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Shabbos Parshas Pinchus
14th Day of Tammuz, 5744

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16th Day of Tammuz, 5744

Yechidus to Bar Mitzvah Boys & Their Parents
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17th Day of Tammuz, 5744
After Minchah

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6th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

15th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Day Camps
16th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Eikev
20th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

21st Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Kollel Tiferes Zekainim Levi Yitzchok
23rd Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Reey
27th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744

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The Letter sent out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
18th Day of Elul, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Ki Sovo
18th Day of Elul, 5744

Tzivos Hashem
21st Day of Elul, 5744

The Letter Sent Out by the Lubavitcher Rebbe
25th Day of Elul, 5744

Shabbos Parshas Nitzavim-Vayeilech
25th Day of Elul, 5744

Nshei Ubnos Chabad
27th Day of Elul, 5744

Erev Rosh Hashanah, 5745

Sichos In English
Excerpts of Sichos delivered by The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson
Vol. 22 Tammuz-Elul, 5744


Shabbos Parshas Eikev
20th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744


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16th Day of Menachem-Av, 5744
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1. This farbrengen is connected, first and foremost, with Shabbos. On Shabbos Jews are united, for although one may not partake of an ignorant mans meal on a weekday, for fear he has not given terumah and maaser, on Shabbos one may do so (provided he assures one that he has given maaser). This unity between Jews on Shabbos is complete: one may participate in a meal with all Jews.

Shabbos, then, is an auspicious time for Jews to gather together in a farbrengen, thereby effecting unity, as our sages have said (Sanhedrin 103b): Great is the mouthful [of food] since it draws [people] close together. This is especially true of the meal eaten on Shabbos, for besides it being a mitzvah, it is also a delight the delight of Shabbos.

Further distinction accrues when the farbrengen is held in the presence of a congregation, starting with ten Jews, which is already a holy community, and then progressing to a hundred and a thousand. Moreover, when those present at the farbrengen resolve to publicize the words spoken here to many other Jews, G-d joins a good thought to deed, and it is considered as if they, too, are present at the farbrengen. Thus the farbrengen is really being held in the presence of ten thousand Jews, the ultimate number in an assembly of Jews.

From the perspective of Shabbos alone, however, a farbrengen is not held every Shabbos, but only on special Shabbosim. The special aspect of this Shabbos is that it is the twentieth of Av, the yahrzeit of my father. Although this would seem to be a personal matter pertaining to myself, an examination of the events in the years prior to my fathers passing shows that the cause of his untimely passing was the troubles and afflictions he underwent in exile. Because these tribulations were a result of his work in disseminating Judaism with self-sacrifice for the good of all Jewry, it follows that his passing is a matter pertaining to Jewry in general. His yahrzeit every year is therefore an auspicious time to resolve to increase in the dissemination of Judaism, Torah and mitzvos, following the example set by my father who worked in these areas with self-sacrifice.

Although the untimely passing of my father cut short his work, seemingly leaving things undone, it is impossible that his work in disseminating Judaism with self-sacrifice (which led to his being exiled, and thereby to his untimely passing) could lead to a deficiency. We must therefore conclude that in those years in which my father Engaged in spreading Judaism, he achieved wonders that normally would take several extra years to accomplish. The Talmud Yerushalmi, for example, relates that R. Bun achieved ,,. in Torah during twenty-eight years what a seasoned student could not learn in a hundred years.

Thus not only was my fathers service not deficient, G-d forbid, but in a short span of time he was phenomenally successful although normally several extra years would be required to bring these matters to a successful conclusion.

This does not contradict the fact that a yahrzeit marks a tragic event: For the person who passed away, a yahrzeit is a spiritual ascent; for us, whom he left behind, it is a tragedy. For although our sages say (Sotah 13b): As before he stood and ministered, so now he stands and ministers, this applies to Above, whereas in regard to actual deed in this world, the time after his passing cannot be compared to his influence when he was alive. Hence the fact that we are left bereft of his presence is a tragedy, to the extent that the death of tzaddikim is equal to the burning of the House of our L-rd.

