THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) THE QUALITIES REQUIRED IN ORDER TO CONQUER THE JEWS
AGADAH: The Gemara relates that Hashem enabled Nevuchadnezar to conquer the
whole world so that the nations would not mock the Jewish people and say that
Hashem gave His people over to a lowly nation. A similar statement appears in
Gitin (56b), "Whoever oppresses Yisrael becomes a head [of a nation]."
2) THE FOUR FACES OF THE ANGELS
However, this seems to contradict the Gemara in Kesuvos (66b). The Gemara
there says that when Rebbi Yochanan ben Zakai saw the daughter of Nakdimon
ben Gurion picking barley kernels from the dung of Yishmaelite's beasts, he
said, "Happy is Yisrael, that when they are punished they are subject to the
lowest of the nations."
ANSWER: The Gemara in Kesuvos means that Hashem makes the Jewish people
subject to a lowly nation *morally*. They might be great in power, but they
are uncivilized and all of the other nations look down upon them. Hashem
does not want the Jewish people to learn the ways of the nation that conquers
them, and therefore He makes a morally low nation conquer them so that the
Jewish people themselves will be disgusted by the ways of that nation and not
learn from them.
Nevuchadnezar was the ruler of the nation of Kasdim when he conquered
Yisrael. The MAHARSHA points out that the Kasdim were indeed a nation that
was uncivilized and looked down upon by the other nations, as described in
the verse (Yeshayah 23:13, see Rashi there), and the Gemara (Sukah 52b --
which says the same of the Yishmaelim). People who would act in an uncouth
manner were referred to as "Bavli'im" (Yoma 66b).
However, when it comes to national conquest (and not just the humbling of
individual Jews, as with Nakdimon's daughter), Hashem does not deliver the
Jewish people to the hands of a militarily weak nation so that other nations
should not mock the Jewish people. Rather, Hashem gives them over to a
morally low nation which nevertheless is a nation of great military power.
(See also Insights to Moed Katan 18:1.)
AGADAH: The Gemara discusses the four "faces" of the "chariot-bearing"
angels. Originally (as described in Yechezkel 1), the angels had the faces of
a man, lion, ox, and eagle. Yechezkel prayed for mercy on behalf of the
Jewish people so that the face of the ox not incriminate them for the sin of
the Egel ha'Zahav, and it was changed to the face of a Keruv (cherub).
3) THE WINGS OF THE ANGELS THAT WERE TAKEN AWAY
We find that these four faces of the angels are represented elsewhere. When
the Jewish people traveled in the desert, they encamped in formation
according to their tribes. They formed a great square around the Mishkan,
with three tribes on each of the four sides of the square. One of the tribes
in each group was designated as the flag-bearer of the group. It was assigned
a banner, or flag, under which the three tribes encamped. The four flag-
bearing tribes were: Yehudah to the east, Reuven to the south, Efraim to the
west, and Dan to the north.
The Torah gives no indication as to the significance of this formation, nor
as to what appeared on these flags. However, the IBN EZRA provides us with
some fascinating information in this regard. The Ibn Ezra (Bamidbar 2:2)
writes as follows: "There were figures depicted on each of the flags. Our
sages tell us (Bamidbar Raba 2:10) that on the flag of Reuven was the figure
of a person. This is to recall the incident wherein Reuven brought Duda'im --
a type of flower whose blossoms resemble the figure of a person -- from the
field to his mother (Bereshis 30:14). (The word "Dudaim" is spelled with the
same Hebrew letters as "Adam," or "person." Furthermore, the precious stone
which represented Reuven on the Kohen Gadol's breastplate was "Odem," which
is spelled exactly like "Adam" in Hebrew.)
The flag of Yehudah had the figure of a lion on it, for Yehudah was compared
to the lion in the blessings that his father gave him (Bereishis 49:9).
(This, as well as what follows, appears to be the Ibn Ezra's own addendum to
the Midrash.) The flag of Efraim had the image of an ox on it, based on the
verse that compares Yosef, Efraim's father, to an ox. (Devarim 33:17; see
also Bereishis 49:6. We may add that after the ox was changed to a Keruv, it
still represented the tribe of Yosef. The Gemara says that the Keruv was a
"small face of a man." Yosef is the child that was born to Rachel with the
help of the Duda'im that Reuven found.) Dan's flag pictured an eagle. (The
Ibn Ezra offers no explanation for the connection between Dan and an eagle.
See, however Rashi to Shemos 19:4, DH Al, and Rashi to Bamidbar 10:25, DH
Me'asef.) Thus, the four flags resembled the heavenly beings that serve
Hashem which were seen by Yechezkel in his vision, which featured the images
of a man, a lion, an ox, and an eagle."
Thus, the Ibn Ezra teaches that the four flags of the Jewish camp bore the
same four symbols as the celestial beings who bore the Divine Chariot. What
is the significance behind this resemblance? The RAMBAN (ibid.) cites a
Midrashic source for Ibn Ezra's words: "Just as Hashem created the four
points of the compass, so did He surround His throne with the likenesses of
four celestial beings, and so did He command Moshe to organize the camp of
the Jewish people into four flag formations" (Bamidbar Rabah 2:10).
