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Sanhedrin, 37


AGADAH: A heretic asked Rav Kahana, "You say that a man is allowed to be secluded with his wife even when she is a Nidah. Is it possible that there can be a flame in a ball of wool and it does not burn?" Rav Kahana answered that the Torah attests to the character of the Jewish people as "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" -- "fenced in with roses" (Shir ha'Shirim 7:3). Reish Lakish derived this trait of the Jewish people from a difference verse which says, "k'Felach ha'Rimon Rakasech" -- "like a section of a pomegranate is your cheek within your veil" (Shir ha'Shirim 6:7), which he reads as, "As many as a pomegranate's seeds are the merits of your unworthiest" (the word for "your cheek," "Rakasech," can be read as "Reik," or "[your] empty ones"). Rebbi Zeira said that we see this from the verse that relates that Yitzchak noticed the fragrance of Yakov's clothes when Yakov approached him to receive the blessing. The verse says, "va'Yarach Es Re'ach Begadav" (Bereishis 27:27), which can be read, "va'Yarach Es Re'ach *Bogdav*" -- "He smelled the fragrance of even the sinners of Yisrael."
(a) What is the significance of a fence of roses, a pomegranate, and the smell of "Bogdav?"

(b) Moreover, why did each Amora need to add his own Derashah?

(a) RASHI says that "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" means a weak fence, made of flower vines. Even a fence of roses, without the need for a wall of stone, will prevent the Jewish people from sinning. TOSFOS explains that "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" refers to the Dam Nidah which makes a woman prohibited to her husband. Rav Kahana responded to the heretic with this verse, because it refers directly to the subject of the heretic's question, a woman who is a Nidah. Rav Kahana was saying that the Torah attests that this is enough to keep a Jewish husband from sinning.

Tosfos continues and says that this is also the meaning of the verse cited by Rebbi Zeira. "He smelled the fragrance of his 'Bogdav'" means that he smelled the Dam Nidah which prevents a husband and wife from being together. We find that the Gemara in Nidah (20b) explains how Rebbi Eliezer was able to determine whether a sample of blood was Dam Nidah or not by smelling it.

Tosfos, though, does not explain how a pomegranate (the subject of the verse cited by Reish Lakish) is related to blood or to a Nidah. The simple explanation, in line with Tosfos' theme, would appear to be that the pomegranate seeds are similar in color to blood, thereby indicating that even the empty ones, the sinners of Yisrael, are careful with regard to the laws of Dam Nidah.

The NETZIV (in MEROMEI SADEH) explains that these empty people must not be doing positive commandments, for they are called "empty of Mitzvos." What, then, is their source of merit? It must be that they have merit by abstaining from sin. When one abstains from sin it is considered as though he fulfilled a positive Mitzvah (see Makos 23b). In order to be rewarded for abstaining, though, one must be confronted with the possibility of doing the sin. The temptation to transgress a very severe sin which presents itself frequently is the sin of living with a Nidah, and yet even the "empty ones" of Yisrael avoid this sin. Therefore, they are considered to be full of Mitzvos.

(b) The simple reason each Amora learned this trait of the Jewish people from a different verse is because they were each quoting an earlier source for this concept.

The TORAS CHAIM explains that each Amora was adding *more people* to the category of those who avoid sin. Rav Kahana only discussed people who are Tzadikim, as the Gemara earlier learned that the verse "Sugah ba'Shoshanim" refer to the Sanhedrin. Reish Lakish added people who are empty from Torah and Mitzvos, but nonetheless are careful not to sin. Rebbi Zeira included even those who actually sin.

How, though, could Rebbi Zeira say that people who are sinners are considered meritorious?

The EINEI SHMUEL explains Rebbi Zeira's statement based on an interpretation of RAV SA'ADYAH GA'ON. The verse states that the Jewish people will be punished by they did not serve Hashem "with happiness and a glad heart" (Devarim 28:47). The next verse begins, "And you will serve your enemies." Rav Sa'adyah Ga'on explains that there are two types of sinners. Some sinners follow their strong desire to sin, but they are always remorseful either while doing the sin or after doing the sin. The verse is not referring to this type of sinner. Rather, the verse is referring to a sinner who is happy that he is sinning and acting against the will of Hashem. The verse, "Since you did not serve Hashem your G-d with happiness and a glad heart," can be read, "Since, with happiness and a glad heart, you did not serve Hashem." That is, you sinned happily, glad to transgress His will. The punishment for such a sin is that "you will serve your enemies."