Yet, together with its tragic aspect, there must also be something positive for there is a positive aspect also in the burning of the House of our L-rd, to which the death of a tzaddik is compared.

As noted in the previous farbrengen (the fifteenth of Av), the Shaar HaKavonnos explains why we say Nachem (Console) at minchah on Tishah BeAv and not at night or in the morning, although the Beis HaMikdash was set on fire toward evening i.e., at minchah time. For when they [the Jews] saw that they [the enemy] set fire to the Beis HaMikdash toward evening ... they then said a psalm, and rejoiced exceedingly. This took place not in the following year but at the very time they saw the Beis HaMikdash set on fire, when the destruction was at its height not earlier in the nine days before Tishah BeAv, not in the three weeks from the 17th of Tammuz until Tishah BeAv, and not on the 10th of Teves when the enemy besieged the city. They rejoiced exceedingly specifically when they saw that they set fire to the Beis HaMikdash!

The Shaar HaKavonnos explains this as follows: They expounded in the Gemara on the verse

A psalm of Asaph. O G-d, the heathen have come into Your inheritance They asked, [Why does it say] A psalm; it should have said A lament? They answered that at first, the enemy began to kill the Jews, and then the Jews thought there would be no resisting their downfall and they would be annihilated by the sword of the enemy. When they saw that they set fire to the Beis HaMikdash toward evening which is the time of minchah, they then said a psalm and rejoiced exceedingly and were consoled. For if, G-d forbid, G-d had not poured out His wrath upon the wood and stones, there would have been no resisting the enemies of Israel as our sages have said: He poured out His wrath, and a fire broke forth in Tziyon.

We see from this G-ds great love to Jews. Even when Jews are on the lowest of spiritual levels, and G-ds wrath flames forth it is the wood and stones which bear the brunt, while Jews, because of G-ds love to them, exist forever. This was expressed at the time of the burning of the Beis HaMikdash: Precisely at this nadir of the spiritual state of Jews, G-ds inherent love to Jews was revealed and instead of pouring G His wrath upon them, he destroyed the Beis HaMikdash.

In similar fashion, the Talmud (Yoma 54b) says that when the gentiles entered the Heichal, they saw the keruvim (two cherubs atop the ark) intertwined symbolizing, at the time of the destruction, the utter unity between G-d and the Jews.

So too with the death of tzaddikim, which is compared to the burning of the House of the L-rd. Together with its tragic aspect, it also has aspects of consolation and joy just as the Jews rejoiced exceedingly and were consoled when the Beis HaMikdash was burned

These events (burning of the Beis HaMikdash and death of tzaddikim), then, are outwardly tragic; from their inner perspective, however, their purpose is to thereby reach yet a higher level that attained by the transformation of tragedy into joy, which produces a joy loftier than if there were no tragedy in the first place, just as light which blazes forth from darkness is more intense than ordinary light (especially when the darkness itself gives forth light). In the words of Rambam: All these fasts are destined to be abolished in the Messianic era, and, moreover, they are destined to be festivals and days of gladness and joy. These fasts transformed into festivals will be of a level much loftier than the regular festivals today, for the revelations of the future era will be infinitely loftier than those of our times.

For the inner dimension of these tragedies to be manifested also outwardly, in this world, vessels are needed in which to absorb their lofty nature. In our case, the proper vessels with which ^ to receive the lofty nature of a yahrzeit are all aspects of Torah and mitzvos. The lesson we derive from a yahrzeit, then, is to increase in Torah and mitzvos, an increase that transcends all boundaries. We must make many vessels many both qualitatively and qualitatively.

May it be G-ds will that all we have spoken here be translated into actual deed, beginning immediately today, Shabbos, with those things which are permitted to be done on Shabbos, and resolving to do those things which may be done only after Shabbos.

