THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Moed Katan, 16
MOED KATAN 16 - dedicated by Mr. Avi Berger of Queens, N.Y. in memory of his
parents, Pinchas ben Reb Avraham Yitzchak, and Leah bas Michal Mordechai.
1) OBSERVING "NEZIFAH" FOR THIRTY DAYS
QUESTION: Rebbi was upset with Rebbi Chiya for disobeying his enactment.
When Rebbi Chiya became aware that Rebbi was upset with him, he conducted
himself as a person observing "Nezifah," and he did not appear before Rebbi
for thirty days.
2) DAVID'S LAST WORDS
On the thirtieth day, Rebbi sent a message to Rebbi Chiya, telling him they
he may now appear in the Beis Midrash before him. Then, he changed his mind
and sent another message saying that he should not come yet. The Gemara
explains that when Rebbi sent his first message, he thought that the
thirty-day period of the Nezifah was over because of the principle of
"Miktzas Yom k'Kulo," a part of a day is considered like a full day, and
then he decided that the principle of "Miktzas Yom k'Kulo" does not apply in
such a case.
The Nezifah was observed because Rebbi was upset with Rebbi Chiya. If Rebbi
had forgiven Rebbi Chiya and wanted him to return to the Beis Midrash, what
difference does it make if the principle of "Miktzas Yom k'Kulo" applies or
not? He should have simply sent to Rebbi Chiya a message telling him that he
pardoned him, and the Nezifah would have ended then and there. This is
especially true according to the Rishonim who say that even when it comes to
an offense against the honor of a Talmid Chacham, the Niduy does not have to
last for thirty days if the Talmid Chacham forgives the person. Likewise, a
Nezifah should certainly be removed when the Talmid Chacham forgives the
person before thirty days have passed!
(a) The ROSH (3:7), quoting the RA'AVAD, answers that since Niduy is so
severe, the Chachamim permitted a person to end it early. Nezifah, though,
is a much milder punishment, and therefore the Chachamim did not allow for
the option to end it early.
The Ra'avad questions what the exact nature of Nezifah is and in what way it
is more mild that Niduy. He concludes that Nezifah is not so much a punitive
act as an act of showing shame, as we learn from the verse regarding Miryam,
"... would she not be humiliated..." (Bamidbar 12:14). That is expressed in
the conduct required of a person in Nezifah -- he must stay secluded in his
home, he may not show his face to the person he slighted, he may not talk
much nor act in a jovial manner, he must limit his business dealings, and he
must stay isolated from people in general -- all in order to show how
distressed he feels about what he did.
In contrast, when a person is in Niduy, people must stay at least four Amos
away from him, and all of the other Halachos of Niduy apply, as described by
The Ra'avad adds that although a Niduy must be formally annulled by Beis Din
after its thirty-day time period has passed, Nezifah is different and does
not have to be formally annulled. Rather, it automatically ends after thirty
days. The very fact that the person acts, in accordance with the Nezifah,
ashamed and rejected, is what attains forgiveness for him, so he does not
have to ask for forgiveness again.
QUESTIONS: The Pasuk says what "David's last words" were. The Gemara
questions what the *first* words were, that preceded these last words.
Finally, it concludes that the first words were those of the Shirah that
David sand in the previous chapter. The Gemara continues with a discussion
of the Shirah, in which Hashem reprimands David for singing Shirah at the
downfall of his enemy Shaul (who was also a Tzadik).
3) ONLY 800 OUT OF 1000
Why did the Gemara wonder in the first place what David's first words were?
Is it not obvious that the preceding chapter was a likely candidate for the
"first words," since the came immediately before the "last words?" And
besides, there are many other words that David spoke in supplication to
Hashem -- all of Sefer Tehilim! Why should we have to look hard to find
David's first words?
Second, why does the Gemara continue with the discussion of how Hashem
reprimanded David for singing at Shaul's downfall. That was not the subject
of our discussion at all!
(a) RASHI (as cited by the RITVA) explains that by "David's words (Divrei
David)," the Pasuk means "David's words of *prophecy*." We do not find that
David said any other words of prophecy in Tehilim, except for the chapter
which appears in both Tehilim 18 and in II Shmuel 22 -- the chapter before
his "last words." This chapter begins, "David *spoke to [or "in honor of"]
Hashem* the *words of this Shirah*" (*Diber* l'Hashem... *Divrei*
ha'Shirah..), implying that these were words of prophecy.
There is no direct connection, Rashi contends, between this answer and the
following discussion of how Hashem reprimanded David for singing at Shaul's
(b) The Ritva disagrees with this interpretation, contending that even what
David said through Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, such as Tehilim, can also be described
as "David's words." He then cites TOSFOS, who explain that there is indeed a
connection between David's "first words" and the Gemara's sequel. The Gemara
means to infer from the fact that the prophet calls the last chapter
"David's last words," that there were other words that David spoke *that
were not stated explicitly*. (If the only other words of David were stated
explicitly, the prophet would not have made a point of stating that the
words of the last chapter were David's "last words.") What were these
The Gemara answers that they were the admonishment that *Hashem admonished
David* for singing at Shaul's downfall. Just as in the chapter of David's
"last words," David did not explicitly say what Hashem spoke to him, but
simply said "To me Hashem has spoken," so too, in his "first words," he did
not explicitly state what Hashem had told him.
