Monthly Archives: January 2018

Parshat בשלח Shmos 15:26– Don’t Spit During Prayers  

Shmos 15:26 –  And He said, if you hearken to the voice of the Lord, your God, and you do what is proper in His eyes, and you listen closely to His commandments and observe all His statutes, all the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you, for I, the Lord, heal you.

Gemora – Sanhedrin 90a: One who whispers on a wound and says “All the sicknesses that I have visited upon Egypt I will not visit upon you” has no portion in the world to come.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation of Comment #44:
The Gemora in our chapter (101a) notes that Rabbi Yochanan states that the Gemora is speaking of a situation where someone spits; this being forbidden because it is not proper to mention God’s name while spitting. Rashi there explains that it is the way of whisperers to spit prior to their whisper. In other words, based on Rashi, first they spit and then they say the verse with God’s name in it, “For I, the Lord, heal you.” However, the Tur in Yoreh Deah Section 179 states that the custom of whisperers is to say the verse first [with God’s name in it] and then spit.

Thus, according to the Tur, there would be support for the custom of those who spit during the Alenu prayer before they mention God’s name. The only prohibition being the opposite, namely to mention God’s name first and then spit. This would be prohibited because it would appear as though one is disparaging God’s name. But, if one follows the opinion of Rashi that spitting even before mentioning God’s name is also forbidden, then the custom of spitting during Alenu would be difficult [to support].  

That which the Tur writes in the above noted section that in those instances where it is obvious that one intends to honor God in spitting [as in the Alenu prayer] then it would be permitted, that doesn’t appear to be applicable. The case brought in our Gemora of one who is whispering upon a wound also does not mean to disrespect God, but rather the opposite is true in that he is honoring God by saying a verse that he hopes will cause healing. Nevertheless, the Gemora makes it clear that even in such a case it is still prohibited because it is just not honorable to mention God’s name in connection with spitting.

In summary, if one follows Rashi’s understanding of the Gemora, it is better to not spit during the Alenu prayer. This is how I have seen great men of our generation acting and I have followed their example.

 Editor’s Note: The bottom line is that the Torah Temimah is pointing out that it seems inappropriate to spit during prayers, no matter what.


Parshat בשלח Shmos 14:20 – The Angels Weren’t Able to Sing

Shmos 14:20 –  And he [the angel] came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel, and there were the cloud and the darkness, and it illuminated the night, and one did not draw near the other all night long.

Gemora – Megila 10b: Rabbi Yochanan asked, what is the meaning of the verse “and one did not draw near the other all night long”? [It means] that the Ministering Angels wanted to sing, but God said to them, “the work of my hands is drowning in the sea, and you want to sing?”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation Of Comment #9:
The phrase “the work of my hands” is reference to the Egyptians, who in spite of everything, are still God’s creations just like any other person. The [grammatical] reason for Rabbi Yochanan’s comment is that in the previous verse the word “camp” is referenced in the plural while in our verse the word “camp” is referenced in the singular. Thus the verse should have stated “and they [the Egyptian camp and the Israelite camp] did not draw near to each other all night long”. This change is the reason why it is taught that the verse is referencing the Angels not coming near to each other – one Angel for the pillar of file that went before them and the other Angel for the pillar of cloud that went behind them. This is in accordance with the verse in Psalms 104:4 “He makes winds His messengers [angels], burning fire His ministers [angels].

Now since the Jews had stopped traveling and stopped, it is obviously that the two pillars [and their accompanying angels] did not, at that point, draw near to each other. Thus, why would the verse even state that they did not draw near to each other? The reason is to teach the fact that they did not even draw near to each other in a spiritual manner, meaning that even for singing they were not allowed to come spiritually near to each other. This teaching relies on the phrase “did not come near” as being a reference to the verse in Isaiah 6:3 – And one called to the other and said, “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory.” The angels joined together to say [sing] God’s praises because the natural way for song is to sing in a group.

