Posted on June 7, 2002 (5761) By Shlomo Katz | Series: | Level:

Hamaayan / The Torah Spring
Edited by Shlomo Katz


Volume XV, No. 32
18 Sivan 5761
June 9, 2001

Today’s Learning:
Sotah 6:3-4
Orach Chaim 452:3-5
Daf Yomi (Bavli): Kiddushin 33
Daf Yomi (Yerushalmi): Horiot 19

We read in this week’s parashah that Moshe was commanded to make trumpets which were to be blown on various occasions. These included: holidays, when it was time to assemble, and when the nation went out to war.

When the Torah speaks of blowing the trumpets in war time, the Torah mentions only the sound called teruah, i.e., the broken sound that represents crying. However, the gemara (Rosh Hashanah 34a) teaches that any time a teruah is blown, it must be preceded and followed by a tekiah, a long sound. R’ Mordechai Rogov z”l (1900-1969; rosh yeshiva in Chicago) explains:

Teruah is the sound of a groan and a wail, while tekiah is the sound of triumph and happiness. This is the power of the Jewish people – our teruot are always accompanied by tekiot. Even when the sounds of wailing and groaning are heard in the camp of Yisrael, there is never total despair. At the same time, the tekiot are heard – the sounds of hope and trust.

This is what the Torah is teaching us. When the oppressors come to our gates, we should sound the teruot together with tekiot. It is in this merit that we will be delivered from our enemies [as verse 10:9 suggests]. (Ateret Mordechai)


“There were men who were tamei from a human corpse and could not make the Pesach-offering on that day . . .” (9:6)

“Moshe said to them, ‘Stand and I will see what Hashem will command you’.” (9:8)

“Speak to Bnei Yisrael, saying, ‘If any man will become tamei through a human corpse . . .’ ” (9:10)

R’ Pinchas Halevi Horowitz z”l (1730-1805; rabbi of Frankfurt, Germany; author of the Talmud commentaries Hafla’ah and Hamakneh) contrasts these verses with another instance in which Moshe had to approach Hashem to seek an answer to a halachic question that certain individuals had asked. In Bemidbar, chapter 27, the daughters of Tzelofchad asked that daughters be allowed to inherit the property of a man who died with no sons. Moshe asked Hashem, and Hashem responded, “The daughters of Tzelofchad speak properly . . .” Hashem specifically acknowledged the daughter of Tzelofchad in His answer. Here, in contrast, Hashem’s answer did not refer to the men who asked the question; instead He responded, “If any man will become tamei . . .”

R’ Horowitz explains: The gemara tells us that the men who asked this question were the pallbearers of Yosef’s coffin. The halachah is that one who carries a coffin does not become tamei if he is not carrying most of the weight. Thus, these people did not know for certain that any of them were tamei; perhaps the weight was distributed in such a way that no one had become tamei.

Hashem, of course, knew which, if any, of them were tamei. Thus, He could not address His answer to them directly because for some, or all, of them, it was not pertinent. Therefore He said, “If any man . . .”

R’ Horowitz adds: The rule is that when a situation of doubtful tuma’ah arises in a public place, one is considered to be tahor. If so, why couldn’t these men bring a Korban Pesach?

He answers: Had each person come alone to ask, Moshe could have told each person, “We will presume that you are tahor and your colleague is tamei.” However, since they came together, Moshe was not permitted to give this answer. (Although in certain cases of doubt, a rabbi may issue contradictory rulings, he may not issue contradictory rulings simultaneously.) (Panim Yafot)


“When the cloud lingered upon the Tabernacle many days, Bnei Yisrael would safeguard the charge of Hashem and would not journey.” (9:19)

Couldn’t the verse have said, “When the cloud lingered upon the Tabernacle many days, Bnei Yisrael would not journey”? What is added by the phrase, “[They] would safeguard the charge of Hashem”?

R’ Aryeh Leib Zunz-Charif z”l (Poland; 1765-1833) answers: Perhaps the verse is teaching that even though Bnei Yisrael had a strong desire to reach Eretz Yisrael, when they saw that it was not Hashem’s will that they travel, they willingly safeguarded His charge and did not journey. (Melo Ha’omer)


“The rabble that was among them cultivated a craving, and Bnei Yisrael also wept once more, and said, ‘Who will feed us meat? We remember the fish that we ate in Egypt free of charge; and the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onion and garlic’.” (11:4-5)

Why, all of a sudden, did the nation crave meat? R’ Shaul z”l of Amsterdam (1717-1790) explains:

During the 40 years in the desert, Bnei Yisrael were forbidden to eat any meat except the meat of shelamim sacrifices. Such sacrifices had to be brought in the Mishkan / Tabernacle, and could only be offered when the nation was encamped and the Mishkan was re-assembled.

