Bechoros

Bechoros 19b: Giving an incentive to declare it treif

Bechoros 19b: If one buys an animal from a non-Jew and does not know if it has ever given birth in the past…

Bechoros 21b: If one buys an animal from a Jew, and the Jew does not tell him whether the animal has previously given birth, and now it gives birth, is the baby a bechor? Rav said: It is certainly a bechor, because if the animal had previously given birth, the seller would have boasted about it.

Taz Yoreh Deah 316:4: If a non-Jew is selling a cow and the Jew tells him that the younger it is, the more he will pay for it, and the non-Jew says it has already had four calves, he is believed, because if it had been a cow that never gave birth, he would have said so, for his own gain.

בכורות יט ע”ב: הלוקח בהמה מן העובד כוכבים, ואינו יודע אם ביכרה אם לא ביכרה וכו’

בכורות כא ע”ב: איתמר. מצינו לוקח מעובד כוכבים, לוקח מישראל מאי? אמר רב: בכור ודאי, דאם איתא דבכרה ־ אישתבוחי הוה מישתבח ליה.

Rav Yisroel Belsky once allowed a kashrus agency to rely on non-Jewish workers in checking eggs for blood spots by offering a financial reward to the workers for every egg that they found containing a blood spot.  Eventually, the innovation was discontinued. Apparently, one of the company workers was a diabetic who carried around a lancet.  The incidence of blood found in eggs was significantly higher during this period. 

Source: https://vinnews.com/2022/11/24/adrianna-the-non-jewish-nanny-and-halacha/

Yuma

Yuma 87a: Asking Mechilah for Lashon Hara

Yuma 87a: One who angers his friend, even with words, must apologize to him.

יומא פז ע”א: אמר רבי יצחק: כל המקניט את חבירו, אפילו בדברים ־ צריך לפייסו.

When R’ Yisroel Meir Hakohein published his sefer Chofetz Chaim, he brought it to various gedolim for haskamos. R’ Yisroel Salanter told him, “Leave your sefer with me, and I will read it and decide.” When he returned, R’ Yisroel said, “You write (4:12) that if one person spoke lashon hara against another, and that person ended up being harmed by it (i.e. the listeners believed the lashon hara and acted on it), he must come to him to ask forgiveness, and if the victim doesn’t know about it, he must tell him what he said about him and ask forgiveness. I don’t understand – just because he wants to do teshuva, does that give him the right to pain his friend even more by telling him what he said about him?” The Chofetz Chaim replied, “I took this halacha from Rabbeinu Yonah in Shaarei Teshuva 207.”

They discussed the Rabbeinu Yonah, but still could not agree.

The Chofetz Chaim then asked R’ Yisroel to write him a haskamah and specify that his approval is on everything except this halacha. R’ Yisroel replied, “I’m afraid not, because there are some people who don’t read the full haskamah, and would just see my approval, and I would be guilty of causing others to sin (lifnei iver).” So the Chofetz Chaim left without a haskamah.

Rav Moshe Sternbuch shlita heard from Rav Dessler in the name of Reb Yisroel Salanter that in such a case, one should ask mechilah in general for anything he did, not telling the person exactly what it was.

Sources: Az Nidberu 7:66 and Moadim Uzmanim 1:54, Dirshu notes on Sefer Chofetz Chaim, quoting the sefer Meir Einei Yisroel v. 6 p. 353.

[We are left wondering: What did Reb Yisroel Salanter do with the proof from Rabbeinu Yonah? Let’s look at Rabbeinu Yonah inside:

אם ישוב בעל הלשון בתשובה צריך לבקש מחילה לאשר מוצק לו מזעם לשונו, והוא לא יזכור מספר כלם, כי רבים מכאובים הכאיב וכמה נפשות הדאיב, גם רבים מאשר זכר, כי אותם עכר, והם לא ידעו כי הדיח עליהם את הרעה, יתבייש להודיעם ולגלות אזנם על אשר גמלם רעה, כי הוא מכה ואין מכתו ידועה, כענין שנאמר (תהלים קכ): ״מה יתן לך ומה יוסיף לך לשון רמיה חצי גבור שנונים״, על כן נמשל לשון הרע לחץ, כי המושך בקשת פעמים רבות ישלח חציו באדם ולא נודע מי הכהו.

