The Mishna teaches us the laws of carrying from one domain to another, the example of the mishna for this is a poor person reaching into someones house to ask for food or a wealthy person reaching out of his house to give food to a poor person.
The Meiri asks, why doesn’t the Mishna give a classic example of 2 people, why are we seemingly discussing the laws of charity in the middle of the laws of Shabbos?
He explains that the Mishna is teaching us that even if something is a Mitzvah, we cannot do an Aveirah to get that Mitzvah done.
Endangering other people is an Averia, we should not endanger others by violating quarantine or the like in order to fulfill the Mitzvos of Purim.
מר בריה דרבינא עבד הילולא לבריה, חזנהו לרבנן דהוו קבדחי טובא. אייתי כסא דמוקרא בת ארבע מאה זוזי, ותבר קמיהו, ואעציבו. רב אשי עבד הילולא לבריה, חזנהו לרבנן דהוו קא בדחי טובא. אייתי כסא דזוגיתא חיורתא, ותבר קמיהו, ואעציבו.
The Gemara relates: Mar, son of Ravina, made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a valuable cup worth four hundred zuz and broke it before them and they became sad. The Gemara also relates: Rav Ashi made a wedding feast for his son and he saw the Sages, who were excessively joyous. He brought a cup of extremely valuable white glass and broke it before them, and they became sad.
A bit further the Gemara tells us:
תנו רבנן: אין עומדין להתפלל לא מתוך עצבות, ולא מתוך עצלות, ולא מתוך שחוק, ולא מתוך שיחה, ולא מתוך קלות ראש, ולא מתוך דברים בטלים, אלא מתוך שמחה של מצוה.
On the topic of proper preparation for prayer, the Sages taught: One may neither stand to pray from an atmosphere of sorrow nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of conversation, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of purposeless matters. Rather, one should approach prayer from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzva.
We see from these statements that at times one should avoid excessive happiness, yet one should daven from a place of happiness and joy.
The Chumash in Devarim tells us that we would get Klalos because we did not serve Hashem with Simcha.
תחת אשר לא־עבדת את־יהוה אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל
Because you would not serve the LORD your God in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything.
The Gemara in Shabbos 30b tells us:
אין שכינה שורה לא מתוך עצבות ולא מתוך עצלות ולא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שיחה ולא מתוך דברים בטלים אלא מתוך דבר שמחה של מצוה
The Divine Presence rests upon an individual neither from an atmosphere of sadness, nor from an atmosphere of laziness, nor from an atmosphere of laughter, nor from an atmosphere of frivolity, nor from an atmosphere of idle conversation, nor from an atmosphere of idle chatter, but rather from an atmosphere imbued with the joy of a mitzvah.
We see that there is prime importance in Simcha and acting in ways of Simcha.
We find in Melachim that the Jewish people had a well-deserved Simcha during the time of Dovid Hamelech.
ביום השמיני שלח את־העם ויברכו את־המלך וילכו לאהליהם שמחים וטובי לב על כל־הטובה אשר עשה יהוה לדוד עבדו ולישראל עמו
On the eighth day he let the people go. They bade the king good-bye and went to their homes, joyful and glad of heart over all the goodness that the LORD had shown to His servant David and His people Israel. – Rashi tells us that a Bas Kol came out and said everyone is gonna go to Olam Haba.
They had a very good reason to be happy.
However one can be happy for not such lofty and spiritual reasons, as Rambam writes: Shevisas Yom Tov 6
כשאדם אוכל ושותה ושמח ברגל לא ימשך ביין ובשחוק וקלות ראש ויאמר שכל מי שיוסיף בזה ירבה במצות שמחה. שהשכרות והשחוק הרבה וקלות הראש אינה שמחה אלא הוללות וסכלות ולא נצטוינו על ההוללות והסכלות אלא על השמחה שיש בה עבודת יוצר הכל שנאמר (דברים כח מז) “תחת אשר לא עבדת את ה’ אלהיך בשמחה ובטוב לבב מרב כל”. הא למדת שהעבודה בשמחה. ואי אפשר לעבד את השם לא מתוך שחוק ולא מתוך קלות ראש ולא מתוך שכרות:
When one eats and drinks on a festival, he should not be drawn after wine,joking or light-headedness, and say that the more one can increase this, the more it enhances the commandment of joy. For drunkenness, much joking and ligh-headedness are not joy, but rather wildness and foolishness. And we were not commanded about wildness and foolishness, but rather about joy that has service to the Maker of everything. As it is stated (Deuteronomy 28:47), “because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and with a good heart, from abundance of all.” Thus you have learned that the service is to be with joy. But it is impossible to serve God, neither from joking, lightheadedness nor drunkenness.
