THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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MENACHOS 30 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah in
Baltimore, Maryland, formerly of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) READING THE LAST EIGHT VERSES OF THE TORAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes Rav who rules that when the Torah is read, the
last eight verses of the Torah are read by a "Yachid" ("Yachid Korei Osan").
What does this mean?
2) HOW THE LAST EIGHT VERSES OF THE TORAH WERE WRITTEN
(a) RASHI and RABEINU TAM explain that this means that during the public
reading of the Torah, no break may be made in these eight verses -- they
must be read together by one person and cannot be split into two Aliyos,
having one person read four and another person read four.
The reason for this is, as the MACHZOR VITRI (#418) writes, "in order not to
make a break in relating the passing of the foundation of the world (i.e.
Moshe Rabeinu)." (The authorship of the Machzor Vitri is attributed to
(b) TOSFOS cites RABEINU MESHULAM who explains that "Yachid Korei Osan"
means that these verses must be read by one person by himself, and not by
the person who has the Aliyah and by the Shali'ach Tzibur simultaneously.
RABEINU TAM points out that this explanation is difficult to understand,
though, because the Halachah is that *all* parts of the Torah must be read
by one person and not by two people together, for "two voices together are
not heard" (Megilah 21b).
(c) The RI MI'GASH cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes in Bava Basra (15a)
explains that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that the person who reads the verses
before these last eight verses should not continue and read these verses,
reading until the end of the Torah, because he would then be reading both
the verses that Moshe Rabeinu transcribed, and the verses that Yehoshua
transcribed. Rather, there should be a separation between the verses of
Moshe and those of Yehoshua, and thus a separate reader should read the last
eight verses, so that it will be evident that they are unique.
(d) The RI MI'GASH there gives another explanation which is the opposite of
his first. "Yachid Korei Osan" means that the person who read the verses
preceding these eight verses must continue and read these verses with no
interruption, in order not to make it appear as though these verses are
different from the rest of the Torah.
(e) The MORDECHAI cited by the DARCHEI MOSHE and PERISHAH (OC 428) writes
that a "Yachid" refers to a Talmid Chacham, who is called a "Yachid" in the
sense that he is unique, singular, exceptional. The Gemara is saying the
last eight verses of the Torah must be read by a Talmid Chacham. (This is
the practice today of giving a Talmid Chacham the honor of Chasan Torah.)
(f) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 13:6) writes that "it is permitted to read
the last eight verses of the Torah in the synagogue without a Minyan. Even
though it is all part of the Torah written by Moshe as he heard it from
Hashem, nevertheless since these verses discuss the time after the death of
Moshe, they are to be treated differently. Therefore, it is permitted for a
Yachid (without a Minyan) to read them." The KESEF MISHNEH explains that the
Rambam understands that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that it is permitted for a
Yachid, a person without a Minyan, to read these verses from a Sefer Torah,
in contrast to the requirement to have a Minyan in order to read all other
parts of the Torah.
(See the RA'AVAD there who rejects the Rambam's explanation, and see the
Kesef Mishneh there who defends it. See also the CHASAM SOFER who defends
the Rambam's explanation.") (I. Alsheich)
QUESTION: Rebbi Shimon in the Beraisa maintains that the last eight verses
of the Torah, which describe the death of Moshe Rabeinu, were written by
Moshe himself. However, they differ from all other verses in the Torah, in
that the rest of the Torah was spoken by Hashem, and Moshe repeated the
words and wrote them down, while these eight verses were spoken by Hashem,
and Moshe did not repeat them, and he wrote them "b'Dema" -- "with tears."
What does Rebbi Shimon mean when he says that Moshe wrote the last eight
In addition, the Beraisa was bothered by a question -- how could Moshe have
written the words, "va'Yamas Sham Moshe" -- "And Moshe died there" (Devarim
34:5), if he was still alive? The first Tana in the Beraisa answers that it
was Yehoshua who wrote those verses, after the death of Moshe. Rebbi Shimon
answers that Moshe wrote those verses "b'Dema." How, though, does Rebbi
Shimon's statement answer the question?
(a) The RITVA in Bava Basra (15a) and the MIZRACHI to Rashi (Devarim 34:5)
explain that Moshe wrote these verses in the Torah literally with his tears
("b'Dema"). The MAHARSHA in Bava Basra adds that since these words were
written differently than the rest of the Torah, there is no concern that it
will look strange that Moshe wrote the verse describing his death. In
addition, the fact that Moshe did not repeat the words when Hashem spoke
them makes another difference between these verses and the rest of the
Torah, so that there is no concern that it will look strange that Moshe the
verses about his death.
