Sukkah Daf 53‏


1) THE SIMCHAS BEIS HA’SHO’EVAH

(a)      Women could sift wheat by its light.

(b)      The sages who had not tasted sin gave thanks for their youth which did not embarrass their old age, and those who had repented would give thanks for that.

(c)       Both groups proclaimed the blessings of he who had not sinned, calling upon the sinner to then repent.

(d)      Hillel proclaimed in his joy: If I am here, everyone is here; but if I am not here, who is here?

 

He also used to recite as follows: To the place that I love, there My feet lead me: if you will come into My House, I will come into your house; if you will not come to My House, I will not come to your house, as it is said: In every place where I cause My name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.

 

2) OTHER AGADIC TEACHINGS

(a)      Hillel saw a floating skull upon the water. He said to it: Because you did drown others, they have drowned you, and they that drowned you shall be drowned as well.

(b)      (R. Yochanan): A person’s own feet deliver him to the place he is to die, as demonstrated in the incident of the two Soferim whom Shlomo ha’Melech tried to save.

There were once two Cutheans who attended on King Solomon, and these were Elichoreph and Achyah, the sons of Shisha, scribes of Solomon. One day Solomon observed that the Angel of Death was sad. ‘Why’, he said to him, ‘are you sad?’ ‘Because’, he answered him, ‘they have demanded from me the two Cutheans who sit here’. Solomon thereupon gave them in charge of the spirits and sent them to the town of Luz. When, however, they reached the town of Luz, they died. On the following day he observed that the Angel of Death was in cheerful spirits. ‘Why’, he said to

him, ‘are you cheerful?’  ‘To the place’, the other replied, ‘where they demanded them from me, that is where you sent them!’ Solomon thereupon uttered the saying: ‘A man’s feet are responsible for him; they lead him to the place where he is wanted’.

 

3) THE SIMCHAS BEIS HA’SHO’EVAH (cont.)

(a)      R. Shimon b. Gamliel would juggle eight torches.

(b)      He alone was able to do Kidah (bowing on his thumbs, kissing the ground then stand up).

1.        Levi did Kidah before Rebbi and became lame.

2.        Question: But R. Elazar taught a different reason for Levi’s becoming lame!?

3.        Answer: Both factors contributed.

(c)       Levi performed before Rebbi by juggling eight knives.

(d)      Shmuel performed before the Persian king with eight cups of wine.

(e)      Abaye juggled before Rabah with eight eggs (some say, four).

(f)       (R. Yehoshua b. Chananyah, a Levi): We did not sleep during the Simchas Beis ha’Sho’evah (and he enumerated the activities of the Levi’im) 24 hours a day.

(g)      Question: But from the laws of vows we see that one cannot go three days without sleep.

(h)      Answer: Rather, we did not taste sleep because we only dozed on one another’s shoulder.

 

4) THE FIFTEEN STEPS

(a)      Question (R. Chisda to the Amora of Agadah before him): What is the source for Dovid ha’Melech’s 15 Shir ha’Ma’alos?

(b)      Answer (Amora citing R. Yochanan): It was in order to bring Mei Tehom back up 15,000 Garmidi.

1.        Dovid ha’Melech dug the Shitin.

2.        The depth waters surged up and threatened to flood with world.

3.        Question: Then they should not be called Ma’alos!?

4.        Answer: The waters went too low, as described.

5.        When King David had begun the excavations for the foundation of the Temple, the waters of the subterranean deep came up and threatened to flood the planet. King David thought to inscribe the Divine Name on a piece of earthenware and cast it into the waters. No one told him the halachah. David said: Whoever knows this halachah, and does not tell it to me, should be strangled by his throat. His teacher, Achitofel, ruled that it would be permissible to do so based on the following kal vachomer : If, for the sake of peace between a husband and his wife whom he suspects of infidelity, the Torah commands us to erase His Name by placing the parchment into water, then it is certainly permissible to cast the Name into the waters to save the entire world! King David immediately wrote the Divine Name on a shard, cast it into the waters, which then subsided and remained in its place.

6.        The waters went down too far, and Dovid ha’Melech elevated them with his Songs of Ascent to a depth of 1000 amos.

(c)       (Ula): This implies that the groundwater is at that depth.

(d)      Question: But we find water at much less depth!?

(e)      Answer: That water comes from the “ladder” of the Euphrates River.

 

5) THE KOHANIM COMING DOWN TO THE TENTH STEP

(a)      Question (R. Yirmiyah): Did they come down ten steps, to the fifth, or five steps to the tenth?