We see a clear discernment between the two types of Simcha. A simcha of Avodas Hashem and a Simcha of Holelus, frivolity. When one is happy from serving Hashem with joy, it is encouraged. The moment, the Simcha becomes excessive and is no longer L’sheim Shamayim, we are afraid it would lead to frivolousness and inappropriate behavior. At this point, the Chachamim felt they had to do something radical to get everyone to their senses. The Gemara does not mean that they became sad, but rather they toned down their happiness from an over-elation towards a proper balance of Ruchnius and Gashmius.
The Gemara teaches us that there will come a day when we will be able to have unlimited Simcha.
אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יוחאי: אסור לאדם שימלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה, שנאמר: ״אז ימלא שחוק פינו ולשוננו רנה״. אימתי, בזמן ש״יאמרו בגוים הגדיל ה׳ לעשות עם אלה״. אמרו עליו על ריש לקיש שמימיו לא מלא שחוק פיו בעולם הזה, מכי שמעה מרבי יוחנן רביה.
תנו רבנן: סומא ומי שאינו יכול לכוין את הרוחות — יכוין לבו כנגד אביו שבשמים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל ה׳״. היה עומד בחוץ לארץ — יכוין את לבו כנגד ארץ ישראל, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אליך דרך ארצם״. היה עומד בארץ ישראל — יכוין את לבו כנגד ירושלים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל ה׳ דרך העיר אשר בחרת״. היה עומד בירושלים — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית המקדש, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל הבית הזה״. היה עומד בבית המקדש — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית קדשי הקדשים, שנאמר: ״והתפללו אל המקום הזה״. היה עומד בבית קדשי הקדשים — יכוין את לבו כנגד בית הכפורת. היה עומד אחורי בית הכפורת — יראה עצמו כאילו לפני הכפורת. נמצא עומד במזרח מחזיר פניו למערב. במערב מחזיר פניו למזרח. בדרום — מחזיר פניו לצפון. בצפון — מחזיר פניו לדרום. נמצאו כל ישראל מכוונין את לבם למקום אחד.
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: A blind person and one who is unable to approximate the directions and, therefore, is unable to face Jerusalem in order to pray, may focus his heart towards his Father in Heaven, as it is stated: “And they shall pray to the Lord” (I Kings 8:44).
One who was standing in prayer in the Diaspora, should focus his heart toward Eretz Yisrael, as it is stated: “And they shall pray to You by way of their land which You have given to their fathers” (I Kings 8:48).
One who was standing in Eretz Yisrael, should focus his heart toward Jerusalem, as stated: “And they shall pray to the Lord by way of the city that You have chosen” (I Kings 8:44).
One who was standing in Jerusalem, should focus his heart toward the Temple, as it is stated: “And they shall pray toward this house” (II Chronicles 6:32).
One who was standing in the Temple, should focus his heart toward the Holy of Holies, as it is stated: “And they shall pray toward this place” (I Kings 8:35).
One who was standing in the Holy of Holies, should focus his heart toward the seat of the ark-cover [kapporet], atop the ark, the dwelling place of God’s glory.
One who was standing behind the seat of the ark-cover, should visualize himself as if standing before the ark-cover and turn toward it.
Consequently, one standing in prayer in the East turns to face west, and one standing in the West, turns to face east. One standing in the South, turns to face north, and one standing in the North, turns to face south; all of the people of Israel find themselves focusing their hearts toward one place, the Holy of Holies in the Temple.
