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The 39 Melachos

The 39 Melachos

In the Mishkan The hides of Ailim, rams, were needed for the coverings of the Mishkan. Once the animal had been trapped, slaughtered, skinned and the hide had been tanned, the hide had to be scraped and smoothed. This smoothing is the Melacha of Memacheik, smoothing.

The Basic Premise of Memacheik Scraping off the excess hair from a hide to achieve a smooth surface is the Melacha of Memacheik. However, Memacheik is not limited to hides. Scraping or sanding any surface to achieve smoothness may also be Memacheik. The Melacha of Memacheik has two categories, Memacheik and Memarayach. Memacheik is the Av Melacha and refers to smoothing hard, rough surfaces that are not pliable. Memarayach is a Toldah and refers to smoothing soft and pliable surfaces.

Applications of Memacheik Memacheik is only applicable if by smoothing the hard surface, the smoother surface would be more useful for some purpose. Therefore, it is forbidden to scrape wet mud from the sole of a leather shoe with a knife as the scraping action has the effect of smoothing the leather. Even though the smoothing isn’t the purpose of the scraping, it is nevertheless forbidden as the smoothing is inevitable so it is a Psik Raisha. Also, even though it is permitted to wash dishes that will be used on Shabbos, one may not polish glass, china or silver to give them a glossy shine.

Soap The Tiferes Yisrael writes that washing with solid soap is also forbidden under Memacheik. This is because at the times of the Tiferes Yisrael, solid soap was more like soft wax with rough edges that would become smoother with each use. Even though modern day bars of soap are

already smooth, it still may be forbidden to use them, possibly because lathering has the Halachic effect of smoothing the bar of soap. However, most Poskim permit the use of liquid soap as it has a reasonably thin consistency. Some Poskim are stringent as the lather that forms is quite viscous so it is customary for some people

to thin the soap by diluting it with water.

Memarayach Memarayach only applies to certain consistencies. Spreading pliant semi-solids is forbidden M’deoraysa, dense semisolids are forbidden M’derabanan and it is

permitted to spread viscous fluids. Under Memarayach it

is forbidden to shape dough, ‘silly putty’ or ‘Play-Doh’. It is

also forbidden to apply solid lipstick or to apply solid lip

balm. The lipstick is also forbidden under the Melacha of Tzoveya, dyeing.

Applying Creams & Ointments Creams and ointments may not be smeared on Shabbos as these thick substances are quite dense so have the outward appearance of Memarayach when smeared onto

a surface. However, Memarayach is intrinsically an act of

‘smearing’ not ‘pressing’ so it would be permitted to press on a substance. However, the Rabbis prohibited pressing a firm substance as one will probably forget himself and end up spreading it. But, since this Rabbinical prohibition only applies to substances which are forbidden M’deoraysa, and creams and ointments are only forbidden

M’derabanan, it is permitted to press on creams and ointments on Shabbos. Some Poskim are lenient and allow Memarayach where the intention is only to rub the substance into the surface. According to this view it is permitted to rub Vaseline into one’s skin. However, many

Poskim are strongly opposed to this leniency and maintain that smearing any firm substance is forbidden, regardless

of whether it will be absorbed.

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עיעעעלעעעלענעלעעערעמעהע עעעועהעעע ערע עעעיעלעלעהעלעהעלעעעערעעענעמעיעהענעעעיעעעלעעעלענעלעעערעמעהע עעעועהעעע עמע עיערעעענעיעמעלעהעעעערע עתע ע ע עעעמענעלעלעל

ערוצמ ד“עשת ןסינ 5th April 2014

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Dvar Torah

Dvar Torah

In this week’s sedra we learn that if someone speaks Loshon Harah they will be inflicted with Tzara’as. Even though we know the consequences of Loshon Harah and we all know that speaking Loshon Harah is bad we still do it. We still tell our friends the latest piece of gossip and we all want to hear the latest rumours going around.

