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) "GAVLAN" AND THE PEOPLE OF "GEVUL"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that teaches that before Mashi'ach
comes, "the Galil will be destroyed, Gavlan will become desolate, and the
people of the Gevul will wander from city to city with no respite."
2) THE 2,000 YEARS OF TORAH
The "Galil" apparently refers to the northern part of Eretz Yisrael. Rashi
writes that "Gavlan" is the name of place. The people of "Gevul" refer
either to the people living within the boundaries of Eretz Yisrael, says
Rashi, or the members of the Sanhedrin in the Lishkas ha'Gazis.
(a) Where is Gavla?
(b) What does Gevul have to do with the Sanhedrin in the Lishkas ha'Gazis?
(a) TOSFOS in Avodah Zarah (59a) writes that there are two places called
"Gavla." One Gavla is the region of Har Se'ir, east of the Yam ha'Melach.
The Targum Yonasan translates Har Se'ir is "Tura d'Gavla." The MAHARSHA
points out that the verse in Tehilim (83:8) refers to this area by the name
of "Geval" when it mentions Geval together with Amon and Amalek.
The other Gavla apparently is in Eretz Yisrael, as we see in Kesuvos (112a),
where the Gemara describes the tremendous size of the fruit of Gavla, which
was part of Eretz Yisrael.
RAV YAKOV EMDEN points out that there is a third place by that name in the
north, near Har ha'Levanon, as mentioned in Yehoshua (13:5), Melachim I
(5:32) and Yechezkel (27:9). That Gavla was not captured by Yehoshua.
(b) The YAD RAMAH has a different Girsa in the text of the Gemara. Instead
of saying that "Gavla" will become desolate and that the people of "Gevul"
will go wandering, the Gemara says that "Gevil" (with a Vav) will become
desolate, and that the people of "Gevil" will go wandering. "Gevil" refers
to the Sefer Torah, which is written on parchment, "Gevil." He explains that
the Gemara is saying that the Torah will become desolate, because there will
be no one learning Torah. The people of the "Gevil" are those who write
Sifrei Torah, who will wander from place to place looking for someone, but
finding no one, for whom to write a Sefer Torah.
It seems that Rashi also has the Girsa of "Gevil." "Gevil" is synonymous
with the word "Gazis" (see Bava Basra 2a), and thus Rashi understands that
"Gevil" refers to the Sanhedrin that convened in the Lishkas ha'Gazis of the
Beis ha'Mikdash. (It seems that a printing mistake was made in the
emendations of the VILNA GA'ON here (#2). His change should read "Gevil.")
QUESTION: The Gemara divides the 6,000 years of the world into three parts.
The first 2,000 years are "Tohu," the following 2,000 are "Torah," and the
final 2,000 are "Yemos ha'Mashi'ach."
Why does the Gemara say that there are only 2,000 years of Torah? Certainly
the years of Torah will continue even in Yemos ha'Mashi'ach!
ANSWER: RASHI (DH u'Shnei Alafim) explains that the Gemara limits the years
of Torah to 2,000 merely in order to parallel the other historical eras.
The VILNA GA'ON (Likutim, end of Safra d'Tzeni'usa) explains that after the
2,000 years of Torah, if the Mashi'ach does not come, then the world returns
to "Tohu" and the secrets of the Torah are kept hidden again from the world.
During the following 2,000 years, we must work to uncover the secrets of the
Torah in order to bring Mashi'ach.
The Vilna Ga'on's intention seems to be that at the end of the 2,000 years
of Torah, there is a tremendous revelation of Torah she'Ba'al Peh, to a
degree unsurpassed since the Time the Torah was given. This concurred with
the time of Rebbi Akiva, who lived approximately 120 years after the
Churban. The Gemara in Menachos (29b) describes how Hashem showed Moshe
Rabeinu a lecture of Rebbi Akiva, and Moshe did not understand what Rebbi
Akiva was teaching because of the depth of Rebbi Akiva's knowledge of Torah
she'Ba'al Peh. The Gemara says that Rebbi Akiva was able to learn Halachos
from every part of every letter in the Torah.
The Gemara in Bava Basra (8a) teaches that through learning Mishnah (Torah
she'Ba'al Peh) in times of Galus, the Jewish people will merit the Ge'ulah.
Perhaps this is why Rebbi Akiva wholeheartedly supported Bar Kochba's revolt
and declared him to be Mashi'ach (see RAMBAM, Hilchos Melachim XX). However,
Rebbi Akiva's students failed to properly learn the teachings of their
mentor, and 24,000 students died in a plague (Yevamos 62b). As a result, Bar
Kochba's revolt also failed. The Gemara in Yevamos describes the state of
the world -- after the death of Rebbi Akiva's students -- as "desolate"
("Shamem"), until Rebbi Akiva found five new students to whom to impart his
teachings. These students were Rebbi Meir, Rebbi Nechemyah, Rebbi Yehudah,
Rebbi Shimon, and Rebbi Yosi (as mentioned in the Gemara in Yevamos (see
Insights there), and in the Gemara in Sanhedrin 86a). They rejuvenated the
study of Torah she'Ba'al Peh.
