May these words of Torah serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel ben Harav Yoel David Balk, a”h.
This week we learned Zevachim 77. These are some highlights.
What should we do when we have mixed up the cup of sheva brachot and the cup of Havdalah?
There is a practice of women not to drink from the cup of Havdalah. Bigdei Yesha (Orach Chaim Siman 296:4) gives a reason. Initially, mankind was intended to reside in Gan Eden and to live a life of serving Hashem. We would not have needed to work to earn a livelihood. Due to the sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge, 39 curses were imposed on the world. People then had to work for food. The sin of eating from the Tree of Knowledge was caused by the first woman, Chava, when she fed Adam Harishon. Each Shabbos we return to Gan Eden, as we do not perform any of the 39 work activities. When we exit Shabbos, we are returning to the realm of the 39 curses. Women do not want to remind Heaven of the sin of their ancestor; therefore, women do not drink from the cup of Havdalah.
It is a Shabbos sheva brachot. After the bentching, a cup is taken around and blessings for the bride and groom are recited over it. The cup is then brought into the shul, for Havdalah needs to be recited before the cup can be consumed. The community has finished its Maariv prayers and recited Havdalah. The two cups have gotten mixed up. We do not know which cup is from Havdalah and which is from the sheva brachot. The bride and groom are supposed to drink from the sheva brachot cup, but the bride is insisting that she will not drink from the Havdalah cup. What are we to do?
Rav Zilberstein rules that we should mix the two cups with each other and the bride should drink. There is no problem for a woman to drink wine that was used for Havdalah that is mixed in with other wine. This is especially the case with wine from a sheva brachot cup. The cup of sheva brachot has wine that received blessings for the bride and groom. This blessed wine is good for her, it will overwhelm whatever damage Havdalah wine could cause her. This is similar to the view of Rabbi Eliezer in our Gemara. Rabbi Eliezer feels that if limbs of a kosher korban olah get mixed with limbs from a blemished animal, all of them go into the fire on the altar. Hashem said, “Mum bam,” there is a blemish in them. When they are isolated and have a blemish they are disqualified, but if the limbs from the blemished animal are mixed in a mixture, the entire mixture is allowed. A blemished animal is revolting to Heaven, but in a mixture it loses its revolting status. The same should be true with Havdalah wine for women; once it is in a mixture it loses its damaging abilities. (Chashukei Chemed)
What should the community build first: the holy ark or the benches?
A community was building a new shul. A question arose: Should they build the holy ark first, as it is the holiest item in the shul, or should they first build the benches, since they might need to use the shul while it is under construction and it would be most comfortable to have benches to sit on? What comes first, practicality or sanctity?
Rav Zilberstein suggests that our Gemara is a source that they should first build the ark.
Our Gemara discusses a man who is a safeik metzora, who might be impure as a leper. He needs to bring an animal as a sacrifice and have oil sprinkled on his behalf. There is a prohibition of bringing secular items to the azarah. He therefore needs to declare, “If I am a metzora, the animal is an asham and the oil is for the sprinkling of metzora. If I am not a metzora, the animal is a donated shelamim, and the oil is a form of a mincha, gifted oil.” He then covers all the possibilities. The animal is slaughtered in the north (like an asham), but its chest and thigh are waved (like a shelamim). A fistful, kometz, of the oil is burned on the altar (like gifted oil), and some of the oil is sprinkled (like the oil of a metzora). The Gemara is clear that first the kometz of oil is taken off and thrown on the altar, and second some of the oil is sprinkled. This leads to all sorts of problems. Added oil needs to be put in to replace the fistful that had been taken out, and that added oil needs to be optionally redeemed. Shita Mekubetzet asks, “Why don’t we first sprinkle from the oil? It will be easier practically if we first take care of the possibility that he is a metzora. Let’s first sprinkle seven times for the possibility that he is a metzora, and then take off a fistful for the possibility that the oil is gift.” The Shita answers that since the oil will go on the altar, since there is a possibility that it is gifted oil, it would be disrespectful to not take care of the altar responsibilities first. Items going to the altar should have the key altar service, kemitza, done first. Even though doing it this way is less practical, it is more respectful to the sacred. We can now extrapolate to our case. In our case, it might be more practical to build the benches first. If the benches are built, we might be more comfortable when we use the semi-built shul for prayer. But the more respectful behavior would be to build that which is holiest, the ark, first. Our Gemara establishes a rule: sanctity comes before practicality. The ark should be built first. (Chashukei Chemed)
By Rabbi Zev Reichman
Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue.