Rav Moshe Twersky zt”l On the Parsha


By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman

זאת תהיה תורת המצורע ביום טהרתו והובא אל הכהן   יד:ב

Chazal tell us that Klal Yisrael were purged of the defilement of the primordial Serpent through the experience of Maamad Har Sinai, and death would no longer be applicable to them.  However, because of the sin of the eigel ha’zahav, that defilement returned.  The Leviim, though, did not participate in the debacle of the eigel ha’zahav.  They were nevertheless included in the restored reality of death because of a “gezeiras ha’kasuv” type of blanket-rule. However, they still retained a certain quality that transcends the reality of death.  This quality is manifest in the fact that removing the defilement of a dead body can be executed only be a Kohen.  This finds expression in the Kohen’s exclusive ability to carry out the purification process of a metzoraChazal tell us that the defiled state of a metzora is akind to the tumah of a dead body.  The Kohen’s ability to do away with that tumah stems from the fact that Shevet Levi had no part in the eigel ha’zahav.  They therefore maintained – to some degree – the power of being above death that granted us at Maamad Har Sinai.

(From Reb Matis Feld)


והבא אל הבית…יטמא…והשכב בבית יכבס את בגדיו והאכל בבית יכבס את בגדיו       יד:מו-מז

A Mishna in Maseches Negaim (13:9) says that we learn from these pesukim the following halacha: if someone carries keilim (e.g. clothing, shoes, jewelry) into a house that is afflicted with tzaraas, just like the person becomes tamei right away because he is bah el ha’bayis – he entered the house – so too do the keilim become tamei right away, because they are also “bah el ha’bayis”.  However, if the person is wearing those keilim, then only he becomes tameiright away, but the keilim do not become tamei unless he stays inside the tzaraas house for the amount of time equivalent to k’dei achilas pras.

So, the question is, what happened?  Why is it that, all of a sudden, the keilim are not considered bah el ha’bayis because the person is wearing them?

The Beis Ha’Levi answers that when the person is wearing them, they become batel and tafel to him.  So they do not have their own, independent entry into the house.

Based on this, the Beis Ha’Levi propounded the following tremendous chiddush.  Two people reach a doorway simultaneously.  One is carrying teffilin and the other is wearing teffilin.  Who should go in first?  The one carrying the teffilin goes in first!  Why?  Because the teffilin that are being worn are, in a certain sense, batel to the person wearing them.  It is not the teffilin that are waiting to enter, but the person.  However, the teffilin that are being carried are not batel to the one carrying them.  They are considered as “independently” about to enter through this doorway, and the other person therefore has to demonstrate respect by letting them go first.  So the person carrying teffilin is the one who should go in first.

One cannot help but be amazed by this idea.  But after that – after the amazement – one should note that there are others who object to this chiddushbased on a Mishna in Maseches Bikurim (3:3) that says the workers in Yerushalayim would have to stand up for the people bringing Bikurim (even though those under the employ of others are exempt from rising for Talmidei Chachamim) because the latter are involved in performing a mitzvah.  That being the case, even if you want to say that there is no requirement for the one carrying the teffilin to demonstrate respect for the other teffilin because they’re batelto the person wearing them; nevertheless, he should still have to honor the person who is currently involved in the fulfillment of the mitzvah of teffilin! There are mefarshim, though, who hold that it is specifically regarding Bikurim that even the workers have to show them honor because it’s a whole group of people that is doing the mitzvah (ed. note: see the pirush ha’mishnayos of the Rambam who says this explicitly).  If that is the case, then it really is not such a kashya on the Beis Ha’Levi since there wouldn’t be a source for requiring someone to show honor to an individual involved in doing a mitzvah. According to the other mefarshim, though, that imply that there is no difference between an individual and a group of people vis a vis the requirement of rising for those involved in a mitzvah, there is a heh’arah from this Mishna in Bikurim on the Beis Ha’Levi.

(From an audio recording.  Ed. note: perhaps Tosafos in Maseches Sukkah 25a [“Shluchei Mitzvah”] could provide an answer to the question on the Beis Ha’Levi, which would explain why Rav Twersky ended off by referring to it as a heh’arah as opposed to a kashya.)


Second Cup/Ha Lachma Anya

Our minhag, which is in accordance with the Shulchan Aruch, has the filling of the second cup after Ha Lachma Anya before Mah Nishtana.  However, theRambam puts the filling of the second cup before Ha Lachma Anya.

What is the basis of this machlokes?

