Thursday, February 22, 2018

Parsha Tetzaveh, Zachor, Amalek in Congress

Parsha Tetzveh

Last week, we learned about the physical dimensions of the Mishkan. This week we continue with the material used to light the lamp, the continuation of the description of the stones that were needed for the Cohain Gadol and the making of the Holy Garments. The incense and burnt offerings are mentioned now.

27:20 And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring unto thee pure olive oil beaten for the light, to cause a lamp to burn continually.

Pure: Without sediment, as we learned in Men. (86a): “He allows it to ripen at the top of the olive tree, etc.” Crushed: He must crush the olives in a mortar, but he may not grind them in a mill, so that they will not contain sediment. After he has extracted the first drop [of oil], he places them [the olives] into a mill and grinds them. The [resulting] second oil is unfit for the menorah but is fit for meal offerings, as it is said: “crushed for lighting,” but not crushed for meal offerings. -[from Men. 86a] To kindle the lamps continually: Heb. לְהַעִלֹת, lit., to cause to rise. [The kohen] shall light it until the flame rises by itself. -[from Shab. 21a] Continually: Heb. תָּמִיד. [Since it burns] every night, it is called תָּמִיד, as you say: “a continual burnt offering” (עֹלַת תָּמִיד)” (Exod. 29:42, Num. 28:6), [which is called “continual”] although it is [offered up] only from day to day. Similarly, concerning the flat pan meal offering [of the Kohen Gadol, the word] תָּמִיד is mentioned although it is [offered up] only half in the morning and [the other] half in the evening. [The word] תָּמִיד mentioned concerning the showbread (Exod. 25:30), however, [literally] means from Sabbath to Sabbath [i.e., continually].

If my memory serves me, I recall from Menachos that the olive was crushed once and the first drops of juice that drained from the olives were used and this is extra virgin olive oil. Since the olive harvest is large enough, it was sufficient these first drops were sufficient for all the lighting for the year.

We seem to ignore the holiness and emphasis of Shabbos Kodesh in our generation. While some people the whole week runs around Shabbos as we say in the Song of the Day today is Rishon le Shabbos, Sheni le Shabbos, etc. Others, the Shabbos comes at the end of a busy workweek. Still others unfortunately fall in the category of Psalm 92:7 A brutish man knows not, neither doth a fool understand this. Kiseal or fool does not appreciate it. The Brut even opposes the Shabbos as a renegade but the Kiseal is ignorant of the healing and resting powers of Shabbos. The brut is not the type who wants spirituality for his power comes from the physical world.

21 In the tent of meeting, without the veil which is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall set it in order, to burn from evening to morning before the LORD; it shall be a statute forever throughout their generations on the behalf of the children of Israel.

From evening to morning: Give it its measure so that it will burn from evening to morning. And the Sages estimated [that this is] a half of a log [between 6 and 10.6 fl. oz.] for the long nights of Teveth, and similarly for all the nights. If any of it remains, it does not matter. [from Men. 89a]

The half a log was sufficient for about 14 hours of darkness in the winter, so certainly it would be enough for the 9 hours plus of the summertime.

28:1 And bring thou near unto thee Aaron thy brother, and his sons with him, from among the children of Israel, that they may minister unto Me in the priest's office, even Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron's sons. 2 And thou shalt make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, for splendor and for beauty.

There are regular administration and Korbanos for the ordinary priest. The Cohan Gadol was to have extra special garments.

3 And thou shalt speak unto all that are wise-hearted, whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron's garments to sanctify him, that he may minister unto Me in the priest's office. 4 And these are the garments which they shall make: a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a tunic of chequer work, a mitre, and a girdle; and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto Me in the priest's office.