“If the speaker of lashon hara wishes to repent, he must ask forgiveness from whomever he has harmed with his angry tongue, and he will not remember all his victims, for he has caused many wounds and pained many souls. Also, in many cases, even where he does remember harming others, they may not know that he brought misfortune upon them, and he will be embarrassed to tell them that he did harm to them. For lashon hara is a wound that is not recognizable, as it states in Tehillim (120:3-4), ‘What further safeguard could one give or add to a cunning tongue? It is like the sharp arrows of a warrior.’ This is why lashon hara is compared to an arrow: for when one draws his bow, he will often shoot arrows at a person without the person knowing who shot him.”

It’s clear from the analogy to the arrow that Rabbeinu Yonah is talking about a case where the victim already knows that someone has spread lashon hara about him, only he doesn’t know who spread it.  In that case, Reb Yisroel would agree that the speaker stepping forward and confessing won’t cause the victim any additional pain.

However, what about a case where the victim suffered a loss (e.g. his shidduch was broken off, or he was denied a job) but never knew the real reason why? He might have assumed until now that it was because the girl simply didn’t like him, or the boss found a more capable candidate. But when the speaker confesses, he will find out that negative information was spread about him. That’s where Reb Yisroel held he shouldn’t tell him.

But the Chofetz Chaim says that even in this case one must tell him, as is clear from his words:

ואפילו אם חבירו אינו יודע עדיין כלל מזה צריך לגלות לו מה שעשה נגדו שלא כדין ולבקש ממנו מחילה על זה, כיון שהוא יודע שעל ידו נסבב לו דבר זה.

“And even if the other person does not yet know anything about this, he must reveal to him what he did against him in violation of halacha, and ask him forgiveness for it, since he knows that he was the cause of harm to the other person.”

So the Chofetz Chaim actually went a step beyond Rabbeinu Yonah, and it was in this step beyond that Reb Yisroel did not agree with him and therefore refused to grant him a haskamah.

So what does their disagreement hinge upon? Let’s remember: Reb Yisroel made two arguments: 1) Why should your doing teshuva give you the right to hurt him? Better suffer without a mechilah rather than hurt him. 2) It really is possible to get mechilah without hurting him, by asking in general without specifying the sin.

The Chofetz Chaim disagreed with both of those arguments. On 1), he held that although it would cause the victim pain, he would still rather know what was said about him. A person does not want to be ignorant, even when knowledge is painful. Not only that, but sometimes it could be useful to know; he might take steps to correct the fault that people found in him. Reb Yisroel, on the other hand, may have held that a person would rather remain ignorant of painful information. Alternatively, he held that even if the victim himself would rather know, from the speaker’s standpoint, it would be wrong to disturb his ignorance and cause him pain.  

On 2), the Chofetz Chaim held that mechilah without knowing the extent of the offense is like a mekach taus – a transaction on false pretenses. Let’s say A owes B a million dollars and B forgot about it, and A goes to B and says, “If I owe you some money, are you mochel?” and B says yes, that mechilah is invalid. Reb Yisroel, on the other hand, looked at mechilah as a tenai, a condition. The sinner doesn’t owe anything to his victim. It’s Hashem who punishes, not the victim. You have to do teshuva to Hashem. Except that Hashem makes a condition and says, “For sins against your fellow man, I will take off the punishment only if you obtain mechilah from the victim.” For this purpose, a mechilah without knowledge of the crime is also a mechilah.

Another approach to the second dispute is that the Chofetz Chaim held that the purpose of asking mechilah is to humble oneself and feel embarrassed for one’s sin. Asking mechilah without specifying the sin does not fulfill that purpose, because the small amount of embarrassment it takes to do that is not commensurate with the gravity of the sin. Reb Yisroel held that a little embarrassment is also enough; it need not be commensurate with the sin.

One cannot say that Reb Yisroel also agreed that a general mechilah does not work, and still he held that the speaker of the lashon hara must forego his mechilah in order not to cause the other person pain. For if then, what would be the purpose in asking for a general mechilah if it doesn’t accomplish anything?

However, we could learn that Reb Yisroel was uncertain of whether a general mechilah works, so he said one should ask for a general mechilah just in case it works. If it doesn’t work, then too bad – the sinner must forego his mechilah. Alternatively, he held there are two dinim – two reasons for asking forgiveness: the embarrassment, and the tenai, as outlined above. Both are true. In this case, where the sinner cannot achieve one, he might as well get the other.]

Yevamos

Yevamos 40a: An Incentive for Chalitzah

Yevamos 40a: One who performs chalitzah has no special status in inheriting the deceased brother’s property; he is like any other brother.