Look further at the Beis Yosef on Orach Chaim Section 490 who quotes the Midrash “Harninu” the reason why we don’t say [sing] a full Hallel on the intermediate and last days of Passover is because of the this reason that “the work of my hands is drowning in the sea”. This idea, however, requires further investigation. Behold, we see that Moshe and [all of] Israel themselves sang on the seventh day [of Passover] and we also [in synagogue service] say the Song of the Sea. Rather it is clear that the caution against singing is [only] at the actual time of the drowning and prior to that. However, after the fact, singing God’s praises is allowed.

This approach is alluded to in the Gemora’s discussion on this topic in Sanhedrin 39b. The teaching is that the caution against singing is only at the time of the drowning [and beforehand]. This is also stated in the Mechilta (16:1) that on the seventh day of Passover, the angels sang. This would all be in accordance with the approach that we stated above. This is also the way to explain the Gemora Berachos 9b in referencing the Hallel that King David sang upon the downfall of the evildoers – the singing was not at the actual time of their downfall but rather afterwards.

In addition to these above listed reasons, I don’t know what the halachic commentators and the Midrash Harninu are forced to say in regard to the Gemora Arachin 10b where it explains that the reason why we don’t pray the whole Hallel on the Intermediate and Latter Days of Passover is because there is no unique sacrificial offerings on those days. This is in contrast to the holiday of Succos where we do offer unique sacrificial offerings each day and where we do pray the whole Hallel each day. It seems also that this explanation is more logical. After all, if the reason we don’t pray the whole Hallel is due to the Egyptians historically drowning during this time, then what logical distinction would there be between praying the whole Hallel and praying half-Hallel?

One point that can be derived from this discussion is a comment on what the Chavos Yair writes in his Responsum Section 225. There he writes that we do not follow the custom of saying Yotzrot [special additional prayers] on the Seventh Day of Passover. The Chavos Yair states that the reason why we don’t relates to the fact that God did not permit the angels to sing Hallel. [I think] this reason does not make any sense at all. According to that which we have written above, the command to the angels only applied at the night before the Seventh Day but that actual during the day Moshe, the Bnei Israel and the angels all did sing songs [of praise.]

 Editor’s Note: This midrash is popular in certain Jewish groups. It is interesting to see the Torah Temimah take a more learned approach.

Parshat בא Shmos 12:9 – Where are the Waters of Tiberias Located?

Shmos  12:9 – “And it shall be to you as a sign You shall not eat it rare or boiled in water, except roasted over the fire its head with its legs and with its innards.

Gemora: Pesachim 41(a) – Rav Hisda says: [One who cooks/boils] a Pesach sacrifice that is cooked in the hot waters of Tiberias is guilty of a sin because the verse states that it must be roasted.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #89:

The phrasing of the Gemora is not exact – if so, what would be the difference between cooking it in the waters of Tiberias and cooking it in any other hot water? The meaning of the Gemora is that one who roasts the Pesach sacrifice above the waters of Tiberias is liable.  [using the hot air emanating from the waters of Tiberias.] This is a sin because the verse requires that it be roasted over a fire. This is exactly what Maimonides writes in Chapter 8, Halacha 10 of the Laws of Pesach, “one who roasts it above the hot waters of Tiberias transgresses since it must be roasted over a fire.”

Note what is written by the Marei Kohen that is appended to the Vilna Shas. The Marei Kohen quotes the Chacham of Jerusalem as asking: how could it be that one is cooking the Pesach sacrifice in the hot waters of Tiberias? Behold, it is forbidden to eat the Pesach sacrifice outside of Jerusalem. Additionally, if one were to bring it to Tiberias, one would be liable for transgressing the prohibition of “taking it out” [of Jerusalem]. Also, if one were to bring the waters of Tiberias to Jerusalem, they would already have cooled down. Further they would be a “kli sheni” and it would not technically be cooking.

The Marei Kohen states that the Sage of Jerusalem did not propose an answer to his question. The Marei Kohen suggests that the Gemora is discussing a time when bamot [small alters for ‘light’ sacrifices] were permitted throughout the land of Israel.

