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Sotah, 47

SOTAH 47, 48 - have been anonymously dedicated by a very special Marbitz Torah and student of the Daf from Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.


QUESTION: The Gemara relates the story of the young sinners who condemned Elisha the Navi and how Hashem punished them. Hashem caused two bears to come out of a forest and attack the sinners. The Gemara says that according to one opinion, Hashem made both the bears and the forest -- it was a "Nes b'Toch Nes," a miracle within a miracle. The Gemara asks why Hashem had to make a forest as part of the Nes that He made in order to punish the sinners? The Gemara answers that He made the forest so that the bears would not be afraid to attack (since bears are afraid to attack in the open).

Why could Hashem not simply create bears that were not afraid to attack in the open?

ANSWER: RAV CHAIM KANIEVSKY, shlit'a, in SEFER TA'AMA D'KRA quotes his father, the STEIPLER GA'ON, zt'l, who explains that the reason Hashem created a forest, and did not simply create bears that were unafraid, was to teach the sinners a lesson. The reason why the sinners cursed Elisha was because they claimed that he had deprived them of their livelihood. They thought that it was their own hard work that provided them with their livelihood. When Elisha made the waters become sweet and made it no longer necessary for them to draw water for the nearby town, they viewed Elisha as the one who caused them to lose their Parnasah.

The truth, though, is that whenever a person earns a Parnasah, it is a Nes. It is a decree from Shamayim and is not a natural occurrence; it is simply clothed within nature so that it looks natural. Since the way that a person receives a Parnasah is clothed within nature, the sinners in the time of Elisha did not recognize that it was Hashem who have them their Parnasah. Therefore, in order to show them their error, Hashem made one obvious miracle and brought about bears to attack them, and then He made a second miracle -- He made a forest so that the bears would be able to attack in a natural way. In this manner, Hashem clothed the obvious miracle (the bears) in a natural environment (the forest), so that the sinners would realize that everyone person's livelihood is also a "Nes b'Toch Nes," a miracle within nature (which is itself a miracle). Hashem was showing them that they were unjustified in condemning Elisha for depriving them of their livelihood, because it is Hashem who would give it to them, or take it away from them, whether or not the neighboring waters were sweet. (See another approach in MINCHAS SOTAH.)


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