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Zos Toras haolah hi haolah
Rabbeinu Bachaya asks a question on the seemingly superfluous
wording of this pasuk. We know that it is an olah from the
beginning of the posuk, he asks, so why does the Torah need
to repeat, “it is the olah?”
He explains that the Torah is telling us that it was the highest
level of all the korbanos, thus the Torah says, “it is the
olah,” from the word meulah, which means the greatest, or highest
level. The simple way to understand this is that the olah was
completely burnt, while from all other korbanos, at least some
of the meat would be eaten. Based on this explanation, it was
the biggest sacrifice in the monetary sense. Another explanation
mentioned by Rabbeinu Bachaya is that the olah comes to atone
for improper thoughts. This explanation is quite difficult
to understand, however, because it is commonly understood that
sins in action are far worse than mere improper thoughts. Why
then, would this be a reason to consider the olah of a higher
level than a chatas or asham, for example, which atone for
Perhaps we could explain this based on a concept from the
Nefesh HaChaim. He explains that the spiritual element of man,
i.e. his soul, carries tremendous power, and that his actions
have major effects in the heavens. We may be able to recognize
these effects through their manifestations in this world. In
other words, although we do not see any consequences from our
actions, they do, in reality, have tremendous significance.
We actually build worlds with every mitzvah we perform, but
by the same token when we sin, it causes tremendous destruction
in the heavens. The actual makeup of man, in fact, was made
as a replica of the entire creation, thereby when man sins
with a particular limb he causes destruction on the element
in the heavens that corresponds to that limb. The Zohar explains
that the heart corresponds to the Bais HaMikdash and the Kodesh
HaKodoshim in Heaven. This is the source of nourishment for
the entire creation, much like the heart nourishes the body.
Reb Chaim Volozhiner explains that when aperson brings impure
thoughts into his heart it is as though he has brought a harlot
into the Kodesh HaKodoshim. This causes tremendous damage in
the upper worlds; far worse than the damage done when Titus
brought a harlot into the physical Kodesh HaKodoshim. Perhaps
we can infer from this that the absence of the Bais HaMikdash
in our world is not simply a punishment for our sins but a
reaction that was inevitably caused by us destroying the Mikdash
that resides within us. The destruction of the Bais HaMikdash
was just the physical manifestation of this in this lower world.
What we are implying here is that improper thoughts cause
the biggest destruction in the upper worlds because they attack
the source of spiritual sustenance. Hence the korban olah,
which comes to atone for thoughts, is the highest level of
Based on this concept it would be safe to reason that in order
to have the Bais HaMikdash rebuilt in our day it would require
us to first repair the spiritual Bais HaMikdash within us by
purifying our thoughts. After all, it would be impossible for
a physical Mikdash to exist if the spiritual one were not intact,
being that the whole existence of the physical Bais HaMikdash
is just a manifestation of the one in Heaven. Perhaps if we
were to rectify this, it would inevitably result in the rebuilding
of the Bais HaMikdash, not as a reward but simply as a manifestation
of the rebuilt spiritual Mikdash.
We live in a time where outside impurities infiltrate our
communities with little or no resistance. Technology has enabled
endless access to the worst immorality available that even
non-Jewish educators have noted to be disastrous simply from
a moral point of view. This point aside, the infiltration of
non-Jewish values ranging from bad middos to outright kefirah
has become apparent in our communities as well. This infestation
of impure thoughts into our communities may be what is keeping
us in Golus. The Vilna Gaon explains that the wars that will
take place at the end of days are very much spiritual as much
as they are physical. They will require us to realize that
we are different from the other nations and to separate ourselves
from their abominations. Only then can we purify our thoughts
and only then can the Bais HaMikdash be rebuilt.
Rabbi Weiss is a full-time member of the Kollel.
Clapping and Dancing on Shabbos
Rabbi Avi Weinrib
With Purim lingering in the air and the rest of Adar still
to follow, feelings of joy and happiness permeate throughout
our community. Memories of the singing and dancing on Purim
cause one to break out in spontaneous eruptions of joy, especially
on Shabbos. However, we have all heard about restrictions on
Shabbos regarding clapping and dancing. What exactly are these
restrictions, and what is the basis for them?