יבמות מ ע”א: החולץ ליבמתו הרי הוא כאחד מן האחין לנחלה.

Rabbi Avrohom Yehoshua Heshel, the Ohev Yisroel, was known as the Apter Rav. Actually, he only served as rav of Apta for 8 years. The rest of his rabbinic career was spent in other cities: before Apta he was rav of Kalbisov, and after Apta he went to Yasi and Mezhbizh. When he announced to the town of Apta that he was leaving, the townspeople were upset and asked him, “Why? Is the rav not satisfied with his salary? When you came to our town, you asked for an unusually high salary, and we have been paying it with no complaints. And the salary you will receive in your new position will be lower.”   

The Apter Rav replied: I will explain with a story. Once there were two brothers who were orphaned at a young age. They went to live in different towns with different families, and had little contact with each other. They each grew up and married, but neither was blessed with children. One brother became wealthy, while the other struggled in poverty. The wealthy brother, who lived in Apta, became ill and felt his end was near. He called over his wife and told her, “You must know that I have a brother and his name is Shmuel, but I don’t know where he lives. When I die, you will need to get chalitzah from him. When he comes here and gives you chalitzah, give him a sizable portion of the money I am leaving you.”

After he passed away, the widow went to the rav of Apta and told him what her husband had said. The rav sent letters to all the surrounding towns asking if there was someone by that name, and the brother was eventually located. The rav of his town said to him, “Go to Apta and give chalitzah to your brother’s widow. And know that there is a large sum of money waiting for you there.” Reb Shmuel went home and told his wife, Bassheva, the news. “Now we will no longer be poor!” he said.  But Bassheva said to him, “Look at the amazing, rare mitzvah that Hashem has sent our way! Go and give the chalitzah, but I have one request: Do not accept any money for this mitzvah. I want you to do the mitzvah completely l’shem shamayim!” Her husband agreed. Just to be sure, she made him swear to her that he would not take a penny.

Reb Shmuel came to Apta and gave chalitzah. The widow then offered him a sack of money containing half of her husband’s wealth. But he steadfastly refused to accept it. She asked the rav what to do – how could she fulfill her late husband’s request, when the brother would not take the money? The rav advised, “Give the money to the Kehillah treasury instead.” 

In heaven the angels could not contain their excitement and danced for joy. Such a powerful love for a mitzvah this couple had, that they gave up their only chance to be wealthy! The Heavenly Court decided that they would be blessed with a son in their old age.

“I am that son,” the Apter Rav concluded. “And the reason I asked for a high rabbinical salary was because I wanted to collect my inheritance from the Apta kehillah treasury. Now that I have finished collecting it, I am moving to a different town.”

Source: Kindline Yiddish Magazine, Parshas Ki Savo 5782, based on a story told by Rabbi Leibish Langer

[The obvious question here is that this was not payment for the mitzvah; the brother of the deceased inherits all the money in any case, since there was no father or any other brothers. The answer may be that the widow’s kesubah takes precedence over inheritance, and in this case her kesubah was more than half of the husband’s fortune. Thus, some or all of the sack of money was not rightfully the brother’s inheritance, and he would only have been accepting it as payment for the mitzvah.

In fact, the idea of paying him for the chalitzah was not the dying husband’s own; it is a takanah, brought by the Rema in Even Ho’ezer 163:2.

וכל זה מדינא אבל הקהילות תקנו תקנה אם יתרצו היבם והיבמה בחליצה יחלוקו כל הנכסים שהניח ואפילו אינה מגיע החצי לכדי כתובה וכו’ ואותו החצי שמגיע לחלק יורשי הבעל נוטל החולץ ואין לאב ולא לשאר אחין חלק בו אפילו תפסו מוציאין מידן דעיקר התקנה היתה כדי שיתרצו בחליצה ולכן החולץ עיקר בזה.

“The above (that the brother giving chalitzah is like any other brother) is the original law. But the Kehillos enacted that if the widow and her husband’s brother agree to chalitzah, they split up all the property left by the dead husband equally, even if her kesubah amount was more than half of it. The brother giving chalitzah takes the entire half; his father and brothers have no share in it. Even if they seize it, we take it away from them, because this takanah was made as an incentive for the brother to agree to do chalitzah, and therefore the brother giving chalitzah takes all.”

Thus, since the money was rightfully the widow’s and was being given to Reb Shmuel only to motivate him to agree to do chalitzah, as per the above Rema, Reb Shmuel and his wife declared, “We don’t need any incentive to do a mitzvah; we love to do mitzvos.”]  