Rebbi Zeira here is adding this same thought. Even the evildoers among the Jewish people possess some merit, because they feel guilty when they are sinning. (See BEN YEHOYADA for an additional explanation of Rebbi Zeira's statement.) (Y. Montrose)

AGADAH: The Mishnah states that man (Adam) was created alone to teach us that one who destroys a single Jewish soul is considered to have destroyed the entire world. Likewise, one who saves a Jewish soul is considered to have saved the entire world. The Mishnah says that an additional reason for why man was created alone is so that a person will not say to his fellow man, "My ancestor was greater than yours." The Mishnah gives additional reasons as well.

The Gemara (38a) cites a Beraisa which adds further reasons for why man was created alone. One reason is so that evildoers will not say that they are evil because they are descended from an evil person (and use this as an excuse not to do Teshuvah), and so that Tzadikim will not say that they are the sons of a Tzadik (and use this as an excuse not to keep away from temptation to sin).

The YEFEI MAR'EH has difficulty with the entire discussion regarding why man was created alone. All of the animals were created alone also, just as man was! Why, then, should there be any uniqueness in having been created alone?


(a) The YEFEI MAR'EH answers that at the time of Creation, there was a need for more men to be created in order to settle the world. Had more men been created, this would have enabled the world to be established without Kayin and Hevel having to marry their sisters. However, because of the reasons given by the Mishnah and Beraisa, it was deemed more appropriate to create only a single man.

(b) The MAHARSHA argues that this is not the point of the Gemara. The Gemara is not explaining why other men were not created together with Adam ha'Rishon. It is explaining why Adam ha'Rishon was created alone and only afterwards Chavah was created from him, unlike all the creation of the animals, where the male and female were created as separate entities at one time.

According to the Maharsha, what does the Mishnah mean when it says that man was created alone (i.e. without Chavah, who was created from him only afterwards) so that a person will not say to his fellow man, "My ancestor was greater than yours?" Even if Adam and Chavah had been created at the same time as separate beings, everyone would still have the same ancestors!

The Maharsha explains that the Mishnah means that had Adam and Chavah been created at the same time, a person would be able to say that his traits come from Adam and not from Chavah, while his fellow man's traits come from Chavah, or vice versa, as a person can take after one parent more than the other. A person would say that one of the two -- Adam or Chavah -- was more important, or better than the other, and that he resembles one of them. Since Adam and Chavah were created together as a single entity, no one can make such claims, since all human traits ultimately come from the same source. (The TIFERES YISRAEL seems to include both explanations of the question in his understanding of the Mishnah.) (Y. Montrose)


AGADAH: Rav Yehudah brei d'Rebbi Chiya says that from the day that the ground swallowed the blood of Hevel, it never opened again. His brother, Chizkiyah, asks that we find that the earth opened up to swallow the sinners in the incident of Korach. Rav Yehudah answers that it only opened for a bad occurrence, and not for good occurrences.

TOSFOS says that while *all* blood gets "swallowed" and absorbed into the ground, the blood of Hevel left no mark on the ground, while all other blood leaves a mark. Why is Tosfos telling us this difference?


(a) The MAHARAM explains that Tosfos is bothered by the question of Chizkiyah. Instead of asking from Korach, Chizkiyah should ask from the everyday occurrence of liquids being absorbed into the earth. Tosfos answers that Hevel's blood was different from all other liquids, as his blood was immediately and totally swallowed.

(b) The PARDES YOSEF (Parshas Bereishis) explains that Tosfos is explaining why the earth did what it did. This is necessary to explain, as it seems that Rav Yehudah is saying that the earth sinned by doing something extra than the usual absorption of liquids. Therefore, Tosfos explains that the earth did indeed do more than it was supposed to by swallowing the blood completely without leaving a mark. This was in order to cover up the bad deed of Kayin. This explanation is congruent with the Midrashim (discussed in the MAHARSHA here at length) which say that Kayin and Hevel divided the world between them. After killing Hevel, Kayin's portion of earth rushed to swallow the blood of Hevel in order to hide Kayin's sin. (Y. Montrose)

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