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Chagigah, 5

CHAGIGAH 4 & 5 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.


AGADAH: The Gemara relates that several Amora'im, when they would read particular verses, would cry. It seems that the verses that so affected each Amora reflected an element of what the Amora himself experienced, and that is why he cried.
(a) Rebbi Yochanan cried when he read five particular verses. When he read the verse that says that Hashem is persuaded by the Satan, as it were, to afflict a person for no reason (Iyov 2:3), Rebbi Yochanan cried, because "what can a servant do if his master is persuaded to afflict him!" When he reached the verse that says that Hashem "cannot have faith even in His holy ones" (Iyov 15:15), he cried, because the verse implies that Hashem takes the young Talmidei Chachamim from the world so that they should not have a chance to go bad when they get older. The third and fourth verses (Malachi 3:5, Koheles 12:14) at which he cried were the verses that imply that Hashem punishes an inadvertent sin (Shogeg) just like a purposeful sin (Mezid), and He punishes a light sin (Kal) just like a severe sin (Chamur). Finally, he cried when he reached the verse (Devarim 31:21) that says that Hashem will punish the people with afflictions that cannot be remedied, because the remedy for one problem intensifies another problem.

Perhaps Rebbi Yochanan was so sensitive to these particular verses because of his personal experiences. The Gemara (Berachos 5b) tells us that Rebbi Yochanan lost ten sons, and yet he did not despair. He accepted the tragedies as Yisurin Shel Ahavah, and that is how he would comfort others. These verses reflect his experience.

1. The verse in Iyov says that sometimes Hashem afflicts a person with no apparent reason, even when the person has no sins. The afflictions are only Yisurin Shel Ahavah, as the Gemara in Berachos there describes.

2. When Rebbi Yochanan came to the verse in (Iyov 15:15), he cried, because he realized that there might have been another reason why his sons died -- because sometimes Hashem takes away young Talmidei Chachamim in their youth so that they not have an opportunity to go bad later.

3. He further justified the afflictions that befell him by saying that Hashem has a higher standard by which He judges greater people. Consequently, great people are sometimes punished very harshly for acts of Shogeg or for light transgressions, as if the act was Mezid or a severe transgression (as we see in Bava Kama 50a).

4. Finally, when he reached the verse that speaks of the "evils that will be many and difficult" (Devarim 31:21), he cried. He explained that verse to mean evils that "complement each other," becoming unavoidable because that the remedy for one affliction is the cause for another (see Rashi and Tosfos).

He understood that his afflictions must be because of Bitul Torah (as the Gemara says in Berachos 5a, "if one cannot find a specific cause for his afflictions, he may assume that they are due to Bitul Torah."). However, his reproof involved becoming an Avel, such that he could not even make up for his "misdeed," since an Avel is prohibited from learning Torah. Thus his affliction just reinforced his deficiency!

(b) Similarly, the other Amora'im who cried upon reading certain verses might have been affected by the verses because of their personal experiences. Rav Huna cried when he read the verse that describes how Hashem at one time had yearned to see the Jewish people come up to Yerushalayim for the festival (Shemos 23:17), but then Hashem told them, "Who asked you to trample my courtyard!" (Yeshayah 1:12), and when he reached the verse that says that Hashem once yearned that His servant (the Jewish people) eat upon His table (Korbanos), and now He rejects them (Yeshayah 1:11).

It could be that Rav Huna made these statements following the incident recorded in Berachos (5b). The Gemara relates that 400 barrels of Rav Huna's wine went sour and the Rabanan had to come to comfort him. Rav Huna was very wealthy (Moed Katan 28a) and used his money for Mitzvos and Tzedakah. Now he was watching Hashem not only take away his business, but impoverish him. He exclaimed that until that time, he had used his wealth to provide for Talmidei Chachamim. Providing for Talmidei Chachamim is akin to bringing Korbanos (Berachos 10b). Now, though, Hashem has taken everything away from him, as if to say that He does not want Rav Huna to serve Him anymore.

(c) Rebbi Elazar cried when he read verses (Bereishis 45:3, Shmuel I 28:15) that discuss the exactness of Hashem's justice. The Gemara in Ta'anis (25a) says that Rebbi Elazar suffered from extreme poverty. He accepted Hashem's judgment and declared that Hashem was treating him properly, and no one can fathom the justice of Hashem.