Erechin

Erechin 28b: Writing a Pruzbul Before Shmitah

Erechin 28b: Yovel and Shmittah take effect at the same time, Yovel at its beginning and Shmittah at its end. How do we know that Shmittah takes effect at its end? For it states, “At the end of seven years you shall make a Shmittah.” (Devarim 15:1)

Rosh, Gittin Chapter 4, section 18: The Tosefta in Shviis 8 says, “When do we write a pruzbul? On Erev Rosh Hashanah of Shviis.” One may write it earlier too, and the Tosefta just means that one cannot write it in the seventh year itself, for although Shviis only cancels loans at its end, still we do not write a pruzbul in Shviis.

The Rosh in section 20 continues to explain that there are two stages: during Shviis itself, the lender may no longer demand his money, but if the borrower pays voluntarily, he may accept it. After Shviis ends, even if the borrower pays voluntarily he may not accept it, but must say, “I forgive the loan.” Since the lender has no right to demand his money during Shviis itself, writing a pruzbul is ineffective at that time. 

ערכין כח ע”ב: תניא נמי הכי, נמצאת אתה אומר: אחד יובל ואחד שביעית משמטין כאחד, אלא שיובל בתחילתו והשמטה בסופה… בשלמא שביעית בסופה, דכתיב: (דברים ט״ו) מקץ שבע שנים תעשה שמטה.

שולחן ערוך חושן משפט סז,ל: אין שביעית משמטת כספים אלא בסופה לפיכך הלוה את חבירו בשביעית עצמה גובה חובו כל השנה בב״ד וכשתשקע חמה בליל ראש השנה של מוצאי שביעית אבד החוב.

רא”ש פרק השולח סימן יח: ותניא בתוספתא דשביעית פ”ח אימתי כותבין עליו פרוזבול ערב ראש השנה של שביעית והוא הדין קודם ולא בא למעט אלא בשנה שביעית דאף על גב דשביעית אינה משמטת אלא בסופה אפילו הכי אין כותבין פרוזבול. ושם בסימן כ: והא דאין כותבין פרוזבול בשביעית אע”פ שאינה משמטת אלא בסופה נראה לפרש הטעם על פי המקראות מקץ שבע שנים תעשה שמטה וזה דבר השמטה שמוט כל בעל משה ידו. מפשטיה דקרא ילפינן דאין שביעית משמטת אלא בסופה כדכתיב מקץ שבע שנים תעשה שמיטה וזה דבר השמיטה, שאינו אלא בסוף השבע, שמוט כל בעל משה ידו. אבל מיד כשהתחילה שנת השמיטה אין בית דין נזקקין לגבות שום חוב וגם המלוה בעצמו אין לו ליגוש הלוה דכתיב לא יגוש את רעהו ואת אחיו כי קרא שמטה לה’ – מיד שנכנסה השמיטה לא יגוש אבל אם יפרע הלוה מעצמו אין צריך לומר משמט אני, וכמו שאין נזקקין לגבות החוב כך אין נזקקין לכתוב פרוזבול מיד כשנכנסה שביעית.

One of the Chasam Sofer’s students wrote to him asking him to be the dayan on his pruzbul in the year 5564, the year before Shmittah, in keeping with the opinion of the Rosh. The Chasam Sofer responded, “I have a story about this. My rebbe (Rabbi Nosson Adler) zt”l wrote a pruzbul using me and one other person at the end of the year 5644, which was a Shmitah year. And I know that he did not make a pruzbul at the end of 5643, for I stayed by his side constantly, in order to learn his ways.”

The Chasam Sofer continues to explain why we do not need to worry about fulfilling the Rosh’s opinion. 1) There is a rule in psak that if one opinion is lenient in Eretz Yisroel, we follow that opinion outside of Eretz Yisroel. [Why is this rule relevant here? Forgiving loans in Shmittah applies equally in all parts of the world (Kiddushin 38b), so there is no reason to be more lenient in Chutz Laaretz than in Eretz Yisroel. But perhaps the Chasam Sofer was only borrowing this phrase and he really meant that if one opinion is lenient in First Temple times when Shmittah was a Torah obligation (see Gittin 36a with Rashi), then we follow that opinion today when Shmittah is only Rabbinic.]

