1) A MOTHER'S OBLIGATION OF "CHINUCH" FOR HER CHILD
QUESTION: The Mishnah (2a) states that the Mitzvah of Chinuch requires that a child come to the Beis ha'Mikdash on the festival only when he is old enough to ride on his father's shoulders (Beis Shamai) or hold his father's hand and walk (Beis Hillel) from Yerushalayim to Har ha'Bayis.
The Gemara asks that a child should be obligated only at a much older age -- when he is able to travel to Yerushalayim from his hometown while he holds his father's hand.
The Gemara answers that it is the mother who brings the child to Yerushalayim. Since his mother comes to Yerushalayim for the Mitzvah of "Simchah," she brings him with her, and thus the obligation of a child in Aliyah l'Regel is measured only by whether he can walk from Yerushalayim to Har ha'Bayis while he holds his father's hand. (The age at which a child can travel with his mother is younger than the age at which he can go with his father alone. Hence, even if the child is not old enough to come to Yerushalayim without his mother, if he can come to Yerushalayim with his mother and then walk from there to Har ha'Bayis with his father alone, he is obligated in Aliyah l'Regel.)
Why is a child who is not old enough to travel to Yerushalayim without his mother exempt from Aliyah l'Regel? Just as his mother brings him to Yerushalayim, she should also bring him to Har ha'Bayis in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of Chinuch for Aliyah l'Regel!
Apparently, the Gemara maintains that the Mitzvah of Chinuch applies only to the child's father, but not to his mother. However, if the mother has no obligation of Chinuch for her child, then why does the Gemara say that the father brings his child to Har ha'Bayis when the mother brings him to Yerushalayim? The father should be obligated to bring his child to Har ha'Bayis only when the child is old enough to travel alone with his father from his hometown to Yerushalayim! A child who is too young to come with his father to Yerushalayim should not be obligated in Aliyah l'Regel.
(a) Many Rishonim maintain that the Mitzvah of Chinuch does not apply to the mother (see TOSFOS YESHANIM to Yoma 82a). Their ruling is based on the Gemara in Nazir (29a) in which Reish Lakish says that only a father may declare his son to be a Nazir for the sake of Chinuch, but a mother may not declare her son to be a Nazir. The Gemara says that according to Reish Lakish, the reason why a mother may not declare her child to be a Nazir is that she is not obligated in the Chinuch of her child.
However, the Gemara in Sukah (2b) relates that the queen Hilni sat with her young sons in a Sukah. The Gemara proves that the Sukah in which they sat must have been valid because her children were of the age of Chinuch at that time, and therefore she was obligated to teach them to fulfill the Mitzvah with a valid Sukah. If the Mitzvah of Chinuch does not apply to the mother, why did Hilni have to ensure that her sons sat in a valid Sukah? (The Gemara in Sukah implies that Hilni had her children sit in a valid Sukah because of her obligation to do so, and not just because she was conducting herself above and beyond the letter of the law. See GILYON HA'SHAS there.)
The Rishonim explain that when a child's father is not present, the obligation of Chinuch rests on the mother (TERUMAS HA'DESHEN #94, based on TOSFOS to Eruvin 82a, DH Katan). (This may be the intention of TOSFOS YESHANIM to Yoma 82a. See also Yevamos 71b, "his father and mother were in jail [and unable to perform the Mitzvah of Chinuch]."). The ME'IRI in Nazir (29a) similarly states that if a child has no father, his mother is obligated to teach the child how to fulfill the Mitzvos. Only when the father is alive and present is the mother exempt from the Mitzvah of Chinuch.
In the case of the Gemara here, however, the father is present, and thus the mother is not obligated to bring the child to Har ha'Bayis. According to these Rishonim, when the Gemara says that the mother takes the child to Yerushalayim it does not mean that she takes him there for the sake of Chinuch for Aliyah l'Regel, but rather she takes him there simply because she does not want to leave him at home. Once the child is in Yerushalayim, the father brings him to Har ha'Bayis for the sake of Chinuch if he is able to walk there with his father, even though he would not have been able to walk from his home to Yerushalayim with his father.
(b) RASHI (2a, DH Eizehu Katan) writes that the Chachamim obligated the child's father and mother to teach him how to fulfill the Mitzvos. The MENACHEM MESHIV NEFESH (2a) in the name of the YAD DAVID writes that Rashi's source for this is the Gemara here which says that the mother brings the child to Yerushalayim, which implies that the obligation of Chinuch applies to the mother as well. The mother is obligated to bring the child to Yerushalayim for the sake of Chinuch for the Mitzvah of Simchah.
When the Gemara in Nazir (loc. cit.) states that a woman is not obligated in the Chinuch of her child, it refers only to Mitzvos that are not obligatory (such as Nezirus). The mother has no obligation to teach her child how to fulfill such Mitzvos. Alternatively, Rashi maintains that Rebbi Yochanan disagrees with Reish Lakish in Nazir and maintains that the mother may declare her son to be a Nazir for the sake of Chinuch, and the Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Yochanan.
Why, then, is the mother not obligated to bring her child all the way to Har ha'Bayis? Apparently, the Mitzvah of Chinuch applies to a mother only for Mitzvos in which she herself is obligated. Since she is not obligated in Aliyah l'Regel, she is not obligated to help her child fulfill that Mitzvah.
