(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Bava Basra, 123

BAVA BASRA 123 (11 Av) - dedicated by Eitan Fish in memory of his illustrious ancestor, Hagaon Rav Yitzchak Blazer ("Reb Itzele Peterburger"), author of "Kochevei Or" and "Pri Yitzchak" and one of the foremost Talmidim of Hagaon Rav Yisrael Salanter, Zatza"l. Reb Itzele passed away on 11 Av 5667 (1907) in Yerushalayim.


QUESTION: The Gemara explains the words of Yakov Avinu to Yosef, "I have given you an extra portion more than your brothers, which I took from the Emorite with my sword and with my bow" (Bereishis 48:22). Yakov certainly was not saying that he literally used his sword and bow to obtain the land, because we are taught not to trust in our bow or sword, as the verse says, "For I will not trust in my bow, and my sword will not save me" (Tehilim 44:7). Rather, "my sword" refers to "Tefilah," prayer, and "my bow" refers to "Bakashah," request.

The YOSEF DA'AS cites the BEIS YAKOV (Parshas Vayechi) who says that even though the literal meaning of the verse is also true (and Yakov did fight physically with his sword and bow), nevertheless his fighting certainly was accompanied by his spiritual efforts -- his Tefilah and Bakashah.

What is the meaning of these two metaphors? What does it mean that Yakov acquired land through his Tefilah and Bakashah?


(a) The MAHARSHA explains that prayer, which is compared to the sword, is what protects the Jewish people against the onslaught of Esav. Esav received a blessing from his father, Yitzchak, that he would live by his sword (Bereishis 27:40). The Midrash explains the verse, "The voice is the voice of Yakov, but the hands are the hands of Esav" (Bereishis 27:22), to mean that when the voice of Yakov, the Jewish people, is strong in Torah and in prayer, the hands of the descendants of Esav cannot harm the descendants of Yakov. The "sword" of Tefilah is Yakov's defense against Esav's sword.

The Maharsha explains that the word "b'Kashti," or "with my bow," is similar to the word "Bakashah," or "request." Yishmael received the blessing that he would be an archer who hunts with his bow (Bereishis 21:20). The "Bakashah," the supplications of the Jewish people to Hashem, is their protection against the "Keshes," the bow, of Yishmael (see Parshah Page, Chayei Sarah 5758).

(b) The MESECH CHOCHMAH (Bereishis 48:22) discusses another facet of the analogy of prayer and request to the sword and the bow. "Tefilah" refers to the fixed prayers of the liturgy, established by the Sanhedrin for all to say. "Bakashah" refers to the private and personal supplications of an individual to Hashem. When reciting the prayers established for the Tzibur, the individual fulfills the Mitzvah of prayer even if his Kavanah is lacking; b'Di'eved, if one has proper Kavanah for only the first Berachah of Shemoneh Esreh, he has fulfilled his obligation. An individual's personal prayer, though, requires Kavanah throughout the prayer and none of it can be said without Kavanah. Moreover, the Gemara in Ta'anis (8a) says that prayers which are said alone are accepted by Hashem only if they are said with full and complete Kavanah. Prayers which are said together with a Minyan are accepted by Hashem even if the individual is not totally concentrating; through the merit of the Tzibur with whom the individual is praying, Hashem is merciful and accepts the individual's prayers.

The Meshech Chochmah explains that this is why Tefilah is compared to the sword. A sword is effective due to the sharpness of its blade, and even if the warrior using the sword does not put a lot of energy into striking with his sword, the sword can still inflict maximal damage. An arrow, in contrast, is not an effective weapon in itself. Its effectiveness comes from the strength which the archer puts into it by pulling the bow and aiming the arrow. Public Tefilah, like a sword, is effective due to its own intrinsic strength and the strength of the merits of the Tzibur, and it reaches Shamayim even without a high level of Kavanah. Private prayer, in contrast, are like a bow; the effectiveness of private prayer depends upon the Kavanah of the person praying. (See also MEROMEI SADEH, BEN YEHOYADA.)


QUESTION: The Beraisa states that when a Kohen dies, his firstborn son receives a double portion of the Zero'a, Lechayayim, and Keivah (the priestly gifts of the foreleg, the [lower] jaw, and the maw or abomasum (the last of a cow's four stomachs), which a person must give to a Kohen whenever he slaughters an ox, sheep or goat that is not Kodesh). The Gemara asks what case the Beraisa is discussing. If it is discussing a case when those gifts had been given to the father before he died, then it is obvious that the Bechor receives a double portion, because they are no different than the rest of the father's property! If, on the other hand, the father did not yet receive those gifts, then they are "Ra'uy" and the law is that a Bechor does receive a double portion of property that is "Ra'uy!"

Why does the Gemara call these gifts "Ra'uy" when they have not been given to the Kohen? "Ra'uy" refers specifically to property that will eventually come into the person's possession, such as an inheritance from his father. In the case of priestly gifts, if a Kohen dies before these gifts are given to him, then the gifts are not even "Ra'uy" -- they were never due to come to him (but rather, now that he has died, they are going to be given to another, living Kohen)! It goes without saying that a Bechor or any other heir does not inherit property that his father never had! (RASHBA and others)


(a) The Rishonim cite the RI MI'GASH who emends the Girsa of the Gemara and deletes the words from "Ra'uy Hu" until "keve'Muchzak," replacing them with the word "Amai," so that the Gemara reads, "If they have not yet come into the hands of the father, then why [should the Bechor receive any of it]?"

(b) The RASHBA and other Rishonim explain that when the Gemara asks its question at this point, it knows part of the answer already. The Gemara knows that the Beraisa is referring to a case of "Makirei Kehunah," friends and relatives of the Kohen who always give him these gifts. Hence, these gifts *are* "Ra'uy" -- they are destined to be given to this Kohen. However, they are not "Muchzak," they are not actually in the possession of the Kohen, and thus the Gemara asks that since they are only "Ra'uy," the Bechor should not receive a double portion. The Gemara does *not* know at this point, however, that the Beraisa is referring to a case in which the animal was slaughtered before the Kohen died. Alternatively, the Gemara does not hold that "Matanos she'Lo Hurmu k'Mi she'Hurmu Damu" (the priestly gifts that must be separated from one's flock and given to Kohanim are considered as if they have already been separated), but rather it holds that the gifts must actually be separated for the Kohen in order for them to be considered to be in the Kohen's possession. Although the Gemara, at this point, holds that the gifts are not in the Kohen's possession, they *are* "Ra'uy" because there is some degree of obligation for the Kohen's friends to give the gifts to this Kohen. (See RITVA and RABEINU YONAH who explain that this degree of obligation, which makes the gifts "Ra'uy" and destined to come to the father, is because of the promise of the "Makirei Kehunah" to give these gifts to their friend the Kohen. The Halachah is that one is not allowed to retract on a promise to give someone a small gift (Bava Metzia 49a). Hence, since the "Makirei Kehunah" have an obligation to give the gifts to the Kohen, the gifts are considered "Ra'uy" to come to him.)

The Gemara answers that the Beraisa is referring to when the animal was slaughtered before the Kohen died, and that the Tana of the Beraisa maintains that "Matanos she'Lo Hurmu k'Mi she'Hurmu Damu." Consequently, the gifts are considered to be in the possession of the Kohen ("Muchzak") even before he actually receives them. Therefore, the Bechor receives a double portion of those gifts.

Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,