Author Archives: David Schectman

Parshat נח – Genesis 7:10 – Seven Days

Genesis 7:10: “And it came to pass after the seven days that the waters of the flood were upon the earth.”

Sanhedrin 108B: “And it came to pass after the seven days… What was the purpose of these 7 days? The Holy One Blesses is He gave them a taste of the world to come.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #7

The toseftah for tractate Sotah (chapter 10) explains this more clearly as follows: “The Holy One Blessed is He gave them 7 days of eating and drinking in order that they should realize what they lost.” Yet, the reason for this benefit is not explained. Perhaps one could explain this based on the Gemara Taanit 21A

The men on watch in the temple did not fast on Sunday so as not to go from rest and pleasure to fasting and pain.

The commentators explain that trouble that comes after pleasure is harder than trouble that comes in an expected time. Therefore, Hashem gave the generation of the flood a period of great pleasure before the flood to that their pain be greater as they perished in the flood.

In another place we explained, based on this, the reason, as we hold, that anyone who eats and drinks on the 9th (of Tishrei), the day before Yom Kippur, it is considered that the person fasted on the 9th and 10th[1]. At first glance this merit is perplexing how can it be that eating and drinking can be counted as fasting? As explained, that a fast that comes after a period of much eating is harder, the increase of eating drinking on the 9th is a preparation for greater affliction on the 10th. Thus it is considered as if one fasted two days. Take note.

As to why Hashem decided seven days for this, one must say that it is revealed to Hashem that it takes seven days for a person to be fully satiated. Since Hashem wanted to satiate the generation of the flood up to the last minute, as explained, He therefore decided on these seven days. According to this, one can say this is the reason for the seven days of feasting for rejoicing newlyweds. Since it is a mitzvah to cheer up the bride and groom as much as possible, they established seven days to ensure maximum joy. This is also the reason for the seven days of a festival [2], on which, one must have extra rejoicing. One can also associate with this the seven days of mourning as it is written: “And I will turn your feasts into mourning[3] …” See also Judges 14:17.[4] We see that the two are juxtaposed. Just as a person will not be fully satisfied until seven days, so too, mourning will not dissipate in less than seven days. Take note. No further explanation is necessary.

One must clarify what is stated in Bava Basra 17a “The Holy One Blesses is He gave three people a taste of the world to come: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” Yet, our Midrash states that Hashem also gave the generation of the flood a taste of the world to come. One must say that even though the language is similar the intent is different. Hashem gave the forefathers a taste of the world to come so they would know what they would merit. Thus their pleasure in this world was like the pleasure of the world to come. Not so for the generation of the flood. The Midrash does not mean that the Holy One Blessed is He gave them a hint of the pleasure of the world to come. Certainly, because of the evil ways, they did not believe in the world to come. Nor, did they get a portion thereof as the Gemara explains. He only satiated them with all the pleasures [of this world] as numerous as the pleasures of the world to come. This Midrash describes to us (who understand the pleasure of the world to come) the value and measure of pleasure, with which, He satiated the generation of the flood. They, however, did not understand this; filling themselves with the pleasures of this world so much, that, at the time of their destruction, they would long for those pleasures.

Editor’s note: I find it very interesting how the Torah Temimah extends the ides of the seven days to other areas of Halacha. We should take to heart that our focus should not be on this world, but on the pleasure we can merit in the world to come

[1] Yoma 81b

[2] E.g. Passover or Succoth

[3] Amos 8:10

[4] And she wept before him the seven days, while their feast lasted; and it came to pass on the seventh day, that he told her, because she pressed him sore; and she told the riddle to the children of her people

Parsahat אחרי מות Leviticus 16:1 – They died for our sins

Leviticus 16:1 “And the LORD spoke unto Moses, after the death of the two sons of Aaron, when they drew near before the LORD, and died;”

Jerusalem Talmud Chapter1 Halachah 1 “After the death of… A braita teaches: why does it mention their death in the context of Yom Kippur?  To teach that just as Yom Kippur atones for Israel, so too the death of the righteous atones for Israel.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #1:

The reason and value of why the death of the righteous atones is not clearly explained.  It appears according to what is written in Pirkei of Rabbi Eliezer chapter 17 regarding the death of Saul (II Samuel 21:14):” And they buried the bones of Saul and Jonathan his son in the country of Benjamin in Zela, in the sepulchre of Kish his father; and they performed all that the king commanded. And after that God was entreated for the land.”

