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Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Parashat Ki Tisa, 5775


Part I: Mixed Celebrations
The Torah is afraid of making a covenant with the natives of the land of Canaan, fearing that we might end up embroiled in idolatrous practices (or our children will). The Talmud takes this to mean that Jews living outside of Israel (though the verse specifically speaks of those in the land) do go to these ceremonies and end up as accomplices to idolatry. Therefore, it prohibits Jewish attendance at such events. Some sources weight whether or not either the ways of peace, or fear of non-Jewish hatred (or violence) might overrule such a prohibition.

שמות פרשת כי תשא פרק לד
Exodus Chapter 34
(15) Lest you make a covenant with those dwelling in the land and lust after their gods and sacrifice to their gods; and he will call to you and you will eat from his sacrifice.
(טו) פֶּן־תִּכְרֹת בְּרִית לְיוֹשֵׁב הָאָרֶץ וְזָנוּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶם וְזָבְחוּ לֵאלֹהֵיהֶם וְקָרָא לְךָ וְאָכַלְתָּ מִזִּבְחוֹ:
(16) Then you will take from his daughters for your sons, and his daughters will lust after their gods and cause your son to lust after their gods.  
(טז) וְלָקַחְתָּ מִבְּנֹתָיו לְבָנֶיךָ וְזָנוּ בְנֹתָיו אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן וְהִזְנוּ אֶת־בָּנֶיךָ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵיהֶן:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת עבודה זרה דף ח עמוד א

Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 8a
It was taught, Rebbi Yishmael says, “An Israelite who is outside the land [of Israel] is an idolater in innocence. How? An idolater who makes a party for his son[‘s wedding] and invites all of the Jews who are in his city, even though they eat from their own [food] and drink from their own [wine] and their own waiter waits before them,
תניא, רבי ישמעאל אומר: ישראל שבחוצה לארץ עובדי עבודת כוכבים בטהרה הן, כיצד? עובד כוכבים שעשה משתה לבנו וזימן כל היהודים שבעירו, אע"פ שאוכלין משלהן ושותין משלהן ושמש שלהן עומד לפניהם,
“The verse considers them as if they ate from the altar of the dead, as it says, ‘Then he will call to you and your will eat from his sacrifice,’ (Exodus 34:15).”
מעלה עליהם הכתוב כאילו אכלו מזבחי מתים, שנאמר: וקרא לך ואכלת מזבחו (שמות לד:טו).
Say not until he eats. Said Rava, “If so, let the verse [just] say, ‘You will eat from his sacrifice.’ What [is the meaning of], ‘Then he will call to you?’ From the time of calling [inviting].”
ואימא: עד דאכיל! אמר רבא: אם כן, נימא קרא ואכלת מזבחו, מאי וקרא לך? משעת קריאה.
Even though we keep separate tables, food, and even waiters at the wedding, just being invited seems to be an act of idolatry. First, it seems that Jews were actually attending these weddings with separate tables, food, and waiters. But why even the invitation might be a problem could be hinted at in the next source.
תלמוד בבלי מסכת עבודה זרה דף ח עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Avodah Zarah 8a
And twelve months after [the wedding] is it permissible [to go to a non-Jewish feast]?
לבתר תריסר ירחי שתא שרי?
Was it not that Rav Yitzchak son of Rav Mesharshiya was invited to the house of an idolater after twelve months. He heard that [the non-Jew] gave thanks, and he separated and did not eat!
והא רב יצחק בריה דרב משרשיא איקלע לבי ההוא עובד כוכבים לבתר תריסר ירחי שתא, ושמעיה דאודי, ופירש ולא אכל!
Rav Yitzchak son of Rav Mesharshiya was different, for he was an important person.
שאני רב יצחק בריה דרב משרשיא, דאדם חשוב הוא.
Previously, the Talmud tells us we must wait up to twelve months after the wedding to attend a non-Jewish banquet. The story of Rav Yitzchak gives us insight as to the issue with just the invitation. Apparently, agreeing to the invitation may cause the idolater to give thanks to his god, thereby encouraging idolatry. This seems to operate in a regime where the non-Jews want the Jews at their parties, which is not always the case in Jewish history.

