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Megilah, 21

MEGILAH 21-24 (3rd-6th days of Sukos 5760) - sponsored by Harav Ari Bergmann of Lawrence, N.Y., out of love for Torah and those who study it.


OPINIONS: The Mishnah lists the number of Aliyos on the different days when the Torah is read. The Mishnah states that "on Yom Tov, there are five Aliyos, on Yom Kipur there are six, and on Shabbos there are seven -- we may not subtract from that number, but we may add to it, and we read a Haftarah from the Nevi'im."

When the Mishnah says that we may add to the number of Aliyos, to which day or days is it referring? Is it referring to all three days -- Yom Tov, Yom Kipur, and Shabbos -- and on all three of those days we may add Aliyos? Or is it referring only to the last day mentioned -- Shabbos, while on Yom Tov and Yom Kipur we may *not* add Aliyos?

(a) RASHI says that the reason why Aliyos may not be added when the Torah is read on weekdays, such as on Rosh Chodesh and Chol ha'Mo'ed, is because people work on those days and they do not have time to stay in the synagogue for extra Aliyos. This implies that on days that people abstain from work, such as Yom Tov, Yom Kipur, and Shabbos, it is permitted to add Aliyos.

This is also the opinion of TOSFOS (23a DH Chad) and the RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 12:16). The HAGAHOS MAIMONI there adds that for this reason one may add Aliyos even on weekdays for Chasanim if there are many Chasanim who are getting married on that day and need Aliyos, because the Mishnah in Nega'im (3:2) implies that the day of one's Chupah is considered like a day of a Regel!

(b) The RAN cites "Yesh Mefarshim" who say that the Mishnah is referring only to the last day mentioned -- Shabbos. Only on Shabbos is it permitted to add Aliyos, but not on any other day. He explains that we do not add Aliyos on weekdays because we want to show the importance and superiority of the days that have more Kedushah. Therefore, each day has a specific number of Aliyos, corresponding to the degree of Kedushah of that day. If we were to add to the Aliyos, it would diminish the honor of the day which has more Aliyos. However, on Shabbos, which already has more Aliyos than any other day, we may add Aliyos.

REBBI AKIVA EIGER (in Mishnayos) points out that this opinion is contradicted by the Beraisa later (23a), in which Rebbi Akiva states that "on Yom Kipur there are *seven* Aliyos, and on Shabbos there are *six*, and we may not subtract for that number, but we made add to it." That opinion maintains that on Shabbos there are *less* Aliyos than on Yom Kipur, and yet it still permits adding Aliyos on Shabbos! (See OR GADOL)

RABEINU YEHONASAN MI'LUNIL also suggests that only on Shabbos may we add Aliyos, but he gives a different reason than that of the Ran. He says that Yom Tov and Yom Kipur are like Rosh Chodesh and Chol ha'Mo'ed in that it would be too cumbersome to add Aliyos, because on Yom Tov the people need to rush home to do the Melachos of Ochel Nefesh, and on Yom Kipur, adding Aliyos would prolong the stay in synagogue and make the fast more difficult for the people. According to this explanation, the Beraisa later (23a) poses no contradiction, because even if there are only six Aliyos on Shabbos, it is still permitted to add Aliyos, since there is no reason for the people to want to leave the synagogue sooner.

(The text of the Mishnah is slightly difficult according to both of these explanations. The Mishnah says that "... we may not subtract from that number, but we may add to it, and we read a Haftarah from the Nevi'im." The first statement ("we may not subtract") and the third statement ("we read a Haftarah from the Nevi'im") are clearly referring to all three days, while the middle statement ("we may add to it") is only referring to Shabbos! The Mishnah must mean that we may add to the number of Aliyos on *some* of days listed in the Mishnah. If so, the Beraisa cited by Rebbi Akiva Eiger may also mean that we may add to the number of Aliyos on *some* of the days listed in the Beraisa -- i.e. on Yom Kipur, which has the most Aliyos, but not on Shabbos, which was mentioned last. This, too, answers Rebbi Akiva Eiger's question -- it is only on Yom Kipur that Aliyos may be added according to Rebbi Akiva of the Beraisa. [Y. Shaw])

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 282:1 rules like the Rambam, that we may add to the Aliyos on Yom Tov, Yom Kipur, and Shabbos. The REMA agrees with that as the Halachah m'Ikar ha'Din, but writes that we are stringent not to add Aliyos on Yom Tov and Yom Kipur, in order to fulfill the Ran's opinion. The only exception is the Yom Tov of Simchas Torah, when we rely on the Rambam, whose opinion is the Halachah m'Ikar ha'Din, and we add Aliyos in order that everyone have an opportunity to read from the Torah.


QUESTION: Abaye says that when the Mishnah states that reciting a blessing upon reading the Megilah depends on the custom of the place, that refers only to the blessing *after* reading of the Megilah. Before reading the Megilah, though, it is a Mitzvah to recite a blessing. The reason is because of the principle that one must recite a Berachah for a Mitzvah "Over l'Asiyasah," before doing the Mitzvah.

