POINT BY POINT OUTLINE
THE NEFF FAMILY MASECHES BERACHOS
prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
1) WHO IS EXEMPT FROM MITZVOS?
(a) (Gemara) Inference: He is exempt if the Mes is in front of him. If it is not, he is not exempt.
(b) Contradiction (Beraisa): If Reuven's Mes is in front of him, he does not eat in the same house. If he has no other house, he eats in a friend's house;
1. If he cannot eat in a friend's house, he makes a partition between him and the Mes. If he cannot do this, he faces away from the Mes and eats.
2. He does not recline. He may not have meat or wine. He does not bless before or after eating, and people do not bless for him (to exempt him from ha'Motzi). He is not included in a Zimun (of people saying Birkas ha'Mazon together);
3. He is exempt from Keri'as Shema, Tefilah, Tefilin and all Mitzvos;
4. On Shabbos he reclines, and eats meat and wine. He blesses before and after eating. He joins a Zimun, and he is obligated in all Mitzvos;
5. R. Shimon ben Gamliel says, because he is obligated in these, he is obligated in all Mitzvos.
6. (R. Yochanan): R. Shimon and Chachamim argue about marital relations. (R. Shimon obligates him to fulfill conjugal obligations to his wife, and Chachamim exempt him.)
7. Summation of question: He is exempt from all Mitzvos (even when he is in another house)!
(c) Answer #1 (Rav Papa): He is exempt from all Mitzvos only when he (is in the same house, and) faces away.
(d) Answer #2 (Rav Ashi): Since he is obligated to bury the Mes, it is as if it is in front of him (wherever he is);
1. It says "va'Yakam Avraham me'Al Pnei Meso," and "v'Ekberah Mesi Milfanai." As long as it is upon him to bury the Mes, it is as if the Mes is in front of him.
(e) Inference: He is exempt only if his Mes is in front of him, but not if he is guarding a Mes unrelated to him.
(f) Contradiction (Beraisa): One guarding a Mes, even if it is unrelated to him, is exempt from Keri'as Shema... and all Mitzvos.
(g) Resolution: One guarding a Mes is exempt, even if he is not related. One is exempt due to his Mes, even if he is not guarding it.
(h) Inference: If his Mes is in front of him, or if he is guarding a Mes, he is exempt, but not if he merely walks through a cemetery.
(i) Contradiction (Beraisa): One may not walk through a cemetery with Tefilin on his head, or learning (Tosfos - by heart or) from a Sefer Torah in his hand due to "Lo'eg la'Rash Cheref Osehu." (He mocks the dead, who cannot do Mitzvos.)
(j) Answer: "Lo'eg la'Rash" applies only within four Amos of the Mes;
1. The four Amos around a Mes pertain to the Mes. One may not say Shema there.
2. One whose Mes is in front of him, or is guarding a Mes, is exempt even outside four Amos.
(k) (Beraisa): One guarding a Mes, even if it is unrelated to him, is exempt from Keri'as Shema, Tefilah, Tefilin and all Mitzvos;
(l) If there are two people, one watches while the other says Shema, and vice-versa.
(m) Ben Azai says, if they were coming on a boat, they leave the Mes in a corner and both pray in another corner.
(n) Question: What do they argue about?
(o) Answer (Ravina): The first Tana is concerned for mice (even on a boat, therefore, the Mes may not be left alone). Ben Azai is not concerned for mice (on a boat).
2) SHOWING RESPECT TO THE DEAD
(a) (Beraisa): One may not put a sack of bones (of a Mes) on a donkey and ride on them, for this disgraces them;
(b) If he is afraid of Nochrim or bandits, it is permitted.
(c) The same applies to a Sefer Torah.
(d) Question: Does this refer to the Reisha (the first law, that one may not ride on it) or to the Seifa (one may ride on it to protect it from bandits)?
1. Suggestion: It refers to the Reisha.
2. Rejection: There is no need to teach that we are not more lenient about a Sefer Torah than about bones!
(e) Answer: It refers to the Seifa. The same Heter applies to a Sefer Torah.
(f) (Rachbah): One who sees a Mes [being taken to burial] and does not accompany it (at least four Amos) transgresses "Lo'eg la'Rash Cheref Osehu";
(g) (Rav Asi): If he accompanies it, then "Malveh Hash-m Chonen Dal u'Mechavdo Chonen Evyon" -- it is considered as if he accompanies Hash-m.
3) DO THE DEAD KNOW WHAT HAPPENS IN THIS WORLD?
(a) R. Chiya and R. Yonasan were walking in a cemetery. R. Yonasan's Techeiles (Tzitzis) was showing.
1. R. Chiya: Lift them up (so they will not show), lest the dead say "today they mock us, and tomorrow they will join us!"
2. R. Yonasan: The dead do not know what happens here -- "veha'Mesim Einam Yod'im Me'umah"!
3. R. Chiya: You did not learn the verse properly! "Ki ha'Chayim Yod'im she'Yamusu" (the Reisha) refers to Tzadikim, who are called alive even when they are dead;
i. Question: "U'Venayahu ven Yehoyada ben Ish Chai..." -- are other people children of the dead?!
ii. Answer: Rather, Yehoyada is called alive even after his death.
iii. "Rav Pe'alim Mekavtze'el" -- he [was head of the Sanhedrin. He] gathered many [Talmidim] to toil in Torah.
iv. "Hu Hikah Es Shnei Ari'el Mo'av" -- there was no one else like himself in either Mikdash;
v. "V'Hu Yarad v'Hikah Es ha'Ari b'Soch ha'Bor b'Yom ha'Shaleg" -- some explain that he broke the ice and immersed in the freezing water (Rashi - due to the decree that a Ba'al Keri must immerse before learning);
vi. Others say, he learned all of Sifra d'Vei Rav (Toras Kohanim; Tosfos - it is the most difficult to learn) on one winter day (which is short).
