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Berachos 18


OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that one who is traveling by donkey may not place a Torah scroll in a sack and place it on the donkey and sit on it, unless there is a danger of gentiles or thieves stealing the Torah scroll.

We find that a person may not sit on a bed or chair on which a Torah scroll is resting (Shulchan Aruch, YD 282:7). Is this the same Halachah as the one in our Gemara?

(a) The RIF (according to the TALMIDEI RABBEINU YONAH) understands the two Halachos to be the same. The Rif understands our Gemara to be saying that one may only sit on a donkey *next to* a Torah scroll if there is a danger that it might be stolen. One may *never* sit directly *on* the Torah scroll, even if there is a risk that the Torah scroll will be stolen. It is better to lose the Torah scroll than to disgrace it by sitting on it. If there is no danger, one may not sit even next to the Torah scroll, but one must hold it in his hands next to his heart.

(b) TOSFOS (DH v'Yirkav Aleihem) understands the two Halachos to be separate Halachos. When travelling on a donkey, the Halachah is more lenient with regard to sitting next to a Torah scroll (because, presumably, there is no other way to ride with a Torah scroll). When it is necessary, one may even sit *on* the scroll in order to prevent it from being stolen.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 282:3) rules that "one may not ride upon a Torah scroll, but one must hold it in his chest." This seems to be consistent with the Rif's ruling, who is stringent and does not allow one to ride with the Torah scroll next to him. If one is afraid of thieves, writes the Shulchan Aruch, "then it is permissible." From here it seems that the Shulchan Aruch is lenient (not like the Rif) and permits one to ride *on* the Torah scroll if there is danger.

The SHACH cites the BACH who is indeed stringent (like the Rif) and prohibits riding on a Torah scroll under any circumstances. The Shach writes that although it is always best to do as much as one can to uphold the honor of the Torah scroll, when the only way to prevent it from being stolen is by sitting on it, then one may sit on it. It is better to temporarily disgrace the Torah scroll than to cause it to be lost forever.


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a certain Chasid gave away a large sum of money on the day before Rosh Hashanah. When his wife found out what he had done, she was very angry. That night he went and slept in a cemetery.

If this person was a Chasid, how could he sleep in a cemetery, a place of defilement (see also the Gemara later (43b) that says a Talmid Chacham may not go out alone at night)? This question is especially difficult in light of the Gemara that says that whenever a "Chasid" is mentioned in the Gemara, it refers to either Rebbi Yehudah Ben Bava or Rebbi Yehudah Bar Ila'i (Bava Kama 103b, Temurah 15b), two of the holy Tana'im.


(a) The KISEI RACHAMIM answers that he did not actually sleep inside the cemetery. He slept next to it.

(b) RAV YAKOV EMDEN says that his intention was to show that he considered himself like a dead person before Hashem, and to ask the dead to beseech Hashem to have mercy on the living. The Gemara in Ta'anis (16a) suggests that a person go to a cemetery on a day of fasting for these reasons.

(c) The MAHARSHA explains that he did not actually go to a cemetery. Rather, he induced a dream to appear to him (in which he went and slept in a cemetery) through which he could find out how to avoid the coming year's afflictions.

(d) RAV YISRAEL SALANTER (Ohr Yisrael) explains that the Gemara does not say that his wife became angry, but rather that she angered *him*. Considering that it was the day before Rosh Hashanah, he decided that he must take urgent measures in order to humble himself and rid himself of his anger. For this reason he went and slept in a cemetery.

QUESTION: The Gemara relates that the Chasid heard the spirits discussing what afflictions would come to the world during the coming year. If the heavenly court sits in judgement and issues its decrees only during the day (as the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (8b) states, the heavenly court sits in judgement only at the time that the earthly court sanctifies the new moon, which is during the day and not at night, see Rosh Hashanah 30b), how could the spirits know the night before what would happen? The decree had not yet been issued! (GILYONEI HA'SHAS of RAV YOSEF ENGEL)

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that the Chasid slept in the cemetery the night of the *second* day of Rosh Hashanah, after the decree had been issued on the first.

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