Parsha Encounters



Parshas Tazria:

We're All Connected

Rabbi Yonatan Glenner

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The Pasuk states in Perek 13, Pasuk 2, " If an Adam (person) will have on the skin of his flesh a s'eis.and it will become a tzaraas affliction on the skin of his flesh, he shall be brought to Aharon Hakohen or to one of his sons, the Kohanim." 

            The Ohr Hachayim HaKadosh explains that this Pasuk is the source for why Goyim are not afflicted with Tzaraas.  He explains based on the Drashah of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai (Yevamos 61A) that the term Adam is only used by the Torah to describe Bnei Yisrael (not any other nation).  Our Pasuk uses the word "Adam" rather than "Ish" or "Enosh" which proves that only Jewish people can be afflicted with Tzaraas. 

            This needs explanation.  What is so special about the word "Adam" that it is used to describe Hashem's nation, Bnei Yisrael?  Furthermore, the Gemarah in Eiruchin (16A,B) states that Tzaraas is a result of speaking Lashon Harah.  The nations of the world are also guilty of slanderous speech and gossip. Why then, is Tzaraas exclusive to the Jewish nation?

            The author of Kitzur Shulchan Aruch in his Sefer "Apiryon" explains as follows: There is an intrinsic difference in the make-up and natural state of Klal Yisrael and the Goyim.  Regarding the Goyim, there is no real existence of Achdus (unity) between one person and the next.  Whatever "Achdus" they possess is not intrinsically part of their natural state, but rather it is superficial and  temporary.  The oneness of Klal Yisrael, on the other hand, is a reality.  It is part of their natural state and an integral part of their make-up.  The Sefarim Hakedoshim explain that there is a spiritual connection between all the souls of Klal Yisrael ( see Tomer Devorah, Perek 1;Middah 4 and Maharal: beginning of  his Sefer Ner Mizvah).  This explains the fact that "Kol Yisrael Aravim Zeh L'Zeh" for in essence, we are one big Nefesh. 

We can now explain why Tzaraas does not affect the other nations of the world.  Loshon Harah which causes separation and works against Achdus, can only damage Am Yisrael whose integral make-up is oneness. Therefore, damage is being done to their natural state.  By the nations of the world, however, since they are not intrinsically bound to one another, their natural state is not affected by Lashon Harah.  No damage is done, but rather they remain in the same state as they were before.

Based on this, we can explain why the word "Adam" refers only to Klal Yisrael.  Any other word that can be substituted for "Adam", for example "Ish" or "Enosh" have a singular form, as well as a plural form.  The word "Adam", however, is always used in the singular form. Therefore, it alludes to Klal Yisrael because only Am Yisrael have real oneness - "K'ish Echad B'lev Echad." 

The Pasuk continues that the person with Tzaraas should be brought to Aharon or one of his sons, the Kohanim.  Atonement for Lashon Harah can only be brought through Aharon and the Kohanim, who are the epitome of peace and unity.

In 1912, Mendel Beilus was brought to trial in Kiev.  He was accused of  slaughtering a Christian child in order to use his blood for the baking of Matzos. Their accusation was based on the Gemarah mentioned above that " Jews are called "Adam"-men, but gentiles are not called "Adam"-men."  Rav Meir Shapiro approached Rav Mazeh, the Rav of Moscow, and provided him with material that would disprove the accusation that the Talmud approved of the murder of Gentiles.  After Mendel Beilus was acquitted, Rav Shapiro commented that, indeed, the singular form "Adam" can only be applied to Jews, for only they see themselves as a unified body.  When Mendel Beilus was arrested, the entire Jewish world was in an uproar and wanted to intercede on his behalf.  Rav Shapiro wondered what would the reaction of gentiles be if one of their own had been arrested and charged?  Perhaps the people who knew him would be concerned or curious, but they would never band together as the Jews had done for Mendel Beilus.  The gentiles might well be called "Anashim", but never could they be referred to as "Adam."

As Pesach approaches, we focus and pray for our final redemption.  Let us not forget that the Bais Hamikdash was destroyed due to Lashon Harah and Sinas Chinam (baseless hatred).  Let us take positive action and work on ourselves so that our Tefilos for the Geulah are not futile! 


R' Yonatan Glenner learns full-time in the Chicago Community Kollel.

Halacha Encounters

The Yarmulke

Rabbi Yisroel Langer

The Beracha of Shehecheyanu on Yom Tov

At the beginning of every Yom Tov we recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu during Kiddush. Everyone is obligated in this beracha; men and women alike. Outside of Eretz Yisroel this beracha is recited on the second night of Yom Tov as well as the first. The only days of Yom Tov on which this beracha is not recited are the final two days of Pesach (since these days are not considered to be a new Yom Tov).

