Moed Katan

Moed Katan 15b: Bathing during Shloshim

Moed Katan 15b: A mourner is forbidden to bathe, as it says, “Do not anoint with oil” (Shmuel II 14:2) – and bathing is included in anointing.

Yoreh Deah 381:1. Rema: By law, this is only forbidden during shiva, but the custom today is to forbid bathing for the whole shloshim. And we should not change this custom, since it is an old custom, established by great rabbis.

מועד קטן טו ע”ב: אבל אסור ברחיצה, דכתיב (שמואל ב׳ י״ד) ואל תסוכי שמן, ורחיצה בכלל סיכה.

יו”ד סימן שפא,א: רחיצה כיצד, אסור לרחוץ כל גופו אפילו בצונן, אבל פניו ידיו ורגליו בחמין אסור בצונן מותר, ואם היה מלוכלך בטיט וצואה רוחץ כדרכו ואינו חושש: הגה וכל זה מדינא אינו אסור רק שבעה אבל אח״כ מותר ברחיצה אלא שנהגו האידנא לאסור כל רחיצה כל ל׳ יום ואפי׳ לחוף הראש אסור ואין לשנות המנהג כי מנהג קדום הוא ונתייסד על פי ותיקין.

One day in 1876, a guest was sitting with R’ Yitzchok Elchonon Spector, when a man came in and asked, “Rabbi, I am a mourner. Am I permitted to go to the bathhouse?” Without hesitation, he answered him, “You are permitted.”

The questioner was not satisfied with this instant response, and spoke again: “Rabbi, I am in mourning for my father.” “Permitted, you are permitted,” the rav answered, using a double expression.

But this still did not settle the mind of the questioner, who asked a third time, “Only to sweat, or even to wash in hot water?” The rav answered him with a friendly smile, but also with surprise: “I just told you that you are permitted, and I said it without adding any details or qualifications. If so, go without delay, before I change my mind!”

After the man left, the rav looked at the guest, noticing his amazement, and guessing his thoughts. How and why could he rule leniently, contrary to the ruling of the Rema, who cites an enactment of the early rabbis? He said jokingly, “My guest will go on his way and tell people that the head of the Beis Din of Kovno gives hasty, mistaken rulings.” The guest also responded in jest, “Certainly I will.”

“If so,” said the rav, “let me ask you: do you know the Maharshal’s reason for forbidding bathing?” The guest answered: “Because of the prohibition against having a haircut; for the usual way is to have a haircut in the bathhouse.” “In that case,” continued R’ Yitzchok Elchonon, “why are we allowed to bathe during Chol Hamoed? That is also a period when we are forbidden to have a haircut! I know that this is the problem posed by the Taz on Yoreh Deah 381:1, and he answers that since everyone is forbidden to have a haircut then, we do not worry that one might forget.” He smiled, “Here too, today is one of the days of Sefiras Haomer, when the custom is to forbid haircuts. So why would this man forget and get a haircut? Therefore, he is allowed to bathe.

“I urged the questioner to go immediately, because it looked like he wanted to argue against my ruling. He wanted to object that the prohibition on haircuts during Chol Hamoed is a real Rabbinic prohibition, while during Sefirah it is only a minhag. I did not want to enter into a detailed discussion with him, so I did not point out to him that the prohibition against bathing in hot water after shivah is also only a minhag.”

Source: Mourning in Halacha, p. 211

[His last point is that the questioner could have objected that perhaps people will take the minhag of Sefirah lightly and get haircuts in the bathhouse during Sefirah. R’ Yitzchok Elchonon’s response is that the minhag not to bathe during shloshim was not set up for such people who take minhagim lightly, because then why would they respect this minhag in the first place? Rather the “minhag vasikin” brought by the Rema was aimed at carefully observant Jews, and such people would never come to take a haircut in Sefirah.]

Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia 110b: Using a Hiring Manager to Avoid Bal Tolin

Bava Metzia 110b: If one appointed an agent to hire workers, neither he nor the agent transgresses “bal tolin” (the prohibition to delay a worker’s wages overnight). He does not transgress because he did not hire them, and the agent does not transgress because he is not withholding their wages.

בבא מציעא קי ע”ב: תנו רבנן: האומר לחבירו צא שכור לי פועלים ־ שניהן אין עוברין משום בל תלין, זה ־ לפי שלא שכרן, וזה לפי שאין פעולתו אצלו.

Reb Aharon Steinberg once posed a question: The Torah says, “See, I (Anochi) place before you today a blessing and a curse.” The Baal Haturim says that the word “Anochi” alludes to the first of the Ten Commandments. What does that commandment in particular have to do with this verse?

Also, the Torah promises a blessing if we listen to Hashem – but doesn’t the Gemara say that there is no reward for mitzvos in this world (Kiddushin 39b)?

Furthermore, Hashem Himself follows the Torah’s laws, so how can He postpone our reward, our “wages”, until Olam Haba?

The answer is that Hashem gave the Torah through an agent, Moshe Rabbeinu, and one who hires through an agent does not have to pay on the same day. But the first two of the Ten Commandments were given by Hashem directly to us. Therefore the reward for emunah and renouncing idolatry is paid in this world. Hence, “See that for the mitzvah of Anochi I place before you today, in this world, a blessing and a curse.”

Source: Beis Aharon


Kilayim 9,1: Shaatnez on One Part of a Blanket

Kilayim 9:1. If a garment is made of blended camel’s wool and sheep’s wool, if the majority is camel it is permitted [to mix with linen], and if the majority is sheep it is forbidden. Half and half is forbidden.

Yerushalmi: If a large blanket had shaatnez at one end, and that end was lying on the floor, one may still not cover oneself with the other end.

The Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 301:3 brings this halacha, and the Pischei Teshuva explains that the case is when the entire blanket is sheep’s wool, and there is one thread of linen dragging on the floor. However, if the main blanket is another material, and there is a bit of wool and linen together on the edge, then it is debatable whether the entire blanket becomes forbidden. The Rambam would hold ossur, while the Rosh might hold mutar.

כלאים פרק ט, משנה א: צמר גמלים וצמר רחלים שטרפן זה בזה אם רוב מן הגמלים מותר. אם רוב מן הרחלים אסור. מחצה למחצה אסור.

ירושלמי שם: רבי ניחה בר סבה רבי יוחנן בשם רבי זעירא שאם היה בגד גדול קצתו יש בו כלאים ומונח בארץ ומקצתו אין בו לא יכסה בו מצד השני.

Rabbi Yosef Sayagh heard from a rav in Queens that a young couple once came to him for advice about their baby, who was very colicky and cried all night. Their doctor had no solution. The rav suggested that they check the baby’s blanket for shaatnez. It was found that although the blanket was not wool, it had an appliqué pattern with a picture of a teddy bear, and in that picture there was wool and linen. They removed it, and the baby stopped crying.  

Source: Rabbi Yosef Sayagh

[It seems that just as we have a dispute in the laws of kashrus about whether the rule of חתיכה נעשית נבילה –  a piece containing something forbidden becomes complete forbidden – applies only to milk and meat, or even to other forbidden foods (Yoreh Deah 92:4), there is a similar dispute in the laws of shaatnez. Everyone agrees that if the whole blanket is wool, and there is one thread of linen, one may not cover oneself even with the part that is only wool, because חתיכה נעשית נבילה – similar to a piece of meat cooked with milk. But if the garment is made of polyester, and only the corner has wool and linen mixed, there is a machlokes whether the shaatnez status spreads to the entire blanket.]


Chullin 27b: Is Fishing Tzaar Baalei Chaim?

Chullin 27b: Animals were created from earth, so they need both the esophagus and windpipe cut. Fish were created from the water, so they don’t require any shechitah. Birds were created from the mud, so they only need one tube cut.

