THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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HORAYOS 12-14 - One week of study material has been dedicated by Mrs. Rita
Grunberger of Queens, N.Y., in loving memory of her husband, Reb Yitzchok
Yakov ben Eliyahu Grunberger. Irving Grunberger helped many people quietly
in an unassuming manner and is dearly missed by all who knew him. His
Yahrzeit is 10 Sivan.
1) AGADAH: BETTER THE GARBAGE OF MASA MECHASYA THAN THE MANSIONS OF
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a number of teachings that Rav Mesharsheya told
to his son. One of these teachings was that it is better to dwell in the
garbage heaps of Masa Mechasya than in the mansions of Pumbedisa. What was
Rav Mesharsheya's intention?
(a) RASHI (DH d'Masa) explains that in Masa Mechasya there were Talmidei
Chachamim who were fit to answer Halachic questions and who excelled in
their Midos. The Talmidei Chachamim in Pumbedisa, however, did not have good
Midos, and therefore Rav Mesharsheya told his son not to learn with them.
The YA'AVETZ seems to understand that, according to Rashi, the primary
difference between Masa Mechasya and Pumbedisa is the contrast in their
Midos. The Ya'avetz points out that we find in a number of places that the
Jewish population of Pumbedisa was known to be plagued with swindlers and
frauds (Kesuvos 82a, Rashi to Shabbos 153a, DH d'Sanu; see Background to
Avodah Zarah 70:26). Rashi himself, when commenting on the same Gemara in
Kerisus (6a, DH v'Lo), says that the people of Pumbedisa were thieves.
How, though, are we to understand the first part of Rashi's comments here?
Rashi tells us that the people of Masa Mechasya were Talmidei Chachamim who
were fit to answer Halachic questions. If the point of Rashi is that the
difference between the two places was their Midos, then why does Rashi need
to tell us that the people of Masa Mechasya were Talmidei Chachamim who were
fit to answer Halachic questions? Even if we assume that Rashi is simply
telling us that Talmidei Chachamim lived there and it was not a place of
unlearned people (see Avos 6:9), why would he need to elucidate that they
were fit to answer Halachic questions? Telling us that they were Talmidei
Chachamim should suffice!
In addition, according to Rashi, what advice was Rav Mesharsheya giving to
his son? Certainly his son knew, even without his father's advice, that one
should dwell in a place of Torah scholars and not in a place of thieves!
Perhaps we can understand the words of Rashi based on the Midrash (Vayikra
Rabah 1:15). The Midrash says that "a Talmid Chacham who does not have De'ah
is worse than a Neveilah." What is the connection between such a Talmid
Chacham and a Neveilah? It is said in the name of the previous GERRER REBBE
(the LEV SIMCHAH) that De'ah refers to good Midos. The word Neveilah is
often used to connote not only an improperly slaughtered animal, but also
meat which is rotten (see Insights to 11a). The Gerrer Rebbe said that no
Jew would ever eat the meat of Neveilah and transgress the Isur attached to
it, because its foul odor would deter anyone who came near it. A Talmid
Chacham, however, is looked upon as a model from whom to learn, and people
are attracted to him because of his great scholarship in Torah. If he has
bad Midos, though, there is nothing to deter anyone from learning from him,
and thus people will also begin to learn from and imitate his bad Midos.
This is why he is worse than a Neveilah, which will never ensnare or tempt
anyone. (See also YEFEI TO'AR to the Midrash there.)
This might also be the intention of Rashi. The people of Pumbedisa were also
very learned (as there was a well-known Torah academy there). Although the
scholars in the academy of Pumbedisa were certainly on a very high level of
learning, it was difficult for them not to be affected by the ills of their
society in some way, as the average person in Pumbedisa was of a very coarse
character. It is possible that Rav Mesharsheya thought that even the Midos
of some of the Talmidei Chachamim in Pumbedisa were wanting. This is why he
felt the need to instruct his son to go only to Masa Mechasya and not to
(b) The MAHARSHA (DH Girsu) explains that Rav Mesharsheya was emphasizing to
his son two qualities that existed in Masa Mechasya, the quality of humility
and the quality of Torah. He stressed the importance of being in Masa
Mechasya which was a humble city of Torah, in contrast to the materially
lavish setting of Pumbedisa which was not a leading center of Torah.
(c) The BENAIYAHU states that Masa Mechasya was a very clean city; all of
its streets, courtyards, and houses were kept very clean. Cleanliness is
very healthy for spiritual and physical growth. Unfortunately, it was not
emphasized in Pumbedisa. Rav Mesharsheya was teaching that the garbage dumps
of Masa Mechasya were more sanitary places that the mansions of Pumbedisa.
(d) The BEN YEHOYADA explains that even the ordinary people of Masa Mechasya
were respected and esteemed Talmidei Chachamim, unlike the people of
Pumbedisa. Accordingly, it appears that he understands that "garbage" refers
to the lower class of people in Masa Mechasya, while the "mansions" of
Pumbedisa refer to the higher class of people there.