We see there is an idea that everyone should be mispallel in the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim. Why is it not enough just to have Kavana that we are davening to Hashem? Why do we need to physically face the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim?
Rav Steinman Zt’l explained that one who lives in a world of gashmius, may have a hard time connecting to Hashem and the spiritual world. Therefore, he should be mispallel in a Shul, as a spiritual bubble and pray towards the ultimate center of spirituality, the Beis HaMikdash. This way he can focus and connect with Hashem during his Tefilla. We also find Chazal teach us that all the Tefillos from the whole world go up to Hashem via the Kodesh Kedoshim, therefore it is befitting that we should pray in its direction. Based on this, we can understand that when one is mispallel in the direction of the Kodesh Kedoshim, he is more focused as to Whom he is being mispallel, and will then have more Kavana.
Therefore, even if one is on a plane and does not know which direction is correct, if you have in mind that you are davening towards the Koshesh Kedoshim, it helps you focus and have proper Kavana.
אמר רבי זירא אמר רבי אסי אמר רבי אלעזר אמר רבי חנינא אמר רב: בצד עמוד זה התפלל רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי של שבת בערב שבת
כי אתא עולא אמר: בצד תמרה הוה, ולא בצד עמוד הוה. ולא רבי ישמעאל ברבי יוסי הוה, אלא רבי אלעזר ברבי יוסי הוה, ולא של שבת בערב שבת, הוה אלא של מוצאי שבת בשבת הוה.
Rabbi Zeira said that Rabbi Asi said that Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Ḥanina said that Rav said: Alongside this specific pillar before me, Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, prayed the Shabbat prayer on the eve of Shabbat before nightfall.
But when Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he related a different version of this story. He said that he had heard: This transpired beside a palm tree, not beside a pillar, and it was not Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yosei, but it was Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Yosei, and it was not the Shabbat prayer on Shabbat eve before nightfall, rather it was the prayer of the conclusion of Shabbat on Shabbat.
The Bnei Yissaschar in his sefer Magid Taluma writes, that the Tannaim were careful to note the place that a Torah thought was shared, as the association to that place is good for the memory. He continues, and quotes the Zohar, that when one mentions words of Torah a Tzaddik said, in the place it was originally said, the soul of the Tzadik comes to that place, as an impression was made by his words of Torah. Therefore, Ulla was careful to correct the Mesorah and specify the exact place of the Tefilla in question.
We see from here the importance of Mesora and making sure each detail is correct.
I am curious if there is a deeper approach to this, that the Gemara is coming to teach us. I will update this post as I further understand this. If you have any thoughts, I would love to see them in the comments below.
איתמר, רבי יוסי ברבי חנינא אמר: תפלות אבות תקנום… אברהם תקן תפלת שחרית, שנאמר: ״וישכם אברהם בבקר אל המקום אשר עמד שם״, ואין ״עמידה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר: ״ויעמד פינחס ויפלל״.
Abraham instituted the morning prayer, as it is stated“And Abraham rose early in the morning to the place where he had stood” (Genesis 19:27), andstanding means nothing other than prayer, as this language is used to describe Pinehas’s prayer after the plague, as it is stated: “And Pinehas stood up and prayed and the plague ended” (Psalms 106:30).
יצחק תקן תפלת מנחה, שנאמר ״ויצא יצחק לשוח בשדה לפנות ערב״, ואין ״שיחה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר ״תפלה לעני כי יעטף ולפני ה׳ ישפך שיחו״.
Isaac instituted the afternoon prayer, as it is stated: “And Isaac went out to converse [lasuaḥ] in the field toward evening” (Genesis 24:63), and conversation means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated: “A prayer of the afflicted when he is faint and pours out his complaint [siḥo] before the Lord” (Psalms 102:1).
יעקב תקן תפלת ערבית, שנאמר: ״ויפגע במקום וילן שם״, ואין ״פגיעה״ אלא תפלה, שנאמר: ״ואתה אל תתפלל בעד העם הזה ואל תשא בעדם רנה ותפלה ואל תפגע בי״
Jacob instituted the evening prayer, as it is stated: “And he encountered [vayifga] the place and he slept there for the sun had set” (Genesis 28:11). The word encounter means nothing other than prayer, as it is stated when God spoke to Jeremiah: “And you, do not pray on behalf of this nation and do not raise on their behalf song and prayer, and do not encounter [tifga] Me for I do not hear you” (Jeremiah 7:16).
