Abarbanel on the Parsha

For the week ending 9 August 2014 / 13 Av 5774

Megillah 30 - Mo’ed Katan 5

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

“One opens the Sefer Torah, and looks inside, rolls it closed, and says the beracha before reading in the Torah, and afterwards opens it again and reads — this is the ruling of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Yehuda, however, says to open it and look at it, and then straightaway make the beracha and read from it.”

This beraita on our daf which teaches an argument about whether to say the beracha for reading the Torah while it is open is explained in the gemara. The reason why Rabbi Meir says to close it before saying the beracha is so that the unlearned people should not think that the beracha is written in the Torah. Rabbi Yehuda does not seem concerned with doing this since closing and reopening the Sefer Torah is an inconvenience to the congregation. In practice, both approaches are acceptable (unless there is a specific “rule of the shul”), but if one leaves the Torah open he should look to the side or close his eyes when reciting the beracha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 139:4 and the halachic authorities there).

  • Megilla 32a

“Moshe decreed that the Jewish People learn about the ‘topic of the day’ — the laws of Pesach on Pesach, the laws of Shavuot on Shavuot, and the laws of Succot on Succot.”

This beraita concludes Mesechta Megilla and teaches that we learn (lit. “ask and expound”) about the laws of each Festival in its time, in addition to the general mitzvah of learning all of the Torah year-long. But why are Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur not part of this decree? Maharsha explains that they were not included by Moshe since the essence of Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur is “repentance and atonement”, which is relevant and applicable throughout the year and not only on these days.

  • Megilla 32a

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