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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Some halachos of building a succah

This post, Some halachic points regarding building a succah , covers many of the main issues.

I would like to add an addtional point.

When do you say דופן עקומה?

R' Akiva Eiger has a famous teshuva where he quotes the Ran that you cannot put together 2 הלכות למשה מסיני to make a wall. Therefore the Ran (and others) hold that you you can only say דופן עקומה when the walls reach the סכך. If the walls don't reach the סכך, then you need the halacha of גוד אסיק to complete the wall and the halacha of דופן עקומה. This is 2 הלכות למשה מסיני which according to the Ran doesn't work.

This idea of 2 הלכות למשה מסיני can't be used together is only if the 2 are not independent. However, if they are independent then there is no issue. In the case of the walls not reaching the סכך they are not independent, you can only say דופן עקומה after you complete the wall with גוד אסיק. However, the following case would be good even according to the Ran. You have דופן עקומה and then you have a 2 טפח gap in the סכך. here you can say both halachos as the דופן עקומה stands independently of the לבוד and the לבוד is independent of the דופן עקומה.

The Mishna Berura quotes this chumra (he says it seems like the Shulchan Aruch holds this way). However, he comments that if the wall is within 3 טפחים of the סכך everyone agrees that it would be good. At first glance the MB is very difficult, why should לבוד be any different then גוד אסיק, they are both הלכות למשה מסיני and you can't say דופן עקומה without the לבוד. The מקראי קדש answers that maybe the pshat is that you can't be מכשיר a wall with 2 הלכות למשה מסיני of walls. However, לבוד works everywhere and is not a halacha of walls. Therefore לבוד would work even in conjunction with another הלכות למשה מסיני.

This is an important MB, without it we would almost never say דופן עקומה. In all of the succahs that I see the סכך doesn't actually rest on the walls it usually rests on some supports which rest on the walls. The סכך is generally a few inches on top of the wall (especially if you have a non-wooden succah where you have an issue of מעמיד). Therefore we are always relying on לבוד to fill in that little gap. Without the MB you would never be able to say דופן עקומה because you are relying on 2 הלכות למשה מסיני.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Some reflections on Rosh Hashana

Here area number of thoughts I have on this past Rosh Hashana.

1. It amazes me how people waltz in to shul late on Rosh Hashana. Yes, davening is earlier then a regular Shabbos, but still how hard is it to get to shul on time? I had a Rebbe in 9th grade, R' Yitzchak Cohen, who I still remember very well 25+ years later for his musar. One of the things I remember very clearly is how he exhorted us to come to to shul on Rosh Hashana on time. He gave the following reasons:
a. Imagine if you had a secular court case and the trial started at 9AM. You would not dream of waltzing in at 9:20AM, you would be too afraid to come late. You would make sure that you got there on time if not a few minutes early just to be sure. Forget about court cases, imagine if you had an important meeting at work, would you show up late 20 minutes late? Rosh Hashana is the Yom Hadin, we are all on trial for our lives. To come late to shul shows that we don't really believe it and don't take it seriously.
b. Rosh Hashana is supposed to be a day where we daven with extra כוונא. To come late and have to hurry through or skip parts of פסוקי דזמרא kills your כוונא and again shows what is really important.

2. The acharonim point out that although on Rosh Hashana there is no issur of fasting half a day and therefore davening should go a little past חצות, that is on a weekday. However, on Shabbos the issur of fasting applies and therefore you should try to finish before חצות. This din seems to have fallen by the wayside. Very few shuls seem to be makpid on this. I remember R' Willig telling us in shiur, that when Rosh Hashana fell out on Shabbos he would tell his Baal Habatim that he would compromise with them, he wouldn't speak and they would start 15 minutes earlier to finish before chatzos.

3. A long speech by the Rabbi is counterproductive on Rosh Hashana. People are in shul for 5-6 hours, they are simply not able to sit and listen to a speech by the Rabbi for a half an hour. If the Rabbi feels the need to speak he should keep it short and simple.

4. Announcing how long the silent shemoneh esrei is going to be (15 minutes, a half an hour, whatever it is) is a tremendous help for kavana. This way people know how long they have to daven and how long they have to wait after they finish. You don't have people fidgeting and trying to figure out when is the chazan going to start chazaras hashatz and people who want to daven a long shemoneh esrei know exactly how long they have.