When The Holy One Blessed is He saw how they dealt kindly with him (they fasted, cried and eulogized as the verse explains), He was filled with mercy, as the verse says “And after that God was entreated for the land.”

Inferred from this, is that death alone does not atone rather the honor and mourning accorded upon the death of the righteous, which is the honor of Hashem, atones.

Editor’s note: Judaism is not a religion of saints.  The concept of one dying to atone for the congregation is antithetical to Judaism.  While there is a custom to visit the cemetery during the month of Elul up through Yom Kippur, the Mishnah Berurah is adamant that one’s focus should not be on praying to the deceased rather one should entreat Hashem to help in the merit of the righteous.  The death and merit of the righteous do not magically atone for us.  It is the honor we give them and the lessons we learn from how they lived their lives that should change us for the better so that Hashem will help us in their merit.

Parshat כי תצא Deuteronomy 25:10 – Halitzah in our days

Halitzah in our days Deuteronomy 25:10 “And his name shall be called in Israel the house of him that had his shoe loosed. ”

Jerusalem Talmud Yevamoth chapter 12 halacha 6: “And his name shall be called …   The one who says that halitzah is praiseworthy learns from similar language.  It says here[1] “and his name shall be called …”.  It says there “and let my name be named in them[2]“.  Just as the calling in verse in Genesis refers to something praiseworthy, so too the calling in reference to halitzah is praiseworthy.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #167

It seems that the general intention of this explanation is because, at face value, the process of halitzah and calling the brother-in-law “the house of him that had his shoe loosed” appears to be derogatory in order to embarass him for not performing the leverite marriage thus not creating a name for the deceased brother as it is written: “So shall it be done unto the man that doth not build up his brother’s house.[3]  This makes sense when the man has a choice to perform halitzah or leverite marriage.  By choising halitzah, he must endure this emberrassment.  As we (Ashkenazim[4]) hold today, even if a man wants to perform leverite marriage, we only allow him to perform halitzah because of various reasons.  [Peraps he does not have the right intentions.  There is also the injunction of Rabbeinu Gershom prohibiting one from having more than one wife.  According to some Poskim, this applies even in the case of mitzvah, such as leverite marriage].  As such, it is difficult to comprehend why we publicize his degradation when, from his perspective, he prefers to perform leverite marriage.  Based on this some opions hold that, in our days, the mitzvah of halitzah is preferred over the mitzvah of leverite marriage.  This opion interprets “And his name shall be called in Israel” not as derogatory, rather praiseworthy as in the verse “And My name shall be called in them (gen 48:16) because this man obeys the law, performing halitzah when he would prefer to perform leverite marriage.  This homily supports this by comparing the similar language of “and shall be called” to “and let my name be named in them”, which is praiseworthy.  Take note.

This still does not explain why he must bear the degradation of the procedure of halitzah: the loosening of the shoe and the spitting, etc., for he does not have the fault of not performing the leverite marraige as explained.  This could be a proof to the what of many of the Rishonim write that the essence of halitzah, aside from permitting the widow to marry anyone else, is a spiritual fixing of the soul of the deceased.  Refer to Nachmanides, Rabeinu Bechaye and the literature of the Acharonim.  Thus the crux of the question is from the publicizing aspect of halitzah rather than the procedure itself.

Editors Note

This homily shows the sensitivity of the halacha to the brother-in-law.  At face value, the verse implies that the preferred mitzvah is leverite marriage is preferred.  Halitzah is performed when the brother of the deceased does not perform leverite marriage, partly to publicize his refusal to do so and partly to allow the wife of the deceased to marry anyone else.  Yet there are instances, such as a kohen gadol, where the brother-in-law is not allowed to perform leverite marriage even if he so desires.  The Tractate Yevamoth discusses other instances where one may not perform leverite marriage because of a rabbinic injunction.  It also discusses whether leverite marriage or halitzah is preferred.  One opinion is that leverite marriage is preferred.  Abba Shaul says that halitzah is preferred because most people do not have the proper intention to perform leverite marriage.  Thus, no matter how the halacha rules.  One is praiseworthy for upholding the halacha.