2) The Rosh follows the Itur, and the Tur goes with the Rosh, but all the other Rishonim disagree. And the Ramban (Devarim 15:1) has the text in the Tosefta that we write the pruzbul on Erev Rosh Hashanah at the end of Shmittah. True, the Rosh does seem to have a point because the Torah says, “He shall not demand payment from his neighbor or brother, for he has called a Shmittah to Hashem.” It sounds like in Shmittah itself, one may not demand payment. But he just read the pesukim that way to support his incorrect girsa; actually, the girsa in the Tosefta is as the Ramban has it.

[Source: Teshuvos Chasam Sofer, Choshen Mishpat 50]

[The Shulchan Aruch, Choshen Mishpat 67:19 and 21, presents two ways of doing a pruzbul. The first is to go before three dayanim and have them sign. This leads to the dispute between the Mechaber and the Rema in s’if 18, over whether these dayanim need to be experts appointed by the city, or just any three people. Most are lenient today because it is hard to get to a real beis din. The second way to do a pruzbul is to write the names of the three official dayanim on the document, but not actually bring it to them, but rather have it signed by two witnesses. It is clear from the Chasam Sofer’s words “me and one other person” that R’ Nosson Adler followed this second method.

It’s also fascinating that the Chasam Sofer followed his rebbe so closely that he was able to testify that he did not do a pruzbul in the previous year.]

Shabbos

Shabbos 31b: The Yerei Shomayim who is not so scholarly

Shabbos 31b: Rabbi Simon and Rabbi Elazar were sitting, when Rabbi Yaakov bar Acha walked by. One said to the other, “Let us stand up for him because he is a man who fears sin.” The other replied, “Let us stand up for him because he is a Torah scholar.” The first one retorted, “I tell you he is a man who fears sin, and you tell me he is a Torah scholar?”

שבת לא ע”ב רבי סימון ורבי אלעזר הוו יתבי, חליף ואזיל רבי יעקב בר אחא. אמר ליה חד לחבריה: ניקו מקמיה, דגבר דחיל חטאין הוא, אמר לו אידך: ניקו מקמיהֹ דגבר בר אוריין הוא. אמר ליה: אמינא לך אנא דגבר דחיל חטאין הוא ואמרת לי את בר אוריין הוא?

During World War I, Reb Elchonon Wasserman headed the yeshiva in Smilovitz, founded by the Chofetz Chaim. There was a debate in that period about whether to institute an official mussar seder in the yeshiva. However, either way, the students could learn mussar just by watching Reb Elchonon. One student from Smilovitz wrote, “The fear of G-d constantly hovered over him. One could almost touch with his fingers the fear of Heaven that suffused his face. Only on the rarest occasions, on Simchas Torah or Purim, could even the slightest smile be noticed on his face. His economy of words was truly astonishing. He would speak only to the point, and say only what was necessary. He regarded the fear of sin as the crown of all virtues. There was among us at the time a student who excelled in piety, observing the lightest mitzvah as punctiliously as the gravest, although his application to study was by no means great. Yet Reb Elchonon would always rise up before him. On the other hand, I once saw him expel a student who bordered on genius in ability, and was considered outstanding – but who had behaved improperly. Reb Elchonon did not put him to shame in public, and also refrained from communicating the expulsion order directly. Instead, he took a volume (the Shulchan Aruch or some mussar work), turned the pages until he found the relevant passage where the deed is censured, took the open book to the bochur and pointed to the text. The bochur took the hint and left.”

Source: Reb Elchonon (Artscroll), p. 91.

[The Gemara is not a source to say that one should stand up for an ignorant person who fears sin – after all, all agree that Rav Yaakov bar Acha was a Torah scholar too, and he is mentioned many times throughout Shas. Reb Elchonon was not advocating this either; the student in this story was at least somewhat scholarly. And in fact, there is no such thing as an ignorant person who fears sin, as Pirkei Avos (2:5) says, אין בור ירא חטא. Rather, Reb Elchonon’s chiddush is that even if the person is far below your level of learning, you should stand up for him because of his piety.]

Yuma

Yuma 10a: Does a boat need a mezuzah?

Yuma 10a: Rabbi Yehuda holds that a succah on Succos is considered a house for the purposes of maaser (i.e. if one brings in produce to a succah, it becomes obligated in maaser). The Sages hold it does not. Rabbi Yehuda holds that a succah must participate in an eiruv and must have a mezuzah.

Rambam, Hilchos Mezuzah 6:9: A succah on Succos and a house on a boat are exempt from mezuzah because they are not made for permanent residence.

