The Purifying Powers of the Para Aduma in our Times
Taste of Talmud
Rav Pappa said: The Halacha is that all food items eaten during a meal as part of the meal are exempt from a blessing (Berachos 41b). Rashi explains that the reason for this exemption is based on the principle of Ikar V’tafel (the relationship of a sub category to its main category). All food items, even fruit eaten during a meal are secondary to the bread. By reciting the blessing on the bread you are thanking G-d for the bread and all that will be eaten with it. The Talmud asks: If so, when wine is being imbibed as an aperitif it too should be covered by the blessing recited on the bread. To which the Talmud answers: Wine is different because it is the cause of a new blessing. What does this mean? In the work entitled, “Tosafos Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid” you will find three distinct approaches to explain the unique character of wine. The first explanation is based on the words of Rashi who explains that in many instances you are required to make a blessing on wine and drink it by itself. The second explanation is from Rabbeinu Chananel who says that wine is unique in that its blessing exempts you from making a blessing on other drinks. The third explanation is attributed to Rabbeinu Shmuel who says: The importance of wine can be seen from the fact that our sages instituted a special blessing to be recited on it. Why do these sages express the uniqueness of wine in different ways? Is there a nafka mina (a Halachic difference) between them?
Taste of Halacha
In the laws of Berachos (3:5) the Rambam writes: If you need to eat a fish and you eat bread with it, no blessing is recited upon the bread. The “Lechem Mishna” in his commentary to the Rambam explains that this is only true if you “needed” to eat the fish because you just ate an extremely sweet fruit. The “Kesef Mishna” disagrees and says the Rambam should be taken at face value: Bread could be secondary to the fish itself. The Shulchan Aruch sides with the Kesef Mishna while the Magen Avraham sides with the Lechem Mishna. There is yet a third opinion. According to the previous two opinions the bread is only secondary as long as you are eating it together with the fish. The Taz is of the opinion that the fish could be considered the main dish and exempt the bread from a blessing even after you have finished eating the fish. Indeed, the Mishna Berurah writes that if one was eating crackers with some condiments and he finished the crackers he does not make a blessing on the remaining condiments. For that matter a blessing is not recited on the milk that remains at the bottom of a bowl of cereal. It is my opinion that these three opinions with regard to the application of the laws of Ikar V’tafel are based on the opinions of the sages with regard to the law of making a blessing on wine during a meal. The Lechem Mishna is based on Rabbeinu Chananel, the Kesef Mishna on Rashi, while the Taz is following the logic of Rabbeinu Shmuel.
(This was a continuation from last week’s “Taste of Halacha” and not directly related to the “Taste of Parasha.”)
Taste of Parasha
The Mishkan was completed on the first day of Nisssan. On the second of Nissan a Para Aduma was prepared and used to purify the Kohanim. If we are trying to mimic these events with our special Torah readings then why not read the Portion that deals with the events of the first day of Nissan: HaChodesh before reading about the events of the second day: Para? During the Temple era it was necessary in order to instruct people about the laws of purity prior to their readiness for bringing the Korban Pesach. In our days, however, the correct chronological order would seem to be more correct. Furthermore, why does the Medrash compare the reading of the portion detailing the laws of the Para Aduma to the entire Torah, and, what do we gain from reading it if we do not currently have access to the ashes of the Para Aduma? Rabbi Tzadok Hakohain of Lublin tackles these questions with a piercing Medrash. The Medrash says that when the Jewish nation reads the Portion of the Para Aduma, G-d, so to speak, reads this portion as well. That reading brings about a cleansing of the soul which allows the words of Torah to settle comfortably in our heart and soul. Specifically in our day and age when our minds tend to be so cluttered with silly innuendos it is crucial that we access the purifying powers of the Para Aduma before we attempt to renew ourselves with the Parasha of HaChodesh.