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.

Torah Riddles Test #6

2. Question: What is the difference between nullifying chometz on the eve of Pesach and resting your animal on Shabbos in terms of being in different time zones of your property? By chometz the Oneg Yom Tov says it goes by which ever time zone it is in and by Shabbos there seems to be an argument whether it goes by the animal’s time zone or the owner’s time zone, so what would be the reason why they are different if we go by the owner’s time zone on Shabbos?

Background:

(A) The Oneg Yom Tov said that if you are in one time zone and your chometz is in a different time zone, for example 3 hours ahead then the chometz is automatically forbidden once the time where the chometz is, comes because since the chometz is in its place after the time of being forbidden it is forbidden to get any benefit from it and we don’t care about the time zone it’s owners are in. (B) On Shabbos a person has to rest including his animals as it says in the Ten Commandments of Va’eschanan: “you shall not do any work- you, your son, your daughter, your slave, your maid servant, your ox, your donkey, and your every animal, and your convert within your gates in order that…may rest like you.”

Answer: . The mitzva of resting on Shabbos is on the person or owner of the animal so wherever he is when his animal will have to start to rest. Whereas the ownerless state of chometz comes into play by the Torah wherever it is at the time the forbidden hour starts so if it is in a different time zone than where its owner is, it still loses its ownership.

Torah Riddles Test #5

  1. Question: If a pile of sefarim fall on the floor why should you first pick all of them up and then kiss all of them instead of kissing each one as you pick each one up?

 Background:

(A) The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 282:1) says that a person has to treat a Sefer Torah with the utmost respect.

(B) In si’if 5 he says one should not throw holy writings even Halacha and agadita sefarim.

(C) The Rema adds that it is forbidden for a Sefer to be upside down and if found upside down it should be turned over. The Beis Lechem Yehuda adds that the Mahari”l would kiss the Sefer when he turn it right side up.

Answer: The other sefarim left on the floor is left in a state of disgrace while you kiss the one you picked up.

Torah Riddles Test #4

Question: Why isn’t it a problem to put tzitzis onto a garment which has shaatnez and then take out the shaatnez?

Background:

A. The problem is that there is a rule that one can only put tzitzis on a garment which already requires tzitzis. For example if a garment has rounded corners which are not obligated in tzitzis and he tied tzitzis on each round corner and then cut the corner so it would be square which now makes the garment obligated in tzitzis, he must now untie the tzitzis and retie them to be allowed to wear the garment.

B. The main problem is that you can’t perform a mitzvah through doing a sin.

C. The prohibition of meat and milk has to do with a mixture this is the same prohibition of shaatnez, a mixture of wool and linen.

Answer: The issue of shaatnez and tzitzis do not cross paths for the prohibition of shaatnez is in the mixture whereas the mitzvah of tzitzis could be performed within the measurement of wool by itself, assuming most of the garment is wool and there are just a few strands of linen mixed in.

Torah Riddles Test #3

  1. Question: How would a rabbi teach a litigant to lie if before the court case he heard his side and not the other side and then wrote down his thoughts on the case although not writing a final decision (see Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 17:5 in the Rema)?

Background:

A. The Vilna Gaon (note 11) says this ruling is based on a Mishna in Pirkay Avos (1:9) “Shimon ben Shetach says: Interrogate the witnesses extensively; and be cautious with your words, lest they learn to lie.

 B. The Artscroll footnote in the siddur on this Mishna says: “Speak carefully to witnesses and litigants, lest the direction of your interrogation gives them a hint on how to fabricate their testimony to tell you what they think you are looking for.

C. The Rema say the same issue would be if the sage would tell the litigant after he explains his side of the case, “if so then this is how it should turn out…”

Answer: Because now this litigant can use what he heard from the rabbi or what the sage wrote up to strengthen his defense whether it is right or wrong since the rabbi only heard one side of the argument.

Torah Riddles Test #2

  1. Question: Why does a boycott fall on relatives who don’t come through in one case but not in the other?

Background:

A. In Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat 16:3 it says that if one of the litigants has a claim to win the case with witnesses or proof but does not know who they are or who has the proof the judge must put a boycott on anyone who knows the litigant’s innocence through witnesses or proof, in order to come forward and inform the court. The Be’er Heitiv (8) says this boycott applies to relatives of the litigant as well.

B. In 28:2 the Rema says that we poskin that when a person makes an announcement in shul that anyone who can testify for him should do so or be put in boycott that does not apply to relatives since according to the Torah relatives cannot testify.

The Sm”a 28:2:19 and the Be’er Heitiv quoted before says that in the first case we are just looking for people who know the witnesses or proof to bring the forward but in the second case the boycott is on those actually needing to testify and relatives aren’t allowed to testify so they are excluded from the boycott even if they knew what happened.

Torah Riddle Test #1

  1. Question: If a blotch of ink fell all over the name of Hashem in the Torah why are you allowed to erase it in order to fix it?

Background:

A. The Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh Deah 276:9) says one is forbidden to erase even one letter from the Seven Names of G-D which cannot be erased, even when writing a Torah scroll.

B. If one wrote the small leg of a “hey,”  while writing Hashem’s name, too close to the top so it looks like a “ches” he is allowed to erase or scrape off the top part of the letter to make it look like a “hey”.

Answer: The Rema in si’if 11 considers it fixing, not erasing.