Torah Riddles #233

1.       Question: According to the Avnei Nezer (Orach Chaim 2:442) Why can a half slave half free person fulfill his mitzvah of listening to shofar on Rosh Hashanah, even if his full self isn’t obligated since a maasah mitzvah, the action if the mitzvah was undeniably done by him listening and part of him is a bar chiyuv, obligated in the mitzvah, however the gemara in Rosh Hashanah 28a says that a person who was a shoteh, halachically insane, and exempt from mitzvos, if he ate matza on Pesach and soon after became normal again he still hasn’t fulfilled the mitzvah and must eat matza again even if the maaseh mitzvah was fulfilled and one who is obligated in the mitzvah is digesting while the obligation is still around, i.e. he became normal that night of Pesach, so why can’t he then fulfill the mitzvah and he does not need to eat matza again to fulfill the mitzva?


 A. The Avnei Nezer holds that a half slave half free person cannot blow shofar because you need someone fully obligated in the mitzvah to blow but he can listen because the half which is a Jew is fully listening. This is because the sound of the shofar which is the object of the mitzvah must be done by someone obligated in the mitzvah but the action of the mitzvah does not have to done by a full-fledged Jew.

B. You have to factor in both the action of the mitzvah (maasah mitzvah) and the fulfillment of the mitzvah (kiyum of the mitzvah). The obligation of the mitzvah is only exempted by fulfilling the obligation and fulfilling the obligation is the reason for the removal of the obligation.

 Answer: By matza the insane person did a maaseh mitzvah of eating but when he didn’t have an obligation to fulfill the mitzvah therefore when he became normal again he had to eat matza again to perform his maaseh mitzvah when he is obligated. But the half slave half Jew heard a full maaseh mitzvah of shofar being blown and his half that was obligated in that mitzvah fully got the mitzvah.

Torah Riddles #232

 Question: Why does the Rambam hold we fast the four times of the year over the destruction of the 2 Beis Hamikdash and what is the precedence for this?


1. The Shelah Hakodesh (Maseches Taanis 70-71) says the point of fasting is not to mourn for what happened in the past because there definitely is no point in that mourning and suffering in of itself since all the prophets, sages, and even non-Jewish philosophers discuss about accepting suffering with love, and that pain over the past is frivolous. We also know that depression is a blockage for the intellectual human being, and for that reason prophesy did not come down unless on a prophet who was joyous at the moment.

2. The Chasam Sofer (Responsa, Orach Chaim 208) adds that if this is the purpose of fasting, then how did the prophets know to invent something which has no precedent in the Torah, to set up days of suffering over something that has already happened?

 Answer: If the main purpose of fasting is repentance, then it all makes sense because we see something similar in the Torah, for on Yom Kippur, a day of repentance, the Torah commands us to fast. (See Dirshu Mishna Berura 549,footnote 1.)

Torah Riddles #231

Question: Why is Kiddush Levana, which is said every month sometime during the first half of the month considered a time bound mitzvah that women are exempt but birkas hachama which is said every 28 years is not considered a time bound mitzvah so women are obligated in saying that bracha?


A. Every 28 years the sun begins its spring season on the eve of a Wednesday, at the same moment when it was emplaced in the cosmos. So in a sense, that rare Wednesday is an anniversary of sorts, a milestone that reminds man of the G-D who created him, his sun, and his earth. (Overview in Artscroll series Birchas Hachamah)

B. Kiddush Levana is the prayer said on the new moon. Which can be said anytime in the evening when the moon can be seen from 3 days after the molad, according to Ashkenazim, or 7 days after, according to Sephardim, all the way till about the 15th of the month, each month.

C. Wearing tefillin can technically be done whenever you want but the mitzvah is only during the day therefore it is time bound. One can sit in the Sukkah whenever he wants but there is only a mitzvah on Sukkos therefore it is timebound.

 Answer: The actuality of the sun being in the same spot as where it was from the beginning of time has nothing to do with time, it just happens to be in that same spot at that time period. But the moon, even though it’s found in the sky all the time, we only say a blessing on it the first half of the month, therefore it’s blessing is dependent on time.