(c) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH, citing the RA'AVAD, offers another explanation. The
Gemara understood that not only the *last* chapter in II Shmuel represents
"David's last words," but the previous chapter, David's song, is *also*
David's *last* words. This is inferred from the way the last chapter
begins, "*and* these are David's last words," implying that "these
(previous) words, *and* these (following) words, are David's last words."
The Gemara is asking how the song of II Shmuel 22 and Tehilim 18 can be
called "David's last words," if it is followed by over 100 other Mizmorim in
Tehilim! The answer must be that these were David's last words *on a
particular subject*; the subject of overcoming Shaul. But in which preceding
chapter in Tehilim did David touch upon this subject, that these may be
called the "last words?" Where were his first words on the subject of Shaul?
The Gemara answers that the first words were in Tehilim 7, in which David
discusses "Kush ben Yemini," or Shaul (as the Gemara concludes here). Those
were David's "first words" in Tehlim about Shaul.
(d) The SHITAH L'TALMID RABEINU YECHIEL seems to take a different approach.
The Gemara's question was why the Pasuk has to specifically list that these
were David's "last words." It cannot simply mean that these words came after
the words of the previous chapter, for that would have been understood by
itself, and it would not have been necessary to state so explicitly.
The Gemara's answer is that the phrase "last words" means "David's ultimate
outlook on the matter." That is, the Pasuk wants to emphasize that David
felt regret for the manner in which he sang the Shirah of the previous
chapter, since he sang to Hashem about Shaul's downfall, and therefore he
did not mention Shaul's downfall again. That is what is meant by "David's
*last* words." (The IYUN YAKOV and PERUSH HA'RIF on the Ein Yakov offer
similar explanations. See also NETZIV in Birchas ha'Netziv on the Sifri,
footnote at the end of Parshas Beha'aloscha, for another entirely different
explanation of our Gemara.)
AGADAH: The Gemara says that David ha'Melech was able to kill 800 enemies at
one time. Nevertheless, it troubled him that he did not merit the miracle of
being able to 1000 enemies at one time, as mentioned in the verse (Devarim
32:30). A Bas Kol issued forth and said that he did not merit to be able to
kill 1000 at one time because of the sin of Bas Sheva and Uriyah. RASHI
explains that because of his sin with Uriyah, "200 were taken away from
The VILNA GA'ON (in DIVREI ELIYAHU, Maseches Moed Katan) asks why does Rashi
say that 200 "were taken from him," implying that he indeed was able to kill
1000 enemies at one time before the sin of Uriyah? Where do we find that at
some point in time before this battle, David ha'Melech was able to kill 1000
at one time? We do not find David describing his combat experience in any
other place. (Indeed, RASHI KESAV YAD does not mention that the ability to
kill the extra 200 was taken away from him, but rather that David *lacked*
that ability, implying that he never had it to begin with.)
(a) The VILNA GA'ON answers that there is an allusion in the verses that he
did actually have the ability to kill 1000 enemies at one time and he lost
that ability, as Rashi here says.
The Shirah of David ha'Melech, in which he praises Hashem for vanquishing
his enemies, is recorded twice in Tanach: in chapter 22 of Shmuel II, and in
chapter 18 of Tehilim. Both are nearly identical, with only a few minor
differences. Chazal explain the reasons for these differences (see, for
example, Insights to Shabbos 116b).
One difference that is not discussed is that in David's Shirah in Shmuel II,
the verse (22:44) says, "*Tishmereni* l'Rosh Goyim" -- "You *preserved* me
to be the head of nations." In Tehilim, though, the verse (18:44) says,
"*Tesimeni* l'Rosh Goyim" -- "You have *placed* me to be the head of
The VILNA GA'ON explains the reason for the difference. The first Shirah of
David ha'Melech (in Shmuel II) was recorded when he was younger, before the
sin of Uriyah. The second Shirah (in Tehilim) was recorded after the sin.
Hence, he said "Tishmereni" before the sin. The Gematriya of "Tishmereini"
is 1000. David ha'Melech was saying that Hashem enabled him to defeat his
enemies and become the head of the nations by killing 1000 enemies at a
time. After his sin, though, he left out the letter "Reish," so that the
word became "Tesimeni," the Gematriya of which is 800, since he defeated his
enemies only by killing 800 at a time!
