Monday, November 07, 2005

LESSONS IN TANYA: Tuesday, November 8, 2005


Cheshvan 6, 5766 * November 8, 2005


Today's Lesson:

Iggeret HaKodesh
(Middle of Epistle Twenty-Six)

There is yet further cause to be exceedingly amazed - [at how "those who lack understanding" comprehend this quotation from Ra'aya Mehemna.

This statement comes in addition to the two preceding causes for surprise at their misunderstanding of this quotation:

(a) that a portion of the Torah could be termed the Tree of
Knowledge of Good and Evil;
(b) according to their understanding of th e Ra'aya Mehemna
the study of issur and hetter does not supersede the
obligation to pray at fixed times, even though the
prayers were arranged according to the secrets of the
Zohar and the Supernal Unions; whereas the fact is that
for those individuals whose only occupation is the study
of Torah, the study of issur and hetter does indeed take
precedence over the mitzvah of prayer.

In addition to these two problematic queries, there is now a third]:

How is it possible that in the days of Mashiach people will not need to know the laws of ritual prohibition and permission, and of impurity and purity?

For how will they slaughter the sacrifices, and likewise animals for common use, if they will not know the laws of drassah, [31] chaladah, [32] and shehiyah, [33] any of which disqualifies the slaughtering, [34] and [likewise, the laws regarding] a defective knife?

Will there ever be born a man who by his very nature will [invariably] slaughter without shehiyah or drassah? Will the knife also remain perfect and unblemished forever?

[Since these are physical impossibilities, people will obviously have to know the practical laws governing ritual slaughter].

There are also many more laws relating to sacrificial offerings and so on, [such as those regarding] fat, blood, and other prohibitions. People then will also need to know [the laws regarding] the impurity imparted by a corpse; as it is written, [35] "A young man will die at the age of a hundred." [36]

[And if there will be death in the world, these laws will of course be needed].

It will be further necessary to know the laws governing the impurity of a woman who has given birth; as it is written, [37] "A pregnant woman, and one who gives birth [38] together" [will be among those restored to the Holy Land at the time of the Redemption through Mashiach].

If a woman will give birth every day, [these successive births] resulting from one marital union, nevertheless, the law with respect to the restrictions resulting from her impurity will not change.

[In Time to Come pregnancy will not last nine months; on the same day that a woman conceives she will give birth. Moreover, additional children will be born on successive days from that same conception.

It will thus still be necessary to know the laws regarding the ritual impurity of a woman who has given birth.

The Rebbe writes that the above elucidation - that a woman will give birth on the very day that she conceives - "accords with the explanation by the AriZal [of the teaching of the Sages in Tractate Shabbat 30b, that `In future time a woman will give birth every day'], in Likkutei HaShas (cited in the Miluim to Tehillim by the Tzemach Tzedek, ch. 20; also [in Biurei HaZohar of the Tzemach Tzedek, Vol. II, p. 827 ff.] at the end of s.v. Ginta).

It differs from the commentary of Rashi [on the above teaching] in Tractate Shabbat 30b. See also Chiddushei Aggadot [of Maharsha] there."

Commenting on the above-quoted phrase ("A pregnant woman, and one who gives birth together"), from which the Gemara derives its teaching that "In future time a woman will give birth every day," Rashi explains that on the day a woman conceives a new child she will bear a previously-conceived child. For, as the Maharsha explains: It cannot mean that the conception and birth of the same child will take place on the very same day, for then the proof offered there in the Gemara regarding a chicken that laid eggs daily would not apply.

For even a chicken does not lay the egg on the same day that it was fertilized; as the Gemara states in Tractate Bechorot, it takes twenty-one days. This means, as Rashi explains, that twenty-one days must elapse from the time of fertilization to the time the egg is laid. The AriZal, however, understands the Gemara in Tractate Shabbat to mean that a child will be conceived and born on the same day.

