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Berachos 8


QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan was perplexed when he heard that people lived long in Bavel. The verse in the Torah says, "In order to lengthen your days... *on the land* which Hashem swore to your fathers to give to them" (Devarim 11:21); that is, only in the land of Israel will there be longevity, but not outside of Israel! Rebbi Yochanan's confusion cleared when he heard that the people of Bavel go to the synagogue early and stay late.

How does that answer the question? The verse still says that only in *Israel* will people live long!


(a) The Gemara in Megilah (29a) says that in the future, all of the synagogues throughout the world will be uprooted from their places and transported to Israel. Every synagogue anywhere in the world is like a small plot of the land of Israel, into which it will eventually be returned. By going to the synagogues early and staying late, it was as if the people of Bavel were living in the land of Israel, and that is how they acheived their longevity. (MAHARSHA)

The Maharsha adds that this explains the previous Gemara as well, that says that anyone who does not go into the synagogue in his city to pray is called "an evil neighbor," as it says, "Thus says Hashem, concerning all of my evil neighbors who harm the *inheritance* (Nachalah) that I have bequeathed to my people, Israel..." (Yirmeyah 12:14). In what way are synagogues considered to be "the inheritance" that was bequeathed to Israel? They are considered our inheritance because they are actually part of the Land of Israel!

(b) The Gemara in Bava Metzia (76a) describes a Halachah concerning when a worker was given more money for his work than originally stipulated. To compensate for the difference, the worker is expected to either do work of better quality, or to work for longer hours. Hashem gives longer life (= higher wages) only to people living in the land of Israel, where it is possible to perform *better quality* service. Outside of Israel, the Jews cannot merit longevity by performing service of a better quality. However, they can put in *longer hours*, by coming early and staying late in the synagogues and learning. Through their longer hours they are granted longevity. (KOHELES YITZCHAK, Parashas Ekev)

OPINIONS: Rav Chisda says that one should always enter "an amount equivalent to two entranceways" into the synagogue and then pray. What does this mean?
(a) RASHI (DH Shi'ur Shel Shenei Pesachim) explains that it means a *distance* equal to the breadth of two entranceways (which the Orchos Chayim, cited in the Beis Yosef, Orach Chayim 90, says is eight Tefachim). One should not stand next to the door because it appears that he considers Davening a burden to him and he wants to leave as soon as the prayers are finished.

(b) The ROSH (1:7) and the HAGAHOS MAIMONIYOS (Hilchos Tefilah 8:3) quotes Tosfos' explanation. One should not start Davening as soon as he walks into the synagogue. Rather, one should pause for the amount of *time* that it takes to walk through two entranceways (that is, the time that it takes to walk eight Tefachim). According to Tosfos, one may stand right next to the door when he prays.

(c) The TUR (Orach Chayim 90) cites MAHARAM MI'ROTENBERG who explains that when there is an open door leading into the synagogue, one will not be able to concentrate on his prayers if he prays near the door. Therefore, he must enter the synagogue a distance equal to the breadth of two entranceways. (The Tur cites a Yerushalmi in Berachos (5:1) that seems to refute both the explanations of Maharam mi'Rotenberg (c) and of the Tosfos (b).)

(d) The BACH (Orach Chayim 90), based on the wording of the Yerushalmi in Berachos, says that every synagogue should have an anteroom, in order that one should walk through two entranceways before praying, one of the anteroom and the other of the synagogue itself. This gives the impression that one is walking directly into the inner chamber and speaking to G-d, as opposed to praying in the first room one comes to, which gives the appearance that is waiting outside of the main chamber and needs a messenger to bring his prayers into the inner chamber.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (Orach Chayim 90:20) lists the first three opinions, and in practice, we follow all of the opinions, l'Chumra. However, the Shulchan Aruch cites in the name of Rabbeinu Yonah that if a person's regular seat, such as the one that he owns, is next to the door, (which is kept closed, so as not to distract him from Davening) he may Daven there. In such a case it is obvious that he is not standing near the door because Davening is a burden to him, but because that is where his regular seat happens to be, so all of the above-mentioned opinions will allow him to sit there.

The Magen Avraham and Mishnah Berurah (#61) mention the Bach, that a synagogue should have an anteroom.

QUESTION: How can it be that one who fears G-d is not better than one who enjoys his handiwork? And why must we contrast the two? Can't a person who enjoys the work of his hands *also* be G-d-fearing?


(a) We know that there are two general ways to serve G-d: out of love, and out of fear. The VILNA GA'ON explains that "one who enjoys the work of his hands" is the one who serves G-d out of love. He is not only happy and enjoys his life serving G-d in this world, but he merits the World to Come for his service of G-d. The "one who fears G-d" is the one who serves Him out of fear. He does not particularly enjoy his life in this world, because his service of G-d is not motivated by a positive love for Him, but out of fear of punishment. He merits the World to Come, but not happiness in this world (i.e., only one of two worlds).

