THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
1) PRAYING FOR THE DOWNFALL OF THE WICKED
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
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)
2) KING CHIZKIYAH AND THE BOOK OF CURES
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
(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
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.