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) "YESH *EM* LA'MIKRA"
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses various applications of the concepts of "Yesh
Em la'Mikra" and "Yesh Em la'Masores." Some words in the Torah, based on
the Mesorah (the authoritative "Tradition"), are read differently from the
way that they are written. There is no question how the verse is to be read
when reading the Torah, since the Mesorah specifies a certain way of reading
it. However, the Tana'im argue over how to learn Halachos from such verses.
"Yesh Em la'Masores" means that we learn Halachos from the verse based on
the way it is written; "Yesh Em la'Mikra" means that we learn Halachos from
the verse based on the way it is read.
2) USING THE FIRST APPEARANCE OF A WORD FOR A "DERASHAH"
Why does the Gemara refer to the "strength" of the "Mikra" or the "Masores"
with the word "Em" (literally "mother")? This is particularly perplexing
when we consider that another method for deriving a Halachah is is called
"Binyan *Av*." A Binyan Av (lit. "building through a father" -- "father" in
this sense means a Torah source) is a method in which one subject is deemed
a prototype in order to apply a Halachah stated in that subject to other
comparable subjects. Why is one method referred to with the word "Av," while
the other is referred to with the word "Em?" Is there any significance to
ANSWERS: RAV JOSEPH PEARLMAN addresses this question (in D.A.F.'s "Questions
on the Daf"). He mentions that the Talmudic Encyclopedia (Erech Binyan Av)
records in the name of the Halichos Olam (Sha'ar 4) that "the manner of the
Torah is to be concise and brief in its words, and its words are expanded
with regard to other topics that are similar to it. This is called a 'Binyan
Av' because the verse under discussion is the primary place from which other
items are learned, and it is thus called the 'father' since the teacher is
like a father and those who learn from him are like his children." This,
though, would seem to apply to the mother as well as the father. As far as
why the specific terms mother and father were used the way they were, a
number of answers have been suggested:
(a) This question is the first question addressed in the She'eilos
u'Teshuvos of the RIF. The Rif writes, "We have not heard a definitive
answer with regard to this, but sometimes the masculine form (Lashon Zachar)
is used, such as in 'Binyan Av'.... It appears that where the Torah makes a
certain item the primary one from which to learn something else, it is
called 'Av.' The feminine form is used in the term 'Yesh Em la'Mikra'
because we do not learn anything from that item to any other item. 'Yesh Em
la'Mikra' just means that we rely on the way the word is read (the Keri'ah),
or on the way it is written (Masores), and it is called 'Em', since the word
'Keri'ah' is a feminine form (Nekeivah)."
(b) The annotations to the Teshuvos ha'Rif there quotes the SHE'EILOS
U'TESHUVOS BE'ER ESEK (#59) who gives a reason why the term is "Yesh *Em*
l'Mikra" and not "Yesh *Av*." He writes that deep secrets which are not
revealed openly are alluded to in the pronunciation and in the writing of
the words of the Torah (Mikra and Masores). Covertness (or modesty,
Tzeni'us) is a trait relating to the female according to the Torah.
(c) RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS in MARGOLIOS HA'YAM here (#2) writes in the name of
the Zohar (Shemos 276:2) that the verse "'Kaved Es Avicha' refers to Torah
shw'Bichtav, and 'Kaved Es Imecha' refers to Torah she'Ba'al Peh... [and
just as the father is the one whose influence ('Shefa') affects the mother,
so, too, the influence of the Torah she'Bichtav if felt on Torah she'Ba'al
He also makes reference to RABEINU BACHYE (Devarim 33:8) who says that there
is a deep reason behind why we refer to a "Binyan *Av*" and not "Binyan
*Em*," and why we say "Yesh *Em* la'Mikra" and not "Yesh *Av*." Rabeinu
Bachye writes that "a Binyan Av is never mentioned anywhere in the Gemara
except when dealing with a verse in Torah she'Bichtav" (that is, we do not
learn any Halachah in Torah she'Ba'al Peh through a Binyan Av), "and thus it
is appropriate to refer to it as a Binyan *Av*. But when the Sages said
'Yesh Em la'Mikra,' they were referring to the tradition that was passed
down through Torah she'Ba'al Peh [with regard to how to read or write the
word in the Torah], and thus they called it *Em* and not Av...." Rabeinu
Bachye continues to discuss this topic at length.