Choshen: An ornament opposite the heart. An Ephod: I did not hear (that it was a garment) [i.e., I have no tradition concerning the ephod], and I did not find the explanation of its pattern in the Baraitha [Melecheth HaMishkan]. My heart tells me that he [the Kohen Gadol] was girded with it [the ephod] from behind, its width being like the width of an [average] man’s back, similar to a kind of apron called porzent [or pourceint], [a kind of] belt, [like an] apron [back to front] that princesses wear when they ride horseback. So it was made from below [i.e., for the lower part of the body], as it is said: “and David was girded with a linen ephod” (II Sam. 6:14). [Thus] we learn that the ephod was a belt. It is impossible, however, to say that it was only a belt, because it is said: “and he put the ephod on him,” and afterwards, “and he girded him with the band of the ephod (בְּחֵשֶׁב הָאֵפוֹד) ” (Lev. 8:7), which Onkelos renders: בְּהֶמְיַן אֵפוֹדָא. [Thus] we learn that the חֵשֶׁב was the band and the ephod was a separate decoration. It is also impossible to say that because of the two shoulder straps in it, it is called ephod, for it is said: “the two shoulder straps of the ephod” (verse 27). [Thus] we learn that the ephod was a separate entity, the shoulder straps were a separate entity, and the band was a separate entity. Therefore, I say that because of the apron below it is called ephod because he decorates and adorns himself with it, as it is said: “and he decorated him with it” (Lev. 8:7); the חֵשֶׁב is the band above it, to which the shoulder straps were attached. Moreover, my heart tells me that there is evidence that it is a kind of garment, for Jonathan rendered “and David was girded with a linen ephod” (II Sam. 6: 14) as כַּרְדּוּט דְּבוּץ and he renders likewise מְעִילִים as כַּרְדּוּטִין, in the narrative of Tamar, Absalom’s sister, “for in this manner the king’s virgin daughters dressed, in robes (מְעִילִים) ” (II Sam. 13:18). A robe: Heb. מְעִיל. It is a kind of tunic, as is the כְּתֹנֶת, only that the כְּתֹנֶת is [worn] next to his flesh and the מְעִיל is [what is] called the outside robe. Of checker work: Heb. ךְתַּשְׁבֵּץ. Made of boxes (מִשְׁבְּצוֹת) for beauty. The boxes are similar to holes made in gold jewelry as a setting for precious stones and pearls, as it is said regarding the ephod stones: “enclosed in gold settings (מִשְׁבְּצוֹת) ” (verse 11), and in Old French it is called cha(s)tons, settings. [I.e., the boxes of the checker work on the tunic are like settings for precious gems.] A cap: Heb. מִצְנֶפֶת, a type of dome-shaped hat, called cofia in Old French, because elsewhere (verse 40) [the Torah] calls them מִגְבָּעוֹת, and the Targum [Onkelos] renders: כּוֹבָעִין. And a sash: This is the belt on the tunic, and the ephod is the belt on the robe, as we find in the order they were put on: “and put upon him the tunic, girded him with the sash, clothed him with the robe, put upon him the ephod” (Lev. 8:7). Holy garments: From the offering sanctified for My name they shall make it.

Choshen is the breastplate with the jewels. Ephod is an Apron-Vest quality garment.

5 And they shall take the gold, and the blue, and the purple, and the scarlet, and the fine linen.

These are the finest material and the linen is the quality of a classy white shirt. The other colors were either dyed material or woven gold. The Temple Institute put together this garment for the Cohain HaGadol:

6 And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and purple, scarlet, and fine twined linen, the work of the skillful workman.

Illustrations of various Priestly Garments:

7 It shall have two shoulder-pieces joined to the two ends thereof, that it may be joined together. 8 And the skillfully woven band, which is upon it, wherewith to gird it on, shall be like the work thereof and of the same piece: of gold, of blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine twined linen. 9 And thou shalt take two onyx stones, and grave on them the names of the children of Israel:

Remember that each inanimate stone has vibrations and certain powers per the Kabbalah. Stones and embroidery:

10 six of their names on the one stone, and the names of the six that remain on the other stone, according to their birth. 11 With the work of an engraver in stone, like the engravings of a signet, shalt thou engrave the two stones, according to the names of the children of Israel; thou shalt make them to be inclosed in settings of gold. 12 And thou shalt put the two stones upon the shoulder-pieces of the ephod, to be stones of memorial for the children of Israel; and Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial. … 34 a golden bell and a pomegranate, a golden bell and a pomegranate, upon the skirts of the robe round about. 35 And it shall be upon Aaron to minister; and the sound thereof shall be heard when he goes in unto the holy place before the LORD, and when he cometh out, that he die not.

It was like knocking on the door or ringing the bell announcing his entrance before the LRD.

36 And thou shalt make a plate of pure gold, and engrave upon it, like the engravings of a signet: HOLY TO THE LORD.

The Cohanim could not place their hands over their head for the DIVINE NAME:

7 Then shalt thou take the anointing oil, and pour it upon his head, and anoint him.

This was one time only for afterwards Kahuna would be automatic by birth. Same with a Davidic Melech. Only if there was a problem of two brothers would there be an anointing. At the end of the Gaonim one brother, David, broke away to start the Karites. The problem is that the Karites made such a separation that neither Jews or Karites intermarry.

8 And thou shalt bring his sons, and put tunics upon them.

9 And thou shalt gird them with girdles, Aaron and his sons, and bind head-tires on them; and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute; and thou shalt consecrate Aaron and his sons.

Once Consecrated, this would continue perpetually.

10 And thou shalt bring the bullock before the tent of meeting; and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the bullock. 11 And thou shalt (ritually) slaughter the bullock before the LORD, at the door of the tent of meeting.

At the entrance of the Tent of Meeting: In the courtyard of the Mishkan, which is in front of the entrance.