Berachos 26 – Sefaria
We see from the Gemara above that we learn the concept of Tefila from the Avos. It is interesting that although the conclusive proof is that the Avos indeed prayed to God, there are three different terms for their three different prayers.
What are the different terminologies for?
Rav Kook explains that these 3 terminologies are reflective of 3 different components to our Tefilla.
He explains that the key concept of prayer is the gathering together of all the spiritual elements within a person, that would otherwise be lost in our world of materialism. Prayer enroots these spiritual elements to create a strong connection to the Creator of the world. In the event that one is caught up in other things and is sinking in his Ruchnius, those deeply rooted spiritual elements will keep him afloat.
As morning is when one is getting ready for a day of work and other activities, it is a crucial time to make sure your spiritual roots are intact ready for the day ahead. This is called Amida, to stand, as it is helping you to stand tall spiritually.. This is also reflective of Avraham, who as the founder of Monotheism, was able to withstand all the trials and tribulations that came his way.
Sicha, this name for Tefilla shares its name with Sichim, the trees and flowers of the natural world. Sichim are called this as they sprout up and instill new emotional energies into a person. Mincha takes place towards evening, when a person is worn down from a long day and the soul can then thrive in its best habitat. Also, hiis natural spiritual energies kick in to help him thrive in his Avodas Hashem and add more and more to his “tree”. Rav Kook explains that this growth process is the root of Middas HaDin, which is what keeps nature going in its correct path. Yitzchak represents Middas HaDin, therefore it is appropriate that he should compose this Tefila about the natural aspect of our spiritual growth.
There is also a higher element of Tefila, in which through that, a person can connect to Hashem in more advanced ways; perhaps even reaching the level of prophecy. This is referred to as Tefillat Leila. This is also called Pegiya, as one is going off the chartered path of Nature, or Din and stumbling into new realms which are beyond the grasp of one’s simple intellect. This is reflective of Yaacov who had a vision with a ladder and angels going up and down after he found himself at Har HaMoriyah and is most appropriate for nighttime.
Withstand all that comes before you
Take what you have and grow from it
This may also explain the opinion that one is not obligated to say Arvit, as it is just a Reshus. Tefilla is to help foster a spiritual firewall to protect you from slipping into too much materialism. Per this explanation of Rav Kook, this is accomplished during Shacharit to plant the roots and in Mincha to sprout upwards and bear fruits. Arvit is a higher level, beyond our comprehension, of reaching beyond the treetops. For this, it is not a Chovah to reach so high, rather it is a Reshus.
Rav Yosi said that the earliest generations, all lived at the time of their ancestors, therefore they named their children based on events that were happening at the time of their birth.
However, our ancestors no longer live for many generations, therefore we name our children after them. Rav Shimon ben Gamliel said that the earlier generations before the Amoraim used Ruach HaKodesh and therefore named their children after events when they were born. However, since the times of the Amoraim, we can’t tap into that Ruach Hakodesh, therefore we name after our ancestors.
Bereishis Rabba 37
I find it interesting as when one is naming a baby, we are often told that we have a glimpse of Ruach Hakosdesh when choosing a name. This often helps us feel comfortable with the name we chose. According to this Midrash, this does not seem to be the case. Another point is that many times we name our children names we like or based on specific events surrounding the birth of a child. For example, we may name our child Bracha or Chaim if born during a tumultuous time. According to this Midrash, we are no longer meant to be naming our children based on the events surrounding the birth, so why are we doing this?
May we all be remembered by the Torah of our grandchildren.
The Gemara is explaining what one can recite Shema in front of and gets into a tangent and starts discussing the laws of Tznius. The Gemara goes on to state that a person may not glare at even the finger of a woman, as it is considered “Ervah”. The Gemara continues to list other characteristics of “Ervah”, including a woman’s hair, leg, and voice.
