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Sanhedrin, 111


OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes the verse in Yeshayah (5:14) which says, "Therefore, She'ol (Gehinom) widens its desire and opens its mouth wide without limit." Reish Lakish explains that Gehinom "opens its mouth wide without limit" for the person "who leaves over [and does not fulfill] even one Mitzvah." Rebbi Yochanan says that this is not the meaning of the verse; Hashem certainly does not want to find more reasons to punish the Jewish people. Rather, the verse means that Gehinom "opens its mouth" for the person who has not fulfilled a single Mitzvah.

What is the basis of the argument between Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan? Does Reish Lakish actually maintain that a person who fails to fulfill one Mitzvah -- but fulfills all of the other Mitzvos with all of their details -- will be punished in the depths of Gehinom? Does Rebbi Yochanan actually maintain that a person who fulfills none of the Mitzvos except for one will escape the punishment of Gehinom?

(a) The SEFER HA'IKARIM (3:29) explains that Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan are arguing about how a person can become Shalem, whole, and achieve spiritual Sheleimus in this world. Reish Lakish maintains that Sheleimus is achieved only though fulfilling all parts of the Torah. Rebbi Yochanan maintains that Sheleimus can be achieved through the perfect fulfillment of even one Mitzvah.

The Sefer ha'Ikarim asks a number of questions on the opinion of Reish Lakish, and he concludes, based on these questions, that the opinion of Rebbi Yochanan is the correct one. First, he asks that the verse states, "There is no one so righteous on the earth who does all good and does not sin" (Koheles 7:20); according to Reish Lakish, no one will merit to go to Olam ha'Ba, while the Mishnah in the beginning of this Perek says that all Jews have a share in Olam ha'Ba! Second, he asks that, logically, Hashem gave the Jewish people Torah and Mitzvos in order to grant them the opportunity to merit Olam ha'Ba; according to Reish Lakish, having Torah and Mitzvos is a liability, and not a merit! Third, Reish Lakish's view contradicts the opinion of Rebbi Chananyah Ben Akashyah (Makos 23b) who says that the reason there are so many Mitzvos is in order to give merit to the Jewish people. The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos to Makos 23b; see Insights to Sanhedrin 93:3) explains that when a person keeps even one Mitzvah with no ulterior motives but entirely Lishmah and out of love for Hashem, fulfilling every detail of the Mitzvah, then he will merit Olam ha'Ba. This is clearly like the view of Rebbi Yochanan. Fourth, there are a number of examples in the Gemara of people who acquired Olam ha'Ba in one moment, through the performance of a single Mitzvah or through merely a proper act or conduct (see Kesuvos 103b, Avodah Zarah 17a, and Ta'anis 22a).

(b) The BE'ER SHEVA cites the MAHARI who is perplexed with the Sefer ha'Ikarim's presentation of the view of Reish Lakish. How could the Sefer ha'Ikarim assume that Reish Lakish maintains that only one who does all of the Mitzvos merits Olam ha'Ba, contrary to the Mishnah at the beginning of the Perek, and in contradiction to all of the other sources that the Sefer ha'Ikarim cites? Moreover, according to the Sefer ha'Ikarim, Rebbi Yochanan should have refuted Reish Lakish's view from all of these sources!

The Mahari asks further that according to the Sefer ha'Ikarim's explanation, the views of *both* Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan are difficult to understand, in light of the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (16b). The Gemara there states that there are three groups of people who are judged by Hashem: Tzadikim, Resha'im, and Beinonim. TOSFOS explains that since a Beinoni is a person whose merits and sins are balanced, it must be that a Rasha is a person who has more sins than merits, while a Tzadik has more merits than sins. This is not compatible with the Sefer ha'Ikarim's understanding of either Rebbi Yochanan or Reish Lakish. According to Rebbi Yochanan, a person with only one Mitzvah merits Olam ha'Ba, while according to Reish Lakish, a person with many Mitzvos and only one sin, does not merit Olam ha'Ba.

The Mahari therefore says that "She'ol" means the depths of Gehinom, and the offender referred to in this verse is judged in "She'ol" for generations. Reish Lakish explains that the verse is not referring to a person who simply transgresses an Aveirah. He is talking about someone who always transgresses and ridicules a Mitzvas Lo Ta'aseh, a prohibition of the Torah. Such a person indeed forfeits his share in Olam ha'Ba. When the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (17a) says that "those who sin with their bodies" are judged in Gehinom for only twelve months and then, they, too, have a share in Olam ha'Ba, it is referring to a person who ridicules and neglects a positive commandment, a Mitzvas Aseh. Rebbi Yochanan argues with Reish Lakish and says that although this person should and will be punished, this is not the person to whom the verse is referring. The ominous punishment in this verse is only for someone who is a total denier of the Torah.

