Friday, July 02, 2004

Slika La Maseches Betza; Taanis; Rosh Hashona; Shabbos; Makos; + 1 perek in bava kama + 1 in megilla

;
הדרן עלך ביצה!
הדרן עלך יום טוב!
הדרן עלך אין צדין!
הדרן עלך המביא!
הדרן עלך משילין!
וסליקא לה מסכת ביצה!
(prakim 1-5 yerushalmi betza)

הדרן עלך מאימתי!
הדרן עלך סדר תעניות!
הדרן עלך סדר תעניות!
הדרן עלך בשלשה פרקים!
וסליקא לה מסכת תענית!
(prakim 1-4 yerushalmi taanis)

הדרן עלך ארבעה ראשי שנים!
הדרן עלך אם אינן מכירין!
הדרן עלך ראוהו בית דין!
הדרן עלך יום טוב!
וסליקא לה מסכת ראש השנה!
(prakim 1-4 yerushalmi rosh hashana)

הדרן עלך כיצד העדים!
הדרן עלך אילו הן הגולין!
הדרן עלך אילו הן הלוקין!
וסליקא לה מסכת מכות!
(prakim 1-3 yerushalmi makkos)

הדרן עלך מגילה נקראת!
(1st perek yerushalmi megilla)

הדרן עלך ארבעה אבות נזיקין!
(1st perek yerushalmi bava kama)

and I finally finished the 7th perek of shabbos, thus rounding out the masechta!
הדרן עלך כלל גדול!
וסליקא לה מסכת שבת!

Thursday, July 01, 2004

Parshat Balak: the land of the children of his people


A map of Israel from the time of King David Posted by Hello

The above map, taken from this web site, should be useful in this dvar torah.

Sometimes things seem obvious to me but I haven't seen mentioned by anyone.

In the beginning of parshat Balak, we are told that Balak sends messengers to Bilam:
Bamidbar 22:5
וַיִּשְׁלַח מַלְאָכִים אֶל-בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעֹר, פְּתוֹרָה אֲשֶׁר עַל-הַנָּהָר אֶרֶץ בְּנֵי-עַמּוֹ--לִקְרֹא-לוֹ: לֵאמֹר, הִנֵּה עַם יָצָא מִמִּצְרַיִם הִנֵּה כִסָּה אֶת-עֵין הָאָרֶץ, וְהוּא יֹשֵׁב, מִמֻּלִי.
"And he sent messengers unto Balaam the son of Beor, to Pethor, which is by the River, [to] the land of the children of his people, to call him, saying: 'Behold, there is a people come out from Egypt; behold, they cover the face of the earth, and they abide over against me."


What does this mean, "[to] the land of the children of his people." Some suggest that Balak was originally from that land (Aram?) and thus is sending home for help.

[to] is in brackets because is is added in the translation, and can be misleading.

I would suggest that there is a nun sofit missing or which is not needed. We are talking of things which are happening in Moab. Next to it is the land of Ammon. Look at the map above and see the various rivers in the vicinity. The Arnon river lies between the words (not necessarily the lands of?) Ammon and Moab. Yabbok river is by Rabat Benei Ammon, higher up. Even higher up is the Yarmuk river. And the Jordan river connects the sea of Kineret to the Dead Sea.

{Update July 2005: It would seem that the Arnon river formed the northern border of Moav, and the Yabbok river the southern border of Ammon, and between was the territory the Emorites had/had captured for themselves, now conquered by the Israelites.}


So the pasuk might be saying that this is Petor by the River in the land of Ammon. So Moav sent to their close neighbors for advice.

Why call is Eretz Benei Ammo?

If we look at the origin of these two nations, the two daughters of Lot bore to their father children. One boy was named Moav since he came "from father" and the other was called Ben-Ami, "son of my nation."

These gave rise to two nations, Moav, and Benei Ammon. (The Benei Ammon not to mean children of Ammon, but rather the plural of Ben Ami.)


{Update, July 2005: Meanwhile, consider Devarim 23:4-5:

ד לֹא-יָבֹא עַמּוֹנִי וּמוֹאָבִי, בִּקְהַל ה: גַּם דּוֹר עֲשִׂירִי, לֹא-יָבֹא לָהֶם בִּקְהַל ה עַד-עוֹלָם. 4 An Ammonite or a Moabite shall not enter into the assembly of the LORD; even to the tenth generation shall none of them enter into the assembly of the LORD for ever;
ה עַל-דְּבַר אֲשֶׁר לֹא-קִדְּמוּ אֶתְכֶם, בַּלֶּחֶם וּבַמַּיִם, בַּדֶּרֶךְ, בְּצֵאתְכֶם מִמִּצְרָיִם; וַאֲשֶׁר שָׂכַר עָלֶיךָ אֶת-בִּלְעָם בֶּן-בְּעוֹר, מִפְּתוֹר אֲרַם נַהֲרַיִם--לְקַלְלֶךָּ. 5 because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Aram-naharaim, to curse thee.
Aram Naharim = Mesopotamia
perhaps to be continued.
}

A late dvar for parshat Chukas: For what sin was Moshe punished?

The most common assumption is that Moshe was punished for striking the rock, instead of speaking to it.

However, I do not think this is so clear from the psukim. After all, in the original command, Moshe was told to take his staff.
Bamidbar 20:8

קַח אֶת-הַמַּטֶּה, וְהַקְהֵל אֶת-הָעֵדָה אַתָּה וְאַהֲרֹן אָחִיךָ, וְדִבַּרְתֶּם אֶל-הַסֶּלַע לְעֵינֵיהֶם, וְנָתַן מֵימָיו; וְהוֹצֵאתָ לָהֶם מַיִם מִן-הַסֶּלַע, וְהִשְׁקִיתָ אֶת-הָעֵדָה וְאֶת-בְּעִירָם.
'Take the rod, and assemble the congregation, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes, that it give forth its water; and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock; so thou shalt give the congregation and their cattle drink.'


Moshe takes the staff, speaks to the *people*, and hits the rock, twice.

וַיִּקַּח מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַמַּטֶּה, מִלִּפְנֵי יְהוָה, כַּאֲשֶׁר, צִוָּהוּ.
And Moses took the rod from before the LORD, as He commanded him.

וַיַּקְהִלוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן, אֶת-הַקָּהָל--אֶל-פְּנֵי הַסָּלַע; וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, שִׁמְעוּ-נָא הַמֹּרִים--הֲמִן-הַסֶּלַע הַזֶּה, נוֹצִיא לָכֶם מָיִם.
And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said unto them: 'Hear now, ye rebels; are we to bring you forth water out of this rock?'

וַיָּרֶם מֹשֶׁה אֶת-יָדוֹ, וַיַּךְ אֶת-הַסֶּלַע בְּמַטֵּהוּ--פַּעֲמָיִם; וַיֵּצְאוּ מַיִם רַבִּים, וַתֵּשְׁתְּ הָעֵדָה וּבְעִירָם.
And Moses lifted up his hand, and smote the rock with his rod twice; and water came forth abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their cattle.

Perhaps the way one "speaks" to a rock is by hitting it. And perhaps he was told to take the staff for the purpose of hitting the rock.

In the past, miracles were done with the staff, either by striking things or waving it over them.

Consider Shemot 7 for example.

17:
כֹּה, אָמַר ה, בְּזֹאת תֵּדַע, כִּי אֲנִי ה: הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מַכֶּה בַּמַּטֶּה אֲשֶׁר-בְּיָדִי, עַל-הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר בַּיְאֹר--וְנֶהֶפְכוּ לְדָם.
thus saith the LORD: In this thou shalt know that I am the LORD--behold, I will smite with the rod that is in my hand upon the waters which are in the river, and they shall be turned to blood.


and in 20:
וַיַּעֲשׂוּ-כֵן מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה ה, וַיָּרֶם בַּמַּטֶּה וַיַּךְ אֶת-הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר בַּיְאֹר, לְעֵינֵי פַרְעֹה, וּלְעֵינֵי עֲבָדָיו; וַיֵּהָפְכוּ כָּל-הַמַּיִם אֲשֶׁר-בַּיְאֹר, לְדָם.
"And Moses and Aaron did so, as the LORD commanded; and he lifted up the rod, and smote the waters that were in the river, in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants; and all the waters that were in the river were turned to blood."

with the plague of frogs it seems he just let it hover over the water:

Shemot 8:

וַיֹּאמֶר ה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, אֱמֹר אֶל-אַהֲרֹן נְטֵה אֶת-יָדְךָ בְּמַטֶּךָ, עַל-הַנְּהָרֹת עַל-הַיְאֹרִים וְעַל-הָאֲגַמִּים; וְהַעַל אֶת-הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
"And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Stretch forth thy hand with thy rod over the rivers, over the canals, and over the pools, and cause frogs to come up upon the land of Egypt.' "


but this stretching out might also convey hitting. For the next plague, lice, we see:

וַיֹּאמֶר ה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, אֱמֹר אֶל-אַהֲרֹן, נְטֵה אֶת-מַטְּךָ וְהַךְ אֶת-עֲפַר הָאָרֶץ; וְהָיָה לְכִנִּם, בְּכָל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
"And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Say unto Aaron: Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats throughout all the land of Egypt.'"


Thus, hitting things with the staff to accomplish miracles is not farfetched, nor is it, of necessity, to be considered a lack of faith.

Yet, Moshe and Aharon (both of whom were told to gather and speak to the rock) are punished for a lack of faith of sorts:

Bamidbar 20:12-13

וַיֹּאמֶר ה, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה וְאֶל-אַהֲרֹן, יַעַן לֹא-הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם בִּי, לְהַקְדִּישֵׁנִי לְעֵינֵי בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל--לָכֵן, לֹא תָבִיאוּ אֶת-הַקָּהָל הַזֶּה, אֶל-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר-נָתַתִּי לָהֶם.
הֵמָּה מֵי מְרִיבָה, אֲשֶׁר-רָבוּ בְנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת-ה; וַיִּקָּדֵשׁ, בָּם.
And the LORD said unto Moses and Aaron: 'Because ye believed not in Me, to sanctify Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.'
These are the waters of Meribah, where the children of Israel strove with the LORD, and He was sanctified in them.


