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Sukah 48

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.


AGADAH: The Gemara records a fascinating interchange between two heretics named "Simchah" and "Sason," who each tried to prove that he was greater. What is the meaning behind this?

The SHEM MISHMUEL (Sukos 5672) explains that the heretics, who do not believe that there is an Olam ha'Ba, think that the main purpose of living is to attain joy and happiness. Their dispute was which type of joy is greater -- the type known as "Simchah," which refers to a continual, constantly increasing feeling of happiness, or "Sason," which, he explains, refers to sudden joy, the type one feels when stimulated by a surprise. (The VILNA GA'ON says that "Simchah" is an inner joy, while "Sason" is an outward expression of joy.) Each one tried to prove that the other one is dispensable.

When Sason debated with Rebbi Avahu, he said that in the World to Come, Rebbi Avahu will be filling up water for him, as it says, "u'She'avtem Mayim b'Sason," which the heretic interpreted to mean, "You will fill up water for Sason." That is to say, even in the World to Come man has no more noble purpose than the attainment of joy.

Rebbi Avahu responded that attaining happiness is not the ultimate purpose in life. Rather, the joy is meant to help us serve Hashem. "U'She'avtem Mayim b'Sason" means that the Sason, the joy, will help us to draw Torah (water = Torah) and to attain Ru'ach ha'Kodesh (see Tosfos 50b, DH Chad). The joy will enhance our service of Hashem. The ultimate purpose of living is to serve Hashem and come close to Him through learning Torah and doing Mitzvos.

QUESTION: The Mishnah states that if the water that was set aside before Shabbos to be used for the Nisuch ha'Mayim on Shabbos was left uncovered, it may not be used on the Mizbe'ach. Instead, water from the Kiyor is used.

Why may uncovered water ("Mayim Megulin") not be used? Rashi explains that we are afraid that a snake drank from the water and decreased the amount of water that was in the vessel, replacing it with venom. Since a minimum Shi'ur is required for the water that is used for Nisuch ha'Mayim, there might not be enough water in the vessel, since the snake drank some of it. (Rashi apparently follows the opinion later (50a) which holds that there is an exact amount of water that must be used for Nisuch ha'Mayim, and for that reason it would not help to just set aside a larger vessel of water before Shabbos to compensate in case it became uncovered and the water diminished, since they had to use an exact Shi'ur.)

Although the Gemara (50a) concludes that there is another reason why uncovered water may not be used (because it is not respectful to use such water on the Mizbe'ach), Rashi here is explaining how the Gemara understood the Mishnah in the Havah Amina, when the Gemara did not yet know of the reason that it is disrespectful (Tosfos, DH sheha'Yayin).

Why does Rashi explain that the Gemara's assumption why uncovered water may not be used is because it might be lacking the proper Shi'ur? This explanation is limited to one opinion later (that the water used for Nisuch ha'Mayim has an exact Shi'ur). Rashi should have said a much more basic reason why the water cannot be used. We know that any item which is not edible for man may not be used for the Mizbe'ach (Menachos 6a, as derived from the verse, "mi'Mashkeh Yisrael"). Why did Rashi not give this reason to explain why uncovered water is Pasul? Indeed, this is the reason given by the Yerushalmi! (MAHARSHAM, ARUCH LA'NER)


(a) In HAGAHOS MAHARSHAM, the son-in-law of the Maharsham answers that the Mishnah in Avos (5:5) says that one of the miracles which occurred in Yerushalayim was that no snake or scorpion ever inflicted damage in Yerushalayim. The Tosfos Yom Tov there infers that even if a snake did bite someone, its venom did not do any harm. Accordingly, part of that miracle was that even if a snake left its venom in a vessel of water in Yerushalayim, it would not cause damage. If so, there should be nothing wrong with using water that was left uncovered for Nisuch ha'Mayim, because such water was drinkable in Yerushalayim! Therefore, there must be another reason why uncovered water is Pasul, and that is why Rashi says that it is because the exact Shi'ur might have become diminished.

This answer is problematic, because we know that "Ein Somchin Al ha'Nes," we may not rely on a miracle (even in the Beis ha'Mikdash, c.f. Pesachim 64b). If so, uncovered water in Yerushalayim should still be forbidden to drink, and thus it should also be Pasul for use upon the Mizbe'ach (see BIRCHEI YOSEF OC 116).

