1) THE STATUS OF THE PROHIBITIONS OF "CHALUTZAH" AND "NESINAH"
QUESTION: Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili in the Mishnah states that any man who is afraid to join the army and go to war "because of the Aveiros in his hand" is sent back from the battlefront. Rebbi Yosi disagrees with Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili and states that only a Kohen Gadol who married an Almanah, a Kohen who married a Gerushah or Chalutzah, and a Yisrael who married a Mamzeres or Nesinah are sent back from the battlefront. The Gemara explains that Rebbi Yosi ha'Glili and Rebbi Yosi disagree about whether one who transgressed an Isur d'Rabanan returns from battle. According to Rebbi Yosi, only one who transgressed an Isur d'Oraisa returns but not one who transgressed an Isur d'Rabanan.
If, according to Rebbi Yosi, one who transgressed an Isur d'Rabanan does not return from the battlefront, why does Rebbi Yosi state that a Kohen who married a Chalutzah returns from the battlefront? The Gemara (Yevamos 24a, Kidushin 78a) states that the Isur which prohibits a Kohen from marrying a Chalutzah is only mid'Rabanan.
Similarly, why does Rebbi Yosi state that a Yisrael who married a Nesinah returns from the battlefront? The Rishonim argue whether such a marriage is Asur mid'Oraisa or mid'Rabanan (see Insights to Yevamos 79:2). Although Rashi here (DH k'd'Rabah) writes that such a marriage is Asur mid'Oraisa, Rashi in Kesuvos (29a) and Yevamos (37a) writes that the Isur is mid'Rabanan. The Rishonim (see BA'AL HA'ME'OR to Yevamos 76a) point out that this question is the subject of a dispute between the first version of Rava's ruling in Yevamos (76a) and the second version of his ruling there. According to the first version of Rava, Rava rules that the prohibition is mid'Rabanan. However, if the prohibition is only mid'Rabanan, why does Rebbi Yosi say that a Yisrael who marries a Nesinah returns from the battlefront? (TOSFOS to Kesuvos 29a, Makos 13a; TOSFOS YOM TOV and MAHARATZ CHAYOS here)
A similar question may be asked on the Mishnah in Makos (13a) which gives a list of sinners who receive Malkus for transgressing a Torah prohibition, and it includes a Kohen who marries a Chalutzah and a Yisrael who marries a Nesinah. The same question may be asked on the Beraisa in Yevamos (85a) which distinguishes between those who marry someone prohibited to them mid'Oraisa who must give a Kesuvah, and those who marry someone prohibited to them mid'Rabanan who do not give a Kesuvah, and it includes a Chalutzah and a Nesinah in the list of marriages prohibited mid'Oraisa.
(a) TOSFOS (Kesuvos 29a, Makos 13a) suggests that the Mishnah mentions Chalutzah and Nesinah only because it mentions Gerushah and Mamzeres. It is the style of the Mishnah to mention Chalutzah together with Gerushah, and Nesinah together with Mamzeres (as the two members of each pair are mentioned together in many places), even when the law of the Mishnah does not actually apply to Chalutzah or Nesinah.
This answer is difficult to understand. Normally, when the Mishnah mentions Chalutzah together with Gerushah, and Nesinah together with Mamzeres, the Halachah of the Mishnah applies to Chalutzah and Nesinah as well. If the Halachah of the Mishnah does not apply to Chalutzah or Nesinah, why does the Mishnah include them simply because they are written together in other places? The Mishnah here should not mention Chalutzah and Nesinah since the Halachah does not apply to them!
Perhaps Tosfos means that the Rabanan consider the Isurim of Chalutzah and Nesinah exactly the same as the Isurim of Gerushah and Mamzeres, respectively, even with regard to Halachos which normally apply only to a woman who is Asurah mid'Oraisa, because the prohibitions are of such a similar nature. (See Tosfos, Makos 13a.)
