(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Berachos 19


QUESTION: At the end of a lengthy discussion whether the dead are aware of what is happening in this world, the Gemara (18b) concludes that even Rebbi Yonasan (who, on 18a, asserted that the dead do not know what is happening in this world) changed his mind and said that the dead *do* know what is happening. He derives that from a verse that says Hashem told Moshe Rabbeinu to relate to the deceased forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov, that the Jewish people had entered the land of Israel. Concludes the Gemara, it must be that the dead are aware of what goes on in this world, because "if they do not know, what good will it do [for Moshe Rabbeinu] to tell them?"

From this Gemara it seems that if the dead do not know what is happening in this world, even if someone tells the dead about something in this world, they do not know what is happening. They have absolutely no awareness of anything this-worldly.

This is difficult to understand, because the Gemara earlier (18b) implies that if the dead are informed, then they *do* know what is happening. Never did the Gemara mention the possibility that they are so removed from this world that they have no idea what is going on even if they are told! (MAHARSHA)


(a) The MAHARSHA answers that the Gemara here is addressing Rebbi Yonasan's opinion. On Daf 18a, Rebbi Yonasan cited the verse, "The dead people do not know *anything*" (Koheles 9:5). This reveals that Rebbi Yonasan was of the opinion that the dead have absolutely no awareness of anything this-worldly, even if they are informed of it.

The Gemara on 18b -- which implies that even if they do not know what is happening in the world, they *do* know if someone informs them -- was responding to one of Rebbi Chiya's sons who asserted that his father does not know of their pain. Even if he does not know of their pain of his own accord, he could know if he were informed.

(b) For what purpose did Hashem command Moshe to tell the forefathers about the Jewish people's entry into Israel? It must have been so that the forefathers would continue to watch their children and pray for them when they would wage war to conquer the land. The Gemara asks, then, that if dead people do not know what is going on the world, what good would it do for Moshe to tell them? True, they may be aware of the events as they are informed of them, but Moshe could not tell them when the Jews would go to war and when to pray for them. (M. Kornfeld)

This explanation is consistent with the reading of the text that Tosfos (Sotah 34b, DH Avosai) had in our Gemara. In Tosfos' text, there appeared the word "Ela" ("rather") before the Gemara's answer, "So that they would express gratitude to Moshe." According to Tosfos, this answer is not answering the question that immediately precedes it ("If they *know* [what is happening in the world], what is the point in telling them [what is happening]?"), but rather, it is answering the first question, "If they *do not know* [what is happening in the world], what is the point in telling them [what is happening]?" The point in telling them is so that they will appreciate what Moshe did for their children up until the point when they entered Eretz Yisrael.

According to the Maharsha's explanation, this reading of the Gemara is not possible. The Maharsha explained that if they do not know what is happening, that means that they have absolutely no understanding of anything this-worldly, and thus they could not even be grateful to Moshe Rabbeinu for bringing the Jews to the land of Israel.


QUESTION: The Gemara says that if one finds Shatnez in his garment, he must remove his garment immediately, even if he is in a public place and may be embarrassed. One may not transgress a Mitzvah for the sake of man's honor.

The Gemara concludes (on 20a) that man's honor does not override the Mitzvos of the Torah only when one is actively transgressing a Torah prohibition. By wearing Shatnez, one is actively violating the prohibition. One may, however, transgress the Torah *passively* in order to prevent disgrace. The Gemara learns this from the rule that if there is a corpse that needs to be buried, one may bury the corpse even if it requires him to forego the Mitzvah of bringing the Korban Pesach or circumcizing his son.

RASHI (20a, DH Shev v'Al Ta'aseh) cites the Gemara in Yevamos (90b) which teaches that the Rabbanan have the authority to tell us to violate a Mitzvah in a passive fashion. For example, the Rabbanan command us not to put Tzitzis on a four-cornered, linen garment, even though mid'Oraisa such a garment is required to have Tzitzis. Since one is only passively violating the Torah's command, the Rabbanan have the authority to make such an enactment.

TOSFOS (Yevamos 90b, DH Kulhu Nami) asks how is wearing a four-cornered garment without Tzitzis considered a passive infraction? Wearing a garment without Tzitzis should be considered *actively* transgressing the Torah's command not to don a four-cornered garment without Tzitzis, just as one actively violates the prohibition of wearing Shatnez by wearing a garment that is Shatnez!

TOSFOS answers that the Torah only commands us to attach Tzitzis to a four-cornered garment that one is *wearing*. Only a moment after placing it upon him does the obligation take effect. But at that point, the person is *passively* wearing a garment without Tzitzis.

Our Gemara concludes that wearing a garment with Shatnez is indeed an active transgression because the prohibition of wearing Shatnez includes the act of *placing the garment* upon oneself. Since he initially transgressed the prohibition actively, even though now -- while he wears the garment -- he is only transgressing passively, he is required to remove it immediately. (Alternatively, since he initially transgressed the prohibition actively, all the time that the garment remains on him is considered to be an active transgression.)

The SHA'AGAS ARYEH (#82) points out that this explanation raises a problem. The Torah permits attaching [woolen] Tzitzis to a linen garment, because the Mitzvah of Tzitzis overrides the prohibition of Shatnez. But how is it permitted to put on such a garment? The very moment that he dons the garment, he transgresses the prohibition of Shatnez, because the Mitzvah of wearing Tzitzis (which would override the prohibition of Shatnez) takes effect only a moment later, when the garment is already resting on his body. The Sha'agas Aryeh leaves this question unanswered.

Next daf


This article is provided as part of Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Permission is granted to redistribute electronically or on paper,
provided that this notice is included intact.
For information on subscriptions, archives, and other Shema Yisrael
Classes, send mail to daf@shemayisrael.co.il

Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Jerusalem, Israel

In the U.S.:
Tel. (908) 370-3344
Fax. (908) 367-6608

Toll free line for dedications: 1-800-574-2646