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Shabbos 55


The Gemara says that a person must rebuke someone whom he sees committing a sin, even if he knows that the other person will not listen to him. TOSFOS (DH v'Af Al Gav) points out certain conditions to this obligation.

The Poskim (OC 608:2) discuss the details that are relevant in practice:

(a) A person must rebuke someone who *willfully* sins, even if one is certain that the sinner will not heed the rebuke. Similarly, for this reason, if a person is transgressing a prohibition that is written explicitly in the Torah, it is assumed that he knows that it is forbidden and he is sinning intentionally, and therefore one must rebuke him and tell him to stop sinning.

(b) If one sees that the wrongdoer is not accepting the rebuke, then one should continue to rebuke him, but in private and not in public (one rebukes a sinner in public only once). Also, if the sin was committed in private, one should rebuke the sinner only in private.

(c) However, if the person is committing a sin that is not stated explicitly in the Torah, or one that is prohibited mid'Rabanan (and it is not evident that he knows it is forbidden), then if one knows for sure that the sinner is not going to listen to the rebuke, he one is not required to tell the sinner to stop, because rebuking him will only make his sin worse by changing it from an unintentional sin to an intentional one.

(d) But if there is a *possibility* that he might listen to the rebuke, then one is obligated to rebuke him, as our Gemara says.

QUESTION: According to a number of Amora'im, Zechus Avos (the merit of our forefathers) has been "used up" and no longer protects us. If so, why do we continue to mention the Avos in all of our prayers, summoning Zechus Avos?


(a) TOSFOS (DH v'Shmuel) cites RABEINU TAM who answers that the Gemara means that *Zechus* Avos is finished; their merits cannot arouse Divine protection and help for us anymore. However, the *Bris* Avos is still intact. The Bris Avos is the covenant that Hashem made with the Avos, assuring them that no matter what happens, their children will never be destroyed ("v'Lo Yishcach Es *Bris Avosecha*" - Devarim 4:31).

(b) The RI says that even according to the opinions that say that Zechus Avos has ended, it has ended only for the evildoers. The Tzadikim, though, still have Zechus Avos. Therefore, Shmuel, who said that Zechus Avos has ended, and Rebbi Yochanan, who said that Zechus Avos can still be aroused, are not arguing. Shmuel is referring to evildoers, and Rebbi Yochanan is referring to Tzadikim.

(c) TOSFOS (ibid.) cites the MIDRASH (Vayikra Rabah) in which Rebbi Acha argues with the Amora'im in our Gemara and states that Zechus Avos is always extant and operative, and we will always mention it in our prayers, as the verse states, "v'Lo Yishcach Es Bris Avosecha" (Devarim 4:31).

QUESTION: What is it about Truth (Emes) that gives it the superior position of being the seal, or signet, of Hashem?

ANSWER: Truth can never be forged, for if it is forged it is no longer truth! (Si'ach Sarfei Kodesh in the Kotzker Rebbe)


QUESTION: The Gemara concludes that "Yesh Misah b'Lo Chet..." -- "there *is* death without [a person having committed a] sin, and there *is* suffering without [a person having committed] iniquity."

First, how is this conclusion reconciled with the verse cited at the beginning of the Gemara, "The soul that sins -- it shall die..." (Yechezkel 18:20), which proves that there is *no* death unless one sinned?

Second, the Gemara in Berachos (7a) relates that when Moshe Rabeinu asked Hashem why suffering befalls the righteous and the wicked prosper, Hashem answered that suffering befalls the righteous person who is not *completely* righteous (Tzadik sh'Eino Gamur). The Gemara there proves from verses that if a Tzadik does not sin at all, then he will not be punished for the sins of his forebears and he will not suffer from them. How, then, can the Gemara here conclude that there *is* death without sin?