12 And thou shalt take of the blood of the bullock, and put it upon the horns of the altar with thy finger; and thou shalt pour out all the remaining blood at the base of the altar.

 On the horns: On top, actually on the horns. -[from Zev. 53a] And… all the blood: [I.e.,] the remaining blood. Upon the base of the altar: A sort of protruding receptacle was made all around it [the altar] after it was elevated a cubit from the ground. -[from Middoth 3:1]

Gemara Zevachim gives directions on which corner of the Mizbayach the Cohain starts and goes around to the last corner and in which direction. If I recall there was only 3/4ths of the surrounding area, the Cohain could walk around.

13 And thou shalt take all the fat that covers the inwards, and the lobe above the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and make them smoke upon the altar. 14 But the flesh of the bullock, and its skin, and its dung, shalt thou burn with fire without the camp; it is a sin-offering.

Korban Chatas is the bull.

15 Thou shalt also take the one ram; and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the ram. 16 And thou shalt slay the ram, and thou shalt take its blood, and dash it round about against the altar. 17 And thou shalt cut the ram into its pieces, and wash its inwards, and its legs, and put them with its pieces, and with its head. 18 And thou shalt make the whole ram smoke upon the altar; it is a burnt-offering unto the LORD; it is a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

The first Ram is a Korban Chatas.

19 And thou shalt take the other ram; and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands upon the head of the ram. 20 Then shalt thou slaughter the ram, and take of its blood, and put it upon the tip of the right ear of Aaron, and upon the tip of the right ear of his sons, and upon the thumb of their right hand, and upon the great toe of their right foot, and dash the blood against the altar round about.

We learn the right ear of the Eved (servant/slave) mentioned in Parsha Mishpatim being bored to the door post from the blood sprinkled on the right hand and toe of the Cohain

21 And thou shalt take of the blood that is upon the altar, and of the anointing oil, and sprinkle it upon Aaron, and upon his garments, and upon his sons, and upon the garments of his sons with him; and he and his garments shall be hallowed, and his sons and his sons' garments with him.

Up until Rosh Chodesh Nissan which is the dedication of the Mishkan, neither the Cohanim nor their outfits were consecrated.

22 Also thou shalt take of the ram the fat, and the fat tail, and the fat that covereth the inwards, and the lobe of the liver, and the two kidneys, and the fat that is upon them, and the right thigh; for it is a ram of consecration; 23 and one loaf of bread, and one cake of oiled bread, and one wafer, out of the basket of unleavened bread that is before the LORD. 24 And thou shalt put the whole upon the hands of Aaron, and upon the hands of his sons; and shalt wave them for a wave-offering before the LORD. 25 And thou shalt take them from their hands, and make them smoke on the altar upon the burnt-offering, for a sweet savor before the LORD; it is an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 26 And thou shalt take the breast of Aaron's ram of consecration, and wave it for a wave-offering before the LORD; and it shall be thy portion. 27 And thou shalt sanctify the breast of the wave-offering, and the thigh of the heave-offering, which is waved, and which is heaved up, of the ram of consecration, even of that which is Aaron's, and of that which is his sons'.

Each Korban had gifts for the Cohanim.

28 And it shall be for Aaron and his sons as a due forever from the children of Israel; for it is a heave-offering; and it shall be a heave-offering from the children of Israel of their sacrifices of peace-offerings, even their heave-offering unto the LORD.

This is a Korban Shlamim and it is eaten by the Cohanim.

29 And the holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, to be anointed in them, and to be consecrated in them. 30 Seven days shall the son that is priest in his stead put them on, even he who cometh into the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.

The first seven days of Nissan shall be for the dedication of everything and the eight day the Cohanim would be on their own. Parsha Shemini.

31 And thou shalt take the ram of consecration, and seethe its flesh in a holy place. 32 And Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram, and the bread that is in the basket, at the door of the tent of meeting. 33 And they shall eat those things wherewith atonement was made, to consecrate and to sanctify them; but a stranger shall not eat thereof, because they are holy.

One of the three Gerim that Shammai rejected and Hillel accepted their conditions wanted to be Cohain Gadol. Shammai ran him out of the Beis Din. Hillel told him to start the conversion process but one could not be ignorant of the laws and procedures of the Cohain so he would have to learn. He studied and when he got to this Pasuk he drew a Kal V’ Chomer (from the easy to the difficult). He said to himself, “If a born Jew is considered a stranger and forbidden to eat of the Korban. All the more so a Ger who came to Judaism with just the clothes on his body.” [Shabbos 33B and he converted and blessed Hillel for his patience and said that the impatience of Shammai would have driven him away from the Shechina.]

34 And if aught of the flesh of the consecration, or of the bread, remain unto the morning, then thou shalt burn the remainder with fire; it shall not be eaten, because it is holy.

