The Israel Koschitzky Virtual Beit
Yeshivat Har Etzion
#42: Simanim 70 - 71
Rav Asher Meir
- INDIVIDUALS NOT OBLIGATED IN KS
1. Keriat shema as a means of accepting
We learned last week that KS is a kind of "omnibus" fulfillment: every
obligation which can be fulfilled by saying KS should preferably be carried out
that way. For instance, the Amora
Shemuel holds that de-oraita there is no requirement to read KS morning and
evening but only to read from the Torah then. Even so, of all the portions in the
Torah one should preferably read KS.
Likewise, someone who has already fulfilled or already missed the mitzva
of KS but needs to fulfill the mitzva of remembering the Exodus, should do so by
This week continues with the "meta-mitzva" of accepting God's
sovereignty. A previous shiur cited
the mishna (at the beginning of the second chapter of Berakhot) which explains
that this obligation is a prerequisite to accepting the commandments. This obligation, too, should ideally be
fulfilled by reciting KS, even for those who are exempt from KS per
2. EDUCATION OF
Surprisingly, nowhere in the Shulchan Arukh is there an explicit GENERAL
commandment to accustom children to perform commandments. Rather, the subject appears in various
Tzitzit (OC 17:3); tefillin
(37:3); fasting on Yom Kippur (616); sukka (640:2); lulav (657); Chanuka lights
(667:2); megilla (689:1); learning Torah (YD 245:5). (The list is copied from the Ein Mishpat
on Nazir 29a.) In CM 280:15, a long
list of particulars appears. (This
source is not in the Ein Mishpat, evidently because it deals with a guardian and
not a parent. The underlying
obligation, however, seems to be identical.)
In the Talmud, a general formulation evidently appears only once: on
Nazir 29a, as an explanation of why according to the mishna there a father's
oath - but not a mother's - obligates the son to conduct himself as a
"He supposes that a man is obligated to accustom his son in the
commandments, but a woman is not obligated toaccustom her
Regarding the fact that the mishna does not obligate the daughter, the
gemara postulates: "he must accustom his son, but not his daughter." From the continuation of the passage it
is clear that the obligation is only rabbinical.
However, the gemara does not bring any specific source for this general
obligation; it is only postulated to explain our mishna. Furthermore, the gemara seems to reject
this explanation altogether and adopt the alternative explanation, namely that
there is a special "halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai" regarding nazir, and this is the
ruling of the Rambam (Nazir 2:14).
So it seems that we are left without any source for a general obligation,
and can only extrapolate from the numerous explicit examples found in the
Talmud. We also have no basis to
assume that the requirement is not relevant to women or girls, since this
distinction was only introduced to explain an anomaly in the mishna in Nazir,
and the distinction is rejected.
Of the many specific cases brought, the most encompassing formulation is
a beraita on Gittin 52a, regarding an apotropos (legal guardian of
orphans). The beraita explains that
the guardian must purchase, using the orphan's funds, every mitzva object which
has a fixed price, including lulav, mezuza, sefer Torah, and so
Another broad formulation is on Sukka 42a:
"A minor who knows how to wave [a lulav] is obligated in lulav; to wrap
himself, is obligated in tzitzit; to take proper care of tefillin, his father
must take tefillin for him; if he knows how to talk, his father teaches him
Torah and KS."
It is evident from this beraita (as well as from other passages, see Yoma
82a, Sukka 28a) that the distinction made in a few places in the Shas between
"higi'a le-chinukh" and "lo higi'a" - between a minor who has and one who has
not reached the age to be accustomed to mitzvot - is not referring to some fixed
age of "reaching chinukh." Rather,
the extent of the requirement to accustom the youngster depends on his age and
development and on the demands of the particular mitzva. It also seems that this beraita agrees
with the postulated formulation in Nazir that the obligation of the child is
really that of the parent to accustom him.
