THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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MEGILAH 25 (21 Tishrei, Hoshana Raba) - dedicated by Gedalyah Jawitz, in
honor of the yahrtzeit of Yehuda ben Simcha Volf Jawitz
1) "MAY THE GOOD BLESS YOU"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah states that one says, "May the good bless You," is
acting in the manner of Minim. What is wrong with praising Hashem by saying
that the good ones should bless Him?
2) PITY ON THE MOTHER BIRD: ARE THERE REASONS FOR THE MITZVOS?
(a) RASHI explains that when one says, "Yevarchucha Tovim" -- "May the good
bless You," he is saying that only the Tzadikim are fit to bless Hashem,
while the Resha'im have no part in blessing Hashem. Chazal, however, tell us
that when it comes to praising Hashem, we must invite the Resha'im to join us
in His praise, as we learn from the Ketores. Just like the Torah commands
that the Ketores contain Chelbanah, a bad-smelling spice, so, too, our
Tefilah must include the prayers of the sinners. We also allude to this when
we lift the Arba Minim on Sukos. While the Lulav, Hadasim, and Esrog have
either a nice smell, nice taste, or both, the Aravos have neither a nice
smell nor a nice taste, and thus they represent the Resha'im. Nevertheless,
we must join them together with all of the other people of Klal Yisrael in
Excluding the Resha'im from praising Hashem is the way of the Minim, because
the Minim reject the concept of Teshuvah and maintain that once a person
sins, he is irrevocably condemned to punishment and cannot take part in
TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH (in Berachos 34a) suggest a similar, but not
identical, explanation. They contend that the problem with saying, "May the
good bless You," is not that it implies that the Resha'im cannot take part in
praising Hashem because they have no recourse of Teshuvah. Rather, it implies
that the Resha'im were created bad and it was not in their power to bless
Hashem. This is the way of Minim, who believe that there is no free will and
a Rasha was born evil.
The RASHBA questions Rashi's explanation. We find a number of verses which
depict the Tzadikim praising Hashem without the Resha'im. We say each day in
Ashrei, "Yoducha Hashem Kol Ma'asecha, *va'Chasidecha Yevarechucha*" -- "All
Your works will thank You, Hashem, and *Your righteous ones will bless you*"
(Tehilim 145:10). Another verse says, "Ach Tzadikim Yodu li'Shmecha" --
"...but the righteous will give thanks to Your name" (Tehilim 140:14 -- the
Ibn Ezra and Radak point out that the word "but" is specifically excluding
the Resha'im from praising Hashem!). We see from these verses that it is
acceptable to say that the Tzadikim alone praise Hashem!
It could be that *in the specific context* in which these verses appear, it
is indeed appropriate to say that the Tzadikim alone praise Hashem. In the
verse of "Yoducha Hashem...," the first part of the verse says that "all Your
works will thank You," and thus it continues and says "but the Tzadikim will
bless You *even more*!" This statement is definitely true. Similarly, in the
verse of "Ach Tzadikim," the previous verses discuss the punishment that
Hashem will wreak upon the Resha'im while sparing the Tzadikim. As a result,
the Tzadikim will give thanks to Hashem for *not being punished*. In
contrast, if a person says "Yevarchucha Tovim," it implies that the only ones
who are fit to praise Hashem are the Tovim, and that is incorrect.
(b) TOSFOS explains that the word "Tovim" in "Yevarchucha Tovim" refers to
Hashem (as in "Elokim Tovim"). One is saying, "May the good Creators bless
you (the people)." Since one is referring to Hashem with a plural term, it
looks like one is implying that there are two powers (the same problem with
saying "Modim Modim" -- except that Tovim implies that there are two powers
of good, not one of evil and one of good). That is why it is the way of
(c) The RAN says that "Tovim" does not mean the good people, but the people
*to whom Hashem does good*. Thus, one is saying, "May those to whom You do
good bless You," which sounds like there is one power that bestows good, and
another power that is in control of bad, and the recipients of good can only
bless the power that bestows good. That is the way of Minim because it
appears as though one is saying that there are two powers, one of good and
one of evil.
(d) TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH give another explanation. "Tovim" means the people
to whom You *have given plenty* of food, and they are satiated, as in the
verse, "v'Nisba Lechem va'Niheyeh Tovim" -- "and we were satiated with bread
and we had it all good" (Yirmiyahu 44:17). It is the way of Minim because it
implies that only if one is full does he have to bless Hashem.
This explanation seems to accomodate the Girsa of the Rambam in the Mishnah,
that "this is the Derech ha'Tzedukim," in place of "Derechim Minus." The
Tzedukim reject the enactments of the Rabanan, who instituted that we recite
Birkas ha'Mazon after eating even a k'Zayis or k'Beitzah. The Tzedukim accept
only the literal interpretation of the verses in the Torah. The verse says,
"v'Achalta v'Savata u'Verachta" -- "you will eat, be *satisfied*, and bless,"
which they explain means that only when one is full does he have to bless
Hashem, but not one who is not full.
