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Sotah, 10

SOTAH 10 (5 Teves) - has been dedicated to the memory of Max (Meir Menachem) Turkel on his Yahrzeit by his children Eddie and Lawrence and their children, and by his wife Jean Turkel/Rafalowicz.


QUESTION: Just before Shimshon toppled the temple of the Plishtim, he called out, "My G-d, Hashem, remember me and strengthen me just this once, O' G-d, and I will avenge myself on the Plishtim the revenge for one of my two eyes" (Shoftim 16:28). Rav explains that when Shimshon asked Hashem to let him have revenge against the Plishtim for one of his two eyes that they blinded, Shimshon said, "Master of the Universe! Remember for me the twenty-two years that I led the Jewish people, during which I never asked any one of them to so much as bring me my walking stick."

What does the fact that he judged the Jewish people for so many years without ever asking anyone to carry his staff for him have to do with asking Hashem for rewarding him for the loss of his eye?

ANSWER: The MAHARSHA answers that Shimshon was explaining that the loss of his eyes was undeserved; he did not do any misdeed which would warrant the punishment of losing his eyes. Shimshon was a Shofet, a judge, of the Jewish people, and he was in a position to be swayed by bribes and other influences. The Torah says that accepting bribes causes one's eyes to become blind (XX). Nevertheless, Shimshon insisted that he was always honest and upright throughout his entire career and he never accepted any bribes, and he never accepted anything that even bordered on being a bribe. For this reason, he never allowed anyone to do him a small favor, even to carry his walking stick from one place to another, lest that person one day appear before him in court and Shimshon feel some sense of obligation to the person in return for the small favor. Therefore, Shimshon asserted, his blinding was not deserved and he pleaded with Hashem to grant him revenge from the Plishtim for their injustice.

QUESTION: Just before Shimshon toppled the temple of the Plishtim, he called out, "My G-d, Hashem, remember me and strengthen me just this once, O' G-d, and I will avenge myself on the Plishtim the revenge for one of my two eyes" (Shoftim 16:28). Rav explains that Shimshon was saying, "Master of the Universe! Remember for me the twenty-two years that I led the Jewish people, during which I never asked any one of them to so much as bring me my walking stick."

Why does the Gemara contend that Shimshon's reign lasted *twenty-two* years? The verse clearly states that Shimshon's reign lasted *twenty* years! The RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:88, cited in the margin of our Shas) writes that the word "two" must be a printer's error and should be deleted from the text of the Gemara. We find also that even the Ge'onim grappled with this problem and did not offer any solutions (Teshuvos Ha'Ge'onim, Liek 1864, end of #45).

ANSWER: To answer this question, let us first cite a Midrash concerning the span of Shimshon's years of leadership. The Midrash (Bamidbar Rabah 14:9) infers from the repetition of a verse that describes Shimshon's twenty-year tenure as leader that he actually led the people for *forty* years. The Midrash quotes the verse (Bamidbar 7:66,71), "On the tenth day... the leader of the tribe of Dan brought his offering: ...two bulls," and comments, "These two bulls represent the two times (Shoftim 15:20 and 16:31) that it is said in connection with Shimshon [who was from the tribe of Dan], 'He led Yisrael for twenty years.' The phrase was repeated in order to teach us that the Plishtim feared Shimshon for twenty years after his death just as they feared him for the twenty years of his life."

(The MAHARSHA here uses this Midrash to reconcile the Yerushalmi (Sotah 1:8) with our texts of the Tanach and to answer a question posed by Tosfos in Shabbos 55b, DH Ma'avirim. See also "Tzion Yerushalayim" to the Yerushalmi there, Rashash to Bemidbar Rabah 14:9, "ha'Mikra ve'ha'Mesorah" (#2) by Rav Reuven Margolios, who all independently reached the same conclusion as the Maharsha.)

