THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Rosh Hashanah 16
ROSH HASHANAH 16 (7 Menachem Av) - dedicated by the wife and daughters of
the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of
Queens N.Y. on his second Yarzeit. Well known in the community for his
Chesed and Tzedakah, he will be remembered by all who knew him.
1) THE FIRST OF TISHREI -- THE DAY OF JUDGMENT
QUESTION: We learned earlier (Daf 10b) that the Tana'im, Rebbi Eliezer and
Rebbi Yehoshua, argue whether the first of Tishrei was the day on which the
world (referring to Adam ha'Rishon) was created or whether the world was
created on the first of Nisan.
If the world was created (and Adam ha'Rishon was granted atonement for his
sin) on the first of Tishrei, as Rebbi Eliezer maintains, it is clear why
every year the inhabitants of the world are called to task on that day (see
Vayikra Rabah 29:1). However, if the world was created in Nisan, as Rebbi
Yehoshua maintains, then why was the first of Tishrei designated as the time
to be judged for the year's deeds?
(a) The RAN suggests that since Yom Kipur was chosen as the Day of Atonement
(because Hashem exonerated the Jews of the sin of the Golden Calf that day),
Hashem chose a date nine days earlier as the day to begin preparation for
Yom Kipur through penitence and introspection. Perhaps, he adds, Hashem's
"change of attitude" that led to the exoneration of the Jews at Sinai
actually began on the first of Tishrei.
(b) RABEINU TAM (TOSFOS 27a, DH k'Man) explains that even according to Rebbi
Yehoshua, Hashem "planned" to create the world at the beginning of Tishrei.
Thus, the first of Tishrei commemorates even more of a beginning than the
actual beginning of Creation -- it marks the *planned* beginning of
Creation. (See also OR HA'CHAIM, Bereishis 1:1, #16.)
(c) Since the autumnal equinox occurs at (or close to) the beginning of
Tishrei, this point in time -- when days and nights are of equal length --
may easily be regarded as a starting point in the yearly astronomical cycle.
However, the days are also of equal length at the vernal equinox, which is
at the beginning of Nisan (the *first* month)! Why is that not as
appropriate a starting place as its fall counterpart?
Perhaps the reason is because Tishrei is the beginning of the rainy season
in Eretz Yisrael (as our Gemara says here, and in Ta'anis 2b), marking the
start of the agricultural year. Fields were sown during Tishrei in
preparation for the first rains of the season (Berachos 36b; see Rashi here,
DH Afla). Crops grew and blossomed through the winter, bore fruit in Nisan,
and were left to dry until the beginning of Tishrei (Rashi to Devarim
25:11), at which point a new cycle would begin. This certainly makes it a
more fitting occasion for the yearly judgment of man's destiny and
sustenance than the first of Nisan. This may have been what Rav Sherira Gaon
(cited in the Tosfos Yom Tov's introduction to Rosh Hashanah) had in mind
when he wrote that Maseches Rosh Hashanah precedes Ta'anis since Rosh
Hashanah immediately precedes the growing cycle, which is discussed in
Ta'anis. (See also Rav Samson Raphael Hirsch in Horeb, para. 166 and
(d) The Torah tells us that Nisan should be the first of months of the year
(Shemos 12:2). The RAMBAN explains that the purpose of making Nisan the
first of months is in order to commemorate Yetzi'as Mitzrayim. If so, even
though the beginning of Nisan is a more appropriate time for Rosh Hashanah
according to Rebbi Yehoshua's opinion, since that was the day of the world's
creation, nevertheless that would have detracted from Nisan's status as the
"month of the Exodus." If Rosh Hashanah would be celebrated in Nisan, people
would not realize that it is only because of *Yetzi'as Mitzrayim* that Nisan
is always counted as the first of the months. Hashem, therefore, "moved" the
date of Rosh Hashanah to the other equinoctial month, Tishrei. The peculiar
situation of having the year begin in the "seventh" month would enhance,
rather than diminish, the commemoration of the Exodus! (M. Kornfeld)
2) VISITING ONE'S REBBI ON THE FESTIVAL
QUESTION: Rebbi Yitzchak teaches that there is an obligation to visit one's
rebbi on the festival. This obligation is learned from the words of the
Shunamite woman's husband, who asked his wife (Melachim II 4:23), "Why are
you going to him (the prophet, Elisha) today? It is not Rosh Chodesh, nor is
it Shabbos!" From here, says that the Gemara, we learn that one is required
to visit his rebbi on Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos.
3) SIGNING AND SEALING
Why does Rebbi Yitzchak say that one is obligated to visit one's rebbi on
the *festival* ("Regel"), when the verse from which this obligation is
derived mentions only Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh?