(b) The HAGAHOS MAHARSHAM suggests another answer. The requirement that an item be fit for human consumption in order to be fit for the Mizbe'ach does not apply to an item that was once permitted and later became prohibited (as TOSFOS says in Chulin 140a, DH l'Mi'utei; however, TOSFOS in Menachos 6a, DH Kasav, rejects this principle).

(c) The CHESHEK SHLOMO and the HAGAHOS MAHARSHAM further suggest that the Pesul of an item which is not fit for human consumption applies only to something that is inherently forbidden to eat. Water from which a snake drank is not inherently forbidden; one may not drink it because of the snake's venom that is in it, but the water itself is not inherently forbidden. For this very reason the Gemara in Pesachim (48a) permits offering an item which is Muktzah upon the Mizbe'ach on Shabbos; it is the day (Shabbos) which makes the item Asur to eat, and it is not an inherent Isur in the item itself.

(d) Hagaon RAV Y. S. ELYASHEV (quoted in He'aros b'Maseches Sukah) points out that the RAMBAM (Hilchos Isurei Mizbe'ach 5:8) writes that Tevel, Orlah and Kilayim cannot be brought on the Mizbe'ach as Minchah or Nesachim offerings, because Hashem despises a "Mitzvah ha'Ba'ah b'Aveirah." Why does the Rambam not mention the reason which the Gemara gives -- that Tevel, Orlah and Kilayim are not fit for human consumption? Apparently, the Rambam is explaining *why* items which are unfit for human consumption may not be brought upon the Mizbe'ach. Any item which carries a Torah prohibition forbidding its consumption is considered despised by Hashem and is therefore unfit for the Mizbe'ach. Uncovered water is not prohibited because Hashem *despised* and rejected it; one may not drink it simply because of the potential danger involved. (In fact, it is only prohibited mid'Rabanan -- see Tosfos Avodah Zarah 35a DH Chada, and elsewhere). Therefore, it may be used upon the Mizbe'ach.

(See also Insights to 50:1:b, where we discuss what forced Rashi to reject the explanation of the Yerushalmi cited in our question.)

OPINIONS: The Mishnah describes the procedure of the Nisuch ha'Mayim that was performed on Sukos. The Gemara asks, "What is the source for this?" To what detail of the Mishnah is the Gemara referring when it asks for the source?
(a) RASHI explains that the Gemara is asking for the source for blowing the Shofar in joy at the time of the Nisuch ha'Mayim. The Gemara answers from the verse, "u'She'avtem Mayim b'Sason" -- "You shall draw water *in joy*."

(b) TOSFOS explains that the Gemara is looking for a source that the water that is used for the Nisuch ha'Mayim must be spring water, drawn from natural springs (such as the Shilo'ach spring). The Gemara answers that the source is the verse, "u'She'avtem Mayim b'Sason mi'Ma'ayanei ha'Yeshuah" -- "You shall draw water in joy *from the wellsprings* of salvation." This is also the opinion of the RASHBAM in Bava Basra (79a, DH Mayim), as Rebbi Akiva Eiger in the Gilyon ha'Shas here (48a) points out.

Rashi, who does not explain the Gemara this way, rejects the basic assumption that water from a spring must be used for the Nisuch ha'Mayim. We find this explicitly in Rashi on the Mishnah (DH Hayu Memalei), where he explains that the Nisuch ha'Mayim may be done with water from the Kiyor, even though the water in the Kiyor is not spring water.

The SHITAH MEKUBETZES in Bava Basra (79a) asks how Tosfos deals with our Mishnah, which states clearly that one may use water from the Kiyor. The Gemara in Zevachim (22b) states that any water may be placed in the Kiyor, and not necessarily spring water. Why, then, is it permitted to use water from the Kiyor for the Nisuch ha'Mayim, if spring water is required?

1. The RITVA (49b) answers that the Kiyor was kept overnight in the "Yam Shel Shlomo," the large pool built by Shlomo ha'Melech, the water of which was transported by aqueducts from the spring of Ein Eitam (Yerushalmi Yoma 3:8). The Ritva must be learning that even though it is permitted to use any water for the Kiyor, the practice was to fill it with the spring water of the Yam Shel Shlomo.

2. RAV Y. S. ELYASHEV (as quoted in He'aros b'Maseches Sukah) says that the Mishnah, according to Tosfos, is following the opinion of Rebbi Yishmael in Zevachim (22b), who argues with the Chachamim and says that the water of the Kiyor must come from a spring.

3. Alternatively, he suggests, on Sukos they went out of their way to fill the Kiyor with spring water in case they needed to use the water of the Kiyor for the Nisuch ha'Mayim.

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