However, the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (6b) and Kidushin (34b) concludes that a woman is not obligated even in the Mitzvah of Simchah; it is only her husband who is obligated to make sure that she experiences Simchah. When the Gemara here says that a woman is obligated in the Mitzvah of Simchah, it means that she must come to Yerushalayim because her husband is obligated to provide her with Simchah; it is not the woman's obligation, but the husband's (as the TUREI EVEN cites in the name of the BA'AL HA'ME'OR in Rosh Hashanah). Why, then, should a woman be obligated in the Mitzvah of Chinuch for her child's fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Simchah by bringing him to Yerushalayim, as Rashi (2a) implies? Similarly, why was Hilni responsible to teach her sons how to fulfill the Mitzvah of Sukah, a Mitzvah from which she was exempt?
It must be that the mother sometimes is obligated in the Chinuch of her child for a Mitzvah from which she is exempt herself. The mother is exempt from Chinuch for a Mitzvah which she is not involved in herself. When she performs the Mitzvah herself -- even though she is not obligated to perform the Mitzvah -- she is obligated by the Mitzvah of Chinuch to teach her child how to do the Mitzvah. Only when she has no obligation to perform the Mitzvah and she is not involved in the Mitzvah is she exempt from the Chinuch of her child.
In the case of the Mitzvah of Simchah, the woman is not obligated herself. Nevertheless, she comes to Yerushalayim so that her husband can fulfill his obligation to provide her with Simchah. Since she is involved in the Mitzvah of Simchah, she is obligated in the Chinuch of her child for the Mitzvah of coming to Yerushalayim during the festival. Similarly, Hilni the queen performed the Mitzvah of Sukah even though she was not obligated to do so. Therefore, the Mitzvah of Chinuch applied to her, and thus she ensured that her sons properly fulfilled that Mitzvah. (M. KORNFELD)
2) DID THE JEWISH PEOPLE OFFER KORBANOS IN THE DESERT?
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the Jewish people were ostracized in the wilderness because they sinned with the Golden Calf. Rebbi Akiva cites a verse (Amos 5:25) which shows that they did not offer Korbanos in the wilderness due to their state of censure. Only the members of the tribe of Levi, who did not participate in the sin of the Golden Calf, brought the Korban Tamid.
The Gemara here contradicts the Gemara in Moed Katan (15b). The Gemara in Moed Katan proves that a Menudeh (one who has been placed in Niduy, or excommunication) is permitted to send his Korbanos to the Beis ha'Mikdash with a Shali'ach. The Gemara proves this from the fact that during their sojourn in the wilderness, the Jewish people -- who had the status of a Menudeh -- sent their Korbanos to the Mizbe'ach.
The Gemara there clearly says that the Jewish people did offer Korbanos in the wilderness, while the Gemara here clearly says that they did not offer Korbanos (and that they were not even permitted to). How are the two Gemaras to be reconciled? (MISHNEH L'MELECH, beginning of Hilchos Temidin u'Musafin)
(a) The TUREI EVEN answers based on the words of TOSFOS in Moed Katan (15b, DH v'Shimshu). Tosfos questions what the source is for the Gemara's assertion that the Jews offered Korbanos in the desert. He concludes that "perhaps there is some indication from the verse" but he does not specify any verse which gives such an indication.
The Turei Even suggests that the proof from the verse is according to the opinion of Rebbi Yishmael in Chulin (17a), who maintains that the Jews were not allowed to eat meat in the desert unless it was the meat of a Korban (as derived from Devarim 12:20 et seq.). If they ate meat in the desert, they must have offered Korbanos!
The Turei Even adds that if the verses from which Rebbi Yishmael derives his opinion indeed are the source that the Jewish people offered Korbanos in the desert, then there is no contradiction between the Gemara here and the Gemara in Moed Katan. The Gemara here is expressing the view of Rebbi Akiva, who argues with Rebbi Yishmael and maintains that the Jews were permitted to eat meat that was not from a Korban ("Basar Ta'avah"). Accordingly, he maintains that the Jews in the desert did not offer Korbanos.
The RASHASH asks that the Torah explicitly specifies various Korbanos which the Jews offered in the desert, such as the Korban Pesach in the second year of their sojourn. The Rashash answers that perhaps they offered the Korban Pesach because of a special command from Hash-m for that moment ("Hora'as Sha'ah"), but they did not bring other Korbanos.
(b) A simple answer to the question may be suggested as follows. The Gemara here does not say that the members of the tribe of Levi owned the Korbanos which they brought. Rather, they were merely the ones who offered the Korbanos; the animals themselves were not necessarily the property of the Leviyim. Perhaps the Gemara means that the Jewish people were not involved in the actual service of offering the Korbanos since they were in a state of censure. They were certainly permitted, however, to own a portion of a Korban and to let the Kohanim and Leviyim offer it on the Mizbe'ach. This is what the Gemara in Moed Katan means when it says that the Jews sent their Korbanos in the desert.
Why, though, does the Gemara here teach that the Yisraelim in the desert had no role in the service of offering Korbanos? Ordinary Jews never have a role in the service of offering Korbanos; only Kohanim and Leviyim are involved in the actual service. Even if the Jews in the desert would not have been in a state of censure, they would not have offered their Korbanos because that service is the sole domain of the Kohanim and Leviyim.
The answer is that the Yisraelim indeed have a role in the offering of the Korbanos. The Yisraelim perform the service of the Ma'amados -- groups of Yisraelim who stand watch over the Korban. When the verse teaches that the Jews in the desert were not involved at all in the service of the Korbanos, it means that they did not take part in the Ma'amados due to their state of censure. They nevertheless owned a portion of the Korbanos (and gave money towards the purchase of the Korban Tamid), and the Kohanim and Leviyim offered the Korbanos on their behalf. Accordingly, the Gemara here and the Gemara in Moed Katan do not contradict each other. (-Based on the MITZPEH EISAN; see also Insights to Moed Katan 15:3.)