IN MEMORY OF: YOSEF TZVI AND GITEL GOLDSCHEIN Z”L DAVID AND FEIGI GOLDENBERG Z”L SAMUEL AND BEATRICE SHAINHOUSE Z”L JACK SCHWEBEL Z”L
Dear YULA Family, At the heart of our Yeshiva are exceptional Rebbeim and faculty who are each driven to inspire our students to achieve greatness and to become outstanding B’nei Torah and leaders in the 21st century. The Gemorah in Pesachim 109a teaches the importance of asking and prompting children to ask questions at the Seder. It gives an example from Rabbi Akiva who would give the children parched grain and walnuts on Erev Pesach precisely so they would not fall asleep and be able to ask questions. It continues by mentioning the tradition of Rabbi Eliezer who would snatch the matzot on the night of Pesach so the children should not fall asleep. The famous 11th century commentator, Rabbi Shmuel Ben Meir, (Rashbam,) explains that food induces drowsiness, so Rabbi Eliezer snatched the matzah to prevent the children from getting tired. This gave them the energy to ask questions throughout the Seder. The Rambam codifies this concept into Halacha in the 7th chapter of Hilchot Pesach U’Matzoh by saying that a parent must mix things up a bit in order to prompt questions by the children so they can say “What is the difference between this night and every other night - Mah Nishtanah Halaylah HaZeh MiKol Haleilot” Similarly, asking questions is an important part of one’s ability to grow in one’s spiritual growth. At YULA, we promote the back and forth of questions and answers in our daily shiurim, in the hallways, around Shabbat tables with Rebbeim, and the list goes on. At YULA, no question is a bad one, rather it is viewed as an opportunity to inspire our talmidim to continue on their journey of becoming outstanding B’nei Torah. I am excited to share with you the Pesach Edition of Divrei Hitorerut – Words of Inspiration. This publication asks many questions and showcases the reasons that makes YULA an inspiring and spiritually uplifting environment. The publication includes meaningful and engaging Divrei Torah from our YULA rebbeim, students, and alumni. The goal of this publication is to inspire your Chag and give you the ability to share Divrei Torah with family and friends. I challenge everyone not just to read Divrei Hitore rut, but to bring alive the Torah contained within, through engaging in meaningdul discussion around your Seder table, in your living room, and on the walk to and from shul. Wishing the entire YULA family and community a Chag Kasher V’sameach! Rabbi Arye Sufrin, Head of School
Table of Contents
The Karpas Connection RABBI ELAZAR MUSKIN Pagess 1-2
Chodesh Nissan RABBI ELCHANON SHOFF Pages 3-4
Erev Pesach, Firstborns, and Fasting: A Somber EncounterASHER WILLNER ‘16 Page 5
Yetziat Mitzrayim: Redemption and Rebuilding RONI ETSHALOM ‘19 Page 6
What Is With Number 4? RABBI DROR BAALHANESS Pages 7-8
History versus Memory DONI SCHREIBER ‘11 Page 9
The Final Redemption RABBI SANDY SHULKES Page 10
חז״ל על לוח השנה פסח בשבת ומחלוקות EYTAN MERKIN ‘18 Pages 11-12
Sefirat Ha’omer BOAZ EDIDIN ‘22 Pages 13-14
Matan Torah: Naaseh V’Nishmah and Har Sinai over Their Heads RABBI NACHUM SAUER Pages 15-16
Mitzvot in the Arctic Circle and Outer Space AKIVA BROOKLER ‘22 Pages 17-18
Halachot Concerning the Date Line EITAN GELB ‘22 Pages 19-21
Kohanim and the Study of Medicine JEREMY WIZENFELD ‘22 Pages 22-24
Artwork by Ezra Rosenbaum â€˜20
The Karpas Connection At the very end of Rabbi Aaron Rakeffet’s audio tape, “The Eulogy for Joe Dimaggio,” he recounts an amazing story that happened over thirty years ago at Maimonides Day School in Brookline Massachusetts. One evening, after Minha, while waiting to start the Maariv service, the late Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the Rav, asked one of the members of the minyan for a special favor. “Moe,” the Rav said, “we have thirty minutes before we are going to daven Maariv. Can you do me a favor and teach me all the rules of baseball. I want to know how the game is played.” Although shocked by this unusual request, Moe gave the Rav a thirty-minute crash course on the minutiae of baseball: three strikes you’re out, four balls and you walk to first, stealing a base, and other arcane particulars. At the end of the thirty-minute tutorial, Moe mustered enough courage to ask the Rav why he wanted to know how to play baseball. The Rav replied, “My grandchildren are visiting and I want to be able to talk to them about what interests them.” The greatest Talmudic scholar of the twentieth century knew what few teachers remember—always begin a class or lecture by first engaging your audience with that which interests them. Once you have gained their attention, you can continue teaching any lesson you wish. If this is true in the classroom, how much more important it is at the Passover Seder when we are Biblically commanded to be teachers, recalling and reenacting the story of Exodus. To assist us, our 1
sages devised the Haggadah, a teacher’s manual and text, created to stimulate thought and discussion. A problem, however, arises with the very first ceremony right after Kiddush. According to tradition, we wash our hands and dip a vegetable into salt water. If the purpose of the Haggadah is to arouse stimulating discussion, partaking of an hors d’oeuvre seems to fail the test. Could Karpas, which can hardly fill the stomach, feed the mind? In a setting where all ceremonies are meant to challenge and intrigue us, why did the rabbis select such an innocuous ritual to engage their audience? Perhaps we can find our answer in an explanation taught to me by the late Rabbi Isaac Bernstein of London. Rabbi Bernstein noted that a Talmudic passage at the end of Pessachim, Chapter Five, (65b) describes how the pascal lamb was carried home after it was slaughtered and sacrificed in the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. The Talmud states, “A Baraisa taught: Each and every one put his pascal lamb in its skin and swung it behind him. Rabbi Illish said like Arabian merchants.” Why, however, would Jews carry their pascal lamb home to their Pesach Seder looking like Arabian merchants? What could this possibly mean? In attempting to answer this question, the nineteenthcentury scholar, Rabbi Shlomo Kluger, in his commentary to the Haggadah, Yeriot Shlomo, (printed in Rabbi Yaakov Emden’s Siddur, Beit Yaakov), detects what appears to be a major deficiency in the Haggadah’s narrative of the Passover story.
