THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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(1) "MELACHAH SHE'EINAH TZERICHAH L'GUFAH"
A fundamental argument concerning the liability for performing Melachah on
Shabbos concerns a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah, a Melachah "that
is not needed for itself." Rebbi Yehudah and Rebbi Shimon argue whether one
is Chayav for performing such a Melachah that is "not needed for itself."
Rebbi Yehudah says that one is Chayav, and Rebbi Shimon says that one is
Patur. What exactly defines a Melachah "that is not needed for itself?"
(a) TOSFOS (94a, DH Rebbi Shimon Poter) understood Rashi to be saying that
a Melachah she'Einah Tzerichah l'Gufah is any Melachah that one did in
order to *prevent* something else from happening, or in order to *rectify*
something that was already done wrong. For example, a person who carries a
dead body out of a house is interested in correcting an uncomfortable
situation (the dead body being in his house), and would have preferred that
the dead body were never brought *into* the house in the first place.
However, Tosfos refutes this explanation. When a curtain has a wormhole and
one tears some more above and below the hole in order to later mend it
neatly, he is Chayav (this is Meleches Kore'a, Shabbos 75a). Rashi, asks
Tosfos, should maintain that one is Patur. The person tore the curtain only
in order to prevent further damage, and would have preferred that the
wormhole not be there in the first place!
(2) HALACHAH: KILLING LICE ON SHABBOS
(b) TOSFOS himself (94a, DH Rebbi Shimon) defines a Melachah she'Einah
Tzericha l'Gufah as any Melachah not performed for the same reason that
that Melachah was performed *in the Mishkan*.
(c) The RAMBAN (94b) and BA'AL HA'ME'OR (106a) write that a Melachah must
be performed with the objective for which that activity is *normally
performed*. If one is doing the Melachah for a purpose other than its
normal objective, it is a Melachah she'Einah Tzericha l'Gufah. For example,
digging a pit in order to use the dirt is a Melachah that is not needed for
itself, because, normally, the objective of digging is in order to have a
pit, and not to use the dirt, which is a secondary outcome of the digging.
Also, a Melachah performed in order to prevent damage from happening, such
as capturing a snake is considered a Melachah that is not needed for itself
because the normal objective of capturing is to use the animal. The same is
true of carrying an object to Reshus ha'Rabim in order to keep one's self
from becoming soiled. This may be RASHI's opinion as well, unlike TOSFOS'
(see (b)) understanding of Rashi. This is why ripping the garment to repair
a wormhole is considered a true Melachah, for the person ripping the
garment is presently interested in having the garment ripped apart (the
primary effect of the Melachah) and not in a secondary outcome of the
QUESTION: The Gemara concludes that one may kill lice on Shabbos, and so,
too, rules the SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 316:9). The reason is because the
Melachah of killing living creatures applies only to those creatures that
are born through natural reproduction. Since lice are spontaneously
generated from the sweat and dirt upon man's flesh, they are not included
in the Melachah.
Does the Halachah change now that we know that lice are not spontaneously
ANSWER: No, the Halachah remains the same. Since the eggs of these lice are
too small for the naked eye to see, it cannot be learned from the
prohibition of killing "Eilim Me'adamim," whose are visible when born (see
Rashi DH Matirin), that it is permitted to kill such creatures.
HALACHAH: Today we do not kill lice on Shabbos, because we do not know to
which lice the Gemara and Poskim were referring when they ruled that we may
kill lice on Shabbos (see TOSFOS, DH Shema Yaharog, who cites two opinions
that argue over which lice the Gemara is discussing).
(3) ASKING THE ANGELS TO HELP
QUESTION: The Gemara implies that a person should Daven in a language which
the angels understand so that they will advocate on his behalf. Does this
Gemara support reciting prayers such as "Malachei Rachamim" that some say
(4) PRAYING IN ARAMAIC
ANSWER: The commentators explain that this Gemara does not support the
practice of reciting prayers such as "Malachei Rachamim." Even though it is
true that the angels help the prayers find favor before Hashem, we are not
permitted to *ask* them for their involvement. We must speak only to Hashem
directly; the angels are Hashem's emmisaries, not ours. We may merely make
it easier for the angels to do their job by using a language which they
Those whose practice is to say the prayer "Malachei Rachamim," however, are
not in err. They are not making *requests* of the angels, but rather they
are *acknowledging* to themselves that the angels are helping their
prayers. They find support and encouragement in the knowledge that the
angels are advocating on their behalf.
