THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) TEFILIN AND THE WINGS OF THE DOVE
QUESTION: The Gemara relates how the Tefilin of a man named Elisha
miraculously turned into the wings of a dove when he was accosted by a
Roman official during a time of gentile persecution. (Some point out that
the miracle was that his Tefilin *appeared* in the eyes of the Roman
official to be the wings of a dove; Machatzis ha'Shekel OC 28:4.) The
Gemara explains that they became wings of a dove, because just like the
wings of a dove protect the dove, so do the Mitzvos protect the Jewish
2) MITZVOS THAT THE JEWISH PEOPLE "STILL" ACCEPT WITH SIMCHAH
Why is this concept that the Mitzvos protect the Jewish people mentioned
specifically with regard to the Mitzvah of Tefilin?
(a) The Gemara (Berachos 6a) says that the verse, "All the nations of the
world will see that the name of Hashem is called upon you, and they will be
in awe of you" (Devarim 28:10), refers to the Tefilin Shel Rosh. The
Tefilin, then, protect us by causing the gentiles to fear us.
The mechanism for this effect may be as follows. One may not take his
attention away from the holiness of Hashem's name (which is written in the
Tefilin) while he is wearing Tefilin (Yoma 6b). Therefore, one is
constantly focused on Hashem's Presence while wearing them. We learn from
the Mishnah in Rosh Hashanah (29a) that when a person focuses on Hashem's
Presence, he will conquer all enemies (v'Chi Yadav Shel Moshe...) and merit
Hashem's salvation. So, too, when one wears Tefilin and focuses on Hashem,
he merits Hashem's protection. (M. Kornfeld - see also Parasha-Page, Lech
(b) TOSFOS (49a, DH Kanfeha) explains the Gemara somewhat differently.
According to Tosfos, the dove does not fight with its wings, but rather the
wings protect the dove in the following way. Birds may be overcome by
predators when they are at rest, but not while in flight. The dove is able
to rest one wing at a time while staying airborne with the other wing; it
does not have to rest on the ground. In that way, its wings protect it.
Similarly, when the Jews are not performing one Mitzvah, they are
performing another Mitzvah. (See Menachos 29b, that when King David was in
the bathhouse he thought, "Oh no, now I am bereft from Mitzvos," until he
noticed his Milah...).
If so, this concept may be related specifically to Tefilin as follows. The
Gemara and Rishonim state only that Elisha removed his Tefilin Shel Rosh.
Apparently, he did not remove his Tefilin Shel Yad because the official
could not see that he was wearing Tefilin on his arm, since the Tefilin
Shel Yad are worn *under* the garment, and not in the open like the Tefilin
Shel Rosh. In this sense, the analogy to the wings of a dove is most
accurate; Elisha was still "flying" with one wing, so to speak, while
resting the other, since he was still wearing one the Tefilin Shel Yad even
when he was forced to remove the Shel Rosh!
(c) It should be noted that the RITVA (49a) writes that this Gemara is the
source for the manner in which we wrap our Tefilin Shel Rosh. We wrap the
straps of the Shel Rosh around either side of the Tefilin, so that they
form the shape of "wings of a dove!" (This custom is also cited in the
MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 28:9) from the Magen Avraham (28:4), who cites it in
turn from the Mateh Moshe.)
QUESTION: The Gemara says that any Mitzvah which the Jewish people
originally accepted with Simchah, such as the Mitzvah of Milah, they still
accept with Simchah.
Why does the Gemara emphasize that they *still* accept it with Simchah? Why
should they not accept it with Simchah? Likewise, why does the Gemara
emphasize that any Mitzvah which the Jewish people accepted with strife,
they *still* accept with strife?
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON (Divrei Eliyahu) explains that according to the
Gemara (Nidah 31b), the reason the Torah commanded that a son be
circumcised on the eighth day is because on that day the parents experience
a great increase in their joy, since the seven days of Tum'as Leidah have
passed and they can once again be together. Nowadays, it is customary for
women to count seven *clean* days after having given birth (besides another
few days to account for the prospect of Poletes Shichvas Zera), and husband
and wife will never be able to be together on the eighth day. Nevertheless,
the Gemara tells us that they *still* perform the Mitzvah of Milah with
Similarly, the Jewish people initially accepted the laws governing immoral
relations with relatives with dispute and strife, because at that time
people had a strong Yetzer ha'Ra for marital relations with their
relatives. The Gemara tells us (Yoma 69b), however, that this Yetzer ha'Ra
was eradicated by the Anshei Keneses ha'Gedolah. Nevertheless, the Jewish
people *still* accept the laws of marriage only with dispute.