This is like the Korban Pessach and we see in the first Mishnah in Shass that the Rabbis instituted until Midnight instead of the breaking of dawn in order to keep a person from sinning. Berachos 2A.

35 And thus shalt thou do unto Aaron, and to his sons, according to all that I have commanded thee; seven days shalt thou consecrate them. 36 And every day shalt thou offer the bullock of sin-offering, beside the other offerings of atonement; and thou shalt do the purification upon the altar when thou make atonement for it; and thou shalt anoint it, to sanctify it. 37 Seven days thou shalt make atonement for the altar, and sanctify it; thus shall the altar be most holy; whatsoever touches the altar shall be holy.

These seven days of dedication and practice were for Aaron and his sons only. Upon completion, Moshe was to retire and because some Bechorim (first-born sons) participated in the Egel Zahav (golden calf), there was collective punishment on all Bechorim and the first born lost the right to offer up sacrifices.

38 Now this is that which thou shalt offer upon the altar: two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb thou shalt offer in the morning; and the other lamb thou shalt offer at dusk. 40 And with the one lamb a tenth part of an ephah of fine flour mingled with the fourth part of a hin of beaten oil; and the fourth part of a hin of wine for a drink-offering. 41 And the other lamb thou shalt offer at dusk, and shalt do thereto according to the meal-offering of the morning, and according to the drink-offering thereof, for a sweet savor, an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 42 It shall be a continual burnt-offering throughout your generations at the door of the tent of meeting before the LORD, where I will meet with you, to speak there unto thee.

The daily Korban Tamid in the morning and before dusk.

43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel; and [the Tent] shall be sanctified by My glory. 44 And I will sanctify the tent of meeting, and the altar; Aaron also and his sons will I sanctify, to minister to Me in the priest's office. 45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God. 46 And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, that brought them forth out of the land of Egypt, that I may dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

G-D showed off HIS presence in the midst of Yisrael. It is tragic that for a few thousand years now, HIS presence is hidden from our view.

30:1 And thou shalt make an altar to burn incense upon; of acacia-wood shalt thou make it. 2 A cubit shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof; foursquare shall it be; and two cubits shall be the height thereof; the horns thereof shall be of one piece with it. 3 And thou shalt overlay it with pure gold, the top thereof, and the sides thereof round about, and the horns thereof; and thou shalt make unto it a crown of gold round about.

First we had the brazen Mizbayach now this is the Mizbayach Zahav.

4 And two golden rings shalt thou make for it under the crown thereof, upon the two ribs thereof, upon the two sides of it shalt thou make them; and they shall be for places for staves wherewith to bear it. 5 And thou shalt make the staves of acacia-wood, and overlay them with gold. 6 And thou shalt put it before the veil that is by the ark of the testimony, before the ark-cover that is over the testimony, where I will meet with thee. 7 And Aaron shall burn thereon incense of sweet spices; every morning, when he dressed the lamps, he shall burn it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at dusk, he shall burn it, a perpetual incense before the LORD throughout your generations.

Eternal light or Ner Tamid. The flame never went out until the destruction of the Mikdash.

9 Ye shall offer no strange incense thereon, nor burnt-offering, nor meal-offering; and ye shall pour no drink-offering thereon.

Only when and where it is required by HASHEM and not any other time.

10 And Aaron shall make atonement upon the horns of it once in the year; with the blood of the sin-offering of atonement once in the year shall he make atonement for it throughout your generations; it is most holy unto the LORD.'

On Yom Kippur.

