ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
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.
(a) When we say that a Bechor receives a double portion in his father's
property, we mean one extra portion corresponding to one son.
(b) The logic behind this is the fact that when there five other brothers,
he inherits one extra portion just like he does when there is one brother.
The counter argument to this is - that we might equally well argue that he
takes half the property, like he does when there is only one other brother.
(c) The Beraisa quotes several Pesukim to prove the above ruling. He will
ultimately learn it from the B'nei Yosef, as we shall see - from a
'Binyan-Av', (which is really no more than a 'Giluy Milsa' - a revelation,
since otherwise, we could not learn Divrei Torah from Divrei Kabalah
[Nevi'im and Kesuvim]) that this is what the word "Bechorah" means.
(d) The Tana asks on the Pasuk ...
1. ... in Ki Seitzei "ve'Hayah be'Yom Hanchilo es Banav" (which we quote as
an indication that the Torah grants the Bechor only one portion extra) -
that we need this Pasuk to teach us the Din of Rebbi Yochanan ben Berokah
(whom we cited on the previous Daf).
2. ... in Divrei Hayamim "u'Venei Reuven Bechor Yisrael ... u've'Chilelo
Yetzu'ei Aviv Nitnah *Bechoraso* li'Venei Yosef" (which we try to learn by
means of a 'Giluy Milsa' from the beginning of the Pasuk) - that "Bechoraso"
is not quite the same as "Bechorah".
3. ... "Ki Yehudah ... ve'ha'Bechorah le'Yosef" - that this Pasuk gives no
indication how much the extra portion of a Bechor entails.
4. ... (Vayechi) "va'Ani Nasati Lecha Sh'chem Echad al Achecha" - that
"Sh'chem Echad" itself might be as little as a date-palm.
(a) The previous Kashya is what Rav Papa asked Abaye. He chose to ask him
*this* Kashya, and not whether the B'nei Yosef did not inherit half the
property, like we thought at first - because had the B'nei Menasheh (who
were really only half a tribe) received so much (an entire portion), they
would not have complained.
(b) Abaye replied - by quoting the Pasuk ''Ephrayim u'Menasheh ki'Reuven
ve'Shimon Yih'yu Li", a definite proof that the B'nei Yosef received two
portions (instead of the one that was due to Yosef).
(c) The Beraisa did not bother to quote Abaye's Pasuk - because the Tana
took for granted that this is what the Torah meant by "Sh'chem Echad".
(a) When Ya'akov gave the double portion to Yosef - this did not mean that
he was appointing him the Bechor in Reuven's place, because the Pasuk
specifically writes "ve'Lo Le'hisyaches li'Bechorah" (which remained with
(b) When Ya'akov said "Asher Lakachti mi'Yad ha'Emori *be'Charbi
u've'Kashti*" - he meant the land that he took with his prayers and request
(see Rashi on the Torah and Agados Maharsha).
(c) The Pasuk cannot be taken literally - because David ha'Melech said in
Tehilim (with reference to Ya'akov) "Ki Lo be'Charbi Evtach ve'Charbi Lo
(a) Rebbi Chelbo asked Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni what Ya'akov Avinu saw to
take away the Bechorah from Reuven and give it to Yosef. The latter did not
like the question - because the Torah specifically writes that Reuven lost
his rights because he desecrated Ya'akov's bed (when he switched the beds of
Bilhah and Leah).
(b) So Rebbi Chelbo amended the question to why Ya'akov gave the Bechorah
specifically to Yosef. To which Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni replied - that it
was in payment for Yosef having fed him in Egypt for seventeen years.
(c) And he illustrated this with a parable - of a Balabos (Yosef) who
brought up an orphan (Ya'akov, a stranger in Egypt). Eventually, when the
orphan made it in life, he made a point of paying back the Balabos for his
(d) Rebbi Chelbo rejected this answer however - because Ya'akov ought to
have paid Yosef out of his own pocket, not with the property of one of the
brother's (and what he have done if Reuven had not sinned)?
(a) So he quoted Rebbi Yonasan (Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni's Rebbe) who
explained that it was - because strictly speaking, the Bechor should have
been born from Rachel, as the Torah specifically writes "Eileh Toldos
Ya'akov, Yosef", and it was only because of Leah's tears that she gave birth
before Rachel (see Agados Maharsha).