[I] DO ANGELS KNOW OUR THOUGHTS
(4) THE PROHIBITION AGAINST READING BY THE LIGHT OF A FLAME ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: TOSFOS (DH she'Ein Malachei ha'Shares) asks how the Gemara can
say that the angels do not understand Aramaic, when we know that they
understand our thoughts. If they understand the thoughts of man, certainly
they understand the words that he uses to articulate those thoughts, even
if those words are Aramaic!
[II] WHY DON'T ANGELS KNOW ARAMAIC?
What are Tosfos' sources that angels know our thoughts? There seem to be a
number of sources to the contrary, that indicate that angels do *not* know
our thoughts. First, the MA'ADANEI YOM TOV (Berachos 2:6) points out that
the verse says, "You [Hashem] alone know the thoughts of man" (Divrei
Ha'Yamim II 6:30), and, "Who knows [the thoughts in the hearts of men]? I,
Hashem, probe thoughts..." (Yirmiyah 17:9-10). Second, the SEFAS EMES
points out that the Zohar (I:101b, Parshas Va'yera) explicitly states that
the angels asked Avraham where Sarah was because they only know that which
Hashem lets them know. From where, then, does Tosfos know that the angels
know man's thoughts?
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON (BI'UR HA'GRA, SHULCHAN ARUCH 101:11) suggests a
source for Tosfos' assertion. The Gemara (Berachos 55a) states that "Iyun
Tefilah" causes one's sins to be reviewed in heaven. The Gemara explains
that "Iyun Tefilah" is when a person prays and expects that his prayers
will be answered because he prays with concentration. The angels, seeing
this person so self-confident in his righteousness, ask Hashem to review
whether he is really righteous or not and thus they examine his sins (Rashi
ibid.). This implies that the angels know his thoughts, because it is only
his thoughts that cause the angels to review his sins. It must be that the
angels assigned to Tefilah are given permission to understand thoughts in
order to appropriately advocate for or against the fulfillment of one's
prayers, because part of their advocacy depends on what the person was
thinking at the time that he recited his prayers.
QUESTION: In light of Tosfos' question, how are we to understand the
Gemara? Why don't the angels understand Aramaic, if they understand
(a) Perhaps Tosfos is incorrect, and the angels do not understand thoughts
(as many Acharonim assert, see above).
(b) The RA'AVAD (TAMIM DE'IM, cited by the Gilyon ha'Shas) suggests that
even though the angels understand thoughts and therefore they understand
prayers that are recited in Aramaic, Hashem does not want the angels to
advocate for prayers that were recited in Aramaic, lest the people start
using that language for their prayers and not use Lashon ha'Kodesh.
(According to the Ra'avad, this would also apply to the vernacular, no
matter which language it may be. However, if a person is not able to pray
in Lashon ha'Kodesh the angels would help him, since he is not rejecting
Lashon ha'Kodesh by choice.)
(c) The ROSH (Berachos 2:2) and the RA'AVAD (also in TAMIM DE'IM) suggest
that the angels do understand Aramaic, since they understand thoughts, but
it is a repulsive language to them because it is a perversion of Lashon
ha'Kodesh, the holy language. They therefore do not advocate on behalf of
someone who prays in Aramaic.
(d) The ROSH and RA'AVAD (ibid.) mention another explanation. The angels
only listen to Lashon ha'Kodesh and *no* other language. The Gemara
mentions Aramaic because one might have thought that the angels do listen
to prayers recited in Aramaic because it closely resembles Lashon
ha'Kodesh. Therefore, the Gemara says that the angels do not listen *even*
QUESTION: Many other rabbinical enactments mentioned in the Mishnayos
include the reasons for the enactments (such as, "A tailor should not go
out with a needle, *lest he forget*...). Why is the reason for the
prohibition against reading by the light of a flame on Shabbos not
mentioned in the Mishnah? (P'NEI YEHOSHUA)
ANSWER: The reason why the Sages did not include the reason for this
enactment when they expressed the enactment is because they wanted to show
that even where the reason does not seem to apply, the prohibition is still
in force. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (21b) says that the reasons for the
Mitzvos and prohibitions in the Torah were not revealed so that people
would not say that the reason does not apply to them and permit to
themselves that which the Torah forbids. Similarly, the Sages did not
reveal the reason for the prohibition against reading by the light of a
flame, because they did not want people to think that they would be
especially careful not to tip the lamp and say that the reason does not
apply to them (and then they would inadvertently tip the lamp and
transgress the Melachah of kindling).
This is what Rebbi Yishma'el ben Elisha meant when he said, "How great are
the words of the Sages, who said "One should not read to the light of a
candle!" -- that is, how great is the wisdom of the Sages who expressed the
Halachah but did not continue, "lest he tip the lamp" -- so that no one
should say that the reason does not apply to him and inadvertently sin!
(MAHARATZ CHIYOS, citing the VILNA GA'ON)