(d) Rav Yosef cried when he reached the verse that says, "Yesh Nispeh b'Lo Mishpat" (Mishlei 13:23), from which we learn that sometimes a person' s life is taken before its time, and that person's remaining years are given to a Talmid Chacham who was humble and did not stand up for his rights. The Gemara tells us that Rav Yosef became mortally ill and became blind forgot all of his learning (Nedarim 41a). This might have occurred 22 years before his death, at the time that the Chaldeans had predicted that he would die (Berachos 64a).

The Gemara (ibid.) says that when it was time to appoint a new Rosh Yeshivah, Rav Yosef -- who was entitled to take the position -- deferred to Rabah and gave him the position. That act qualified him as a Talmid Chacham who acted with humility and did not stand up for his rights. Rav Yosef understood that the reason he recovered from his illness and lived for another twenty-two years was because Hashem had given him the years of someone who had died prematurely due to an accident (as described in the Gemara here), in return for being humble and not standing up for his rights. (M. Kornfeld)


AGADAH: The Gemara says that Hashem cries for three people every day: a person who is able to learn Torah but does not learn, a person who is unable to involve himself in learning Torah but does involve himself, and a community leader who acts haughtily over his charges.

First, this Gemara seems to be unrelated to the rest of the discussions. Why was it placed here? Second, from where did Chazal learn that Hashem cries for these people? Third, why does He cry for someone who is unable to learn Torah but does anyway? And if he is unable to learn, how can the Gemara say that he does?

ANSWER: The Gemara earlier quotes a verse in Yirmeyahu (13:17) that teaches that Hashem cried three tears. The Gemara says that one tear was for the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, the second tear was for the destruction of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, and the third tear was for the Jewish people who were sent into Galus. That verse in Yirmeyahu follows a verse that says, "Even if you do not hear it, My soul cries in private places because of the pride."

The Gemara here understands that verse to mean that Hashem cries three tears because of the three points mentioned in the preceding verse. "Even if you do not hear it" refers to the tears for not hearing a person learn Torah when they are able to learn it. Corresponding to those people is Hashem's first tear.

The second phrase in the preceding verse says, "My soul cries in private." This refers to Hashem's tear for one who cannot learn but learns anyway. Why can one not learn? Because of the persecution of the nations and the decrees that they have issued against learning Torah. Because of these decrees, those who learn must do so secretively. That is what the verse means when it says that "My soul cries in private" -- Hashem cries for those who learn Torah in private because they are not permitted to learn Torah in public. For such a person, Hashem does not cry because He is upset at the person, but because He feels mercy for the person. (That is the meaning of the expression "my *soul* cries.")

Alternatively, the second cry of Hashem is not for one who learns Torah in secret due to the persecution of the nations, but rather "one who is unable to learn but does anyway" refers to a person who speaks Lashon ha'Ra. The verse in Tehilim (50:16) says that when a person speaks Lashon ha'Ra, he has no right to learn Hashem's Torah (see also Sanhedrin 106b). Since he uses his mouth for the profane speech of Lashon ha'Ra, he may not use his mouth for learning Torah. Accordingly, "My soul cries in private" means that Hashem cries for the person who sins in private by speaking Lashon ha'Ra (which is called a sin done in private, a "Davar sheb'Chashai;" see Yoma 44a). Hashem cries because such a person has the ability to learn Torah, but he cannot learn because he speaks Lashon ha'Ra.

The third cry is for the leader who extorts the people. This is alluded to in the phrase, "My soul cries... *because of the pride*," referring to the haughtiness of the arrogant leader.

It is due to these three sins that we suffered the three punishments for which Hashem sheds tears, the destruction of the first and second Batei Mikdash and exile. Chazal tell us that the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash was due to Bitul Torah (or, "not reciting the Berachah before learning Torah"); "those who are able to learn Torah but do not" (Bava Metzia 85a).

The second Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed through Lashon ha'Ra (Gitin 57a, the story of Kamtza and bar Kamtza). At that time, there were also many evil decrees passed against learning Torah (as in Berachos 61a). The Jews suffered exile after exile due to leaders who acted haughtily and goaded over their flocks. (M. Kornfeld)

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