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) HALACHAH: HOW TO RECITE THE FIRST BLESSING WHEN READING FROM THE SEFER
OPINIONS: The Gemara records a dispute between Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yehudah
how exactly to recite the Berachah before reading from the Sefer Torah. Rebbi
Meir maintains that one must roll the Sefer Torah closed after looking at the
place from which the reader will read, and then recite the Berachah. Rebbi
Yehudah maintains that one may leave the Sefer Torah open when one recites
the Berachah. The Gemara explains that Rebbi Meir's reason for requiring one
to close the Sefer Torah before reciting the Berachah is so that onlookers
will not think that the Berachos are written in the Sefer Torah. Rebbi
Yehudah, though, maintains that no one would make such a mistake, and
therefore it is permitted to leave the Sefer Torah open when reciting the
2) HALACHAH: "SHO'ALIN V'DORSHIN" -- LEARNING THE HALACHOS BEFORE THE
The Gemara concludes by saying that the Halachah follows the view of Rebbi
What is the proper practice? It is not clear from the Gemara exactly what
Rebbi Yehudah holds. Although he says that one may recite the Berachah with
the Sefer Torah open, does that mean that one should *not* close it, or that
one does not *have* to close it?
(a) The BEIS YOSEF (OC 139) cites RABEINU SA'ADYAH who says that one should
specifically leave the Sefer Torah open, and not close it, when reciting the
Berachah. His source is apparently from the Yerushalmi (Megilah 3:7) which
derives from a verse in Nechemyah (8:5-6) that one should recite the Berachah
while the Sefer Torah is open. The PRI MEGADIM (Mishbetzos Zahav 139:4)
explains that the reason for this is in order to start reading right away and
minimize the pause between the Berachah and the reading. In addition, one
should have the item upon which one is reciting a blessing (in this case, the
Sefer Torah) open and ready in front of him at the time of the Berachah.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 139:4) cites the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah
that one recites the Berachah over the Torah with the Sefer Torah open. The
REMA says that one should look to the side, away from the Sefer Torah (so
that Amei ha'Aretz should not think the Berachah is written in the Torah).
The MISHNAH BERURAH cites the CHAYEI ADAM who says that instead of looking to
the side, one should close his eyes, so that it not appear as though one is
looking away from the Sefer Torah and making a Berachah on something else.
(b) However, TOSFOS (DH Golelo) writes that l'Chatchilah one should close the
Sefer Torah before reciting the Berachah, so that people not think that the
blessings are written in it. B'Di'eved, though, if one recites the Berachah
with the Sefer Torah open, that is acceptable, because, Tosfos says, today
Amei ha'Aretz who would think that the Berachos are written in the Sefer
Torah are not at all common (in the synagogue).
How can Tosfos say that one should recite the Berachah with the Sefer Torah
closed, like Rebbi Meir? The Gemara itself says that the Halachah follows
The BACH explains that according to Tosfos, when Rebbi Yehudah says to leave
the Sefer Torah open when reciting the Berachah he means that one does not
*have* to close it. One is allowed to keep it open, but one is not *required*
to keep it open. Tosfos is saying that even Rebbi Yehudah agrees that it is
better to close it, and therefore Tosfos rules accordingly.
The MAHARSHA questions the Bach's approach in Tosfos. Tosfos says that
nowadays, such ignorant Amei ha'Aretz, who would think that the blessings are
written in the Sefer Torah, are not at all common, and therefore we do not
reprove one who recites the Berachah with the Sefer Torah open. This implies
that in the times of the Gemara, such Amei ha'Aretz were common, and thus one
would have to close the Sefer Torah. This, however, is like Rebbi Meir, and
not like Rebbi Yehudah! How can the Bach say that Tosfos is ruling like Rebbi
The TAZ (OC 139:4) explains that when Tosfos says "nowadays, such Amei
ha'Aretz are not common," he is not implying that in the times of the
*Gemara* they were common. Rather, he is implying that *after* the times of
the Gemara, such Amei ha'Aretz proliferated and thus it was fitting to be
stringent like Rebbi Meir and insist on closing the Sefer Torah. In the times
of Tosfos, such Amei ha'Aretz became less common, and that is why Tosfos says
that b'Di'eved one may keep the Sefer Torah open. In either case, according
to Tosfos Rebbi Yehudah does not *require* closing the Torah, but he
certainly allows it.
The BI'UR HALACHAH writes that some Poskim rule like Tosfos, that one should
close the Sefer Torah when reciting the Berachah. He concludes that both
practices are acceptable and that each synagogue should observe its own
Regarding the Berachah said after the Torah reading, the RAMBAM writes that
one *should* close the Sefer Torah before reciting the Berachah. (This is
based on Maseches Sofrim 13:8, and appears in the Beraisa in our Sugya as
well, according to the text of the DIKDUKEI SOFRIM, which seems to have been
the text of Tosfos Dh Golelo as well.) As the MAGID MISHNAH explains, we must
close the Sefer Torah in any case after reading from it, so we might as well
close it before the Berachah (lest Amei ha'Aretz think that the Berachah was
written in the Torah). Before reading the Torah, though, Rebbi Yehudah said
not to close the Torah because one would just have to open it again before
reading it, and he was not concerned with the possibility of Amei ha'Aretz
since Tircha was involved. (The reasons suggested by the Pri Megadim for not
closing the Torah before the Berachah at the beginning of the Torah reading
do not apply to the Berachah after the reading either.)