RAV ISAAC CHAVER finds an allusion to these five Talmidim in a verse in
Parshas Balak. When Bilam wanted to curse the Jewish people, he took Balak
to "Rosh ha'Pe'or that overlooks the plains of the Yeshimon" (Bamidbar
23:28). Rashi explains that Bilam brought Balak to that place because it was
there that the Jewish people were destined to receive their punishment for
the sin they committed at Pe'or (Bamidbar 25:3). Rav Isaac Chaver explains
that the "Yeshimon" also alludes to another time at which the Jewish people
would suffer -- the time of the deaths of the Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva, when
the only ones who would remain to maintain the Torah in the world would be
the five Talmidim whose names form the abbreviation, "Yeshimon" -- Rebbi
*Y*ehudah, Rebbi *Sh*imon, Rebbi *Y*osi, Rebbi *M*eir, and Rebbi
*N*echemyah. ("Yeshimon" is spelled with two Yud's and no Vav. The word
"Yeshimon" itself is related to the word, "Shamem," which the Gemara uses to
describe the desolate state of the world until these Talmidim learned Torah
from Rebbi Akiva.)
The word "Yeshimon" appears again in Parshas Ha'azinu (Devarim 32:10), where
the Torah says that Hashem built up the Jewish people from "nothingness,
wailing, desolation" -- "Tohu Yelel Yeshimon." In this verse we see a clear
association between "Yeshimon" and "Tohu," which alludes to what the Vilna
Ga'on says -- when the Torah of the Ge'ulah does not accomplish its goal,
the world returns to "Tohu" and desolation.
Our mission during the 2,000 years after the time of Rebbi Akiva, after
Rebbi Akiva restored Torah she'Ba'al Peh through his five new students, is
to reveal all of the secrets of Torah she'Ba'al Peh and bring the Jewish
people back to the level at which it is possible to bring the Ge'ulah. This
is done through the Mishnah and Midrashim that they redacted. The greatest
of the Talmidim of Rebbi Akiva was Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai, who proclaimed
that his teachings were "the best of the best" of Rebbi Akiva's teachings.
He also compiled the Zohar, teaching the secrets of the Torah that he had
received from his teacher, in which he writes in a number of places that
through learning the Zohar the Ge'ulah will be hastened. (Based on the words
of RAV MOSHE SHAPIRO shlit'a.)
May we merit, through Dafyomi's worldwide study of Torah she'Ba'al Peh, the
arrival of Mashi'ach and the final Ge'ulah.
3) CALCULATIONS OF THE YEAR OF THE ARRIVAL OF MASHI'ACH
OPINIONS: The Gemara presents a number of predictions as to when Mashi'ach
will come. In Sefer Daniel (chapter 12), at least four descriptions are
given with regard to when the Ge'ulah will occur. The Mal'ach Gavriel tells
Daniel that the Galus will end, "l'Mo'ed Mo'adim va'Chatzi" (Daniel 12:7;
this means literally "a time, times and a half," and it is also mentioned
earlier in Daniel 7:25 in its Aramaic version, "Ad Idan v'Idanin u'Felag
When Daniel asks for further explanation, he is told that from the time the
Korban Tamid is stopped (i.e. the Churban of the Beis ha'Mikdash) it will be
another 1,290 years until the Ge'ulah (12:11). The Mal'ach then adds
(12:12), "Happy is the one who waits and reaches 1,335 years" (because that
is when the Ge'ulah will occur."
Earlier in Daniel (8:14), it says that the Galus will last "until evening
and morning, 2,300."
The Rishonim suggest a number of ways to interpret these verses and to
predict the time of the arrival of Mashi'ach based on these verses.
Generally, the predicted times are within a hundred years of the time that
the prediction was made. The reason for this is probably because of what the
RAMBAM writes in IGERES TEIMAN. The Rambam explains that it is unproductive
to calculate when the Mashi'ach will come (as our Gemara says, "Tipach
Atzman Shel Mechashvei Keitzin"), since it can only cause disappointment if
he does not arrive then, and such a calculation is unnecessary if he does
come. Why, then, do some Rishonim (including the Rambam himself) predict
when the Mashi'ach will come? The Rambam writes that there are times when
the Jewish nation was suffering greatly and needed a boost of morale so that
they would continue to serve Hashem with devotion. For that reason, the
Gedolim found allusions in the verses for the imminent arrival of the
(a) RASHI here explains that the time referred to by the verse (12:7)
describing "l'Mo'ed Mo'adim va'Chatzi" ("a time, times and a half") are the
four hundred years designated for the length of Galus Mitzrayim. "A time,
times and a half" means three and a half multiplied by that number, which
comes to 1,400. The YAD RAMAH explains that we are supposed to expect the
Ge'ulah to come this number of years after the Churban of the first Beis
ha'Mikdash. This would be the year 978 C.E.