* * *
2. The great men of Israel began their service to G-d with the young (in years or in knowledge). Moshe Rabbeinu, the faithful shepherd of Israel, was tested by G-d to see how he would act as leader. In the words of the Midrash (Shmos Rabbah 2:2): When Moshe Rabbeinu was shepherding Yisros sheep in the desert, a kid ran away from him, He ran after it ... put it on his shoulders, and walked with it. G-d said: You have mercy to lead the sheep of mortal man in such a way, by your life, you shall shepherd the sheep of Israel.

So too with King Dovid: [G-d] tested Dovid through sheep, and found him an excellent shepherd ... He would hold back the bigger ones before the smaller ones. He would bring out the small ones to pasture so that they could graze on the tender grass; afterwards he would bring out the old ones to feed on the ordinary grass, and then bring out the young lusty sheep to eat the tough grass. G-d said: He who knows how to look after sheep, giving each the appropriate care, shall come and tend My people.

Thus was the way of all the truly great men of Israel. They placed special emphasis on the small ones of Israel, small in years or knowledge, Jews who were as strayed sheep as did Moshe Rabbeinu, the faithful shepherd of Israel.

For this reason Moshe, when he spoke to Pharaoh about leaving Egypt, said to him, We shall go with our youth and with our elders placing the youth before the elders because they are especially important. Pharaoh responded, Let the adults go and serve G-d, for that is what you want Pharaoh was saying that Jews really want only the adults to serve G-d! But Moshe Rabbeinu placed the youth before the elders, for a true Jewish leader worries first about the children. In the words of Scripture (Tehillim 8:3): From the mouths of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength, on which our sages comment, There is not strength except Torah.

Scripture could have written directly, From the mouths of babes and sucklings you have ordained Torah. It wrote strength instead, to emphasize that it is referring to Torah as it is on the level of strength. Torah by itself can include wrong interpretations, such as one who reveals faces in Torah not according to the halachah. But when Torah is on the level of strength, it refers to Torah as it is whole and complete; interpretations that are contrary to halachah not only are not strong, but are destructive.

The importance of Jewish children, then, is that their Torah study (From the mouths of babes and sucklings) is on the level of strength. So lofty and important is their Torah study that Small children in school may not be interrupted [from their studies] even for the building of the Beis HaMikdash.. This does not mean that they thereby delay the building of the Beis HaMikdash, but instead, their Torah study helps the building. For there are two aspects to the building of the Beis HaMikdash: The actual construction work carrying bricks, etc.; the spiritual preparation. Thus, although children do not interrupt their studies to help actually build the Beis HaMikdash, their very Torah study serves as the spiritual component of the building, which in certain respects is more important than the actual construction.

Since there are many children present at this farbrengen, they should say LeChaim, and sing one of their joyful tunes; and the adults will surely Join in.

May it be G-ds will that through their Torah study the remainder of the verse be fulfilled From the mouths of babes and sucklings You have ordained strength to defeat the enemy and avenger. That is, may all things antithetical to holiness be totally destroyed, beginning with the negation of the Evil Inclination, the strange god that is within you. And since the Evil Inclination was the cause of the destruction of the Beis HaMikdash and the exile, abolishing it will automatically cause the exile to be abolished, and then immediately we shall merit the true and complete redemption through our righteous Mashiach.

* * *
3. Besides the fact that this year the 20th of Av is on Shabbos parshas Eikev, it is also the fortieth year since the passing of my sainted father. The concept of forty years is mentioned twice in parshas Eikev in the verses: You shall remember the entire path which the L-rd your G-d led you these forty years, and Your clothes did not wear out on you, and the shoes on your feet did not wear out, these forty sears.

The idea of forty years is present not just on Shabbos itself, but even earlier, in the prayers recited upon welcoming the Shabbos and the Shabbos may be welcomed before the actual time of Shabbos begins. Six psalms are recited in the prayers for welcoming the Shabbos, and the first of these six contains the words (Tehillim 95:10), For forty years I shall take hold of that generation.

