Sunday, August 29, 2004

Berachos 32b

Sorry for the long hiatus. Boruch Hashem I now have phone service again, and here goes the next installment of this eSefer!

Gemara: "R' Chama the son of R' Chanina said: If one sees that one prayed and was not answered, one should pray again, as it says, 'Hope to Hashem - strengthen your heart and hope to Hashem.' "
Contrast this with the following gemara on 61a: "R' Huna said in Rav's name: One's words should always be few in front of Hashem, as it says, 'Do not confuse your mouth, and your heart should not rush to say something in front of Hashem, because Hashem is in heaven and you are on earth, therefore let your words be few.' "
The first gemara seems to say that one should keep on praying for one's needs as much as possible, while the second one seems to condone minimalization of prayer.
The Maharsha (on the second gemara), says that the gemara means that if something bad happens to a person, he/she should not pray overmuch that the bad thing be fixed, because maybe it is a blessing in disguise.
Loosely basing ourselves on that, we can say that the first gemara is not referring to a situation where something bad happened to a person - rather the person is praying for something positive to occurr.

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Still not fixed...

Verizon cancelled their visit to my home today. My phone is still dead. Let's pray they come tomorrow!

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Friday, August 20, 2004

Sorry...

For the lack of posts. Verizon has not been forthcoming in fixing my phone line. (I am now at someone else's house.) Iy"H they will fix it by Monday. Good Shabbos!

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

Berachos 32a

Gemara: "ויחל משה את פני ה R' Elazar said: This teaches us that Moshe prayed until he got sick." (I'm going according to the text of the Bach 4.) This gemara ties in well with the Gemara on 12b, "Rava says: If there is a scholar who needs mercy from heaven, one has to pray for him until he one is sick over it." The explanation for this, I've heard, is that when one feels another's pain to such a strong degree that it physically affects him, he is, so to speak, putting himself in the same boat as the sick person. Thus, he is, in effect saying, "Hashem, look! My friends illness is causing me pain, and I don't deserve that - would you please heal him, so that I can get better?" Certainly this would apply in our gemara, where Moshe was praying for the existence of the entire Jewish nation.

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Monday, August 09, 2004

Vacation!

I'm taking a short vacation (finally!), and I probably won't be able to post until Thursday or Friday. See you then!

P. S. I realize that my blog is (so far) basically limiting it's readership to those who are learning Berachos now, or know it well. If you know anyone who is in this category, please feel free to share the URL: www.esefer.blogspot.com. Thank you!

P. P. S. I may be dreaming, but I envision a vast virtual bais medrash, where one can find someone learning any inyan, at any time. This blog is my small contribution towards that goal. Perhaps we can start a Shas Webring. I volunteer Berachos - anyone else?

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Friday, August 06, 2004

Berachos 30b

Gemara: "R' Yochanan said, 'I saw R' Yanai pray, and then pray again, [so it must be that he said Musaf by himself.]' R' Yirmiyah said to R' Zayra, 'Maybe [R' Yanai] didn't have proper kavanah the first time, and he repeated his davening because of it.' R' Zayra answered, 'Look at the great man who testified about him.' " In other words, R' Yochanan certainly knew what he saw when he testified about R' Yanai.
One could ask on this gemara from the gemara later on, on 33b: "One who recites the Shema, and repeats it is shameful... R' Pappa said to Abaya, 'Maybe the first time he didn't have the proper kavanah, and that's why he repeated the Shema, to say it with the prioper kavanah.' Abaya answered, 'Is one a friend of Hashem? [May one speak to Hashem like he would to his friend?] If he doesn't have kavanah the first time, we hit him with a blacksmith's mallet until he has kavanah.' " Now, Abaya presumably wasn't saying that we actually hit him (it's hard to have kavanah when being hit with a mallet!), rather he was putting the importance of having kavanah into perspective for R' Pappa. However, we do see how unthinkable not having kavanah is - even to a regular person (because Abaya and R' Pappa weren't talking specifically about great scholars). If so, what was R' Yirmiyah thinking when he asked that maybe R' Yanai didn't have kavanah? Also, why didn't R' Zayra answer that it's unthinkable that R' Yanai didn't have kavanah?

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Thursday, August 05, 2004

Berachos 28a - Tefillas Arvis R'shus Oy Chovah - Part IV

Gemara: [During a conversation between Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua, Rabbi Yehoshua said,] "Woe to the generation that you lead! Because you don't know the pain of Torah scholars, where their livelihood comes from and where their food comes from."
It seems to me that there is an enormous lesson in this statement. A leader leads not only because of his capabilities. A leader must know the troubles and problems of those he leads. He must empathize with them. From the context of Rabban Gamliel's original statement to Rabbi Yehoshua, "From the walls in your house [which are black from soot] it is obvious that you are a blacksmith," (to which Rabbi Yehoshua answered this statement about leaders), we see that Rabban Gamliel should have known by himself that Rabbi Yehoshua was a blacksmith. We see that a function of leadership is concerning yourself with the welfare of those who are following you.
Someone once said, "It's lonely at the top of the ladder." A true leader is always in touch with the bottom of the ladder, too.

