Nesletter Parashat Vayigash

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Daily Halacha 

from Rabbi Eli Mansour

The Completion of the 13th Daf Yomi Cycle  

Baruch Hashem, many members of our congregation, along with untold numbers of Jews around the world, are now completing the entire Talmud Bavli with the conclusion of the 13th cycle of the daily Daf Yomi learning program.

This celebration is commonly referred to as the "Siyum HaShas," but technically speaking, this term is inaccurate. The word "Shas" is an acronym for the words, "Shisha Sedarim," referring to the six sections of the Mishna. The Daf Yomi program completes the entire Talmud Bavli, but the Talmud Bavli does not cover all six sections of the Mishna. For example, there is no tractate of Talmud Bavli on the section of Zera’im (with the exception of Masechet Berachot), or on most of the section of Taharot. Therefore, when reciting the "Hadran" text at the Siyum celebration, one should ensure to recite "Talmud Bavli," and not "Shas" or "Shisha Sedarim."

The Gaon of Vilna (1720-1797) observed that the four letters of the Hebrew word "Siyum" are unique in that the "active" portion of each of these letters has the same numerical value as the "inactive" portion. The first letter, for example, is Samech, and the word "Samech" is spelled Samech, Mem, Chaf. The two "hidden" letters – Mem and Chaf – have a combined numerical value of 60, which is also the numerical value of the letter Samech. Similarly, the second letter in "Siyum," the letter Yod, is spelled Yod, Vav, Dalet, and the combined numerical value of Vav and Dalet is the same as the value of the letter Yod (10). The third letter, Vav, is spelled Vav, Vav, and quite obviously the "hidden" letter is identical to the "outer" letter. This is true as well of the fourth and final letter, Mem, which is spelled Mem, Mem.

The common explanation is that the "inactive" participants in a Torah study program are equivalent to the active participants. Even those who did not complete the term of study are nevertheless significant, insofar as their participation in the Siyum celebration, and the praise and respect they give to the students, provides them with encouragement and inspiration to continue learning and to reach even greater achievements. In a Siyum, even the "hidden" participants are important, no less than the obvious participants.

But there may also be an additional explanation for this unique feature of the word "Siyum." The Mishna in Pirkeh Abot teaches that when ten people study Torah together, the Shechina (divine presence) is there with them. The Mishna then proceeds to comment that even if fewer than ten people study together, and there is no Minyan, even so, God is there with the group. And even if just two people study together, like a Habruta, God is there with them. The Mishna then says that even if a person sits and studies alone, he really is not alone, as God is present with him. Torah learning is fundamentally different from a course in university. It is an encounter with the Almighty, and not simply the acquisition of knowledge.

And so, when a person completes a Masechet of Talmud, and certainly if he completes the entire Talmud Bavli, and he looks at the books on the shelves and begins to wonder, "How did I do that? How was I able to study so much material?" – the answer is clear. He was accompanied by the Almighty at every step of the way. Anyone who invests genuine effort into Torah learning receives a great deal of Siyata Di’shmaya – divine assistance – that enables him to succeed and achieve. Although we cannot see Him, He is there in the room beside us as we learn. God is called the "Yosheb Be’seter" – the One who sits in hiding, concealed from view. He is the hidden member of every study group, and the hidden partner of every student of Torah.

At every Siyum, there is a hidden participant – Hashem. The "hidden" letters are the same as the "revealed" letters to remind us of God, our hidden study partner who was with us at every step along the way and enabled us to reach this remarkable goal.

May it be Hashem’s will that just as we reached this special milestone, we shall be given the privilege to reach even greater heights and accomplish greater goals, with health, happiness and prosperity, Amen.



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& A on Parashat Vayigash

All references are to the verses and Rashi’s commentary, unless otherwise stated.