(b) Ya'akov certainly repaid Yosef for having fed him all those years - with
the special B'rachos that he gave Ephrayim and Menasheh (including "ve'Yidgu
la'Rov be'Kerev ha'Aretz", placing them outside the jurisdiction of the Ayin
ha'Ra, as we learned earlier).
(c) Rebbi Elazar explains the Pasuk "ve'Einei Leah *Rakos*" to mean - that
she would receive many gifts (she'Matnosehah *Aruchos*'), with reference to
the Matanos that the tribe of Levi would later receive, and the Kingship
that was given to Yehudah.
(d) He does not accept the literal interpretation of these words - because
if the Torah refrains from speaking detrimentally about an animal (which it
does in Parshas No'ach, by writing "Beheimah Asher Einenah Tehorah" instead
of "Beheimah Teme'ah"), it will certainly not speak detrimentally about a
(a) Rav explains that her eyes were soft from crying - sparked off by
hearing people predict that Eisav (Rifkah's elder son) would marry Leah
(Lavan's elder daughter) and Ya'akov, Rachel, and then discovering that
Eisav was a robber, and Ya'akov a Talmid-Chacham.
(b) She got to know about the characters of Ya'akov and Eisav - by sitting
at the crossroads and making inquiries of passing travelers.
(c) We therefore interpret the phrase "va'Yar Hashem ki Senu'ah Leah" to
mean - that the deeds of Eisav were detestable in her eyes.
1. Leah wrested the Bechorah away from Rachel - by means of her tears and
prayers (that Hashem should spare her from Eisav) ...
2. ... and Rachel regained it (at least in part) - through her Tzeni'us, as
we shall now see.
(a) When Ya'akov told Rachel that he was her father's brother (even though,
he was really her father's sister's son, he meant - that, if, as Rachel had
informed him, Lavan was a master trickster, he had met his match in himself.
(b) Ya'akov justified his willingness to swindle when dealing with Lavan -
based on the Pasuk in Tehilim "Im Ikesh Titapal" (permitting one to fight a
swindler, using his own methods).
(c) Ya'akov and Rachel guarded against Lavan's anticipated swindle - by
implementing signs of recognition (which Chazal interpret as 'Nidah, Chalah
and Hadlakas ha'Ner' by which Rachel would identify herself on the night of
(d) All their plans however, came to naught however, when it came to the
crunch. Lavan (and Leah) managed to trick Ya'akov in spite of it all -
thanks to Rachel, who could not bear to see her sister put to shame in this
way, so she divulged those signs to her (an act of piety for which she
regained the Bechorah, as we just saw).
(e) In this way, we can understand the Pasuk "Vayehi ba'Boker ve'Hineh Hi
Leah" - implying that the whole night, she was Rachel and not Leah (which is
what she had giving Ya'akov to believe).
(a) When Rebbi Chiya bar Aba told Aba Chalifa the Chumash expert that the
seventieth (unspecified) person who went down to Egypt (and the thirty-third
member of the tribe of Levi) was a twin sister whom Leah bore together with
Dinah - he retorted that, if that were so, we may as well count the extra
twin who was born with Binyamin, making the number seventy-one (see Agados
(b) When the latter replied 'Margalis Tovah Haysah be'Yadi ve'Atah Mevakesh
le'Abdah Mimeni' - he meant that he wanted to guard the real answer like a
precious pearl, which Aba Chalifa had now forced him to reveal (though in
reality, he was just sharpening his wits).
(c) The pearl was in the form of a statement by Rebbi Chama bar Chanina,
whom we quoted above - who gave the seventieth person as Yocheved bas Levi.
(a) Rebbi Chelbo also asked Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni why Ya'akov waited for
the birth of Yosef before taking leave of Lavan, to which he replied - that
Ya'akov foresaw that Eisav would only fall into the hands of Yosef (even
though Yosef was only just born).
(b) If "the House of Ya'akov will be fire and the House of Yosef the spark,
the House of Eisav will be - straw" (Ovadyah).
(c) When Rebbi Chelbo asked Rebbi Shmuel bar Nachmeni from the Pasuk in
Shmuel, which describes the defeat of Amalek, who had taken captive the
wives of himself and his men, at the hand of David (who was from Yehudah),
he reprimand him before citing a Pasuk from Divrei Hayamim - by declaring
that whoever taught him Nevi'im, had not taught him Kesuvim.
