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Yoma 38

YOMA 36-40 have anonymously sponsored towards a REFU'AH SHELEMAH to Shmuel Yakov ben Ayala Hinda, Ilana Golda bas Chana and Klarees Marcia bas Mammie


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that the Chachamim once commissioned a group from Alexandria to replace Beis Avtinas in preparing the Ketores. The Alexandrians did not know what caused the smoke of the Ketores to rise straight up, and the smoke of their Ketores rose and dispersed. The Chachamim decided that since the smoke of the Ketores made by Beis Avtinas went straight up and was thus much more beautiful, it must be that Hashem have them their knowledge in order to glorify Him and they therefore called on Beis Avtinas to return to make the Ketores.

The HAGAHOS HA'BACH asks why the Gemara says that the Chachamim re-hired Beis Avtinas only because of the beauty of the smoke of their Ketores. The Ma'aleh Ashan is one of the ingredients of the Ketores; if one leaves it out of the Ketores which is brought in the Kodesh ha'Kodashim, the Ketores is invalid and he is Chayav Misah! That is why the Chachamim re-hired Beis Avtinas -- it was m'Ikar ha'Din, and not simply because their smoke was more beautiful!


(a) The TOSFOS YESHANIM (DH Hachi Garsinan) and the TOSFOS HA'ROSH answer that anything that causes smoke to rise and is called Ma'aleh Ashan is valid for use in the Ketores. It just has to have the name "Ma'aleh Ashan," even though it is a different species.

(b) REBBI ELAZAR LANDAU explains that there is a general species of Ma'aleh Ashan which was well known and which had a number of sub-species. The people in Alexandria knew about only one sub-species, which worked to make the smoke rise straight up but not as well as other sub-species.

(c) The BEIS YOSEF (OC 133) writes that the Ma'aleh Ashan is different than the 11 main ingredients of the Ketores. Since it is only included in order to make the smoke rise, and not to add to the aroma, if one leaves it out the Ketores is Kosher -- even l'Chatchilah. He proves this from our Sugya. (The BE'ER SHEVA in Kerisus 6a, though, strongly rejects this assertion of the Beis Yosef, citing the Gemara later [53a] and Yerushalmi [Yoma 1:1] and Rambam who rule explicitly that one *is* Chayav Misah for omitting it on Yom Kipur. The Beis Yosef apparently distinguished between the Ketores of Yom Kipur, of which the verse states explicitly that its smoke must rise, and the daily Ketores of the Heichal.)

(d) The MAHARATZ CHIYUS says that one is Chayav Misah for leaving out the Ma'aleh Ashan only if he has it and leaves it out. If he does not have it all, then he is not Chayav Misah for leaving it out.


QUESTION: The Mishnah relates that Ben Kamtzar was able to write four letters at one time by placing four quills between his fingers. In this way he wrote the four letters of the Name of Hashem at one time.

What was so great about this feat? The letters of the Name of Hashem must be written in order! They may not be written in backwards order, and presumably they may not be written either all at one time.

ANSWER: TESHUVOS MAS'AS BINYAMIN (Rav Binyamin Aharon Selnik of Cracow, 1633) writes that we see from here that printing, or stamping, the Name of Hashem in such a way that all of the letters are written at one time is not considered writing the Shem Hashem out of order. Only writing them backwards is considered out of order. Therefore, he concludes that it is permitted to write a Sefer Torah with a printing press, as long as one is verbally Mekadesh the Shem before imprinting it on the parchment with the press (by saying, "l'Shem Kedushas Hashem"). Furthermore, Sefarim that are printed have the same Kedushah as a Sefer Torah. (The Halachah does not follow his opinion.)

(See MAHARATZ CHIYUS, who suggests that Ben Kamtzar developed some sort of rudimentary printing press which enabled him to write many letters at one time.)

AGADAH: The Gemara tells us, "When Hashem blesses the Tzadikim, he punishes the sinners at the same time. And when he punishes the sinners, he rewards the Tzadikim as well." Why is that?

If a person was brought up in a household where spiritual values are held in high regard, more is expected from him than from another who grew up in a home where corruption and immorality were the norm. If he decides to pursue a life of sin, he will be held more culpable than the other person, who was raised to live a corrupt lifestyle.

This, explains the SHLAH HA'KODESH, is the meaning of a seemingly misplaced verse that appears in the middle of the Parshah of the Tochechah, describing the punishments that the Jewish people will undergo if they do not listen to the word of Hashem. The verse says, "Then I will remember My covenant with Yakov, and also My covenant with Yitzchak, and I will remember My covenant with Avraham, and I will remember the land. The land will be deserted..." (Vayikra 26:42-43). This verse is not meant to be taken as an isolated statement of consolation surrounded by curses (the way Rashi and most other commentators seem to understand it); rather, it is to be understood as one more component in the series of curses that make up the Tochechah. Hashem will recall that He made a covenant with the forefathers of the Jewish nation, and that will cause His anger with them to *grow*, rather than to abate. He will say, "The Jewish people had such illustrious ancestors from whom to learn the ways of Torah and righteousness, yet despite this fact they veered from the proper path and pursued lives of sin. This is cause for an even more intense punishment!"

We find a similar concept in the incidence of Lot. Lot told the angels who were escorting him from Sedom to safety, "I cannot escape up to the mountain, for evil will reach me there and I will die." Rashi explains that Lot pleaded with the angels not to take him back to live in the vicinity of Avraham (where he had lived before moving to Sedom). Living in proximity to such a great Tzadik would certainly lead to "evil reaching me, and I will die." While living in Sedom, Lot explained, he could be considered in a favorable light. He would be compared only to the other citizens of Sedom, who were notorious for their wickedness. But if he took up residence near Avraham he would be judged according to a much stricter standard, one which he was sure he could not withstand. (See Bereishis Raba 50:11.) We see from hear that when people are exposed to a righteous surrounding, they are expected to absorb that holiness, and they are punished for their shortfall if they do not. On the other hand, living among wicked people and yet managing to maintain an average standard of decency is considered to be a virtuous accomplishment.

This is what our Gemara means by saying that when Hashem sees the great righteousness of a Tzadik who is living in proximity to evil people, He becomes even more upset at the evil people -- since they did not learn to correct their ways from the Tzadik -- and the righteousness of the Tzadik, in a sense, brings them punishment. Conversely, the evil acts of the wicked spotlight the righteousness of the Tzadik, who did not learn from their deeds, and that is why Hashem rewards the Tzadik at the same time that He punishes the evil for their misdeeds.

Perhaps Avraham realized that he was, in a sense, responsible for the annihilation of Sedom. This might be the reason why he offered such a lengthy, impassioned plea on behalf of the people of Sedom, begging Hashem to spare them (Bereishis 18:23-33). He knew that it was his exemplary behavior and virtuous way of life that was reinforcing the verdict of guilt of Sedom, and he thus felt a personal responsibility to intercede on their behalf. (M. Kornfeld, heard in part from Reb Yisrael Dissin, Chicago/Jerusalem)

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