THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
Ask A Question about the Daf
1) SEATING THE KING UPON A "DARGASH"
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that when a Jewish king is in mourning and the
Se'udas Havra'ah is brought to him, all of the people sit on the ground and
the king sits on the "Dargash." In the Gemara, Ula explains that Dargash is
an "Arsa d'Gada" -- a special bed designated exclusively for bringing good
fortune into the home, upon which no one sits or sleeps. The Rabanan
question Ula's definition of a Dargash. If a Dargash is an "Arsa d'Gada,
then why do we let the king sit on it when he is an Avel, if he does not sit
on it during the rest of the year? Why do we allow him more honor during
Avelus? Rava answers that indeed we find that during Avelus, the Avel is
given things of honor that he is not accustomed to receiving.
2) "ARSA D'GADA" -- THE "GOOD LUCK BED"
Why, though, is it necessary for the king to sit on a Dargash? It seems
clear that the point of the Mishnah is for the king to retain his honor even
while he is an Avel. Therefore, everyone else sits lower down on the ground
while he sits in an elevated position. Why, though, do we seat him upon a
Dargash? If we are allowing him to sit higher up in any case, then we should
let him sit on a normal bed or couch ("Mitah") in the manner that he sits
during the rest of the year! Why should we allow him to sit on a Dargash,
which gives him more honor than he gets during the year, when it is not
ANSWER: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which teaches that an Avel must overturn
all the beds in the house, even those upon which he is not sitting. This
statement includes two separate Halachos: first, an Avel should not sit on a
bed, and, second, the beds in the house must be overturned, even if the Avel
is not sitting on them. (This is why the Beraisa later needs to teach us
that a Mitah on which utensils are placed does not have to be overturned;
see ROSH, Moed Katan 3:78.) The Chachamim were lenient and allowed a king to
sit on an elevated place because of his honor, and therefore they removed
the ban, with regard to a king, that prohibits an Avel from sitting on a bed
during Avelus. However, they did not want to remove *both* Halachos -- the
prohibition not to sit on bed *and* the requirement of turning over the beds
in the house -- if not necessary. Therefore, they looked for something that
did not have to be turned over upon which the king could sit, and that is
why they enacted that the king sit on a Dargash (that does not need to be
overturned), rather than on a bed (that needs to be overturned).
(The Mishnah here, and in Moed Katan (27a) is following the view of the Tana
Kama in the Beraisa in Nedarim (56b) who argues with Raban Shimon ben
Gamliel and holds that it is not necessary to undo the straps of the
Dargash, effectively turning it over. See RAN in Nedarim 56b, DH b'Shuka.)
However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 5:18) writes that it is not enough to
overturn the beds in the house; the Avel must also sit upon the overturned
beds (and not on a chair, nor even on the floor). From the ruling of the
Rambam it seems that the Mitzvah of turning over the beds is not fulfilled
unless the Avel actually sits on an overturned bed. Although the other
Rishonim (see HAGAHOS HA'HASHLAMAH and TUR) disagree with the Rambam in this
point as we mentioned above, the Rambam does relate turning over the beds to
sitting on an overturned bed. According to the Rambam, if the Chachamim
suspended the Halachah of sitting on an overturned bed in the case of a king
who is an Avel, then there should be no necessity at all for a king to
overturn the beds! Consequently, since the Rambam seems to hold that the
purpose of turning over the beds is in order for the Avel to sit on an
overturned bed, the king might as well sit on a regular bed that is not
The answer is that the Rambam also agrees that the Halachah of sitting on an
overturned bed and turning over the beds are two separate Halachos. This is
clear from the fact that the Rambam writes (in Hilchos Avel 5:18) that it is
only necessary for an Avel to *sleep* on an overturned bed, implying that he
may *sit* on the ground and he does not need to sit on the overturned bed.
This is even more evident from the Rambam's ruling earlier (Hilchos Avel
4:9) where the Rambam writes that on the first day of Avelus, the Avel may
not eat from his own food, and he is obligated to sit on an overturned bed.
This implies that during the remaining days of Avelus, the Avel does not
have to sit on an overturned bed (but he may sit on a mat or on the floor).
