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) THE STORY OF SHMUEL HA'KATAN
QUESTION: The Beraisa states that the leap year is instituted only by those
invited to participate as judges. The Gemara relates that it happened once
that Raban Gamliel ordered that seven judges meet him in the designated
place of judgement in order to establish a leap year. When he arrived, he
saw that eight judges had come. He declared, "Who came here without
permission?" Shmuel ha'Katan arose and confessed that it was he who had come
without permission, and that he had come because we wanted to learn the
Halachah. Raban Gamliel responded that he may sit down and judge the case of
the leap year, "for all of the years are fit to be judged as leap years by
you." The Gemara says that it was actually a different person who had come
without permission, and Shmuel ha'Katan said that it was he who had come
without permission in order to save the guilty party from embarrassment.
2) AGADAH: THE LESSON FROM YEHOSHUA
This story is difficult to understand. If Raban Gamliel indeed invited them
to come, as the Gemara says, then why did he not recognize who had come
(a) It seems from the words of RABEINU CHANANEL that it is not necessary to
actually invite the judges personally in order for them to be able to judge
the case of the leap year. Rather, it suffices to invite them ambiguously,
such as the way Raban Gamliel said, "Let seven judges come up." Hence, once
seven had arrived, no more were included in the invitation, and the last one
who came in -- the eighth -- was the one who was uninvited. Raban Gamliel
did not know which judges were the seven who entered first, and which one
was the eighth who had entered uninvited.
(b) The RAN cites an explanation which says that even though Raban Gamliel
knew who the guilty party was, he did not want to embarrass him by directly
accusing him, and therefore he asked who had come uninvited. Shmuel ha'Katan
stood up to save that person from the embarrassment of having to leave.
(c) The RAN himself suggests that Raban Gamliel did not know who was
invited, as he had simply told his messenger to invite seven expert judges.
This is apparent from the words of the Gemara which quote Raban Gamliel as
saying, "Hashkimu Li," which implies that he was telling someone else to
invite the judges for him.
(d) The MAHARSHA asks additional questions on this incident. First, why was
Raban Gamliel himself not one of the seven judges? Second, why indeed did
someone come without permission? Third, how could Raban Gamliel tell Shmuel
ha'Katan to remain seated there as a judge if no one else left, thus leaving
eight judges there, plus an uninvited person involved in establishing the
The Maharsha explains, therefore, that this was a case of miscommunication
(similar to the famous incident of Kamtza and Bar Kamtza). Raban Gamliel
told his messenger to summon seven expert judges, meaning six others and
himself (since he, too, must be invited in order to participate). The
messenger did not realize that Raban Gamliel meant to include himself, and
therefore he summoned seven other judges, besides Raban Gamliel. When Raban
Gamliel saw that there was a total of eight judges (including himself), he
thought that someone had come uninvited. Shmuel ha'Katan, though, realized
what had occurred, and he offered to leave in order to enable the leap year
to be established by seven invited judges.
The Maharsha explains that when the Gemara says that it was not Shmuel
ha'Katan who was uninvited, it does not mean that someone else there was
uninvited whom Shmuel ha'Katan wanted to protect from embarrassment. Rather,
it means that when there is an extra judge present, it is appropriate for
the lowest-ranking member of Sanhedrin to leave. In order to prevent the
lowest-ranking person from being singled out (and embarrassed), Shmuel
ha'Katan stood up and offered to leave.
(e) The YAD RAMAH answers that Raban Gamliel himself said that seven
available judges should come. When Shmuel ha'Katan said that he had come not
to judge but to learn, he was saying that he did not want to be counted
among the judges. Consequently, the appropriate number of judges were there.
(This also answers the Maharsha's question regarding how could Raban Gamliel
permit an uninvited person to establish the leap year.) (Y. Montrose)
QUESTION: The Gemara relates a list of people, beginning with Rebbi Chiya
and going back as far as Yehoshua (or Moshe Rabeinu, according to one
opinion), who learned from their predecessor how to act with regard to
preventing another person from being shamed.
