THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) "ES LA'ASOS LASHEM, HEFERU TORASECHA"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah cites the verse "Es la'Asos..." as another source
that one may use the name of Hashem to greet his fellow man. The Mishnah
then quotes Rebbi Nasan who reverses the order of the two phrases in the
verse. What is Rebbi Nasan adding?
2) THE BLESSING FOR A MIRACLE
(a) RASHI and the BARTENURA seem to explain that Rebbi Nasan is merely
explaining the last verse that the Mishnah cited. The verse says, "A time
to act for Hashem, annul the Torah," and Rebbi Nasan explains that this
means that one should "annul the Torah" *in the event* that it is "a time
to act for Hashem." That is, even though it appears to be against the Torah
to use the name of Hashem to greet someone, nevertheless our Sages
permitted it in order to increase peace among people (as another verse
states, "Bakesh Shalom v'Radfehu" -- "Seek peace and pursue it"), and
therefore it is considered "acting for the sake of Hashem."
(b) The RAMBAM explains that Rebbi Nasan and the first Tana are arguing
about the explanation of the verse (the Rambam's text of the Mishnah did
not have the word "Mishum"). Rebbi Nasan explains that the verse is saying
that when people do not keep the Torah (for example, they treat with
disrespect the enactments that were just mentioned at the end of the
Mishnah) -- "[when they] annul the Torah"-- then Hashem will punish them --
"a time *for Hashem to punish*." (Rebbi Nasan, according to the Rambam,
interprets the word "la'Asos" not as "to act" or "to do," but "to punish.")
The first Tana is saying something entirely different. When it is time for
Hashem to punish people (for previous sins) -- "a time for Hashem to
punish"-- the people will transgress the Torah -- "they will annul the
Torah" -- *so that* the punishment that comes to them is [clearly seen by
all to be] justified. Even though this seems to contradict the notion of
free choice, the Rambam alludes to what he wrote in Hilchos Teshuva 5:5,
that Hashem's knowledge of future sin is one of the things that is beyond
QUESTION: The Mishnah gives a list of different blessings that one is
obligated to recite on various occasions. One of those is a blessing upon
seeing a place at which miracles were wrought for the Jewish people.
Concerning this blessing, the Gemara asks, "What is the source for this
blessing?" The Gemara does not ask for the source of all the other
blessings in the Mishnah (RASHI DH Hachi Garsinan). Why not? Furthermore,
usually the Gemara asks for the source of a Halachah when that Halachah is
mid'Oraisa. Here, though, we are discussing blessings that were instituted
by the Rabanan, so what is the need to ask for a source?
ANSWER: We learned earlier (35a) that the obligation to recite blessings is
a rabbinical obligation based on "Sevara," logic. If so, the source for
reciting almost all of the blessings in our Mishnah is the logic that if
one derives benefit from something in this world, he must recite a
blessing. This logic, however, does not seem to apply to one blessing --
the blessing on miracles. When Hashem performs a miracle for a person, that
person usually must worry that his merits in heaven have decreased (that
is, instead of receiving a greater degree of eternal reward for his Mitzvah
observance in the World to Come, this miracle was performed for him in this
world). If so, it would not seem appropriate to recite a blessing for such
Furthermore, all the blessings in the Mishnah are recited at the moment
that the event occurs. The blessing for a miracle, though, is recited long
after the event has occurred, which also seems counterintuitive.
Finally, the blessing for a miracle that happened to the Jewish people is
recited even by someone for whom the miracle did not occur! For these
reasons, the blessing for a miracle seems to go against logic, and
therefore the Gemara asks for the source for this blessing. (TZELACH; the
P'NEI YEHOSHUA suggests a similar explanation.)
3) THE ROCK OF OG
The Gemara relates how Hashem miraculously saved the Jews from the mountain
that the giant Og wanted to toss on them. The RASHBA explains at length
that it is not necessary to accept this Gemara in its literal meaning. It
may be taken allegorically, as follows:
4) FULFILLING ONE'S OBLIGATION BY SAYING "AMEN"
(a) "Og lifted a rock large enough to cover the entire encampment of
Israel." The Gemara in Nidah 61a says that in Parshas Vayera (Bereishis
14:13) when someone comes to notify Avraham of Lot's capture, that person
was Og. The Gemara explains that Moshe Rabeinu was afraid that this merit
would prevent them from conquering Og and entering Israel. Og was confident
for the same reason, since he had the merit of Avraham while the Jews
themselves should have lost his merit since, as the Midrash tells us, they
served Avodah Zarah in Egypt just like the Egyptians (and they sinned in
the desert with the Golden Calf). Og felt that merit of Avraham was on his
The Gemara (Rosh ha'Shanah 11a, Sanhedrin 81a) tells us that the
forefathers are compared to mountains. Og lifted up the merit of Avraham
onto his own shoulders, and tried to reverse its effects, using it to
destroy the Jewish People instead of protecting them.