True, Rabbi Kluger notes, we recount how Pharaoh persecuted our people and how God redeemed us from slavery with great miracles. But, the beginning of the story is missing. Nowhere do we discuss what caused us to go to Egypt in the first place. Doesn’t the story really begin when his ten brothers sold Joseph to Arabian merchants? Therefore, when we take our pascal lamb home from the Temple, we act like Arabian merchants because Joseph’s sale led to the arrival of our ancestors in the land of Egypt. If this is correct, where do we find this message at the Seder? A great medieval scholar, Rav Manoach, in his commentary to Maimonides’ Code Hilchot Hametz U’Matzah 8:5, resolves our dilemma. Rav Manoach states, “And we have the custom of Karpas as a remembrance of the coat of wool that Jacob made for Joseph which caused the entire episode of “and our forefathers went down to Egypt.” According to Rav Manoach, we dip the Karpas in salt water at the very start of the Seder because it reminds us of how the brothers dipped Joseph’s coat of wool into blood and brought it back to Jacob. Karpas follows immediately after Kiddush, even before we break the Matzot and begin reciting the Hggadah’s text, because it symbolizes the very first act that led to slavery and redemption. And yet we must wonder why this act is called Karpas. Rashi, the classical Biblical commentator, interprets the Hebrew word for Joseph’s coat, Pasim (Gen. 37:3) as a garment of fine wool, as it says in Megillat Esther (1.6) “Karpas and Techelet.” Karpas therefore represents the story of Joseph’s coat. The Holocaust martyr, Rabbi Elchanan Wasserman, z”l, once noted
that throughout Jewish history blood libels seemed to flare up around Pesach time. Perhaps, argued Rabbi Wasserman, it is no coincidence; rather it is payback for what we did to Joseph at the dawn of our people’s history. Just as Rabbi Soloveitchik, z”l, engaged the minds of his grandchildren as an educational device, so too our rabbis of old compiled the Haggadah with the engaging device of Karpas. It connects us to the Haggadah by stimulating our minds and motivating our souls to learn the real lesson of Pesach right at the beginning of the Seder before we even begin reciting any text.
AUTHOR: Rabbi Elazar Muskin Rabbi Muskin is the Senior Rabbi at Young Israel of Century City and is currently serving as President of the Rabbinical Council of America.
Chodesh Nissan This month [chodesh] will be for you the first month; it is the first month for you, of all of the months of the year. Shemos 12:2 This month will be for you Rosh Chodashim. While the simple reading of this verse is that this is the first month of the Jewish calendar, there is, as usual, another layer. The Sheloh writes that, in fact, this verse can also be read, “This month will be for you a month of Roshei Chodashim [the first day of the month], where every single day of the month is itself imbued with the power of Roshei Chodashim. What is the meaning of this? What does it mean that the month of Nissan is a month of Roshei Chodashim? And why was this hinted to in the very first mitzvah that Hashem ever commanded the Jewish people? King David wrote, “The righteous one will flourish in his lifetime, with peace in abundance until there is no longer a moon.” The simple understanding of “until there is no longer a moon,” is that this is a poetic way of expressing “until the world no longer exists.” Another explanation may lie in the particular Hebrew word used here for the moon, yareach. There are two words for “month” in the Hebrew language, one is yerach, and one is chodesh. When commenting on the verse, “On the third chodesh[month] after the children of Israel left Egypt…they arrived in the Sinai desert,” the Midrash comments, “It was the third chodesh, rather than the third yerach [another word for “month”] for, nischadshu bo dvarim, new things happened then.” The word chadash means “new,” and it is used to mean “month” because of the renewal of 3
the moon each month. Thus, according to the Midrash, the word chodesh is used to mean “month” when there is re-invigoration and renewal. The great R. Chaim Palagi explains that this verse can be understood in the context of the Midrash; the righteous one will be productive and new and fresh and abundantly peaceful until he can no longer relate to the idea of yerach, but rather, he becomes a person of chodesh. In fact, this theme appears once more in the laws of divorce. The Shulchan Aruch writes that when writing the date on a divorce document, one is to write, “this day on that yerach.” The Levush (R. Mordechai Joffe) says that this is hinted to in the verse where the tribe of Yosef is blessed by Moshe with “meged gerash yerachim,” literally, “the bounty of the moon’s yield,” for the word used for yield is gerash, which is also the word for divorce, and the word for moon is the word yerach. When it comes to a divorce, which is the unfortunate result of discord and absence of peace, then the word used is not that of chodesh, renewal, but rather, that of yerach. Thus, this passuk in Tehillim tells us that the future will carry such abundant peace that it will do away with “yerach.” In fact, there was once a custom only to hold weddings at times in the month when the moon was full! The Gemara asserts that the way to maintain a fresh love between husband and wife is to separate and then reunite in fulfillment of the Niddah laws. It was already understood in the times of the Gemara that the regular Niddah cycle is connected to the moon. The moon is something that is a symbol of this world. It is something that is constantly in flux, waxing and waning. It has its ups and downs, as we all do. This can be something that is either perceived as
depressing, making life seem endless and purposeless, or it can add great meaning to our lives. The waves of the ocean, with their ebb and drift, are also affected by the moon. Our relationships also have their ups and downs, but that is what makes them relationships. They cannot grow stale if we are ready to perceive the new moon as just that – renewal. It is precisely because there is a cycle that we can find newness and excitement in life. The peace that exists in life, and in relationships, is largely a product of seeing life’s ups and downs as chodesh. In marriage, we record in the kesubah and other documents which chodesh it happens in, and we look to the new moon. In divorce, unfortunately, we are in the stale mode of yareach. The righteous person is blessed that he will experience such peace that he will no longer live with any yareach at all. Rosh Chodesh is fundamentally different from Shabbos, explains the Chiddushei Harim of Ger, for while Shabbos is the conclusion of the week, Rosh Chodesh comes first. The potential for the next month is there in the first day. It is the potential that we all get even before accomplishing anything, as opposed to the Shabbos experience, which is entirely dependent upon the quality of one’s week. The month of Nissan is the month of freshness. It is the month when the Jewish people were chosen, and taken from slavery to freedom. The opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, recorded in the Gemara, is that the world was created in Nissan. Chasam Sofer explains that this opinion means that the creation of the Jewish people was what made the world worthwhile, and therefore, the world was, so to speak, created in Nissan! It is a time when every day is once again the first day of the rest of your month – i.e., every day is packed with the potential to usher in a brand new reality. The very first
message that the Jews received, in the first mitzvah that was given to them, was that today is a brand new day. There is a month that can teach you newness, that can remind you that there is always hope.
AUTHOR: Rabbi Elchanan Shoff Rabbi Elchanan Shoff is an 11th grade Rebbe in YULA Boys High School and serves as Rabbi of Beis Knesses of Los Angeles (BKLA) in PicoRoberston.
Erev Pesach, Firstborns, and Fasting: A Somber Encounter On Erev Pesach, every firstborn child asks the same question, “Which minyan has the siyum?” We know that Halacha requires firstborn children to fast the Ta’anis Bechorim on Erev Pesach. And the Tur proposes that the reason for this fast is a commemoration of the miracle of Makkas Bechoros, when the Egyptian firstborns were killed and the Jewish firstborns were spared. However, the fast is rarely observed. The Mishnah Berurah writes that if a firstborn joins a seudas mitzvah, like the meal of a siyum, the firstborn can eat and the fast disappears. Let’s ask a few simple questions: 1) If this occasion marks a miracle, why doesn’t Halacha require a festive meal like other holidays and personal days of thanksgiving? 2) If the fast commemorates the miracle of Makkas Bechoros, why isn’t the fast on the night of the 15th of Nissan, when the miracle actually occurred? 3) Why does attending a siyum vanquish the fast? Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach offers a deeper insight. When Hashem spared the Jewish firstborns in Egypt, he sanctified them for a life dedicated to pure avodas Hashem, primarily with the avodah in the Beis Hamikdash. This mission famously inspired Yaakov Avinu to buy the firstborn rights from Esav. However, the Medrash tells us that as a result of the sin of the golden calf, the Kehunah was transferred to Shevet Levi, who would take over the privilege of serving in the Beis Hamikdash. Every year, on the 14th of Nissan, the firstborns are reminded of this lost opportunity. When all of B’nei Yisrael 5
gather for the joyous occasion of offering the Korban Pesach, the firstborns aren’t as quick to cheer. A tease of what could have been continuously hovers over this somber encounter, as the Kohanim and Leviim are the ones leading the ceremony of their korban. We can now answer our first two questions. Yes, Ta’anis Bechorim remembers a miracle, but as a result of history, this commemoration is no longer one of joy, but rather one of fasting. And the taanis belongs on the 14th of Nissan, the day that marks the lost opportunity. But we still remain with our third question, what’s the antidote of a siyum? The Mishnah in Pirkei Avos states, “Torah is even greater than the kehunah.” True, the firstborns lost the special status of kehunah. But the Mishnah teaches us that greater than any bestowed title is the transcendent sweetness of Torah. Toiling over Torah, applying its messages to our lives and thereby infusing one with meaning and purpose transfuses a happiness incomparable to something inherited. Therefore, when the firstborn, met with the somber memory of a life that could have been, makes or attends a siyum, they inject this tremendous simchas haTorah into the day, a joy that can nullify any feelings of loss. AUTHOR: Asher Willner ‘16 Asher Willner ’16 learned in Yeshivat Shaalvim and is currently a freshman at Columbia University in New York.
