Volume 6 Number 17

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Additional (hidden) reasons for takanot:
         [Elhanan Adler]
Bracha on a Mitzva
         [Eli Turkel]
Defining p'ru ur'vu
         [Zev Kesselman]
Fish Derivatives and Meat
         [Elliot Lasson]
Raw Meat/Chicken on Shabbat
         [David Sherman]
What Is A Brakha?
         [Len Moskowitz]


From: <ELHANAN@...> (Elhanan Adler)
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 93 00:07:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Additional (hidden) reasons for takanot:

Hayim Hendeles wrote:

>I remember hearing awhile back that oftentimes, when Chazal gives us a
>reason for a certain takana, it may not have been the only reason - i.e.
>there may have been deeper issues involved, that they did not tell us
>about. (I believe I heard this is from the Vilna Gaon, but I could be
>wrong. IT certainly wouldn't be the first time :-(

It is indeed brought in the name of the Gaon, relative to the drinking
of water which has been left uncovered overnight (issur galui). The
reason given in the gemara for this takanah is that a poisonous snake
may have sipped the water during the night and left poison behind. The
poskim all agree that this problem no longer exists - however the Gaon's
pupil R. Yisrael mi-Shklav in his book "Pe'at ha-shulhan" says that the
Gaon was careful never to drink galui water - saying that there may have
been additional reasons for the takanah which are not known to us.

* Elhanan Adler                   University of Haifa Library              *
*                                 Tel.: 972-4-240535  FAX: 972-4-257753    *
* Israeli U. DECNET:      HAIFAL::ELHANAN                                  *
* Internet/ILAN:          <ELHANAN@...>                          *


From: <turkel@...> (Eli Turkel)
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 93 08:21:50 +0200
Subject: Bracha on a Mitzva

    Some rules for when one makes a bracha on a mitzva:

1.  one makes a bracha even if the action is not required
    e.g. mezuzah,  one need not live in a house
         maakeh (fence on roof)  one need not have a flat roof
         schechita  one need not eat meat

2.  One makes a bracha only at the end of the mitzva
    e.g. on wearing teffilin or tzizit and not on making them
         on seating in a succah and not on making it
         there is a discussion about the beracha on marriage
             (kiddushin) what type of bracha it is

3.  the rishonim (early authorities) discuss in great detail why
    some mitzvot have brachot and others do not and many reasons
    are given.

    a. one does not make a bracha on mitzvot between people
       like charity  

    b. one does not make a bracha on a mitzva that has no action
       but calculations e.g. setting up the months in the old days,
       a woman calculating her period 

    c. one does not make a bracha when doing the mitzva depends
       on someone else e.g. charity, honoring ones parents, marriage
       returning a lost article

    d. No blessing is said when the mitzva is a result of a sin
       e.g. returning a stolen article, returning interest on a loan
       divorce (no sin is involved but is not desirable), payment of damages,
       sending away the mother bird

    e. no blessing is recited when the gift really doesnt belong to the
       person, e.g. giving teruma to a Cohen does not require a bracha
       (only the separation does) since the terumah portion never really
       belonged to the person but rather to the priest

    f. no bracha on actions that are destructive, e.g. a bet din giving

     Again, there are numerous diasgreements about these rules. For more
details see encyopedia talmudic on birchat hamitzva



From: Zev Kesselman <ZEV%<HADASSAH@...>
Date: Tue, 19 Jan 93 11:40 JST
Subject: Defining p'ru ur'vu

	Regarding why no bracha for the procreative act, Dr. Meth wrote:

>The answer I have heard (sorry, no reference), is that this act is a
>"hechsher mitzvah" [preparation for a mitzvah], and does not require a
>berachah.  The actual mitzvah of peru u'revu [procreation] is fulfilled
>upon the _birth_ of the offspring.

	Actually, this is the opinion of the Minchas Chinuch (first page,
dealing with the first mitzvah of p'ru ur'vu).  R. Moshe Feinstein (Iggrot
Moshe, Even Haezer II:18) holds that the procreative act is the mitzvah.
	After my fifth daughter was born, I despairingly CYLOR'ed with the
question: how can I be required to fulfill something that isn't even in my
power (i.e., at least one boy and one girl)?  According to R. Moshe, the
*deed* is the mitzvah, not the outcome.

	P.S. - Numbers 6 & 7 were twin boys. :-).

					Zev Kesselman


From: <Elliot_David_Lasson@...> (Elliot Lasson)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 21:26:11 -0500
Subject: Fish Derivatives and Meat

As we all know, there is a minhag not to eat fish and meat together and
to make some sort of separation between them during a meal.

A couple of questions:

(1) Would this also apply to derivatives of fish?  The example which
comes to mind is Worchestire sauce.  Some brands (if not all) use
anchovies in the recipe.  The brand of which I am thinking has an OU
'Fish' designation as the hechsher.  Is this information of any
consequence.  First of all, the percentage of anchovies (or a derivative
would most likely be "batul" in the production of the stuff.  Secondly,
even if it were not, would this really be the same as a piece of fish
(eaten together with meat).

