THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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SANHEDRIN 21-22 - Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fawer has dedicated two more days of
study material to honor her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner)
of blessed memory (Yahrzeit: 18 Teves). May the merit of supporting and
advancing the study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.
1) DAVID HA'MELECH AND AVISHAG
QUESTIONS: The Gemara explains that David ha'Melech did not want to marry
Avishag because he had already married as many wives as he was permitted to
marry. When Avishag heard that, she responded, "When a thief can no longer
steal, he presents himself as a peace-loving person," implying that David
ha'Melech had lost his strength and therefore did not want to marry her (and
not because he was prohibited from taking another wife). David ha'Melech
proved to her that he still had his full strength by summoning Bas Sheva to
be with him.
2) A NAME WITH TWO WORDS
There are a number of questions on this Gemara.
(a) First, the Mishnah (21a) permits a king to marry up to eighteen wives.
David ha'Melech presumably was telling Avishag that he already had eighteen
wives. Why, however, did David ha'Melech not marry Avishag as a *Pilegesh*?
(b) Second, how could Avishag talk with such temerity and brazenness to the
(c) Finally, where in the verses does the Gemara see that the king summoned
Bas Sheva to prove anything to Avishag? From the verse it seems that the two
stories are not related! After relating the incident of Avishag, the verse
tells how Bas Sheva came to the king in order to complain that Adoniyah was
attempting to usurp the kingship from her son, Shlomo, and that was the
purpose of her coming to David ha'Melech!
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 3:2) writes that a king is permitted to
marry only up to eighteen wives, *including* Pilagshim. He seems to have
learned that once the king has eighteen wives, the king is not allowed to
take even a Pilegesh. The KESEF MISHNEH writes that this Gemara is the
source for the Rambam's ruling.
However, the RA'AVAD there argues and says that the verse which permits the
king to marry eighteen wives is discussing proper wives, and not Pilagshim.
This also appears to be the intention of RASHI (21a, DH v'Ha Kesiv). The
CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN in the name of RABEINU DAVID cites proof for this opinion
from the verse which describes Rechavam as having eighteen wives, *in
addition* to sixty Pilagshim (Divrei ha'Yamim II 11:21). If he limited
himself to eighteen wives, it must have been because he was observing the
Halachah that a king may not have more than eighteen wives. We see from
there that a king is permitted to marry Pilagshim in addition to his
The Chidushei ha'Ran answers our question by saying that Avishag herself
refused to be a Pilegesh. (Perhaps she refused because David ha'Melech was
already old, and after a king dies his wives and Pilagshim are not permitted
to remarry anyone else, as the Rabanan (18a) rule. She wanted to remain an
unmarried Penuyah, because even though she would be prohibited to marry
someone from non-royal lineage after being with David ha'Melech, she would
still be permitted to marry another king, as our Gemara says. By becoming a
Pilegesh she would not be a full wife of David, nor would she be able to
marry anyone else after his death, not even another king.)
(b) When the Gemara says that "Avishag said," it might mean that Avishag
thought to herself (see TOSFOS, beginning of Nazir 10a). David ha'Melech
understood what she was thinking and responded accordingly.
The ARUCH LA'NER suggests a novel approach to explain the Gemara. The
Yerushalmi explains that in order for David ha'Melech to repent fully from
his actions with Bas Sheva, David ha'Melech constantly tried to place
himself in the same situation as he was in when the incident with Bas Sheva
occurred, and then, in that situation, to act with the utmost righteousness
and control. (This is the highest form of Teshuvah, as the RAMBAM states in
Hilchos Teshuvah 2:1.) For this purpose, David ha'Melech had beautiful
Pilagshim brought to him. For the same reason, David ha'Melech wanted an
attendant to be found who would be the most beautiful woman in all of
Israel. When Avishag saw that David ha'Melech was already very old, she
said, "You no longer have the same desire you had in your youth, and
therefore having a beautiful woman around will not serve the purpose for
which you intend." This is what she meant by saying that even a thief
eventually loses his ability to steal and then claims that he has repented,
not out of true repentance but merely out of the inability to steal. David
ha'Melech showed her that he was still youthful and thus could still
accomplish complete Teshuvah. (Even according to the Aruch la'Ner, Avishag
might have had the hidden intention in her statement in accordance with the
simple reading of the Gemara.)