(It is worth noting that ostensibly there is an inconsistency between the
words of the Zohar and Rabeinu Bachye, and the words of the Vilna Ga'on and
the Netziv (to Shir ha'Shirim 1:2, "Yeshakeni m'Neshikos Pihu"), who write
that the letter "Heh" represents the feminine form (as words in the feminine
form in Hebrew generally end with the letter Heh), which is the Torah
*she'Bichtav* (the *five* (Heh) books of the Chumash), while the letter
"Vav" which is a masculine letter represents Torah she'Ba'al Peh (the *six*
(Vav) Sedarim of the Mishnah). See also Vilna Gaon to Yeshayah 6:13, Mishlei
One way to answer this question might be that there is a difference between
male/female and mother/father. The former relates to Shev v'Al Ta'aseh/Kum
va'Aseh, as the Vilna Gaon discusses at length in our references, while the
latter refers to the one who affects the other and causes the other to
produce. It is clearly the Torah she'Ba'al Peh which is "Parah v'Ravah," as
the Gemara says in Chagigah 3b.)
(d) The MARGOLIOS HA'YAM further cites an opinion which suggests that the
letters Alef, Heh, Vav, and Yud are referred to as the "Imos ha'Keri'ah,"
the "mothers of reading," since they aid the pronunciation of Hebrew words
without being pronounced themselves. Since this is the same theme as Keri'ah
and Masores, in which the Masores reveals the proper pronunciation of the
word without itself being pronounced, we call the principle "Yesh *Em*
l'Mikra." (The Margolios ha'Yam refers also to OTZER HA'KAVOD of RABEINU
TURDOS ABULEFYA (Sukah 5) who asks this question, but we do not have this
QUESTION: The Gemara gives many examples of deriving a Halachah with regard
to a number or an amount from the way that a word is read or written. For
example, Beis Shamai says that the Torah writes the word "Karnos" three
times when teaching the laws of Zerikas ha'Dam of a Korban Chatas. The Torah
is teaching, by writing the three words "Karnos," that we must sprinkle the
blood on the corners of the Mizbe'ach six times, as each plural reading
("Yesh Em l'Mikra") of the word indicates two sprinklings. Beis Shamai
understands from here that four of these implied Zerikos indicate the
*Mitzvah* to sprinkle the blood on the four corners of the Mizbe'ach, while
the other two tell us that the *absolute minimum requirement* is two
sprinklings. Beis Hillel, on the other hand, maintains that we look at the
way the word is written ("Yesh Em la'Masores"). The word is spelled "Karnas"
(in the singular) on two occasions, and only once it is spelled "Karnos."
This teaches that there are only *four* Zerikos. It must be that the Mitzvah
is to sprinkle the blood three times, while one sprinkling is the absolute
However, we learned earlier that there is a concept called, "Ein Dorshin
Techilos" -- we do not derive a Halachah from the first occasion that a word
is mentioned, when it is mentioned numerous times, since the first mention
of the word is necessary to teach us the simple meaning of that word. Why,
then, is the first word "Karnos" (or "Karnas" according to Beis Hillel) used
as part of the Derashah?
In addition, our Gemara itself uses this principle of "Ein Dorshin Techilos"
in its discussion concerning the walls of a Sukah, where each opinion
disqualifies the first mention of the word and does not use it to derive an
extra wall. TOSFOS (3b, DH Ein) writes that there must be a reason for why
the first word is not used, and we must examine why the first word in the
verses concerning the walls of a Sukah is not used, but he does not give an
answer. Why is the first word not used?