(c) The BE'ER SHEVA rejects the Mahari's explanation of the argument between Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan. He asks many questions on the Mahari's explanation. One question is that we find in Horiyos (11a) that Rebbi Yochanan maintains that a person who purposely neglects even one Mitzvah is considered to a heretic (and is punished accordingly). According to the Mahari's explanation, this would make Rebbi Yochanan agree with Reish Lakish, when the Gemara clearly indicates that they are arguing! Furthermore, the verse from Yeshayah that the Gemara cites has no indication that it is referring only to a negative commandment, a Mitzvas Lo Ta'aseh, and not to a Mitzvas Aseh.

The Be'er Sheva cites another explanation that he heard for the argument between Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan, but he refutes it as well. According to the explanation that he heard, Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan are arguing as follows. Reish Lakish says that the verse refers to one "who leaves over [and does not fulfill] even one *Chok*." Rebbi Yochanan says that the verse means that Gehinom "opens its mouth" for the person who has not fulfilled a single "Chok." The word "Chok" refers to two fundamental Mitzvos which are each referred to by the Torah as a "Chok" -- the Mitzvah of Bris Milah and the Mitzvah of Tefilin.

Reish Lakish says that if a person fails to fulfill one of these two great Mitzvos, then even though he fulfills the other one, he is punished in Gehinom for twelve months. Rebbi Yochanan is more lenient and says that as long as a person fulfills one of these two Mitzvos, he is not punished with this extremely severe punishment.

The Be'er Sheva refutes this explanation from many sources. One primary source is the Beraisa (99a) that states that one who denies the Mitzvah of Bris Milah -- even though he has the merit of Torah and other good deeds -- has no share in Olam ha'Ba. Rebbi Yochanan certainly would not argue with an explicit Mishnah.

(d) The BE'ER SHEVA, therefore, offers a different explanation. As a preface to his explanation, he probes the meaning of Reish Lakish's statement. How is it possible for someone to fulfill *all* of the Mitzvos? There are many Mitzvos that can be done only at certain times, in certain places, or by certain people -- such as the Mitzvos involved with the Beis ha'Mikdash and the Korbanos, the Mitzvah of anointing a king, the Mitzvos of a Metzora, and many others. He cites the RAMBAM who writes that out of the 248 positive Mitzvos, only 60 of them are incumbent upon each person to perform. How, then, is it possible to fulfill the entire Torah and perform all of the Mitzvos? We find that Yakov stated that even though he lived with Lavan, who was a Rasha, he still fulfilled al of the Mitzvos (Rashi to Bereishis 32:5). How can this be?

The KIRYAS SEFER answers that delving into the laws of a Mitzvah through intensive Torah study is akin to actually fulfilling the Mitzvah. We learn this from the verse which states, "And you will remember and you will do all of the Mitzvos" (Bamidbar 15:39). This teaches that through learning (remembering) the Mitzvos, one is considered to have fulfilled them.

We can now understand the argument between Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan. Reish Lakish maintains that in order to avoid any punishment in Gehinom, one must have fulfilled *all* of the Mitzvos -- by learning Torah and studying the laws of each Mitzvah. If a person refuses to learn Torah about even on Mitzvah, he must suffer some punishment (although not for twelve months) in Gehinom.

Rebbi Yochanan states that as long as a person learned ("Lamad," as the Gemara quotes Rebbi Yochanan's statement) at least one Mitzvah in the Torah, he can receive his portion in Olam ha'Ba if he performed many of the Mitzvos. Rebbi Yochanan does not agree with Reish Lakish's view that one must learn the laws of all of the Mitzvos in order to avoid punishment in Gehinom. (Y. Montrose)


OPINIONS: The Mishnah here states that the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba.

Why should they not have a share in Olam ha'Ba? The Mishnah earlier (43b) says that part of the process of Misas Beis Din is confession and repentance. Since the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas are put to death by Beis Din, they presumably must have repented immediately before their execution and thereby gained atonement! Moreover, Rava (47a) maintains that those who are killed by Beis Din achieve atonement even if they do not do Teshuvah. Why, then, do the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba?

(a) TOSFOS earlier (47a) explains that the Mishnah is referring to a case in which the people of the Ir ha'Nidachas either did not do Teshuvah (according to Abaye there), or Beis Din was not able to execute them (according to Rava there).

The ME'IRI questions this explanation. Why is it necessary for the Mishnah to teach that people who did not do Teshuvah for the sin of Avodah Zarah do not have a share in Olam ha'Ba? We already know that from the first Mishnah in this Perek! The Me'iri answers that the main intention of the Mishnah is to discuss the details of the laws of an Ir ha'Nidachas. The reason it mentions it now is because the Mishnah earlier (76b) lists those who are punished with Sayif -- a Rotze'ach and the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas. The Mishnah discussed the details of a Rotze'ach earlier, but not the details of an Ir ha'Nidachas. The Mishnah now is returning to that topic. Since, until now, the Mishnah in this Perek has discussed those who have no share in Olam ha'Ba, it mentions that the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba as a transition to its discussion of the details of an Ir ha'Nidachas. (According to this explanation, this Perek must precede Perek Elu Hen ha'Nechnakin, and it immediately follows the discussion of the laws of those who are put to death with Sayif; see Insights to 84:2.)

