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Friday, October 28

The Weekly Shtikle - Noach

A good handful of dedications this week. First, an overdue one: A couple of weeks ago, a little baby boy was born to my brother-in-law, Aharon Yeres, and his wife, Rachelle. His dedication slipped through the cracks as he was born after Rosh HaShanah and I did not send anything for Yom Kippur. So this week's shtikle is dedicated to little Yaakov Simcha Yeres.

Staying in the realm of Simcha (in more ways than one), this Shabbos is the Bar Mitzvah of my wife's cousin, Simcha Karoly in Toronto. A special Mazal Tov shtikle dedication to him and the extended mishpachah, as well.

Finally, this past Wednesday, 28th of Tishrei, was the 10th Yahrtzeit of my dear friend, Daniel Scarowsky, o"h. This week's shtikle is dedicated leiluy nishmaso, Daniel Moshe Eliyahu ben Yitzchak.
    The world was created with Adam HaRishon as its first inhabitant. Thus, the generic Hebrew word for a person is "ben-Adam," son of Adam. However, the world was destroyed and civilization began anew with Noach taking on the roll as the father of all humans. Nevertheless, in the Talmud and other halachic sources, the term "ben-Noach" is used specifically to refer to gentiles. We do not include Noach as one of the forefathers. Rather, Avraham is considered the father of Judaism. Considering that Noach is lauded as a righteous man in his generation, why is it that he is dismissed as a forefather and is not a vital player in our ancestry?
    R' Ephraim Eisenberg, z"l, of Ner Yisroel, offers a possible approach. Rashi writes (7:7) that although Noach fulfilled HaShem's every command, he did not enter the ark until the rain actually began to fall. Although there are many interpretations offered to shed a more positive light on this comment, Rashi undeniably describes Noach as "miketanei amanah," from the lesser believers. It is this trait that disqualifies Noach as a forefather. There are two types of believers. There are those who obey HaShem's word for no reason other than to fulfill their Divine command. Others, although faithful, are influenced by other forces and influences. Noach was not faithless. However, with this display, he placed himself firmly in the second category. He did not enter the ark because he was told to but because it began to rain.
    In next week's parsha, Avraham Avinu exhibits the exact opposite trait. He is asked by HaShem to leave his place of birth and journey to a foreign land. Rashi comments that Avraham was told that the move would be to his benefit. Nevertheless, the pasuk recounts, (12:4) "And Avram went as HaShem told him." Avraham did not pick up and leave because of the personal gain that was promised to him, but merely because he was told to do so by HaShem. This is the virtue to which we aspire in the service of HaShem and that is why Avraham is a forefather and not Noach.
Have a good Shabbos and Chodesh Tov.
Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: The Weight of the Teiva and The Constant Rate of Recession (not about the current economy)
AstroTorah: Sailing the Friendly Skies by R' Ari Storch

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,
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Wednesday, October 19

The Weekly Shtikle - Bereishis

    On the second day of creation, HaShem declares that there should be a firmament amidst the waters that shall divide between the waters. The next pasuk (7) describes that HaShem did so and ends with "vayhi chein," and it was so. Four other pesukim dealing with the creation end with the very same words. However, this one is decidedly different. The other four are pesukim dealing with a declaration of HaShem. The pasuk tells nothing of HaShem actually performing the said tasks. The words "vayhi chein" are therefore needed to tell me that it was done. However, here the pasuk details the actual task as it was performed. Why then does the pasuk need to reiterate that it was so?
    Or HaChayim answers simply that the words are going back on the previous pasuk. After detailing the performing of the steps of creation declared in the previous pasuk, it is evident that it was so.
    However, Ramban and the GR"A suggest that this phrase is teaching us something extra. With regards to the firmament and the splitting of the waters, the seemingly superfluous "vayhi chein" is not teaching us that it was then but rather that so it was and so it will always be. This step of creation had a certain eternal permanence to it.
    Perhaps we can build upon the answer of the Or HaChayim which, at first, seemed overly simplistic. While this instance of "vayhi chein" is different, it is also the first of the five. Perhaps here it is acting as an example. It is quite clear that everything HaShem declared to be done in pasuk 6 was in fact performed in pasuk 7 - no more, no less. This then becomes the definition of "vayhi chein." From here we know that with every other step of creation, any time we see the words "vayhi chein," it carries with it the same precision and exactness as it did on day two. (Pasuk 11 and Rashi's commentary seem to contradict this approach. However, I did see an explanation from R' Ovadia miBartenura which would reconcile the two.)