[1] Deuteronomy 25:10

[2] Genesis 48:16

[3] Deuteronomy 25:9

[4] The Shulhan Aruch allows leverite marriage.  The Ramah forbids it.  Ashkenazi practice follows the Ramah.  Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef, Z’TL, defends the practice of leverite marriage for Sephardim.

Parshat כי תצא Devarim 23:21 – Lending to Non Jews with Interest

Deuteronomy 23:21 “Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou puttest thy hand unto, in the land whither thou goest in to possess it. {S}”

Sifrei: Unto a foreigner thou mayest lend upon interest is a positive commandment. But unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon interest is a prohibition

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #108.

According to Maimonides in chapter 5, halacha 1 of the laws of lending, this is an explicit positive commandment as he explains the language of the verse in Parashat Reeh: “Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it; but whatsoever of thine is with thy brother thy hand shall release.[1]“.  According to the Raavad and other Rishonim, this commandment comes to add another positive commandment for a Jew who lends with interest aside from the prohibition of lending without  interest..  The verse uses similar language with respect to kosher birds “any pure bird you shall eat”, whose main idea is to underscore the prohibition of eating unclean birds.  There are similar example expressed in this language.

One can bring support to Maimonides position from the sections of the gemara (Bava Metziah 71a) which expound on the verse: “If thou lend money to any of My people, even to the poor with thee, thou shalt not be to him as a creditor; neither shall ye lay upon him interest.[2]”  When one has a choice between lending to a Jew or lending to non Jew, lending to a Jew takes precedence.  The gemara asks: is it not intuitive that lending to Jew takes precedence?  It answers even when you could profit by lending to a non Jew with interest or interest free to a Jew, lending to a Jew takes precedence.  This is truly astonishing.  Is it possible that when one wants to make a profit with one’s money we tell him not to make a profit rather to give the money benevolently?  That is when he wants to loan to a non Jew with interest, we tell him that it is better to give it benevolently.  We find no such mitzvah.  Thus the position of Maimonides makes sense.  When one wants to fulfill the commandment of lending with interest to a non Jew and lending without interest to a Jew at the same time, the verse teaches that lending to a Jew takes precedence over lending with interest to a non Jew.  Take note.

According to Maimonides, do not be astonished why the Torah commands one to lend with interest to non Jews, as many of the oppressors of Israel and its Talmud have murmured   For when the Children of Israel went forth from Egypt to receive the Torah, they were a lone nation.  The agreed amongst each other to act benevolently one to another with money and commodities.  This is the intent of the commandment not loan another Jew with interest: you don’t charge your fellow Jew interest and he won’t reciprocate.  Regarding the other nations, however, who lend to Jews with interest, it is appropriate that the Jews also lend to them with interest. This is like a group of partners who agree not to charge each other interest, but to others they will charge interest.  This occurs every day in every nation where different groups form for different financial matters, providing rules and perks for its members,, but not for outsiders.  In any case, it becomes clear that lending to non Jews with interest is a commandment based on the principles of maintaining social order and human society.  As such, all that the murmurs claim is foolishness and striving for naught.[3]  The Torah, truth and peace is its seal.

Editor’s note: The Torah Temimah was a banker by day.  Wearing his financial hat, he eloquently defends lending to non Jews with interest.  Although the Torah permits one, or according to Maimonides commands one, to lend to non Jews with interest, a Jew must abide by the local laws and lending practices. because a Jew must also abide by the law of the land[4].

 

[1] Deuteronomy 15:3

[2] Exodus 22:24

[3] Ecclesiastes 2:17

[4] Dina d’malchuta dina – the law of the land is law.

