THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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SUKAH 20 - Dedicated by Marsha and Lee Weinblatt of N.J., in honor of the
5th of Iyar
1) USING A MAT OF REEDS ("MACH'TZELES HA'KANIM") AS SECHACH
QUESTION: According to Rav Papa's explanation, the Mishnah (19b) states that
a large mat of reeds is normally made for use as Sechach (even without
expressed intent) and thus it is valid as Sechach, and a small mat of reeds
is normally made for reclining and thus it is invalid as Sechach. The
Beraisa states that a mat of reeds cannot be used for Sechach if it is
interwoven ("Arugah"), but it may be used if it is braided ("Gedulah").
RASHI and TOSFOS point out that this means that even a small mat (that was
made with no expressed purpose) may be used for Sechach if it is braided.
2) "HAREINI KAPARASO" -- "I AM AN ATONEMENT FOR HIM"
In the end of the Beraisa, Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa say
that a mat may be used for Sechach even if it is interwoven. According to
Rashi, that means that a small mat of reeds may be used, according to these
Tana'im, no matter how the reeds are intertwined (Arugah or Gedulah).
However, this opinion seems to contradict our Mishnah which states that a
small mat of reeds that was made with no specific intent is assumedly made
for the sake of reclining upon and it cannot be used for Sechach. How is
this opinion to be reconciled with our Mishnah?
(a) The MAHARSHA writes that Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa are
arguing with the Mishnah. The Halachah does not follow their opinion, but it
follows the Mishnah. This is indeed the ruling of the RA'AVAD (Hilchos Sukah
HALACHAH: The difference between woven and braided mats is not cited by the
Shulchan Aruch (who rules like the Rambam in this regard). In practice,
though, it depends on the purpose for which mats are normally used in that
place and time (MISHNAH BERURAH 629:18).
(b) The RIF and RAMBAM (Hilchos Sukah 5:4) omit the difference between a
woven and braided mat of reeds. The MAGID MISHNAH explains that they rule
like Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa in the Beraisa, who say that
both types of mats are valid as Sechach. However, the Rif and Rambam
understand that the word the Beraisa uses is not "Gedulah" (braided) but
"Gedolah" -- large. As such, the Tana Kama of the Beraisa is stating that a
*large* reed mat is valid, like our Mishnah says, but if the mat is woven,
then it is Pasul even if it is large. The Rambam rules like Rebbi Yishmael
b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa who argue with the Tana Kama of the Beraisa and
say that a large mat is always valid, which is the same opinion as our
Mishnah (which allows all large mats and does not differentiate between
woven or otherwise).
In recent years, mats have been marketed which were made expressly for the
purpose of using them as Sechach on Sukos (such as "Sechach la'Netzach").
There are four points that are dealt with in Halachic literature when
discussing these mats:
(1) Were they made in an area in which most such mats are used for reclining
upon? No matter where they are being used, if in their place of origin they
are normally used for reclining they are Mekabel Tum'ah.
L'Halachah, not all mats are the same, and not all Poskim rule similarly.
Therefore in practice, one should consult his local Orthodox Rabbi regarding
which mats to use and which not to use for Sechach.
(2) We rule that l'Chatchilah, one should not support the Sechach with an
object that is not itself fit to be used as Sechach (i.e. the "Ma'amid" must
fit the criteria for Sechach -- see Insights to 21b). If the mat is held
together with ropes, they are considered to be Ma'amidim. Some ropes are
Mekabel Tum'ah, so they should not be used as Ma'amidim. (Vines or natural
fibers may be used, since they are not Mekabel Tum'ah and are themselves
(3) The Rabanan deemed a board that is three or more Tefachim in width to be
invalid for Sechach due to "Gezeiras Tikrah" (Daf 14a). Does this apply to a
mat? It is true that each slat in the mat is not 4 Tefachim wide, but the
combined width of the tied slats is over 4 Tefachim. Perhaps, since they are
tied together, they are to be viewed as one large entity. (If the mat is not
woven with slats, but with unprocessed bamboo or sticks, this should not
(4) The Gemara discussed the so-called "Gezeiras Chavilah," due to which the
Chachamim disqualified a bundle consisting of 25 or more sticks to be used
as Sechach. Is the mat of tied slats considered a Chavilah? (Interwoven
slats are obviously not considered Chavilah; this question arises only when
the mat consists of parallel slats tied together.)
QUESTION: Reish Lakish, when he quoted Rebbi Chiya and his sons, said "I am
hereby an atonement for Rebbi Chiya and his sons." Rashi explains that since
Rebbi Chiya was the Gadol ha'Dor, Reish Lakish honored him and treated him
like his rebbi. After the death of one's rebbi or father, one is supposed to
say, "May I be an atonement for him," meaning "May Hashem inflict upon me
punishment to atone for the sins of my rebbi or father who passed away."
How could one person's afflictions serve as atonement for the sins of
another person? If someone sinned, then he should be punished for his sins;
how can one person bear punishment to exonerate another? (RABBI EFRAIM
ZALMAN STERNBUCH -- son of the renowned Rav Moshe Sternbuch -- in "Yissachar
u'Zevulun," ch. 3, discusses this at length. The sources cited here are
culled from his discussion.)
(a) THE MAHARSHAM (3:151) explains that "all of Israel are responsible for
one another" means that everyone is in some way responsible for the sins of
the other person. Therefore, he is also able to make himself like a
guarantor ("Arev") for someone else. If someone acts as guarantor for the
repayment of a loan, it is the option of the lender to choose to collect
from either the debtor himself or from the guarantor. Similarly, one who
says "Hareini Kaparaso..." gives Hashem the option to choose whether to
collect from him or from the actual sinner.
