daughter Chanie outside to meet your cab.”

Mrs. Horowitz asked 13-year-old Chanie to fetch the bill from her wallet and meet Mrs. Gartenhaus’s cab. Mrs. G., who was very relieved to escape the sleazy driver’s vehicle, paid little attention to the bill that she transferred from Chanie’s hand to the cabby’s outstretched paw. Before receiving her change, she gratefully began to exit the cab.

“One minute,” the driver shouted gruffly, brandishing a 20-shekel bill in his hand, “you owe me another 20 shekalim!”

Mrs. Gartenhaus was at a loss. She had assumed that Chanie gave her the 100- shekel note her mother promised, but maybe there was some mistake. In the meantime, Chanie had returned home, the driver was hissing, and Mrs. G. just wanted to get home and climb into bed.

Noticing one of her neighbors on the curb, she embarrassingly called out the window, “Do you perhaps have 20 shekels I can borrow?” Having successfully borrowed the additional 20 shekels, she paid the cabby, and struggled into her house. Meanwhile, she was trying to figure out what went wrong in her communication with her wonderful neighbor, Mrs. Horowitz. And only later did she realize that she should have taken down the cabby’s license number and the name of his company.

After resting a while, she called Mrs. Horowitz to ask her if she could send one of her children over in order to repay her loan. “By the way, how much money did you send with Chanie?” she inquired.

“I sent 100 shekel,” came the swift reply. “Why? Was there some problem?”

Mrs. G. told Mrs. Horowitz what had happened. “I’ll check with Chanie, but I am pretty certain that all I had was one 100-shekel bill in my wallet.”

Chanie confirmed that she had found only one 100-shekel bill in the wallet.

How much must Mrs. Gartenhaus pay back to Mrs. Horowitz?

Does Chanie have any legal responsibilities in this case?

Mrs. Horowitz called Rav Cohen to ask how much Mrs. Gartenhaus owes her. Although it might seem like an open-and-shut case, the halacha is anything but obvious, as we will see.

Rav Cohen mulled over the case, thinking over the complicated halachic topics this event encompasses. Clearly, both women want to do what is correct. Is it clear that Mrs. Gartenhaus owes 100 shekalim?

Legally, in this case, the claimant, usually called the plaintiff, is Mrs. Horowitz. She is placing a claim that Mrs. Gartenhaus borrowed 100 shekalim that Chanie delivered. Mrs. Gartenhaus’s response is that she does not know how much money she borrowed. It might seem that Mrs. G. has a very weak defense: after all, Mrs. Horowitz is making a definite claim that Mrs. Gartenhaus owes her 100 shekalim, while Mrs. Gartenhaus’s only response is that she did not pay attention.

Halachically, Mrs. Horowitz’s definite claim is called a bari, a person with a certain claim. Mrs. Gartenhaus response that she is unaware how much she owes makes her a shema, a defendant who is uncertain. This case is the subject of a Talmudic dispute. Here is one case where this question is discussed:

Reuven borrowed a cow from Shimon and also rented a different cow. One of the cows died in a way that would make Reuven liable if he had borrowed it, but not liable to pay if he had rented it. Unfortunately, Reuven does not remember which cow was borrowed and which was rented, but Shimon is certain that the dead cow is the one that was borrowed and that Reuven is obligated to pay. Must Reuven compensate Shimon for the dead cow?

The halacha is that bari ve’shema lav bari adif, the certain claim of the bari is insufficient, on its own, to win the case. This rule is true even in a case where the shema should have known for certain whether the claim against him is valid, like in our situation (Bava Metzia 97b). Therefore, Reuven does not have to pay for the dead cow.

Applying the principal to our case, it could be that Mrs. Horowitz would have to prove that she loaned 100 shekalim in order to require Mrs. Gartenhaus to pay the full amount. But this is true only when the claim is challenged.

Ah, but you’ll tell me, Mrs. Horowitz has a witness on her side which Shimon did not have. Chanie can testify that the loan was indeed 100 shekalim!