Meanwhile, elsewhere, Hashem seems to more explicitly tell Moshe to hit the rock.
Shemot 17:1-7

וַיִּסְעוּ כָּל-עֲדַת בְּנֵי-יִשְׂרָאֵל מִמִּדְבַּר-סִין, לְמַסְעֵיהֶם--עַל-פִּי ה; וַיַּחֲנוּ, בִּרְפִידִים, וְאֵין מַיִם, לִשְׁתֹּת הָעָם.
וַיָּרֶב הָעָם, עִם-מֹשֶׁה, וַיֹּאמְרוּ, תְּנוּ-לָנוּ מַיִם וְנִשְׁתֶּה; וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, מֹשֶׁה, מַה-תְּרִיבוּן עִמָּדִי, מַה-תְּנַסּוּן אֶת-ה.
וַיִּצְמָא שָׁם הָעָם לַמַּיִם, וַיָּלֶן הָעָם עַל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר, לָמָּה זֶּה הֶעֱלִיתָנוּ מִמִּצְרַיִם, לְהָמִית אֹתִי וְאֶת-בָּנַי וְאֶת-מִקְנַי, בַּצָּמָא.
וַיִּצְעַק מֹשֶׁה אֶל-ה לֵאמֹר, מָה אֶעֱשֶׂה לָעָם הַזֶּה; עוֹד מְעַט, וּסְקָלֻנִי.
וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, עֲבֹר לִפְנֵי הָעָם, וְקַח אִתְּךָ, מִזִּקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; וּמַטְּךָ, אֲשֶׁר הִכִּיתָ בּוֹ אֶת-הַיְאֹר--קַח בְּיָדְךָ, וְהָלָכְתָּ.
הִנְנִי עֹמֵד לְפָנֶיךָ שָּׁם עַל-הַצּוּר, בְּחֹרֵב, וְהִכִּיתָ בַצּוּר וְיָצְאוּ מִמֶּנּוּ מַיִם, וְשָׁתָה הָעָם; וַיַּעַשׂ כֵּן מֹשֶׁה, לְעֵינֵי זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
וַיִּקְרָא שֵׁם הַמָּקוֹם, מַסָּה וּמְרִיבָה: עַל-רִיב בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, וְעַל נַסֹּתָם אֶת-ה לֵאמֹר, הֲיֵשׁ ה בְּקִרְבֵּנוּ, אִם-אָיִן
And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, by their stages, according to the commandment of the LORD, and encamped in Rephidim; and there was no water for the people to drink.
Wherefore the people strove with Moses, and said: 'Give us water that we may drink.' And Moses said unto them: 'Why strive ye with me? wherefore do ye try the LORD?'
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said: 'Wherefore hast thou brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?'
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying: 'What shall I do unto this people? they are almost ready to stone me.'
And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Pass on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thy hand, and go.
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink.' And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
And the name of the place was called Massah, and Meribah, because of the striving of the children of Israel, and because they tried the LORD, saying: 'Is the LORD among us, or not?'


So, in another, parallel instance, he was told to hit the rock. Thus, while it is possible that hitting the rock was the sin (which demonstrated some lack of faith), it does not seem absolute.

Further, are we sure that the aforementioned instance is not the same as the one we just read. In both instances they need water for them and their cattle, Moshe does not know what to do, Hashem tells him what to do, he hits the rock, and water comes out. In BaMidbar these are called the waters of Meriva, and in Shemot the place is called Masa (testing) and Meriva.

I would suggest it is the same event.

But, Bamidbar has Moshe going to the Ohel Moed, which would be contructed after Matan Torah, since the Mishkan was contructed after Matan Torah. Meanwhile, in the Shemot story no reference to Ohel Moed is mentioned. Further, it is after the Song at the Sea and the beginning of the Manna. However, we could note that Ain Mukdam Umeuchar BaTorah, that the events described in the Torah are not necessarily organized in chronological order. After all, immediately following is Yisro, and some say that he came after hearing of the giving of the Torah, because Ain Mukdam Umeuchar BaTorah.

What then would be the sin for which Moshe and Aharon are punished. Perhaps for their words. They had opportunity to bring the Jews closer to Hashem - to say Hashem loves them, and will provide for them. Instead, they chastise them. (HeEmantem = cause others to believe).

Also, in their words they may be casting doubt that Hashem, or them will provide.

וַיַּקְהִלוּ מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן, אֶת-הַקָּהָל--אֶל-פְּנֵי הַסָּלַע; וַיֹּאמֶר לָהֶם, שִׁמְעוּ-נָא הַמֹּרִים--הֲמִן-הַסֶּלַע הַזֶּה, נוֹצִיא לָכֶם מָיִם.
"And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said unto them: 'Hear now, ye rebels; are we to bring you forth water out of this rock?'"

That is, what do you expect of us? To get water out of this rock? Instead of saying "Hashem said He will bring water from this rock."

Also, perhaps it is a failure in Moshe and Aharon's personal faith, not in hitting the rock or speaking to the people, but in the initial reaction to the people's complaint.

In Bamidbar 20:

וַיָּבֹא מֹשֶׁה וְאַהֲרֹן מִפְּנֵי הַקָּהָל, אֶל-פֶּתַח אֹהֶל מוֹעֵד, וַיִּפְּלוּ, עַל-פְּנֵיהֶם; וַיֵּרָא כְבוֹד-ה, אֲלֵיהֶם
"And Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly unto the door of the tent of meeting, and fell upon their faces; and the glory of the LORD appeared unto them."


As the Midrash notes, they went from before the congregation, that is, they ran from before them. Then they fall on their faces. Perhaps they displayed their own lack of confidence that Hashem could provide this.

Just to note, in parshat Behaalotecha, by the quail, Moshe displays some lack of confidence that Hashem could provide all this:

Hashem says he will provide meat for the people...
Bamidbar 11:19-20

לֹא יוֹם אֶחָד תֹּאכְלוּן, וְלֹא יוֹמָיִם; וְלֹא חֲמִשָּׁה יָמִים, וְלֹא עֲשָׂרָה יָמִים, וְלֹא, עֶשְׂרִים יוֹם.
עַד חֹדֶשׁ יָמִים, עַד אֲשֶׁר-יֵצֵא מֵאַפְּכֶם, וְהָיָה לָכֶם, לְזָרָא: יַעַן, כִּי-מְאַסְתֶּם אֶת-יְהוָה אֲשֶׁר בְּקִרְבְּכֶם, וַתִּבְכּוּ לְפָנָיו לֵאמֹר, לָמָּה זֶּה יָצָאנוּ מִמִּצְרָיִם.
"Ye shall not eat one day, nor two days, nor five days, neither ten days, nor twenty days;
but a whole month, until it come out at your nostrils, and it be loathsome unto you; because that ye have rejected the LORD who is among you, and have troubled Him with weeping, saying: Why, now, came we forth out of Egypt?'"

Moshe then expresses doubts:

וַיֹּאמֶר, מֹשֶׁה, שֵׁשׁ-מֵאוֹת אֶלֶף רַגְלִי, הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי בְּקִרְבּוֹ; וְאַתָּה אָמַרְתָּ, בָּשָׂר אֶתֵּן לָהֶם, וְאָכְלוּ, חֹדֶשׁ יָמִים.
הֲצֹאן וּבָקָר יִשָּׁחֵט לָהֶם, וּמָצָא לָהֶם; אִם אֶת-כָּל-דְּגֵי הַיָּם יֵאָסֵף לָהֶם, וּמָצָא לָהֶם.
"And Moses said: 'The people, among whom I am, are six hundred thousand men on foot; and yet Thou hast said: I will give them flesh, that they may eat a whole month!
If flocks and herds be slain for them, will they suffice them? or if all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, will they suffice them?'"


To which Hashem replies:

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, הֲיַד יְהוָה תִּקְצָר; עַתָּה תִרְאֶה הֲיִקְרְךָ דְבָרִי, אִם-לֹא.
"And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Is the LORD'S hand waxed short? now shalt thou see whether My word shall come to pass unto thee or not.'"


Thus we see elsewhere Moshe expressed doubts. Perhaps here as well Moshe was not confident that Hashem could provide sufficient water for all the people.

Update: Jon from Yeshiva blog suggests that the fault was that Moshe and Aharon took credit for the miracle, saying that *we* (rather than Hashem) will bring forth water from the rock.

There is actually a parallel to that in midrash, as regards the destruction of Sodom, where the angels were faulted for taking credit for destroying Sodom when it was really Hashem who would be doing the destroying.

Bereishit 19:13:

כִּי-מַשְׁחִתִים אֲנַחְנוּ, אֶת-הַמָּקוֹם הַזֶּה: כִּי-גָדְלָה צַעֲקָתָם אֶת-פְּנֵי ה, וַיְשַׁלְּחֵנוּ ה לְשַׁחֲתָהּ.
for we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxed great before the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.'


where we see later, in verses 24 and 25 that Hashem and not the angels destroyed it:

וַה, הִמְטִיר עַל-סְדֹם וְעַל-עֲמֹרָה--גָּפְרִית וָאֵשׁ: מֵאֵת ה, מִן-הַשָּׁמָיִם.
וַיַּהֲפֹךְ אֶת-הֶעָרִים הָאֵל, וְאֵת כָּל-הַכִּכָּר, וְאֵת כָּל-יֹשְׁבֵי הֶעָרִים, וְצֶמַח הָאֲדָמָה.
"Then the LORD caused to rain upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven;
and He overthrow those cities, and all the Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground."

Still, you would need to account for the "have not beleived in me" (לֹא-הֶאֱמַנְתֶּם) part of the verse; perhaps the answer would be as I suggested above, that it is the causative - did not cause others to beleive in Me.

Friday, June 18, 2004

Updated: The Aberdeen Bestiary

is a manuscript, written and illuminated in England around 1200.

Here is a page from the Bestiary in which it discusses mice:



From the text:
Of mice

The mouse is a puny animal; its name, mus, comes from the Greek, the Latin word deriving from it. Others say mures, mice, because they are produced ex humore, from the damp soil, of the earth; for humus means earth and from that comes mus, mouse. Their liver grows bigger at full moon, like the tides rise then fall with the waning of the moon.


The import of the above quoted (and bolded) text is that it is a description of spontaneous generation: mice produced from the damp soil. This was one belief about the spontaneous generation of mice. The other was that they were spontaneously generated from rotting wheat.

To that end, I should note that the middle picture on the page is that of the mouse, and the commentators on this Aberdeen Bestiary project note that the grey circles about the mouse are most probably meant to be wheat.

Why is this important? Because it is a 12th century manuscript. The Rambam lived in the 12th century, and so this can tell us a bit about the scientific beliefs of his time.

Why should we care what the contemporary scientific beliefs in the time of the Rambam were? Here comes the controversy...

Rabbi Avi Shafran penned an excellent article for Aish.com, in which he contrasted two attitudes of scientists. For years, reports of seeing giant quid (in the range of 60 feet) had been dismissed as legend. He quotes a French zoologist:

Just a few years before the monstrous tentacle was obtained and the giant squid passed from the realm of myth to reality, Arthur Mangin, a French zoologist, dismissed sailors' claims that they had seen the animal, urging that "the wise, and especially the man of science, not admit into the catalogue those stories which mention extraordinary creatures... the existence of which would be... a contradiction of the great laws of harmony and equilibrium which have sovereign rule over living nature."


