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Sanhedrin, 99

SANHEDRIN 96-100 - Two weeks of study material have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to honor the third Yahrzeit of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner), who passed away 18 Teves 5760. May the merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study serve as an Iluy for his Neshamah


QUESTION: There are two opinions concerning what the world will be like in the times of Mashi'ach. According to Shmuel, the world will be the same as it is now, with the exception that the Jewish people will be autonomous and not subjugated to foreign dominion. According to Rebbi Chiya bar Aba in the name of Rebbi Yochanan, the world will fundamentally change; all of the prophecies of the prophets will come true, and war and poverty will be cease to exist.

The RAMBAM, when describing the times of Mashi'ach, appears to contradict himself. In Hilchos Teshuvah (8:7), the Rambam writes that all the prophecies of the prophets apply to the times of Mashi'ach, and not to Olam ha'Ba. Similarly, in Hilchos Melachim (12:1,5) he writes that there will be no more war or starvation in the times of Mashi'ach. The Rambam is clearly ruling in accordance with the opinion of Rebbi Chiya bar Aba. However, in the same chapter (12:2), the Rambam quotes the words of Shmuel, "There is no difference between this world and the times of Mashi'ach except the lack of subjugation to foreign dominion," who argues with Rav Chiya bar Aba and the other statements that the Rambam writes!

ANSWER: The Rambam himself gives the key to answering this contradiction. In Hilchos Melachim (12:1), the Rambam writes that all of the prophecies in Yeshayah (ch. 11), such as the wolf living with sheep, are all metaphorical, representing the fact that there will be peace between the Jews and the seventy "wolves," the other nations of the world.

The Rambam understands that Rebbi Chiya bar Aba was saying that although the prophecies *will* come to pass in the days of Mashi'ach, the natural order of the world will *not* change. There will be no miraculous changes in the physical nature of the world. Any prophecy that alludes to a miraculous change is just a metaphor.

According to Shmuel, on the other hand, the prophecies will not come to pass at all in the times of Mashi'ach, and there will *not* be peace among the other nations. That is why the Rambam -- who says that the prophecies *will* come true in the time of Mashi'ach (not like Shmuel) -- can still say (using Shmuel's words) that there will be no change in the actual *nature* of the world. (See LECHEM MISHNEH in Hilchos Teshuvah 8:7.)

Why, then, does the Rambam use the words of Shmuel to express this thought? Shmuel himself meant his words literally when he said that there is no difference between this world and the times of Mashi'ach even with regard to peace in the world, and not just with regard to the physical nature of the world! Why does the Rambam use those same words to refer to a different concept -- that there *will* be a significant difference between the world as it is now and the world during the times of Mashi'ach?

It is apparent from many comments of the Rambam that the Rambam prefers to use the phraseology of the Chachamim of the Gemara even when he is not ruling in accordance with the opinion of the Tana or Amora who said those words. The Rambam often uses the words of the Chachamim when those words express his point, even when they were originally stated in a completely different, and even opposite, context (see, for example, Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 1:3). Here, the words of Shmuel are quoted to express the Rambam's view, even though Shmuel himself meant something entirely different. (M. Kornfeld)


QUESTION: Rebbi Akiva teaches, "Zamer b'Chol Yom." RASHI explains that this means that a person should constantly review what he has learned, like a song that a person sings repetitively. It seems that Rebbi Akiva is comparing words of Torah to a song. Similarly, the Gemara in Eruvin (18b) says that if Divrei Torah are learned in a house at night, the house will not be destroyed, and it derives this from the verse, "The person who sings Zemiros at night...," (Iyov 35:10) where the "Zemiros" refer to Divrei Torah.

These statements seem to contradict the Gemara in Sotah (35a; see Insights there), which says that David ha'Melech was punished for calling Divrei Torah "Zemiros" (Tehilim 119:54). According to the Gemara there, Hashem told David, "Divrei Torah can be forgotten in the blink of an eye (Mishlei 23:5), and you are calling them 'Zemiros' (that are treated lightly, without concentration)?" Hashem punished him by making him forget an explicit verse as a result of treating Divrei Torah like Zemiros.

How can Rebbi Akiva here, and the Gemara in Eruvin, refer to Divrei Torah as "Zemiros," if the Gemara in Sotah teaches that it is prohibited to treat Divrei Torah like Zemiros?