By now, the yeshiva minds among us are racing with valid reasons why Chanie’s testimony is insufficient to prove her mother’s case. Firstly, a single witness is not enough. Secondly, Chanie is related to one of the interested parties. Furthermore, Chanie herself is an interested party, nogei’a be’eidus, in the litigation. If she denies that she received a 100-shekel bill from her mother, she exposes herself to a lawsuit from her mother that she received money, as an agent, that she cannot account for. Although the likelihood of Mrs. Horowitz suing her own daughter for 100 shekalim is slim, it is still sufficient reason for Chanie to be considered a nogei’a be’eidus, making her testimony inadmissible.

Mrs. Horowitz has not yet exhausted her legal approaches. She may still stake a claim against Mrs. Gartenhaus, based on either of the following reasons:

1. Modeh bemiktzas. Mrs. Gartenhaus agrees that she borrowed money, but is challenging the amount of the loan. The Gemara calls this modeh bemiktzas, acknowledging part of a claim. The Torah requires someone who acknowledges part of a claim, and denies part, to swear an oath he does not owe the balance (Bava Metzia 3aet al.). If he does not want to swear, he must pay the balance of the claim.

2. Shevuas heses. Based on Mrs. Horowitz’s definite claim that Mrs. Gartenhaus owes her 100 shekalim, Mrs. H. can insist that Mrs. G. swear an oath denying that she owes money. The Gemara calls this shevuas heses, an oath to discourage defendants from denying claims that lack sufficient evidence (Shevuos 40b; Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 87:1).

We will examine each of these legal arguments. In the first argument, modeh bemiktzas, Mrs. Horowitz is claiming 100 shekalim. Mrs. Gartenhaus acknowledges that she owes 20 shekalim, but is uncertain about the remaining 80 shekalim. Thus, to fulfill the Torah’s requirement to swear an oath, Mrs. Gartenhaus would have to swear that she definitely does not owe more than 20 shekalim, something she cannot do. What is the halacha in this situation?

The Gemara discusses this exact case: Reuven claimed that Shimon owed him 100 dinarim. Shimon responds, “I know that I owe you fifty, but I do not know about the other fifty.” Is Shimon obligated to swear on the remaining balance? And if so, what does he swear?

The Gemara rules that since Shimon cannot swear that he does not owe the balance, he is obligated to pay the full 100 dinarim (Bava Metzia 98a).

Thus, Mrs. Horowitz seems to have her case wrapped up. Mrs. Gartenhaus cannot swear that she definitely does not owe 80 shekalim. Consequently, she should be required to pay the full 100 shekalim.

Except for one detail: Has Mrs. Gartenhaus paid back the 20 shekalim? If she already paid back 20 shekalim, the case is halachically different.  Now, Mrs. Horowitz is claiming 80 shekalim and Mrs. Gartenhaus is denying the entire claim. Thus, Mrs. G. is no longer modeh bemiktzas, someone who acknowledges part of the claim, but kofeir hakol, someone denying the entire claim. Although it may seem that there is not much difference between the two scenarios, halachically someone who acknowledges part of a claim must swear an oath min haTorah, whereas someone who denies the entire claim does not. The rationale for this distinction is beyond the scope of this article (Bava Metzia 3a).

This is where the other type of oath, shevuas heses, comes into play. Since Mrs. Horowitz claims that Mrs. Gartenhaus definitely owes her 80 shekalim, she can insist that Mrs. G. swear an oath about the claim.

But one minute! Either way, there would be a technical responsibility to swear an oath. What is the difference whether Mrs. Gartenhaus is being asked to swear an oath because of modeh bemiktzas or as a shevuas heses? Either way, there is an oath that she cannot swear!

However, there is a big difference in halacha between the two oaths, which makes a practical halachic difference in our case. If the oath is min haTorah, the fact that Mrs. G. cannot swear for certain to deny the claim works against her, as we explained above. However, if the oath is of the heses variety, which is only mi’derabbanan, it is sufficient for Mrs. Gartenhaus to swear that she is unaware how much she owes (Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 87:1). Thus, Mrs. Horowitz cannot insist that Mrs. Gartenhaus pay her the full sum. She must be satisfied with 20 shekalim and an oath from Mrs. Gartenhaus that she does not know how much she borrowed.

