THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bava Kama, 60
1) FANNING A FLAME WITH THE WIND
QUESTIONS: The Beraisa teaches that when a person fans a fire at the same
time that the wind fans the fire, if his fanning alone was able to flare up
the fire, then he is Chayav, but if his fanning the flame could only be
effective together with the wind, then he is Patur. The Gemara asks that
even if he fans together with the wind, he should be Chayav, just like a
person who does an act of winnowing on Shabbos is Chayav, even though --
when he throws the grain up to the wind to separate the chaff -- the
separating is done with the help of the wind. Abaye answers that the person
was fanning from one direction, and the wind was fanning from the opposite
direction. Rebbi Zeira answers that the person was only puffing (which is
not considered to be an act of fanning at all), but not actually blowing
with the wind.
There are a number of questions on this Sugya.
(a) According to Abaye who says that the wind was blowing in a different
direction, why does the Beraisa say that if the person could have fanned it
hard enough that his fanning alone would have caused the fire to take hold,
then he is Chayav? The Beraisa implies that the wind helped start the fire
together with him, but that *even* without the wind his fanning would have
started the fire. If the wind is blowing in a different direction, then the
wind is not helping him at all! If his blowing fans the fire, it was done
*despite* the wind, and not *with* the wind! The Beraisa should have said
that if the wind ultimately caused the fanning then he is Patur, and if he
ultimately caused the fanning, then he is Chayav!
(b) According to Rebbi Zeira, when the Beraisa says that if his fanning was
enough to fan the flame then he is Chayav, it actually means that if his
fanning *helped* the wind to fan the flames, then he is Chayav. If he only
puffed and did not blow at all, then he is Patur. Why, then, does the
Beraisa find it necessary to teach that if all he did was puff, he is Patur?
He did not contribute to fanning the flame at all!
(a) The Rishonim explain that Abaye does not mean that the person was
working against the wind. Rather, both he and the wind contributed to
fanning the flame, in the following manner.
1. TOSFOS (DH Liba) and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ explain that even when wind
blows in the opposite direction from the direction that the person is
blowing, it sometimes helps to fan the flame. Nevertheless, a person who was
blowing did not expect the wind to help him fan the flames, for it is
unusual for a wind in the opposite direction to help cause a flame to be
(b) TOSFOS (DH Rebbi Zeira) explains that Rebbi Zeira does not mean that the
person puffed in a manner that could not cause the fire to flame up at all.
Rather, he puffed in a manner that, theoretically, *would* have caused the
fire to flame up had there been no wind. However, the wind that blew in the
same direction at the same time that he blew was cold and canceled out the
warm air that he blew from his mouth. Even if the combination of his puffing
and the blowing of the wind *does* cause the fire to flame up, he certainly
did not expect it to do so.
2. TOSFOS (in his second answer) and the RASHBA explain that the Gemara does
not mean that the wind was blowing in a different direction. Rather, the
wind was blowing on a different *side* of the fire. The person blew on half
of the fire, and the wind blew on the other half. Normally, the fire would
not have flamed up if he blew only on one half, since the strength of the
fire would not be strong enough to take hold. Now that the wind blew on the
other half, the two halves joined and created a strong fire. Nevertheless,
the person who blew is Patur since he did not do any action, even together
with the wind, that in itself would have caused the fire to flame up.
Rather, he and the wind did separate actions, each of which would not have
sufficed to cause a fire by itself.
The RE'AH cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes writes that puffing does not
normally cause the fire to flame up, but it *does* cause the fire not to
become extinguished. Since it does contribute in that manner to the fire,
one might think that his puffing, in combination with the wind, was what
caused the fire to flame up. Rebbi Zeira therefore teaches that puffing did
not contribute to the fanning of the flame.
The RA'AVAD follows a similar approach, writing that puffing can even fan a
flame, but it is not the way one normally goes about fanning it. Since the
person who puffed did not contribute to the wind's effect in the normal
manner, it cannot be compared to one who throws grain up in the air to
RASHI (DH Tzamrah) also seems to take a similar approach.
