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Sanhedrin 44

SANHEDRIN 44 (19 Cheshvan) - Dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Chaim Mordechai ben Harav Yisrael Azriel (Feldman) of Milwaukee, by the members of his family.



(a) Rebbi Aba bar Zavda extrapolates from the Pasuk "Chata Yisrael la'Hashem" - that even when a Yisrael sins, he still remains a Yisrael (otherwise the Pasuk should have said "Chata ha'Am").

(b) Rebbi Aba compares this to a myrtle-tree - which is called a myrtle-tree even when it is growing among nettles.

(c) Rav Ila'a in the name of Rebbi Yehudah bar Misparta learns from ...

1. ... the five times "Gam" that appear in the same Pasuk ("ve'Gam Avru es B'risi ... Gam Lakchu min ha'Cherem ... ") - that Achan transgressed all five Books of the Torah (meaning most of the Mitzvos [see Agados Maharsha], since "B'risi" refers to Torah).
2. ... the 'Gezeirah-Shavah' "Avru es B'risi" and "es B'risi Heifar" - that he also transgressed the B'ris Milah (since it also refers to B'ris Milah).
3. ... the 'Gezeirah-Shavah' "ve'Chi Asah Nevalah be'Yisrael" and "Ki Asesah Nevalah be'Yisrael" -that he even had relations with a Na'arah ha'Me'urasah.
(d) Having already taught us that Achan contravened all five Books of the Torah, Rav Ila'a nevertheless deems it necessary to teach us that he contravened ...
1. ... the B'ris Milah too - because we would otherwise have thought that he would certainly not transgress such a personal Mitzvah pertaining to his body (see also Hagahos Ya'avetz).
2. ... the prohibition of Na'arah ha'Me'urasah - because we would otherwise have thought that he would never transgress such a terrible sin that is evil to both Hashem and people, and which shames and stigmatizes the girl's family.
(a) Ravina disagrees with the second D'rashah of Rav Ila'a. According to him, the Navi uses the same Lashon as the Torah uses by Na'arah ha'Me'urasah (not because Achan contravened that too, but) - because he was destined to receive the punishment of someone who contravened the sin of Na'arah ha'Me'urasah (see Agados Maharsha).

(b) Besides Achan and the money, the coat and the gold that he took as spoil, Yehoshua destroyed - all of Achan's sons, his daughters, his animals and his tent (see Sefer Margalis ha'Yam on this Sugya).

(c) When the Resh Galusa asked Rav Huna why Achan's wife and children deserved to die because Achan sinned, he retorted - why for that matter, did Yisrael deserve to die because he sinned?

(d) The answer to both questions is - that it was in order to chastise the people, to discourage them from emulating his example that they died (see also Seifer Yefei Einayim).

(a) We explain the Pasuk "va'Yisrefu Osam ba'Eish va'Yiskelu Osam ba'Avanim" to mean (not that they received both, but) - that each item received what was appropriate (the people and the animals were stoned, whereas the rest of his property was burned).

(b) Among the spoil that Achan took was a coat from Shin'ar (Bavel). Rav translates it as a coat made from clean wool on the day that it was shorn (see Hagahos Maharshal). Shmuel translates it as - a coat that was dyed with alum (both extremely valuable items in those days).

(c) When they dumped the articles that they found in Achan's tent before Hashem, Yehoshua declared - that these few paltry articles hardly seemed worthwhile for the majority of the Sanhedrin to die on their account.

(d) According to Rebbi Yehudah in a Beraisa, thirty-six men fell in the battle with Ay. Rebbi Nechemyah however, extrapolates from the Lashon '*ki*'Sheloshim-ve'Shishah Ish" - that it was only Ya'ir ben Menasheh, who was equal to the majority of the Sanhedrin, who died in the battle against Ay.

