Parsha Encounters



Parshas Vayikra - Emor:

We're All Connected

Rabbi Yehuda Krohn

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

Parshas Emor

We're All Connected

Elazar Yitzchak Teren

Vayikra 22:18 states ".... l'chal nidrayhem u'lchol nidvosam.."  The Torah discusses the desire   for anyone to offer either a vow or charitable offering as an Olah (burnt offering). The subsequent verse states: "Lirtzonchem".. for your own desire (or satisfaction).

Both the Neder and N'davah offerings are given of free will- not because of an obligation due to a significant day in the calendar or as a kapparah (atonement) for a wrong doing.. So, what can there be such a difference in doing something voluntarily that two types are listed?

A Mishnah in Megilla 8a states: "There is no difference between a Neder and a N'davah except for achrayus [responsibility]." The Gemara goes on to explain that the one who gives a Neder offering says "Harei Alai Olah - it is upon me a Burnt Offering."  The one who gives a N'davah offering says "Harei Zo Olah - here is this Burnt Offering." [It should be noted that a voluntary offering is not limited to an Olah. A Shelamim (or Peace Offering) may also be a valid Neder or N'davah. The Mishnah restricts its example due to the context of the verses quoted.]  The implication is that  the one who gives a Neder, vows upon himself a general binding obligation. So, if the animal he has designated for the offering subsequently is lost, stolen or dies, he is responsible to replace it. The one who gives the N'davah uses a more specific obligation, giving this particular animal. He intends to offer only this animal and no other. Thus, he is not on the hook for a replacement if the animal is lost, stolen or dies after it has been designated.

Tosfos here asks how the Mishnah can boldly state that there is no difference except for responsibility when indeed there are other obvious differences. One example is that a N'davah can come from Ma'aser money whereas a Neder can come only from Chulin (money not yet sanctified).

There are several Mishnayot in the first chapter of Maseches Megilla that are expressed in the similar format of "Ayn Bein - There is no difference between..."  Tosfos on the first Mishnah in chapter 7 of Bava Kamma [62b] makes note that the Mishnah there does not use this seemingly popular format and comments that our Mishnayot in Megilla are going out of their way to stress  the most significantly chamur (stringent) differences in various mitzvot.  

Maybe the lesson to learn from this noted difference is how difficult it is to accept responsibility even when doing something out of the goodness of the heart. It is easy to give a voluntary sacrifice of free will (N'davah) especially if we can use ma'aser money. But let's see how generous we are in the quality of the bird or animal if we have to use chulin money.  Let's see how generous we are if the animal has to be replaced if it is lost or stolen or dies before it gets to be sacrificed.  That is why the Torah follows up in the next verse that these voluntary gifts must be even to our own liking. 

The Gemara is also quick to point out that both the Neder and the N'davah should not be delayed once it is decided that we will give one or the other. Although the Torah is discussing voluntary sacrifices, maybe we should extend the analogy. The next time we do a voluntary mitzvah, try showing  some sense of urgency as well as chashivus (importance) to the task.  It's more than the thought that counts.


Halacha Encounters

Making Early Shabbos

Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein

With the long summer days already here, the starting time for Shabbos just keeps getting later and later.  For some, especially those with small children at home, these late weeks can be quite difficult, with the Shabbos Seuda sometimes only beginning hours after the children have gone to bed.  It has therefore become a common practice for families to "bring in Shabbos early" during these months.  We will examine some of the background of this practice, as well as some pertinent halachic issues that can arise.