Perhaps our Gemara is also bothered by the problem with which the Midrash deals -- why does the verse count *two* twenty-year periods during which Shimshon led Yisrael? Our Gemara seems to reject the resolution suggested by the Midrash (and the Yerushalmi), that Shimshon frightened away the Plishtim for an additional twenty years posthumously. After all, why should the Plishtim continue to fear someone who is dead? (Some commentators explain that according to the Yerushalmi the Plishtim were not certain that Shimshon was really dead since his body was quickly removed from the wreckage by his brethren.)

The Maharsha proposes that our Gemara might maintain instead that the two periods of Shimshon's leadership were the twenty years during which Shimshon judged, and *another* twenty years during which he was *imprisoned* by the Plishtim, until he broke out of his shackles and brought down their temple by breaking its retaining pillars. (The Tanach, in fact, does not record how long he was in prison before he was brought out to perform for the crowds. It may well have been a very lengthy period of time.) Accordingly, it would be entirely understandable that the Plishtim feared Shimshon during the latter twenty-year period. They were afraid that Shimshon would burst out of his shackles even though he was bound and blinded. Only after twenty years did they gain the audacity to publicly taunt him.

Hence, the *end* of the forty-year rule of the Plishtim coincided with Shimshon's martyrdom. Perhaps Shimshon brought about the downfall of the Plishtim by destroying their temple and their leaders at the time of his death! (This might be the intention of the Midrash as well when it says that he ruled for twenty years after "his death," meaning that he controlled the Plishtim for twenty years after he was captured and blinded. The Midrash refers to this point in time as "after his death" because "a blind person is considered like a Mes" (Nedarim 64b).

The original reading of the Gemara might have been "the *two twenty* (not *twenty two*) years that I led Israel" ("Shenayim Esrim Shana"). Shimshon was asking Hashem to remember for him the two twenty-year periods during which he led the Jewish nation! Since the phrase "two twenty years" seems at first glance to be a meaningless phrase, it was "corrected" improperly by the copyists to read "twenty-two years."

QUESTIONS: Tamar assurred Yehudah, who thought that she was a Nochris, that she was permitted to him because she was a Giyores. When he questioned that perhaps her father was Mekadesh her to Er and Onan thus making her Asur to him, she assurred him that she was a Yesomah at the time of her Kidushin.
(a) What did Tamar mean when she said that she was a Giyores? The Torah had not yet been given and there were no Jews and no Gerim!

(b) Also, if she was considered a Giyores, why did she have to say that she was a Yesomah in order to answer Yehudah's other concern? We know that a "Ger sh'Nisgayer k'Katan she'Nolad Dami" -- a Ger who converts is like a newborn child (Yevamos 97b) -- and thus she has no connection to her Nochri father and he could not have married her off!

(c) In addition, why should the Nochri father be able to be Mekadesh her to someone? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (58b) says that a Nochri only has matrilineal relationship (a Nochri is considered to be related only to his or her mother), and thus a Nochri father is allowed to marry his daughter! Since there is no patrilineal relationship, why is the father permitted to be Mekadesh her to someone?

(a) RASHI explains that when Tamar said that she was a Giyores, she meant that she did not worship Avodah Zarah, and therefore she was fit to marry Yehudah. RAV YAKOV EMDEN (in Hagahos Ya'avetz) adds that from the times of Avraham Avinu, Avraham and his family were already considered like Bnei Yisrael (see Mishnah l'Melech in beginning of Parshas Derachim). The RA'AVAD in Avodah Zarah (36b) explains that this is the reason why the Beis Din of Shem enacted a prohibition against a Jew or Jewess having relations with a Nochri woman or man (marrying a Nochri or Nochris is Asur mid'Oraisa). The Gemara cites the verse (Bereishis 38) that describes how Yehudah wanted to kill Tamar as a punishment for transgressing this decree. The Ra'avad explains that even though there was no Torah or Jewish nation at the time of Yehudah, nevertheless the family of Avraham Avinu separated themselves from the other nations and made themselves a unique group dedicated to serving Hashem and rejecting Avodah Zarah. Tamar, the descendant of Shem, was also part of this group.

The BRISKER RAV explains that this is why Yehudah acquitted Tamar of all charges as soon as he realized that he was her suitor. He wanted to kill her as a punishment for having relations with a Nochri, but once he discovered that she had relations with a Jew (himself), he acquitted her because she was guilty of no transgression.

