For the week ending 20 September 2014 / 25 Elul 5774

Chagigah 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • How long can one still bring his Succot Festival sacrifices
  • Irreparable sins
  • That extra Torah study that makes the difference
  • Torah laws and how explicit is their source
  • Limitations on teaching certain Torah subjects
  • The problem of teaching rules of forbidden sexual relations to three people
  • Creation of Adam, light and the sea and all that was created on the first day
  • The order of creation on the first day
  • The order of creation of heaven and earth
  • The invisible foundations of the earth
  • The seven heavens and what they contain
  • Importance of Torah study at night and danger of interrupting Torah study with idle talk
  • How the haughty Nebuchadnetzer was put in his place
  • The esoteric prophecy of Yechezkel and who is qualified to study it
  • The faces, wings and numbers of heavenly angels
  • The mysterious two chairs described by Daniel
  • The 18 curses of the Prophet Yeshayahu and one more
  • Sages who mastered Maaseh Merkavah
  • Four Sages who entered the "Orchard" and what happened to them
  • The exchanges with the Sage Ben Zoma
  • The adventures of Acheir, the sage who went wrong

Danger of Missing Out

  • Chagiga 9a-b

A Jew who missed offering his Festival sacrifices on the first day can make this up on the succeeding days. But if he fails to do so until the Festival is over he has missed out. In regard to such a person the Mishna applies the passage: "That which is crooked cannot be straightened and that which is missing cannot be counted." (Kohelet 1:15)

Another application of this passage is found in a beraita. The reference there is to one who failed to recite the Shema in the morning or evening or who failed to say his morning or evening prayers or who did not join his comrades in performing a mitzvah.

Maharsha explains that the "crooked which cannot be straightened" refers to one who failed to recite the Shema or say the Shacharit morning and Ma’ariv evening prayers throughout that day and night. The second half about "that which is missing cannot be counted" refers to one who did pray but failed to join others in a minyan.

The reason the Mincha service is not mentioned, although missing it comes under the same category of "that which is crooked", is because of the beraita's interest in keeping the prayer part parallel to the Shema part which is recited only morning and night.

What the Sages Say

"Whoever studies Torah during the night is blessed by G-d with a special grace during the day. Some say that whoever studies Torah in this world will be blessed by G-d with a special grace in the World-to-Come."

  • Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish - Chagigah 12b

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