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Pesachim 113


QUESTION: The Gemara says that the "Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel despise each other." How could the Gemara Bavli say this about the great and holy Amora'im? Certainly they were not suspected of committing any sins, and if so, why were they permitted to despise each other?

ANSWER: The Gemara in Kidushin (30b) cites the verse, "Happy is the person who has many children, he will not be embarrassed when he speaks with his enemies at the gate" (Tehilim 127:5). The Gemara asks, who are the enemies? Rebbi Chiya bar Aba answers that the verse is referring to a father and his son, or a Rebbi and his Talmid, when they learn together, at which time they are called "enemies" of each other. The Gemara adds that "they do not leave from there until they become beloved unto one another." Rashi explains that they are "enemies" because they constantly challenge each other with questions and are not satisfied until they are convinced that they have arrived at the truth. According to that Gemara, the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel do not literally hate each other. Rather, they look, at times, like enemies because they learn together and challenge each other as if they hated each other, with the sole intention of arriving at the truth.

Why does our Gemara specifically say that the Talmidei Chachamim *in Bavel* despise each other, and not those in Eretz Yisrael? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (24a) tells us that the Talmidei Chachamim in Eretz Yisrael are "sweet to each other" when they argue about Halachah, in contrast to the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel who "fight and have heated arguments" with each other when arguing about Halachah (see Rashi there). When the Gemara there lists examples of Talmidei Chachamim in Eretz Yisrael, all of the examples are Tana'im. On the other hand, the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel were all Amora'im. This indicates that the Gemara means that there was Yeridas ha'Doros, a spiritual generation gap. In the times of the Tana'im, the truth was much clearer, and it was possible to arrive at the truth by peacefully discussing it with each other. By the time of the Amora'im, though, the truth had become cloudy and the only way to come to a clear understanding of the truth was by arguing it out dialectically. "Talmidei Chachamim of Bavel" of our Gemara also refers to the Amora'im of Bavel. (M. Kornfeld -- for a more in-depth explanation, see MAHARAL, Nesiv ha'Torah, ch. 13.)

QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that the source for the prohibition against inquiring information from the "Kaldi'im" is from the verse, "You shall be completely faithful to Hashem your G-d" (Devarim 18:13).

The Gemara in Shabbos (156b) describes a "Kalda'ei" as a gentile astrologer who gazes at the constellations and predicts future events based upon them. Why, then, our Gemara say that it is prohibited to have any trust or faith in the advice of the Kalda'ei, while the Gemara in Shabbos describes this discipline as something which is legitimate and trustworthy?


(a) RASHI here in Pesachim translates "Kalda'ei" as "Ba'alei Ovos," those who divine with bones and commune with dead people. Everywhere else in Shas, though, Rashi defines "Kalda'ei" as astrologers. Apparently Rashi maintained that the Sugya here in Pesachim cannot be referring to astrologers, because -- as the Sugya in Shabbos states -- there is nothing wrong with consulting with astrologers. (TOSFOS and the RASHBAM here take issue with Rashi's definition of "Kalda'ei" as Ba'alei Ovos.)

(b) The RAMBAN (in Teshuvos ha'Meyuchasos #243) and the NIMUKEI YOSEF (Sanhedrin 65b) write that the Gemara here is not teaching that there is an Isur d'Oraisa to consult astrologers. If there was such an Isur d'Oraisa, the Gemara would have cited as the source the negative commandment (Devarim 18:10) commanding us not to be involved in any type of divination. It must be that consulting astrologers is not included in that prohibition, and that there is some veracity to the science of astrological prediction. Consequently, says the Ramban, if a person is told his astrological forecast, he must not attempt to defy it because he might thereby be placing himself in danger. Rather, he should heed the warning and avoid the situation which his forecast says is dangerous for him.

When the Gemara here says that one may not consult with astrologers, it means that the *Rabanan advise* that one should not look into astrology in the first place. Instead one should place his trust in Hashem and acknowledge that his prayers to Hashem can be effective in altering his fate. The reason why the Tana'im and Amora'im in the Gemara in Shabbos were concerned with their astrological forecasts was not because they went to *consult* with astrologers, but because they *happened* to find out about their forecasts. To defy what they heard in such a manner would require relying on a miracle to save them, and one may not rely on a miracle.

(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:8) rules that it is an Isur d'Oraisa to look into one's astrological horoscope, as the Gemara here implies. What, then, does the Rambam do with the Gemara in Shabbos?

The Gemara there lists each Mazal and its effects on one who was born in it. However, that does not tell the person anything about how he should act in the future, i.e. what day will be a good one and what day will be a bad one. It is just telling us the facts about what that person's tendency will be. Apparently, that does not fall into the prohibition against divining. Similarly, when the Gemara in Shabbos records that Rebbi Akiva was concerned for the astrological prediction that was said about the fate of his daughter, it means that he was merely worried, but he did not *act* on the prediction of the astrologer.

However, the Rambam writes later (11:16) that anyone who believes that there is any truth in these predictions is foolish and childish. How, then, could Rebbi Akiva and the Amora'im be concerned for the predictions of astrologers?

The Rambam, in his Introduction to Perush ha'Mishnayos, intimates that the predictions of astrologers contain truth, but they are not *exact* in their predictions. He might mean that a person's fate, as seen by astrological prediction, is liable to change based on the performance of good deeds (as the Gemara in Shabbos concludes). In Hilchos Avodah Zarah, when he writes that anyone who believes in astrological predictions is foolish, he means that one must put his faith only in Hashem and acknowledge that Tefilah and Yir'as Shamayim can entirely change one's fate and therefore it is futile to put one's trust in the Mazalos, as the Gemara in Shabbos concludes.

When Rebbi Akiva was worried about the prediction of the astrologer, he was worried for someone else (his daughter), since *she* might not be G-d- fearing enough to merit having a good future. Similarly, the mother of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak was worried for the prediction said about Rav Nachman, in Shabbos, because she was worried that *her son* might not have enough merit to save him from the fate that the astrologer predicted. About one's self, though, a person need not fear; let him simply place his trust in Hashem and perform Mitzvos and the dreaded outcome will not come to pass, as the Gemara tells us here. (M. Kornfeld)

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