(b)      Answer: The Gemora leaves this question unresolved.

 

6) THEY TURNED THEIR BACKS ON HASHEM

The Gemora expounds: From the implication of the verse, “and their faces toward the east,” do I not already know that “their backs were toward the Temple”? This is telling us that they would uncover themselves and defecated towards Heaven above.

 

7) “ANU L’KAH UL’KAH EINEINU”

(a)      Question: But R. Zeira taught that such repetition is forbidden (like Modim Modim)!?

(b)      Answer: [They bowed to the East while] we bow to Hash-m, and our eyes turn to Hash-m.

 

8) MISHNAH: THE TEKI’OS

(a)      There are not fewer than 21 Trumpet blasts in the Temple and, on some days, it can be as many as 48, as enumerated.

Every day, there were twenty-one, as follows: three were sounded on opening the Courtyard gates in the morning, nine when offering the morning tamid, nine when offering the afternoon tamid. When there was a mussaf offering, they added another nine. On Friday, they added another six: three as a sign to the people to cease from work and three to mark a distinction between the holy and the mundane. On Friday, in the Intermediate days of the Sukkos Festival, there were therefore forty-eight blasts, as follows: three at the opening of the gates, three at the upper gate, three at the lower gate, three at the water-drawing, three at the altar, nine at the tamid morning sacrifice, nine at the tamid evening sacrifice, nine at the mussaf sacrifices, three as a sign to the people to cease from work, and three to mark a distinction between the holy and the mundane.

 

9) The Gemora notes that our Mishna does not follow the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah, for it was taught in a braisa: Rabbi Yehudah said: They blew never less than seven blasts, and never more than sixteen.

 

The Gemora explains the principle that they are disputing: Rabbi Yehudah says: Teki’ah (a long blast), teru’ah (short blasts), teki’ah are regarded as one sound, whereas the Sages hold that teki’ah is a separate sound, teru’ah is a separate sound, and so is the last teki’ah (so that which the Sages says is twenty-one, R’ Yehudah counts as seven, for each set of three is reckoned as one).

 

The Gemora cites the Scriptural sources for each of their respective opinions.

 

The Gemora asks: According to whom will be the following teaching of Rav Kahana that there may be no pause whatsoever between a teki’ah and a teru’ah?

 

The Gemora answers: It is following Rabbi Yehudah (who maintains that the three sounds comprise a single mitzvah).

 

The Gemora asks: But is this not obvious?

 

The Gemora answers: You might have thought that it can be in accordance even with the Sages (for they hold only that there should not be a long pause between the sounds), and it is taught like this only to exclude the view of Rabbi Yochanan, who ruled that if one hears nine sounds of the shofar at nine different hours of the day (on Rosh Hashanah), he has fulfilled his obligation; therefore we are informed that this is not so.

1) THE SIMCHAS BEIS HA’SHO’EVAH

(a)      Women could sift wheat by its light.

(b)      The sages who had not tasted sin gave thanks for their youth which did not embarrass their old age, and those who had repented would give thanks for that.

(c)       Both groups proclaimed the blessings of he who had not sinned, calling upon the sinner to then repent.

(d)      Hillel proclaimed in his joy: If I am here, everyone is here; but if I am not here, who is here?

 

He also used to recite as follows: To the place that I love, there My feet lead me: if you will come into My House, I will come into your house; if you will not come to My House, I will not come to your house, as it is said: In every place where I cause My name to be mentioned, I will come to you and bless you.

 

2) OTHER AGADIC TEACHINGS

(a)      Hillel saw a floating skull upon the water. He said to it: Because you did drown others, they have drowned you, and they that drowned you shall be drowned as well.

(b)      (R. Yochanan): A person’s own feet deliver him to the place he is to die, as demonstrated in the incident of the two Soferim whom Shlomo ha’Melech tried to save.

There were once two Cutheans who attended on King Solomon, and these were Elichoreph and Achyah, the sons of Shisha, scribes of Solomon. One day Solomon observed that the Angel of Death was sad. ‘Why’, he said to him, ‘are you sad?’ ‘Because’, he answered him, ‘they have demanded from me the two Cutheans who sit here’. Solomon thereupon gave them in charge of the spirits and sent them to the town of Luz. When, however, they reached the town of Luz, they died. On the following day he observed that the Angel of Death was in cheerful spirits. ‘Why’, he said to

him, ‘are you cheerful?’  ‘To the place’, the other replied, ‘where they demanded them from me, that is where you sent them!’ Solomon thereupon uttered the saying: ‘A man’s feet are responsible for him; they lead him to the place where he is wanted’.