Rema Yoreh Deah 13:1: It is allowed to cut a piece off a live fish and eat it, but it is forbidden to eat a whole fish live because of the prohibition, “Do not make yourself disgusting.”

חולין כז ע”ב: דרש עובר גלילאה: בהמה שנבראת מן היבשה ־ הכשרה בשני סימנים, דגים שנבראו מן המים ־ הכשירן בולא כלום, עוף שנברא מן הרקק ־ הכשרו בסימן אחד.

יורה דעה יג,א בהמה חיה ועוף טעונין שחיטה דגים וחגבים אין טעונין שחיטה: הגה ומותר לאוכלם מתים, או לחתוך מהם אבר ולאכלו, אבל אסור לאכלן חיים משום בל תשקצו.

The Hamodia newspaper recently interviewed Rabbi Boruch Cohn, a rebbi in Lakewood who enjoys fishing in local lakes and streams. Their first question was, “Fishing is not known to be a popular downtime activity in our circles. Is there a good reason for this?”

Rabbi Cohn replied, “I don’t have a clear answer to this one, but it might be that people don’t have the time or perseverance to fish; it’s not a pastime for those who want instant gratification! Another reason could be that they’re prone to associate it with hunting, which is assur. When I was thinking of taking up fishing, I discussed the issue with Dayan Yaakov Posen, shlita, of Washington Heights, where I grew up. He advised me that the issur of tzaar baalei chaim (causing affliction to living things) does not apply to fish and gave me an enthusiastic go-ahead. I have since spoken to several Lakewood poskim on this matter, and they are in full agreement with Dayan Posen.” 

(Hamodia, July 8, 2020, Community p. 25)

[Actually, the problem with hunting, according to the Noda Beyehuda (Tinyana YD 10, brought in Pischei Teshuva YD 28:10), is not tzaar baalei chaim, for two reasons:

1) People use the skins, and there is no prohibition on tzaar baalei chaim when the animal is used for the needs of man. The source for this is Piskei Hatosafos Avodah Zarah 11a, explaining why it is allowed to cut the hooves of the king’s horses after the king dies.  

2) There is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim when you are killing the animal, only when you are keeping it alive and suffering. This is based on Chullin 7b, where Rabbi Pinchus ben Yair reprimanded Rebbi for owning dangerous white mules. Rebbi proposed cutting their hooves, but Rabbi Pinchus responded that this would be tzaar baalei chaim. Then Rebbi proposed killing them, to which Rabbi Pinchus responded that it would be bal tashchis – wastefulness. From this exchange we see that killing can never be tzaar baalei chaim.

Rather, the problem with hunting is that killing animals for sport is cruelty. We are enjoined to feel that “His mercies are upon all His creatures” and that is why we don’t say bless someone who buys a new leather garment that he should wear it out and buy a new one (Rema Orach Chaim 223:6). Therefore hunting, unless done for a living, may not be strictly forbidden but it does inculcate a bad midah and is not the right thing for a Jew to do.

Furthermore, going out to the forests where the wild animals live is dangerous, and one is forbidden to place his life in danger. Esav was an expert hunter, yet he testified on himself, “Behold I am going to die,” and the Ramban explains that he was likely to die in his father’s lifetime, so he did not need the birthright. One who hunts to make a living is permitted to risk his life, as it says, “He risks his life for it” (Devarim 24:15). But if he doesn’t need the money, it is forbidden.

According to this, it would seem that fishing for sport should exemplify the same bad midah of cruelty as hunting for sport. Tzaar baalei chaim may not apply, but the midos argument still would.

The Noda Biyehuda’s contention that there is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim when killing the animal would seem to be against the Sefer Hachinuch 451, who says that the reason for slaughtering at the neck with a perfectly sharp knife is in order to minimize tzaar baalei chaim. According to the Chinuch, we could prove that the prohibition does not apply to fish from the very fact that no shechitah is required.

The nafka minah between the Noda Biyehuda and the Chinuch would be in the question of whether one may make a fish suffer when not killing it. According to the Noda Biyehuda it is forbidden, while according to the Chinuch it is permitted.