Recommended seforim for the Yomim Noraim

Here are some seforim that I find very useful/inspiring for this time period.

שער הגמול - by the Ramban. This sefer spells out many of the Yesodos Haemuna that relate to this time period. It explains what we are judged for on Rosh Hashana, צדיק ורע לא, Gehinom and Gan Eden, etc. It is both a tremendous source of mussar and knowledge for this period.
קונטרוס עבודת התפילה - This explains every line of the shemoneh esrei giving you all of the sources. I find it helps my כוונא tremendously. I like the sefer in Hebrew but there is an English version as well.
אסופי מערכות ימים נוראים - This is a set of essays from R' Goldvicht (former R' Yeshiva of Kerem B'Yavneh and talmid of the Chazon Ish and the Brisker Rav). R' Goldvicht is a master in aggadda and he has some beautiful ideas about the ימים נוראים.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

All men are created equal?

Is this a Torah value?

It seems that the answer is yes and no.

The Mishna in Horiyos (31a) states that for life and death situations a man comes before a woman. The next Mishna then continues the hierarchy, a Kohen is before a Levi, a Levi before a Yisrael, a Yisrael before a mamzer etc.

Interestingly enough, the Gemara explains how the Mishna knew that a Kohen is before a Levi etc. based on either pesukim or sevara. The one relationship that the Gemara doesn't explain is a man ahead of a woman. The Rambam in the peirush hamishnayos says that a man has more kedusha because he has more mitzvos. It would seem that for all of the others the kedusha is the same as they are חייב in basically the same mitzvos.

However, the Mishna has 1 very big caveat, that they are all equal בחכמה. If not, then a ממזר ת"ח comes before a Kohen Gadol עם הארץ.

What comes out is that yes, the Torah has a hierarchy, all men are not created equal, but, anyone can jump the hierarchy through his own efforts in Torah.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Is the Charedi world turning against the Edah Hacharedis?

This weeks Mishpacha newspaper (Hebrew) had a number of very strong opinion pieces against the Edah. Basically they said that they have become like the boy who cried wolf with so many protests and when a really important issue comes up the protest will have no meaning.

They also mentioned something that I posted a while back (Who is a real kannoi? ), that the kanaus of the Edah is not defined by Torah. They quoted a protester who said he was willing to die to prevent chillus shabbos. That is a very nice sentiment but is anti-Torah. The Torah says וחי בהם, a person needs to take care of themselves. Only the 3 cardinal sins are יהרוג ועל יעבור. In fact, here it is on an even lower level, it is not that someone is forcing him to be מחלל shabbos, but rather he is trying to prevent some stranger from being מחלל שבת. Therefore, there is absolutely no basis in halacha for a person to put himself in a life threatening position to prevent a stranger, or be מוחה for chillul shabbos.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

And the moral of the story is ...

The Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew) had a fascinating story this past week. The story was about a mother and her quest for wives for her sons and the lesson that she learned. She had a number of sons (3 close together and then a gap). For the first 3 sons she was looking for a wife who would be able to support her son so that he could sit and learn. Therefore, she chose Beis Yaakov graduates with a real profession (not teachers). The first was a computer programmer, the second an architect, the third an accountant. To make a long story short, each one of them was very successful in their career and made good money. However, their family life and her son's learning suffered terribly. They all worked full time jobs and therefore had to work 9+ hours a day. That meant leaving the house before 8AM and coming home the earliest 5:30-6PM. This turned their husbands into Mr. Mom. The husband had to get the kids out to school, help prepare supper, etc. 2 of them opened their own offices and therefore the husband helped run the office. In short, the husband's learning suffered and the kids were being brought up by babysitters.

After a few years when son number 4 was looking for a wife, she decided that she had learned her lesson and things would be different for son number 4. Can anyone guess what lesson she learned?

The lesson that she learned was that she should not look for a career woman, money isn't everything. Rather, she would look for a girl like her, a teacher/gannenet who would have time for her children and husband.

It did not occur to her that maybe the whole system of the wife supporting the husband while he sits and learns is the root of the problem. It did not occur to her that maybe her precious son should actually go out and work and make a living to support his wife as he is מחייב himself to do in the כתובה. Instead, his wife should work and support him while he would sit and learn.