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14 Adar I 5765 - February 23, 2005 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly









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Posei'ach Shaar on Maseches Brochos

by Rabbi Nosson Zeev Grossman
Reviewed by Rabbi Yitzchok Roth

"Therefore my heart is gladdened," says Dovid Hamelech in Tehillim (16:9). That is how I have felt since the publication of Posei'ach Shaar on maseches Brochos, by my colleague and friend in the holy task of editing the newspaper Rabbi Nosson Ze'ev Grossman. [Rabbi Roth and Rabbi Grossman are editors of the Hebrew edition of Yated Ne'eman.] Both a glad heart and a feeling of spiritual elevation are shared by the newspaper and its readers when the editor of the periodical for bnei Torah, a loyal servant to maranan verabonon, reveals himself to be a talmid chochom whose ability to understand and scrutinize Torah is equal to his ability to faithfully voice the daas Torah according to gedolei Yisroel ztvk"l vylct"a for close to twenty years.

To those who have read Rabbi Grossman's articles it will come as no surprise to find that he is a talmid chochom who can probe the depths of a sugya. His hashkofoh articles, which clarify in depth various current issues, reveal his comprehensive knowledge and ability to articulate every issue of emunoh and daas Torah, as well as his unique analytical ability. He who can probe the depths of a sugya in halochoh can probe the depths of a sugya in hashkofoh. Of course the converse also applies: he who has only a shallow grasp of the sugyos in Shas cannot be expected to suddenly reveal clear understanding in hashkofoh matters.

From the day he was summoned by Maran HaRav Shach, ztvk"l to undertake the holy task of editing the newspaper for the Torah world he has dedicated his unique talents to the work of imparting the view, daas Torah, of maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel. But nevertheless he did not neglect Torah study.

HaRav Shach relied on him to convey all hashkofoh matters and saw him as a man who understood the foundations of hashkofoh. I can attest that on numerous occasions when we sat with Rabbenu Hagodol discussing topical issues he enjoyed the remarks made by my colleague and friend Rabbi Grossman, referring to him as "a reviver of the spirit."

Back in the days when he was a talmid at Yeshivas Grodno he was cherished by the roshei yeshiva (whose approbations are printed in the book) due to his yegi'o in Torah and his depth of understanding. As an avreich he continued to display extensive knowledge and depth of understanding. Though he is heavily involved in producing the newspaper he makes Torah study his main priority—aseih Torasecho keva umelachtecho ara'i.

In many of his newspaper articles Rabbi Grossman has written about the obligation to toil in Torah and the special status of bnei Torah which requires them to set aside worldly vanities to devote themselves to yegi'as haTorah alone. Now he has become a great source of pride to Yated Ne'eman by showing himself a practitioner of this approach. He was called upon to accept the challenging responsibility of disseminating the daas Torah of our rabbonim, yet he continued to cleave to his in-depth Torah study and now the fruits of those labors have appeared in the form of a book of prodigious quality and quantity on Maseches Brochos.

He leaves no topic, large or small, untouched in this 700- page book, which includes a comprehensive explanation of the sugyos and topics covered in the maseches, following the order of the gemora. The book clarifies issues in the Rishonim who related the shaklo vetario of the gemora, noting the kushyos and comments of the Acharonim as well as including investigations of halochos and the respective rationales behind them, shedding further light on the sugyos.

The reader gains an overall picture of the give and take in the gemora as well as approaches to interpreting the topics discussed, with analysis of the Rishonim and the various approaches. The author adds scholarly remarks and proposed rationales, stressing in his introduction that his remarks are in no way conclusive but mere suggestions to provide food for thought to allow readers to benefit from the toil invested. Thus the book should be seen as a pesichas shaar ("an opening of the gate") to facilitate further exploration.

Although it follows the order of the gemora, because some sugyos are discussed at length the book includes a listing of those topics. Among others it contains investigations of the times for Krias Shema, the takonoh of Birchos Krias Shema, the obligation to recite brochos on food and scents and the mitzvah of educating children to perform mitzvos and many more.

The book's scholarly approach is apparent in the fact each sugya is analyzed using the analytical tools we received in yeshiva. Even sections on aggadeto are given a new look with original elucidations, such as an investigation of the requirement to greet one's fellow man before he greets you. Even the famous gemora about R' Yishmoel Ben Elisho entering the Holy of the Holies is given a new thrust with a inference based on a close reading of Rashi and based on a sevorah by R' Akiva Eiger regarding shome'a ke'oneh.

Since this maseches deals with many topics that have practical applications, the author provides a summary of the dinim in the Shulchan Oruch Orach Chaim and commentaries, particularly the conclusions brought in the Mishnoh Berurah. For Daf Yomi participants this is very helpful for it allows them, in accordance with recent declarations by maranan verabonon including HaRav Eliashiv, to devote a bit of time to learning halochoh as well — though the author clearly states his remarks were not written as practical halachic conclusions and that all matters should be checked.

