THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha
Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife
and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he
will long be remembered.
1) THE STATUS OF A BABY FOUND IN A CITY POPULATED MOSTLY BY GENTILES
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Mishnah which states that if one finds a child
in a city in which most of the residents are gentiles, we follow the
principle of "Rov" and assume that the child is not Jewish. Shmuel, though,
says that we treat him like a Jew with regard to desecrating Shabbos in
order to save his life. If so, asks the Gemara, then in what way is he
treated like a non-Jew? Rav Papa answers that we treat him like a non-Jew
with regard to feeding him Neveilah.
RASHI (DH l'Ha'achilo) says that we may feed the child Neveilah until he
becomes an adult (Bar Mitzvah) and accepts upon himself to become a Jew.
Rashi repeats this idea -- that when the child becomes of age he will
convert -- a few lines later (DH Naisi Ra'ayah).
Why does Rashi say that we assume he is going to convert? If he has a status
of a non-Jew, let him remain so!
(a) The NETZIV (Meromei Sadeh) answers that the principle of "Rov" -- that
we follow the majority -- is a part of the Torah ("Acharei Rabim l'Hatos")
which applies only to Jews. A non-Jew has no right to follow the "Rov" in
any area, and therefore his doubt always remains unresolved even when there
is a "Rov."
Therefore, with regard to feeding the child Neveilah, which involves a
question of whether we -- the Jews --are transgressing an Isur by feeding it
to him, we follow the "Rov." Since the "Rov" says that he is a non-Jew, we
are permitted to feed him Neveilah. With regard to whether the child
himself, though, may eat Neveilah (or transgress any other Mitzvah) when he
becomes an adult, he may *not* follow the "Rov" to determine that he is a
non-Jew, because if he is indeed a non-Jew he is not entitled to rely on the
"Rov!" He may only eat Neveilah as a child, because even if he is a Jew he
has no Chiyuv d'Oraisa until he reaches the age of Bar Mitzvah. When he
reaches that age, though, he has no choice but to accept upon himself all of
(Semantically, this expresses itself in an odd way: there is a Safek whether
this person is a Jew or a non-Jew. On the side that he is a Jew, he is drawn
after the "Rov," which determines that he is a *non-Jew*, while on the side
that he is a non-Jew, he may not rely on "Rov," and thus he must conduct
himself as a *Jew*!)
(b) Perhaps Rashi was bothered by a question. Shmuel says that we must save
this child's life, even if it requires desecrating Shabbos to do so. Why
must we save him on Shabbos if the "Rov" tells us that he is not Jewish? The
Gemara in Sanhedrin (69a) says that Beis Din may even kill a person based on
a "Rov!" Why, then, do we save this child, when "Rov" tells us that he is
Because of this question, Rashi perhaps understood that Shmuel's principle
that we do not follow "Rov" when it comes to saving a life is a Din
d'Rabanan. Even though the Torah does not require us to save the life of the
child that was found in a city populated mostly by non-Jews, the Rabanan do
require that we desecrate Shabbos in order to save his life. (Since there is
a possibility that the child actually is a Jew, the rule that "Ein Rabanan
Yecholim La'akor Davar Min ha'Torah b'Kum v'Aseh," Yevamos 90b, does not
Accordingly, it would not be logical for the Rabanan to require us to save
the child's life, and then let him go live his life as a non-Jew and eat
Neveilah. It must be that the Rabanan instituted more than just saving him;
they also instituted that we encourage him to undergo a proper conversion
and become a Jew when he reaches adulthood, because of the possibility that
he is a Jew (which is why the Rabanan instituted to save him in the first
place). Even though we feed him Neveilah now because there is a "Rov" that
he is not Jewish, we encourage him to become a Jew and when his life is in
danger we save him on Shabbos.