(b) The MAHARAH (Gur Aryeh to Devarim 34:5) rejects the Ritva's explanation.
He asserts that since a Sefer Torah is invalid if it is written with tears
and not with proper ink, it cannot be that that Moshe wrote these verses
with his tears. Had he written these verses in his Sefer Torah with his
tears, he would not have been able to say, "Lako'ach Es Sefer ha'Torah
ha'Zeh..." (Devarim 31:26), as Rebbi Shimon himself asks on the view of
The Maharal explains instead that "b'Dema" means that Moshe wrote these
verses "while crying." His crying was the beginning of his death, the start
of the exit of his Neshamah from his body. Accordingly, Moshe was fully
justified in writing, "va'Yamas Sham Moshe" -- "And Moshe died there," since
his death had already begun.
(c) The VILNA GA'ON explains that "b'Dema" means "a mixture." Moshe wrote
these verses with "a mixture." That is, the Torah can be interpreted in many
ways, depending on how the words are read, where the letters are divided,
and where the pauses are placed. Moshe wrote these verses in such a way that
they expressed an entirely different message. Only after he died did the
actual meaning of the verses become clear -- a description of Moshe's death.
in which there are many other explanations concealed within the words.
(d) Another way to understand this Gemara may be derived from the
explanation of the BRISKER RAV. The Brisker Rav explains the difference
between the rest of the verses of the Torah, which Moshe wrote by first
repeating the words that Hashem said and then writing them, and the last
eight verses of the Torah, which Moshe wrote without repeating the words
that Hashem said. The Brisker Rav explains that the concept of "Omer
v'Kosev," saying the words and then writing them, means that the Torah was
given to Moshe to *learn* and then to write. The last eight verses of the
Torah were given only for Moshe to write, but not for him to learn.
Based on this explanation, we can understand the Beraisa's question
differently. When the Beraisa asks, "Is it possible that Moshe was still
alive and he wrote the words, 'And Moshe died,'" it is asking how Moshe
could have *learned* these verses of the Torah when the events they describe
had not yet happened. There is no meaning that we can understand until the
event has happened, and only then is it possible to learn the words that
describe that event.
The Beraisa answers that while Moshe was required to learn the rest of the
Torah before he wrote it, he was not required to learn the last eight verses
before he wrote it. It was Moshe's task to teach the rest of the Torah to
the Jewish people. These verses, though, were different. Moshe's task here
was to write these verses without learning the words.
We may add that the Gemara mentions that Moshe wrote these verses "with
tears" in his eyes. What is the significance of tears being in his eyes
while he wrote these verses? Perhaps we may explain that the rest of the
Torah was written not only to have a written record of Hashem's word, but to
enable Moshe Rabeinu to teach Torah to the Jewish people. This purpose did
not apply to the last eight verses, since they could not be learned as long
as Moshe was alive. Therefore, Moshe wrote them "with tears" to show that he
would not have a chance to teach these verses to the Jewish people, and that
the only purpose in writing them was to have a written Sefer Torah.
This explains how Moshe could write these words while he was still alive.
Moshe was required to write the Sefer Torah exactly in accordance with the
words that Hashem spoke to him. To write whatever Hashem spoke to him, even
though the events described by those words might not yet have occurred, is
not a problem (indeed, the entire Torah existed even before the world was
created). The problem was learning these verses and teaching them; an event
that had not yet happened could not be learned, taught, and expounded. Since
there was no "speaking" of these words by Moshe, and they were written "with
tears," there was no learning or teaching and Moshe was able to write these
verses. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
3) HALACHA: WRITING A SIX-LETTER WORD AT THE END OF A LINE
OPINIONS: The Gemara rules that when writing a Sefer Torah, if one nears the
end of a line but is left with a word that contains five letters (and there
is not enough space to write the entire word within the column), one may
write three letters of the word within the column, and two letters outside
of the column (in the margin), such that the majority of the word is within
the column. He should not write two letters within the column and three
letters outside of the column.
4) WRITING HALF OF A WORD IN THE MARGIN
What is the Halachah when one needs to write a six-letter word at the end of
(a) The ROSH rules that there should never be three or more letters outside
of the column, even if a majority of the letters of the word (such as in a
seven-letter word) are within the column. The Rosh proves this from the fact
that the Gemara does not give a general rule and state that one must always
write most of the letters of a word inside the column. It must be that it is
not the majority of the letters that determines where the word is written,
but whether there will be two (or less) letters written outside of the
column, or three (or more).