Rav Cohen reflected over the fact that batei din do not usually insist on oaths, but instead will suggest some form of compromise. Not that these two well-meaning ladies were about to pursue this matter in a beis din setting — they merely want to do what is halachically correct.

The Rav asked Mrs. Horowitz to have Mrs. Gartenhaus give him a phone call.

The phone rings. Mrs. G. is on the phone. Rav Cohen asks her what happened, to see if the versions substantiate one another. They do. And it is also clear that Mrs. Gartenhaus wants to do what is correct.

“Is it true that you told Mrs. Horowitz that I don’t have to pay her back?” asked Mrs. G. “I feel really guilty about that. I can’t imagine that just because I didn’t pay attention to how much money Chanie gave me that she should be out 80 shekalim.”

“Actually, I was simply pointing out that the halacha is not obvious,” replied the Rav. “However, someone who wants to be certain that he has done the mitzvah correctly (ba latzeis yedei shamayim) should pay back a full 100 shekalim (Bava Kamma 118a). Thus, the correct thing to do is to offer her the full amount.”

Mrs. Gartenhaus paid the money in full, and, as you can imagine, she never heard from the cabby again. Besides the halachic principles gleaned from her story, an added lesson is to check before handing over a bill, especially to an unscrupulous cab driver!

Forgetting Shabbos Candles

Since we derive the laws of Shabbos from the construction of the Mishkan, this topic is unquestionably in order.

Question #1: Missed One

“After Shabbos began, I noticed that I had forgotten to light one of my candles. Must I light an additional candle in the future?”

Question #2: Unable to Light

“I was unable to light my Shabbos lights because of circumstances beyond my control. Must I begin lighting an additional candle every week in the future?”

Question #3: Already Add

“My mother lights only two candles all the time, but I have been lighting three. One week, I missed lighting; do I now need to light an additional one, for a total of four, even though I already light more than my mother does?”

Question #4: Electrified

“I did not light my Shabbos candles, but there was plenty of electric light in the whole house. Must I add an additional light in the future?”

Introduction

An accepted custom is that a woman, who misses lighting Shabbos candles one week, adds to her future lighting, either by kindling more lights, by adding more oil to her lamps, or by lighting longer candles. The basis for this practice is recorded relatively late in halachic literature. It is not mentioned anywhere in Chazal, nor in the period of the ge’onim or early rishonim. The source for this custom is the Maharil (Hilchos Shabbos #1), the source of most early Ashkenazic customs, particularly those of western Germany (sometimes called minhag bnei Reinus, those who lived along the Rhine River). Although the Rema refers to this custom as a chumra rechokah, an excessive stringency (Darchei Moshe, Orach Chayim 263), he notes that women observe this practice and, therefore, he rules this way in his glosses to the Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim 263:1), where he mentions the practice of adding a light.

In this instance, the custom reported by the Maharil was accepted and became established not only over all of Ashkenaz, including the eastern European world, but also by the Edot Hamizrah, the entire world of Sefardic Jewry. So, halachically, this has the status of a minhag Klal Yisroel. It is uncommon to find such a relatively late custom that has become so well established.

It is also curious that, although we would consider this a relatively minor custom, the halachic authorities devote much discussion to understanding its halachic ramifications, complete with many applications.

Lamp or candle

An important technical clarification is required. Although most women fulfill the mitzvah of kindling Shabbos lights with candles, we should be aware that the word “ner,” which today means “candle,” in the time of Tanach and Chazal meant the lamp in which you placed oil to light. Although candle manufacture goes back to antiquity, it was not commonly used in Eretz Yisroel and Bavel until long after the era of Chazal. In their day, unless the term ner shel sha’avah (wax lamp; i.e., a candle) or similar term is used, it should be assumed that the word ner refers to a lamp. Thus, the posuk, ki ner mitzvah veTorah or (Mishlei 6:23), means that a mitzvah functions as a lamp and the lights that burn inside it is the Torah.