The meat of a shelamim sacrifice may be eaten for two days after the sacrifice is offered. At this point, however, Bnei Yisrael had been traveling for three days straight. Accordingly, they had run out of meat to eat. (Binyan Ariel: Chadrei Torah)

Regarding eating, R’ Yerucham Levovitz z”l (the “Mirrer Mashgiach,” whose 65th yahrzeit is today) taught:

Many laws were said relating to eating (as set forth in Masechet Derech Eretz, chapters 6 through 9), and the purpose of all of them is to direct and elevate man to eat like a human and not an animal. On Shabbat, it is a mitzvah to cut a large slice of bread; because doing so shows one’s love of a mitzvah, it is not considered to be gluttonous. However, this is not the case on a weekday. On a weekday, one should eat small pieces. If one holds a full portion in his hand (“ke’beitzah”), he is considered to be a glutton . Likewise, one who drinks his entire cup in one gulp is considered to be a glutton. There are many other laws regarding eating, some of which are codified in the Shulchan Aruch, chapters 167, 170 and elsewhere.

When we visit someone who does not eat in a mannerly way, we refer to him as a “Man of hal’eetainee nah” [literally, a “‘Pour it into me’-man,” based on the verse (Bereishit 25:30) in which Esav asked Yaakov to pour the stew down Esav’s throat]. What difference does it make whether one eats slowly or if one takes three spoons-full of soup one after another? The answer is that the latter is the behavior of Esav – “I will open my mouth and you pour the food in.” What difference does it make if one takes small pieces of bread or if one fills his mouth to the point that his cheeks bulge out several inches? The answer is, again, that the latter is the behavior of Esav.

It is no small matter to eat properly! It is true that the gemara (Chagigah 16a) lists eating as one of the traits that man shares with animals. Nevertheless, one who is eating should never forget that he is a human. One should prepare so that all that he eats will be for the sake of Heaven, as if the altar itself is “eating.” (Haggadah Shel Pesach Roshei Yeshivat Mir p. 288)


Selected Laws of Shemittah
(From Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, Hil. Shemittah Ve’yovel, ch. 5)

[Ed. note: This year is a shemittah year, and, from time-to- time, we are presenting excerpts from the laws of shemittah. As with any halachic issue addressed in Hamaayan, our goal is to increase awareness of the subject, not to provide practical halachic guidance. For such advice, consult a competent rabbi.]

  1. The fruits of the seventh year were given to us for eating, drinking, applying as lotions, lighting and makeup. That they may be used for lighting and makeup is learned through the Oral Torah.
  2. How may they be used for eating and drinking? One eats that which is normally eaten and drinks that which is normally drunk, just as is the law regarding terumah and ma’aser sheni.
  3. One may not transform fruits [of shemittah] from the form in which they were created, just as one may not transform terumah and ma’aser. That which is normally eaten raw may not be eaten cooked and that which is normally eaten cooked may not be eaten raw. Therefore, one may not steam animal fodder. . .
  4. [Omitted because of its technical nature.]
  5. Fruits which are normally set aside for human consumption may not be fed to domesticated or wild animals or birds. If an animal went on its own under a fig tree and ate, one need not turn the animal away, for it is written [Vayikra 25:7], “And for your animal and for the beast [that is in your land shall all its crop be to eat].”
  6. How may they be used as lotions? One applies as a lotion that which is normally used as a lotion. One may not lubricate his body with wine or vinegar, but he may lubricate his body with oil. One may not add spices to the oil. One may not apply the lotion in the bathhouse, but he may apply it outside and then enter [the bathhouse].
  7. The oil of the seventh year may not be used for tempering ovens or for oiling shoes and sandals. One may not lubricate his body with tamei hands . . .
  8. How may it be used for lighting? One may use the oil of shemittah itself for lighting. If one sold it and bought other oil or he bartered oil for oil, neither may be used for lighting, for one may not use money [that has the holiness] of shemittah for lighting. One may not put oil [of shemittah] into a bonfire, only into a lamp.
  9. How may they be used for makeup? One applies as makeup that which is normally used as makeup. Even if it is edible, it may be applied as makeup on a human.
  10. Laundry detergents [made from plants] have the holiness of shemittah attached to them, but one may wash with them, for it is written [Vayikra 25:6], “The Shemittah produce of the land shall be yours . . .” – “yours” for all your needs.

Copyright © 2000 by Shlomo Katz and Project Genesis, Inc.

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