Torah Riddles #239

 Question: What’s the difference between birkas hamazon and shemone esray? Why does the Ramban brought in the Magen Avraham (192:1) hold that if you only know one paragraph (blessing) of birkas hamazon you can say that even if you don’t know the rest but Beur Halacha in siman 593 says in the name of the Nahar Shalom that if you know only one paragraph of Shemone esray then you can’t just say that one paragraph for the prayer of shemone esray?


A. The Beur Halacha also says that the Magen Avraham (593:2) who seems to argue by Shemone esray really hold that you do fulfill a Torah level mitzvah of praying even if you just say one paragraph of shemone esray but you don’t fulfill the mitzva of shemone esray where as you would fulfill the mitzvah of birkas hamazon if you only say one paragraph.

B. Though Shemone Esray is made of 18 different blessings it’s different than the 3 different blessings of Birkas hamazon. 

Answer: Shemone esray the concept of asking mercy from Hashem and therefore it’s a prayers which is considered one unit so if you leave something out then the unit if prayer is lacking and doesn’t count but Birkas hamazon isn’t a prayer, it’s a bunch of blessings so one doesn’t effect the other according to the Ramban. The Magen Avraham does bring down the view of the Rif that all blessings of Birkas hamazon are connected so if you only know one then you can’t say Birkas hamazon at all.

Torah Riddles #238

Question: Why by pikuach nefesh, saving someone’s life who might be in danger, let’s say on Shabbos, we are not concerned for the majority and if for example a building collapsed and most people inside are gentiles but there might be a Jew there we are allowed to search for him on Shabbos but when it comes to dinei nefashos, judging life and death circumstances we do rely on the majority to help with two witnesses in order to sentence someone to death, but isn’t this a case of pikuach nefesh also for if one must save a person at all costs one definitely can’t kill someone? (Kovetz Shiurim Bava Basra 225)


A. The mitzvah to save a Jew’s life even at the expense of transgressing mitzvos is based on verse of “vichai bahem” that the mitzvos are to live by not die by. The mitzvah to sentence one to death if he transgressed a sin of that severity is “uviarta hara mikirbecha” you shall wipe out the evil from amongst you.

B. By pikuach nefesh there are two factors, the mitzvah of saving a life, and the mitzvah being transgressed. By dinei nefashos there are two factors: the mitzvah of eliminating evil and the mitzvah of saving a Jew’s life.

 C. In both cases where is the source of the doubt in question and which one is the after effect that just has to be taken into consideration?

 Answer: In terms of saving one’s life the source of the question is whether there is a mitzvah now to save one’s life and the byproduct is desecrating Shabbos so the verse of “you shall live by them” resolves the main question at hand and says Shabbos should be transgressed even if there is a small possibility that it’s saving a Jew, just like if one definitely knows he is saving a Jew. But by laws that concern capital punishment where the question is whether to blot out evil or not then if the majority resolves that question then which is the main question at hand then there is no doubt of needing to save a life since that’s just a byproduct of what the real issue is that is wiping out evil, which the majority poskined can be done so the minority issue of saving a life doesn’t exist anymore.

Torah Riddles #237

Question: Why does the Ra”n (Beitza 17a “umiha”) hold that if one needs 2 figs to save one’s life and he must pick them off the tree on shabbos and he has a branch with 2 figs or a branch with 3 figs in front of him but he cuts down the branch with 3 figs on shabbos, he transgressed a Torah level prohibition (arguing on the R’I and Rashba who say it’s rabbinic) because adding to the measure is a Torah level issue, and though he cut only one branch but it had the 3rd unneeded fig then he sinned and yet if one steals a sack of 100 dollar bills why did he transgress the prohibition of stealing once and not 100 times?


A. To transgress a Torah prohibition of Shabbos one has to perform a “meleches machsheves” which is “an act of craftsmanship ” meaning it has to be done with intent, knowing what you are doing, the act was done for the same purpose as done in the Mishkan, in its normal way, constructive, and will cause a permanent result.

B. 2 out of 3 figs were allowed to be picked for the sake of saving the sick person’s life but the branch with the two figs should have been cut off so that there would not have been any prohibition.

C. One is liable for the act of stealing, for example the Ketzos 348:2 proves from a Rashi in the first chapter of Bava Metzia that you are only liable for stealing someone else’s pet who walked into your property if you close your gate so that the animal cannot get out because you did an act which stole it from the owner.

Answer: By stealing because the act is the prohibition then only one act of taking the bag of cash is liable not the hundred bills that’s in the bag.(though you have to pay all hundred back but G-d only counts it as one sin.) But since on Shabbos it’s not only the act but it’s meleches machsheves and though you did only one act of cutting down the branch but with the intent of getting 3 figs when you only need 2 to save the guy’s life so he is liable for that 3rd fig not needed.

Torah Riddles # 236

Question: Why does the Sefer Hachinuch (mitzvah 2) hold that the mitzvah of mila is not upon the father once his son is bar mitzvah if it was not done yet but in mitzvah 392 he holds that pidyon haben is still a mitzvah on the father even if he didn’t do it after his son turned bar mitzvah?


A. The Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 444:11) says that every second one does not have a bris is a transgression (non fulfillment) of the positive mitzvah.

 B. The father has to do pidyon haben to the son even if the son died (after 30 days of life) and the mitzvah wasn’t done yet.

  Answer: As long as a man is an aral, uncircumcised, every second with foreskin is another transgression of a new positive mitzvah so when he turns 13 it’s a new positive mitzvah so the bar mitzvah boy takes this new mitzvah and the father is done. But by pidyon haben the obligation is not due to the fact that the son is not redeemed yet, for even if the son dies the father must still do the processes of redeeming him to perform the mitzva, rather the Torah requires the father to redeem him, and if so the obligation isn’t one the renews itself constantly, rather it is a one time obligation that starts when he is born (after 30 days of life) and lasts forever as long as it is not done. For this reason the mitzvah isn’t being newly forsaken every second, rather one has to get it done as soon as possible, therefore even once the boy grows up the father is still obligated since the original mitzvah has not gone away yet, and even if the father dies, the son just takes over the obligation of the original mitzvah.

Torah Riddles #235

1.      Question: If the Be’ur Halacha (in 657) says according to the Shulchan Aruch you must buy a child a kosher set of lulav and esrog because proper chinuch is to teach him how to do the mitzvah properly, but a child can’t do it properly anyways since in siman 60 we say that mitzvos must be done with kavana, proper intent and a child can’t have halachic kavana, so if he can’t perform the mitzva anyways then why are we required to buy him a kosher set?


A. There is a famous chakira about what it means that mitzvos need proper intent: a. Does the intent make the action, meaning that it’s only considered an action of a mitzva with the intent but without the proper intent it is just a regular action not counting as an action of a mitzva.

b. The action by itself is considered an action of a mitzva even without proper intent, but the reason why we need the intent is for the fulfillment of the mitzvah, for there are two parts to the fulfillment of a mitzva, the action of the mitzvah and the proper intent for the mitzvah.

 Answer: If you say like side b then it makes sense because using a kosher set of lulav and esrog allows him to have a proper action of a mitzva, and his mind is saying he would like to perform that mitzvah, it’s just that it’s a mind of a child which can’t have proper intent but the parent is still doing all that he can to show the child how to perform the mitzva properly.

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.