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Sukah 39

SUKA 36-56 (End of Maseches) have been dedicated by the wife and daughters of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTION: The Gemara says that one recites 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 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 before them (Over), 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)

QUESTION: The Mishnah says that one may not buy an Esrog from an Am ha'Aretz during the Shemitah year. The Gemara explains that the reason is because it is not permitted to give an Am ha'Aretz money which is Kadosh with Kedushas Shevi'is. One may, however, pay up to the value of three meal's worth of money to the Am ha'Aretz for the Esrog.

We know that it is prohibited to conduct business with fruits of Shevi'is, as the Torah teaches, "l'Ochlah" (Vayikra 25:6) -- it must be eaten, and not traded, "l'Ochlah v'Lo l'Sechorah" (Avodah Zarah 62a). Why, then, is it permitted to give an Am ha'Aretz the value of up to three meals for the fruits -- or, for that matter, to purchase from a Chaver any amount of fruits? It should be prohibited because one may not conduct business with fruits of Shevi'is!


(a) RASHI addresses this question by explaining that there is no prohibition per se of "Sechorah" (commerce) with fruits of Shevi'is. Rather, there is a Mitzvah to completely eat or consume the produce of Shevi'is, and to use up any money exchanged for such produce, before the time of Bi'ur of each item. The way to use up money that has Kedushas Shevi'is is by exchanging it for edible fruit and eating that fruit b'Kedushas Shevi'is. As long as the money with Kedushas Shevi'is is properly dealt with before the time of Bi'ur, there is no problem of Sechorah; that is, one may buy fruits of Shevi'is as long as the money will be properly dealt with before the time of Bi'ur.

A Chaver (scholar) can be trusted with such money, because we assume that he will deal with it appropriately. An Am ha'Aretz is trusted only with up to three meal's worth of money, but not with more. When the amount of money is so small, we assume that it will certainly be consumed before the time of Bi'ur. (See end of Insights to 40:1, for a discussion of why the Am ha'Aretz is not suspected of money with Kedushas Shevi'is in other ways.)

(b) The RITVA, in explanation of Rashi, explains the prohibition of Sechorah in slightly different way. The prohibition of Sechorah prohibits buying anything which is not "Hana'aso u'Bi'uro Shaveh" -- that is not consumed in the process of being used (food, for example, is "Hana'aso u'Bi'uro Shaveh," since it is destroyed by being eaten). For this reason, it is prohibited to use Shemitah produce to purchase a garment or a Behemah Teme'ah. (Although Rashi in our Sugya appears to take a different approach, as noted above (a), this is indeed the way Rashi presents this Halachah in Bechoros 12b, DH Vadai.)

The Ritva explains that since Sechorah is not forbidden per se, but is only forbidden if one invests in the wrong types of items a Chaver is trusted not to invest in those items, while an Am ha'Aretz is not trusted. Why, then, is it permitted to give three meals worth of money of Shevi'is to an Am ha'Aretz? Perhaps he will use that money to buy a garment or a Behemah Teme'ah! The answer is that since he is only getting three meals worth of money, he probably needs the money for food, and therefore we assume that he will use it for that purpose.

This differs from the first approach cited above in a number of ways. For one, according to the first approach the three meal limit is much more easily understood: the smaller the amount of money, the faster it will be spent. Also, according to the first approach the prohibition of Sechorah will not apply to the type of produce (as listed in Shevi'is 7:2) which has Kedushas Shevi'is but has no time of Bi'ur. According to the Ritva, the prohibition of Sechorah will apply even to such items.

(c) TOSFOS (DH sh'Ein, and in the RASH in Shevi'is 7:3) argues and says that there is certainly an independent prohibition of Sechorah with fruits of Shevi'is. The laws of Shevi'is apply even to items with no time of Bi'ur. The prohibition is not because of the problem that one will not use up the money in time or that one will purchase the wrong type of produce with the money, but because trading in fruits of Shevi'is is itself forbidden. For this reason, the prohibition applies even to buying and selling items of Shevi'is which have no time of Bi'ur.

Why, then, is one permitted to pay three meals' worth of money to an Am ha'Aretz for fruits of Shevi'is? Tosfos explains that the prohibition of Sechorah is an Isur of *picking* the fruit for the purpose of selling it for profit. If he picks it for his own use, or if someone else sells what he picked, it is not considered Sechorah.

Our Gemara, then, is discussing fruit that was not picked in order to be sold for profit. Therefore, there is no prohibition of Sechorah. The only Isur involved is giving money that is Kadosh with Kedushas Shevi'is to an Am ha'Aretz. That is prohibited because he will not keep the laws of Shemitah (such as not wasting the item, feeding it to his animal, paying back his debts with it, etc.). If we give him only three meals worth, then we assume that he is going to buy food with it, as the Ritva said (above (b)).

(d) TOSFOS (here, and in Avodah Zarah 62a, DH Nimtza) adds that perhaps there is a second prohibition of Sechorah with fruits of Shevi'is. Perhaps it is also prohibited to invest in Shemitah produce for the purpose selling in a distant market for a profit, like a trader does (buys low, sells high). Since our case does not involve professional trading, there is no prohibition of Sechorah. The only problem is that the Am ha'Aretz will misuse the Shemitah money, as we described above.


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