THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) RECEIVING BENEFIT FROM A "RASHA"
QUESTION: The Gemara mentions that Yael had relations with Sisera in order to
make him weary. The Gemara asks how could she do such a thing, deriving
pleasure from doing an Aveirah? The Gemara answers that any good or pleasure
received from Resha'im is abhorred by Tzadikim. The Gemara cites proof for
this from the verse in which Hashem warned Lavan not to speak to Yakov
"neither good nor bad" (Bereishis 31:24). Why, asks the Gemara, was Lavan
warned not to say anything *good* to Yakov? From here the Gemara proves that
even the good words of Resha'im are bad to the Tzadikim.
2) HASHEM'S WARNING TO LAVAN
The Gemara proceeds to ask what "bad" would Yakov have to endure if Lavan
would speak good things to him? The Gemara answers that perhaps Lavan would
mention the name of an Avodah Zarah while speaking to Yakov. The Gemara then
asks what "bad" was there in the pleasure of the act that Yael did with
Sisera? The Gemara answers that "he infused her with Zuhama" (a form of
RASHI explains that the reason why any good of a Rasha is bad for a Tzadik is
because the Tzadik hates Resha'im, and the Tzadik's sensitivities are
disgusted by any benefit that he receives from a Rasha. Therefore, the
benefit is not at all pleasurable to him.
Why does Rashi say this? The Gemara itself gives completely different reasons
for why the good words of Lavan would be bad for Yakov, and why the pleasure
of the act with Sisera was abhorrent to Yael. The Gemara does not say, as
Rashi says, that even Lavan's good words, and even the pleasure from Sisera,
were bad for Yakov and Yael respectively because they were disgusted with the
Resha'im! Why does Rashi say this? (CHESHEK SHLOMO)
ANSWER: RASHI was bothered by the wording of the Gemara. Rebbi Yochanan says
that "all of the good [given by] the Resha'im is bad for the Tzadikim." He
was clearly stating a general rule and not referring to any specific case.
What is the reason that in *every* situation of a benefit provided by a Rasha
for a Tzadik, the benefit is bad for the Tzadik? If, as the Gemara says, it
is because the Rasha might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah, or the Rasha
might infuse the Tzadik with "Zuhama," those reasons will not apply to many
situations -- such as when a Rasha gives a present to a Tzadik without
talking to him and without having any other interaction with him! Why, then,
in *all* cases should the good of a Rasha be bad for the Tzadik?
It must be that there is a more general reason behind this statement. Rashi
informs us that the reason is because Tzadikim are so disgusted by Resha'im
that any good that they receive from the Resha'im is abhorrent to them. (See
also IYUN YAKOV.)
However, according to this, why does the Gemara ask what bad was there in the
case of Lavan and in the case of Yael? According to Rashi's words, it is
obvious why Yakov did not want to receive any good from Lavan, and why any
pleasure derived from Sisera was not pleasurable to Yael!
The answer is that Rashi's logic only explains why the Tzadik *does not
derive pleasure* from any benefit received from a Rasha. However, the
Tzadik's disgust does not actually cause him pain; it just causes him not to
experience pleasure from what is given to him by a Rasha. As Rashi puts it,
because the Tzadik abhors receiving benefit from a Rasha, "Lav Hana'ah Hi,"
he does not derive pleasure from it.
The Gemara's question is why did Hashem have to command Lavan not to speak
even good to Yakov. If Yakov will simply not derive pleasure from the good
that Lavan does for him, then what harm will from that? Why did Hashem have
to warn Lavan not to do it? The Gemara answers that the harm involved, in
this case, was that Lavan might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah and
thereby disturb the Tzadik by causing him to hear the name of an Avodah
But in the case of Yael, why does the Gemara ask what detriment there was in
the act with Sisera? Who says that Yael suffered some detriment; perhaps she
simply did not enjoy the act, but she also did not suffer from it?
TOSFOS (103a, DH v'Ha) explains that when the Gemara asks how could Yael
derive pleasure from an Aveirah, it is referring to the Gemara in Nazir (23b)
which lists Yael's act was a classic example of an "Aveirah performed
Lishmah." The Gemara here is asking that if Yael derived benefit and enjoyed
the act that she did with Sisera, then it cannot be called entirely Lishmah!
Consequently, when the Gemara answers that Sisera infused her with "Zuhama,"
the Gemara means that if Yael merely had not had any pleasure from the act
with Sisera, it would not have been an act done Lishmah. Her act would not
have been anymore Lishmah than any other act done for a positive purpose.
