POINT BY POINT SUMMARY
prepared by Rabbi Yisrael Shaw
of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
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Previous daf Chagigah 15
CHAGIGAH 14 & 15 - anonymously dedicated by an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah
in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) THE STORY OF ACHER
3. R. Yehoshua told his students that Ben Zoma was still
out of his mind, when Ben Zoma oddly expounded the verse,
"And the spirit of G-d levitated above the waters"
(d) Acher entered the Pardes ("orchard") and "cut down the
plantlings" (i.e. he became corrupt).
(e) Rebbi Akiva entered in peace and exited in peace.
(a) Acher entered the Pardes and cut down the plantlings (i.e. he
1. About him the verse says, "Do not let your mouth cause your
flesh to sin" (Koheles 5:5).
(b) Acher asked R. Meir, his Talmid, to explain several verses,
and Acher rejected his explanations, saying that his teacher,
R. Akiva, expounded them differently.
2. What happened to him:
3. He saw the angel "Mttrn" who received permission to sit and
write the the merits of Yisrael.
4. Acher said, "We have a tradition that there is no sitting,
competition, no backside, and not tiredness (among the
heavenly beings) -- perhaps there are two powers!"
5. They took out "Mttrn" and lashed him with 60 pulses of fire
and said to him, "You should have stood up when you saw him
(an earthly being)!"
6. They gave him permission to erase the merits of Acher
(because of his blasphemy).
7. A Bas Kol issued forth saying, "'Repent, o' wayward
children' (Yirmiyahu 3:22) -- except for Acher!"
8. When he heard this, Acher said, "Since I have been pushed
out from the next world, I might as well go and get
pleasure from this world!"
9. He went onto an evil path.
(i) He found a harlot and propositioned her.
(ii) She said, "But are you not Elisha ben Avuyah!?"
(iii) He went and uprooted a radish from its row on Shabbos
and gave it to her.
(iv) She said, "You are someone else ('Acher')."
1. R. Meir urged Acher to do Teshuvah, in accordance with
one of the explanations of the verses that Acher told him.
(c) It once happened that Acher was riding a horse on Shabbos, and
R. Meir was following on foot behind him in order to learn
Torah from him.
2. Acher responded, "I have already heard from behind the
heavenly curtain that my repentance will not be accepted."
1. Acher said to R. Meir, "Stop here, for I have measured
the footsteps of my horse, and until here is the Techum of
2. R. Meir said, "You, too, should return!"
3. Acher replied, "I have already told you that I have
already heard from behind the heavenly curtain that my
repentance will not be accepted."
4. R. Meir grabbed him and took him to the Beis Midrash.
5. Acher told a child to tell him what verse he was learning
at the moment.
6. The child told him a verse that discusses the permanent
stain of sin upon the sinner.
2) LEARNING TORAH FROM A "RASHA" LIKE ACHER
7. R. Meir took Acher to a total of 13 Batei Midrash, and
in each one a child told Acher a verse discussing the
irrevokable effect of sin.
(d) When Acher died, they said they he cannot be punished, because he
learned Torah, but he also cannot go to Olam ha'Ba, because he
(i) The last child told him the verse, "G-d says to the
wicked (Resha'im), 'Why do you discuss my laws!?'"
(ii) That child stuttered, and it sounded like he said,
"G-d says to *Elisha*, 'Why do you discuss my laws!?'"
(iii) Some say that Acher had a knife and he butchered the
child and sent his body parts to the 13 synagogues.
(iv) Other say that he merely said, "If I had a knife,
I would butcher him."
1. R. Meir said it is best that he be punished and then go
to Olam ha'Ba.
(e) Rebbi met a grand-daughter of Acher.
2. He added, "When I die, I will bring up smoke from his grave!"
3. When R. Meir died, smoke arose from Acher's grave.
4. R. Yochanan said that it is not proper to cause one's
teacher to be punished.
4. When R. Yochanan died, he caused the smoke to stop rising
from Acher's grave and he brought Acher to Olam ha'Ba.
(i) In the eulogy said for R. Yochanan, it was said
that "not even the guard of the gate (of Gehinom)
could stand in his way!"
1. He was surprised, because the verse (Iyov 18:19) says that
a Rasha will have no grandchildren.
2. She said to him, "Remember his Torah, and not his deeds!"
3. A fire descended and scorched Rebbi's bench.
4. Rebbi cried and said, "If this is the honor that those who
disgrace the Torah (such as Acher) receive, then how much
more so will be the honor that those who praise the Torah
(a) Question: How could R. Meir learn Torah from Acher?
3) WHY DID ACHER GO BAD
1. The verse (Malachi 2:7) teaches that one should only learn
Torah from a Rav who is similar to a Malach of Hashem!
(b) Answer: R. Meir relied on another verse (Mishlei 22:17, or
Tehilim (45:11) which teaches that one may learn Torah from a
Rasha, as long as one follows Hashem's laws and not the deeds
of the Rasha.
(c) Question: If so, the verses (in (a) and (b) contradict!
(d) Answer: One verse refers to a Gadol (one who knows how to be
careful not to learn from the deeds of the Rasha may learn
Torah from him), and one verse refers to a Katan (one who does
not know how to avoid being influenced by the deeds of the
Rasha may not learn Torah from him).
(e) (R. Dimi) R. Meir ate the outer flesh (the good part) of
the fruit, and he discarded the pit (the bad part).
(f) Rava expounded a verse (Shir ha'Shirim 6:11) which compares a
Talmid Chacham to a nut: just as a nut might become dirty on
the surface and its fruit inside is not affected, so, too, a
Talmid Chacham who becomes corrupt, his Torah is not affected.
(g) Eliyahu ha'Navi told Rabah b. Shila that Hashem is discussing
the teachings of all of the sages, except for R. Meir, since
R. Meir learned Torah from Acher.
1. Rabah b. Shila defended R. Meir and said that he found
a pomegranate and ate the inside (the good part) while he
discarded the shell (the bad part).
(h) Shmuel found R. Yehudah leaning on the doorpost, crying.
2. Eliyahu said back that now, Hashem is discussing the
teaching of R. Meir.
3. R. Meir taught that when a man suffers (by sinning),
the Shechinah is pained; if the Shechinah is pained for the
blood of a Rasha, how much more so for the blood of
Tzadikim that was spilled!
1. He was crying that if such great sages, such as Doeg and
Achitofel, have no share in Olam ha'Ba because of their
sins, then how much more so we!
2. Shmuel told him that their hearts were corrupt from the
beginning (and that is why they went bad and were punished).
(a) Why did Acher go bad?
4) REBBI AKIVA EXITED THE PARDES IN PEACE
1. Greek (foreign) songs did not cease from his mouth.
(b) Nimus ha'Gardi asked R. Meir: Does all wool that is dyed endure?
2. When he would rise from the Beis Midrash, many books of
heresy would slip from his lap.
1. R. Meir answered: Any person who was pure from his beginning
2. And any person who was not pure from his beginning will not
(a) R. Akiva entered in peace and exited in peace.
(b) About him, the verse says, "Draw me after you, and I shall run"
(Shir ha'Shirim 1:4).
(c) The Malachei ha'Shares wanted to harm even R. Akiva.
(d) Hashem said to them, "Leave this elder, for he is fit to serve
in My honor!"