If that were the case, then why would the Gemora discuss it? Something that was in the past, was in the past. Additionally, bamot will never be permitted again the future (as mentioned in Gemora Zevachim 113b). Lastly, Maimonides also mentions this law regarding the waters of Tiberias and his way, in general, is not to discuss bamot for the above reasons. For these reasons and others, the answer given by the Marei Kohen seems unlikely.

On the other hand, I am amazed that the comments by Rashi on this issue are not mentioned. Rashi interprets “waters of Tiberias” as being “boiling waters”. On the surface, this comment of Rashi’s seems superfluous. Everyone knows what the waters of Tiberias are. Rather, the point of Rashi’s comment is to state that “waters of Tiberias” refers to boiling waters, in any location. Thus, if one were to find hot springs in Jerusalem, the laws applying to them would be the same as those applying to the waters of Tiberias. Now everything is understandable, the above Gemora Pesachim is referring to boiling waters, wherever they may be found.

In fact, a good proof that the Gemora is accustomed to referring to boiling waters as the “waters of Tiberias” can be found in the aggada of helek (Sanhedrin 108a). That Gemora is as follows: “Rabbi Yochanan states that 3 [types of waters] survived from [Noah’s] flood. “  One of them is the waters of Tiberias. Rashi explains there that the waters of Noah’s flood were boiling and the waters of Tiberias are from those waters. Now, the rabbi stating this view is Rabbi Yochanan and he, himself, states in Gemora Zevachim 113a that the flood did not cover the land of Israel. Since Tiberias is in the land of Israel, it is surprising that Rabbi Yochanan would make this statement. Rather, what we see is that Rabbi Yochanan was using the phrase “waters of Tiberias” to refer to hot springs wherever they might be found throughout the world.

Editor’s Note: The Meshivas Nefesh, a commentary on the Torah Temimah, points out that the Gemora in Pesachim 8a discusses “why are there not found ‘waters of Tiberias’ in Jerusalem?” He also mentions that the Yalkut Shimoni in Parshat Baalotcha discusses why there are not ‘waters of Tiberias’ in Jerusalem.  I think he does this as a critique of the Torah Temimah statement that if there were to be found such waters in Jerusalem it would be forbidden to cook the Pesach sacrifice using their heat. It seems to me, though, that these quotes actually prove the Torah Temimah’s point that ‘waters of Tiberias’ is a generic phrase referring to hot springs anywhere.

Parshat בא Shmos 13:9 – Tefillin on Chol HaMoed

Shmos  13:9 – “And it shall be to you as a sign upon your hand and as a remembrance between your eyes, in order that the law of the Lord shall be in your mouth, for with a mighty hand the Lord took you out of Egypt.”

Gemora: Menachos 34(b): We learn in a Beraitha, Rabbi Akiva said, “You might think that perhaps one should put on tefillin on Shabbos and Holidays. However, the verse states [tefillin] should be a sign – meaning for when you need a sign. This excludes Shabbos and Holidays that are themselves referred to as signs.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #33:

Rashi explains and cites the verse in Shmos (31:13) that explicitly states that Shabbos, itself, is a sign. However, Rashi doesn’t mention a proof for the Holidays also being a sign. It seems though that since Holidays are also often referred to as Shabbos; therefore, they also are a sign. This is shown in a variety of verses. Vayikra (23:15) “You shall count, starting the day after Shabbos…” which refers to the holiday of Passover as is explained in the Gemora Menachos (65b). Regarding the holiday of Succos, the verse states (Vayikra 23:39) “the first day of the holiday shall be a Shabbos and the eighth days shall be a Shabbos”. Also, note the Gemora Shevuos (15b) where the rabbis deduce that building the temple needs to be suspended on holidays because of the verse in Vayikra (19:30) “You shall surely guard my Shabbos and my temple shall you fear.” Also, in the Mechilta (on Parshat BeShalach) the rabbis deduce that one may not reap on holidays from the fact that the verse (Shmos 16:26) “Six days shall you reap and on the seventh day (Shabbos) not”. The reason all of these cite describe Holidays as a form of Shabbos is easy to understand. The word Shabbos means resting and ceasing from work – since this is also true of Holidays, we can then see that it is logical to refer to Holidays with the word Shabbos.