He contrasts this to the Rambam, who discusses a Mishna in his commentary on the Mishna.

The Mishna discusses the laws of impurity involved in a particular sheretz - a mouse, half of which is flesh and half of which is earth. If you touch the part of flesh you contact ritual impurity, and if you touch the part of earth you do not.

The Rambam writes:

"...the existence of [such a creature] is something well-known; countless people have told me that they have seen it, even though the existence of such a living creature is incomprehensible and cannot be explained in any way." [Commentary to the Mishna, Chullin, chapter 9]"


That is, even though it is incomprehensible and defies scientific explanation, the Rambam is willing to believe eye-witness reports of the animal's existence. As Rabbi Shafran writes,

"Both are compelled to state that the reports before them defy scientific explanation. But whereas Mangin counsels a final rejection of the possibility that the report he received might have merit, Maimonides -- even as he notes the inadequacy of scientific knowledge to explain what he has heard - takes pains to allow for the incomprehensible."


This is a nice point, and in fact accords with a scientific attitude. Even though you cannot explain some phenomenon, you do not dismiss is as impossible when you encounter it. You investigate the phenomenon, as well as your assumptions.

(Now, later some rabbi actually went to the Nile to investigate claims of such creatures, and spent several days trying to catch them, and came to the conclusion that they were just dirty mice.)

Unfortunately, Rabbi Shafran casts this in terms of spontaneous generation. That is, the Rambam had reason to doubt their existence because the Mishna was describing the spontaneous generation of mice from earth, and in those days they knew that mice were not spontaneously generated.

In fact, the proofs against spontaneous generation of fruit flies, and frogs (and questioning about mice) all happened in the late 17th century, while in the 12th century they still believes in all this. Evidence of this is the Aberdeen Bestiary above.

Rather, I would say the Rambam (and probably the Mishna as well) were discussing fantastic creatures of 1/2 earth and 1/2 flesh. Nowhere is any mention of spontaneous generation made, and the Rambam should have no reason to doubt the spontaneous generation of mice.

In the comments section on Protocols on this post, I write more about this.

Basically, Shmarya of FailedMessiah took Rabbi Shafran to task, complaining that since spontaneous generation had been scientifically disproved, the Rambam is not being a scientist in his attitude, but is rather defending the Talmud against modern science.

I pointed out that spontaneous generation had hardly been disproven in the Rambam's day, for Rambam was 12th century, and it was disproven in 17th century. (At the least, then, if the Rambam was defending it on spontaneous generation grounds, it would not be denying "proven scientific fact.") Thus, it is likely the Rambam was not dealing with spontaneous generation. Secondly, that this is indeed a scientific attitude - to believe countless eyewitness reports to accept that perhaps such a creature exists. And thirdly, that it is very hard to believe this of the Rambam, who often sides with contemporary science over the cures/scientific attitudes in the gemara.

Anyway, hopefully, that explains why I posted this link and picture. All right, I also posted it because I thought it looked nice... :)

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Parshat Korach: Miracles and the natural order

It has been a tough week at work, leaving little time for parshablogging. I spent much of the week considering the issue of miracles and the natural order.

There is an assumption that miracles are outside of the natural order. That does not mean that, in Jewish tradition, there are no bounds. For example, Hashem lays out some guidelines as to how He interacts with the world, and sticks within those boundaries even while performing miracles.

Consider. The creation of Man, and Woman from the first Man, was miraculous. However, we see an interesting Midrash on Bereishit. Chava (Eve) had already eaten of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge, and was trying to get Adam to eat of the fruit as well. Adam does eat of the fruit, and Hashem punishes him, saying, (Bereishit 3:17: כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ, "'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife."

The full pasuk is:

וּלְאָדָם אָמַר, כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ, וַתֹּאכַל מִן-הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לֵאמֹר לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ--אֲרוּרָה הָאֲדָמָה, בַּעֲבוּרֶךָ, בְּעִצָּבוֹן תֹּאכְלֶנָּה, כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ.
And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying: Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.


A Midrash I mention in the group of midrashic texts in the post below offers two competing explanations of what exactly Chava did to persaude Adam to eat the fruit.

וּלְאָדָם אָמַר, כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ רבי שמלאי אומר בישוב הדעת באת עליו א"ל מה את סבר שאני מתה וחוה אחרת נבראת לך (קהלת א) (וְ)אֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ מה את סבור שאני מתה ואתה יושב לך הטליס (ישעיה מה) לֹא-תֹהוּ בְרָאָהּ, לָשֶׁבֶת יְצָרָהּ רבנן אמרין התחילה מיללת עליו בקולה הה"ד ולאדם אמר כי שמעת לדברי אשתך אין כתיב כאן אלא לקול אשתך וגו

Rabbi Simlai says, with a thought-out argument she came upon him. She said to him, 'What do you think? That I will die and another Eve will be created for you? (Kohelet 1:9) There is nothing new under the sun*! What do you think? That I will die and you will sit in solitude? (Isaiah 45:18) 'He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited.'

The rabbis responded, she began to wail with her voice. This is what is written, 'And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife...'


The verse from Kohelet reads in full:
מַה-שֶּׁהָיָה, הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה, וּמַה-שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה, הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה; וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.
"That which hath been is that which shall be, and that which hath been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun."


On a pshat level, it means that there is no real purpose in trying to innovate or gather wealth or really accomplish anything, because life and history are cyclical, and all that is done will be undone, and was done by others before you.

However, on a midrashic level, וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ, "there is nothing new under the sun," or I would say the entire pasuk, is saying that all that will be made or will exist is that which has existed in the past, and is talking about Hashem's creation. That is, there was a period of Creation in which Hashem created the world and the various creatures.

This is what Chava's argument seems based upon. In terms of *Creation*, in this pasuk Hashem is promising that all Creatures that are to be miraculously created have been Created during the 6 days of Creation. Thus, Chava says, you cannot expect Hashem to create a new Chava for you out of another of your ribs.

(In terms of violating laws of physics Created in the Genesis, that is another matter, which this Midrash on this pasuk in Koheleth does not seem to directly address.)

This is an issue in parashat Korach as well. Moshe seems to call for a new creation to destroy Datan and Aviram.

Bamidbar 16:28-31ff
וַיֹּאמֶר, מֹשֶׁה, בְּזֹאת תֵּדְעוּן, כִּי-ה שְׁלָחַנִי לַעֲשׂוֹת אֵת כָּל-הַמַּעֲשִׂים הָאֵלֶּה: כִּי-לֹא, מִלִּבִּי.
אִם-כְּמוֹת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יְמֻתוּן אֵלֶּה, וּפְקֻדַּת כָּל-הָאָדָם, יִפָּקֵד עֲלֵיהֶם--לֹא ה, שְׁלָחָנִי.
וְאִם-בְּרִיאָה ה, וּפָצְתָה הָאֲדָמָה אֶת-פִּיהָ וּבָלְעָה אֹתָם וְאֶת-כָּל-אֲשֶׁר לָהֶם, וְיָרְדוּ חַיִּים, שְׁאֹלָה--וִידַעְתֶּם, כִּי נִאֲצוּ הָאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה אֶת-ה.
וַיְהִי, כְּכַלֹּתוֹ, לְדַבֵּר, אֵת כָּל-הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה; וַתִּבָּקַע הָאֲדָמָה, אֲשֶׁר תַּחְתֵּיהֶם.
"And Moses said: 'Hereby ye shall know that the LORD hath sent me to do all these works, and that I have not done them of mine own mind.
If these men die the common death of all men, and be visited after the visitation of all men, then the LORD hath not sent Me.
But if the LORD make a new thing, and the ground open her mouth, and swallow them up, with all that appertain unto them, and they go down alive into the pit, then ye shall understand that these men have despised the LORD.'
And it came to pass, as he made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground did cleave asunder that was under them."


So, Moshe seems to be asking for Hashem to make a new Creation - a mouth for the Earth.

Let us see Midrash Rabba on Bamidbar, on parashat Korach.
דרש רבא מאי דכתיב (במדבר טז) אם בריאה יברא ה' אמר משה רבון העולמים אם בריאה גיהנם מוטב ואם לאו יברא ה' למאי אילימא למברייה ממש והכתיב (קהלת א) אין כל חדש תחת השמש אלא לאקרובי פיתחא

Rava darshened, the pasuk states, אם בריאה יברא ה, "If Hashem creates a Creation..." Moshe said, Master of the Universe, if Gehennim was created - אם בריאה, well and good. And if not, יברא ה, Hashem should create. How so? If to actually create, the verse in Kohelet stated that אין כל חדש תחת השמש, there is nothing new under the sun. Rather, to bring the mouth of the earth near.


Rava is deconstructing the pasuk. One can read it on a pshat level - if Hashem creates a new creation, then it will show something - namely, that Hashem sent Moshe. However, Midrashically, אם בריאה need not mean "If a creation," to be followed by a verb, but rather can be taken, in a grammatically accurate matter (working really locally) to mean "If it has been created." יברא ה still means "Hashem should create." But why should Hashem create if it has been created? Thus, the two phrases are separate. If it has been created, then nothing needs be done but bring it forth. If not, Hashem should create.

I have a feeling that this is really the extent of Rava's drash. The question and answer seems stamaitic in nature to me. It asks, on the second possibility, how Hashem could make a new Creation after the 6 days of Creation, and answers that a new Creation is not meant, but rather the miraculous phenomenon of the mouth coming closer. That is, the mouth to Gehinnom is usually in one spot, and here it was moved closer, to their actual location.

This question and answer is not present in Midrash Rabba in Devarim. Further, the first part of the Midrash that Rava says is in Hebrew while the question and answer is in Aramaic. Further, this problem of "nothing new under the sun" is *specifically* that problem of being created during the 6 days of Creation or not. That is the plain meaning/import behind Rava's drash. If it was Creation, no big deal. If not, even though in general You do not Create things anew, here please do so.

We see this reflected in Pirkei Avot:

Ten things were created at twilight on the eve of the first Sabbath:
the mouth of the earth (Numbers 16:32);
the mouth of the well (Numbers 21:16);
the mouth of the ass (Numbers 22:28);
the rainbow;
the manna;
Aaron's staff;
the Shamir, writing;
the inscription on the tablets of the Ten Commandments;
and the tablets themselves.
Some also include the evil spirits, the grave of Moses, the ram of Abraham; and others add the original tongs, for tongs must be made with tongs.


