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Prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Gitin 56

GITIN 56 & 57 - Anonymously dedicated by an ardent supporter who wants the Zechus of spreading Torah throughout the world.


(a) (R. Yochanan): "Happy is the one who is always afraid; one who hardens his heart will fall in evil" - Yerushalayim was destroyed through the enmity between Kamtza and Bar Kamtza; Tur Malka was destroyed because of a rooster and a hen; Beitar was destroyed on account of a carriage wheel.
1. Yerushalayim was destroyed through the enmity between Kamtza and Bar Kamtza: there was a man that had a friend named Kamtza and an enemy named Bar Kamtza. He made a banquet and asked his servant to invite Kamtza; the servant erred and invited Bar Kamtza.
2. The host saw Bar Kamtza at the banquet. 'What are you doing here - you are my enemy - leave!'
3. Bar Kamtza: Since I am already here, let me stay - I will pay for my meal.
4. The host: No.
5. Bar Kamtza: I will pay for half the banquet!
6. The host: No.
7. Bar Kamtza: I will pay for the whole banquet!
8. The host did not consent; he bodily threw him out.
(b) Bar Kamtza reasoned: Chachamim were there and they did not protest - they must have approved! I will inform on them to the king.
1. Bar Kamtza (to the Kaiser): The Jews have rebelled against you.
2. Kaiser: Why should I believe you?
3. Bar Kamtza: Send a sacrifice, and see if they will offer it.
(c) He sent a nice calf with Bar Kamtza. On the way, Bar Kamtza blemished it on the upper lip (some say, in the eye).
1. A Nochri may bring such a sacrifice, but not a Jew.
(d) Chachamim thought to offer it, to avoid angering the Kaiser.
1. R. Zecharyah Ben Avkules: We cannot - people will say, we can offer blemished animals on the Altar!
(e) Chachamim thought to kill Bar Kamtza, so he should not tell the Kaiser that they did not offer his sacrifice.
1. R. Zecharyah Ben Avkules: We cannot - people will say, one who puts a blemish in a sacrifice is killed!
(f) (R. Yochanan): The humility of R. Zecharyah Ben Avkules destroyed our Temple, burned our Heichal and exiled us from our land.
(g) Niron Kaiser was leader of the army sent against Yerushalayim. He shot an arrow eastward - it fell in Yerushalayim. He shot an arrow westward ... in all 4 directions, and all landed in Yerushalayim.
1. He asked a child - what verse are you learning?
2. The child: "I will take my vengeance against Edom (Rome) through my nation Yisrael."
3. Niron: Hash-m wants to destroy His house, and punish the conqueror!!
i. Niron abandoned his position and converted; R. Meir descended from him.
(a) Aspasyainus Kaiser was sent against Yerushalayim; he besieged it for 3 years.
1. There were 3 wealthy men in Yerushalayim: Nakdimon Ben Guryon, Ben Kalba Savua, and Ben Tztzis ha'Keses.
i. Nakdimon Ben Guryon was called thusly for the sun Nakdah (shone) for him.
ii. Ben Kalba Savua - anyone that entered his house as hungry as a Kelev (dog) would leave Savua (satiated).
iii. Ben Tztzis ha'Keses - the fringes of his Talis dragged on pillows and blankets (he only walked on silk).
A. Others say, he was frequent among the important officials of Rome.
2. One of these 3 offered to supply the city with wheat and barley; another, with wine, salt and oil; the third, with wood.
i. The third one was most praiseworthy - Rav Chisda trusted his servant with all his keys except for the key to his storehouse of wood.
ii. Rav Chisda: (To cook) one storehouse of wheat, one needs 60 storehouses of wood.
(b) There were provisions for the city for 21 years. Chachamim wanted to make peace with the besieging army; the Baryonim (impudent youths) did not allow them.
(c) Baryonim: Let us go out and fight them!
(d) Chachamim: That will not succeed.
1. The Baryonim burned the storehouses of wheat and barley; there was terrible hunger in the city.
(e) Marsa Bas Baisus was the richest woman in Yerushalayim. She sent her servant to buy flour; it was sold out before he got there.