(a) The RITVA (here and in Sukah 27b) addresses this question. He says that
there are three different requirements. (1) If one's rebbi is in the same
town, then one is required to visit him every day. (2) If one's rebbi is
outside of the town, but within the Techum Shabbos (2000 Amos), then one is
required to visit him only on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh. (3) If one's rebbi
lives beyond the Techum Shabbos from one's town, then he is required to
visit him only on the festival (such as during Chol ha'Mo'ed, when there is
no Isur Techum, or he goes before Yom Tov).
In Melachim, Elisha was outside of the town, but within the Techum Shabbos,
and that is why the husband of the Shunamite women mentioned only Rosh
Chodesh and Shabbos. Rebbi Yitzchak, when he taught this Halachah, did not
mention the requirement to visit one's rebbi every day when his rebbi lives
in the same town, because everyone is heedful of that requirement (since not
much effort is required in traveling); he mentioned only the Halachah with
regard to Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos because when the rebbi lives outside of
the town, people neglect the requirement to go visit him.
(b) The MAHARSHA (Sukah 27b) says that if one is required to visit his rebbi
on Rosh Chodesh, then certainly one is also required to visit his rebbi on
Yom Tov, even though the verse does not specifically mention Yom Tov. (The
Maharsha does not address why Yom Tov is left out of the verse.)
(c) The TUREI EVEN and the VILNA GAON (Seder Olam Raba ch. 3, see Rav Reuven
Margulies in "Olelos," #13) points out that it is strange that the verse
mentions Rosh Chodesh before Shabbos. It should have mentioned Shabbos
first, since Shabbos comes more frequently than Rosh Chodesh. It must be,
they contend, that the word "Shabbos" in the verse refers to Yom Tov (as we
find elsewhere, such as in Vayikra 23:16).
(d) Although ideally one should visit his rebbi every day (in order to learn
Torah), doing so is not always possible because a person is occupied with
his work. Therefore, only when one is not working is he required to visit
his rebbi. We see this from the verse in Melachim, since the Shunamite
woman's husband implied that on days that women do not do Melachah (Shabbos
and Rosh Chodesh, as is the custom for women to refrain from Melachah on
Rosh Chodesh), she would visit the rebbi. This implies that on days when men
do not do Melachah (Shabbos and Yom Tov), they should visit the rebbi.
Women, on the other hand, are not free during a Yom Tov since they take care
of the cooking and other responsibilities even on Yom Tov. They are only
available to visit the rebbi on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh (ETZ YOSEF, citing
the IYEI HA'YAM).
(e) The CHANUKAS HA'TORAH (Rosh Hashanah 16b) explains that since it is
inappropriate for a woman to visit the rebbi when his Talmidim are there
(see Kidushin 81a), the only time she would be obligated to visit the rebbi
is when the Talmidim are not there. Thus, the Shunamite woman's husband
asked her why she was going to the prophet when it was not Rosh Chodesh or
Shabbos -- days on which the Talmidim are not at their rebbi's, but are at
home. The verse implies that she would have no obligation to visit the rebbi
on the festival. Why not? It must be because the Talmidim visit the rebbi on
the festival. It must be that there is an obligation to visit the rebbi on
(f) RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ (Ya'aros Devash 1:12 and elsewhere) explains that
when the Beis ha'Mikdash was standing (such as in the time of Elisha and the
Shunamite woman), everyone would go greet the presence of the Shechinah in
Yerushalayim. They would visit the rebbi only on Shabbos and Rosh Chodesh,
when there was no requirement to go to Yerushalayim. After the Churban,
though, the practice was instituted to visit the rebbi in place of going to
Yerushalayim, because a Talmid Chacham reflects the presence of the
Shechinah. (See also ARUCH LA'NER, and MALBIM to Melachim II 4:23, who
(g) The NODA B'YEHUDAH (OC II:94) says the opposite. When the verse mentions
Rosh Chodesh and Shabbos, it also means to include Yom Tov; it is referring
to all days that have additional Kedushah (as is indicated by the additional
Korban that is brought, the Korban Musaf), and on those days the rebbi's
ability to affect his Talmidim is heightened, and thus there is a practice
to visit the rebbi on those days. However, there is no obligation to go on
*all* of those days, because then one would be visiting his rebbi more often
than he would be visiting the Shechinah (on the three Regalim), and it is
not proper for the honor of the Shechinah to be less than the honor of one's
rebbi (Kidushin 33b). The obligation to visit one's rebbi can apply only as
much as one is obligated to visit the Shechinah, but not more. Therefore,
the Gemara says that one is obligated to visit his rebbi on each of the
Based on this, the Noda b'Yehudah explains that today, when the Beis
ha'Mikdash has not yet been rebuilt, there is no obligation to visit one's
rebbi (unless, of course, one is going with the purpose to learn Torah from
him) on the Regel, since there is no obligation to visit the Shechinah at
the Beis ha'Mikdash, and the honor of one's rebbi should not be greater than
the honor of the Shechinah. Therefore, the TUR and the SHULCHAN ARUCH omit
this Halachah, since they record only the Halachos that were relevant in
practice in their days, when the Beis ha'Mikdash was not standing. The
RAMBAM, though, includes this Halachah (Hilchos Talmud Torah 5:7), because
he writes all of the Halachos which are relevant when the Beis ha'Mikdash is
(See also MAHARATZ CHIYUS here; CHIDUSHEI GE'ONIM in the Ein Yakov; EINEI
SHMUEL for other approaches; see also DIVREI SHALOM 2:25.)
