For the week ending 31 May 2014 / 2 Sivan 5774

Rosh Hashana 23 - 29

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • How and when fire signals were used for publicizing new month
  • Varieties of cedar trees, the giant ship and irretrievable loss
  • Housing the witnesses of the new moon on Shabbat
  • Interrogation of the witnesses to ascertain their credibility
  • Declaring the new month by court head and others
  • Rabban Gamliel's moon figures and the problem of statues
  • The dispute between two Sages and the absolute authority of Sanhedrin
  • Sighting of the new moon by the Sanhedrin and timing of declaration
  • Why the horn of the cow is not valid for use as a shofar
  • Terms whose meaning was learned from Sages and unexpected sources
  • The shofar used on Rosh Hashana, Yom Kippur of Yovel year and on fast days
  • Hearing two sounds at once
  • The difference between the ordinary shofar and the Beit Hamikdash one
  • When the world was created and the prayer expressing that fact
  • Physical flaws disqualifying ashofar
  • The shofar blown in a pit
  • Shofar taken from a sanctified animal, from an animal worshipped as an idol and other disqualifications
  • The matzah eaten under coercion and the shofar blown for music
  • The need for kavana (intention) in performing a mitzvah
  • Adding or subtracting from the details of a mitzvah
  • The uplifted hands of Moshe and the magic serpent
  • Who is obligated in the mitzvah of shofar
  • Shofar blowing when Rosh Hashana is on Shabbat

When Money Counts

  • Rosh Hashana 27a

The shofar blown on Rosh Hashana in the Beit Hamikdash was adorned with gold while the one blown on fast days was adorned only with silver. In explanation of this distinction the gemara states that while there is a need for spending money to glorify the shofar used on a holiday, economy is exercised in regard to the fast day shofar because "the Torah had consideration for the money of Israel".

This concept of Divine consideration for the public's money as it is spent even on mitzvah matters is found in a number of places in the Talmud. It seems, however, to be in conflict with a challenge that Rabbi Papa presented when a colleague attempted to give a lenient ruling in regard to a kashrut question on these very grounds that "the Torah had consideration for the money of Israel". How can we apply such a concept, he asked, when the transgression of a Torah prohibition is involved?

A resolution of this conflict is presented by Rabbi Zvi Hirsh Chayes in his commentary. In Shulchan Aruch Orech Chaim (656) we learn that there is a difference between how much a Jew must spend in order to perform a positive mitzvah and how much he must sacrifice in order to avoid transgressing a prohibition. While sums like a third or a fifth of one's resources are mentioned in regard to the first category, it is clear that one must be prepared to lose all his money in order to avoid transgression.

All of the cases when the Talmud applies the idea of Divine consideration for public money deal with the performance of a mitzvah. The challenges presented by Rabbi Papa (Mesechta Chullin 49b and 77a) were in regard to transgression where money doesn't count.

What the Sages Say

"Woe to the heathens (who slaughtered the Sages) for whom there is no chance to make compensation. The Prophet Yeshayahu says in the Name of G-d, 'In place of the copper I shall bring gold, in place of the iron I shall bring silver, in place of the wood I shall bring copper, and in place of the stones I shall bring iron' — but what can be brought in place of Rabbi Akiva and his colleagues?"

  • Rabbi Yochanan - Rosh Hashana 23a

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