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Yoma 85

YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Mishnah which states that if one finds a child in a city in which most of the residents are gentiles, we follow the principle of "Rov" and assume that the child is not Jewish. Shmuel, though, says that we treat him like a Jew with regard to desecrating Shabbos in order to save his life. If so, asks the Gemara, then in what way is he treated like a non-Jew? Rav Papa answers that we treat him like a non-Jew with regard to feeding him Neveilah. RASHI (DH l'Ha'achilo) says that we may feed the child Neveilah until he becomes an adult (Bar Mitzvah) and accepts upon himself to become a Jew. Rashi repeats this idea -- that when the child becomes of age he will convert -- a few lines later (DH Naisi Ra'ayah).

Why does Rashi say that we assume he is going to convert? If he has a status of a non-Jew, let him remain so!


(a) The NETZIV (Meromei Sadeh) answers that the principle of "Rov" -- that we follow the majority -- is a part of the Torah ("Acharei Rabim l'Hatos") which applies only to Jews. A non-Jew has no right to follow the "Rov" in any area, and therefore his doubt always remains unresolved even when there is a "Rov."

Therefore, with regard to feeding the child Neveilah, which involves a question of whether we -- the Jews --are transgressing an Isur by feeding it to him, we follow the "Rov." Since the "Rov" says that he is a non-Jew, we are permitted to feed him Neveilah. With regard to whether the child himself, though, may eat Neveilah (or transgress any other Mitzvah) when he becomes an adult, he may *not* follow the "Rov" to determine that he is a non-Jew, because if he is indeed a non-Jew he is not entitled to rely on the "Rov!" He may only eat Neveilah as a child, because even if he is a Jew he has no Chiyuv d'Oraisa until he reaches the age of Bar Mitzvah. When he reaches that age, though, he has no choice but to accept upon himself all of the Mitzvos.

(Semantically, this expresses itself in an odd way: there is a Safek whether this person is a Jew or a non-Jew. On the side that he is a Jew, he is drawn after the "Rov," which determines that he is a *non-Jew*, while on the side that he is a non-Jew, he may not rely on "Rov," and thus he must conduct himself as a *Jew*!)

(b) Perhaps Rashi was bothered by a question. Shmuel says that we must save this child's life, even if it requires desecrating Shabbos to do so. Why must we save him on Shabbos if the "Rov" tells us that he is not Jewish? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (69a) says that Beis Din may even kill a person based on a "Rov!" Why, then, do we save this child, when "Rov" tells us that he is not Jewish?

Because of this question, Rashi perhaps understood that Shmuel's principle that we do not follow "Rov" when it comes to saving a life is a Din d'Rabanan. Even though the Torah does not require us to save the life of the child that was found in a city populated mostly by non-Jews, the Rabanan do require that we desecrate Shabbos in order to save his life. (Since there is a possibility that the child actually is a Jew, the rule that "Ein Rabanan Yecholim La'akor Davar Min ha'Torah b'Kum v'Aseh," Yevamos 90b, does not apply here.)

Accordingly, it would not be logical for the Rabanan to require us to save the child's life, and then let him go live his life as a non-Jew and eat Neveilah. It must be that the Rabanan instituted more than just saving him; they also instituted that we encourage him to undergo a proper conversion and become a Jew when he reaches adulthood, because of the possibility that he is a Jew (which is why the Rabanan instituted to save him in the first place). Even though we feed him Neveilah now because there is a "Rov" that he is not Jewish, we encourage him to become a Jew and when his life is in danger we save him on Shabbos.

TOSFOS (DH ul'Fake'ach) appears to have been bothered by this question -- how could the Rabanan institute to desecrate Shabbos in order to save his life and then let him live his life as a non-Jew. Tosfos explains that the requirement to save his life even when the majority of the city is not Jewish is indeed mid'Oraisa. The Torah says, "v'Chai ba'Hem" -- "You shall live in them (the Mitzvos)" (Vayikra 18:5), which teaches that even if there is a "Rov" that the child is not Jewish, we cannot take chances with a possible Jewish life. When it comes to feeding him Neveilah, though, we follow the "Rov" like in every other area. (When Beis Din kills a person based on a Rov, "v'Chai ba'Hem" apparently does not apply since there is a majority suggesting that there is reason to actively kill the person. In the case of the found baby, on the contrary, there certainly is no reason to take his life; our doubt is only whether we must be Mechalel Shabbos to save it or not.) (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses the effectiveness of Teshuvah, Yom Kipur, and Misah in attaining atonement for various types of sins. The Mishnah begins with a statement that the Korban "Chatas and Asham Vadai attain atonement." What do those Korbanos have to do with Teshuvah and Yom Kipur? The fact that they are Mechaper applies all the time, whenever they are offered!


(a) The TOSFOS YOM HA'KIPURIM answers that the Mishnah's intention is not to teach anything about those Korbanos themselves. Rather, the Mishnah's intention is to teach, by implication, that only the Asham Vadai provides a complete Kaparah, but *not* an Asham Taluy; if a person finds out -- after bringing an Asham Taluy -- that he definitely sinned, he must still bring a Korban Chatas. Furthermore, if Yom Kipur comes before one brings his Asham Taluy, he is exempt from the Korban, in contrast to the Chatas and Asham Vadai. (Tosfos Yom ha'Kipurim discusses at length why, according to this reasoning, the Mishnah mentions Chatas, if the inference regarding Asham Taluy is learned only from the mention of Asham Vadai.)