(It is not stated explicitly in Chazal that the two versions of David's
Shirah were said at different times, nor do we find reference to which of
the two came first, if they were said at different times. However, the
METZUDOS DAVID (in Shmuel and in Tehilim) suggests that David either used to
sing this song every time he was saved from his enemies, or he sang it once
at the end of his life, when he saw that had been saved from the last of his
possible enemies (see also Rashi, whose words are echoed by ZOHAR Bamidbar
285a). Since the chapter begins "the song that David sang the day Hashem
saved him from his enemies, from Shaul," we may explain that both
explanations are true; David sang it once upon being saved from Shaul
(before his sin with Uriyah), and again at the end of his life upon meriting
a total and full salvation (after the sin). This still does not prove which
of the two versions is the earlier one. However, the ABARBANEL (in Shmuel,
cited by the Malbim there) explains that the version in Shmuel was the
original Shirah of David. The version in Tehilim was the version David later
adapted for anyone in distress to sing during times of stress, as a form of
supplication to Hashem to be rescued from one's woes. If so, the version in
Tehlim is the clearly later version.
That the version in Tehlim was said *after* the sin of Uriyah may also be
inferred from the Midrash there (Shocher Tov #18), which explains that David
was called "the servant of Hashem" in the beginning of the Tehilim version
of his Shirah (and not in the beginning of the Shmuel version), to denote
that he repented for his sins, and Hashem forgave him. -- M. Kornfeld)
The VILNA GAON actually was preceded in this Gematria by the TOSFOS HA'ROSH,
who presents the exact same Gematria here, but explains it somewhat
differently. The two versions of the Shirah were not said at different
times. Rather, the one which mentions 800 is describing actual events, while
the one which mentions 1000 is describing David's supplication to Hashem; he
prayed to Hashem to give him another 200, making a total of 1000.
(Although the word "Tesimeni" is written with a Yud after the letter Sin,
this Gematria is based on the Keri, the way the word is pronounced, rather
than the Kesiv, the way it is written.)
(b) Another approach to this Agadah is presented by the Manostrishtcher
Rebbe, RAV YEHOSHUA HESHEL RABINOWITZ, zt'l, in ERCHEI YEHOSHUA (30:13). He
cites Hagaon Rav Moshe of Savran who explains why David ha'Melech lost the
extra 200 particularly because of the sin of Uriyah.
He explains this based on the verse, "The thousand are to You, the Master of
peace (Shlomo), and two hundred more to those who guard his fruit" (Shir
ha'Shirim 8:12). This alludes to the responsibility of the Gadol ha'Dor to
be Meyached 1000 Yichudim every day (to perceive 1000 different perspectives
of Hashem's Oneness -- Hashem is referred to often as Shlomo, meaning "the
King to Whom Shalom belongs," Shavuos 36b). In order to achieve the last 200
of the 1000 Yichudim, though, a person needs special Divine assistance,
which is granted only to a person who is especially careful in all aspects
of his moral conduct. The verse is saying, "One thousand [Yichudim may be
ascribed to] You (Hashem), the Master of peace, and two hundred [of them are
only given] to one who guards his fruit (to those who guard the source of
reproduction)." David ha'Melech lost the ability to perceive the last 200
Yichudim because of his conduct with Uriyah and Bas Sheva.
This explains a cryptic Gemara in Nedarim (50b) that says that one person
paid another person to teach him 1000 ways to make a certain type of fruit
dessert. However, his friend only taught him 800. The one who had hired him
brought him to the court of the leader of the generation, Rebbi. Rebbi said,
"Our fathers said 'we have forgotten all good,' while we have never seen
[such lavishness]." He was expressing his amazement that someone would hire
someone else to teach him 1000 ways to make a dessert.
Why would someone bring his friend to the Gadol ha'Dor for such a petty
matter? He explains that these two people were actually great Tzadikim. One
hired the other to teach him the 1000 Yichudim, represented by fruit
desserts, for each type of dessert takes a combination of various fruits and
unites them together to make a different taste. His friend was only able to
teach him 800, because he had not merited to comprehend the last 200.
Therefore, they came to Rebbi, the Gadol ha'Dor, who would certainly know
all 1000 Yichudim and be able to teach them the remaining 200.
Rebbi, when he replied, "Our fathers said 'we have forgotten all good,'
while we never have seen [such lavishness]," was hinting that he, too, did
not know the other 200 Yichudim and he could not teach them. (In fact, Rebbi
certainly knew the other 200 Yichudim, but he always made it a point to
uphold the integrity of his forebear, David ha'Melech (Shabbos 56a).
Therefore, even though his moral conduct was indeed exceptional (Shabbos
118b) he did not want to say that he had attained a greater level than David
in this area, and he did not openly admit that he knew all 1000 Yichudim.)
This is what Rebbi meant when he said, "Our fathers (David ha'Melech) have
forgotten the good" -- they *once had* the other 200 Yichudim, but they
forgot it due to the story with Uriyah. In contrast, "We never had such
lavishness" -- we never learned the 1000 Yichudim to begin with. He said
this out of humility and to show the greatness of David ha'Melech.