Vayakhel Pekudei Parah 5778

RABBI YITZCHAK ZEV JACOBS

זאת התורה אדם כי ימות באוהל כל הבא אל האהל וכל אשר באהל יטמא שבעת ימים (שמות יט:יד)

This is the law: A person who dies in a tent, anyone who comes into the tent and anything
that was in the tent will become impure for seven days. (Shemos 19:14)

אמר ריש לקיש אין דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שממית עצמו עליה שנאמר זאת התורה
אדם כי ימות באהל (ברכות סג:)

Reish Lakish said, “Words of Torah do not endure except within one who kills himself on it (the Torah), as it says, ‘This is the Torah, a person who dies in a tent.’” (Brachos 63b)

This familiar refrain is often quoted by Roshei Yeshivos and Mashgichim the world over. It’s been incorporated in many a speech and Shmuess. However, one point is often glossed over: Why did Hashem choose to tell us about this essential concept specifically within the topic of Tumas Meis? Why place such a lofty ideal in a Parsha regarding impurity?
Rav Tzvi Weisfish, Mashgiach of Yeshivas Even Yisrael, perceives a subtle analogue inherent in the Gemara. Chazal (Tosefta Sotah 4:1) say that Midah Tova Merubah, Hashem’s measure of bestowing good upon the world is much more generous than His measure of doling out punishment. That being the case, if Tumas Meis has the ability to be Metamei one who simply enters its confines (i.e., Tumas Ohel), how much more is that concept true of sheltering someone under the roof of Torah, the ultimate positive antithesis of Tumah! Torah undoubtedly has the power to influence someone just by being within range.
The Torah environment is more encompassing than one might think. There is another Gemara (Brachos 15b) which says, “Rabbi Chama b’Rabbi Chanina said, ‘Why was the Parsha of tents juxtaposed to the Parsha of streams, as it says, “כנחלים נטיו כגנות עלי נהר כאהלים נטע ה'” (במדבר כד:ו), “Stretching out like streams, like gardens by a river, like tents pitched by Hashem” (Bamidbar 24:6)? It is to tell you that just as streams uplift a person from Tumah to Tahara (as in a Mikvah) so do tents (of Torah – Rashi) elevate a person from iniquity to virtuousness.’”
What similarity do specifically Mikvah and the tents of Torah share? Rav Weisfish explains that both require an immersive experience. Just as the Mikveh only purifies a person who fully immerses in it, so, too, Torah requires complete and total immersion. This type of absorptive study is termed the Oholah shel Torah, the Tent of Torah.
This also lends new perspective to the original Gemara in Brachos. אין דברי תורה מתקיימין אלא במי שממית עצמו עליה, “Torah does not endure except within one who kills himself on it.” What is it that requires throwing oneself into, to the point of death-like exhaustion? It is specifically the “tent of Torah”. That is to say, only by learning the Torah in an all-encompassing way can one guarantee continuity and tenacity for the Torah he has learned.
Perhaps this idea may be extended even further. Rav Chaim Soloveichik (Tumas Meis 12:1) posits that there are only two methods through which Tumas Meis may travel: either through Ohel, dispersing evenly throughout the roofed area containing the Tumah, or through Bekiah, breaking upward through the roof in a vertical column. When the Tumah is mobile in one mode, then the other is contraindicated. These two methods find their parallel in Torah as well. Torah has the ability to break through its containment, to be Bokea V’Oleh. However, if it is learnt in the appropriate atmosphere, within Oholah shel Torah, instead of breaking loose, the Torah will pervade throughout that Ohel.
This excitement of Torah is that much more contagious than Tumah. If one just allows himself to get caught up in the thrill of Limud HaTorah, that thrill will be the beginning of an adventure for L.I.F.E.!


RABBI MOSHE REZNIK

There is a Machlokes Rishonim concerning a case where someone separated Terumah for his friend from the produce in his friend’s storehouse, and it was later revealed that the owner did not mind. The Rambam says that the separation does take effect, but the Beis Yosef (Y.D. 331) counters that the Gemara (Bava Metzia 22a) says that it does not work. The Beis Yosef therefore reasons that the Rambam understood from other Gemaras that the Halacha follows his opinion, and it must therefore be that the other Gemaras are disagreeing with this one in Bava Metzia. The reason that the separation is effective is that since it is a Mitzvah to take off Terumah, and the owner was happy with the result, it is as if he had granted permission beforehand.
But in a case where there is no Mitzvah involved, e.g., in the famous Sugya of “Ye’ush Shelo Mida’as” (Bava Metzia 21b), the finder has no Mitzvah to acquire a lost object. In this case, if one finds a lost object and when the owner later finds out that he lost it he is Meyaish (gives up on ever finding it and thereby renders it Hefker, ownerless), then the Ye’ush is not considered as if it happened before it was picked up. Since the owner is only now Meyaish, the finder does not acquire it and retains his obligation to return it.
The Ketzos Hachoshen (262) provides another proof from the Gemara (Eruvin 71a) that suggests that even though it is forbidden to transfer ownership from one person to another on Shabbos, if one forgot to chip in with a piece of bread before Shabbos to join the Eruv (the way it was formerly done, whereas today one person buys a box of Matzo for everyone) he can be Mevatel (transfer) his ownership to the other members of the Eruv. Then it will be as if he doesn’t live there and he wasn’t supposed to chip in at all. He is allowed to do this because it is certain that he would have wanted to do so before Shabbos, and it is therefore considered as if he had transferred it on Friday.
Another example of allowing someone to make an assumption is found regarding Esrog and Sukkah. The Poskim rule that one is allowed to use someone else’s Esrog or Sukkah without first asking for permission, because he can assume that the owner would want him to use it. ניחא ליה לאיניש למיעבד מצוה בממונו, a person wants Mitzvos to be done with his money.
The Ketzos takes this idea one bold step further. The Gemara (Pesachim 6b) says that one cannot be Mevatel his Chametz after the time that it is Assur to own Chametz, because the mechanics of Bitul Chametz only play out if it is done before the Zman Issur. However, the Ketzos says that this is only if one intentionally was not Mevatel before the Zman. But if he forgot to be Mevatel due to circumstances beyond his control, then perhaps the Bitul would still be effective; it could be considered as if he had done it earlier, since he really wanted to do it before the Zman. The Ketzos cautions not to use this as a Heter, because this ruling is not found anywhere in the Poskim. He adds that he was only using it in a particular case where there were also other reasons to be lenient.
It would seem that even though the Ketzos cautions against using it as a Heter, if one did in fact forget to be Mevatel in time, he should still do it later, because at least according to the Ketzos’s logic it should work. Obviously, if someone finds Chametz after Pesach, whether he was Mevatel or not, he must be sure to consult a Rav.