QUESTIONS: Rebbi Yehudah, quoted in the Beraisa (16a), tells us that Hashem
inscribes the judgment passed on every person on Rosh Hashanah, and He seals
their fate on Yom Kipur. Rav Kruspeda'i (16b) tells us that three ledgers
are opened on Rosh Hashanah: Tzadikim are inscribed and sealed for life
immediately on Rosh Hashanah, Resha'im are inscribed and sealed for death
immediately on Rosh Hashanah, and Beinonim (who have just as many Mitzvos as
they have sins) are inscribed for their fate on Yom Kipur, according to the
fate they merited.
(a) Why do we continue to pray to be "written" for long life after Rosh
Hashanah, in the prayers that we add to the Shemoneh Esreh during the Aseres
Yemei Teshuvah? Whatever was written has already been written! We should be
praying to be *sealed* for a long life, since sealing is all that remains
for Yom Kipur.
(b) Rebbi Yehudah (16a) says that everyone's fate is *inscribed* on Rosh
Hashanah and *sealed* on Yom Kipur. Later (16b), Rav Kruspeda'i tells us
that Tzadikim and Resha'im are both inscribed and sealed on Rosh Hashanah,
while Beinonim are inscribed on Yom Kipur! Neither the dates of inscription
nor the dates of sealing conform to each other!
Granted, Rebbi Yehudah of the Beraisa may not be discussing *all* Jews, but
rather a specific group. However, Rav Kruspeda'i does not list *anyone* who
is inscribed on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kipur! The wicked and
righteous are inscribed *and* sealed on Rosh Hashanah, and the others are
not even inscribed until later!
(c) Rav Kruspeda'i states that the righteous and wicked are inscribed and
sealed for their fates on Rosh Hashanah. When it comes to the intermediate
people, the Beinonim, he says that there is a delay until Yom Kipur, when
their fate is *inscribed*. There is no mention of a "sealing" for the
intermediate class. What is the reason for this omission? When does their
sealing take place? (This question is posed by the RAMA M'PANO in Ma'amar
Chikur Din, part 3, ch. 20.)
(a) The answer to the first question may be learned from a statement made
in the Zohar (Vayechi 220a). The Zohar asks why is it that there is a ten-
day interval between the writing of man's judgment and its sealing? Why is
it not signed immediately? The Zohar answers that when a judgment is only
*written*, it can still be "torn up" and rewritten. (Indeed, we ask Hashem
numerous times in the liturgy to "tear up" any evil decrees against us.)
However, after a Divine decree is sealed, it is very difficult to have it
rescinded. This is why there are ten days intervening between the "writing"
and the "sealing." The days enable people to make one last effort to repent
and beseech Hashem to "rip up" any unfavorable decree that may have been
passed against them, and to replace it with a more favorable decision. (See
also Bi'ur ha'Gra, end of OC #582.)
(b) The Zohar cited above (answer (a)) provides a partial answer to this
question as well. The fate of the Beinonim is written first on Rosh Hashanah
and again on Yom Kipur (if it is "torn up" in between), at which point their
fate is sealed. If so, it is to the Beinonim that Rebbi Yehudah refers when
he says that "they are written on Rosh Hashanah and sealed on Yom Kipur."
The RAMA MI'PANU in "Asarah Ma'amaros" (cited by MAGEN AVRAHAM, end of OC
582) explains that the fate of *all* people, and not just Beinonim, is
sealed on Yom Kipur. When the Gemara says that Hashem seals the fate of the
Tzadikim and Resha'im "l'Alter," it does not mean that their fate is sealed
on the day it is written. Rather, it means that it is sealed "Al Atar," in
their place (i.e., in the same book in which they were written on Rosh
Hashanah), but the actual seal is applied only on Yom Kipur.
The VILNA GA'ON (Bi'ur ha'Gra, end of OC #582; Likutei ha'Gra with Be'er
Yitzchak, p. 350) also suggests that all of mankind is sealed on Yom Kipur.
He points out that a novel approach to this question may lie in a comment
made by TOSFOS here (DH V'NECHTAMIM).
