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Monday, April 23, 2012

A blessed year only for people living in חו"ל?

The seforim say that when Parshas שמיני is read 8 times, שמיני, שמונה,שמינה, it will be a bountiful and blessed year for Klal Yisrael. This can only happen in year like this one in חו"ל. This year in חו"ל they read Parshas שמיני 8 times as follows:

1. Shabbos Mincha on Shabbos Hagadol
2. Monday before Pesach
3. Thursday before Pesach
4. Shabbos Mincha on the first day of Pesach
5. Shabbos Mincha on the 8th day of Pesach
6. Monday after Pesach
7. Thursday after Pesach
8. Shabbos Parshas שמיני

However, this can only happen in חו"ל. In Israel the 8th day of Pesach was just Shabbos and we read Parshas שמיני that Shabbos leaving us 3 short (the Monday after Pesach we were already reading תזריע).

Does this mean that only in חו"ל will they have a bountiful and blessed year because they read שמיני eight times while those of us in Israel won't?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Hashgocha Pratis stories that aren't true

Mishpacha magazine in Hebrew prints a story every week that is supposed to be true (with the names and other identifying things changed). This past week they printed a story about an airline flight that went bad with hashgocha pratis that I happened to have first hand knowledge of (close relatives of mine were on the flight). When I read the story I was very surprised, they made significant changes to the facts and even added a number of events that didn't happen (I assume to emphasize or create the hashgocha pratis aspect).

The true story is the following. United flight 90 a little over a week before Pesach left Newark airport at 10:50PM on a Wednesday night. After takeoff the flight attendants discovered that 3 of the 8 bathrooms (all in coach) didn't work. About an hour into the flight an announcement was made over the PA asking for a doctor. About an hour and a half into the flight the decision was made to turn around and return to Newark. After landing in Newark, they attempted to fix the bathrooms. After a while they decided that the problem was more serious then they first thought and that they needed to switch planes. They marched everyone through the deserted airport to another gate to get on a different plane. However, at around 4AM the crew announced that they had worked too many hours and therefore could not fly. At that point they sent everyone to hotels and rescheduled the flight for Thursday afternoon at 1:30PM. Everyone left and returned the next morning boarded the flight and the flight took off with no problems for Israel arriving early Friday morning.

The story in the Mishpacha changed the following elements:
1. They made the flight a week later, the Wednesday right before Pesach, (for reasons that will become obvious, they wanted it to be right before Pesach not a week and a few days before Pesach)
2. There are 8 bathrooms on a 777, 5 in coach and 3 in business, the 3 bathrooms that were not working were in coach. They changed the story so that all 3 business class bathrooms weren't working to highlight the class aspects.

They added the following elements:

1. A meshulach who lost his wallet with all of the cash that he had collected (thousands of dollars). The story states that they made an announcement over the PA asking the passengers if anyone found a wallet, this never happened. This also explains why they changed the date, it was important that he wouldn't have the money for Pesach.
2. To enhance the hashgocho pratis they wrote that the wallet was found in the airport but the man couldn't get it because it was locked in a safe and the person who could open was not available before the flight was supposed to leave on Thursday afternoon. Therefore, with no choice (it was erev Pesach) he got on the plane with a heavy heart. But then hasgocha pratis struck, the plane had an engine problem on the runway and had to return to the terminal allowing the man to retrieve his wallet. The only problem is that this never happened, there was no engine trouble and the plane simply took off and flew to Israel.

 I have always taken these kinds of stories with a grain of salt but seeing firsthand how the writers changed the story to create the hashgocha pratis aspects is very disturbing. It calls into question all of these hashgocha pratis stories that you read. If they can change/falsify this one why not others?

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Korban Pesach nowadays - Halachic issues Part III

Part 1 is here
Part 2 is here

I. Issues related to כהנים

To bring korbanos we must have כהנים to do the עבודה.

Are kohanim today כהני ספק

The first question that we need to ask is whether there are any "real" כהנים nowadays?

The Gemara in Kesubos 24b has a long sugya about יוחסין and the proofs that you need to bring. The Gemara quotes pesukim in Nechemia regarding עבודה in the Beis Hamikdash וז"ל הגמרא

שנאמר ומבני הכהנים בני חביה בני הקוץ בני ברזילי אשר לקח מבנות ברזילי הגלעדי אשה ויקרא על שמם אלה בקשו כתבם המתיחשים ולא נמצאו ויגאלו מן הכהונה

The כהנים who could not prove that they were כהנים מיוחסים were not allowed to work in the Beis Hamikdash. Based on this many acharonim say that all כהנים today are only כהני ספק. In fact this opinion is brought down by the Magen Avraham in Hilchos Pesach (סימן תנ"ז סע' ב). The Rama writes that you give the חלה to a young כהן (who has not seen קרי) and then he writes י"א that you never give any חלה to a כהן nowadays. The Magen Avraham there asks why not and he answers that none of the כהנים nowadays are כהני ודאי and therefore we don't give them וז"ל:

שאין מחזיקים אותו ככהן ודאי

The Magen Avraham repeats this in סימן ר"א and in fact the שדי חמד quotes many acharonim who hold like the Magen Avraham.

