1) DISTANCING A POTENTIALLY DAMAGING OBJECT FROM A NEIGHBOR'S PROPERTY
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that a person must distance his washing pit from his neighbor's vegetables, his leeks from his neighbor's onions, and his mustard from his neighbor's bees. The Mishnah does not specify how far he must distance these items from his neighbor's property.
How far must one distance his washing pit from his neighbor's vegetables, or his leeks from his neighbor's onions? (The RAMBAN states, "I am perplexed by the fact that the Mishnah does not specify [the distance].")
(a) The RASHBA suggests that the distance is the same as the distance specified in the earlier Mishnah (17a), which states that a person must distance his irrigation channel or his laundry pit three Tefachim from the wall of his neighbor's Bor.
(b) The Rashba cites a Tosefta, however, which states that a person must distance his mustard plant fifty Amos from his neighbor's bees. The Rashba adds that perhaps the same distance of fifty Amos applies to a soaking pit and to leeks, since the Tana mentions all of these items together.
The reason why such a large distance is necessary is that the smell, fumes, or vapor of these potentially damaging objects travels far and thus these things are able to cause damage up to a distance of fifty Amos. (The Rashba infers this also from the words of the RIF.)
(c) The RAMBAN writes that it is logical that a soaking pit must be kept four Amos away from a neighbor's vegetables, since that is the distance that one must move his laundry pit (that is, the "Nadyan" type of laundry pit, which one must move four Amos away from his neighbor's property, as the Gemara says on 19a). The distance required for leeks is the same distance that a person must keep his plants away from his neighbor's plants in order to prevent Kil'ayim -- three Tefachim (see Tosfos to 19a, DH ha'Mavrich). The distance required for a mustard plant is fifty Amos, as the Tosefta writes.
The Ramban asks, however, why the Tana of the Mishnah groups all of these objects together and does not differentiate between them based on the different distances they each require. The Ramban therefore concludes, like the Rashba, that all of these objects must be kept fifty Amos away from the neighbor's property, but he writes that this conclusion is not clear. (I. Alsheich)
2) DOES ONE FACE NORTH OR SOUTH WHEN HE PRAYS
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yitzchak states that "a person who wants to become wise should face south (when praying), and a person who wants to become wealthy should face north."
Does Rebbi Yitzchak argue with the Halachic opinion expressed in the Gemara in Berachos (30a), that one should face Yerushalayim when he prays (see Tosfos to 25a, DH l'Chol)?
(a) RASHI here writes that the Gemara means that a person may turn his face towards the north or south, while the rest of his body faces Yerushalayim. (The TAZ (OC 94:3) writes that this is preferable to what the REMA suggests, that one's head should face Yerushalayim while his body turns slightly towards the north or to the south, as cited by the MISHNAH BERURAH OC 94:12.)
(b) RAV YEHUDAH TRAGER shlit'a (Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Etz Chaim, Antwerp), the son-in-law of RAV SHLOMO ZALMAN AUERBACH zt'l, relates that Rav Shlomo Zalman explained that the Gemara here means that a person who wants to become wise should turn southward at the time that he prays for wisdom (such as in the blessing of "Atah Chonen l'Adam Da'as" in the Shemoneh Esreh), and a person who wants to become wealthy should turn northward at the time that he prays for wealth. (Recorded in "Acharis Davar," in the end of HALICHOS SHLOMO, a collection of insights and rulings of Rav Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l.)
Rav Trager adds that according to this explanation, on Shabbos -- when one does not pray for his personal needs -- there is no reason to face south or north. (I. Alsheich)
3) AGADAH: FACING SOUTH IN ORDER TO BECOME WISE
QUESTION: Rebbi Yitzchak states that "a person who wants to become wise should face south (when praying), and a person who wants to become wealthy should face north." The Gemara says that in order to remember which direction to face for which benefit, one can remember that the Shulchan was in the northern part of the Heichal of the Beis ha'Mikdash, and that the Menorah was in the southern part of the Heichal.
In what way does the Shulchan represent wealth, and in what way does the Menorah represent wisdom?
ANSWER: The Shulchan represents wealth because it held the Lechem ha'Panim, and it was thus the conduit for the Divine blessing of sustenance to the world.
The Menorah represents wisdom because it provides light, and light is compared to wisdom, as in the verse, "Ki Ner Mitzvah v'Torah Or" (Mishlei 6:23). RABEINU BACHYE (Parshas Terumah) writes that the lighting of the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash served as a conduit for the wisdom of the Torah to reach the Jewish people.
Moreover, the Gemara in Berachos (57a) teaches that when a person sees olive oil in a dream, "he should anticipate receiving wisdom," because olive oil is the fuel that is used to produce light in the Menorah. This is also why the days of Chanukah -- which celebrate the rekindling of the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash -- are especially propitious for achieving great depths of understanding in Torah (MINHAGEI HA'CHASAM SOFER 9:1, SEFER MAGEN AVRAHAM Al ha'Torah (Parshas Miketz)). (RAV CHANOCH KARELENSTEIN, zt'l, in SEFER MAR'EI MEKOMOS; see also TORAS CHAIM.) (I. Alsheich)
(See also KLI YAKAR to Shemos 25:10. The Kli Yakar points out that the measurements of the Aron were all fractional numbers (2 1/2 by 1 1/2 by 1 1/2), while the measurements of the Shulchan were part whole numbers and part fractional numbers (2 by 1 by 1 1/2). The Kli Yakar suggests that the measurements of the Aron were all fractional to teach that a person should always view himself as lacking in Torah knowledge, which is represented by the Aron, in which the Luchos and Sefer Torah of Moshe Rabeinu were kept. If a person views himself as lacking in Torah knowledge, he will always strive to learn more. The Shulchan, in contrast, represents material sustenance and gain. Hence, some of the measurements of the Shulchan were whole numbers, to teach that a person should view his financial situation as complete and lacking nothing, and he should be content with his lot, "Same'ach b'Chelko." On the other hand, some of the measurements of the Shulchan were fractional, to teach that a person should not try to fulfill all of his desires for material gain, and he should not focus all of his energies and time on attaining material success. Perhaps this, too, is part of the reason why the Shulchan is given as the Siman for facing north when one prays for wealth; the Shulchan reminds a person to be content with his lot, and not to focus all of his energies on material gain.) (Y. SHAW)