This year the holiday of Tu B'Shevat occurs on February 3, 2007
There are still dedication opportunities available for sponsoring my upcoming book on the The History of Lashon HaKodesh (the Hebrew Language) to be published soon by Mosaica Press. See link for more information or email me directly.
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Posted by Reb Chaim HaQoton at 1:18 PM
Vesom Sechel: Tefillin of Rashi and Rabbenu Tam
Reading this post reminded me of a story that I read in Seder HaDoros (Year 4930) in which there is a מח' between ר"ת and משה רבינו up in the שמים. They argue about Tefillin as well, and come out that we pasken like Rabbeinu Tam. Iteresting story, the angel מ"ט also plays a role in this story, as does Rabbeinu Eliyahu from Paris, the Tosafist.
Posted by Reb Chaim HaQoton at 12:28 PM
Thursday, January 25, 2007
Recommended background music for this post: This music video of
the Satmar Rebbe singing Psalms 42:3 [Hattip: Reb Ariel]
HaShem told Abraham that his descendants would be slaves in Egypt for four-hundred years. However, even if one adds all the years of Kohath, Amram, and Moses together, the total does not approach the four-hundred years prescribed, in fact, the total amount of years that the Jewish nation spent in servitude in Egypt was merely two-hundred and ten years. The question then arises: Why were the Jews exiled in the land of Egypt for only two-hundred years and, according to some, they were only indentured as slaves for one-hundred and sixteen years, instead of four hundred years like HaShem told Abraham? Furthermore, the Torah testifies twice that the Jews stayed in the land of Egypt for four-hundred and thirty years. How is this reckoning to be reconciled with the simple calculations? The Midrash answers that Ephraim and Manasseh were in Egypt for five years before Jacob and the Jacobean family descendant to Egypt from the Land of Canaan and the Israelites worked in Egypt day and night for two-hundred and ten years. In adding the total ten years that Ephraim and Manasseh lived in Egypt with the doubled two-hundred and ten years that the Jews worked in Egypt (because the day and night are to be counted separately), one arrives to the grand total of four-hundred and thirty years.
The Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Joel, Grand Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum, says that this is a proof that the Abrahamic family before the Sinaitic revelation had the status of Jews, not Noachides. Had the Israelites had the status of Noachides, then they would have had the status of Canaanite Slaves under the Pharaoh and would thus have been required to work day and night. However, since day and night were counted separately in the reckoning the years of slavery, it must be that the Israelites had the status of Jews, and were thus Hebrew Slaves who are only required to work during the day, not at night. Similarly, when Moses added an extra day to the three days of preparation for the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, he wanted there to be three periods of night-followed-by-day in order to insure that all the Jews were properly ritually pure. However, HaShem had only originally commanded so for three periods of day-followed-by-night ("today and tomorrow"). The root of the "disagreement" between HaShem and Moses is whether the Israelites had the status of Jews or Noachides. Had they been Noachides, three periods of day-followed-by-night would suffice for their purification because for Noachides the day precedes the night; while for Jews the night precedes the day. In the end, HaShem concurred to the opinion of Moses and decided that the Israelites then had the status of Jews, not Noachides, so He allowed the extra day of preparation and switched the commandment to prepare to "three days".
The Satmar Rebbe said there is another very fundamental combination of answers to explain why the Jews were only slaves in Egypt for two-hundred and ten years, instead of four-hundred years. One answer says that since the Talmud says that sanctification can break the bonds of servitude, so even though the Jews were supposed to be slaves in Egypt for four-hundred years, since they sanctified themselves, they were liberated early. Another answer says that the extra years which the Jews did not suffer in Egypt are scattered within the subsequent exiles, and the Jews are still "paying off" the four-hundred years of servitude. By combining these two answers, the Satmar Rebbe said that one can say that if one sanctifies himself through the learning of Torah and properly serving HaShem, he can avoid the clutches of the current exile and merit to see the coming of the Messiah and the rebuilding of the Third Holy Temple in Jerusalem, may it come speedily and in our days: Amen.
