THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bava Metzia, 85
BAVA METZIA 81-85 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) THE VOICE OF REBBI
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Rebbi was ill, his cries of pain
could be heard farther than three Mil away, and they could be heard even by
seafarers at sea. How, though, is it possible for a person's voice to be
heard so far away?
2) THE CALF THAT CRIED
ANSWER: The BEN YEHOYADA writes that Rebbi's voice could not naturally have
traveled so far. Rather, Hashem caused a Neis to happen so that the entire
world would know of the afflictions that Rebbi was suffering (in the sense
described in Yeshayah 53:4). (I. Alsheich)
QUESTION: The Gemara relates the incident through which Rebbi became subject
to immense suffering. A young calf was being led to be slaughtered, and it
placed its head beneath the coattails of Rebbi and cried. Rebbi said to it,
"Go! It was for this that you were created." Because Rebbi should have shown
greater mercy for the animal, he was punished with great suffering.
3) AGADAH: REBBI ZEIRA'S FASTS
How can an animal have the sense to attempt to flee its fate by placing its
head beneath the coattails of Rebbi and crying?
ANSWER: RAV YAKOV EMDEN and the BEN YEHOYADA write that this calf had a
reincarnated Neshamah (which, the Ben Yehoyada adds, was the Neshamah of a
G-d-fearing Jew) which had been reincarnated in the form of a calf in order
to effect a certain rectification (Tikun) of the soul. Hence, when the
Neshamah within this calf saw that Rebbi was passing by, it cried before him
in a plea to Rebbi to remove it from the calf through holy Kavanos (similar,
the Ben Yehoyada adds, to the way that Rav Chaim Vital was able to extract
Neshamos) so that it would not have to be removed through Shechitah. (The
Ben Yehoyada adds that perhaps the reason it did not want to be removed from
the calf through Shechitah was not because of the pain that Shechitah might
cause, but because the animal might be fed to unfitting people who would not
make a proper Berachah, and thus the required Tikun of the Neshamah would
not be effected.)
Rav Yakov Emden says that this is why Rebbi was punished. He should have
Davened for the Neshamah that it should be taken out of the animal and
experience its necessary Tikun without Shechitah.
(The Ben Yehoyada writes that Rebbi's reasoning in not helping to extract
the Neshamah was that if Hashem had put the Neshamah into the animal that
was being led to be slaughtered, then that must be part of the Tikun of the
Neshamah, and Rebbi did not want to interfere. RAV ELIYAHU DESSLER in
Michtav me'Eliyahu (3:103) writes that Rebbi saw with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that
the calf would fulfill its purpose by eventually being consumed by a
righteous Talmid Chacham, and would thereby be an instrument to that Talmid
Chacham's Avodas Hashem. Rav Dessler adds that the reason why Rebbi was
punished if, indeed, the calf's purpose in being created was to be
slaughtered and eaten by a Talmid Chacham, is because even though he was
absolutely correct from a logical and intellectual standpoint, there
nevertheless was a slight lack in the attribute of Chesed which is demanded
from someone of the stature of Rebbi.) (I. Alsheich)
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Rebbi Zeira came up to Eretz Yisrael
from Bavel, he fasted for 100 (or 40, according to the Maharshal and other
Girsa'os) days in order to forget the Talmud ha'Bavli that he had learned so
that he would be able to learn the Yerushalmi. He fasted an equal set of
fasts in order that Rebbi Elazar not die and the communal responsibilities
be passed to him. He fasted a third set of such fasts in order to be saved
from the fire of Gehinom.
This conduct of Rebbi Zeira helps us to understand an cryptic Gemara in
Megilah (7b). The Gemara there relates that Rabah invited Rebbi Zeira to
join him in his Purim Se'udah. During the Se'udah, "Rabah arose and
slaughtered Rebbi Zeira." The next day, Rabah Davened and brought Rebbi
Zeira back to life.
The Acharonim point out that the Gemara in Shabbos (156a) says that Rabah
was born in the Mazal of Ma'adim, and that Mazal gives a person a violent
nature. As long as Rabah was learning Torah, his violent nature was
channeled for holy purposes. On Purim, though, while he was not learning,
his violent nature came out.
Nevertheless, how are we to understand how the great and righteous Amora,
Rabah, could kill another Amora, Rebbi Zeira? (See Insights to Megilah 7:3.)
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA (in Megilah) says that the Gemara does not mean that
Rabah actually slaughtered Rebbi Zeira with a knife. Rather, Rabah gave him
so much food and drink that he became so sick that he was close to death.
Rabah wanted him to experience Simchah and so he encouraged him to drink
more and more wine, until Rebbi Zeira's life was actually endangered. The
next day Rabah Davened for Rebbi Zeira and he recovered.
We may add that the CHAVAS YAIR (#152, cited at the end of Sefer Chafetz
Chayim) suggests that different Amora'im had different paths in Avodas
Hashem. He cites the Gemara in Berachos (30a) which relates an incident
wherein Rebbi Yirmeyah looked too happy, and Rebbi Zeira tried to somber him
by mentioning the virtues of melancholy. What looks like a simple incident
actually reflects different general approaches to life. Rebbi Zeira and
Rebbi Yirmeyah each had a very different path in Avodas Hashem.