What made it Lishmah was that not only did she not have pleasure, but she
even *suffered* from the act and was still willing to do it for the sake of
saving the Jewish people. How did she suffer, the Gemara wants to know. It
answers that she suffered from the "Zuhama" that the Rasha infused into her.
There is still another question, though. If, in the case of Lavan, there was
a detriment to Yakov because Lavan might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah,
then how could the Gemara prove from Lavan that *all* benefits of Resha'im
are bad for Tzadikim? Perhaps it is only a benefit such as Lavan's that is
bad for Tzadikim, where the Rasha might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah!
The answer is that if Yakov Avinu would have enjoyed a benefit that Lavan did
for him or gave to him, then even though Lavan might also mention the name of
an Avodah Zarah, the benefit would have offset the detriment of hearing the
name of an Avodah Zarah. As such, Hashem would not have commanded Lavan not
to do or say something good to Yakov. It is because Yakov would *only* be
hurt by any benefit from Lavan that Hashem warned Lavan not to speak "good or
bad" with Yakov. Accordingly, we can prove from there that the Tzadik is
indeed disgusted by any benefit given to him by a Rasha and he does not enjoy
it. (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that Hashem warned Lavan not to speak to Yakov
"either good or bad" (Bereishis 31:24) in order that Yakov not hear the name
of an Avodah Zarah that Lavan might mention while speaking to him. RASHI
gives an example of such a statement spoken by Lavan in which he mentions
Avodah Zarah. When Lavan accused Yakov of stealing his Terafim, he said, "Why
did you steal my gods?" (Bereishis 21:20), referring to his Avodah Zarah.
Rashi in Horayos (10b) explains that Hashem wanted tp prevent Lavan from
*swearing* in the name of an Avodah Zarah, and that is why He warned Lavan
not to speak at all to Yakov.
3) THE SHOE OF AN IDOL
The MAHARSHA in Horayos asks, how could it be that this is what Hashem was
warning Lavan not to do? We know that Lavan was careful not to transgress
what Hashem commanded him, for Lavan himself admitted that had Hashem not
warned him not to, he might have harmed Yakov (ibid. 31:29). It seems clear
that Lavan was careful to obey Hashem's command. If Lavan listened to
Hashem's command, then how could it be that Hashem warned him not to say the
name of an Avodah Zarah? Lavan *did* do that, and he would not have done it
if Hashem had commanded him not to! The same question may be asked according
to Rashi in Horayos. We see that Lavan *did* swear in the name of an Avodah
Zarah, saying, "May the... god of Nachor judge between us..." (Bereishis
31:53, and Rashi there)! We see that he was not careful to avoid swearing in
the name of Avodah Zarah! How could it be, then, that Hashem warned Lavan not
to say these things?
(a) RAV YAKOV EMDEN (in HAGAHOS HA'YA'AVETZ) explains that when Rashi says
that Lavan said, "Why did you steal my gods," Rashi is just giving an example
to show that Lavan was accustomed to use the name of Avodah Zarah all the
time. However, this particular mention of Avodah Zarah was not "good" or
"bad," and thus Lavan did not transgress the command of Hashem by speaking in
this manner to Yakov.
This answer is difficult to understand, because it seems clear that this
statement of Lavan *was* "bad," for he was accusing Yakov Avinu of stealing
(b) The ARUCH LA'NER explains that the Maharsha's question on Rashi in
Horayos does not begin. There was nothing wrong with swearing in the name of
"the god of Nachor," since Lavan did not swear *only* in the name of that
god, but he also mentioned the name of Hashem ("May the G-d of Avraham and
the god of Nachor judge between us..."). TOSFOS in a number of places (see
Bechoros 2b) mentions that a Nochri is commanded only against making an oath
in the name of Avodah Zarah alone. He is not prohibited from swearing in the
name of Hashem, together with the name of an Avodah Zarah. Since Lavan
mentioned the name of Hashem with the name of the Avodah Zarah, he was not
doing any Isur and he was not transgressing what Hashem had commanded him.