(c) It is clear that David ha'Melech summoned Bas Sheva, because no one,
even a queen, comes to the king without formally requesting an audience or
being invited by the king. The verse does not say that Bas Sheva asked the
king's permission to come to him. The Gemara infers that the summons for Bas
Sheva involved Avishag since the verse mentions Avishag in the context of
Bas Sheva's meeting with the king (see MAHARSHA).
Moreover, it seems that the story of Avishag itself is what prompted
Adoniyah to attempt to take the kingship for himself. Adoniyah thought that
David ha'Melech was too old to notice or to care about what happened,
because his call for Avishag demonstrated his deteriorating health and
strength. He did not realize that David ha'Melech's suffering was caused by
a specific sin (see Berachos 62b) and not by old age. When David ha'Melech
heard Avishag's comment about his age, he realized that many others might
have thought the same, and thus he felt it necessary to show his strength in
order to prevent a coup against his kingship. It was at this opportunity
that Bas Sheva revealed to the king that indeed there already was a coup in
process, and that the time to show his strength had come.
QUESTION: RASHI (DH Kimchah) explains that Bas Sheva cleansed herself
thirteen times because there are thirteen words in the verse (Melachim I
1:15) describing her summons to David ha'Melech. How does Rashi come to the
number thirteen? A simple count of the words in the verse shows that there
are *fourteen* words in the verse!
3) TRAGEDY OF DIVORCE
ANSWER: The Acharonim (BE'ER HEITEV EH 129:45 in the name of MAHARASH
ALGAZI, the DAGUL MEREVAVAH (at end of Beis Shmuel's list of spellings of
names), the TIV GITIN (2:4) and the VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu, Sanhedrin))
explain that from this Gemara it is evident that the name "Bas Sheva" is
really *one* word in Hebrew, and should be written as one word in a Get
RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM and in L'CHEKER SHEMOS, p. 59)
cites a similar instance of the spelling of a name from the Gemara later in
Sanhedrin (102b) which says that Achav was granted a rule of twenty-two
years because he honored the Torah which is written with twenty-two letters.
The RADAK in Melachim I (20:9) writes that this is derived from the number
of words in the verse there, "va'Yomer l'Malachei Ven Hadad...." However,
the only way to count twenty-two, and not twenty-three, words in that verse
is by counting "Ven Hadad" as a single word ("Venhadad").
We find another instance of such name-contraction in Midrash Tanchuma
(Tetzaveh #9) which states that Yehoshua lost ten years of his life because
he spoke ten words before Moshe Rabeinu (in Bamidbar 11:28) when he
complained about the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad. The verse there, however,
contains eleven words! It must be that the Midrash counts "Bin Nun" as a
single word (TORAH SHE'BA'AL PEH, Yehoshua 1:5). The Radak alludes to this
in Yehoshua (1:1) where he writes that "Bin" is written with the
vowelization of a Chirik instead of a Segol ("Ben") because the words are
always pronounced together and thus it is easier to read with a Chirik.
The RAMBAN (Shemos 33:11) also suggests that "Bin Nun" is to be read as one
word and it means "the one of understanding."
We find a similar concept in RASHI (Bereishis 35:18). Rashi writes that the
name "Binyamin" is really a contraction of two words, "Ben" and "Yamin." The
word "Ben" was given a Chirik ("Bin") in order to make it more easily
pronounced as a single word.