(a) Rav Nachman Amar Rav ascribes the Pasuk in Mishlei ...
1. ... "Tachanunim Yedaber Rosh" - to Moshe (who did not enter Eretz Yisrael).
2. ... "ve'Ashir Ya'aneh Azus" - to Yehoshua (who did).
(b) We reject the suggestion that the latter statement refers to ...
1. ... the previous episode (where Yehoshua dumped the articles before Hashem), by citing Pinchas, who did the same thing - when he dumped Zimri and Kozbi bas Tzur before Hashem, and asked Him whether they were worthwhile for twenty-four thousand of Yisrael to die because of them.
2. ... Yehoshua's question "Lamah He'avarta He'evir es ha'Am ha'Zeh es ha'Yarden" by citing a similar statement of Moshe Rabeinu - "Lamah Hare'oscha la'Am ha'Zeh?".
(c) The first of the two previous D'rashos is based on the Pasuk "va'Ya'amod Pinchas va'Yefalel, va'Te'atzer ha'Magefah". Rebbi Elazar interprets the word "ve'Yefalel" - to mean that Pinchas did wonders with His Creator (by doing what he did and stopping the plague).

(d) We conclude - that "ve'Ashir Ya'aneh Azus" refers to Yehoshua's statement "We wish we had remained on the other side of the Yarden" (a statement similar to the Resha'im of Yisrael after leaving Egypt).

(a) According to Rebbi Shiloh, when Hashem ordered Yehoshua "Kum Lach", He was insinuating that his sin - of traveling sixty Mil (to Har Gerizim and Har Eival) before putting up the stones, that Moshe had ordered him to put up as soon as they crossed the Yarden.

(b) Rav objects to this explanation on the basis of the Pasuk - which describes Yehoshua as having fulfilled everything (down to the last detail) that Moshe had commanded him.

(c) So Rav interprets the phrase "Kum Lach", to mean that Yehoshua was held responsible for the defeat of Ay - because he should not have forbidden the spoil of Yericho (see Agados Maharsha).

(d) Hashem therefore commanded Yehoshua - to take the spoil of Ay and of all subsequent cities that they defeated, for themselves.

(a) We query Yehoshua prostrating himself before the angel that appeared to him before the battle against Yericho - from the statement by Rebbi Yochanan forbidding greeting a person at night, in case he is a demon.

(b) Giving Shalom to a demon is prohibited - because Shalom is one of the Names of Hashem (as we find in the Pasuk in Shmuel). And prostrating oneself to a demon is even worse - because it constitutes 'Mishtachaveh la'Se'irim'.

(c) The episode with Yehoshua must have taken place at night-time - because otherwise, why would Yehoshua have needed to query the identity of the angel?

(d) Yehoshua knew that it was not a demon - because he called himself 'Sar Tz'va Hashem' (incorporating the Name of Hashem).

(e) Nor did he need to be afraid that the demon was lying - because demons would not dare use Hashem's Holy Name in vain.




(a) The angel accused Yehoshua - a. of having - nullified the Korban Tamid shel Bein ha'Arbayim on the previous afternoon, and b. of currently laying siege to Yericho instead of studying Torah with the troops overnight. In brief, since Yisrael were not ready to fight yet anyway until the following day, he should have remained in Gilgal, where he could have fulfilled both Mitzvos, and begun the siege of Yericho the following morning.

(b) We know that the sin of Bitul Torah was the more prominent of the two - because when Yehoshua asked for which of the two sins he had come, he replied 'Ata Ba'si', implying for the current one (Bitul Torah).

(c) Yehoshua's reaction to the angel's reproof lies in the words "va'Yalen Yehoshua ba'Laylah ha'Hu be'Soch ha'Emek", implying - that he immediately settled down together with his troops, to a session of Torah-study in depth ('be'Omkah shel Halachah).

(d) However, seeing as this Pasuk appears before the battle with Ay, not Yericho, we must amend the previous statement. Yehoshua did not begin to learn with his troops that same night - but he undertook to do so in future (as we find by the very next battle with Ay).

(e) Shmuel bar Unya in the name of Rav extrapolates from this incident - that communal Talmud-Torah (see Sugya in Megilah 3b) is greater than bringing the Korban Tamid.

(a) The Ru'ach Paskanis (alias the Angel Gavriel) deemed it necessary to give Hashem Musar (Kevayachol) - because, in a Pasuk in Yechezkel, He had referred to Yisrael's ancestors (Terach and his ancestors) as Emorim and Chitim.

(b) This angel it appears, had the authority to speak to Hashem in this way - by the very virtue of his name 'Piskun', meaning 'one who aims harsh words ('li'Fesok Devarim') at Hashem'.

(c) The significance of his other name ...