The Yad Ramah adds that, alternatively, we can multiply the actual time span
which the Jewish people spent in Mitzrayim (210) by three and a half, which
comes to a total of 735 years, and count that number of years after the
Churban of the *second* Beis ha'Mikdash. This would be the year 803 C.E. As
Rashi points out in the end of his comment, these times have already passed,
although they would have been relevant during the times of the Tana'im and
Amora'im who discussed these times.
(b) RAV SA'ADYAH GA'ON (Emunah v'De'os, chapter 8) suggests that the number
of 1,335 years is supposed to be counted from the building of the second
Beis ha'Mikdash. (The number 1,290 was revealed to Daniel 45 years later).
He writes that this number corresponds exactly to "l'Mo'ed Mo'adim
va'Chatzi" ("a time, times and a half"), if we assume that "Mo'ed Mo'adim"
refers to the time span during which the Jewish nation was independent and
governed itself. This refers to the 480 years from Yetzi'as Mitzrayim until
the building of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, plus the 410 years that the Beis
ha'Mikdash stood. That amount, 990 years, is the "Mo'ed Mo'adim." We must
add to that another half of that number (445), which gives a total of 1,335
years. This would be the year 983 C.E.
(c) The RAMBAM in IGERES TEIMAN does not relate to the times to which Daniel
alludes, but he instead cites a tradition that was passed down in his family
for many generations from the time of the Churban of the second Beis
ha'Mikdash. According to his tradition, Bilam alluded to the date of the
Ge'ulah in his prophecy when he said, "Ka'Es Ye'amer l'Ya'akov ul'Yisrael
Mah Pa'al Kel" -- "As now it will be said to Yakov and to Yisrael that which
Hashem has done" (Bamidbar 23:23). Bilam meant that when the same number of
years passes from that day as has passed from the creation of the world,
then prophecy will return to the Jewish people, and the prophet will tell
the Jews the word of Hashem. Bilam's prophecy took place 38 years after
Yetzi'as Mitzrayim, which occurred in the year 2448. The year of Bilam's
prophecy, then, was 2486. Adding 2,486 years to that date would make the
year of the Ge'ulah come out to 4972, or 1212 C.E.
(d) The RAMBAN in his famous debate against an apostate in the presence of
the king of Aragon (paragraph 61, Chavel edition) explains that the 1,290
years that Daniel mentions begins from the time of the Churban of the second
Beis ha'Mikdash. After that number of years has passed, the Mashi'ach will
come. After another 45 years, or 1,335 years after the Churban, will be the
Kibutz Galuyos, the incoming of the exiles, when all of the Jews will return
to Eretz Yisrael. This would be the year 1358 C.E. (which was 95 years from
the date of the debate, as the Ramban writes).
(e) The MALBIM (end of Daniel) suggests that the 1,290 years begin from the
time of Atalyah, at which time they defiled the Beis ha'Mikdash and stopped
offering the Korban Tamid. The end of Atalyah's reign was the year 3,061,
and we can assume that the Tamid was stopped in the year 3,060. This would
mean that the year of the Ge'ulah would be 4,350, which would be the year
590 C.E. The Malbim writes that the Romans actually permitted the Jews to
rebuild the Beis ha'Mikdash at that time (as recorded in the SEDER
HA'DOROS). However, there were great earthquakes and other signs from Hashem
that the time had not yet come. From that time on, we must wait for the
Ge'ulah, because it could come anytime during the next 1,335 years. This
means that the final year for the Ge'ulah would be 1925 C.E.
However, the Malbim arrives at two other dates based on the verse that
mentions "l'Mo'ed Mo'adim va'Chatzi" (12:7), and the verse that mentions
the number 2,300 (8:14). The years he arrives at are 1913 and 1928,
respectively. He suggests that the Ge'ulah will begin in 1913, which is when
the seven years of the Shemitah cycle will begin, as described by the Gemara
describes, and seven years of the war of Gog u'Magog. The building of the
Beis ha'Mikdash will begin three years before the final Ge'ulah of 1928,
which is why this verse gives a date of 1925 (which he says was 60 years
from the time that he was writing this calculation).
(It is interesting to note that the VILNA GA'ON, in his commentary to Safra
d'Tzeni'usa, presents veiled hints to the year of the coming of Mashi'ach.
RAV MOSHE AHARON STERN zt'l related that this tradition was passed down to
the Vilna Ga'on's student, Rav Chaim of Volozhen, who passed it to Rav
Zundel Salant, who passed it to his student Rav Yisrael Salanter, who passed
it to Rav Naftali Amsterdam, who moved to Yerushalayim towards the end of
his life. At one point, Rav Naftali accidentally revealed the date and
immediately made those around him to promise never to reveal the date to
anyone else. Rav Moshe Aharon Stern knew one person who heard the date from
Rav Naftali, and once he and his friends pleaded with him to reveal the
date. After much pleading, the man finally said, "I will not tell you the
date. But I will tell you that these children that you see over there --
they will merit to be soldiers in the army of Mashi'ach!" Those children
were forty years old at the time that Rav Moshe Aharon related this
incident, which was approximately fifteen years ago.)