"Twilight on the eve of the first Sabbath" means just as the last of the 6 days of Creation was going out, Hashem created it. Why? Because there was to be "nothing new under the sun," so anything that would in the future go out of the bounds was not really - Hashem already created it.

This goes according to אם בריאה - if it had already been created. The opposite opinion would naturally be that this mouth was created later, not that it had been created but Moshe was asking for it to be moved over.

Perhaps more later. It is 12:30 and I've had a long day...

ISRAEL CREATES SUPER-TOMATO (from Arutz Sheva)

An Israeli company has genetically created a super-tomato, one that can withstand a virus that devastates tomato crops every year the world over.

Hazera Genetics, an Israeli seed breeder, launched the world's first tomato strain that is immune to the ‘Yellow Lead Curl Tomato Virus,' according to a report in The Marker. The resistant tomato, called ‘Tracie’ by its researchers, is a breakthrough for tomato farmers, especially those cultivating the long-lived species that thrive over long periods rather than specific seasons. The resistant breed can be grown in open, ventilated hothouses throughout the summer, which reduces costs and improves both the quality of the fruit and the crop size.

Dr. Alon Haverfeld, who manages Hazera’s tomato seeds division, predicts that profits will be high. Dr. Haverfeld stated that price per kilogram of seed would range from $20,000 to $30,000, with the company aiming to reach sales of $1 million next year, and $5-7 million within three to four years.

Tomato Yellow Lead Curl Virus, or TYLCV, is devastating to Israeli tomato farmers. No resistant strains have been found since the plague first erupted in the 1930s, and conventional insecticides proved ineffective at preventing the spread of the virus. The result was a severe blow to the cultivation of tomatoes in open fields in favor of hermetically sealed hothouses. TYLCV affects tomato crops throughout the Mediterranean region, the Middle East and tropical areas of Africa and Central America. In Israel, cultivation of tomatoes in sealed hothouses has the downside of creating moisture and overheating problems.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Wow

Powerful interview with David N. Weiss, the scriptwriter for Shrek 2, over at Aish.com. (via the Town Crier)

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Source texts for a class in Midrash I am giving this coming Monday

Midrash Rabba Bereishit Parasha 20

וּלְאָדָם אָמַר, כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ רבי שמלאי אומר בישוב הדעת באת עליו א"ל מה את סבר שאני מתה וחוה אחרת נבראת לך (קהלת א) (וְ)אֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ מה את סבור שאני מתה ואתה יושב לך הטליס (ישעיה מה) לֹא-תֹהוּ בְרָאָהּ, לָשֶׁבֶת יְצָרָהּ רבנן אמרין התחילה מיללת עליו בקולה הה"ד ולאדם אמר כי שמעת לדברי אשתך אין כתיב כאן אלא לקול אשתך וגו'

Bereishit 3:17:
וּלְאָדָם אָמַר, כִּי-שָׁמַעְתָּ לְקוֹל אִשְׁתֶּךָ, וַתֹּאכַל מִן-הָעֵץ, אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִיךָ לֵאמֹר לֹא תֹאכַל מִמֶּנּוּ--אֲרוּרָה הָאֲדָמָה, בַּעֲבוּרֶךָ, בְּעִצָּבוֹן תֹּאכְלֶנָּה, כֹּל יְמֵי חַיֶּיךָ.
And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying: Thou shalt not eat of it; cursed is the ground for thy sake; in toil shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.


Kohelet 1:9
מַה-שֶּׁהָיָה, הוּא שֶׁיִּהְיֶה, וּמַה-שֶּׁנַּעֲשָׂה, הוּא שֶׁיֵּעָשֶׂה; וְאֵין כָּל-חָדָשׁ, תַּחַת הַשָּׁמֶשׁ.
"That which hath been is that which shall be, and that which hath been done is that which shall be done; and there is nothing new under the sun."


Isaiah 45:18:
כִּי כֹה אָמַר-ה בּוֹרֵא הַשָּׁמַיִם הוּא הָאֱלֹקִים, יֹצֵר הָאָרֶץ וְעֹשָׂהּ הוּא כוֹנְנָהּ--לֹא-תֹהוּ בְרָאָהּ, לָשֶׁבֶת יְצָרָהּ; אֲנִי ה, וְאֵין עוֹד.
"For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens, He is God; that formed the earth and made it, He established it, He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD, and there is none else."


Rabbi Simlai says, with a thought-out argument she came upon him. She said to him, 'What do you think? That I will die and another Eve will be created for you? (Kohelet 1:9) There is nothing new under the sun*! What do you think? That I will die and you will sit in solitude? (Isaiah 45:18) 'He created it not a waste, He formed it to be inhabited.'

The rabbis responded, she began to wail with her voice. This is what is written, 'And unto Adam He said: 'Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife...'

Midrash Rabba Devarim parasha 4:
א"ר אבין לא בקשה אלא לבכות וליילל עליו בקולה ואכל ממנו שכך כתיב לקול אשתך לדברי אשתך אין כתיב כאן אלא לקול אשתך
R Avin said, she did did not attempt anything except to cry and wail upon him with her voice and he ate from it, as it states, 'To the voice of your wife.' 'To the words of your wife is not written here, but to the voice of your wife.'


* There is nothing new under the sun probably means there can be nothing new created after the 6 days of creation.



Midrash Rabba Shemot parasha 10:

וַתַּעַל הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ וַתְּכַס אֶת וגו' תני רבי עקיבא אומר צפרדע אחת היתה והיא
השריצה ומלאה את ארץ מצרים אמר לו רבי אלעזר בן עזריה עקיבא מה לך אצל הגדה כלה מדברותיך ולך אצל נגעים ואהלות צפרדע אחת היתה ושרקה להן ובאו.

Shemot 7:27-28
וְאִם-מָאֵן אַתָּה, לְשַׁלֵּחַ: הִנֵּה אָנֹכִי, נֹגֵף אֶת-כָּל-גְּבוּלְךָ--בַּצְפַרְדְּעִים.
וְשָׁרַץ הַיְאֹר, צְפַרְדְּעִים, וְעָלוּ וּבָאוּ בְּבֵיתֶךָ, וּבַחֲדַר מִשְׁכָּבְךָ וְעַל-מִטָּתֶךָ; וּבְבֵית עֲבָדֶיךָ וּבְעַמֶּךָ, וּבְתַנּוּרֶיךָ וּבְמִשְׁאֲרוֹתֶיךָ
"And if thou refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite all thy borders with frogs.
And the river shall swarm with frogs, which shall go up and come into thy house, and into thy bed-chamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine ovens, and into thy kneading-troughs."


Shemot 8:2-4:
וַיֵּט אַהֲרֹן אֶת-יָדוֹ, עַל מֵימֵי מִצְרָיִם; וַתַּעַל, הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ, וַתְּכַס, אֶת-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
וַיַּעֲשׂוּ-כֵן הַחַרְטֻמִּים, בְּלָטֵיהֶם; וַיַּעֲלוּ אֶת-הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, עַל-אֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם.
וַיִּקְרָא פַרְעֹה לְמֹשֶׁה וּלְאַהֲרֹן, וַיֹּאמֶר הַעְתִּירוּ אֶל-יְהוָה, וְיָסֵר הַצְפַרְדְּעִים, מִמֶּנִּי וּמֵעַמִּי; וַאֲשַׁלְּחָה, אֶת-הָעָם, וְיִזְבְּחוּ, ה.
"And Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt; and the frogs came up, and covered the land of Egypt.
And the magicians did in like manner with their secret arts, and brought up frogs upon the land of Egypt.
Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said: 'Entreat the LORD, that He take away the frogs from me, and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice unto the LORD.'"


'And the frog[s] came up, and (it) covered, etc'. A brayta (See Sanhedrin page 67): R Akiva says, a single frog there was and she multiplied and filled the land of Egypt.

Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya said to him, Akiva, what have you to do with Haggada? End your words and go to (the Laws) of (the impurities) of Skin Ailments and Tents. (Rather,) there was a single frog and she whistled* to them and they came.

Tanchuma Vaera, 14:

כתוב אחד אומר וְשָׁרַץ הַיְאֹר, צְפַרְדְּעִים, וכתוב אחד אומר וַתַּעַל הַצְּפַרְדֵּעַ. רבי עקיבא אומר, צפרדע אחת היתה, והיו המצרים מכין אותה ומתזת צפרדעים הרבה.

One verse states 'And the river shall swarm with frogs' and the other verse states, 'And the frog(s) came up.' Rabbi Akiva says, it was a single frog, and the Egyptians would hit it and it spit out many frogs.

*שרקה (whistled) = I would claim there is a drash from Sharatz, with the voiced Tzadi switching with the voiced Kuf. Letters in consonantal groups switch off with one another.

Updates on parshat Shlach divrei torah

I updated two of my divrei Torah from last week. First, I found a local source for the midrash of Calev's threats to the other spies.

Second, I reconsidered the dual etymology of Nachal Eshkol, and saw it was more of a solution to another issue than a problem in its own right.

Follow the links for details...

Friday, June 11, 2004

Shlach #3: Hoshea --> Yehoshua

In the list of the spies Moshe sends to spy out the land...

Bamidbar 13:8
לְמַטֵּה אֶפְרָיִם, הוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן.
"Of the tribe of Ephraim, Hoshea the son of Nun."


and then, in pasuk 16:
אֵלֶּה שְׁמוֹת הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר-שָׁלַח מֹשֶׁה לָתוּר אֶת-הָאָרֶץ; וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לְהוֹשֵׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, יְהוֹשֻׁעַ.
"These are the names of the men that Moses sent to spy out the land. And Moses called Hoshea the son of Nun Joshua."


This is something of a big deal. Consider the following pasuk, when Hashem tells His name to Moshe:

Shemot 6:2-3
וַיְדַבֵּר אֱלֹקִים, אֶל-מֹשֶׁה; וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו, אֲנִי ה.
וָאֵרָא, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם אֶל-יִצְחָק וְאֶל-יַעֲקֹב--בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי; וּשְׁמִי ה, לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם.
"And God spoke unto Moses, and said unto him: 'I am YKVK;
and I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, as God Almighty (Kel Shakkai), but by My name YKVK I made Me not known to them.


Thus, Hashem tells His name YKVK, to Moshe.
There is backup to the assertion that this name was not known before.

A theophoric name is literally one which "carries God." That is, it is a name which contains the name of God in it. We see many such theophoric names in Chumash.

Examples: Shlumiel ben Tzurishaddai, עַמִּיאֵל בֶּן-גְּמַלִּי, סְתוּר בֶּן-מִיכָאֵל, גְּאוּאֵל בֶּן-מָכִי.