Parshat ואתחנן Devarim 4-42 – Learning Torah for its own sake

Deuteronomy 4:42 ” that the manslayer might flee thither, that slayeth his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in time past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:”

Sotah 49a: Unawares[1].  Rabbi Ilai the son of Berachya says: “Two scholars, who do not respect each other in halacha, one will die and one will be exiled (to a city of refuge) as the verse says ‘might flee thither, that slayeth his neighbour unawares’.  Knowledge is a reference to Torah as the verse states: ‘My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge[2]'”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #70

The end of the verse in Hosea is “seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God”.  This homily explains the juxtaposition of this verse[3] to “And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel[4].”  Perhaps they are exacting because the verse does not use the same language as the verse: “that killeth any person through error may flee thither[5]”  Rashi on the gemara explains that one dies at the hand of his friend who accidentally kills him.  The other is exiled to a city of refuge. If there is no actual death, the is a hint of death and exile for one is fitting to die and the other is fitting to be exiled.  This homily still requires a broader explanation.

Were it not for his words, one could explain this as is stated in the tractate Makkoth 10a, which states that Torah learning protects from death and exile, see there.  Behold this clearly refers to learning Torah for its own sake. For, in this manner, the two scholars respect each other since neither has another motive than discovering the truth. As the verse says “And Vhab and Sufah[6]“.  This is not the case when learning Torah not for its own sake.  In this case, they vex one another.  Learning such as this, in any case, will not protect from death and exile.  The intent of this homily is to show that learning Torah, not for its own sake, does not protect from death and exile.  To emphasize the point, the homily states that one dies and the other is exiled.  Take note.

Editor’s note: This note shows the importance of learning Torah for its own sake.  Scholars who do not learn Torah for its own sake are destined to attack one another, sometimes with drastic consequences.  Additionally note the Torah Temimiah’s humility, deferring to Rashi’s opinion before proposing his own.

 

[1] without knowledge

[2] Hosea 4:6

[3] Deuteronomy 4:42

[4] Deuteronomy 4:44

[5] Numbers 35:11

[6] Numbers 21:14

Parshat דברים Devarim 1:1 – Aids for learning Torah

Deuteronomy 1:1 “These are the words which Moses spoke unto all Israel beyond the Jordan; in the wilderness, in the Arabah, over against Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahav. ”

Berachot 32a: “… And Di Zahav.  What does Di Zahav mean?  They say in the study house of Rabbi Yanai: This is what Moses said before the Holy One Blessed is He: Master of the world, the silver and gold with which You showered the Israelites until they said enough[1] caused them to create the golden calf”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #1:

There is no doubt that this homily and others like were said by way of a hint and support or to help memorize these sayings, for, by the strict letter of the law, it is forbidden to write down that which is oral.  These must be repeated orally. [In these times, however, it is permitted to write them down because of deficiency of knowledge[2]].  They sought methods make it easier for those learning and for their capacity to memorize.  They made mnemonics for everything as the Talmud says (Eruvin 54b): Make markers for the Torah and (Eruvin 21b): And besides that Koheleth was wise, he also taught the people knowledge; yea, he pondered, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs[3] – he taught them by way of signs.  Rashi explains: He established a tradition and sings, be it for the written word or the versions of the Mishnah.  Also see Shabbat 104b regarding making signs for the Torah and the Jerusalem Talmud (Shabbat chapter 19 Halachah 1): any Torah without a household is not Torah.  This means that any Torah that does not have an example from somewhere else is not Torah, i.e., it will not endure for it will ultimately be forgotten because it has nothing to hold on to for support.  We have discussed this, elsewhere, at length [the end of Parashat Tisa[4] and Parashat Hukath 21:18[5]].  This is the subject of this homily.  Chazal had a tradition that Moses defended the Israelites claiming that the great amount of silver and gold, which He showered upon them, caused them to make the golden calf.   The verse repeats this idea saying: “And Jeshurun waxed fat and rebelled.  They supported this idea based on the hint and mnemonic Di Zahav as explained and as will be explained further.

