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Avodah Zarah 9

AVODAH ZARAH 9 (18 Adar) - dedicated by Reb Gedalya Weinberger of Brooklyn, N.Y., in memory of his father, Reb Chaim Tzvi ben Reb Shlomo Weinberger, on his Yahrzeit. Reb Chaim Tzvi, who miraculously survived the holocaust, raised his children with a strong dedication to Torah and its study.



(a) Rebbi Yossi in a Beraisa lists the number of years that each of the various kingdoms ruled over Yisrael during the four hundred and twenty years that the second Beis Hamikdash stood. The Persians ruled for thirty-four years, the Greeks - for a hundred and eighty.

(b) The Chashmona'im and the Kingdom of Hurdus each lasted - a hundred and three years.

(c) Based on what we just learned, that Malchus Yisrael and Malchus Romi began simultaneously, the Romans then came to power two hundred and six years before the Churban.

(d) We reconcile this with Rebbi Yishmael b'Rebbi Yossi, who said earlier that the Romans came to power a hundred and eighty years before the Churban - by establishing the latter from the time that they abrogated their agreement (twenty-six years after they assumed power).

(a) Should the Tana'im or the Sofrim be uncertain about the exact year of an event that they wished to document, Rav Papa advised the former to add and the latter to detract - twenty years, from the other's reckoning.

(b) The significance of ...

1. ... the Pasuk "Zeh Li Esrim Shanah be'Veisecha" will then be - to serve as a reminder that the Tana (symbolized by Ya'akov Avinu) is twenty years ahead of the Sofer in his system of dating.
2. ... the saying 'Safra Betzira Tana Tosfa'ah' - is a reminder that the Sofer is twenty years behind in his, because the Sofer tends to write less letters, whereas the Tana writes Tosefta (which literally means additions).
(c) This discrepancy is based on the different systems of dates that they used. The Tana'im (who lived after the Churban) would document events from the Churban, the Sofrim - would date their Sh'taros from the rise to power of the Greek Empire.

(d) We learned earlier that the Greeks came to power thirty-four years into the second Beis-Hamikdash. Nevertheless, the Sofrim dated the documents beginning three hundred and eighty years before the Churban and not three hundred and eighty-six - because for the first six years, the Greeks rule was confined to Eilam, and their empire only began to spread six years later.

(a) We only take into account the P'rat and not the K'lal - because nobody errs in the thousands or the hundreds (the K'lal), only in the units and at most, in the tens (the P'rat)

(b) Consequently, if the ...

1. ... P'rat written in documents was fifteen, the Tana'im would date any given event in the same year - as having taken place in the thirty-fifth year after the Churban of whatever hundred it was.
2. ... Tana'im were dating events in the year two hundred and thirty, the Sofrim would date their Sh'taros - as six hundred and ten.
(c) 'Mashkach Leih le'Chumreih' means - that the Tana or the Sofer will find his 'knot' (the total that he is searching for).
(a) According to Tana de'Bei Eliyahu, this world is destined to last - six thousand years.

(b) It describes the first two thousand years as 'Tohu' (devoid of Torah) - the second and third periods of two thousand years as 'Torah' and 'Mashi'ach' respectively.

(c) Tana de'Bei Eliyahu laments about the latter - that sadly hundreds of years had already passed (and that was then [some 1500 years ago]!) and Mashi'ach had not yet arrived.

(d) The period of Torah did not begin from Matan Torah - but from the time that Avraham (who was then fifty-two) began to teach the people of Charan 'Torah', in the year two thousand.

(a) The period of Torah cannot have begun from Matan Torah - because there are not two thousand years between 2448 and 4000.

(b) Alternatively, says the Maharsha, we might have asked - that the first period would then have lasted 448 years too long.

(c) Avraham Avinu was born in 1948 of the creation.

(d) And he began bringing people close to the Shechinah - when he was fifty-two (in the year 2000).

(e) Bearing in mind that Churban Bayis Rishon took place in the year 3338, the 70 years of Galus Bavel and the 420 years of Bayis Sheini - Churban Bayis Sheini took place in the year 3838, 172 years before the year 4000.




(a) Rav Papa now discusses the same problem as he discussed above, only with regard to the Tana'im who lived from the third period beginning with the year 4000. In the year 4000, the Sofrim entered into their Sh'taros - the date 4552 (adding 380 until the Churban, and 172 until the year 4000).

(b) By the same token, a Tana or a Sofer who was uncertain of the P'rat, would need to add or subtract (respectively) forty-eight years on to the other one's date.

(c) This time, the Si'man for the forty-eight that the Tana adds lies in the Pasuk Mas'ei "Arba'im -u'Shemoneh Ir". We reject the Lashon 'Safra Betzira, Tana Tosfa'ah' (as the Si'man for detracting the same from the Sofrim) - because when we are speaking about 'Chaseros' and 'Yeseiros' in Pesukim, the word 'Kari' is more appropriate. Consequently, the correct wording is 'Safra Betzira, Kari Tosfa'ah'.

(d) We could equally well have detracted fifty-two from the Sofer's date and added fifty-two on to the Tana's. Rav Papa (both before and here) chose the reverse - a. because it is the lesser of the two, and b. in order to accommodate the Si'man (See also Ya'avetz).

(a) Rav Huna b'rei de'Rav Yehoshua gives similar advice to someone who is uncertain about which year of the Sh'mitah cycle it is. He begins by adding one year to the current date (after the Churban) - because the second Beis-Hamikdash was destroyed on Motza'ei Shevi'is (just like the first).

(b) The other two similarities (date-wise) which the second Churban shared with the first were - that it was destroyed on Tish'ah be'Av and on Motza'ei Shabbos.

(c) We know all this - from the principle 'Megalgelin Z'chus al-Yedei Zakai ve'Chov al-Yedei Chayav' (which extends even to dates).

(d) One then adds two Yovlos per century - like Rebbi Yehudah, who holds that the Yovel year counts both as the Yovel year and as the first year of the next cycle (because according to the Rabbanan, the next Sh'mitah cycle begins only the year after the Yovel, in which case one would need to add four days per century).

(a) One finally works out the current year of the Sh'mitah - by dividing the total to date by seven.

(b) This is relevant even according to Rebbi, who holds that Sh'mitas Kesafim (the cancellation of debts) only applies concurrently with Sh'mitas Karka - because even Rebbi admits that even if Sh'mitah does not apply nowadays mi'd'Oraysa, it does apply mi'de'Rabbanan.

(c) The significance of the Si'man "Ki Zeh Shenasayim ha'Ra'av be'Kerev ha'Aretz" is - to remind us to add two days per century like Rebbi Yehudah (and not four, like the Rabbanan).

(d) Despite the fact that the Beis-Hamikdash stood for four hundred and twenty years, the Churban can have taken place on Motza'ei Shevi'is (even though, as we just explained, if we were to add the eight years [two per century] to the twenty of the P'rat, it would appear to have been destroyed in the Sh'mitah-year - because they did not begin counting the Sh'mitos until Ezra arrived from Bavel six years after the Ge'ulah actually began.

(a) Rebbi Chanina said that if one were to be offered a field (in Chutz la'Aretz) worth a thousand Zuz for one Dinar, from the year 4228 (four hundred years after the Churban) - one should decline the 'Metzi'ah', because Mashi'ach is imminent.

(b) The Beraisa said - the same, only from three years later (from the year 4231[see Tosfos DH 'le'Achar ... ']).

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