(b) Regarding why the father of a Nochris should still have the rights of Kidushin of his daughter, the SHEVUS YAKOV (1:177), cited by He'oros b'Maseches Sotah, says that the principle of "Ger sh'Nisgayer k'Katan she'Nolad Dami" does not affect all Halachos, and the rights to marry off his daughter is not affected by this principle.

Another explanation might be that Tamar's father had been Megayer earlier (before she was born), and she meant that she was following the path of her father and serving Hashem. Alternatively, she meant to say that she was Megayer *after* marrying Er and Onan (and at the time that she married Er and Onan, she was still a Nochris and her father (had he been alive) would have had the rights to be Mekadesh her to them).

(c) Regarding why a Nochri father should have the rights of Kidushin of his daughter if he is not considered related to her, it seems that the rights to marry off a daughter does not stem from familial relationship, but rather from the rights of protectorate that a father has over his daughter. (See Kesuvos 46a, where the Gemara cmopares the right to marry off one's daughter to the right to sell one's daughter as a maidservant.) Even a Nochri retains such rights of ownership over his minor offspring.


QUESTION: The Gemara gives various interpretations of the phrase, "l'David *Michtam*" (Tehilim 46:1). According to one explanation, "Michtam" means "Makaso Tamah" -- David ha'Melech was born "Mahul," with his Orlah already removed.

How can this be resolved with the Gemara in Menachos (43b) which says that when David ha'Melech entered the bathhouse wearing nothing and became distressed that he was void of Mitzvos, he was consoled and he rejoiced when he realized that he had the Mitzvah of Milah with him. If he was born Mahul, then the Milah that he had was *not* a Mitzvah that he performed! (MAHARSHA)

ANSWER: The MAHARSHA answers that the Gemara in Shabbos (135a; see Insights there) records a number of opinions whether a person who is born Mahul needs Hatafas Dam Bris or not. According to the opinion that such a person needs Hatafah, David ha'Melech rejoiced about the Mitzvah of Hatafah that was performed on him.

According to the opinion that such a person does not need Hatafah, the Maharsha writes that David ha'Melech was happy simply because he was not an Arel (even though he did not perform a Mitzvah of Milah through Kum v'Aseh).

The Acharonim find the Maharsha's answer difficult to accept. The Gemara in Menachos clearly implies that David ha'Melech was happy that there was a *Mitzvah* accompanying him and not merely that he was not an Arel. Indeed, the Gemara compares the Mitzvah of Milah that David ha'Melech had to the Mitzvos of Tefilin and Tzitzis. In addition, even according to the opinion that says that one born with a Milah needs Hatafah, nevertheless the Milah that made the visible change on his body did *not* reflect the Hatafah, which was the Mitzvah that was performed! How, then, could David ha'Melech view it as the Mitzvah that accompanied him everywhere?

One possible approach could be based on the words of the TESHUVOS MAHARACH OR ZARU'A. He explains that the reason why David ha'Melech rejoiced about having the Mitzvah of Milah -- even though his Mitzvah of Milah occurred many years before -- was because the Mitzvah of Milah is ongoing; as long as the Mitzvah is on one's flesh, one is considered to be fulfilling the Mitzvah. It is possible, then, that if a person is "Moshech Orlaso" and covers up his Milah, he no longer has the fulfillment of the Mitzvah of Milah since the Milah is no longer evident.

According to the opinion that one who is born Mahul needs Hatafah, the Mitzvah that he performs is not the Hatafas Dam Bris per se, but rather the Hatafah makes the Milah into a Milah of Bris instead of a natural Milah, and as long as he retains the Milah, he still retains the Bris, and having the Bris is the Mitzvah.

According to the opinion that oen who is born Mahul does not need Hatafah, when a Jewish baby is born without an Orlah, that also represents the Bris that Hashem has with the person, as long as the person does not tamper with it. Therefore, he will still be fulfilling the Mitzvah of Milah every moment through having the Bris as long as he does not cover it up.

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