1) SECHACH MADE FROM A MAT OF REEDS
QUESTION: According to Rav Papa's explanation of the Mishnah (19b), the Mishnah teaches that a large mat made of reeds ("Machtzeles ha'Kanim") is normally made for use as Sechach (even without expressed intent). Therefore, it is valid for use as Sechach. In contrast, a small mat of reeds is normally made for the use of reclining upon, and thus it is invalid for use as Sechach. The Beraisa states that a mat of reeds may not be used for Sechach if it is interwoven ("Arugah"), but it may be used if it is braided ("Gedulah"). RASHI and TOSFOS point out that the Beraisa means that even a small mat (that was made with no expressed purpose) may be used for Sechach if it is braided.
In the end of the Beraisa, Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa say that a mat may be used for Sechach even if it is interwoven. According to Rashi, this means that a small mat of reeds may be used regardless of how the reeds are intertwined (Arugah or Gedulah).
However, this opinion seems to contradict the Mishnah which states that a small mat of reeds that was made with no specific intent is presumably made for the sake of reclining upon and may not be used for Sechach.
How can the opinion expressed in the Beraisa be reconciled with the Mishnah?
(a) The MAHARSHA writes that Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa disagree with the Tana of the Mishnah. The Halachah follows the Mishnah, and not their opinion. This is the ruling of the RA'AVAD (Hilchos Sukah 5:4).
(b) The RIF and RAMBAM (Hilchos Sukah 5:4) make no mention of the difference between woven and braided mats of reeds. The MAGID MISHNEH explains that they rule like Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa in the Beraisa, who say that both types of mats are valid as Sechach.
However, the Rif and Rambam understand that the word the Beraisa uses is not "Gedulah" (braided) but "Gedolah" -- large. Accordingly, the Tana Kama of the Beraisa means that a large reed mat is valid, as the Mishnah says, but not if it is a woven. The Rambam rules like Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yosi and Rebbi Dosa who argue with the Tana Kama of the Beraisa and say that a large mat is always valid (even when it is woven), which is the same opinion expressed by the Mishnah (which permits all large mats to be used as Sechach and does not differentiate between woven or braided mats).
HALACHAH: The difference between woven and braided mats is not cited by the Shulchan Aruch (who rules like the Rambam in this regard). In practice, however, the Halachah depends on the purpose for which mats are normally used in that particular place and time (MISHNAH BERURAH 629:18).
In recent years, reed mats have been introduced to the market with the claim that they were expressly manufactured for the purpose of Sechach. There are four issues that are relevant to the Halachah with regard to these mats.
1. Were the mats made in a place in which most mats of that sort are used for reclining upon? (Several types today are manufactured in the Far East.) Regardless of where they will be used as Sechach, if in their place of origin they are normally used for reclining, they are Mekabel Tum'ah and may not be used for Sechach.
2. The Halachah is that, l'Chatchilah, one should not support the Sechach with an object that itself is unfit to be used as Sechach (the "Ma'amid" must fit the criteria for Sechach; see Insights to Sukah 21b). A string or rope that binds the separate parts of the mat together is considered a "Ma'amid." Since some ropes are Mekabel Tum'ah, they should not be used to bind the parts of the mat together. (Vines and natural fibers may be used, since they are not Mekabel Tum'ah and are valid Sechach themselves.)
3. The Rabanan instituted that a board with a width of three Tefachim or more is invalid for Sechach. This decree is known as "Gezeiras Tikrah" (14a). Does this decree apply to a mat? While each individual slat in the mat is not four Tefachim wide, the combined width of the tied slats is greater than four Tefachim. Perhaps all of the slats are viewed as one entity, since they are tied together, and the decree of "Gezeiras Tikrah" should apply to such a mat. (This consideration might not apply to a mat woven with unprocessed bamboo or sticks, since such pieces may be considered separate even when tied together. Only a mat comprised of wooden slats tied together might pose a problem of "Gezeiras Tikrah," since the may of slats may be considered a single entity.)
