Category Archives: Parshat בא

Parshat בא

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.


Parshat בא Shmos/Exodus 12:27 – What Exactly Can a Convert Say at the Seder?

Shmos  12:27 – You shall say, “It is a Pesach feast offering to HaShem, Who passed over [pasach] the houses of the Children of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians”

Gemora: Pesachim 147(b): R. Gamliel used to say: Whoever does not mention these three things on Passover does not fulfill his obligation. They are: the Passover Offering, Unleavened Bread and Bitter Herbs[Pesach, Matzoh and Marror]. The Passover Offering is [sacrificed] because HaShem passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt. As [our] posuk says: “You shall say ‘it is the sacrifice of the Lord’s Passover, because He passed over the houses…”. The Unleavened Bread is [eaten] because our fathers were redeemed from Egypt, as it is said, “And they baked unleavened cakes of the dough which they brought forth out of Egypt”. The Bitter Herb is [eaten] because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our fathers in Egypt, as it is said, “And they made their lives bitter”.

Torah Temimah Colloquial Translation on Note #203:

It is explained that the phrase “You shall say…” means that this is not the response to the son who is asking a question. Rather, it is an entirely separate mitzvah on its own that you should say [these three things aloud.] We’ve already written in the previous note why this is not a response to the son’s question. Further, these particular three items are chosen because they are the fundamental, foundational aspects of the enslavement to and redemption from Egypt.

Additionally, note that the Mishna in Bikurim (1:4) says that a convert does bring bikurim butdoes not read the “vidui bikurim”because he is not able to say “…the land which HaShem swore to our forefathers to give to us.” The convert cannot say this because he is not of the seed (i.e., a biological descendant) of Israel. Tosafot explain Gemora Baba Kama 81(a) the opinion of Rabbenu Tam is that we follow this position as halakhah, and that because of this Rabbenu Tam also did not allow a convert to say the standard text of the blessing after a meal since the convert is not able to say the phrase, “…. for the land that you caused our forefathers to inherit”. Rabbenu Tam was relying on the Mishnah of Bikurim mentioned above, and he added further that when the convert is praying by himself, he should say “the God of the forefathers of Israel” and when he is in synagogue he should say “the God of your forefathers”.

Amazingly, according to this it becomes apparent that the convert would not be able to fulfill the commandment of retelling the exodus from Egypt using the prescribed language since he is unable to say all of these key phrases:   “…because HaShem passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt”, “because He redeemed our forefathers”and “because the Egyptians embittered the lives of our forefathers.” Yet saying that a convert is forbidden from saying these phrases in the Passover seder would be a totally new, unheard of opinion.

Consider that regarding the posuk in Parshat “Lech Lecha” describing Abraham as a ‘father of a multitude of nations.” the opinion of both the Rambam and Rabbi Yitzchak the Tosafist is that we do not follow the position of the above-cited Mishna in Bikurim as halakhah.  Rather,their opinionis that a convert does bring bikurim and reads the vidui bikurim exactly because Abraham was the forefather of a multitude of nations. This is also the one of the opinions expressed in the Jerusalem Talmud. According to them this would also apply to the commandments of Passover night, i.e. that a convert says the Haggadah just as a born-Jewish person would.

Additionally, it is amazing that the standard halachic decision makers do not mention this at all.

DBS Note: The final sentence of the Torah Temimah’s note says it all. Not only does he strongly feel that a convert would observe Passover exactly as any Jewish person would, but he feels it is an oversight that this commonly accepted opinion is not publicized more in the classical halachic literature.

Also, huge thanks to my neighbors Ploni Almoni and HaMaivin Yavin who are Torah Temimah enthusiasts. They provided significant editorial assistance in the background for this note.