Divrei Torah

The Divrei Torah in this section have been translated by Rav Reuven Ungar, Director of Alumni Affairs

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Is Clarification Necessary in the Presence of a Rov or Chazaka? Part 3

By: Rav Yechezkel Yakovson

Summary of Parts 1 and 2: As a rule the halacha is determined by a rov (majority) or a chazaka (pre-existing state, or a mode of conduct). In the presence of a rov or chazaka, must one independently verify the facts at hand, when possible? For example, must one verify the competence of a specific ritual slaughterer (shochet) or may one rely upon the rov that the majority are competent?

The Ran responds to the above question it the affirmative. The Ba'al HaMaor and the Ritva differ. In the previous shiur, different theories were advanced to clarify the underlying difference opinion between the two camps of thought.

The gemara in Pesachim (4a/b) apparently opines that one is required to clarify a situation (when feasible) and not to rely upon a chazaka. Thus, an individual who rents a house on the 14th of Nissan should inquire of the landlord if it has been searched for chametz (despite the chazaka that states that it has been checked). How do the Ba'al HaMaor and the Ritva respond to this apparent contradiction to their view?

The Ritva writes that not all chazakot are identical. Thus, one is not required to check the competence of a shochet, while one is required to verify the status of the home rented on the 14th of Nissan. What is the logic behind this distinction?

The halacha of searching for chametz (Bedikat Chametz) is unique. Normally, one may rely upon a rov or a Chazaka. However, the fundamental nature of Bedikat Chametz is to search; to resolve the doubt. One does not recite a blessing when checking vegetbles for bugs- despite the necessity of the search. The checking does not fulfill an inherent purpose. However, in Bedikat Chametz we recite a blessing, for the search itself if the focus. Thus, if one did not locate particles of chametz the blessing has not been invalidated; the search itself possesses inherent value. In Bedikat Chametz, one is required to resolve all doubts. A rov or chazaka will not remove this process of verification.

In Hilchot Chametz uMatza (Chapter 2, Halacha 10) the Rambam rules regarding a location that contained 9 piles of matza and one pile of chametz. A mouse removed one of the piles and transferred it to a house that was previously searched for chamtz. It is not known whether the pile is chametz or matza. The Rambam maintains that the home must be re-checked. The Ra'avad raises an objection- Bedikat Chametz is mandated on a rabbinic level, thus in cases of doubt must be judged leniently (sefaka derabanan lekula)! The Maggid Mishne records the view of the Ra’ah. The very nature of Bedikat Chamez is intended to resolve doubts; thus their presence mandates further searches.

This topic pertains to Hilchot Tziztit. The Shulchan Aruch (Orach Chayim, Siman 8) rules that prior to pronouncing the blessing, one must verify that the tzitzityot are valid. The Taz comments that this is intended to avoid uttering an invalid blessing (beracha levatala); as far as the Tzitzit are concerned a chazaka exists that the kashrut of the previous day extends to the present day, removing the need to check the tzitzit on a daily basis (thus if one were to wear 2 pairs of tzitzityot, one is required to check one set, to reove the possibility of beracha levatala- the chazaka is sufficient to refrain from checking the other set). However, in Bedikat Chametz one may not rely upon the chazaka?

In addition to the previous answer (Bedikat Chametz is unique in that it is intended to resolve doubts) one may resolve this contradiction as follows: The Taz maintains that the very tzitzit in question were kosher the previous day. The chazaka of continuing the status quo is superior to a chazaka predicated upon the behavior of people (that they adequately search their homes for chametz).

The Magen Avraham maintains that one is required to check his tzitzit to ensure that indeed they are kosher (thus an individual must check each set of tzitzit that he wears) Yet the Magen Avraham rules that one is exempt from verifying the status of 18 possible disqualifications - (terefot) of the shechita process; one may rely upon the rov that the majority of animals are free of such disqualifications.

The Magen Avraham distinguishes between a rov and a chazaka. A rov is superior to a chazaka; in the absence of an opposing rov, one may rely upon the rov (and is exempt from performing an independent verification). Although the animal is bechezket isur (while alive the animal may not be consumed due to the status of ever min hachay), the rov establishes that it does not contain one of the 19 disqualifications. Tzitzit, however, are deemed suitable due to a chazaka; this is insufficient to remove an independent verification.


Categorized under: 1: Halacha > General
Uploaded: 8/31/2005