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The 39 Melachos

The 39 Melachos

In the Mishkan

Over a period of time, the cloth coverings of the Mishkan would eventually get damaged from moths and the like. In order to properly repair these holes, it was first necessary to tear the holes wider so that a perfectly straight and even

seam could be concealed in the fabric. This constructive tearing is the Melacha of Koraya, tearing.

The Basic Premise of Koraya The basic concept of Koraya is the tearing of a single object into two parts or the detaching of two objects that were joined together. Koraya is the opposite of the Melacha of Tofair, sewing; if it is forbidden to combine two objects under Tofair, it is forbidden to rip them apart under Koraya. Koraya does not apply to food or hard, brittle materials such as wood, glass or rope. Therefore, it is permitted to cut the string connecting a price tag to an item of clothing (preferably with a knife although scissors can be used).

The Purpose of Koraya In the Mishkan, Koraya was only performed to prepare for re-sewing so some Poskim maintain that Koraya is only transgressed M’deoraysa if the tearing is done with the intention of re-sewing. However, virtually any kind of tearing, whether it be constructive or destructive, is prohibited either M’deoraysa or M’derabanan.

Tearing for Food or Physical Needs Even though tearing paper or plastic, even if destructive, is Rabbinically prohibited, if it is done for the purpose of food or physical needs it is permitted. Therefore, it is permitted to tear apart food packaging, wrapping around medicine, clothing or even toys provided that no letters or designs will be torn (Mochaik, erasing) and no vessel or contain will be created (Boneh, building and Makeh B’Patish, completing a functional item). However, the tearing is only

permitted when it is clearly destructive; if the tearing is in any way constructive then it is forbidden. I will now go through different cases of opening packaging and the Shailos involved. In all of these cases, it is preferable to do the tearing before Shabbos if possible.

1) Wrappings. It is permitted to tear paper or plastic wrappings around food or items required for physical needs as the wrapping is flimsy and thin and will be discarded after opening. Therefore, it is permitted to open sweet wrappers, tear wrapping paper from a gift and peel off a foil seal from a yoghurt or jar of coffee. 2) Bags. Bags made or thin or flimsy disposable may be opened as they are considered nothing more than protec-

tive coverings, similar to the shell of a peanut. Therefore, it

is permitted to open a bag of crisps or a bag containing

plastic cutlery. However, a firm, solidly constructed straw basket is considered a vessel and may not be torn open.

3)Boxes. Tissue, Matzah or cereal boxes with perforated lines on the top may not be opened because of Koraya, Makeh B’patish and Mechateich, measured cutting. Therefore, when opening a cereal box, one should tear open the top and the bottom in order to destroy the vessel

so

that no vessel has been created through the tearing so it

is

permitted.

4)Metal Cans. It is not Koraya to open metal cans, whether they be drink cans with special tabs or tuna cans that are opened with a tin-opener. This is because Koraya is not

applicable to metal. However, opening a can does present

a problem of Boneh and Makeh B’patish as the cans are

technically re-usable. Therefore, some Poskim forbid opening cans on Shabbos. Other Poskim are lenient and say that since cans are normally disposed of immediately after use, it isn’t considered Boneh or Makeh B’patish to open

one. Nevertheless, according to all Poskim, it is preferable

to open all cans before Shabbos.

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עיעעעלעעעלענעלעעערעמעהע עעעועהעעע ערע עעעיעלעלעהעלעהעלעעעערעעענעמעיעהענעעעיעעעלעעעלענעלעעערעמעהע עעעועהעעע עמע עיערעעענעיעמעלעהעעעערע עתע ע ע עעעמענעלעלעל

ארקיו ד“עשת ב רדא 8th March 2014

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Dvar Torah

Dvar Torah

This week we begin the reading of Sefer Vayikra. In contrast to Bereshis and Shemos, Sefer Vayikra contains precious little drama and excitement. Vayikra simply details the technical laws of the Korbanos offered up in the Mishkan, and later in the Beis Hamikdash. Some may perceive Sefer Vayikra as somewhat an anticlimax, following the incredible miracles and stories written in the first two books of the Torah. However, there are still many powerful lessons that can be learnt from this week’s Parsha, and indeed the rest of Sefer Vayikra.

One of these lessons can be derived from the first few words of the very first Pasuk in this week’s Sedra. The Pasuk says, (1:1), “השֶ מ לאֶ ארָ קְ ִּיַו- “And Hashem called to Moshe”. Interestingly, the letter aleph of the word ‘ ארָקְ ִּיַו’ is written smaller in contrast to the rest of the word. There is one particular explanation for this that caught my eye as it offers a very important lesson.