This verse, the Talmud says (Sanhedrin 110b, and Rashi, ibid.), refers to the generation of the desert, with whom G-d quarreled for forty years. What, then, is so special about it? The Talmud (Sanhedrin 99a), however, interprets this verse in another way: It has been taught: R. Eliezer said, The days of Mashiach will be for forty years, as it is written: For forty years I shall take hold of that generation. Rashi explains that I shall take hold means I shall take Israel and rule over them ... [The verse] For forty years I shall rule that generation [implies] a small generation of forty years duration which is different from the preceding generations and this is Mashiach, in whose generation there will be great changes. The plain interpretation of the verse is that it refers to the dead of the desert, but since it is written I shall take hold (future tense), it implies that he was prophesizing also about the future.

Thus we see the special significance of the verse For forty years I shall take hold of that generation that it is referring to the Messianic era. This is emphasized even more in the Maharshas interpretation of this verse. In con; t to Rashi, who says that the plain interpretation refers to the generation of the desert, and that because it is written in future tense (I shall take hold) it implies also the Messianic era, the Maharsha says that also the plain interpretation refers to the Messianic era. For this verse is a continuation of a previous verse (verse 7) in this psalm, which states: even this very day if you would but hearken to His voice! That is, Mashiach would come this very day if Jews would but hearken to His voice and the verse For forty years I shall take hold of that generation is a continuation, referring to the time of Mashiachs coming talked about in the verse even this very day.

In greater clarification: Our sages say, A person does not understand the mind of his teacher before forty years. This refers not just to a persons teacher, but also to G-d. Indeed, our sages derive this adage from the verse (Devarim 29:3), The L-rd did not Rive you a heart to know

... until this day, which this day refers to the fortieth year of the Jews journeying in the desert. That is, this verse says that Jews did not understand G-ds mind until forty years had passed.

The connection between forty years and the Messianic era is that then we shall attain full cognition of G-d, as written: The glory of the L-rd will be revealed, and all flesh together will perceive that the mouth of the L-rd has spoken. So too Torah study will reach perfection in the Messianic era, for the Torah of Mashiach is infinitely loftier than the Torah of this world, to the extent that our sages say (Koheles Rabbah 11:8), The Torah that a person learns in this world is vanity compared to the Torah of Mashiach.

May it be G-ds will that in this fortieth year, when a person understands his teachers mind, Jews will increase in all aspects of Torah and mitzvos (his teachers G-ds mind) with added enthusiasm and zeal, both quantitatively and qualitatively.

* * *
4. Chapter 8, verse 2, of parshas Eikev states: You shall remember the entire path which the L-rd your G-d led you these forty years in the desert, in order to afflict you, to test you, to know what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. Rashi, quoting the words Whether you would keep His commandments, comments, That you should not test Him, nor criticize Him in your heart.

There are some difficulties in this comment of Rashis

    1) Rashi never comments unless there is a difficulty in the plain interpretation of the verse. The words Whether you would keep His commandments or not seem perfectly understandable without any comment by Rashi. We have learned about keeping the commandments many times before this verse, and it therefore seems unnecessary for Rashi to make any comment.

    2) Not only does Rashi deem it proper to make a comment, but he interprets these words not in their plain sense. He says they do not refer to the keeping of the commandments, but to the idea of a test That you should not test Him, nor criticize Him in your heart although the words plainly say Whether you would keep His commandments.

    3) The beginning of the verse seems to contradict Rashis interpretation. It states: You shall remember the entire path which the L-rd your G-d led you these forty years in the desert, in order to afflict you, to test you.... The Hebrew word for the phrase to test you used in this verse is lenasoschoh (from root nesoyon). Now, if we say as Rashi does, that Whether you would keep His commandments means That you should not test Him, why does not Scripture use the same terminology for test as it does in the first part of the verse, a word stemming from the root nesoyon? Since the verse changes terminology, and the latter part of the verse uses the phrase Whether you would keep His commandments, we must conclude that it means just that: the keeping of the commandments. and not the idea of testing!

