Saturday, October 27, 2007

Yated Neeman - Anyone who criticizes us is criticizing the Gedolim

A short time ago Yated Neeman printed a nasty caricature criticizing Shas. They were heavily criticized by Shas as well as by some in the Ashkenazi Charedi community. Last week Yated Neeman fired back. They wrote the following editorial(translated from the original Hebrew):

The written and pictorial rebuke that was printed in Yated Neeman against the other party (Shas), is not a result of the capriciousness of the editors and writers. rather it is a direct command from our spiritual leaders (the Vaad Haruchani) whose every action is guided by the Gedolei Hador ... and they approve every word written and every caricature printed. They decide when to be silent and when to attack. They also decide the strength and type of criticism.
Therefore any criticism of the newspaper no matter who the person is, is not directed at the editors of the paper but rather at the spiritual leaders of the paper which have at their head the Gedolim.
Everyone who criticizes the paper whatever their title is cannot be considered part of the camp of those who are faithful to the Gedolim. ... the simply cannot be considered as part of the Torah camp.

Below you can see the Mishapcha's take on the whole story.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

When did the malachim come to Avraham about the birth of Yitzchak?

The Gemara in Rosh Hashana (11a) seems to say that they came on Sukkos (or according to Tosafos 2 days before Sukkos) and that is when the whole story at the beginning of this weeks parsha (וירא) happened.

Tosafos and other Rishonim are bothered by a number of questions:
1. The medrash tanchuma (quoted by Rashi on Chumash) contradicts the Gemara and says that the whole story happened on Pesach
2. The pasuk at the end of Parshal Lech Lecha (right after Hashem commands Avraham to do a bris mila) says that Sarah will have a baby "למועד הזה לשנה אחרת". If Avraham's bris was right before Succos (on YK according to Tosafos) and Yitzchak was born on Pesach how is that "לשנה אחרת" it is the same year.

Tosafos and the Ritva answer that the gemara here is according to R' Yehoshua and the medrash is like R' Eliezer. According to R' Yehoshua that the world was created in Nissan, the story happened on Succos and the next Pesach is in the next year. However, according to R' Eliezer that the world was created in Tishrei, the story could not have happened on Succos, because Pesach is in the same year, therefore it happened on Pesach like the Medrash.

This is very difficult because the Gemara in Rosh Hashana is detailing all the נפקא מינא and machlokes between R' Yehoshua and R' Eliezer based on when the world was created. If Tosafos is right why didn't the gemara list this as well?

The Maharsha has a different p'shat and tries to reconcile the Medrash and the Gemara as follows:
The Gemara and Medrash don't conflict they are talking about different things. The pasuk in לך לך that says "למועד הזה לשנה אחרת", happened on Pesach. The malachim came on Pesach. However, when Hashem asks Avraham why Sarah laughed and then says "למועד אשוב אליך" that happened in Tishrei on Succos. This answers the contradiction but raises additional questions.

It is very difficult to read the pesukim this way. The malachim come on Pesach and tell Avraham that he will have a son and Sarah laughs. Six months later on Succos Hashem comes back and asks Avraham why Sarah laughed and promises again that he will have a son on pesach. Then the story shifts back to the malachim leaving on Pesach and Avraham arguing with Hashem about S'dom. You have a very strange shift in time from Pesach to Sukkos, back to Pesach.

According to the Maharsha the Gemara in Rosh Hashana by פקידה is also very difficult. The Gemara says that Sara was נפקדה on Rosh Hashana. Yet, the malachim came on Pesach and told Avraham that he would have a son, when was the pekida? It would seem that it was 9 months before (the Rosh Hashana before). However, Sarah did not actually become pregnant until after the next Succos (as the Gemara says), over a year after the pekida! The Maharsha answers that even though on Pesach the malachim told Sara that she would have a baby,the pekida (the gezera that she would get pregnant) was only 5 months later on Rosh Hashana. IMHO, this is very difficult. The malachim are bringing a message from hashem on Pesach that she will have a baby next Pesach. She is going to have a baby, Hashem said so. Therefore what on earth does the pekida on Rosh Hashana mean? It already happened on pesach that she is going to have a baby.

In fact, the Maharasha refers you to a Tosafos in Bava Kama 92a (ד"ה כאשר) who makes exactly this point. Tosafos asks, if the malachim came on Pesach how could the pekida be later on Rosh Hashana? Tosafos answers the pekida was not that she would become pregnant but rather that the pregnancy and birth would be easy. Tosafos is explicitly against the Maharsha.

Tosafos's (Bava Kama) answer is also very difficult. The gemara says that 3 women were nifkad on Rosh Hashana (Sara, Rachel, and Chana). By Rachel, the pasuk says explicitly that Hashem remembered her (זכירה) and ויפתח את רחמה. The pasuk explicitly states that the pekida was with regards to getting pregnant. Since the gemara equates the 3 women (and learns them out 1 from the other) the pekida by Sarah must be the same thing, regarding getting pregnant and therefore how can Tosafos say that the pekida was with regards to having an easy pregnancy and birth.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

When was the ברית בין הבתרים?

