For the week ending 13 September 2014 / 18 Elul 5774

Chagigah 2 - 8

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Who is obligated in the mitzvah of bringing a sacrifice on visiting the Beit Hamikdash on a Festival
  • The lame, the blind, the half-slave, the mute and the deaf
  • Why little children are brought to Yerushalayim once in seven years
  • How to view the differences of opinion among Sages
  • The eyes of Rabbi Yossi ben Durmaskis
  • What determines insanity
  • Women, hermaphrodites, children and slaves
  • The uncircumcised, the spiritually impure and the half-blind
  • Why some Sages wept upon reading certain passages
  • When a good deed can be counterproductive
  • The secret of the Sage Rava and the charades of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya
  • The “weeping”, as it were, of G-d
  • Blessing from a blind sage
  • The "one-day-a-year scholar"
  • Why the Prophet Shmuel was not brought to Yerushalayim right away
  • The minimum value of the sacrifices brought on Festival
  • Nature of the sacrifice brought by our ancestors in the wilderness
  • If a sacrifice must be brought every time one enters the Beit Hamikdash during the Festival
  • From which funds must sacrifices be purchased
  • Allocating funds for sacrifices on basis of size of family and amount of resources

Counterproductive Charity

In the closing words of his Divinely inspired Kohelet, the wisest of men, King Solomon, writes:

"For G-d shall bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or evil." Kohelet 12:14)

Why should there be judgment on deeds that are good just as there is judgment for evil deeds?

The answer given by Rabbi Yannai is that there can be a combination of good and evil in the same deed and G-d shall discern the evil that overshadows the apparent good. The example he offers is that of one giving charity to a poor man in public and thus causing him great embarrassment.

Rabbi Yannai once witnessed a man giving charity to a poor man in public and reprimanded him by declaring that it would have been preferable for him to not have given him charity and thus avoided embarrassing him.

Maharsha raises an interesting point. The rule is that when there is a clash between the fulfillment of a positive command and transgressing a prohibition, the positive command has priority. Since giving charity is a positive command, should it not therefore override the prohibition of simultaneously embarrassing another?

His simple answer is that this rule applies only when there is no way to fulfill the positive command without transgressing the prohibition. In Rabbi Yannai's case the charity could have been given discreetly to avoid embarrassment.

What the Sages Say

"Said G-d to Israel, 'You made Me a distinctive entity in the world in your declaration of Shema Yisrael and I will make you a distinctive entity in the world in My declaration that 'Who is like Your people Israel, one nation in the world’."

  • Rabbi Elazar ben Azariah - Chagigah 3a

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