Unusual Death Bed Request by Rabbi Yerachmiel Tilles

Every year, on the seventh of Adar, the yahrzeit of Moshe Rebbeinu, the members of the Chevrah Kadishah ('Jewish Burial Society') have a custom to fast,* and at nighttime they join together for a special large meal. The purpose of this fast is to atone for their sins, in case they didn't treat any dead person with appropriate respect while preparing him/her for burial. At this meal, speeches are given to encourage each other to be even more careful in the future with the mitzvah of honoring the deceased.
At one such dinner in Jerusalem, a speaker related the following story:
One Friday afternoon, a woman called the Chevrah Kadishah office and told the secretary that her husband just died. The secretary told her that it was too close to Shabbat, and so the funeral will be held on Saturday night immediately after Shabbat.
"My husband left a request," she told the male secretary. "Immediately following his burial he wants people to sing Bar Yochai** over his fresh grave."
"We will do so. If this is what your husband wanted, we will fulfill his wishes."
During that Shabbos, a leading Torah scholar of the generation passed away. Thousands of people attended his funeral, so the funeral of the widow's husband was deferred until after the scholar's. The Chevrah Kadishah wasn't able to begin the purification rites for the waiting body until late that night, and when they finally finished and declared they were ready for the funeral, it was already 1:00 a.m.
By that time, there were only nine men still present to attend the second funeral. This couple never had any children, and they didn't have much family either, and now there wasn't even a Minyan to escort this Jew on his final journey.
One member of the Chevrah Kadishah went to a Torah-study hall where people study 24/7, and sought someone willing to join them for the funeral. No one was available, other than a maggid shiur, a teacher at a yeshiva. At first he also said, "I came here to prepare a class for tomorrow morning. Try to find someone else."
The Burial Society man tried, but soon returned saying that he couldn't find anyone else at such an hour. So the teacher climbed into the Chevrah Kadishah van, to join them for this mitzvah. After all, as he himself pointed out, the purpose of Torah study is to learn in order to fulfill.
The funeral was finally completed at two o'clock a.m. The secretary remembered the deceased's final request. "Does anyone have a siddur (prayerbook) with the Bar Yochai song? The deceased asked that we sing it over his fresh grave."
No one had such a siddur.
"Does anyone know the song by heart?" They didn't. One person commented, "Maybe I know it by heart, but at two o'clock in the morning, here on Har HaZeitim (Mount of Olives), standing in the cold, I don't know anything anymore." It seemed that the man's final request would not be fulfilled.
Just then, the teacher remembered that he had the text of the song with him. He took a piece of paper with Bar Yochai on it from his pocket, and they all sang together.
On the way back, the teacher told the Chevrah Kadishah members the incredible hashgachah pratit (instance of Divine Supervision) that occurred. "Generally, on Shabbat I davven mincha (pray the Afternoon Prayer) early, in a shul near my home. This week, I missed the early minyan, so I went to pray at a different shul, which is further away from my house.
"As I was walking to that shul with my son, he noticed a page from a siddur on the ground and pointed it out to me. I picked it up, intending to put it into the box for discarded holy objects in the shul. But I forgot to do it, so that page has been in my pocket until now. This is the page that has Bar Yochai on it!"
The other nine men in the van were all astonished by this wonderful demonstration of Divine Supervision. Seeing their amazement, the teacher hastened to add another detail.
"That's not all. On Saturday nights, I usually study in my house. Tonight, I needed to prepare a lesson, but there was too much noise in the house and I couldn't concentrate. That's why I went to the Study Hall. If I had been home, as I usually am, you wouldn't have found me."
One man remarked, "If such a story would have happened for a Chassidic Rebbe, people would speak about it for generations."
"Well, perhaps he was a hidden Tzaddik (holy man without sins)?" wondered another.
"I'll check into exactly who he was tomorrow," the secretary said.
After several inquiries, he discovered that the deceased was a regular Jew. However, on Erev Rosh Chodesh (day before the New Moon) he would go to the tombsite of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron, and every Friday night, he sang the Bar Yochai song before reciting Kiddush."***
The speaker concluded his telling with the following thought: "We should treat every deceased Jew with utmost respect, because we can never know how special he or she is to G-d. Here is a story of an otherwise simple person, but G-d performed miracles for him. It is critical to fulfill all death-bed requests."
The next speaker stood up and said, "Thank you for this wonderful story, and it definitely teaches us to be careful with the important good deed of Respect for the Dead, as you said. But, I would add that we shouldn't wait for people to die to respect them! We should honor each person when they are alive as well, because each person has qualities that make them special. Even the seemingly small good deeds that they do make them extremely precious to the Al-mighty."
Source: "Torah Wellsprings" - R. Elimelech Biderman (Ki Tisa 5776) - adapted by Yerachmiel Tilles from the translation of R. Baruch Twersky.
Biographical note:
Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai, one of the most important sages in Jewish history, lived over 1800 years ago. Teachings in his name abound throughout the Mishnah, Gemorah, and Midrashim, while the Zohar, the primary source text of Kabbalah, is built around Rabbi Shimon's revelations to his inner circle of disciples. During the hours before his passing, on Lag b' Omer, he disclosed the "most sublime" secrets of Torah, in order to ensure that the day would always be an occasion for great joy, untouched by sadness because of the Omer period and mourning for him. The seminal importance of the Zohar in Jewish thought and the annual pilgrimage to Meron on Lag b' Omer are testimonies to his success.
Connection: Seasonal--Rosh Chodesh Adar was last Thursday & Friday; Adar 7 falls on Thursday of this week.
Editor's notes:
* Adar 7 is the date of Moshe's death, 40 years after leaving Egypt. It states that he was buried but no man knows where (Deut. 34: 5-6), from which we deduce that no man was involved in his burial (either he buried himself or G-d arranged it). Therefore, Adar 7 is a day of no work for the chevrah kaddishah!
** An extremely popular song composed in the mid-1600's by Rabbi Shimon Lavia, sung and danced to around the clock every Lag b' Omer at Meron (a ten-minute drive or a 2-3 hour scenic hike from Tsfat). For English translation of lyrics,                                                      *** Many Sephardic and some Chasidic communities have this custom.