Rabbi Menashe Klein (Mishneh Halachos 6:216) was asked whether someone who has an aquarium in his house is obligated to feed the fish before eating a meal. The questioner had brought proof from the fact that one may cut a piece off a live fish, that there is no prohibition of tzaar baalei chaim on fish. R’ Menashe counters that perhaps there really is tzaar baalei chaim on fish, yet eating from a live fish is allowed because the prohibition on causing pain doesn’t apply when using the animal for human needs. We see, for example, that one may cut off and eat a piece of a ben pekuah (a live baby found inside a slaughtered cow) even though it is alive and certainly feels pain (Taz YD 13:3).  

Then he brings a proof that there is indeed tzaar baalei chaim on fish, from the fact that one may not harness two different kinds of fish to his boat (Bava Kama 55a). The prohibition on harnessing two different species is because of tzaar baalei chaim, since an animal does not like to work together with a different kind of animal (Chinuch 550). If this applies to fish, then clearly there is tzaar baalei chaim on fish. He concludes that one must feed his fish before eating a meal (and therefore recommends not keeping an aquarium, lest one transgress this prohibition when eating away from home).

Thus there appears to be an internal contradiction in the Chinuch. If fish have tzaar baalei chaim, then why is it allowed to eat them without shechitah? And you cannot answer, as R’ Menashe Klein does, that for the purpose of man there is no prohibition, because the Chinuch says that even at the time of shechitah we try to minimize pain.

Rather, the answer is probably that the Chinuch’s approach is merely to suggest reasons for mitzvos (often, as in these two cases, more than one reason for each mitzvah), without being particular that everything he says leads to the same halachic conclusions.]   

Bava Metzia

Bava Metzia 76b: The Ill-fated Shabbos Nachamu Getaway

Bava Metzia 76b: Rava said: If someone hired workers to dig ditches, and it rained and filled the land with water such that they were unable to dig, if the workers examined the land the day before and were aware that it might rain, he need not pay the workers. But if they did not examine the land the day before, the owner must pay the workers as much as a worker would accept to agree not to work.

בבא מציעא עו ע”ב: אמר רבא: האי מאן דאגר אגירי לרפקא, ואתא מטרא ומלייה מיא. אי סיירא לארעיה מאורתא ־ פסידא דפועלים, לא סיירא לארעיה מאורתא ־ פסידא דבעל הבית ויהיב להו כפועל בטל. פרש”י סיירא לארעא מאורתא והוליך הפועלים שם וראוה ולא הבינו שהיא לחה או שמא ירדו גשמים בלילה לית להו כלל דהא חזו אינהו גופייהו ועל מנת כן נשתכרו לו. לא סיירוה מאורתא – עליו היה לתת לב לדבר ולהודיעם אם תמצאו שדה לחה לא אתן לכם כלום, ויהיב להו כפועל בטל.

A catering company rented out a hotel in the Catskills and made a Shabbos Nachamu getaway. On Thursday afternoon there was a power outage that lasted until Shabbos, and all the food they prepared got spoiled, or could not be cooked. But the guests already arrived, so they needed something to eat for Shabbos. The catering company rushed out and bought boxes of matza and gefilte fish jars, and that was all the guests had to eat for the whole Shabbos.

Afterwards the guests took the catering company to a Din Torah and demanded their money back. The company responded that they deserved some of the payment, since they had at least given them a Shabbos retreat. The dayan opened up a Yom Kippur machzor and said, “When Yom Kippur falls on Shabbos, some say the words רצה במנוחתינו (accept our rest) and some do not. Your dispute depends on that dispute. Those who don’t refer to Yom Kippur as a day of “rest” hold that a day without eating cannot be restful. The Mishnah Berurah (582:20) paskens like this opinion. Accordingly, a Shabbos without normal, hot food is not a Shabbos, and they do not have to pay.”

Source: Rabbi Hillel David

[It sounds like the psak was that the guests do not have to pay at all. But from our Gemara we see that when an unforeseen accident cancels a job, the workers (i.e. the caterers) must be paid. Only in the case of rain, which is common, and the workers saw the property and realized that rain would make the job impossible, do they lose their wages, since they accepted that risk. But a power outage lasting a whole day is a very rare occurrence which no one expected. Seemingly then, the guests must pay at least some of the price of the getaway.]


Shabbos 66b: A Ruby Prevents Miscarriage

Shabbos 66b: A woman may go out on Shabbos wearing a retaining stone (to help her retain her pregnancy and not miscarry) or with another object that weighs the same as it – even if she has never miscarried in the past, and even if she is not yet pregnant.

שבת סו ע”ב: תנו רבנן: יוצאין באבן תקומה בשבת, משום רבי מאיר אמרו: אף במשקל אבן תקומה. ולא שהפילה ־ אלא שמא תפיל, ולא שעיברה ־ אלא שמא תתעבר ותפיל. ופירש הט”ז או”ח ש”ג כ”ד שטערי”ן שו”ס.

A woman was in the delivery room for hours but could not give birth. The husband called R’ Meir Scheinberg and asked him what to do. Rabbi Scheinberg asked, “Did she take off the ruby from around her neck?” She took it off, and immediately she was able to give birth.

Source: Rabbi Yehuda Aryeh Scheinberg


Sanhedrin 77b: Turning on an Electric Switch on Shabbos

Sanhedrin 77b: Rava said: If a murderer shot an arrow at his victim, and the victim was holding a shield, and someone came and took it away, or even if the murderer himself came and took it away, he is exempt from punishment, because at the time he shot the arrow there was something blocking it.

Rav Papa said: If a murderer tied down his victim and then opened a water stream over him, it is as if he shot an arrow at him and he is liable.

סנהדרין עז ע”ב: ואמר רבא: זרק חץ, ותריס בידו, ובא אחר ונטלו, ואפילו הוא קדם ונטלו ־ פטור, דבעידנא דשדייה ביה ־ מיפסק פיסקיה גיריה.

אמר רב פפא: האי מאן דכפתיה לחבריה ואשקיל עליה בידקא דמיא ־ גירי דידיה הוא, ומיחייב. הני מילי ־ בכח ראשון, אבל בכח שני ־ גרמא בעלמא הוא.

In 1934, Rabbi Chaim Ozer Grodzinski was asked about electric lights on Shabbos. He was shown a journal called Beis Vaad Lachachamim, printed in New York in 1903, in which there appeared a short letter by Rabbi Yechiel Michel Halevi Epstein, author of the Aruch Hashulchan. The Aruch Hashulchan argued that it should be permitted to turn on an electric light on Yom Tov because the fire is already present in the wires. Then he added a second argument that would apply to Shabbos too: when one turns on the switch, he is not creating the fire, only allowing it to reach the bulb, which would be considered “grama” (an indirect action). The Gemara in Shabbos 120b quotes the posuk, “You shall not do any work,” and says, “Doing is forbidden, but indirectly causing is permitted.” Thus one may make a wall of barrels full of water around a fire, so that when the fire reaches them it will be extinguished.

Reb Chaim Ozer explains that the Aruch Hashulchan’s second argument seems to be based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin 77b, which says that the one who took away the shield, allowing the arrow to hit the victim, is exempt. So too, when one turns on a light switch, he is not creating the electric power that goes to the bulb. That power is already in the wires, ready to shoot out. He is just bridging the gap in the circuit.

However, argues Reb Chaim Ozer, the electricity is more similar to the other case in that Gemara, in which someone opens a water stream to kill his victim. The Yad Ramah explains the difference between the two cases: At the time one removes the shield, the arrow is not here yet, but at the time one removes the obstacle in the water stream, the water is pressing up against the obstacle, ready to flow. Here too, the electricity is in the wire ready to flow as soon as the gap is bridged; so it is not “grama”.