However, all those names use the divine names Shakkai and Kel. There is another form of theophoric name, which used Yeho or Yahu in the beginning or end. For example, Yirmiya -> Yirmiyahu. Yechonia -> YehoYachin. Tzidkiyahu. Shallum -> (I would claim) Shelemyahu. And we see Baruch ben Neryah had the theophoric name (they found a signet ring) Berechyahu ben Neryahu.

However, this is in Tanach in general. In Chumash we do not seem to find this. (One exception comes to mind - Yehuda - but that is not what the Yehu in the beginning of his name means.) In Chumash, all we find are the other names of God in theophoric names.

I would claim this shows the truth in Hashem's statement.
וָאֵרָא, אֶל-אַבְרָהָם אֶל-יִצְחָק וְאֶל-יַעֲקֹב--בְּאֵל שַׁדָּי; וּשְׁמִי ה, לֹא נוֹדַעְתִּי לָהֶם
Indeed, we see the Israelites only knew Hashem by the names Kel and Shakkai, and that is what made it into their theophoric names.

Meanwhile, Moshe was introduced to Hashem's name of YKVK, which corresponds to the Yeho/Yahu beginning and ending, and he is the one who gives Hoshea his theophoric name, and uses the Yeho beginning to form Yehoshua.

I just thought this was all really cool...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

Parshat Shlach #2:

Bamidbar 13:23

וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל, וַיִּכְרְתוּ מִשָּׁם זְמוֹרָה וְאֶשְׁכּוֹל עֲנָבִים אֶחָד, וַיִּשָּׂאֻהוּ בַמּוֹט, בִּשְׁנָיִם; וּמִן-הָרִמֹּנִים, וּמִן-הַתְּאֵנִים.
"And they came unto the valley of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it upon a pole between two; they took also of the pomegranates, and of the figs."


The midrash rabba on parashat shlach states:
וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל - לא רצו לטל מפרות ארץ ישראל. אלולי כלב ששלף את הזין וירץ לפניהם ואמר להם אם אין אתם נוטלים או אתם הורגים אותי או אני הורג אתכם, לא היו נוטלים. אִם-לֹא הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרְכָה רַגְלְךָ בָּהּ, לְךָ תִהְיֶה
"And they came unto the valley of Eshcol" - they did not wish to take from the fruits of the land of Israel. Had not Caleb unsheathed his sword and ran in front of them and said to them, 'If you do not take (the fruits to show to the Israelites), either you will kill me or I will kill you,' they would not have taken. (Then it cites the verse from Yehoshua, '...Surely the land whereon thy foot hath trodden shall be ___ to thee..." (the word inheritance from the full verse is not in the citation, so I left it out of the translation.)

The full verse in sefer yehoshua is:

Yehoshua 14:9
וַיִּשָּׁבַע מֹשֶׁה, בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא לֵאמֹר, אִם-לֹא הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרְכָה רַגְלְךָ בָּהּ, לְךָ תִהְיֶה לְנַחֲלָה וּלְבָנֶיךָ עַד-עוֹלָם: כִּי מִלֵּאתָ, אַחֲרֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי.
"And Moses swore on that day, saying: Surely the land whereon thy foot hath trodden shall be an inheritance to thee and to thy children for ever, because thou hast wholly followed the LORD my God."


Why am I citing this midrash? Three reasons. First, I think it is exciting. Second, it fits in with a post I made earlier this week, about putting one's own life at risk to save another person's life.

There, I translated the following yerushalmi:
Rabbi Ami was captured by bandits. Rabbi Yonatan said, the dead one will be wrapped in his sheets. {that is, there is no way to save him.}

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, 'I will kill or be killed' (lit: Until I kill (or) I will be killed. i.e. I will try to save him, by killing all his captors, or will die in the process. We know from elsewhere that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish was a bandit, skilled in weapons, before he repented and became a scholar.) I will go and save him by force.

He went and persuaded them (convinced them to turn R Ami over, perhaps with threats) and they gave him over to him.

He (Resh Lakish) said to them (the bandits) go to the Old One (Rabbi Yochanan) and he will pray for you. They went to Rabbi Yochanan (note, this is *not* Rabbi Yonatan of before, unless it is a typo.)

He (R Yochanan) said to them, 'that which was in your hearts to do to him should come to pass on you.' They did not reach Apipsiros before they all went (died).


This is the same language as that used by Calev. Either you will kill me or I will kill you. It shows that you will stand up forcefully for something. Perhaps this midrash can be used to show how the phrase is used in the gemara, which can perhaps help determine what the halacha is on this matter.

Thirdly, I'm interested in how the prooftext from Yehoshua supports the midrash.

The commentaries address this (having to do with where the spies wanted to go, and Calev being rewarded with the land as an inheritance for going where they did not, which really does not fit in well with the midrash and specifically the taking of the fruit, Calev's action of unsheathing his sword, and the language of his threat). My own suggestion: the only cited text was אִם-לֹא הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרְכָה רַגְלְךָ בָּהּ, לְךָ תִהְיֶה, so we should not focus on the Nachala = inheritance aspects of it.

Rather, the midrash deconstructs the citation as follows: אִם-לֹא, "If not" - if you do not take from the fruit of the land. הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרְכָה רַגְלְךָ בָּהּ - "The earth upon which you," - the spies" - "are currently walking over", לְךָ תִהְיֶה, "will be to you," that is, you will be buried there, (sort of like a mes mitzvah is koneh his 4 amos for his burial) this earth will be yours. Perhaps we can add text from the end of the pasuk to the quote: עַד-עוֹלָם - "for ever" - with threatening finality.

Update: We should also look locally for the drasha. The local pasuk is:
וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל, וַיִּכְרְתוּ מִשָּׁם זְמוֹרָה וְאֶשְׁכּוֹל עֲנָבִים אֶחָד, וַיִּשָּׂאֻהוּ בַמּוֹט, בִּשְׁנָיִם; וּמִן-הָרִמֹּנִים, וּמִן-הַתְּאֵנִים.

Now, only the first part of the verse is cited: וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל. However, often the drasha comes from the part of the verse not cited.

Here, I think the drasha might actually come from the next verse:
לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, קָרָא נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל, עַל אֹדוֹת הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל, אֲשֶׁר-כָּרְתוּ מִשָּׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
"That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the children of Israel cut down from thence."


We can say it is a mikra misuras, a verse which is out of order and must be shuffled (midrashicly, at least).
אֲשֶׁר-כָּרְתוּ מִשָּׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל
עַל אֹדוֹת הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל

that the Jews (=spies) were (almost/threatened to be) cut off from there
on behalf of the cluster of grapes.

If so, the verse in Yehoshua might still be drashened as I suggested, in the context of this drash on the local pasuk, or we can revert to considering it Calev's reward (after all, the midrash does use the word לפיכך in introducing the pasuk from Yehoshua).

Parshat Shlach #1: A Dual Etymology

As the spies toured the land, they came to a spot called Nachal Eshkol (the Valley of Eshkol)

Bamidbar 13:24-25
וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד-נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל, וַיִּכְרְתוּ מִשָּׁם זְמוֹרָה וְאֶשְׁכּוֹל עֲנָבִים אֶחָד, וַיִּשָּׂאֻהוּ בַמּוֹט, בִּשְׁנָיִם; וּמִן-הָרִמֹּנִים, וּמִן-הַתְּאֵנִים.
לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, קָרָא נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל, עַל אֹדוֹת הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל, אֲשֶׁר-כָּרְתוּ מִשָּׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל.
And they came unto the valley of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes, and they bore it upon a pole between two; they took also of the pomegranates, and of the figs.
That place was called the valley of Eshcol, because of the cluster which the children of Israel cut down from thence.


The midrash Rabba on Shlach says:

לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, קָרָא נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל, זה שאמר הכתוב, מַגִּיד מֵרֵאשִׁית אַחֲרִית, שהכל צפוי היה לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא. אשכול אוהבו של אברהם היה, ונקרא אשכול על אודות האשכול שעתידין ישראל לכרות ממקומו

Basically, the midrash cites a pasuk in Yeshaya 46:10:
מַגִּיד מֵרֵאשִׁית אַחֲרִית, וּמִקֶּדֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא-נַעֲשׂוּ; אֹמֵר עֲצָתִי תָקוּם, וְכָל-חֶפְצִי אֶעֱשֶׂה.
"Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying: 'My counsel shall stand, and all My pleasure will I do'; "

to show that Hashem knows what will happen in the end, from the beginning. Eshkol was a friend of Avraham (and that is why he called it the valley of Eshkol), and it was called Eshkol (Hashem arranged that it be called such) because of the Eshkol=cluster of grapes that the Jews would eventually take from there.

How do we know Eshkol was Avraham's friend? We can look at Bereishit 14:24, where the king of Sodom offers Avraham spoils of war, and Avraham refuses, but tells him to give to those who went with him to war:
בִּלְעָדַי, רַק אֲשֶׁר אָכְלוּ הַנְּעָרִים, וְחֵלֶק הָאֲנָשִׁים, אֲשֶׁר הָלְכוּ אִתִּי: עָנֵר אֶשְׁכֹּל וּמַמְרֵא, הֵם יִקְחוּ חֶלְקָם.
"save only that which the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men which went with me, Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre, let them take their portion.'"


Anyway, the midrash is answering the issue of dual etymology. Since Eshkol was a contemporary of Avraham, it would make sense that a place names Nachal Eshkol from that area would be called that, especially since Mamrei was another of these friends of Avraham, and there was a place called Elonei Mamrei.

The midrash seems to be reading the pasuk thusly:
לַמָּקוֹם הַהוּא, קָרָא נַחַל אֶשְׁכּוֹל - to that place, Avraham (or Hashem), in the past, called Nachal Eshkol, עַל אֹדוֹת הָאֶשְׁכּוֹל, אֲשֶׁר-כָּרְתוּ מִשָּׁם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, also because of the Eshkol that the Jews (switch here from past כָּרְתוּ to future שעתידין לכרות) would cut from there.

Update: Come to think about it, the dual etymology is probably not the problem here (since there is nothing to force the dual etymology), but rather the answer. The problem is more likely that the previous pasuk calls it Nachal Eshkol (and they arrived at Nachal Eshkol) and then we read that they took an action that led to the place name. This implies that the place had this name before they arrived there, and the answer is that it indeed did.

Parshat Behaalotcha #6: The Manna, on the other hand

Bamidbar 11:7
וְהַמָּן, כִּזְרַע-גַּד הוּא; וְעֵינוֹ, כְּעֵין הַבְּדֹלַח.
"Now the manna was like coriander seed, and the appearance thereof as the appearance of bdellium."