The RADVAZ and others explain that according to the Rambam there are three
different Halachos of how an Avel sits during Avelus. First, all of the beds
must be overturned. Second, the Avel is obligated to *sleep* on an
overturned bed during the entire period of his Avelus, even though he does
not have to *sit* there during the last six days of the Avelus. Third, on
the first day (or during the time that others must feed him and he may not
eat of his own), the Avel must also *sit* on an overturned bed.
According to the Rambam, then, it seems that we may also say that the
Chachamim removed the necessity for the king to sit on an overturned bed in
order to maintain his honor, but they did not want to change the other two
Halachos. Therefore, he still must overturn all of his beds in his house
(and he must sleep on an overturned bed). When he sits at the Se'udas
Havra'ah, we must seat the king upon something other than a bed, and that is
why we seat him upon a Dargash. (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTION: The Gemara cites Ula who defines a "Dargash" as an "Arsa
d'Gada" -- a special bed designated exclusively for bringing good fortune
into the home, upon which no one sits or sleeps. This "good luck bed" was
spread, but not used, in order to bring good fortune into the home. RASHI
here adds that it is a type of Nichush, superstition.
How is it permitted to set up a bed in one's home for the purpose of
Nichush? The Torah prohibits Nichush (Vayikra 19:26)!
In fact, the statement that the RAN cites when defining the word "Gad"
("Mazal") in "Arsa d'Gada" is a statement in Shabbos (67b) that says that a
person who says, in order to improve his luck, "Let my Mazal ('Gad') become
fortuitous," transgresses the prohibition against Nichush! Moreover, Rebbi
Yehudah there says that "Gad" is a term used for Avodah Zarah, which he
proves from a verse in Yeshayah (65:11).
(a) The ROSH (in Nedarim 56a and in Tosfos ha'Rosh) explains that the Sar of
Ashirus, the divinely appointed spiritual being in charge of wealth and
success, is named "Nakid," or "refined" (Pesachim 111b, Chulin 105b). A
person can attract that Sar to his home by maintaining a clean and neat
home. For this reason, many people had the practice of setting up a bed that
was always neatly spread -- it was done in order to beckon the Sar of
Ashirus to visit. (In contrast, when a house is not kept neat and tidy, the
Sar of Aniyus, the divinely appointed spiritual being in charge of poverty,
is able to enter. The Sar of Aniyus is named "Navil" (Pesachim ibid.), which
means "untidy" and "disordered.")
The EINAYIM LA'MISHPAT explains that the Rosh is telling us what the SEFER
CHASIDIM (#458) states explicitly: doing an act which works through
supernatural means (Mazal, or Ru'ach ha'Tum'ah) is permitted if it is widely
known that such an act brings about a certain result. Since that act has
been tried and tested and found to be effective, it is not called Nichush
when one relies on performing that act in order to obtain a certain result.
This explains why the Chachamim cautioned against eating food that was left
underneath a bed because of Ru'ach ha'Tum'ah. Similarly, it is well-known
that a bed that is kept neatly spread brings success to one's home, and
therefore, the Sefer Chasidim explains, it is not called Nichush. (See
Shabbos 67a, where the Gemara says that anything that is known to heal is
not called Nichush; see also Insights to Shabbos 67:2:c.)
It is possible that this is what Rashi means as well. The purpose of the bed
is for a type of Nichush that is permitted (Rashi calls it "Nichush" only
because it works through supernatural ways, but not because it is a
forbidden form of Nichush).
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES writes that the bed was not actually spread for
good luck, but rather it was meant to welcome the heavenly emissary that
Hashem sends to bring wealth to a home. By honoring the emissary, one honors
the One who sent him. Hence, the bed has nothing to do with Nichush. He
compares this to the Kisei Shel Eliyahu that is set up at every Bris Milah
to honor the visiting emissary of Hashem, Eliyahu ha'Navi. (According to
this explanation, it appears that this "emissary bed" was spread only by
Jews. It was a way of showing Bitachon and confidence in Hashem that He will
send His Divine emissary to bring us bountiful blessing.)
(c) The RAN answers that this "Arsa d'Gada" was not made for Mazal, luck, at
all. Rather, it was a way of expressing gratitude to Hashem. By spreading a
bed that is not even used, we are saying that we recognize that Hashem has
blessed us with more than we need. The word "Gada" ("Mazal") in this context
is a borrowed term. (Through thanking Hashem for what He has given us in the
past, we will be Zocheh to have more Berachah in the home, and thus such a
bed indeed brings wealth.)