Parsha Zachor in our times

This week is Parsha Zachor about remembering Amalek Devarim 25:17-19. There exists in the Polish Parliament Shoah denial and other places countries like Switzerland ban Kosher Slaughter and Denmark wants to ban Circumcision. Even some in the swamp-cesspool of Congress of the United States signs of Amalek. Keith Ellison, along with two other Congressional Democrats, Andre Carson and Gregory Meeks, secretly dined with President Hassan Rouhani of Iran (the #1 state sponsor of terrorism) and Louis Farrakhan, a notorious anti-Semite who leads the Nation of Islam, a black supremacist hate group.

The Halachos of borrowing. By Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff Part 2

Continued on the sho’eil from last week.

C. A sho’eil borrows an item, receiving benefit without providing the owner with any compensation. As stated in the Mishnah (Bava Metzia 93a), a sho’eil is obligated to pay for any damage that happens to the item, even if it is completely beyond his control. The obvious reason why this is so is that since the sho’eil received benefit from the item gratis, he must make sure that he returns what he received, paying its full value, if need be.

Notwithstanding this obligation on the part of the borrower, there are two exceptional situations where the item is damaged, stolen or destroyed and the sho’eil is not obligated to make compensation. These are:

1. Meisah machmas melacha, literally, the item or animal “died” or became damaged in some way as a result of the work for which it was borrowed. We will soon explain the rationale for this. In addition, the borrower is exempt only when he used the item without abusing it.

2. Be’alav imo, the owner of the borrowed item was in the employ of the borrower at the time of the loan (Mishnah, Bava Metzia 94a).

As noted above, should there be a question about verifying the facts, whether the circumstances were indeed a case of meisah machmas melacha, the lender may demand that the borrower swear an oath to verify them. Also, if the event occurred in a time and place that there should have been eyewitnesses, the lender may insist that the borrower produce witnesses to verify what happened, rather than be satisfied with an oath.

In this context, the Gemara records the following din Torah (Bava Metzia 97a): A man borrowed a bucket that broke while he was using it. The two parties appeared before Rav Papa to adjudicate whether the borrower was obligated to pay. Rav Papa ruled that this is considered meisah machmas melacha. However, he first asked the borrower to produce witnesses that he did not use the bucket in an unusual fashion, for if he used it in an unusual way, the exemption of meisah machmas melacha would not apply.

There is a basic dispute among the rishonim concerning whether a shomer becomes liable as soon as he agrees to the arrangement (Rosh, Bava Metzia 8:15), or only when he makes a kinyan on the borrowed item (Raavad, quoted by Shitah Mekubetzes, Bava Metzia 98b). Kinyan refers to the act that effects loans, rentals, transfers of ownership of property and other legal agreements. In our situation, this question arises in the event that the borrowed item was left in the shomer’s care, but he never lifted, moved or did anything else that would legally make the item “his.” Some rishonim hold that the shomer becomes responsible only when he performs a kinyan, whereas others hold that he becomes responsible even when no kinyan is performed.

Among the halachic authorities, this matter is disputed by the Shulchan Aruch and the Rema, the latter ruling that a shomer becomes legally responsible as soon as he agrees to the arrangement (Choshen Mishpat 340:4).

In the case of an automobile, driving the car off when someone borrowed it constitutes a kinyan. According to some rishonim, taking possession of the keys is also a kinyan, but this is a minority opinion (see Rashi, Pesachim 4aas explained by Korban Nesanel).
With this background, let us now examine our opening question:

Shattered Shield
“A friend left for a few weeks, leaving me the keys for his car and permission to use it whenever I wanted. The first morning, when I went to get the car, I discovered that the windshield had been shattered by a stone or brick. Am I obligated to replace the windshield?”
The damage caused here had nothing to do with the sho’eil, but, as we explained before, he is obligated to make compensation even then. However, according to the opinion that a shomer is not obligated until he makes a kinyan on the item, if the borrower did not drive the car, he has not yet become obligated. Thus, he would be exempt from paying for the damages, according to that opinion, which is the way many halachic authorities rule.

Establishing a condition
It is important to note that the system explained above regarding the responsibility of shomrim applies only when the two parties did not establish their own policy. However, if asho’eil tells the owner that he is not assuming responsibility and the owner agrees, or if a shomer chinam assumes total responsibility, or if any other arrangement is made that both parties accept, that agreement will govern what liability exists (Mishnah, Bava Metzia 94a). Similarly, an agreement may also be made to eliminate any obligation on theshomer to swear an oath to verify the facts (ibid.).