(d) He answered ...
1. ... this Kashya - by pointing to the Pasuk which specifically states that
on his way to Tziklag, a string of men, heads of the thousands of
*Menasheh*, joined his troop.
2. ... Rav Yosef, when he asked from the Pasuk which refers to five hundred
men from the B'nei Shimon, who also defeated Amalek, led by sons of Yish'i,
before taking over their territory - by pointing to another Pasuk, which
lists Yish'i too, as a member of the tribe of *Menasheh*.
(a) The Beraisa includes the Zero'a, the Lechayayim and the Keivah, as well
as Hekdesh (both of which will be explained shortly), among the father's
property of which a Bechor receives double. When the Tana includes 'Sh'vach
she'Shavchu Nechasim le'Achar Miysas Avihen', he means (besides a 'Parah
Muchkeres u'Muskeres be'Yad Acherim') - a cow grazing in a public meadow
that gives birth.
(b) A 'Parah ...
1. ... Muchkeres be'Yad Acherim' - is a cow that their father gave to
someone as an investment, to share the profits.
(c) The Bechor does not however, receive double of houses or vineyards that
were built or planted by the heirs themselves - because it is a profit that
came about through the work of the heirs themselves (unlike the Reisha,
which constitutes an automatic profit).
2. ... Muskeres... ' - means a cow that he rented to him for a fixed rental.
(a) If the Zero'a, the Lechayayim and the Keivah (the right foreleg, the
cheeks and the stomach of any Chulin animal, which are given to a Kohen)
were already given to the father, then it is obvious that his heirs will
receive double. If, on the other hand, they were not - then it is Ra'uy, and
we have already learned that a Bechor does not receive an extra portion in
whatever is Ra'uy.
(b) When the Tana incorportes them among the things that the heirs receive,
he must be speaking - about Makirei Kehunah (a town whose residents were
relatives of [or otherwise very close to] their father), who always give
these particular Matanos to him, with a complete Kinyan, immediately after
their animals have been Shechted.
(c) And we establish the case when the animal was Shechted in their father's
lifetime (despite the fact that the Matanos had not yet been separated) -
because this Tana is coming to teach us that 'Matanos she'Lo Hurmu keMi
she'Hurmu Damyan' (even though the Matanos were not yet separated, it is as
if they were').
(a) We answer the Kashya 'that Hekdesh did not belong to their father to
begin with', by establishing th Beraisa like Rebbi Yossi Hagelili, who
learns from the Pasuk "u'Ma'alah Ma'al ba'Hashem" - that Kodshim Kalim
are considered the personal property of the owner, even to be Mekadesh a
woman with them.
(b) He learns that from this Pasuk - because "ba'Hashem" implies that they
basically belong to Hashem.
(c) On the other hand, this D'rashah is confined to Kodshim Kalim - on which
there is no Me'ilah, implying that to some degree, the owner remains the
owner ("u'Ma'alah Ma'al" in the context of the current simply means that he
denied falsely), because there where there is Me'ilah, the animal is not
his, and there is no claimant (to admit or deny to).
(d) Rebbi Yossi Hagelili (i.e. the Pasuk "u'Ma'alah Ma'al ba'Hashem") is
speaking - about Reuven who denies under oath, having an article belonging
to Shimon, in his possession.
(a) Chata'os and Ashamos, which are not Kodshim Kalim, are not included in
Rebbi Hagelili's Chidush, (as we already explained). Even Kodshim Kalim are
not considered his either - once they have been Shechted, because then, the
owner receives the flesh from the table of Hashem.
(b) Having taught us that a Bechor inherits a Muchkeres and Muskeres, which
are not in their father's jurisdiction, the Tana nevertheless needs to add a
cow that is grazing in the public meadow and which gave birth, which is - to
teach us that the former, like the latter (which by definition, means that
it does not need feeding) are not being fed by the heirs (otherwise, the
Bechor will not receive a double portion).
(c) Still, the Tana did not just insert the latter, and omit the former -
because we would then have thought that, since the profit in this case is
not automatic, but by virtue of the Choker and the Socher (who are Sheluchim
of the heirs), feeding it, it is considered as if the heirs had fed it
(d) The author of this Beraisa is Rebbi - according to the Chachamim, a
Bechor never receives a double portion of profits that accrued after his