Man or woman

Another introduction is in order. Technically speaking, the mitzvah of kindling Shabbos lights is incumbent on every member of a household. To quote the Rambam: “Everyone [emphasis is mine] is required to have a lamp lit in his house on Shabbos” (Hilchos Shabbos 5:1). Although it is usually only the lady of the house who kindles the Shabbos lights, she does so as the agent of the rest of the family and their guests(Levush 263:3; Graz, Kuntros Acharon 263:2). In other words, they have implicitly appointed her a shaliach to fulfill their mitzvah for them, just as they have appointed the man of the house to recite kiddush on their behalf.

The custom, going back to the time of the Mishnah (Shabbos 34a), is that a woman kindles the lights. The Zohar mentions that the husband should prepare the lights for her to kindle. Rabbi Akiva Eiger, in his glosses to the Mishnah, notes that the Mishnah also implies this when it states that a woman is responsible for kindling the lamp (Shabbos 31b), implying that someone else prepared it for her to kindle. The Magen Avraham, quoting the Arizal, notes that preparing the lamps for kindling is specifically the responsibility of the husband (Magen Avraham 263:7).

Thus, if there is no woman in the house, or she is unavailable to kindle the Shabbos lights at the correct time, a different adult should kindle the lamps and recite the bracha when doing so. (Some have the practice that the husband kindles the Shabbos lamps on the Shabbos after a woman gives birth, even when his wife is home [Magen Avraham 263:6; Mishnah Berurah 263:11 and Aruch Hashulchan 263:7].)

If a man was supposed to light candles — for example, he is unmarried — and forgot to light them one week, is he now required to kindle an extra light every week because of the custom mentioned by the Maharil? This question is disputed by late halachic authorities.

Kindled less

If a woman kindled less than the number of lamps that she usually does, is she required to add more lamps in the future?

This matter is the subject of a dispute between acharonim; the Pri Megadim rules that she is required to add more lamps or more oil in the future, whereas the Biur Halacha concludes that there is no such requirement.

Two or three

The Rema raises the following question about the custom of kindling an extra light: Although the Gemara makes no mention of kindling more than one lamp for Shabbos use, common custom, already reported by the rishonim, is that people kindle two lamps every Friday night. Many reasons are cited for this custom of lighting two lights; the rishonim mention that one is to remind us of zachor and the other of shamor. (Other reasons for this custom are mentioned in other prominent seforim,such as Elyah Rabbah [263:2]; Elef Lamateh [625:33]; and Halichos Beisah [14:57].) The Rema asks that when a woman kindles three lights, because she forgot once to light and is now adding an extra one to fulfill the Maharil’s minhag, it seems that she is preempting the custom of kindling two lights because of zachor and shamor.

The Rema responds to this question by quoting sources in rishonim (Mordechai, Rosh Hashanah #720; Rosh, Rosh Hashanah 4:3)that, in general, when a halacha requires a certain number, this is a minimum requirement, but it is permitted to add to it. Thus, for example, when we say that reading the Torah on Shabbos requires seven people to be called up, this means that we should call up at least seven people, but it is permitted to call up more, which is indeed the accepted halachic practice (see Mishnah Megillah 21a).

Based on these rishonim, the Rema explains that the custom is to kindle at least two lamps, and that adding extra because a woman forgot once to light is not against the custom (Darchei Moshe and Hagahos, Orach Chayim 263). This is why the fairly common practice of adding one lamp for each child of the household is not a violation of the custom of lighting two lamps for zochor and shamor. Furthermore, the custom that some have to kindle seven lights or ten lights every Erev Shabbos, mentioned by the Shelah Hakodosh and the Magen Avraham, does not violate the earlier custom of the rishonim of lighting two.

The prevalent custom is that a woman who kindles more than two lamps when at home kindles only two when she is a guest (She’arim Hametzuyanim Bahalacha 75:13). Some late authorities discuss whether a woman who lights extra lights because she once forgot should do so also when she is a guest (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasa, Chapter 43, footnote 31; see She’arim Hametzuyanim Bahalacha 75:13, who is lenient).

Why do we light Shabbos candles?