2) DAVID HA'MELECH'S QUESTION
QUESTIONS: The Gemara records the incident of when David ha'Melech asked,
"Who will give me water to drink from the gate in Beis Lechem?" The Gemara
explains that he was interested in clarifying a Halachah, and he referred to
it as "water" since Torah is compared to water. Three of his mighty men
(Giborim) risked their lives to bring back the answer to his Halachic
question. The Gemara explains that the Halachah that he asked about was
related to the incident that is discussed a few verses earlier, in which
Shama ben Agei, one of David's Giborim, saved a field that was full of
barley (Divrei ha'Yamim I 11:13) and lentils (Shmuel II 23:11) by
miraculously defeating the Plishtim. One Amora explains that David wanted to
know whether it is permitted to save oneself by destroying someone else's
property (and it is not necessary to compensate the person whose property
was destroyed), because he wanted to burn down the field with the piles of
barley and lentils in which the Plishtim were hiding in order to save
himself from them. Another Amora says that David ha'Melech wanted to know
whether it was permitted to use the barley in the fields as fodder for his
animals, on the condition that he later returns to the owners piles of
lentils that he will take from the Plishtim upon defeating them. A third
Amora says that David ha'Melech was asking whether one is Chayav to pay the
full value of an object that was covered ("Tamun") by the grain of a field
that was burned together with the grain.
When the Navi says that Shama ben Agei "saved the field," according to the
Amora that says that David ha'Melech was asking whether he could burn the
field to save himself, the verse means that Shama defeated the Plishtim by
hand, making it unnecessary to burn the field. According to the opinion that
David ha'Melech wanted to feed the fodder to his animals and repay with
lentils, Shama stopped the troops from using the produce as animal fodder.
Even according to the opinion that David ha'Melech was asking whether he has
to pay for objects that were hidden in the piles of grain that his troops
burned, David ha'Melech *also* asked about one of the other two Halachos,
and Shama saved the field in one of the abovementioned ways.
There are a number of questionable points in this Gemara.
(a) The verse states that the field was "full" of lentils or barley. Why
does the Gemara explain that the field had on it a "Gadish," large piles of
*harvested* produce? (RA'AVAD cited by Shitah Mekubetzes on 117b)
(b) How could Shama have saved the field based on the ruling that David
received (that if one is not a king, he must pay for what he burns or what
he feeds to his animals), if the Navi says that the question was first asked
*after* Shama saved the field, according to the order in the verses? (RADAK)
(c) Since the opinion that maintains that David asked about the Halachah of
"Tamun" agrees that David also asked one of the other two questions, he
obviously must be learning that the field of barley or lentils was mentioned
because of David's second question (whether he could burn it or exchange
it). What source, then, does he have that David asked any question about
(d) According to the opinion that David's troops wanted to use the barley
for animal fodder, in what way is Shama's preventing them from using the
grain for fodder related to the "great victory" against the Plishtim that is
recorded in that verse?
(a) The RA'AVAD explains that the Plishtim attacked twice. They first
attacked when the field was full of produce, before the harvest, and they
were repelled. Later, they attacked again, and Shama again repelled them,
after the harvest, when there were piles of harvested produce in the field.
This is inferred from the word "Ketzir" mentioned in the verse.
The RADAK in Sefer Shmuel explains that the field was "filled" with bundles
of harvested crop, since the crop from the neighboring field was piled into
(b) The Ra'avad explains that even though the verse records David's question
*after* the story of Shama's great salvation, it does not mean that it
occurred in that order. Rather, the verse is recording that Shama performed
the salvation upon having heard tthe question that David sent to the
Sanhedrin, as related in the verses that follow.
(c) The Ra'avad answers this question based on his answer to the previous
question. The Gemara inferred that there was a second question involving
Tamun because of the fact that the verses were recorded out of order. The
Navi recorded David's question after recording the account of the salvation
in order to show that another question was asked as well, which was not
directly related to the salvation.