(2) Why has this minhag perpetuated itself in light of the lack of
scientific evidence to support it.  Furthermore, why don't more minhagim
(with regard to food, etc.) become as widely excepted as this one, when
contemporary medical knowledge would so dictate.  The possible exception
would be with smoking for which Reb Moshe zt'l came out with a t'shuva
forbidding smoking for the non-smoker and advising already -smokers to
quit.  (parenthetically, I would assume that there are many individuals
out there who rationalize their smoking [because of Reb Moshe's lack of
explicit issur for smokers], yet would hold the fish-meat thing as a
"yaharog v'al ya'avor").  Is there a difference between an imminent
sacanah (danger), as with the case of fish and meat (if I remember
correctly, the fear is one of a person choking)?  Where does the mitzvah
of "ushmartem et nafshosaichem fit in here?  Shouldn't dietary excesses
such as cholesterol (too much of it) be treated the same way as the
fish-meat issue?

Elliot D. Lasson (e-mail:<FC9Q@...>)
Department of Psyc.
Wayne St. U.
Detroit, MI


From: <dave@...> (David Sherman)
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 14:49:33 -0500
Subject: Re: Raw Meat/Chicken on Shabbat

Marc Meisler writes:
> This past Shabbos our Rav was going over Hilchos Shabbos regarding
> muktzeh (things that cannot be moved on Shabbos).  He quoted from, I
> believe, the Shulchan Aruch, although I am not sure exactly where.  He
> said that raw meat is considered muktzeh since there is no use for it on
> Shabbos.  Thus, if it falls out of your freezer on Shabbos you cannot
> pick it up even though it may cause you a financial loss. 

I've always had some difficulty with this logic.  When it comes to a
pencil that you might accidentally write with, OK.  But if raw meat
falls out of your freezer, you have, as I see it, two "Shabbos-related"
reasons for wanting to put it back.  First, the meat sitting on the
floor is in your way on Shabbos, and you want it out of the way.
Picking it up and putting it in your freezer enhances your Shabbos
by getting the thing off your floor on Shabbos.  (I've always used
this logic for clearing the dishes off the table after Shabbos lunch,
for example, even if no subsequent meal at that table is planned for
the same Shabbos.)

Second, if you don't pick up the meat, you (or your spouse) may
fret over the loss, either because of the financial cost or because
of the general aversion (both halachic and moral) to waste of food.
That will disturb your and detract from your Shabbos.

What's wrong with my approach?  Are we allowed no common sense?

David Sherman


From: Len Moskowitz <moskowit@...>
Date: Mon, 18 Jan 93 16:49:26 -0500
Subject: What Is A Brakha?

Rivkah Lambert and others have asked why there aren't specific brachot
for certain important life events such as birth and especially divorce
which is a mitzvah.

Perhaps we can gain some insight into the question by considering the
nature of brakhot.  What is a brakha?  The usual translation of the word
into English ("blessing") is clearly wrong -- God is above all blessings
and there is nothing we could possibly do to "bless" the Infinite.
Similarly, the Infinite has no need for praise.

So what is a brakha?  In the Talmud (Berakhoth 7a) there is a tale of
Rabbe Yishmael, telling of a vision of God.  He "hears" God request"
"Yishamel, my son, barkheni."  And how does Rabbe Yishmael respond?  (I
paraphrase): "May your aspect of Chesed (unrestrained love) overcome
your aspect of Din (strict judgement)."  There's no hint of the common
meaning of "blessing" in this tale but it does offer some insight into
the true meaning.  The aspects of thanks and praise are also
conspicuously missing.

According to many sources (Rav Chayyim Volozhin in "Nefesh HaChayyim" --
sha'ar bet, perakim bet v'gimel, Rav Yosef Irgas in "Shomer Emunim
HaKadmon," and many others) brakhot have to do with "tosefet v'ribui"
(this is hard to translate: increase and multiplication, or perhaps the
promotion/enabling of God's qualities of largesses and beneficence).

When we make a brakha, we are asking the Infinite to increase influence
and beneficence on the aspects named in the brakha.  To take this even
further, the Shem Etzem in the brakha doesn't refer to Infinite (who is
beyond all Names) but only to a particular relationship between man and
the Infinite within the framework of creation; i.e, the Shem Etzem is
the focus of the beneficence referred to in the brakha.  (Related to
this, Rav Chayyim Volozhin says that *all* the Shemot and Kinuyim --
Names and Appellations -- applied to God are only references to
relationships between God and man.

Getting back to the original points, about brakhot for divorce and get,
perhaps we should ask: to where would brakhot for these situations focus
God's beneficence?

Len Moskowitz


End of Volume 6 Issue 17