(b) The Mishnah mentions the Korbanos Chatas and Asham Vadai because from them we learn a lesson about the atonement brought about by Teshuvah and Yom Kipur. We learn for which sins Teshuvah alone atones, and which sins need additional atonement, from the Chatas and the Asham.

For transgressing an Aseh or a Lo Ta'aseh no Korban is required, and thus we see that Teshuvah alone is effective for those types of sins. The Chatas and Asham are necessary for sins that carry the punishment of Kares and Misas Beis Din; thus we see that those types of sins require, besides Teshuvah, the extra atonement of Korbanos. So, too, Teshuvah does not atone for them until Yom Kipur comes and provides extra atonement. In addition, the Chatas and Asham are only Mechaper for sins of "Bein Adam la'Makom" (between man and G-d), but not for sins of "Bein Adam la'Chaveiro" (between man and his fellow man), such as thievery. Similarly, Teshuvah and Yom Kipur do not atone for sins of "Bein Adam la'Chaveiro" until one appeases his friend and asks for Mechilah.

QUESTION: The TOSFOS YESHANIM (DH Teshuvah) cites Rabeinu Tam's claim that Talmud Torah is "secondary to Derech Eretz." Rabeinu Tam learns this from the wording of the Mishnah in Avos (2:2), "Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eretz," "It is good to have Talmud Torah *with Derech Eretz*." This implies that Derech Eretz is of primary importance, but it is good to accompany it with Talmud Torah. (Tosfos Yeshanim discusses at length the grammatical basis for this inference, in light of the wording of our Mishnah and other Mishnayos.)

Rabeinu Elchanan (ibid.) challenges this statement. How can Rabeinu Tam say that Derech Eretz, working, is more important than learning Torah! We find many statements in the Mishnah and Gemara that make it clear that the opposite is true -- such as the Mishnah in Avos (6:5) that says "Torah is only acquired through minimizing Derech Eretz!"


(a) Rav Elchanan Wasserman (in CHIDUSHEI AGADOS, at the end of Kobetz He'aros) explains that Rabeinu Tam is simply reading the words "Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eretz" the way the Midrash reads them (Bamidbar Raba 13:15). The Midrash says, "Torah must be mixed in with *good deeds*, as the Mishnah says 'Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eretz.'" If so, the words "Derech Eretz" in this Mishnah do not refer to work (as in the Mishnah in 6:5), but to good deeds (as in "Derech Eretz Kadmah la'Torah).

Actually, the translation of this Mishnah in Avos appears to be a subject of debate in the Midrash. Another Midrash (Koheles Raba 7:1) seems to translate "Derech Eretz" in this Mishnah as "work," connecting the Mishnah to a verse in Koheles that states "Wisdom is good when accompanied by material possessions." Rabeinu Elchanan, in the Tosfos Yeshanim, did not accept Rabeinu Tam's explanation of the Mishnah because he was translating the Mishnah like it was understood by the Koheles Raba.

(b) I once heard (from Rav Simcha Shustel of Lakewood) that Rabeinu Tam may have been referring to a specific type of learning Torah.

In his commentary to the Mishnah in question (Avot 2:2), Rav Chaim of Volozhin contends that "Yafeh Talmud Torah Im Derech Eret" means that even *while* one is involved in worldly activity such as his work, it is good to think about Torah. (See also Nefesh HaChaim, 1:8.) Such a practice has its source in much earlier commentaries, such as Mishnat Avot (by Rav Yosef ben Yehudah Ibn Eknin, disciple of the Rambam, Avot 4:10). The Sefer Hafla'ah, in his introduction (#35; see also his introduction to Sefer HaMikneh, #32), elaborates further. How will a person ever succeed in business, asks the Hafla'ah, if his mind is always preoccupied with Torah? The answer: "Know Hashem while you go about your ways, and He will make your paths straight" (Mishlei 3:6). If you think thoughts of Torah while you work, Hashem will see to it that your business prospers. Similarly, "Happy is the person... who desires Hashem's Torah and ponders His Torah day and night... he will succeed in all that he does" (Tehillim 1:1-3). A person need not be concerned that his concentration on Torah thoughts will cause him to fail in worldly endeavors.

A contemporary Gadol, HaGaon Rav Shlomo Fisher of Jerusalem, pointed out to me that the spiritual height to which the Hafla'ah and Rav Chaim Volozhin are referring is discussed by the Ramban. When the Torah tells us (Devarim 11:22) to "love Hashem, walk in his ways and *cleave to him*," the Ramban explains that one who is on a truly high spiritual level should dwell on the love of Hashem even as he goes about his daily business. While he is conversing with his fellow man, his heart should be thinking about Hashem and His ways. Similarly, the Ra'avad (end of Hilchot Teshuvah) refers to righteous individuals who perform all of their mundane activities in a distracted manner because their mind is absorbed by their love for Hashem.

Rabeinu Tam may simply be proving that the proper way to learn the Mishnah in Avos is like Rav Chaim of Volozhin. The Mishnah means to say that even when one's *primary* involvement is with Derech Eretz, such as while he is working for a living, it is still good to be thinking about Torah in back of one's mind.

(Of course, most people will find this approach very hard to follow, if not absolutely impossible. As the Ramban mentioned, cleaving to Hashem is a great accomplishment which is practiced by no more than a few elite individuals per generation. The everyday working person is certainly not expected to act in such a manner. What the average Jew can and should strive for is using any free moments during the day for Torah study and not wasting them on insignificant matters.)

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