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The Somewhat Litvshe Yid

Friday, June 10, 2005

Parshas Naso

On the topic of Birkas Cohanim, the gemara in Brachos records a conversation between The Aibishter and the Malachim. Brachos 20b
So expounded Rav Avira, occasionally it was said in the name of Rav Ami and other tmes it was said in the name of Rav Asi.

The Ministering Angels said before The Holy One, Blessed Be He: "Master of the Universe, it is written in your Torah ' He (HaShem) does not give special consideration (לא ישא פנים) or take bribes'(D'varim 10:17). But, do you not give special consideration (נושא פנים) to Israel? As it is written 'May G-d direct His providence(ישא ד' פניו) toward you'(Bamidbar 6:26)."
He said to them: "And how can I not give Israel special consideration (וכי לא אשא פנים לישראל)? I wrote for them in My Torah 'When you eat and are satisfied, you must therefore bless G-d your Lord'(D'varim 8:10), and they are exacting upon themselves (מדקדקים על עצמם) to the measure of an olive (כזית) and of an egg(כביצה).


The Gr"A is perplexed by this gemara and asks several questions.
1. Why start with the smaller shi'ur of k'zayis, as that is more exacting then the shi'ur of k'beitzah.
2. This is a statement of HaShem, for whom there is no doubtful case. (This based on the arguement between R' Meir and R' Yehuda at what point you become obligated in Birkas HaMazon (Brachos 45a, brought down in the Rashi on 20b))
3. Why did HaShem answer with this specific chumra, there are a myriad of other cases where B'nei Yisrael are stringent upon themselves, like טפת דם כחרדל.

He explains it all as follows:
According to the Rif (Eruvin 82b) the size of two full meals is 18 dates (גרוגרות) which is 6 beitzim. It is brought down in the Zohar that 3 beitzim is the equivelent of 10 zeisim which is 9 grogoros, that is to say a zayis is 1/10th less then a grogeres. Therefore it makes sense, a meal is 3 beitzim, which is 10 zeisim and this obligates him to bentsch D'oraissa if he eats this amount by himself. But Am Yisrael searched out how to uplift and increase their blessings to HaShem using the same amount of food. Therefore when one has 10 zeisim he can split it 10 ways and each person, having eaten a k'zayis, would be obligated m'd'rabanan to bentsch. If he can't find 10 then it enough to split it 3 ways, because then he would have a zimun, and each would have a k'beitzah.
And now the p'sukim in the gemara are no longer contradictory. When Yisrael apply themselves to Torah (נושאים פנים לתורה) and are exacting in it, so too will I give them special consideration (נושא להם פנים). And when they don't apply themselves in such a fashion, as said in Malachi(2:9) : Since you have not kept my ways, but have been partial in the ways of the Torah (אשר אינכם שומרים את דרכי ונושאים פנים לתורה).
And this explains the pasuk in Mishlei(22:9), He that has a generous eye shall be blessed, as he gives of his bread to the poor(טוב עין מבורך, כי נתן מלחמו לדל). When he gets others together for his meal so that they can bentsch with a minyan or make a zimun with three and turns himself to Torah (נושא פניו לתורה) and so shall Hashem give him special consideration(ישא ד' פניו).

Based on the Pirush HaGr"A L'Sefer Mishlei

Gut Sabbos.

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