QUESTION: Rebbi Eliezer states that when a man divorces his first wife, even
the Mizbe'ach sheds tears. He derives this from the verses in Malachi
(2:13-14) in which the prophet Malachi states that they had to make a cover
for the tears of the Mizbe'ach, which was crying because the people were
taking Nochri wives aside from their Jewish wives. As the Jewish women had
endured difficult times, their beauty was marred, causing them to be thrown
aside in favor of the Nochri women.
4) "ZIVUG RISHON" AND "ZIVUG SHENI"
What is the meaning of the Mizbe'ach shedding tears?
(a) The Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 18:5) answers this question. It says that
when the Jewish wives were cast aside, they would go surround the Mizbe'ach
in anguish and cry. This is what the verse means when it states that Hashem
"will no longer turn to your Minchah offering." He was referring to being
unable to accept the offerings upon the Mizbe'ach which had absorbed so many
tears due to their evil actions.
(b) The ETZ YOSEF explains that the prophet Yeshayah (54:6) gives a metaphor
for the Jewish people as being the first "wife" of Hashem. Therefore,
someone who divorces his first wife is showing his belief that the love for
a first wife, including in the metaphor in Yeshayah, is not an eternal,
everlasting love. For such a show of disbelief in the love that Hashem has
for the Jewish people, the Mizbe'ach cries. (It seems that the significance
of the tears of the Mizbe'ach according to the Etz Yosef is that the
Mizbe'ach is where peace is made between the Jewish people and Hashem.
Therefore, the Mizbe'ach cries because of the symbolic dent in the solidity
of the relationship between Hashem and the Jewish people.)
(c) The ME'IRI explains that if someone divorces his wife without it really
being necessary, then even his defending angels turn to prosecute him. This
is why the Mizbe'ach cries for him, as it can no longer help him attain
atonement for his sins. Interestingly, according to the Me'iri, this crying
is a side effect of the divorce, and not due to the sadness of the divorce
(d) The TORAS CHAIM explains that we know that Adam and Chavah were created
from earth taken from the location of the Mizbe'ach. Someone who "betrays"
this bond of man and wife, symbolized by Adam and Chavah, by divorcing his
wife as if he has betrayed the Mizbe'ach. Alternatively, he refers to the
Gemara in Sotah (17a) which says that when a man and his wife are worthy,
the Shechinah dwells among them. This is derived from the different spelling
of "Ish" and "Ishah." "Ish" is spelled Alef, Yud, Shin, while "Ishah" is
spelled Alef, Shin, Heh. Normally, in order to denote the feminine of a
thing, the letter Heh is added to the word (for example, a female "Par"
(cow) is a "Parah"). In the case of a man and a woman, though, not only is
the letter Heh added to the word for woman, but the letter Yud is added to
the word for man. These two special additions demonstrate that when a man
and his wife are worthy, the Shechinah is with them, for when the Yud and
the Heh come together, they spell the name of Hashem. When a man divorces
his wife, he is breaking apart the name of Hashem, and therefore the
It is specifically the Mizbe'ach that cries, because it was from the place
that the Mizbe'ach would be built that floodwaters emerged and threatened to
drown the entire world. The Gemara in Sukah (53a) relates that when David
ha'Melech was digging the Shisin at the place where the Mizbe'ach would be
built, he inadvertently removed a potsherd that was covering the hole of the
Waters of the Deep. The waters came up and threatened to drown the world.
David ha'Melech asked whether it was permitted for him to write the name of
Hashem on the potsherd and to throw it back into the water in order to stop
the deluge, and -- after cursing anyone who knew the ruling but would not
reveal it to him -- Achitofel told him that it was permitted to write the
name of Hashem on the potsherd and throw it into the water, even though
Hashem's name would be erased by the water.
