Parsha Encounters



Parshas Beshalach:

A Marriage Made in Heaven

Rabbi Shmuel Shapiro

[Don't forget to see the Halacha Encounters below!]

"Hashem Yilachem Lachem V'Atem Tacharishun"- "Hashem will wage your war and you will remain quiet." Hashem told us at Krias Yam Suf that there was no need for us to even daven! And to Moshe Rabbeinu, Hashem asked, " Mah Titz'ak Eilai Daber El B'nai Yisrael Vayisa'u" - "Why do you cry out to me?" Hashem said to Moshe Rabbeinu, "Speak to the B'nai Yisrael and let them go forth." Rashi explains, "Eilai Hadavar Talooi V'lo Alecha." Hashem was telling Moshe Rabbeinu that it was not for him to accomplish, (with his Tefilla) rather Hashem alone was responsible for saving the new nation.

The Alei Shur (Vol. 2, pg. 580) remarks that this is the only time in the Torah when Hashem reveals that Tefillah does not play a role. The Vilna Gaon explains that Krias Yam Suf was a revelation of a very lofty spiritual attribute Hashem uses in His world to which our Tefillos can never reach. This middah of "Keil Elyon" whose essence is that of Hashem acting solely to reveal His Glory in the world, reveals His absolute love for Klal Yisroel.

It seems from this explanation that Klal Yisroel had no part in bringing the neis of Krias HaYam. This seems however, to contradict the way the Vilna Gaon's Talmid muvhak, R' Chaim Volozhin, explains the phenomenon.

The Nefesh Hachayim explains the aforementioned pasuk as follows: when Hashem asked Moshe, "why do you cry out.," He was telling him that it is all up to the Bnei Yisroel to bring the neis about. If they would be at the highest point of Emunah and Bitachon and go without fear into the Yam, then they would cause a hisorirus l'maleh which will bring about the neis. How does this contradict the words of R' Chaim Volozhiner's Rebbe, the Gaon? There is no contradiction, says the Aley Shur. Here we see the power of Bitachon-even something Tefillah cannot accomplish, Bitachon can!

How did Klal Yisroel get to such a lofty level of Bitachon? Witnessing the ten makos which Hashem inflicted upon the Mitzrim on their behalf, and feeling Hashem's care and protection, Bnai Yisroel naturally developed a great feeling of reliance and trust in Hashem.

Matan Torah and the presence of Hashem in the Mishkan were the "marriage" between Hashem and the Jewish people. The makkos were Hashem's way of building this relationship by showing His love for the Jewish people; winning our favor so to speak. After feeling this care and love from Hashem we were expected to return and place our Bitachon in Hashem-which we did. This brought us to a greater miracle and revelation. We can extend these lessons into our own lives. Each of us in our own lives can feel Hashem's help and care if we think about it, and use this awareness of Hashem's closeness to place our trust in Him.

Rabbi Shapiro is a full time member of the Kollel.

Halacha Encounters

How to Make Salad on Shabbos

Rabbi Ephraim Friedman

Bracha Achrona on Fruit

With Tu B'Shvat upon us, I would like to address a number of points regarding the halachos of brochos on fruit.

We are aware that although apples and grapes have a common brocha rishona (borei pri haeitz), they differ with regard to brocha achrona. One who eats a k'zayis of apple recites afterwards borei nefoshos. The same is true of oranges, pears peaches and most fruit of the tree. However, one who eats a k'zayis of one of the five fruits for which Eretz Yisroel is praised (i.e. grapes, figs pomegranates, olives and dates) must recite afterwards a brocha achas ma'ain shalosh. The text of the brocha is identical to the al hamichiya recited after eating cake, pasta or other grain products, except that the phrases 'al hamichya v'al hakalka;a' at the beginning of the brocha and 'al ha'aretz v'al hamichya' at the end are replaced by 'al haeitz v'al pri haeitz' and 'al ha'aretz v'al hapeiros' respectively. In a similar vein, one who drinks wine or grape juice recites a brocha achas ma'ain shalosh, inserting 'al hagefern v'al pri hagefen' and 'al haaretz v'al pri hagafen' at the appropriate junctures.

If one erroneously recites borei nefoshos after eating grapes or any of the five fruits listed above or after drinking wine, he has not fulfilled his obligation even b'dieved and he must still recite the correct brocha.(Mishna Brura 202:42 and 55 and 208:62) However, in the reverse situation, one who recited al haeitz after eating an apple or pear or any fruit of the tree has fulfilled his obligation of brocha achrona. Furthermore, one who eats both an apple and grapes or figs (etc.) recites only al haeitz on all the fruit he ate and omits borei nefoshos. The reason for this is simple. The brocha of al haeitz being of higher stature adequately fills one's obligation of brocha achrona on any fruit of the tree, just that one must eat at least a k'zayis of one of the five special fruits to be entitled to recite it.