 See Genesis 15:13
 See Rashi to Exodus 6:18-20
 Sifsei Chochmim to Exodus 6:16
 Exodus 12:40 and ibid. vs. 41
 Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer Ch. 48
 In a speech delivered on 24th Teves, 5767
 Bava Kamma 87b
 Although Rashi to Deuteronomy 15:18 and Kiddushin 15a say that a master can make his Hebrew Slave work at night by mating him with a Canaanite Maid, that is not necessarily called "work" in the legalistic sense.
 Yevamos 62a
 See Exodus 19:11-15
 Shabbos 86b
 Exodus 19:10
 Based on Genesis 8:22
 Based on Genesis 1:5
 Exodus 19:11ff
 A similar discussion regarding this topic can be found in the Chasam Sofer: Toras Moshe to Exodus 19:10 written by Rabbi Moshe Sofer (1762-1838)
 Yevamos 46a
Posted by Reb Chaim HaQoton at 7:58 PM
Seventeen years after his reunion with his son Joseph and migration to Egypt, Jacob realized that the end of his days were coming, so he summoned his son Joseph and his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to bless them before his death. However, as Jacob was about to bless Ephraim and Manasseh, he saw in a vision that evil kings from the Israelite Kingdom would descend from them, so the Holy Presence of G-d momentarily left him and he was unable to bless his grandsons. Instead, he asked Joseph, "Who are these?" as if to inquire from whom did such people descend. Rabbi Dovid Pardo (1719-1792) and Rabbi Yitzchok Zev Soloveitchik (1886-1959) explain that Jacob was really asking Joseph whether their mother, Joseph's wife, properly converted to Judaism before she married Joseph and mothered these children. In answer to this question, Joseph showed Jacob a document of Kiddushin and a Kesubah document, which insured that he had legally married the "Egyptian" mother of Ephraim and Manasseh and their lineage, was not tainted, so they deserved a blessing. After this, Jacob was once again granted the Holy Presence of G-d to rest on him, and he was able to bless his two grandsons. This entire episode seems to imply that even before the Sinaitic Revelation, the Abrahamic family kept the laws pertaining to the sanctity of Jewish marriage because they had the status of Jews, not Noachides.
The Talmud relates that Amram, the father of Moses, was the leader of the Israelite nation during the exile to Egypt. Rashi explains that this means that the entire nation listened to everything that Amram told them, and that he was the head of the Sanhedrin in Egypt. In detailing the history of the Torah's commandments before Sinai, Maimonides writes that while still in Egypt, HaShem revealed certain commandments to Amram. Rabbi Baruch ben Dovid Frankel-Thumim (1760-1828) says that once the Jews in Egypt received special commandments from HaShem through Amram, they left their status as Noachides and became halachikly Jewish. However, Rabbi Yosef Karo (1488-1575) asks what was Maimonides source in saying that Amram was commanded certain commandments. The Talmud says that after Pharaoh decreed that all baby boys should be thrown into the river, Amram divorced his wife Jochebed. Since Amram was the leader of his generation, the entire nation followed suit and they all divorced their wives. Following this, Miriam, the daughter of Amram, admonished her father by telling him that Pharaoh only decreed the destruction of male Jewry, but he was destroying the entire nation. The Torah then says "And a man from the House of Levi went", meaning that Amram followed the advice of his prophetess daughter and re-married her mother, Jochebed, "the daughter of Levi", whereupon all the men re-married their wives as well. The Talmud states that Amram specifically performed an "act of taking" meaning Kiddushin in returning his wife. Based on this, Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Chayos (1805-1855) explains that when Maimonides wrote that extra commandments were given to Amram in Egypt, he was referring to the commandment of Kiddushin—a Torah-ordained manner of marriage. Had Amram not been given the commandments regarding Jewish marriage, he would merely have carnally taken Jochebed as a wife and that would have sufficed as Maimonides himself writes that before the Torah, if a man met a woman in the marketplace and they agreed to wed, he merely had to lie with her in order for them to be considered married.
