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Berachos 28


QUESTION: After Raban Gamliel had appeased Rebbi Yehoshua, Rebbi Yehoshua sent a messenger to notify the members of the Beis Midrash that Raban Gamliel should be reinstated as Nasi. He sent, "The one who wears the mantle [of leadership], shall wear the mantle. Shall the one who does not wear the mantle say to the one who wears the mantle, 'Remove your mantle and I shall wear it!'?" The members of the Beis Midrash did not let the messenger in.

Rebbi Yehoshua then came himself and gave another parable. "A sprinkler [of the Mei Chatas, i.e. a Kohen], the son of a sprinkler, shall sprinkle. Shall one who is not a sprinkler, nor a son of a sprinkler, say to the sprinkler, 'Your waters [are not acceptable]!'?" They accepted his parable and allowed Raban Gamliel to enter.

Why did the members of the Beis Midrash accept the second parable and not the first?

ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains that the first parable was insulting, since it implied that Rebbi Elazar Ben Azaryah was not deserving of the mantle of leadership and that Raban Gamliel was more deserving, in his own right. The second metaphor compared the position of leadership to that of a Kohen (a "sprinkler"). Rebbi Yehoshua was saying that just like you, Rebbi Elazar Ben Azaryah, are a Kohen and you have the exclusive rights to sprinkle due to your priestly lineage, so, too, Raban Gamliel's lineage gives him the right to be the Nasi. Rebbi Yehoshua's metaphor was not insulting.

That Rebbi Yehoshua would focus on rights granted based on lineage is also evident in the reason why he forgave Raban Gamliel. He did not forgive Raban Gamliel due to Raban Gamliel's own personal claim to leadership, but rather because of Raban Gamliel's father's honor. This was to show that Raban Gamliel's position came to him only because of his lineage.


QUESTION: The Mishnah says that Rebbi Nechunya Ben Hakanah used to recite a special prayer when he entered the Beis Midrash and when he left. Does this prayer apply to us today?

ANSWER: The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) deduces from the text of the Gemara that this prayer indeed applies to us. The Gemara begins, "Upon his entrance [to the Beis Midrash], what prayer *does he say*." The Gemara does *not* say, "Upon his entrance [to the Beis Midrash], what prayer *did he used to say*." The Gemara obviously understood that the Mishnah that tells us about Rebbi Nechunya's prayer was not merely describing to us what one Tana used to do; rather, it is telling us what *we* are supposed to do.

HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 110:8) says that one should recite these prayers upon entering and upon leaving the Beis Midrash. The MISHNAH BERURAH (110:36) cites the Rambam mentioned above who says that these two prayers are obligatory.

QUESTION: The Gemara describes three reasons why the Chachamim instituted eighteen blessings in the Shemoneh Esreh. (a) They correspond to the eighteen times that the name of Hashem is mentioned in Tehilim 29. (b) They correspond to the eighteen times that the name of Hashem is mentioned in the three paragraphs of Shema. (c) They correspond to the eighteen vertebrae of the spine. Is there anything common to these three groups of eighteen?

ANSWER: The SEFER HA'IKRIM (1:5) says that the three main tenets of Jewish belief are that (a) Hashem created the world; (b) Hashem gave us the Torah and commanded us to follow the Mitzvos; (c) Hashem sees and knows all of man's actions and will reward and punish appropriately in the World to Come.

It could be that these three tenets are included in the Shemoneh Esreh according to the three reasons given for why the Chachamim instituted eighteen blessings. The verses of Shema declare Hashem as the One and Only Creator (a). Tehilim 29 describes the events of the giving of the Torah, and therefore represents our belief that Hashem gave us the Torah (b). The spine represents the knowledge that Hashem sees all of our actions, because the spine is the part of the central nervous system that directs every action and movement that a person makes, which are being watched by Hashem. In addition, Hashem will take one vertebrae from the spine and rebuild the body from it at the time of the Resurrection. The spine therefore alludes to the belief that Hashem will give eternal life to those who follow His ways (c). (M. Kornfeld)

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