Rambam, Hilchos Berachos 11:2: There are some mitzvos that are not obligatory, but similar to optional, for example, mezuzah and building a fence around one’s roof. A person is not obligated to live in a house requiring a mezuzah in order to make a mezuzah; if he wishes, he may live his entire life in a tent or a boat. And he is not obligated to build a house in order to make a fence around his roof. 

יומא י ע”א סוכת חג בחג רבי יהודה מחייב וחכמים פוטרים. ותני עלה ר’ יהודה מחייב בעירוב ובמזוזה. רמב”ם הלכות מזוזה פרק ו הלכה ט: סוכת החג בחג ובית שבספינה פטורין מן המזוזה לפי שאינן עשויין לדירת קבע. וכן הובא ביו”ד רפ”ו סעיף יא.

רמב”ם הלכות ברכות פרק יא הלכה ב: ויש מצוה שאינה חובה אלא דומין לרשות כגון מזוזה ומעקה שאין אדם חייב לשכון בבית החייב מזוזה כדי שיעשה מזוזה אלא אם רצה לשכון כל ימיו באהל או בספינה ישב, וכן אינו חייב לבנות בית כדי לעשות מעקה.

The Steipler was once asked whether one need put a mezuzah on the doorways of a yacht. The Steipler searched the poskim in Hilchos Mezuzah and could not find a source. Rav Chaim Kanievsky asked his father what he was looking for, and when he heard, Rav Chaim said that the Rambam writes explicitly that one doesn’t need to have a mezuzah on a boat. “But I just reviewed the Rambam’s Hilchos Mezuzah and it’s not there,” said the Steipler. Rav Chaim agreed that it is not there, however, the Rambam mentions in passing, as an example, in Hilchos Berachos 11:2, that if one chooses to life his whole life in a boat, he will not need a mezuzah.

Source: FJJ March 24, 2022, p. 12.

[The Steipler certainly saw the Rambam in Hilchos Mezuzah stating that a boat does not require a mezuzah. However, the Rambam adds “because they are not made for permanent residence”. Apparently the questioner here wanted to live in his yacht all year. The Steipler thought that perhaps the Rambam only meant that a boat is exempt when one lives in it temporarily, like a succah used only on Succos. It is only in Hilchos Berachos that the Rambam says explicitly that even if one lives his whole life in a boat, he will not need a mezuzah.

Why is the boat different from the succah? The answer may be that if one lives all year in a succah, he will certainly make it waterproof, and then it will become a regular house, not a succah. But the yacht will remain the same yacht even when used all year. The aspects of the yacht that make it unfit for permanent residence (the rocking of the boat etc.) will still be present.

Interestingly, the Rambam’s source for this halacha about boats – temporary or permanent – is unknown to us. The Bach says that he saw someone write that it is a Tosefta, but we don’t have it in our Tosefta. The footnote on the Tur Hashalem says that it is found in a version of the Gemara quoted in Midrash Hagadol, a 14th century Yemenite work, on Vaeschanan, but the author of that work may have taken it from the Rambam.]

Eiruvin

Eiruvin 62a: Renting the City for an Eiruv

Eiruvin 62a: All agree that we may rent a courtyard from a non-Jew (to permit carrying on Shabbos) even for less than a perutah. The disagreement is on whether we need a strong rental, or even a weak rental suffices. “Strong” means that the Jew must stipulate that he is allowed to fill the courtyard with chairs. “Weak” means that he need not make this stipulation.

עירובין סב ע”א: הוו יודעין ששוכרין מן הנכרי אפילו בפחות משוה פרוטה… אלא בריאה ־ במוהרקי ואבורגני, רעועה ־ בלא מוהרקי ואבורגני. פירש רש”י: למלאות החצר בספסלין וקתידראות אם ירצה.


When Rabbi Moshe Heinemann made the eiruv in Baltimore, he went to rent the rights to the city streets from the mayor.  The state’s attorney protested, “If you rent it to them, they could block the streets and stop traffic!” Chaim Wallin, an observant Jew who worked in the state’s attorney’s office, spoke up and said, “Don’t worry, they’ve been doing this for centuries in cities all over the world, and it never happened that they blocked traffic.”