The KLI YAKAR (Bereishis 6:15) points out that when there is a widespread
problem with marital relations and the man and woman are involved in
licentious activities, Hashem punishes with water. The world was punished
with the Great Flood because of the sin of Arayos, as the Torah states
(Bereishis 6:11-12). (We might add that this is also why the Mitzrim were
punished by being drowned, for the people of the nation of Mitzrayim are
described as being exceedingly promiscuous, Vayikra 18:3.) For this reason,
the waters of the Mabul rose 15 Amos above the highest mountain. The people
sinned by abusing the Yud and Heh that spell Hashem's name that dwells among
the people when there is peace between man and wife, and therefore they were
punished with water that rose 15 Amos above the highest point (15 is the
Gematriya of Yud and Heh).
David ha'Melech wrote the name of Yud and Heh upon the potsherd in order to
prevent the water from flooding the world. David ha'Melech was calling upon
the merit of the people guarding themselves from Arayos and maintaining
martial harmony to protect the world from the water! Since the waters
beneath the Mizbe'ach are sensitive to marital harmony, it is those "tears"
that the Mizbe'ach begins to shed when marital harmony is disrupted. (See
more on this topic in Insights to Sukah 53:1.)
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan states that making a Zivug is as difficult as
Keri'as Yam Suf. RASHI in Sotah (2a) explains that it is so difficult
because a person's Zivug is made according to his deeds; he is matched with
a woman whose deeds match his deeds.
The Gemara challenges Rebbi Yochanan's assertion that making a Zivug is as
difficult as Keri'as Yam Suf from the statement of Rav Yehudah in the name
of Rav, who says that forty days before the creation of the embryo, a Bas
Kol issues forth and pronounces who his Zivug will be ("Bas Ploni l'Ploni").
If the Zivug is already determined based on Hashem's process of the creation
of the person, then it cannot be based on a person's deeds!
The Gemara answers that only the "Zivug Sheni" is so difficult as it is
based on the deeds of the person. The "Zivug Rishon" is determined before
the person is born.
The reason why the Zivug is determined based according to one's deeds is
because if a person's deeds are meritorious, he is given a better Zivug (see
Rashi in Sotah there). Why, though, is the Zivug Rishon -- which is decreed
before the person is born -- not dependent on the person's deeds? That Zivug
should also depend on the person's deeds! Why should a person who is a
Tzadik be stuck with a woman who is not a Tzadekes just because that is what
was decreed for him at the time of his creation?
(a) When Hashem first created man, He created Adam and Chavah together as
one, and then He separated them. The RASHBA (TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA 1:60)
explains that Hashem first created man and woman together and then separated
them, so that they would later be able to come together and be joined and
feel like a single unit. Perhaps it is for this reason that before the man
is born a Bas Kol announces who his Zivug will be -- this shows that they
both come from the same spiritual root, and that the woman that he
eventually marries will be part of his own Neshamah. It would be impossible
to bond their souls together in such a way *after* they are created, and
therefore Hashem bonds them together before they are created in order for
them to be able to bond together strongly. (If one of them is a Tzadik and
the other is a Rasha, then one can influence the other to improve since they
are bonded together so strongly.) It is only possible, of course, for one
man to be bonded to one woman. A second Zivug cannot come from the same
spiritual root, and therefore the Zivug Sheni must be "l'Fi Ma'asav,"
determined according to one's deeds.
(b) RABEINU TAM cited by TOSFOS SHANTZ in Sotah (2a) explains that "Zivug
Sheni" refers to a widow or widower. The Zivug Sheni can only occur after
the first Zivug occurred. In order for the Zivug Sheni to occur, Hashem must
take the life of one of the spouses in the Zivug Rishon. Rabeinu Tam
explains that this is the similarity between Zivug Sheni and Keri'as Yam
Suf. In both of them, Hashem must take the life of some in order to benefit
According to Rabeinu Tam, it is possible that everything that occurs to a
person is based normally on Mazal, unless he is an outstanding Tzadik (as
Tosfos says in Shabbos 156a), and when it says that the Zivug Rishon is
announced before the person is born, it means that his Mazal is determined
already from the time that he is born. The Zivug Sheni also should be
determined by his Mazal just like the other major events in his life.