This reason is provided by the Baal HaTurim. He explains that Moshe’s initial intention was to only write the word ‘Vayakar’, without the aleph. The word ‘Vayakar’ is derived from the word ‘Mikrah’ which means either an incident or a coincidence. Moshe was a humble and modest man, and felt that Hashem calling him was a coincidence, suggesting that he did not deserve any special attention from Hashem. The Baal HaTurim continues to explain that when Hashem ordered Moshe to include the aleph in the word, he insisted on writing it smaller. Modesty was one of Moshe’s many accomplished attributes, as the Pasuk in Behaaloscha writes (11:3) “םדָ אָהָ לֹכמִּ דֹאמְ ויָנעָ השֶ מ שיאִּ הָ ְו”—“Now this man Moses was exceedingly humble more so than any other person.” The humility that Moshe shows throughout his life teaches

us a very important lesson in the importance of being modest.

Whilst browsing various sources that discuss the importance of humility, I came across a Mishnah in Pirkei Avos that I think excellently rationalises the significance of being modest. Mishnah 9 in Perek 3 says the following, “For everything is from you (G-D), and from your hands we have given you.” I think that this Mishnah sheds light on the true definition of humility. Moshe was one of the greatest prophets, yet the Torah teaches that he was ‘exceedingly humble more so than any other person’. How was this possible? The Steipler Gaon explains: If a destitute woman were to borrow an elegant gown to attend a wedding, she certainly would not spend the evening brag- ging about ‘her’ dress as she knows it’s not hers and that tomorrow morning, it is to be returned to its owner. Simi- larly, Hashem endows man with a living soul and invests him with many abilities and talents- but it’s all on loan, to be wisely invested on Hashem’s behalf and eventually returned to Him. Humility does not mean being oblivious to one’s unique capabilities. Rather it is the recognition that one’s uniqueness is on loan, and that such a loan cannot be a source of personal pride. Of course Moshe had no doubt that he was one of the greatest prophets, but he knew that his prophecy was a gift from Hashem.

This idea is a powerful one, and is beautifully epitomised by Moshe in the first few words of this week’s Sedra. Knowing that everything ultimately comes from Hashem, and that we are merely ‘taking out a loan’ from Him is critical in everyone’s personal realisation that behaving modestly and in a humble manner is the correct way to act.

Rishonim Story

Rishonim Story

Rabbi Avraham Zacuto was born in Salamanca, a place of much Christian and Jewish learning, which was relatively quiet. The Jews were permitted and even encouraged to practice their professions openly. Young Avraham was given every opportunity to acquire a thorough Jewish education, whilst receiving an exemplary secular education, elevating him as one of the outstanding young scholars of the time. He rapidly became famous nationwide as an excellent mathematician and astronomer. Rabbi Avraham was promoted to chair of astronomy and mathematics at the ancient university of Salamanca, due to the insistency of the Bishop of Salamanca. In gratitude, Rabbi Avraham dedicated to the Bishop of Salamanca his first astronomical work, called “Biur Luchos”, which was instantly translated into Latin as “Almanaca Perpetuum” and made an immense and profound impression upon the scholarly world.

Up until then in history, people setting out on voyages would have had to follow the ancient routes along the coasts of the Mediterranean, or other known sea routes, as they was no easy guide for sailors. However, after Rabbi Avraham’s publication, everything changed; none of the famous discoverers set out without the accompaniment of the Alamanac. With the assistance of the Almanac, they were able to leave the customary routes and venture out into the unknown in search of new horizons. Rabbi Avraham became so famous he was approached to help all the eminent astronomers of the time. The Rav was then appointed as a professor at the High University of Saragossa, where many would sit and listen to his pioneering lectures on mathematics and astronomy. When the expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in 1492, occurred, Rabbi Avraham was promised the highest honours and an abundance of luxuries if he abandoned his Jewish faith; many of the highest ranking dignitaries within the Church

even offered him their patronage.

Rabbi Avraham however, had never compromised his faith over his career. He therefore spurned the potential riches and willingly shared the fate of his fellow Jews who were forced to leave everything behind in search of new shores. After bribing the King John of Portugal with unlimited sums of money, the richest Jews from Spain were permitted entry into Portual. At that time, Vasco de Gama, the famous explorer, was working on his project of sailing to the exotic country of India. However, he could not undertake the voyage without a clear direction, and thus Rabbi Avraham provided an astrolabe and astronomer’s tables, to guide the famous traveller who went on to discover many wonders. Yet things weren’t to last. King Manuel of Portugal had his daughter marry the prince of Spain and as a result also exiled all the Jews. Rabbi Avraham and his son fled and were extremely fortunate to take refuge on board an old ship which was to take them to Africa. Twice they were caught by pirates and held for ransom, but after many turbulent months of suffering they landed in Tunis. Sadly, they were two of the very few Jews to survive the expulsion from Portugal.

