Monthly Archives: October 2015

Hasagat Gevul in Pesak

The Torah forbids encroaching on other people’s ancestral lands in Israel, a prohibition known as Hasagat Gevul.  While the Talmud does not explicitly extend this to all cases of harming other’s business by opening a competing business (there are such prohibitions in the Talmud, they are just not linked to this possuk), the trend in pesak has been to use the concept of Hasagat Gevul to include this issue as well (See Shut Maharshal 89, below).  Conceptually, I understand how this expansion makes sense, though it is not an absolute parallel.  As classic Hasagat Gevul also violates theft, any monetary crimes are at least on the same plane.  However, the Sifrei expands this possuk to forbidding several other things, including misquoting the Halachic positions of Rabbis.  Any ideas as to what the conceptual link is?  It is just an asmachta? Continue reading Hasagat Gevul in Pesak

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Amoraim Arguing on Tanaaim – The Meiri

It is commonly understood that Amoraim are not allowed to argue with Tanaaim, or at least that they don’t.  The Chazon Ish (Mamrim 2:1) claimed this was because the Tanaaim were greater than the Amoraim and closer to Sinai.  The Kesef Mishna (ibid) and R. Chaim (cited in Kovetz Shiurim Bava Batra 633) claim that they simply agreed not to, but in theory could have (and if they do, we might rule like them).  The Rambam (cited ibid) claims that Amoraim only refrain from disagreeing with Tanaaitic position in Mishanyot or Beraitot.  What surprised me, however, is the position of the Meiri in Seder HaKabbala – his introduction to Pirkei Avot. Continue reading Amoraim Arguing on Tanaaim – The Meiri

Noach and Nechamah

 (כט) וַיִּקְרָ֧א אֶת־שְׁמ֛וֹ נֹ֖חַ לֵאמֹ֑ר זֶ֠֞ה יְנַחֲמֵ֤נוּ מִֽמַּעֲשֵׂ֙נוּ֙ וּמֵעִצְּב֣וֹן יָדֵ֔ינוּ מִן־הָ֣אֲדָמָ֔ה אֲשֶׁ֥ר אֵֽרְרָ֖הּ יְקֹוָֽק:

(ו) וַיִּנָּ֣חֶם יְקֹוָ֔ק כִּֽי־עָשָׂ֥ה אֶת־הָֽאָדָ֖ם בָּאָ֑רֶץ וַיִּתְעַצֵּ֖ב אֶל־לִבּֽוֹ:
(ז) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְקֹוָ֗ק אֶמְחֶ֨ה אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּרָ֙אתִי֙ מֵעַל֙ פְּנֵ֣י הָֽאֲדָמָ֔ה מֵֽאָדָם֙ עַד־בְּהֵמָ֔ה עַד־רֶ֖מֶשׂ וְעַד־ע֣וֹף הַשָּׁמָ֑יִם כִּ֥י נִחַ֖מְתִּי כִּ֥י עֲשִׂיתִֽם:
(ח) וְנֹ֕חַ מָ֥צָא חֵ֖ן בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְקֹוָֽק: פ

These Pesukim are very puzzling. The leading word (מילה מנחה) in this passage is seemingly “נחמה”, however, even though the word appears in the passage describing the period from Noach’s birth until the beginning of the flood story three times, it seemingly carries a different meaning. The first incident, “ינחמינו” clearly means console. The next two (“וינחם” and “נחמתי”) would seem to mean that Hashem changed his mind. The mefarshim all explain that it cannot mean that. It might simply mean that he seemed to change his mind.Nevertheless, it is puzzling that in such a short passage the same word appears three times carrying such different meanings (look in Rashi, the standard editions of the Ibn Ezra, the Rashbam and the Targum Yonasan for a discussion of the meaning of the word and what it could possibly mean in context).