Have a good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
AstroTorah: The Two Luminaries

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,
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The Weekly Shtikle - Shemini Atzeres

This past Sunday was the Yahrtzeit of HaRav Naftali Neuberger, zt"l of Ner Yisroel.
This shtikle is dedicated le'iluy nishmaso, Naftali ben Meir.

On Shemini Atzeres we begin to recite "Mashiv haruach umorid hagashem" in the middle of the second berachah of Shemonah Esreih. This phrase is so integral to the Shemonah Esreih that if it is omitted, Shemonah Esreih must be repeated. A question arises when one is in doubt as to whether or not they have recited it. Tur (OC 114) writes that this uncertainty, like many uncertainties in halachah, is decided by means of chazakah, an inclination that indicates which way to resolve the uncertainty. After thirty days of reciting the phrase properly, it is considered habitual and if one is uncertain as to whether or not they have recited it, they may assume that they have. Within the thirty days one must assume that they have not become accustomed enough and have likely omitted it and must repeat Shemonah Esreih.

Tur cites a tactic from Maharam MiRutenberg (and adds that his father, the Rosh agreed to this) to remedy this problem even within the first thirty days. On Shemini Atzeres, he would recite the beginning of the second blessing until "Mashiv haruach, etc." 90 times corresponding to the 90 times he would say it during the 30 days. This allowed him to be considered accustomed immediately and if he ever was unsure whether or not he said "Mashic haruach" he would not have to repeat Shemonah Esreih.

Tur also cites the source for this trick. The mishnah (Bava Kamma 23b) relates a dispute between R' Yehudah and R' Meir regarding the establishment of an ox as a goring ox. The Torah (Shemos 21:29) teaches that if an ox has gored already yesterday and the day before, i.e. three times, it is considered "muad," prone to gore and the consequences change. R' Yehudah takes the words of the pasuk literally and requires that three gores take place on three separate days. R' Meir, however, considers an ox prone for goring even if it gored three times in one day. His reasoning, employed by Maharam MiRutenberg, is that if spaced out gores establish the ox as prone, certainly more frequent gores will establish the same. So too, if the recitation of "Mashiv haruach" 90 times in 30 days establishes one as accustomed, certainly doing so in one day should accomplish the same.

The Magen Avraham and Taz attack this reasoning as the halachic conclusion of the gemara is in accordance with R' Yehudah. How then can Maharam MiRutenberg employ the reasoning of R' Meir?

The Drishah and Noda Bihudah give the identical answer to this difficulty. The reason why R' Yehudah disagrees with R' Meir is due to his literal interpretation of the pasuk. In theory, however, he totally agrees with R' Meir's logic. Therefore, although we rule halachically like R' Yehudah with respect to the laws of the ox, the reasoning of R' Meir is still valid and may be employed in our situation.

Have a good Yom Tov.

Eliezer Bulka

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Wednesday, October 12

The Weekly Shtikle - Sukkos

    As part of the requisite mitzvos pertaining to Sukkos, we are told (Vayikra 23:42) "You shall dwell in sukkos for a seven day period." It is interesting to note that the word sukkos is in plural. The first inclination would be that this because the nation as a whole will dwell in many sukkos. However, the adjacent mitzvah of the four species refers to the esrog and the lulav in singular form, despite the fact that the nation as a whole will be taking many of those. Why, then is the wording for the mitzvah of sukkah different?
    There is a big difference between the mitzvah of sukkah and that of lulav and esrog. The mitzvah to take a lulav and esrog is very personal and private in nature. This is epitomized by the fact that one must own his own four species and cannot fulfill the mitzvah with someone else's.
    The mitzvah of sukkah, by contrast, is one that naturally includes others. Everyone makes the sukkah their temporary dwelling, the place where they eat all of their meals. Some are unable to make their own. Families and individuals, whether they have their own sukkah or not, are almost certain to share this mitzvah with others, either by eating in others' sukkah or inviting them eat in their own. Therefore, the mitzvah of sukkah is given in the plural because it is the intention that one should eat in many sukkos whereas the mitzvah of lulav and esrog can only be fulfilled with one's own set of the four species.
Have a good Yom Tov and good Shabbos.

Eliezer Bulka

Shtikle Blog Weekly Roundup:
Al Pi Cheshbon: The Search for Worthy ... Humans (Koheles)
AstroTorah: Sukkahtarium

Please visit the new portal for all Shtikle-related sites,
The Weekly Shtikle and related content are now featured on