There was a flourishing Jewish community in Tunis during this period, under the leadership of the dynamic Rabbi Shimon Duran. Finally, Rabbi Avraham now had time to focus on his own work and he wrote his famous Sefer “Sefer Hayuhasin”, a chronological and comprehensive history of the Jews. However, his stay in Northern Africa was brief, the threat of a Spanish invasion of Algeria was on the horizon, and therefore he escaped, wondering from place to place and finally finding a haven in Turkey where Rabbi Yoseph Nassi and other influential Jews had provided a home for the many Jewish refugees.

Jews had provided a home for the many Jewish refugees. Q) Can one wash ‘Netilas Yadayim’

Q) Can one wash ‘Netilas Yadayim’ for more than one

purpose, at one time? For example, if one woke up during the day, and washed ‘Netilas Yadayim’, could one make the beracha ‘Hamotzi Lechem Min Haaretz’ over bread without needing to wash ‘Netilas Yadayim’?

Dan Coleman

A) The same reasoning for washing one’s hands after

sleeping during the day is applied to why we wash our hands before Hamotzi. Therefore one should be able to

use the same washing for both ‘Netilias Yadayim’ and Hamotzi. However, one could not do so in the morning after waking up, as the reasoning is different and one should refrain from eating before having davened.

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Dvar Torah

Dvar Torah

The second Posuk in this week’s Sedra says the following: “When a man among you brings an offering to Hashem, from the animals, from the cattle or from the flock, you shall bring your offering.” This week’s Sedra introduces the Parsha of Korbanos, “Offerings” which were to be immolated in the Mishkan and in the Beis Hamikdash which followed.

There is a famous Machlokes between the Rambam and the Ramban as to the reason behind why we bring Korbanos. The Rambam maintains, in Sefer Moireh Nevuchim, that the Bnei Yisrael were instructed to bring Karbonos because they had lived among the Eygptians and the Kasdim ever since they had come into existence. The Avos had lived among the Kasdim and the Bnei Yisrael had lived in Egypt for the past 210 years. These ancient civilizations both used to serve sheep and cattle, the Egyptians lambs and the Kasdim goats. The Rambam writes that since these civilizations considered sheep and cattle to be the object of their worship, Hashem com- manded us that we should offer these animals up to Him and through this action we will weaken these wicked beliefs, “For they are the destruction of the soul”. The only way to counteract evil is to do its opposite and to offer these animals up to Hashem instead of the idolatrous gods.

The Ramban argues fiercely with this and poses a series of very strong questions on the Peshat of the Rambam. Firstly, should we really make a ‘table’ for Hashem only to counteract the beliefs of the wicked and foolish people on this earth? Surely the Posuk describes the Korbonos as, “the bread of the fire-offering, a satisfying aroma for Hashem,”? Secondly, according to the reason explained, it makes no sense as on the contrary, not only will offerings not detract from the beliefs of these wicked idol-worshipers, rather, it will show that they were in some sense correct, as we are now implementing them into Judaism to serve Hashem? Finally, he

asks that Noach and Hevel both offered up Korbanos to Hashem before Egyptians or Kasdim ever existed, so why do we say that Hashem demands Korbanos to rectify the wrongdoings of the Egpytian and Kasdim people?

The Ramban, therefore, brings another peshat which says that the deeds of man are caused by his thoughts, speech and actions. As a result of this, Hashem commanded us that when we sin and bring a Korbon Chatos and that we should rest our hands on top of the animal (representing the actions), confess our sins verbally (representing the speech) and the innards of the animal and the feet should be burnt on the mizbeach (representing our thoughts). Our hands and feet, with which we do all our actions, and the blood of the animal should be sprinkled on the Mizbeach instead of our blood. Through this, a person will come to realise that he has sinned to Hashem with his body and soul, that his blood should be sprinkled on the Mizbeach and his body should have been burnt if not for the kindness of Hashem who accepted a Korbon instead of him. The Ramban adds importantly that in reality there is a hidden secret, namely, that the purpose of the Korbonos is to draw near the forces of the upper worlds. The Ohr Sameach, Rav Meir Simcha Hakoihein from Devinsk, writes there is really no Machlokus between the peshatim of the Rambam and the Ramban and that both are true. He explains that sacrifices on the Bamos, ‘private alters,’ which don’t create a ‘satisfying aroma’ for Hashem are to distance the offerings of the Jewish people from idol worship, as the Rambam explains.

The offerings in the Beis Hamikdash, however, which do create a ‘satisfying aroma’ for Hashem, are in order to draw near the forces of the upper worlds, as the Ramban says.

(Adapted from the Sefer Shollol Rov,)

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