(b) The RITVA in Makos (13a) writes that the Isur of Chalutzah to a Kohen is more severe than an ordinary Isur d'Rabanan, since the prohibition is supported by an Asmachta. Therefore, it is comparable to an Isur d'Oraisa. The Ritva does not explain why the Mishnah equates the Isur of Nesinah to an Isur d'Oraisa even though it is not supported by an Asmachta.
Apparently, the Ritva follows his own view elsewhere (in Kesuvos 29a) that a Nesinah is prohibited mid'Oraisa. According to the Ritva, the Gemara in Yevamos (76a) indeed could have rejected the first version of Rava's statement based on the Mishnah here, but it had a more explicit argument with which to reject his statement.
(c) The TOSFOS YESHANIM in Yevamos (44a) writes that according to Rebbi Akiva, a Chalutzah is forbidden mid'Oraisa to a Kohen, since she is considered like a woman who is divorced. He explains that the Mishnah in Makos (13a) follows the opinion of Rebbi Akiva. The same may be said about the Mishnah here; Rebbi Yosi follows the view of like Rebbi Akiva that a Chalutzah is considered forbidden mid'Oraisa to a Kohen.
With regard to a Yisrael who marries a Nesinah, the Tosfos Yeshanim must understand that the Isur of Nesinah is mid'Oraisa, as the Ritva maintains (see (b) above).
2) A KALAH WHO GOES TO WAR
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that in times of a Milchemes Mitzvah, everyone goes out to war, "even the Chasan from his room and the Kalah from her Chupah."
Why does the Mishnah say that a woman is obligated to participate in a war? The Gemara in Nazir (59a) teaches that a woman is prohibited from even carrying a weapon, and she certainly is prohibited from going out to the battlefield. (See Kidushin 2b: "It is not the manner of a woman to wage war.") (RASHASH)
(a) This question is discussed by the Rishonim. The RADVAZ (Hilchos Melachim 7:4) suggests in his first answer that the Mishnah does not mean that the Kalah leaves the Chupah to go to the battlefront. Rather, it means that since the Chasan must leave and is no longer with the Kalah, the Kalah leaves the Chupah (that is, she does not celebrate the rest of the seven days of festivity).
(b) The RADVAZ suggests further that although women do not actually go to the battlefront, they supply the soldiers with food and drink (or they help fix the roads), like the men who do not participate in a Milchemes ha'Reshus (43a).
The BEN YEHOYADA, TIFERES YISRAEL, and RASHASH give a similar answer.
The SEFER HA'CHINUCH (Mitzvah 603) writes that the Mitzvah of Zechiras Amalek does not apply to women. The purpose of Zechiras Amalek is to remind the Jewish people to wage war with Amalek until no member of Amalek remains, and since women do not participate in war the Mitzvah of Zechiras Amalek does not apply to them. The MINCHAS CHINUCH questions the ruling of the Sefer ha'Chinuch from the Mishnah here which states that in the case of a Milchemes Mitzvah, even a Kalah leaves her Chupah.
Perhaps the argument between the Sefer ha'Chinuch and the Minchas Chinuch revolves around the two answers of the Radvaz. The Minchas Chinuch follows the second answer of the Radvaz, that a Kalah also participates in the war by helping the soldiers who are fighting. The Sefer ha'Chinuch may follow the first answer of the Radvaz, that a woman does not participate in the war at all, and therefore he writes that a woman has no Mitzvah of Zechiras Amalek.
Alternatively, even if the Sefer ha'Chinuch agrees with the second answer of the Radvaz, he may maintain that it is not necessary for women to fulfill the Mitzvah of Zechiras Amalek in order to remember to help the men fight, because their role in the war is not considered part of the Mitzvah of destroying Amalek; they are only "Mesayei'a" -- they assist in the Mitzvah of the war, but they do not actually fulfill the Mitzvah.
3) AGADAH: TEFILIN AND WAR
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that members of the army must excel in their observance of the Mitzvah of Tefilin. A man who speaks after he dons Tefilin on the arm and before he completes the Mitzvah by donning the second Tefilin on the head has sinned and may not join the ranks of the Jewish army, for he has no assurance of Divine protection.
