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Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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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.


(a) "They returned from touring the land, and they went (to Moshe)" - this equates their going to their return,
1. Just as they returned with an evil counsel, they went with an evil counsel.
(b) (R. Yochanan) "And they said, 'We came ... but it is for naught, for the inhabitants are (too) strong" - any Lashon ha'Ra (slander) which does not include some truth at the beginning, will not last.
(c) (Rabah): "And Kalev hushed the nation towards Moshe" - he enticed them with words.
1. He had seen that when Yehoshua tried to speak, they silenced him - 'One whose head is cut off, will he speak?!'
2. He reasoned: If I defend Eretz Yisrael, they will silence me also.
3. He said: 'Is this the only thing Moshe did to us?!' They thought he was going to criticize Moshe, so they let him continue.
4. 'He took us out of Mitzrayim, he split the sea for us, he brought Man down for us - if he would tell us to make ladders and ascend to Heaven, shouldn't we listen!' "We will go up and inherit the land!"
5. (R. Chanina bar Papa): "The spies that went with him said 'We cannot ... he is stronger Mimenu'" - do not translate, 'than us', rather, 'than He'.
i. As if to say, the owner of the house cannot retrieve his vessels from his house.
(d) (Rava): "The land consumes its inhabitants" - Hash-m intended to help them, but they saw it as a bad thing.
1. Wherever the spies went, one of the important Kena'anim died; this distracted them, so they did not occupy themselves with the spies.
2. Others explain, Iyov had died, and all were busy eulogizing him.
(e) (Rav Mesharshiya): "We were as grasshoppers in our eyes, and also in their eyes" - this was a falsity!
1. They could know how they viewed themselves - but they could not know how the Kena'anim viewed them!
(f) Rejection: They could know! The Kena'anim would give a 1st meal to a mourner under a cedar tree; when the spies were seen, they climbed into trees. They heard the Kena'anim say that they saw ant-sized people in the trees.
(g) "The whole congregation raised their voices and cried" - it was the eve of the 9th of Av; Hash-m said, they cried for no reason, I will fix the day as a day of crying for generations.
(h) (R. Chiya bar Aba): "The whole congregation said that they will stone them (Yehoshua and Kalev); the honor of Hash-m appeared in the tent of meeting" - they threw stones up towards Hash-m.
(i) (Reish Lakish): "The men that gave a bad report of the land died harshly in a plague" - this was a bizarre death.
1. Opinion #1 (R. Chanina bar Papa): Their tongues hung out and stretched to their bellybuttons; worms came from their tongues and entered their bellybuttons and vice-versa.
2. Opinion #2 (Rav Papa): They died of croup.
(a) (Beraisa): Once the last Yisrael alighted from the Jordan, the water returned to its place - "As the Kohanim, carriers of the Aron alighted from the Jordan, their feet touched the dry land, the water returned as it used to be, on all its banks."
(b) The Aron, its carriers, and the Kohanim were on 1 side of the Jordan, and Yisrael were on the other side.
(c) "When Yisrael finished crossing, the Aron and the Kohanim passed in front of the nation" - the Aron carried its carriers.
1. Uza was punished for not learning from this - "When they came to the threshing floor of Kidon, Uza stuck out is hand to hold the Aron."
2. Hash-m rebuked him: The Aron can even carry its carriers - all the more so, it can carry itself! "Hash-m's anger flared at Uza; he struck him there on the Shal".
3. (R. Yochanan or R. Elazar): For his (Shelo) affairs.
4. (The other of R. Yochanan and R. Elazar): He relieved himself in front of the Aron.
5. (R. Yochanan): "He died there with the Aron of Hash-m" - This teaches that Uza came to the world to come.
i. Just as the Aron lasts forever, also Uza.
(d) (R. Elazar): "va'Yichar (it was distressing) to David that Hash-m made a breach by Uza" - his face turned white as a Chararah (cake).
(e) Question: Should we expound every occurrence of the word 'va'Yichar' this way?!
(f) Answer: In other places, it says 'va'Yichar Af' (his anger flared); here, it only says 'va'Yichar'.
(g) (Rava): David was punished because he called words of Torah 'songs' - "Your statutes were songs to me".
1. Hash-m rebuked him - "Words of Torah, by which it says "Wink your eye (for 1 moment, neglect) them, and they are gone" - you call them songs?! I will make you stumble in something which is known even to children learning from their Rebbi.
2. "He did not give (wagons) to (the Levi'im,) the children of Kehas, because they carry the most sanctified things (they will carry on their shoulders)", and David brought the Aron on a wagon.
(h) Question: "He struck the men of Beis Shemesh, because they saw the Aron" - is this a reason to strike them?!
(i) Answer #1 (R. Avahu or R. Elazar): They bowed to it without pausing from reaping.
(j) Answer #2 (The other of R. Avahu and R. Elazar): They also spoke disrespectfully - 'Who angered you (the Aron, that you allowed yourself to be captured), and who appeased you (that you returned on your own)?

(k) (R. Avahu or R. Elazar): "He struck among the people 70 men and 50,000 men" - 70 died, and each was worthy as 50,000;
(l) (The other of R. Avahu and R. Elazar): 50,000 died, and each was worthy as 70, the Sanhedrin.
(m) Contradiction: 1 verse says "When the carriers of the Aron took 6 steps, they sacrificed a bull and a fattened bull"; a 2nd verse says "7 bulls and 7 rams"!
(n) Answer #1: (Rav Papa bar Shmuel): After each step, a bull and fattened bull; after every 6 steps, 7 bulls and 7 rams.
1. Objection (Rav Chisda): If they sacrificed after every step, the whole land would be full of private altars!
(o) Answer #2 (Rav Chisda): After every 6 steps, a bull and fattened bull; after every 6 sets of steps, 7 bulls and 7 rams.
(p) Contradiction: 1 verse says "(The threshing floor of) Kidon"; another verse calls it "Nachon"!
(q) Answer (R. Yochanan): First it was Kidon (as a spear, i.e. it caused Uza's death), later it was Nachon (it established the family of Oved Edom with many children).
(a) (Beraisa): There were 3 sets of rocks.
1. Moshe set up rocks in Mo'av - "In Mo'av, Moshe started to explain"; we learn a Gezeirah Shavah from "You will write on (the rocks) the Torah (well explained)."
2. Yehoshua set up 12 rocks in the Jordan.
3. Yehoshua set up 12 other rocks in Gilgal.
(b) (Beraisa - R. Yehudah): "You will write on the rocks this entire Torah" - they wrote on the rocks, and later plastered over it.
1. Question (R. Shimon): If so, how were the Nochrim able to learn it?
2. Answer (R. Yehudah): Hash-m gave them extra cleverness. They sent scribes who peeled off the plaster and copied the Torah.
i. Since they had the opportunity to learn, but did not, they were condemned to Gehinom.
(c) R. Shimon says, they wrote the Torah over the plaster; at the bottom, they wrote "(You will kill the 7 Kena'ani nations) so they will not teach you to do as (their abominations)".
1. This shows, if Kena'anim outside of Eretz Yisrael (whom we did not have to kill) wanted to convert, we would have accepted them.
(d) (Rabah bar Shila): R. Shimon learns from "The nations will be as fired plaster" - on account of affairs of plaster.
1. R. Yehudah explains, they are as plaster - just as plaster can only be fixed through fire, Nochrim can only be purified through fire (of Gehinom).
(e) Question: As which Tana is the following?
(f) (Beraisa): "And you will capture a captive (and desire her)" - this includes Kena'anim in Chutz la'Aretz, that we accept them as converts.
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