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Yevamos, 16

YEVAMOS 16 (7 Teves) - Dedicated by Yaakov Wollner and family, of Baltimore, Maryland, in memory of Yitzchok Yisroel Daniel.


Yonasan ben Hurkenos said to Rebbi Akiva, "You are the Akiva whose name goes from one end of the world to the other end (mi'Sof ha'Olam Ad Sofo)!..."

The MITZPEH EISAN points out that the Gematria of the words, "mi'Sof Olam Ad Sofo," is 564, which is the number of times that Rebbi Akiva is mentioned in the Mishnayos. The Halachah follows the opinion of Rebbi Akiva 375 times, which is equal to the Gematria of "Sha'ah," as in "ha'Sha'ah Omedes Lo" ("the time is fortuitous for him"). Also, the Gemara in Gitin (67a) refers to Rebbi Akiva as "Otzer Balum" (an organized storehouse of wisdom), the Gematria of which is 375.

(There seems to be a mistake in the transmission of this Gematria, because in our Mishnayos a computer search turns up the name of Rebbi Akiva 338 times. Perhaps what he meant to say is that the Gematria of the words, "mi'Sof" and "Sofo" (without the words "ha'Olam Ad") is exactly 338, and that the Gematria of one of those two words is equal to the number of times the Halachic ruling follows Rebbi Akiva.)

Rebbi Dosa ben Hurkenos told his three distinguished guests, Rebbi Yehoshua, Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, and Rebbi Akiva, that he heard three Halachos that Chagai ha'Navi taught. Those three Halachos were that "Tzaras ha'Bas" (the Tzarah of the daughter of the surviving brother) is prohibited to do Yibum, people in the lands of Amon and Moav must give Ma'aser Ani during the Shemitah year, and that we accept converts from the Tarmodi'im.

The ARUCH LA'NER explains why Rebbi Dosa chose to teach these three Halachos in particular to his guests. He says that each Halachah was addressed to one of the guests, in the order in which they entered to visit him. Rebbi Dosa's intention was to correct mistakes in Halachah that his guests had made.

The Halachah that "Tzaras ha'Bas" is prohibited was directed towards Rebbi Yehoshua. Rebbi Yehoshua was the first who entered, leading the delegation of Tana'im who came to question the supposed ruling of Rebbi Dosa concerning "Tzaras ha'Bas." It was Rebbi Yehoshua (on 15b) who did not want to rule concerning the case of "Tzaras ha'Bas," excusing himself by saying that he did not want to put his head "between the mountains" who argue about it. Rebbi Dosa told him that he did not have to be afraid to rule that "Tzaras ha'Bas" is prohibited. (It could be that Rebbi Yehoshua did not want to rule openly on the issue against the opinion of Beis Shamai because of the incident recorded in Chagigah 22b.)

The second Halachah that Rebbi Dosa related -- that the people in the lands of Amon and Moav must separate Ma'aser Ani during the Shemitah year -- was directed towards Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah. It was Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah who discussed that Halachah in Maseches Yadayim (4:3) and said that one must separate Ma'aser Sheni, and not Ma'aser Ani, during the Shemitah year in the lands of Amon and Moav. (Perhaps during their prior discussion of various Halachos the conversation turned to this Halachah and Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah expressed his opinion on the matter.)

The third Halachah -- that we accept converts from the Tarmodi'im -- was directed towards Rebbi Akiva. Rebbi Akiva (49a) ruled that a child produced through a union with a Chiyuv Lav (and not only a Chiyuv Kares) is a Mamzer. Consequently, according to Rebbi Akiva, the child born from a Jewish woman and a Nochri is a Mamzer, and that is why we may not accept converts from the Tarmodi'im (see Tosfos 16b DH Kasavar). Rebbi Dosa corrected him and said, in the name of Chagai ha'Navi, that we may accept converts from the Tarmodi'im, because the Halachah is that a union with a Chiyuv Lav does not produce a Mamzer.

(The Halachah follows the rulings of Rebbi Dosa in all three cases.)

QUESTION: Yonasan ben Hurkenos, when he outwitted Rebbi Akiva, exclaimed, "Happy are you that you merited such a reputation, and you still have not yet reached the rank of cattle shepherd (Ro'ei Bakar)." Rebbi Akiva responded, "I have not even reached the level of shepherds of sheep (Ro'ei Tzon)!"

Why did Yonasan ben Hurkenos compare Rebbi Akiva to "Ro'ei Bakar?"


(a) The MAHARSHA points out that Amos ha'Navi said about himself, "I am a cattle shepherd" (Amos 7:14). Yonasan ben Hurkenos was saying to Rebbi Akiva that although Rebbi Akiva might have received a tradition from Chagai ha'Navi saying one thing, he did not have a tradition from an earlier Navi -- Amos, the "cattle shepherd" -- but only from a later Navi. Perhaps the earlier Nevi'im had ruled like he, Yonasan, said. Rebbi Akiva responded, "A tradition from Chagai is even more authoritative than one from Amos. A tradition from any Navi is like one stemming directly from the 'shepherd of sheep'" -- referring to Moshe Rabeinu (Shemos 3:1)!

(b) The ARUCH LA'NER explains that Rebbi Akiva, before he started to learn Torah, actually had been the shepherd of Kalba Savua (Kesuvos 62b), and Yonasan was trying to remind him of that. Rebbi Akiva responded, in his humility, that he had not even reached the rank of less reputable shepherds, such as shepherds of sheep (Ro'eh Behemah Dakah"), who are suspected of allowing their charges to graze in the fields of others (see Sanhedrin 26a, Bava Kama 79b).

(c) MAHARITZ CHIYUS cites an explanation that he heard, which points out that according to the Gemara in Berachos (63a) Rebbi Akiva declared a leap year while he was living outside of Eretz Yisrael. Several Tana'im were not pleased with him for doing so, since it is the job of Beis Din in Eretz Yisrael to do so.

The Tana says in Pirkei d'Rebbi Elazar (chapter 8) that even if there are great Tzadikim and Talmidei Chachamim in Chutz la'Aretz and in Eretz Yisrael there are only shepherds, the shepherds in Eretz Yisrael should determine the leap year rather than the Talmidei Chachamim outside of Eretz Yisrael. (The Gemara in Sanhedrin (18b, 26a) says that even "Ro'ei Tzon and Ro'ei Bakar" may declare a leap year.) Yonasan ben Hurkenos was reprimanding Rebbi Akiva for declaring a leap year outside of Eretz Yisrael by telling him that with regard to declaring leap years, "you are not even as authoritative as Ro'ei Bakar [in Eretz Yisrael]!"


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