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Wednesday, August 04, 2004

Berachos 28a - Tefillas Arvis R'shus Oy Chovah - Part III

Gemara: "It was stated: That day [that Rabban Gamliel was removed from the office of Nasi] they removed the doorman, and the students were given permission to enter. For, Rabban Gamliel would announce, 'Anyone who is not as sincere internally as he appears externally may not enter the Bais HaMedrash.'"
The question is, how would the doorman know who was completely sincere and who was not?
Two possible answers:
1) Perhaps the doorman didn't let anyone in. If a student managed to somehow get in anyway to be able to listen to the shiur, this proved his sincerity.
2) Perhaps the doorman was there to charge an admission fee - if someone paid, that showed his sincerity - that he was willing to part with money to enter the Bais Hamedrash.
I prefer the second answer, because we find elsewhere is Shas that in the time of Rabbi Akiva there was an admission fee. (Sorry - I don't remember where that gemara
is.)

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Monday, August 02, 2004

Berachos 28a - Tefillas Arvis R'shus Oy Chovah - Part II

The gemara says that Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was considering not accepting the position of Nasi because of his age - he was only eighteen! The gemara says: "That day a miracle occurred to him, and eighteen rows of white hair were placed in his beard. And, this explains what Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah said (on 12b), 'I am like a seventy year old,' and not 'I am a seventy year old.'"
This gemara seemingly contradicts a Rambam in his Pirush Hamishnayos. The Rambam, in Pirush Hamishnayos on the last mishna of the first chapter of Berachos says: "The reason why Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah said, 'I am like a seventy year old,' and he didn't say, 'I am a seventy year old,' is because he was really a young man. However, he learned a lot, day and night, until he was weakened, and he prematurely aged to be like a seventy year old. And he agreed to the beginning of the aging, as the gemara explains."
The Rambam - by attributing Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah's aging to exertion in Torah learning - seems to discount the miracle that the gemara relates, and says a rational explanation that argues with the gemara's explanation.
However, we can explain like this: The Rambam was bothered by a question. The gemara seems to say that Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah looked like a seventy year old, because he (miraculously) had eighteen rows of white hair added to his beard. This implies that the rest of his beard remained its' original color. If that's so, Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah didn't look like a seventy year old - has anyone ever seen a seventy year old with a striped beard? Therefore, the Rambam understood that the gemara must mean as follows: When Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was eighteen this miracle happened. Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah, because of the miracle, agreed to accept the post of Nasi. The post of Nasi carries much more responsibility than Rabbi Elazar ben Azaryah was used to (see Maharitz Chiyus 27b in the name of R' Yonasan Eibischitz), but he wasn't fazed, and willingly accepted the post. Those extra duties prematurely aged him, so much so that a while later he was able to say, "I am like a seventy year old," because by then the rest of his hair had turned white. (That's what the Rambam means when he says, "And he agreed to the beginning of the aging, as the gemara explains." That means, that he agreed to accept the post of Nasi, which carried all the extra exertion in Torah matters along with it.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous wolf2191 said...

Also interesting. This is the Rambam L'
Shitoso (see Pirush Mishnayot to Chelek) who believes that the many nissim mentioned in the Gemara should not be taken literally.

Chag Sameach

15/4/08 12:51 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Just the opposite. Also, I don't think that you are characterizing the Rambam's position correctly.

12/5/08 9:08 PM  

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Berachos 25a - Part II

I wrote in a previous post: "What I'm wondering is: A person with eyeglasses or contact lenses - what is considered normal vision for him? Is it as far as he usually sees (in other words, as far as he sees while wearing glasses), or, as far as he naturally sees?" In that post we discussed the Halachic ramifications of the question. Two new points:
1) On Friday night I had the pleasure of attending the Shalom Zachor of a good friend. His brother-in-law, an anonymous attorney from Manhattan, suggested the following answer: When one is wearing glasses, his vision is considered to be how far he can see while he has glasses on, while if his glasses are off, then his vision is considered as far as he can see with them off. Based on this, the same person will have a different status in halacha depending if he is wearing glasses or not. I'm not sure if he's right, but it certainly is worth thinking about.
2) As far as what the distance of one's vision is, obviously it depends on the individual person's eyesight. However, to give us an idea of a minimum in the times of Chazal, see the gemara on 33a: "Rabbi Oyshia learned: One should distance himself fifty amos [even] from a docile ox, and from an ox with a history of goring, as far as one can see." We see from here that the amount of one's vision was more than fifty amos. (However, one could differentiate by saying that the gemara on 33a is talking about an ox, which is much bigger, and therefore more visible even at a longer distance - while in our gemara, where we're talking about unclean items which may be very small, the distance of one's vision is considered less than fifty amos.)

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could this be related at all to the gamara in Makkos, I think on 5a, that discusses the sight of an average person setting the standard for hazama purposes and not being choshesh for nehura bira.

3/8/04 12:22 PM  
Blogger Moshe Y. Gluck said...

Sorry, I couldn't find the gemara on 5a. Perhaps a different daf? Let me know please.
myg

4/8/04 2:56 AM  

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