Coriander seed:


and the coriander plant looks like this:



Bdellium:


[Update: as per Eliyahu's suggestion - please note that I am just relying here on the JPS translation, for the purpose of making a cute point. I am not trying to specifically identify the words in the pasuk as specific fish, melons, onions, leeks, garlic, bdellium, or coriander seed.]

Update: Assuming the identification above is correct, then guggul resin, which is the sap that comes from the above branches, looks like this:

Courtesy of this website.

Parshat Behaalotcha #5: Would you go back to slavery in Egypt for this?

[Update: as per Eliyahu's suggestion - please note that I am just relying here on the JPS translation, for the purpose of making a cute point. I am not trying to specifically identify the words in the pasuk as specific fish, melons, onions, leeks, garlic, bdellium, or coriander seed.]

Bamidbar 11:5
זָכַרְנוּ, אֶת-הַדָּגָה, אֲשֶׁר-נֹאכַל בְּמִצְרַיִם, חִנָּם; אֵת הַקִּשֻּׁאִים, וְאֵת הָאֲבַטִּחִים, וְאֶת-הֶחָצִיר וְאֶת-הַבְּצָלִים, וְאֶת-הַשּׁוּמִים.
We remember the fish, which we were wont to eat in Egypt for nought; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlic;


We remember the fish, which we were wont to eat in Egypt for nought...
(the following are mummified fish from Egypt:)


the cucumbers...


and the melons...


and the leeks...


and the onions...


and the garlic

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Parshat Behaalotcha #4: BeKetuvim

I know it is parshat Shlach, but I still have some more to say about parashat Behaalotcha so I will continue to post on that for a while. One of the psukim I mentioned earlier was about Eldad and Medad prophesying (there is no word prophesizing, or prophesize) in the camp. In Bamidbar 11:26:
וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ שְׁנֵי-אֲנָשִׁים בַּמַּחֲנֶה שֵׁם הָאֶחָד אֶלְדָּד וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִי מֵידָד וַתָּנַח עֲלֵהֶם הָרוּחַ, וְהֵמָּה בַּכְּתֻבִים, וְלֹא יָצְאוּ, הָאֹהֱלָה; וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ, בַּמַּחֲנֶה
"But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp."


What did they prophesy? Tg Yonatan gives several prophecies. One of them, that of Eldad, was:
אלדד הוה מתנבי ואמר הא משה מתכניש מן עלמא ויהושע בר נון משמש משריתא קאי מן בתריה ומדבר עמא בית ישראל ומיעל יתהון לארע כנענאי ומחסין יתה להון
"Eldad prophesied and said, 'Behold Moshe will be taken from the world and Yehoshua son of Nun who ministered for him (Moshe) will arise in his stead and lead the nation of the House of Israel and enter them into the Land of the Canaanites and inherit it for them.'"

This is a very deep mishrash. I do not think this is some random prophesy ascribed to Eldad. As I have seen on occasion, sometimes you have to look both near and far in order to fully appreciate the midrash.

Consider the next two psukim, 27 and 28:
וַיָּרָץ הַנַּעַר, וַיַּגֵּד לְמֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמַר: אֶלְדָּד וּמֵידָד, מִתְנַבְּאִים בַּמַּחֲנֶה.
וַיַּעַן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, מְשָׁרֵת מֹשֶׁה מִבְּחֻרָיו--וַיֹּאמַר: אֲדֹנִי מֹשֶׁה, כְּלָאֵם.
"And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said: 'Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.'
And Joshua the son of Nun, the minister of Moses from his youth up, answered and said: 'My lord Moses, shut them in.'"


We can already see what is happening. The words in close proximity are taken to be Eldad's prophesy. It is Eldad and not Medad because Eldad was listed first in the pasuk: אֶלְדָּד וּמֵידָד, מִתְנַבְּאִים בַּמַּחֲנֶה; Medad's prophecy will come later.

Then, וַיַּעַן is taken from the phrase וַיַּעַן יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן to mean "And he said," that is, Eldad said. What follows is Eldad's prophecy. And וַיַּעַן is singular, so it is only Eldad's prophecy, and not that of Medad. What did he prophesy? יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן, מְשָׁרֵת מֹשֶׁה מִבְּחֻרָיו. Thus, he prophesied about Yehoshua ben Nun, who ministered to Moshe. Note that in the prophecy Yehoshua is referred to as משמש משריתא, who ministered, paralleling that of the pasuk.

Further, Yehoshua will stand in the place of Moshe. מִבְּחֻרָיו means "from his (Yehoshua's) youth. But, it can be taken as something like Ba Acharav, בא אחריו, "will come after him (Moshe)" thus, "will take his place," thus = קאי מן בתריה as in the prophecy.

Next, where do we get that Moshe will die? וַיֹּאמַר: אֲדֹנִי מֹשֶׁה, כְּלָאֵם could be Eldad speaking further, saying, My Master, Moshe, has perished. Alternatively, speaking about the conquering of the land of Israel: And My Master Moshe said, "Destroy them." Thus, we have Eldad's prophesy.

Medad's single prophesy (there is later a joint prophecy from both Eldad and Medad) is about the slav, the quail, and we see this in pasuk 31:
וְרוּחַ נָסַע מֵאֵת יְהוָה, וַיָּגָז שַׂלְוִים מִן-הַיָּם, וַיִּטֹּשׁ עַל-הַמַּחֲנֶה כְּדֶרֶךְ יוֹם כֹּה וּכְדֶרֶךְ יוֹם כֹּה, סְבִיבוֹת הַמַּחֲנֶה--וּכְאַמָּתַיִם, עַל-פְּנֵי הָאָרֶץ.
"And there went forth a wind from the LORD, and brought across quails from the sea, and let them fall by the camp, about a day's journey on this side, and a day's journey on the other side, round about the camp, and about two cubits above the face of the earth."


That was near? How about far?

Pasuk 26 said, again,

וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ שְׁנֵי-אֲנָשִׁים בַּמַּחֲנֶה שֵׁם הָאֶחָד אֶלְדָּד וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִי מֵידָד וַתָּנַח עֲלֵהֶם הָרוּחַ, וְהֵמָּה בַּכְּתֻבִים, וְלֹא יָצְאוּ, הָאֹהֱלָה; וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ, בַּמַּחֲנֶה.
But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp.


The simplest reading of the bolded words were that they were amongst those who had been recorded on paper to be brought to the Tent of Meeting, but they had not been gathered there, and so the spirit hit them in the midst of the camp.

However, perhaps וְהֵמָּה בַּכְּתֻבִים could mean "and they are in the recorded writings." If so, this could refer to some extra-Biblical book of their prophecies which were recorded but for whatever reason did not make it into Tanach. We know Biblical figures wrote down prophecies which were not in the Torah. Thus, Moshe wrote the Torah, sefer Bil'am (perhaps = parshat Bil'am) and perhaps Iyyov, and the chapters in Tehillim attributed to him. (e.g. תְּפִלָּה, לְמֹשֶׁה אִישׁ-הָאֱלֹקִים in Tehillim 90).

Further, there is a dispute about who wrote the last 8 verses of the Torah, that is, Dvarim 34:5-12.
Those psukim describe Moshe's death and burial and Yehoshua's taking over. The problem is, how could Moshe write this if he died. Some say Moshe wrote it in tears, and some say Yehoshua wrote it (see Bava Basra 15a).

Perhaps, then, we could say that these last eight psukim were actually written (or spoken) by Eldad, and this was what was referred to earlier by Moshe when he said VeHeima BaKesuvim, "and their words are in the writings." The issue of writing something that had not come to pass is not an issue since this was a prediction and description made as a nevuah.

We can say Medad's prophecy is also in the Ketuvim - namely, the pasuk I cited above about the quail. And, the joint prophecy of Eldad and Medad about the fight of Gog and Magog would refer to the prophecy as it appears elsewhere in Tanach.

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Risking one's own life to save another

Someone asked me to track down a certain Yerushalmi, which said that it was a Middat Chasidut to risk one's life to save another.

I found reference to it in a Kesef Mishna on the first perek in the Rambam, הלכות רוצח ושמירת נפש (this link is just the Rambam), at the end of 14, citing Hagahot Maymon:

בירושלמי מסיק אפילו להכניס עצמו בספק סכנה חייב עכ"ל. ונראה שהטעם מפני שהלה וודאי והוא ספק
"The yerushalmi implies that even to put himself into possible (mortal) danger he is obligated." And it seems the reason is that the other is in definite danger and he would only be in possible danger.


This is a relevant source for organ donation, which is a hot topic right now. Can one endager himself by being an organ donor to save someone else? This source implies an obligation, others imply that putting oneself in danger is a good thing but not obligatory (middat chassidut), and others say it is foolish to do, and perhaps even forbidden.

Anyway, I finally tracked down that Yerushalmi, and want to examine it in more detail. It is in masechet trumot 44b, 8th perek, halacha 4

note that there is an obligation to make sure that teruma is not rendered impure.

Mishna:

דף מד, ב פרק ח הלכה ד משנה
...
כיצד היה עובר ממקום למקום וככרות של תרומה בידו א"ל נכרי תן לי אחת מהן ואטמאה ואם לאו הרי אני מטמא את כולן ר' אליעזר אומר יטמא את כולן ואל יתן לו אחת מהן ויטמא ר' יהושע אומר יניח לפניו אחת מהן על הסלע. וכן נשים שאמרו להן גוים ע"א תנו לנו אחת מכם ונטמאה ואם לאו הרי אנו מטמאין כולכם יטמאו את כולן ואל ימסרו להם נפש אחת מישראל
How so? If he was travelling from place to place with loaves of Teruma in his hand. A gentile says to him, give me one of them and I will make it impure, and if not, I will render all of them impure. Rabbi Eliezer says to render impure all of them impure and not to give him one of them to make impure. Rabbi Yehoshua says, place one on them before him on the boulder.
And so too women that idolatrous gentiles say to them give over one of you and we will render her impure (rape her), and if not we will render all of you impure, they all should be rendered impure rather than giving over to them one soul from Israel.


There is an idea of taking a stand, or at least not compromising by giving over one loaf, or (in the latter case) one soul. Is this when situation seems unwinnable but there is some chance, or even when there is no chance?

