Chazzan Yossi Muller

By Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow

On daf 119b in Zevachim, the Gemara discusses the words “nachalah” and “menuchah” in the verse “For you have not yet come to the resting place (menuchah) or the inheritance (nachalah).”

According to one opinion, both words are prophetic references to the Mishkan in Shiloh. How is the term “resting place” appropriate to the time that the Mishkan was built in Shiloh? All of Eretz Yisrael had not yet been conquered! Rashi (Yehoshua 18:1) states that after the Mishkan was erected in Shiloh it was easy to conquer the remaining parts of Eretz Yisrael. It can therefore be deemed a resting place, in contrast to the years before the Mishkan was built.

The Gemara further explains that the term nachalah is appropriate because Shiloh was the place where Yehoshua divided the land using a lottery. This seems difficult to understand since the Gemara clearly stated on an earlier daf that Klal Yisrael spent seven years dividing Eretz Yisrael while the Mishkan was in Gilgal. The answer lies in a pasuk in Yehoshua (18:2). The pasuk states that only seven tribes took part in the lottery at Shiloh. Rashi explains that Reuven, Gad, and half the tribe of Menashe already took their portion in Transjordan during the lifetime of Moshe Rabbeinu. During the earlier division of Eretz Yisrael proper, Yehuda, Ephraim, and half of Menashe took their portion. Hence, there were still seven tribes remaining that needed to take part in the lottery at Shiloh to receive their portion of land.

If there is an argument in shul over who should be the chazzan or get an aliyah, is it proper to use a gorel to determine a winner? Tosfos in Shabbos quotes a Sifri that says that the use of lotteries is a form of divination that is forbidden by the Torah. The Shevet HaLevi says that Tosfos is only discussing attempting to use a lottery to determine what the future will hold. Using a lottery to settle a dispute, on the other hand, is appropriate. Further, the parties would not have to make a kinyan to signify their acceptance of the results. The winner of the gorel would automatically have the halachic right to daven for the amud or get the aliyah.

There are two different explanations for why the gorel should be so effective, when typically we would expect some formal act of kinyan to be necessary. The first is that the use of a gorel to determine kibbudim and Kaddish is akin to a rabbinic enactment. There is precedent for this, as we see that a lottery system was used in the Beis HaMikdash to determine who would perform various avodos.

An alternative explanation, offered by the Zichron Yosef, is that everyone in shul is a partner in all the kibbudim. All the members have an equal right to every kibbud. So when a person in shul receives a kibbud, he is not acquiring something new, but is being given permission to exercise his rights. Thus, no formal act of acquisition is necessary upon winning a goral, because the winner is merely using his share of his rights in the kibbudim.

Mazal tov to all those who are finishing Zevachim this week!

Rabbi Avrohom Sebrow leads a daf yomi chaburah at Eitz Chayim of Dogwood Park in West Hempstead. He can be contacted at


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