תלמוד ירושלמי (וילנא) מסכת גיטין פרק ה, הלכה ט
Jerusalem Talmud, Tractate Gitin, Chapter 5, Halacha 9
A weaver [or maybe just a person from Girda] asked Rebbi Imi, “What is [the law] for a day of a feast of non-Jews.” And he thought to permit it to them because of this: because of the ways of peace.
גירדאי שאל לרבי אימי יום משתה של גוים מהו וסבר מישרי לון מן הדא מפני דרכי שלום.
Rebbi Abba said to him, “Did not Rebbi Chiyyah teach, ‘The day of a feast of non-Jews is forbidden?’” Said Rebbi Imi, “Had it not been for Rebbi Abba, were would have already come to permit their idolatry. And blessed is he who separate us from this.”
אמר ליה רבי אבא והתני ר' חייה יום משתה של גוים אסור. אמר ר' אימי אילמלא ר' אבא כבר היינו באין להתיר ע"ז שלהן וברוך שהבדילנו מהן:
The Jerusalem Talmud considers that “the ways of peace” [מפני דרכי שלום] might overrule this restriction. Rebbi Abba, however, pushes back. After all, idolatry is at stake.

דרישה יורה דעה סימן קנב
Drisha, YD 152
Yehoshua Falk, 16th Century Poland
It requires investigation if about this it is said it is permitted due to [creating] enmity to celebrate with him, as we said above in the name of the Tosafot, that for one he knows it is permitted to celebrate with them, for it is like flattery. And even though there is a great prohibition, for that is on their holiday, or maybe here is different since it is derived from a verse.
צ"ע אם נאמר גם בהאי מותר משום איבה לשמוח עמו כמו שכתוב לעיל סוף סימן קמ"ח בשם תוספות (ב. ד"האסור) דבמכיר מותר לשמוח עמהם משום דהוי כמחניף אע"פ שיש שם איסור גדול דהוי ביום אידם או דילמא שאני הכא דנילף מקרא:
The Drisha, in a vein not so far off from the suggestion in the Jerusalem Talmud, suggest that perhaps enmity [משום איבה] might override this restriction. After all, if we avoid these banquets, the non-Jews might come to hate us and perhaps even resort to violence.

חידושי הריטב"א מסכת עבודה זרה דף ח עמוד א
Novellae of the Ritva, Tractate Avodah Zarah, 8a
Yom Tom Asevilli, 13th Century Spain
And even now it is forbidden. And we are not concerned with enmity, since it is a prohibition from the Torah, and it is as if one eats idolatrous sacrifices.
ואפי' בזמן הזה אסור ולא חיישינן לאיבה כיון דאיסורא דאורייתא היא וכאילו אוכל תקרובת ע"ז,
However, these words are when one goes to the non-Jew’s house to eat and drink there. But if the non-Jew sends him a gift there is not Torah level prohibition, but only a Rabbinic level prohibition, like our Mishneh where [the non-Jew] goes and give thanks to idolatry. So these days [this] is permitted.
ומיהו הני מילי כשהולך לבית הנכרי לאכול ולשתות שם, אבל אם שולח לו הנכרי דורון אין כאן איסורא דאוריתא אלא איסורא דרבנן כעין משנתינו משום דאזיל ומודה לע"ז, ובזמן הזה מותר.
Anachronistically, the Ritva argues with the Drisha, saying this is a major prohibition. And perhaps (he does not say this directly, though) the entire point is to create enmity, or at least to prevent us from getting too close to the idolaters. Even he, however, seems to allow the exchange of gifts.
Part II: The Portion We Must Read?
This week we read the portion of the red heifer. God commands us to use a mixture of the ashes of the red heifer to purify ourselves. It is read this week when people would get ready to purify themselves for the Pesach offering. The Shulchan Arukh, much to the surprise of later authorities, claims that the reading of this portion, like that of remembering Amalek, is a Torah level commandment.
במדבר פרשת חקת פרק יט
Numbers Chapter 19
(10) Then the one who collects the ashes of the cow bathes his clothes and remains impure until the evening; and this will be for the children of Israel and the stranger who dwells among them as a statute forever.
(י) וְכִבֶּס הָאֹסֵף אֶת־אֵפֶר הַפָּרָה אֶת־בְּגָדָיו וְטָמֵא עַד־הָעָרֶב וְהָיְתָה לִבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכָם לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם:
(21) Then it will be for them as a statute forever; and the one who sprinkles the waters of niddah will wash his clothes; and one who touches the waters of niddah will be impure until evening.
(כא) וְהָיְתָה לָהֶם לְחֻקַּת עוֹלָם וּמַזֵּה מֵי־הַנִּדָּה יְכַבֵּס בְּגָדָיו וְהַנֹּגֵעַ בְּמֵי הַנִּדָּה יִטְמָא עַד־הָעָרֶב:
Notice the redundant use of “statute forever” in two verses in the portion.