However, there are times when a woman loses her husband not because it was
the Mazal of her husband to die, but because of the great Zechuyos of
another person who deserved her as his wife. This is the Zivug Sheni to
which the Gemara is referring.
(c) The ME'IRI takes the opposite approach. He says that, normally, the
Zivug should always be determined by the Zechus and actions of a person,
like we asked in our question. When the Gemara says that the Zivug Rishon is
determined by Mazal, it is referring to the Zivug that a person finds upon
reaching the age of Mitzvos, which is the proper time for getting married
(see ROSH, Kuntrus Pidyon ha'Ben, end of Bechoros). Since he did not yet
have a chance to do many Mitzvos or Aveiros, his Zivug is still determined
by his Mazal. However, any spouse that he finds after he has reached the age
at which he is rewarded or punished for his deeds, then his Zivug is
determined according to his deeds. The Gemara calls it "Zivug Sheni" since
when a person gets married at this age it is normally the second marriage
(since most people, at that time, became married at the age of Bar Mitzvah).
(d) The Mekubalim explain that "Zivug Sheni" does not refer to a second
marriage. Rather, it means a second *matching*. Hashem determines -- before
a person is born -- who will be the best match for the person. But he only
gets that match if he is Zocheh to it through his Ma'asim Tovim. If he is
not Zocheh, then he ends up with another woman, and that is what the Gemara
calls "Zivug Sheni" (it is like a "secondary" match in place of the primary
one). (HAGAHAH in BE'ER SHEVA; YA'AVETZ; see also TASHBETZ 2:1.)
5) THE HAIRCUT OF THE KOHEN GADOL
QUESTION: Rebbi states that his son-in-law, Ben El'ashah, did not waste his
money when he paid to see a very special haircut, because he wanted to learn
the unique haircut that was given to the Kohen Gadol each week. The haircut
to which he is referring, the Gemara explains, is the "Luliyanis" style
haircut, which the Gemara learns from the verse, "Kasom Yichsemu Es
Rosheihem" -- "they shall trim [the hair of] their heads" (Yechezkel 44:20).
However, that verse appears together with the words "Pera Lo Yeshalechu,"
from which the Gemara learns that *every* Kohen must cut his hair after
every thirty days. The haircut mentioned in the verse, therefore, should be
referring to the haircut of a Kohen Hedyot, and not just to the Kohen
(a) TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH answer that some erase the word "Gadol" (in the
phrase "the haircut of the Kohen Gadol") from the text of the Gemara, and
the Gemara is indeed referring to the haircut of an ordinary Kohen.
The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN challenges this Girsa. If every Kohen had such a
haircut, then why was it so difficult to find a barber who knew how to give
it? Even if Kohanim stopped having such haircuts when the Beis ha'Mikdash
was destroyed, Rebbi did not live that long after the Churban and it still
would have been well-known how the Kohanim had cut their hair.
We may answer that when the Rishonim argue about what the Gemara means when
it says that Kohanim are allowed to grow their hair long "when it is not the
time for entering the Mikdash" ("Z'man Bi'ah"), the RA'AVAD (Hilchos Bi'as
Mikdash 1:10) understands this to mean that as long as the Beis ha'Mikdash
was standing, the Kohanim had to have haircuts every thirty days. The RAMBAM
there understands the Gemara to mean that a Kohen had to cut his hair after
thirty days only if he was going to enter the Mikdash in order to perform
the Avodah. The Girsa mentioned by Rabeinu Yonah can be understood according
to the Rambam, since the only barbers who knew this unique haircut were the
ones who cut the Kohanim's hair in the Mikdash. After the Churban, that
expertise was forgotten.
(b) The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN answers as follows. The verse says, "Kasom Yichsemu
Es Rosheihem" -- "they shall trim [the hair of] their heads." The verse did
not have to say "their heads," since it is obvious that the only hair that
is cut very short is that of their heads. The extra words imply that that
the verse is referring to specific heads, meaning those of Kohanim Gedolim
and not of ordinary Kohanim, even though the other words in the verse, such
as "Pera Lo Yeshalechu," are referring to all Kohanim.
