THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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CHAGIGAH 14 & 15 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah
in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) PEOPLE OF TRUSTWORTHINESS
QUESTION: Rav Katina taught that even during the time of the collapse of
Jerusalem, when the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, "men of trustworthiness
did not cease [to exist]." The Gemara challenges this from a teaching of
Rava, who taught that the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed because there ceased
to exist men of trustworthiness. The Gemara concludes that when it came to
business, there were no trustworthy people; in Torah, though, there were
still trustworthy people, whom one could trust when they said that they do
not know Torah.
What is so noteworthy about the fact that people were proud to be honest and
say that they did not know Torah?
ANSWER: I heard from Hagaon RAV SHLOMO FISHER Shlit'a (author of Sefer Beis
Yishai) that the Akeidah and Abarbanel explain that Hashem gave the Jewish
people a special blessing that "men of trustworthiness in Torah would not
cease to exist." The essence of this blessing is as follows. We find in the
Torah (Devarim 31:21) that Hashem has promised that the Torah will never be
forgotten. In order for the Torah not to be forgotten, Hashem ensured that
when the elders do not know the Torah, they will admit it; this prevents the
forging and misconstruing of the Torah.
Rav Fisher adds that this could explain the choice of Psalm-of-the-Day
recited on Shemini Atzeres, Tehilim, chapter 12. When we read this psalm, it
does not seem to be related in any way to Torah (Simchas Torah) or to Shemini
Atzeres. "Save us Hashem, because... no one can be trusted anymore, everyone
speaks falsely... the words of Hashem are pure words, like finely refined
silver. You, Hashem, will protect them and save them forever...."
Rav Samson Refael Hirsch explains that there is a fine correlation between
Pesach and Shavuos, and between Sukos and Shemini Atzeres. The first pair,
Pesach and Shavuos, represents the "birth" of the nation and of the Torah.
The second pair, Sukos and Shemini Atzeres, represents the continuity of the
nation and the Torah.
Accordingly, Tehilim 12 is most appropriate for Shemini Atzeres, because the
subject of Tehilim 12 is the special blessing that men of trustworthiness in
Torah will never cease which, as we explained, is a safeguard to maintaining
the continuity of the Torah. Since Shemini Atzeres is the time that
represents the continuation of the nation and the protection of the Torah, it
is most appropriate to discuss on this day the blessing that Hashem gave us,
that the Torah will be preserved through all of the generations: "No one can
be trusted anymore, everyone speaks falsely... [but] the words of Hashem
(i.e. the Torah) are pure... You, Hashem, will protect them, You will
preserve them from this generation forever."
2) WHAT NOT TO SAY WHEN VISITING THE PARDES
AGADAH: Rebbi Akiva warned those who were entering the Pardes that when they
see the "clear marble stones" they should not say, "Water! Water!" because
"the speaker of falsehood shall not stand before My eyes" (Tehilim 101:7).
Granted, calling a marble stone "water" is a falsehood, but why is that so
terrible? Why did Rebbi Akiva warn them about this point in particular?
The Izhbitzer Rebbe, in MEI HA'SHILO'ACH (Chelek 1, Emor) and BEIS YAKOV (Ki
Sisa 17) explains that Rebbi Akiva warned them not to say "Mayim" twice in
order to avoid making a tragic error. Rebbi Akiva realized that those
visiting the Pardes might misconstrue what they saw and think that there was
a division in authority over the upper and lower realms, represented by the
Mayim Elyonim and Mayim Tachtonim (upper waters and lower waters). Saying
"Mayim" twice would imply that the upper and lower waters are separate and
distinct from each other, implying that Hashem is not directly involved with
everything that happens in the realm of the Mayim Tachtonim. The truth,
though, is that all realms -- upper and lower -- are connected and are under
the authority of Hashem.
When the Gemara says that Acher's failing was that "he cut off the Neti'os
(plantlings)," it means that he denied Hashem's power and control over the
Tachtonim. (The Ge'onim, cited in OTZAR HA'GE'ONIM, write that his sin was
the attribution of authority to two deities, one of good and one of bad.) Ben
Zoma -- although he was did not "cut off the Neti'os" like Acher did --
nevertheless remained confused about the matter and was uncertain of the
extent of Hashem's dominion. That is why Rebbi Yehoshua, upon hearing Ben
Zoma comment that there is a three-Etzba separation between the upper waters
and lower waters, said that Ben Zoma is "still on the outside," meaning that
he had still not come to the realization that there is no more than a
"hairsbreadth" ("k'Malei Nima") of space between the upper and lower waters.
To expound on this, we might suggest that the "hairsbreadth" alludes to the
Yetzer ha'Ra which is like a hair to the wicked (Sukah 52a). It is that
hairsbreadth, the Yetzer ha'Ra, which is the only force which prevents the
people from fully recognizing the connection and inseparability between the
upper realm and the lower realm.
This might also conform with RASHI's explanation, who says that Rebbi Akiva
was warning them that when they see a floor of clear marble, they should not
say, "It is water! How can I walk there?" This means that they should not
perceive that there is a moat around Hashem's palace, so to speak, as if He
is cut off from the rest of the world.
RABEINU CHANANEL explains that "clear marble stones" comprised the wall of
the palace of the Shechinah. A person should not think that the material
surrounding the palace is made of water, in order to separate between the
outside and inside of the palace. Rather, one should know that it is clear
marble, and it is only there for the sake of the honor of Hashem. The fact
that the stone is clear and transparent teaches that Hashem is connected to
everything in this world even when He is in His palace, so to speak, and He
sees everything through the transparent walls of His palace.