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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Bava Basra 74

BAVA BASRA 71-75 - Sponsored by a generous grant from an anonymous donor. Kollel Iyun Hadaf is indebted to him for his encouragement and support and prays that Hashem will repay him in kind.



(a) The Arab merchant showed Rabah bar bar Chanah the corpses of those who died in Midbar Sinai. Their faces - shone like someone who has drunk wine, and they were lying on their backs (see Tosfos).

(b) The Arab then - rode underneath the archway created by the bent knees of one of the corpses, with his sword held aloft, without touching the dead man's knees.

(c) We learn from the Lashon 've'Ayil Parsha Tusi Birkeih' (rather than 've'Ayil Parsha' or 've'Ayil Gavra') - that the Arab actually did that, and not just that a person could have done it.

(d) Rabah bar bar Chanah then cut off the corner of one of their garments together with the Tzitzis - in order to show it to the Chachamim, to determine from there whether the Halachah is like Beis Shamai (who require four double-threads on the Tzitzis) or Beis Hillel (who require only three).

(a) The Arab, who had not seen Rabah bar bar Chanah cutting the corner, nevertheless accused him of taking something from them - because suddenly, they found themselves unable to move on, a sign that someone had taken something from one of the dead men.

(b) So - he ordered him to return whatever it was he had taken. He did, and they rode on.

(c) When he came before the Chachamim, they said to him 'Kol Aba Chamra' (adding 've'Chol bar bar Chanah Sichsa', which is basically a repetition). 'Aba' was Rabah's real name ('Rabah' was merely a corruption of 'Rebbi Aba', like 'Ravina' of 'Rav Avina').

(d) By 'Kol Aba Chamra', they meant - that Rabah was stupid like a donkey.

(a) The Chachamim called Rabah bar bar Chanah stupid - because he should have counted the Tzitzis and the Chulyos.

(b) A Chulyah is - one of the two groups of Tzitzis hanging vertically at the end of the Tzitzis (comprising three Tzitzis according to Beis Shamai, and four, according to Beis Hillel).

(c) When the Arab showed Rabah bar bar Chanah Har Sinai, he saw frogs - which resembled white donkeys surrounding it.

(a) The bas-Kol which Rabah bar bar Chanah heard announced - 'Woe is Me that I took an oath. And now that I did, who will annul it for Me?'

(b) The Chachamim again referred to him as stupid - because this time, he ought to have taken his cue from the bas-Kol and annulled the oath.

(c) This referred to the oath (cited many times in T'nach) - that Yisrael would remain in Galus until the time of the Ge'ulah arrived.

(d) They did not accept his excuse that he thought that the bas-Kol might have referred to the Shevu'ah that Hashem would never again destroy the world with a flood - because if that was so, why did Hashem express regret ('Oy Li ... ')?

(e) The special significance of 'Oy Li ... ' in this context - pertains to Hashem's sharing Yisrael's pains with them (as the Pasuk in Yeshayah states "In all their sufferings, He suffers too").

(a) The Arab merchant then showed him two cracks in the desert from which smoke emanated - because that was the spot where Korach and his rebels (who were burning in Gehinom) were swallowed by the earth.

(b) He responded by taking a piece of wool - which he soaked in water and stuck on the end of his sword. Finally, he placed into one of the cracks, and when he withdrew it, the wool was sizzling.

(c) And he instructed Rabah bar bar Chanah to place his ear near the ground and listen - to the cries of Korach and his men, who announced 'Moshe and his Torah are genuine and we are imposters'.

(d) They have to do this - once every thirty days, when they are returned to that spot from Gehinom ('like a hot piece of meat on a plate').

(a) When the Arab showed Rabah bar Chanah a place where heaven and earth meet, the latter placed his basket - in a window in the sky.

(b) This cannot have really been the end of the world (as is implied) - because that point is five hundred years walking distance away (and Rabah bar bar Chanah lived in Eretz Yisrael).

(c) What made Rabah bar bar Chanah think that there were Ganavim there - was the fact that when he had finished Davenning, his basket had disappeared.

(d) But the Arab disillusioned him - by informing him that it was the celestial sphere that is in constant orbit, that had taken it. The proof for this was - the fact that the following day, it brought it back.

(a) Rebbi Yochanan told how he once saw a fish poke its head out of the water. Its two eyes resembled two moons - and its gills spouted water like the two rivers of Sura.

(b) Rav Safra saw a fish with horns poke its head out of the water. Besides the fact that it was one of the small creatures of the sea, engraved on its horns was - the information that it was three hundred Parsah long and that it was destined to land in the mouth of the Livyasan.

(a) The only land-creature that has no equivalent in the sea is - a weasel.

(b) The sea-goat scourges for food - by digging in the sea-bed with its horns.

(c) Rav Ashi discusses the sea-goat here - because, seeing as it has horns, it must have been the fish that Rav Safra saw.

(a) Rebbi Yochanan discusses a box that he saw from a ship. The box was studded with - precious stones and jewels.

(b) The box was surrounded by something called Karsha - which is a kind of fish.

(c) When a certain swimmer went to fetch the box - he was attacked by the fish, which threatened to break his thighs.

(d) To escape the danger - he threw a bottle of vinegar at it and it submerged.