(e) Alternatively, the Ben Yehoyada says that the price of meat in Masa
Mechasya was very cheap, since there were a lot of cattle there (see Bava
Kama 119b). It is known that the consumption of meat strengthens the body.
Therefore, Rav Mesharsheya told his son to live in Masa Mechasya where
everyone could afford to buy meat every day, giving him the ability to be
strong to toil in learning Torah. In contrast, if he lived in Pumbedisa he
would eat only vegetables most of the time. (Y. Montrose)
2) THE LAW OF PRECEDENCE FOR A KOHEN
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes Rebbi Yishmael who derives from the verse
regarding the Kohen, "v'Kidashto" -- "and you shall sanctify him" (Vayikra
21:8) that we must give honor to a Kohen by giving him precedence in any
matter of holiness. He should be called first to the Torah, he should be
given the honor of leading Birkas ha'Mazon, and he should be given the first
portion at a meal.
Is this Halachah a Mitzvah d'Oraisa, or is it an enactment of the Rabanan
(who used the verse as an Asmachta)?
(a) TOSFOS in Chulin (87a, DH v'Chayevo) discusses a case in the Gemara in
which Raban Gamliel obligated a person who "stole" a Mitzvah from someone
else to pay the victim ten gold coins. Tosfos there says that we do not rule
this way anymore, as we are no longer able to judge laws of penalties in
cases in which the plaintiff lost no money (see Bava Kama 84b). He adds that
this also applies to a case in which one person steals another person's
Aliyah, and it even applies to a case in which one person steals the Kohen's
Aliyah, because the obligation to give him precedence "is [based on] an
Asmachta." Tosfos seems to maintain that the requirement to give precedence
to the Kohen is an enactment of the Rabanan. This opinion is also expressed
by the TUR (YD 28). The PRI CHADASH (OC 135:12) attributes this opinion to
the ROSH and the MORDECHAI as well.
However, this view is difficult to understand. The Mishnah in Gitin (59a)
states that a Kohen receives the first Aliyah to the Torah, followed by the
Levi, and then the Yisrael, because of "Darchei Shalom" (the ways of peace).
The Gemara (59b) records a conversation between Rav Yosef and Abaye. After
the Gemara quotes the aforementioned teaching of Rebbi Yishmael from the
verse of "vKidashto," Rav Yosef asks Abaye, "Why does the Mishnah say that
the reason is because of Darchei Shalom? The requirement to give precedence
to the Kohen is *d'Oraisa*!" The Gemara does not refute Rav Yosef's
statement that "v'Kidashto" is a Torah law. How, then, can Tosfos and the
Tur say that this law is just an Asmachta?
The NESIV CHAYIM (OC 201) answers this question. The Gemara in Gitin (ibid.)
cites other opinions, which give other verses as the source for the order of
people who are called up to the Torah. Those verses teach that a Kohen is
called up, and then a Levi. Rav Yosef was asking that according to the other
verses, the Mishnah has no need to discuss Darchei Shalom, since the order
of precedence is taught by the verse and is a Torah law. According to the
teaching of Rebbi Yishmael, it is obvious why the Mishnah says Darchei
Shalom, as we still do not have a source that a *Levi* gets called up before
a Yisrael! Since Rav Yosef's question did not address Rebbi Yishmael's
teaching, there is no proof from this teaching that giving precedence to a
Kohen is a Torah law.
We still must ask, though, what impelled these Rishonim to say that this law
is an Asmachta? The TORAH TEMIMAH (Vayikra 21:8) explains that we find
another Derashah from the verse "v'Kidashto" in Yevamos (88b), which tells
us that we force a Kohen to divorce a woman whom he was not permitted to
marry. We know that the Torah teaches only one law from each word. If this
Derashah is d'Oraisa, then how can we also learn from "v'Kidashto" that we
are required to give precedence to a Kohen (see BE'ER SHEVA)? For this
reason, these Rishonim understood that the obligation to give precedence to
a Kohen is mid'Rabanan.
(b) The RAMBAM in SEFER HA'MITZVOS (Mitzvos Aseh #32) counts this as one of
the Mitzvos d'Oraisa. This is also the view of the RIVASH (# 94) in the name
of the SEMAG, the TESHUVOS MAHARAM (#107), and others. This also seems to be
the conclusion of the MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 201:4).
The Torah Temimah discusses how these opinions can say that this is a Torah
law, when the Gemara in Yevamos learns a different law from the word
""v'Kidashto." He explains that the answer to this question can be found in
the words of Rashi in Gitin (ibid.). Rashi (DH v'Kidashto) comments merely,
"Ki Es 'v'Gomer'" -- telling us the continuation of the verse of
"v'Kidashto." Why does Rashi tell us the continuation of the verse?
Apparently, Rashi is telling us that the obligation to give precedence to
the Kohen is not derived from the word "v'Kidashto," but rather it is
derived from the continuation of the verse! This is also apparent from the
fact that Rashi in Vayikra (ibid.) does not begin his comments with the word
"v'Kidashto," but rather with the words, "Kodesh Yiheyeh Lach." Thus, Rashi
is refuting the proof of Tosfos. (Y. Montrose)