THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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SANHEDRIN 101-103 (18 Teves) - dedicated by Mrs. Estanne Abraham Fawer to
honor the third Yahrzeit of her father, Reb Mordechai ben Eliezer Zvi
(Weiner). May the merit of supporting and advancing Talmud study serve as an
Iluy for his Neshamah
1) HALACHAH: SINGING VERSES
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that a person who makes a verse of Shir ha'Shirim
into a song "brings evil to the world."
To what extent does this prohibition apply? Does the Gemara intend to
prohibit making a song from any verse in the Torah, and not just from Shir
ha'Shirim? Are there circumstances under which it is permitted to sing a
(a) RASHI says that although the Gemara mentions Shir ha'Shirim, the
Halachah applies equally to any verse in the Torah. It mentions Shir
ha'Shirim to teach that even though the Sefer itself was written as a Shir,
a song, nevertheless it is not permitted to sing it in any other way other
than with the Ta'amim (cantillational notes) that were received through the
tradition from Sinai. It seems from Rashi that it is prohibited to make a
song from any verse in Tanach.
HALACHAH: Rav Moshe Feinstein (ibid.) writes that nowadays it is customary
everywhere to sing verses, even from the Torah itself. Even when he was
young, he writes, it was accepted to sing songs based on verses and Tefilos.
However, he concludes, a Ba'al Nefesh should be stringent upon himself and
not make songs out of verses in Tanach, Torah she'Ba'al Peh, or Tefilos.
In IGROS MOSHE (YD II:142), RAV MOSHE FEINSTEIN zt'l writes that the same
Isur should apply to statements of Torah she'Ba'al Peh, because Torah
she'Ba'al Peh also must be respected and should not be made into a song that
mockers play. Rav Moshe asks that it should also be prohibited to sing
phrases from Berachos and Tefilos, since they are considered like Torah
she'Ba'al Peh (see Shabbos 115a).
(b) Rav Moshe Feinstein bases his argument that Torah she'Ba'al Peh and
Tefilos are like Torah she'Bichtav on the logic that one should not make any
part of Torah a song that will be used in a disrespectful manner by mockers,
as the Beraisa says, "k'Kinor she'Menagnin Bah Letzim." It is possible,
however, that this expression is referring only to the second statement in
the Beraisa, regarding one who reads a verse loudly during a party in order
to make merriment. The first Isur of the Beraisa, which is making a song out
of a verse, might *not* be comparable to putting the Torah in the hands of a
jester, because it is not being sung in a degrading or disgraceful manner.
The Isur of singing verses might simply be because of the Kedushah of the
words of the verses of Torah she'Bichtav, which should not be lowered by
treating them like a song. The words of Torah she'Ba'al Peh, on the other
hand, have no intrinsic Kedushah, but rather the Kedushah is in the
*meaning* of the expression and not in the words themselves. Consequently,
it should be permitted to sing the words; the meaning of the expression will
not be degraded through the song, since it is the *words* being made into a
song and not the *meaning* of the words.
Support for the view that only singing a verse in jest or merriment makes
the verse like a "jester's instrument" can be found in the SEFER CHASIDIM
(#147) and the LIKUTEI MAHARIL (cited by the Magen Avraham in OC 560:10).
(c) The YAD RAMAH takes this distinction further and suggests that perhaps
the Isur of our Gemara applies only when the verse is being sung for the
sake of merriment. It is entirely permitted to sing verses in order to
praise Hashem. However, the Ramah does not decide this matter for certain,
and remains in doubt as to whether it is indeed permitted to sing a verse to
extol the praises of Hashem.
(d) Others suggest that the Gemara is referring only to verses from Shir
ha'Shirim. This seems to be the intention of the Zohar (2:143a, as cited by
the MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM). The DIKDUKEI SOFRIM (#2) quotes the Yalkut (Kesav
Yad) that also states that the Gemara's Isur applies only to Shir ha'Shirim.
This is clear from the Girsa of the Yalkut (which Rashi here pointedly
rejects), according to which the Beraisa reads, "One who reads a verse from
Shir ha'Shirim, *or* one who makes it like a song...." The first Isur --
that of reading a verse from Shir ha'Shirim -- refers to a person who reads
a verse in order to use it in the context of its literal meaning (as opposed
to the intended, allegorical meaning of the verses of Shir ha'Shirim).
According to that Girsa, there are two statements in the first part of the
Beraisa. It is clear that the first one applies only to verses of Shir
ha'Shirim, which speaks exclusively in allegory. Hence, the second
statement -- the Isur of making it into a song -- also applies only to Shir
ha'Shirim. The reason for the Isur is because it is very easy to
misunderstand the meaning of Shir ha'Shirim, and making it into a song might
cause people to show disrespect to the verses.
