1) HALACHAH: DON'T DRINK AND DAVEN
QUESTION: Rabah bar Rav Huna states that a "Shasuy" (one who is slightly intoxicated) may not pray, but if he prays his Tefilah is valid b'Di'eved. A "Shikor" (one who is significantly intoxicated), though, may not pray, and if he prays his Tefilah is not only invalid b'Di'eved, but it is considered an abomination.
What is the Halachah in practice regarding one who is Shasuy or Shikor?
ANSWER: As the Gemara makes clear, the Shasuy and the Shikor have different Halachos.
Before examining the laws of the Shasuy and the Shikor, it is necessary to understand the Halachic definition of "Shasuy" and "Shikor." The TUR (OC 99) explains that "Shasuy" refers to one who drank a Revi'is of wine or other intoxicating beverage (Mishnah Berurah 99:1), but he is still sober enough to speak in front of a king. "Shikor" refers to one who is unable to speak coherently in front of a king. Based on these definitions, the differences in Halachah are as follows.
(a) PRAYING WHILE INTOXICATED. The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 99:1) rules in accordance with the Gemara here that a Shasuy or Shikor may not recite Shemoneh Esreh until the effects of the wine subside. If he prayed anyway, a Shasuy need not pray again after he becomes sober, but a Shikor who prayed must pray again when he becomes sober. The Shulchan Aruch (99:3) adds that one may trust his own judgment to determine when the effects of the wine have passed and he is capable of praying properly.
The MISHNAH BERURAH (99:3 and 17) cites the opinion of the YAM SHEL SHLOMO who rules that if one is only Shasuy and the time for Tefilah will pass soon, he is permitted to pray before the time passes, because nowadays no one is considered to have proper Kavanah in his Tefilah even when fully sober. A Shikor, though, may not pray even in such a situation.
The REMA (99:3) states in the name of the TERUMAS HA'DESHEN (#42) that since the degrees of Shasuy and Shikor depend solely on the level of a person's cognizance, nowadays even one who has consumed more than a Revi'is of wine is not automatically defined as Shasuy, and he may pray if he feels that his mental faculty has not been affected by the alcohol. This is because our wines are very weak. (The Rema adds that this certainly applies if one prays from a Sidur, which enhances his ability to concentrate on the Tefilah; see Darchei Moshe OC 99:3, Mishnah Berurah OC 99:17.)
(b) RECITING SHEMA WHILE INTOXICATED. The REMA writes that the Halachos that apply to reciting Shemoneh Esreh also apply to reciting Shema, and to the blessings before and after Keri'as Shema (Mishnah Berurah 99:7), while intoxicated. However, the Mishnah Berurah (99:8, 185:6) writes that if, b'Di'eved, one finds himself Shasuy or even Shikor at the end of the time to recite Keri'as Shema, he should recite Keri'as Shema. He bases this ruling on the Acharonim who disagree with the Rema and maintain that the Halachos that apply to reciting Shemoneh Esreh while intoxicated do not apply to reciting Shema while intoxicated.
(c) RECITING OTHER BLESSINGS WHILE INTOXICATED. The Rema writes that one is permitted to recite blessings l'Chatchilah, including Birkas ha'Mazon, even if one is a Shikor. However, the Mishnah Berurah (99:11; Bi'ur Halachah 185:5) cites the VILNA GA'ON and PRI MEGADIM who do not permit one to recite any blessing while intoxicated (l'Chatchilah). When one is only Shasuy, he is permitted l'Chatchilah to recite other blessings (TOSFOS DH Shikor, based on the Yerushalmi).
(Of course, if one is so inebriated that he is completely out of his senses, he is considered a Shoteh who is exempt from all Mitzvos Aseh. If he recites any blessing while in such a state, he must recite it again when he is no longer under the influence of alcohol, provided that the allowable time period for the blessing has not passed; see Mishnah Berurah 99:11.)
2) PRESERVATION OF ONE'S WEALTH
QUESTION: The Gemara (64a) teaches that if a person wants to preserve the money in his possession, he should invest it in a Sefer Torah or in Tefilin.
Why does the Gemara recommend that one purchase specifically these objects, instead of using his money for any other worthy purpose? In fact, the verse that the Gemara cites as support (Bamidbar 21:2) says that the Jewish people made an oath to give what they acquired to Hekdesh; it does not specify the purchase of a Sefer Torah. Why, then, does the Gemara not suggest that one give his money to Tzedakah in order to preserve his wealth?
ANSWER: The TORAS CHAIM answers that the degree to which one's property will be safeguarded depends on the type of Mitzvah he does with his money. If he does a Mitzvah that has results that last only temporarily, his money will be preserved only temporarily. When one gives money to the poor, that act of Tzedakah is performed once and is not repeated. The Gemara therefore suggests that one invest in an object with which Mitzvos will be performed repeatedly, such as a Sefer Torah.
This approach seems to contradict the explanation of RABEINU CHANANEL in Beitzah (15b). The Gemara there says that one who wants his property to be preserved should "plant an Adar tree," as the verse says, "Adir ba'Marom Hash-m" (Tehilim 93:4). Rabeinu Chananel explains that the Gemara means that one should perform acts of Tzedakah with his money in order to avoid losing it, because acts of Tzedakah are an investment in a "heavenly bank" (ba'Marom) where money cannot be lost or stolen.
According to Rabeinu Chananel's explanation, the Gemara in Beitzah, which says that one should give his money to any Tzedakah in order to preserve it, contradicts the Gemara here, which says that one should buy a Sefer Torah or Tefilin with his money!
It seems that the Gemara in Beitzah is discussing how to ensure that one gets the most out of his money. That is, it is not advising what to do in order to ensure that the money lasts for a long time, but rather what to do to ensure that what one does with the money lasts for a long time (i.e., how to earn eternal merit). The Gemara in Beitzah means that one should give all of his money to Tzedakah, and the effects of that act will last for him forever, i.e. in this world and in the next (see Rabeinu Chananel there who quotes the Gemara in Bava Basra 9a). The Gemara here, in contrast, is addressing a person who wants to keep some of his money for his personal use. The Gemara is advising him what to do to ensure that the money lasts a long time (as Rashi explains). The advice is to invest in an object which can be used for performing a Mitzvah time after time. This will demonstrate that he intends to use his worldly possessions for serving Hash-m, and it will earn him Divine protection for all of his belongings. (M. KORNFELD)