THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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MEGILAH 6-10 sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Kollel Iyun Hadaf is indebted to him for his encouragement and support and prays that Hashem will repay him in kind.
1) SUPPORT FOR AND AGAINST THE WRITING OF THE BOOK OF ESTHER
QUESTION: Esther requested from the Chachamim to write a Sefer recording the
miracle of Purim. They dissented, based on a verse in Mishlei (22:20) which
says, "Have I not written for you a threesome (Shalishim)." The verse implies
that record of the defeat of Amalek may be written in a Sefer only three
times and no more.
The Chachamim, however, later agreed to Esther's request, when they expounded
a verse in the Torah that implies that the miracle of the defeat of Amalek in
the times of Esther *may* be written in a Sefer. The verse says, regarding
the defeat of Amalek, "Kesov Zos Zikaron ba'Sefer" -- "Record this as a
remembrance in the book" (Shemos 17:14). "Zos" refers to the defeat of Amalek
recorded in the Chumash in the end of Parshas Beshalach and the end of
Parshas Ki Seitzei (Shemos 17:14-16, and Devarim 25:17-19). "Zikaron" refers
to the defeat of Amalek recorded in Nevi'im (Shmuel I ch. 15). "Ba'Sefer"
refers to the defeat of Amalek recorded in an additional "Sefer" -- in the
Book of Esther.
Why did the Chachamim change their mind? This verse also teaches that there
are only three opportunities to record the defeat of Amalek, just like the
verse in Mishlei implies. Why, when expounding this verse, did the Chachamim
group the two mentions of Amalek in the Chumash together and count them as
one, but when expounding the verse in Mishlei, they counted them as two? What
did they see in this verse more than in the first verse? (TUREI EVEN)
(a) The YA'AVETZ explains that the verse in Mishlei is discussing the past,
as it says, "Have I not written for you a threesome." The Chachamim assumed
that Shlomo ha'Melech was referring to the three times that it had been
written down in the past, before his lifetime, and he was instructing us not
to write it a fourth time. He must have been teaching that it should not be
written down in the times of Esther.
However, when the Chachamim found a verse in the Torah saying that it will be
written (in the future) three times, they understood that Shlomo ha'Melech
was just reiterating what the verse teaches. Since Shlomo ha'Melech was not
referring to what was already written, his verse can be interpreted as
grouping the two places in the Torah which mention Amalek together as one,
leaving open one opportunity in the future (i.e. Esther) to write it one more
(b) The PNEI YEHOSHUA and MAHARTZ CHIYUS explain that the verse in Mishlei
does not imply that Mechiyas Amalek may be written only three times, in three
places. It does not limit the number of times that Mechiyas Amalek may be
written. Rather, it implies that there may only be three sections of the
Torah -- Torah (Chumash), Nevi'im, and Kesuvim ("Ta'Na'Ch"). (This differs
from Rashi's explanation of "Shalishim.") The Chachamim reasoned that if the
miracle of Purim were to be written in a new Sefer, that Sefer would be a
fourth section to the Torah, which Shlomo ha'Melech proscribes.
When they expounded the verse in the Torah which implies that Mechiyas
Amalek will be written three times, they understood it to be obvious that one
of those times includes *all* of the mentions of Mechiyas Amalek in the
Chumash, leaving one opportunity to write it in the new Sefer of Esther. That
verse therefore gave them permission to add Megilas Esther to Kesuvim, and
they did not have to make a whole new section for it.
(c) Perhaps the wording of the verse implies that the verses of Beshalach and
Ki Seitzei must be grouped together and counted as one. Firstly, the word in
the verse that refers to Torah is "Zos," and "Zos" implies all of the Torah,
as the verse says, "v'Zos ha'Torah..." (Devarim 4:44). (RASHASH)
Alternatively, the word "ba'Sefer" implies that a *separate Sefer*, Megilas
Esther, must be written on the topic of Mechiyas Amalek. No other Sefer
discusses Mechiyas Amalek in its entirety, other than Megilas Esther! This is
the meaning of the verse (Ester 9:32), "And the request of Ester regarding
the [recording of the] Purim miracle was fulfilled, and it was written 'in a
Sefer' " (see Rashi there).
