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In Megilas Esther it is written “ Mordechai haYehudi etc. ratzui l’rov echav etc .’- “ Mordechai etc. was accepted by most of his brethren”. The Gemorah in Mesechta Megilah (16B) clarifies that the Megilah is expressly pointing out that Mordechai was ostracized by some members of the Sanhedrin . Rashi explains that the cause of the parting from Mordechai was because he somewhat neglected his Torah learning and entered governmental public service.

The obvious question begs to be asked: We very well know that Mordechai Hatzadik was not your average politician vying for the honor of occupying a seat in the government body. To the contrary, Mordechai was thrust into the forefront to take charge, instruct and guide Klal Yisroel through precariously dangerous times. The lives of the entire Jewish people were at stake. Haman was mere months away from completely destroying the entire nation. Doesn’t halacha state that pikuach nefesh supersedes Talmud Torah , meaning; no mitzvah , even as important as learning Torah , may stand in the way of saving lives?!

Rashi in Mesechta Taanis (18b) tells us of an incident that took place in the era of the Tanaim . The Roman governor’s daughter was murdered and the Yidden were accused of the crime, and death was decreed upon the inhabitants of this city. To ward off this impending disaster, Papus and Lulainus, whom Rashi describes as tzadikim g’murim, stepped forward and falsely admitted their culpability for the murder of the governor’s daughter, thus sparing the entire city from certain death.

When they were hauled off to jail they met Rav Akiva who was also incarcerated there. Papus and Lulainus expressed to Rav Akiva,”How fortunate you are! You were imprisoned because you taught Torah ; woe unto us that we have been imprisoned for inconsequential matters”. The Vilna Gaon asks; how can one possibly attribute Papus and Lulainus’s incarceration as being on account of insignificant things? They surrendered their personal freedom to save the lives of an entire kehila ?! The only option to solve this difficulty is to recognize that anything and everything in comparison to the study of Torah and teaching Torah is insignificant. No other mitzvah , including hatzalas nefashos , can possibly equal Torah in importance. This was the meaning of the seemingly outlandish statement made by Rav Akiva’s cellmates.

Bearing this idea in mind, we may proceed to tackle another difficulty. We are familiar with the famous statement of Chazal that “ pikuach nefesh ” is paramount and its performance permits casting aside any other mitzvah in the Torah ; it has the force to permit transgressing any ‘ mitzvas lo taase’ (negative prohibitions). This being the case, how do we begin to comprehend the Gemorah ’s follow-up statement to that that Mordechai was ostracized by members of the Sanhedrin ? The Gemorah deduces from the Sanhedrin’ s rejection of Mordechai that Talmud Torah is greater than saving people. How does this coincide with the aforementioned statement classifying saving lives as dominating any other mitzvah found in the Torah ?

The Vilna Gaon preempted this paradox. Of course, if one finds himself in a situation to save a life, he must put aside all other considerations, even if it calls for transgressing aveiros to accomplish life-saving. However, it is a wholly different level to merit studying Torah rather than being a life-saver. If one rose to a higher level he would merit and be blessed with the opportunity to be devoted to the exclusive study of Torah , and the role of physically saving lives would be removed from him and thrust upon others who occupy  an lower level of avodas Hashem . Mordechai’s occupation with this critical role of hatzalas n efashos was indicative of descending from his exalted level of Talmud Torah , thus prompting his associates to depart from his company.

Purim is a great day to rejoice and feast and party. There are boundless opportunities to benefit others bestowing gifts and kindness to the less fortunate. Nothing compares to the level that can be attained with engaging in the study of Torah, especially on this holy day that we merited reaffirming and accepting the Torah out of feelings of love to He who miraculously saved us from doom.

Make no mistake. The Yom Tov of Purim is all about Torah, Torah , and more Torah ….

Measuring a tefach

An amoh contains six tefachim. There are two methods on how to calculate a tefach. One method is known as a tefach mtzumtsum- an exact tefach. This tefach ranges anywhere from 3.14 inches up until 3.77 inches, according to various opinions. Another method is known as a tefach meruvach- an expansive tefach. This method will add approximately an additional 1/48 of any given measurement . Since we are uncertain which is the proper calculation, the more stringent method is followed. Each particular case should be judged on its own. For example, when calculating how large a break in a wall can be, the smaller tefach will be followed. However, when determining if a wall is tall enough to be a halachically acceptable partition one must measure ten tefachim using the larger tefach. 
שו"ע שסג, כו, משנ"ב פט ו־צא, וביה"ל ד"ה מרווחים; וראה שעה"צ ס; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 74 ו־78

An opening larger than ten amos

An alleyway open on one of its sides must have either a lechi or a korah in order to allow carrying within the alleyway. If, however, the opening is more than ten amos it must be closed off using a tzuras hapesach. An open courtyard must have either a pas daled or a lechi on both of its sides in order to allow carrying within the courtyard. An alleyway that is not at least four amos long is considered to be a courtyard and would need either a pas daled or a lechi on both sides of its opening. In addition, a korah will only be effective if there is a height of at least ten tefachim from the floor of the alleyway up until the top of the wall that surrounds it.

[ שו"ע שסג, כו, משנ"ב צ, צב ו־צג, ושעה"צ סא; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 72; וראה שם, 83 לענין לחי]

A korah higher than twenty amos

A korah may not be placed higher than twenty amos off the ground. A korah can only serve as a reminder not to carry into the reshus harabim if it is within the range of distance that people will naturally focus on. People generally do not look higher than twenty amos. However, if one paints a picture on a korah it will then be valid, even if it is higher than twenty amos, since the picture will attract people’s attention. A korah that is at least four tefachim wide may be valid regardless of its height, based on the concept of pi tikrah yored vsosseim. A wide beam may be classified as a roof which will project downwards in order to create a partition.

[ שו"ע שסג, כו, משנ"ב צד-צה, וביה"ל ד"ה אינו; ביאורים ומוספים דרשו, 79; וראה שם, 70]
  • The Rishonim disagree if two korahs, each less than a tefach, must be situated within a tefach of each other to be acceptable or would a distance of up to three tefachim be acceptable.

  • They also disagree if one korah may be placed on top of another korah.

  • The difference between a courtyard and an alleyway

  • Defining an alleyway

  • Two courtyards opened to each other
PLEASE NOTE: The information in this email is for learning purposes only. Please review the Mishna Berura and Biurim U'Musafim before making a halachic decision. Hebrew words are occasionally transliterated to enable a smoother reading of the text. Common Ashkenazi pronunciation is generally used in these cases.
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