Eruvin 105: A Permanent Bond
The Ma’aseh Rokeiach explains why Maseches Eiruvin concludes with whether it is permitted for a levi to tie a string that broke on Shabbos.
“There is a deep significance as to why this masechta ends with an argument about tying a harp string that broke in the Bais Hamikdosh on Shabbos. The Tanna Kama writes in Eruvin 102 that the levi can tie the string. Since the song of a levi in the Bais Hamikdosh is a Torah obligation, the Tanna Kama permits him to tie the string – just like other needs for avodah of the community are permitted on Shabbos.
“Rav Shimon in the baraisa argues. He rules that a levi may not tie his harp string outright. What is permitted is to make a bow, which is not a de’Oraisa knot, since one who observes a levi tying his string may think that this is also permitted outside the Bais Hamikdosh. If we were to permit the levi to violate a Torah law, perhaps someone who is ignorant of halacha will do a melachah de’Oraisa.
“The deeper reason for why Rav Shimon forbids making a knot is because until Moshiach, even the Bais Hamikdosh is not a kesher shel kayamah. It lacks true permanence. Binding Hashem to this world completely will only happen after Moshiach. Then we will have true clarity, as the verse states, ‘The world will be filled with knowledge of Hashem like the sea floor is covered with water.’
“The reason why we need to make decrees to avoid the ignorant violating Shabbos is because of this lack of understanding. How can a person with true daas do what is forbidden on Shabbos because he didn’t bother to clarify the halacha?” (Ma’aseh Rokeiach, Eruvin).
Pesachim 2: The Spiritual Atmosphere of the Chag
Rav Moshe Elyashiv recounted how his father, Rav Yosef Shalom Elyashiv zt”l, would imbue their household with the ruach of each moed. “Long before each chag,we felt a great change. Before Pesach, our home was filled with an atmosphere that declared that Pesach was on the way. The same is true for Sukkos, Chanukah and Purim. The one who caused this change was our father. I have never experienced anything in my later life like the special atmosphere before Yom Tov that we felt in our home in my earlier years.
“My father would learn the masechta and halachos of the chag long before the appointed time. Before Sukkos, the joyous, special niggun he used to learn at this time filled our home. The same is true for the time before Pesach,when he learned the halachos of challah along with those of Pesach.
“When the niggun of Pesach filled our home in the early hours of each morning, it would be filled with a powerful feel of the upcoming chag. Even though outside our home things were ordinary, our home was saturated with this special feeling that is difficult to describe. It was a tangible, powerful feel of the spiritual atmosphereof Pesach that was to come.
“Before Sukkos, when he would learn the Mishnah Berurah with the special niggun of Sukkos, our home was transformed into a house with the feel of Sukkos. It is hard to draw a precise picture of this unique change, but it was the reality of our home.” (Gedolah Shimushah, p. 204-205).
Pesachim 3: The Shorter Way
The Maggid of Mezritch explains a famous statement of our Chazal with a parable. “In Pesachim 3 we find that a teacher should teach his students succinctly.
“We can understand this with a parable. If one wishes to pour from a large cask into a small container, he must limit the amount poured so as not to spill. A wise man will be afraid to pour directly from a barrel into a smaller container, since he will almost certainly spill. Instead, he will insert an intermediary vessel into the cask, fill it, and pour the contents into the smaller container.
“The same is true regarding students. Although the teacher has much greater and deeper understanding than the student, he must know how to parcel out his teaching b’derech ketzarah. He must constrict what he knows and relate it in a way that his students can understand. Anything more than this is not positive.”
The Divrei Yisroel of Modzhitz taught a deep lesson from this statement. “We can explain derech ketzarah in light of Rashi’s comment in Shemos 6:9. There we find that one whose spirit is pained has shortness of breath. In our context, we see that a teacher must teach his students to endure hard times, when he feels pained and out of breath. Even during hard times, a student must pull through. But how? It is his teacher’s task to show him the derech ketzarah, tohold himself strong and sustain himself even when things are difficult” (Ohr Torah, #339; Divrei Yisroel, Kelalei Oraisa, #30).
Pesachim 4: Unsold Goods
A man had a cask of expensive whiskey at his friend’s house which was certainly chometz. Shortly before Pesach, he sent his housekeeper to remind his friend to sell the chometz. The friend pointed out that since it was not his property, it was incumbent on the owner to sell the whiskey. The housekeeper misunderstood the friend as saying that he would take care of it. Naturally, he conveyed to the owner that his friend would sell the whiskey.
During Minchah on Erev Pesach, the owner asked his friend if he had sold the whiskey and the truth emerged. The owner figured that it was no big deal. “After all, I did perform bittul last night and this morning. Presumably that is enough.”
After Yom Tov, the owner’s friend pointed out that it was uncertain if the whiskey could be used, since it had not been sold.
