For the week ending 27 September 2014 / 3 Tishri 5775

Chagigah 16 - 20

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • How Rabbi Akiva knew where the Divine Presence was
  • Angels, men and demons
  • What to avoid looking into and looking at
  • Don't fall for the pitch of the evil inclination
  • The debate that spanned generations
  • The tragic tale of the Sage Yehuda ben Tabai and the witness
  • What happened to the Sage Menachem
  • Offering the Festival sacrifices on Yom Tov and doing semicha
  • The source for opportunity to offer Shavuot sacrifices even after Yom Tov
  • The prohibition against certain forms of labor during Chol Hamoed
  • Why eulogies and fasting were permitted on day when belated Shavuot sacrifices were offered
  • Washing hands and immersion for different levels of sanctity
  • Washing for bread or any other food
  • If such washing requires intention
  • The role of intention in regard to immersion
  • The two who made immersion in a mikveh with just enough water for the first and how waters connect
  • The status of those who practice the restraints of sacrificial purity even in regard to ordinary food
  • Lapses in attention to guarding purity
  • When the boss cannot rely on the purity of his workers
  • The differences between sacrificial and terumah standards in acquiring impurity and regaining it

Forced Admission

  • Chagigah 16a

A man may be tempted to sin when his evil inclination promises him that G-d will forgive him. The Prophet Micha (7:5) warns such a man "trust not such an evil force" and "have no confidence in the forgiveness of G-d". There is no Divine forgiveness without repentance, and even if one sins with the commitment to later repent, he may be prevented by Heaven from achieving that repentance.

And yet a person may be persuaded to believe that his secret sin will remain unknown. To destroy this illusion four categories of witnesses are listed who will testify against him:

1) The stones and walls of his home will testify as the Prophet Chabakuk (2:11) warns: "The stone shall cry out of the wall."

2) Two Heavenly angels who accompany him shall testify, as King David states

(Tehillim 91:11): "For He shall appoint angels to accompany you."

3) Man's soul will testify as the Prophet Micha (ibid.) cautions: "Keep the doors of your mouth shut from what lies in your bosom."

4) Man's organs and limbs will testify, as the Prophet Yeshayahu (43:10) quotes G-d as declaring "You are my witnesses."

Although it is obvious that G-d needs no witnesses in His trial of man for "He is both judge and witness" (Avot 4:22), it is His desire to have man admit his sin. Maharsha points out the different sins to which man will admit as a result of irrefutable testimony.

1) Refers to the futility of man's attempt to commit a sin hidden from public knowledge such as eating in the privacy of his home while the entire community is fasting because of lack of rain. (See Ta’anit 11a). His sinful act will inevitably be revealed.

2) Refers to those violations of prohibitions that create angels who accompany him and will testify against him in the judgment of the hereafter.

3) Refers to the sins of speech for man's power of speech is an expression of the soul that G-d breathed into him. (See Targum Onkeles on Bereishet 2:7)

4) Refers to the positive commands which man failed to do since the 365 positive mitzvot correspond to the parts of man.

What the Sages Say

"If the evil inclination tries to persuade you to sin by assuring you that G-d will anyway forgive you, don't listen to him."

  • Rabbi Yehuda ben Rabbi Nachmeini - Chagigah 16a

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