However, the MACHANEH CHAIM (Choshen Mishpat #20) points out that from
numerous verses it is evident that a person must himself bear liability for
his sins (see, for example, Yechezkal 18:20, Tehilim 49:8). Rav E.Z.
Sternbuch also cites RAV HAI GA'ON (quoted in MAHARAM ALSHAKER #101) who
writes that a person certainly cannot trade or sell the reward for a Mitzvah
or the punishment for an Aveirah which he did.
(b) The MACHANEH CHAIM instead suggests that saying, "Hareini Kaparaso" is
just a way of honoring the deceased or praying for him, as if he is saying,
"*I wish that* my afflictions could be an atonement for him" (but not that
they actually can be).
Rav E.Z. Sternbuch asks that we find in Kidushin (31b) that during the first
year after the death of one's father or rebbi, the son or Talmid is
*required* to say "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo" each time that he mentions his
father or rebbi. On the other hand, we find that a person is not required to
undergo physical torture or hardship in order to honor his parents (such as
begging from door to door, see Yoreh Deah 240:5); as the Vilna Ga'on writes,
one is not required to suffer by giving up a prospective spouse because his
father disapproves. If so, he should not be required to undergo afflictions
to attain atonement for his father. Why, then, does the Gemara obligate him
to say that he wants to have afflictions in order to atone for his father if
he indeed may not want to and he is not obligated to? Even if he does not
really receive the afflictions, as the Machaneh Chayim suggested, how can he
be required to say that he "wishes he would" if it is not Halachically
required for him to honor his father, practically, in such a manner?
Rav E.Z. Sternbuch rejects a proposition of Rav Binyamin Stern (B'TZEL
HA'CHACHMAH 6:17-22) that after death there obligation of honoring one's
parents is greater than when one's parents are living. Furthermore, it seems
clear from a number of sources that the afflictions that a son or Talmid
experiences are indeed Mechaper for his father or rebbi (see, for example,
BEIS YOSEF OC 284). The words of Rashi, too, imply that a person's own
afflictions could actually atone for the deceased.
(c) Rav E.Z. Sternbuch and his father, RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH (Teshuvos
v'Hanhagos 2:47), write that according to PERUSH RI HA'ZAKEN in Kidushin
(30a), one says "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo" only when *quoting a teaching*
said by the father or rebbi. If so, the son may not be accepting afflictions
in order to atone for the sins of the father. Rather, he is saying that "if
I made a mistake *when repeating my father's statement*, then let me be
punished for misquoting him, instead of him being punished for not teaching
me properly, because it is my mistake and not his." However, the Rishonim do
not seem to agree to this ruling. The DARCHEI MOSHE (YD 240) cites RABEINU
YERUCHAM who says explicitly that *every* time one mentions his father or
rebbi during the first year, he should say "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo."
(d) Rav E.Z. Sternbuch (Yissachar u'Zevulun, p. 55) writes that perhaps one
can only gain atonement for the father for his sin of not raising his son
properly. One is saying that "if I sin, and therefore my father is deserving
of punishment because of his failure to educate me properly, I should be
punished and not him." He bases this on a Rishon (Rabeinu Shneur) quoted by
the BEIS YOSEF (OC 284). The logic is that one is able to atone for someone
else's sin *which caused* his own sins, by forgiving the other person and
suffering for one's own sins. Alternatively, by saying that he accepts upon
himself afflictions for his sin (which was done as a result of a lack in his
education), he is doing Teshuvah for what he did wrong, and he thereby
corrects his wrongdoing, which consequently corrects his father's failure to
educate him (since the son eventually was educated in either case), and thus
his father also gains.
According to this, it is clear why the son is obligated to accept such
afflictions for his father or rebbi, since it is his actions that are
causing the father or rebbi punishment. The same could apply for someone
like Rebbi Chiya who was a Gadol ha'Dor, who was responsible for everyone in
his generation; as such, Reish Lakish could accept afflictions in order to
atone for whatever lack of education from Rebbi Chiya that might have caused
Reish Lakish (his students student) to sin.
(e) Rav E.Z. Sternbuch then found a Teshuvah of MAHARAM CHALAVAH (#17) which
discusses at length the principle that a person cannot transfer the
punishment for Aveiros. However, he shows that saying "Hareini Kaparaso"
indeed is a way to provide atonement for the deceased, and in a greater
sense than just forgiving the sin of not providing proper education for the
child. He shows this from the Gemara in Sanhedrin (104a). where the Gemara
implies that a son could exculpate his father from punishment ("Bra Mezakeh
Aba"). Also, the Gemara in Chagigah (15b) implies that Rebbi Meir and Rebbi
Yochanan were able to procure atonement for Acher (Elisha ben Avuyah).
Maharam Chalavah explains how the atonement works. "It is appropriate for
him to be Mechaper for his father," because since the son "is the produce,
the fruit, of a Tzadik," he is able to effect atonement for that Tzadik.
Likewise, a Talmid is able to effect atonement for his rebbi, since he
learned his Torah from him, and thus it is appropriate for him to save him
just like a son saves his father.
His intention might be as the Gemara in Yoma (87a) says, "One who causes
merit for others, no sin will come upon his hands." The Gemara explains that
Hashem will save such a person from sin, because it is not proper that the
rebbi should be in Gehenom while his Talmidim are in Gan Eden. The same way,
whenever a person has a son or Talmid who does Mitzvos as a result of what
he has learned from his father or rebbi, it is not appropriate that his
rebbi should suffer for his sins while the son or Talmid is being rewarded
for his merits -- which are to the credit of the rebbi who taught him.
Because of that, he has a moral obligation to save his rebbi who was Mezakeh
him. This moral obligation is what obligates him to accept even physical
suffering to atone for his rebbi, and that is also what enables that
acceptance of suffering to actually effect atonement for his rebbi.