This ruling would seem to imply that one should not even sing Tefilos (such
as Hallel or Kel Adon) while praying. However, the MAGEN AVRAHAM (560:10)
cites LIKUTEI MAHARIL who writes that while one should not sing songs from
verses during parties, as our Gemara states, nevertheless it is a Mitzvah to
sing parts of Hallel or other Tefilos while praying. (See also OC 51:9, "One
should *sing* Mizmor l'Sodah as a song." In fact, the Tefilos we pray before
"Yishtabach" are collectively referred to as "verses of *song* (Zimra)." One
cannot deduce from the Maharil that singing verses to praise Hashem at times
*other than* during Tefilah is prohibited, since he mentions Tefilah only in
order to teach that it is a *Mitzvah* to sing during Tefilah, in order to
beautify the Tefilos.) Rav Moshe Feinstein is apparently discussing singing
a verse at other times ("she'Lo bi'Zemano"), but not when it is read in
prayer. Similarly, the Gemara in Megilah (32a) teaches that one should "sing
the Mishnah." Tosfos there writes that the Tana'im would sing the Mishnayos
to facilitate memorization (see also Sefer Chasidim #238). When sung under
such circumstances, it is certainly permitted to sing Torah she'Ba'al Peh.
The YABI'A OMER (vol. III, OC 15:5) cites numerous Poskim who were lenient
and permitted the singing of verses from Tefilos or the Torah or even Shir
ha'Shirim, even when one is not praying. He concludes that since the Yad
Ramah (quoted in (c) above) himself remains in doubt as to whether it is
prohibited to sing songs that honor Hashem, and the common practice is to
permit it, clearly the Poskim chose the more lenient side of the Ramah's
doubt. We may therefore permit, l'Chatchilah, the singing of verses.
2) THE THREE VICTORIOUS ARGUMENTS
QUESTIONS: The Gemara says that three people presented Hashem with an
argument of "Alilah," a cunning argument, for their demands -- Kayin, Esav,
and Menasheh. Rashi explains that they presented triumphant arguments that
3) IDENTIFYING NEVAT, THE FATHER OF YAROV'AM, AS MICHAH AND AS SHEVA BEN
(a) What do these three people, or their arguments, have in common with each
other? In addition, why does Rashi refer to their arguments as arguments
that cannot be refuted? What makes them stronger than any other arguments?
Also, what was the argument of Esav, that Yitzchak certainly must have more
than one Berachah to give? What would Yitzchak be lacking if he would have
had only one Berachah to give?
(b) In addition, some of the arguments seem to be flawed. How could Kayin
have argued that since Hashem will forgive the sins of 600,000 Jewish people
in the future when they sin with the Egel ha'Zahav, then He certainly should
forgive him for his sin? The sin of the Egel ha'Zahav occurred 2,400 years
later! How could Kayin know that they would sin, and how could he know that
Hashem would forgive them?
(a) The MAHARSHA explains that Rashi does not mean that their arguments
could not be refuted. It is obvious that their arguments were weak. However,
since they themselves believed the arguments were strong and irrefutable, if
Hashem would not accede to their arguments, a Chilul Hashem would result.
The MAHARAL adds that Hashem knew that these Resha'im would constantly decry
the perceived unfairness of the way Hashem dealt with them.
According to this explanation, the Gemara is saying that the requests of
Kayin, Esav, and Menasheh were answered even though they did not fully
repent and did not deserve what they were given. Hashem gave them their
requests only in order to prevent Chilul Hashem.
Perhaps a sign that the Chachamim found to show that the requests of these
three people were answered grudgingly by Hashem, as it were, in order to
prevent Chilul Hashem, was that although Hashem promised them what they
demanded, His gift was limited and was not enduring.
In the case of Kayin, Hashem granted him life only for an additional seven
generations. In the case of Esav, he was granted the Berachah only as long
as the descendants of Yakov would not be doing the will of Hashem, but as
soon as they repent, or when Mashi'ach comes, he loses his Berachos. In the
case of Menasheh, Hashem granted him 33 more years, but, as the verse
concludes (see the Mishnah, 90a), he was returned only to Yerushalayim but
not to Olam ha'Ba. (M. Kornfeld)
(b) In the case of Kayin, how did Kayin know that the Jewish people would
sin? The YA'AVETZ says that Kayin knew it through Nevu'ah. The TORAS CHAIM
suggests that he found it in the Sefer of Adam ha'Rishon (as described in
Bava Metzia 85b), in every generation and its leaders are listed.
Kayin's argument can be explained in another way. Why did Kayin base his
argument on the atonement granted to the Jewish nation many generations
later, when he could have based it on the fact that Hashem granted atonement
to his own father, Adam ha'Rishon?