The SIFSEI CHACHAMIM adds that "ba'Sefer" (342) in Gematria equals the total
of "Haman (95), Agag (7), Amalek (240)," the three instances of Mechiyas
Amalek which are recorded in Tanach -- including the story of Megilas Ester.
2) THE WAY THE AMORA'IM FULFILLED "MISHLO'ACH MANOS"
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent to Rebbi Oshiya a
shank of calf and a barrel of wine. Rebbi Oshiya sent back to him, "You have
fulfilled the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos (and Matanos l'Evyonim)."
Our Gemara is actually a mixture of two different Girsa'os. From the Rishonim
it is clear that one Girsa says only that he fulfilled "Mishlo'ach Manos,"
and another Girsa says that he fulfilled only "Matanos la'Evyonim."
3) RABAH AROSE AND SLAUGHTERED REBBI ZEIRA
(a) RASHI's text reads "Mishlo'ach Manos." Since Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent
two portions to one person, he fulfilled the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos.
(b) According to RABEINU CHANANEL's text, Rebbi Oshiya told Rebbi Yehudah
Nesi'a that he has fulfilled "Matanos la'Evyonim." He was saying that Rebbi
Yehudah Nesi'a gave only the amount that one gives to a poor person when he
gives Matanos la'Evyonim. Since he gave only one portion (the meat), and not
two (the wine did not count), he did not fulfill the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach
The Gemara continues, according to this Girsa, and relates that Rebbi Yehudah
Nesi'a sent another calf leg and *three* barrels of wine. This time, Rebbi
Oshiya responded, "Now you have fulfilled Mishlo'ach Manos."
RAV TZVI PESACH FRANK (Mikra'ei Kodesh) points out that we see a number of
important Chidushim from this Girsa of the Gemara:
1. One only fulfills the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos with food and not with
drink (since the wine that Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent did not count as one of
the two portions of Mishlo'ach Manos).
The RITVA, however, explains Rabeinu Chananel's Girsa entirely differently
(see also CHAYEI ADAM 155:31). He explains that Rebbi Oshiya complained that
the amount of Mishlo'ach Manos that Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent was not a
respectable amount for someone of Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a's stature. When Rebbi
Oshiya said, "You have sent me Matanos la'Evyonim," he meant that Rebbi
Yehudah Nesi'a had sent only one portion of food that was respectable enough
to fulfill the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos. One barrel of wine, though, is
not respectable enough to be the second of the two "Manos." That is why, in
his second delivery, Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent *three* barrels of wine, a
much larger gift. According to the Ritva's explanation, the opposite
conclusions can be drawn:
2. One can send the two items of Mishlo'ach Manos separately, in two
different deliveries, and they join to be considered two portions, the
minimum for fulfilling the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos. The second calf leg
that Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a sent joined with the first to be considered two
portions of Mishlo'ach Manos.
3. The two portions of Mishlo'ach Manos may be two of the same type of food,
for Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a fulfilled the Mitzvah by sending two calf legs.
1. One fulfills the Mitzvah of Mishlo'ach Manos with drink, as long as he
sends enough to be considered respectable to the giver and recipient.
2. One must send the two portions together in the same delivery, which is why
Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a resent *both* Manos.
3. One cannot fulfill the Mitzvah with two of the same type of food, but must
send two different types of food, like Rebbi Yehudah Nesi'a. This is our
QUESTION: 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?
(a) The YA'AVETZ explains that in Berachos the Gemara (30b) says (in the name
of Rabah, according to some Girsa'os), that a person is not allowed to fill
his mouth with laughter in this world. Rebbi Zeira there says that the more a
person holds himself back from rejoicing in this world, the more reward he
Rabah saw that the party at his home on Purim was getting too happy, and he
wanted to calm the excitement. He did an act that made it look like his was
taking a knife and slaughtering Rebbi Zeira, so that everyone would become
serious. Rebbi Zeira, who thought that Rabah was really killing him, fainted
from the shock. He might have passed away from the shock had Rabah not
Davened for him and revived him.
(b) The MAHARSHA 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 in
their lives, 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. We find that he fasted long periods. He
would test himself with all kinds of self-afflictions to test his total
devotion to Hashem (Bava Metzia, end of 85a). 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 that a Nazir is called a
"sinner" (Nedarim 9b). 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 this was an incorrect
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 (Bava Metzia 85a), 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)