Torah Riddles #230

Question: Why did the Chofetz Chaim not make a blessing in the middle of a meal when he ate bread for kamput in his later years but he poskined in the Mishna Berura (177:1:4) that one should make a blessing on kamput even in the middle of a meal where you had washed on bread?


A. The Mishna Berura there says that anything part of the meal, meaning that it’s used to eat a normal meal with, main and sides, like meat, fish, eggs, vegetables, cheese, etc. things that also enhance the bread, all don’t need an extra blessing once the blessing on the bread is said at the beginning of the meal. However, add ons, for example any fruit brought in the beginning of the meal or dessert (which is not a mezonos, made out of grains) would require their own blessing. Kamput, cooked fruit, is listed there as an example of something which is used as an appetizer or a dessert which needs its own blessing.

 B. The Sefer Teshuvos ViHanhagos (1:177) brings testimony that the Chofetz Chaim, the author of the Mishna Berura commentary on Shulchan Aruch, that he himself did not say a blessing on kamput and in fact other gedolim would first say a blessing on raw fruit during the meal and then ate the kamput, to exempt the kamput, in doubt.

 Answer: See Dirshu (10) the reason why the Chofetz Chaim did not say a blessing on the kamput towards the end of his life is because that was part of his main meal, not a dessert or appetizer.

Torah Riddles #229

Question: Why do we add the paragraph about Shabbos when we read about Rosh Chodesh on Rosh Chodesh during krias haTorah but the Mishna Berura says there isn’t a maftir aliyah about Shabbos as we have for all other chagim because the paragraph for Shabbos is too short and you can’t add pesukim of a different topic?


A.    The Mishna Berura (283:1:1) says the reason why we don’t take out a second Torah every shabbos to read the mussaf parsha for shabbos in parshas Pinchas is because it only has 2 verses. An aliyah is read with no less than 3 verses, and to combine verses which is not the topic of the day one cannot do.

 Answer: The Dirshu (1) quotes the Taz (Orach Chaim 423:1) who quotes a Ra”n in Megilla 12b in the Rif that says the verses of Shabbos are part of the topic if Rosh Chodesh because Rosh Chodesh sometimes falls out on Shabbos.

Torah Riddles #228

 Question: Why can one forgive a loan on Shabbos if there is a rabbinic prohibition against doing business on Shabbos?


 A. The Mishna Berura (306:6:33) says that business is forbidden on shabbos whether it is just verbally or by actually handing over something, as a rabbinic ordinance lest one might come to write on Shabbos. It is also forbidden to give a gift to a friend because it is like business since there is a transfer of ownership. However the Rabbis permitted a gift to be given if it can be used on Shabbos or Yom Tov.

 B. Business usually involves an acquisition in which people write up documents as proof that an acquisition was made from one person to another.

Answer: The Dirshu footnote says in the name of Rav Elyashiv that forgiveness of a loan does not need any acquisition therefore it is absolutely permitted on Shabbos. The Responsa Torah Lishma adds that forgiving a loan is unlike business since it is only a removal of a debt. It is a passive act which does not need to lead to any active actions. But one should not do it in front of witnesses because that would be under the category of uvda di’chol, doing mundane things on Shabbos.

Torah Riddles #227

Question: Why can and should a doctor accept payment for treating on Shabbos but a chazzan cannot be paid for davening on Shabbos, it must be part of an annual or monthly salary?


A.      The Mishna Berura (306:5:24) Say it is forbidden to hire a chazzan to pray on Shabbos, but some allow it, but if his salary is for the year or for the month everyone agrees it is permissible. Those that said you can’t are because you can’t take wages on Shabbos. Those that say you can are because for a mitzvah you can, the rabbis didn’t make any decrees against it but you won’t see any blessing coming from the money earned on Shabbos… But a doula definitely is permitted to take wages for Shabbos.

B.      In Dirshu footnote 21 the Steipler says that even if a doctor does not want to take money for his work on Shabbos it should still be given to him, at least as a gift.

C.      The Pri Megadim says the reason one can take wages for healing is because he is being paid for saving one’s life. But it is still for a mitzvah so why is it different than a Chazzan davening. They are both permitted to do what they do on Shabbos, but one should take payment for what he did on Shabbos and the other shouldn’t technically?

