Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Ki Tavo: Is the blessing on hafrashat maaser Biblical? What about on shechita?

Summary: According to the sefer Hilchot Eretz Yisrael, saying the beracha on shechita is meakev. But this makes little sense if all berachot on mitzvot are a Rabbinic innovation. A pasuk in Ki Tavo, darshened by Sifrei and by a Mishna in Maaser Sheni, and brought by Rashi, might counter this. But I don't think so.

Post: Eldan haDani was a faker. It is unclear what his motivations were, (perhaps to protect the Jewish people,) but he was a charlatan. He claimed that he was from Dan, of the 10 lost tribes, and managed to make it across the river Sambatyon. He came with tales of the 10 lost tribes, as well as a record of the "Talmud" of those tribes, in a sefer called Hilchot Amar Yehoshua (not Hilchot Eretz Yisrael as the roshei teivot are often mistakenly expanded). The sefer is dubbed this because every halacha starts amar yehoshua from Moshe Rabbenu mipi haGevura.

It is not politically correct to say that Eldan haDani was a fake, because his precedent, as discussed by Rishonim, is used as a basis for declaring Ethiopian Jews as Jewish.

In the third chapter of Eldad's halachot we read:

Because of a person's table being the equivalent of the mizbeyach, Eldad imposes a series of "frum" religious restrictions on shechita which would render the food pigul, invalid. This is usually taken as equivalent to non-kosher. The famous one from the first daf in Chullin, in Tosafot, is that a woman is invalid to shecht. This goes against a clear Mishna. But this charlatan came and put forth these halachot and religious Jews, meaning Geonim and Rishonim, believed him and took his "halachot" as meaningful. What a terrible corruption of our Torah and masorah! And this in hilchot shechita, where much comes from halacha leMoshe miSinai! Thus Tosafot attempt to justify this via nashim daatan kalot, such that the women will either not heed the detailed regulations involved in shechita or else they will faint at the sight of blood. This is even encoded in Shulchan Aruch, on the basis that we have not seen women shecht, but it all comes back to this corruption of our Torah by Eldan Hadani.

In this chapter, Eldad puts forth a few interesting restrictions. The one I'm going to focus on is that if he shechted without blessing the bracha for shechita it is piggul. But he also writes that if he schechts naked; or without a kippa, or drunk, or without having immersed after having a seminal emission, or as a mourner, it is piggul. The gemara does not give all of these restrictions.

See in Yoreh Deah, siman 19, seif 1, as well as the words of the Taz there, that we don't pasken like Eldad Hadani is declaring the meat forbidden, though some apparently want to impose a knas.

It would be strange to require a bracha on shechita to the extent that it would be meakev. After all, the only Biblically required blessing is birkat hamazon. And while it is forbidden (Rabbinically) to eat food before blessing, we don't see the same applied to mitzvot, to the Rabbinically imposed brachot on mitzvot.

I recall though that some point to a Rashi in the beginning of Ki Savo to show otherwise, with an example of a bracha on a mitzvah which would appear to be meakev.

In parashat Ki Tavo:

13. Then you shall say before the Lord, your God, "I have removed the holy [portion] from the house, and I have also given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, according to all Your commandment that You commanded me; I have not transgressed Your commandments, nor have I forgotten [them].יג. וְאָמַרְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְ־הֹוָ־ה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בִּעַרְתִּי הַקֹּדֶשׁ מִן הַבַּיִת וְגַם נְתַתִּיו לַלֵּוִי וְלַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה כְּכָל מִצְוָתְךָ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתָנִי לֹא עָבַרְתִּי מִמִּצְוֹתֶיךָ וְלֹא שָׁכָחְתִּי:

Rashi writes:

I have not transgressed Your commandments: I did not separate tithes from one species [of produce to fulfill the obligation of tithe-separation due] from another species [of produce], and I did not separate tithes from the new crop [of the year to fulfill the obligation of tithe-separation due] from the old crop. — [Sifrei, Ma’aser Sheni 5:11]לא עברתי ממצותיך: לא הפרשתי ממין על שאינו מינו ומן החדש על הישן
nor have I forgotten: to bless You [on the performance of the mitzvah] of separating tithes. — [ibid.]ולא שכחתי: מלברך על הפרשת מעשרות:

In the Sifrei:

ולא שכחתי • לא שכחתי
(ג (מהזכיר שמך ולברכך

The Gra emends this to:
לברכך ומלהזכיר שמך עליו:

This as well on Berachot 40b:
It was stated above: Rab said that any benediction in which the Divine Name is not mentioned is no benediction. R. Johanan, however, said: Any benediction in which [God's] Kingship is not mentioned is no benediction. Abaye said: The opinion of Rab is the more probable. For it has been taught: I have not transgressed any of Thy commandments, neither have I forgotten. This means: 'I have not transgressed' so as not to bless Thee, 'neither have I forgotten' to mention Thy name therein. Of sovereignty, however, there is no mention here. R. Johanan, however, reads: 'Neither have I forgotten' to mention Thy name and Thy sovereignty therein.
This is a slightly different version of the brayta. The same derasha in the Mishna in Maaser Sheni:

דף לב, א פרק ה הלכה ה משנה  במנחה ביום טוב היו מתודין.  כיצד היה הוידוי (דברים כו) בערתי הקודש מן הבית זה מעשר שני ונטע רבעי.  ונתתי ללוי זה מעשר לוי.  וגם נתתיו זה תרומה ותרומת מעשר.  לגר ליתום ולאלמנה זה מעשר עני.  הלקט והשכחה והפיאה אף על פי שאין מעכבים את הוידוי.  מן הביתז ו חלה.  ככל מצותך אשר צויתני הא אם הקדים מעשר שני לראשון אינו יכול להתודות.  לא עברתי ממצותיך לא הפרשתי ממין על שאינו מינו לא מן התלוש על המחובר ולא מן המחובר על התלוש לא מן החדש על הישן ולא מן הישן על החדש.  ולא שכחתי מלברכך ומלהזכיר שמך עליו.  לא אכלתי באוני ממנו הא אם אכלו באנינות אינו
דף לב, ב פרק ה הלכה ה משנה  יכול להתודות.  ולא בערתי ממנו בטמא האם אם הפרישו בטומאה אינו יכול להתודות.  ולא נתתי ממנו למת לא לקחתי ממנו ארון ותכריכין למת.  ולא נתתים לאוננים אחרים.  שמעתי בקול ה' אלהי הבאתיו לבית הבחירה.  עשיתי ככל אשר ציויתני שמחתי ושימחתי בו.  השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים עשינו מה שגזרתה עלינו אף אתה עשה מה שהבטחתנו.  השקיפה ממעון קדשך מן השמים וברך את עמך ישראל בבנים ובבנות.  ואת האדמה אשר נתת לנו בטל וברוחות ובמטר ובוולדות בהמה.  אשר נשבעת לאבותינו ארץ זבת חלב ודבש כדי שתתן טעם בפירות.  מיכן אמרו שישראל וממזרים מתוודין אבל לא גרים ולא עבדים משוחררים שאין להן חלק בארץ.  רבי מאיר אומר אף לא כהנים ולוים שלא נטלו חלק בארץ.  רבי יוסי אומר יש להם ערי מגרש.  יוחנן כהן גדול העביר הודיית המעשר.  אף הוא ביטל את המעוררין ואת הנוקפין.  עד ימיו היה פטיש מכה בירושלים.  ובימיו אין אדם צריך לשאול על הדמאי:

Rav Chaim Kanievsky (in the running Yerushalmi commentary based on his shiur on Yerushalmi) explains that this is simply an asmachta to the law, rather than a derivation, because after all, this is not a Torah law but rather a Rabbinic institution.

As a matter of halacha, this is indeed so. (What to do about the brayta and its divergent derivations in masechet Brachot? Perhaps this could be an argument based on precedent established by the text in the brayta rather than the correct way to interpret the pasuk. Or perhaps the argument is about the Biblical blessing of Birkat Hamazon, despite the prooftext coming from maaser, with Chazal patterning their own brachot after the Biblical one.)

The Mishna and Sifrei are presenting all sorts of halachot about maaser in a nice running commentary. Perhaps the point was indeed as an asmachta, as a way of presenting this halacha, even though it is not really derived from the pasuk. Or else, perhaps, the Tanna of the Mishna and Sifrei actually held that the bracha was Biblical. Would they also say that the bracha is meakev? Probably not, though this is listed as one of the things in vidui maaser.

There is a Mizrachi and Gur Aryeh on this Rashi. Mizrachi writes:

Gur Aryeh writes:

לא שכחתי מלברך על הפרשת
המעשר. פירוש, שלא שכחתי מלשבחך על
הפרשת המעשרות, שנתתי המעשרות לשם
הקדוש ברוך הוא, ונתתי אותם באהבה,
ושבחתי עליו הקדוש ברוך הוא. זה פירוש
״ולא שכחתי״ ׳מלברך על הפרשת
המעשרות׳. שאין לפרש ברכה על פה
דהוי רק מדרבנן

I suppose that this is plausible in all these places. The one thing that gives me pause is Rashi in the gemara in berachot. That brayta was clearly talking about making actual berachot, though it might be disjoint from this Mishna and Sifrei. Rashi over there explains the bracha as being specifically the beracha on hafrashat maaser.

Indeed, after writing this, I see that the Taz makes a similar point:

That is, the source from this brayta in Berachot seems Biblical, and this includes everything up to the nusach. As a result, it is difficult to say that just the idea that one should bless is Biblical while the actual establishment of the nusach habracha was Rabbinic, by the anshei knesset hagedolah. (Though I could disagree and say that these aspects need be present, just as in Brich Rachmana Mara dehai pita, while the specifics of the nusach was still Baruch ata Hashem ... Melech ... asher kidshanu etc.

See also Maharsha, who says similarly to Taz.

(Of course, there need not be a extension from the blessing on hafrashat maaser to shechita, and even if there were, that would not make the meat non-kosher if one omitted it.)

Note: While halacha was discussed here, this post is not halacha lemaaseh. Consult your local Orthodox rabbi.


S. said...

I know he was a fake, and you know he was a fake.

My question is, can you explain HOW you know he was a fake?

joshwaxman said...

probably not without getting myself into trouble. a literal belief in Sambatyon, e.g., seems to be required if he is not a faker.

but one trivial thing which makes one *suspect* him, at the least, is this:
"In 883, Eldad came to Spain ad wlecomed [sic] greatly. It was an encouragement because they could respond to taunts. Went back to Sura and lectured and asked to produce section of the Talmud and he disappeared and never to be heard from again."


S. said...

Fair enough, although I could see ways of spinning belief in a literal Sambatyon.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin