1) HALACHAH: SELLING TZITZIS TO A NOCHRI PROPRIETOR
OPINIONS: The Beraisa says that one is not allowed to sell a Talis (with Tzitzis on it) to a Nochri. The Gemara gives two reasons for this prohibition. One reason is "because of Zonah." RASHI (DH Mishum Zonah) explains that a Jewish Zonah (prostitute) might see the Nochri wearing the garment with Tzitzis and mistakenly think that the wearer is Jewish. She might marry him, thereby transgressing the prohibition against marrying a Nochri (Devarim 7:3). Alternatively, Rashi explains that the Nochri might give the Tzitzis to a Nochri prostitute, leading her to suspect that the person who sinned with her was a certain Jew.
Rav Yehudah says that the reason for this prohibition is that a Nochri might take advantage of his Jewish disguise and kill an unsuspecting Jew who decides to travel with him based on the fact that he looks Jewish.
Does this prohibition also apply to a Nochri proprietor who wants to buy the Tzitzis in order to sell them in his store?
(a) The BACH (OC 20) says that the Gemara refers only to an ordinary Nochri. None of the suspicions involved with selling Tzitzis to a Nochri apply to a Nochri proprietor who wants to sell Tzitzis in his store, since he is merely buying Tzitzis for business, and not to wear himself or to give away. This is also the opinion of the TAZ.
(b) The MAGEN AVRAHAM argues with the Bach. He points out that the Beraisa begins by saying that "one who buys Tzitzis from a Nochri: from a merchant, they are valid; from an ordinary Nochri, they are not valid." The Gemara continues and says that the Tzitzis are valid despite the fact that one is not permitted to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri. Rashi (DH v'Af Al Pi) explains that even though one is not supposed to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri, when a Nochri merchant is selling Tzitzis we may assume that a Jew sold him the Tzitzis. The Magen Avraham asks that if the Bach is correct, then Rashi should explain that the Beraisa is teaching that we may assume that the Nochri merchant's Tzitzis are valid because a Jew is allowed to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri merchant! Why does Rashi say only that we assume that a Jew sold it to him? It must be that Rashi maintains that a Jew is not permitted to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri merchant, presumably because a Nochri merchant is also suspected of disguising himself as a Jew. According to the Magen Avraham, Rashi means that the Nochri merchant's Tzitzis are valid because we assume that a Jew sold it to him even though he was not supposed to do so.
The PRI MEGADIM in ESHEL AVRAHAM explains that the Bach maintains that Rashi is saying this very point. Rashi means that we may assume that a Jew sold the Tzitzis to the Nochri merchant because a Jew is permitted to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri merchant! The Pri Megadim infers that this is the intent of Rashi from the text of Rashi as it appears in the Berlin manuscript. There, the text includes the word "Gabei" (which is enclosed in parentheses in our texts of Rashi). Without the word "Gabei," Rashi's words read, "Nevertheless, we say that a Jewish merchant (Tagar Yisrael) sold it to him," which can imply that the Jew sold it to the Nochri even though he was not permitted to do so. With the word "Gabei," Rashi's words read, "Nevertheless, we say that with regard to (Gabei) a [Nochri] merchant, a Jew sold it to him." Rashi's emphasis that "with regard to a [Nochri] merchant" implies that a Jew is permitted to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri merchant.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 20:6) and most Acharonim rule like the Magen Avraham, who says that one is not permitted to sell Tzitzis to a Nochri merchant. The Mishnah Berurah (20:7) points out in the name of the CHAYEI ADAM that there is a practical Halachic difference between the two reasons mentioned in the Gemara. Nowadays, Nochrim in general are not suspected of killing Jews. According to the reason of the Gemara that there is a concern that a Nochri will disguise himself and ambush a Jew, there should be no problem with selling Tzitzis to a Nochri today. In contrast, the reason of Zonah applies today as well. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE THREE BLESSINGS A MAN MUST RECITE EVERY DAY
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi Yehudah (according to the correct Girsa) states that a man must recite the following three blessings every day: "she'Asani Yisrael" ("that He made me a Jew"), "she'Lo Asani Ishah" ("that He did not make me a woman"), and "she'Lo Asani Bor" ("that He did not make me an ignoramus"). The Gemara relates that Rav Acha bar Yakov heard his son saying "she'Lo Asani Bor" and instructed him to say instead "she'Lo Asani Aved" ("that He did not make me a servant").