The Vilna Ga'on adds to this explanation. The RAMBAM (Shemoneh Perakim ch. 6) writes that the philosophers argued whether it is a greater accomplishment for a person to have to constantly fight his evil inclination to achieve good (this is the "one who fears G-d," who serves Hashem out of fear, explains the Ga'on), or it is a greater accomplishment to naturally want to do good, without any temptation for evil (this is the "one who enjoys the work of his hands," who serves Hashem out of love, explains the Ga'on). They concluded, writes the Rambam, that it is a greater accomplishment to naturally want to do good (the Rambam qualifies this statement, see Parasha-Page, Kedoshim 5755). Says the Vilna Ga'on, this is what the Gemara means when it says that the one who enjoys the work of his hands is greater than the one who fears G-d.

(b) "One who fears G-d" refers to a person who, when a doubt in Halachah arises (for example, is a certain food is kosher or not), is stringent upon himself and refrains from eating it. "One who enjoys the work of his hands" refers to the person who, when a doubt in Halachah arises, works hard to resolve the doubt by learning the pertinent Halachos and analyzing the issues involved. Through his toil he arrives at a conclusion permitting the item that was in doubt. He "enjoys the work of his hands" in this world, and merits a share in the World to Come because of his labor in Torah. (Heard from HARAV YOSEF TENDLER, shlita, Yeshivas Ner Yisrael, 1987)


QUESTION: The Gemara says that if reads the Parshah twice each week and its Targum once, "his days and years are lengthened." What is this an appropriate reward for such an act? How is the reward of long life commensurate with the act of reading overthe Parshah?

ANSWER: The Gemara later (55a) says that one of the things that "shorten one's days and years" is if one is called to read from the Torah and he does not read (because he does not know how). By preparing the Parshah two times, one becomes familiar with the words well enough to read if he is called upon to read from the Torah. He thereby avoids having his days and years shortened, and he merits long life. (HA'RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HOROWITZ)

OPINIONS: The Gemara derives from the verses that one who eats and drinks on the ninth of Tishrei, the day before Yom Kippur, is considered as though he fasted both the ninth and the tenth. Why should eating on Erev Yom Kippur be considered like fasting?

(a) RASHI (DH Ma'aleh Alav ha'Kasuv) explains that by eating and drinking the day before one prepares himself for the fast. Since his eating and drinking on the ninth is in *preparation* for the fast of the tenth, his eating is considered to be a part of his later fasting. This is also the opinion of the ROSH (Yoma 8:22), and support can be found for it in the Yerushalmi (Yoma).

(b) The SHIBOLEI HA'LEKET, quoting RABBEINU YESHAYA, says that after eating and drinking a lot on the day before the fast, fasting is much more difficult. Therefore one is rewarded for eating on the ninth as if he has lengthened his fast of the tenth. (Support for this understanding can be drawn from the Gemara in Ta'anis 26a, which says that fast-days are not established on Sundays, for it is too hard to fast after a day of festivity -- Pardes Yosef, Vayikra)

(c) The TUR (Orach Chayim 604) quotes the Midrash that tells the story of a simple Jew who outbid the king's officer to buy a fish on the day before Yom Kippur. The Jew later explained to the king that he wanted the fish "to celebrate that Hashem was going to pardon the sins of the Jewish people" the next day. From this it can be learned that eating on the day before Yom Kippur shows one's faith that the fast of the following day will earn us a complete pardon. RABBEINU YONAH (Sha'arei Teshuvah 4:8) also suggests such an explanation.

(d) Since Yom Kippur is a Yom Tov, it requires a Se'udas Yom Tov, a festive meal. However, we cannot have a Se'udah on Yom Kippur because we are commanded to fast. The Se'udah, therefore, was moved to the ninth. Since the Se'udah of the ninth is part of the celebration of the tenth, by eating on the ninth it is considered as if one fasted on both the ninth and the tenth. (Rabbeinu Yonah, Sha'arei Teshuvah 4:9)

(e) The ARUCH LA'NER (Rosh Hashanah 9a) suggests a novel approach. During the year, a person sins with his body and with his soul. By fasting on Yom Kippur, one afflicts his body. By eating on the day before Yom Kippur, one afflicts his soul, which is weakened by physical pleasures.

All of these reasons assume that eating on the ninth of Tishrei is related to the fast and atonement of the tenth of Tishrei, Yom Kippur. Consequently, it may be concluded that women are also obligated to eat on the ninth of Tishrei, even though it is time-dependent obligation from which women are normally exempt. Since women must fast on Yom Kippur, they are also required to do everything connected with that fast, including eating on the ninth. This is how the MAHARIL rules as cited by the DARCHEI MOSHE, Orach Chayim 604:1.

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