May 18, 2024
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May these words of Torah be a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.

This week we learned Zevachim 14 and 15. These are some highlights.

Zevachim 14: Can the gabbai sell the right to open the ark and the right to take out the scroll to two separate individuals?

There was a shul in which they would sell the mitzvot. The community members would bid on mitzvah privileges. Reuven purchased the privilege of taking the sefer Torah out of the ark. For the right to take the Torah out and hand it to the chazan, he promised a large sum to charity. Shimon protested. He argued that the man who had pledged to charity in order to serve as chazan for Shacharit should be the one who takes the Torah out of the ark. The dispute came before the Ohr Zarua (Chelek Aleph Siman 115). The Ohr Zarua ruled that Shimon was mistaken. Why would we assume that the chazan for Shacharit is also entitled to the privilege of taking the Torah out of the ark? Many times we have one person lead Shacharit, someone else read from the Torah and a third person lead Musaf. We do not say that the chazan for Shacharit is entitled to all the mitzvot that occur in shul. Why then should we say that the person who leads the Shacharit is entitled to the mitzvah of taking the Torah out of the ark?

The Ohr Zarua proved that Shimon was wrong from our Gemara. Our Gemara teaches the typical order of korban Pesach. A non-kohen would slaughter the animal. A kohen would catch the blood in a basin. He would hand the basin over to another kohen who was next to him. That kohen would pass the basin over to another kohen, who would pass it to yet another kohen. Eventually, the blood would reach the altar. The reason for this order of service was to fulfill the dictum of our prophets (Mishlei 14:28) “Berov am hadrat melech, The glory of the King is with a large amount of members from the nation.” It is best to have many people involved in a mitzvah. In our Gemara, the first kohen already had the blood in his basin. He had the mitzvah in his hand. Still, it is best that he hand it over to another kohen in order to accomplish the objective of “Berov am hadrat melech.” In our case, the chazan for Shacharit has not yet lifted the Torah. It has yet to come to his hand. Certainly, then, as a community, we should enable someone else to take out the Torah scroll and hand it to the chazan in order to fulfill the mandate of “Berov am hadrat melech.” Even if you would argue that the chazan for Shacharit is entitled to taking the Torah for it is part of his mitzvah, he should give up what he is entitled to in order to get more Jews involved in the mitzvah. We find that Gemara Megilla teaches that gelila of the sefer Torah, rolling the scroll, rightfully belongs to the rabbi of the shul. Nevertheless, it is common practice for the gabbaim in shuls to sell gelila. The rabbis all willfully give up what is their rightful mitzvah in order to increase the amount of Jews doing mitzvot and to fulfill the mandate of “Berov am hadrat melech.”

Hagahot Minhagim (Minhag shel Chol os 19) teaches that based on the Ohr Zarua, in some communities they sell the right to take out the Torah, hotza’a, and the right to return the Torah, hachnasa, to two separate individuals. One person takes the Torah out of the ark, and someone else goes up to return the Torah to the ark. This is done in order to fulfill the mandate of increasing involvement—“Berov am hadrat melech.” (Mesivta)

Zevachim 15: Can children roll the dough for the matzot?

If an adult poured the water into the flour for the sake of creating matzat mitzvah, but a child rolled the dough into a thin sphere to make it into matzah, would it be a kosher matzah? Our Gemara sheds light on this issue.

Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chaim 460:1) rules that matzat mitzvah must be made by adults. An adult needs to knead the dough and bake it. The matzot are not to be baked by children or the mentally impaired. The Torah (Shemot 12:17) commands: “U’shmartem et hamatzot, And you are to watch the matzot.” We are to watch the matzot from fermenting with the express intent that we are doing so in order to create matzat mitzvah. A child does not have da’at. Without da’at you cannot have the correct intent. A child cannot create matzat mitzvah. How much involvement of a child would ruin the matzah? Is the Shulchan Aruch teaching that a child cannot do the entire job? Or, alternatively, perhaps the child would disqualify the matzot even if he performed only part of the matzah preparation? Shu”t Eretz Tzvi (Chelek 2 Siman 35) deals with this question.

Eretz Tzvi teaches that Rav Zanvil Klapfish of Warsaw ruled that if an adult cut the large log of dough into smaller dough strips, the kneading done by the children to turn the dough strips into narrow and thin spheres would not disqualify the matzot. By the letter of the law, you may make thick matzot. So long as the dough is not a tefach thick you can bake it into a matzah. The strips cut by the adult are all smaller than a tefach. Those pieces of dough could be baked and turned into kosher matzot. There is no need to roll them into smaller spheres. Since it was not needed, the child’s rolling will not disqualify the matzah.

Eretz Tzvi challenges this ruling from our Gemara. Our Gemara discusses a kohen who has the wrong thoughts about a chatat sacrifice while walking the blood over to the altar, holacha. According to Rabbi Shimon, his thoughts will not disqualify the offering. According to the chachamim, his thoughts disqualify the sacrifice. Rabbi Shimon feels that walking the blood over to the altar is not a service whose wrong performance can create a problem in the sacrifice. Walking the blood over to the altar is not always needed. If the owner slaughters the animal right next to the altar, he will not need to walk the blood anywhere. Since the service is not always needed, it is not a prominent service. Only a prominent service performed with the wrong intent creates a disqualification. The chachamim disagree. While you may not always need to walk the blood over to the altar, since in this case they chose to slaughter the animal far from the altar and they had to walk the blood over to the altar, the walking is an act of service. Halacha is like the chachamim. The case of matzah seems similar to our Gemara. According to Rabbi Shimon, since there is no need to further roll the matzah, the rolling is not significant. But according to the chachamim, once they choose to roll the matzah, it is like choosing to walk the blood; the rolling becomes significant. The child doing the rolling should disqualify the matzah.

Eretz Tzvi rejects his own challenge. Perhaps, chachamim in our Gemara say that the walking of the blood is a service only because the animal was slaughtered far from the altar and there is now an obligation to walk the blood closer to the altar. But, in the case of matzah, the bakers can place the thick slice of dough into the oven without rolling it further. The bakers are choosing to roll it further. This rolling is not an obligation. Since it is not obligatory, perhaps all agree that such rolling by a child does not disqualify the matzah. (Mesivta)

By Rabbi Zev Reichman

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

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