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Shabbos 32


QUESTION: The Gemara says that Amei ha'Aretz are punisheed with [early] death for calling the synagogue a "Beis Am" (gathering hall) and for calling the Aron ha'Kodesh an "Arna" (chest). The reason seems to be that by using the mundane words for these items, one slights the holiness of these things.

It does not seem logical to suggest that there is a difference between calling it by its Hebrew name, Aron, or by its Aramaic name, Arna, since the Hebrew name Aron is equally used to refer to mundane chests, in the Torah and the Mishnah (see, for example, Bereishis 50:26; Mo'ed Katan 25a). We must conclude that the Gemara means to say that mention must be made of the *Kedushah* of the Aron ha'Kodesh when referring to it. (MAHARSHA)

(a) However, we find in a number of places that the Torah refers to and an Aron ha'Kodesh by these words -- the Torah, describing the construction of the Mishkan, refers to the Aron ha'Kodesh simply as "Aron!"

(b) Also, the Gemara in Berachos (47b) refers to the Aron ha'Kodesh as "Aron" as well (see TOSFOS)! (MAHARSHA)

(It may be pointed out that according the VILNA GA'ON's explanation of the Gemara in Berachos [Divrei Eliyahu, Berachos 47b], it is not a problem. The word "Aron" in Berachos does not refer to the Aron ha'Kodesh, but stands for "Echad Ro'eh v'Eino Nir'eh," and alludes to the fact that when there are nine men present, Hashem joins them to make a Minyan -- see the Gemara's conclusion in Berachos.)

Aside from the single appearance of "Aron" referring to Aron ha'Kodesh, we find innumerable places in the Mishnah and Beraisa the word "Teivah" (box) referring to the Aron ha'Kodesh in which the Sifrei Torah were kept. (See, for example, Ta'anis 15a), without any modifier to distinguish between a mundane box and the Aron ha'Kodesh. (M. KORNFELD)

(c) As for calling a Beit ha'Knesset a Beit ha'Am, in Yirmiyah (39:8) the prophet himself refers to a synagogue as "Beis ha'Am!" (MELO HA'RO'IM)

(a) Our question from the Aron ha'Edus that Moshe made may be answered very simply. Close inspection reveals that the verse *always* refers to the Aron either as "Aron *Bris Hashem*" or "Aron *ha'Edus*." It is called "Aron" with no modifier only when the Torah is discussing the Aron *before* the Luchos were placed inside of it (and it was the Luchos that gave the Aron its sanctity). (At times, when a verse discusses the Aron and calls it "Aron Bris Hashem" or "Aron ha'Edus," it refers to it as "Aron" in the same verse, relying on the earlier modifier.) (M. KORNFELD)

(b) The question from the word "Aron" in Berachos and the word "Teivah" in the Mishnah is more difficult. The Acharonim suggest the following answers:

(1) The MAHARSHA (Chidushei Halachos) answers that it is permitted to call it "Aron" when it is clear to all that we are referring to the Aron ha'Kodesh which holds the Sifrei Torah. It is only disgraceful when some listeners may think that we are referring to a simple chest and not the Aron ha'Kodesh.

(2) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 154:18) answers that while learning Torah, it is permitted to refer to it as "Aron," since every word of Torah is holy in any case.

(3) The MAGEN AVRAHAM (ibid.) further suggests that perhaps there is a difference between Aramaic and Hebrew. Although the word "Aron" can equally refer to either the Aron ha'Kodesh or to a chest, the Aramaic word "Arna" is *only* used to refer to a chest. It is only prohibited to use the Aramaic "Arna," which refers only to mundane chests, when talking about the Aron ha'Kodesh. (We may add that the reason Arna was never used to refer to the Aron ha'Kodesh was, in turn, because the people used to take care to use Lashon ha'Kodesh when talking about objects of Kedushah. Using a foreign word ("synagogue"? "Temple"? "Bible"? "ark"?) to refer to objects of Kedushah was termed disgraceful. Support can be found for this in the Gemara at the end of Sukah (see especially Peirush ha'Mishnah of the Rambam) which seems to have learned that the family of Bilgah was punished because Miryam bas Bilgah called the Mizbe'ach "Lucas," or wolf *in Latin*. M. Kornfeld)

(c) The previous three answers will not suffice to explain why the prophet refers to a Beis ha'Keneses as a Beis Am. The MELO HA'RO'IM answers that in the times of the Gemara, the word "Beis Am" was used to refer to theaters. Therefore, it is a disgrace to use these words to refer to holy items such as the Beit ha'Keneses. However, before the times of the Gemara, in the time of Yirmiyah, "Beis Am" referred only to the Beit ha'Keneses. Therefore, it was permitted to refer to it by that name.


QUESTION: The Gemara enumerates four things which cause a person's children to die young: not keeping one's vows, Bitul Torah, not putting up Mezuzos, and not wearing Tzitzis. Why is it that these four actions are punished with the loss of one's children?

ANSWER: The MAHARAL (GUR ARYEH on Maseches Shabbos) explains that Bitul Torah results in the death of one's children, because the spoken word is called "Niv Sefasayim," or "the fruits of one's lips." When a person does not spend his time learning Torah and producing fruits with his lips as he learns, Hashem takes away his other fruits -- his children. Likewise, when a person misuses his lips to utter vows that he does not keep and does not create meaningful fruits with his lips, Hashem punishes him by taking away his other fruits, his children.

What is the connection between the death of one's children and not properly observing the Mitzvah of Mezuzah? It may be suggested that since the Mezuzah serves to arouse Hashem's protection of one's household, lack of care in that Mezuzah causes the members of one's household to be taken from him. (M. Kornfeld)

Why is failure to observe the Mitzvah of Tzitzis punished with the death of one's children? The Midrash in Tehilim states that Hashem gave us the Mitzvah of Techelet of Tzitzis to us to show that we are His children, and therefore dress in "royal" garb (Techeles was normally only worn by royalty) -- Midrash Shocher Tov Tehillim 90, on the verse "V'Hadarcha Al B'neihem." If someone does not want to show that he is Hashem's child, then Hashem takes away the person's own children. (Y. Shaw)

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