[I] GEMARA, RASHI, TOSFOS
(a) The Yesod v'Shoresh ha'Avodah (Sha'ar ha'Kollel) tells us, "The Ari Z'l writes, 'In order to save one's self from Kares, one should stay awake the entire night, without sleeping at all, toiling in Torah until the morning. It is proper to learn a subject related to the sin he committed for which he is Chayav Kares. Each night a person does this atones from one Chiyuv Kares.' It is customary to learn on such nights the Mishnayos and Gemara of Maseches Kerisus and Musar works which enhance the fear of Hashem.[II] RISHONIM
"Many have the custom to learn in this manner during the period of the Yomim Nora'im and Shovavim-Tat (the weeks during which we read Parshiyos Shmos to Tetzaveh). It is also customary to learn this Tikun standing up. Nevertheless, one can perform this Tikun at any time of the year, by sleeping a bit during the day so that he can stay up an entire night and learn in order to be saved from a Chiyuv Kares."
The Chafetz Chayim quotes these words in Likutei Halachos (beginning of Maseches Kerisus) and adds, "Learning Torah does more for the purification of the soul then any other Tikunim, as we are told by the Sefarim ha'Kedoshim. It is certain that if a person learns the entire Maseches which deals with Kares and the various ways to exempt one's self from it, especially if he knows it thoroughly, it will be a tremendous aid in purifying his soul."
(b) Maseches Kerisus, like Temurah, has suffered from quite a large number of printers' errors and omissions in both the text of the Gemara and in Rashi -- although not to the extent of those in Temurah. The words that appear in parentheses in the Gemara are often words that Rashi said to delete from the texts. The corrections that are listed in the margin of the Gemara in the name of "B'S" are from the Be'er Sheva (see later, [III] Acharonim). The pages of the Maseches tend to be rather long, especially in the first chapter, where the comments of Tosfos were not printed at the side of the text of the Gemara.
(c) Besides the regular commentary of Tosfos that is printed at the side of the Gemara (from the second chapter and onward), an additional commentary of "short" Tosfos is printed at the bottom of the page (from 2a until 15b).
(a) RABBEINU GERSHOM - As the printer points out (Kerisus 2a) that Rav Betzalel Ashkenazi attributes this commentary to Rabeinu Elyakim Bar Klonimus, and the ROSH (Teshuvos, Klal 81:11) calls the author of the "Peirush Rabbeinu Gershom" on Bava Basra, which is also printed in our Shas, "Rabbeinu Elyakim ha'Levi." However, the Aruch (Erech "Aran," Erech "Oref") attributes the Peirush on Bava Basra to Rabbeinu Gershom (Rav Elchanan Wasserman, introduction to Kobetz he'Aros). In the manuscripts of the Shitah Mekubetzes (of Rav Ilan, see (b) below), this commentary is also attributed to Rabbeinu Gershom. Whoever it may be, the following is clear: (1) The same person authored all of the Peirushei Rabbeinu Gershom printed in the Vilna Shas. (2) That author lived approx. one generation before Rashi. (3) Rashi had access to this Peirush. (Rav Elchanan mentions that the RASHBA, (Teshuvos 4:109) who did not have our Rashi for Maseches Kerisus, seems to attribute the Peirush of this author on Maseches Kerisus 12b to Rashi.)[III] ACHARONIM
Throughout most of the Maseches, the commentary to the text of that page appears on a different page, later on. Nevertheless, it is easy to find the commentary to any particular page by looking at the line under the commentary for the correct page citation.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES frequently cites the comments of many Rishonim besides the "Gilyon," in contrast to the Shitah's style in Temurah in which it cites very few Rishonim. Among the Rishonim that the Shitah on Kerisus cites are Tosfos, the Rosh, Rabbeinu Peretz, Rabbeinu Baruch, and others. Many of the more lengthy paragraphs are printed in the "Chidushin" section of the Shitah Mekubetzes, which can be found at the end of the Maseches. Rav Yakov David Ilan printed the Shitah Mekubetzes from a manuscript, with large and clear letters and with invaluable insights. Occasionally, his edition of the Shitah Mekubetzes includes minor additions to that which is printed in the Gemaras. At the end of each page, this manuscript cites the entire the commentary of Rabbeinu Gershom for that page.
(a) ASIFAS ZEKEINIM -- two commentaries (Birkas ha'Zevach and Mayim Kedoshim) that deal primarily with corrections of the text of the Gemara, Rashi, and Tosfos.
(b) LIKUTEI HALACHOS (BY THE CHAFETZ CHAYIM) -- this work is written in the style of the Rif on other Masechtos, with a few short insights.
(c) SEFAS EMES -- short and marvelous insights by the second Gerrer Rebbe.
(d) CHIDUSHEI HA'GRIZ (the Brisker Rav; we strongly recommend the new printing of this Sefer (published by Mishor), in which everything is printed with easily readable plain Hebrew letters (and not Rashi script as in the older printings)); in Kerisus, this commentary only reaches until Daf 7a.
(e) OLAS SHLOMO -- a clear, Pshat-based commentary on Seder Kodshim, written by Rav Shlomo Zalman Lipshitz of Horodno, 1910.
(f) ARUCH LA'NER -- A broad commentary on the entire Maseches by the great Rav Yakov Etlinger, well-known for his works on Makos, Yevamos, Sukah, and other Masechtos. He deals with all aspects of the Maseches with awesome sharpness, depth, and breadth.
(g) BE'ER SHEVA -- This early commentary (by Rav Yisachar Ber Eilenberg) is written on six Masechtos, plus a collection of halachic responsa. His commentary on Kerisus is called "Ner Hashem." He wrote his commentary in the style of Tosfos. The Acharonim discuss his words often, and references to his insights are often made in the margins of our Gemaras.
(h) A collection of Acharonim called "AL MASECHES KERISUS," which includes NER TAMID (by Rav Baruch Bendet), KESER YESHUAH (by Rav Moshe Betzalel Luria, the author of Sefer Nahor Shraga on Yevamos), and MENACHEM SHLOMO (by Rav Menachem Shlomo Gordon of Minsk; his commentary is on the Gemara and the Tosefta of Kerisus).
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