Although it appears in our text of the Gemara, the blessing of "she'Asani Yisrael" is not found in the texts of the RIF and ROSH (to Berachos 60b). In their texts, as well as in the text of the Tosefta (Berachos 6:23), the blessing reads "she'Lo Asani Goiy" ("that He did not make me a Nochri"). This is the custom today. (Jews of German Jewish descent say "she'Lo Asani Nochri.")
Why do we say the blessing in the negative form? In the other blessings, we praise Hash-m as "Malbish Arumim," "Matir Asurim," etc., in the positive form. Why do we not say, "she'Asani Yisrael," as the text of our Gemara reads?
(a) The BACH (OC 46:7) quotes those who give an answer based on the Gemara in Eruvin (13b). The Gemara there concludes that it would have been better for a person had he not been created. (TOSFOS there (DH No'ach) explains that this refers only to those who do not become Tzadikim. It does not apply to those who develop themselves into Tzadikim.) The three Berachos that Rebbi Yehudah mentions are reminders for a person to consider this; he should realize that now that he has been created, he must praise Hash-m for not making him these types of people. The Bach himself comments that this is a "nice Derashah."
(b) The Bach says that if one would recite the Berachah of "she'Asani Yisrael" in the positive form first, he would not be able to recite the other Berachos in the positive form -- i.e. "she'Asani Ish" ("that He made me a man) and "she'Asani Ben Chorin" (that He made me a free man). This is because the connotation of "Yisrael" is a free man, not a servant and not a woman. Since our intention is to praise Hash-m for every individual aspect for which we are thankful, we do not want to make one general Berachah instead of three specific Berachos.
A Halachic discussion ensues from the reasoning of the Bach. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 46:9) says that according to the Bach, it seems that if one mistakenly said "she'Asani Yisrael," he may no longer make the Berachos of "she'Lo Asani Ishah" and "she'Lo Asani Aved," since those praises are included in the Berachah of "she'Asani Yisrael." The Magen Avraham argues that this is not the Halachah. He says that women are included in the term "Yisrael" (they are just not included in the term "Bnei Yisrael"), and thus "she'Ani Yisrael" would not include the praise of "she'Lo Asani Ishah."
The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 46:15) cautions that due to the opinion of the Bach, one should be careful not to say by mistake "she'Asani Yisrael." It seems that the Mishnah Berurah maintains that saying "she'Asani Yisrael" would render one unable to say the other Berachos due to the rule of "Safek Berachos l'Hakel."
(c) The TAZ answers that these Berachos are meant to praise Hash-m for the creation of all of the other types of people (Nochrim, servants, and women) as well. He explains that if the text of the blessing would be "she'Asani Yisrael," it would imply that this is the only type of person necessary in the world. That, however, is not true. Hash-m created the world with a necessity for Nochrim, and certainly with a necessity for servants and Jewish women who are obligated in many of the Mitzvos. We must be thankful that they exist. At the same time that we express our gratitude for not being created as a Nochri, servant, or woman, we also must acknowledge their necessity in the world. The Taz explains that this is why women say "she'Asani ki'Retzono" ("that He made me according to His will"). Just as men acknowledge in their Berachah the great kindness that Hash-m did by creating women in the world, women also must acknowledge that they are a great creation and are created in accordance with Hash-m's will. (This explanation seems to be the opposite of the explanation of the TUR there.) (Y. MONTROSE)