ANSWER: The TORAS CHAIM sets forth an important principle. The Gemara
understands that even though Rebbi Yoshiya (3b) might maintain that the
first word is used merely for its definition, if there was another word that
could have been used instead and yet the Torah still chose to use this word,
then this shows we can include it in a Derashah and derive a Halachah from
it. Based on this, he explains why in each case the Gemara uses, or does not
use, the principle of "Ein Dorshin Techilos." (See there for all of his
explanations.) For example, he explains that in the case of "Karnos," the
Torah could have expressed the requirement of Zerikah by saying that the
blood should be sprinkled "Saviv" -- around -- the Mizbe'ach, without
mentioning "Karnos." Since it used the word "Karnos" instead, that word,
even the first mention of it, can be used for the Derashah. Similarly, in
the verse discussing the Mitzvah of Tefilin, instead of the word
"l'Totafos," the Torah could have written "l'Zikaron," a remembrance. In
contrast, in the verses discussing Sukah, there is no other word that the
Torah could have used to convey the same meaning. This is why the Gemara
says that the first verse was needed to teach us the simple meaning of
Sukah. (Y. Montrose)
3) THE NEED FOR A SEPARATE VERSE ABOUT "SECHACH"
QUESTION: The Gemara records an argument between Rebbi Shimon and the
Rabanan regarding the minimum number of walls required for a valid Sukah.
Rebbi Shimon maintains that a Sukah must have three full walls and a fourth
wall at least the width of a Tefach (see Rashi to Sukah 7a). The Rabanan
maintain that a Sukah must have two full walls and a third wall at least the
width of a Tefach.
3) FOREIGN LANGUAGES IN THE TORAH
The Gemara explains the reasoning of each opinion. Both Rebbi Shimon and the
Rabanan interpret the word "Sukos" written in the Torah as plural, since
that is the way that it is read ("Yesh Em la'Mikra"). Consequently, each
word "Sukos" indicates two walls. Since the word "Sukos" is written three
times, this implies that a Sukah must have six walls. Rebbi Shimon explains
that we need one word to tell us the simple meaning of Sukah (RAN, MAHARAM
to Sukah 6b), leaving us with two words "Sukos," which teaches four walls.
We have a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai which teaches that one wall can be a
Tefach wide, and thus the number of walls needed for a Sukah is three full
walls and one wall with the width of a Tefach.
According to the Rabanan, the first word "Sukos" is used for the plain
meaning of the verse, as Rebbi Shimon says. The second word "Sukos" is used
to teach us the law of Sechach (Rebbi Shimon, on the other hand, maintains
that the necessity for Sechach is included in the definition of a Sukah).
This is difficult to understand. If we use the second word "Sukos" for the
Sechach, then we are left with only one word "Sukos," and with the Halachah
l'Moshe mi'Sinai this would teach us that we need only one full wall and one
wall with the width of a Tefach!
The MAHARAM explains that the Rabanan are learning that the Sechach is
equivalent to a wall. This means that when we have four walls left (from the
two words "Sukos"), we must understand *one* of those "walls" as referring
to the Sechach, so that the two words "Sukos" are teaching us that we need
three walls and a roof of Sechach.
However, even according to this explanation, it is not clear why the Rabanan
deem it necessary to have one word "Sukos" for the simple meaning of the
verse and another word "Sukos" for Sechach. Why is the need for Sechach not
included in the simple meaning of the first word "Sukos?"
(a) The RAN is bothered by this question. He answers that we indeed would
have known that a Sukah must have Sechach according to the Rabanan, even
without the extra word. However, the extra word teaches us that the Sechach
has Halachic requirements that must be fulfilled, such that it must be
"Ta'aseh v'Lo Min ha'Asuy," and that it must not be made with objects that
are able to be Mekabel Tum'ah.
(b) The ARUCH LA'NER has difficulty understanding the Ran. We already know
these laws about Sechach from different verses in the Torah (see Sukah 11a).
Why would we say that this verse is telling us something we already know?
The ARUCH LA'NER, therefore, suggests a different answer. He suggests that
the Rabanan -- who say that we need an extra word to teach us the
requirement of Sechach -- maintain that it is *not* necessary to have a word
"Sukos" for the simple meaning of the verse. When they say that an extra
word is necessary to teach the requirement of Sechach, they are referring to
the law that all three walls must touch the Sechach (or at least be within
three Tefachim of the Sechach). They learn that the six "walls" are actually
three walls that each have part of the Sechach touching it (three
"Sechachs"). Without the third word "Sukos," we would not be able to learn
this law about Sechach (as we would derive only one full wall and one wall
with the width of a Tefach, which is not a logical definition of a Sukah).
The explanation of the Aruch la'Ner has significant ramifications. There is
well-known argument among the Rishonim with regard to a Sukah that has walls
that meet the required height, but which do not touch the Sechach. The
ME'IRI (Sukah 2a) and RITVA maintain that such a Sukah is valid only because
of the principle of "Gud Asik" (walls that are at least ten Tefachim high
are considered as though they extend upward, higher than their actual
height). This makes them "touch" the Sechach from the point of view of
The Ran (Sukah 4b) argues that we never apply the principle of "Gud Asik" to
a Sukah, because a Sukah has a special requirement of "Mechitzos Nikaros" --
the walls must be physically present and visible. According to his opinion,
such a Sukah is valid even without the mechanism of "Gud Asik." Accordingly,
we can understand why the Ran here in Sanhedrin does not explain the Gemara
like the Aruch la'Ner; he maintains that there is no requirement for the
walls to actually touch the Sechach (see PNEI YEHOSHUA 4b who argues with
the Ran, and gives another source for the requirement that the walls touch
RAV ELYASHIV shlit'a (in HE'OROS B'MASECHES SUKAH to Sukah 6b) suggests a
similar answer. The REMA (OC 635) states that if one places Sechach on his
Sukah before erecting the walls, his Sukah is unfit because it does not
fulfill the requirement of "Ta'aseh v'Lo Min ha'Asuy." He says that the fact
that Sechach is not considered valid unless it has walls underneath it is
from the extra word "Sukos" here that is referring to Sechach according to
(c) Perhaps it is not necessary to repeat the word "Sukah" to teach that
Sechach is necessary. However, when we learn the number of walls from the
number of times the word Sukah is repeated, the Tana Kama holds that it is
natural for the count to include the *total number* of walls and Sechach,
since the Sechach and the walls together make up the Sukah. Thus, since the
Torah is counting the total of Sechach plus walls, we only see a need for
three walls -- the fourth word "Sukah" refers to Sechach, which we already
know from the Sukah that was written "l'Gufei," and not to new walls. Rebbi
Shimon, on the other hand, holds that the four walls are a complete unit
unto themselves. The Sechach need not be included in the count since it
serves a different purpose. (See Insights to Sukah 6:2.) (Y. Montrose)
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi Akiva says that the
source for the four separate compartments in the Tefilin Shel Rosh is the
word that the Torah uses to refer to them. The Torah calls them "Totafos,"
which is a combination of the word "Tat" in Katfi and the word "Pas" in
Afriki, each meaning "two."
Why does the Torah teach us to make four sections by adding two and two? Why
does the Torah not simply use a word that means "four?" Moreover, what does
Rebbi Akiva mean when he says that the Torah is using foreign words?
(a) HA'RAV DAVID COHEN shlit'a (author of OHEL DAVID, AIDI D'ZUTAR, and
other works) suggests an original approach to this question. He asks that
when the Jews were first commanded to wear Tefilin "as a sign on your arms
and Totafos on your heads," two of the four passages from the Torah which
they were supposed to insert into the Tefilin and wear upon their bodies had
not yet been given to the Jewish people! The two passages "Shema Yisrael"
and "v'Hayah Im Shamo'a" were taught only forty years later when they were
about to enter Eretz Yisrael. We must conclude that the Jews were only
required to put *two* of the four passages in their Tefilin for the first
This, explains Rav Cohen, is why the Torah divides the total number of
passages into two sets of two. This was meant to show that the insertion of
the passages in the Tefilin was done in two stages: the first two of the
four were inserted upon leaving Egypt, while the other two were inserted
forty years later.