I investigated and discovered, however, that it is not the way of Chazal to associate homilies, such as this, to the wording of a verse unless they have a specific nuance or remark in the language of the verse, such that, it cannot be explained in the plain sense as we have noted many times in this work and as any wise person, who looks closely at all the places where similar homilies appear, scrutinizing the deep character of the language, the order and the like will discover.

Here, in this homily, it appears that the intent of the question, what is the meaning of Di Zahav, that they were not content to explain it in the plain sense as the name of a place, is based on what is expressed in the Sifrei and other Midrashim.  Every place mentioned here, about which, Moses spoke to the people, is not a reference to the name of the place, rather concerning what occurred to the Israelites there, chastising them for the events.  Only out of reverence for the Israelites did Moses refer to all these events as places as Rashi explains.  The plains refer to the sin of Baal Peor which occurred in the plains of Moab.  Over against Suf refers to the rebellion by the reed sea.  Tophel and Laban refer to Israelites degrading the manna.

Because of this, the Midrash states “what is Di Zahav”, that is, corresponding to which event, did Moses call the place Di Zahav.  Chazal interpreted it as an allusion to the place where the Israelites made the golden calf — where they gave their gold and made it as described in Parashat Tisah.  According to this reason, however, it would suffice to refer to the place only as Zahav.  The reason for referring to it as Di Zahav was expounded in the study house of Rabbi Yanai.  Because of the severity of the act of making the golden calf, Moses defended the people that the abundance of silver and gold that He showered upon the people, until they said enough, caused them to perform this act.  As the Gemara explains: a lion does not roar for of a box of straw — only for a box of meat.  There are other similar proverbs in the Gemara all based on the verse in Parashat Eikev[6]:” then thy heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, who brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;” and Parashat Haazinu[7]:But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked–thou didst wax fat, thou didst grow thick, thou didst become gross–and he forsook God who made him, and contemned the Rock of his salvation.” explaining this idea.

Editor’s note: The Torah Temimah shows how important it is to create ways to preserve the Torah so it will be remembered.  Even today, when one is permitted to write down the oral tradition, when everything is available in book and on-line, it is good to employ this technique to remember words of Torah.  The Torah Temimah explains that Rabbi Yanai specifically associated this homily with Di Zahav, the sin of the golden calf, instead of the other events to which Moses alludes, because it was the most severe.  The Midrash explains that while Moses was chastising the people for the events that occurred, he was also defending the people at the same time.  The lesson is that one should never be too quick to judge even when chastising a person, the chastiser should judge the other person favorably.

 

[1] The name of the place Di Zahab can also be read in Hebrew as Dai (enough) Zahav (gold)

[2] קוצר דעות – literally shortness of knowledge perhaps attributed to the descent of the generations as time progresses from the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai

[3] Ecclesiastes 12:9

[4] Exodus 34:27 Note 40:

[5] Note 18

[6] Deuteronomy 8:14

[7] Deuteronomy 32:15

Parsahat מטות Numbers 32:3 – Twice as written and once in Targum

Numbers 32:3 “Ataroth, and Dibon, and Jazer, and Nimrah, and Heshbon, and Elealeh, and Sebam, and Nebo, and Beon,”

Berachot 8a: Ataroth, and Dibon … Rav Huna the son of Judah said in the name of Rabbi Ami: “A person should always complete his weekly Torah portions with the congregation – twice as written (in Hebrew) and once in Targum (in Aramaic translation) even Ataroth, and Dibon.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #1:

Rashi comments: even Ataroth, and Dibon, which have no Targum (they read the same in Hebrew and Aramaic).  Tosafot questions why the gemarah specifically mentions Ataroth, and Dibon as opposed to names such as Reuben, Simon, etc.  This question aside, the verse referring to Ataroth, and Dibon has the Jerusalem Targum[1] [which is also cited by Onkelos on this verse].  Tosafot explain that since Ataroth, and Dibon only have a Jerusalem Targum and no well-known one, one might think that one should read the verse in Hebrew three times.  Therefore the gemarah states that it is better to read it a third time in the Aramaic translation.  This explains the difficulty, albeit, their original question remains unanswered.  The Mesoret Hashas emends the gemarah to refer a verse in at the end of parashat Massei that refers to Dibon and Ataroth.  This verse has no Targum, however, this emendation does not answer the question of Tosafot regarding names.  Many of the commentators tried to explain this.

