Torah Riddles Test #16

  1. Question: Why do you need to check on all the mezuzahs of your house and can’t rely on a chazaka after 3 of them are still found to be kosher?


Background:

A. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 291:1) says an individual household should check there mezuzahs twice every 7 years and mezuzahs of the public twice every fifty years.

B. A chazaka is an assumption or pattern that is established after 3 times so if 3 mezuzahs were found to be kosher why can’t one assume that all the rest of his mezuzahs in his house are kosher?

Answer:The Birkay Yosef and Pischei Teshuva (1) both say that you have to check all the mezuzahs put up the same time as the 3 because not all the locations are the same, environment differences, colder, warmer, rain, snow, etc.

Torah Riddles Test #15

  1. Question: Why isn’t there a difference between lefties and righties when putting up a mezuzah as there is when putting on tefillin?

Background:

A. Lefties put tefillin on their right arm and righties but tefillin on their left arm.

B. Rebbe Akiva Aiger quoting a Mordechai says that even if one’s stronger leg is his left one, that is what he normally comes in with (meaning he starts walking with his left foot, so when walking through a doorway he would assumingly step in starting with his left foot) still the mezuzah should be placed on the right side and it is not like tefillin.

C. Most people in the world are righties.

Answer: Rebbe Akiva Aiger answers in Yoreh Deah 289:2 that mezuzah is protection for everyone in the household not just for the one who puts up the mezuzah.

Torah Riddles #14

  1. Question: Why do some hold one can make a shehecheyanu on buying new sefarim but not on a new pair of tefillin?

 Background:

a. The Magen Avrohom (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 223:5 brings the opinion of the Birkas Rm”m, but argues on him, who holds you do make a shehecheyanu on new sefarim but not tefillin. The Mahar”I Bei Rav brought in the Be’er Heitiv says you even make a shehecheyanu on buying a Sefer Torah.

b. The Rambam says you make a shehecheyanu on Tzitzis and tefillin just like you make a blessing on doing an mitzvah from time to time like lulav, Chanukah light, shofar etc.

c. The Tur argues and says you say a shehecheyanu on tzitzis because you bought new vessels or clothes. But not on tefillin because mitzvos are not to get personal benefit from.

Answer: The excitement of acquiring sefarim is not just in order to learn them which would fall into the category of mitzvos are not for personal benefit but there is an excitement in enlarging ones collection of sefarim and now having this specific Sefer or set, or a whole Sefer Torah added to his collection, that excitement according to these opinions would obligate a shehecheyanu but most people are only excited to get a pair of tefillin because now they can perform the mitzvah.

Torah Riddles Test #13

  1. Question: How should it be possible to differentiate between verses in a Torah scroll?

Background:

a. The Rema in Yoreh Deah 274:7 says an idea that the Shach (6) says should be done but not too much, to indicate an end of a verse, since one cannot write periods in a Torah scroll.

Answer: Make a little space between each verse.

Torah Riddles Test #12

  1. Question: What is the difference between putting a clay vessel in the oven right before Shabbos to finish hardening which Rashi in Shabbos 74b says does not constitute breaking Shabbos under the prohibition of makeh b’patish, i.e. giving the final blow to create an object, since the oven is doing it by itself and you are doing nothing to finish it, whereas the Even Ha’Ozer (Orach Chaim 328) says that putting in wheat kernels to be ground on Shabbos by a mill running on water does constitute breaking shabbos  and is forbidden (according to him on a Torah level and according to the Magen Avraham on a Rabbinic level) even though you aren’t directly grinding, the water is causing the machine to grind for you?

Background:

  1. The issue with the melacha of techina/grinding is the action of grinding.
  2. The issue with the melacha of makeh bipatish/doing the final blow is the result of a finished product.

Answer: You are responsible for causing the machine to grind by putting the kernels into the machine for it to be ground by the water since the issue is the action itself which you caused the machine to do so it is directly related to you since caused the water to start the process. Whereas by the clay vessel you just placed the vessel in the oven and the oven finished the job by itself, so since the issue is not the action the oven did but the results that it created then you aren’t directly responsible for what happened.

Torah Riddles Test #11

  1. Question: What is the difference between needing to reheat water for a baby who got a bris on Shabbos and the hot water prepared for a bath before Shabbos spilled before the bris, where the R”an permits doing the bris but he says one cannot shecht an animal on Yom Tov if he doesn’t have dirt prepared from before YomTov to fulfill the mitzvah of covering blood?

Background:

  1. The Raza”h says it is not permitted to do the bris on Shabbos if you know you are going to have to break Shabbos to heat up water once the baby is in a dangerous state and needs the hot water. Meaning you can’t put yourself in a position to be forced to break Shabbos in order to save some one’s life just to fulfill a mitzvah.
  2. The Ra”n in the name of the Ramban holds that there is a mitzvah right now in front of us which has to get done so take care of it and we’ll have to deal with the ramifications later, even if it means breaking Shabbos and heating water for a bath in order so that the baby will not becomes too weak.  At that point it is permissible to break Shabbos for the sake of the baby in order to avoid the situation of the baby becoming in danger.  When the bris was being done there was no immediate need to break Shabbos so it was not an immediate cause and effect.
  3. Why doesn’t the Ra”n say the same by the shechting case, that right now there is a mitzvah of shechting meat in order to eat for the sake of simchas Yom Tov and honoring the holiday with delicacies and after the mitzvah is done we’ll deal with the ramifications of needing to bring in some dirt from outside, which is muktzah on a rabbinic level, since it was not set aside from before yom tov, in order to cover the blood? But the Ra”n says the mitzvah of simchas Yom Tov is different than the mitzvah bris milah, why?