RAV MENACHEM KASHER zt'l (TORAH SHELEIMAH, Milu'im following Parshas Bo,
vol. 12, p. 249, as pointed out by R' Chaim Schild) also discusses the issue
of which passages were included in the Tefilin during the forty years of
wandering in the desert. Rav Kasher cites the KASA D'HARSENA (footnotes by
the author of Besamim Rosh, #24) who raises the possibility that Tefilin at
that time consisted of only two passages instead of the four that the Torah
requires, but remains in doubt as to whether such a hypothesis is
However, there are Rishonim (cited by the Torah Sheleimah) who maintain that
such a proposition is *not* viable. According to the MANHIG (Rabeinu Avraham
ben Nasan ha'Yarchi, Mosad Harav Kook 1978, p. 729), the Mitzvah of Tefilin
was incumbent upon the Jews only after they entered Eretz Yisrael, or,
alternatively, only after they received the Torah at Har Sinai. In either
case, the Manhig emphasizes that by that time, all four passages had already
been taught to the Jews and were being worn in their Tefilin. In addition,
the CHIDUSHEI HA'RASHBA to Menachos (by Rabeinu Yeshayah mi'Trani) indeed
asserts that the Jews wore Tefilin from the moment they left Egypt, but that
all four passages were already taught to the Jews and included in their
Tefilin by that time.
(b) Perhaps we may suggest another approach to understanding the words of
Rebbi Akiva. In addition to our question regarding why the number "four" was
broken up into two sets of "two," we also asked why does the Torah teach us
these sets of two in foreign languages. Why does the Torah not use the
Hebrew word for "two?" The answer may be derived from the Gemara in Berachos
(6a) which teaches that Hashem, too, dons Tefilin, as it were. The Gemara
says that written in His Tefilin is the verse, "Who is like Your nation,
Yisrael, a nation unique on earth" (Divrei ha'Yamim I 17:21). The Gemara
there continues and explains that Hashem indeed takes pride in the praise of
the Jewish People, as the verse says, "You have given distinction to Hashem
today, and Hashem has given you distinction today" (Devarim 26:18). Hashem
said to Yisrael, "Just as you have declared Me to be unique in the world, I
shall declare you to be unique in the world."
The Gemara there is teaching that the theme of Tefilin is that Hashem is
One, and His nation is one. No other nation serves the G-d that is One, to
the exclusion of all other deities. This is the hidden message of our Gemara
which says that "'Tat' in the Katfi language means 'two,' and 'Pas' in the
Afriki language means 'two.'" The highest praise that any foreign nation can
sing to its deity is "Two." That is, all forms of Avodah Zarah involve
serving any of the innumerable powers that Hashem created in the world, as
opposed to the exclusive Power of Powers that controls and decides all that
happens in the universe. The ideology of idolatry of the Katfi and Afriki
nations knows only the concept of "two" but not of One.
The two terms that the Torah uses for the word "two" are from two different
languages. This is to show that no nation other than Yisrael can claim to be
"unique" in serving its deity. Although different nations serve different
gods (or ideals), they are all out to accomplish the same goal. They are
attempting to effect their own financial and political success by appealing
to the deity of their choice. They are serving themselves, not their gods.
They have no interest in introducing the entire world to their deity. Those
who remain outside of their religion have no part in the worship of their
god. Rather, each nation has its own god. Figuratively, for every "two" that
the Katfi nation cries, a corresponding "two" is shouted by the Afriki
nation. The Jewish people, on the other hand, are willing to sacrifice all
their worldly possessions, even their very lives, for the service of Hashem.
