ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous daf Sotah 34
SOTAH 31-35 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer
in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai
ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the
study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.
(a) The moment the Kohanim 'dipped their feet' in the river - it stopped
flowing downstream, running itself into a wall instead.
(b) According to Rebbi Yehudah, the water piled up to a height of twelve Mil
(corresponding to the size of the Camp of Yisrael who crossed in the same
formation as they camped). Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon objects to this - on
the grounds that water travels more swiftly than people, in which case the
water would have reached that height well before the people finished
crossing, and would have crashed down on them and drowned them.
(c) According to him, it reached a height of over three hundred Mil, and
could be seen by all the kings of Cana'an, whose hearts melted (out of
(d) When Rachav said "Va'nishma Va'yimas Levaveinu ... " - she was referring
to the miracle of K'ri'as Yam-Suf, which the people of Cana'an still
remembered vividly (even though it had taken place some forty years
(a) Before they had finished crossing the Yarden - Yehoshua told Yisrael
that they are only crossing the Yarden on condition that they undertake
there and then to destroy the Cana'anim from the land. Otherwise, the water
would crash down on them and drown them.
(b) When he said "ve'Im La'av, Ba'in Mayim ve'Shotfin *Oseichem*" (as quoted
in the Beraisa) - he meant that if they did not accept the above terms, the
water would crash drown on him as well as on them (as if the Pasuk had
written "Osi ve'Eschem").
(c) Before they had finished crossing the Yarden - Yehoshua also instructed
them to pick up twelve stones (one for each tribe) to take with them to
(d) We learn from the Pasuk " ... Hachein Sh'teim-Esrei Avanim ...
Ve'hinachtem Osam ba'Malon *Asher Talinu Bah ha'Laylah*" - that they were to
leave the stones in the first place they arrived at (Gilgal) and not from
one location to the next.
(a) Rebbi Yossi quoting a number of Tana'im, gives the weight of each of
the twelve stones - as forty Sa'ah.
(b) Bearing in mind that they lifted the stones from the Yarden on to their
shoulders single-handedly, and based on a tradition that a person is able to
carry a weight three times as heavy as one that he can pick up by himself,
when others help him pick it up, the minimum weight that the cluster of
grapes that the eight spies brought back with them would have been - nine
hundred and sixty Sa'ah.
(c) Considering that every 'Mot' is carried by two people, "Va'yis'a'uhu
ba'Mot *bi'Shenayim*" - must mean that they carried the grapes on two poles.
(a) When Rav Yitzchak said 'Turteni, ve'Turteni de'Turteni' - he meant that
they actually carried the grapes on two pairs of poles, one on top of the
other, crossed diagonally and carried on the shoulders of eight men (see
(b) Rav Yitzchak has no source for this other than the fact that - since
only one of the spies would have been required to carry a pomegranate and a
fig (apparently, it was only the grapes that reached such astronomical
proportions), the remaining eight must have been needed to carry the cluster
of grapes (since it is to be assumed that all the spies wanted to
participate in the Lashon ha'Ra involving the grapes, with the exception of
(c) We have accounted for ten of the spies. The other two were Kalev and
Yehoshua, who declined to participate in carrying the fruit, either because
of their eminence, or because they disagreed with the other spies motives
for bringing it back.
We cited earlier Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon's Kashya, that if as Rebbi
Yehudah maintains, the water ran itself into a wall twelve Mil tall, then,
seeing as the camp of Yisrael was twelve Mil by twelve Mil, they would have
drowned as the water crashed down on them before they had finished crossing.
Rebbi Yehudah might disagree with Rebbi Elazar b'Rebbi Shimon's theory that
water always travels more swiftly than people, according to Rebbi Ami or
Rebbi Asi. In addition (see Tosfos DH 'ba'Zeh') - Rebbi Elazar be'Rebbi
Shimon might disagree with Rebbi Yehudah's statement that they did crossed
the Yarden in the same formation as they camped, but in a long line (tribe
after tribe). Consequently, it would have taken much longer for Yisrael to
cross (see also Tosfos and Agados Maharsha).
(a) Resh Lakish interprets the Pasuk ...
1. ... "*Sh'lach-Lecha* Anashim" - to imply that this was not a command from
Hashem (considering its disastrous ending), but permission for Moshe to send
spies at his whim.
(b) Rebbi Chiya bar Aba extrapolates from the 'Gezeirah-Shavah'
"*Ve'yachperu* Lanu es ha'Aretz" and "*Ve'chafrah* ha'Levanah U'voshah
ha'Chamah" - that the spies chief intention was to denigrate Eretz Yisrael.
2. ... "Va'yitav be'Einai ha'Davar" - that although their request was good
in the eyes of Moshe, it was not good in the eyes of Hashem.
(c) Rebbi Yitzchak cites a tradition - that the names of the spies describe
their evil deed.
(d) In that light, he explains the name 'Sesur ben Micha'el' to mean
demolished the words of Hashem, making himself poorer in the process. In
similar vein, Rebbi Yochanan explains the name 'Nachbi ben Vafsi' to mean -
that he hid the words of Hashem (from Heichavei - to hide), skipping over
what He had said (from the word Pisei'a [to jump]).
(a) The Torah writes "Va'ya'alu ba'Negev *Va'yavo* ad Chevron" (in the
singular) - because Kalev alone went to Me'aras ha'Machpeilah to prostrate
himself at the graves of the Avos and to ask them to plead with Hashem on
his behalf for Divine assistance, for the strength to withstand the pressure
to participate in the plans of the other spies.
(b) Yehoshua did not join him - because he had already received Moshe's
blessings, when he changed his name from Hoshei'a to Yehoshua.
(c) The change of name to Yehoshua implied - a prayer for Hashem to save him
from the spies' plans.
(d) In reward for his trip to Chevron, Kalev received Chevron (for his
descendants, and to be buried there).
(a) The spies related in awe how they had seen the three sons of the giant
Anak, Achiman, Sheishai and Talmai. Sheishai and Talmai were so-called
because the one made holes in the ground as he walked (from the word
'Shachas' - a pit) and the other, created furrows (Telamim). The first
brother was called "Achiman" - because he was 'Meyuman she'be'Echav' (the
strongest of the brothers).
(b) They were called "B'nei Anak" - because so tall were they, that the sun
appeared like a necklace (Anak) around their necks.
(c) They also shared the distinction - that each of them built a town, Anas,
Alash and Talbush respectively.
(a) Seeing as Cana'an, the son of Cham, was younger than Mitzrayim, it was
considered unethical to build him a town before building one for his older
brother. Consequently, when the Torah writes "ve'Chevron Sheva Shanim
Nivnesah Lifnei Tzo'an Mitzrayim" - it means that its harvest was seven
times as successful as that of Tzo'an.
(b) This is particularly remarkable - because, due to its relatively poor
quality soil, it was the least productive area in Eretz Yisrael; whereas
Tzo'an was the most productive area in Egypt.
(c) We know that ...
1. ... on the one hand, Chevron was the rockiest (and the least productive)
part of Eretz Yisrael - from the fact that it was designated as a burial
2. ... on the other, Tzo'an was the most productive part of Egypt - because
it was where the royal palace was built for the kings to live there.
(a) The best rams came from Mo'av - the best lambs from Chevron.
(b) Not only does this not clash with what we just said (that Chevron is
particularly rocky), but it even supports it - because it is precisely
because Chevron was not lucrative as regards produce-growing, that they
designated it as grazing-ground.