The Mishna in Beitza [36b] rules that it is forbidden to clap
one’s hands, bang on one’s thighs or dance [on Yom Tov]. Tosfos
explains [Shabbos 148b] that since these actions were generally
done to the accompaniment of musical instruments, the Sages
were concerned that if one of the instruments would break one
might come to fix it on Yom Tov or Shabbos. Fixing an instrument
on Yom Tov or Shabbos would be a violation of the Melacha D’Oraisa
of Maka BiPatish. [As an aside R’ Yerucham Levovitz [Daas Torah
Chaya Sora 24-3] offers a fabulous insight as to why we see
some of the decrees of Chazal as a bit farfetched. He explains
that unfortunately we do not fully appreciate the severity
of a sin and how detrimental it is to us. If we would only
realize how serious sins are, we would fully understand why
it was necessary to place so many fences around them. We can
compare it to a train approaching a busy thoroughfare. Before
it arrives, there are signs, flashing lights, and descending
gates, which are there well before the train arrives, and go
up only after there is no chance of any damage being done.
Since the consequences of being struck by a speeding train
are so severe, the more precautions there are, the better.
How much more so is a sin, which is so damaging to our body
and soul. The Sages in their infinite wisdom saw it as necessary
to place many safeguards around sin.] Most Poskim are of the
opinion that this prohibition against repairing instruments
would apply today as well. Tosafos [Beitzah 30a] maintains
that since we are not experts in repairing instruments this
forbiddance is no longer relevant. The Poskim struggle with
Tosafos. Firstly, as a rule, even when the reason given no
longer applies, unless a spiritually greater court would actually
uproot the decree it would still be in effect. [See Bais Mayer
339-1 Igros Moshe O.H. 2 Siman 100]
Secondly, according to Tosafos would it also be permitted
to actually play musical instruments as well? The consensus
of the Poskim is that even according to Tosafos, only clapping
and dancing would be permitted, and not the playing of actual
instruments. [See Shut Shaar Ephraim 36 Eliyahu Raba O.H. 339-1
Biur Halacha ibid s.v. ulisspek]
The Shulchan Aruch [O.H. 339-3] rules that it is forbidden
to clap one’s hands, bang on one’s thigh or dance on Shabbos.
The Rema quoting Tosafos teaches that some say that nowadays,
since we are no longer experts in repairing instruments the
decree is no longer applicable. However, the Poskim do not
fully concur with Tosafos. The Mishna Berura [S.K. 8] only
permits this on Simchas Torah where clapping and dancing is
a Mitzvah in honor of the Torah. However for any other reason,
even other Mitzvos such as a Sheva Berachos it would not be
permissible. [In many Chasidic circles the custom is more lenient
based on the Minchas Elozer [Volume 1 Siman 29] who permits
dancing and singing for those who are caught up in the joy
of Shabbos since for them it is considered a Mitzvah.]
Stepping back for a moment, it is incumbent upon us to define
what is included in the category of dancing. There is obviously
a difference between walking around in a circle and dancing.
The Toras Shabbos [O.H.339-2] based on a Yerushalmi defines
dancing as the action when one picks up his first foot, then
before it fully returns to the ground, the second foot has
already begun to rise. Any form of moving around in a circle
that would not include this would be permitted.
to the Tune?
The Aruch HaShulchan [339-9] raises another point. He maintains
that the only clapping and dancing that was forbidden was where
one is in tune with the song. Only in such a scenario is the
clapping or dancing intrinsically connected to the song and
there is a worry one could come to fix the broken instrument.
Any form of clapping or dancing, which is sporadic and not
done in tune, would be permitted. Although some Poskim disagree
with the Aruch HaShulchan, many see this a basis for those
who are lenient in these matters.
Included in this decree would also be banging on a table or
the like with or without any utensil. Snapping one’s finger
along with singing would also be included.
not Associated with Music
The Poskim rule that only clapping connected to song would
be included. Clapping, snapping or banging to get another’s
attention, wake someone up or silence an audience would be
permitted [ O.H. 338 Mishna Berura S. K. 2,4]. Clapping for
applause would also be permitted [Oz Nidbiru Vol 13-14].
an Abnormal Fashion
Clapping and banging was only forbidden in a normal fashion.
If done in an abnormal way, for instance clapping against the
back of one’s hand, this would be permitted, as it would serve
as a reminder, and would not lead to fixing any instruments.
Any form of music with one’s mouth was never
included in the decree. Therefore one would be allowed to whistle
a tune or melody on Shabbos. This would be true even with the
aid of one’s fingers [Aruch Hashulchan O.H. 338-7].
Included in the decree was any instrument that is made for
the express purpose of making noise, being that it is similar
to a musical instrument. Therefore it is forbidden on Shabbos
to use a door knocker, bells, or play with a rattle even not
in tune. However, one can knock on a door even with a utensil
such as a key as long as not being done to a tune. [O.H. 338-1]
Weinrib learns full time in the Kollel and is a frequent
contributor to Halacha Encounters.
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