1. The servant: There is no flour; there is clean bread - should I buy it?
2. Marsa Bas Baisus: Yes.
3. It was sold out before he got there. 'There is no clean bread; there is coarse bread - should I buy it?' 'Yes.'
4. It was sold out before he got there. 'There is no coarse bread; there is barley flour - should I buy it?' 'Yes.'
5. It was sold out before he got there. Marsa Bas Baisus decided to try to find food herself.
6. Version #1: She was barefoot, and stepped on some dung and died (because she was so fastidious).
i. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: "The soft and delicate among you, who never put her foot on the ground" - she was such a person.
7. Version #2: She died from eating figs that R. Tzadok had sucked on.
i. R. Tzadok fasted for 40 years that Yerushalayim should not be destroyed. When he would eat, one could see, from the outside, the food passing to his stomach. When he stopped fasting, he would suck the juice of figs, and discard the figs.
8. When Marsa Bas Baisus was dying, she threw all her money into the street - 'What good will it do me'?
i. This fulfilled the verse "They will cast out their money".
(a) Aba Sikra, the head of the Baryonim, was R. Yochanan Ben Zakai's nephew. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai asked him to secretly come to see him.
1. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: How long will you cause us to die of hunger?
2. Aba Sikra: What can I do - if I say anything (e.g. we should make peace with the besiegers), the Baryonim will kill me!
3. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: Find a way for me to leave the city - perhaps something can be salvaged.
4. Aba Sikra: Pretend to be sick; all will come to visit you. Take something putrid with you into bed; people will say that you died.
5. Only let your Talmidim carry the coffin, for whoever carries it will know that you are alive.
i. People know that a corpse is heavier than a living person.
(b) R. Yochanan Ben Zakai did so; R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua carried the coffin.
(c) At the gate (to leave the city), Baryonim suspected the ruse and wanted to pierce the coffin.
1. Chachamim: They besiegers will say, they stabbed their Rebbi!!
2. Baryonim: Let us jolt the coffin.
3. Chachamim: They besiegers will say, they jolted their Rebbi!!
(d) The Baryonim allowed them to leave. When R. Yochanan Ben Zakai approached Aspanyainus, he said 'Shalom to the king, Shalom to the king'.
1. Aspanyainus: You are worthy of death for 2 reasons!
i. I am not the king.
ii. If I was king, why didn't you come to me earlier?
2. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: Regarding the first point - in truth, you are the king.

i. If not, Yerushalayim would not fall to you - "ha'Levanon will fall to an Adir".
ii. Adir means king, and Levanon means the Temple.
3. Regarding the second point - Until now, the Baryonim did not allow me to leave.
4. Aspanyainus: If a snake is around a barrel of honey, one should break the barrel to make the snake go away! (i.e. you should have broken the wall to dispel the Baryonim).
5. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai was quiet.
i. Rav Yosef: "(Hash-m) turns back the wisdom of Chachamim" - he should have answered, one removes the snake with tongs and saves the barrel! (We hoped to overcome them and preserve the city wall).
(e) Just then, a messenger came from Rome: The Kaiser died; the most important officials decided that you should be the new head.
(f) Aspanyainus had put on 1 shoe before hearing this. He was unable to put on the other, nor could he take off the first, and did not know why.
1. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: Don't worry - "Good tidings fatten bones".
2. Aspanyainus: What should I do?
3. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: Have someone you hate pass in front of you - "A crushed spirit dries bones".
4. Aspanyainus: If you are so smart, why didn't you see me until now?
5. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: I already told you!
6. Aspanyainus: I rejected your answer!
i. I will return to Rome and send someone else in my stead; make a request, I will grant it.
7. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai: Do not destroy Yavneh and its Chachamim; do not kill off the line of R. Gamliel; give us doctors to cure R. Tzadok.
i. Rav Yosef: "(Hash-m) turns back the wisdom of Chachamim" - he should have asked him to pardon Yerushalayim this time!
ii. R. Yochanan Ben Zakai thought, perhaps he would not agree, and nothing will be salvaged.
(g) Question: How did they cure R. Tzadok?
(h) Answer: The first day, he drank water in which bran was soaked; the next day, water in which was soaked large bran, then water with flour mixed in.
1. Over time, his intestines grew (and he was able to eat again).
(a) Aspanyainus sent Titus to conquer Yerushalayim; he blasphemed "Where is the Rock they trusted in".
