THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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SANHEDRIN 96-100 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs.
Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the third Yahrzeit of her father, Reb
Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner), who passed away 18 Teves 5760. May the
merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study serve as an Iluy for his
1) THE ANGEL "LAILAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes Rebbi Yochanan who teaches that when Avraham
Avinu fought the war against the four kings, he was assisted by the Mal'ach
named "Lailah." Rebbi Yitzchak Nafcha says that Avraham was assisted by the
The Gemara in Nidah (30a) teaches that when a child is conceived, the
Mal'ach named "Lailah" takes the newly conceived embryo and brings it to the
Heavenly court that decrees upon it all of the qualities that the person
will have, except for the trait of Yir'as Shamayim.
Why was this Mal'ach in particular involved in fighting Avraham's war?
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains that Avraham Avinu did not have the natural
power to overcome the nations in war, and he certainly was not able to
conquer the most powerful kings in the world. As Avraham Avinu said, "I
should have been dust" under the feet of the kings (RASHI to Bereishis
18:27). Avraham persevered only because he and his nation are above the
natural order of the world, as the Gemara in Shabbos (156a) teaches about
Avraham when it says that he had children even though he was not supposed to
have children. Through Tefilah and Zechus one is able to change his fate.
This is the allusion of the Gemara here when it says that "Lailah" fought on
behalf of Avraham. The same Mal'ach that gave him his destiny when he was
conceived now came to change his destiny.
Rebbi Yitzchak Nafcha is making a similar point. The Mazal of a person is
governed by the positions of the stars at the time of his birth (as the
Gemara in Shabbos says). The same stars that gave Avraham his original Mazal
now came to change his Mazal so that he would be able to survive.
We may add that this might be why, immediately after relating the incident
of the war against the kings, the Torah tells us that Avraham Avinu had a
prophetic vision in which he asked Hashem for children (Bereishis 15:1).
Hashem brought him outside and showed him the stars and told him that he
would have as many children as there are stars.
The Gemara in Yevamos (64b) says that Avraham and Sarah were born without
the ability to have children. The Gemara in Shabbos (156a) explains that
when Hashem answered Avraham Avinu by telling him to look up at the stars,
he was telling him that he is not going to be governed by his Mazal. Even
though his Mazal was to remain barren, Hashem was changing his Mazal and
moving around the stars so that he could have children. It was only after
Avraham Avinu fought against the kings, at which time he merited to rise
above his Mazal through his faith in Hashem in making him victorious, that
he merited to rise above his Mazal with regard to bearing children as well.
2) LETTING THE DESCENDANTS OF "RESHA'IM" JOIN THE JEWISH PEOPLE
QUESTION: The Gemara points out that many of the greatest enemies of the
Jewish people eventually joined the Jewish nation in some way. Nevuzaradan,
after killing nearly a million Jews and destroying the Beis ha'Mikdash,
converted and became a Ger Tzedek. The grandchildren of Sisera became Gerim,
as well as those of Sancheriv and Haman. However, the Mal'achim did not
allow Nevuchadnetzar to have descendants who would be Jewish. The Mal'achim
argued to Hashem, "How can we accept a person who destroyed Your Beis
ha'Mikdash to come beneath the wings of the Shechinah?"
Why did the Mal'achim not protest when the other Resha'im, or their
descendants, joined the Jewish nation?
(a) REBBI TZADOK (in Machshavos Charutz, p. 178, and Dover Tzedek, p. 174)
explains that the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash and the removal of the
dwelling of the Shechinah in this world can be brought about only by a
person who has absolutely no good or positive elements left in him. The
reason why grandchildren of Resha'im convert is because they bring the
positive traits hidden in their grandparents into the Jewish people. Since
Nevuchadnetzar had no positive traits, it was not necessary for his
descendants to join the Jewish people.
Why, though, was Nevuzaradan accepted as a Ger, if it was he who personally
destroyed the Beis ha'Mikdash? It seems that if he was able to regret his
evil deeds during his lifetime, then that shows that he had some element of
good inside of him.
(b) RAV YAKOV KAMINETZKY zt'l (in EMES L'YAKOV, Bereishis 27:40) explains
that the reason the other Resha'im merited to have their descendants join
the Jewish people is because they brought about a Kidush Hashem, albeit
unintentionally. Through the actions of Haman, the Jewish nation repented
for their sins and the miracle of Purim occurred. Similarly, the miraculous
destruction of the armies of Sisera and Sancheriv brought about a great
However, Nevuchadnetzar succeeded in his evil plans, and he was not
miraculously defeated. Therefore, he did not merit to have his descendants
join the Jewish nation. (See also KEDUSHAS LEVI, Kelalos ha'Nisim, and
CHOCHMAH U'MUSAR 2:345, who offer similar explanations.)
Rav Yakov Kaminetzky adds that when the Gemara says that Hashem wanted to
bring the descendants of Nevuchadnetzar into the Jewish nation as well, it
means that He wanted to burn Nevuchadnetzar with the other kings who helped
him throw Chananyah, Misha'el, and Azaryah into the furnace (see Sanhedrin
92b). If Nevuchadnetzar would have been killed by the miracle that saved
Chananyah, Misha'el, and Azaryah before all of the nations of the world, he
would have been part of a Kidush Hashem and would have merited that his
children join the Jewish people. The Mal'achim protested and
Nevuchadnetzar's life was spared.