However, the Chasam Sofer (Kesubos 25b) and others disagree and hold that the כהנים today are certainly כהני ודאי and the כהנים at the time of Ezra had to bring proof because there was a real חשש that they were פסולים and therefore the whole sugya in Kesubos is simply a מעלה ביוחסין. The Chazon Ish also holds like this that the כהנים today are certainly כהני ודאי and that what Ezra did was only a chumra d'rabbanan וז"ל:

והנה מגואר בגמ׳ דע״א מהימן מה״ת לענין תרומה ונראה דה״ה לענין יוחסין ורק מדרבנן החמירו דמעלה עשו ביוחסין, ואפשר דגם הוא עצמו נאמן מה״ת והא דאינו נאמן משוס שגח כהונה אינו אלא מדרבנן, ולדידן מהימנינן לו׳ ע״פ עצמו משום שאין לנו תרומה, ולענין נ״כ וקריאה כתורה אונו חשוד לשקר, ..., ומ״מ אינו אלא מדרבנן ולא מה״ת, ואפשר דבדליכא כהן אחר לא העמידו חכמים דבריהם, עי׳ שביעית סי׳ ה׳ ] , לכן בזה״ז אי איתיהיב רשות להקריב ק״פ אין לבטל בשביל שאין לנו כהן מיוחס וסגי בבדיקת ד׳ אמהית, אף שאין לנו יחוס אבות עד כהן שעבד, ואפשר דהעמידו חכמים דבריהם אף כה״ג,

The Chazon Ish raises an interesting question, if the chachamim made a gezera d'rabbanan is that gezera מעכב? In our case there is a gezera d'rabbanan that only a כהן מיוחס can do avoda, can we violate that gezera nowadays since we have no choice or do we simply not bring korbanos?

R' Tzvi Pesach Frank brings up a very similar question in מקראי קדש on Rosh Hashana. There is a gezera not to blow shofar on Rosh Hashana however, this gezera does not apply in the Beis Hamikdash. One of the Gedolei Yerushalayim held that Yerushalayim is like the Beis Hamikdash and therefore you blow shofar on Shabbos. R' Frank asked, should we, who don't blow on Shabbos, go to hear the shofar on Shabbos. He quotes R' Akiva Eiger that you would be יוצא. However, he quotes a machlokes harishonim in Succa about a similar issue. The Mishan has a machlokes whether if you are in the Succa but the table is in the house is that good. The mishna has an expression that לא יצא מצות סוכה מימיו. Tosafos understands this to mean that since they violated the din drabbanan they aren't יוצא at all. The Ran argues and says that it just means that they weren't יוצא the mitzva כתיקונן.

R' Frank is מחלק that by succa they were פוסל the succa and therefore you aren't יוצא בדיעבד but by shofar it is just an איסור on the person and therefore you are יוצא בדיעבד.

It would seem that the איסור for the kohanim is an איסור on the person and therefore not מעכב.

II. בגדי כהונה

There are a number of problems with בגדי כהונה, some halachic and some technical.
1. We don't really know how to make בגדי כהונה. In fact, on just about every one of the בגדי כהונה there is a machlokes harishonim (Rambam, Rashi, Ramban, Raavad, etc.) on the details. Even without that a picture is worth a thousands, and creating בגדי כהונה from just the description for example in the Rambam is very difficult.
2. Techeles - The אבנט requires techeles and according to many we don't have techeles.  There are 2 main answers given to this question. The first is that maybe techeles is not מעכב in the בגדי כהונה just like it is not מעכב in tztitzis. The problem is that it is against an explicit תוספתא.

מנחות פ״ו ו' תכלת וארגמן ושני ושש משזרמעכבין זא׳יז...התכלת והלבן (בציצית) אין מעבבין זא״ז

The second suggestion is that the chilazon is not  מעכב and that you can make techeles for בגדי כהונה out of any blue dye. The מרכבת המשנה has such a suggestion based on the fact that by בגדי כהונה the Rambam never mentions the chilazon  (כלי המקדש פ״ח הל' י״ג):

 ותכלת האמורה בכל מקום היא הצמר הצבוע כעצם שמים שהוא פתוך מן הכוחל

 All the Rambam writes here is that techeles has to be blue. Only in hilchos Tzitizis does the Rambam mention the חלזון. In fact if you read the Rambam carefully there it seems מדוייק that the chilazon is only for tzitzis.

ואחר כך מביאין דם חילזון ... וזו היא צורת התכלת של ציצית

III. מנחת כהן

Before a Kohen does avoda for the first  time he needs to bring a מנחת כהן. This korban is not זמנו קבוע and therefore not דוחה טומאה. So it seems we are stuck. For a kohen to start doing avoda he needs to bring a מנחת כהן but he can't because it isn't דוחה טומאה.

The Mishne Lamelech (כלי המקדש פרק ה' הל, ט"ז) writes that there is a dispute whether this is מעכב or not the Rambam says it is not מעכב וז"ל

אין הכוהן עובד תחילה, וכן כוהן גדול אינו עובד תחילה--עד שיביא עשירית האיפה משלו, ועובדה בידו:  שנאמר "זה קרבן אהרון ובניו אשר יקריבו לה', ביום הימשח אותו" (ויקרא ו,יג).  ואם עבד קודם שיביא עשירית האיפה, וכן כוהן גדול שעבד בכהונה גדולה קודם שיביא עשירית האיפה--עבודתן כשרה.

According to the Rambam we have no problem as בדיעבד even without the the kohen bringing his korban his avoda is good, ועיין מנחת שלמה תנינא סימן ק"מ for a discussion of this and other issues.