  1. What threatening words did Yehuda say to Yosef?
    44:18 – He threatened that Yosef would be stricken with leprosy, like Pharaoh when he took Sarah from Avraham. Alternatively, Yehuda threatened to kill Yosef and Pharaoh.
  2. Why did Yehuda say his missing brother died?
    44:20 – Yehuda feared that if he said his missing brother was alive, Yosef would demand to see him.
  3. Why was Yehuda the one to plead for Binyamin?
    44:32 – He was the one who took "soul" responsibility for him.
  4. What do we learn from Yosef telling his brothers "Go up to my father"?
    45:9 – We learn that Eretz Yisrael is higher than all other lands.
  5. What two things did the brothers see that helped prove that he was really Yosef?
    45:12 – He was circumcised like they were, and he spoke lashon hakodesh.
  6. Why did Binyamin weep on Yosef's neck?
    45:14 – Binyamin wept for the destruction of Mishkan Shilo built in Yosef's territory.
  7. Why did Yosef send old wine to Yaakov?
    45:23 – Elderly people appreciate old wine.
  8. What did Yosef mean when he said "Don't dispute on the way"?
    45:24 – He warned that if they engage in halachic disputes, they might not be alert to possible travel dangers.
  9. What happened to Yaakov when he realized Yosef was alive?
    45:27 – His ruach hakodesh (prophetic spirit) returned.
  10. Why did G-d tell Yaakov, "Don't fear going down to Egypt"?
    46:3 – Because Yaakov was grieved to leave Eretz Canaan.
  11. "I will bring you up" from Egypt. To what did this allude?
    46:4 – That Yaakov would be buried in Eretz Canaan.
  12. What happened to the property that Yaakov acquired in Padan Aram?
    46:6 – He traded it for Esav's portion in the Cave of Machpelah.
  13. Who was the mother of Shaul ben HaCanaanit?
    46:10 – Dina bat Yaakov.
  14. When listing Yaakov's children, the verse refers to Rachel as "Rachel, wife of Yaakov." Leah, Bilhah and Zilpah are not referred to as Yaakov's wives. Why?
    46:19 – Rachel was regarded as the mainstay of the family.
  15. Yosef harnessed his own chariot instead of letting a servant do it. Why?
    46:29 – Yosef wanted to hasten to honor his father.
  16. Why were shepherds abhorrent to the Egyptians?
    46:34 – Because the Egyptians worshipped sheep.
  17. Why did Yosef pick the weakest brothers to stand before Pharaoh?
    47:2 – So Pharaoh wouldn't see their strength and draft them.
  18. What blessing did Yaakov give Pharaoh when he left his presence?
    47:10 – That the waters of the Nile should rise to greet Pharaoh.
  19. Yosef resettled the land of Egypt, moving the people from city to city. What were his two motives for this?
    47:21 – In order to remind them that they no longer owned the land, and to help his family by removing the stigma of being strangers.
  20. Whose fields were not bought by Yosef?
    47:22 – The Egyptian priests.


from Maran Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Ztz'l

 "שיעור דף יומי"

שאלה: מי שלומד בכל יום שיעור "דף היומי", האם הוא יוצא
בכך ידי חובת תלמוד תורה בכל יום

תשובה: בגמרא במסכת קידושין (דף ל.) אמרו, "ושננתם
לבניך", לעולם ישלש (יחלק לשלושה חלקים) אדם שנותיו, שליש במקרא, שליש במשנה,
ושליש בתלמוד. כלומר
, מחוייב
כל אדם מישראל, לחלק את זמנו בלימוד התורה, שילמד גם מקרא (חומש
, נביאים וכתובים), גם משנה
וגם תלמוד

פסק רבינו הרמב"ם (בפ"א מהלכות תלמוד תורה), שחייב אדם לשלש זמן לימודו.
כיצד? אם היה בעל אומנות או מסחר, ועוסק במלאכה לפרנסתו שלוש שעות, ובתורה עוסק
תשע שעות, קורא בשלש מהן בתורה שבכתב, ובשלש ילמד תורה שבעל פה, ובשלש ישכיל ויבין
אחרית דבר מראשיתו ללמוד דבר מתוך דבר עד שידע היאך דיני המצות והיאך יוציא דין
האסור והמותר

רבותינו האחרונים דיברו הרבה בענין זה, מהי הדרך הישרה בלימוד התורה. וכתבו הפרישה
והש"ך ועוד מגדולי האחרונים, שיש בעלי בתים הנוהגים ללמוד בכל יום תלמוד
(גמרא) עם פירוש רש"י והתוספות. (ממש כלימוד דף היומי). ואינם לומדים בספרי
הפוסקים. אבל נראה שהעיקר הוא ללמוד בספרי פוסקים, ואינן יוצאים ידי חובת תלמוד
תורה בלימוד הגמרא, וזהו ששנינו
"כל השונה הלכות בכל יום מובטח לו שנהוא בן העולם הבא"
(מגילה כח:), שהוא הלומד הלכות פסוקות. ורק תלמיד חכם העוסק שעות ארוכות בתורה,
יוכל לעסוק גם בלימוד התלמוד כראוי

בנדון השאלה, כתב מרן הרב עובדיה יוסף שליט"א (בשו"ת יחוה דעת חלק ששי
סימן נב), שבודאי שלא נכון שילמדו כולם בכל יום דף יומי, במקום שילמדו שיעור
בהלכה. והספרדים בכל מקומות מושבותם היו רגילים בכל יום לשמוע שיעורים בהלכה מפי
תלמידי חכמים, וכך היו בקיאים בדיני התורה, וכיום במקומות רבים נתבטלו לגמרי
השיעורים בהלכה
, מחמת
לימוד הדף היומי, שרבים מאד מסתפקים בו