Yetziat Mitzrayim: Redemption and Rebuilding In the story of Yetziat Mitzrayim, there is an underlying message that the redemption of the Jewish people is also their rebirth. At the beginning of the story, Moshe is born. The text describes his birth and how his mother hid him to avoid the same early death that happened to the other Jewish boys at birth. After 3 months of hiding him, she could not hide him anymore, so she puts him in a Teivah in a marsh. There is one notable question that this passage poses: what is a Teivah? When attempting to find the meaning of a word in Tanakh, one common translation strategy is to find the word in other contexts in Tanakh. After some light research in the concordance, one may realize that this word only appears in Tanakh in two contexts. First, it shows up in the story of the Mabul at the beginning of Bereshit. Second, it shows up here, in the story of Moshe’s birth. But what does Teivah mean and why did the text not use the word “Sefinah” or “Aniyah,” the typical words to describe a sea-vessel? The Brown-Driver-Briggs lexicon (BDB) notes that this word refers to a chest or a box, and the word is of Egyptian origin. So why does it show up in the context of the Mabul? I would like to propose that the use of such an unusual word in that context reveals several parallelisms between the two stories. The difference between a Teivah and a regular seavessel is that a Teivah is not controlled by the passengers. This reveals the full trust in Hashem to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. They were willing to set themselves or their loved ones into the
water with the only form of control being Hashem. In addition, Rav Moshe David Cassuto notes another parallelism in his commentary on Chumash. He suggests that in both cases, the one worthy of being saved and destined to bring salvation to others is rescued from death by drowning. In the context of the Mabul, the salvation of humanity is involved; here it is the salvation of the chosen people. The first context was in the deliverance of the macrocosm, while the second context was in the deliverance of the microcosm. A third parallelism is that both of these events are the rebirth of a people. The first context is the rebirth of the human population– Hashem destroyed the world and spared Noachḥand his family. Hashem pushed the reset button on mankind. The second context is also a rebirth of sorts– When the Jewish people were redeemed from Egypt, they were reborn as independent, free, and noble people. Each year on Pesach, we commemorate that rebirth by acting as royalty. May we be Zocheh to lean like royalty next year in Jerusalem. AUTHOR: Aharon (Roni) Etshalom ‘19 Aharon (Roni) Etshalom ‘19 was formerly a captain of the YULA Model UN team and Editor-in-Chief of Likutei Ohr our weekly torah publication. He will be learning next year in Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel.
What Is With Number 4? “Therefore, say to the children of Israel ‘I am Hashem, and I SHALL TAKE YOU OUT from under the burdens of Egypt; I WILL SAVE YOU from their service; I WILL REDEEM YOU with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. I WILL TAKE YOU TO ME for a people and I shall be a G-d to you….” Shemot 6:6-8 At the Seder, we drink four cups of wine, we ask four questions, and we read about four sons. What is the significance of the number four? The Maharal discusses the number four initially in the context of the four cups of wine. Chazal tell us that the four cups correspond to four expressions of redemption that Hashem uttered. The Maharal explains that the nation of Israel was subjugated threefold. Firstly, they were in exile, as strangers in a strange land. Secondly, not only were they in exile, but they were enslaved in exile. Lastly, not only were they enslaved, but they were tortured, physically and mentally. Hashem first told us that he would “take us out from under the burdens Egypt” placed on us. Hashem then told us that we would “be saved from the slavery”. Finally, we were told that we would “be redeemed.” This would bring the nation to a point where they would not be persecuted slaves in exile. But what would they be? That is the point of the fourth expression – “And I will take them to Me as a nation”. The nation would now be just that – a nation, with a purpose, with a common bond unifying the nation. This fourth expression brings us to a level of fullness and completion. The Jews were no longer just a large group of people. They were a nation. The number four signifies this completion, this fullness. The Maharal explains that the four
sons are also a ‘complete set.’ The Chacham, the Wise Son wants to know. He researches. He inquires. He pursues knowledge and wisdom. The Tam, the Simple Son, is neither intellectually superior nor inferior to the Wise Son. However, he does not pursue intellectual growth. He does not strive for greatness. When he sees something out of the norm, he will inquire. However, unless there is a reason to inquire, no query will be forthcoming. The She’aino Yodai’a Lish’ol, the One Who Does Not Know How To Ask, is simply not as smart as the other two. Even when he sees something that is unusual, he will not inquire about it. He just does not know how to ask even when questions are most definitely appropriate. The Rasha, the Wicked Son, is on par with the Chacham. He is smart. He does have a drive for the bigger and better. However, his drive is motivated by a desire to do evil. He has no urge to do good. His wisdom is not put to ‘good’ use. These four sons represent all the elements on the intellectual spectrum. There are those who are highly motivated, minimally motivated, those who need more than motivation to bring them to a level of understanding and those who know just fine what is going on, but could care less. The Torah addresses the needs of each of these children by instructing a father how to tell each of these children about the departure from Egypt in a way that best suits their level of understanding. These four sons and their respective responses are all the Torah needed to cover any situation. They are complete. Again, the number four signals a whole, a fullness, and a completion. The Sh”lah gives another reason for the four cups. On this night, we celebrate the
birth of the Jewish people as a nation. We read in the Hagadah about our forefathers - Avraham, his son Yitzchak had two children, Yaakov and Esav. Yaakov ended up in Egypt where his son Yosef was. However, we do not read of the contributions of our mothers to the development of the nation of Israel. Each cup of wine represents one of our matriarchs. The first cup of wine is used to recite Kiddush. In the Kiddush, we read how G-d has sanctified the nation of Israel with His mitzvot, which makes the Jewish people unique. Sarah was known for her efforts to spread the word of Hashem to those who previously worshipped idols. It is with Kiddush, where we speak of this sanctification of the nation of Israel, that we commemorate Sarah, who exerted efforts to bring others into this fold. We drink the second cup of wine after we have told the story of the birth of our nation. We have read how our forefathers originally worshipped idols. We have read how the nation grew and developed. Rivka’s life progressed in a similar fashion. She was born into a family of idol worshipers and she grew to be one of the matriarchs of the nation of Israel. With the second cup of wine, we commemorate Rivka, who overcame an idolatrous background to become the mother of the Jewish people. After we conclude the Grace After Meals, we drink the third cup. Rachel was the mother of Yosef, who assured that the entire land of Egypt would have sustenance during the years of famine. It is fitting that we remember Rachel, the mother of the one who sustained a nation, after we have completed our meal. The fourth cup of wine is drunk after we complete Hallel, the praises of G-d. Leah, upon the birth of her son Yehudah, said “This time I shall thank Hashem.” Why did Leah thank G-d upon the birth of her fourth son, and not with the previous
three? The answer is that Leah realized that Yaakov was to have 12 children between his four wives. When she had her fourth son, she realized that she was given one more than her “share” in the unit that was the base for the nation of Israel. Of course she was thankful with each child. But with Yehudah, Leah knew that she had received something truly special, above and beyond what she should get. Therefore, she thanked Hashem when Yehudah was born. It is fitting that after we finish thanking Hashem for taking us out of Egypt, we remember Leah, who taught the Jewish people how to say thank you.
