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prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem

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Chagigah 15

CHAGIGAH 14 & 15 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.



(a) Ben Zoma did not stand up when he saw Rebbi Yehoshua standing on one of the steps of the Har ha'Bayis - because he was lost in thought over the following problem (see also Agados Maharsha).

(b) The Pasuk in "ve'Ru'ach Elokim *Merachefes* al P'nei ha'Mayim" means - that the Spirit of Hashem was hovering (like a dove hovers over its nest, all but touching its young) - from which ben Zoma extrapolates that the distance between the upper water and the lower water is three finger-breadths.

(c) Rebbi Yehoshua commented to his Talmidim - that ben Zoma had not even begun to understand what is going on here; because the Pasuk that he quotes is speaking on the *first* day of the creation, whereas the division of the waters took place on the second day.

(d) There are a number of opinions as to the distance that separated the two waters according to Rebbi Yehoshua. Rav Acha bar Ya'akov gives the distance as a hairsbreadth, the Rabbanan say, like two planks placed besides each other on a bridge - Mar Zutra (or Rav Asi) explains that is the distance between two garments that are spread out together, and according to the Rabbanan, the distance between two cups that are touching.

(a) Acher become an apostate - because he saw that Matatron (Hashem's great scribe) was given permission to sit down and transcribe the good deeds of Yisrael (despite the fact that in heaven, there is no sitting (as well as no competition, back of the neck - seeing as angels have four faces - or tiredness). Consequently, he contended, Matatron must be a god in his own right.

(b) Acher's actions are referred to as 'Kitzutz bi'Neti'os' - because of the initial description 'Nichnesu le'Pardes' alternatively, because he considered Acher as if he was a separate tree, instead of just the branch of Hashem's tree - Agados Maharsha).

(c) For not standing up when Acher entered - they took Matatron out and they lashed him with sixty pulsars of fire (see Tosfos DH 'u'Machyuhu').

(d) When Acher heard the Bas Kol announce that anyone may do Teshuvah except for Acher (see Rabeinu Chananel) - he decided that, in that case, he may as well enjoy himself in this world. That is when he became an apostate.

(a) He immediately accosted a prostitute - who asked whether he was not the renowned Elisha ben Avuyah. On answer to her question, he turned round and, despite the fact that it was Shabbos, picked a radish from the field and offered it to her, whereupon she explained 'Acher Hu' (he must be somebody else).

(b) Rebbi Meir interpreted the Pasuk in Koheles "Gam es Zeh Le'umas Zeh Asah ha'Elokim" to mean that when Hashem created mountains, he also created hills, and when He created seas, He also created rivers. Rebbi Akiva quoted by Acher interprets it to mean - that whenever Hashem created one extreme, He created the opposite extreme to keep the balance: He created Tzadikim, so He also created Resha'im, He created Gan Eden, so He also created Gehinom.

(c) He explained the Pasuk ...

1. ... "Lachein be'Artzam *Mishneh* Yirashu" - to mean that Tzadikim inherit a double portion in Gan Eden (both their own and that of the Rasha, who has lost his own portion).
2. ... "*u'Mishneh Shivron Shivram*" - that Resha'im inherit a double portion in Gehinom (both their own and that of the Tzadik, who does not receive his).
(d) Rebbi Meir interpreted the Pasuk "Lo Ya'archenah Zahav u'Zechuchis, u'Temurasah K'li Paz" to mean that the words of Torah are as difficult to acquire as golden vessels, and as easy to lose as glass ones. Rebbi Akiva however, quoted by Acher - interprets it to mean that, just as golden and glass vessels that break can be repaired, so too, can a Talmid-Chacham who went off, do Teshuvah.
(a) Acher adamantly refused to do Teshuvah - because of the Bas Kol that we quoted earlier (in 2d.).

(b) Once when Rebbi Meir was accompanying Acher, the latter instructed him to go back because they had reached T'chum Shabbos. He knew that they had reached the border - by counting the footsteps of his horse.

(c) Rebbi Meir tried to coerce his Rebbi to do Teshuvah - by grabbing hold of him and leading him to one Beis-ha'Medrash after the other and asking a child in each one to repeat his Pasuk. It did not work - because each child quoted a negative Pasuk.

(d) He actually took him - to thirteen Batei-Medrash in the vain hope that he would find a positive sign from heaven.




(a) In the first Beis-ha'Medrash that they visited, the child quoted him the Pasuk from Yeshayah - which says "Ein Shalom, Amar Hashem, la'Resha'im".

(b) The second child quoted him the Pasuk in Yirmiyah "Ki Im Techabsi ba'Neser ... Nechtam Avonech Lafanai".

(c) The last child quoted the Pasuk in Tehilim "*u'le'Rasha* Amar Mah Lecha le'Saper Chukai" - only he misquoted it to read "*u'le'Elisha* Amar Mah Lecha le'Saper Chukai"?

(d) According to some, Acher had a knife in his hand; according to others, he wished he had a knife in his hand - which he used to cut up that child into thirteen pieces which he sent to thirteen Batei-Medrash (or would have done).

(a) In Heaven, they decided not to punish him in Gehinom for his sins because he had studied Torah, but not to send him to Olam ha'Ba because of his sins - Rebbi Meir considered however, that it is better that he is judged and goes to Olam ha'Ba. So he Davened that he should be able to achieve this after his death.

(b) Rebbi Meir's prayers were answered - and immediately after Rebbi Meir's death, smoke was seen to emerge from Acher's grave.