Parenthetically, the Tzemach Tzedek in the source quoted above quotes the Midrash Rabbah on Parshat Noach (beginning of sec. 36), to the effect that before the Flood as well, a woman would conceive and give birth on the very same day.

A further point: The Alter Rebbe added that the above-mentioned successive daily births would result "from one marital union."

This translation assumes that the unvocalized Hebrew text pronounced mibiah achat. Others, however, have assumed that it is to be pronounced meiviah achat; hence, "if a woman will give birth every day, she brings one [offering]."

On this interpretation the Rebbe comments: "What connection does this have to our subject? (Especially, since this law [of impurity] also applies nowadays [i.e., prior to the arrival of Mashiach]. My opinion is that the phrase means `from one marital union.' [I.e., further children will be born on subsequent days from that one marital union.]"

The Rebbe concludes: "This also solves the problem raised by the Maharsha."

In his Chiddushei Aggadot, the Maharsha asks: How can there possibly be additional births on subsequent days, when marital relations are forbidden for seven or fourteen days after birth? This question is answered by the above statement, that successive births will result from a single conception.

This statement also accords with the reference made in the Gemara to a chicken, which lays eggs on different days from the same fertilization.

The Rebbe also refers to the Gemara (Niddah 27a) which relates that a certain woman's conception resulted in the birth of two children, three months apart].

There is no need to dwell on something so obvious - [as the fact that these laws will still apply in the time of Mashiach, so that then, too, it will be necessary to know the laws of issur and hetter, and purity and impurity], when the entire Talmud and the Midrashim make known the reverse [of the misleading impression formed by a superficial reading of our opening quotation from Ra'aya Me-hemna].

[For example:] The question is asked, [39] "A law for the time of the Messiah?!"

[I.e., why state now a law that will only apply to Messianic times? At that time, however, it will obviously be necessary to know it.]

Likewise we find that Elijah will come to clarify all doubts; [40] and "This passage Elijah will expound in the future"; [41] and so on.

Also not understandable is the statement [in Ra'aya Mehemna] that "the Torah scholars will not be sustained by illiterate people, and so on."

[As stated above, the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the root of issur and hetter, will not dominate the Jewish people, because "the Torah scholars will not be sustained by illiterate people]," - nor by the mixed multitude, who eat that which is ritually unfit, impure, and prohibited, heaven forfend.

Even [42] during the time of the Second Temple they were not supported by the illiterate people who ate that which is ritually unfit and prohibited, heaven forfend, for the Torah scholars had fields and vineyards of their own, just like the illiterate people.

Nevertheless, they engaged in the study of [the laws of] issur and hetter, and of impurity and purity - [for example,] all the pairs [of leading Sages] who lived at the time of the Second Temple [43] - and they raised disciples in the legal of the Torah in the thousands and tens of thousands, [44] while the study of the esoteric [of the Torah] took place in secret, and so on.

[We thus see that the fact that Torah scholars need not be sustained by the illiterate is in no way a cause for their not studying (G-d forbid) the laws of issur and hetter and purity and impurity.


31. "Pressing" [on the knife].
32. "Passing [the knife] under" (instead of over) the windpipe
and gullet.
33. "Pausing" and thus interrupting the act of slaughter.
34. Note of the Rebbe: "The Alter Rebbe does not mention
hagramah [i.e., cutting in a slanting direction] or ikkur
[i.e., severing the pipes by tearing]."
35. Yeshayahu 65:20.
36. Note of the Rebbe: "I.e., there will then be death."
37. Yirmeyahu 31:7.
38. Note of the Rebbe: "I.e., there will then be birth."
39. Sanhedrin 51b.
40. See Eduyot 8:7 and commentaries there.
41. Menachot 45a.
42. This sentence has been emended above in Hebrew and English
according to the gloss of the Tzemach Tzedek as cited in
Luach Ha-Tikkun (Table of Corrections) at the end of Hebrew
editions of Tanya.
43. Note of the Rebbe: "Chagigah 2:2."
44. Rambam, Introduction to Yad HaChazakah



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