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
Bava Metzia, 84
BAVA METZIA 81-85 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi
publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.
1) THE SIZES OF THE CHACHAMIM
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan stated that the "Ever" (lit. "limb") of Rebbi
Yishmael bar'Rebbi Yosi was like a flask the size of nine Kavim. Rav Papa
stated that the "Ever" of Rebbi Yochanan was like a flask the size of five
Kavim (or, according to others, three Kavim). The Gemara continues and says
that the "Ever" of Rav Papa himself was like a Harpanian basket. (See RASHI.
According to the RITVA, "Ever" refers to the muscles of the upper arm or
thigh, by which the size of a person is measured. TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ
explains that "Ever" refers to the size of their meals, as in the word
2) THE AMORA'IM WHO SAT NEAR THE MIKVAH WHILE WOMEN IMMERSED THEMSELVES
Why are the holy Sages of the Gemara discussing the size of the "Ever" of
the Tana'im and Amora'im?
(a) TOSFOS here says that these statements were written in the Gemara in
order to teach that a person should not speak disparagingly about others who
are of a portly size.
Perhaps the intention of Tosfos is as follows. The Gemara earlier relates
that a certain noblewoman said to Rebbi Elazar bar'Rebbi Shimon and to Rebbi
Yishmael bar'Rebbi Yosi that "your sons are not yours." She was insulting
them, saying that they were so large that it was not possible that they
could have had relations with their wives. They answered her insult and
proved her to be wrong. From here we see that rumors are spread about large
people that their sons are not their own, and therefore the Gemara relates
how large some of the Tana'im and Amora'im were and yet they were still able
to have children.
Alternatively, perhaps Tosfos means simply that one should not insult others
for being large, since we find that the holy Tana'im and Amora'im were
(b) The MAHARSHAL (cited by the Chidushei Ge'onim in the Ein Yakov) and the
EIN YAKOV explain this Gemara based on the principle, "Kol ha'Gadol
me'Chaveiro, Yitzro Gadol Heimenu" -- "He who is greater than his fellow
man, his Yetzer [ha'Ra] is greater than his [fellow man's]." The Gemara is
not referring to the physical size of the "Ever" of these Sages. Rather, it
is referring to the size of the strength of their desire which resulted from
their greatness in Torah. The Gemara is emphasizing that even though their
"Yetzer" was so great, they mastered their "Yetzer" and conquered it. (I.
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi Yochanan used to sit next to the
Mikvah so that the women would see his beauty when they came out and would
have children as beautiful and as learned in Torah as he. The Rabanan asked
him, "Are you not afraid of the 'evil eye'?" Rebbi Yochanan answered that he
is descended from Yosef, over whom the "evil eye" had no power.
A similar practice is recorded in the Gemara in Berachos (20a) regarding Rav
Gidel, who used to sit next to the Mikvah and instruct the women how to
immerse themselves. The Rabanan asked him, "Are you not afraid of your evil
inclination?" Rav Gidel answered, "They (the women) appear to me like white
Why did the Rabanan not ask Rebbi Yochanan if he was afraid of his evil
inclination, like they asked Rav Gidel?
(a) The BACH (Berachos 20a) and ETZ YOSEF answer that Rebbi Yochanan's
eyelashes were so long that he could not see anything, as the Gemara relates
in Bava Kama (117a). Therefore, the Rabanan did not ask him if he was afraid
of his evil inclination becoming aroused upon seeing the women returning
from the Mikvah, since he could not see them.
(b) The RASHASH (Berachos 20a) answers that since Rebbi Yochanan just wanted
the women to see his beauty as they came out, he sat at a distance from the
Mikvah. Rav Gidel, however, had to sit close to the Mikvah in order to
instruct the women how to immerse themselves properly.
3) THE "RESHA'AH"
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi declares, "How much
Piryah v'Rivyah did that evil one (Resha'ah) annul from the Jewish people!"
RASHI explains that Rebbi was referring to the "Malchus ha'Resha'ah," the
evil kingdom, which forcefully appointed Rebbi Elazar bar'Rebbi Shimon to a
position of law enforcement and thereby caused him to be absent from the
study hall where he would have been able to rule on issues of Dam Nidah and
permit many women to be with their husbands. Rashi cites an alternate
explanation which says that Rebbi was referring to the *wife* of Rebbi
Elazar, who prevented Rebbi Elazar from going to the study hall for many
According to the second explanation of Rashi, how could Rebbi call Rebbi
Elazar's wife a "Resha'ah?" After all, she was an "Eshes Chaver," the wife
of a Talmid Chacham, and she certainly must have been a Tzadekes, because
the Gemara later relates that Rebbi himself wanted to marry her after Rebbi
ANSWER: The BEN YEHOYADA explains that according to Rashi's second
explanation, the word "Resha'ah" does not mean "wicked woman," but rather it
means "[the one who causes] turmoil," as in the verse, "v'Hu Yashkit u'Mi
*Yarshi'a*" -- "When He grants tranquility, who can cause turmoil?" (Iyov
34:29). Similarly, when the verse describes the power of Sha'ul ha'Melech,
it says, "uv'Chol Asher Yifneh Yarshi'a" -- "Wherever he turned, he caused
upheaval" (Shmuel I 14:47; see also Koheles 7:17).
Accordingly, Rebbi was saying that the wife of Rebbi Elazar caused great
turmoil by preventing her husband from going to the study hall. (I.