The connection between Tefilin and victory in war is expressed in a number of sources:
1. "Not one of the warriors who fought against Midyan (Bamidbar 31) donned their forehead-Tefilin before their arm-Tefilin. Had they done so, Moshe would not have praised them and not all would have returned home safely" (Midrash Shir ha'Shirim Rabah to Shir ha'Shirim 4:4).
2. "Why did Elisha (a righteous man who wore his Tefilin in defiance of the Roman decree against wearing them) refer to his Tefilin as 'dove's wings'? ... Just as a dove's wings afford protection (a dove wards off enemies with its wings; Rashi), so, too, the Mitzvos (particularly the Mitzvah of Tefilin) protect the Jewish people" (Shabbos 130a).
3. "It is through keeping the Mitzvah of Tefilin properly (on the arm and forehead) that Hash-m grants the Jewish armies the blessing of Moshe Rabeinu (Devarim 33:20), 'He shall smite the enemy's arms and foreheads' (they would sever the head and arm of the enemy with one blow; Rashi)" (Rosh, Hilchos Tefilin 15; see also Kol Eliyahu #132).
4. The complementary theme, that the lack of attention to the Mitzvah of Tefilin causes the fall of the Jewish army, is implicit in the Gemara which describes the fall of Bar Kochba's army in Beitar (circa 135 CE): "Forty baskets of Tefilin were found on the heads of those who were killed in Beitar." The fall of the warriors of Beitar as they wore their Tefilin showed that because they mistreated their Tefilin, the Tefilin lost its power to protect them in war.
What is it about Tefilin that affords protection to one who wears them during times of war? Why is it so important not to don them in reverse order and not to interrupt the process by speaking?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Berachos (6a) teaches that Hash-m also wears Tefilin, as it were. The Gemara there relates that the parchment in Hash-m's Tefilin contains the verse, "Who is like Your nation Yisrael, a unique nation on earth!" (Divrei ha'Yamim I 17:21). The Gemara continues and says that Hash-m proclaims, "You, Yisrael, have proclaimed Me unique, as it is written, 'Hear O Yisrael, Hash-m is our G-d, Hash-m is One' (Devarim 6:4), and I, too, shall proclaim you unique, as it is written, 'Who is like Your nation Yisrael, a unique nation on earth!'"
Although the "Tefilin of Hash-m" clearly is a metaphor, the Gemara's theme is clear. Tefilin represent the reciprocal relationship between the Jewish people and their Creator. The passages enclosed in the Jews' Tefilin proclaim, "Hear O Yisrael...," while those enclosed in Hash-m's Tefilin proclaim, "Who is like Your nation Yisrael...."
A survey of the four passages written on the parchment enclosed in the Tefilin reveals the same theme. The first two passages, Shema (Devarim 6:4 ) and v'Hayah Im Shamo'a (Devarim 11:13), proclaim the Jews' commitment to Hash-m and His Mitzvos (see Mishnah, Berachos 13a). The second set of passages, Kadesh and v'Hayah Ki Yevi'acha (Shemos 13:1), remind the Jewish people of the wonders Hash-m did for them when He freed them from the Egyptian bondage. Through the Jews' commitment to Hash-m, they merit Hash-m's protection.
The reciprocal relationship between Hash-m and the Jewish people is similarly apparent in the two parts which comprise a set of Tefilin: the arm-Tefilin and head-Tefilin. The arm-Tefilin is worn near the heart (Menachos 37b) and represents the person's love for Hash-m. It is worn on the weaker arm (ibid. 37a) to remind him that he is powerless before Hash-m. The head-Tefilin demonstrates Hash-m's relationship with the Jewish People in the following way:
The Tefilin are considered the "strength" of the Jewish people, as the verse states, "All the nations of the land will see that Hash-m's name is upon you and they will fear you" (Devarim 28:10). The Gemara (Sotah 17a) explains that this refers to "when they see the Tefilin upon our heads." The head-Tefilin is also called "our glory" (Berachos 11a) because it is the crown which Hash-m bestowed upon His nation.