QUESTION: The Gemara concludes with the Halachah that "Moshe enacted for
Yisrael that they expound upon the subject of the day -- the laws of Pesach
on Pesach, the laws of Shavuos on Shavuos, and the laws of Sukos on Sukos."
On to Moed katan
The Gemara earlier (29b, and Pesachim 6a), though, says that we expound the
Halachos *thirty days* before the festival! Why does the Gemara here say
specifically that we learn the Halachos of the festival on the day of the
festival, when it taught earlier that we are to learn the Halachos thirty
days before the festival?
(a) The RAN, RITVA (4a), and RASHBA (here) answer that these are two separate
Halachos. The Halachah of learning the Halachos of the festival on the day of
the festival refers to the obligation of the Rav to expound upon the Halachos
of the festival in his public lecture on the festival. The Halachah of
learning, or inquiring about ("Sho'alin"), the Halachos thirty days before
the festival refers only to the student's right to ask the Rav a question
about the festival within thirty days of the festival, and it is considered
as though he as asking a question relevant to the subject matter being
studied (normally, one student's question takes precedence over another
student's question only if it is relevant to the subject being studied).
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 429:1) quotes the words of the Gemara
earlier, that "we learn (Sho'alin) the Halachos of Pesach thirty days before
Pesach." The BI'UR HALACHAH there points out the apparent contradiction
between the two statements in the Gemara. He concludes that although it is
preferable for every person to study the Halachos thirty days before the Yom
Tov, at least the public study groups should make it their practice to do so,
taking into account the ruling of the Yerushalmi (above, (d)).
According to the Ran, there is no inherent obligation to study the Halachos
of the festival thirty days before the festival.
Many Rishonim, such as the BEHAG and the SHE'ILTOS, argue with the Ran and
assert that there is an obligation to learn the Halachos of the festival
thirty days before the festival (see also TOSFOS 4a, DH Mai). In addition,
the Gemara in Sanhedrin (12b) implies that it means that we must study the
Halachos thirty days before the festival.
What, then, does our Gemara mean when it says that one must learn the
Halachos of the festival on the day of the festival?
(b) The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 429:1) gives a straightforward answer, based on
the view of the BEIS YOSEF. The Beis Yosef explains that wherever the Gemara
says that we expound the Halachos of the festival thirty days before the
festival, it is said with regard to Pesach, but not with regard to the other
Yomim Tovim. Our Gemara, which says that we expound the Halachos of the
festival on the day of the festival, is referring to *all* of the festivals.
Since the Halachos of Pesach are so abundant (Halachos of making Matzos,
kashering the vessels, getting rid of Chametz), complicated, and have such
severe consequences (the Isur of Chametz is punishable with Kares), the
Chachamim instituted that we study them thirty days before Pesach. Moreover,
many of the Halachos of Pesach are necessary to know *before* Pesach, such as
how to kasher vessels, how to bake Matzah, and how to get rid of Chametz. For
studying the Halachos of the other festivals, though, a few days suffice, or
at least Yom Tov itself, as Moshe Rabeinu instituted. The BACH makes a
similar distinction between Pesach and the other festivals.
(c) A number of Rishonim, though, seem to hold that the thirty-day obligation
applies to all three of the Regalim and not just to Pesach (see SHA'AR
HA'TZIYON 429:2). If so, the above answer does not apply.
The VILNA GA'ON (Bi'ur ha'Gra) explains that when our Gemara says that Moshe
enacted that we expound upon the Halachos of the festival on the festival, it
does not mean only on the day of the festival. Rather, it means during the
*season* of the festival, -- i.e. thirty days before the festival!
(d) The PRI MEGADIM, PRI CHADASH, and CHOK YAKOV (as cited by the Bi'ur
Halachah OC 429:1) answer based on the Yerushalmi (Pesachim 1:1) and Tosefta
in Megilah, which say that it is an obligation upon each *individual* to
learn the Halachos on the festival itself, while the groups of people who
gather together in the Beis Midrash to learn are obligated to study the
Halachos thirty days before the festival. The Gemara here is referring to
individuals, while the Gemara earlier (29b) and in Pesachim (6b) is referring
to groups of people who learn together in the Beis Midrash. (This is more or
less the opposite of the first answer cited above.)
The ELIYAH RABAH refutes this explanation, because whenever this Halachah is
mentioned in the Bavli, no differentiation is made between an individual
studying by himself in his home and a group studying together in the Beis
Midrash. Likewise, the BACH writes that the obligation to learn the Halachos
thirty days before the festival apply "to *every person* to study the
Halachos of Pesach on Purim (thirty days before Pesach)." This is also clear
from the words of the BEHAG.