Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Artscroll Gemaras and the Holy Grail

This past Shabbos, someone asked me if there is a problem using a Kiddush cup with Hashem's Name engraved on it. (I'm not a Posek, but occasionally people ask me questions just on a preliminary basis, before they ask a Rav. I guess I look Rabbinic.)

At first thought, I wasn't sure if there would be any problem.
Here's where the ArtScroll Gemara project comes in. I teach Gemara Beki'us to twelfth graders for night Seder. The guys tend to use the Artscroll Gemaras as a bit of a crutch, so I wanted to teach a Massechta that had not yet been elucidated by ArtScroll. Massechet Arachin, being one of the last to come out, had not yet been published in the beginning of that year, so Arachin it was. The guys were a bit shocked that we were going to learn a Massechta from Seder Kodashim, but it's short enough to easily cover in a year, and it has some important Sugyas such as regarding Chinuch, Lashon Hara, Tochacha, Shira in the Beis HaMikdash, and others. It also goes a very long way in getting a good understanding of this week's Behar- Bechukosai Torah reading.
[Of course, they had the galleys from the publishing house by the time January rolled around. Some boys had an 'in' with one of the ArtScroll board members. I was a bit upset, but at least I got four months of non-crutch Gemara in. ]

So the Gemara on Arachin 6a, taught due to it being at the end of the Schottenstein Talmud project, flashed through my head. The Gemara says that if there is a Shem Hashem written on a handle of a vessel or the legs of a bed, one should remove that section with the Shem and bury it, and then one may use the rest of the vessel.

The Rambam (Yesodei HaTorah 6:6) and the Shulchan Aruch (Yoreh De'ah 276:13) decide the Halachah as follows:
"A vessel which has a Name of Hashem on it - one should cut off the section which has the Shem and bury that section".

[The Rambam adds that one should also excise the part of a metal vessel which has the Shem engraved upon it].

The Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 276:(25)) brings a responsa from his grandfather, the Panim Me'iros:
An undertaker society (Chevra Kadisha, I'm assuming) had glass cups which were used for drinking, upon which were engraved some Pessukim with the Shem Havay"a as it is spelled, and one Rav prohibited them from drinking from it, as explicit in Shulchan Aruch.
He (the Panim Me'iros) discusses this point. In truth the language of the Gemara is "on handles of vessels". One could claim that (the problem is) specifically on the handles, which is a Makom Bizayon, since they are constantly being handled, and it may come to be erased, and so too on the legs of a bed (is a Makom Bizayon), but on a respectable vessel one can say that it is permissible to use since a Shem when not in its place (such as in a Sefer Torah or Tefillin) does not consecrate the entire vessel, and there is only a prohibition of using it because of Bizayon of the Shem, but where there is no concern of Bizayon of the Shem it is permissible to make use of the vessel.
If so there is a difficulty as to why the Rambam and the Mechaber write a vessel which has (a Shem) written upon it.
At any rate, the Panim Me'iros concludes that one should not be lenient in drinking from those vessels, and he leans toward the solution of wrapping gold or silk bands around the area which has the Shem, and then one may use these vessels with no need for concern.
Seemingly the same should apply to the Kiddush cup I was asked about.
If anyone out there has other information about this - share it!


Anonymous yehuda said...

The orach hashulcan YD276:29 discusses the shaalo.He clearly disaproves but l'maaseh only saya YESH osrim l'stos b'hem.Of note is that the chofetz chaim omits this gemorah in likutey halachos.Perhaps he does so because(1)other mesectos that have the RIF also discuss this or(2)since LKH was not meant genarly to be a contemprary halach l'maaseh sefer he didn't want to discuss it there.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous yehuda said...

I forgot to mention the OHS does not explictly say kiddish cupe,he says metal cups but I don't see how usage for kiddish would change the status.I haven't seen the shulchan oruch etc. that bari refers to.

11:35 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

The Gemara does also appear on Shabbos 61. I'll BLN"D take a look. Thanks for the Aruch HaShulchan reference.

11:37 AM  
Blogger Bari said...

It is in the Rif (28a Dapei HaRif) on Massechta Shabbos.

Also, in the Aruch HaShulchan he sometimes uses a Lashon of "Yesh Osrim" or "Yesh Omrim" where the particular Halachah does not appear in multiple sources. It does not necessarily mean that others disagree.

12:09 PM  

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