ANSWER: It might be suggested that *reviewing* what one has already learned may be referred to as "Zemiros," since he is simply saying it over without great concentration, while learning something in-depth, with deep concentration, cannot be referred to as "Zemer."

The Gemara in Eruvin that discusses learning at night refers to a person who is *reviewing* what he learned by day. Since it is harder to concentrate at night (which is why the Sanhedrin only convenes during the daytime, see Sanhedrin 34b), nighttime study is normally designated for reviewing what one has learned during the day. King David, though, was referring in his offending statement to the way in which *in-depth study* of Torah provided him solace during his times of exile. Therefore he should not have referred to it as "Zemiros." (M. Kornfeld, based on a point heard from Rav Moshe Shapiro, shlit'a)

We may still ask, however, that in a number of places the Torah is referred to as "Shirah," or "song" (Nedarim 38a, Chagigah 12b; this also seems to be the intent of the Gemara in Eruvin 21b on the verse "Shiro Chamishah v'Elef," and the Gemara in Chulin 133a, on the verse "Shar b'Shirim Al Lev Ra."). It does not seem that the Gemara in those places is referring specifically to reviewing what one has learned. Rather, the Torah itself is called a "Shirah."

The DIVREI SHALOM (5:62, see also 5:63-67) suggests, based on the words of the MAHARAL (Sanhedrin 101a), that although calling Divrei Torah "Zimrah" is disrespectful, calling Divrei Torah a "Shirah" is not. Shirah refers to a musical composition, which may require great talent and concentration to compose or perform. Zimrah, on the other hand, is a lighthearted tune, such as the tune a person hums to himself when in a good mood. Referring to Torah as "Zimrah" denotes that it is not necessary to concentrate on it, which is untrue and misleading.

QUESTION: The verse (Bereishis 30:14) states that Reuven went out into the fields at the time of "Ketzir Chitim," the wheat harvest, to pick "Duda'im." The reason the Torah emphasizes that it was after the wheat harvest, the Gemara explains, is in order to teach that Tzadikim do not stretch out their hands to take that which does not belong to them.

RASHI here explains that this is derived from the fact that Reuven went only after the wheat harvest, when it becomes permitted to walk into neighboring fields without asking permission. Alternatively, Rashi on the verse there writes that this is derived from the fact that there was plenty of valuable wheat and barley from which he could have taken, and yet all he took was the worthless Duda'im.

Why was Reuven's action considered an act of righteousness, an act that is only found only among Tzadikim? Had Reuven entered a private field without permission or taken wheat that did not belong to him, he would have transgressed an explicit prohibition (and one which is even included in the Seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach)!

ANSWER: The Gemara in Bava Basra (165a) writes that most people succumb to the temptation of Gezel, stealing. The RASHBAM there explains that this does not mean that most people actively steal in an outright manner. Rather, it means that most people create a logical argument ("Moreh Heter") to permit themselves, in their business dealings, to take money which they are not truly entitled to take.

RASHI (to Bereishis 13:7) comments that the shepherds of Lot let their animals graze in the fields of others. When Avraham confronted them about the matter, they claimed that since Hashem promised to give the land of Eretz Yisrael to Avraham, and Avraham had no heirs at that time other than Lot, they were entitled to the land because of Lot's eventual inheritance. Their logic was not correct, because Hashem had only *promised* to give the land to Avraham, and Avraham he had not yet acquired it.

In a similar manner, Reuven could easily have permitted himself to enter a private field and to take the produce, with the same logic that Lot's shepherds used. The fields in which Reuven found the Duda'im belonged to his grandfather, Lavan, who was not yet blessed with male children (see Rashi, Bereishis 30:27). An ordinary person might have succumbed to the temptation of saying, "These fields are ours in either case, since my mother and her sisters will certainly inherit all the possessions of my grandfather Lavan." The Gemara teaches, therefore, that Tzadikim are different. They do not build false pretenses in order to permit to themselves what might not actually be theirs.

This might be why the Gemara does not say simply, "Tzadikim do not steal," but rather it says, "Tzadikim *do not stretch out their hands* in stolen property." "Stretching out the hand" refers to creating a justification to permit oneself to take someone else's property. (M. Kornfeld)

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