THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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MEGILAH 29, 30 (25, 26 Tishrei) - Anonymously dedicated by an ardent
supporter who wants to have the Zechus of spreading Torah throughout the
1) HALACHAH: BURYING THE DEAD OVERRIDES LEARNING TORAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which says that we are Mevatel Talmud
Torah for the sake of burying the dead and for the sake of escorting a bride.
The Beraisa adds that it was said about Rebbi Yehudah bar Rebbi Ila'i that it
was his practice to to be Mevatel his Talmud Torah for the sake of burying
the dead. The Gemara explains that the greater Talmid Chacham the Mes was,
the larger the number of people that is required to attend the funeral.
2) HALACHAH: ENTERING A SYNAGOGUE TO STAY OUT OF THE RAIN
Does this mean that one who is learning Torah is obligated to be Mevatel his
learning in order to be involved with Hotza'as ha'Mes, or that he is only
*permitted* to be Mevatel his learning, but he is not required to do so?
(a) The RAN and other Rishonim assert that there is no obligation to be
Mevatel one's learning for Hotza'as ha'Mes; it is merely permitted to do so.
They prove this from the fact that the Beraisa says that Rebbi Yehudah bar
Rebbi Ila'i used to be Mevatel Talmud Torah for Hotza'as ha'Mes. If there is
an obligation to do so, what is so special about Rebbi Yehudah bar Rebbi
Ila'i that the Beraisa needs to tell us that he following this obligation?
Rather, it must be that it is not an obligation, and yet Rebbi Yehudah bar
Rebbi Ila'i conducted himself stringently and treated it like an obligation
HALACHAH: Although the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 361:1) rules in accordance with
this Gemara, that we are Mevatel Talmud Torah for Hotza'as ha'Mes, he does
not say explicitly whether one is permitted, or obligated, to do so. The
SHACH adds that we follow those Rishonim who say that one is *obligated* to
do so, and not just permitted.
These Rishonim also adduce proof from the Gemara earlier (3b), which says
that one must be Mevatel Talmud Torah for the sake of burying a Mes Mitzvah.
This implies that the only obligation is to be Mevatel Talmud Torah to bury a
Mes Mitzvah, but there is no obligation to be Mevatel Talmud Torah for any
(b) Other Rishonim, such as TOSFOS (3b, DH Mes Mitzvah) and the ROSH (Kesuvos
2:5), maintain that one is *obligated* to be Mevatel Talmud Torah for
Hotza'as ha'Mes. They explain that when the Gemara earlier (3b) says that one
must be Mevatel Talmud Torah for the sake of burying a Mes Mitzvah, it does
not mean only for a Mes Mitzvah, but for any other Mes as well. It mentions
Mes Mitzvah only because the rest of the Sugya there discusses other Mitzvos
which are pushed aside for burying a Mes Mitzvah.
Regarding why special mention is made of the conduct of Rebbi Yehudah bar
Rebbi Ila'i in this matter, the Rosh (in Kesuvos) explains that the Beraisa
is merely demonstrating the importance of the obligation to be Mevatel Talmud
Torah for Hotza'as ha'Mes -- if the great Tana, Rebbi Yehudah bar Rebbi
Ila'i, whose learning of Torah was his only occupation in life, always did
it, then certainly everyone else must also fulfull this obligation. This is
also the approach of the SHITAH MEKUBETZES there in the name of the RITVA.
(The KORBAN NESANEL there (#40), however, explains that even though there is
an obligation for most people to be Mevatel Talmud Torah for Hotza'as ha'Mes,
there is no obligation for someone whose learning of Torah is his only
occupation. The Beraisa here is saying that even though Rebbi Yehudah bar
Rebbi Ila'i was exempt, he nevertheless acted within the letter of the law.
The BEIS SHMUEL (EH 65:3), though, rules in accordance with the Rosh cited
above, that one whose learning of Torah is his only occupation is still
obligated to be Mevatel his Talmud Torah for Hotza'as ha'Mes.)
QUESTION: The Mishnah (28a) states that we may not walk through a synagogue
in order to use it as a shortcut. The Beraisa there (28b) states similarly
that we may not enter a synagogue in order to protect ourselves from the
rain. The Gemara there implies that there are not circumstances under which
it would be permitted to enter a synagogue in order to protect oneself from
the rain; only if one's learning is disturbed by the rain may one enter the
synagogue. Indeed, the MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 151:4, and in Sha'ar ha'Tzion #2)
writes that one may not enter the synagogue to escape from the rain even if
he sits down inside and reads a verse or learns a Halachah.
The Gemara here, though, gives several conditions under which it would be
permitted to walk though a synagogue as a shortcut. For example, if a path
existed there before the synagogue was built, or if one entered the synagogue
in order to learn or Daven there, he may walk out the other side of the
synagogue, making it a shortcut. Similarly, says the Gemara, if one tarries a
moment in the synagogue, reading a verse or learning a Halachah, he may use
the synagogue as a shortcut.
What is the difference between using a synagogue as a shortcut, which is
permitted under certain circumstances, and using a synagogue as an umbrella,
which is never permitted?
(a) It could be that when one enters a synagogue to use it as a shortcut, by
entering the synagogue he has not yet used the synagogue for an inappropriate
purpose. By sitting down and reading a verse or learning a Halachah, he shows
honor to the holy place and it is as if he entered without intention to use
the synagogue as a shortcut.
However, when he enters the synagogue to escape from the rain, at the very
first moment that he enters the synagogue he has already used the holy place
for an inappropriate purpose, and therefore it does not help to sit down and
read a verse. (Rav Yosef ben Arza in YOSEF DA'AS)
(b) Alternatively, when one enters a synagogue to use it as a shortcut, he is
not using the actual building itself, but the area upon which the synagogue
is built. He would get the same benefit from walking along that path even if
the synagogue had not been built there. It is only prohibited to make a
shortcut because it *appears* to be an inappropriate usage of the synagogue,
but it is not actually an abuse of the Kedushah of the synagogue (and that is
why it is permitted if one reads a verse or learns a Halachah). In contrast,
when one enters a synagogue to escape from the rain, he is benefitting from
the actual building itself.
(Even though the land upon which a synagogue is built also has Kedushah, it
seems that simply walking there is not considered an actual inappropriate
*usage* of the land.) (YOSEF DA'AS)