AUTHOR: Rabbi Dror Baalhaness Rabbi Dror Baalhaness has been a beloved Rebbe at YULA for the past 12 years. He is also well known for his popular nightly Daf Yomi shiur at Kahal Chasidim.
History versus Memory One of the more iconic passages of the Haggadah is the questions of the four sons; particularly the question of the Rasha, the wicked son. He asks: ?“ – מה העבודה הזאת לכםWhat is this service to you?” On a basic level it would seem that the Rasha is innocently asking his father, “what is going on here tonight?” Why then, does the Haggadah label him “wicked?” Furthermore, why does the Haggadah interpret his question as following: שהוציא את עצמו מן הכלל כפר בעיקר – “And because he [the Rasha] removed himself from the community, he has denied that which is fundamental.” The Haggadah labels him “wicked” and declares that he denied a fundamental aspect of Judaism. What about the Rasha’s question is so antithetical to Judaism? Lord Jonathan Sacks, in his Haggadah commentary, states a simple idea. He writes that, “there is a profound difference between history and memory. History is history – an event that happened sometime else to someone else. Memory is memory – something that happened to me and is part of who I am.” The Haggadah is more than just a history book that one annually reads at the Seder. Rather, it is a recollection of seminal events in the Jewish nation’s past and how those events shape us in the present. A fundamental aspect of Judaism is knowing that what happened to the nation in the past is not just the history of the nation, but rather the memory of the nation. This is what the father is explaining to the Rasha in his otherwise vague response. The father answers: “׳והגדת לבנך ביום ההוא לאמר בעבור ”. זה עשה ה׳ לי בצאתי ממצרים- “And
you should tell over to your son on that day [Pesach] that because of this that Hashem did to me when He took me out of Egypt.” The father is reminding his son that we are not merely conducting an annual memorial service of something that happened to someone else over 3000 years ago. Instead, we are conducting a yearly service because Hashem did this for us; it is our story and our memory. The Rasha, in his question, removed himself from the community and failed to view the Haggadah as his own story; he did not make it his memory. This is why the Haggadah ends off with the daunting obligation that, “a person is obligated to view himself as if he left Egypt.” The Haggadah is challenging us every year to retell and apply the story of Egypt – the story of the Jewish nation as a whole – into our own story; we must make it our own memory.
AUTHOR: Doni Schreiber ‘11 Doni Schreiber ’11, is a tax attorney working in the New York office of Deloitte. He studied at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, Yeshiva University, and USC Gould School of Law.
The Final Redemption What is the meaning of the passage: ’ה חישב את הקץ’בקה, that Hashem calculated the “End’’ ()קץ. What’s the point of telling us that Hashem calculated the “End’’? As promised to Avraham (Bereishis 15:13), the Jews were supposed to be slaves for four hundred years, but then, when Hashem saw that they couldn’t handle it, he “juggled the books,” that is, He said that he would credit them with the years since the birth of Yitzchak. In other words, even though He had promised that they would be slaves for a full four hundred years, in reality they were enslaved for 190 years, which can be seen with the gematria of קץwhich equals 190. That is the meaning when we say that the Mashiach could come at any time, if, for example, everyone kept one (or two) Shabbosim (Shemos Rabba 25:12). Theoretically, this should be questionable; after all, isn’t there some predestined date when the Mashiach is supposed to come, just as there is some predestined date for every occurrence? But the answer is that when it comes to trying to figure out what God means by his predestined dates, we cannot calculate with exactitude, for He often “juggles the books” and changes the starting date, just as he did to the Jews in Egypt. This is a source of encouragement that the redemption can come AT ANY MOMENT, and it was for that reason that this passage is included in the Haggadah (Vilna Gaon). R’ Yehonasan Eibeschutz was asked, why does it say in the Torah “and they embittered their lives” with the trop of ?קדמא ואזלאIsn’t this a trop of simcha? Are we happy that the Egyptians embittered the lives of the Hebrews? He answered: the קשי השעבודwas מקצרthe גלות. And indeed, the gematria of קדמא ואזלאis 190! The Alsheich explained differently: the וימררו את חייהם
refers to the spiritual bitterness, that is, the Jews assimilated to the religion and culture of their captors. Then, however, came Pesach. When they shechted and ate the korban Pesach, they did תשובה מאהבה. As a result, their עבירות נעשו זכויות. So all those many עבירותsuddenly, on theafternoon and evening of the first Passover, were converted into a windfall profit of mitzvos! In the words of the Alsheich: Therefore the happy trop. 1. Yerushalmi, Ta’anit 1:1 “Though I have set a limit to ‘the end,’ that it will happen in its time regardless of whether they will do teshuvah or not… the scion of David (Mashiach) will come if they keep just one Shabbat, because the Shabbat is equivalent to all the mitzvot.”
AUTHOR: Rabbi Sandy Shulkes Rabbi Sandy Shulkes is a 9th grade Rebbe at YULA Boys and oversees 9th grade student activities, clubs, and Chesed.