    4) We have learned previously, in parshas Beshallach, the following verse (Shmos 16:4): I will make bread rain down to you from the sky (manna) and the people will go out and gather enough for each day, in order that I shall test them [to see] whether they will walk in [the path of] My Torah or not. Rashi thus explains that the words Whether they will walk in [the path of] My Torah means Whether they will keep the mitzvos associated with it [the manna], that they should not leave over any of it, and they should not go out on Shabbos to gather it. According to this interpretation, that Whether they will walk in [the path of] My Torah refers to the mitzvos associated with the manna, the words Whether they will keep His commandments in our verse should also refer to the mitzvos associated with the manna.

There is another difficulty in our parshah, which Rashi does not comment upon. Scripture states further on (end of parshas Sovo 29:4): I have led you in the desert forty years; your clothes did not wear out on you, and the shoes on your feet did not wear out. Rashi there explains that this verse is a continuation of the preceding one, which states: The L-rd did not give you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear, until this day. Scripture is saying that G-d did not give Jews a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear until the fortieth year in the desert. Rashi explains that this means that No man understands thoroughly the mind of his teacher, nor the wisdom of his teachings, before forty years; therefore G-d was not strict with you until this day. But from now on He will be strict.

We see from this verse that Rashi deems it necessary to explain that before forty years have passed, a person cannot thoroughly grasp his teachers knowledge. If so, Rashi should have explained this the first time the concept of forty years appears in our parshah, Eikev, where the term forty years appears twice. Why does Rashi wait until parshas Sovo? Moreover, the explanation he gives in parshas Sovo that until the fortieth year G-d was not strict with the Jews since they could not understand properly His wisdom is an argument in favor of Jews, and therefore Rashi should have presented it at the first opportunity, in our parshah.

Also puzzling is the difference in terminology between our parshah and parshas Sovo. In our parshah it states: You shall remember the entire path which the L-rd your G-d led you these forty years, whereas in parshas Sovo it states: I have led you in the desert forty years (omitting the ward these).

The Explanation

~ Eur verse, in which it states these forty years, refers to all the forty years of the Jews travels in the desert. In parshas Sovo, however, the verse is referring to the fortieth year. It is talking of this day, after the forty years in the desert. Scripture is reminding the Jews of what happened during the forty years the past in order to talk about the present, the fortieth year .

Now we can understand why Rashi interprets Whether you would keep His commandments as meaning That you should not test Him, nor criticize Him in your heart. Since this verse is talking of the entire forty years in the desert, it cannot be interpreted as meaning the literal keeping of G-ds commandments, for during these forty years the keeping of the commandments varied. Part of these forty years was before the Torah was given; and even after Matan Torah, some mitzvos came into being only later, such as Pesach Sheni, and the inheritance laws (which came into being only at the end of the forty years). It is therefore impossible to interpret the words Whether you would keep His commandments literally, since there were differences in this area during these forty years.

This verse also cannot be interpreted as referring to the mitzvos associated with the manna, as Rashi interprets in parshas Beshallach, for in parshas Beshallach the verse is talking about the particular incident of the raining down of the manna, whereas our verse is talking about the general travels in the desert for forty years.

Rashi is therefore forced to interpret the term Whether you would keep His commandments as referring to a general matter that was present during the forty years equally That you should not test Him nor criticize Him in your heart. This applies to all the Jews journeys in the desert: When the Jews left Egypt to enter Eretz Yisrael, G-d could have taken them directly to Eretz Yisrael, through the land of the Philistines, without having to wander in the desert for forty years. Further, even if they did not go through the land of the Philistines, they could have gone on a way that led through surrounding cities, without having to actually go in the desolate wilderness. But G-d did not do so for He wanted to test the Jews to see if they would follow the pillar of cloud into the desolate wilderness, a place without food or water, instead of traveling through inhabited cities. And the Jews did not refuse to follow the Pillar of cloud.