Then Rabbi Heinemann and his colleagues went to the County Executive, since some parts of the eiruv were outside the Baltimore city limits, and he agreed to rent the county. Then one of the rabbanim suggested they rent from the State of Maryland as well. The logic of renting from city officials is that they are in charge of the fire department and police, who have the right to enter anyone’s house in an emergency. Here, he argued, the state is an even greater authority because they can declare a state of emergency and send the National Guard to anyone’s house. So they went to the office of the governor. “I’ll sell you the whole state of Maryland,” he said. “But I can’t take any money from you.” The rabbis were not sure what to do: the halacha requires that the streets be rented for some amount of money, even if it be less than a perutah. Then they came up with an idea: they made a plaque of appreciation for the governor, with a silver dollar framed inside. The governor accepted it and agreed to hang it on his office wall, where it could never be construed as a bribe.    

Source: Shiur by Rabbi Heinemann

[It seems from this story that they needed to use actual money, and giving an item worth money – like the plaque alone – would not have sufficed.

We also see that when the mayor objected that the rabbis might block the traffic, the rabbis did not promise not to do so. It was only a bystander who assured the mayor that they would not block traffic. This would seemingly be against Rashi, who explains that a “weak rental” means that the Jew need not ask for the right to block the street with chairs. Tosafos quoting the Aruch says that “weak rental” means without a written document. The Beis Yosef says that the halacha follows the opinion that a weak rental is enough, according to all explanations. Perhaps Rabbi Heinemann understood that one need not explicitly ask for the right to block the street, but one should not explicitly waive that right either.]

Chullin

Working at a Treif Restaurant

Chullin 106a: Not washing before a meal caused a Jew to eat pork. Rashi: There was a Jew who owned a restaurant serving kosher meat to Jews and neveilah meat to gentiles. Once a Jew came and did not wash his hands before eating, so the restaurant owner thought he was a gentile and served him pork.

חולין קו ע”א: מים הראשונים ־ האכילו בשר חזיר. רש”י: שהיה חנוני ישראל מוכר בשר שחוטה לישראל ומבשל ומאכילם וכשהעובד כוכבים בא בחנותו מאכילו נבלות ובא יהודי אחד לאכול ולא נטל ידיו וכסבור זה שעובד כוכבים הוא והאכילו בשר חזיר.

Someone once asked Rav Ovadiah Yosef: “If I can’t find another job, may I work in a treif restaurant, provided that I will not be cooking meat and milk together?”

The question hinges on whether there is any Rabbinic prohibition on working with treife food lest he come to eat it.

Rav Ovadiah quotes the Kesef Mishnah (Tumas Mes 1:2) who says that the reason why it’s forbidden to cook meat and milk together is out of fear that one might come to eat it. This goes into the category of gezeiros made by the Torah itself – similar to yichud. Yet, cooking a non-kosher animal’s meat with milk is allowed (Yoreh Deah 87:3). The prohibition is only on kosher meat (at least a kosher animal) and milk, because people are used to eating it each separately and may accidentally come to eat them together. This shows that there is no prohibition on working with treife food.

The Rashba (3:223) does say that the prohibition on doing business with forbidden food is because one might come to eat it. If so, “doing business” would include even an employee who does not own the business, because he too might come to eat. However, this is only the Rashba, who holds that doing business is a Rabbinic prohibition. According to most Rishonim, it is a D’oraisa, so “one might come to eat it” may not be the reason.

The Gemara in Chullin 106a seems to address this exact question. The Gemara quotes a saying, “Not washing before a meal caused a Jew to eat pork,” and Rashi tells the story of a Jew who owned a restaurant serving kosher meat to Jews and neveilah meat to gentiles. Once a Jew came and did not wash his hands before eating, so he thought the proprietor mistook him for a gentile and served him pork. The Maharsha asks: why did Rashi begin by saying that this Jew served neveilah to gentiles, and then end by saying that he served pork to this customer? He explains that the Jew usually sold neveilah meat – not pork – because one may not deliberately do business with non-kosher, so he sold only the neveilah that resulted from mistakes in shechitah. It was only this time that he happened to have some pork on hand. So we see that the Maharsha was assuming that this proprietor was an observant Jew. If so, we see that it’s okay for a Jew to cook and serve non-kosher food to gentiles.

However, the Beis Yosef (end of 117) argues that the restaurant owner may have been a non-observant Jew, and besides, this story is no proof because, as the Midrash (Bamidbar 20:21) says, the story took place during the period of Greek persecution. The Jew sold pork deliberately in order to hide his Jewish identity, and the hand-washing was a secret cue for the Jews to show him they were Jewish, so that he should serve them kosher meat.

In the end, Rav Ovadiah paskened that this unemployed person should try his hardest to find a different job, in order to follow the stricter opinion. But if there was no other way, he could rely on the Maharsha and take the job in the treif restaurant.  