In a similar vein, Rabbi Chaim Yosef David Azulai (1724-1806) answers that Maimonides wrote that Amram had extra commandments in Egypt because the Talmud says that Amram specifically divorced his wife, like the Torah says. Had he not been commanded the Mitzvah of divorce, he could have merely separated from his wife and not divorced using the parameters of Jewish divorce (e.g. with a Get, etc…). Rabbi Meir Don Plotzky of Ostrova (a pre-World War One Rabbinic figure) writes that just like the death of one's husband is not enough to consider a married Noachide woman unmarried anymore, so too a Noachide divorcee is also still considered married. He explains that the source of Noachide marriage is Genesis 2:24, which says that a man should "cling to his wife", which excludes a woman who is married to another man, and it says "they shall become one flesh", which implies that once man and wife join together in holy matrimony, they become inseparable, even after death and/or divorce. He writes that this explains why when the Torah said "Amram took his aunt, Jochebed, as a wife", Onkelos changes "aunt" to "father's sister." This is because one's father's sister is the only type of aunt that a Noachide male can ever marry (if maternal, see below), because one's father's brother's wife is still considered one's aunt even after one's father's brother's death because death does not break the bond of Noachidic marriage.
The Torah says that one is prohibited from marrying his "aunt". It is clear from the context that "aunt" there refers to one's father's brother's wife. Rashi and Onkelos specifically point out that Amram did not marry his "aunt" in that sense because she would always be prohibited to him because a Noachide's marriage is everlasting, rather that he married his "aunt", meaning his father's sister. The Talmud says that Amram was allowed to marry Jochebed even though there is a Noahidic prohibition against marrying one's father's sister because that prohibition is only one's father's maternal sister, but Jochebed was only Kohath's paternal sister. One Midrash says that Levi married a great-granddaughter of Eber named Adina, however another Midrash says based on Numbers 26:29 that Levi's wife was named Osah. Based on this, the Tosafists concluded that Levi had two wives; Adina was the mother of Kohath while Osah was the mother of Jochebed. Therefore, Amram, the son of Kohath, was only the paternal nephew of Jochebed. Rabbi Chaim Volozhiner (1749-1821) writes that Amram knew that there were deep metaphysical Kabbalistic reasons for him to have had to marry Jochebed, even though it should have really been forbidden according to Torah Law. It was for this reason that the Torah was not given to Amram himself, but rather to his son, Moses.
Amram was allowed to divorce his wife because he had already fulfilled his commandment of procreation by fathering Aaron and Miriam. In imitating their leader, all the Jewish men also divorced their wives. Rabbi Aharon Rotter points out that only those men, who had already fulfilled the commandment of "being fruitful and multiplying", like Amram, divorced their wives, but the others did not. According to this, Rabbi Yonason ben Uziel writes that Elzaphan, a son of Amram's brother Uziel, married Jochebed between the time that Amram divorced Jochebed and the time that he remarried her. However, this statement is difficult to understand because the Torah explicitly forbids remarrying one's divorcee if she marries someone else in the interim lest one think that women are mere objects of lust which can be traded back and forth between husbands. The son of the Gerrer Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Alter (1877-1942), explains that Amram was only given the commandments of marriage and divorce, but had not yet received the prohibition of remarrying one's divorcee who married since the divorce. Others explain that Jochebed only married Elzaphan after the death of Amram, and then birthed Eldad and Meidad. Still others explain that she was not even their mother, but Amram was their father; when the Torah says, "Crying according to their families" it means crying after the Sinaitic Revelation they were about matters pertaining to family issues because they had to divorce their wives if they married newly-prohibited women. The Tosafists write that this applies even Amram who had to divorce Jochebed after the acceptance of the Torah, and so he then married another woman and fathered Eldad and Meidad. However, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky asks on this understanding that if Eldad and Meidad were born after the encampment at Mount Sinai, then they must have been only one year old when they prophesied in the camp.
