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Berachos 62


The Gemara records various reasons why a person should clean himself in the bathroom with his left hand, and not with his right hand.
  • (a) The Torah was given with the "right hand" of Hashem, as the verse says in Devarim (33:2).
  • (b) One eats with his right hand.
  • (c) One wraps the straps of his Tefilin with his hand right hand.
  • (d) One shows the notes for reading the Torah with one's right hand.
  • (e) The right hand is used for writing.
The last four reasons (b-e) would dictate that a left-handed person may not wipe himself with his *left* hand, but should use his right hand. Those reasons are based on the idea that the hand which is used for important and respectable acts should not be used for the lowly act of wiping oneself. However, according to the first reason (a), even a left-handed person should not wipe himself with his right hand. (Perhaps this is why that reason is mentioned first even though it was given by Rava, who lived later than some of the Amora'im who gave the other reasons. -- Y. Tavin)

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 3:10) rules that one should not wipe himself with his right hand. Regarding a left-handed person, the TAZ writes that the Halachah follows the majority of reasons in the Gemara, and therefore a left-handed person should use his right hand. For this reason, the Me'iri leaves out the reason of Rava, and so does Rabeinu Chananel.


QUESTION: David ha'Melech was punished since he attempted, at one point, to count the Jewish people directly (II Shmuel ch. 24). How could David ha'Melech make such a mistake, violating a clear prohibition from the Torah (Shemot 30:12) and facing the Torah's threat of a punishing plague?


(a) The RAMBAN (Shemot 30:12) explains that David ha'Melech thought that only in the Sinai desert was it necessary to give coins for the count, since there was a need for the coins (in order to make the Adanim for the Mishkan out of the coins). He did not realize that it was a commandment that was binding for all future generations.

(b) The MIZRACHI (ibid.) explains that David ha'Melech thought that the coins were not given as a means *by which* to count the Jewish people. David ha'Melech thought that a regular census could indeed be conducted, *after* which a Machatzis ha'Shekel had to be given as Kofer Nefesh in order to avoid the plague that would otherwise follow due to Ayin Hara.

(c) The BE'ER SHEVA (in Tamid) explains that David ha'Melech actually was caused by Hashem to make this mistake as a punishment for something else that he did. As the Gemara tells us, "[Hashem told David,] 'You said that I "persuade" people to sin? I will punish you by having you forget something that even children know....' " There was a Divine decree for David to forget the verse this one time.

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