(b) "Locusts ('Kamtzi,' according to the Aruch) infested the mountain. They
ate through the mountain until it crashed down onto his head. He couldn't
remove it because his teeth extended and anchored it in place"
Locusts are a metaphor for the people of Israel. The verse compares Israel
to an ox that completely devours all the grass around it (Bamidbar 22:4)
because the power of the Bnai Yisrael is in their *mouth* (Rashi, ibid.).
For the same reason, they may be compared to locusts, who wreak havoc on
growing produce. The Jews overcame Og and the merit of the forefathers
defended their descendants, the Jewish People.
(c) "Moshe Rabeinu, who was ten Amos tall, took an ax ten Amos long, jumped
ten Amos and struck Og in the ankle, which knocked him down and killed
him." Moshe Rabeinu was not able to conquer the merits of Og without first
invoking the merits of all of the nation of Israel and their forefathers.
"Moshe was ten amos tall" -- this refers to Moshe Rabeinu's own merits that
were needed. "He took an ax ten Amos long" -- he used the combined merits
of the Jewish People, who were together with him like a tool which one
carries in his hand. "He jumped up ten Amos" -- he jumped up to the
previous generations to invoke the merits of the forefathers. This combined
effort managed to strike down Og.
The Rashba does not explain why the number "ten" is used, other than
suggesting that 10 Amos was Moshe's height (as in Shabbos 92a). Perhaps
Moshe's ten Amos represent the merit of the ten Makos that he brought upon
Egyptians, the ten Amos of the ax represent the merit of the Ten
Commandments that the Jews accepted, and the ten Amos that he jumped
represent the ten tests that Avraham endured out of his love for Hashem.
(d) What remains to be explained is how one may recite a blessing on a rock
that never existed (according to the Rashba's allegorical explanation)? The
Rashba answers that the blessing is recited on a rock or group of rocks
(catapult rocks) that Og had prepared as artillery to throw upon the Jews.
These tremendous rocks demonstrate the miraculous salvation of the Jews
from Og's scheming. The suggestion that Og lifted an entire 3x3 Parsa
mountain above his head single-handedly, however, was only allegorical.
This, explains the Rashba, is why the Gemara says that the blessing is
recited on the "rock" that Og wanted to throw, while the story describes
the "mountain" with which he wanted to destroy the Jews.
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that after Rav Yehudah had recovered from a
life-threatening illness, the Rabanan said to him, "Blessed is Hashem Who
gave you back to us!" to which Rav Yehudah responded, "You have exempted me
from my obligation to recite a blessing of thanksgiving." The Gemara asks
how he is exempt if he did not say anything, and answers that he said
"Amen" after their blessing.
What is the Gemara's question? We know that a person fulfills his
obligation to recite a blessing through hearing someone else say the
blessing ("Shomei'a k'Onah"), even if he does not respond "Amen!" (See
(a) One does not have to respond "Amen" to someone else's blessing to
fulfill his own obligation when the person reciting the blessing is also
*obligated* to recite it. If he is not obligated to recite the blessing,
however, (such as is the case in our Gemara), one who *is* obligated must
respond "Amen" in order to fulfill his obligation. (TUR OC 219, cited in
the MA'ADANEI YOM TOV and DIVREI CHAMUDOS)
(b) The RITVA explains that Rav Yehudah had to answer Amen since the
Rabanan did not *have in mind* to exempt him from his obligation with their
The logic behind these two suggestions is perhaps one and the same. When
one fulfills his obligation through "Shomei'a k'Onah," the one who listens
fulfills his obligation through the *other person's* utterance. Therefore,
when the other person fulfills no obligation, then the person listening
cannot fulfill his obligation either, since he did not say the blessing
himself. Similarly, the Mevarech must have in mind to exempt the listener
from his Berachah, and he must use the exact wording that the listener will
use. When one answers "Amen" after hearing a blessing, it is as if he
himself said the words of the blessing that came out of the other person's
(c) REBBI AKIVA EIGER suggests that Rav Yehudah had to say "Amen" since the
Rabanan expressed the Berachah in a manner that would not have been enough
for him had he not altered their wording -- that is, they thanked Hashem in
the third person (that "you" survived, referring to Rav Yehudah), while he
had to thank Hashem in the first person (that "I" survived).
(d) The RE'AH says that Rav Yehudah would also have fulfilled his
obligation through "Shomei'a k'Onah" if he had not answered "Amen." (The
Re'ah did not have the question, "But [Rav Yehudah] did not say anything,"
in his Gemara. This was also the text of the RIF.)