If you just read parshas לך לך you would think that first Hashem told Avraham to go to Eretz Yisroel, then came the story with לוט etc, and then came the ברית בין הבתרים. However, the Rishonim point out that if we take a closer look at the chronology we see that this is not true.

Hashem tells Avraham by the ברית בין הבתרים that his descendents will be in golus 400 years. Rashi points out that we were only in Egypt 210 years and therefore explains based on the medrashim that the 400 years started with the birth of Yitzchak. However, the Torah says in Parshas Bo that we were in Egypt 430 years. Rashi there explains (again based on medrashim) that the extra 30 years is from the ברית בין הבתרים, in other words the ברית בין הבתרים was 30 years before Yitzchak was born. We know that Yitzchak was born when Avraham was 100 years old which means that ברית בין הבתרים had to be 30 years earlier when Avraham was 70. However, at the beginning of parshas לך לך the Torah tells us that Avraham was 75 years old when he left Charan. This means that לך לך had to be 5 years after the ברית בין הבתרים. Tosafos in Shabbos 10b makes this calculation and says this is what happened. Avraham came to EY when he was 70 and went through the ברית בין הבתרים, and then he returned to Charan for 5 years until Hashem told him לך לך.

The question we have now is why is the Torah written this way? What is the lesson we are supposed to learn from the way the Torah ordered things? Tosafos points out the discrepancy but doesn't explain why.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

War between Shas and Degel Hatorah

Yated Neeman on Friday printed a very nasty caricature about Shas on Friday.

This may lead to a full blown war between the Sefardi and Ashkanezi Charedim.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Not one, not two, not three, but four criminal investigations ...

have now been started against Prime Minister Olmert.

I know that many times an investigation is started and does not lead to an indictment and an indictment does not always lead to a conviction. However, when there are 4 criminal investigations against the PM there is a problem. Where there is smoke there is fire.

Now we have a situation where the PM has 4 criminal investigations against him plus the Winograd Commission and he is going to Annapolis to have a fire sale of pieces of Israel to the Palestinians. What mandate can he possibly have? In any other sane democracy Olmert would have either resigned or have been forced out of office long ago.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Abu Mazen's demands for the Palestinian state

In a television interview, Abbas said the Palestinians want to establish a state on 6,205 square kilometers of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It was the first time he has given a precise number for the amount of land he is seeking.

"We have 6,205 square kilometers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip," Abbas told Palestine TV. "We want it as it is."

According to Palestinian negotiating documents obtained by The Associated Press, the Palestinian demands include all of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, east Jerusalem and small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War.

He wants everything and more. What everyone fails to point out is that in on June 3, 1967 there was no passage from Gaza to the West Bank, so he not only wants the 1967 borders but he wants more, a passage from Gaza to the West Bank. He also wants small areas along the West Bank frontier that were considered no-man's land before the Six-Day War.

This is a non-starter even for Olmert and the left.

It is hard to know whether to laugh or cry.

The biggest joke is that anyone believes Abu Mazen can actually deliver something. The man is not even in control of Ramallah let alone Gaza. Any agreement with him isn't worth the paper that it is printed on because there is no way for him to enforce it or abide by it.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Understanding davening: Geshem or Gashem

We all just started saying משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם, should we say geshem or gashem? R' Yaakov Kamenetsky says that it should be geshem. He explains as follows. When you have 2 סגול at the end of a word, when that word is the end of a sentence or has a hard stop (אתנחתא) the first סגול becomes a קמץ, for example derech becomes darech. Therefore for משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם we need to see if there is a stop after גשם or not by analyzing the second beracha of שמונה עשרה.

The second beracha is גבורות and starts with the ultimate גבורה, resurrection of the dead, then continues on to more mundane matters and then concludes with resurrection of the dead.

The initial phrase אתה גבור לעולם ה' מחיה מתים אתה רב להושיע is the introduction with states the ultimtae גבורה, resurrection of the dead. Then we have משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם and then מכלכל חיים ... סומך נופלים רופא חולים etc., all more mundane physical things. It is clear that משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם belongs with these physical matters, and not with תחיית המתים. Therefore there should be no stop after משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם but rather it continues right into מכלכל חיים. If so, then the word should be pronounced geshem and not gashem.

If this is correct how did so many people come to say gashem? The answer is that in תפילת גשם the chazan says ואתה הוא ה' אלוקינו משיב הרוח ומוריד הגשם and there he says gashem because it is the end of a sentence. Since people hear the chazan say gashem in תפילת גשם they assumed that that was the correct pronunciation in davening as well.

RHS brings down in Nefesh Harav that RYBS also said geshem, I believe for a similar reason.