The answer is that it is a function of yet another machlokes.  We have Yachatz right after Karpas.  The Rambam, though, puts Yachatz all the way afterMaggid and the drinking of the second cup, right before Motzi Matza.

Why do we break the matzah before Maggid?  It’s as the Mishna Brurah brings down from the Gemara, to fulfill both drashos of “lechem oni” – lechem sheh’onin alav devarim harbei – bread over which many words are said (meaning, maggid), and oni mi’lashon ani – poor – and the way of a poor man is to eat a prusah, a broken piece.  Our minhag, then, is to make the matzah into full-fledged lechem oni before we begin Maggid.

That being the case, the paragraph of Ha Lachma Anya, according to our minhag, is an explanation for the action of Yachatz.  Why did we just break thematzah?  Because it needs to be lechem oni.  So Ha Lachma Anya is not part of Maggid; it is just an explanation for Yachatz which is a preparation forMaggid.  That is why we only pour the second cup after Ha Lachma Anya.  We recite Maggid over the second cup.  Since Ha Lachma Anya, according to our minhag, is not part of Maggid, we wait until after it to pour the second cup.

According to the Rambam, though, that Yachatz only comes immediately preceding Motzi Matzah, it is obviously not possible to understand Ha Lachma Anya as an explanation of Yachatz.  Therefore, it must be that according to the Rambam, Ha Lachma Anya is in fact a part of Maggid.  Therefore, the cup over which Maggid is said must be in place before we begin Ha Lachma Anya.  That is why the Rambam puts the pouring of the second cup before Ha Lachma Anya.

(From Reb Meshulam Twersky)


Dalet Kosos – Kos shel Bracha or Din Cheirus

There is an opinion in Tosafos (Pesachim 99b) that for Dalet Kosos it is enough that just the leader of the seder drinks and everyone else is yotzei by listening to him.  According to this, there really is no qualitative difference between the four cups of seder night and any other Kos shel Bracha (just that onLeil Ha’Seider, Chazal required four Kosos shel Bracha, for each mitzvah for which each is used).

Tosafos is consistent with his opinion elsewhere.  Tosafos (Pesachim 107a) proves that m’lo lugmov (cheek-full) is the majority of a reviis from that which the Gemara says by Dalet Kosos that one must drink the majority of the cup’s contents.  What we see from this is that Tosafos holds that the amount one must drink for Dalet Kosos is the same as any other Kos shel Bracha.

The Ramban and others, though, argue on Tosafos.  The Ramban holds that for Dalet Kosos one must drink the majority of the contents of the cup irrespective of how large the cup is.  The Ramban understands that Dalet Kosos is primarily an obligation to drink the wine.  Accordingly, it is equally applicable to everyone, and listening alone will not suffice.  Everyone has to have their own cup so that they can fulfill the obligation to drink.  Also, since it is an obligation to drink, one has to drink the contents of that cup that he used – no matter how big it is.  However, since there is a halacha that rubo k’kulo, it is enough to drink the majority.

Parenthetically, there is a discussion about whether or not the halacha of rubo k’kulo – that majority is as if the whole – is only a b’dieved.  I don’t know if it is true or not.  By schach it is explicit that it is functioning with the halacha of rubo k’kulo, and yet the l’chatchila of schach is that there are supposed to be cracks here and there.  That would certainly not imply that rubo k’kulo is a b’dieved.  However, if it is true that employing rov is only b’dieved, there might be a l’chatchila to drink the whole cup according to the Ramban.  However, b’dieved is good enough.  If you’re drinking wine, b’dieved is good enough.  If you’re drinking grape juice, you can do whatever you want.

This opinion of the Ramban that Dalet Kosos is its own new din of chiyuv shtiyah (not like Tosafos) is explicit in the words of the Rambam as well.

According to Tosafos, the requirement of cheirus – in a manner of free men – that the Gemara talks about in respect to Dalet Kosos (108b) is only requiredl’chatchila (since Tosafos holds that Dalet Kosos is essentially no different than any other kos shel bracha).

The Rambam has a different shitah, a very beautiful shitah here.  The Rambam says (Hilchos Chametz u’Matza 7:6-7) that since there is a d’Oraysahobligation for one to act as though he himself was a slave who was redeemed and set free, one has to eat with heseibah, reclining.  The Brisker Rav points out that, unlike other Rishonim who hold that heseibah is merely one of the specifications of the mitzvos of eating matza and drinking dalet kosos, the opinion of the Rambam is that heseibah is an independent mitzvah by which one fulfills “chayav adam l’haros es atzmoh” – to act as Bnei Chorin, free men. That is why, as is clear from the Rambam, the obligation to be in a reclining position really applies to the whole meal, and reclining only by matza and dalet kosos is only a bare-minimum fulfillment.  This is unlike the other Rishonim who would hold that there is no point to do heseibah for the rest of the meal.

