Stories, Mussar, Practical Halacha (Tractate "Nozir" Daf 61-
66) (Vol. 82) From the Sochatchov "Beis Medrash of Teachers
of the Daf HaYomi" Bnei Brak
From The Editor
A "Whole" Mitzvah, And Not Just Part
Each person amongst the tens of thousands who study Daf
HaYomi is unique, because of the special way that he
contributes to the shiur, and because of his unique
perception of the material being learned.
Each one of these people, however, has one thing in common --
a desire to perform a mitzvah thoroughly. Each learner
faithfully attends his shiur, day after day, assembling at
the same time at the same place, continuing to do so for
years. He and the others all are devoted to one common goal -
to master the entire Shas. . . . In the following story we
clearly see how a godol beTorah wanted to emphasize
the importance of doing a mitzvah "from start to finish."
HaRav Elchanan Wassermann Hy'd visited the USA before
World War II to raise funds for his impoverished yeshiva in
Baranowitz, Poland. Usually, fundraisers try to establish
affinity and rapport with their audiences -- a warm
closeness. They are careful to talk in a way that "fits," or
at least does not clash with, the basic world-view of those
R. Elchanan Wassermann was not this type of fundraiser.
Never did he try to play on the sympathies of those
listening, explaining to them that it was hard to come so
far to raise funds for the yeshiva, but he had no choice,
for the bochurim were living under extremely difficult
conditions and practically had nothing to eat. Instead, and
to the dismay of the many kind Jews who helped him in his
fundraising, R. Elchanan would give mussar to his
Those who accompanied him on these trips -- hoping to raise
badly needed funds for the yeshiva -- used to say that R.
Elchanan succeeded greatly in saying fine droshos . . .
but he did not accomplish the real aim for which he had
made the trip.
. . . All the arguments were fruitless, however. "My duty as
a Rosh Yeshiva and educator," R. Elchanan said, "is to
educate! And also in America I will not shirk my duty!"
It happened that one day R. Elchanan was walking slowly down
the street on the sidewalk, headed towards the house where
he was staying, when unexpectedly, a luxurious car slowed
down and stopped alongside him.
R. Elchanan saw through the car's front window that the
driver was one of the Jews from the kehillah that was
hosting him at the time. The Jew implored him, "Please, will
the Rav come inside my car so I can merit to drive him to
where he wants to go? Please, come sit and I will drive
R. Elchanan earnestly thanked the kind Jew, but politely
refused. The driver, however, did not take no for an answer.
He was not willing to lose such a mitzvah. He got out of the
car, stepped onto the sidewalk, and again begged R.
Elchanan, "Please, please, allow me the honor of helping the
godol hador." Holding the car door open as a sign for the
Rosh Yeshiva to enter, the Jew continued to implore until
the great gaon gave in.
R. Elchanan had the driver continue in the direction of the
street where he was staying. The street where the house was,
was exceptionally long and also one-way, and to get out of
it onto a main street, one had to drive quite a distance.
The two drove along and finally reached the street. The
house where the gaon was staying was almost on the street's
corner. From the main street, the driver saw it, for it was
only one house in from the corner. The cordial driver
stopped his car on the main street, choosing not to turn the
corner so as not to get "stuck" on the long, one-way street.
. . . Stopped there on the main street, the driver waited
for the great gaon to say something, but R. Elchanan
continued sitting calmly in his seat, not saying a word, as
if they still had a distance to go before reaching their
"Perhaps he is immersed in his thoughts," mused the driver.
He reached over and opened the car's door to hint to the
Rosh Yeshiva that the ride was over.
"Oh, we arrived?" asked the gaon. The driver answered, "Yes,
here we are. There is the house. The second house from the
corner is where the Rav is staying."
"Well, if so, we did not yet arrive," answered R.
The Jew understood the not-so-subtle message. He reached
over and closed the gaon's door. He then turned the corner
and traveled the few yards along the one-way street,
stopping in front of the designated house.
Before R. Elchanan left the car, the flustered driver asked
him: "Rebbe, please explain to me something. When I first
asked to drive the Rav, he refused and preferred to walk,
but afterwards he insisted that I bring him all the way to
his very doorstep! Why?"
A wide smile spread over the gaon's face. He explained to
the amazed driver: "You see, my drear friend, a Jew must
know that if he accepts on himself to do a mitzvah, he must
do it thoroughly. I got into your car as you requested
because you wanted to fulfill a mitzvah. If so, it was
incumbent you to see the mitzvah through to its end."
With the Blessings of the Torah, The Editor
66b Answering amen is more important . . . The Great
Mitzvah of Answering Amen
From the gemara we can appreciate the great
significance of answering amen. In our sugya,
Rebbi Yossi said, "Answering amen is more
important than reciting the brochoh itself." Rabbenu
Bechaye (Shemos 14:31) explains that the person
saying the brochoh testifies that HaKadosh Boruch
Hu is the source of blessing. However, the person who
answers amen validates what has been said, for all
testimony needs two witnesses. Because he makes the
testimony so-to-speak "official," what he does is
Actually, in our sugya the Tannaim disagree over
whether the one who answers amen is more important
than the one who says the brochoh itself. Perhaps,
"both the one saying the brochoh and the one
answering are rewarded equally but reward (see Rashi) is
granted quicker to the one saying the brochoh." The
halacha (Hilchos Brochos 1:11, see the Kesef Mishnah
ibid.) according to the Rambam is like the Amoraim in
our sugya who preferred to have the opportunity to
say the brochoh themselves rather than be able to
answer amen on the brochoh of someone else.
The halachic discussions cited . . . are only intended to
stimulate thought and should not be relied upon as psak