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Parshas Matos-Maasei 5775
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July 17, 2015
Volume 11 Issue 32 
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Dvar Torah


The Right Vibes 
By Rabbi Yosef Prupas


One of the more puzzling aspects of this week's Parsha, is referenced in a Gemarah in Makkos (daf 9b). Rashi notes that the number of "Cities of Refuge" on the other side of the Jordan is disproportionate to those in the Land of Israel. There are three cities on each side of the Jordan to accommodate eight and a half Shevatim in the Land of Israel and only two and a half Shevatim on the other side of the Jordan!? To resolve this apparent inconsistency, the Gemarah explains that the people of Gilead, a city east of the Jordan, were murderers. The source for this is a verse in Hoshea (6:8), "Gilead is a city of evil filled with those who lay in wait for blood. The Gemarah asks, what does it mean "who lay in wait for blood?" The Gemarah answers that the verse refers to those who lay in ambush to murder. The Ramban points out that this sad condition in that city existed already in the lifetime of Moshe, hence his decision to establish the cities in this manner.

There are two questions to be asked. First, it seems from the above verse that the inhabitants of Gilead were intentional murderers. Aren't the "Cities of Refuge" intended only for those who kill inadvertently? Second, from the Ramban it appears that there is something inherent about the nature of Gilead that breeds murderers, without regard to the nationality of its inhabitants. How could this be?


To answer, the Maharal in Gur Aryeh (his commentary on Rashi in Chumash) tells us a fundamental concept. Just as Hashem created men prone to certain inclinations, so too, He created places prone to certain possibilities. One example of this is the case of the "rebellious sage" who issues a verdict contrary to one issued by the Sanhedrin. He is only executed if the Sanhedrin's verdict was issued from the "Chamber of Hewn Stone" in the Temple. If the verdict originated elsewhere, the rebellious sage is not executed. The Gemarah (Sanhedrin 14b) comments that we learn from this law "Shehamakom Gorem", that the "Place is the Cause". It is the locale of the Sanhedrin's ruling that makes the wayward sage's ruling a capital offense. Another example of this is Yakov Avinu's startled realization upon awakening from his dream of the angels going up and down the latter. As the verse states (Vayetzei 28:16) "Surely Hashem is in this place and I did not know."


The Maharal goes on to explain that this is the reason why there are more accidental killings in Gilead than anywhere else. Unfortunately, there was a disproportionate amount of murders that took place in Gilead. This in turn was reflected in the greater number of accidental murders, given the overall lack of appreciation for human life. If one is truly concerned about his fellow human beings, mistakes are less likely to occur. Why was Gilead prone to such an attitude?


The answer can be found in the Kuzari. The Kuzari writes that it is not only our social environment that affects our thought processes. G-d created the world in such a way that even our physical environment can play role in who we are and the decisions we make. The land we live in can affect the way we act and think. In one place or time, one can find himself more likely to be successful - spiritual or physically. While in some other place or time, one seems to be in a never ending pattern of failure. This was the case with Gilead.


From the above, seemingly negative situation, we learn something positive that can affect out personal life. Rather than feel despondent when success seems to elude an individual, one should not take it personally. Either with time or by moving on to somewhere else, one will feel more capable in dealing with the tests that comes one's way. May we merit to reside permanently in Land of Israel, in the era of Mashiach. In a time and place that most definitely will spur us in the right direction, closer to G-d.



Dvar Halacha
Laws of the Nine Days   


  By  Rabbi Yochanan Eskenazi


During the Nine Days, it is prohibited to eat meat or drink wine (Shulchan Aruch 551:9). One reason is because it is inappropriate to indulge during this intense national mourning period (Aruch Hashulchan 551:23). A second reason is that since the time of the destruction of the Second BaisHamikdash, ideally one should refrain from eating meat and drinking wine completely, since we can no longer offer karbanos [meat] and bring wine libations. However, since it would be too hard to always refrain from these foods, Chazal only decreed not to for a short period of time [the Nine Days] as a reminder of what we are missing (Gemara Bava Basra 60b) (Gra 551:9). Included in this prohibition is one should refrain from any meat [including fowl] and food that was cooked with any of the above mentioned items. If one mistakenly recited a brachah on meat or wine, etc. he should partake a tiny amount [to avoid saying a brachahl'vatalah] (Laws of Daily Living pg. 54).   Grape juice is considered wine, and may not be consumed (Laws of Daily Living pg. 53 ftnt. 15 quoting Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l). One may drink beer (Rama 551:11).


Certain people are not included in this prohibition. One who is sick [even if his illness is not life threatening] (Mishneh Berurah 551:61), or someone who is unable to eat dairy foods may eat chicken [but not beef] until Erev Tisha B'Av (Mishneh Berurah 551:64). Pregnant women may eat chicken. If no chicken is available, it is permitted to eat beef (Aruch Hashulchan 551:61). Additionally, a nursing woman [if by refraining from meat will be detrimental to her milk] may eat beef (Mishneh Berurah 551:64). One may eat meat or drink wine at a seudas mitzvah [including a bris, pidyon haben, siyum, & bar mitzvah] (Rama 551:10).


It is well known, if one partakes in a siyum, one is permitted to eat meat. The Maharshal [Yam Shel Shlomo, Bava Kamma, end of seventh perek] writes, "There is no greater simcha or mitzvah that is done before Hashem than the simcha and mitzvah of finishing a portion of Torah." Even a child who completed and understood what he learned may make a siyum which adults may partake in (Laws of Daily Living pg. 59 quoting Shu"T B'tzail Hachochmeh 4:100). However, one should not leave over part of a mesechta in order that he should be able to make a siyum during the Nine Days (Mishneh Berurah 551:73). If this did happen, it is permissible to partake in the siyum (Koveitz Halachos 9:ftnt. 33). As an aside, many ChassidishRebbes would encourage their Chassidim to make a siyum specifically during the Nine Days, for it was hoped that study of the Torah and joyous celebration over the learning of Torah, will help bring the geulah shelaima (Laws of Daily Living pg. 59).


One may eat meat and drink wine on Shabbos. This includes even if he accepts upon himself early Shabbos, and does not end Shabbos until after the zman on MotzaiShabbos (Mishneh Berurah 551:56).


There is a machlokes whether the one reciting havdala may drink the wine. Some opinions hold that the adult reciting the havdala should not drink the wine but rather give it to a minor (Rama 551:10) who has reached the age of chinuch, but is not old enough to understand mourning (Mishneh Berurah 551:70). Other opinions hold that one should recite havdala on chamar medina [e.g. beer] (Aruch Hashulchan 551:26). Harav Moshe Feinstein, zt"l (Laws of Daily Living pg. 65 ftnt. 63) and ybl"c Harav Shmuel Kamenetsky, shlit"a (Koveitz Halachos 9:19) hold that one may l'chatchila recite havdala on wine or grape juice and drink it himself, even when a kattan is present.










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