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Berachos 31


QUESTION: The Mishnah (30b) states that one should Daven only with "Koved Rosh" (humility -Rashi). The first Beraisa in the Gemara (31a) states that one should Daven only after having studied a "Halachah Pesukah" (a Halachah that does not require deep thought, which may cause a person to be distracted from concentrating properly on his prayers -Rashi). The second Beraisa states that one should Daven only with "Simchah Shel Mitzvah," the happiness that comes from performing a Mitzvah.

Are the 2 Beraisos and our Mishnah arguing? Are these three different opinions?

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that the three opinions are not arguing. Rather, they complement each other.

(a) *If* one was learning Torah when the time to Daven arrived, then he should make sure to learn a Halachah Pesukah before he Davens, rather than beginning to Daven with the complicated Halachos that he was just learning on his mind. This is the intention of the first Beraisa.
(b) If one was not learning when the time to Daven arrived, then there is a difference between Shemoneh Esreh and Keri'as Shema. Keri'as Shema should be recited following "Simchah Shel Mitzvah" (because Shema is an expression of the *love* of Hashem, and thus it should be said with *Simchah*).
(c) Shemoneh Esreh should be said with Koved Rosh (because in Shemoneh Esreh we express of our *fear* of Hashem, and humility, not joy, is appropriate.) Thus, the Mishnah refers to Shemoneh Esreh, and the second Beraisa refers to Shema. (Rav Ashi, who "followed the ruling of the Beraisa," was reciting Shema.)


QUESTION: Chanah threatened to seclude herself with another man so that her husband would accuse her of infidelity and require her to drink the Sotah waters. Since she was innocent of wrongdoing, she would then merit to have children.

One is immediately struck by a number of obvious questions on this statement:

FIRST QUESTION: Secluding oneself with a member of the opposite sex is forbidden by the laws of Yichud. How could Chanah transgress the prohibition against Yichud?

SECOND QUESTION: When a woman is accused of infidelity and drinks the Sotah waters, part of the process involves writing the name of Hashem on a slip of paper and placing it into the water to be erased. Causing the name of Hashem to be erased is a severe transgression; the only time that it is permitted is for the Sotah waters. How could Chanah threaten to cause the name of Hashem to be erased?

ANSWERS: Acharonim suggest a number of ways to answer the FIRST QUESTION:
(a) The CHASAM SOFER (EH 1:102) answers the first question by citing the opinion of the Rambam, that although it is permitted, under the laws of Yichud, for one woman to be secluded with two men, nevertheless she can become a Sotah for doing so. Chanah would seclude herself with two men, which would not be a transgression of Yichud but would still be grounds for her husband to accuse her of infidelity and require her to drink the Sotah waters.

(b) The TERUMAS HA'DESHEN (#244) says that if the door to the area where the woman and the man are secluded is open, then there is no prohibition of Yichud. However, in such a situation the husband still has the right to accuse his wife of infidelity and require her to drink the Sotah waters. Thus, Chanah would not transgress the prohibition of Yichud, because the door could be kept open.

The SHEMEN ROKE'ACH answers the SECOND QUESTION. He explains that according to the Gemara (Nedarim 66b), the reason the name of Hashem may be erased for the Sotah waters is because the Sotah waters restore Shalom to the family (when the husband sees that his wife is innocent and is truly loyal to him, their Shalom is restored). Here, too, Chanah's intention was for the sake of Shalom between man and his wife. A man is permitted to divorce his wife if they cannot have children after ten years of marriage. Chanah wanted to have a child and not be divorced, and by drinking the Sotah waters (and causing the name of Hashem to be erased) she would be blessed with a child and restore Shalom to her relationship with her husband.

The MAGID TA'ALUMAH adds that when the verse says that Chanah "prayed 'on' Hashem" ("va'Tispalel Al Hashem"), it means that she prayed *for the sake of the name of Hashem*, that it should not be erased (that is, that Hashem should listen to her request and grant her a child without her having to drink the Sotah waters).

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