The Medrash Rabah (Vayikra 16:2) brings a story of Rebbe Yannai. A pedlar was travelling from city to city selling his wares and came to the city of Tzipori. The man called out “Who wants to buy the potion of life? Who wants life?” When everyone heard this they all started to gather around him. Rebbe Yannai heard the commotion and stood by watching and when he heard the man’s offer, he said to him, “I would like to purchase some.” The pedlar responded, “It’s not for you and your type.” Rebbe Yannai persisted and eventually the peddler took out a Tehillim and opened to the pasuk, “Who is the man who wants life? Guard your tongue from evil.” Rebbe Yannai exclaimed, “All my life I’ve read that pasuk, but I have never appreciated how simple it was until this peddler re- vealed it to me!”

What did the pedlar reveal to Rebbe Yannai? It seems that Rebbe Yannai learnt a great lesson from the pedlar but surely Rebbe Yannai hadn’t learned any- thing new? Rebbe Yannai was a Tanna and had proba- bly reviewed that pasuk hundreds of times before so what new concept did Rebbe Yanni learn?

The answer can be best understood with a moshal. Imagine that a mother and father are looking for a Yeshiva for their son. After much investigation they narrow it down to one Yeshiva which has the right environment and is the right fit for their son. However,

subsequently they hear that boys in that Yeshiva nearly all smoke. The parents can’t send their son to that Yeshiva so they start looking again. Now play the same scenario with just one little adjustment. Same Yeshiva, same young man, same perfect fit. However, instead of the parents finding out that the boys aren’t right for their son; they find out that they speak Loshon Harah. Their attitude would probably be, “It’s not something we want to hear but we are happy with the Yeshiva and it’s not a reason to disqualify it”.

Now, assuming that the parents are well educated, they know that it says in the Torah that Loshon Harah kills and that guarding one’s tongue is the Torah’s guarantee to long life. They know the severity of this issue and they don’t question it. On the other hand, they are aware of the physical harm which might kill, yet Loshon Harah, which they know definitely kills, they aren’t that concerned about. How can we under- stand this anomaly?

The answer is that when medical science tells us some- thing, we accept it as truth. Unfortunately, when the Torah tells us something, it doesn’t seem real to us. This explains to us why however great Rebbe Yannai was, he did not feel that the promise of the Torah, that refraining from Lashon Harah gives long life, had actu- ally impacted him. The pedlar revealed to Rebbe Yan- nai that ‘Loshon Harah kills’ in its most simple direct meaning. It then became real to him. Making the Torah real to us is one of the most difficult yet pivotal tasks that we have in front of us. The more a person gets this and understands that every word is true, relevant, and vital, the easier it is for him to accomplish his mis- sion in life.

Rishonim Story

Rishonim Story

(continued from last week: A wave of Anti-Semitism has swept across Spain and has caused disaster for Jews across the country).

However, in the town of Barcelona matters were different. The city administration was determined to take the necessary steps to prevent a similar pogrom. The situation remained tense for the next few weeks, and came to a head when a ship landed in the harbour with fifty ruffians from the Seville massacre. The ruffians immediately began calling the populace of Barcelona to join them in an attack on the Jewish quarter, bragging of their ‘success’ in Seville.

On Shabbos, the fourth of Elul, the attack broke loose. The attackers burned down the gates of the Jewish quarter and the mob fell upon the defenceless Jews. Some of the Jews fled to the safety of the new fortress in the city. Meanwhile, the city authorities, were battling the mob and managed to capture the ruffians of Seville and declare them to be hanged. However, the very next day the mob started afresh, storming the prison, freeing the ruffians and proceeding to storm the fortress. The Jews put up a desperate defence, but were overpowered. The mob ran its course throughout the remainder of the week and the result was that the great Jewish community of Barcelona, with great Torah luminaries such as the Rashba and Rabbi Nissim Gerondi, was utterly destroyed.