Regarding the words of Rashi in our Sugya, the Aruch la'Ner explains that
Rashi is not really saying that the name of Avodah Zarah that Lavan mentioned
was in his statement, "Why did you steal my gods." Rather, Rashi is
explaining, like he does in Horayos, that Lavan was told not to swear in the
name of Avodah Zarah. Rashi here is answering a question: how do we know that
Lavan actually considered his Terafim to be gods? Perhaps he just considered
them to be symbolic figureheads. Rashi quotes this verse to show that Lavan
actually considered them to be gods, and therefore there was cause for
concern that he might swear in the name of Avodah Zarah.
(c) Another approach may be suggested as follows. Lavan, it seems, deluded
himself into misconstruing what Hashem commanded him. This is evident from a
simple reading of the verses. Hashem told Lavan, "Do not *speak* to Yakov,
either good or bad" (Bereishis 31:24). Lavan, however, when justifying
himself to Yakov, said, "I have the power *to harm you*, but Hashem told me
last night, 'Be careful not to speak with Yakov, good or bad'" (Bereishis
31:29). Lavan obviously told himself that when Hashem told him not to "speak"
to Yakov good or bad, He meant not to "speak *to do*" to Yakov good or bad
(i.e. not to threaten Yakov with physical harm or bribe him with financial
gain). That is why Lavan was careful not to actually threaten to do harm to
Yakov. However, he did feel comfortable *speaking* good or bad to Yakov (i.e.
accusing him etc.), and in that regard he did not fulfill the command of
The Gemara explains that Hashem's command was to be taken at face value, that
Lavan was not to *speak* good or bad to Yakov. Lavan did not heed that part
of the command because in his wickedness, he took the command of Hashem out
of its literal meaning and permitted himself to speak with Yakov harshly, as
long has he did not *do* bad to Yakov. (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTION: Rava rules that one may not perform Chalitzah with the shoe of
Avodas Kochavim ("Sandal Shel Avodas Kochavim"). If one, however, did
Chalitzah with such a shoe, the Chalitzah is valid b'Di'eved.
The Gemara (104a) says that the shoe used for Chalitzah must be one that is
made to be used for walking. The shoe of an idol, though, is obviously not
used for walking. Why, then, is the Chalitzah performed with such a shoe a
(a) RASHI explains that the shoe was actually placed on the foot of the idol
and remained there while the idol was moved from place to place. Apparently,
even though the Avodah Zarah is just a piece of stone, the shoe is considered
"made for walking" since the shoe is protecting its stone foot from being
harmed by the ground below it as the idol is moved from place to place.
(b) The RITVA rejects this explanation of Rashi, because being moved from
place to place is not called "walking." Indeed, the verse says that idols do
not walk: "They have feet but they do not walk" (Tehilim 115:7)!
The Ritva explains instead that the shoe of an idol refers to a shoe that was
used originally by a person for walking, and then it was donated to the idol
and placed upon the foot of the idol. Since until now it was used for
walking, it is called "made for walking."
Apparently, Rashi rejected this explanation because if the shoe on the idol
is not considered "made for walking," then after the shoe is given to the
idol and placed upon the idol's feet, it can no longer be considered used for
walking at all. If someone removes the shoe from the foot of the idol and
walks in it, he would thereby annul its use as serving the Avodah Zarah (a
concept called "Biutl"). By giving it to the Avodah Zarah, one shows that he
does not want to use it for walking anymore, and thus its original use is
It could be that the argument between the Ritva and Rashi is how to define a
shoe that is made for walking. Does "made for walking" describe the *usage*
of the shoe, or does it describe the *type* of shoe?
Rashi seems to hold that "made for walking" means that it is *used* for
walking. Therefore, it must actually be used for walking in order to qualify
as a shoe for Chalitzah. It does not make a difference if it is a shoe that
was once walked in; if it is no longer being used for walking, then it is not
considered a shoe "made for walking" and it is not valid for Chalitzah.
Rather, it must actually be used for walking now.
The Ritva argues and says that "made for walking" refers to the *type* of
shoe that a person wears for walking. If it was once worn by a person and
used for walking, that makes it a type of shoe that is made for walking. Even
though now it is placed on the idol, we know that an item does not lose its
status unless there is a change in the physical make-up of the item. For
example, Kelim that are Mekabel Tum'ah do not become Tahor and lose their
status as Kelim unless there is a Shinuy Ma'aseh (they must be changed
physically, Shabbos 52b). If a person simply decides to use it for a
different use, it does not change the status of the item. Likewise, this shoe
remains a shoe "made for walking" even though it is placed on the foot of an
idol and is not being used for walking anymore. It is still the same shoe.