Those learned in the hidden aspects of Torah teach that Neshamos ("souls") are corporeally transcendent. A person living in a later generation can share the Neshamah of a person who had lived in a former generation. Scientifically (that is, on a measurable, tangible level), we can understand this in terms of Midos (character traits). That is, through following the Mitzvos of the Torah, a person perfects himself and his Midos. However, a person does not necessarily start off perfect; he may have inherited undesirable Midos from former generations, and thus a person may be born with certain Midos that he must overcome. His job is to break every deeply rooted ("hereditary") tendency towards evil until he no longer feels such a tendency altogether (and can no longer pass it on to his own progeny).

This brings us to an interesting question. A person who is alive now and has never sinned -- how is he to be classified? On the one hand, since he himself never sinned, he is a "Tzadik Gamur," pure and clean of sin. On the other hand, his Neshamah -- which has been through many generations -- *is* tainted by sin (or, in terms of Midos, his Neshamah still has in it the roots of imperfect Midos that distance him from Hashem to some degree, even if they have not caused him to sin actively). As such, he is only a "Tzadik she'Eino Gamur."

Our Gemara is concluding that the latter is true. There *is* death without sin; a person himself committed no sins in his life, and yet he still suffers and still dies because of the Neshamah, or Midos, that he inherited from his ancestors and did not perfect. The Gemara in Berachos is also correct; a person dies only because of his sins, meaning the sins of his Neshamah/Midos that have stemmed from former generations. The Gemara calls such a person a "Tzadik sh'Eino Gamur" -- a Tzadik who is not *completely* righteous -- since he did not perfect the Neshamah/Midos that he inherited.

QUESTION: The Gemara learns from the way the word "Ma'avirim" is spelled ("Ma'aviram") that only one of the sons of Eli sinned. Rashi points out that even though the Gemara says that the text of the Navi is "Ma'aviram," the text of our Navi reads "Ma'avirim." Rebbi Akiva Eiger, in Gilyon ha'Shas, cites many places where Chazal quote a verse differently than the way it appears in the texts that we have. How do we reconcile these differences?

(a) TOSFOS (DH Ma'avirim) says that there often are argument between the text of the Mesorah and the text of the Midrash (or Gemara). He cites an instance where the reading of a Yerushalmi differs from the readings of our texts; the Yerushalmi appears to have had the word "40" where our texts state "20." Apparently, the text of the Mesorah overrides the text of the Midrash, as the Mesorah reflects the majority opinion of the early authorities.

(b) The YAD MALACHI (#283) contends the conclusion of Tosfos. When there is a question regarding Chaseiros and Yeseiros (single letters that do not change the pronunciation nor the meaning of the word, such as the Yud or Alef of "Bereishis"), it is possible that there are two different versions. But in a case of an entirely different *word*, it is not possible that an incorrect word drifted into Tanach. The Yad Malachi explains that in cases such as the Yerushalmi quoted by Tosfos, Chazal are not telling us that the text of Tanach should actually read differently; rather, they are teaching that we can infer a particular understanding from the Tanach *as if* it read differently. The Yerushalmi that Tosfos cites that seems to argue with our text regarding an entire word, is not really arguing at all.
(For further elucidation of this topic, see TORAH FROM THE INTERNET Parashat Naso, by Rabbi M. Kornfeld, Judaica Press, 1998. See also the Yad Malachi there who discusses many other such instances.)

(c) Our Gemara, "Ma'avirim" versus "Ma'aviram," is a case of Chaseiros and Yeseiros (because the question is that of an extra Yud, which is seen but not heard). Nevertheless, perhaps what the Yad Malachi writes regarding entire words also applies here. That is, Chazal are teaching us to understand the verse *as if* it said "Ma'aviram." Like Rashi himself says, "Ma'avirim" can be interpreted to mean that "the *Jewish people* passed around bad rumors about Eli's child (singular)." That is indeed how the Targum understands the verse. Therefore, even if the word in the verse is not "Ma'aviram," it is *as if* it said that only one of Eli's children sinned. (M. Kornfeld). (RAV REUVEN MARGOLIOS, Ha'Mikra v'ha'Mesorah #2, reaches a similar conclusion. However, the interpretation that he offers to explain our Gemara based on a Midrash does not appear to conform to the words of our Gemara -- the Midrash is clearly following the opinion of Rav Shmuel bar Nachmani, and not that of Rav.)

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