1. He took a prostitute into the Kodshei ha'Kadoshim (the holiest part of the Temple); he spread a Sefer Torah, and sinned on it.
2. He took a sword and pierced the Paroches (curtain in front of the Kodshei ha'Kadoshim); miraculously, blood spurted out.
3. He thought he had killed Him(self - a euphemism) - "The enemies roared in your meeting place; they believed in their omens".
(b) (Aba Chanan): "Who is like you, && " - that you hear the blasphemy of that wicked one, and you are silent!
1. (Tana d'Vei R. Yishmael): "Who is like you, Hash-m, among the Elim (gods)" - who is like you among the Ilmim (the mute).
(c) Titus took the Paroches, and made it like a sack in which he took all the vessels of the Temple; he boarded a boat to return to aggrandize himself in his city.
1. "I have seen buried wicked people, they came from a holy place, they go and are forgotten in the city that they did so" - do not read Kevurim (buried), rather Kevutzim (gathered); do not read forgotten (va'Yishtachechu), rather va'Yishtabchu (they praised themselves).
2. Others explain, "Buried" - even our buried treasures were exposed to them.
(d) A stormy wind was about to sink Titus' boat.
1. Titus: Their G-d only has power in water - He drowned Paro (and his army) in water, also Sisero (and his army), and now He wants to drown me!
i. If He is mighty - let Him come onto the land and fight me!
2. A voice from Heaven: Wicked, son of the wicked, descendant of Esav the wicked, I have a light creation - the mosquito - in my world - come to land and fight it!
i. Question: Why is it called a light creation?
ii. Answer: It has a mouth, but nothing from which to excrete.
(e) Titus alighted; a mosquito entered his nose and bored into his brain for 7 years.
1. 1 day, he was passing by a smith, and heard the hammer banging. The mosquito stopped pecking - he found a solution!
2. Each day he brought a smith to bang in front of him. To a Nochri, he would give 4 Zuz; to a Yisrael, he said, it suffices that you see your enemy (being punished).
3. After 30 days, the mosquito became used to the banging, and it resumed pecking.
(f) (Beraisa - R. Pinchus Ben Arova): When he died, they pierced his skull - a wild bird was found, weighing 2 Sela'im;
1. Another Beraisa says, it was as a year old bird weighing 2 Litrin.
2. (Abaye): Its mouth was copper, its claws iron.
(g) As Titus was dying, he asked to be cremated, and his ashes should be spread on the 7 seas, so that the G-d of Yisrael should not be able to judge him.
(h) Unkelus Bar Klonikus was Titus' nephew; he wanted to convert. He conjured up his uncle from the dead.
1. Unkelus: Who is important in the next world?
2. Titus: Yisrael.
3. Unkelus: Should I cling to them (convert)?
4. Titus: They have too many Mitzvos, you cannot fulfill them - rather, fight them in your world, and you will become a head.
i. "Its oppressors became leaders" - whoever oppresses Yisrael becomes a leader.
5. Unkelus: What was your judgment?
(a) Titus: What I myself declared - each day, my ashes are gathered, judged, burned, and scattered on the 7 seas.
(b) Unkelus conjured up Bilam from the dead.
1. Unkelus: Who is important in the next world?
2. Bilam: Yisrael.
3. Unkelus: Should I cling to them?
4. Bilam: "Do not seek their peace or well-being, forever".
5. Unkelus: What was your judgment?
6. Bilam: I am in boiling semen.
(c) Unkelus conjured up Yoshke from the dead.
1. Unkelus: Who is important in the next world?
2. Yoshke: Yisrael.
3. Unkelus: Should I cling to them?
4. Yoshke: Seek their good, not their evil.
i. Whoever touches them is as one who touches the apple of Hash-m's eye.
5. Unkelus: What was your judgment?
6. Yoshke: I am in boiling excrement.
i. Anyone that mocks Chachamim is judged in boiling excrement.
(d) See the difference between sinners of Yisrael and prophets of the Nochrim.
(e) (Beraisa - R. Elazar): See how great is embarrassment - (because Bar Kamtza was embarrassed), Hash-m helped him to destroy the Temple and burn the Heichal!
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