פסח בשבת ומחלוקות חז״ל על לוח השנה The sixth פרקof פסחיםopens with a discussion on the halakhic ramifications of ערב פסחfalling out on שבת: This law was forgotten by the sons of Beteira, who were the leaders of their generation: the fourteenth of Nisan once occurred on Shabbat, and they forgot and did not know whether the Paschal lamb overrides Shabbat or not ()פסחים ס״ו ע״א. This passage raises difficulties. How could such an important law simply fall out of the ?מסורהIt seems impossible for it to have occurred due to infrequency; mathematically (and barring any rabbinic intervention), ערב פסחshould fall out on שבתroughly once every nine years, so there certainly should have been a continual precedent. The גמראcontinues, They said to them: There is a certain man in Jerusalem who came up from Babylonia, and Hillel the Babylonian is his name. At one point, he served the two most eminent scholars of the generation, Shemaya and Avtalyon, and he certainly knows whether the Paschal lamb overrides Shabbat or not...they said to him: Do you know whether the Paschal lamb overrides Shabbat or not? He said to them: Have we but one Paschal lamb during the year that overrides Shabbat? Do we not have many more than two hundred [sacrifices] during the year that override Shabbat? ()שם A dose of historical context sheds some light on this sugya. The בית שניperiod was characterized in part by מחלוקות between separating sects of Judaism, including on the question of the calendar. Many of the apocryphal works record a solar calendar (known as the Enoch cal-
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endar), apparently created by a sect of priests to compete with ’חז״לs solar-lunar calendar (known as the Jerusalem calendar). This system consisted of a 364-day year, perfectly divisible into 52 weeks, with an extra week likely inserted at the end of each six years to fix the accumulated offset from the exact astronomical date. This calendar offers the advantage of synchrony of the days of the month with the days of the week, which prevents the possibility (and associated difficulties) of מועדיםfalling out on שבת. Contemporary documentation records the efforts of some of these priests to delegitimize the Jerusalem calendar by disrupting שדוחה שודיק and by calling into question the legitimacy of Temple rituals overriding שבתwhen יום טובcoincided with שבת. In a piece referencing this sugya in his Zakhor VeShamor, Rav Yoel Bin Nun suggests that חז״לutilized their control over קידוש החודשto prevent ערב פסח from falling out on שבתas a result of the sectarian priests’ attack on the Jerusalem calendar. One year, despite their efforts, the בית דיןfailed to prevent the situation, and they were forced to deal with the questions that arose. The sectarian priests watched eagerly from the sidelines, hoping to use the confusion and potential halakhic compromises as fuel for their arguments as to the illegitimacy of the Jerusalem calendar. Out of this mess of uncertainty rose הלל הבבלי, the bearer of the מסורה, and taught the הלכהas he learned it from the previous גדולי הדור: the קרבנותdo override Shabbat, and there is no problem with the Jerusalem calendar. While the sugya is essentially halakhic, through the lens of its historical context we can discern a powerful hashkafic
message. The sectarian priests presumably tried to change the Jerusalem calendar because it seemed flawed, and therefore wrong. They couldn’t stomach a model of reality that was imperfect and contradictory, that required human intervention. They wanted the universe to be simple, its rules clear-cut. חז״ל, on the other hand, understood that our world is one of imperfection and nuance. The Jerusalem calendar’s inelegance did not delegitimize it in their eyes--rather than disproving its authenticity, חז״לsaw the calendar’s flaws as revealing it. A complicated world, they realized, could only be truthfully expressed by a complicated, apparently self-contradictory system. Further, the Jerusalem calendar requires constant rabbinic intervention and tinkering in order to keep the natural and religious cycles in sync. Through necessitating the action of קידוש החודשon a practical level, the Torah highlights two important points. Firstly, it emphasizes human control over תורה שבעל פה. Command of something as fundamental as our timekeeping system powerfully illustrates the concept of ״לא בשמים היא״, “[the Torah] is not in heaven.” Second, שדוחה קידוש drives home the ideological importance of sanctifying time. The act of declaring ראשי חדשיםand leap years embodies human cultivation of nature toward the service of God, and the transformation of the mundane into the holy. This year, may we merit to see the rebuilding of the בית המקדשand the renewal of the dynamic קדושת הזמןwhose execution exemplifies one of our key aspirations as the Jewish people.
AUTHOR: Eytan Merkin ‘18 Eytan Merkin ‘18 is currently studying at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Alon Shvut and will continue his educaiton at the University of Pennsylvania.
Sefirat Ha’omer It says in Vayikra (23:15-16) “You shall count for yourselves, from the day after the rest day (2nd day of Pesach), until the day you bring the Omer as an offering seven weeks. You shall count until the day after the seventh week, the fiftieth day (Shavuot), on which you shall bring a new meal offering to the Hashem.” Shavuot is the holiday that marks the anniversary of when Hashem gave us the Torah. We prepare for this monumental holiday by counting up from the second day of Pesach all the way until Shavuot. Altogether, this period of counting adds up to 49 days, or 7 weeks. According to the Zohar Chadash, there are two good reasons for why we count exactly 49 days. First, while we were in Egypt we were on the 49th level of impurity, then, when Hashem brought us out, we reached the 49th level of wisdom. Second, the Torah mentions Yetziat Mitzrayim 50 times, so every day represents one step away from the defilement of Egypt, so that we can finally receive the Torah on the 50th day. Interestingly, the Torah portion of Bamidbar, which begins the sefer of Numbers, is always read shortly before Shavuot. This sefer is called Numbers because it is filled with an abundance of numbers and counting. First, all Israelites who were 20 years or older were counted. Then the Levites and the Firstborns each had their own censuses too. In my humble opinion, it is appropriate to associate this sefer (Numbers) with the counting of the Omer because there is one main thing that they have in common; counting. Why is there a countdown to Shavuot? What is the connection between numbers/counting and receiving the Torah? Counting makes everything equal. No matter what, each unit adds up to one, no
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more or no less. The counting of the Omer and the censuses of the Israelites are great examples of this. The Omer contains many days, some of which are holy and interesting and some of which are just normal, mundane days. But in regards to counting the Omer, all of these days have the same value; another step towards Shavuot. This is because even though some days’ external qualities vary, essentially they are all the same. Every day is a gift from Hashem, and we have to use each one to its fullest potential. Different days are used to serve Hashem in various ways. On some days we go to school or work, on some we rest, and on some we fast. Counting the days is what unites them all under one similar purpose. The same applies to the census of the Jews. All Jews vary in levels of belief and religiousness. People serve Hashem in many ways, like learning, community service, charity, and praying. The fact that every Jew over 20 was counted shows us that the level of religiousness of one person is not any better than the religiousness of another. As long as you practice Jewish values and fear Hashem, Hashem
loves and cares for you. All of this counting leads to Shavuot, the holiday that commemorates when we received the Torah. The Sefer HaChinuch states that the only reason that the Jews were freed from Egypt on Pesach was to receive the Torah on Mount Sinai. Therefore, the counting of the Omer represents how much a Jew wants to accept the Torah into his or her life. To conclude, every person counts and every day counts and when counting the Omer, remember to have Yetziat Mitzrayim and Matan Torah in mind.
AUTHOR: Boaz Edidin ‘22 Boaz Edidin ‘22 is a member of YULA Robotics, the Fencing Team. and writes for Likutei Ohr and is a staff writer for the Panther Post.