Answer: By the slaughtering you are directly causing the need of getting dirt from outside if it was not prepared before Yom Tov because the need to fulfill the mitzvah of covering blood is like the second part of the slaughtering. But need to heat up water in order to give the baby a bath so that he won’t be in danger is not a direct result of the bris, meaning it is not like the next step of a bris is to give a baby a hot bath, rather this is just an offshoot of what happens when the baby is in such trauma after having surgery, therefore the need to heat up water is indirectly caused by the bris and therefore is permissible.

Torah Riddles Test #10

  1. Question: If a person threw a glass vase off a roof and it was heading straight for a cushion which would save it from breaking but someone removed the cushion before it landed causing the vase break, why isn’t the guy who removed the cushion liable for opening a pit to break the vase?

Background:

  • The Steipler zt”l asked this question on the gemara in Bava Kama 26b in his Kehilos Yaakov 2:2 and brings the answer of Rav Avrohom Yaffin that he did create a pit but the Torah says one who creates a pit is not liable for damaged vessels.
  • Rashi on the gemara there says no one is liable because it was an indirect damage.
  • Creating or opening a pit doesn’t only apply to making a hole in the ground but creating or uncovering any stumbling block where someone or something like an animal can get hurt.
  • Rav Shainberg zt”l answers that this is not even considered opening a pit, why not?

Answer: One did not create or uncover a newly established stumbling block by removing the cushion, the ground is ground which G-D himself created, it is just that the force of gravity can cause the vase to break if it hits the ground, that is considered an indirect damage.

Torah Riddles Test #9

  1. Question: Why does the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 285:1) say if you only have enough money to buy only one item one should by tefillin and not a mezuzah?

Background:

  • The Shulchan Aruch says that one who is careful with fulfilling the mitzvah of mezuzah will merit long life for himself and his family.
  •  Mezuzah is a mitzvah that can be fulfilled every day of the year whereas tefillin are not adorned on Shabbos or Yom Tov.
  • If a person is a nomad living in tents in the desert or a sailor at sea, the mitzvah of mezuzah might never pertain to him just as a person who does not own a four cornered garment will never be required to don tzitzis.
  • As soon as a boy turns 13 he has an obligation to put on tefillin everyday besides Shabbos and Yom Tov.

Answer: Rebbe Akiva Aiger on the Shulchan Aruch says tefillin is an obligatory mitzvah in all circumstances except for its few exemptions on different parts of the year but mezuzah is only obligatory if you have a house with doorposts so it is possible a person might never need to fulfill that mitzvah just like tzitzis, therefore it is more important to buy tefillin then mezuzah even if currently you do have a house which is obligated in mezuzah.

Torah Riddles Test #8

  1. Question: Why can a judge help a litigant who is trying to say something but is having problems articulating but if he says he is owed a lesser amount then what he really is the judge cannot correct that?

Background:

 (A) The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat siman 17) says in si’if 9: “If a judge sees a winning argument for one of the litigants and the litigant is trying to say it but does not know how to properly put his words together or they see he is having a hard time trying to save himself with truthful claims and because of anger and frustration he is forgetting things or mixing things up out of foolishness, then a judge can help him and prepare the beginning of his statements because of the concept of ‘opening the mouth for the mute’. But he has to be very careful not to act like a lawyer.

(B) In si’if 12 The Rema says that if a claimant has a claim on his friend over a smaller amount of money and the judge sees that he is actually owed more money technically than what he is asking for, the judge can’t poskin that he should get more than what he is asking for and if he does it is a mistake in judgment and the extra money must be given back.

(C) The Shach (15) says we are not dealing with a case where he explicitly forgoes part of what he is owed, neither does it make sense that we know for sure that he is unaware of his mistaken claim.

Answer: In the latter case we don’t know whether he purposely is asking for less or not so the judge can’t say anything. But in the first case it is obvious that he was trying to say something it was just not coming out correctly so the judge is allowed to help him.

Torah Riddles Test #7

  1. Question: Why is it forbidden to take a sefer and put it underneath the Sefer you are learning from to prop it up in order to learn better but if the Sefer is already on the table you can put your Sefer on it so you can see better?

Background:

(A) The Taz (Yoreh Deah 243:19:13) says it is a greater disgrace of a Sefer to take it and use it as a shtender to prop up the Sefer you are learning from then to hold it on your lap even while learning, as it says in the Rema si’if 7, but if the bottom Sefer was already on the table it is definitely permissible to place the second Sefer on top of it.

Answer: By actively taking the Sefer to use it as a shtender that is blatantly showing disrespect whereas just putting the Sefer down on one that is already on the table isn’t a show of disrespect and therefore is definitely permitted.