ROSH HASHANAH 31 (10 Sivan) - Today's study material has been dedicated by Mrs. Rita Grunberger of Queens, N.Y., in loving memory of her husband, Reb Yitzchok Yakov (Irving) ben Eliyahu Grunberger. Irving Grunberger helped many people quietly in an unassuming manner and is dearly missed by all who knew him. His Yahrzeit is 10 Sivan.

The Gemara discusses how the Aliyos of the Torah reading of Parshas Ha'azinu are divided. The Gemara gives a mnemonic for the division of the Aliyos, which is comprised of the first letter of the beginning of each paragraph in the Parshah: "ha'Ziv Lach" (H, Z, Y, V, L, CH).
Does this mnemonic have any deeper significance?
RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (end of NITZOTZEI OR) explains that the meaning of this mnemonic can be understood based on the meaning of the "Hadran" recited upon the completion of a Maseches. According to some commentators (see Sefer ha'Chayim, ch. 3), the words "Hadran Alach" mean not only that "we shall return to (review) you." The words "Hadran Alach" also mean that "our Hadar, or splendor, comes from you." When we complete a Maseches, we declare that we have attained splendor through the completion of the Maseches as a result of the splendor of the Torah that Hash-m instilled in the Maseches.
The division of the year's final weekly reading of the Torah into paragraphs which form a mnemonic of "ha'Ziv Lach" alludes to our desire to express our joy as we finish the Torah. We declare, "ha'Ziv Lach" -- "the splendor is yours," just as we declare upon the completion of a Maseches, "Hadran Alach." With this expression we acknowledge that we have merited to gain the splendor of the Torah through the weekly reading of the Torah.
Rav Margoliyos points out a similar allusion in the Mishnah in Sukah (45a; see Insights there). The Mishnah there relates that at the end of the festival of Sukos, the people took leave of the Beis ha'Mikdash and declared, "Yofi Lecha, Mizbe'ach! Yofi Lecha, Mizbe'ach!" -- "Beauty is yours, Mizbe'ach! Beauty is yours, Mizbe'ach!"
When the people completed the Avodah on Sukos, a festival full of exhilarating Simchah and splendor, they declared that they attained splendor through honoring the Mizbe'ach (and the Korbanos brought upon it) which is the vehicle through which Hash-m provides atonement for the sins of the people.


QUESTION: The Gemara enumerates nine decrees which Raban Yochanan ben Zakai enacted, all of which follow a similar theme. Raban Yochanan ben Zakai lived at the time of the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash (Gitin 54a), and he found it necessary to enact these decrees in order to help the people adjust to the new circumstances which resulted from the loss of the Beis ha'Mikdash. This theme is clear in eight of the nine decrees that he made:
1. The Mishnah (30a) states explicitly that the reason for the enactment that the Lulav be held for seven days in all places is because of "Zecher l'Mikdash," a commemoration for what was done in the Beis ha'Mikdash.
2. The decree which prohibits Chadash (the year's newly-harvested wheat) for the entire day of the sixteenth of Nisan was also a response to the Churban, as the Gemara explains.
3. The decree to blow the Shofar on Shabbos of Rosh Hashanah in Yavneh (according to Rebbi Elazar) or in cities that have a Beis Din (according to the Tana Kama) was also made in response to the new circumstances brought about by the Churban. Prior to the Churban the Shofar was blown on Shabbos only in the Beis ha'Mikdash (and in Yerushalayim; see Insights to Rosh Hashanah 29:2). With the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash (and Yerushalayim), there would be no Teki'os at all on Rosh Hashanah when it coincides with Shabbos. In order that the Shofar be blown at least somewhere on Shabbos-Rosh Hashanah, Raban Yochanan ben Zakai instituted that the Shofar be blown in Yavneh (or in cites that have a Beis Din).
4. Similarly, the decree to accept witnesses all day (even after the time of Minchah) when they come to testify about the new moon was instituted because there was no longer a Beis ha'Mikdash or Korbanos, and thus there would no longer be any "Kilkul" if the testimony of the witnesses would be accepted after Minchah time.
5. The decree which prohibits witnesses from desecrating Shabbos in order to come to Beis Din to testify in all months except Nisan and Tishrei was enacted because, after the Churban, the Korban Musaf was no longer brought on Rosh Chodesh. As a result, there was no need for witnesses who saw the new moon to transgress Shabbos merely to enable Beis Din to establish Rosh Chodesh in its proper time.
6. Raban Yochanan ben Zakai's decree to annul the original enactment of bringing fruits of Kerem Reva'i to Yerushalayim from nearby cities was a result of the Churban, because after the Churban it was no longer relevant to adorn the streets of Yerushalayim with fruits. Yerushalayim was destroyed and left desolate.
7. The decree that witnesses go only to the place where Beis Din convenes ("Makom ha'Va'ad") and not to the place where the Rosh Beis Din is located was a result of the new circumstances that existed after the Churban. The Nasi had to travel frequently (in place of the king they no longer had) to distant cities such as Rome to advocate on behalf of the people. If the witnesses would be required to go to wherever the head of the Beis Din was, they would not know where to go because the head of the Beis Din was not in a permanent, established place, in contrast to before the Churban when Beis Din was in the Lishkas ha'Gazis of the Beis ha'Mikdash, or when it was in Yerushalayim.
8. The decree that a convert should not set aside money with which to purchase a Korban when the Beis ha'Mikdash will be rebuilt was due to the concern that the Beis ha'Mikdash might not be rebuilt soon and one will inadvertently use the sanctified money for personal use.
Although the decree with regard to where the Lashon Shel Zehoris (8b) should be tied was enacted before the Churban (when the Yom Kippur service was performed in the Beis ha'Mikdash), it clearly was made as a result of the circumstances which led to the Churban. The Jewish people of that era were sinful and were not repentant, and thus the string no longer turned white on Yom Kippur -- an ominous forecast of the impending punishment that would befall Yerushalayim and the Jewish people. Raban Yochanan ben Zakai decreed that half of the string be tied between the horns of the Sa'ir ha'Mishtale'ach and half be tied to the rock at the cliff where the Sa'ir was cast down so that the people would not see the string and become depressed when its color remained red.
However, Raban Yochanan ben Zakai's ninth decree -- that Kohanim should not ascend to bless the people while wearing shoes -- seems entirely unrelated to the Churban of the Beis ha'Mikdash. Why was this one of the decrees of Raban Yochanan ben Zakai if it is unrelated to the theme of all of his other decrees? Why was it not enacted in an earlier generation?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Sotah (40a) teaches that the reason for the decree that Kohanim should not ascend to bless the people while wearing shoes is the concern that a Kohen might notice that a strap on his sandal has torn and he will busy himself with fixing it while the other Kohanim bless the people (because he is embarrassed to ascend with a torn shoe). When people see that he does not ascend to bless them, they will assume that he is not a valid Kohen and his family's reputation as Kohanim will be blemished.
Perhaps during the times of the Beis ha'Mikdash -- when all of the Kohanim served in the Beis ha'Mikdash, performed the Avodah, and partook of the Matnos Kehunah -- a Kohen had many ways in which he could validate his status as a Kohen. Accordingly, if he did not ascend to bless the people because of a torn shoe, no blemish to his reputation as a Kohen would result. In contrast, after the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed the only way left for a Kohen to show he is a Kohen is by blessing the people. Therefore, Raban Yochanan ben Zakai found it necessary to enact a decree to protect the reputation of Kohanim by ensuring that they do not miss Birkas Kohanim for any reason (such as to fix a torn shoe). (M. Kornfeld)