 

3) THE SIMCHAS BEIS HA’SHO’EVAH (cont.)

(a)      R. Shimon b. Gamliel would juggle eight torches.

(b)      He alone was able to do Kidah (bowing on his thumbs, kissing the ground then stand up).

1.        Levi did Kidah before Rebbi and became lame.

2.        Question: But R. Elazar taught a different reason for Levi’s becoming lame!?

3.        Answer: Both factors contributed.

(c)       Levi performed before Rebbi by juggling eight knives.

(d)      Shmuel performed before the Persian king with eight cups of wine.

(e)      Abaye juggled before Rabah with eight eggs (some say, four).

(f)       (R. Yehoshua b. Chananyah, a Levi): We did not sleep during the Simchas Beis ha’Sho’evah (and he enumerated the activities of the Levi’im) 24 hours a day.

(g)      Question: But from the laws of vows we see that one cannot go three days without sleep.

(h)      Answer: Rather, we did not taste sleep because we only dozed on one another’s shoulder.

 

4) THE FIFTEEN STEPS

(a)      Question (R. Chisda to the Amora of Agadah before him): What is the source for Dovid ha’Melech’s 15 Shir ha’Ma’alos?

(b)      Answer (Amora citing R. Yochanan): It was in order to bring Mei Tehom back up 15,000 Garmidi.

1.        Dovid ha’Melech dug the Shitin.

2.        The depth waters surged up and threatened to flood with world.

3.        Question: Then they should not be called Ma’alos!?

4.        Answer: The waters went too low, as described.

5.        When King David had begun the excavations for the foundation of the Temple, the waters of the subterranean deep came up and threatened to flood the planet. King David thought to inscribe the Divine Name on a piece of earthenware and cast it into the waters. No one told him the halachah. David said: Whoever knows this halachah, and does not tell it to me, should be strangled by his throat. His teacher, Achitofel, ruled that it would be permissible to do so based on the following kal vachomer : If, for the sake of peace between a husband and his wife whom he suspects of infidelity, the Torah commands us to erase His Name by placing the parchment into water, then it is certainly permissible to cast the Name into the waters to save the entire world! King David immediately wrote the Divine Name on a shard, cast it into the waters, which then subsided and remained in its place.

6.        The waters went down too far, and Dovid ha’Melech elevated them with his Songs of Ascent to a depth of 1000 amos.

(c)       (Ula): This implies that the groundwater is at that depth.

(d)      Question: But we find water at much less depth!?

(e)      Answer: That water comes from the “ladder” of the Euphrates River.

 

5) THE KOHANIM COMING DOWN TO THE TENTH STEP

(a)      Question (R. Yirmiyah): Did they come down ten steps, to the fifth, or five steps to the tenth?

(b)      Answer: The Gemora leaves this question unresolved.

 

6) THEY TURNED THEIR BACKS ON HASHEM

The Gemora expounds: From the implication of the verse, “and their faces toward the east,” do I not already know that “their backs were toward the Temple”? This is telling us that they would uncover themselves and defecated towards Heaven above.

 

7) “ANU L’KAH UL’KAH EINEINU”

(a)      Question: But R. Zeira taught that such repetition is forbidden (like Modim Modim)!?

(b)      Answer: [They bowed to the East while] we bow to Hash-m, and our eyes turn to Hash-m.

 

8) MISHNAH: THE TEKI’OS

(a)      There are not fewer than 21 Trumpet blasts in the Temple and, on some days, it can be as many as 48, as enumerated.

Every day, there were twenty-one, as follows: three were sounded on opening the Courtyard gates in the morning, nine when offering the morning tamid, nine when offering the afternoon tamid. When there was a mussaf offering, they added another nine. On Friday, they added another six: three as a sign to the people to cease from work and three to mark a distinction between the holy and the mundane. On Friday, in the Intermediate days of the Sukkos Festival, there were therefore forty-eight blasts, as follows: three at the opening of the gates, three at the upper gate, three at the lower gate, three at the water-drawing, three at the altar, nine at the tamid morning sacrifice, nine at the tamid evening sacrifice, nine at the mussaf sacrifices, three as a sign to the people to cease from work, and three to mark a distinction between the holy and the mundane.

