[Don't forget to see the Halacha
In this week’s parsha, Hashem
instructs Moshe to make a Menorah (Shemos 25:31) hammered out
from one piece. The Me’am Lo’ez on this topic provides
a Medrash saying that Moshe had difficulty understanding how
to lay out the design told to him. This is hinted at in the words: “Mikshah,
te’aseh.” Read the first word as: mikasheh- “with
difficulty,” and the word te’aseh as “will
be made” rather than the more obvious ta'aseh- "you
will make." This tells us that Moshe received the help of
The Medrash relates that Hashem proceeded with two attempts
to show Moshe how the Menorah should be formed. He displayed
with a flash of heavenly fire a blueprint of its base, main column
and six branches. Note that the Gematriya (numerical value) of
Menorah and Aish (fire) are identical - 301!
The Ba’al HaTurim points out that within the ten verses
in our sedrah (25:31-40) that describe its construction, the
word Menorah is mentioned seven times. This parallels the seven
days of Creation. Further, he indicates that within this section
there is no letter samech found. The same is true during the
recounting of Creation- there is no samech. The samech has a
negative connotation, because it is used as the first letter
of the word Satan. [Although the word Satan begins with a sin,
a samech and a sin are interchangeable.] No negative influence
was involved in the creation of the world, and there could be
no negative influence around the Menorah. Where a lamp is burning,
no harmful forces can have an influence. As is mentioned in Berachos
43b, a Talmid Chacham should not go out alone at night in the
dark to avoid such harmful influences.
The Menorah was placed on the south side of the Mishkan, opposite
the Shulchan. The Gemara in Menachos 86b, as elaborated by both
Rashi and Tosfos, indicates that this is proof that the Menorah
is not needed for illumination. Otherwise, it would be closer
to the Shulchan. Rashi also comments in parshas Beha’aloscha
(Numbers 8:2) that no one should say that Hashem needs the Menorah
for its light while His Shechinah dwells in the Holy Temple.
That is why the wicks in each of the 6 branches point towards
the middle column instead of straight up.
The question then becomes, “why a Menorah?” The six
branches point to the middle column just as the six days of Creation
point to the seventh day- one of rest- Shabbos. We go about our
daily lives either going away from or coming back to Shabbos.
It is an eternal seven-day cycle.
We count seven full weeks between Pesach and the next major
holiday, Shavuos. Yosef HaTzadik envisioned seven years of plenty
and seven years of famine. Seven represents the limit of nature.
To go beyond seven is to go beyond nature. That is why a bris
is on the eighth day for a newborn child, as it is a contract
with He Who is beyond nature. And that is why we use an eight-candle
menorah for Chanukah. The miracle of burning oil from an undefiled
canister for eight days goes beyond the “derech hatevah,” or
The purpose of the Menorah is a reminder of how to work together
within the scope of the natural order. Hopefully, one day soon
the seven-cup Menorah will burn in our Holy Temple.
Mr. Teren learns nightly in the
Gambling and Lotteries
“All you need is a dollar and a dream.” How does
Halacha view the spending of that dollar and the dreams that
follow? Is there any Halachic issue regarding the purchase of
a lottery ticket? What is one’s obligation regarding separating
Maaser (tithes) from his winnings?
The Mishna in Sandhedrin [3,3] tells us that those who play dice (i.e. gamblers)
are disqualified from serving as judges or witnesses in the Jewish court.
There is a disagreement in the Gemorah [24b] as to the reason. Rabi bar Chama’s
opinion is that dice playing involves an “Asmachta”. Asmachta
is a conditional offer to pay money, made with the conviction that the condition
will not come to pass. When one bets money on the dice he genuinely believes
he will win. Hence if he loses, he gives up money he never intended to part
with. Therefore the winner of the bet is taking money not rightfully his
and that money is considered Gezel Middirabanan [though not considered stealing
according to Torah law nonetheless classified as stealing by Rabbinic law].
R’ Shaishes in the Gemorah argues that this is not classified as Asmachta.
His reasoning is that since when one gambles he realizes there is a chance
that he will lose, and chooses to gamble anyway, from the onset he’s
aware he might have to part with his money and he assumes that risk. For
what reason, then, is he disqualified from serving in the courts? He explains
that one who engages in such activity is disqualified from serving in the
courts because he is not involved in Yeshuro Shel Olam i.e. a profession
making a constructive contribution to society. However, the Gemorah adds
that according to this opinion it would only apply to a full time gambler.
The Shulchan Aruch [C.M. 370:3] rules that dice playing is forbidden and [one
who takes payment] is considered gezel midirabanan. However the Rema states
that the prevalent custom has been to permit this and only one who is a full
time gambler would be disqualified. [As an aside the Revush [Teshuvos Revush
432] discourages gambling in very strong terms, even when permitted halachically.
Regarding gambling, he cites the passuk in Mishlei [7:24] “For she
has felled many victims and the number of her slain is huge.” Regarding
gambling in a casino, because of the obvious pritzus [immodestly clad patrons
and workers] and similar concerns, entering such a place would involve many
other serious halachic issues. See Bava Basra 57b and Mishna Berura 75:7]
Seemingly, lottery tickets should be dependent on this argument between the
Shulchan Aruch and Rema. However Dayan Spitz in Mishpitei Hatorah [Volume
I Siman 28] maintains that a lottery does not involve any issues of Asmachta.
The reasoning is twofold. From the perspective of the sellers of the lottery
tickets, they obviously intend and want to pay the winner of the lottery.
Failure on their part to pay the winner would make that lottery the last
one of their career. No one would purchase a ticket where payment of the
winnings is in doubt. Therefore to keep their business alive they intend
and want to pay the full amount. From the side or the buyer there is a different
reason the issue of Asmachta is avoided. When one purchases a commodity that
has a market value, it is considered a sale; as opposed to a wager. There
is no claim on a sale that I didn’t really mean to buy it. Therefore
when one purchases a lottery ticket which has a fair market value, the issue
of Asmachta is avoided. [This reason would apply from the side of the seller
as well.] To extend this point even further, R’ Spitz poses the following
question: If one would rip up the ticket of his friend, how much would he
be obligated to pay? What if the ticket turned out to be the winning ticket?
R’ Spitz rules that based on the rule that all damages are evaluated
based on their value at the time of damage, if one would rip the ticket before
the drawing he would only be obligated one dollar. This would be true even
if the ticket turned out to be the winning one, since at the point of damage
its market value was only one dollar. In conclusion, based upon the above,
that a lottery ticket is not a gamble or wager but rather a sale of an item
with a market value, in addition to the fact that the seller intends and
wants to pay the winner, it would be Halachically permissible to purchase
a lottery ticket. Good Luck!
Maaser from Winnings
One has an obligation to separate Maaser from winnings from a lottery as he
would from any other profit [Igros Moshe O.H. 4-76]. However one is only
obligated to separate Maaser on the amount he actually receives after taxes
[Sefer Maaser Kesafim quoting Teshuvos Afakasta Vanya Siman 88].
Weinrib is a full-time member of the Kollel and is a frequent
contributor to Halacha Encounters.
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