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Sanhedrin, 29


AGADAH: The Gemara cites three sources to prove that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a," which literally means that whoever attempts to add, actually subtracts. The Gemara proves this from the verse describing the sin of Chavah of eating from the Etz ha'Da'as (Bereishis 3:3), the verse describing the measurements of the Aron (Shemos 25:10), and the verse describing the eleven curtains of goat's hair that were spread over the Mishkan (Shemos 26:7).

Why does the Torah hint to this principle specifically in these three verses?

ANSWER: The Gemara is not learning this principle merely from the spelling of the particular words in the verses, but it is also learning it from the theme that each verse represents.

Regarding the verse about Chavah, the simple understanding is that the Gemara derives that the verse is saying that adding is detrimental because Chavah's addition to Hashem's command caused her to sin. On a deeper level, the Gemara is proving that anyone who tries adding to himself through arrogance is actually detracting from his worth, making himself less honorable. The Gemara in Megilah (29a; see also Sotah 4b) says that a Ba'al Ga'avah, an arrogant person, is considered a Ba'al Mum, someone with a blemish; he has made himself less respectable. This theme can be learned from Chavah, who ate from the Etz ha'Da'as because of the promise of the Nachash that by doing so she would make herself like Hashem. Instead of adding to her character, though, she only humbled herself by making herself more human, as the verse (Bereishis 3:7) implies when it says that she realized and covered her nakedness after eating from the Etz ha'Da'as. The Gemara alludes to this later in Sanhedrin (38b, and Chagigah 12a) where it says that Adam ha'Rishon was created so tall that he reached from the earth until the heavens, and after Adam's sin, Hashem diminished his size. His sin caused him to become smaller.

Next, the Gemara derives from the length of the Aron that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a." The Torah alludes to this concept in the Aron because the Aron represents Torah and the acquisition of knowledge (see Yoma 72b). A person should always view himself lacking in Torah knowledge, so that he will always strive to learn more. If he is arrogant and thinks that he knows all of the Torah already, then he will lose even what he does know. The Gemara teaches ( 54a) that one can acquire Torah only if he makes himself lowly, like the sand of a desert over which everyone else tramples. Similarly, the Gemara (Sotah 5a) says that Hashem gave the Torah on the lowliest of mountains, Har Sinai, to teach the importance of humility when learning Torah. Likewise, Torah is compared to water in that just as water flows to the lowest place, so does Torah only become established in the humble person (Ta'anis 7a; see there).

The same can be learned from the dimensions of the Shulchan (Shemos 25:23), as the Torah uses the same word ("Amasayim") that it uses to describe the dimensions of the Aron, from which our Gemara learns that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a." (This is the only other place in the Torah where the word "Amasayim" is used. When discussing the Mizbe'ach ha'Ketores, the verse says, "*v'*Amasayim," but since it has a prefix "Vav" and the "Alef" is not at the beginning of the word, we cannot learn from there that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a." According to the TORAS CHAIM and VILNA GA'ON (in Kol Eliyahu), the concept of "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a" is derived from the "Vav" of "Amasayim *va'Chetzi* Orko." Without the "Vav" of "va'Chetzi," the verse would mean that *half* of its length is two Amos, and the total length is four. Again, the only other place in the Torah where the word "va'Chetzi" is used in this context is with regard to the Shulchan, where it says "Amah va'Chetzi Rochbo." The dimensions of the Mizbe'ach ha'Ketores, though, have no half-measures.) The Shulchan represents the wealth and prosperity of royalty. A king, however, is commanded to be careful not to amass more money, horses, and wives than he needs, lest it lead him to arrogance and sin (Devarim 17:16-17, 20). If he thinks that he can amass more (and be "Mosif") without sinning, he will fail and ultimately fall to sin, as we find with regard to Shlomo ha'Melech.

Finally, the Gemara proves that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a" from the verse that describes the eleven curtains of goat's hair that covered the Mishkan. The number eleven has significance as representing an addition ("ha'Mosif") to a pre-existing, complete set of ten. We find the number eleven with regard to the Ketores. Rashi (Shemos 30:34) explains that the Ketores was comprised of eleven ingredients, even though the number ten is normally used to represent a spiritual "full set." Why was the number eleven selected for the production of the Ketores?

We also find the number eleven mentioned with regard to Esav. The Torah (Bereishis 36:40-43) enumerates the eleven Alufim (chieftains) that were born to the family of Esav. Rashi (Bereishis 33:11) points out a basic difference between Yakov's and Esav's outlooks on life. When Yakov described his material status, he exclaimed, "I have all that I need!" Esav, on the other hand, arrogantly stated, "I have much more than I need!" Esav sees no goals in life. He is not striving to fulfill a particular purpose; rather, he grabs limitlessly to get as much as he can. Yakov, in contrast, lives for a purpose. He strives to fulfill a particular mission, and if he is able to accomplish that mission, he has "all that I need."

The number ten represents completeness, a full integer count. The number ten represents Yakov's purposeful existence. The ideology of Esav, of seeing no limits or goals and of amassing "much more" than one needs, is represented by the number eleven. It is indeed appropriate that his nation originated with eleven chieftains. However, for all his amassing of wealth, one who follows such an ideology will actually end up with less, not more.

Esav's attitude of having "much more than I need" is represented by the number eleven. All of his additional wealth just takes him farther from attaining the true goals in life. Esav, and the arrogant people who follow his way of life, nevertheless can realize that "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a," that one who adds, takes away -- that "arrogance is a blemish," and can become servants of Hashem.