Prior to answering our opening questions, we should clarify a few other issues basic to the mitzvah of kindling lights for Shabbos. The Gemara explains that kindling Shabbos lights enhances shalom bayis, happiness and peacef in the household. Specifically, the authorities provide several ways that lighting increases the proper Shabbos atmosphere.

(1) A place of honor is always properly illuminated, and, therefore, there should be ample lighting for the Shabbos meal (Rambam, Hilchos Shabbos 30:5; Rashi, Shabbos 25b).

(2) Not only is there more kavod for the Shabbos meal when it is properly lit, but it also increases the enjoyment of that meal (She’iltos #63). It is not enjoyable to eat a meal when it is difficult to see what you are eating.

(3) It also makes people happy to be in a well-lit area. Sitting somewhere that is dark conflicts with the Shabbos atmosphere (Rashi, Shabbos 23b).

(4) If the house is dark, someone might stumble or collide with something and hurt himself, which is certainly not conducive to enjoying Shabbos (Magen Avraham, 263:1).

There are circumstances when some of the reasons mentioned above apply and other reasons do not. For example, according to the first two reasons — to treat the Shabbos meal with honor and to enjoy it — one is required to have light only where one is eating; however, one would not necessarily need to illuminate an area that one traverses. On the other hand, the fourth reason, preventing a person from hurting himself, requires illuminating all parts of the house that one walks through on Shabbos. Since these reasons are not mutually exclusive, but may all be true, one should make sure that all areas of the house that one uses in the course of Shabbos are illuminated (Magen Avraham 263:1).

Husband does not want

What is the halacha if a woman would like to kindle extra lamps, more than her custom, but her husband objects, preferring that she light the number of lamps that is her usual custom. I found this exact question discussed in Shu’t Tzitz Eliezer,who rules that she should follow her husband’s directive, noting that the reason for kindling Shabbos lamps is to increase shalom bayis, which is the opposite of what this woman will be doing if she kindles lamps that her husband does not want (Shu’t Tzitz Eliezer 13:26).

Atonement, Reminder or Compensation?

At this point, we can return to our specific discussion about someone who forgot to kindle Shabbos lights. The acharonim discuss the purpose of adding an extra lamp because a woman once forgot to light Shabbos lights. The Machatzis Hashekel (Orach Chayim 263:1) suggests three different reasons for the custom:

Reminder

The reason mentioned by the Bach and other acharonim for the custom is that kindling an extra light every week provides a permanent reminder to kindle Shabbos lamps (Bach, Orach Chayim 263; Magen Avraham 263:3).

Atonement

The Machatzis Hashekel suggests another reason, that kindling the extra light is atonement, kaparah, for not having fulfilled the mitzvah.

Compensation

Yet another reason is that not kindling Shabbos lights one week caused a small financial benefit. To avoid any appearance that we benefit from a halachic mishap, the extra lamp is kindled to make compensation.

(Yet another reason for the custom of adding an extra light is suggested by the Pri Megadim, Eishel Avraham 263:7).

Do any halachic differences result from these reasons?

Yes, they do. If the reason is because of “reminder,” it is appropriate only if she forgot to kindle, but if she was unable to light, she would not require a “reminder” for future weeks (Magen Avraham 263:3). The example chosen by the Magen Avraham is that she was imprisoned, although we could also choose an example in which a life-threatening emergency called her away from the house right before Shabbos.

On the other hand, if the reason is because of compensation, she should add  extra lamp.

The Magen Avraham and the Machatzis Hashekel conclude that we may rely on the first reason, that it is to remind her for the future, and that the minhag applies, therefore, only when she forgot to kindle, but not when she was unable to.

Unable to light

At this point, let us address the second of our opening questions: “I was unable to light my Shabbos lights because of circumstances beyond my control. Must I begin lighting an additional candle every week in the future?”

It would seem that it depends on what she meant by “circumstances beyond my control.” If she needed to be with one of her children in the emergency room at the time that Shabbos began and no one else in the house kindled lights, I would consider that a situation in which she is not required to light an additional lamp. On the other hand, if she ran out of time and suddenly realized that it is too late to light, this is clearly negligence and she is required to kindle an extra light in the future. Specific shaylos should be addressed to one’s rav or posek.

