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Sanhedrin, 22

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.


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.

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 king?

(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 eighteen wives.

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!

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 ("Bassheva").

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.

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 itself.

(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 Mizbe'ach cries.

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 others.

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.)


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 Gadol's haircut!


(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 various answers.)

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.

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