(b) The RAMBAM argues with the Rosh and maintains that a six-letter word may
be written partially outside of the column, with three letters outside of
the column. The main point is that there not be a majority of letters of a
word outside of the column.
How, though, does the Rambam explain the Rosh's proof? If the Gemara means
that the determining factor is whether or not a majority of the letters of a
word are written outside of the column, then why does it not say so
The BACH writes that the answer is based on another Halachah mentioned in
the Gemara. The Gemara says that a two-letter word must not be written
outside of the column. What, though, is the Halachah with regard to writing
two letters of a three-letter word outside of the column? It is obvious that
*one* letter of a three-letter word may be written outside of the column,
with the other two letters written inside of the column, as we see that a
five-letter word may be written with the majority of letters inside of the
column and the rest outside. However, may we leave two letters of a
three-letter word outside of the column? On one hand, the letters outside of
the column are a majority of the word, and thus perhaps they should not be
written outside of the column. On the other hand, there are only two letters
outside of the column, and it is permitted to write two letters outside of
the column when they are part of a larger word.
The ROSH infers from the Gemara that it is permitted to write two letters of
a three-letter word outside of the column. The Gemara says that a two-letter
word may not be written outside of the column. This implies that only when
those two letters constitute an entire word is it prohibited to write them
outside of the column, but when they are part of a larger word (even one
with other three letters), then those two letters may be written outside of
According to this ruling, the Bach refutes the Rosh's own proof that three
letters of a six-letter word may not be written outside of the column. The
Rosh asserts that it must be prohibited to write three letters (of a
six-letter word) outside of the column, because if it is permitted, then the
Gemara would have stated a general rule that whenever there is a majority of
the word written inside of the column, it is permitted to write the rest
outside of the column. As the Bach points out, the Gemara could not have
given such a general rule, because it would not be true in the case of a
three-letter word! In the case of a three-letter word, it is permitted to
write two letters outside of the column, even though a majority of the word
is not written inside of the column! Since the Gemara could not give this as
a general rule, it expressed the rule by saying that three letters of a
five-letter word may not be written outside of the column. However, three
letters of a six-letter or seven-letter word *may* be written outside of the
column, since the majority (or at least half; see following Insight) remains
inside the column, as the Rambam rules.
The VILNA GA'ON (Bi'ur ha'Gra OC 32) argues with the Bach and writes that,
according to the Rambam, there is a general rule that requires half or a
majority of the letters to be inside the column, including the letters of a
three-letter word. According to this, the Bach's refutation of the Rosh's
proof does not apply, because the general rule that the Gemara could have
expressed indeed *would* have applied to a three-letter word as well.
Accordingly, the proof of the Rosh remains a question on the opinion of the
Rambam. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)
QUESTION: The Gemara rules that when writing a Sefer Torah, if one nears the
end of a line but is left with a word that contains only two letters (and
there is not enough space to write the entire word within the column), one
should not write the two-letter word outside of the column, but rather he
should write the word at the beginning of a new line.
We mentioned above (see previous Insight) that the RAMBAM maintains that a
word may have some of its letters written outside of the column (in the
margin) as long a majority, or at least half, of the letters of the word are
written within the column.
The Rambam's source that the majority of a word must be written inside of
the column is clear. Our Gemara says explicitly that a five-letter word must
have at least three letters written inside of the column. What, though, is
the source for the Rambam's opinion that it suffices for *half* of the word
to be written inside of the column, while writing the other half in the
ANSWER: The Rambam also learns from our Gemara that it suffices to write
half of a word inside of the column, while writing the other half in the
margin. The Gemara says that a two-letter word may not be written entirely
in the margin. This implies that *half* of a two-letter word *may* be
written in the margin, with half inside of the column.
However, not everyone agrees with this inference. The LEVUSH rules that
two-letter may not be split, writing one letter in the column and one in the
margin. The Levush seems to learn that when the Gemara says that "one should
not cast" ("Lo Yizrekenah") a two-letter word between the columns (into the
margin), it means that one should not cast even *part* of a two letter word
between the columns. All of the Acharonim, however, disagree with the
Levush's understanding of the Gemara. (Mordechai Zvi Dicker)