The commentators ask many questions on this Gemara. It seems that the common
theme in the incidents related by the Gemara is the importance of preventing
someone else from being embarrassed, even at the risk of being embarrassed
oneself. This theme, however, does not seem to be related to the incident
involving Yehoshua. Hashem told Yehoshua that someone had sinned. Upon
asking for the name of the sinner, Hashem responded, "Am I a tale-bearer? Go
cast lots!" This incident does not seem to involve preventing someone else
from embarrassment at the expense of one's own embarrassment, but rather it
is teaching that one should not tell about the misdeed of one's fellow man.
Even if Hashem refused to reveal the sinner's identity in order to prevent
the sinner from being embarrassed, Hashem did not suffer any embarrassment
Himself by doing so. This incident, therefore, does not seem relevant to the
list of people who *embarrassed themselves* in order to prevent others from
Similarly, the incident of Shechanyah does not seem to fit the theme of the
Gemara. In the incident of Shechanyah, Shechanyah only included himself in
the sinners; he did not save anyone in particular from embarrassment.
In addition, why is it necessary in the first place to say that each person
learned this concept from his predecessor? No special source or lesson is
necessary in order for a person to understand on his own the importance of
preventing another person from being embarrassed!
(a) The MAHARSHAL explains that the stories related by the Gemara actually
comprise two themes and not just one. The first theme is the importance of
enduring personal embarrassment for one's fellow man. The second theme is
enduring personal embarrassment for one's fellow man even when it is fitting
that the other person be embarrassed. By Rebbi Meir writing a Get for a
woman who claimed that someone in his Yeshivah was Mekadesh her through
Bi'ah, Rebbi Chiya understood how far a person should go in order not to
embarrass another. He, therefore, was able to claim that he was the one who
had eaten garlic, causing all of the students to walk out of the Yeshivah in
unity to protect the identity of the one who had actually eaten garlic.
Shmuel ha'Katan learned a slightly different lesson -- not to embarrass
someone even though he is fit to be embarrassed; in the case of Shmuel
ha'Katan, the person who had come uninvited was fit to be embarrassed (the
Maharshal learns the story like the first opinion quoted by the Ran; see
previous Insight). He learned this lesson from Shechanyah, who did not talk
about those who married non-Jewish women. From where did Shechanyah know
that it is appropriate to protect even serious sinners from embarrassment?
He learned it from Hashem, Who refrained from revealing the name of a person
who had committed a severe sin.
(b) RAV CHAIM SHMULEVITZ zt'l (in SICHOS MUSAR) writes that we learn from
this Gemara two important concepts. First, when a person wants to act in a
certain way, he should not act in that way based on his own logic, but
rather he should act in that way only upon learning it from a rebbi. Second,
one should base his actions on what he has learned from his own rebbi with
whom he has a relationship, and not from someone with whom he has no
relationship. That is why Rebbi Chiya learned to act in that particular
manner from Rebbi Meir, and not from Shmuel ha'Katan, and so on.
(c) The MAHARSHA learns that the ethic demonstrated in each story is not
obvious and thus it needed a precedent. It is logical that one does not have
to make himself into a sinner in order to protect the honor of another man.
Hashem told Yehoshua that "Yisrael sinned," when actually only one person
had sinned. From there we learn that although we cannot ignore the person
who sinned, we also cannot single him out if we know his identity, and thus
we must treat the entire group as though it had sinned. Shechanyah learned
from Hashem that he was allowed to mention that the group had sinned (and
not single out the sinners), but he also understood that in order to save
the sinners from embarrassment, he should include himself in that group.
From Shechanyah, Shmuel learned that a person can claim to be the sinner in
order to save others from embarrassment, and he extrapolated this such that
he claimed to be the sinner even though he was not the sinner, in order to
prevent someone else from being embarrassed. If not for Shmuel ha'Katan,
Rebbi Meir and Rebbi Chiya would not have known that a person can claim to
be the sinner when he really is not the sinner. (Y. Montrose)
3) RABAN GAMLIEL'S LETTER TO THE JEWS IN "CHUTZ LA'ARETZ"
OPINIONS: The Gemara contrasts the "toughness" of the earlier generations of
leaders with the "humility" of the later generations, pointing out that even
though the earlier great leaders, such as Raban Gamliel, acted with
toughness and fortitude, they nevertheless had greater humility than the
later generations of leaders, who -- even though they were characterized as
being humble -- did not act with the same degree of humility as the earlier
generations. The Gemara attempts to prove this from the wording used by
Raban Gamliel in a letter that he wrote to the Jews living outside of Eretz
Yisrael. Raban Gamliel he informed them of the establishment of that year as
a leap year, saying that "this is what appeared correct in my eyes and in
the eyes of my colleagues," deferring honor to his colleagues. In contrast,
Raban Shimon Ben Gamliel (the leader of the next generation) wrote in a
similar letter only that "this is what appeared correct in my eyes,"
attributing the honor only to himself and not to his colleagues. The Gemara
rejects this proof, stating that perhaps Raban Gamliel's letter was written
"Basar d'Avruhu." What does this mean?