 

9) The Gemora notes that our Mishna does not follow the opinion of Rabbi Yehudah, for it was taught in a braisa: Rabbi Yehudah said: They blew never less than seven blasts, and never more than sixteen.

 

The Gemora explains the principle that they are disputing: Rabbi Yehudah says: Teki’ah (a long blast), teru’ah (short blasts), teki’ah are regarded as one sound, whereas the Sages hold that teki’ah is a separate sound, teru’ah is a separate sound, and so is the last teki’ah (so that which the Sages says is twenty-one, R’ Yehudah counts as seven, for each set of three is reckoned as one).

 

The Gemora cites the Scriptural sources for each of their respective opinions.

 

The Gemora asks: According to whom will be the following teaching of Rav Kahana that there may be no pause whatsoever between a teki’ah and a teru’ah?

 

The Gemora answers: It is following Rabbi Yehudah (who maintains that the three sounds comprise a single mitzvah).

 

The Gemora asks: But is this not obvious?

 

The Gemora answers: You might have thought that it can be in accordance even with the Sages (for they hold only that there should not be a long pause between the sounds), and it is taught like this only to exclude the view of Rabbi Yochanan, who ruled that if one hears nine sounds of the shofar at nine different hours of the day (on Rosh Hashanah), he has fulfilled his obligation; therefore we are informed that this is not so.

Sukkah Daf 52‏

May the studying of the Daf Notes be a zechus for his neshamah and may his soul find peace in Gan Eden and be bound up in the Bond of life.

  1. Regarding the eulogy in the future described in the verse, one opinion maintains that the eulogy will be for Moshiach ben Yosef who will be killed at war and a second opinion maintains that the eulogy will be for the evil inclination that will be abolished in the future. The reason here will a eulogy for the evil inclination is because HaShem will slaughter the evil inclination before the righteous and the wicked. To the righteous the evil inclination will appear like a great mountain that is difficult to climb, whereas to the wicked the evil inclination will appear like a strand of hair that can be easily cut. The righteous will cry when they remember how they struggled to overcome the evil inclination, and the wicked will cry when they realize how easy it could have been to overcome the evil inclination. HaShem will also wonder with them at that time. (52a1)

  2. The evil inclination at first appears like the thread of a spider but in the end appears like a cart rope. This means that initially one can resist the temptation to sin, but once a person commits the sin often, it is much more difficult to resist the temptation. The thread of a spider is weak and one can break it easily, and similarly one who confronts sin for the first time can resist the temptation. A cart rope, however, is very strong and is hard to break, and is similar to one who has become accustomed to sin and finds it difficult to resist the temptation of sinning further. (52a1-52a2)

  3. When Moshiach Ben Dovid will  see in the future that Moshiach ben  Yosef will be killed, Moshiach Ben Dovid will ask HaShem for life, and HaShem will respond that Dovid already requested life and HaShem granted him life, as it is said, he asked life of you and you have already granted it to him. (52a2)

  4. The evil inclination has seven names. Its names are: evil, uncircumcised, impure, the enemy, a stumbling block, a stone, and the hidden one. (52a2)

  5. Abaye said that regarding the evil inclination it is said for he has done greatly, and this implies that the evil inclination incites Torah scholars more than anyone else. Proof to this is because Abaye once overheard a man say to a woman, “let us awaken early and travel together.” Abaye decided to follow them to prevent them from sin. Upon reaching a crossroads, they departed from each other by saying, “our paths are far apart from each other and being together would have been nice.” Thus, they ultimately did not commit any sin. Upon witnessing this, Abaye said about himself, “if this would have occurred with myself, I would have been incapable of restraining myself from  sin.” Abaye felt bad about this thought, until an old man came and consoled him, saying, “the greater one is, the greater is his evil inclination.” (52a3)

  6. The evil inclination is constantly seeking to overcome a person, and if not for HaShem protecting the person, one would be unable to withstand the overtures of the evil inclination. (52a3-52b1)

  7. If the evil inclination attempts to  entice a person to sin, he should bring the evil inclination into the study hall, and if he is like a stone he will melt and if he is like iron he will break. This is because Torah is the antidote to the power of the evil inclination. (52b1)

  8. The evil inclination incites one to sin in this world and then testifies against him in the next world. Proof to this is from the verse that states he who pampers his servant from youth shall have him as a ruler (manon) at last. According to the rules of atbach introduced by Rabbi Chiya, a witness is referred to as manon. [The letter aleph equals one and the letter tes equals nine, which is a sum of ten and these two letters can be interchanged. The same follows with beis, which equals two, and ches, which equals eight. When we apply this concept to the word manon, the result is the word sahadah, which means a witness.] Thus, the evil inclination that is pampered in this world will end up bearing witness against the person in the next world. (52b1)

     

  9. Rava observed: First he (the evil inclination) is called a traveler, then he is called a guest, and finally he is called a man, for it is written: And there came a traveler to the rich man, and he was reluctant to take of his own flock and of his own herd to prepare for the guest, and then it is written: but he took the poor man’s lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him.