Finally, the ‘holy war’ of the Christian church of Spain, came to Aragon. However, King Juan finally understood the ramifications the persecution of the Jews would

have on the crown treasury. From Saragossa, he issued orders to protect the Jews of Aragon. Yet the Jews knew how very little they could rely on such protection. Even in Saragossa, despite the king’s presence there, the Jews lived in mortal fear. Nevertheless, the Jews of Aragorn were spared due to the kings order and of all the communities in Spain, they fared best of all. The two great and courageous Rabbis, who worked in tandem to defend the Jews throughout the persecutions, observed that the Jewish community of Aragorn had been spared in the merit of the devout Jews who would take the time to rise up early every morning to recite Tehillim.

Rabbi Hasdai Crescas was pivotal to the rehabilitation of the Jews in Spain. King Juan authorised him to raise funds amongst the Jewish communities in Aragon to help re-establish the destroyed communities in the cities. But the local municipalities resisted the attempt and the succeeding kings simple banned the re-establishment of Jewish communities in those cities.

In spite of all difficulties and hindrances, and often disregarding his personal situation, Rabbi Hasdai Crescas laboured untiringly to rehabilitate Jewish life in Spain. From Saragossa, which was now the main center of Jewish life, he carried on his dedicated work, attempting to bring some order in the terrible upheaval that had befallen the Jews of Spain. But Spanish Jewry never recovered from the holocaust of the year 1391 Finally, this led to the expulsion of the Jews from Spain a century later, on the 9th of Av, (1492).

Jews from Spain a century later, on the 9th of Av, (1492). Q) Why is it

Q) Why is it that we recite the Beracha of Geulah-

Redemption, in the Amidah in between the Beracha of Selicha-Forgiveness and Refaeinu-Healing, rather than together with the Beracha of Kibutz Gluyos– Ingathering of Exiles, which is a similar bracha?

Daniel Richman

A) The Gemara in Megillah (Daf 17B) describes how

the Beracha in the Amidah for Redemption is specifi- cally placed as the Seventh of the 18 Blessings , as

opposed to later in the Amidah, as this corresponds to the 7th year in which we will be redeemed. Hasmonean Beis Rabbi

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Dvar Torah

Dvar Torah

The pasuk (35:14) discusses a person who


. ״תיבב יל הארנ עגנכ רמאל ןהכל דיגהו“ “(The person who the house belongs to shall come to) the Kohen and say; some- thing like an affliction has appeared to me in the house".

עגנ on his house. The pasuk says;


The רפוס בתכ asks a simple question. He asks why the pasuk says a house in the singular. Surely the pasuk should say and he should go to the Kohen and say "my house has been afflicted"? We know that he himself must go to the Kohen and that no one else can go on his behalf. So why was it necessary for the pasuk to write 'תיבב' and not 'יתיב'?

The רפוס בתכ brings a ארמג in אמוי where the Gemara discusses םיתב יעגינ, Houses that have been afflicted with Tzara’as. Specifically, the Gemara details the reason for םיעגנ - afflictions of Tzara’as - and says that it is caused by ןיעה תורצ - a begrudging eye. People didn't want anyone else to have what they have. He explains that when the pasuk says 'תיבה ול רשא אבו' it means to say - 'ומצעל תיבה דחיש הזו' - the person made his home his fortress and didn’t let anybody else in’.

Essentially, the man didn’t do תסנכה םיחרוא welcoming in guests - and he kept his house closed from all potential Mitzvos. It was precisely because of this behaviour that the house got the עגנ. He continues further and he explains that now once the house gets the עגנ, suddenly he realises that his attitude was wrong.

In truth not everything belongs to him. He realises that the house that he calls his own is not only down to his work. Now that he gets this wakeup call so to speak, he realis- es that he was wrong and in fact all that he owns is really nothing without Hashem. For this reason the beginning of the pasuk says “תיבה ול רשא”. At that stage in the pasuk he thinks it is in actual fact his house, the house he earned.

Only after the עגנ develops does he comes to the Kohen and says "תיבב יל הארנ עגנכ" He doesn’t say יתיב because he realises why he got the עגנ. The house is just a house; a house that isn't his and is therefore only a תיב and nothing more.

Have a good Shabbos!


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