A somewhat prevalent error is reciting al hamichya in place of al haeitz or al hagefen. If this occurs a distinction must be drawn between the halacha with regard to dates and wine, and with regard to the other special fruits. One who recites al hamichya after eating grapes, figs, pomegranates or olives is not yotzei and must still recite al haeitz. With regard to eating dates and drinking wine, the halacha is different. The Shulchan Aruch (O.C 208:17) states explicitly that if one recites bircas hamazone (bentching) - or even just the first brocha of bircas hamazone - after eating dates or drinking wine, he has fulfilled his brocha achrona obligation. The reason for this is that these two foods satiate the one who partakes of them more than other fruits, and in this way resemble bread. Based on this halacha, a number of achronim pasken that reciting al hamichya upon dates or wine would also be valid, given the similarity of this brocha to bircas hamazone. (L'vush 208:17, Be'er Haitev 208:23, and others) So, if, for example, after reciting havdalah and drinking a revi'is of wine, one mistakenly recites the brocha of al hamichya in place of al hagefen, he will have fulfilled his obligation. On the other hand, if after eating a k'zayis of raisins (which are the same as grapes with regard to hilchos brochos) - or figs on Tu B'Shvat one were to recite al hamichya, he would not be yotzei and would be required to then say al haeitz.

Let's take this a step further. We know that one who eats cake and drinks wine together (e.g. at a kiddush on Shabbos morning) must recite a two-fold brocha achrona. That is, he incorporates both al hamichya and al hagafen into one combined brocha, and thereby fulfills his obligation with regard to both the cake and the wine. Certainly, if one mistakenly mentioned only al hagefen and not al hamichya, he would, at that point, be required to repeat the brocha, this time mentioning only al hamichya. What if he made the opposite mistake, mentioning only al hamichya and omitted al hagefen? We're established that one who recites al hamichya after drinking wine is yotzei b'dieved. It would seem seem to follow, therefore, that in this case as well the al hamichya would cover him for both the cake and wine and he would not need to recite any other brocha.

Indeed, this is the psak of the Kaf HaChaim (208:78) and certain other Poskim. (See Piskei T'shuvos Vol. II, 208:19, note 157) However, a number of Gedolei HaPoskim - amongst them HaGaon Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank zt"l (Har Tzvi O.C. Vol. I, 105) and HaGaon Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach (Minchas Shlomo Vol. I, 91:6) - conclude that this is not the correct halacha. They explain that al hamichya will function as a brocha achrona on wine only when the individual drank wine alone and mistakenly recited al hamichya afterwards in place of al hagefen. In this situation, rather than rendering the al hamichya a brocha l'vataleh and requiring the individual to recite another brocha achrona, we will allow the al hamichya he recited to cover the wine as explained above. When, however, the individual ate cake as well, since the al hamichya will in any event work to cover the cake and not be considered l'vatalah, we limit its effect to the cake (for which it is the proper brocha achrona) and require a new brocha achrona on the wine.

The Minchos Shlomo draws support for this p'sak from a halacha in Shulchan Aruch O.C. 299:8. The Shulchan Aruch states there that if one recites havdalah over wine on Motzei Shabbos and, without reciting a brocha achrona, washes his hands, partakes of a meal and bentches, he must still recite a brocha achrona for the wine he drank. Apparently, even bircas hamazone will not cover wine (which was not part of the meal) unless it is specifically recited for that purpose. It would follow that the same would be true of al hamichya.

One final point of clarification. The brocha of al haeitz is required after eating fruit of the five species mentioned above regardless of whether or not the specific piece of fruit which was eaten actually grew in Israel. The fact that Eretz Yisroel is praised for producing these particular species gives the entire species an elevated status with regard to brochos. There is however one slight textual modification for fruit of these types which actually grew in Israel. The concluding phrase of the brocha for such fruit is "al haaretz v'al peiroseha' in place of 'al ha'aretz v'al hapeiros.' Similarly, with regard to wine produced from Israeli grapes, many substitute the phrase 'al ha'aretz v'al pri hagafen' with 'al ha'aretz v'al pri gafnah'.


Rabbi Freidman is the Moreh Hora'ah of Beis HaMedrash Mikor HaChaim and learns afternoons and evenings in the Kollel.

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