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Berachos 4


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that David conferred with his Rebbi, Mefiboshes, after every Halachic ruling. This is why his Rebbi was called "Mefiboshes," because he would shame ("Mevayesh") King David in Halachah by correcting him. In reward for his humility, David merited to have a son who disgraced Mefiboshes in Halachah. This son was called "Kil'av," because he disgraced ("Machlim") the father ("Av") of Halachic ruling, Mefiboshes.

Why is the word "shame" ("Bushah/Mevayesh") used with reference to Mefiboshes and David, and the word "disgrace" ("Kelimah/Machlim") is used with reference to Kil'av and Mefiboshes?

ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON, MALBIM, and others point out that "Bushah" is the shame that one causes to himself, through his own words or actions. "Kelimah" is the disgrace that others cause a person to experience. They base this on a number of verses. For example, the verse in Yechezkel (16:63) says, "In order that *you remember* and *be ashamed* (va'Vosh't), and never open your mouth any more because of your *disgrace* (Kelimasech)." The verse in Yirmeyah (3:25) says, "Let us lie down in our *shame* (bi'Vashteinu) and let our disgrace (Kelimaseinu) cover us (i.e. from the outside), because we have sinned against Hashem our G-d...."

David caused himself to be shamed by going, on his own initiative, to Mefiboshes for his Halachic rulings to be scrutinized. Therefore, the Gemara uses the word "Mevayesh," and hence the name "Mefiboshes." Kil'av, though, used to correct Mefiboshes because he heard that Mefiboshes made a mistake. Mefiboshes did not ask to be corrected. Hence, the word "Machlim" is used, and David's son was called "Kil'av."

QUESTION: Yakov Avinu was promised that Hashem would protect him, but he was still afraid that harm might befall him because he had sinned and forfeited Hashem's promise to him. This implies that a person's sins can even bring about the cancellation of a Divine promise.

The Rambam (in his Introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah) asks a question on this supposition from an explicit verse in the Torah. "When a prophet says something in the name of Hashem and it does not take place nor come about, Hashem did not speak that prophecy" (Devarim 18:22). A prophecy must come true, especially if it is a prophecy of good tidings (Rambam, ibid. and Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah 10:4). If the word of Hashem can be retracted as a result of a person's sins, as Yakov thought, how can one know that a prophet is false if his prophecy is not fulfilled? Perhaps he was indeed a genuine prophet, but his prophecy was rescinded!


(a) The Rambam explains that logically, if someone was promised something through a prophecy and he sins, it should be retracted. The only reason it is not retracted is in order to show that the prophet who related the prophecy was a true prophet. It follows that prophecy will not be retracted when it was said by Hashem to a prophet to relate to someone else. When Hashem speaks *directly* to a prophet and promises him personal reward, there is no need for it to be irretractable, for if the prophecy does not occur as a result of his sins, doubt cannot be cast on his legitimacy. Only the prophet saw the prophecy retracted and he himself knows that he is a true prophet. Since Yakov's promise of protection was issued by Hashem Himself, the promise was indeed subject to cancellation if Yakov's piety was found lacking.

(b) The MAHARAL (Gevuros Hashem 7) explains that there is a difference between a prophesy that is a promise of reward or punishment for one's righteousness, and an unconditional prognostication of a future event. A promise of reward or punishment can change, depending on the deeds of the person. An unconditional report of a future event cannot change. The prophecy to Yakov was a promise of reward, and therefore he indeed had grounds to fear that it could be rescinded. The verse that says a prophet is true only if his prophecy actually occurs is talking about an unconditional prognostication of a future event. This cannot be rescinded, and therefore it is an accurate assessment of the legitimacy of the prophet.


QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan says that one who prays the Shemoneh Esrei immediately after reciting the passage praising Hashem for the redemption from Egypt is assured that he will be worthy of a share in the World to Come. What is so special about this simple act of following the order in the prayerbook that gives it such a lofty reward?

ANSWER: Two explanations are given by TALMIDEI RABBEINU YONAH. Both explanations assume that it is not simply by following the prayerbook that one becomes a "Ben Olam ha'Ba." One will achieve this lofty level only if he follows the mention of the redemption with the Shemoneh Esrei prayer *for the proper reasons*. If one follows through and conducts himself throughout the day according to the principles inherent in connecting the account of the Exodus to the Shemoneh Esrei, he will be worthy of the World to Come.

(a) In Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah's first approach, the principal lesson learned from the Egyptian Exodus is that we are Hashem's servants. Hashem redeemed us from Egypt in order to be His servants and to *serve* Him (Vayikra 25:42). How do we serve Him? "What is meant by the verse, 'And you shall *serve* Hashem your God' (Shemos 23:25)? This refers to the *Amidah prayer* (Bava Kama 92b).

This is the connection between mentioning the redemption from Egypt and praying the Shemoneh Esrei. A person who learns the lesson taught to us by the Exodus (that he is a servant of Hashem) and immediately puts this lesson into practice (by serving Hashem in the form of prayer) has internalized a very important lesson. Such a person, who recognizes that he is a servant of Hashem, will eagerly perform all of Hashem's commandments. He will certainly be worthy of a portion in the World to Come.

(b) Talmidei Rabbeinu Yonah offer a second explanation. The most significant point of the Exodus was that the Jews trusted in Hashem. As a result of their trust in Hashem, they were saved from Egypt in so miraculous a manner. When a person mentions the Exodus from Egypt, he is acknowledging the reward of those who put their trust in their Creator. Prayer demonstrates a person's trust in Hashem. As Rabbeinu Yonah puts it, "One who does not trust in Him will not request anything of Him." By praying immediately after mentioning the Egyptian Exodus, a person shows that he has learned from the experience of his ancestors. He, too, places his trust in Hashem.

This is the message of the Gemara. If a person prays the Amidah prayer after mentioning the redemption from Egypt *because* he has learned to trust in Hashem, his reliance on his Creator will certainly guide him through all of life's trials and tribulations, and lead him along the path to Olam ha'Ba.

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