(b) However, the Mishnah gives a source for its statement that the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba. The source is the verse, "Yatz'u Anashim Benei Veliya'a'l" (Devarim 13:14). Since the Mishnah deems it necessary to give a source, it is clear that, without a source, it is not so obvious that they do not have a share in Olam ha'Ba.

(The P'NEI MOSHE explains that the Mishnah's Derashah is from the word "Beliya'al," which is a contraction of "Bli Al" -- referring to those "who will not *rise*" at the time of Techiyas ha'Mesim. Alternatively, as the TOSFOS HA'ROSH cited by the CHAMRA V'CHAYEI explains, the Derashah is based on the word "Yatz'u," which implies that these people "have left" the rest of the Jewish people (see also BE'ER SHEVA).)

(It is also clear from the opinion of RASHI (cited in Insights to 84:2) that the main point of the Mishnah here is to teach that the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba, and the discussion of the laws of Ir ha'Nidachas is just tangential. This is because, according to Rashi, there would be no point in discussing Ir ha'Nidachas at this point, when all of the Halachos of the four types of Misas Beis Din have already been discussed.)

The YA'AVETZ therefore suggests that the Mishnah is referring not to the people who were persuaded to sin, but to the people who persuaded everyone else to serve Avodah Zarah. The sin of these people is so great that they cannot attain atonement because they caused many others to sin (who otherwise might not have sinned). These are the people to whom the Mishnah refers when it says "*Anshei* Ir ha'Nidachas." (This proof is not clear, because the Gemara earlier (50a and 50b) and the Mishnah (76b) use the phrase "Anshei Ir ha'Nidachas" to refer to the people who were persuaded.)

(c) The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM answers that even if Misas Beis Din normally provides atonement, Kaparah, for the people of an Ir ha'Nidachas it does not provide Kaparah. Rather, they are killed not because of the sin of Avodah Zarah but because they deny Hashem and therefore they must be killed in order to prevent them from influence others. Such a death does not bring Kaparah. (See Insights to 72:1.)

(d) In the text of the Yerushalmi, the words "they do not have a share in Olam ha'Ba" do not appear in the Mishnah. Rather, the Mishnah here is simply beginning its discussion of the laws of an Ir ha'Nidachas. The Ran asserts that this is the proper Girsa of our Mishnah. This is also the Girsa of the RAN and the YAD RAMAH.

OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that an individual idol worshipper receives a harsh death (Sekilah) while the residents of an entire city of idol worshippers (an Ir ha'Nidachas) receive an easier death (Sayif). However, regarding their possessions, those of an individual idol worshipper do not become prohibited to be used (and his heirs inherit his possessions when he is put to death), while the possessions of the residents of an Ir ha'Nidachas must be burned. What is the reasoning behind these laws?

(a) The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM writes in the name of RAV AVRAHAM BINYAMIN KLUGER that this can be explained with the following rule. There are two types of death sentences issued by Beis Din. The first type is given in order to provide the transgressor with atonement. The second type is given in order to eradicate evil from the world. This is why Nochrim receive the same punishment (Sayif) for transgressing any of the seven Mitzvos of Benei Noach, while a Jew sometimes receives a stricter punishment (such as for idol worship, for which a Jew is punished with Sekilah). Since the purpose of killing the Nochri for his transgression is to eradicate the evil Nochri from the world, it does not matter which punishment he receives. A Jew, however, who aspires to live on eternally in Olam ha'Ba, must receive the punishment which can atone for his sin. Therefore, he might need a harsher punishment.

The same applies in the case of an Ir ha'Nidachas. The people of an Ir ha'Nidachas have no share in Olam ha'Ba (see previous Insight). Therefore, they receive the same punishment as a Nochri receives, since it is not important for them to receive proper atonement for their sin. Likewise, the property of such sinful people is also unfit for use. In contrast, an individual idol worshipper -- although he committed a grave sin -- still receives atonement from his death because he repents before Beis Din. Although he receives a harsh death to atone for his sin, afterwards he is considered to have gained atonement. Consequently, after his death he is considered to be free of sin, and thus his property is permitted to be used.

(b) The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM cites another explanation. When an entire city strays from the proper path, we can assume that most of them were led astray by a few leaders. Every single person of the city is not intrinsically, absolutely evil. Rebbi Shimon maintains, though, that even the property of the righteous is burned, because it can be assumed that financial concerns caused these people to reside in such an evil city. In contrast, an individual idol worshipper is intrinsically evil. He conducts himself in a way contrary to the logical and experiential truth of the power of Hashem. Therefore, his body must receive a harsher death. There is no reason to condemn his assets, though, which apparently had nothing to do with his transgression. This is also the reason why, in order to punish the entire city, the idol worshippers of the Ir ha'Nidachas must have lived inside the city. The only reason the people of the city receive a more lenient death is because of the mitigating factor that it was difficult for them to do the right thing in the face of such strong pressure from around them. If the people who persuaded them to serve Avodah Zarah were not from that town, then the sinners deserve the harsher death that is reserved for an individual idol worshipper. (Y. Montrose)

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