Rebbi Zeira understood that fasting and self-affliction is the correct way
to serve Hashem and to reach Kedushah, as we find in the Gemara here in Bava
Metzia, where the Gemara relates that Rebbi Zeira fasted for long periods at
a time. The Gemara also relates that he would test himself with
self-afflictions to test his total devotion to Hashem. Rebbi Yirmeyah, on
the other hand, was generally jolly. He ruled that it is forbidden for a
person to afflict himself beyond the call of the Torah, and it was he who
stated that a Nazir is considered a "sinner" (Nedarim 9b) for refraining
from wine. The Gemara in Nidah (23a) tells how Rebbi Yirmeyah, in accordance
with his path in Avodas Hashem, would try and break Rebbi Zeira's somberness
and get him to laugh -- since he thought that Rebbi Zeira's way was not the
proper path in Avodas Hashem. Conversely, the Gemara in Berachos (30a) tells
how Rebbi Zeira tried -- unsuccessfully -- to cool Rebbi Yirmeyah's
joyousness, in accordance with his own path in Avodas Hashem.
Similarly, Rabah's path in Avodas Hashem was that of serving Hashem with
Simchah, "Milsa d'Bedichasa" (Shabbos 30b). Rebbi Zeira, on the other hand,
maintained that the proper path in Avodas Hashem was that of serving Hashem
with solemnity. At the Purim Se'udah, Rabah saw that Rebbi Zeira was too
solemn and was not getting immersed in the Simchah of Purim enough, and so
he insisted that Rebbi Zeira eat more. Since the Gemara (Pesachim 86b) says
that "whatever the host says to you, you must do (except for 'leave'),"
Rebbi Zeira could not refuse and thus he continued eating. However, he was
accustomed to fasting, as our Gemara says, and for him it was unhealthy to
eat so much, and as a result he became deathly ill. Hence Rabah had to Daven
for Rebbi Zeira's recovery. (M. Kornfeld)
4) "BECAUSE THEY ABANDONED MY TORAH"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara relates that at the time of the Churban of the first
Beis ha'Mikdash, none of the Chachamim or the Nevi'im could explain why "the
land had been destroyed" ("Avdah ha'Aretz," Yirmiyahu 9:11) and had suffered
the catastrophe of the Churban, until Hashem Himself explained it, as the
verse says, "Hashem said, 'It is because they abandoned My Torah'"
(Yirmiyahu 9:12). Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav explains that this means
that they did not recite the blessing for learning Torah before learning
(a) Why is the failure to recite the blessing for learning Torah so severe
that it warrants the most tragic punishment? Moreover, the Gemara implies
that the people were learning Torah, and that they just did not recite the
blessing before learning. Why, then, did they not have the merit of their
learning to protect them?
(b) What is the relationship between the transgression of failing to recite
the blessing for learning Torah and the punishment of the destruction of the
land? Why should the land be destroyed because the people did not recite the
blessing before learning Torah?
(a) RASHI here, and the RAN in Nedarim (81a) in the name of RABEINU YONAH
HA'CHASID, write that the failure to recite the blessing for learning Torah
demonstrated that the people did not feel that the Torah was such a precious
gift. Since they failed to appreciate the Torah, the Torah "failed," so to
speak, to protect them. Rabeinu Yonah adds that their learning of Torah was
not Lishmah, with pure motives, and as a result they scorned the blessing.
For scorning the holiness of the Torah, they were punished with the Churban.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES cites the TESHUVOS HA'RAMBAM who says that the
blessing which the people failed to recite was the blessing recited before
Keri'as ha'Torah. The Rambam explains that many of the people indeed were
Talmidei Chachamim, but when called to read from the Torah they refrained
because it was difficult for them to walk to the Torah. They were punished
for their lack of respect for the Torah (see Berachos 55a, where the Gemara
says that one's life is shortened as a punishment for being called to read
from the Torah and not going up to read from it).
(c) The Rambam gives a different explanation (see also MAHARSHA to Nedarim
81a). He says that they did recite the blessings for Keri'as ha'Torah, but
they did not give the honor of reciting the first blessing to Talmidei
Chachamim. Rather, they would call upon a Kohen who was an Am ha'Aretz to
recite the first blessing, even though there were Talmidei Chachamim
present. For this disgrace of the honor of the Torah they were punished.
The Rambam adds that support for this explanation is the fact that it was
Rav who made this statement. We find (Megilah 22a) that Rav was of the
opinion that a Talmid Chacham who is a Yisrael must come before a Kohen who
is an Am ha'Aretz for reciting the blessings of Keri'as ha'Torah.
(d) The TAZ (OC 47) writes that the people learned Torah for their
enjoyment. They did not toil in Torah, nor involve themselves in the arduous
process of in-depth analysis in their Torah learning. Since "Torah is
acquired only by one who kills himself over it," their learning was
essentially meaningless. This is what the Gemara means when it says that
they did not recite the blessing for learning Torah, for in the blessing we
say, "Asher Kideshanu b'Mitzvosav v'Tzivano *la'Asok* b'Divrei Torah,"
"la'Asok" referring to toiling in Torah learning.
(e) The BEN YEHOYADA writes that they learned Torah with the goal of
becoming wise, and not with the goal of making themselves holy through the
Kedushah of the Torah. Therefore, they did not recite the blessing, because
the blessing -- "Asher *Kideshanu*" -- states that one is learning in order
to make oneself holy with the Kedushah of Torah.
(f) The MAHARAL (Nesivos Olam, Nesiv ha'Torah 10) writes that when the
Gemara says that they did not recite the blessing for learning Torah, it
means that they learned Torah out of love for the Torah's wisdom, and not
out of love for Hashem, the Giver of the Torah. They did not acknowledge the
great kindness that Hashem granted us by giving us the Torah. (I. Alsheich)