     

  10. 10.Rabbi Yochanan remarked: There is a small organ in man which satisfies him when he starves it, and makes him hungry when he satisfies it, as it is written: When they afflicted themselves, they became satisfied.

     

  11. 11.Rav Chana bar Abba stated: It was said at the Academy: There are four things of which the Holy One, Blessed be He, regrets that He had created them, and they are the following: Exile, the Chaldeans, the Ishmaelites and Evil Inclination.

     

    The Gemora cites the Scriptural sources to prove that.

     

  12. 12.R. Johanan remarked If not for these three verses (which testify that it is in God’s Hand to remove the Evil Inclination from us), the feet of Israel’s enemies (a euphemism referring to the Jewish people) would have faltered (for now we are able to argue in judgment that it is God Who caused us to sin, for He created the Evil Inclination). One is that which is written: Whom I have caused to be evil; and one is that which is written: Behold, as the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel; and one is that which is written: And I will take away the stony heart from your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh.

     

  13.  EXPOUNDING VERSES REGARDING THE MESSIANIC ERA

(a) (Rav Chana bar Bizna citing Rabbi Shimon Chasida): The four Charashim-craftsmen are…the Messiah descending from King David, the Messiah descending from the tribe of Yosef, the prophet Eliyahu and the righteous priest.

Question (Rav Sheishes): Then why does the verse refer to these as dispersers when we know them to be gatherers?

Answer (Rav Chana): Read the end of the verse and you will see that the dispersers are the nations whom the four shepherds attack.

(Rav Sheishes, to himself): It is a losing proposition to start up with Rav Chana in matters of homiletics.

 

The seven shepherds (Michah 5) are… King David in the middle, Adam, Sheis and Mesushelach to his right, and Avraham, Yaakov and Moshe to his left.

The eight princes are… Yishai, Shaul, Shmuel, Amos, Tzephania, Tzidkiyah, the Messiah and Eliyahu.

 

THE YOUNG KOHANIM BRINGING THE OIL ON THE LADDERS

Question: Did each young Kohen bring up 120 Lug, or were they divided 30 Lug by each of four Kohanim?

Answer (Beraisa): 30 Lug each.

(Beraisa): These were even more choice men than the son of Marsa bas Beisus.

The son of Marsa bas Beisus was able to carry two sides of oxen while walking slowly up the Kevesh.

The other Kohanim did not let him carry them alone in order to fulfil the verse which states that with the multitude of people is the glory of the King.

Question: In what way were these Kohanim superior?

Answer: They carried heavier burdens.

Question: Not heavier than sides of an ox!

Answer: They carried their load up a ladder, not up a ramp.

 

INSIGHTS TO THE DAF

Mechcitzah in Shul

The Mishnah stated that at the end of the first day of Sukkos they went down to the Women’s Courtyard and they made a great adjustment. The Gemara explains that originally the Women’s Courtyard was smooth and at a later date they surrounded it with a  balcony. They decreed that the women should  sit above in the balcony and the men below so they should not mingle with each other A Baraisa states that originally the women watching the Simchas Bais Hashoeva would be inside the Women’s Courtyard and the men observing would be on the outside but this led to frivolity. They then instituted that the women should be on the outside and the men should be on the inside but there was still frivolity, so they decreed that the women should be above and the men below.

 

Harav Moshe Feinstein zt”l (Orach Chaim 1:39) writes that the primary purpose of a mechitza , a barrier, is not to prevent the men from looking at the women. He proves this from our Gemara which states that the balcony was instituted because of frivolity that transpired between the men and the women. Rav Moshe writes further that the balcony they constructed did not consist of a dividing wall and the women could still be seen. Although it is true that the men standing directly underneath the balcony could not see the women, the men dancing in the middle were able to see the women. Thus, the purpose of the balcony was to prevent intermingling and frivolity. Rav Moshe rules that the most preferable mechitza in a synagogue would be a balcony. If is not possible to erect a balcony, they should erect a dividing wall that is at least eighteen tefachim high. This will not prevent the women from being seen, but it will prevent intermingling and levity.
The Rambam in his commentary to the Mishna here indicates that the balcony was constructed in order to prevent the men from seeing the women. In his commentary to the Mishna in Middos, the Rambam writes that the balcony was erected because of the concern that the men and women would mingle. The Tosfos Yom Tov writes that the men standing under the balcony could not see the women and the men that were dancing in the middle were pious and saintly and there was no need to be concerned that they would be frivolous. Yet, this is quite perplexing as we know that the evil inclination can never be underestimated.