Rashi adds that Whether you would keep His commandments means also nor criticize Him in your heart. Rashi adds this for the first part of the verse says, to test you, to know what is in your heart. This implies that besides the actual test of whether the Jews would listen to G-d (to test you), there is the additional matter of to know what is in your heart. Rashi explains that this refers to criticize Him in your heart that since even if ones actual conduct is consonant to G-ds will, one may still inwardly criticize it, it is necessary to negate even such feelings nor criticize Him in your heart.

That our parshah is referring to the whole forty years in the desert (these forty years), while parshas Sovo is talking about the fortieth year, also explains why Rashi comments on the meaning of forty years in parshas Sovo and not in our parshah. Rashi explains the significance of the forty years that since a person doesnt fully comprehend his teachers wisdom before forty years, G-d was not strict with the Jews until this day until forty years had passed.

Such a concept applies only at the end of the forty years, when it is a novel concept. At the beginning of the forty years, it is fairly obvious that as yet The L-rd did not give you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear. It is only after many years have passed that it is necessary for Torah to teach us a new thing: That until the end of a full forty years, no matter how many years had passed, G-d still was not strict with the Jews since they as yet had not fully comprehended Hi R commandments.

Rashi therefore makes his comment in parshas Sovo, which talks of the end of the forty years. Our parshah, in contrast, refers to the entire forty year duration, including the beginning of this period, when it is unnecessary to say that The L-rd did not give you a heart to know.

* * *
5. In the daily study of Rambams Mishneh Torah, we are now learning the Laws of Vows. This is connected to the number forty, for the concept of a vow stems from the realm of binah understanding. [There are three faculties of the intellect chochmah (wisdom), binah (understanding), daas (knowledge).] It is for this reason that a chacham (lit., wise man sage) can release a person from his vow, for chochmah (wisdom) is on a loftier level than binah from whence stems the vow. The connection to the number forty is, as our sages have said, that At forty years old, one attains understanding.

Chapter eleven, halachah one, of todays portion states: A boy, twelve years and one day old, and a girl, eleven years and one day old, who have sworn an oath or made a vow ... should be examined aiHF questioned. If they understand in whose name they vowed, or consecrated, or swore, their vows are binding and their consecration is effective. If they do not understand, their vows and words are of no effect. Rambam then explains in halachah four of this chapter that this rule, that the vow or consecration of one who is nearly an adult is binding, is of Scriptural authority.

This law is different from all others in the Torah. In all other laws, obligation devolves only on a male who is 13 years and one day old (and a female who is 12 years and one day old). In the case of vows, however, the obligation devolves even on a boy 12 years and one day old (and on a girl 11 years and one day old).

Rambam, in halachahs one & two, then continues to amplify the law concerning a boy 12 years and one day old and a girl 11 years and one day old, who make a vow: They must be examined throughout the whole of the year, i.e., the twelfth year in the case of a girl, and the thirteenth year in the case of a boy. For example, they made a vow or consecrated something at the beginning of this year, and were examined, and were found to understand, and their vow was declared binding. If they then utter another vow, even at the end of this year, they must be examined (again) before it is declared binding. It cannot be said that since they were found to understand at the beginning of the year, it is unnecessary to reexamine them; rather, they must be examined throughout this whole year (whenever they make a vow).

This law, too, is different from all others. In all laws of the Torah, we rely upon a chazakah (e pre-established circumstance). If, for example, a person was examined and found to have developed marks of puberty, a further examination is unnecessary. In our case, however, They must be examined [for understanding] throughout the whole of the year even if they had been examined several times before and been found to understand in whose name they vowed.