Furthermore, even if we were to consider turning on the switch a “grama”, not every “grama” is exempted on Shabbos. The Gemara says in Bava Kama 60a says that winnowing the grain is an act of work on Shabbos, even though the person is just throwing the grain into the air and the wind is doing the job of separating out the chaff. Based on this, the Even Haozer (Orach Chaim 328) argues that pouring wheat into a grinder powered by a water wheel is an act of work (not as the Magen Avraham rules in Orach Chaim 252:20). The rule is that if one is doing the work normally, and the other power helping him (wind, water etc.) is part of his plan, then the Torah categorizes it as work, unlike the case of putting out a fire with a wall of full barrels, which is a unusual method, resorted to on the spur of the moment. Therefore, turning on an electric switch, though it may be “grama”, is the normal way, and would therefore be forbidden.

Source: Achiezer v. 3 siman 60


Yevamos 120a: Washing Meat to Extend the Salting Deadline

Yevamos 120a: One may not testify that a man is dead unless he saw him within three days of death, but if he saw him later, his appearance may have changed and the witness could mistake his identity.

Rav Dimi permitted the wife of a man who drowned in Karmi and was pulled out of the water more than three days later. Rava permitted the wife of a man who drowned in the Tigris and was pulled out onto the bridge five days later. The reason is because water tightens up the body.

The Aruch Hashulchan 69:72 says that this is proof to the rule of the Gaonim, brought in Shulchan Aruch Yoreh Deah 69:12, that one may not rely on salting to remove the blood from meat after three days, because the blood dries up inside the body (causing the face to be disfigured) and cannot be removed by the salt. Thus if the meat was soaked within the first three days, it can be salted even after three days, similar to the man who fell into the river whose blood and appearance is kept fresh by the water.

יבמות קכ ע”א: אין מעידין אלא עד ג׳ ימיםֹ. ופירש רש”י אם ראוהו בתוך ג׳ ימים למיתתו מעידין עליו אבל אם לא ראוהו עד לאחר ג׳ ימים חיישינן שמא נשתנו מראית פניו ואין זה שהם סבורים.

שם קכא ע”א: דההוא גברא דטבע בכרמי, ואסקוהו אבי הדיא לבתר תלתא יומין, ואנסבה רב דימי מנהרדעא לדביתהוֹ ותו, ההוא גברא דאטבע בדגלת ואסקוהו אגישרא דשביסתנא, ואנסבה רבא לדביתהו אפומא דשושביני לבתר חמשה יומיֹ וכו’ שאני מיא, דצמתי.

שו”ע יו”ד סט,יב: בשר ששהה ג׳ ימים מעת לעת בלא מליחה נתייבש דמו בתוכו ולא יצא עוד ע״י מליחה ואין לאכלו מבושל אלא צלי וכו’.  

שם סעיף יג: ואם שרו אותו במים תוך הג׳ ימים יכול להשהותו עוד שלשה ימים אחרים פחות חצי שעה.

Rabbi Yirmiyohu Kaganoff served as a rav in Buffalo, New York. One short erev Shabbos, there was a severe blizzard across a large part of the country; the major interstate highways and all state routes were closed. About half an hour before Shabbos, the telephone rang.  “Rabbi Kaganoff, I was given your phone number in case of emergency,” said the woman on the other end. “I am a dispatcher for the All-American Transport Company. We have a load of kosher meat held up by the storm that needs to be washed by Saturday night.” Rabbi Kaganoff asked her if she knew the last time the meat was washed. “It was last washed 11 p.m. Wednesday and needs re-washing by 11 p.m. Saturday.”

He politely asked if she could call him back in about 25 hours, which would still be several hours before the meat’s deadline.

Right after Shabbos, the telephone rang again. A different, unfamiliar voice identified itself as the driver of the stuck truck. His vehicle was exactly where it had been Friday afternoon, stranded not far from the main highway.