The Ra'avad adds (according to those who say that there was only one
question asked by David ha'Melech) that the reason the question is recorded
out of order, after the salvation of Shama, is because the verse is telling
stories of the might of David's three Giborim, one of whom was Shama. First
it records the acts that each of them did individually, and only afterwards
it records David's question which all three bravely brought together to the
Sanhedrin at the risk of their lives.
However, as the MAHARSHA and PNEI YEHOSHUA point out, this does not explain
how we know that the second question involved Tamun. According to the
Ra'avad, there is no indication at all in the verse that the question was
one of Tamun and involved troops of David ha'Melech who burned a field.
The Maharsha explains that the opinion which maintains that David asked
about Tamun was bothered by why the verse needs to mention both the lentils
and the barley that were in the field. If David ha'Melech was asking about
burning down the field, then what difference does it make if the field also
contained barley? If David's question was whether he could trade the barley
of the Jews for the lentils of the Plishtim, then why does the verse say
that "Shama stood in the field and *saved* [the barley and the lentils]?"
Shama only saved the Jews' barley from being taken! He certainly did not
defend the lentils of the Plishtim, which were likely taken by the Jews
anyway (see TOSFOS DH d'Lo). From this, the Gemara derived that there was a
second question that David asked, which involved the other type of produce.
Why, though, should we assume that David asked a question regarding Tamun?
Perhaps the answer is as follows. David ha'Melech apparently saw that his
men were too weak to fight against the army of the Plishtim at that point.
He therefore came up with a plan to burn the field in which the Plishtim
were hiding in order to defeat them easily. The problem was that the field
belonged to Jews, and David at that point did not have enough money to
compensate the owners for the damages done to a field of lentils. (As the
Radak writes, David was hiding from Shaul at this stage and was not yet
accepted as the king of Israel. Nevertheless, the Gemara calls him a king,
since he was already annointed by Shmuel as king.) This explains why David
had to ask the Sanhedrin whether a person who saves his life with another
person's money must compensate the other person. Alternateively, this is why
he asked whether it would be permitted for him to burn the barley and to
compensate the owners only afterwards when he would take the lentils of the
Plishtim. (According to this view, he did not have enough money even to
compensate for the barley.)
According to the view that David asked about Tamun, his question was also
directly related to his conquest of the Plishtim. David originally thought
that the field contained only barley, which was much less costly than
lentils and for which he *would* be able to compensate the owner. After his
men began igniting the barley, David noticed that there were lentils hidden
underneath the barley, which were too costly for him to reimburse. He
therefore asked the Sanhedrin if it would be necessary to compensate for all
of the hidden lentils that would be burned.
According to Rebbi Yehudah, they replied that he must pay for all of the
hidden lentils, and therefore he refrained from using this method of
conquering the Plishtim. According to the Chachamim, they answered that he
is exempt from paying what was already burned, because one does not expect
lentils to be in a field of barley. However, now that he knew that all of
the piles contained lentils underneath, he would be Chayav for burning more
lentils with the barley, since one who starts a fire in somene else's field
is obligated to pay for anything hidden in the field which is expected to be
there (61b). (M. Kornfeld)
When the Gemara asks, according to the opinion that David asked about Tamun,
"What are the verses saying," it means to ask how can the verse say that
Shama saved the field if the Tamun that David asked about was already
burned? If it was not burned yet, then how would David know that it was
there to ask a question about it? (KOS YESHU'OS)
(d) Apparently, the Giborim of David were not strong enough to overpower the
Plishtim without the help of cavalry. However, the horses were also weak,
and David wanted to feed them the barley so that they would have the
strength to battle. When David heard the answer of the Sanhedrin, Shama saw
that David's army would not be able to defeat the Plishtim, so he
single-handedly overpowered them in a miraculous manner.