הגאון רבינו יהונתן איבשיץ בספר יערות דבש, שכל מי שלא למד הלכות שבת על בוריין
פעמיים ושלוש לא יוכל להמלט מעון חילול שבת, הן מדאוריתא והן מדרבנן. (ומכאן תשובה
לרבים ששאלו, מדוע ב"הלכה יומית" הארכנו לפני מספר ימים בפרטי דיני בורר
, ושאבותיהם לא נהגו להזהר
בזה כל כך. ובאמת שכל מה שכתבנו הוא הכרחי על פי השלחן ערוך, ועל כל אדם חובה
להיות בקי בדינים פשוטים אלה

שמי שיכול, ראוי שילמד בכל יום גם שיעור דף יומי, וגם שיעור בהלכה, ובכך יבא על
סיפוקו. אבל אם אינו שומע אלא שיעור אחד, עליו להעדיף שיעור בהלכה
, כי ללא לימוד ההלכה לא
ידע את דיני התורה

כן נשים הקוראות בכל יום בספר תהלים, שמעלתן גדולה, מכל מקום יזהרו גם לקבוע איזה
זמן ללמוד את דיני התורה, שאף הן מצוות להיות בקיאות בהם. (ובלימוד ההלכות
ב"הלכה יומית" במשך כמה שנים, יוכל כל אדם לרכוש לעצמו ידע נרחב ביותר

“Daf Yomi” Classes

Question: Does one fulfill his
obligation to learn Torah every day by attending a daily “Daf Yomi” (daily
quota of one folio of the Talmud) class?

Answer: The Gemara in Masechet Kiddushin (30a) states: “‘And you shall
teach your sons,’ one must always divide his time for Torah learning into three
parts: A third for the Written Torah, a third for Mishnah, and a third for
Talmud.” This means that every Jewish person must divide his Torah learning time
in a way that he will be able to learn Tanach (Chumash, Prophets, and
Scriptures), Mishnah, and Gemara.

The Rambam rules likewise (Chapter 1 of Hilchot Talmud Torah) that “One must
divide his learning time into three parts. For example, if one is a craftsman
or a businessman and spends three hours earning his livelihood and nine hours
learning Torah, he should spend three of these hours reading the Written Torah,
the next three hours learning the Oral Torah, and the last three hours placing
emphasis on understanding the end of the matter from its beginning by learning
one matter out of another regarding the laws of the Mitzvot and how to deduce
what is forbidden and what is permissible.”

The Acharonim deal with this matter at length and discuss what is the correct
path regarding Torah learning. The Derisha, Siftei Kohen, and other great
Acharonim write that certain working individuals customarily learn Gemara with
the commentaries of Rashi and the Tosafot (exactly like the “Daf Yomi” learning
schedule) every day and do not invest time in learning the works of the Poskim.
However, it seems that the primary learning is that of the works of the Poskim
and they do not fulfill their obligation to learn Torah with their Gemara
learning. This is indeed what our Sages meant by saying, “Whoever learns
Halachot every day is guaranteed a share in the World to Come,” (Megillah 28b);
this refers to one who learns practical Halachot. Only a Torah scholar who
spends many hours delving in Torah should spend time learning Gemara properly
as well.

Regarding our question, Maran Harav Ovadia Yosef Shlit”a writes (Responsa
Yechave Da’at Volume 6, Chapter 52) that it is certainly incorrect for everyone
to learn the “Daf Yomi” everyday instead of having or attending a Halacha
class. Sephardic Jews, wherever they may have lived, would customarily attend
daily Halacha classes delivered by Torah scholars and would thus be proficient
in the Torah’s laws. Unfortunately, today, such Halacha classes have been
discontinued in many places in favor of Daf Yomi classes, which many people
find to be sufficient.

Hagaon Rabbeinu Yehonatan Eibeschitz writes in his Sefer Ya’arot Devash that
one who does not learn the laws of Shabbat thoroughly twice or three times will
not be able to escape the sin of Shabbat desecration, whether on a Torah or
Rabbinic level. (This is indeed the response to the question many people have
asked us about why we at “Halacha Yomit” have, up until several days ago, gone
into great detail discussing the laws of selecting on Shabbat, when in fact
their parents were never so careful about this aspect. Indeed, all that we have
written is based on the the minimum requirement according to the Shulchan Aruch
and all must make an effort to become proficient in these simple,
straight-forward laws.)

Certainly, if one can, one should attend a Daf Yomi class and a Halacha class,
and this shall surely bring him fulfillment. However, if one can only attend
one such class, one should choose a Halacha class, for without learning
Halacha, one will not know the laws of the Torah.

Similarly, women who read Tehillim (Psalms) every day, which is indeed a worthy
practice, should nevertheless set aside some time to learn the laws of the
Torah, for they are also commanded to be proficient in these laws. (Through
learning the “Halacha Yomit” for several years, one can indeed amass a wealth
of Halachic knowledge.)


Shabbat Shalom

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