Kesubos

Kesubos 21a: Advice on Where to Sign

Kesubos 21a. When a witness signed on a loan document needs to verify his signature, he can write it on a potsherd and give it to the Beis Din and they will compare it to the signature on the document. Only on a potsherd, but not on a parchment, lest a criminal find it and write a loan document above the signature, as it says in the Mishnah (Bava Basra 175b): If the lender produced a document signed by the borrower that he owes him, he may collect from the borrower’s property, provided that the property has not been sold to anyone else.

כתובות כא ע”א: ודוקא אחספא, אבל אמגלתא לא, דלמא משכח לה איניש דלא מעלי וכתב עילויה מאי דבעי, ותנן: הוציא עליו כתב ידו שהוא חייב לו, גובה מנכסים בני חורין.

In the autumn of 2001 after suffering a stroke, Rav Chaim Kanievsky was recuperating in the Mayenei Hayeshua Hospital in Bnei Brak. His therapist asked Rav Chaim to write something on a sheet of paper to accustom him to once again using his hands and fingers. Slowly and painstakingly, he wrote these words, “Yekum purkan min shemaya.” The therapist was taken aback. “I have been doing this work for years,” he said to the great sage. “Every single person – without fail – whom I ask to write something, always signs his name. Why did the Rov not do that?” Rav Chaim answered, “Chazal teach that a person should not write his name on a blank sheet of paper, lest a dishonest person find and write above the signature that the undersigned owes him money, and then he would be liable.”

According to another version, this story happened after Rav Chaim was awakened from anesthesia by his doctor. The doctor gave him a blank piece of paper and told him to sign his name, in order to see if he was fully alert. Rav Chaim wrote the letters ב”ב קעה ע”ב – the place where the Mishnah says that one’s signature may be used as a proof to collect money from him.

Source: FJJ 3/24/2022, p. 14 and p. 36.

Pesachim

Pesachim 23a: Doing Business With Treif

Pesachim 23a: Hunters or fishermen who accidentally caught non-kosher animals are allowed to sell them to gentiles. Rashi: This is only if they caught them accidentally, but deliberately doing business with non-kosher food is forbidden, as stated in the Mishnah (Sheviis 7:3). 

פסחים כג ע”א: ציידי חיה ועופות ודגים שנזדמנו להם מינין טמאין ־ מותרין למוכרן לנכריםִ.

רש”י: שנזדמנו ־ דווקא שנזדמנו דלא מצרכינן להו להפקירן, אבל לכתחלה אסור לחזר אחריהן, כדתנן התם במסכת שביעית (פרק שביעי משנה ג): אין עושין סחורה לא בנבילות וטריפות, ולא בשקצים ורמשים.

Rabbi Yehoshua Falk was asked a shailah by the Jewish owner of the kosher slaughterhouse in his town. Sometimes there was no shochet available, but the gentiles of the town wanted meat, and his gentile employees wanted work. Could he tell his employees to slaughter animals and sell them as treif?

Jewish slaughterhouses typically sell to gentiles whatever animals are declared treif, as well as the parts of the animal that Jews don’t eat. This is not considered doing business with treif, because it is an “accidental” by-product of kosher shechitah. But here he would be deliberately slaughtering non-kosher.  

The rav reasoned that although it is forbidden to do business with treif, in this case the Jew would be doing nothing, only telling his gentile employees to do the work. This would depend on the question of whether אמירה לעכו”ם (telling a gentile to do an act forbidden to the Jew) is prohibited only for Shabbos, or applies to all types of aveiros. This question is posed in Bava Metzia 90a (regarding telling a gentile to muzzle a cow while it treads out the grain). He reasoned that we can rely on the Rishonim who say that the question was unresolved, and therefore we are lenient because “telling a gentile” is a Rabbinic prohibition. However, he sent the question to his rebbe, the Chasam Sofer.

The Chasam Sofer replied that if “telling a gentile” had been relevant here, he would have agreed to permit it, both because of the opinion of the Raavad, quoted by the Rosh, that the question is unresolved and we are lenient, and also because many say that the entire prohibition of doing business with non-kosher food is Rabbinic. However, “telling a gentile” doesn’t help us here because in the end, the Jew is the business owner and he is the one making the money off the sale of the meat. The fact that he is not doing the physical work himself is immaterial.

Rather, the Chasam Sofer proposed a different solution: to sell all the animals to the gentiles and have them slaughter, sell and keep all profits for themselves.

Source: Chasam Sofer, Likutim 6:24