Another Midrash which supports the words of the Ibn Ezra can be found in
BAMIDBAR RABA 2:3, "When Hashem appeared on Sinai, He descended with 22,000
angels, as it says (Tehilim 68:18), 'The chariot of Hashem was tens of
thousands and thousands of angels... at Sinai.' These angels were divided
into camps, each bearing flags, as it says (Shir ha'Shirim 5:10), 'He is ...
beflagged with the ten thousands.' When the Jewish people saw this formation,
they desired to have such flags for themsleves. They said, 'How we wish we
could be divided into flag-bearing camps also!' ... Thereupon Hashem said to
Moshe, 'Go divide them into flag-bearing formations, as they desire'"
The "chariot" of 22,000 angels that the Jewish people saw at Sinai can
undoubtedly be identified with the Divine Chariot seen by Yechezkel. The
formation of the angels into "camps" is apparently a reference to the four
"faces" of the Chariot. When Hashem saw that the Jewish People desired to
have a similar formation for their own camp, He instituted a system which
corresponded exactly with the Chariot's arrangement -- using the same images
of man, lion, ox, and eagle.
AGADAH: The Gemara says that when the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, the
number of wings on the angels of the Merkavah decreased. Before the
destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash, the angels had six wings. After the
Churban, they had only four. One opinion says that the wings that they lost
were the ones with which they sang Shirah (the middle set of wings). Another
opinion says that the wings that they lost were the ones that covered their
legs (the bottom set).
(a) The VILNA GA'ON (at the end of Shenos Eliyahu on Zeraim; Kol Eliyahu)
explains that the prayer "Galeh Kevod Malchuscha Aleinu" -- "reveal the glory
of your Kingship upon us" (in the festival Musaf Shemoneh Esreh) relate to
When the people would hear the Holy Name recited in a blessing in the Beis
ha'Mikdash, instead of responding "Amen" they would respond, "Baruch Shem
Kevod Malchuso l'Olam va'Ed" -- "Blessed is the name of the glory of His
kingdom, forever." These six words correspond to the six wings of the angels.
When the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed and two of the wings were taken away,
the corresponding words of the phrase "Baruch Shem" (which was no longer
recited) were also taken away.
The Gemara explains that the middle wings, which correspond to the middle
words of the phrase Baruch Shem -- the words "Kevod Malchuso" -- were taken
away at the destruction of the Mikdash. When we say "Galeh *Kevod Malchuscha*
Aleinu," we are praying for the restoration of the Mikdash, along with the
angels wings, by asking Hashem to once again reveal the wings upon which the
words "Kevod Malchuso" were inscribed. (According to the opinion that the
bottom wings were lost, perhaps the words of Baruch Shem were inscribed on
the wings in the order in which the wings are listed in the verse; Baruch
Shem on the upper two, Kevod Malchuso on the *bottom* two, and l'Olam Va'ed
on the *middle* two. Thus, it was again the two wings representing Kevod
Malchuso which were lost.)
The BEN YEHOYADA, who cites the words of the Vilna Gaon, adds that this might
be alluded to in the verse "Kevod Malchuscha Yomeru, u'Gevurascha Yedaberu"
(Tehilim 145:13) -- "The people of the world will speak [once again] of the
"Kevod Malchus" of Hashem when they tell of His might [i.e. when He displays
His Gevurah by rebuilding the Mikdash]."
(b) The SIFSEI CHACHAMIM (Berachos 3a) develops this idea further, to explain
a Machlokes between TOSFOS (Berachos 3a, DH v'Onin) and the MACHZOR VITRI
(ibid.). The Machzor Vitri explains that the declaration that we say in
Kadish, "Yehei Shmei Raba Mevorach l'Olam...," actually includes two prayers:
first, that His Name become great and complete ("Yehei Shmei Raba" -- "May
the Holy Name of Yud and Heh be completed, by being joined with the letters
Vav and Heh to form the tetragrammaton), and second, that His Name be blessed
forever ("Mevorach l'Olam..."). Tosfos argues and says that it is one prayer:
May His great Name ("Yehei Shmei Raba") be blessed forever. (This Machlokes
has Halachic ramifications; see REMA OC 56:1.)
The Sifsei Chachamim suggests that according to the opinion which says that
the middle wings (the ones with which the angels sing praise) were taken
away, the middle words of the phrase Baruch Shem..., or the words "Kevod
Malchuso," were taken away, meaning that the glory of His kingship was taken
away when the Jews were sent into Galus (as implied by Bereishis 46:4 -- see
Ramban and Targum -- and other places). According to the opinion which says
that the bottom set of wings were taken away, the last two words of the
phrase Baruch Shem..., "l'Olam va'Ed," were taken away. This means that the
glory of Hashem's kingship still exists in the world (see Yoma 69b), but the
ultimate, eternal honor of Hashem's kingship (that is, the "l'Olam va'Ed"
element) is lacking while the Beis ha'Mikdash is not built (since His glory
is revealed by His preservation of His nation in exile, rather than by His
grandeur in the Mikdash).
This is the argument between Tosfos and the Machzor Vitri. The Machzor Vitri
maintains that the middle wings were taken away, along with the "Kevod
Malchuso," and thus we pray that the glory of Hashem's kingship be restored.
Hence, the Machzor Vitri interprets "Yehei Shemi Raba Mevorach..." to be a
prayer that the Name of the glory of His kingdom ("Kevod Malchuso") be
restored to its complete glory. Tosfos, on the other hand, maintains that the
third set of wings were taken away, and that the glory of His kingship still
exists in the world. Hence, we pray only that "His great Name be blessed
forever and ever," and that the Beis ha'Midkash be rebuilt so that the
element of "l'Olam va'Ed" be restored.