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Megilah, 25

MEGILAH 25 (21 Tishrei, Hoshana Raba) - dedicated by Gedalyah Jawitz, in honor of the yahrtzeit of Yehuda ben Simcha Volf Jawitz


OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that one says, "May the good bless You," is acting in the manner of Minim. What is wrong with praising Hashem by saying that the good ones should bless Him?

(a) RASHI explains that when one says, "Yevarchucha Tovim" -- "May the good bless You," he is saying that only the Tzadikim are fit to bless Hashem, while the Resha'im have no part in blessing Hashem. Chazal, however, tell us that when it comes to praising Hashem, we must invite the Resha'im to join us in His praise, as we learn from the Ketores. Just like the Torah commands that the Ketores contain Chelbanah, a bad-smelling spice, so, too, our Tefilah must include the prayers of the sinners. We also allude to this when we lift the Arba Minim on Sukos. While the Lulav, Hadasim, and Esrog have either a nice smell, nice taste, or both, the Aravos have neither a nice smell nor a nice taste, and thus they represent the Resha'im. Nevertheless, we must join them together with all of the other people of Klal Yisrael in praising Hashem.

Excluding the Resha'im from praising Hashem is the way of the Minim, because the Minim reject the concept of Teshuvah and maintain that once a person sins, he is irrevocably condemned to punishment and cannot take part in praising Hashem.

TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH (in Berachos 34a) suggest a similar, but not identical, explanation. They contend that the problem with saying, "May the good bless You," is not that it implies that the Resha'im cannot take part in praising Hashem because they have no recourse of Teshuvah. Rather, it implies that the Resha'im were created bad and it was not in their power to bless Hashem. This is the way of Minim, who believe that there is no free will and a Rasha was born evil.

The RASHBA questions Rashi's explanation. We find a number of verses which depict the Tzadikim praising Hashem without the Resha'im. We say each day in Ashrei, "Yoducha Hashem Kol Ma'asecha, *va'Chasidecha Yevarechucha*" -- "All Your works will thank You, Hashem, and *Your righteous ones will bless you*" (Tehilim 145:10). Another verse says, "Ach Tzadikim Yodu li'Shmecha" -- "...but the righteous will give thanks to Your name" (Tehilim 140:14 -- the Ibn Ezra and Radak point out that the word "but" is specifically excluding the Resha'im from praising Hashem!). We see from these verses that it is acceptable to say that the Tzadikim alone praise Hashem!

It could be that *in the specific context* in which these verses appear, it is indeed appropriate to say that the Tzadikim alone praise Hashem. In the verse of "Yoducha Hashem...," the first part of the verse says that "all Your works will thank You," and thus it continues and says "but the Tzadikim will bless You *even more*!" This statement is definitely true. Similarly, in the verse of "Ach Tzadikim," the previous verses discuss the punishment that Hashem will wreak upon the Resha'im while sparing the Tzadikim. As a result, the Tzadikim will give thanks to Hashem for *not being punished*. In contrast, if a person says "Yevarchucha Tovim," it implies that the only ones who are fit to praise Hashem are the Tovim, and that is incorrect.

(b) TOSFOS explains that the word "Tovim" in "Yevarchucha Tovim" refers to Hashem (as in "Elokim Tovim"). One is saying, "May the good Creators bless you (the people)." Since one is referring to Hashem with a plural term, it looks like one is implying that there are two powers (the same problem with saying "Modim Modim" -- except that Tovim implies that there are two powers of good, not one of evil and one of good). That is why it is the way of Minim.

(c) The RAN says that "Tovim" does not mean the good people, but the people *to whom Hashem does good*. Thus, one is saying, "May those to whom You do good bless You," which sounds like there is one power that bestows good, and another power that is in control of bad, and the recipients of good can only bless the power that bestows good. That is the way of Minim because it appears as though one is saying that there are two powers, one of good and one of evil.

(d) TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH give another explanation. "Tovim" means the people to whom You *have given plenty* of food, and they are satiated, as in the verse, "v'Nisba Lechem va'Niheyeh Tovim" -- "and we were satiated with bread and we had it all good" (Yirmiyahu 44:17). It is the way of Minim because it implies that only if one is full does he have to bless Hashem.

This explanation seems to accomodate the Girsa of the Rambam in the Mishnah, that "this is the Derech ha'Tzedukim," in place of "Derechim Minus." The Tzedukim reject the enactments of the Rabanan, who instituted that we recite Birkas ha'Mazon after eating even a k'Zayis or k'Beitzah. The Tzedukim accept only the literal interpretation of the verses in the Torah. The verse says, "v'Achalta v'Savata u'Verachta" -- "you will eat, be *satisfied*, and bless," which they explain means that only when one is full does he have to bless Hashem, but not one who is not full.

QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who says, "Hashem's mercy reaches the mother bird," must be silenced. The Gemara explains (in the second reason) that this is because the Mitzvos are purely Gezeiros, "heavenly decrees upon us to fulfill," and no mercy is involved.

How can it be that there are no reasons behind the Mitzvos? Rebbi Shimon explicitly states (see Yevamos 23a, and other places) that all of the Mitzvos have reasons behind them!


(a) The RAMBAM, in Moreh Nevuchim (3:26,48), explains that this opinion in our Gemara indeed argues with Rebbi Shimon, and maintains that there are no reasons for the Mitzvos.

(b) The RAMBAN (Devarim 22:6) explains that the Mitzvos certainly have reasons. Our Gemara means that the reason behind the Mitzvah of sending away the mother bird is not in order to have mercy *on the bird*. Rather, it is a "Gezeirah" (a decree upon *us*, for our benefit), in order to accustom us to be merciful and inculcate in us that trait. One who is accustomed to being cruel to beasts, becomes cruel by nature in general, even to people.

QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who is "Mechaneh b'Arayos" must be silenced. The Gemara explains that this refers to one who says that the verse, "Do not uncover your father's nakedness" (Vayikra 18:7), is not to be taken literally, but means that one should not reveal any disgraceful thing about one's father. Such a person must be silenced.

The Mishnah then states that one who says that the verse "Do not give any of your children to be passed through Molech" (Vayikra 18:21) means that one should not give his children to an Arami in marriage [lest they learn from their mother to worship idols such as Mosech], must be silenced *with censure* ("b'Nezifah").

Why is it that in the second case, the Mishnah says that we must quiet him "b'Nezifah?" In both cases, Rashi explains that the person gives the wrong meaning to the verse. In both cases, the person attributes a Chiyuv Misah to an act for which there really is no Chiyuv Misah. What, then, is the difference between the two cases?


(a) Perhaps, according to Rashi, the difference is that in the second case -- when one interprets the verse of Molech to be saying that one may not give his children to a Nochri in marriage, people might actually listen to him and be misled, thinking that there really is a Chiyuv Misah for such a transgression, since marrying off one's child to a Nochri is, after all, a severe transgression. Therefore, he must be silenced with Nezifah. In the first case, though, when one interprets the verse of Arayos to be referring to uncovering the shame of one's father, no one will actually believe his interpretation, for that act is not severe enough to warrant a Chiyuv Misah. Therefore, he need only be silenced, but not with Nezifah.

(b) Some Rishonim explain the Mishnah differently than Rashi. Rashi understands that the person's misinterpretation of the verse of Molech is a Chumra -- the person is ascribing a Chiyuv Misah to an act for which one is not Chayav Misah. According to these Rishonim, the person's misinterpretation is a *Kula* -- he is being *lenient*, and that is why he must be silenced with Nezifah.

The ARUCH (Erech "Aram") explains that by saying that the verse is forbidding marriage to an Arami, the person is prohibiting marriage only to a Nochri who worships Molech, such as an Arami, but he is permitting marriage to any other type of Nochri!

RASHI on the Rif says that the Kula is that by interpreting the verse to be saying that one may not marry off his child to a woman who will bear children and teach them to worship Molech, one is saying that the prohibition applies only if the woman he marries is able to give birth. This implies that if she is an older woman or unable to give birth for some other reason, it is permitted to marry her! Therefore, we silence him with Nezifah.

(c) RABEINU CHANANEL and the RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) explain "Mechaneh b'Arayos" differently. "Mechaneh" means that one alters the wording of the verse. This person changes the verse from "Do not uncover *your* father's nakedness (Ervas *Avicha*)" to "Do not uncover *his* father's nakedness (Ervas *Aviv*)" in order to be more polite. We must silence him, because if the Torah wants to express the Isur in a certain way, there is no reason to alter it. (Their Girsa in the Gemara included the extra word, recorded in DIDUKEI SOFRIM, "*Mishum* Kalon Avicha," which implies that Kalon Avicha ([preventing] the shame of your father) is the *reason why* one changes the verse, but is not the change itself.)

In that case, the change in the verse "Ervas Avicha" does not affect the Halachah, but only the syntax in the verse. In the second case, the person's misinterpretation actually changes the Halachah, and therefore we silence him with Nezifah.


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