Artwork by Yonah Berenson ‘20 דברי התעוררות14
Matan Torah: Naaseh V’Nishmah and Har Sinai over Their Heads The Talmud in Shabbos 88a says that when Klal Yisroel stood at Har Sinai and said Naaseh before Nishmah, 600,000 angels came down and placed two crowns on the heads of Bnai Yisroel- one corresponding to Naaseh and the other to Nishmah. A heavenly voice called out “Who revealed to my children this secret which the angels use –that Naaseh precede Nishmah, first we will do and then we will hear. When Klal Yisroel responded Naaseh V’Nishmah they demonstrated that they were ready to accept the Torah in its entirety, no matter what commandments or restrictions it contained. First came the resolve-We will do- and then there would be time to listen and learn about what they had to do. This pronouncement of Klal Yisroel raised them to the pinnacle of their glory. They attained the level of angels. An angel is an agent of HaShem,and has no independent power. His whole existence is for one purpose only- to fulfill the will of HaShem. Klal Yisroel at Har Sinai accepted upon themselves the mission of fulfilling the Will of HaShem, just as angels do. However since man has free will, they proved themselves to be even higher than angels. Therefore 600,000 angels descended bearing crowns of Naaseh and crowns of Nishmah, the heavenly recognition of earthly greatness. How difficult it is then to understand another Gemmorah in Shabbos relates that at Har Sinai - כפה עליהם הר כגיגית – This teaches us that HaShem held the Mountain over their heads like a jug and said to them- If you accept the Torah, fine, but if not, there will be your grave. Tosfos and other Meforshim ask the 15 דברי התעוררות
obvious question- hadn’t Bnai Yisroel already said Naaseh V’Nishmah , so why was it necessary to hold the mountain above them , as if to coerce them to accept the Torah? They had already accepted it willingly,and in the process rose to the level of angels. There are many answers given to this question, but The Maharal M’Prague has a very important insight. The Maharal answers the question with a very fundamental principle of Judaism. It’s true that Klal Yisroel accepted the Torah willingly when they said Naaseh V’Nishmah, but HaShem wanted to impress upon them that they had an obligation to accept the Torah. Kabbalas haTorah was not just an event dependent on their will and had they decided not to accept the Torah they would have had the right to do so. HaShem taught them that this was not so, but they must accept the Torah because the entire existence of the universe was dependent on Klal Yisroel’s Kabbalas haTorah at this moment. In Parshas B’Reishis the Torah says- ויהי ערב ויהי בקר יום הששי-And it was night and it was day of the sixth day. The Medrash asks why does it say- יום הששיwith the ה הידיעה, and it answers that this is a reference to the sixth day of Sivan, the day of Kabbalas haTorah. The whole of creation was suspended until that day to see whether Klal Yisroel would accept the Torah and only then would Maaseh B’Reishis be finalized and concretized. Otherwise the world would return to תוהו ובוהו, emptiness and nothingness. Thus כפה עליהם הר כגיגיתwas necessary even though they had declared Naaseh V’Nishmah, to teach the principle that acceptance of Torah is not
optional but an absolute necessity for the existence of the world. Klal Yisroel can never change their minds and retract their Kabbalas haTorah. This is the mission and responsibility of the Jewish People to accept and keep the Torah so that the world can continue to exist. On Shavuos a Jew must realize the importance of his role in קיום העולםand renew his commitment to Kabbalas haTorah that first took place 33 centuries ago. AUTHOR: Rav Nachum Sauer Rav Nachum Sauer was the Rosh Kollel at YOLA for many years and has been the 12th grade Baum Family AGT Rebbe for the past 20 years. He is also a Dayan on the Beis Din of the Rabbinical Council of California and Rabbinic Consultant for Chai Lifeline on the West Coast.
Mitzvot in the Arctic Circle and Outer Space We live in a part of the world where the sun rises and sets every day. Roughly half of the day is always always light and half of the day is always dark. In other areas of the globe and in outer space, the days do not have the same structure with regard to sunrise and sunset. Halacha, Jewish law, relies heavily upon the heavenly luminaries to determine the proper time to perform mitzvot, G-d’s commandments. In conjunction with, “ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר יום אחד- and it was evening, and it was morning, day one,” (Bereishit 1:5) we learn that zmanim, times for mitzvot, depend on sunlight. In places such as outer space, the Arctic Circle, questions arise of when the proper zmanim are. This issue is particularly relevant during the Chagim as people travel to northern regions such as Alaska for holiday programs. The Arctic Circle is defined as the northern portion of the globe where the sun does not rise and set every day. The halachic day is defined as sunrise to sunset. When a large period of time passes by and it is still light or dark, people need to know when to keep Shabbat and perform time-bound mitzvot. With regard to Shabbat, the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 69b, discusses the case of a traveler who lost track of the days and does not know when Shabbat is. Chiyah the son of Rav, and Rav Huna disagree as to what he should do. One holds he should count 6 days and then keep Shabbat while the other holds he should keep Shabbat and then count 6 days. From here we see that counting days can be used as an equivalent to determine when to keep Shabbat in places without normal days. In the Babylonian Talmud, Chagiga 12a, Rabbi Yehudah quotes Rav listing 10 things that were created by G-d on the first day of creation. One of them is “ מדת יום ומדת לילה- the measure of day and the measure of night.” Rashi defines 17 דברי התעוררות
this as “עשרים וארבע שעות בין שניהם - 24 hour [ time period] between them [night and day].” Many poskim, halachic decisors, use this as the basis for counting a 24 hour day in areas where there is no day or night. The Ben Ish Chai discusses the topic of zmanim where there is no sunset in Rav Pe’alim Vol. I 2:4. He ultimately concludes that: “it is not considered for them one long day or one long night; rather, they must arbitrarily divide each 24 hours into 12 hours of day and night, with 6 a.m. and 6 p.m. as endpoints.” The Ben Ish Chai explains that this is necessary “in order to fulfill mitzvot that depend on day times.. also to keep the mitzvot of Shabbat.” The Tiferet Yisroel’s opinion differs. One understanding of his opinion is that one should keep the zmanim of the place they came from. “He should note the hour that he reached there on his clock [set to the time of his place of departure.]” The Tiferet Yisroel acknowledges that “if there are two people one from Europe and one from America, each would keep their own Shabbat according to their place of departure.” This means that two people in the same place could have different zmanim. Another interpretation of his opinion is that one should follow a regular 24 hour day which has both night and day. When Ilan Ramon, the first Jewish astronaut went into space on the Columbia, he asked what zmanim to follow in order to keep Shabbat because he was representing the Jewish people. He was told to follow the first way of understanding the opinion of the Tiferet Yisroel and to observe the zmanim of Cape Canaveral, Florida from where he took off. Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Halperin, Im Esak Shamayim, p. 22, discusses multiple possibilities for zmanim on the space station. First, he suggests keeping the sunrise and sunset of the space station with each time
it orbits earth. “We can indeed consider each time the shuttle orbits the globe.” His reasoning for this suggestion is, “ ”ויהי ערב ויהי בוקר יום אחדand it was evening, and it was morning, one day.” (Bereishit 1:5). He rejects this possibility, however, since it would result in much difficulty, “reading shema 23 times in a 24 hour period, putting on tefilin every half hour, etc.” Rabbi Halperin proposes a second option to keep time with the earth below. He rejects this proposition for the same reasons as his first one. Zmanim will change continuously and someone in outer space will have much difficulty keeping the mitzvot. He concludes that the proper way to observe zmanim in outer space is in conjunction with the Talmud in Chagiga, 12 hours of day followed by 12 hours of night. Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, Teshuvot Vehanhagot, 1:315, concludes that it is best not to travel or live in such regions while there are abnormal days. “In my opinion, a person is prohibited from living in places like these since he removes his obligation to keep the mitzvot of the day. Only if he is forced to be there [he may be there.]” Below the Arctic Circle in areas such as Alaska there are ares where the sun rises and sets every day, but it does not become fully light or fully dark. Zmanim become an issue for when day starts and day ends. During the summer one should pray arvit, the evening prayers, immediately after plag since that time is known and repeat shema immediately before chatzot halaiylah, midnight, when it is the darkest since that time is also known. This ensures that one says arvit and shema in its proper time. Shabbat begins at plag and ends at chatzot as well. There are many propositions for keeping zmanim in places with an irregular sunrise and sunset. The consensus opinion among poskim is that it is best to not
travel to these areas if the sun will not rise and set while they are visiting as Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch suggests. When people need to live in these areas they should follow the zmanim from where they came in accordance with the opinion of the Ben Ish Chai. One should nonetheless consult a Rav before journeying.