I wonder what led our rabbis to say that the gemarah was emphasizing once in Targum, for it appears clear to me that the intention equally applies to twice in Hebrew.  The explanation is that this verse (referring to Ataroth and Dibon) is not connected to the previous verses nor to the subsequent ones.  One could skip this verse without detracting from the meaning and continuation of the current section.  Here, one could skip from verse 2 to verse 4 without missing anything as it appears.  They said to Moses … (verse 2). The land which the Lord smote … (verse 4).  One might think that in such cases, there is no obligation to read this verse twice in Hebrew and once in Targum, rather once could skip the verse or read it only once.  The gemarah teaches otherwise, that his verse is like every other verse in the Torah, which one must read three times.

This shows the deep understanding of Chazal and their sensitivity.  Such a verse, which, as described above, has no necessary connection to the current section, such that, by omitting it one detracts nothing from the matter at hand.  Even such a verse is treated as individual and unique in the entire Torah.  Take note.

Editor’s Note: If one skips a word or an entire sentence when publicly reading the Torah, the reader must go back to correct the mistake, even if the omission does not detract from the current section.  A Torah scroll is not kosher if even one letter was omitted.  Lest one think that this does not apply to the daily study of Torah, the Torah Temimah shows the sensitivity of Chazal to every verse in the Torah.  Every verse in the Torah is unique and special.  Even if the verse seems superfluous, one must review it three times: twice in Hebrew and once in translation.

 

[1] There are two versions of the Jerusalem Targum: a fragmentary one and a more complete one.  The more complete one is sometimes incorrectly associated with the translation of Yonatan Ben Uziel whose translation only accompanies the prophets and Hagiographia.  Both of these provide a more homiletic translation than Onkelos who provides a more literal translation

Parsahat מטות Numbers 30:2 – Annulment of Vows

Numbers 30:2 “And Moses spoke unto the heads of the tribes of the children of Israel, saying: This is the thing which the LORD hath commanded.”

Nedarim 78a: “This is the thing.  A beraita teaches: This is the thing.  A scholar releases a vow and a husband annuls.  Based on this, Rabbi Yochanan says a scholar who uses the language of the husband [annulment] or a husband who uses the language of a scholar [release], his words are ineffective.”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #2:

Regarding a husband, the Torah explicitly states in this parasha the language of annulment: “But if her husband make them null and void … (Numbers 30:13).  That a scholar releases vows, we learn from what is written later “he shall not break his word” (number 30:3).  The interpretation is that he who made the vow may not break his word, but others can break his vow for him from the language of secular.  The language of release applies to things that are secular.  The hindrance sited in the beraita is supported on the language of the verse “This is the thing” which implies it must be as written in the Torah.

The Rashbam on Baba Kama 120A, works hard to explain why switching languages does not work to annul a vow, even though the scholar and husband have the intention — to nullify the vow.  It appears simple to me since, when a scholar releases one from a vow, the vow is annulled from the beginning.  Since the scholar tries to find and opening or a reason whereby the person was unable or not allowed to make the vow, he uproots the vow from the beginning as if it never existed.  Not so the husband.  The Torah does not give him the permission to uproot his wife’s vow from the beginning, rather he is allowed to nullify it as the verse states.  The Ran writes on this matter in Nedarim that release implies retroactively uprooting and annulment implies from now henceforth.  According to this, when a scholar uses the language of annulment and a husband uses the language of release, they are using language that the Torah did not grant them, thus their words have no power.  Take Note.

According to this it comes out that only the language of annulment is ineffective for a scholar, but all other language that implies nullification and retroactive release, such as, “permitted to you” and the like, are effective.  That which the Gemara specifies the language of release is because it specified one of the languages that imply retroactive nullification, when in truth, any such language is effective in releasing a vow.

How well this explains the words of the Jerusalem Talmud (Nedarim chapter 10 halachah 8) that a scholar can release a vow using any of the following language: “there is no vow”, “there is no oath”.  This is as written the all language that implies retroactive annulment is effective in releasing a vow.