[Note to self: kvar --> kikar, vehaketa nignaz ]


The gemara:
תני סיעות בני אדם שהיו מהלכין בדרך פגעו להן גוים ואמרו תנו לנו אחד מכם ונהרוג אותו ואם לאו הרי אנו הורגים את כולכם אפי' כולן נהרגים לא ימסרו נפש אחת מישראל ייחדו להן אחד כגון שבע בן בכרי ימסרו אותו ואל ייהרגו א"ר שמעון בן לקיש והוא שיהא חייב מיתה כשבע בן בכרי ורבי יוחנן אמר אע"פ שאינו חייב מיתה כשבע בן בכרי עולא בר קושב תבעתיה מלכותא ערק ואזיל ליה ללוד גבי ריב"ל אתון ואקפון מדינתא אמרו להן אין לית אתון יהבון ליה לן אנן מחרבין מדינתא סלק גביה ריב"ל ופייסיה ויהביה לון והוה אליהו זכור לטוב יליף מתגלי עלוי ולא אתגלי וצם כמה צומין ואיתגלי עלוי אמר ליה ולמסורות אני נגלה א"ל ולא משנה עשיתי א"ל וזו משנת החסידים רבי אימי איתצד בסיפסיפה אמר ר' יונתן יכרך המת בסדינו אמר ר' שמעון בן לקיש עד דאנא קטיל אנא מתקטיל אנא איזיל ומשיזיב ליה בחיילא אזל ופייסון ויהבוניה ליה אמר לון ואתון גבי סבון והוא מצלי עליכון אתון גבי ר' יוחנן אמר לון מה דהוה בלבכון איעבד ליה יתעבוד לון ימטא לההוא עמא לא מטון אפיפסירוס עד דאזלון כולהון זעיר בר חנינא איתצד בספסיפה סלק רבי אמי ורבי שמואל מפייסה עלוי אמרה להון זנביה מלכותא יליף הוא ברייכון עבד לכון ניסין מעשוקין ביה עלל חד סרקיא טעין חד ספסר אמר להון בהדא ספסירא קטיל בר נצר לאחוי ואישתיזיב זעיר בר חנינא ר' יוחנן אמר איקפח בעלי קנייה סליק לבית וועדא והוה ר"ש בן לקיש שאיל ליה והוא לא מגיב שאיל ליה והוא לא מגיב א"ל מהו הכין א"ל כל האיברים תלוין בלב והלב תלוי בכיס א"ל ומהו כן א"ל ומהו את כן א"ל איקפחת בעלי קנייה א"ל חמי לי זויתה נפיק מחוי ליה חמיתון מן רחוק ושרי מצלצל אמרין אין ר"י הוא יסב פלגא אמר לון חייכון כולה אנא נסיב
ונסיב כולה

We learned, a caravan of men were travelling together on the road. Gentiles accosted them and said, 'Give us one of you and we will kill him, and if not we will kill you all.' Even if all of them will be killed, they should not give over a single soul of Israel. {It sounds like they should put up a fight...} If they (the gentiles) single out one of them, as was the case by Sheva son of Bichri they should {or perhaps could} give him over and not be killed.


Before proceeding further with the translation, we should see who Sheva ben Bichri was. In Shmuel Bet, perek 20:
א וְשָׁם נִקְרָא אִישׁ בְּלִיַּעַל, וּשְׁמוֹ שֶׁבַע בֶּן-בִּכְרִי--אִישׁ יְמִינִי; וַיִּתְקַע בַּשֹּׁפָר, וַיֹּאמֶר אֵין-לָנוּ חֵלֶק בְּדָוִד וְלֹא נַחֲלָה-לָנוּ בְּבֶן-יִשַׁי--אִישׁ לְאֹהָלָיו, יִשְׂרָאֵל.
ב וַיַּעַל כָּל-אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל, מֵאַחֲרֵי דָוִד, אַחֲרֵי, שֶׁבַע בֶּן-בִּכְרִי; וְאִישׁ יְהוּדָה דָּבְקוּ בְמַלְכָּם, מִן-הַיַּרְדֵּן וְעַד-יְרוּשָׁלִָם.
יג כַּאֲשֶׁר הֹגָה, מִן-הַמְסִלָּה--עָבַר כָּל-אִישׁ, אַחֲרֵי יוֹאָב, לִרְדֹּף, אַחֲרֵי שֶׁבַע בֶּן-בִּכְרִי.
יד וַיַּעֲבֹר בְּכָל-שִׁבְטֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל, אָבֵלָה וּבֵית מַעֲכָה--וְכָל-הַבֵּרִים; {ס} ויקלהו (וַיִּקָּהֲלוּ), וַיָּבֹאוּ אַף-אַחֲרָיו.
טו וַיָּבֹאוּ וַיָּצֻרוּ עָלָיו, בְּאָבֵלָה בֵּית הַמַּעֲכָה, וַיִּשְׁפְּכוּ סֹלְלָה אֶל-הָעִיר, וַתַּעֲמֹד בַּחֵל; וְכָל-הָעָם אֲשֶׁר אֶת-יוֹאָב, מַשְׁחִיתִם לְהַפִּיל הַחוֹמָה.
טז וַתִּקְרָא אִשָּׁה חֲכָמָה, מִן-הָעִיר; שִׁמְעוּ שִׁמְעוּ, אִמְרוּ-נָא אֶל-יוֹאָב, קְרַב עַד-הֵנָּה, וַאֲדַבְּרָה אֵלֶיךָ.
יז וַיִּקְרַב אֵלֶיהָ, וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה הַאַתָּה יוֹאָב וַיֹּאמֶר אָנִי; וַתֹּאמֶר לוֹ, שְׁמַע דִּבְרֵי אֲמָתֶךָ, וַיֹּאמֶר, שֹׁמֵעַ אָנֹכִי.
יח וַתֹּאמֶר, לֵאמֹר: דַּבֵּר יְדַבְּרוּ בָרִאשֹׁנָה לֵאמֹר, שָׁאוֹל יְשָׁאֲלוּ בְּאָבֵל וְכֵן הֵתַמּוּ.
יט אָנֹכִי, שְׁלֻמֵי אֱמוּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל; אַתָּה מְבַקֵּשׁ, לְהָמִית עִיר וְאֵם בְּיִשְׂרָאֵל--לָמָּה תְבַלַּע, נַחֲלַת ה.
כ וַיַּעַן יוֹאָב, וַיֹּאמַר: חָלִילָה חָלִילָה לִי, אִם-אֲבַלַּע וְאִם-אַשְׁחִית.
כא לֹא-כֵן הַדָּבָר, כִּי אִישׁ מֵהַר אֶפְרַיִם שֶׁבַע בֶּן-בִּכְרִי שְׁמוֹ נָשָׂא יָדוֹ בַּמֶּלֶךְ בְּדָוִד--תְּנוּ-אֹתוֹ לְבַדּוֹ, וְאֵלְכָה מֵעַל הָעִיר; וַתֹּאמֶר הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-יוֹאָב, הִנֵּה רֹאשׁוֹ מֻשְׁלָךְ אֵלֶיךָ בְּעַד הַחוֹמָה.
כב וַתָּבוֹא הָאִשָּׁה אֶל-כָּל-הָעָם בְּחָכְמָתָהּ, וַיִּכְרְתוּ אֶת-רֹאשׁ שֶׁבַע בֶּן-בִּכְרִי וַיַּשְׁלִכוּ אֶל-יוֹאָב, וַיִּתְקַע בַּשֹּׁפָר, וַיָּפֻצוּ מֵעַל-הָעִיר אִישׁ לְאֹהָלָיו; וְיוֹאָב שָׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם, אֶל-הַמֶּלֶךְ.
1 Now there happened to be there a base fellow, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri, a Benjamite; and he blew the horn, and said: 'We have no portion in David, neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse; every man to his tents, O Israel.'
2 So all the men of Israel went up from following David, and followed Sheba the son of Bichri; but the men of Judah did cleave unto their king, from the Jordan even to Jerusalem.
...
13 When he was removed out of the highway, all the people went on after Joab, to pursue after Sheba the son of Bichri.
14 And he went through all the tribes of Israel unto Abel, and to Beth-maacah, and all the Berites; {S} and they were gathered together, and went in also after him.
15 And they came and besieged him in Abel of Beth-maacah, and they cast up a mound against the city, and it stood in the moat; and all the people that were with Joab battered the wall, to throw it down.
16 Then cried a wise woman out of the city: 'Hear, hear; say, I pray you, unto Joab: Come near hither, that I may speak with thee.'
17 And he came near unto her; and the woman said: 'Art thou Joab?' And he answered: 'I am.' Then she said unto him: 'Hear the words of thy handmaid.' And he answered: 'I do hear.'
18 Then she spoke, saying: 'They were wont to speak in old time, saying: They shall surely ask counsel at Abel; and so they ended the matter.
19 We are of them that are peaceable and faithful in Israel; seekest thou to destroy a city and a mother in Israel? why wilt thou swallow up the inheritance of the LORD?'
20 And Joab answered and said: 'Far be it, far be it from me, that I should swallow up or destroy.
21 The matter is not so; but a man of the hill-country of Ephraim, Sheba the son of Bichri by name, hath lifted up his hand against the king, even against David; deliver him only, and I will depart from the city.' And the woman said unto Joab: 'Behold, his head shall be thrown to thee over the wall.'
22 Then the woman went unto all the people in her wisdom. And they cut off the head of Sheba the son of Bichri, and threw it out to Joab. And he blew the horn, and they were dispersed from the city, every man to his tent. And Joab returned to Jerusalem unto the king.


Thus, Sheva ben Bichri merited the death penalty, and to save the town, the townsfolk cut off his head and give it to Yoav. This would seem to be a good precedent. Back to the gemara.

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, only if he deserves capital punishment as did Sheva ben Bichri.
Rabbi Yochanan saud, even if he did not deserve capital punishment like Sheva ben Bichri {one would still give him over. and the purpose of mentioning Sheva ben Bichri is that this is a Biblical case in which a specific individual was specified.}

Ulah bar Koshav, the government wanted (to kill) him. He fled and went to Lud by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. The army came and encircled the state. They said to them, if you do not turn him over we will destroy the state. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi sent and persuaded him (convinced Ulah bar Koshav to turn himself in) and then gave him over to them.

And, Eliyahu, remembered for good, was wont to reveal himself to him, and now he did not reveal himself. And he (R Yehoshua ben Levi) fasted many fasts and he revealed himself to him. He (Eliyahu) said to him, "And to Mosers do I reveal myself?!?" (Moser = one who gives over other Jews) He replied, "And did I not do as the Mishna said?" (The Mishna said that if one was singled out one could (or should) give him over and not be killed. He thus seems to be holding like Rabbi Yochanan's understanding of the Mishna, unless you say that Ulla actually deserved the capital punishment.)

He (Eliyahu) replied, "And is this the Mishnah of the Chassidim." (Do chassidim act thus? It seems this is middat chassidut. I wonder though, how one can act as a chossid when others in the town would presumably not want to do middat chassidut.)