Therefore, if a shomer chinam wants to avoid any potential liability, either to pay or to swear an oath, he should tell the owner that he will gladly watch the item, but that he is assuming no responsibility for the item, even should he be negligent, and that the owner must relinquish his right to have the shomer swear to prove his innocence. A sho’eil may make a similar condition before he borrows the item. However, bear in mind that if the sho’eil does make such a precondition, the owner may refuse to lend him the item. Since the sho’eil is aware of this, he is usually reluctant to make such a precondition. Our article is discussing the halacha that applies when they do not make their own arrangements.

Be’alav imo and Meisah machmas melacha
We mentioned above that a sho’eil is obligated to pay for all damages that happen to the item he borrowed, with the exception of two cases: meisah machmas melacha andbe’alav imo. It is interesting to note that these two exemptions are, in one way, complete opposites. The exemption of be’alav imo is expressly mentioned in the Torah and thus fits the halachic category that we call gezeiras hakasuv. In this case, this means that attempts to explain the reason for this law will not affect the halacha. (Although the commentaries present many reasons for be’alav imo, these reasons will not change the halacha – they may qualify under the general heading of lo darshinan ta’ama dikra, we do not derive halachic conclusions based on reasons for mitzvos. Because of space considerations, we will not discuss in this article the topic of darshinan ta’ama dikra and how it relates to be’alav imo.)

On the other hand, since the exemption of meisah machmas melacha is never mentioned in the Torah shebiksav, we assume that the basis for this law is logic. Chazalunderstood that the sho’eil is not obligated to pay for an item that was damaged as a result of expected use.

The question is why this rule is true when the Torah obligates the borrower to replace the item, even should it be destroyed by a complete accident over which he had no control. The Gemara, when explaining this idea, states very succinctly that the animal was not borrowed for it to have a vacation. There are several ways to understand this statement of the Gemara. I will now present four of them.

Lender’s negligence
Among the halachic authorities, we find several approaches to explain the phenomenon of meisah machmas melacha, and there are differences in practical halacha that result. The Ramban explains that the reason for meisah machmas melacha is because the lender is considered negligent. He should have realized that his object or animal could not withstand the work for which he was lending it! Since he did not check this out, he has no claim on the borrower to replace it (Ramban, Bava Metzia 96bquoted by Beis Yosef,Choshen Mishpat 340). For ease of presentation, we will refer to this approach as lender’s negligence.

Wear and tear
A second approach is that the person lending an item knows that there will be a certain amount of wear and tear, and he does not expect to be reimbursed for this (Nimukei Yosef, Rosh as explained by Machaneh Efrayim, Hilchos She’eilah Upikadon #4). If the animal or item could not withstand normal use, this is an extension of the wear-and-tearprinciple.

Mechilas hamash’il
A third reason is that when lending an item, one knows that the item can become damaged while it is being used, and this is included in the mechilah implied by the loan. This approach contends that a sho’eil is exempt when damage occurs as a result of the loan, even when it cannot be attributed to wear and tear. For example, the borrower told the owner that his intent is to take a trip to a certain place, which he did, and while there the animal was stolen (see Ramah, quoted by Tur, Choshen Mishpat #340). Since the owner knew the animal was being borrowed to take it to a specific place, any damage that happens because of that place is included as meisah machmas melacha, according to this third opinion. I will henceforth refer to this approach as mechilas hamash’il, meaning that, in advance, the lender forgives damage that occurs while the item is being used.

Of the three opinions cited so far, only the third exempts the sho’eil from paying when an animal is stolen. The previous two opinions both contend that meisah machmas melachacan include only damage that was a result of normal, expected work. According to the reason of lender’s negligence, the owner was not negligent if the animal was stolen, and, according to the wear and tear reason, the loss from theft was not a result of use.

Mekach ta’us
A fourth approach, mentioned in acharonim, is that when someone borrows an item or animal, he accepts responsibility only because he assumes that it can withstand the work for which he borrowed it. If it is incapable of performing that task, then we assume the borrower never assumed responsibility (Machaneh Efrayim, Hilchos She’eilah Upikadon#4). I will call this approach mekach ta’us, that the implied “contract” of responsibility was never agreed to by both parties.

To simplify our four approaches, they are:

1. Lender’s negligence: The lender was negligent in not checking the item’s condition before lending it.

2. Wear and tear: Lending includes the assumption that a borrower is not responsible for normal use.

3. Mechilas hamash’il: The lender assumes responsibility for damage that resulted from the loan.

4. Mekach ta’us: The borrower never assumed this responsibility.

Practical differences
Are there practical differences that result from this dispute? Indeed, there are many. Here is an early example: The Tur (Choshen Mishpat 340) quotes a dispute between the early rishonim, the Ramah (Rabbi Meir Abulafia, an early rishon living in Spain, not to be confused with Rabbi Moshe Isserlis, the Rema, who lived in Poland over three hundred years later, whose notes to the Shulchan Aruch we will be quoting shortly) and the Rosh, concerning the following case: Someone borrowed an animal for a specific trip, and the animal was stolen on the trip by armed robbers. The Ramah rules that this is considered meisah machmas melacha and the borrower is not obligated to pay, whereas the Roshrules that it is not meisah machmas melacha and he is obligated to pay. A careful study of the way the Tur presents the dispute implies that the Ramah assumes that the lender was mocheil any damages expected to happen as part of the lending (approach #3 above, mechilas hamash’il), whereas the Rosh assumes that the lender is mocheil only on expected wear and tear (approach #2 above, wear and tear). The Ramah appears to understand that any damage that results from the loan is included under meisah machmas melacha. (The approach to explain this dispute is presented by the Machaneh Efrayim.)

How do we rule?
The Shulchan Aruch (Choshen Mishpat 340:3) rules according to the Ramah: When the animal was stolen by armed robbers during the time that it was borrowed, the borrower is exempt from making compensation, because it is considered a case of meisah machmas melacha.

On the other hand, the Rema cites the Rosh’s opinion. The Shach agrees with the halachic conclusion of the Rema in this case, because he feels that the Ramban’s approach (#1 above, which I called lender’s negligence) should be followed, and this approach is in agreement with the Rema’s position in this case.

Playing cat and mouse
The following interesting case is mentioned in the Gemara (Bava Metzia 97a): Someone’s house was infested with mice, and the owner wanted to use an inexpensive, safe and environmentally-friendly way to eliminate the problem. He borrowed a neighbor’s cat to “exterminate” the mice.

Strength in numbers
The Gemara tells us that a very unusual thing happened. The mice gathered together and launched a counterattack on the cat, killing it! The question now was whether the borrower was required to compensate the lender for the deceased cat, and the matter became the subject of one of the most famous dinei Torah in history, presided over by Rav Ashi. The conclusion was that the borrower was exempt from paying, because this is a case of meisah machmas melacha.

Contemporary case
In a contemporary work, I found discussion about the following case: Reuven borrowed a car for a day. While he was driving the car, a child darted into the street in front of the car. Reuven braked, fortunately succeeding in avoiding striking the child. However, a truck behind him was following too closely. The truck hit the car, severely damaging it, and then escaped without providing any identifying information (hit and run) – leaving Reuven with a damaged, borrowed car. To complicate matters, the owner was not carrying collision insurance that would cover the damage. Is Reuven obligated to pay the owner for the damage?

According to the Ramban, approach #1, that meisah machmas melacha is exempt because the lender was negligent, Reuven is certainly obligated to pay. Although the damage was completely accidental, a sho’eil is obligated to compensate for accidental damage that happened while the item is in his care. Meisah machmas melacha does not apply, according to this approach, because the automobile was not deficient in any way.
The same halacha is true according to the Rosh (approach #2), who contends that the law of meisah machmas melacha exempts only wear and tear, which was not the cause for the damage. Furthermore, according to the fourth approach  (mekach ta’us) Reuven is obligated, again, because the automobile was in fine condition when he borrowed it.

However, what is the law according to the third approach, that I called mechilas hamash’il? This approach contends that an owner is mocheil any damage that might result from the loan. A contemporary author that I saw ruled that, according to this opinion, the sho’eil would be exempt from paying in this instance, since the damage happened as a result of the loan (Mishpetei HaTorah 1:35).

As we can see, the laws regarding responsibility for items are very complex and sometimes lead to surprising conclusions. In general, we should be vigilant when we assume responsibility for items belonging to others. A Torah Jew observes his contractual commitments with trust and faith. He certainly realizes that Hashem’s Torah is all-encompassing and directs every aspect of his life, certainly the details of his financial dealings.

Eliezer sent me this: The following was received from the Mickey Marcus Memorial Committee:

Dear Friends,

American Veterans of Israel Legacy Corporation (AVILC) will hold its 52nd annual Mickey Marcus Memorial Service at the Jewish Chapel of the United States Military Academy at West Point on Sunday, April 29, 2018. The coffee hour will start at 10:00 a.m. followed at 11:00 a.m. by the memorial service at the chapel and the USMA military cemetery.

We will be marking the 70th anniversary of the State of Israel and the 70th yarhzeit of Col. Marcus-US Army/Aluf Stone-IDF. We will also honor all our fallen and recently departed. The Consul General of Israel in New York will participate.

Our service will include a special tribute to Col. Marcus by the United States Army's John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center for his induction as a Distinguished Member of the Civil Affairs Regiment. The USMA Jewish Chapel has been designated as the place of honor where the plaque and medallion will be displayed. Senior U.S. Army officers will attend.

We thank you for your continued support.

Please remember to bring a valid government-issued ID such as your driver’s license as well as an ID for each member of your party.

Mickey Marcus Memorial Committee

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