The best time to recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu is during Kiddush. If one accidentally omitted the Shehecheyanu from Kiddush on the first night of Yom Tov, he recites it any time he remembers throughout the entire first day. If one forgets the beracha of Shehecheyanu on the second night, he may recite it up until the end of Yom Tov, (i.e. through the eighth day of Pesach).[1]

When do Women Recite the Shehecheyanu?

The Matteh Efraim[2] says that the minhag is for women to recite the beracha of Shehecheyanu when lighting2b the Yom Tov candles (except of course for the final two days of Pesach). Hagaon Rav Yaakov Emden[3] holds that since there are no early halachic authorities who mention this minhag, a woman should not make a Shehecheyanu when lighting candles but rather wait until Kiddush to fulfill her obligation (by listening to the Shehecheyanu of the one making Kiddush). However, he adds, if a woman already has the minhag to make the Shehecheyanu after hadlakas neiros (candle lighting) she should not change her minhag[4]. This is also the Psak of Hagaon R' Akiva Eiger and the Mishnah Berurah[5]. If a woman is reciting Kiddush herself (e.g. Pesach night where some have the minhag that all members of the family including the women recite Kiddush) and she already said the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros, according to everyone she does not repeat it at kiddush.

Do Women Answer "Amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush?

When one makes a beracha on food, after the beracha is made he may not speak until he partakes of the food. Even to answer "amen" to another beracha is prohibited. If one does speak out loud, he must repeat the beracha. On this note the Poskim deal with the following Sheila. If a woman recited the beracha of Shehecheyanu at hadlakos neiros, (in accordance with her minhag) should she answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush? HaGaon R' Tzvi Pesach Frank zt"l[6]rules that since the woman already fulfilled her obligation of Shehecheyanu, to answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush would be a Hefsek (interruption), between the beracha of Borei Pri Hagafen and the drinking of the wine. Therefore if she intends to drink wine she may not answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush. The Shevet HaLevi[7] and HaGaon R' Yosef Shalom Elyashiv[8] agree partially to this ruling. They maintain that although a woman should not answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush, on the Yom Tov of Pesach[9] she should. The reason is that the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros covers the Yom Tov, while the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush on Pesach night covers the other mitzvos of the night as well[10] (matzah, four cups of wine, etc.). Therefore, even if one recited Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros, to answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush would not be a hefsek.

The practice of most households is for the woman to answer "amen" to the Shehecheyanu of Kiddush even if she already recited the Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros. This practice is condoned by HaGaon R' Moshe Feinstein zt"l[11]and HaGaon R' Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt"l[12]. Rav Moshe explains that everyone who is listening to Kiddush is considered subordinate to the one making Kiddush. Therefore, just as the Shehecheyanu is not a hefsek for the one making Kiddush so too it is not considered a hefsek for those listening to his Kiddush (even if they fulfilled their obligation of Shehecheyanu at hadlakas neiros).[13]


[1] M.B. 473:1

[2] 581:54

2b Within this Minhag, some women recite the berachos before lighting the candles while others recite the berachos afterward (like on Shabbos). See Moadim Uzmanim Hagadah p. 48 that even if one recites the beracha before lighting the candles the Shehecheyanu should be recited after the candles are lit. However the minhag is not like this.

[3] Sheilas Yaavetz 107

[4] As was the case with R' Yaakov Emden's own wife.

[5] 263 s.k. 23

[6] Har Tzvi 154

[7] Volume III, 69

[8] quoted in Shvus Yitzchok Pesach 7:3

[9] see Shevet halevi that this holds true for succos as well.

[10] See Siddur hayavetz and Kaf Hachaim (473 s.k. 6) that when one makes the Shehecheyanu at kiddush he should have in mind that it's going on all the Mitzvos of Yom Tov. (see Seder Haruch volume I p. 288 Footnote 11 who gives an explanation as to why the Mishna Berura doesn't mention this halacha.

[11] Igros Moshe Volume IV 101:1. Rav Moshe proves this to be the appropriate practice from R' Yakov Emden mentioned before. For if one would not be allowed to answer "Amen", R' Yaakov Emden would not have allowed his wife to keep the custom of saying Shehecheyanu at candlelighting. See also Igros Moshe Volume IV 21:9

[12] Minchos Shlomo Volume II 58:2

[13] see Minchos Shlomo (ibid.) who offers an alternative explanation as to why the "Amen" is not considered a hefsek


Rabbi Langer learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent contributor to Halacha Encounters.

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