Friday, June 12, 2015

Parsha: The Holy Mergalim???

Rav Yehuda Turetsky

The Gemara (Megilah 23b) derives from a Pasuk describing the Meraglim that ten men are required for a Minyan (a Davar SheBikedusha). It is certainly surprising that Chazal learned specifically from these individuals. Why would a Halacha about the standards needed for an act of holiness be derived from people who sinned so greatly?

What is the significance of learning a Halacha about Kedusha from people who appear to be anything but holy?

1. Rav Menachem Mendel of Rimanov[1] suggested that the Meraglim really were holy people. They sinned, but those sins were not actually so terrible. The Meraglim were only dealt with so harshly because people of an elevated status are always held to higher standards. Rav Menachem Mendel therefore suggests there is no problem learning a Halacha about holiness from such people.

His approach appears hard to accept within the simple reading of the Pesukim and various comments of Chazal that portray the sins of the Meragim as particularly egregious. It should be noted, though, that his general perspective is in line with other Hasidic sources that offer more positive interpretations of the various sins found in Sefer BaMidbar.[2]

2. It is possible there is a halachic implication that emerges from this source. Rav Moshe Feinstein[3] was asked whether Shabbat desecrators can be counted towards a Minyan. While many Poskim discuss this question, and there are a variety of factors that impact the halachic conclusion, Rav Moshe relate to the source as a possible indication that one could include such individuals. If we learn this Halacha from Meraglim, people who sinned in such an egregious way, certainly Shabbat desecrators can also count. Within this idea, it is possible the Torah chose to learn specifically from the Meraglim to teach a Halacha about the kinds of people that count for a Minyan.

3. Rav Schachter[4] offers an additional suggestion. Perhaps the Halacha is learned from the Meraglim for a different reason. The Gemara[5] states that the true Jewish community is found specifically within Eretz Yisrael. According to the Gemara[6], those Jews outside of Israel are viewed, at least in regard to specific halachot, as individuals. This is as opposed to those who live inside Eretz Yisrael that are viewed as members of a Tzibur. As such, Rav Schachter suggests that we learn the Halacha of a Minyan specifically from the Meraglim. Since the Meraglim were the only ones who had been in Eretz Yisrael, they are the best people to serve as a source for the Halacha of what constitutes a Halachic Tzibbur.

[1] Cited in Iggerah D’Pirkah 1:33.
[2] Many such ideas can be found in the writings of the Mai HaShiloach of Ishbitz and his student Rav Tzadok HaKohen of Lublin.
[3] Shut Iggerot Moshe O.C. 1:23.
[5] Horiyot 3.
[6] This is further articulated by Rambam in a variety of places See, for example, Perush HaMishnayot to Bechorot.

No comments:

Post a Comment