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Sotah, 35

SOTAH 31-35 - These Dafim have been dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham-Fauer in honor of the first Yahrzeit (18 Teves 5761) of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi (Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing the study of the Talmud be l'Iluy Nishmaso.


QUESTION: The Gemara expounds the verse, "And they went, and they returned" (Bamidbar 13:26), and says that "just like the Meraglim returned with evil plans, when they departed they already had the evil intentions." This is also evident from the Gemara earlier (34b) which says that the names of the Meraglim (which the Torah lists) hinted to the evil intentions that they had before they departed.

RASHI on the Chumash (Bamidbar 13:3), on the other hand, explains that when the Meraglim were chosen, the verse says that they were all "Anashim," meaning that they were esteemed people and they were righteous at the time.

How can this be reconciled with our Gemara that says that they were Resha'im from the outset?

ANSWERS: The OR HA'CHAIM suggests a number of answers to this question.

(a) The verse (Bamidbar 13:2) says that Hashem told Moshe, "Send men for you" ("Shelach Lecha Anashim"), implying that the Meraglim were only "Anashim" in the eyes of Moshe Rabeinu but not in the eyes of Hashem. Hashem saw deep in their hearts that they were not really the Tzadikim that Moshe Rabeinu thought they were. (See also KLI YAKAR.)

(b) The Or ha'Chaim suggests further that when Hashem said, "Send men for you," it means that only while they were standing in front of Moshe Rabeinu were they Tzadikim. The moment they started to leave they became Resha'im. That is why their names allude to their sin.

The Or ha'Chaim explains why the Meraglim changed so drastically. There is a principle that "Shali'ach Shel Adam Kemoso," the Shali'ach of a person is like him (the sender). The Mishnah in Berachos (34a) states that if a Shali'ach Tzibur makes a mistake while Davening, it is a bad sign for those on behalf of whom he is Davening. The meaning behind this is that what the Shali'ach does is influenced by the traits of the person who sent him. Therefore, if he makes a mistake, it is because the person who sent him was not deserving, and not because of the Shali'ach's own lack of merits. Hashem told Moshe Rabeinu that he should be the one to send the Meraglim, since Moshe Rabeinu had proper intentions for sending Meraglim to Eretz Yisrael (in order to encourage the people, by telling them about the splendor of Eretz Yisrael). However, the rest of the nation had evil intentions when they asked that Meraglim be sent (Rashi to Devarim 1:22). The nation was afraid of war. The Meraglim went as emissaries of the nation and not as emissaries of Moshe Rabeinu, and therefore they were influenced by the evil intentions of the nation, so that they themselves became corrupt as soon as they accepted the Shelichus of the people. (See also MAHARAL in Gur Aryeh, Parshas Shelach.)

David ha'Melech was punished for calling Divrei Torah "Zemiros" (Tehilim 119:54). Hashem said, "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 made him forget an explicit verse as a result of treating Divrei Torah like Zemiros.

How can this Gemara be reconciled with the Gemara in Eruvin (18b) that 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! How can the Gemara say that "Zemiros" refer to Divrei Torah, if it is prohibited to treat Divrei Torah like Zemiros?

Similarly, in a number of places the Torah is referred to as "Shirah," or "song" (Nedarim 38a, Chagigah 12b).


(a) The MAHARSHA in Eruvin (18b) answers that the verse there is referring to one who learns Torah at night, when it is quiet and he can be heard from a distance (see Rashi there). Regarding this point, Divrei Torah that are learned at night can be compared to Zemiros, since they can be heard from a distance, just like Zemiros can be discerned from a distance. In contrast, Torah that is learned during the day should not be compared to Zemiros.

This also explains the Gemara in Chagigah, which is also referring only to Torah that is learned at night.

However, the Gemara in Nedarim is referring to the Torah in general when it calls it a "Shirah," and not necessarily when it is learned at night.

(b) David ha'Melech was criticized for calling Divrei Torah "Zemiros," because calling the Torah "song" implies that the Torah flows easily from the lips without concentration and without constant effort. In order to truly acquire Divrei Torah, a person must put effort into it in order for the Torah to remain with him. This criticism is appropriate when describing Torah that is learned Lishmah. When Torah is not learned Lishmah, but rather simply in order to reach a particular goal, the Torah indeed is comparable to "Zemiros" and it does not become a part of the person.

The Gemara in Eruvin might be saying that even Torah which is learned at night in order that it be heard from a distance (to acquire honor) also protects one's house from harm. The Gemara in Chagigah, which says that a person who learns Divrei Torah at night merits having a "Chut Shel Chesed" during the day, might be referring to a person who learns Torah even she'Lo Lishmah. (See the Gemara earlier on 21a that says that even Torah she'Lo Lishmah protects a person from suffering, both in Olam ha'Zeh and in Olam ha'Ba; see Insights there.)

The Gemara in Nedarim which discusses the verse (Devarim 31:19) in which Hashem commands Moshe Rabeinu to teach the "Shirah," meaning the Torah, to the Jewish people, so that the Torah that they learn will be testimony for them that they will be punished if they transgress the Torah. That might also be discussing Torah she'Lo Lishmah, Torah learned in order to receive reward and to avoid punishment. David ha'Melech, who found in the joy of learning Torah comfort during times of suffering (see Rashi), was learning Torah Lishmah, and therefore he should not have described his Divrei Torah as "Zemiros."


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