Rabbi Kaganoff said he would make some phone calls and get back to him. But he could find no mashgiach in the vicinity of Nebraska who was able to go and supervise the washing of the meat. With no good news to tell the trucker, he procrastinated on calling him back.

An hour later, the phone rang again, with the trucker on the line. “Rabbi,” he said, with obvious excitement in his voice, “I’ve solved the problem. I discovered that I was stranded a few thousand feet from a fire station. And now, all the meat has been properly hosed. Listen to this letter:

“On Saturday evening, the 22nd of January, at exactly 9:25 pm, I personally oversaw the successful washing of a kosher load of meat on trailer 186CX and tractor 2008PR. To this declaration, I do solemnly lend my signature and seal,

James P. O’Donald, Fire Chief, Lincoln Fire Station #2.”

Probably noticing Rabbi Kaganoff’s momentary hesitation, the trucker continued, “Rabbi, do I need to have this letter notarized?”

“No, I am sure that won’t be necessary,” he replied. He was not about to tell the driver that halachah requires that a Torah observant Jew supervise the washing of the meat. On the contrary, he complimented him on his diligence and his tremendous sense of responsibility.

Now it was Rabbi Kaganoff who had a responsibility on his hands: Since he knew the meat’s ultimate destination, he needed to inform the rabbi of that town of the situation so that he could reach a decision.

The rabbi of that town consulted with a posek who reasoned that since the truck had been stuck in a major blizzard, unquestionably the meat had been frozen solid, and that they could rely on this to kasher the meat after it thawed out.

Although the Pri Megadim and others do not allow extending the 3-day deadline by freezing, the Aruch Hashulchan and others disagree, and R’ Moshe Feinstein relied on it in extenuating circumstances. (Igros Moshe YD 1:27, 2:21)


[We see here that the kashrus supervisors in this meat plant allowed two leniencies: 1) They allowed extending the 3-day deadline further by washing the meat a second time – the Yad Efraim is uncertain whether this works. 2) They allowed simply hosing down the meat, as opposed to soaking it, and thus they would have relied on the fire hose if not for the fact that it was done without Jewish supervision. The Taz says it must actually be soaked, and the Yad Avraham allows rinsing only in cases when the veins in the meat were already removed. Evidently, the kashrus supervisors in this story relied on the Yad Efraim, who says that one should not be lenient and rinse the meat if it is possible to soak it, implying that if there is no other way, it may be rinsed.]  

Bava Kama

Bava Kama 46a: The Ferocious Newborn Calf

Bava Kama 46a: If a cow gored an ox, and we find its newborn calf next to it, and we don’t know whether the calf was born before the goring or afterward, he collects half the damages from the cow or a quarter of the damages from the calf.

ב”ק מו ע”א וכן פרה שנגחה את השור ונמצא ולדה בצדה, ואין ידוע אם עד שלא נגחה ילדה אם משנגחה ילדה ־ משתלם חצי נזק מן הפרה ורביע נזק מן הולד.

When R’ Yaakov Kamenetsky was 10 years old, he had a rebbe who taught this Mishnah incorrectly. The Mishnah actually means that the owner of the ox is claiming that the cow was still pregnant when it gored. Since damage payments for an animal that was not accustomed to gore (תם) are limited to the value of the animal, he claims that the baby was inside its mother at the time of the incident, so that he may collect from both the mother and the baby. The owner of the cow claims that the baby was already born before the incident, and thus is not subject to collection.

This rebbe, however, got the arguments reversed. He said that the owner of the ox claims that the baby was already born, and it too participated in the goring, so it is subject to collection; the owner of the cow claims it was not born yet and is thus innocent.

Reb Yaakov, having grown up on his grandfather’s farm, had seen newborn calves and knew that they could hardly stand on their feet and are incapable of goring. He asked his rebbe, “But how could a newborn calf gore?” The rebbe shouted at him, “How dare you argue on a Mishnah like an apikorus? From asking such questions, I am sure you will someday go off the derech!” 