 

There is a well-known story regarding Rav Elya Lopian, who despite being a great Torah scholar and was very pious, was still concerned about entertaining any immoral thoughts. A student of Reb Elya once sought permission to attend a wedding. Rav Elya questioned the student regarding the modesty of the women who would be attending the wedding. The student, who was well aware of the challenge that he would be facing, began to justify his attendance by declaring that he would be seated at a special table with his parents and he ended his rationalization by stating that the immodesty would not have an effect on him. When Reb Elya heard this, he was very disturbed and he told the student, “listen, I am already over eighty years old, and blind in one eye, yet despite all these factors, when I walk in the street I am still fearful that I will perhaps inadvertently succumb to even the slightest temptation of immorality. How is it, then, that you, a young boy with two good eyes, can honestly tell me that immodesty will not have an effect on you?!” The Piskei HaRid writes that there was a wall in the Bais HaMikdash that was constructed in a manner that the men could not see the women but the women were still able to see the men, similar to a one-way mirror.

 

 

DAILY MASHAL

 

Names of the Evil Inclination

 

The Gemara states that the evil inclination has seven names. Why is it important for us to know that the evil inclination has seven names?

 

I once heard from my Rebbe, Rabbi Chaim Dov Keller, Rosh HaYeshiva of Telshe in Chicago, that when Yaakov encountered the angel of Esav, Yaakov inquired as to the name of the angel. The angel responded, “why then do you inquire of my name?” The obvious question is, why did Yaakov inquire of the angel regarding his name, and why did the angel refuse to divulge his name? The answer is that Yaakov was not merely seeking to validate the name of the angel. Yaakov was saying to the angel, “you are the evil inclination, and you are my enemy. I need to know your name, i.e. your nature, so I and my descendants can know how to do battle with you throughout the generations.” The angel responded, “you cannot fight me, because I always appear with a different name, i.e. in every generation a new group arises that attempts to topple the citadel of Torah and its observance.” Similarly, the Gemara here records the various names of the evil inclination, so we can actually discern its true nature and battle with him until we are successful in vanquishing him.

Clinging to the Sages

The 6th mitzvah is that we are commanded to be close to the wise and to associate with them. We should constantly be close to them and to be with them in all possible ways of friendship, such as eating, drinking and doing business, in order to thereby succeed in emulating their actions and knowing from their words the true way of looking at things.

The source of this commandment is G‑d‘s statement (exalted be He),1 “And cling to Him.” This commandment is repeated,2 “To Him you shall cling,” and is explained in the words of the Sifri: “Cleave to the Sages and their students.”

Our Sages also derived from the verse, “To Him you shall cling,” that one must marry the daughter of a talmid chacham, marry one’s daughter to a talmid chacham, give benefits to talmidei chachamim and to do business with them. Our Sages say3 “Is it possible for a person to cling to the Divine Presence, when the verse says,4 ‘G‑d your Lord is [like] a consuming fire’?! Rather, whoever marries the daughter of a talmid chacham [is considered to have cleaved to the Divine Presence].”

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1.

Deut. 11:22.

2.

Deut. 10:20.

3.

Ketubot 111b.

4.

Deut. 4:22.

Prayer

The 5th mitzvah is that we are commanded to serve G‑d (blessed be He). This commandment is repeated many times: And you shall serve G‑d, your L‑rd”;1″And you shall serve Him”;2 “And to serve Him.”3

Although this commandment is of a general nature,4 as explained in the Fourth Principle,5 [and apparently should not be included in the count of the 613mitzvos,] nevertheless it has a specific quality, since it is the commandment to pray.

[We see that “service” is not just a general command from the following statements:] The Sifri6 says, “The verse, ‘And to serve Him’ means prayer.” The Sages also said, “The verse, ‘And to serve Him’ means Torah study.