AUTHOR: Akiva Brookler ‘21 Akiva Brookler ‘21 is a member of the YULA Robotics Team and a staff writer for the Panther Post.
Halachot Concerning the Date Line A theoretical question became relevant when people began to travel long distances, (i.e. through several time zones) quickly. The question is the following. If we travel east into a new time zone that is one hour ahead, then we move our clocks forward one hour. If we continue to travel to a time zone that is 10 hours ahead, then we move our clocks forward again. If we travel into a time zone that is 23 hours ahead, then we would again adjust our clocks. But what happens when we travel further east and now we are back where we started but, following the same logic, now find ourselves 24 hours ahead of ourselves? This obviously is impossible and, because of this paradox, we have to be able to say that at some point on the globe there is a line that divides two days from each other (i.e. to discern Sunday from Monday). This dividing line would then become the point where the time zones start, given that the globe is circular. In secular society, this problem was addressed in 1884 in Greenwich, England. They made a Date Line 180 degrees from themselves so they would not have to bother with the Date Line (because it was really far from them). This problem with the Date Line comes up in halacha in important ways. For instance, when traveling abroad, the question can arise whether we keep Shabbat on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday. One obvious answer is to keep Shabbat on Saturday based on the International Date Line that was developed in Greenwich, England. But this simple conclusion is incorrect because we cannot let this random Date Line decided by people in 19 דברי התעוררות
Greenwich, England determine the dates of Yom Tovim in the Jewish calendar and of Shabbat on a weekly basis! Another possibility is that the first Shabbat began at sundown in the Midbar the week after Matan Torah and, therefore, Shabbat always begins when it is sundown in the Midbar where Har Sinai is everywhere else around the world. If that is correct, then Shabbat would start on Friday morning in the U.S. and other times of the day around the world -- but it would start at the same moment everywhere at once. The Radvaz says that this answer is not correct and that Shabbat begins at sundown wherever you are, not when it is sundown in the Midbar. A third possibility is alluded to in the Gemara in Rosh Hashana 20b. The Gemara says that, to declare Rosh Chodesh, the new moon has to have appeared before Noon that day. The Baal Hamaor explains that Gemara to mean that there has to be a place on Earth where there is a full 24 hours of Rosh Chodesh before it is declared. Noon is 18 hours after sunset the night before. So this Gemara implies that the Date Line is 18 hours behind Israel, where it would be sunset (and the new day is just starting) when Rosh Chodesh is declared. The result of this is the Date Line is 6 time-zones east of Israel, which would be somewhere in China. However, Rashi and other Rishonim understand this Gemara in Rosh Hashana to be merely talking about the localized requirements to declare Rosh Chodesh. According to those Rishonim, we cannot conclude anything about the Date Line from this Gemara. Assuming Rashi and these Rishonim are correct, the Date Line
is probably not located anywhere Jews traveled in the ancient world because the Gemara does not discuss the issue or indicate that any travelers dealt with this question, which would be an important issue if it ever came up because it determines the sanctity of Shabbat and the Chagim. Rabbi Menachem Kasher (who lived between 1895-1983) thinks that since the Gemara discussed above probably does not establish a Date Line, we can pick an arbitrary line to decide the issue. And since they already picked one in Greenwich, England, we should use that one. However, for the reason discussed above that it is improper for the Kedusha of Shabbat and the holidays to be determined by the International Meridian Conference in Greenwich, England in 1884, this opinion is rejected by most later poskim. The Kazhiglover Rav (Rav Aryeh Tzvi Frumer, who lived between 1884 and 1943) cites three versions of the opinion of the Kuzari on this matter: (a) the Date Line is located along the eastern edge of Asia, (b) it is in the center of Europe and Asia combined, or (c) it is actually in Israel or the Midbar. He concludes that, since there are many opinions of where the Date Line is, we cannot conclude the matter and that, as a result, any Jew who travels should keep Shabbat 7 days after he last kept Shabbat. There were some Talmidim from different European Yeshivas (mostly the Mir) who fled to the Far East to escape the Nazis. The place where they settled (Kobe) is located west of the Interna-
tional Date Line. But the Talmidim were concerned that they had crossed the Halachic Date Line. Some Talmidim kept two days of Shabbat each week because of this concern. This was hard to keep up, so they sent out letters to certain gedolim in search of an answer for when to keep Shabbat. The Chazon Ish (Rav Avrohom Yeshaya Karelitz, who lived between 1878 and 1953) responded that they had passed the Date Line and should keep Shabbat on Sunday. He said that the Date Line is 90 degrees east of Yerushalayim. He cites the opinions of the Ba’al Hame’or and the Kuzari, based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin (37a) and a pasuk in Yechezkel (38:12), which indicate that Israel is in the center of the world. If you were to draw a flat map of the inhabited areas of the world from the times of these Rishonim and put Israel in the center, then 90 degrees east of Israel would be the ending point of the globe. Therefore, that would be the Halachic Date Line. According to the Chazon Ish’s conclusion, Japan and New Zealand which lie to the west of the International Date Line would lie to the east of the Halachic Date Line; therefore, Shabbat would be kept on Sunday in Japan and New Zealand. The Chazon Ish says that since the Date Line (90 degrees east of Israel) is on land, the Date Line gets moved over to the coastline of that land. This means that Russia, China, Siberia and Australia would still be to the west of the Date Line (on Israel’s side), but Japan which is not connected to Asia by land would be on the eastern side -- making Japan a day earlier in the Halachic Date Line than it דברי התעוררות20
is in the International Date Line. The Date Line moves to the coastline when the longitude 90 degrees to the east of Israel cuts through a land mass. The Brisker Rav (Rav Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik, who lived between 1886 and 1959) disagrees slightly and says that the Halachic Date Line is 90 degrees east of Israel even when it cuts through an area of land. This means that it can be one day on one side of the street and another day on the other side of the street. Rabbi Yechiel Michel Tucazinsky (who lived between 1871 and 1955) presents another approach. His starting point is that Israel is considered to be the center of the world. However, he considers more than just the known world during the time of the Rishonim and concludes that the Date Line should be 180 degrees (rather than 90 degrees, like the Chazon Ish) east of Jerusalem. This places Japan and New Zealand on the same side in relation to the Halachic Date Line as they are in relation to the International Date Line. But it places Hawaii to the west of the Halachic Date Line even though they are to the east of the International Date Line. So according to Rabbi Tucazinsky, one must keep Shabbat in Hawaii on Friday. But according to the Chazon Ish Shabbat in Hawaii would be on Saturday. Some people who visit Hawaii keep two days of Shabbat to be sure that they fulfill their obligation. Others plan their trips to be there from Sunday to Thursday in order to avoid the question all together. In 1941, Rabbi Tucazinsky convinced the Rav Herzog, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, that the Date Line should be 180 degrees east of Jerusalem. As a result, they sent a
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letter to Japan telling the Yeshivas there to keep Shabbat on Saturday. The Chazon Ish criticized Rabbi Tucazinsky for rejecting the view of the Rishonim who address the issue in any way. He felt that nobody of our generation can reject the views of the Rishonim and held that Shabbat should be observed on Sunday in Japan. But the issue has not been resolved. Many authorities hold that the Date Line is 180 degrees east of Jerusalem while others hold that the Date Line is 90 degrees east of Jerusalem. Rav Isser Zalman Meltzer and Rav Elyashiv support the opinion of 180 degrees against the Chazon Ish who held 90 degrees. This leaves a quarter of the world (between 90 and 180 degrees East of Jerusalem) in doubt. This “doubtful zone” contains Japan, Hawaii and some islands and cities. Even if we exclude the 180 degrees option, Eastern Australia and Eastern Russia would be in doubt because of the machloket between the Brisker Rav and the Chazon Ish mentioned above.