A practical question may be asked on the Gemara's assertion that the
righteous are always sealed for life on Rosh Hashanah and the wicked for
death. We see many cases which seem to contradict this assertion. There are
numerous righteous people who suffer greatly year after year, or who die,
and there are many wicked people who are granted life and prosperity year
Tosfos explains that when the Gemara here speaks of three ledgers and a
yearly judgment, it cannot be referring to a person's fortunes or well-being
in this world. Rather, each man is being judged for his status in the World
to Come, where the righteous and wicked alike will be given what they earned
during their worldly lifetimes. Every year on Rosh Hashanah the righteous
are inscribed for "life" -- meaning *eternal* life in the World to Come, and
the wicked are inscribed for "death" -- in the World to Come.
TOSFOS HA'ROSH explains why it is necessary to judge a person's status in
the World to Come while he is still in this world. The Torah (Devarim 7:10)
tells us that Hashem "repays evildoers to their faces, to destroy them."
RASHI there explains that this means that if a wicked person happens to be
deserving of reward because of some good deed that he may have done, Hashem
makes sure to repay him in this world. This is done in order to "destroy
them," so that they will not have any merits left over that must be rewarded
in the World to Come. Accordingly, a person's ultimate status in the World
to Come is indeed relevant to his physical fate in this world. If a person
is designated as righteous as far as the World to Come is concerned, then he
is punished in this world for his sins, as explained above. If he is
designated as wicked, then he is rewarded for his good deeds in this world.
When a person's future in this world is decided, it is thus important for
Hashem to evaluate whether he is destined to end up in Gan Eden or Gehinom.
This evaluation, says Tosfos, also takes place on Rosh Hashanah, when man's
fortunes for life during the coming year are being planned.
Does Tosfos mean that the fates of our physical lives are not decided at all
on Rosh Hashanah? This contradicts a very common theme in the Tefilos of
Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kipur, in which we say, "Concerning the fates of the
countries of the world, it is decided on this day which will have war and
which will have peace..." (Zichronos prayer of Rosh Hashanah Musaf); "Who
will live and who will die... who [will perish] by water and who by fire..."
(u'Nesaneh Tokef). The VILNA GA'ON explains that it is not Tosfos' intention
to reject the idea of a yearly judgment for man's physical fate during the
coming year. Rather, he means to say that there are *two* separate judgments
that take place on Rosh Hashanah. One is to decide people's physical fate in
this world for the new year, and the other, to decide his spiritual fate in
the World to Come.
We may now answer our question. The Gemara's two statements are referring to
two different judgments, the Vilna Ga'on asserts. Man's fate for the *World
to Come* is decided in one step -- for the completely wicked and completely
righteous on Rosh Hashanah, and for the intermediate people on Yom Kipur.
When it comes to man's *physical* fate in this world, though, *everyone's*
fate is inscribed on the same day -- Rosh Hashanah. Hashem then has mercy
and gives *all* of mankind until Yom Kipur to "appeal," through penitence,
whatever evil decrees may have been decided against them on Rosh Hashanah.
(c) The PNEI YEHOSHUA suggests a brilliant answer for why no date of
"sealing" is mentioned for the Beinonim. The Gemara later (17b) explains the
verse in Tehilim (62:13), "You show kindness, Hashem, for you repay each man
according to his actions." How can it be called "showing kindness" if Hashem
gives every person exactly what he deserves? The Gemara answers that Hashem
initially pays each person according to what he deserves. Ultimately,
though, Hashem sees that the world would not be able to exist under these
circumstances, and He judges the person with kindness and mercy.
This statement of the Gemara's is puzzling. What is meant by "initially" and
"ultimately?" When do these two stages of man's judgment take place? The
Pnei Yehoshua suggests that the reference is to the days of Rosh Hashanah
and Yom Kipur. On Rosh Hashanah, Hashem judges man according to what he
deserves on an absolute scale of strict justice. In His mercy, however, he
delays acting on that judgment until Yom Kipur, to afford people the
opportunity to repent and thus have the original decision revised.
The Gemara tells us that "the seal of Hashem is Truth" (Shabbos 55a).
"Truth" refers to strict justice. Accordingly, the Pnei Yehoshua explains
that it is appropriate to say that Hashem "seals" the judgment of the wholly
righteous and wicked, for these are decreed through the strict letter of the
law. The "seal of Hashem" (i.e. Truth) can thus be said to have been applied
to them. However, the Beinonim were given a grace period of ten days during
which to build up merits to influence the outcome of their judgment. Since
the attribute of mercy is involved with them, the Gemara does not use the
term "seal" for them, for the "seal" of Truth has the connotation of
absolute, strict judgment, and the Beinonim are judged with mercy and
forbearance until Yom Kipur.
(According to this explanation, it is not clear why Rebbi Yehudah, in the
Beraisa on 16a, *did* assert that the fate of man is "sealed" on Yom Kipur,
even though it follows a ten-day grace period.)