This is the secret of Tefilin. Through the Jewish people's faith in Hash-m, they merit His protection from their enemies and are crowned as a nation above all others.
This explains why the arm-Tefilin must be donned first. Only after one demonstrates his commitment to Hash-m through the arm-Tefilin does Hash-m respond by crowning him with His glory, the head-Tefilin. One who reverses the order demonstrates that the uniqueness of the Jewish People is not a direct result of their commitment to Hash-m, and such a person is doomed to defeat. Similarly, one who dons his arm-Tefilin and then interrupts by speaking before he dons his head-Tefilin shows that he does not recognize that his "crown of glory" is a direct result of the deference he pays to Hash-m. He, too, will fall.
This was the cause of the downfall of the city of Beitar. The Yerushalmi (Gitin 4:5) relates, "When Bar Kochba would go to war [with his 400,000 mighty warriors] he would declare, "Master of the universe, I do not need Your help; just do not hinder me!"
The downfall of Bar Kochba's army stemmed from the fact that they did not put their faith in the Creator but in their own physical prowess. Consequently, their Tefilin were unable to protect them and "forty basketfuls of Tefilin" were found on their dead bodies.
The Gemara in Gitin (58a) continues to describe exactly how many Tefilin were found on the dead warriors of Beitar. "Forty baskets of Tefilin were found on the heads of those who were killed in Beitar. Rebbi Yanai bar Rebbi Yishmael said: 'Three containers, each of which contained forty basketfuls, were found....' The two opinions do not disagree; one refers to arm-Tefilin while the other refers to head-Tefilin."
The VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu #222) explains the conclusion of the Gemara as follows. The invading legions caught the Jews of Beitar in the morning while they prayed. Some Jews were still putting on their Tefilin, others were already wearing them, and a third group had started to remove them. Since the arm-Tefilin is donned first and removed last, the Jews in all three stages of Tefilin-dress wore arm-Tefilin, while only those in the middle stage wore both, including the head-Tefilin. This explains why three times as many arm-Tefilin were found.
According to the Vilna Ga'on's explanation, perhaps the sudden murder of the Jews of Beitar as they prayed reveals the very sin which caused their deaths. Since they "interrupted between the two parts of Tefilin" -- that is, they did not attribute their physical prowess to Hash-m -- a large number were killed while wearing the arm-Tefilin without the head-Tefilin.
This understanding of the connection between Tefilin and victory in war sheds light on another Gemara. When Avraham Avinu returned victoriously from the war with the four kings, the king of Sedom came to thank him for saving him. The king said, "Return to me the captives and take the bounty for yourself." Avraham replied, "I lift up my hand in an oath to Hash-m... that I will take from the bounty neither thread nor shoe-strap. I will not take anything that was yours" (Bereishis 14:11-23).
The Gemara (Sotah 17a) teaches that "in reward for Avraham's refusal to take 'neither thread nor shoe-strap,' his children were given two special Mitzvos: the Techeles worn in Tzitzis and the leather straps of Tefilin." Why was this Avraham Avinu's reward? Based on the above explanation, the Gemara means as follows.
Tefilin possess the ability to help the Jewish people successfully defeat the enemy in war by arousing in the people the awareness that they are powerless without Hash-m's assistance. When this is their attitude, Hash-m grants them strength in return.
The MESHECH CHOCHMAH explains that when Avraham Avinu "lifted his hand to Hash-m...," he meant to show that he attributed the strength of his hands in conquering the kings to Hash-m. It was for this reason that Avraham Avinu denied himself a portion of the booty. Since he did not consider the victory his own accomplishment, he did not feel that he deserved the booty. Hash-m alone granted him victory.
Avraham Avinu's refusal to take "neither thread nor shoe-strap" demonstrated that he attributed all of his military prowess to his Creator. It certainly was appropriate that his reward was the Mitzvah of Tefilin. It is this Mitzvah which constantly reminds his children that they are powerless without the help of Hash-m and which leads them to victory.