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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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1) HALACHAH: ONE FORGOT TO MENTION HAVDALAH IN SHEMONEH ESREH

OPINIONS: The Gemara states that one who forgot to mention Havdalah ("Atah Chonantanu") in Shemoneh Esreh does not have to repeat it. From what point in Shemoneh Esreh does he not have to go back to say Havdalah?

(a) The RI (cited by Tosfos 30b, DH Mistavra, and by the Rosh 4:17) maintains that once one finished the blessing of "Chonen ha'Da'as," one does not need to recite Havdalah. If one passed the point where Havdalah is normally inserted but did not yet finish the blessing, he must recite Havdalah and then finish the blessing.

(b) RABEINU ELCHANAN (ad loc.) maintains that even if one finished the blessing, one may recite Havdalah. However, if one has already started the next blessing, he may not go back to the previous blessing and add Havdalah.

(c) RABEINU TAM (ad loc.) explains that one does not go back to recite Havdalah once he has finished his entire Shemoneh Esreh. If, however, he remembers that he omitted Havdalah at any point within his Shemoneh Esreh, he must go back and recite it. (Tosfos adds that this was the common practice in his day.)

(d) The ROSH understands Rabeinu Tam differently. The Rosh understands that when Rabeinu Tam says that if one has not yet finished Shemoneh Esreh he must go back, he means that he may go back. He is permitted, but not obligated, to go back and recite Havdalah. The Rosh understands that Rabeinu Tam's reason is that if one omitted Havdalah, he may go back and recite Havdalah as a "Tefilas Nedavah."

However, the Rosh argues in part with the opinion of Rabeinu Tam and maintains that one may not return to the beginning of Shemoneh Esreh and recite it again as a Tefilas Nedavah while still in the middle of reciting Shemoneh Esreh. Only if he finished his entire Shemoneh Esreh (and then remembered) may he go back and recite the Shemoneh Esreh again as a Tefilas Nedavah (see Berachos 21a), and include Havdalah in this Shemoneh Esreh. (Regarding when one may recite a Tefilas Nedavah, see Insights to Berachos 21:2.)

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 294:4) rules like the RI (a). The Shulchan Aruch (294:5) also cites the opinion of the Rosh (d) and says that if one already finished his Shemoneh Esreh, he is permitted (but not obligated) to repeat it in order to mention Havdalah.

2) HALACHAH: IF ONE ERRED IN BOTH "HAVDALOS"

QUESTION: The Gemara asks, "If one erred in both [the Havdalah that is recited in Shemoneh Esreh and the Havdalah that is recited upon a cup of wine], what is the Halachah?" The Gemara answers that he must go back and recite Shemoneh Esreh again with Havdalah.

What does it mean to err in the Havdalah that is recited over a cup of wine? If it means that he did not say Havdalah at all over wine, then he could just say it now!

ANSWERS:

(a) TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH explain "erred" to mean that he did something regarding the Havdalah over wine that he was not supposed to do, like eating (or performing Melachah, RASHBA) before reciting Havdalah (which is forbidden, Pesachim 105a). Since he committed two wrongs (he omitted Havdalah from his Shemoneh Esreh, and he ate before reciting Havdalah over wine), the Rabanan penalize him and require him to say Havdalah in the best way possible, over wine and in Shemoneh Esreh, and not just to recite Havdalah over wine now.

(b) TOSFOS REBBI YEHUDAH HE'CHASID (and DIKDUKEI SOFRIM) have a different text in the Gemara that reads, "If one erred and did not mention [Havdalah] in both, what is the Halachah?" This reading of the Gemara cannot be understood according to the explanation of Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah. What, then, does it mean to "err and not mention" Havdalah in the Havdalah over wine?