What is the source for Rambams ruling that even if they were examined at the beginning of the year they must be examined again if they made another vow? The Kessef Mishnah (a commentary on Rambam) writes: I do not know whence he took this, for in the Gemara (Niddah 45b) it states thus: Since it was stated [in the Mishnah] The vows of a girl of the age of twelve years and one day are valid, what need was there for [the Mishnah to further] state, and throughout the twelfth year they are to be examined? But it might have been presumed that since a Master has said that Thirty days of a year are counted as a full year, where we examined her vows during a period of thirty days [i.e., the first 30 days of her twelfth year] and she did not know how to express their significance [thus revealing her mental incapacity to make a vow], no further examinations should be held [on the assumption that the examinations during the thirty days have established for the rest of the year that her mental capacity was that of a minor unable to make a vow]. Hence we are informed [by the Mishnah] that her vows are to be examined all through the twelfth year.

The Kessef Mishnah infers from this passage in the Gemara that the only reason for further examination during the year is if the initial examinations established that she did not know how to express the significance of a vow. But if the initial examination would establish that she did know, further examinations would be unnecessary contradicting the Rambams ruling that if she did understand the significance of a vow taken at the beginning of a year, further examinations are still necessary for vows throughout the rest of the year.

The Kessef Mishnah attempts to defend Rambams ruling by positing that Rambam might have had a text of the Talmud different than the one we have, and that Rambams text read: It might be presumed that ... where we examined her vows during a period of thirty days and she did know how to express their significance, no further examinations should be held. Hence we are informed that her vows are to be examined all through the twelfth year.

The Radvaz (another commentator on Rambam) goes further and says, This text [the Rambams] is the correct one, for according to the text we have, we could ask why there should be any reason in the first place to think that because she doesnt know how to express the significance of a vow at the beginning of year, she automatically also doesnt know how to at the end of the year? It is obvious that this is not so, and therefore the Mishnah would not have to inform us that her vows should be examined all of the twelfth year. But according to Rambams text, the Mishnah does have to inform us of this.

Not all is clear, however. Why did Rambam choose to follow a text which is not widespread, when in doing so a ruling is established that is different from all other laws in the Torah that in the case of a girl 11 years and one day old and a boy 12 years and one day old, we do not rely on the chazakah of an earlier examination?

The answer revolves around the meaning of knowing (or not knowing) how to express the significance of a vow. i.e., understanding in whose name the vow has been taken.

There are two general ways in understanding something:

    1) Even after one understands a concept, a contradictory theory may still appeal. The person sees that there are two good opinions, but that one is better than the other;

    2) A theory or opinion takes hold of a person so strongly, that there is no room for a contradictory one.

This, we can posit, expresses the difference between a vow taken by an adult (13 years and one day old for a male and 12 years and one day old for a female) and a vow taken by one who is nearly an adult (12 years and one day for a male and 11 years and one day for a female).

An adult has attained the age when his intellectual powers are complete, and thus when he decides to utter a vow, this decision is firm and complete, not leaving room for any contradictory thoughts. The intellectual powers of one who is not yet an adult, in contrast, are incomplete; his thought processes are more vague, less clear and uncompromising. Thus, even after an interrogation indicates that he understands the nature of a vow and in whose name he vowed, it is no proof concerning vows that he may make at a later date. For since his intellectual powers are still not completely formed, changes are possible. Thus such a person needs examination throughout the whole of the year to ascertain that he understands the nature of an oath also now.

According to this, we do not have to say that Rambam had a text different from ours. As for the source of Rambams ruling it comes from logic, since, as explained above, we see that a minor (under the age of 12 years for a girl, 13 for a boy) can have changes in understanding.

We find another instance where Rambam gives a ruling based on fact (and not on any specific Talmudic source). In the Laws of Shechitah (8:28) Rambam rules that If the upper jaw is removed, the animal is treifah. When asked by the Sages of Lunel for the source of this law he replied that it is a fact: Without the upper jaw an animal cannot live and therefore it is treifah.


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