(e) A bas-Kol announced - that he should leave the box alone, because it was reserved for the wife of Rebbi Chanina ben Dosa, who will use it to store Tzitzis (or Techeiles) for the Tzadikim in the World to Come.




(a) Rav Yehudah from India told the story of how he was once on a ship when they spied a jewel. When a swimmer went to retrieve it, and a serpent threatened to swallow the ship - a she-raven bit off its head.

(b) The water turned red from its blood - after which it tried again to swallow the ship, but the same raven killed it.

(c) The swimmer then took the jewel and placed it on some salted birds that they had on the boat (to test whether it had the power to revivr the dead. It did. The birds came alive and flew away - with the jewel!

(d) Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua were once on a boat. Rebbi Eliezer awoke - when Rebbi Yehoshua trembled because he saw a bright light in the sea, causing Rebbi Eliezer to wake up.

(e) He told Rebbi Yehoshua that he had probably seen - the eyes of the Livyasan (the Leviathan).

(a) Huna bar Nasan told Rav Ashi how they were once traveling in a desert, and how they had with them the thigh of an animal, which they Kashered. After they placed it on some grass and went to look for fire-wood - the cut up pieces of thigh came together.

(b) And when they returned to the same spot a year later, they found - that the embers of the fire on which they had roasted the thigh were still glowing.

(c) Ameimar later described ...

1. ... the grass - as a special type that binds things together.
2. ... the fire-wood - as being from the Rosem-tree, which burns for a long time.
(d) In Bavel, they interpreted the Pasuk "va'Yivra Hashem es ha'Taninim ha'Gedolim" as Re'eim (wild ox) of the sea. In Eretz Yisrael however, Rebbi Yochanan interpreted it as - the male and female Livyasan.
(a) When Rav Yehudah Amar Rav talks about 'Livyasan Nachash Beri'ach ve'Livyasan Nachash Akalason', he is referring to - the male and female Livyasan respectively.

(b) The significance of 'Beri'ach' and 'Akalason' is - that the male was created straight (like other fish), whereas the female encircled the world.

(c) Hashem ...

  1. ... castrated the male ...
  2. ... and killed the female, which he then salted for the Tzadikim in the World to Come.
(d) He did that - because, if they were allowed to mate and reproduce, their numerous (sizable) offspring would destroy the world.

(e) We learn from the future tense of "ba'Yom ha'Hu *Yifkod* Hashem be'Charbo ha'Kashah ... al Livyasan Bari'ach" - that the male Livyasan is still alive, and that Hashem will only kill it in time to come.

(a) The Pasuk in Tehilim speaks about "Beheimos be'Harerei Elef", so-called - because they graze on a thousand mountains per day.

(b) There too, due to the same fear, Hashem castrated the male, only this time - He cooled down the nature of the female (rather than kill it).

(c) Hashem declined to change the nature of the female Livyasan like He did with the female Beheimah be'Harerei Elef - because of the extremely promiscuous nature of fish, leaving Him with no alternative but to kill it.

(d) Hashem may have chosen to kill the female Livyasan and to castrate the male (rather than the reverse), because the salted female is tastier.
Alternatively, He did that - because based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "Livyasan Zeh Yatzarta le'Sachek Bo", Chazal teach us that in the fourth hour, Hashem (Kevayachol) plays with the Livyasan, and it would not have been correct to keep alive the female for that purpose.

(e) He did not kill the female Beheimos be'Harerei Elef and salt it like He did the female Livyasan - because whereas preserved fish is tasty, preserved meat is not.

(a) Rahav was - the Angel of the sea.

(b) At the time of the creation, Hashem ordered him to open his mouth and swallow all the water in the world (i.e. to allow the rivers to flow into the sea) - in order to create terra firma, (since the land had initially been covered with water [to restrict all the water to certain areas]).

(c) When he replied that he had enough on his plate controlling his own sea-water and preventing tidal waves (which are now the exception rather than the rule), Hashem reacted - by kicking him and killing him (and doing the job Himself, as the Pasuk writes in Koheles "All the rivers flow into the sea").

(d) When the Pasuk writes "Lo Yare'u ve'Lo Yashchisu be'Chol Har Kodshi ... *ka'Mayim la'Yam Mechasim*", it is referring (not to the sea, but) - to Rahav (the Angel of the sea), whose corpse does not stink, because it is covered by sea-water.

(a) According to the Beraisa - it is the Jordan River that flows out of the cave of Pamayas (Banyas), and makes its way through the Sea of Sivchi and the Sea of Teverya.

(b) It finally flows into - the Mediterranean Sea.

(c) And it finally lands - in the mouth of the Livyasan.

(d) This latter statement is based on the Pasuk "Yivtach ki Yagi'ach Yarden el Piyhu". Considering that "Yivtach" refers to the Beheimos be'Harerei Elef, Rava bar Ula reinterprets the Pasuk to mean - that the Beheimos be'Harerei Elef only feel secure when the waters of the Yarden finally flow into the mouth of the Livyasan.

16) We recite regularly the Pasuk in Tehilim "Ki Hu al Yamim Yesadah, ve'al Neharos Yechonenehah". The three seas that surround Eretz Yisrael (besides those of Sivchi [which we mentioned earlier], Chilas, Chilsa, and Aspamya are - those of Teverya, S'dom and the Mediterranean Sea.

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