4. R. Chiya: "Veha'Mesim Einam Yod'im Me'umah" refers to Resha'im, who are called dead even while alive -- "v'Atah Chalal Rasha Nesi Yisrael";
5. We could also learn from "Al Pi Shenei Edim Oh Al Pi Sheloshah Edim Yumas ha'Mes" -- he is called Mes even before he dies.
(b) R. Chiya's children went to work on their property. They forgot their learning, and were paining themselves to remember it.
1. Question (one son): Does our [deceased] father know about this?
2. Answer (the other son): No -- "Yichbedu Vanav v'Lo Yeda"!
3. Question: R. Yitzchak taught "Ach Besaro Alav Yich'av v'Nafsho Alav Te'eval" -- worms (consuming a Mes) hurt it like a needle hurts live flesh!
4. Answer: They know only about their own pain, but not of others.
(c) Question (Beraisa): A case occurred in which a Chasid gave a Dinar to a poor person on Erev Rosh Hashanah in a famine year. His wife angered him. He spent the night in a cemetery. (Ohr Yisrael - it bothered him that he became upset. He thought that going to the cemetery would humble him.)
1. The Chasid heard the spirits of two deceased girls conversing. (Ein Yakov - we cannot understand this and the coming episodes simply, that Tzadikim sought to communicate with the dead. This is forbidden! Rather, it was all through dreams.)
2. Plonis: Let us go behind the curtain (which is in front of the Shechinah) and hear what punishments are being decreed for the coming year!
3. Plonisah: I cannot. I was buried in a mat of reeds! (I am embarrassed to go.) You go, and tell me what you hear.
4. Plonis (when she returned): I heard that hail will destroy anything planted in the first Revi'ah (period of expected rainfall at the beginning of winter, in Cheshvan).
i. The Chasid planted in the second Revi'ah. Everyone else's crops were destroyed, but his crops were not. (Ein Yakov - this was his reward for his act of Tzedakah. He himself was terribly impoverished.) He lodged in the cemetery the next Erev Rosh Hashanah, and heard the spirits again.
5. Plonis: Let us go and hear the punishments for the coming year!
6. Plonisah: I already told you that I cannot, for I was buried in a mat of reeds. You go, and tell me.
7. Plonis: I heard that anything planted in the second Revi'ah will be destroyed by blight.
i. The Chasid planted in the first Revi'ah. Everyone else's crops were destroyed, but his crops were not. His wife asked about his success. He told the entire episode to her.
8. Soon after this, his wife quarreled with Plonisah's mother. She said to her "I will show you that your daughter is buried in a mat of reeds!"
9. The Chasid lodged in the cemetery the next Erev Rosh Hashanah, and heard the spirits again.
10. Plonis: Let us go and hear the punishments for the coming year!
11. Plonisah: Leave me alone. The living have overheard our conversations!
12. Summation of question: This shows that the dead do know what happens here!
(d) Answer: Perhaps they do not know. Someone died, and told Plonisah.
(e) Question: A case occurred in which Ze'iri deposited money with an innkeeper. The innkeeper died. Ze'iri went to Chatzermaves (a cemetery), and asked the innkeeper where the money was.
1. The innkeeper told him where it was, and asked him to tell her mother to send her combs and mascara with a certain woman, who will die tomorrow.
2. This shows that the dead know what happens here!
(f) Answer: Perhaps they do not know most things, just Dumah (the angel appointed over Neshamos) announced that that woman will die.
(g) Question: A case occurred in which orphans' money was deposited with Shmuel's father. Shmuel was not there when his father died. People were accusing him of taking orphans' money. He went to Chatzermaves, and asked to speak with Aba. The souls of the dead could not identify who this was, until he asked for the father of Shmuel.
1. They told him that his father went up to the Heavenly academy. He saw Levi cast out from there. Levi explained that he was banished for the amount of time that he pained R. Efes through not entering the academy when R. Efes was the head.
2. He saw his father crying and laughing. His father explained 'I am crying because soon you will be here. I am laughing because you are considered very important here.'
3. Shmuel: If I am important, may Levi be allowed back in (in my merit! This was granted.)
4. Shmuel: Where is the orphans' money?
5. His father: It is in the millstone. The upper and lower coins are ours. Those in the middle belong to the orphans;
i. This was so we would bear any losses due to theft (the top coins) or corrosion (the bottom coins).
6. [He knew that Shmuel will die soon.] This shows that the dead know what happens here!
(h) Answer: No, he knew about Shmuel for they announced to make room for him before he came.
(i) R. Yonasan retracted;
1. Question (R. Yonasan): What is the source that the dead talk with each other?
2. Answer: "... Ha'Aretz Asher Nishbati l'Avraham l'Yitzchak ul'Yakov Leimor" -- Hash-m told Moshe to tell the Avos that He fulfilled His oath to give Eretz Yisrael to their seed.
i. (R. Yonasan initially held that) if the dead do not know what happens here (they know only their own pain), this is even if someone who dies tells them!