In the Mishnah of Rabbi Eliezer, the son of Rabbi Yosi HaG’lili,7 the Sages said, “What is the biblical source to include prayer among the mitzvos? From the verse, ‘You shall fear G‑d, your L‑rd, and you shall serve Him.’ “8

They also said,9 “Serve Him through His Torah; serve Him in His Temple.” This [statement, ‘serve Him in His Temple,’] means that one’s goal should be to pray in the Temple or in the direction of the Temple, as King Solomon explained.10

FOOTNOTES

1.

Ex. 23:25.

2.

Deut. 13:5. Some versions of Sefer Hamitzvos include here Deut. 6:13, “And you shall serve Him.”

3.

Deut. 11:13.

4.

I.e. “serving” G‑d includes performance of all the mitzvos, rather than a specific act.

5.

In the Introductory section of Sefer Hamitzvos. This Principle states that a mitzvah must be of a specific nature in order to be counted among the 613 mitzvos.

6.

Deut 11:13.

7.

Also quoted in Migdal Oz, beginning of Hilchos Tefilah.

8.

Deut. 10:20.

9.

Sifri Medrash Tenaim.

10.

Kings I, 8:23,35. Chronicles II, 6:32.

Fearing G-d

The 4th mitzvah is that we are commanded to establish in our minds fear and dread of G‑d (exalted be He); that we not be calm and nonchalant, but be constantly concerned of imminent punishment1 [for misdeeds.]

The biblical source of this commandment is G‑d’s statement2 (exalted be He), “You shall fear G‑d your Lord.”

At3 the end of tractate Sanhedrin4, there is a discussion of G‑d’s statement5(exalted be He), “Anyone who is nokev (curses) G‑d’s Name shall be put to death.” [The Talmud asks:] “Perhaps the word nokev means, ‘utters,’ as in the verse6, ‘Who were mentioned (nikvu) by name’; the prohibition7 being the verse, ‘You shall fear G‑d your Lord.’ ”

The meaning of this question: “Perhaps the verse, ‘nokev G‑d’s Name’ means merely uttering G‑d’s Name even without a curse. And if one wonders ‘What prohibition can there be in this?’, it is [the prohibition not] to erase one’s fear of G‑d; because included in fear of G‑d is not mentioning His Name in vain.”8

The Talmud answers this question and rejects this approach as follows: “First of all, [in order to be punishable by death,] the person must have used ‘one Name against another,’ i.e. cursed one of G‑d’s Names with another of G‑d’s Names, as in the saying, ‘Let Yosi strike Yosi,’9 and [if he merely mentioned G‑d’s Name in vain,] he did not fulfill this condition.”

[The Talmud continues:] “Furthermore, this prohibition is stated as a positive commandment, and cannot technically serve as a prohibition.”

This means that the suggestion, “the prohibition is from the verse, ‘You shall fear G‑d,’ ” is incorrect, because this verse is a positive commandment, and a punishment can never be based on a positive commandment.

This passage clearly indicates that “You shall fear G‑d,” is a positive commandment.

FOOTNOTES
1. Although here the Rambam describes the commandment as fear of punishment, in Mishneh Torah, Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, 2:1-2 and 4:12, he defines it as awe growing out of a realization of G‑d’s greatness.
See Kinas Sofrim on Sefer Hamitzvos, P9; On the Teachings of Chassidus, Ch. 13, footnote, regarding the greater precision of Mishneh Torah.
2. Deut. 6:13.
3. The Rambam now quotes and explains a Talmudic passage in order to prove that this mitzvah is a positive commandment. The passage deals primarily with another mitzvah, the prohibition of cursing G‑d, but makes important mention of our verse, “You shall fear G‑d.”
For the sake of clarity, we will quote the entire passage without the Rambam’s explanation:
“Perhaps the word nokev means, ‘utters,’ as in the verse, ‘Who were mentioned (nikvu) by name’; the prohibition being the verse, ‘You shall fear G‑d your Lord’!
“First of all, [in order to be punished,] the person must have used ‘one Name against another; and [if he merely mentioned G‑d’s Name in vain,] he did not fulfill this condition.”
“Furthermore, this prohibition is stated as a positive commandment, and cannot technically serve as a prohibition.”
4. 56a.
5. Lev. 24:16.
6. Num. 1:17.
7. Every punishable act in the Torah must have two verses describing it: one stating that the act is prohibited, and another dictating the particular punishment. The verse containing the punishment is clearly Lev. 24:16.
However, the verse setting forth the actual prohibition is in doubt. If nokev is translated, “curse” (as is indeed the conclusion), the actual prohibition comes from Ex. 22:27, “Do not curse G‑d.” Since the Talmud is attempting to translate nokev differently, i.e. “to mention,” it attempts to find another verse (namely, Deut. 6:13) to serve as the actual prohibition of mentioning G‑d’s Name.
8. According to the questioner, then, it is clear that the verse, “You shall fear G‑d” is a prohibition.
9. When the court examined the witnesses who heard the curse uttered, the name “Yosi” was used instead of G‑d’s real Name, in order to minimize its use. “Yosi” was chosen because it has 4 letters, as does G‑d’s Name, and because it has the numerical value of 86, as does G‑d’s NameElokim. See Rashi on Sanhedrin.

