Shabbat Parashat Bo | 5770
Bo | 8 Shevat 5770 | 1/23/2010
It is interesting to follow Par’oh’s responses, before, during, and after certain plagues. Certain plagues seem to have nearly broken him or at least made him give in on previous negotiating stances.
Some kohanim in my shul do not go up to do nesi’at kapayim (=duchenen =birkat kohanim =bk) at the proper time. Sometimes, one washes his hands right after Kedusha, goes back to his place, and does not remember to move toward the duchan (platform or any area in the front of the shul where bk is done) when the rest of the kohanim do. Other times, someone will get a late start toward washing and is still doing so during R’tzei. Are they allowed to do bk under such circumstances?
[The gemara in Ta’anit 23a tells the story of the prayers of Choni Hame’agel (the circle maker) who, upon not succeeding when asking for rain during a severe drought, declared that he would not leave his circle until it rained. Subsequently, the wrong types of rain fell, so Choni kept on making strong requests until the matter was rectified.] What is a case of one who showed chutzpa in dealing with Hashem? Like that which is related in a mishna: Shimon ben Shetach said to Choni Hame’agel: You deserve to be put in niduy (excommunication) and if you were not Choni, I would decree niduy upon you, but what can I do, for you sin before Hashem and He does what you ask for, like a son who sins before his father and the father does what he wants. About people like you the pasuk was said: “Your father and mother will be happy, and she who bears you will rejoice” (Mishlei 23:25).
We have dealt, in the past, with different elements of the process of testimony. Let us now give some thought to the question of how witnesses testify in practice. Normally they are to testify while physically before beit din in a standing up position (although an issue is not usually made about the latter). We will now look into the question of when a witness does not have to testify in the classical way, specifically: when someone else can present his testimony, when he can testify through a translator, and when he can testify in writing.
This week in the Daf Yomi the Gemara (154) discusses a case where a boy sold some of the family's assets and passed away. His relatives claimed that the sale was not valid, as he was not yet of age for his sale to be effective. The case was brought before Rabbi Akiva, and he was asked regarding the possibility of checking the body to see if the deceased was old enough for the sale to be valid. Rabbi Akiva rejected this request for two reasons. The first is that checking the body would be a disgrace to the person who passed away. The second reason is that one cannot rely upon the examination of the body because of the changes that can occur to the body after death.
This week’s Hemdat Yamim is dedicated in loving memory of
A weekly divrei Torah leaflet: A Glimpse at the Parasha, Ask the Rabbi, From the writings of Harav Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, zt”l, Pninat Mishpat (Jewish Monetary Law).