1. ... 'Itmun' is - that he blocks the sins of Yisrael.
2. ... 'Sigrun' is - that, once he closes (has no more to say in Yisrael's defense), there is nothing else to say.
(a) Rebbi Elazar comments on Avraham's Tefilah "between Beis-Eil and Ay" - regarding the Tzarah of Achan, that had he not Davened then, Yisrael would have been completely wiped out at the battle of Ay.

(b) This explains the Pasuk "ha'Ya'aroch Shu'acha Lo ve'Tzar", said to Iyov by his friends, which means - that had Iyov Davened in advance of his troubles, they would not have occurred (preventive Tefilah, like medicine, is more effective than Tefilah after the stroke).

(c) Rebbi Yochanan adds to Resh Lakish's statement 'If someone Davens deeply here, he will have no adversaries in Heaven' - that one needs pray for all the angels to act in his defense, and that none should act as his prosecutors.

(a) The Beraisa learns from the Pasuk "u'Venei Zerach, Zimri (alias Achan), ve'Eisan, ve'Heiman, ve'Chalkol va'Dara, *Kulam Chamishah*" - that Zimri, like his four brothers, received a portion in Olam ha'Ba.

(b) Rav and Shmuel argue over Achan's two names. One says that his real name was Achan, and that he was called Zimri, because he behaved like the infamous Zimri ben Salu. According to the other one - his real name was Zimri, and he was called Achan, because he rolled (brought) on the sins of Yisrael ('Ichan' from the 'Achna', a python which winds round its victim).

(a) The Chachamim in our Mishnah maintain that we do not allow the condemned man to preclude the sin for which he is being executed from his confession, because then everyone will take advantage of the opportunity to clear his name. This bothers us - because at the same, it also gives the witnesses and the Beis-Din a bad name.

(b) The story is told of someone being taken out to be killed, who made a declaration in accordance with Rebbi Yehudah's opinion - adding that Beis-Din and all of Yisrael were innocent, but that the witnesses would never be forgiven.

(c) That person was - Shimon ben Shetach's son, and the Rabbanan conceded to Rebbi Yehudah in that case - because the witnesses themselves, admitted their guilt. In fact, the Dayanim themselves declared that although they were not permitted to retract, the man's death should 'hang around the necks of the witnesses'.

(d) The story began with the mixing up of two coffins, with the result that a wicked tax-collector received the burial of a Tzadik, and the Tzadik, that of a Rasha. The mix-up was caused - by the sudden appearance of robbers, causing everyone to flee the scene, with the exception of the Tzadik's faithful Talmid. When they returned, each group mistakenly picked up the wrong coffin, despite the Talmid's objections.

(a) The Tzadik showed his grieving Talmid in a dream how ...
1. ... he was basking in the sunshine of Gan Eden.
2. ... the hinges of the entrance to Gehinom, swiveled round the wicked tax-collector's ear.
(b) He attribute the mix-up of the coffins - to one deed that each of them had done.
1. He suffered such in ignominious end - because he had once heard the denigration of a Talmid-Chacham and had done nothing about it.
2. The evil tax-collector on the other hand, received an honorable burial - because he once distributed a feast that he had prepared for the mayor of the city, who failed to arrive, to the poor.
(c) He also explained to his Talmid that the Rasha was destined to suffer in Gehinom until Shimon ben Shetach died and took his place - because he allowed eighty witches to operate, despite the fact that witches are subject to the death penalty.

(d) When that Talmid informed Shimon ben Shetach of his fate, he sprang into action. Paying the witches a visit at home, he convinced them that he was their superior - by demonstrating his ability to produce eighty young men (whom he had planted outside with a dry cloak contained in a jar which each of them was holding) all completely dry in spite of the pouring rain.

(a) Upon entering the room - each young man picked up a witch and held her up in the air, because as long as a witch's feet are off the ground, she cannot cast a spell.

(b) Shimon ben Shetach subsequently - hanged them all. He did not kill them by stoning (their regular death-sentence) - presumably because they could not be put down as long as they were alive.

(c) The families of the witches reacted to Shimon ben Shetach's justice - by hiring two false witnesses, who testified that his son had done something that rendered him Chayav Miysah.

(a) Our Mishnah then discusses the actual putting to death of the condemned man. After he had confessed, they would remove his clothes.

(b) According to Rebbi Yehudah, they would cover a man in front and a woman at the back too. The Chachamim say - 'ha'Ish Niskal Arum, ve'Ein ha'Ishah Niskeles Arumah' (their Machlokes will be explained later).

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