AUTHOR: Eitan Gelb ‘22 Eitan Gelb ‘22 is a member of the Friedman Family Masmidim Track and is a member of the YULA Flag Footbal team.
Kohanim and the Study of Medicine Several professions encompass the concept of helping others. This is a primary component inherent in the field of medicine. Beginning in the 18th century, almost every medical school required medical students to perform dissections, on human corpses, as part of their course of study. This, however, is problematic for the Kohen as it states in Parshas Emor , “Hashem said to Moshe: Speak to the Kohanim, sons of Aharon, and say to them a Kohen should not make himself tamei for the dead among his people”. The Torah makes it clear that a Kohen cannot make oneself tamei for a dead person, with the exception of certain family relationships. Since we have this apparent prohibition established in the Torah, is there any way for a Kohen to become a medical doctor? Following is a discussion of the shortcomings from potential leniencies. Despite the nobleness of the medical field, it is apparent that the primary opinion maintains a Kohen should not enter into this profession. Parshas Kedoshim , Perek 19, Passuk 16 says “you shall not stand over the blood of your friend”. Rashi interprets this to the concept of pikuach nefesh where one must not stand by when the ability is present to save another. In Parshas Emor , Perek 18, Passuk 5, it says “you shall observe My decrees and My judgements, which man shall carry out and live by them, I am Hashem.” Rav Yehuda said in the name of Shmuel in Yoma , 85b, the language of “live by them” comes to teach that a person must live, but not die by them. This apparently means one may break laws in order to save the life of another. Clearly these passukim create
certain leniencies when it comes to saving the life of another. If these leniencies exist, may they be extended to a Kohen wanting to become a doctor as well? This exact case was brought to Rav Moshe Feinstein by Rav Shimon Schwab in a pamphlet that was brought to him on Kohanim going to medical school. At first Rav Moshe refused to read this argument since he thought the premise was strictly based on creating a leniency for “becoming tamei”. After some thought, Rav Moshe finally agreed to read it. The pamphlet, based on pikuach nefesh, argued that since the Kohen doctor would save many lives in the future, he would be able to break a prohibition now for the purpose of pikuach nefesh in the future. Rav Moshe, however, disagreed with this argument. He held a person is only able to break laws for pikuach nefesh when it comes to immediate saving of a person’s life, but here, where the saving of a life “may” occur in the future, creating a safek, this wouldn’t be allowed. While the concept of pikuach nefesh for the future is rejected, other potential allowances may still exist. While it could once be stated that a total state of tahorah existed amongst Kohanim, it is not a true statement to be made today. There is an argument that since all Kohanim are already tamei, there may be no prohibition of further becoming tamei. There is a Gemarah Nazir 42b, which says that the prohibition of tumas meis for a Kohen is coming in direct contact with a dead body. We learn this from the fact that if a Kohen touches a dead body, he becomes an av ha’tumah, a primary source of tumah, and whatever דברי התעוררות22
he touches becomes tamei as well. Most Rishonim agree that this implies that there is a prohibition for a Kohen to become tamei “again”, because this adds to the tumah already present. Rav Moshe agrees with this and rejects this potential exemption as well. He paskens that a Kohen would not be able to go to medical school and become a doctor, because in almost all medical schools in the US, there is a requirement of dissection of human cadavers as part of anatomy. Similar to the opinion of Rav Moshe, the Chasam Sofer paskens that the Kohen may only go to medical school if he is able to do so without becoming tamei. Since this is very unlikely to happen, as they will have to perform a dissection on a human cadaver, Kohanim shouldn’t go to medical school. While pikuach nefesh and the inability to further become tamei are rejected, the question arises as to whether a Kohen can merely observe the dissection of a non-Jewish cadaver and avoid contracting tumah. Yore Deah, chapter 371, Se’if 1 says a Jewish corpse makes a person tamei by both touching it and tum’as ohel, being in the same room as the dead body, but there is a machlokes as to whether a gentile corpse transmits tum’as ohel. While Tosfos argues that tum’as ohel applies to non-Jewish corpses as well, Rabbi Shimon in Maseches Bava Metzia 114b, says is does not apply to a non-Jew. Many Rishonim like the Ramban, Ritva, and Rashba agree with Rabbi Shimon. The Shulchan Aruch ultimately holds like, Rabbi Shimon in that tum’as ohel does not apply to non-Jews, nevertheless says that a Kohen should preferably
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avoid it. Therefore, even if a Kohen could avoid participating in the dissection, and merely observe one, it is still questionable whether he would be allowed to proceed in this field. This however, is an unlikely option because practically just viewing the dissection would not be allowed by any medical school. The potential for additional leniency pertaining to tumah is further complicated when one observes the stringencies associated with the pregnant wife of a Kohen. Rav Ovadia Yosef paskens that the pregnant wife of a Kohen is allowed to attend funerals and visit cemeteries, since the fetus is still part of the mother regardless of the fetus’s gender, but once she gives birth a male child cannot become tamei. The question to be asked is whether the parents are required to find out the gender of the child prior to birth, to ensure that the child does not become tamei upon birth in a hospital that may have corpses throughout its facility. Rav Eliyashiv argues that parents should find out the gender of the child, so they can arrange the birth to be performed in a hospital where the child will not be defiled at birth. This shows the stringencies that need to be in place in order to avoid a baby becoming tamei. If a newborn male baby must avoid an environment in which he can contract tumah, even more so should an adult Kohen avoid placing himself in a situation that he may contract tumah. The Torah obligates a Jewish person to save the life of another. It may be argued that this can be done even if one must transgress other commandments. While it is permitted to break certain command-
ments for Pikuach Nefesh, these leniencies do not appear to extend to a Kohen in his training to become a medical doctor. Rav Moshe Feinstein and the Chasam Sofer maintain a Kohen should not attend medical school, since participating in a dissection is part of the course of study and participation would make the Kohen tamei. We also learned that pikuach nefesh is not applicable to medical school since it is not the immediate form of saving a life. Therefore, based on everything we discussed, it is apparent that the medical field is not a suitable career for a Kohen. However, if it were possible to avoid preforming a dissection on a body, such as performing one on a model, it may be a viable option for a Kohen to become a medical doctor.
AUTHOR: Jeremy Wizenfeld ‘22 Jeremy Wizenfeld ’22, a Kohen, is a member of the YULA Robotics Team, a staff writer for the Panther Post, and a writer/editor for Polymatheus.
Artwork by Daniel Moradzadeh ‘20
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COVER ART BY YEHUDA DAHAN â€˜20 The artwork in this edition was provided by Mrs. Utrataâ€™s 11th grade Fine Art class. The abstractions are inspired by microscopic images completed in pastels.