May the learning of these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk a”h.
This week we learned Kiddushin 29-36. Here are some highlights from the topics discussed.
Should One Ever Fear Prayer?
The Gemara quotes a Baraita that a father must marry off his children. The Gemara asks that while it is possible for a father to find a wife for his son, how can the father ensure that his daughter get married? The Gemara answers that the father is obligated to do things that will help make it possible for his daughter to marry. He must purchase for her nice clothing and jewelry so that a husband will seek her out and marry her.
A Torah scholar once asked the following question to Rav Dov Kook. He was a neighbor to a widow. His daughter was a kind-hearted woman who helped the elderly widow a great deal. Unfortunately, years were passing and his daughter had yet to find a husband. He discovered that the widow was praying that his daughter remain single so that she would continue to have the time to help her out. He suspected that the prayers of the widow were preventing his daughter from finding a shidduch. He asked, “Since I am obligated to take action to encourage the marriage of my daughter, must I move from the building so that the widow would stop praying about my daughter?”
Rav Kook answered that he did not need to move. He had nothing to fear from the prayer. Since the prayer to prevent his daughter from marrying was an unfair request, he could be sure that it was having no impact on heaven.
A proof to this ruling could be adduced from a lesson in Tractate Makkos. The Gemara there (Daf 11) teaches about what would happen in an ir miklat. If someone kills by mistake, he may be killed by the relatives of his victim. To save his life, the mistaken killer is to flee to a city of refuge, an ir miklat. He is to stay in the city of refuge until the High Priest passes from the world. The mother of the Kohen Gadol would bake treats for the residents of the city of refuge so that they not pray for the passing of the High Priest. The Gemara asks about this, the verse stated, kilelat chinam lo tavo, a baseless curse will not come to fruition, so why was the mother of the Kohen Gadol concerned about the prayers of the residents of the ir miklat, since their wishes for the passing of the High Priest were kilelat chinam? An elderly sage volunteered that he had heard an answer to this question in the public lecture of Rava. The Kohen Gadol should have begged God for mercy for his generation. Had he prayed more vociferously for his nation, no one would have died from the negligence of another. Explains Rashi, therefore, the wishes of the confined in the city of refuge are not baseless curses. It emerges from the conclusion of the Gemara that a baseless wish of misfortune is not to be feared, kilelat chinam lo tavo. Therefore, since the widow’s prayers were baseless, for the daughter of the talmid chacham deserved to marry, the scholar had nothing to fear and could remain in his apartment. (Chashukei Chemed)
The Importance of Kaddish for a Father
In a Baraita it was taught, a child is to honor his father during his lifetime and after his passing. During his lifetime, he honors his father by invoking his father’s name. If he is in a place where his father is known and he wishes to depart, he should not say, “Let me leave,” rather he should say, “For the sake of my father, allow me to leave.” After his father’s death he honors his father through asking to serve as his father’s atonement. If he is quoting a Torah thought from his father he should not merely say, “This is what father said. ”Rather, during the first 12 months after the death of his father, he should say, “My father and teacher, for whom I am the atonement of his passing, said…” After the first year, whenever he quotes a Torah thought from his father, he should say, “My father and teacher, may his memory be blessed for life in the World-to-Come, said…” It is based on this Baraita that children lead the community in saying Kaddish. When a son merits to lead the community in sanctifying the name of Hashem through the recital of Kaddish, he is adding merit to his father and bringing his soul atonement.
Rav Zilberstein related a story about the importance of a son reciting Kaddish.
Some towns in Israel are populated overwhelmingly with observant Jews. Others are filled with secular residents. Some are mixed with both observant and secular residents. In a mixed town, there was a shul where a young Torah scholar would come each day to teach between Mincha and Maariv. There was an attendee to the services who was very secular. He would not participate in any of the prayers. He would only recite the Kaddish at the end of the tefillot. When the rabbi would teach between prayers, he would walk out and play on his phone. However, he asked the rabbi, repeatedly, to come fetch him from the hall when Maariv would begin for he wished to recite the Kaddish at the end of the service. The rabbi wondered what was the story? Why would a secular man, who clearly did not wish to pray, insist on saying Kaddish?
The story was fascinating. The man’s father had died. He had left an estate worth 12 million shekel. In his will he stipulated that if his son would recite Kaddish for him at every prayer, without missing even a single prayer, for 11 months, his son was to receive 10 million shekel and his daughter two million. However, if the son would miss even one Kaddish, then the daughter would receive six million shekel and the son six million shekel. The son was not observant, yet he was diligently attending each tefillah to say the Kaddish and receive his inheritance. The daughter wished to catch him missing a Kaddish. She hired an investigator. He was following the man with a camera trying to record the man missing a Kaddish so that the daughter could get another four million shekel.
This continued for months.
The man did not miss a Kaddish.
One day, the rabbi received a phone call. It was the daughter. She told the scholar her story. She knew from the investigation that the rabbi would fetch her brother for Ma’ariv. She made a request. “Please, one day, ‘forget’ to call my brother for Ma’ariv. He will then miss a Kaddish and I will receive four million shekel. I will then donate four hundred thousand shekel to you to distribute to poor individuals.” The scholar found the offer tempting.
He went to Rav Aharon Leib Shteinman with the question: “The man who comes to say Kaddish is not observant. He will use the money for unfortunate purposes,” he told the rosh yeshiva. “May I one day neglect to summon him to Ma’ariv and, in that way, poor scholars will receive four hundred thousand shekel?”
Rav Shteinman was firm. “It is not your concern how he will use the money he inherits from his father. You have a responsibility to enable a son to honor his father by saying Kaddish. When a son leads a community in Kaddish it provides a merit to the father. You have no right to take away that merit.” The scholar continued to call the secularist to return for Ma’ariv.
One day, the secularist asked, “Does it bother you that I leave for your class?” The rabbi answered, “It does not bother me, but I feel bad that you are missing out on diamonds. For every word of Torah is a diamond. If you come and join in the class you will surely agree.” The man began to attend the class. Today he is shomer Shabbat. The guidance of Rav Shteinman to ensure that a son say Kaddish for his father eventually brought him to observance and to providing his father with even more merits. (Chashukei Chemed)
By Rabbi Zev Reichman
Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue, 255 Walnut Street in Englewood, NJ, at 5:35 a.m. Monday and Thursday; at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday; and at 7:45 on Sunday mornings.