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Pesachim 86

PESACHIM 86 - has been kindly dedicated by Reb Shimon Bernstein of Boro Park, N.Y.


QUESTION: The Mishnah (85b) states that the thickness of the walls (Ovi ha'Chomah) around the Har ha'Bayis was sanctified with the Kedushah of Har ha'Bayis. Is it prohibited, then, to place notes in the crevices of the Kosel?


(a) It is clear from our Gemara that the area *upon which the wall is standing* is indeed Kadosh. For this reason, the entranceways of the gates leading into Har ha'Bayis are Kadosh. Nevertheless, the Gemara concludes that the reason the gates are Kadosh is because they are on ground level. The windows and the top of the wall, though, are not Kadosh, because they are not on ground level. When the Mishnah says that they are Kadosh, it is referring to windows in the wall that are *level with the ground* of the Azarah, and to low walls, the tops of which are level with the ground of the Azarah. Therefore, there should be no problem placing one's hand into a crevice in the Kosel.

(b) However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 6:9) rules that the windows and the thickness of the walls *are* Kadosh -- not like the conclusion of our Gemara. But what is the Rambam's source for this ruling?

The RA'AVAD qualifies the Rambam's ruling and writes that the windows and the top of the walls are only Kadosh when they are level with the ground of the Azarah. The KESEF MISHNAH suggests that perhaps this is also the intention of the Rambam. However, that is difficult to say, for there is no indication to that effect in the words of the Rambam. The Rambam mentions this Halachah several times elsewhere (e.g. Hilchos Korban Pesach 9:1) but he never specifies that it applies only when the windows and the tops of the thickness of the walls are level with the ground.

Furthermore, the Rambam himself (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 6:7) rules that the roofs and upper stories ("Gagin v'Aliyos") are *not* Kadosh. How can the Rambam rule that the top of the wall is considered like the *inside* of the wall and is Kadosh, and the roofs -- which actually are inside the Azarah -- are like the *outside* and are not Kadosh? What is the difference between them?

The RADVAZ explains that the Rambam's source is the Gemara in Zevachim (56a) which appears to argue with the conclusion of our Gemara and take our Mishnah literally -- that the windows and the top of the walls are like the inside and are Kadosh, even when they are not level with the ground. This is also the approach of the CHAFETZ CHAIM (Zevach Todah).

Concerning the second question, what is the difference between the roofs and the top of the walls, it could be that there is a significant difference. The primary places of use on a wall are the top of the wall and the window in the wall. Roofs and upper floors, though, are not the primary use of a structure, but rather the room or chamber underneath is what is used. The roofs and upper floors are only secondary uses of the structure. Therefore, they were not sanctified. Only areas which are the primary use were sanctified.

According to the Rambam, then, if there would be windows in the Kosel, they would have Kedushas ha'Azarah and someone who is Tamei (such as a Nidah or Ba'al Keri) would not be allowed to walk on the top of the wall or to put his hand in a window in the wall. However, it would still appear that it is permitted to place one's hand in the crevices in the Kosel into which people customary place notes. Since these crevices do not penetrate the entire thickness of the Kosel, they should be no different from chambers built in the Azarah which open only to a non-sanctified area, which the Gemara says are not Kadosh.

HALACHAH: According to what we have discussed, it should be permissible to place notes in the Kosel, even according to the Rambam. However, RAV OVADYAH YOSEF (Yabia Omer vol. 5, YD 27:2) mentions that there might be another problem. We know that the Kosel narrows slightly towards the top, because each layer of stones is slightly recessed from the one beneath it (this was an architectural technique designed to maximize a wall's strength and support). If so, when one stands right next to the Kosel, he is actually standing on *top* of the wall -- for he is standing directly above the wall's lower layers of stone! For this reason, it should be prohibited for someone who is Tamei to walk within a meter or two of the Kosel! In practice, though, Rav Ovadyah Yosef does not clearly rule that it is indeed prohibited to get too close to the Kosel. It would seem that our assertion above should apply here as well -- the recessions of the wall should be no worse than chambers in the Azarah which open into non-sanctified area. Since there is still a Mechitzah (the rest of the Kosel) separating between the person and Har ha'Bayis, the area above each layer of stone opens into an area outside of Har ha'Bayis and therefore that area should be considered non-sanctified.

However, it has been said that some of the great sages of Yerushalayim had the practice not to walk very near the Kosel. (This is not the practice of most people today, see also IGROS MOSHE, OC vol. 2, end of #113).


OPINIONS: Rav Huna brei d'Rav Nasan visited the home of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak. They told Rav Huna to recline, and he did so. When they asked him why he reclined, he answered, "Everything which the host tells you to do, you must do, except for 'leave' (Chutz mi'Tzei)." What does "Chutz mi'Tzei" mean -- it sounds ridiculous to suggest that one should not listen to the Ba'al ha'Bayis when requested to leave! (The MEIRI in fact writes that some "Letzanim" (jokers) added this phrase to the Gemara and it should be taken out).
(a) The MAGEN AVRAHAM cites the BACH who says that a guest does not have to obey his host's word when his host tells him to go to the market to buy something. The host does not have the prerogative to send his guest out of the house to do things for him.

The MAHARSHA adds that a guest is only required to listen to his host when that person is his host. Once he asks his guest to go out of the house, he is no longer the host.

(b) The SEFAS EMES says that perhaps this phrase was added to the Gemara because of the incident of "Kamtza and Bar Kamtza" (Gitin 56b). Bar Kamtza was so embarrassed when the host insisted that he leave his home, that he took revenge in such a terrible way which resulted in the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash. After the Churban, Chazal added to the dictum, "Everything which the host tells you to do, you must do" the condition "except for 'leave'." If the host tells the guest to do something self-degrading, he does not have to listen to him.

(c) It has been said that this dictum of Chazal alludes to one's service of Hashem. The Tana Elisha ben Avuyah, also known as "Acher," heard a heavenly message proclaiming, "'Return in repentance, wayward children' -- except for Acher." When he heard, this, Acher despaired of doing Teshuvah and he became a sinner. He should not have listened because the gates of Teshuvah are never closed to anyone. Therefore, this statement that "Everything which the host tells you to do, you must do, except for 'leave'," means that whatever the Ba'al ha'Bayis -- Hashem -- tells you to do, you must do, except for "leave;" if one hears a heavenly message saying that he must leave the service of Hashem for his Teshuvah will not be accepted, one must not listen, because Hashem always accepts a person's Teshuvah. (REISHIS CHOCHMAH)

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