(c) Rebbi Yochanan disagreed with Rebbi Meir. He maintained that it was not correct on Rebbi Meir's part to cause his Rebbe to be punished. So he prayed that, after his death, he would be able to take Acher by the hand and lead him out of Gehinom. Sure enough, after he died, the smoke ceased.

(d) That Safdan said in his Hesped on Rebbi Yochanan - that even the guardian of the gates of Gehinom could not prevent Rebbi Yochanan from entering.

(a) Rebbi quoted the Pasuk "Lo Nin ve'Lo Neched be'Amo, ve'Ein Sarid bi'Megurav" - when Acher's daughter came to him for assistance. He was surprised that any descendent of Acher's was still alive (see Agados Maharsha).

(b) When, following her retort 'Remember his Torah and not his deeds', a fire came from Heaven and scorched the bench on which he was sitting - he wept and exclaimed that if the Kavod of someone whose Torah caused him to become so despicable is so great, imagine how much Kavod is due to a Talmid-Chacham whose Torah brings him praise.

(a) Rabah bar bar Chanah quoting Rebbi Yochanan learns from the Pasuk "Ki Sifsei Kohen Yishmeru Da'as ve'Torah Yevakshu mi'Pihu Ki Mal'ach Hashem Tzevakos Hu" - that one should only learn Torah from someone who is like an angel (but not from a Rasha).

(b) Resh Lakish explained the fact that Rebbi Meir *did* learn from Acher, from the Pasuk "Hat Oznecha u'Shema Divrei Chachamim ve'Libcha Tashis *le'Da'ati*" - which infers that one should concentrate on the Mind of Hashem (the content of truth in the Rebbe's words), and not on the mind of the Rebbe.

(c) This latter Pasuk speaks about a great man (like Rebbi Meir - who *is* able to learn from the Rebbe's Torah, whilst ignoring his deeds) - whereas the former Pasuk which requires a Rebbe to be like an angel before one is permitted to learn from him, speaks about an ordinary person (who is *not*).

(d) Rav Dimi quoting the B'nei Eretz Yisrael, explained with a Mashal how Rebbi Meir could learn from Acher. It is like - someone who eats dates; he eats the dates, but throws away the pits.

(a) Rava explains Shlomoh ha'Melech (in Shir ha'Shirim)'s description of a Talmid-Chacham to a nut - inasmuch as when a nut falls into the mud, the outer shell becomes filthy, but the nut itself remains untouched, so too, does the a Torah of a Talmid-Chacham who goes off, remain intact.

(b) When Eliyahu informed Rabah bar Shilo that Hashem was quoting the sayings from all the Chachamim except for Rebbi Meir, because he learned from Acher - he replied in amazement, why should it be different than someone who eats the fruit of the pomegranate (Acher's Torah) and throws away the peel (his evil deeds). To which, Eliyahu replied - that Hashem had now begun quoting Rebbi Meir.

(c) Hashem said 'Kalani me'Roshi, Kalani mi'Z'ro'i (meaning that His Head and His Arm feel heavy) - about a Rasha who had cursed Hashem, and who, after being stoned, was left hanging for a short while before nightfall until nightfall.

(d) Rebbi Meir derived from a 'Kal va'Chomer' - that if Hashem feels so deeply for the death of a Rasha, imagine how deeply He must feel for the death of a Tzadik.

(a) Shmuel found Rav Yehudah leaning on the bolt of the door weeping, because he was worried - about his own chances of turning out all right, if Talmidim of the caliber of Do'eg and Achitofel strayed from Hashem.

(b) He explained the Pasuk "Ayeh Sofer ... " - which is speaking about Talmidei-Chachamim who have gone astray.


1. "Ayeh Sofer" - means Where are the Chachamim who could count all (the sequences of) the letters in the Torah?
2. " ... ayeh Shokel" - Where are the Chachamim who knew how to Darshen all the 'Kal va'Chamors' in the Torah?
3. " ... ayeh Sofer es ha'Migdalim" - Where are the Chachamim who knew three hundred Halachos in connection with 'Migdal ha'Porei'ach ba'Avir'?
(d) Do'eg and Achitofel - asked three hundred She'eilos regarding 'Migdal ha'Porei'ach ba'Avir'.
(a) 'Migdal ha'Porei'ach be'Avir' might be referring to the tall size of the 'Lamed' or to the tower of the Dor Haflagah. Rashi however, prefers the text 'Migdal *ha'Pasu'ach* le'Avir' - in which case, it will refer to a large cupboard which opened out to an open field or a courtyard.

(b) In spite of their learning abilities, Do'eg and Achitofel lost their portion in the world to Come. Two other ordinary citizens also lost their portions in the World to Come - Bil'am and Geichazi (the servant of Elisha).

(c) Three kings lost their portions, too - Yerav'am, Achav and Menasheh.

(a) Shmuel allayed Rav Yehudah's worries, assuring him that he did not need to worry that he might go the same way as the learned Resha'im whom we have just mentioned - because they had had a streak of Apikorsus all along.

(b) Shmuel's explanation manifested itself in Acher - inasmuch as he was always singing Greek songs (even during meal-times, when music is forbidden [to commemorate the Churban Beis ha'Mikdash]), and because of the inherent Apikorsus in those songs (Agados Maharsha); ad because books on Greek philosophy would constantly fall out from under his clothes (see also Tosfos Amud Aleph, DH 'Shuvu').

(c) Nimus the weaver asked Rebbi Meir whether all wool that goes into the caldron absorbs the dye - meaning 'Is it true that anyone who learns Torah is protected from sinning'?

(d) Rebbi Meir replied - that only someone whose fear of G-d preceded his learning has that assurance, but not if it did not.

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