Rabbi Baruch Frankel understood based on the words of Maimonides that only once Amram received certain commandments did the Abrahamic family lose their status as Noachides and become Jews. According to the Chida, Maimonides learned this from the fact that Amram divorced his wife in a way which was halachik and only Jews have a halachik divorce, so they must have been Jewish from then on. However, if merely divorcing proves that the forefathers had a status of Jews instead of Noachides, then even Abraham must have not had the status of a Noachide already. This is because Rabbeinu Bachaya relates in the name of Rabbeinu Chananel Ben Chushiel (990-1053) that when Abraham migrated to the Philistinian city of Gerrar, Abraham was afraid that his beautiful wife Sarah would be taken by another man and would be forced to commit adultery with him, so he divorced his wife. However, this divorce was carried out under duress and thus was not completely legally effective. Therefore, when the Philistine King Abimelech abducted Sarah, he was asked by HaShem to return the woman to her rightful husband. Had Abraham been a Noachide, his divorcing Sarah would have amounted to nothing even it was not under undue pressure because there should be no such thing as a Noahidic divorce. Rather, one must say that according to Rabbi Frankel, the source of Maimonides' assertion that Amram accepted certain commandments in Egypt is implied in a passage quoted in the commentary of Nachmanides. When introducing Himself to Moses, HaShem says, "I am the G-d of your father, the G-d of Abraham, the G-d of Issac, and the G-d of Jacob." Nachmanides writes that some explain that "G-d of your father" refers to Amram. Based on this Rabbi Meir Simcha HaKohen of Dvinsk (1843-1926) writes that just as Abraham, Issac, and Jacob received commandments from Above, so did Amram and this is the source of Maimonides' assertion to that effect.
 See Rashi to Genesis 48:8 and Midrash Tanchuma to Genesis §6
 Maskil LeDavid to Rashi to Genesis 48:8
 Chiddushei HaGriz Al HaTorah (Stencil)
 Sotah 12a
 To Sotah 12a
 Exodus Rabbah 1:13
 Laws of Kings 9:1
 Imrei Baruch to Turei Even to Megillah 13a
 Kesef Mishnah Laws of Kings 9:1
 Sotah 12a
 Exodus 2:1
 Maharitz Chayos to Sotah 12a
 Laws of Marriage 1:1
 Responsa Chaim Shaol Volume 1, §95
 Deuteronomy 24:1-4
 Kli Chemdah, Va'era §2
 See Pnei Yehoshua to Kiddushin 13a
 See Maimonides, Laws of Kings 9:4
 Exodus 6:20
 Targum Onkelos to Exodus 6:20 and quoted by Rashi ibid.
 Leviticus 18:14
 Sanhedrin 58b, see also Yevamos 54-55 which discusses the halachik definition of an "aunt."
 Leviticus 18:12
 Seder HaDoros Year 2217
 Seder HaDoros Year 2364
 Da'as Zekanim to Numbers 26:29
 Nefesh HaChaim 1:21
 Like Bais Hillel, Yevamos 61b who says one fulfills the commandment by fathering a son and a daughter
 Sha'arei Aharon to Exodus 6:20
 Targum Yonasaon ben Uziel to Numbers 11:26
 Deuteronomy 24:4
 Sefer HaChinuch Mitzvah #580
 In his glosses to Rabbi Yosef Patzanavsky's Pardes Yosef to Exodus 2:1
 Including Rashi and Pirkei D'Rabbi Eliezer as quoted in Seder HaDoros Year 2410
 Numbers 11:10
 Shabbos 130a and Yoma 75a
 Da'as Zekanim to Numbers 11:10
 Siach HaSadeh, Volume 1, B'Shaar HaMelech
 Numbers 11:26ff
 Cited above
 Rabbeinu Bachya to Genesis 20:2
 See Zahav MiShva from Rabbi Moshe Shmuel Shapiro (1918-2006) to Genesis 20:3
 Exodus 3:6
 Chiddushei HaRamban to Exodus 3:6
 Meshech Chochmah to Exodus 3:6
Posted by Reb Chaim HaQoton at 3:46 PM