This helps us to understand the significance of the number eleven in the Ketores. Rashi (Shemos 33:34) explains that only ten of the components of Ketores are actually sweet-smelling components. The eleventh, Chelbena, gives off a putrid smell. Only when combined with the other components does the Chelbena produce a sweet smell. This is to show, explains Rashi, that when we repent and pray to Hashem, we should not refuse sinners the right to join us in prayer. On the contrary -- only when their prayers are combined with our prayers will our prayers give off a "sweet scent" before Hashem (Kerisus 6b). Chelbena, the *eleventh* component of the Ketores, represents those who follow the ideology of Esav. Ketores shows that when such people realize that they are only an "incomplete eleven," and that their arrogance causes them to be lacking, they can be combined with the righteous to produce a sweet scent.

These three sources from the Mishkan teaching "Kol ha'Mosif Gore'a" -- the Aron, the Shulchan, and the Yeri'os Izim -- might be hinting to what the verse says, "A wise man shall not pride himself in his wisdom, and a strong man shall not pride himself in his strength; a rich man shall not pride himself with his wealth. Rather, one should pride himself with this: contemplate and know Me..." (Yirmeyahu 9:22-23). The "Kol ha'Mosif" of the Aron corresponds to the Chacham, the wise man. The "Kol ha'Mosif" of the Yeri'os corresponds to the Gibor, and the Kol ha'Mosif of the Shulchan corresponds to the Ashir, the wealthy man. As Rashi points out, there are three vessels in the Mishkan which have crowns -- the Aron, Shulchan, and Mizbe'ach ha'Ketores. The crowns of the Aron and Shulchan correspond to Keser Torah and Keser Malchus, respectively. The crown of the Mizbe'ach ha'Ketores corresponds to Keser Kehunah (Shemos 30:3). The Kohen -- whose essence is dedicated exclusively to the service of Hashem -- corresponds to "know Me." That crown does not need a reminder to refrain from arrogance, since the Kohen's pride comes only from his closeness to Hashem. That is why the Kohen wears clothes made "l'Kavod ul'Sif'ares," for honor and glory, and the verse says, "va'Yigbah Libo b'Darchei Hashem" (Divrei ha'Yamim II 17:6), teaching that arrogance is appropriate in going in the ways of Hashem. (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if a person who people consider rich admits that he owes money to others, we cannot collect the debts in court, because we assume his admission to have been simply for the sake of making himself look like he is not rich -- "she'Lo l'Hasbi'a Es Atzmo." The Gemara says that, similarly, a person will lie about his wealth so that his children will not think that they are rich -- "she'Lo l'Hasbi'a Es Banav."

Why does the Gemara give these reasons for not accepting his admission as binding in court? Why does it not give the reason that the Gemara gives earlier (29a), when it says that if a person admits to owing money, he can later say "Meshateh Ani Bach" ("I was joking with you"), if he did not designate witnesses to testify to his admission. Conversely, why does the Gemara there not give this reason ("she'Lo l'Hasbi'a") for not accepting his admission?


(a) The ROSH and NIMUKEI YOSEF (see also TOSFOS, DH Kach) explain that a person can say that he was joking only when another person demands money (Tove'a) from him in court. The confessed-borrower can say that he admitted to owing the debt only as a joke, since the claimant himself made a foolish claim by creating a debt when no debt existed. He can say that just like the claimant made up a false debt, he replied with a false admission. The Gemara here, in contrast, is discussing a person who admits to owing a debt when no one demands payment from him.

In the case of our Gemara, when there is no one demanding money, there is a different way for the person to defend his admission. He can say, "I admitted only to make myself look poor." In the case earlier, however, where someone demanded money from him, the admission could not have been to make himself look poor, since he would not have waited for someone to claim money from him in order to accomplish the goal of making himself look poor.

The HAGAHOS MAIMONI (Hilchos To'en v'Nit'an 6:40) asks that according to these Rishonim, how can the Gemara earlier (29a) learn from the Mishnah that a person can say "Meshateh Ani Bach?" How does the Gemara know that the Mishnah is discussing a case in which the person admitted only after someone demanded money from him, and that he can say "Meshateh Ani Bach" under such circumstances? Perhaps the Mishnah is discussing a case in which he admitted on his own accord, without the other person demanding money from him, and the reason he can retract his admission is because he can say that he did it "she'Lo l'Hasbi'a!"

The HAGAHOS MAIMONI answers that since the Mishnah did not specify the case, it implies that in *all* cases a person may retract his admission, whether or not someone demanded money from him.

(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos To'en v'Nit'an 6:7 and 7:1, as explained by the KESEF MISHNEH) gives an alternative distinction. If the person admits to owing money *in the presence* of the person to whom he claims he owes, then whether or not the person demanded money from him, he cannot say that he admitted merely in order to make himself look poor. If that was his purpose, then he should not have done it in a way that would bring his admission to the attention of the supposed lender. That is why, in the case of the Gemara earlier (29a), he can not say that he was only joking, "Meshateh Ani Bach." In the Gemara here, on the other hand, the person admitted to owing the money *not* in the presence of the supposed lender. Therefore, he can say that he was just trying to make himself look poor. He cannot say, however, that he was just trying to fool the other person, because there is no supposed lender to fool in his presence at the time of his admission.

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