(a) RASHI and TOSFOS explain that the Gemara is saying that perhaps Raban
Gamliel's letter was written after he was removed from his position as Nasi,
as related in Berachos (27b-28a). Rashi and Tosfos differ, however, with
regard to why this would cause Raban Gamliel to include his colleagues in
Rashi says that undergoing such a humbling experience made Raban Gamliel
more humble, and therefore we cannot compare his degree of humility with
that of the leaders of later generations.
Tosfos says that after Raban Gamliel was removed from his position, he was
reinstated, but he shared the title of Nasi with Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah.
Consequently, all of the rulings that were issued from his Beis Din were
issued with the consent of both persons serving as Nasi, and thus Raban
Gamliel was compelled to write that the decision was made with the consent
of his colleague, Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah.
The RAN agrees with Tosfos. However, he asks that if the Raban Gamliel whom
the Gemara is discussing is the Raban Gamliel who was removed from his
position of Nasi, then he could not have been living during the time of the
Beis ha'Mikdash. How, then, could this Raban Gamliel be writing letters in
which he describes as his reason for establishing a leap year that the
animals and birds are not yet ready to be brought for their appropriate
Korbanos (the sheep for Pesach and the birds for those who gave birth). If
the Beis ha'Mikdash was no longer standing, then why would this have been a
reason to establish a leap year?
The Ran answers that even after the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, the Beis
Din judged the leap year with the assumption that the Beis ha'Mikdash would
be rebuilt again any day. Therefore, the Korbanos had to have the ability to
be brought, in the event that the Beis ha'Mikdash was rebuilt that year, and
that is why they continued to take this factor into consideration. The Ran
proves this from the fact that the Gemara lists "Aviv" and "Peros ha'Ilan"
as reasons to establish a leap year, even though those factors are also not
practically relevant without the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Ran explains that
"Aviv" refers to the wheat not yet being mature enough to be brought as the
Korban Omer, and that "Peros ha'Ilan" refers to the fruit that has not yet
ripened enough to be brought as Bikurim at the proper time. We see from here
that they still took into account these factor even after the Beis
ha'Mikdash was destroyed. (The Ran adds that our calendar nowadays is not
based on these reasons, because we have a set calendar and we do not
deliberate the establishment of leap years as was done in the days of Raban
Rashi, though, questions the explanation that "Aviv" refers to the wheat
needed for the Korban Omer. The Gemara later says that "Aviv" is a good
enough reason if two out of the three regions of Eretz Yisrael are grainless
(Ever ha'Yarden and the Galil, and not Yehudah). Rashi says that this proves
that "Aviv" is not a factor because of the Omer, because even when two
regions are grainless, we could still bring the Omer from the grain in
Yehudah. Therefore, Rashi states that "Aviv" means that we need to have
Pesach occur in the springtime, "b'Chodesh ha'Aviv" (in the month of
ripening grain). If the grain will not yet be ripe, then this is not the
proper time in which the Torah requires that Pesach be observed.
(c) The MAHARATZ CHAYOS is also bothered by the question of the Ran. He
concludes that the correct approach is that of the TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ
cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES. Tosfos Rabeinu Peretz states that the
Gemara's answer of "Basar d'Avruhu" means "after they established the leap
year" (i.e. they were "Me'aver" the year, making it an "Ibur Shanah"). As
the Gemara earlier (11a) relates, it happened once that Raban Gamliel did
not return from a trip soon enough to be able to participate in the
deliberations of the establishment of a leap year, and therefore the judges
made the leap year conditional on Raban Gamliel's agreement upon his return.
The letter which our Gemara is discussing was written during that period. It
is for this reason that Raban Gamliel included his colleagues in the letter,
for it was they who had carried out the deliberations and judged the
establishment of the leap year for that year. (Y. Montrose)