The Halachic Background

The practice of making Shabbos early is not a new convention.  In fact, the Gemora tells us that this was the practice of the Amora, Rav.  The Gemora relates that Rav would daven the Shabbos davening on Erev Shabbos and would even make the Shabbos Kiddush on wine at that time as well.[1]  The Rema therefore rules, "If one wants to be early and accept Shabbos upon himself from the time of Plag HaMincha and on, he is permitted to do so."[2]  [Plag HaMincha is half way between the times of Mincha Ketana and Shkias HaChama.]  Prior to this time, one cannot accept Shabbos upon himself.  Even if he tries to do so, his acceptance is meaningless.[3]  However, once Plag HaMincha has arrived, if one accepts Shabbos on himself, it is Shabbos for him and all regular Shabbos prohibitions apply.[4]  In doing so, one fulfills the mitzvah of Tosefes Shabbos - the requirement to accept Shabbos upon one's self early (and to end Shabbos late).[5]

Telling Others to do Melacha

Even though, as mentioned above, once a person accepts Shabbos they are forbidden from performing any Shabbos melachos, there is, however, one leniency that applies during this time of Tosefes Shabbos.  It is permissible during this time to ask of another Jew (who has not yet accepted Shabbos)[6] or non-Jew[7] to do anything we need, even if that act would involve melacha.  Even though on Shabbos itself it is never permissible to tell a Jew to do melacha and there are severe limitations regarding when a non-Jew may be instructed to do prohibited activity for a Jew, during this time none of these restrictions apply.

Husband and Wife

There is a discussion amongst the poskim regarding the status of a woman whose husband has accepted Shabbos early.  There are those who maintain that once her husband accepts Shabbos, a woman is automatically considered to have accepted Shabbos upon herself as well and she may no longer perform any forbidden Shabbos melachos.[8]  However, the opinion of HaGaon Rav Moshe Feinstein zt"l was that women are not bound to begin Shabbos at the same time as their husbands.  They may continue doing melacha and preparing for Shabbos even after their husbands have gone to shul and accepted Shabbos upon themselves (providing, of course, that a majority of the community had not yet accepted Shabbos, as below).[9]

The Entire Community Accepts Shabbos Early

If one lives in a community that accepts Shabbos early, once the majority of his community has accepted Shabbos he must now conduct himself as if it were Shabbos for him as well and he is forbidden from performing any Shabbos prohibitions.[10] 

If, however, there are several shuls in the town, even if someone is a "regular" in a particular shul, that shul is not considered his "community" with respect to the prohibitions of Shabbos setting in for him when his shul accepts Shabbos.  If there are still a majority of shuls in town that did not yet accept Shabbos, he may continue to do melacha[11] until either he accepts Shabbos upon himself or the majority of the shuls in that town have accepted Shabbos.

Furthermore, the poskim rule that if the community is accepting Shabbos early merely as a convenience (as many do in the summer) then under no circumstances is one obliged to begin Shabbos with them.

On rule, however, will apply to any situation of a shul making early Shabbos.   If one arrives late and the congregation has already accepted Shabbos,[12] he may not daven a weekday Mincha in the actual sanctuary that the tzibur is davening in.

[1] Berachos 27b

[2] 261:2

[3] Mishna Berura s.k. 255.  If it were to happen that in the Summer when making early Shabbos, a woman accidentally lit candles prior to Plag Hamincha, a shailoh should be asked regarding what the proper procedure should then be.

[4] ibid

[5] 261:2

[6] 263:17

[7] Melachim Umnayich chap. 3

[8] This was the opinion of HaGaon Rav Yaakov Kaminetsky zt"l as related by HaRav Dovid Zucker shlit"a.  In fact, during the summer months in Rav Yaakov's shul, the luach of z'manim for Shabbos included the time by which women should have lit candles, corresponding to the expected time for the tzibbur to have reached Mizmor shir.  See also Megillas Sefer (teshuvos) siman 7.

[9] Igros Moshe O.C. 3:38.  Rav Moshe contends, however, that the wife should not perform any melacha specifically for her husband during this time.  See, however, SS"K 46 note 42 who questions this restriction.

[10] See Shemiras Shabbos K'Hilchaso 46 note 31 that this may only apply if the tzibbur accepted Shabbos together, as a tzibbur and not if they accepted it individually.

[11] 263:12 and SS"K 46:7

[12] See 263:16 - he may begin his Mincha before the congregation accepts Shabbos, however, even if he knows he will not finish his Shmoneh Esrei prior to their accepting Shabbos (at Mizmor shir l'yom haShabbos or Bor'chu of Maariv).


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