Tosafot here writes a [different] reason why Holidays are referred to as a sign. They state that for Passover, the “sign” consists in the prohibition of eating leaven baked goods. On Succos, the sign consists in the dwelling in the succah and in the shaking of the lulav.

But according to this reasoning, one would have to ask what the sign would be for the holiday of Shavuos and Shmini Atzeret? One cannot say, regarding these holidays, that the sign consists of the special sacrifices that are brought on these days. If that were the case, then Rosh Chodesh [the first day of each month], would also be a sign and one would not be obligated to wear tefillin on Rosh Chodesh. [However, one is obligated to wear tefillin on Rosh Chodesh.] Thus, if one does not deduce Holidays as being a sign from the prohibition of work, there are some logical inconsistencies. Further, from the phraseology of Tosafot, it is clear that these two opinions of why Holidays are referred to as signs are mutually exclusive. In Tosafot’s opinion Holiday is referred to as a sign because of its unique observances, not because of the cessation from work.

The halachic ramification of this opinion is regarding the question of whether one needs to put on tefillin during the intermediate days of the holiday [chol ha’moed]. If the reason is because of the prohibition of leaven bread or the obligation to eat in a succah, then one would not be obligated to put on tefillin during chol ha’moed. If, however, the reason is because of the prohibition of doing work – then according to those opinions that one is allowed, biblically speaking, to do work on chol ha’moed, then one would be obligated to put on tefillin during chol ha’moed. This enables us to understand the Rashba who states explicitly that one is exempt from putting on tefillin during chol ha’moed. The Rashba is being internally consistent as he explains in his work (section 600) that it is prohibited bibilically to do work on chol ha’moed. This is as is written by the Beis Yosef. Thus one would not be obligated to put on tefillin during chol ha’moed.

Behold, much has been written by the Rishonim and the Acharonim regarding this issue of obligation or exemption from putting on tefillin during chol ha’moed. Therefore it does not appear appropriate to expound at length regarding this topic here. However, let us shed some light on the issue of putting on the tefillin but without a blessing in order to [seemingly] fulfill all the various opinions on this matter. My opinion is that this idea does not seem to make sense. The fact that saying a blessing does not in any way impact the performance of the mitzvah shows that even without a blessing one has completely fulfilled the mitzvah. [So in what manner does this meet the opinion of one who says that we do not wear tefillin on chol ha’moed?!]

Perhaps the logic here is similar to the logic in the Gemora Rosh HaShana (28b). In that Gemora there is a discussion regarding the prohibition of “don’t add to it”. [This is the prohibition against creating new mitzvot or new prohibitions.]  The Gemora raises the issue of one who sleeps in the succah on Shimi Atzeres is liable for lashes because he has transgressed the prohibition of “adding on”. Many have asked why the Gemora mentions one who sleeps in the succah [after the holiday is over] instead of the [more likely] scenario of one who eats in the succah [after the holiday].

The explanation for the Gemora’s choice of scenario is because on all the days of the actual holiday, we make a blessing before eating in the succah. Thus, if one were to eat in the succah after the holiday and NOT make a blessing, it would be immediately recognizable that one was eating there due to a doubt [is it still the holiday or isn’t it?] not due to a desire to add to the requirements of the mitzvah. This is not the situation with sleeping in the succah, however. Even during the holiday, one never makes a blessing before sleeping in the succah. Therefore, there is no way to recognize that one is NOT sleeping in the succah with the intent of adding on the holiday.

Based on this example we see that since on all normal weekdays of the year, we do make a blessing before putting on tefillin, if we put on tefillin during chol ha’moed and we don’t make a blessing – we thus demonstrate that we are doing so out of a doubt [as to whether one should put on tefillin during chol ha’moed or not]. This is the reason why putting on tefillin without a blessing is the way that satisfies both points of view.

Editor’s Note: This may be the most complex note that we have translated so far. However, the clarity of the Torah Temimah’s logic, I think, does make the note intelligible even to one not familiar with the method of Jewish Talmudic reasoning.