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23 Kislev 5761 - December 20, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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Opinion & Comment
Meoros Daf HaYomi

Under the Direction of Rabbi Chaim Dovid Kovalsky

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 listening.

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 audiences.

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 you!"

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 ultimate destination.

"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. Elchanan.

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 greater.

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 halacha.

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