TOSFOS (DH ul'Fake'ach) appears to have been bothered by this question --
how could the Rabanan institute to desecrate Shabbos in order to save his
life and then let him live his life as a non-Jew. Tosfos explains that the
requirement to save his life even when the majority of the city is not
Jewish is indeed mid'Oraisa. The Torah says, "v'Chai ba'Hem" -- "You shall
live in them (the Mitzvos)" (Vayikra 18:5), which teaches that even if there
is a "Rov" that the child is not Jewish, we cannot take chances with a
possible Jewish life. When it comes to feeding him Neveilah, though, we
follow the "Rov" like in every other area. (When Beis Din kills a person
based on a Rov, "v'Chai ba'Hem" apparently does not apply since there is a
majority suggesting that there is reason to actively kill the person. In the
case of the found baby, on the contrary, there certainly is no reason to
take his life; our doubt is only whether we must be Mechalel Shabbos to save
it or not.) (M. Kornfeld)
2) TESHUVAH, YOM KIPUR, AND THE KORBANOS "CHATAS" AND "ASHAM VADAI"
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses the effectiveness of Teshuvah, Yom Kipur,
and Misah in attaining atonement for various types of sins. The Mishnah
begins with a statement that the Korban "Chatas and Asham Vadai attain
atonement." What do those Korbanos have to do with Teshuvah and Yom Kipur?
The fact that they are Mechaper applies all the time, whenever they are
3) "TALMUD TORAH" PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE TO "DERECH ERETZ"
(a) The TOSFOS YOM HA'KIPURIM answers that the Mishnah's intention is not to
teach anything about those Korbanos themselves. Rather, the Mishnah's
intention is to teach, by implication, that only the Asham Vadai provides a
complete Kaparah, but *not* an Asham Taluy; if a person finds out -- after
bringing an Asham Taluy -- that he definitely sinned, he must still bring a
Korban Chatas. Furthermore, if Yom Kipur comes before one brings his Asham
Taluy, he is exempt from the Korban, in contrast to the Chatas and Asham
Vadai. (Tosfos Yom ha'Kipurim discusses at length why, according to this
reasoning, the Mishnah mentions Chatas, if the inference regarding Asham
Taluy is learned only from the mention of Asham Vadai.)
(b) The Mishnah mentions the Korbanos Chatas and Asham Vadai because from
them we learn a lesson about the atonement brought about by Teshuvah and Yom
Kipur. We learn for which sins Teshuvah alone atones, and which sins need
additional atonement, from the Chatas and the Asham.
For transgressing an Aseh or a Lo Ta'aseh no Korban is required, and thus we
see that Teshuvah alone is effective for those types of sins. The Chatas and
Asham are necessary for sins that carry the punishment of Kares and Misas
Beis Din; thus we see that those types of sins require, besides Teshuvah,
the extra atonement of Korbanos. So, too, Teshuvah does not atone for them
until Yom Kipur comes and provides extra atonement. In addition, the Chatas
and Asham are only Mechaper for sins of "Bein Adam la'Makom" (between man
and G-d), but not for sins of "Bein Adam la'Chaveiro" (between man and his
fellow man), such as thievery. Similarly, Teshuvah and Yom Kipur do not
atone for sins of "Bein Adam la'Chaveiro" until one appeases his friend and
asks for Mechilah.
QUESTION: The TOSFOS YESHANIM (DH Teshuvah) cites Rabeinu Tam's claim that
Talmud Torah is "secondary to Derech Eretz." Rabeinu Tam learns this from
the wording of the Mishnah in Avos (2:2), "Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech
Eretz," "It is good to have Talmud Torah *with Derech Eretz*." This implies
that Derech Eretz is of primary importance, but it is good to accompany it
with Talmud Torah. (Tosfos Yeshanim discusses at length the grammatical
basis for this inference, in light of the wording of our Mishnah and other
Rabeinu Elchanan (ibid.) challenges this statement. How can Rabeinu Tam say
that Derech Eretz, working, is more important than learning Torah! We find
many statements in the Mishnah and Gemara that make it clear that the
opposite is true -- such as the Mishnah in Avos (6:5) that says "Torah is
only acquired through minimizing Derech Eretz!"