When they asked the Nodah B’Yehudah, he ruled that the whiskey was prohibited. “The moment you heard that the whiskey had not been sold, you were obligated to pour it out, despite having made bittul on it. Since you did not do so, it is chometz she’avar olov haPesach, like any leaven that was kept during Pesach, which is prohibited after the Yom Tov” (Shu”t Nodah B’Yehudah, Orach Chaim,Part I:19).
Pesachim 5: The Chometz of Others
The Toldos Yaakov Yosef imparts an important lesson from a statement of Chazal. “On Pesachim 5 we find that the prohibition of chometz being seen or available is not applicable regarding all chometz. ‘Shelecha ih atah ro’eh – the prohibition of seeing chometz is only regarding what he has some ownership of or at least responsibility over. Aval atah ro’eh shel nochrim veshel hekdesh – one is allowed to see chometz of non-Jews or of hekdesh.’
“This teaches an essential lesson about human nature. As we have said before, chometz alludes to negative character traits and actions. The message here is that people usually do not see their own weaknesses and failures – ‘shelecha ih atah ro’eh.’ But they do perceive the chometz of nochrim – literally, strangers. That is, people they feel estranged from, and hekdesh – tzaddikim – who are more sanctified than themselves.
“This is similar to what I heard regarding the verse ‘vesimcha zu,mah zu oseh – what does this joy achieve?’ We find that people tend to see the negative in the great people of their generation and feel lots of satisfaction and happiness at having spotted their supposed faults. If they think carefully about this, they will find that this joy achieves nothing positive. On the contrary, if they find so much negative in the greatest of the generation, on whose merit can they rely? Shouldn’t they mourn their own smallness? Do they really think that they themselves are great enough to sustain the generation? Can’t they see that they are filled with leitzanus, always joking around meaninglessly? Chazal tell us that the world is supported by those who learn Torah for its own sake. If these people really believe that the greatest in the generation are not on the level, it is incumbent on them to learn Torah lishmah at every available moment!” (Toldos Yaakov Yosef, Vayigash).
Pesachim 6: Forgotten Goods
TheGemara discusses what to do if one finds chometz on Pesach. Sadly, this phenomenon is not as unlikely as many believe.
One chossid walked into a grocery in Yerushalayim during Chol Hamoed Pesach. As is the custom, this grocer sold all his chometz and it was placed in specially designated shelves taped up with thick brown paper.
As the chossid looked around, he noticed a package of “sour sticks” that were certainly kosher l’mehadrin. They were also undoubtedly chometz.
He immediately pointed out to the storeowner in a gentle manner that the item was chometz gamur and the storekeeper was quick to place the offending packages out of sight, with other chometz. After all, he had sold all the chometz in his store, hadn’t he?
After this incident, the chossid wondered if this was really sufficient. Can we say that he sold as chometz what he mistakenly figured was permitted on Pesach?
When he researched this question, he found that Rav Akiva Eiger prohibits doing so: “Regarding the case of a person who sold all his chometz to a non-Jew but had liquor or other foods that he had not realized contained chometz, I said that this sale requires deliberation. Although unknown chometz, in general, is included in this sale, this is worse, since the owner thought that there was no chometz in the questionable items and wished to keep them for himself. It is as if he said explicitly that he doesn’t want the sale to include these items, since he had no intention of allowing the non-Jew to acquire them. They therefore never left his domain.
“Regarding the bittul he made before Yom Tov, it, too, is ineffective here. How can we say that he made something ownerless or nullified it but mistakenly expected to use it? It is as if he had explicitly excluded these items in his bittul. Although he erred, we cannot say that an item left his domain if he intended for it to remain his” (Gilyon to siman 488, Magein Avrohom, #4; Teshuvos Rav Akiva Eiger, Part I:23.
Pesachim 7: The Importance of Awe
Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach ruled that it is prohibited to sit in front of one’s rebbi without showing morah, fear. “I cannot understand how students lean back in their seats and the like before their rebbi. This shows a lack of derech eretz and also violates the halachos of showing awe to one’s rebbi. In Pesachim 7 we find that if one was sitting in front of his rebbi and he recalled that he has some dough in his home which will soon become chometz, he should nullify it in his heart. Rashi explains: ‘Due to his fear of his rebbi’s honor, he cannot get up and bake the dough.’
“One should understand from here how important showing proper respect for his rebbi when sitting in front of him is. Even a rebbi about to teach who recalls that he has chometz in his home cannot rely on bittul alone. He must go home and remove the chometz. Showing fear and respect to one’s rebbi during learning takes precedence over Torah derabim. Unlike a teacher in this situation, the student is an ones; he is considered like one who cannot remove the chometz until after the shiur” (Halichos Shlomo, Part III: 234).