The OR ZARU'A (Hilchos Motza'ei Shabbos 91) explains that it means that one recited all of the blessings of Havdalah (the blessings over wine, spices, and flame) but he did not recite the blessing of Havdalah itself ("ha'Mavdil"). In such a case, he must go back and recite Shemoneh Esreh.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 294:1) rules in accordance with Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah (a). The BI'UR HALACHAH, however, cites an argument among the later authorities whether one must repeat Shemoneh Esreh if one already went ahead and, without asking an authority what to do, recited Havdalah over a cup of wine without repeating the entire Shemoneh Esreh.

33b----------------------------------------33b

3) PITY ON THE MOTHER BIRD: ARE THERE REASONS FOR THE MITZVOS?

QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who says, "Hash-m's mercy reaches the mother bird," must be silenced. The Gemara explains (in the second reason) that this is because the Mitzvos are purely Gezeiros, "heavenly decrees incumbent upon us to fulfill," and they are not given to us as expressions of Hash-m's mercy.

Can it be that there are no reasons for the Mitzvos? Rebbi Shimon explicitly states (see Yevamos 23a and elsewhere) that all of the Mitzvos have reasons!

ANSWERS:

(a) The RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:94), in a response to someone who offered an explanation for the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, writes that he doubts that anyone living in his generation is qualified to offer a valid reason for this Mitzvah, as it contains many hidden elements of the Torah that we cannot fathom. The Rashba concludes that during the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash, which served as a gathering place for prophets and scholars, the rationale for the Mitzvos was readily accessible. Now that we are in exile, though, the gates of wisdom have been locked, and thus all Mitzvos must be performed regardless of whether or not we comprehend the reasons for them.

In a similar vein, the MAHARSHA here writes that although one may ponder the reasons behind the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken, during its actual performance he should have in mind that he is performing the Mitzvah as one performs all other Chukim -- exclusively because it is commanded by Hash-m.

It is apparent that the Maharsha maintains that applying our own logic to Chukim may corrupt the manner in which the Mitzvah is performed. Support for the Maharsha's opinion can be found in the Gemara in Sanhedrin (21b) which states that Shlomo ha'Mamelech's justification for violating a Mitzvah in the Torah by marrying the daughter of Pharaoh was that he thought he understood the motivation behind the prohibition. This incident teaches us that we must exercise caution and restraint when we apply our own logic to determine the reasons for the Mitzvos.

(b) The RAMBAM in Moreh Nevuchim (3:26, 3:48) explains that this Gemara indeed argues with Rebbi Shimon and maintains that there are no fathomable reasons for the Mitzvos. Nevertheless, the Rambam (end of Hilchos Temurah) writes that although we are obligated to perform Mitzvos that have no apparent reason, it is nevertheless praiseworthy to offer appropriate explanations for the Mitzvos.

Following the Rambam's approach, a number of Rishonim and Acharonim offer various reasons for the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken. (The following discussion is based on Rabbi Naftali Weinberger's book, SEFER SHALE'ACH TESHALACH, a comprehensive treatise covering the laws and meanings of the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken.)

1. The RAMBAN (Devarim 22:6) explains that when the Gemara says that the reason behind the Mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is not in order to have mercy, it means that it is not Hash-m's intent to have mercy on the bird. Rather, it is a "Gezeirah" (a decree upon us, for our benefit) in order to inculcate the trait of mercy in us. One who accustoms himself to acting with cruelty to beasts becomes cruel intrinsically, and even to people. This is also the approach of the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#545), ME'IRI (Berachos 33b), IBN EZRA, CHIZKUNI, and others.

2. RABEINU BACHYE (Devarim 22:7), the SEFER HA'CHINUCH, and the RALBAG explain that while the Torah permits the consumption and utilization of birds, it prohibits their complete extinction. To take the mother and her offspring simultaneously would be tantamount to destroying the nest, which could be viewed as a step, albeit a small one, toward the destruction of the entire species. Therefore, the Torah requires that the mother first be sent away and then her offspring may be taken.

In reward for observing the Mitzvos and performing Hash-m's will, Hash-m will watch over us, protect us, and grant us long life in this world and everlasting life in the world to come.