However, the Ibn Ezra in the “shitah acheres” (a different edition of his comments on Bereishis) has a comment which might allow us to unify the meanings of the words. He states as follows:

אבן עזרא בראשית שיטה אחרת – פירוש פרק ה פסוק כט
(כט) זה ינחמנו ממעשינו – אולי חנוך ראה בדרך נבואה, כי נח החיה העולם, ועל ידו סרה הקללה מהאדמה. כי כן כתוב לא אוסיף (עוד) לקלל עוד את האדמה בעבור האדם (ברא’ ח, כא), על כן נקרא איש האדמה

In essence, the consolation of Naoch’s birth is that he ended the curse of Adam (Rashi also says this but I think that the Ibn Ezra is clearer). There is a midrash which explained the name in essentially the same way:

בראשית רבה (וילנא) פרשת בראשית פרשה כה סימן ב
ב [ה, כט] ויקרא את שמו נח לאמר, ר’ יוחנן ורבי שמעון בן לקיש רבי יוחנן אמר לא המדרש הוא השם ולא השם הוא המדרש, לא הוה צריך קרא למימר אלא נח זה יניחנו או נחמן זה ינחמנו, אלא בשעה שברא הקדוש ברוך הוא את אדם הראשון השליטו על הכל, הפרה היתה נשמעת לחורש, והתלם נשמע לחורש, כיון שחטא אדם מרדו עליו, הפרה לא היתה נשמעת לחורש, והתלם לא היה נשמע לחורש, כיון שעמד נח נחו, ומנא לן נאמר כאן נייחה ונאמר להלן (שמות כג) למען ינוח שורך וחמורך מה נייחה שנאמר להלן נייחת שור אף נייחה שנאמר כאן נייחת שור, ר’ שמעון בן לקיש אמר לא השם הוא המדרש, ולא המדרש הוא השם, ולא הוה צריך קרא למימר אלא או נח זה יניחנו או נחמן זה ינחמנו, אלא עד שלא עמד נח היו המים עולים ומציפים אותם בתוך קבריהם ב’ פעמים כתיב (עמוס ה) הקורא למי הים כנגד ב’ פעמים שהיו המים עולים, ומציפין אותן בתוך קבריהם, א’ בשחרית וא’ בערבית, הה”ד (תהלים פח) כמו חללים שוכבי קבר שוכבים שלהם חללים היו, כיון שעמד נח נחו, נאמר כאן נייחה ונאמר להלן נייחה (ישעיה נז) יבא שלום ינוחו על משכבותם, מה נייחה האמור להלן נייחת קבר אף נייחה האמורה כאן נייחת קבר,

The Midrash offers two explanations for how Noach’s birth ended the curse of Adam that he would extract food from the ground only with the greatest of toil. However, it is fascinating that the curse of Adam was reversed right before the flood. Why would G-d give the world this tremendous gift and then destroy it? Furthermore, the proof that the Ibn Ezra offers that this is the case, that Noach is an “ish ha’adamah” a “man of the land” is postdiluvian, not antediluvian. Maybe the answer is as follows: G-d was consoled for the fact that he had made man because Noach, the great tzaddik was born. Somebody had come who gave purpose to the creation of man. Without that, there would have been no point to the events up to this point and Hashem would have had no consolation for his efforts to bring the children of Adam to the correct path. I think there is a lesson for us in this. Even if it takes a thousand years or more, there is a point to our efforts and it is important not to despair of that fact. Even when it’s not obvious how, what we are doing can serve as a building block for something great in the future.

Adam’s True Directive

And G-d commanded Adam saying, ‘From all the trees in the Garden – eat. However, from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil you shall not eat, and on the day that you eat from it, you shall die.’” (Bereishit 2:16-17)

What exactly was Adam’s charge at these formative moments? Which parts of these verses were included under G-d’s command? Perhaps the most common perspective is that His only command was to refrain from eating the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge. Man was not obligated to eat the Garden’s other produce– he was permitted to, so long as he did not violate the one limitation placed on him. (See, for example, Ibn Ezra and Radak’s first interpretation.) G-d was happy for Adam to enjoy, provided Adam did something to show that he did not forget by whose largesse he lived in Paradise. While intuitive, this approach is textually difficult – if the command was only to avoid the Tree of Knowledge, why was this law separated from the word “commanded” by an entire verse? Continue reading Adam’s True Directive