תני רב חייא חרם שבין תחומי שבת. (דף מז:)
Rashi explains that a Cherem is a fish trap.
It is said that once in the town of Mir, the Shochtim were not following entirely according to the rulings of the Rav of the Town, Rabbi Avraham Tzvi Kamai. In order to put them in line and make sure they listen to him, he decided to frighten them. He warned them that if they do not start and do exactly as he says, he will place all of them in a Cherem shel Yam. They assumed that Cherem shel Yam must be an extremely tough Cherem- much more than a normal Cherem. They were very scared of it and decided to listen to the Rav. In truth Rabbi Kamai meant a fish trap, as we see that is the meaning in our Gemara. It is likely that he did not want to threaten them with a real Cherem as he had no intention of placing them in a real Cherem. Therefore he ingeniously thought of a way of frightening them by using the word Cherem.
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תנו רבנן, כיצד סדר משנה: משה למד מפי הגבורה. נכנס אהרן, ושנה לו משה פירקו, נסתלק אהרן וישב לשמאל משה. נכנסו בניו, ושנה להן משה פירקן. נסתלקו בניו, אלעזר ישב לימין משה, ואיתמר לשמאל אהרן. רבי יהודה אומר: לעולם אהרן לימין משה חוזר
אמר מר, רבי יהודה אומר: לעולם אהרן לימין משה חוזר. כמאן אזלא הא דתניא: שלשה שהיו מהלכין בדרך — הרב באמצע, וגדול בימינו, וקטן בשמאלו. לימא רבי יהודה היא ולא רבנן? אפילו תימא רבנן, משום טירחא דאהרן. (דף נד:)
Rebbe Yehuda and the Rabanan have a disagreement where Aharon sat. According to the Rabanan he sat at the left of Moshe as that is the more respectful place to sit if no one else is there, and that is where he stayed. Rebbe Yehudah held that once Aharon sons joined, Aharon moved to sit on the right and they sat on the left.
The Gemara surmises that as a general practice the Rabanan agrees to Rebbe Yehudah that once another person joins, then the person on the left moves to the right. However in the particular case, in order not to trouble Aharon it was not required of him to do so.
Based on this Gemara the Rogatchover Gaon explains the following pasuk:
וישב יוסף מצריימה הוא ואחיו וכל העולים איתו לקבור את אביו אחרי קוברו את אביו (בראשית נ, יד)
The Rogatchover Gaon asks why does the Torah repeat twice the words to bury his father. It should have said simply one time after burying his father.
Explains the Rogatchover, at first when Yitzchok Avinu was buried, he was placed to the left of Avraham Avinu as it is the respectful way to be on the left of the most important person. However once Yaakov was brought to be buried, they moved Yitzchok to be on the right and Yaakov on the left. As that is the correct and respectful way according to our Gemara. Therefore the pasuk tells us, they returned to Egypt after they buried Yaakov, which was as well after they buried his father meaning the father of Yaakov. At first, it was required to move Yitzchok, and then they buried Yaakov. This is the reason for the Torah repeating twice the words to bury his father.
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הציבי לך ציונים שימי לך וגו, עשו ציונים לתורה. ומאי משמע דהאי ציון לישנא דסימנא הוא דכתיב וראה עצם אדם ובנה אצלו ציון (דף נד:)
The Gemara derives from this pasuk, that one should set signs for the Torah as an aid to memorizing it.
Rashi in Parshas Veschanan (11:18) quotes a Sifrei that teaches us from this pasuk, that one should be observant in the mitzvahs even in exile in order that when they return to Eretz Yisroel it should not be new for them. Rashi gives two examples of what these mitzvahs should be- to wear Tefillin and have Mezuzahs.
The Vilna Gaon (Divrei Eliyahu) asks why does Rashi choose the mitzvahs of Tefillin and Mezuzah one is obligated to keep even when they are in exile, as it is not dependent on the Yidden being in Eretz Yisroel? Therefore the Gaon proposes that there is a mistake in our version of Rashi. Originally it was written in an abbreviated form where it said the letters Hey and Tof, and the letters Ayin and Mem. The printers thought it meant “hineychu Tefillin” asei mezuzah” but it was really meant to be understood as “hifreshu terumah” and “asri masar”. Since the obligation of taking terumah and maaser is only in Eretz Yisroel, therefore Rashi is telling us one should do so as well even in exile in order that it should not be forgotten.
Rabbi Avraham Saba was from the yidden who left with the Spanish Expulsion, he took refuge in Portugal, only to have to escape from there as well eventually. He writes in his sefer Tzror HaMor that when the Portuguese government decreed one may not keep the mitzvahs, it is important that one makes from themselves signs for these mitzvahs in order that should not be forgotten as the Torah tells us that one should “set up signs”. As an example he writes that one should tie a string around their hand to remember Tefillin and make a sign by the door that they should remember Mezuzah.
It is said that during the Spanish Inquisition it is well known that thousands of conversos, Jews who had feigned conversion to Catholicism, continued to practice Judaism in secret. Many of them concealed their Mezuzahs in ingenious ways at great risk. They also kept the ancient custom, still practiced today, of being careful not to sweep the dirt of their doorsteps towards the doorpost concealing the mezuzah. This was done as well in order to make a sign for oneself not to forget the mitzvahs.
With this we can perhaps understand that Rashi as well as referring to such a circumstance where one cannot wear Tefillin and Mezuzah they should still do some sign in order that the Mitzvah is not forgotten.
I have heard that once when the previous Bohusher Rebbe was asked why he always wears a tie. He answered that since today is difficult for us to wear Tefillin the whole day, therefore by wearing a tie which he ties every day he has a sign where he can remember the mitzvah of Tefillin the whole day.