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Berachos 10


QUESTION: The Gemara here, as well as at the end of 9b, says that King David sang praise to Hashem when he witnessed the downfall of the wicked. How could he sing praise when the creations of Hashem were being killed? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (39b) says that Hashem does not rejoice, and the angels do not sing His praises when Hashem's creations expire! Why, then, did King David rejoice?

ANSWER: The Gemara in Sanhedrin says that Hashem does not rejoice, but *we* may rejoice. That is why David was happy and sang praise when he saw the downfall of the wicked. Why may we rejoice if Hashem does not?

In Yechezkel 18:23 we read, "'Do I desire the death of the wicked man?' asks Hashem. 'It is the return of the wicked man from his evil ways that I desire, so that he might live!'" Hashem prefers for a person to repent and realize his full potential, rather to see him destroyed due to his sins. Thus, when the time comes to punish the evildoers, it is not an occasion for rejoicing for Him. However, for those who were threatened by the evildoer and now find themselves delivered from harm, it is appropriate to rejoice. One is certainly expected to express his thanks before Hashem for His beneficence.

However, the MAHARSHA here (and in Sanhedrin 39b) quotes a Midrash which seems to contradict this. The Midrash says that we recite the full Hallel only on the first day of Pesach and not on all seven days of the festival Pesach, because the Egyptians were drowned in the Sea on the seventh day of Pesach. Hashem said, "Although they were My enemies, I wrote in My Scriptures (Mishlei 24:17), 'Do not rejoice at the downfall of your enemy.'" (Yalkut Shimoni, Mishlei, end of 2:960; Pesikta d'Rav Kahana, end of #29). According to this Midrash, even we who were saved from the hands of the Egyptians should refrain from showing joy at the downfall of the Egyptians! How, asks the Maharsha, can this be reconciled with the assertion of the Gemara quoted above, that Hashem *does* expect others to rejoice when the wicked are destroyed? The Maharsha leaves this problem unanswered here, and in Sanhedrin he suggests two solutions, both of which are difficult to reconcile with the words of the Midrash.

Perhaps we may suggest a very simple answer to the Maharsha's question. There is a basic difference between other songs of praise and Hallel. In HalAel, we repeatedly recite the verse, "Praise Hashem, *for it is good [in His eyes to do so]*, for His mercy is forever." The phrase "for it is good" is precisely the expression that the Gemara says is left out when the event is not good in the eyes of Hashem, since these words imply that *Hashem* is pleased with what has occurred (Rashi Megilah 10b). Perhaps the Midrash means that the specific praise of *Hallel*, with its implication of Divine satisfaction, is an inappropriate form of thanksgiving on this occasion. Other praises, which contains no such implication, are entirely appropriate, since Hashem does expect the beneficiaries of the wicked person's destruction to rejoice, as stated previously. (M. Kornfeld)


OPINIONS: The Gemara says that King Chizkiyah was praised for hiding away the Book of Cures. Why did Chizkiyah hide the Book of Cures?
(a) RASHI (DH she'Ganaz Sefer Refu'os) says that by hiding the Book of Cures, he was effectively forcing the Jews to rely on Hashem for their healing and to pray for mercy from Him, instead of relying on the Book of Cures.

(b) The RAMBAM (Pesachim, end of chapter 4) takes extremely strong opposition to Rashi's explanation. His position is that using natural means of healing does not in any way detract from one's reliance on the Almighty. He compares it to taking away food from a starving man so that he will pray to G-d for food. A person will still rely on G-d's mercy for his health when using natural remedies because it is G-d Who makes those remedies work.

The Rambam explains that the Book of Cures was a book that astrologers used to heal illnesses by placing certain forms in certain places at certain times. (The Rambam refers to it by its Greek name, "Talisman"). King Shlomo wrote it in order to show the wonders that exist in the natural world, but he did not intend that it should actually be used. Chizkiyah hid it because he saw that people were using it for idolatrous practices.

(c) Alternatively, the Rambam says that the Book of Cures listed both antidotes and poisons, and people began using the poisons described in the book instead of just their antidotes.

We might suggest that Rashi agrees that there is nothing wrong with using natural remedies. The Book of Cures may have recorded cures based on alternative medicines, which appeared to the layman to be related to witchcraft. Those who used the book, Chizkiyah feared, would come to believe that they can circumvent nature and rely on magical cures, without Hashem's assistance, and their reliance on Hashem would be diminished. (M. Kornfeld)

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