Their goal is to have every being on earth realize that "Hashem is One and
His Name is One" (Rashi, Devarim 6:4). They are unique among the nations of
the world in their selfless devotion to the Creator of all.
The Torah describes the Tefilin using *two* foreign terms for the word *two*
to emphasize that other nations cannot put on Tefilin -- they serve a god
that is not one, and they do not receive the reciprocal praise of "Who is
like Your nation, Yisrael, *unique* on earth."
Why, though, does the Torah express this point with specifically these two
languages? Is there anything that makes these languages more appropriate to
teach this message than any other language?
We must first determine what exactly these two languages are. The Afriki, or
African, language seems to be the language of the nation of Tarshish, as the
Targum often substitutes the word "Africa" for "Tarshish" (see Melachim I
10:22). While no place named "Kataf" is mentioned in the Torah or Gemara, it
is reasonable to assume that it is the language spoken in the "Isles of
*Kiti'im*" (Yirmeyahu 2:10, Yechezkel 27:6).
Accordingly, we may propose the following suggestion. The Nevi'im tell us in
a number of places that when Mashiach will come, "Tarshish" and "the
far-away Isles" will learn the glory of Hashem and they will come out to
greet Mashiach (Yeshayah 66:19, Tehilim 72:10). Apparently, these distant
places have not yet learned of the existence of the One G-d whom the Jews
serve, and they still staunchly serve their idols. The time will come when
they will join us in the service of Hashem. This is why these particular
languages were chosen to develop the theme of the omnipotence and unity of
This is not the only place in the Gemara where a foreign language is
introduced in order to explain a verse. In the other places, too, there is a
clear reason why the Torah uses foreign word to teach its message. For
example, the Gemara in Shabbos (63b) explains that the word "Hen" in the
verse, "Behold (*Hen*), the fear of G-d is wisdom," stems from the Greek
word "henos," or "[the only] one." Why does the Torah use a Greek word to
describe the wisdom of the Torah? It does so because the Greeks were
renowned for valuing wisdom (see Bechoros 8b). The Torah is therefore
judging wisdom in Greek terms. It is saying that even by Greek standards --
the standards of those who recognize and value wisdom -- the only *true*
wisdom is that of the Torah (-heard from RAV MOSHE SHAPIRO shlit'a).
In a similar manner, the Gemara in Sukah (35a) teaches that the word "[Pri
Etz] *Hadar* (a beautiful fruit)" (Vayikra 23:40), which refers to the
Esrog, stems from the Greek work "hydra," or water. The Esrog tree requires
frequent irrigation, unlike other trees. The Torah refers us to a Greek word
when discussing beauty, because beauty was another quality with which the
Greek nation was obsessed.
The Midrash (Shemos Rabah 36:1) quotes the verse, "Yerushalayim is the
beautiful region (Nof)" (Tehilim 48:3), and explains that the verse is
saying that Yerushalayim is as beautiful as a fully-adorned bride, "because
in Greek the word for bride is 'nymph.'" When attributing beauty to
Yerushalayim, or to the Jewish People (Midrash Tanchuma, Ki Tisa #18), the
Torah does so in Greek terms. This is to teach that even the Greeks must
admit that this is true beauty. (See also "Torah from the Internet," Parshas
Miketz, section V, where we discuss the unique relationship between the
beauty of Tzion and Yavan.)
We are taught that "studying Mishnayos" protects the Jews in Galus from harm
and leads us to merit the final redemption. This is learned through reading
a word in Hoshe'a (8:10) as Aramaic (Bava Basra 8a, Vayikra Rabah 7:3). The
Midrash goes so far as to say that it is referring to people who learn
Mishnayos *in Bavel* (the region where Aramaic was spoken). Bavel is the
home of the Talmud Bavli, which meticulously analyzes every point of the
Mishnah. Here, too, it is appropriate for a verse elearning Mishnah to do so in Aramaic. (M. Kornfeld)