Answer: Healing isn’t just permitted on Shabbos to save a life, it pushes off Shabbos, so once Shabbos is pushed off then it’s permitted to charge, especially since if he does not accept payment this time he might not heal or be lazy to do his job next time on Shabbos and for life and death we’ll do pretty much anything to save a potential life in danger. But a chazzan, though what he is doing is a mitzva by leading the minyan in davening but he is not pushing off Shabbos, so the rabbinic prohibition of accepting wages for Shabbos is still prohibited according to this opinion and certainly will not see any blessing.

Torah Riddles #226

Question: According to Rashi (Brachos 48b) why should a man with only a rabbinic obligation to say Birkas hamazon because he only ate a kazayis of bread, is allowed to lead a zimun but a child who also has a rabbinic obligation to say Birkas hamazon (even if he eats to satiation) cannot lead a zimun?


A. The Torah obligation for Birkas hamazon is eating to the point of satiation as the Torah in Devarim 8:10 says, “And you shall eat and you shall be satisfied and you shall bless Hashem.”

B. The father has an obligation of chinuch to teach his children how to do mitzvos like bentching after eating bread.

 Answer: The rabbinic mitzvah for a child to say Birkas hamazon is an obligation through the father, not his own mitzvah, therefore he cannot really lead a zimun. But the rabbinic mitzvah of one who ate a kazayis of bread is his own mitzvah therefore he is able to lead others who even have a Torah level obligation of Birkas hamazon, in a zimun.

Torah Riddles #225

Question: Let say in the holocaust one stole matzah to save his life because he was starving to death and at the same time he fulfilled the mitzva of eating matza Pesach night, whis he allowed to say a blessing over the stolen matzah?


A. The Mishna Berura (454:4:18) poskins that one may not say a blessing on stolen matza, even if just the ingredients were stolen and turned into matza because it’s considered disgusting to Hashem, so how can one make a blessing, whether on the mitzva of matza or hamotzi, over something disgusting to Hashem that is blasphemy!

B. The Beur Halacha quoting the Beis Meir says that what it means that it’s disgusting to say a blessing is that of course one must say it however he is mentioning his sin with the blessing, though he still has to bless. However the Beur halacha concludes that when in doubt by blessing be lenient and don’t say it.

 C. Chaza”l say that according to the Torah we shall live by it and not die by it.

Answer: Since you are doing what Hashem wants you to do by staying alive, even at the expense of stealing from someone, that is not disgusting and is pleasing to Hashem.

Torah Riddles #224

 Question: Why can one fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah on the seder night let say if it fell out in Shabbos with matzah that he carried in a public domain that night without an eruv but he cannot fulfill the mitzvah with stolen matzah?


A. The Mishna Berura (454:4:14, 15) says a person doesn’t even technically fulfill the mitzvah of eating matzah and would have to eat again and say a new bracha if one uses stolen matzah. But if one stole wheat or flour and made matzah he can fulfill the mitzvah because he acquired it with a change in the substance and he just has to pay the owner for the ingredients he stole.

B. The first Beur Halacha in Mishna Berura siman 318 says that if you purposefully carry on Shabbos you can still use it after Shabbos though if you purposefully cooked on Shabbos you can never use it because the Rabbis fined the one who purposefully transgressed Shabbos in a way which will change the item used to do a sin.

Answer: The Be’ur Halacha “vi’li’inyan bracha etc.” Says that the Poskim write that specifically by stolen matza one does not fulfill the mitzvah because the matzah itself came through sin. (According to Rebbe Akiva Aiger putting it into the mouth to eat has to be the means of stealing the object while fulfilling the mitzvah at the same time.) On the other hand, a carrying matza from the private domain to the public domain when Pesach falls out on Shabbos, one can still fulfill his mitzvah with that matza and even say a blessing for it because he is the one that actively transgressed a mitzvah, but the matzah itself isn’t a sin. This means that the matzah itself is deemed stolen matzah hence it’s an object of sin. But the matza that is carried is not deemed to be a status of a sin, it just that the action you did is a sin, totally disconnected from the object therefore when fulfilling the mitzvah it not through a sin in terms of carrying on Shabbos.