ספרי במדבר פרשת חקת פיסקא קכד
Sifrei on Numbers, Portion 124
As a statute forever: that the matter will apply for the generations.
לחקת עולם שינהוג הדבר לדורות
The Sifrei clarifies that this law applies to all generations, potentially outside of the time of sacrifices.

תלמוד בבלי מסכת נדה דף ו עמוד ב
Babylonian Talmud, Tractate Niddah 6b
Were there sanctified things in the times of Rebbi? Like Ulla [said], for Ulla said, “The Chaverim [group which ate all their meals in a state of purity] purified in the Galilee. So too in the days of Rebbi.
קדש בימי רבי מי הואי? כדעולא, דאמר עולא: חבריא מדכן בגלילא; הכא נמי בימי רבי.
The Chaverim were a group who ate all of their meals in a ritually pure state. To do so, they would need to have the ashes of the red heifer to return themselves to purity anytime they lost it (it is almost a given - and often even required - that a person will become impure).

רש"י מסכת נדה דף ו עמוד ב
Rashi, Tractate Niddah 6b
Were there sanctified things in the times of Rebbi? Many years after the destruction of the Temple, at the end of the Tannaitic period.
קדש בימי רבי מי הוה - כמה שנים היה אחר החורבן בסוף התנאים.
Rashi clarifies that Rebbi lived at the end of the 2nd and beginning of the 3rd centuries in the Common Era, while the Temple was destroyed in 70 CE. Therefore, the ashes of the red heifer are around even after the destruction. The Tannaim were the writers of the Mishnaic material.

שולחן ערוך אורח חיים הלכות מגילה ופורים סימן תרפה, סעיף ז
Shulchan Arukh, OC 685, Article 7
Yosef Karo, 16th Century Israel
There are those who say that the portion of remembering [Amalek] and the portion of the red heifer, we are obligated to read them from the Torah. Therefore, people from the outer settlements who do not have a minyan need to arrive at a place that has a minyan on these Shabbats in order to hear these portions, for they are [commanded] at the Torah level.
י"א שפרשת זכור ופרשת פרה אדומה חייבים לקראם מדאורייתא, לפיכך בני הישובים שאין להם מנין צריכים לבא למקום שיש מנין בשבתות הללו כדי לשמוע פרשיות אלו שהם מדאורייתא.


משנה ברורה סימן תרפה, ס"ק ט"ו
Mishneh Berurah, 285, Minor Article 15
Yisrael Meir Kagan, 19th and 20th Century Poland
Many Acharonim [post Shulchan Arukh authorities] wrote that this portion is not [commanded to be read] at the Torah level.
הרבה אחרונים כתבו שפרשה זו אינה מדאורייתא

ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן תרפה
Arukh Hashulchan, OC 285
Yechiel Michel Epstein, 19th Century Lithuania
But the greats of the Acharonim were astounded. From where do we say that also the portion of the heifer is at the Torah level, for there is not hint to this in the Gemara? Therefore, they ruled that it is not from the Torah.
אך גדולי האחרונים תמהו מאין לנו לומר דגם פרשת פרה היא מן התורה דאין שום רמז לזה בגמ' ולכן פסקו דאינה מן התורה [מג"א]
And in my humble opinion, it seems that there is a hint to this in the Torah, for in the portion of the red heifer, it is written in the middle of the portion, “It will be for the children of Israel… as a statute forever.” And we expound in the Sifre, “It will apply for the generations.” For the ashes of the heifer are not dependent on the Temple, for even in the time of the Amoraim [Rabbis of the Gemara] they had the ashes of the red heifer as we said…
ולענ"ד נראה דיש לזה רמז בתורה דהנה בפרשת פרה אדומה כתיב באמצע הפרשה [במדבר יט, י] והיתה לבני ישראל וגו' לחקת עולם ודרשינן בספרי [פיסקא קכ"ד] שתהא נוהגת לדורות ע"ש דאפר פרה אינו תלוי במקדש דגם בזמן האמוראים היה להם אפר פרה כדאמרינן
And at the end of the portion it is a again written, “It will be for them as a statute forever.” And this is redundant, but is brought for the matter of reading the portion, even at a time when there are not ashes of the heifer.
ובסוף פרשה כתיב עוד [במדבר יט, כא] והיתה להם לחקת עולם ומיותר הוא אלא דאתי לעניין קריאת הפרשה אף בזמן דליכא אפר פרה
And all the more so now where we do not have the main point of the commandment, which is fit to have in this time, if we we had the ashes of the heifer. For sure one would say there is an obligation to read the portion.
וכ"ש בזמן הזה דליכא עצם המצוה שהיתה ראויה להיות בזמן הזה אם היה לנו אפר פרה דוודאי יש לומר שיש חיוב לקרות הפרשה:
The Arukh Hashulchan uses the redundancy of “statute forever” to have one use apply not only to preparing the ashes, but also to reading the portion about them (which would be necessary to properly perform the ceremony). Since were might still even be obligated in the preparation but are not doing so, at least we must read the portion.

Part III: Pesach is Coming, Start Learning
It is about four weeks from Pesach, so for the next few of these I will present some rules of Pesach. So, to begin, here are the rules about learning about Pesach.
ערוך השולחן אורח חיים סימן תכט, סעיף ו
Arukh Hashulchan OC 429, Article 6
It says in tractate Pesachim, we inquire and seek out the rules of Pesach thirty days before Pesach. And at the end [of the discussion] in tractate Megillah it challenges that Moshe established for Israel to ask about the laws of Pesach on Peasch, about Sukkot on Sukkot. It follows that it is only on Pesach itself.
איתא בפסחים [ו'.] שואלין ודורשין בהלכות פסח קודם לפסח שלשים יום והקשו מהך דשלהי מגילה [ד'.] דמשה תקן להם לישראל לשאול הלכות פסח בפסח הלכות חג בחג דמשמע רק בפסח עצמו
And they answered with many answers on this, and a difference comes out of it is the case of one who asks not about the laws of Pesach and one about the laws of Pesach, which one [is answered] first? And further answers.
ותרצו כמה תירוצים על זה דנפקא מינה לאחד שואל שלא בהלכות פסח ואחד בהלכות פסח הוא קודם ועוד תירוצים
And in truth, in the Jerusalem Talmud, the first chapter of tractate Pesachim, [it states about the thirty day rule] that this is in a house of gathering. That is, a house of study in a place of the gathering of sages, it is thirty days [before]. But each person individually, only on Pesach.
והאמת דבירושלמי פ"ק דפסחים [סוף הל' א'] איתא דזהו בבית הוועד כלומר בבהמ"ד במקום אסיפת החכמים הוי ל' יום וכל יחיד לעצמו רק בפסח [ח"י]
And now the practice is that the Rabbi expounds on Shabbat HaGadol [the Shabbat before Pesach] and on Shabbat Shuva [the one before Yom Kippur]. And he must expound about the matter and to ignite the nation to Torah and fear. But this is not connected to the matter of questions of Pesach, for each person asks what is unclear to him if they are not general matters [for everyone], and each expound per his ability.
ועכשיו המנהג שהרב דורש בשבת הגדול ובשבת שובה ויש לדרוש מעניינא ולהלהיב את העם לתורה וליראה אבל בענייני שאלות של פסח לא שייך דכל אחד שואל מה שנסתפק לו אם לא דברים כלליים וכל אחד דורש לפי כחו [עמג"א סק"א]:

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