July 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

 This week we learned Sanhedrin 91. These are some highlights.

Sanhedrin 91: Can you make your tefillin straps shiny with oils from non-kosher fish?

Rashi on our gemara explains that chilazon is a worm from the sea. Chilazon was the creature that would produce the blue dye with which tzitzis strings would be made blue. Rashi’s definition of the chilazon as a worm has halachic significance to the laws of tefillin.

In regards to tefillin, Hashem commanded (Shemot 13:9) “L’ma’an tihyeh Torat Hashem b’ficha, So that the Torah of Hashem should be in your mouth.” Our Sages (Shabbos 108a) derive from the word “b’ficha—in your mouth” that each component of the tefillin must come from “min hamutar beficha, from what is permitted in your mouth.” Each part of the tefillin must come from a kosher animal—something that can produce matters that can enter your mouth. Tefillin scrolls are to be written on parchments that come from a kosher animal. The boxes of the tefillin must be from the skin of a kosher animal. The son of the Noda B’Yehuda (Tinyana Orach Chaim Siman 3) discusses the suitability of using oils from non-kosher fish to make the straps of the tefillin more shiny. The fish in question are not permitted to the mouth. However, perhaps coloring is not significant in the eyes of Halacha.

Our Rashi teaches that chilazon was a worm. All worms are not kosher. Chilazon was used to color the priestly garments, the tapestries of the Mishkan and the strings of the tzitzit. Why was it not rejected because it was not from the items that are permitted to the mouth? Apparently, colors do not count in the eyes of Halacha. Since the wool on which the blue dye went is permitted to the mouth, Halacha allows for the use of coloring on the wool from all sources, even a non-kosher creature. Color is not the item. Noda B’Yehuda at the end of his responsa adds another argument to permit using the oils. The fish oil is merely a shine. It adds to the beauty of the straps and boxes. It is not the source of the blackness. The basic black color comes from items that are kosher. He therefore allows a person to use oils from non-kosher sources to create a pretty shine on his tefillin straps. (Mesivta)

May a school send a child home because his parents are not paying tuition?

A father signed a contract to pay tuition to yeshiva for his son. He stopped paying. The school needed the funds. The school wanted to refuse to allow the child to continue to attend classes to force the father to pay his bill. Is the school allowed to send a boy home because his parents are not paying what they owe?

A similar question is dealt with in Teshuvot Maharam Mintz (Siman 48). He does not allow the school to penalize the child. His source is Sanhedrin 91. Our gemara states that anyone who withholds a halacha from a student is considered a person who is stealing from a friend the heritage he inherited from his ancestors. The verse declares about Torah that it is “morasha kehillat Yaakov, the heritage of the community of Jacob.” Torah belongs to the entire Jewish nation. Hashem intended for us to get the Torah at the very moment He made the world. If you know Torah and can teach it to another Jew, you are obligated to share it with him. If you do not, you are a thief and even the fetuses in the wombs of their mothers will curse you. Maharam Mintz therefore rules that a teacher and school may not deny Torah to a Jewish child because of financial debt. Maharam Mintz points out that the Torah limits what a lender can do to coerce his borrower to repay him. A lender is not allowed to take as a security from a poor borrower his work utensils (Devarim 24:6), “ki nefesh hu choveil, for such an act is an assault on the soul.” Commentators explain that if a workman does not have his tools, he will not be able to earn any money for his daily needs. Without sufficient income, he will not have the peace of mind to learn Torah. If he does not learn Torah, his soul will be damaged. The Torah prohibits seizing work utensils, for such an act can lead to loss of Torah. Certainly, those owed funds cannot directly deny a child Torah learning to gain repayment of what is owed to them. Rav Zilberstein rules that a school may not deny the child the chance to study Torah because of money. The school should take the father to beit din. If the father loses in court, beit din has ways to coerce him to pay what he owes. (Chashukei Chemed)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman

 Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.

 

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