4. The Gemara discusses the "Gezeiras Chavilah," a decree of the Rabanan that disqualifies a bundle comprised of 25 or more sticks from being used as Sechach. Is a mat of tied slats considered a Chavilah? (Interwoven slats obviously are not considered a Chavilah. The question of Chavilah arises only with a mat that consists of parallel slats tied together.)
Since not all mats are the same, and there are various opinions among the authorities how to rule in each case, one should consult a competent rabbinical authority in order to determine which mats may be used for Sechach.
2) AGADAH: "HAREINI KAPARASO" -- "I AM AN ATONEMENT FOR HIM"
QUESTION: When Reish Lakish quoted a teaching in the name of Rebbi Chiya and his sons, he added, "I am hereby an atonement for Rebbi Chiya and his sons." RASHI explains that since Rebbi Chiya was the Gadol ha'Dor, Reish Lakish honored him and treated him like his Rebbi. The Halachah is that when one quotes or refers to his Rebbi and father after their death, he should say, "Hareini Kaparaso" (or "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo") -- "May I be an atonement for him," out of respect. Rashi explains that this phrase means, "May Hash-m inflict upon me punishment to atone for the sins of my Rebbi (or father) who passed away."
How can one person's afflictions serve as atonement for the sins of another person? The person who sinned should be punished for his own sins.
(RAV EFRAIM ZALMAN STERNBUCH shlit'a discusses this topic at length in SEFER YISSACHAR U'ZEVULUN, chapter 3. The sources cited here are culled from his discussion.)
(a) THE MAHARSHAM (3:151) explains that the principle, "Kol Yisrael Arevin Zeh la'Zeh" -- "all of the Jewish people are responsible for one another," means that every Jew is in some way responsible for the sins of every other Jew. This principle enables one Jew to make himself a guarantor ("Arev") for another. When one person serves as guarantor for the repayment of a loan, the lender has the option to collect from either the debtor himself or from the guarantor. Similarly, one who says "Hareini Kaparaso" makes himself a guarantor for the sins of his father or Rebbi and gives Hash-m the option to collect either from him or from the actual sinner.
However, the MACHANEH CHAIM (Choshen Mishpat #20) points out that it is evident from numerous verses that one must bear personal liability for his own sins (see, for example, Yechezkel 18:20 and Tehilim 49:8). Rav Efraim Zalman Sternbuch also cites RAV HAI GA'ON (quoted by MAHARAM ALSHAKER #101), who writes that one certainly is unable to trade or sell the reward for a Mitzvah or the punishment for an Aveirah which he did.
(b) The MACHANEH CHAIM suggests instead that the declaration of "Hareini Kaparaso" is merely a way to give honor to the deceased or to pray for his soul. It is as though one says, "I wish that my afflictions could be an atonement for him" (but not that they actually can be).
Rav Efraim Zalman questions these two explanations from the Gemara in Kidushin (31b). The Gemara there teaches that during the first twelve months after the death of one's father (or Rebbi), the son is required to say "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo" every time he mentions his father (or Rebbi). However, the Halachah is that a person is not required to undergo physical torture or hardship in order to honor his parents. For example, he is not required to beg from door to door in order to raise money to honor them (see Shulchan Aruch YD 240:5). Similarly, one is not required to suffer by giving up a prospective spouse because his father disapproves (see VILNA GA'ON to YD 240:5). Accordingly, one should not be required to undergo afflictions to attain atonement for his father. Why, then, does the Gemara obligate him to say that he wants to have afflictions in order to atone for his father if he is not obligated to suffer afflictions for his father's benefit? Even if he does not really receive the afflictions, as the Machaneh Chaim suggests, he should not be required to say that he "wishes" he could if the Halachah does not obligate him to honor his father in such a manner.
Rav Efraim Zalman rejects the proposition of Rav Binyamin Stern in B'TZEL HA'CHOCHMAH (6:17-22) who writes that one's obligation to honor his parent is greater after his parent's death than when his parent is alive. Moreover, it seems clear from a number of sources that the afflictions that a son or disciple experiences indeed atone for the sins of his father or Rebbi (see, for example, BEIS YOSEF OC 284). Rashi's words also imply that a person's own afflictions are able to atone for the deceased.
