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Berachos 5


QUESTION: The Gemara says that if a person is suffering, he should search his deeds for possible sins. If he does not find any sins, he should attribute the suffering to Bitul Torah. How can he attribute the suffering to the sin of Bitul Torah, if he just searched his actions and found no sins (that is, not even the sin of Bitul Torah)?

RASHI (DH Pishpesh v'Lo Matza) explains that he did not find any sin *deserving of such a severe punishment*. However, our question remains. If the Bitul Torah was not deserving of such severe punishment, how can it be the cause of his suffering?


(a) The small amount Bitul Torah that he was guilty of may have caused him to misunderstand a Halachah entirely. Therefore, he is held accountable for violating that Halachah on a regular basis, because "Shigegas Talmud Olah Zadon" -- "[Misdeeds that result from] mistakes in learning are considered intentional [misdeeds]" (Avos 4:13). (VILNA GA'ON; OLELOS EFRAIM #93)

(b) Learning Torah protects one from afflictions that are due to him because of past sins (Sotah 22a). If he searched his actions and found no *new* sins to which he can attribute his afflictions, he should attribute it to Bitul Torah. Even a small amount of Bitul Torah will cause him to lose his protection from the afflictions due to him for past sins. (MISHNAS CHACHAMIM, based on the ALSHICH)

(c) He searched his actions but did not find any sins that *matched* the afflictions from which he was suffering (i.e. he found no "Midah k'Neged Midah" relationship between his sins and his afflictions). The same way that learning Torah is a Mitzvah that vitalizes one's entire body (Eruvin 54a), Bitul Torah is a sin that causes afflictions to come upon one's entire body. Therefore, he may attribute *any* afflictions to Bitul Torah. (BIRKAS ROSH)

QUESTION: The Gemara learns from a Kal v'Chomer that afflictions atone for all of one's sins. This is learned from the laws of the emancipation of slaves. If a master dislodges his slave's tooth or eye, the slave goes free, so certainly if a person's entire body is being afflicted, he goes "free" from his sins.

Afflictions come upon a person because he deserves them, as punishment for the sins that he did. When a slave goes free as a result of the loss of a tooth or eye, he did not *deserve* that affliction. How do we see from the law of a slave that even when a person deserves afflictions, they atone for his sins?


(a) If a slave hits his master and his master hits him back and knocks out a tooth or an eye, does the slave go free? We see from our Gemara that he does go free, even though he instigated the master's reaction. Therefore, the Gemara's Kal v'Chomer is accurate: if a slave goes free when he loses a tooth or an eye even though he instigated his master's rage, certainly a person goes free when his entire body is afflicted even though he instigated Hashem's rage. (RAV HAI GAON, ROGATCHOVER GA'ON in Teshuvos Tzafnas Pane'ach)

(b) Why do slaves go free with the loss of a tooth or eye? The Midrash explains that Cana'an, the father of all slaves (see Bereishis 9:25), sinned with his mouth and his eyes, as it says, "And [he] *saw*... the nakedness of his father, and he *told* his two brothers..." (Bereishis 9:22; see Rashi there). If a slave loses a tooth or an eye, that serves as an atonement for the sin of Cana'an and he is released from slavery.

According to this, however, a slave should go free only when he loses *both* a tooth and an eye! Why do slaves go free after losing either one or the other? The answer is that Hashem had mercy on the slave and let him go free with the loss of either one.

If so, the Gemara's Kal v'Chomer may be understood as follows: If the loss of just a tooth *or* an eye of a slave atones for the sin of Cana'an, then afflictions on one's entire body certainly atones for one's sins.


OPINIONS: When is it not permitted to leave a synagogue when one other person is still Davening there?
(a) RABBEINU CHANANEL (quoted by Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah) writes that this Halachah applies only at night, in synagogues in the fields (outside of a normally populated, residential area), because of the Mazikin (demons) that may harm a person if he returns from the synagogue alone. (b) The RIF, TOSFOS HA'ROSH, and TUR rule that this Halachah applies at night even in the city, because it is dangerous to return home alone at night. (It could be that in their time, the streets at night were more dangerous than in the time of Rabbeinu Chananel.)

(c) Another reason is cited in the name of Rabbeinu Chananel. Since the Gemara (6a) says that there is a higher level of Shechinah present with two people who pray together than with one, if one leaves his friend who is Davening he causes the Shechinah to depart. According to this, it would not be permitted to leave his friend Davening even during the day, and even within the city.

(d) In a similar vein, TALMIDEI RABBEINU YONAH explain that if a person is left alone to Daven, he will be afraid and he will not be able to concentrate properly on his Davening. According to this reason as well, it would not be permitted to leave another person behind by himself even during the day, and even within the city.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (90:15) rules like (b), that one may not leave his friend who is Davening alone at night, neither outside nor inside the city.

The REMA adds that it is a trait of the righteous to remain with the individual who is still Davening even during the day. TOSFOS (DH ha'Mispalel) mentions that that was indeed the RI's practice.

There are two exceptions to this Halachah. (1) The first is when the person started Davening after the Tzibur already started. He has shown that he does not mind being left alone (otherwise, he would not have started Davening, since he realizes that everyone wil finish before him and leave him behind). (2) The second exception is when the person takes a long time because he is adding additional prayers and not actually Davening.

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