While there is much halachic discussion centered around this, that has shaped the culture of Jewish communities for centuries. I came across an interesting connection to this week’s Parsha, Parashas Beshalach.
The Torah tells us that after the Jews sang the Shira in the Yam Suf, Miriam took all the women and they sang their own Shira accompanied by drums and dancing.
Why does the Torah mention that the women had drums, yet does not mention any musical instruments by the Shira of Moshe? Furthermore, the Torah tells us that Miriam sang the Shira “to them”, why does the Torah need to say again “to them”, we know from the pasuk earlier that Miriam was with all the women?
The Shl’a teaches us that as soon as the women started their celebrations, all the young guys came to watch the spectacle. The Uheler Rav in his classic, Yismach Moshe, explains that the women, upon noticing this, immediately took to their instruments in order to drown out their voices, so that the men will not hear them. Miriam had to sing the Shira at the top of her lungs in order for it to be heard over the music. The Torah tells us, although Miriam was singing uber loudly, it was only “to them”, it was only heard by the women.
However, we understand these Halachos, may we always merit to continue to praise Hashem for his immeasurable goodness.
And an incident occurred involving a student who placed his phylacteries in the holes adjacent to the public domain, and a prostitute passed by and took the phylacteries. She came to the study hall and said: See what so-and-so gave me as my payment. When that student heard this, he ascended to the rooftop and fell and died. At that moment they instituted that one should hold them with his garment and in his hand and enter to avoid situations of that kind.
Rav Menachem Taksin in the Sefer Ateres Chachamim, brings down a similar story related in Shabbos (13)
תני דבי אליהו מעשה בתלמיד אחד ששנה הרבה וקרא הרבה ושימש תלמידי חכמים הרבה ומת בחצי ימיו והיתה אשתו נוטלת תפיליו ומחזרתם בבתי כנסיות ובבתי מדרשות ואמרה להם כתיב בתורה כי הוא חייך ואורך ימיך בעלי ששנה הרבה וקרא הרבה ושימש תלמידי חכמים הרבה מפני מה מת בחצי ימיו ולא היה אדם מחזירה דבר פעם אחת נתארחתי אצלה והיתה מסיחה כל אותו מאורע ואמרתי לה בתי בימי נדותך מה הוא אצלך אמרה לי חס ושלום אפילו באצבע קטנה לא נגע [בי] בימי לבוניך מהו אצלך אכל עמי ושתה עמי וישן עמי בקירוב בשר ולא עלתה דעתו על דבר אחר ואמרתי לה ברוך המקום שהרגו שלא נשא פנים לתורה שהרי אמרה תורה ואל אשה בנדת טומאתה לא תקרב
The Sage in the school of Eliyahu taught a baraita that deals with this halakha: There was an incident involving one student who studied much Mishna and read much Bible, and served Torah scholars extensively, studying Torah from them, and, nevertheless, died at half his days, half his life expectancy. His wife in her bitterness would take his phylacteries and go around with them to synagogues and study halls, and she said to the Sages: It is written in the Torah: “For it is your life and the length of your days” (Deuteronomy 30:20). If so, my husband who studied much Mishna, and read much Bible, and served Torah scholars extensively, why did he die at half his days? Where is the length of days promised him in the verse? No one would respond to her astonishment at all.
Eliyahu said: One time I was a guest in her house, and she was relating that entire event with regard to the death of her husband. And I said to her: My daughter, during the period of your menstruation, how did he act toward you? She said to me: Heaven forbid, he did not touch me even with his little finger. And I asked her: In the days of your white garments, after the menstrual flow ended, and you were just counting clean days, how did he act toward you then? She said to me: He ate with me, and drank with me, and slept with me with bodily contact and, however, it did not enter his mind about something else, i.e., conjugal relations. And I said to her: Blessed is the Omnipresent who killed him for this sin, as your husband did not show respect to the Torah. The Torah said: “And to a woman in the separation of her impurity you should not approach” (Leviticus 18:19), even mere affectionate contact is prohibited.