(a) Rav Elchanan Wasserman (in CHIDUSHEI AGADOS, at the end of Kobetz
He'aros) explains that Rabeinu Tam is simply reading the words "Yafeh Talmud
Torah Im Derech Eretz" the way the Midrash reads them (Bamidbar Raba 13:15).
The Midrash says, "Torah must be mixed in with *good deeds*, as the Mishnah
says 'Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eretz.'" If so, the words "Derech Eretz"
in this Mishnah do not refer to work (as in the Mishnah in 6:5), but to good
deeds (as in "Derech Eretz Kadmah la'Torah).
Actually, the translation of this Mishnah in Avos appears to be a subject of
debate in the Midrash. Another Midrash (Koheles Raba 7:1) seems to translate
"Derech Eretz" in this Mishnah as "work," connecting the Mishnah to a verse
in Koheles that states "Wisdom is good when accompanied by material
possessions." Rabeinu Elchanan, in the Tosfos Yeshanim, did not accept
Rabeinu Tam's explanation of the Mishnah because he was translating the
Mishnah like it was understood by the Koheles Raba.
(b) I once heard (from Rav Simcha Shustel of Lakewood) that Rabeinu Tam may
have been referring to a specific type of learning Torah.
In his commentary to the Mishnah in question (Avot 2:2), Rav Chaim of
Volozhin contends that "Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eret" means that even
*while* one is involved in worldly activity such as his work, it is good to
think about Torah. (See also Nefesh HaChaim, 1:8.) Such a practice has its
source in much earlier commentaries, such as Mishnat Avot (by Rav Yosef ben
Yehudah Ibn Eknin, disciple of the Rambam, Avot 4:10). The Sefer Hafla'ah,
in his introduction (#35; see also his introduction to Sefer HaMikneh, #32),
elaborates further. How will a person ever succeed in business, asks the
Hafla'ah, if his mind is always preoccupied with Torah? The answer: "Know
Hashem while you go about your ways, and He will make your paths straight"
(Mishlei 3:6). If you think thoughts of Torah while you work, Hashem will
see to it that your business prospers. Similarly, "Happy is the person...
who desires Hashem's Torah and ponders His Torah day and night... he will
succeed in all that he does" (Tehillim 1:1-3). A person need not be
concerned that his concentration on Torah thoughts will cause him to fail in
A contemporary Gadol, HaGaon Rav Shlomo Fisher of Jerusalem, pointed out to
me that the spiritual height to which the Hafla'ah and Rav Chaim Volozhin
are referring is discussed by the Ramban. When the Torah tells us (Devarim
11:22) to "love Hashem, walk in his ways and *cleave to him*," the Ramban
explains that one who is on a truly high spiritual level should dwell on the
love of Hashem even as he goes about his daily business. While he is
conversing with his fellow man, his heart should be thinking about Hashem
and His ways. Similarly, the Ra'avad (end of Hilchot Teshuvah) refers to
righteous individuals who perform all of their mundane activities in a
distracted manner because their mind is absorbed by their love for Hashem.
Rabeinu Tam may simply be proving that the proper way to learn the Mishnah
in Avos is like Rav Chaim of Volozhin. The Mishnah means to say that even
when one's *primary* involvement is with Derech Eretz, such as while he is
working for a living, it is still good to be thinking about Torah in back of
(Of course, most people will find this approach very hard to follow, if not
absolutely impossible. As the Ramban mentioned, cleaving to Hashem is a
great accomplishment which is practiced by no more than a few elite
individuals per generation. The everyday working person is certainly not
expected to act in such a manner. What the average Jew can and should strive
for is using any free moments during the day for Torah study and not wasting
them on insignificant matters.)