The young boy humbly accepted his rebbe’s explanation, but still struggled to imagine a baby calf causing damage. But then he remembered hearing his mother read a story from the Tzenah Urenah (Parshas Noach), based on a Midrash (Vayikra Rabbah 5:1) which says:

עובדא הוה בחד אתתא דילידת בלילה ואמרה לברה אזיל ואדליק לי בוצינא ואנא קטע שורך אזל למדלק בוצינא ופגע ליה שידא שריהון דרוחתא עם דמתעסקין דין עם דין קרא תרנגולא א״ל אזיל גלוג לאמך ואמור לה אילולי דקרא תרנגולא הוינא קטיל בך א״ל אזיל גלוג לאמא דאמך דלא קטעת אמי שורי דאי קטעת אמי שורי הוינא קטיל לך.

Before the Mabul, a mother once told her newborn baby to go fetch a candle so that she could cut his umbilical cord. While out, he met the Prince of the Demons. As they were talking, the rooster crowed. The demon said, “Go tell you mother that had the rooster not crowed, I would have killed you.” The baby replied, “Go tell your mother’s mother that had my mother cut my umbilical cord, I would have killed you.”

The young Reb Yaakov concluded that the Mishnah must be talking about a monetary dispute in the generation before the Mabul, when even newborn babies were strong and capable. Later in life, he joked, “This was the first of my chiddushei Torah.”

Source: Making of a Godol, p. 144


Krisos 25a: In one day, you won’t sin

Krisos 25a: They said of Bava ben Buta that he used to bring an asham taluy every day, except for the day after Yom Kippur. He said, “I swear by the Temple that if they would let me, I would bring it then too. But they say to me: wait until there is a possibility that you sinned.”

כריתות כה ע”א אמרו עליו על בבא בן בוטא שהיה מתנדב אשם תלוי בכל יום, חוץ מאחר יום כיפורים יום אחד, אמר: המעון הזה, אילו היו מניחין לי הייתי מביא, אלא אומרים לי המתין עד שתכנס לבית הספקֹ.

The desk of the Rogachover Gaon was always piled high with postcards, on which he would write his responsa. As soon as he finished writing a postcard, he would ask his shamash to go and drop it in the mailbox, because he didn’t want to make the asker wait any extra time to receive his answer. 

Rabbi Pinchas Teitz said of the Rogachover, “He wrote so many responsa, I would estimate between forty and fifty thousand. He remembered every letter he wrote – the asker, the question, the date and his response. I am not sure if there was anyone in Jewish history who wrote as many responsa as he did.

“One day, so many letters arrived that the mailman could not fit them all into the Rogachover’s mailbox, so he placed them on the doorstep. When I came to the house, I picked up the bundle and saw that there were 16 letters and 6 double postcards. The Rogachover sat down immediately and in about an hour and a half, all his responses were written and ready to send. He did not even have to look up anything in a sefer.

“Often he began his letters with a question or chiddush he was reminded of as he marked the date. For example, he once penned a letter on the day after Yom Kippur. As he wrote the date, “Erev Shabbos Kodesh 11 Tishrei,” before he wrote the year, he mentioned the argument of the kohanim to Bava ben Buta that he should not bring an asham that day, because there was not yet a possibility that he had sinned. Then he was evidently bothered: why is it not possible? In reply, he referenced the Gemara in Me’ilah 14a-b. There the Mishnah states that if the treasurer of the Beis Hamikdash buys wood for building, and someone sits on the woodpile, he commits me’ilah – misuse of sacred property. But, asks the Gemara, didn’t Shmuel say, “We build the Beis Hamikdash out of non-consecrated materials and then later we consecrate the finished building, lest one come to derive benefit from the materials during the building process.” Rav Papa resolves this by saying that the Mishnah is talking about wood that is needed for that very same day. Such wood is, in fact, consecrated before the building, because in one day, there is no need to worry that one might sin.

Source: Rabbi Pinchas Teitz, writing in the introduction to Tzofnas Paneach, referring to responsum 124; the Rogachover by Yair Borochov.