Why does the Gemara use this unusual phrase and not say simply "Lifnei Asiyasah?"


(a) The NIMUKEI YOSEF (Hilchos Tefilin DH Over) explains that "*Over* l'Asiyasan," means "ahead of" -- and not "before" -- the Mitzvah that is to be performed. That is, one first begins to become *involved* in the performance of the Mitzvah (such as by lifting the Megilah, Lulav or Shofar, or by beginning to wrap the Tefilin on one's arm), and then one "runs ahead of the Mitzvah" and recites the blessing right before actually *fulfilling* the Mitzvah.

This meaning of "Over" is evident from the verse that is cited as a proof for its meaning, "And Achima'atz ran... and overtook (va'Ya'avor) the Kushi." That is, the Kushi was ahead of him, but Achima'atz overtook him and went right before him. The second and third verses cited by the Gemara use the word "Over" in a similar manner. Yakov first lined up his family before him, then he passed before them; similarly, after the nation lines up, the king passes before them to lead them (he does not wait in front for the formation to form behind him).

(b) The SHA'AGAS ARYEH (#26) explains that the word "Over" can mean *either* before or after (the word for "past" in Hebrew is "Avar"). The Gemara means to teach us that b'Di'eved, one may recite the Berachah on a Mitzvah even *after* the Mitzvah has been performed, as the Hagahos Ashiri (Berachos 1:13) maintains (and not like the Rambam (Hilchos Berachos 11:5) who disagrees).

(c) One of the Gemara's sources that the word "Over" means "before" is the verse, "Their king passed (va'Ya'avor) before them, and Hashem was at their head." Perhaps the Gemara's use of the word "Over" to describe the way a Berachah must be recited alludes to another rule of Berachos: every Berachah must begin with a mention of the name of Hashem and His kingship, as the Gemara tells us in Berachos (49a). This is expressed by the word "Over" which is used together with a mention of the name of Hashem in this verse, "and Hashem was at their head." (M. Kornfeld)

The Gemara says that the world was created with ten "Ma'amaros" (utterances) of Hashem. Nine of these Ma'amaros is the word "Va'yomer" which appears nine times in the description of Creation, while the word "Bereishis" is considered the first Ma'amar, making a total of ten.

The CHIDUSHEI HA'RIM (Parashas Va'era; LIKUTEI YEHUDAH Parashas Bo p. 54) proposes a theory that links the ten Ma'amaros with which the world was created to the ten Makos which Hashem brought upon Mitzrayim. He proposes that the ten Ma'amaros correspond to the ten Makos in an inverse order, such that the last Makah corresponds to the first Ma'amar, the ninth Makah corresponds to the second Ma'amar, and so on.

It was the ten Makos in Mitzrayim that transformed the world from a physical place that did not recognize its Creator by creating a new, spiritual nation that recognizes its Creator, thereby bringing the world to its ultimate purpose. Each Makah effected the spiritual conversion of another Ma'amar, in inverse order. The ninth Makah, the plague of Choshech, effected the conversion of the second Ma'amar, which was the first utterance of Hashem that the Torah describes with the word "Va'yomer"; when Hashem created light (Bereishis 1:3). The Makah of Choshech transformed the statement of Hashem, "Yehi Or" -- "Let there be light," into a spiritual form of creation, by taking away the physical light of the Egyptians and giving the Jews, in its place, a spiritual light through which they were able to see into the closed closets of the Egyptians, as the Midrash says.

The tenth and last Makah, Makas Bechoros (the death of the first born of Mitzrayim), transformed the first Ma'amer, the word "Bereishis," into a higher, spiritual form. The word "Bereishis" refers to Klal Yisrael, as Chazal tell us, "Bereishis -- Bi'shvil Yisrael she'Nikra Reishis." Hashem took away the Egyptian Bechorim, the physical "*Reishis* Onim" (Tehilim 105:36) and replaced them with a new, physical Reishis, "Bni Bechori Yisrael."

This complements what is said in the name of the VILNA GA'ON (Divrei Eliyahu, end of Va'era) that the word Bereishis alludes to the Mitzvah of Pidyon ha'Ben, redeeming the firstborn. The six Hebrew letters that spell the word "Bereishis," he explains, are an acronym for "*B*en *R*ishon *A*char *Sh*loshim *Y*om *T*ifdeh" -- "You shall redeem the firstborn son after thirty days." It is appropriate that this Mitzvah is alluded to in the word "Bereishis," because that word corresponds to the tenth Makah, Makas Bechoros, which is the source that the Torah gives for the Mitzvah of Pidyon ha'Ben (since Hashem saved the Jewish firstborn when He smote the firstborn of Mitzrayim; Shemos 13:15).

The ten Makos transformed the ten Ma'amaros with which the world was created, into the creation of the Jewish people and the ten Commandments.

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