The Ateres Chachamim asks why did this woman go around with her husbands Tefillin? He then explains that in our Gemara, the student died while giving respect to the Tefillin, and it was a rather unusual form of death. Therefore, his wife walked around with those very same Tefillin to ask why her husband got punished for seemingly respecting his Tefillin.
Only Eliyahu HaNavi was able to answer her that it was not about the Tefillin, but about the prostitute. He explains that this is the same student as the story in our Gemara. Because he was not careful regarding Taharas HaMishpacha, he was punished with an unusual death by way of a prostitute.
We see from here how much one must be careful to maintain an equilibrium between how he practices and acts in public and how he does so in private.
I had a teacher who often used the term NFY – Do Not Fool Yourself. Hypocrisy is a serious issue and if we act one way in a public setting and not as pious when nobody’s looking, we are merely fooling ourselves. When an incident arises where the actions one does in private becomes known, the humiliation can lead to death. Better to avoid it by remembering that we are only fooling ourselves.
The Gemara is discussing the laws of when a Baal Keri, one who had a seminal emission, can learn Torah or daven. In the midst of this discussion the Gemara relates numerous incidents to prove different points.
I have quoted above two of these incidents. In the first, Rebbi Yehuda had taught that a Baal Keri can learn or teach only the laws of Derech Eretz. However, when he himself was a Baal Keri, he immersed himself for purification before teaching the Halacha. When confronted over the self contradiction, he said he is being stringent on himself.
In the second incident we find a tradition passed down secretly that one who is a Baal Keri, need not immerse himself but can have a measurement of nine Kavin of water thrown over him and then he can learn Torah. This seems to be about 2.9 gallons of water, or about a 90 second shower. This tradition was passed secretly from Nachum Ish Gamzu to Rebbi Akiva to Ben Azzai, who went ahead and said it in public.
There are different traditions as to what actually happened: There are those that say that he publicized this in order to increase intimate relations and procreation. As he himself was a bachelor, this was something that was important to him. There are others that say that he indeed passed it over to his students in a secret, in order that they do not get too intimate with their wives and thereby distracted from their Torah studies.
From these two incidents, it is apparent that there are two or more levels of Torah. There is the level of the general populace, that which may be more lenient at times, but we see Rebbi Yehuda was stringent on himself. Conversely, we see that there was a level for the general populace to be more stringent and only those in on the secret knew about the lenient ruling.
Why is this? If we have a lenient ruling, why is that only kept as a secret tradition amongst the Tannaim? Additionally, if Rebbi Yehuda ruled leniently for everyone why is that leniency not good enough for himself, and if it was not good enough for himself, why is he letting others be lenient?
It seems that there are two tracks here, one for those in the know and one for the general population. I am curious where this idea comes from and why this is so.
And from where is the mitzva by Torah law to recite the blessing over the Torah before it is read, derived? As it is stated: “When I proclaim the Lord’s name, give glory to our God” (Deuteronomy 32:3), meaning that before one proclaims the Lord’s name by reading the Torah, he must give glory to God.
The Shulchan Aruch (OC 47) teaches us that the obligation to recite Birchas HaTorah is incumbent upon women as well as men. The Beis Yosef explains that women need to learn the laws pertinent to them.
The Gra argues strongly on this and explains that as women do not have a specific commandment to learn Torah, you cannot say the they must recite Birchas Hatorah for the laws they are obligated in.
Additionally, the Shulchan Aruch earlier (OC 17) taught us that women do not make a bracha on a Mitzvas Aseh SheHazman Grama, a mitzvah bound by time, as women are not obligated in these mitzvos.
Learning Torah is a mitzva that is bound by time, as the Torah tells us you should learn Torah when you wake up and when you go to sleep. Why does the Shulchan Aruch rule that women need to make a Bracha on Torah and not on other time-bound mitzvos?
The Brisker Rav explained that Torah is different than any other mitzvah. From the fact that we have a seperate pasuk to teach us that one should say Birchas HaTorah, we see that this is not merely a bracha on a mitzvah. Rather, Torah is something that requires a Bracha, part and parcel of learning Torah is making a bracha on it. Therefore a woman needs to make a bracha as well on learning Torah as the bracha is part of the Limud.