3) THE POWERS OF THE KING
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the verses in Sefer Shmuel I (ch. 8) which
discuss the appointment of a Jewish king. When the nation asked that a king
be appointed over them, the prophet Shmuel warned them that they did not
realize how much power the king would wield over them, and he mentioned to
them many harsh powers, such as the ability to take away their children
forcibly to serve him. The Gemara cites a dispute between the Amora'im Rav
and Shmuel, which is the same dispute between the Tana'im Rebbi Yehudah and
Rebbi Yosi, whether the king indeed has all of these powers mentioned by
Shmuel, or whether Shmuel mentioned them only to frighten the Jewish people
and deter them from their request.
TOSFOS asks that we find that Achav was punished for killing Navos because
he would not give him his ancestral field. According to the opinion that the
king is entitled to take anything he wants from the people, why was Achav
(a) TOSFOS gives a number of answers. One answer is that the verse (Shmuel I
8:14) implies that the king may take the property of his subjects only in
order to give it to his servants, but not for his own private use. Since
Achav killed Navos and took the field for his own private use, he was acting
beyond his authority and therefore was punished. (See RADAK to Shmuel I
8:15, who explains that the king is permitted only to take the produce of
fields and give it to his servants, meaning his army, when they go to war.)
The RAN also gives this answer, as does the YAD RAMAH and ME'IRI, and the
RAMBAM (Hilchos Gezeilah 5:14) rules that this is the Halachah.
(b) Alternatively, Tosfos answers that Achav was punished because he took
the field with intent to use it for idol worship. Tosfos infers that Achav wanted to use the field for idol worship from the fact that Achav said that
he wanted to use the field as a "Gan Yarak" (lit. a vegetable field;
Melachim I 21:2), which is an allusion to fields used for idol worship as
mentioned in Sefer Yeshayah (66:17).
(c) Tosfos also suggests that Achav indeed was entitled to take the field.
However, Achav asked Navos to *sell* him the field, and he did not demand
that Navos give it to him for free by virtue of the power of the king.
Navos, therefore, assumed that he was entitled to refuse to sell the field,
since Achav was not asking for it based on his kingly rights. Consequently,
Achav was wrong in killing Navos for refusing to sell him the field. The RAN
also gives this answer in the name of RABEINU TAM.
(d) Tosfos cites the "NAKDAN" who explains that a king is permitted only to
take distant fields, outside of the city, which are not prime real estate.
The field of Navos was adjacent to the king's palace (Melachim I 21:1), and
thus the king was not entitled to take such a valuable field.
(e) Tosfos answers further that perhaps a king is permitted only to take a
field from someone who purchased the field, and not a field that was
inherited. The field of Navos was his inherited, ancestral field (as
mentioned in Melachim I 21:3), and thus Achav was not permitted to take it.
(f) Finally, Tosfos answers that the laws of absolute domain apply only to a
king who rules over both Yehudah and Yisrael, and who was appointed as king
by Hashem (such as through a prophet). Achav ruled over Yisrael, and not
over Yehudah, and he was not appointed as king by Hashem.
The RAN argues with this answer of Tosfos. The Ran maintains that any king
who was appointed by the ten tribes was considered a valid king according to
Halachah with all of the rights of a Jewish king. He explains that since
Hashem decreed that the nation should be divided into two kingdoms (Melachim
I 11:31), it was considered as though the king of Yisrael (i.e. the ten
tribes) was appointed by Hashem.
The ARUCH LA'NER explains that Tosfos does not mean that any king who is not
appointed by Hashem is not a king. We find that both Moshe and Eliyahu gave
kingly honor to such kings (Eliyahu to Achav). Rather, Tosfos just means
that all of the harsh laws regarding the absolute rights of a king mentioned
by Shmuel ha'Navi do not apply to such a king.
The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM concludes with a question on the Ran's opinion. Why
should a king of the ten tribes be considered to have been appointed by
Hashem? If his specific appointment was not directly through the prophecy of
a prophet, then his appointment does not fit the requirement of appointing a
king "whom Hashem will choose" (Devarim 17:15). (Y. Montrose)