Saturday, February 25, 2012

On Veset ha-Ḥodesh


כנראה אין זה דבר שלם כלל אבל אעתיקו כאן כי אני נבוך בזה ואם יש מישהו יכול לפרש הענין או אפילו קצתו אשמח לשמוע.

בענין וסת החודש שאינו קבוע

איתא בטור (סימן קפ"ט סעיף ב') ז"ל: ואפילו קודם שקבעתו שלש פעמים חוששת, שמיד אחר שראתה פעם אחרת לסוף עשרים חוששת מכאן ואילך כשיגיע יום עשרים, וכן בראיית הימים שהוא לימים ידועים לחודש מיד אחר שראתה פעם אחת ליום ידוע לחודש כגון בא' או בה' בו חוששת לפעם אחרת לזה היום ואסורה לשמש כל אותה העונה כו', ע"כ.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Kashrut for Vampires

According to a recent post on Hirhurim,[1] the frum vampire community is suffering from a blood crisis. There also appears to be much confusion as to the halakhic specifications regarding the consumption of human blood, which as we all know is an essential component of the vampire diet. It is also well known that many in the vampire community are not meticulous in their mitzvah observance, and it is my opinion that this is largely precisely due to certain misconceptions about what the halakha might or might not allow them.

For these reasons, and noting as it hasn’t been taken up by contemporary poskim yet, I have taken upon myself to clarify the halakha. If one should not wish to read the entire article, I would advise to simply skip to the last paragraph and note my conclusions, which I believe may be relied upon by all vampires l’khatḥila, halakha l’ma’aseh.[2]

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Yeshivishe Reid: On Monetary Doubts


There is an old problem, which deals with one of the most fundamental aspects of דיני ממונות, monetary laws, within the broader framework of Jewish law. There is the well known principle that המוציא מחבירו עליו הראיה; if one wishes to extract money from his fellow, the burden of proof is upon him. This is applicable to the extent that the courts will not extract payment even if the defendant himself is unsure whether he is in the right. For example, if Berel claims that Shmerel borrowed $100 from him, and Shmerel says he cannot recall what occurred on that day, the Halakha says that he is not obligated to pay until Berel provides sufficient evidence that the loan did actually occur.[1] This is certainly within reason, for if Berel were to be able to force Shmerel to pay him simply by virtue of Shmerel’s lack of knowledge, then this would provide a sure means for any disreputable individual to steal money with the law on his side. For anyone can claim, for example, ‘You dented my car without realizing it’, and generally in this situation the honest defendant will have to concede that he does not know. It is thus reasonable to say that the one who wishes to extract money from his fellow must first sufficiently back up his claim.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

On Prayer

One of the functions of prayer is to acknowledge Divine Providence in our daily affairs. By putting forth supplications about our mundane wishes, we acknowledge Divine involvement in those affairs, and thus merit a positive response. It is not that by asking we so to speak change the mind of God, but that by acknowledging the hand of God we merit his response.

Rabbi Yeḥezkel Levenstein illustrates this concept with a story that occurs in the Talmud.[1] In the story, Elijah the prophet reveals to Rabbi Judah the Prince that if he were to appoint Rabbi Hiyya and his two sons to lead the congregation in prayer; the messiah would be forced to come due to their lofty stature, even though it was not the set time. As one would suppose, R. Judah went ahead and appointed them to lead the prayers. As soon as they reached “You are the resurrector of the dead”, the ground began to shake as though the dead were about to rise from their graves. When they said “You cause the wind to blow and the rain to fall”, the wind blew and the rain fell. This caused a great commotion in heaven. Who had revealed this secret that was allowing these people to force the end? The Talmud relates that when it was determined that Elijah the prophet was the one, he was ordered to do what he could to stop the prayer service immediately. So Elijah returned to the world and caused an elaborate distraction to the prayers, and the rest is obvious – as the messiah did not arrive.

One problem commonly raised with this story is that “You are the resurrector” and “You cause rain to fall” are clearly not supplications, they are merely praises. What does it mean that their praises were answered? The answer is, says Reb Ḥatzkel, that if the objective of prayer is to express our belief that the world is run by God, then what better way to achieve this than praise! If we ask in order to show that we believe it possible for us to be answered; certainly by directly praising God we can merit a response.


[1] Cf. Bava Metzia 85b

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Mishpatim


[1]תנן בריש הכונס, מסרה לרועה נכנס הרועה תחתיו. גרסינן בגמ'[2] אמרי תחתיו דמאן, אילימא תחתיו דבעל בהמה תנינא חדא זמנא, מסרו לשומר חנם ולשואל לנושא שכר ולשוכר כולן נכנסו תחת הבעלים. אלא תחתיו דשומר, ושומר קמא אפטר לה לגמרי. לימא תהוי תיובתא דרבא דאמר רבא שומר שמסר לשומר חייב. אמר רבא מאי מסרו לרועה, לברזיליה, [פרש"י לתלמידו] דאורחא דמלתא דרועה למימסר לברזיליה.

ורש"י[3] ביאר הקושיא ממשנתנו על רבא וז"ל והכי משמע, מסרה שומר לרועה נכנס הרועה תחתיו, ואזלי בעלים ומשתעו דינא בהדי שני והראשון מסתלק.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Yitro - the Universality of the Ten Commandments


The Keli Yakar says a beautiful vort in this week’s parsha. He begins by noting ten differences between the first set of tablets and the second, and wondering the reason for the change. They are as follows:

1) In the first it says זכור את יום השבת, remember (or mention) the Sabbath, and in the second it says שמור, watch (or keep) it.

2) In the second, the phrase כאשר צוך ה' אלהיך, as the Lord your God has commanded you, is mentioned in the commandments of the Sabbath and of honoring parents, while in the first it is noticeably absent.

3) In the first, the reason stated for the commandment of the Sabbath is כי ששת ימים עשה ה' את השמים ואת הארץ... וינח ביום השביעי, six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth and he rested on the seventh day. In the second, a seemingly different reason is given – וזכרת כי עבד היית בארץ מצרים ויציאך ה' אלהיך משם... על כן צוך ה' אלהיך לעשות את יום השבת, remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God took you out of there; therefore the Lord your God has commanded you to make the day of Sabbath.