Perhaps Kayin's argument indeed was based on the fact that Hashem forgave
Adam ha'Rishon. The sin of the Egel ha'Zahav was a replication of the sin of
Adam ha'Rishon, as the verse says in Hoshe'a (6:7). Hashem forgave them
because He forgave Adam ha'Rishon. The reason why the Gemara mentions the
sin of the Egel ha'Zahav and not the sin of Adam ha'Rishon directly is
because, as the Ya'avetz writes, the source for the Gemara's understanding
of Kayin's argument is Kayin's own words, "*Gadol* Avoni mi'Neso" (Bereishis
4:13), which allude to the words that Moshe Rabeinu used after the Jewish
people sinned with the Egel ha'Zahav, "Atah *Yigdal* Na Ko'ach Hashem"
(Bamidbar 14:17), saying that Hashem's attribute of mercy is able to forgive
even the most severe sin.
In addition, the reason why the Gemara mentions the sin of the Egel ha'Zahav
is because the Chilul Hashem inherent in a rejection of Kayin's argument is
that Hashem would appear prejudiced -- Hashem wants to do more favors for
some than for others, as it were. Kayin argued that Hashem had forgiven Adam
ha'Rishon's sin out of prejudice -- because, he asserted, Hashem wanted to
bring forth a chosen nation from Adam ha'Rishon and that He would be willing
to forgive everything so that this chosen nation should survive. The
argument that Hashem forgave 600,000 Jews was a paraphrase of Kayin's
argument that Hashem forgave Adam ha'Rishon in order that the Jewish people
will come from him. Esav had a similar argument when he said that Yitzchak
favors Yakov over him.
The argument of Menasheh was the opposite -- Hashem already decided to
destroy the Beis ha'Mikdash and exile the people, and thus Teshuvah will not
Regarding Esav, the Maharsha explains that the Chilul Hashem that would
occur from Esav not receiving a Berachah is that Yitzchak's power of
Berachos was given to him by Hashem (see Rashi to Bereishis 25:5).
Therefore, if Yitzchak would not have another Berachah for Esav, it would
seem as though Hashem Himself had no other Berachos to offer, since Yitzchak
was given power to distribute Berachos from Hashem.
QUESTIONS: A Beraisa states that Nevat, the father of Yarov'am, was the same
person as Michah, who lived during the times of the Shoftim. He was also the
same person as Sheva ben Bichri, who lived during the times of David
There are a number of questions with this Gemara.
First, the RADAK (in Melachim I 11:26) points out that according to the
verse, Sheva ben Bichri was from Shevet Binyamin (Shmuel II 20:1). Nevat,
though, was from Shevet Efraim! How, then, could the Beraisa say that they
are the same person?
ANSWER: The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM cites the EIN ELIYAHU (in his introduction to
Ein Yakov) who writes that the Gemara does not mean that these three
individuals were one and the same person. Rather, it means that the three of
them had similar traits and characteristics.
Second, the YAD RAMAH asks that if Michah was such a Rasha, then how could
Hashem have allowed him to live such an exceptionally and miraculously long
life, from the time of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim (as the Gemara says, see RASHI DH
Nismachmech b'Vinyan) until the times of Shlomo ha'Melech -- over 400 years?
In a similar vein, the CHIDA writes (in MAR'IS HA'AYIN) that the Gemara
might be referring to the concept of Gilgul Neshamos, according to which a
Neshamah can reappear in this world in the body of a different person in a
different generation. (The BEN YEHOYADA questions this, because it seems
that Sheva ben Bichri was still alive at the time that Nevat lived.) This is
also the explanation of the YA'AVETZ later (105a).
According to both the Ein Eliyahu and the Chida, we may add that the Gemara
means not only that they shared characteristics but that they were descended
from each other (Michah's descendant was Sheva ben Bichri, whose descendant
was Nevat), and each one acquired his evil characteristics from his
grandfather. Support for this interpretation can be found in the words of
RASHI to Tehilim (60:1), RADAK to Shoftim (3:8), and RABEINU BACHYE
(Bereishis 31:52) who explain that Lavan, Be'or, and Kushan were related in
terms of ancestry and character traits, based on the Gemara later (105a)
that says that Lavan was the same person as Be'or and the same person as
Kushan, who lived hundreds of years after Lavan.
(b) The BEN YEHOYADA says that we find elsewhere that a person lived from
the time of Yetzi'as Mitzrayim until the times of Yarov'am. The Gemara
writes in Bava Basra (121b) that the life of Achiyah ha'Shiloni spanned that
length of time.
This answer requires further elucidation, because the question of the Yad
Ramah was based on the fact that Michah was a great Rasha. If he was so
wicked, then how did he merit to live so long? However, we find that even a
Rasha could be granted an exceptionally long life, such as in the case of Og
Melech ha'Bashan, who lived 400 years. Even though he was a Rasha, he was
rewarded for the single merit of informing Avraham Avinu about Lot's
capture. The same might be true of Michah. Perhaps he lived such an
exceptionally life because he gave food to wayfarers, as the Gemara says
Regarding the ancestry, the Ben Yehoyada suggests that when the verse says
that he was "Ish Yemini," from Binyamin, it might mean that his mother was
from Binyamin, while his father was from Shevet Efraim, as the Gemara in
Megilah (12b) writes with regard to Mordechai.