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8 Av 5760 - August 9, 2000 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








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"Meoros HaDaf HaYomi" Insights into the Week's Learning. Stories, Mussar, Practical Halacha (Tractate Nedorim Daf 17- 24)
From the Sochatchov "Beis Medrash of Teachers of the Daf Hayomi" Bnei Brak

Nedorim 23a: He forbade his wife to be Oleh LeRegel on the festivals

The Custom to Visit the Western Wall on Festivals

Our Daf relates that in the days of R. Yossi, a husband made a vow that forbade his wife from having any benefit from him if she would be oleh leregel" i.e. if she would make the obligatory pilgrimage to the Beis Hamikdash. The woman did not listen to her husband's warning. She disregarded his vow and went anyway. Seeing this, the husband sought to have the vow annulled, and for this purpose he called upon R. Yossi.

In his commentary on Nedarim, R. Yaakov Emden [the Ya'avetz] asks, "But R. Yossi lived after the Beis Hamikdash was destroyed!" If so, what need was there for the husband to restrict his wife from making the pilgrimage? Without the Beis Hamikdash why would anyone go? What is more, how could she have violated his words since there was no Temple and consequently no mitzvah of aliya leregel"?

On the strength of these questions the Ya'avetz says that the gemara does not mean the pilgrimage to Israel to the Beis Hamikdash. Rather, the husband used a vow to forbid his wife from going to hear a drosho that was given on the festival. The drosho (which could be given anywhere), was called "the Regel."

To support this interpretation, the Ya'avetz cites the words of the Rosh, who writes that after the churban, "The people would gather on the festivals to listen to the drosho, and even the women made it a custom to attend, to see the glory of the Torah."

However, the Maharatz Chayos quotes sources that say that even after the churban, Tannaim had the custom of going to Jerusalem on the festivals to pray at the place where the Beis Hamikdash had stood. This was the custom of R. Elazar ben Shamua and R. Yishmoel beRebbe Yossi. According to the sefer Seder HaDoros, Rebbe Meir had this custom, too. The Maharatz Chayos concludes, however, that it sounds from the Rosh that in our days the custom of aliya leregel" is kept by going to where chachomim are in order to ask them halachic questions, as the Ya'avetz writes.

On the other hand, Midrash Rabbah (Shir HaShirim, Chapter 1) asks, "Why is Israel likened to a dove?" Answers the Midrash, " A dove stays in her nest even if her young are taken from her. So, too, Israel -- even though the Beis Hamikdash is destroyed, she still keeps the pilgrimage of the three festivals." This Midrash is quoted by the Sdei Chemed ("Eretz Yisroel"), who adds that R. Yochonon, who was located in Yavne and lived after the churban, used to travel to Jerusalem for the festivals.

In Taanis, the Ran writes (2a of the Rif), too, that even after the churban, Jews of all the cities and towns in the Land of Israel would gather together and travel to Jerusalem for the festivals. Adds the Ran, "And so it is today." That is, even in his day it was a custom to go to Jerusalem for the festivals, to visit the site of the Beis Hamikdash. So also writes the Shulchan Oruch HaRav (117:1).

We should also mention what the Chasam Sofer said in his eulogy of those who died in the earthquake in Tzfas (See his commentary on Parshas "Emor"). The earthquake happened, he said, because in those times, the Jews of the Land of Israel esteemed Tzfas in an outstanding fashion -- even more so than the holy city of Jerusalem. The Holy One took payment for Jerusalem's shame. While speaking in praise of Jerusalem, the Chasam Sofer also mentioned that even in our times, it is mitzvah to be oleh leregel on the festivals.

R. Akiva Yosef Shlesinger zt'l, author of the sefer Lev HaIvri, was a grandson of the Chasam Sofer and a resident of Jerusalem. He published a pamphlet devoted exclusively to proving the position of the Chasam Sofer that aliya leregel is still an obligation, even in our times. Really, he writes, one must enter and see the place that was once the courtyard of the Beis Hamikdash -- where the offerings were brought. However, owing to our spiritual impurity, we are forbidden to enter that place today, so the mitzvah now is to find a high vantage point from where one can look down at upon the floor of the Temple Mount where the azara used to be. "This is the main mitzvah now" -- to see the ground where the Beis Hamikdash stood (his words are quoted in Mo'adim Uzmanim, 7:241).

As is known, residents of Jerusalem have this custom. On festivals, the Gaon R. Shlomo Zalman Auerbach zt'l used to go to the Old City in Jerusalem to a high place from where he looked down to where the floor of the azara used to be. He would look down and say the prayer [from the festival Musaf], "And because our sins!"

Two reasons are said for today's custom (Acharonim; See Tzitz Eliezer, Vol. 10,1): First, it serves to continue in the form of a custom what used to be an obligation when the Beis Hamikdash stood. Second, it awakens sorrow over the loss of the Beis Hamikdash, and helps us to feel the loss. When on festivals we visit the site of the Divine Sanctuary, we recall to our minds the Shechina's great splendor and glory in the past, when on these very days the throngs would come to the Temple Mount to bring their offerings in the azara. Imagining the scene, and not having anything like it, our hearts are filled with pain and anguish. This moves us to repent our sins and pray for the end of the Shechina's exile.


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