The Ran on this matter in Nedarim cites these words of the Jerusalem Talmud.  He states: “it appears from the Jerusalem Talmud that a scholar can also release a vow by saying ‘there is no vow’ or ‘there is no oath'”  The commentary Shirei Korban on the Jerusalem Talmud writes “I find his words [the Ran] difficult, because they imply that a husband can use such language to nullify a vow, but our matter [in the Babylonian Talmud], implies that only a scholar, not a husband, can say “there is no vow”.

I am deeply troubled that a significant Torah Giant, such as him, erred in the words of the Ran, whose intent was clear and simple.  A scholar can also release vows saying “there is no vow”, etc.  The word also was misinterpreted to mean that a scholar also (in addition to the husband) when one should  interpret it that a scholar can also (use similar language).  I would not have written this because of the clarity, only so that a student not err by trying to find meaning in the words of the Shirei Korban who interprets the Ran as allowing to husband to nullify vows status “there is no vow”, which clearly contradicts the widely accepted halachah of the Talmud in Nedarim.

Behold, as we have written, it is clear that a scholar can release a vow using any language that implies release.  Based on this reason the halachah in Yoreh Deah 228:3 explains the process for releasing a vow.  They say three times to the person who made the vow: “permitted to you”, “allowed to you” or “pardoned to you:. The reason for stating this three times is not because the law requires it.  It became customary to say it three times for emphasis.  See the commentaries there.  It appears that the custom of saying “permitted to you, etc.”, three times, when annulling vows on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, fulfills the custom mentioned in the Shulhan Aruch.  Yet, since the release of vows mentions: all is permitted to you, all is allowed to you, all is pardoned to you (many languages of releasing vows), they have released the vow two and threefold.  Take note:

Editor’s note: On the eve of Rosh Hashanah, it is customary for one to perform the ceremony of releasing any inadvertent vows that one may have made in the previous year.  Three men sit down as a make shift court of law.  One person stands before them requesting that any inadvertent vows made in the previous year be released. After making the request, the three men sitting inform the person that he is released from his inadvertent vows.  After this annulment, the person who was standing sits down.  One of those sitting arises to request that his inadvertent vows be released.  This process repeats until all four have asked that their inadvertent vows be released.  Although this is only a custom, the Torah Temimah shows how this is rooted in the halachah.  Not only do the three men mention the release of vows three times, they also restate this using different phrases that indicate the release of vows.  In this note, the Torah Temimah also shows that halachah need not be complicated.  He clearly explains, based on earlier sources, what other commentaries worked hard to explain.  He also states that one should not overcomplicate matters such that they contradict widely accepted halachic ruling and practice.

Parshat במדבר Numbers18-15 – A simple emendation

Parsahat קרח- Numbers 18:15 A simple change

Numbers 18:15 “Every thing that openeth the womb, of all flesh which they offer unto the LORD, both of man and beast, shall be thine; howbeit the first-born of man shalt thou surely redeem, and the firstling of unclean beasts shalt thou redeem”

Kiddushin 29: “A woman is not commanded to redeem her [first born] son as the verse says ‘you shall redeem’ You shall redeem: any one commanded to redeem oneself (if not already redeemed) is commanded to redeem others.  One who is no not commanded to redeem oneself is not commanded to redeem others.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #51:

A woman is not obligated to redeem herself as will be explained in the next note. The commentators have worked hard to explain the double language in the Talmud: תפדה תפדה (you shall surely redeem)  Rashi on the Talmud explains vocalize you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) – shall be redeemed.  There is no explanation for this.  See Maharsha and Mahashal who state that, aside from Rashi’s explanation being unclear, why not learn this ruling from the superfluous language in the verse “תפדה פדה – you shall surely redeem as in the way of Chazal to explain superfluous language such as this?  Another question is that the Rif brings the explanation cited by Rashi regarding a different matter — that a first born must redeem himself if his father did not redeem him as noted in the previous exegesis.