If one forgot to recline when eating matza and drinking dalet kosos, according to those Rishonim (e.g. Tosafos and Rosh) who hold that heseibah is one of the specifications of those mitzvos, he has to eat or drink again.  According to the Rambam, though, he was already yotzei those mitzvos and simply missed the opportunity to fulfill the separate mitzvah of cheirus, and there is no point to eat or drink again.

The Rambam continues with the obligation to drink Dalet Kosos and that it is incumbent upon everyone, men and women.  It is clear, then, that the opinion of the Rambam is that Dalet Kosos, in addition to being a Kos shel Bracha, is part of how we fulfill the mitzvah of conducting ourselves in a manner ofcheirus on seder night.

Regarding the requirement to dilute the wine (as wine was extremely strong in the times of Chazal), as well, it is clear that the Rambam differs fromTosafos.  Whereas Tosafos holds that the requirement to dilute the wine of the Dalet Kosos is like that of any other Kos shel Bracha, the Rambam writes that it is because Dalet Kosos must be a shtiyah areivah, an enjoyable drink, and the specific ration of dilution therefore goes according to whatever the one drinking enjoys.  This is, of course, because the Rambam holds that Dalet Kosos is a din of derech cheirusBnei chorin drink wine that they appreciate.

According to the Rambam, when the Gemara says that one who drinks the dalet kosos without dilution “yedei yayin yatzah, yedei arbah kosos lo yatzah”, that means that although he fulfilled the obligation of Kos shel Bracha for each one of the mitzvos with which one must have a cup of wine on Leil Ha’Seder; nevertheless, he did not fulfill the mitzvah of derech cheirus of dalet kosos – and if he did the opposite, that he drank four properly diluted cups of wine one right after the other, derech cheirus he fulfilled, but the requirement of Kos shel Bracha for each one of the four he did not.

The Ramah says that someone who does not have wine should use chamar medinah (literally, the drink of the country.  Parenthetically, it is big tumult whatchamar medinah is).  This Ramah seems to be in accordance with the opinion of Tosafos that Dalet Kosos is a requirement of Kos shel Bracha.  According to the the Rambam that Dalet Kosos is a mitzvah of derech cheirus, there would be no point to do dalet kosos with chamar medinah.  Even if someone likes some other drink, it is basic that it is four cups of wine that Chazal instituted as the manner through which to express cheirus, and that without wine one simply cannot fulfill this.  Unless you’ll argue that since, even the Rambam agrees that there is also the dimension of Kos shel Bracha, one should usechamar medinah to at least fulfill that part of it.

One time, when the Brisker Rav was together with his brother, Rav Moshe, for the Seder, there was only enough wine for one person to have dalet kosos. The question arose: should everyone else use chamar medinah?  Their conclusion was negative.  Using chamar medinah can only be a fulfillment of theKos shel Bracha facet of Dalet Kosos, not the derech cheirus of the Rambam.  And regarding Kos shel Bracha, there is no argument that everyone else can be yotzei by listening to the one using the wine.  Therefore, there is no reason for them to also have chamar medinah because they are not gaining anything by doing that.

(From audio recording, available here)


Quote of the Week

“What is the first mitzvah we do on seder night?  Krias Shema!”


Featured Story

Once, during shiur, Rav Twersky mentioned the machlokes Rishonim about whether the bracha of al achilas matzah is primarily going on the matzah we eat by motzi-matzah or the matzah we eat for afikoman.  The Shaar Ha’Tziyun says that a practical difference between the two opinions is that according to the latter opinion – that the bracha is primarily going on the afikoman – one should refrain from speaking any devarim beteilim during the meal so as not to constitute an interruption between the bracha and the fulfillment of the mitzvah.  At this, Rav Twersky grew excited and exclaimed, “Devarim beteilim?! When every word is a potential fulfillment of the mitzvah of Sipur Yetzias Mitzrayim, who can think about speaking devarim beteilim?!!”

(From Rav Yehudah Eisenstein)

For more Divrei Torah and Memories of Rav Twersky zt”l Hy”d, visit VayigdalMoshe.com