Beit Midrash

  • Torah Portion and Tanach
  • Pinchas
To dedicate this lesson
Pinchas 5778

At The Shabbat Table


Rabbi Daniel Kirsch

Tamuz 21 5778
…from your vows and your offerings…" (Bamidbar 29:39)

Net Value
Shaul sat at the edge of the couch, his eyes fixed intently on the screen in front of him. The game was nearly over, and the score was tied at 0-0. As an avid soccer fan, Shaul had been following the World Cup games for two weeks. Now, at this crucial point in the game, Shaul’s eyes frantically darted back and forth, hardly daring to blink, as his eyes willed the ball in the direction of the opposing team’s net.
About three minutes before the end of the game, the ball reached the star player of Shaul’s team. In seconds, the player managed to get past four opposing players, and scored a …goal!! Shaul jumped up in excitement, together with the hundreds of ecstatic fans on the screen in front of him. Overcome by the exhilaration of the moment, Shaul called out "What a great play! I promise to give my entire month’s salary to the Beit Knesset!"
While he was still reveling in the feelings of euphoria, he was unpleasantly surprised to see that a player from the opposing team had succeeded in getting the ball. Shaul’s jaw dropped, as he watched the ball fly with precision into his team’s net. "No!!!" he moaned.
Despite Shaul’s protests, the game clock ended with a 1-1 tie, as the game was extended with penalty shots. After a few more tense minutes, the game ended, with a victory for the opposing team.
Shaul sank into the couch, and put his head in his hands. "How could this happen? It was such a great play!"
While he was still sitting there, absorbed in his misery, his wife walked into the room. "Look, it’s not so bad, Shaul," she began. "At least this way, you won’t have to give away a month’s salary! You didn’t promise all that money just for your team to lose."
Is Shaul’s wife correct? Was the promise that he made rendered invalid, because his team lost?
Rabbi Dov Lior, shlita:
Firstly, it is important to state that Shaul should not be involved in watching soccer games, in the first place. Watching these games is a violation of the prohibition of "moshav leitzim" (a gathering for purposes of frivolity).
Regarding his pledge, it seems evident that Shaul promised the money, on the assumption that his team would win. Therefore, it is sufficient to rely on the "hatarat nedarim" declaration, which he made before the previous Rosh Hashana, which states that all future pledges will not be binding. Generally speaking, we do not rely on this declaration. However, given the fact that Shaul’s pledge seems to have been contingent on his team’s winning the entire game, in this case, he can rely on the hatarat nedarim.
In summary: Shaul may rely on the hatarat nedarim declaration which he made at the beginning of the year, to nullify his pledge. However, in the future, he should desist from watching soccer games.

"The daughters of Tzlafchad… the son of Menashe, the son of Yosef"
Rashi: Yosef loved the Land, and his daughters loved the Land

Plane Inclined?
It was late evening, and Mordechai was about to start getting ready to go to bed. Suddenly, the phone rang. "Mazal tov! Mazal tov! Your brother Srulik is a chatan!"
"Mazal tov!" Mordechai responded, joyously. His heart welled with joy, and, with the phone still in his hand, he danced around the living room. His beloved brother, Srulik, would be getting married soon!
The next day, Mordechai, together with the rest of his family, went to meet Srulik’s new kallah and her family. The kallah’s family had prepared a festive meal in honor of the new couple. The two families sat together, and, naturally, the conversation centered on the upcoming wedding.
"Would it be OK if we made the wedding in England?" the kallah’s father began. "We just moved here, so we have very few friends or family in the area."
"We’ll talk it over, and try to figure out what works best for everyone," answered Mordechai’s father.
Mordechai felt his stomach tighten. England! He had never been outside of Israel before. He hoped that the chatan and kallah would decide to hold the wedding in Israel.
A few weeks later, Mordechai checked the mailbox. He noticed the decorative envelope, sandwiched between the electric bill, and a supermarket circular. He eagerly ripped it open, and saw Srulik’s wedding invitation. Mordechai eagerly scanned the invitation for the address. "You are cordially invited… we look forward to seeing you… England." Mordechai’s heart sank. How could he go to the wedding? He had never left Israel in his life! He couldn’t imagine ever being away from his beloved Land. And, yet, this was Srulik’s wedding! Srulik would be devastated, if Mordechai didn’t come. How could he not go? What should Mordechai do?
Rabbi Yitzchak Zilberstein, shlita:
The Mishneh Berurah states (siman 531, se’if katan 14) that it is permissible to leave Israel for the purpose of performing a mitzva. A mitzva, in this case, can even include visiting a friend. Therefore, it is clearly permissible for Mordechai to attend Srulik’s wedding. However, my brother-in-law, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, shlita, teaches that if a person is a "ben Eretz Yisrael" (literally, a son of the Land of Israel), and has never left Israel, it is worthwhile for him to remain in Israel, and not attend the wedding. (Chashukei Chemed Gittin 76b)
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