(c) Rav Efraim Zalman Sternbuch and his father, RAV MOSHE STERNBUCH shlit'a (Teshuvos v'Hanhagos 2:47), write that according to TOSFOS RI HA'ZAKEN in Kidushin, one says "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo" only when he quotes a teaching of his father or Rebbi. Accordingly, this declaration is not necessarily an expression of one's acceptance of afflictions to atone for the sins of his father. Rather, with this declaration one expresses, "If I made a mistake when I repeated my father's statement, then let me be punished for misquoting him, instead of him for not teaching me properly, because it is my mistake and not his."
The Rishonim, however, do not seem to agree with this ruling. The DARCHEI MOSHE (YD 240) cites RABEINU YERUCHAM who says explicitly that whenever one mentions his father and Rebbi during the first year after his death, he should say "Hareini Kaparas Mishkavo," even when he does not quote a teaching in his name.
(d) Rav Efraim Zalman Sternbuch (in Sefer Yisachar u'Zevulun, p. 55) writes that perhaps one may attain atonement for his father only for the sin of not raising his son properly. The son says, "If I sin, and as a result my father becomes deserving of punishment because of his failure to educate me properly, I should be punished and not my father." He bases this approach on the words of the Rishon, RABEINU SHNEUR, quoted by the BEIS YOSEF (OC 284).
The logic behind this is that one is able to atone for someone else's sin which caused his own sins by forgiving the other person and suffering for his own sins. Alternatively, when he says that he accepts upon himself afflictions for his sins (which were committed as a result of a deficiency in his education), he does Teshuvah for what he did wrong and he thereby corrects his wrongdoing, which consequently corrects his father's failure to educate him (since the son eventually became educated properly as his Teshuvah demonstrates), and thus his father also benefits.
According to this, it is clear why the son is obligated to accept such afflictions for his father or Rebbi, since it is his actions that cause the father or Rebbi to be punished. The same reasoning may apply for a Gadol ha'Dor like Rebbi Chiya. Such a preeminent sage is responsible for the deeds of everyone in his generation. As such, Reish Lakish was able to accept afflictions in order to atone for any failure of Rebbi Chiya to educate his students that might have caused Reish Lakish (his student's student) to sin.
(e) Rav Efraim Zalman writes that he later found a responsum of the MAHARAM CHALAVAH (#17) who discusses at length the principle that the punishment for one's sin cannot be redirected to another person. However, he shows that the declaration of "Hareini Kaparaso" indeed provides atonement for the deceased, and not merely by serving to forgive the father or Rebbi for the sin of not providing a proper education for the son or disciple. He refers to the Gemara in Sanhedrin (104a) which implies that a son may exonerate his father from punishment ("Bera Mezakeh Aba"). Similarly, the Gemara in Chagigah (15b) implies that Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Yochanan were able to procure atonement for Acher (Elisha ben Avuyah).
The Maharam Chalavah explains how the atonement works. "It is appropriate for him to atone for his father," he writes, and since the son "is the produce, the fruit, of a Tzadik," he is able to effect atonement for that Tzadik. Likewise, a Talmid is able to effect atonement for his Rebbi, since he learned Torah from him, and thus it is appropriate for the Talmid to save his Rebbi just as a son saves his father. (A similar answer is given by the TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA 5:49.)
His intention might be as the Gemara in Yoma (87a) says, "One who causes merit for others, no sin will come upon his hands." The Gemara explains that Hash-m saves such a person from sin, because it is not proper for the Rebbi to suffer punishment in Gehinom while his Talmidim bask in the reward of Gan Eden. Similarly, when one teaches Torah to his son or disciple who then fulfills the Mitzvos as a result, it is not appropriate that the father or Rebbi should suffer for his sins while the son or disciple is rewarded for his merits, which themselves are to the credit of the one who taught him. Consequently, the son or disciple has a moral obligation to save his father or Rebbi who caused him to merit reward. This moral obligation is what obligates him to accept even physical suffering to atone for his Rebbi, and it is what enables his acceptance of suffering to effect atonement for his Rebbi.