Prior to publication the author had the book carefully reviewed by HaRav Chaim Meir Shteinberg, rosh kollel of Kollel Ohr Haner and author of Mishnas Chaim. His comments appear at the end of the book. On several points he notes discussing his ideas with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky and mentions his response.

The finely crafted book features a letter written at the behest of Maran HaRav Eliashiv by his son-in-law, HaRav Ezriel Auerbach, a member of the Shearis Yisroel Beis Din and the rov of Kehillas Chanichei Hayeshivos in Bayit Vegan. He writes, "Your book on maseches Brochos was raised onto the table of my teacher and father-in-law Maran Ateres Rosheinu HaGaon HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv, shlita, who expressed his pleasure that the man appointed by Rosh Kol Bnei Hagoloh Maran HaRav Elozor Menachem Shach ztvk"l as editor of Yated Ne'eman to faithfully convey and articulate daas Torah and the Torah worldview to all segments of the public, makes his Torah learning take precedence over his trade to such an extent that he had the merit to publish a book on maseches Brochos, which dazzles all who see it.

"And Maran, my teacher and father-in-law, extended his blessings that be'ezras Hashem Yisborach you merit seeing blessings in your labor and much nachas from your offspring and that you may remain in the tents of Torah as you yearn, and that the lofty task at which you are engaged be blessed."

HaRav Shmuel Auerbach notes how impressed he was by the work, writing, "In leafing through a few of your remarks I saw that [the book] really does `open a gate' and lend a hand in probing the depth of each and every sugya, clarifying and elucidating it based on the words of Rabboseinu the Rishonim and the Acharonim, zechusom yogen oleinu, upon whose utterances we live and whose water we imbibe. . . . Undoubtedly this work will be of great benefit to those studying [maseches Brochos] . . . "

"It was with much gratification and simchas Torah," reads the approbation by HaRav Boruch Shmuel HaKohen Deutsch, who also read parts of the book, "that I looked over the proofs of the book by my friend, the outstanding and renowned rav, R' Nosson Ze'ev Grossman, on all of maseches Brochos, which he wrote with great intelligence and skill. It combines comments on all of the sugyos in the maseches as well as elucidations and notes regarding the approaches of the Rishonim and the Acharonim and the poskim. In some places he is brief and in other places he clarifies the sugyos at length with valuable chiddushim and summaries of the various approaches to all of the topics addressed in the maseches.

"I leafed through the book and was pleased to see that my outstanding friend, who is well-known in the yeshiva world for his articles on hashkofoh and the fundamentals of daas Torah at the newspaper Yated Ne'eman (and I know how Maran HaRav Elozor Menachem Shach zecher tzaddik lechayei Ha'olam Habo trusted him, saying he understands the roots of the matters) has undertaken to write a book on maseches Brochos which is certain to be of benefit to the lomdim . . . It also contains delightful chiddushim written with consummate skill and indeed I know the rov who authored the book is a man of unique ability and skilled as a clear writer."

The author also received approbations from the rabbonim of Yeshivas Grodno, HaRav Tzvi Karlenshtein, HaRav Tzvi Drabkin and HaRav Yitzchok Hocker, who note his clear and deep understanding were already evident in his youth. They, too, extend their blessings that he merit publishing many more of his chiddushim.

Readers should not overlook the special introduction in which the author addresses the issue of aseih malachtecho ara'i veTorascho keva. He writes at length about those whose financial needs force them to relinquish a portion of their times of Torah study to the point where some hold they are nearly exempt from toiling in Torah. Some of them are involved in tzorchei tzibbur and find innumerable heteirim not to use every free moment for Torah study since they dedicate themselves to public service. The worst among them are those who leave behind Torah study and not only do they not see themselves as "dust on the feet" of those who do toil in Torah, but they even cast scorn and disgrace upon them. The author addresses each of these types in the introduction, putting forth the proper hashkofoh on the matter.

It is a day for spiritual elevation for a Torah newspaper when its editor publishes his book, which is sure to be warmly received among amolei Torah.

This is an excellent book for those studying the maseches in iyun, Daf Yomi maggidei shiurim who can find in it much of value, and those lomdim who are not satisfied with a superficial study of the daf, but rather seek to broaden their knowledge and understanding.

I can only extend my blessings to my friend, Rabbi Nosson Ze'ev Grossman, that Hashem Yisborach give him the merit to continue studying Torah as he so yearns and to publish more and more of the fruits of his labors, along with the opportunity to continue the holy task of zikui horabbim with health and inspiration.


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