It appears to me that everything can be clarified with a simple change to Rashi’s explanation.  His comment ” vocalize you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) – shall be redeemed” does not apply to this ruling regarding a woman redeeming her son.  Rather, it applies to the previous ruling that a first born, who was not redeemed, must redeem himself.  Instead of attributing his commentary to the statement in the Talmud תפדה תפדה, apply it to the statement תפדה פדה, which applies to the previous ruling that a first born who was not redeemed must redeem himself.  Thus everything makes sense and Rashi and the Rif agree.  [To recap]: One learns from vocalizing you shall redeem (tifdeh) in the passive (tipadeh) that a first born, who was not redeemed, must redeem himself.  From the superfluous language in the verse “תפדה פדה, one learns that a woman is not obligated to redeem her son.  Another way to explain this is that the Talmud associates תפדה תפדה with תפדהפדהmeaning: one should compare the different rulings of redemption because of the repeating language in the verse.  All is clear if you investigate this.

Editor’s note: This note shows the Torah Temimah’s vast knowledge of Talmud and the commentaries.  It is another example of his resolving conflicting sources as  he does many times with seemingly conflicting midrashim.  The Talmud derives three laws from this verse, each due to how these uses the verb redeem.

1) The previous exegesis: a first born who was not redeemed must redeem himself.  The Talmud learns this  from the word תפדה (shall redeem) vocalized as tipadeh (shall be redeemed)

2) This exegesis: a woman is not commanded to redeem her son  The Talmud learns this from the repetition of the verb תפדהפדה (you shall surely redeem – both in the masculine conjugation)

3) The next exegesis: A woman is not obligated to redeem herself because the verse says תפדה(you shall redeem- in the masculine conjugation).  The Torah Temimah explains in the next exegesis that a woman is not obligated to redeem herself because no one is commanded to redeem her as derived from the verse Exodus 34:20 “And the firstling of an ass thou shalt redeem with a lamb; and if thou wilt not redeem it, then thou shalt break its neck. All the first-born of thy sons thou shalt redeem. And none shall appear before Me empty.”

Parashat במדבר Numbers 4:3 – No student left behind

Parashat במדברNumbers 4:3 –No student left behind

Numbers 12:3 “from thirty years old and upward even until fifty years old, all that enter upon the service, to do work in the tent of meeting ”

Hullin 24a: “25 years old to learn and 30 years old to serve.  From here we learn that a student that did not see positive signs in his learning after five years will never see them”

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #2:

The Torah specified these five years for learning because these are the last stage.  Thus, one who does not see positive signs in learning, during these years, will never see them.  Based on this, one can explain why the Tanah of the Mishnah in Ethics of the Fathers (5:21) lists the ages for learning in increments of five years (5 years old for scripture, 10 years old for Mishnah, 15 years old for Gemara.  Therefore, if a nine year old student does not see positive signs in his scripture, one is obligated to work with him one more year because there is still hope that the student will improve in scripture.  The same applies to all of the stages mentioned in the Mishnah.

See also the comment of on Nachmanides on this midrash in his Torah commentary (Parashat Behaalotecha – Numbers 8:24)

I do not know if this opinion is according to all the Rabbis for I have seen this statement in the Sifrei attributed to Rabbi Natan.

I do not know how to interpret Nachmanides because both the Gemara and the Sifrei that we have quote this learning anonymously[1].

Editor’s note:

The Torah Temimah stresses how important it is never to give up on students who are slow learners. Here Torah, here gives the Levites five years to learn the trade, as it were.  The Mishnah he cites gives five years for each stage of learning.  He stresses that it is most import to work with the student toward the end while there is still hope for the student to progress.  This is usually long after most teachers have given up in despair.

Many times, the Torah Temimah tries to resolve contradictory versions in the sources.  Here, he admits, that ,based the sources available, he is unable to interpret Nachmanide’s comment.

 

[1] Nachmanide’s copy of Sifrei mentions Rabbi Natan.  See Torat Chaim note 24 on the commentary of Nachmanides.  The Horrowitz edition of Sifrei mentions that there are versions that do not mention Rabbi Natan, implying that some do.