{What follows is the gemara referred to in the Kesef Mishna:}
Rabbi Ami was captured by bandits. Rabbi Yonatan said, the dead one will be wrapped in his sheets. {that is, there is no way to save him.}

Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish said, 'I will kill or be killed' (lit: Until I kill (or) I will be killed. i.e. I will try to save him, by killing all his captors, or will die in the process. We know from elsewhere that Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish was a bandit, skilled in weapons, before he repented and became a scholar.) I will go and save him by force.

He went and persuaded them (convinced them to turn R Ami over, perhaps with threats) and they gave him over to him.

He (Resh Lakish) said to them (the bandits) go to the Old One (Rabbi Yochanan) and he will pray for you. They went to Rabbi Yochanan (note, this is *not* Rabbi Yonatan of before, unless it is a typo.)

He (R Yochanan) said to them, 'that which was in your hearts to do to him should come to pass on you.' They did not reach Apipsiros before they all went (died).

Zeir the son of Chanina was captured in a roundup (done by the thieves). Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Shmuel went out to appeal on his behalf. "King Zanvaya" (the head of the thieves - perhaps to be rendered as King of the Tails, from Rosh and Zanav, Head and Tail, thus a self-mocking name. actually literally (unless there is a typo) Kingdom of the Tails.) said to them, 'Your Creator is wont to do for you miracles.' While they were still involved on his (Zeir's) behalf, a Yishmaeli came carrying a sword, and said to them, 'With this sword Bar Netzer (who was a thief) slew the brother (of King Zanvaya).' (While all these happenings were going on, with King Zanvaya upset about this,) And Zeir ben Chanina escaped.

The Baalei Kania (lit. owners of possessions = a name for a band of thieves) stole from Rabbi Yochanan. He (R Yochanan) went to the meeting house, and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish asked him and he did not respond. He asked him and he (R Yochanan) did not respond. He (Resh Lakish) said to him, 'what is this?' He (R Yochanan) said to him (Resh Lakish), "All of the limbs rely on the heart, and the heart relies on the purse." He (Resh Lakish) said to him, "And how so?" (i.e. what do you mean by this?) He (R Yochanan) said to him, 'Baalei Kania stole from me.' He (Resh Lakish) said to him, "Show me the corner (where they stole from you, or the path where they went, and Resh Lakish chased after them)." He (R Yochanan) went and showed him. He (Resh Lakish) saw them from afar and began to yell at them. They said, "If it is R Yochanan, we will return half." He said to them, "By your lives, I will take all," and he took all.


The gemara which is cited from the above about risking one's life to save one's fellow is the first story with Resh Lakish, where R Ami was captured, and Resh Lakish said either he would kill or be killed. Thus, Resh Lakish put himself into threat of physical harm and possible death to save his fellow, who was certain to be killed. Did he consider this an obligation? Or Middat Chassidut? Further, we see R Yonatan gave up on him. Was this because R Yonatan felt is was no obligation? Would R Yonatan agree that it was a middat chassidut? Would he feel it was forbidden? Or perhaps he was not as tough a guy as Resh Lakish, who used to be a bandit and felt comfortable facing off with bandits? We see Resh Lakish went after bandits even when it was not a matter of pikuach nefesh (i.e. to save R Yochanan's possessions.)

I would think that the previous gemara about not giving over a man for death, even if he were specified, where the alternative is a fight, in which all would be killed, or maybe we could say that it is only a possible danger but they might all be able to survive, would also be a relevant yerushalmi. We see in such a case that it is only Mishnat Chassidut, whatever that means.

Parshat Behaalotcha #3: No more, No End, Not Gathered

Bamidbar 11:24-25

וַיֵּצֵא מֹשֶׁה--וַיְדַבֵּר אֶל-הָעָם, אֵת דִּבְרֵי ה; וַיֶּאֱסֹף שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, מִזִּקְנֵי הָעָם, וַיַּעֲמֵד אֹתָם, סְבִיבֹת הָאֹהֶל.
וַיֵּרֶד ה בֶּעָנָן, וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, וַיָּאצֶל מִן-הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלָיו, וַיִּתֵּן עַל-שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ הַזְּקֵנִים; וַיְהִי, כְּנוֹחַ עֲלֵיהֶם הָרוּחַ, וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ, וְלֹא יָסָפוּ.
וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ שְׁנֵי-אֲנָשִׁים בַּמַּחֲנֶה שֵׁם הָאֶחָד אֶלְדָּד וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִי מֵידָד וַתָּנַח עֲלֵהֶם הָרוּחַ, וְהֵמָּה בַּכְּתֻבִים, וְלֹא יָצְאוּ, הָאֹהֱלָה; וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ, בַּמַּחֲנֶה.
"And Moses went out, and told the people the words of the LORD; and he gathered seventy men of the elders of the people, and set them round about the Tent.
And the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, but they did so no more.
But there remained two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. "


There are two standard ways of explaining וְלֹא יָסָפוּ at the end of the middle pasuk.

1) "but they did so no more," as we have in the translation above. This is יָסָפוּ as adding. This is the meaning when Rachel called her son Yosef, in Bereishit 30:24
וַתִּקְרָא אֶת-שְׁמוֹ יוֹסֵף, לֵאמֹר: יֹסֵף יְהוָה לִי, בֵּן אַחֵר.
"And she called his name Joseph, saying: 'The LORD add to me another son.'"


2) "and they did not stop," that is, they continued to be prophets in the future. The same root can mean "stop," the opposite of the previous. Onkelos gives this, saying ולא פסקין, "and they did not stop."

I thought of an additional possible explanation of the word. Given that the first verse I cited contained the phrase וַיֶּאֱסֹף שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ, מִזִּקְנֵי הָעָם, perhaps וְלֹא יָסָפוּ means "they were not gathered." The root would be אסף. We know, from the alternate etymology of Yosef's name, given a verse earlier, in , in Bereishit 30:23
וַתַּהַר, וַתֵּלֶד בֵּן; וַתֹּאמֶר, אָסַף אֱלֹהִים אֶת-חֶרְפָּתִי.
"And she conceived, and bore a son, and said: 'God hath taken away my reproach.'"


where "taken away" is literally "has gathered."

We would also have to cut away those two words וְלֹא יָסָפוּ from the end of the second verse and move it to the beginning of the third. Thus,

וַיֵּרֶד ה בֶּעָנָן, וַיְדַבֵּר אֵלָיו, וַיָּאצֶל מִן-הָרוּחַ אֲשֶׁר עָלָיו, וַיִּתֵּן עַל-שִׁבְעִים אִישׁ הַזְּקֵנִים; וַיְהִי, כְּנוֹחַ עֲלֵיהֶם הָרוּחַ, וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ.
,וְלֹא יָסָפוּ ,וַיִּשָּׁאֲרוּ שְׁנֵי-אֲנָשִׁים בַּמַּחֲנֶה שֵׁם הָאֶחָד אֶלְדָּד וְשֵׁם הַשֵּׁנִי מֵידָד וַתָּנַח עֲלֵהֶם הָרוּחַ, וְהֵמָּה בַּכְּתֻבִים, וְלֹא יָצְאוּ, הָאֹהֱלָה; וַיִּתְנַבְּאוּ, בַּמַּחֲנֶה.
"And the LORD came down in the cloud, and spoke unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and put it upon the seventy elders; and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied.
But were not gathered, and thus remained, two men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were recorded, but had not gone out unto the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp."


יָסָפוּ would then be יאספו where the aleph became quiescent, and then dropped out of the spelling altogether.

The result would be somewhat awkward but not altogether impossible...

Monday, June 07, 2004

Disposing of hanaat avodah zarah continued

To elaborate on one of the the points I made earlier, about the burning of the (alleged) takrovet avodah zarah wigs.

I mentioned that if one gave them to Jews, one would be causing those Jews to benefit from that which was prohibited to benefit, and there would seem to be a problem of Lifnei Iver, putting a stumbling block before the blind.

I would add that this may extend to the giving of the wigs to non-Jews, for perhaps the non-Jews you give the wigs to may later give them to Jews. Why would I think this was a concern? Consider the following mishna and gemara, in the yerushalmi:

Mishna:
נטל ממנה כרכר אסור בהנאה ארג בו את הבגד הבגד אסור בהנאה נתערב באחרים כולן אסורין בהנאה רבי אלעזר אומר יוליך הנייה לים המלך אמרו לו אין פדיון לעבודה זרה


Translation from here.
"The same is the case with a loom made of this wood and with the garment wrought therewith. If such a garment was mixed up with other garments and these again with others the benefit of them all is forbidden. R. Eliezar, however, said: Cast their worth into the salt lake, and he was answered: There is no redemption from idol-worship."


The gemara:

אמר רבי חגיי כד נחתית מן אילפא אשכחית רבי יעקב בר אחא יתיב מקשי נטל הימינה כרכר אסור בהנייה ארג בו את הבגד אסור בהנייה ותנינן ימכר כולו לנכרי חוץ מדמי יין נסך שבו אמר ר' יעקב בר אחא חגיי קשיתא חגיי קיימה מאי כדון תמן אין דרך בני אדם ליקח מן הנכרי ברם הכא דרך בני אדם ליקח בגד מן הנכרי


My translation:
Rabbi Chaggai said: when I went down from learning I found Rabbi Yaakov bar Acha sitting. I asked, (the Misha states) if you took from it a loom it is forbidden in benefit; if you weaved with it a garment it is forbidden in benefit. (And it continues, if the garment was mixed with others they all are forbidden in benefit.) Yet we learned in a Mishna (about if some wine libations to idolatry fell into a pit of wine) that you should sell it all (the entire contents of the pit) to a gentile minus the cost of the wine libations within it. (Thus, one would not derive benefit from it. So too here, why not say sell all of the garments except for the cost of the forbidden garment within it?!)

Rabbi Yaakov Bar Acha said, Chaggai asked, let Chaggai establish it (the answer).

(Rabbi Chaggai): How so? There (by the wine libations), it is not way of (Jewish) people to purchase wine from a gentile (because of stam yeynam, or yayin nesech), whereas here is is the way of people to purchase clothing from gentiles.


So there is a concern with selling to a gentile things prohibited in benefit to Jews, because Jews might eventually purchase it and come to use it. I would say wigs are more similar to clothing than to wine. (Note however that here we are dealing with a large amount of wine, and clothing. Donating to a non-Jewish charity? A similar concern. Watching to make sure only non-Jews receive them? Perhaps, but maybe the general principle that Chazal established even if in the specific instance one can make sure it does not come to pass (along the lines of Lo plug rabanan). Also, will the non-Jewish child, when he is done with the wig, sell it, or gift it? Perhaps it is only in cases of bulk items, but alternatively there is a problem putting it out into the world where a Jew may eventually come to make use of it.)

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