Loving G-d

The 3rd mitzva is that we are commanded to love G‑d (exalted be He), i.e. to meditate upon and closely examine His mitzvos, His commandments, and His works, in order to understand Him; and through this understanding to achieve a feeling of ecstasy. This is the goal of the commandment to love G‑d.

[We can see that meditation is the way to create this feeling of love1 from] theSifri: “From the statement, ‘You shall love G‑d your Lord’2, can I know how to love G‑d? The Torah therefore says, ‘and these words which I command you today shall be upon your heart’3; i.e. that through this [meditation about His commandments] you will understand the nature of ‘the One Who spoke, and thereby brought the world into being.’ “

From this it is clear that meditation will lead to understanding, and then a feeling of enjoyment and love will follow automatically [since the second verse explains the way to reach the goal of the previous verse.]

Our Sages also said that this mitzvah includes calling out to all mankind to serve G‑d (exalted be He) and to believe in Him. This is because when you love a person, for example, you praise him and call out to others to draw close to him. So too, if you truly love G‑d — through your understanding and realization of His true existence — you will certainly spread this true knowledge that you know to the ignorant and the foolish.

[We see that this mitzvah includes spreading love for G‑d to others from] the Sifri: ” ‘You shall love G‑d,’ i.e. make Him beloved among the creatures as your father Avraham did, as it is written, ‘The souls that he made in Charan.’4″

The meaning of this Sifri: Avraham, as a result of his deep understanding of G‑d, acquired love for G‑d, as the verse testifies, “Avraham, who loved Me”5. This powerful love therefore caused him to call out to all mankind to believe in G‑d. So too, you shall love Him to the extent that you draw others to Him.

 

 

FOOTNOTES

1.

The obvious problem with having a commandment to “love,” is that emotions cannot be compelled. The Rambam therefore proves that the commandment is to study and meditate, which will automatically lead to the emotion.

2.

Deut. 6:5.

3.

Deut. 6:6.

4.

Gen. 12:5.

5.

Isi. 41:8.

G-d’s Unity

The 2nd mitzvah is that we are commanded to acquire knowledge1 of the nature of G‑d‘s Unity, i.e. to understand that the Original Creator and Source of all existence is One.

The source of this commandment is G‑d’s statement2 (exalted be He), “Hear [i.e. “understand”] O Israel, G‑d is our Lord, G‑d is One.”

In most Midrashim you will find this mitzvah described [in the context of G‑d’s statement that a certain kindness was done to the Jewish people,] “on condition that they unify My Name,” “on condition that they unite Me,” or a similar expression. They mean to say that G‑d took us out of bondage and heaped kindness upon us upon condition that we have His Unity firmly fixed in our minds — since we are required to do so. [From this we see that knowledge of His unity is an actual requirement, and is therefore counted as one of the 613 commandments.]

In many places the expression is used, “the mitzvah of His Unity” [the word”mitzvah” also indicating that this counts as one of the 613 commandments.]

Our Sages3 also called this mitzvah “Kingdom,” saying that [the paragraphShema is read before V’haya] “in order to accept upon oneself the yoke of the Kingdom of Heaven,” i.e. to acknowledge and comprehend His Unity.4

FOOTNOTES

1.

See footnote 1.

See Hilchos Yesodei Hatorah, Ch. 1:7, for details of the knowledge mandatory for fulfillment of thismitzvah. See also, Guide to the Perplexed, Pt. I, Ch.50-69.

2.

Deut. 6:4.

3.

See Berachos 13a; 61b.

4.

It has been suggested that the Rambam’s intention is as follows: The Talmud could have given the reason, “in order to fulfill the mitzvah of reciting the Shema.” The phrase, “Kingdom of Heaven” stresses the additional significance of Shema, in that it also involves the mitzvah of Unity. See RifPerlo, Vol. I, p. 71a.