THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) LEAVING "PE'AH" FROM "YEREK"
QUESTION: The Mishnah (55b) says that one of the practices of the people of
Yericho to which the Chachamim objected was that they used to leave Pe'ah
from their vegetable (Yerek) harvests. RASHI (56a, DH u'Michu b'Yadan, and
57a, DH Ein Nosnim Pe'ah l'Yerek) explains that such a practice was
unacceptable because the poor people who take the Pe'ah will assume that it
is exempt from Ma'aser because it is Hefker, but in reality there is no
Mitzvah to leave Pe'ah from Yerek. But why should it not be exempt from
Ma'aser? Granted, even if Yerek is exempt from Pe'ah, when one makes it
Pe'ah it is as if he is making it Hefker, and Hefker is Patur from Ma'aser!
2) YISHMAEL BEN FIABI
(a) TOSFOS (DH Ela) argues with Rashi and says that it is not considered
Hefker because one is making it Hefker only for poor people and not for
everyone. The Mishnah in Peah (6:1) says that an item is not conisdered
Hefker unless it is made Hefker for everyone, including wealthy people. The
reason that Pe'ah is not Chayav in Ma'aser is not because it is Hefker, but
because of an independant Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that states that Pe'ah is exempt
from Ma'aser. If it is not Pe'ah, though, such as Yerek, then it remains
Chayav in Ma'aser.
(b) To answer the question according to Rashi, it seems that when one leaves
Pe'ah from Yerek, even though it is considered as though he is being Mafkir
it, it is considered Hefker b'Ta'us -- Hefker made in error, since he did
not know that Yerek is not Chayav in Pe'ah. It is therefore not Hefker and
it is not exempt from Ma'aser.
It could be that Rashi agrees with Tosfos and holds that when one willingly
gives something only to poor people, then it does not become exempt from
Ma'aser. Only if he is *obligated* to give it to poor people does the
Gezeiras ha'Kasuv apply and make it exempt from Ma'aser. If one thinks that
he is obligated to give it to poor people but is really not obligated, it
does not become exempt from Ma'aser.
QUESTION: Aba Shaul ben Botnis, in the name of Aba Yosef ben Chanin,
bemoaned and prayed not to come into contact with certain people who had
certain characteristics. "Woe unto me from the family of Yishmael ben Fiabi,
woe unto me from their strong fists, for they are Kohanim Gedolim, their
sons are the treasurers [of the Mikdash], their sons-in-law are the ones who
give all the orders, and their servants smite the people with their clubs!"
A little later, the Gemara says that the Azarah cried out, "Open your heads,
o' gates, and allow to enter Yishmael ben Fiabi, the student of Pinchas, and
let him serve as the Kohen Gadol!"
Who was Yishmael ben Fiabi and what was unique about him? Why was he called
the student of Pinchas?
(a) Josephus records that Yishmael Ben Fiabi was appointed Kohen Gadol by
the Roman ruler of Israel, Agrippa. Some time after appointing Yishmael Ben
Fiabi as Kohen Gadol, Agrippa built a balcony on the roof of his palace in
order to view the Avodah being performed in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Yishmael
Ben Fiabi fiercely opposed this and built a high wall to block the Roman
ruler's view of the Avodah. He then traveled to Rome in order to lodge a
complaint against Agrippa and justify his raising the wall of the Beis
ha'Mikdash. This episode demonstrated the zeal with which Yishmael Ben Fiabi
safeguarded the sanctity of the Mikdash.
Perhaps when the Gemara says that he was a student of Pinchas, it refers to
Pinchas the son of Aharon, who was known for his zealousness (end of Parshas
The first description in our Gemara also demonstrates the strength of
character of the family of Yishmael Ben Fiabi. Unfortunately, his
descendants did not channel their strength towards the honor of heaven, but
misused those traits.
(b) The family name may shed new light on an incident recorded by the Gemara
elsewhere. The Yerushalmi (Yoma 6:3) relates, "All the days of Shimon
ha'Tzadik, the Lechem ha'Panim and Shtei ha'Lechem were blessed and each
Kohen received a k'Zayis. Some ate and were satisfied, others even left some
over. When Shimon ha'Tzadik passed away this blessing stopped and each Kohen
managed to get only the size of a *bean*. The modest Kohanim refrained from
taking at all, while the gluttons would grab. It happened once that a Kohen
grabbed his portion and his friend's portion. From then on was called 'Ben
ha'Afun' ('son of the bean')." The Gemara in Yoma (39b) relates a similar
story, concluding that the Kohen was called thereafter "Ben Chamtzan."
Chimtza can also mean "bean" (Yevamos 63a, but see Gemara in Yoma, ibid.),
so it is probable that the two stories are referring to the same incident
and to the same nickname.
The Latin term for bean is "faba." It could be that the Kohen who grabbed
was a descendant of Yishmael Ben Fiabi. As we have seen, Yishmael's
descendants ruled with arrogance and took what was not theirs. In a play on
words, instead of calling this person Ben Fiabi, he was renamed "Ben Faba"
or "Ben ha'Afun."
The Tosefta (Kelim, Bava Kama 1:6) relates that "the Ba'al ha'Pul would club
to death any Kohen who went between the Mizbe'ach and the Beis ha'Mikdash
without performing Kidush Yadayim v'Raglayim (washing of the hands and
feet)." No mention is made about the identity of this "Ba'al ha'Pul." Who
was this mysterious "Ba'al ha'Pul?" Perhaps it was the descendant of
Yishmael Ben Fiabi who was known as the "Ben ha'Afun," since "Ba'al ha'Pul
literally means "master of the bean." Despite the fact that he sometimes
expressed his zealousness in terms of greed, nevertheless, like his
grandfather he zealously guarded the sanctity of the Beis ha'Mikdash. (RAV
RE'UVAIN MARGULIOS, Cheker l'Shemos v'Kinuyim b'Talmud)