THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) PREPARING FOR SHABBOS AND "BITUL TORAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara relates how Rebbi Avahu, Rav Huna, Rabah, Rav Yosef,
and many other Amora'im would physically involve themselves in the
preparations of Shabbos. The Gemara in Kidushin (41a) adds that they
performed the preparations for Shabbos even though they had servants that
could do it for them.
The Gemara in Mo'ed Katan (9a) states that learning Torah is more important
than all of the other Mitzvos, so that if one has before him the Mitzvah of
learning Torah and another Mitzvah, the Mitzvah of learning Torah takes
precedence if someone else can do the other Mitzvah. (If no other person
can do the other Mitzvah, then one may stop learning Torah in order to
perform it, since the purpose of learning Torah is to perform the Mitzvos.)
If so, since there were others who could do these preparations for Shabbos,
what allowed these Amora'im to stop learning Torah? (MISHNAH BERURAH in
SHA'AR HA'TZIYUN 250:9)
(a) The SHA'AR HA'TZIYUN says that when the Gemara in Mo'ed Katan says that
one does not stop learning Torah to perform a Mitzvah which can be done by
someone else, it is referring to a Mitzvah which requires a certain
objective to be accomplished. Since this objective can be accomplished by
someone else, one may not stop learning Torah to do it himself. When the
Gemara there refers to a Mitzvah which cannot be done by someone else, it
means a Mitzvah which obligates the person himself to be involved, like
wearing Tefilin. Preparing for Shabbos falls into the latter category; the
person *himself* is required to be involved in the preparations for
Shabbos, and not to merely ensure that the preparations are accomplished.
(This answer is problematic, because if the Mitzvah of preparing for
Shabbos obligates the person himself to be involved, how can the Gemara in
Kidushin prove from these Amora'im that it is better for a person to
perform a Mitzvah himself than to appoint a Shali'ach to do it? A Shali'ach
cannot perform a Mitzvah that another person is personally obligated to be
(b) The Mitzvah of honoring the Shabbos is more weighty than other Mitzvos,
so that it requires that one even stop learning Torah in order to fulfill
it. (Sha'ar ha'Tziyun)
(c) Perhaps these Amora'im were learning Torah (in depth) at the same time
that they were doing their Shabbos preparations.
2) PEOPLE OF TRUSTWORTHINESS
QUESTION: Rava taught that the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed because there
ceased to exist men of trustworthiness. The Gemara challenges this from a
teaching of Rav Katina, who said that even during the time of the collapse
of Jerusalem, when the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, "men of
trustworthiness did not cease [to exist]." The Gemara concludes that when
it came to business, there were no trustworthy people; in Torah, though,
there were still trustworthy people, whom one could trust when they said
that they do not know Torah.
What is so noteworthy about the fact that people were proud to be honest
and say that they did not know Torah?
ANSWER: I heard from Hagaon RAV SHLOMO FISHER Shlit'a (author of Sefer Beis
Yishai) that the Akeidah and Abarbanel explain that Hashem gave the Jewish
people a special blessing that "men of trustworthiness in Torah would not
cease to exist." The essence of this blessing is as follows. We find in the
Torah (Devarim 31:21) that Hashem has promised that the Torah will never be
forgotten. In order for the Torah not to be forgotten, Hashem ensured that
when the elders do not know the Torah, they will admit it; this prevents
the forging and misconstruing of the Torah.
Rav Fisher adds that this could explain the choice of Psalm-of-the-Day
recited on Shemini Atzeres, Tehilim #12. When we read this psalm, it does
not seem to be related in any way to Torah (Simchas Torah) or to Shemini
Atzeres. "Save us Hashem, because... no one can be trusted anymore,
everyone speaks falsely... the words of Hashem are pure words, like finely
refined silver. You, Hashem, will protect them and save them forever...."
Rav Samson Refael Hirsch explains that there is a fine correlation between
Pesach and Shavuos, and between Sukos and Shemini Atzeres. The first pair,
Pesach and Shavuos, represents the "birth" of the nation and of the Torah.
The second pair, Sukos and Shemini Atzeres, represents the continuity of
the nation and the Torah.
Accordingly, Tehilim #12 is most appropriate for Shemini Atzeres, because
the subject of Tehilim #12 is the special blessing that men of
trustworthiness in Torah will never cease which, as we explained, is a
safeguard to maintaining the continuity of the Torah. Since Shemini Atzeres
is the time that represents the continuation of the nation and the
protection of the Torah, it is most appropriate to discuss on this day the
blessing that Hashem gave us, that the Torah will be preserved through all
of the generations: "No one can be trusted anymore, everyone speaks
falsely... [but] the words of Hashem (= the Torah) are pure... You, Hashem,
will protect them, You will preserve them from this generation forever."