From the beraita in Sukka we also learn that a child needs to be educated
in KS, but the gemara in Sukka explains that this refers only to the first verse
- which is logical for a child who has just learned how to
Now we can understand the disagreement between Rashi and Rabbenu Tam
mentioned here in the Shulchan Arukh.
RASHI understands that the mishna (Berakhot 20a) asserting that a minor
is exempt from KS is referring even to one who has reached chinukh - for it is
obvious that a minor who has not reached chinukh is exempt! But Rabbenu Tam learns from the beraita in
Sukka that even an infant - who is obviously not of the age of "chinukh" - is
required to say the first verse, so it makes sense for the mishna in Berakhot to
tell us that we do NOT obligate him to say the whole KS. However, a youngster who HAS reached the
age of chinukh needs to say KS just as he needs to perform any other mitzva
which his age and development permit.
SIMAN 71 - INDIVIDUALS WITH
AN EXEMPTION FROM KS
EXTENT OF A MOURNER'S
EXEMPTION FROM KS (and other mitzvot)
We learned in the previous siman that one who is occupied with a mitzva
is exempt, under certain conditions, from other mitzvot, including KS. As the MB (s.k. 18) points out, this
exemption is not complete.
A mourner is also subject to this exemption, since taking care of a
burial is also a mitzva. However,
the exemption for a mourner is a distinct category which goes far above and
beyond the standard exemption.
There are many differences in the halakha. Examples:
1. What if the person is merely responsible for the mitzva but is not
actually occupied? Compare SA 70:4
to SA 71:1.
2. Is the exemption mandatory? Compare SA 70:4 to SA
3. What happens if the person performs the
mitzva anyway? Compare MB 70:18
with MB 71:3.
4. What if the person had an opportunity to
perform the mitzva before he
became preoccupied and evidently exempt?
Compare MB 70:17 to MB 71:4 at the end.
REASON FOR A MOURNER'S
EXEMPTION FROM KS (and other mitzvot)
The reason is mentioned in MB s.k. 5. One explicit source is Semachot (a
tractate of beraitot dealing with mourning) at the beginning of chapter 13. The subject of the beraita is the
formerly common custom to bury the departed temporarily, and after the body had
decomposed to reinter (rebury) the bones in a family tomb.
"One who reinters bones is exempt from KS and from prayer and from
tefillin, and from all the commandments of the Torah, and [even] if he wants to
be stringent on himself he may not, BECAUSE OF RESPECT FOR THE
In other words, the exemption from KS is not a mere concession, but
rather a positive requirement, a demonstration of respect for the dead. This understanding is certainly implicit
in the words of the beraita and is also evident from the context, since one who
reinters bones is not technically a mourner and is really not even an "osek
be-mitzva" since there is in general no mitzva to reinter. The respect and awe due to the dead
extends even to their remains, and even performance of God's commandments could
seem inappropriate in their presence.
WHO IS CONSIDERED
RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BURIAL
The Shulchan Arukh talks about a relative who has someone else to worry
about the burial. The MB (s.k. 4)
discusses handing the departed to the burial society (chevra kadisha). It is not obvious from the text that two
completely different situations are being discussed:
The SA discusses a relative who shares (see MB s.k. 2) responsibility for
the departed, but has delegated this responsibility to someone else. This person has practically shifted the
worry, but fundamentally he is still responsible and is really EXEMPT from
KS. The SA discusses whether he MAY
say KS anyway.
The MB is talking about a relative who IS worrying about the burial. Transmitting the departed to the burial
society is not a delegation of
his responsibility, but rather the discharge of his responsibility. From the moment that all the details are
concluded with the chevra kadisha, the departed is considered to be actually
buried, and the relative is FULLY OBLIGATED in KS.
LIMITATIONS IN THE PRESENCE
OF THE DEPARTED
The exemption mentioned in SA 71:1 covers all obligations and all
locations; that in 71:7 covers only a few obligations and only a particular
location. This can be related to
the different reasons for the exemptions: the one mentioned in MB s.k. 5 and
that mentioned at the end of s.k.15.