(c) The METZUDAS DAVID explains that all of the verses are describing the
Kohen Gadol when he enters the Kodesh Kadoshim on Yom Kipur. He learns this
from verse 17 which says that the Kohanim wore only linen, and not wool,
garments. The only clothes that match this description are those of the
Kohen Gadol on Yom Kipur (see Yoma 12b). Second, verse 22 says that the
Kohen is not allowed to marry an Almanah but only a Besulah, which is a law
that applies only to the Kohen Gadol.
The RADAK cites such an opinion but rejects it. However, the Metzudas David
defends this opinion and answers the questions of the Radak. This explains
why verse 21 -- which discusses drinking wine -- says that "*every* Kohen
shall not drink wine," emphasizing "every," since the other verses are
discussing the Kohen Gadol.
According to the Metzudas David, how can the Gemara learn from "Pera Lo
Yeshalechu" that every Kohen must cut his hair after thirty days? Perhaps
that verse, too, is discussing only a Kohen Gadol!
We may offer a number of answers to this question.
First, it cannot be discussing a Kohen Gadol, because a "Pera" is a
thirty-day growth of hair, and the verse there says afterwards "Kasom
Yichsemu," which implies that the Kohanim must cut their hair even shorter
than that (shorter than hair-growth which has not reached the stage of
"Pera"). It must be that the verse that allows "Pera," a thirty-day growth,
is referring to a Kohen Hedyot.
Another possibility is that the Metzudas David holds like the RAMBAM. The
Rambam (in Sefer ha'Mitzvos (Mitzvah 163), and in his list of Mitzvos at the
beginning of Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash) writes that we learn from the verse
"Rosheichem Al Tifra'u" (Vayikra 10:6) that a Kohen may not enter the
Mikdash with uncut hair, "Pera." If there is a verse in the Torah that
prohibits a Kohen from serving in the Mikdash with "Pera," then why does our
Gemara ask for a source that a Kohen is Chayav Misah for entering the
Mikdash with "Pera" and cite the verse in Yechezkel? Why does the Gemara
bring this source from Yechezkel for the Isur and for the Chiyuv Misah? (See
Chidushei ha'Ran and Kesef Mishneh to Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash 1:8, who suggest
From the words of the Rambam (in Hilchos Bi'as Mikdash 1:8 and 10) it seems
that he learns that the Gemara cites the verse from Yechezkel only to prove
that the Kohen is *not* prohibited from growing long hair *except* while he
is in the Mikdash (like the law of an inebriated Kohen). The verse in
Yechezkel is simply adding a point to what the verse in Vayikra says.
Accordingly, even if the verse in Yechezkel is discussing only the Kohen
Gadol, we can learn how to apply the Isur for a normal Kohen to grow "Pera"
from the verse in Yechezkel which describes the Kohen Gadol, because if the
Kohen Gadol is permitted to grow "Pera" outside of the Mikdash then
certainly the Kohen Hedyot may do so. (M. Kornfeld)
(d) The YAD RAMAH explains that the verses in Yechezkel indeed are referring
to a Kohen Hedyot. However, they are referring to the *future* Kohen Hedyot,
in the third and final Beis ha'Mikdash. Due to the great Kedushah of the
third Beis ha'Mikdash, even a Kohen Hedyot will have the laws that today
apply only to a Kohen Gadol. That is why the verse mentions a number of
Halachos which apply only to Kohanim Gedolim (as we mentioned above). This
also seems to be the intention of the RADAK there (verses 17 and 21).
How, then, do we know that even a Kohen Hedyot today may not grow his hair
long? We must again explain that they maintain like the Rambam that the
verse in Yechezkel is only adding a point to the verse in Vayikra, which is
referring to a Kohen Hedyot.