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who says, "Hashem's mercy reaches the
mother bird," must be silenced. The Gemara explains (in the second reason)
that this is because the Mitzvos are purely Gezeiros, "heavenly decrees upon
us to fulfill," and no mercy is involved.
3) QUIETING ONE WHO MISINTREPETS VERSES, WITH "NEZIFAH"
How can it be that there are no reasons behind the Mitzvos? Rebbi Shimon
explicitly states (see Yevamos 23a, and other places) that all of the Mitzvos
have reasons behind them!
(a) The RAMBAM, in Moreh Nevuchim (3:26,48), explains that this opinion in
our Gemara indeed argues with Rebbi Shimon, and maintains that there are no
reasons for the Mitzvos.
(b) The RAMBAN (Devarim 22:6) explains that the Mitzvos certainly have
reasons. Our Gemara means that the reason behind the Mitzvah of sending away
the mother bird is not in order to have mercy *on the bird*. Rather, it is a
"Gezeirah" (a decree upon *us*, for our benefit), in order to accustom us to
be merciful and inculcate in us that trait. One who is accustomed to being
cruel to beasts, becomes cruel by nature in general, even to people.
QUESTION: The Mishnah states that one who is "Mechaneh b'Arayos" must be
silenced. The Gemara explains that this refers to one who says that the
verse, "Do not uncover your father's nakedness" (Vayikra 18:7), is not to be
taken literally, but means that one should not reveal any disgraceful thing
about one's father. Such a person must be silenced.
The Mishnah then states that one who says that the verse "Do not give any of
your children to be passed through Molech" (Vayikra 18:21) means that one
should not give his children to an Arami in marriage [lest they learn from
their mother to worship idols such as Mosech], must be silenced *with
Why is it that in the second case, the Mishnah says that we must quiet him
"b'Nezifah?" In both cases, Rashi explains that the person gives the wrong
meaning to the verse. In both cases, the person attributes a Chiyuv Misah to
an act for which there really is no Chiyuv Misah. What, then, is the
difference between the two cases?
(a) Perhaps, according to Rashi, the difference is that in the second case --
when one interprets the verse of Molech to be saying that one may not give
his children to a Nochri in marriage, people might actually listen to him and
be misled, thinking that there really is a Chiyuv Misah for such a
transgression, since marrying off one's child to a Nochri is, after all, a
severe transgression. Therefore, he must be silenced with Nezifah. In the
first case, though, when one interprets the verse of Arayos to be referring
to uncovering the shame of one's father, no one will actually believe his
interpretation, for that act is not severe enough to warrant a Chiyuv Misah.
Therefore, he need only be silenced, but not with Nezifah.
(b) Some Rishonim explain the Mishnah differently than Rashi. Rashi
understands that the person's misinterpretation of the verse of Molech is a
Chumra -- the person is ascribing a Chiyuv Misah to an act for which one is
not Chayav Misah. According to these Rishonim, the person's misinterpretation
is a *Kula* -- he is being *lenient*, and that is why he must be silenced
The ARUCH (Erech "Aram") explains that by saying that the verse is forbidding
marriage to an Arami, the person is prohibiting marriage only to a Nochri who
worships Molech, such as an Arami, but he is permitting marriage to any other
type of Nochri!
RASHI on the Rif says that the Kula is that by interpreting the verse to be
saying that one may not marry off his child to a woman who will bear children
and teach them to worship Molech, one is saying that the prohibition applies
only if the woman he marries is able to give birth. This implies that if she
is an older woman or unable to give birth for some other reason, it is
permitted to marry her! Therefore, we silence him with Nezifah.
(c) RABEINU CHANANEL and the RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) explain "Mechaneh
b'Arayos" differently. "Mechaneh" means that one alters the wording of the
verse. This person changes the verse from "Do not uncover *your* father's
nakedness (Ervas *Avicha*)" to "Do not uncover *his* father's nakedness
(Ervas *Aviv*)" in order to be more polite. We must silence him, because if
the Torah wants to express the Isur in a certain way, there is no reason to
alter it. (Their Girsa in the Gemara included the extra word, recorded in
DIDUKEI SOFRIM, "*Mishum* Kalon Avicha," which implies that Kalon Avicha
([preventing] the shame of your father) is the *reason why* one changes the
verse, but is not the change itself.)
In that case, the change in the verse "Ervas Avicha" does not affect the
Halachah, but only the syntax in the verse. In the second case, the person's
misinterpretation actually changes the Halachah, and therefore we silence him