Already add

At this point, we can address one of our opening questions: “My mother lights only two candles, all the time, but I have been lighting three. One week, I missed lighting; do I need to light an additional one, for a total of four, even though I already light more than my mother does?”

The answer is that you are required to add one because of the custom quoted by the Maharil, in addition to the three that you already light (Elyah Rabbah 263:9).

Electric lights

It should be noted that all four reasons mentioned above for lighting Shabbos lights would be fulfilled if someone turned on electric lights. Notwithstanding that universal practice is to kindle oil or candles for Shabbos lights, most authorities contend that one fulfills the mitzvah of kindling Shabbos lights with electric lights (Shu’t Beis Yitzchok, Yoreh Deah 1:120; Shu’t Melamed Leho’il, Orach Chayim #46, 47; Edus Le’yisrael, pg. 122). There are some authorities who disagree, because they feel that the mitzvah requires kindling with a wick and a fuel source that is in front of you, both requirements that preclude using electric lights to fulfill the mitzvah (Shu’t Maharshag 2:107). The consensus of most authorities is that, in an extenuating circumstance, one may fulfill the mitzvah with electric lights (Shu’t Yechaveh Daas 5:24; Shu’t Kochavei Yitzchak 1:2). It is common practice that women who are hospitalized, or in similar circumstances where safety does not permit kindling an open flame, may rely on the electric lights for Shabbos lamps. When one needs to rely on this heter, at candle-lighting time, she should turn off the electric light she will be using for Shabbos, and then turn it on for use as her Shabbos light.

Lighting in an illuminated room

The contemporary availability of electric lighting adds another interesting dimension to the mitzvah of lighting Shabbos lamps, which requires a brief introduction. The rishonim discuss whether one is allowed to recite a bracha over Shabbos lights in a room that is already illuminated, when the reasons for the mitzvah are accomplished already. Some maintain that, indeed, you cannot recite a bracha on the Shabbos lamps when they are basically unnecessary, whereas others rule that the extra light enhances the joyous Shabbos atmosphere and one is therefore allowed to recite a bracha on the candles (see Beis Yosef 263). After quoting both opinions, the Shulchan Aruch (263:8) rules that one should not recite a bracha in this situation because of “safeik brachos lehakeil,” whereas the Rema explains that minhag Ashkenaz allows reciting a bracha.

One of the practical halachic ramifications of this disagreement is whether one may recite a bracha over the Shabbos candles in a room that has electric lights. It would seem that, according to the opinion of the Shulchan Aruch, one should not, while the Rema would permit it. Contemporary poskim suggest avoiding the question by having the lady of the house turn on the electric lights in the dining room in honor of Shabbos immediately before lighting the Shabbos candles and recite the bracha, having in mind to include the electric lights (Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah 43:34). (The Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah suggests other options that accomplish the same thing.)

At this point, we can address the fourth of our opening questions: “I did not light my Shabbos candles, but there was plenty of electric light in the whole house. Must I add an additional light in the future?”

The question germane to our subtopic is: what is the halacha if a woman forgot to light Shabbos lights, but there were electric lights that were left burning anyway; does the penalty of the Maharil apply in this instance? I discovered a dispute in this matter among late halachic authorities, in which Rav Shmuel Vozner ruled that she is required to kindle another lamp in the future (Shu’t Sheivet Halevi 5:33), whereas Rav Ovadyah Yosef ruled that she is not (Yalkut Yosef 263:43; see also Shu’t Melamed Le’ho’il, Orach Chayim #46; Shu’t Igros Moshe, Yoreh Deah 3:14:6; Shemiras Shabbos Kehilchasah Chapter 43, footnote 30; Shu’t Avnei Yoshfeih, Orach Chayim 1:55:6.)

Conclusion

The Gemara states that one who is careful to use beautiful “neiros” for Shabbos will merit having children who are talmidei chachomim (Shabbos 23b). Let us hope and pray that in the merit of observing these halachos correctly, we will have children and grandchildren who light up the world with their Torah!

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