1) THREE MEALS OR FOUR MEALS ON SHABBOS
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that states that one may wash dishes on Shabbos in preparation for a meal that will be eaten on Shabbos. Therefore, one may wash dishes after the Friday night meal for the Shabbos morning meal, after the Shabbos morning meal for the noon meal, after the noon meal for the afternoon meal. After the afternoon meal, however, he may not wash dishes, because no other meal is eaten on Shabbos.
Why does the Beraisa say that one may wash dishes after the noon meal for another meal later in the afternoon? Once one has eaten the noon meal, he has already eaten three meals on Shabbos, and the Rabanan rule that we eat only three meals on Shabbos (bottom of 117b). After the third meal, it should be forbidden to wash the dishes!
(a) The RASHBAM (in Hagahos on the Rif, cited by the Dikdukei Sofrim #20) and the ME'IRI explain that the author of this Beraisa was Rebbi Chidka, who maintains that one must eat four meals on Shabbos.
(b) The TOSFOS RID says that the Beraisa means that if a person wants and intends to eat a fourth meal, then he may wash the dishes after the third meal. In fact, he may wash the dishes for as many meals as he intends to eat on Shabbos; the Beraisa lists four meals only because a person commonly eats up to four meals on Shabbos.
2) BRINGING THE GE'ULAH BY OBSERVING TWO SHABBOSOS
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that "if the Jewish people would observe two Shabbosos properly, they would immediately be redeemed." This is derived from the verses in Yeshayah, "Thus says Hash-m to the Sarisim (eunuchs) who observe My Shabbosos.... I will bring them to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer..." (56:4, 7).
Why does the verse specifically refer to "Sarisim" who observe Shabbos? Furthermore, why does the Gemara cite the earlier verse (v. 4), and not the verse (v. 6) which immediately precedes the promise of the redemption (v. 7), "All who guard My Shabbosos from profaning it... I will bring them to My holy mountain..."?
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA suggests an original interpretation of this Gemara. The Gemara in Nidah (38b) relates that there is a set range of lengths for the human gestation period. "Chasidim ha'Rishonim," who were aware that a pregnancy can last only 271, 272, or 273 days, abstained from relations during the early part of the week in order to avoid conceiving a child that would be born on Shabbos, which would necessitate Chilul Shabbos.
The Maharsha suggests that the Gemara here hints to us that if a husband abstains from his wife on particular days of the week (that is, he conducts himself like a eunuch) in order to avoid a birth on Shabbos, he thereby prevents the desecration of two Shabbosos (the day when the child is born, and a week later when the child has his Bris Milah). Through his concern for the observance of Shabbos, he will merit the coming of the final redemption!
3) SAYING "HALLEL HA'GADOL" EVERY DAY
QUESTION: Rebbi Yosi prayed that his lot should be among those who say the complete psalm of Hallel every day. The Gemara asks that we have learned that a person who says Hallel ha'Gadol every day "scorns and blasphemes." The Gemara answers that Rebbi Yosi prayed that he should be among those who say Pesukei d'Zimra every day, and not Hallel ha'Gadol. We see from here that the psalms of Pesukei d'Zimra are good to say every day. Furthermore, the Gemara in Berachos (6b) states that one who says Tehilah l'David (Ashrei) three times each day is assured to have a share in the World to Come.
What is the difference between the psalm of Hallel ha'Gadol and the psalms of Pesukei d'Zimra and Ashrei?
(a) The MAHARSHA says that the theme of Hallel ha'Gadol is to proclaim that Hash-m wrought open miracles for his people. If one recites this psalm every day, even on days on which no open miracle occurred, then on days on which Hash-m did cause a miracle to happen, the miracle will not be made evident through this person's recitation of Hallel ha'Gadol (since he says it every day). The other psalms, though, are general praises of Hash-m which do not specifically praise Him for His open miracles.
(b) The MESHECH CHOCHMAH (beginning of Parshas Bechukosai) explains that the entire process of nature itself is a miracle. However, a person becomes accustomed to it and fails to give adequate praise to Hash-m. The open miracles that Hash-m performs serve to remind a person about the miracles inherent in the natural order of the world. This is the purpose of saying Hallel ha'Gadol on days on which Hash-m performed open miracles. One who says Hallel ha'Gadol every day loses this reminder, and he thinks that he must praise Hash-m only for the open miracles.
On the other hand, Ashrei and the other psalms of Pesukei d'Zimra discuss how all of the parts of the natural world are governed by Hash-m. By saying those psalms every day, a person praises Hash-m for the subtle miracles of nature. The processes of nature are represented by the alphabetical composition of Ashrei since it progresses in a natural order, as does nature.
4) A NON-KOHEN WHO BLESSES THE PEOPLE
QUESTION: Rebbi Yosi proclaimed that in all of his days, he never acted against the words of his friends, to the extent that even if his friends were to tell him "to go up to the Duchan," he would do so, even though he was not a Kohen.
How could Rebbi Yosi, who was not a Kohen, go up to the Duchan? The Gemara in Kesuvos (24b) states that it is forbidden with an Isur Aseh (a prohibition resulting from a positive commandment) for a non-Kohen to bless the people!
(a) The REMA (OC 128:1) writes that the prohibition mentioned in Kesuvos refers only to a non-Kohen who blesses the people by himself. If he goes up with Kohanim, he transgresses no prohibition. Rebbi Yosi's statement referred to when there were other Kohanim; if his friends told him to go up to the Duchan, he would do so, provided that there were other Kohanim there.
(b) The HAFLA'AH in Kesuvos (24b) suggests the opposite approach. The Hafla'ah explains (as does the SEFER CHAREDIM and the RITVA in Rosh Hashanah) that just as there is a Mitzvah for the Kohen to bless the people, there is a Mitzvah for the people to be blessed by the Kohen. Consequently, when there are Kohanim there to bless the people, a non-Kohen may not join them in blessing the people, because he will thereby miss receiving the blessing from the Kohanim. However, when there are no Kohanim present to bless the people, he may go up to bless the people, since he does not miss any blessing from Kohanim by doing so.
(c) The TORAH TEMIMAH (Parshas Pekudei) cites the introduction to the Sefer of RABEINU YERUCHAM, who quotes a variant reading of this Gemara. In Rabeinu Yerucham's version, Rebbi Yosi said, "Even though I am not Kedai (worthy), I would go up to the Duchan," and not, "Even though I am not a Kohen...," as the words appear in our texts. According to this reading, Rebbi Yosi might not have been discussing the blessing of the Kohanim at all. Rather, he was discussing going up to the Duchan (platform) from which the public lecturer would teach the people, and that is why he said, "Even though I am not worthy."