3. The RAMBAM in Moreh Nevuchim compares the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken with the Isur of "Oso v'Es Beno" (Vayikra 22:28), which forbids the slaughter of an animal and her offspring on the same day. The Rambam explains that both of these Mitzvos show that animals have feelings towards their young, and those feelings must be respected. Maternal compassion is not a logical emotion, but rather an inborn, instinctive one. Consequently, if the offspring is taken while the mother is present, the mother naturally will suffer pain and anguish. The Torah therefore instructs us to demonstrate compassion and to send the mother away before we take the eggs, thereby sparing her the anguish of watching her offspring taken away.

This explanation of the Rambam seems to contradict the Mishnah here that says that we silence one who says that Shilu'ach ha'Ken is done for reasons of compassion. The Rishonim and Acharonim explain that the Rambam understands the Mishnah as a specific prohibition to say the words, "Al Kan Tzipor Yagi'a Rachamecha," as a prayer. Requesting this from Hash-m in prayer would make it appear as though this reason is the only one, while in fact there may be many other explanations for the Mitzvah. However, to present compassion as one possible rationale for the Mitzvah is surely permissible.

4. The Yerushalmi records an opinion (quoted in KOL ELIYAHU #17; see Yerushalmi Berachos 5:3, "Ad Kan Tzipor...") that asserts that the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken is not intended as an expression of mercy for the mother bird at all. The mother bird certainly experiences pain when sent away from her hatchlings. Rather, the Mitzvah is meant to involve a certain, limited degree of cruelty. The Zohar, as quoted by RABEINU BACHYE and TESHUVOS CHACHAM TZVI (#86), says that when the mother bird cries for her hatchlings, it arouses Hash-m's mercy for his own children, the Jewish people. (See Insights to Chulin 138:5 for an elucidation of the words of the Zohar.)

5. The ABARBANEL explains that even though one is prohibited from destroying objects that bear fruit (Devarim 20:7), nevertheless one is permitted to eat the fruit. Similarly, one is prohibited from harming the source of the hatchlings, the mother bird, yet one is permitted to consume her offspring. When one spares the mother bird, he enables her to build another nest and to produce additional offspring.

6. The CHASAM SOFER (Chulin 139b) explains that according to the Rambam (Hilchos Shechitah 3:7) the reason for this Mitzvah is to ensure that a level of moral justice is maintained in the world. When a mother bird stays behind to protect her young from a hunter, it is not morally condonable that she suffer harm as a result. Therefore, the hunter is not allowed to take advantage of the mother's love for her young and capture the mother, but rather he must send her away.

Similarly, the AVNEI NEZER explains that the reason why human beings are permitted to kill animals is because Hash-m created humans with intellect, and thus made them superior to animals. However, in the case of a mother bird, we see a display of human-like emotions, for she shows concern for her offspring as a human does. In this respect, therefore, humans are not superior to animals; permission to kill the animal is suspended when the animal displays an element of human intellect. Therefore, a person must send the bird away.

(Although many Rishonim and Acharonim offer various explanations for the Mitzvah, they nevertheless concede that Shilu'ach ha'Ken, like all other Mitzvos, incorporates many hidden parts of the Torah, and thereby renders a comprehensive understanding of it impossible. For example, the BA'AL HA'AKEIDAH and the ABARBANEL both mention that the mother bird symbolizes the human soul.

The Ramban (loc. cit.) quotes the SEFER HAKANAH (a very early work which discusses the concept of hidden aspects of Torah, written by the Tana, Rebbi Nechunya ben Hakanah), which also states that many secrets of the Torah are incorporated in this Mitzvah. He writes, for example, that even the Mitzvah of Sukah is inherent in the Mitzvah of Shilu'ach ha'Ken. Rebbi Nechunya ben Hakanah writes that since the reward attributed to this Mitzvah is so great, it must be that the performance of Shilu'ach ha'Ken touches upon many other Mitzvos as well.) (See also Insights to Chulin 138:4-5.)

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