THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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YEVAMOS 16 (7 Teves) - Dedicated by Yaakov Wollner and family, of Baltimore,
Maryland, in memory of Yitzchok Yisroel Daniel.
1) AGADAH: REBBI AKIVA'S NAME REACHES THE ENDS OF THE WORLD
Yonasan ben Hurkenos said to Rebbi Akiva, "You are the Akiva whose name goes
from one end of the world to the other end (mi'Sof ha'Olam Ad Sofo)!..."
2) AGADAH: THE THREE HALACHOS REBBI DOSA HEARD FROM CHAGAI HA'NAVI
The MITZPEH EISAN points out that the Gematria of the words, "mi'Sof Olam Ad
Sofo," is 564, which is the number of times that Rebbi Akiva is mentioned in
the Mishnayos. The Halachah follows the opinion of Rebbi Akiva 375 times,
which is equal to the Gematria of "Sha'ah," as in "ha'Sha'ah Omedes Lo" ("the
time is fortuitous for him"). Also, the Gemara in Gitin (67a) refers to Rebbi
Akiva as "Otzer Balum" (an organized storehouse of wisdom), the Gematria of
which is 375.
(There seems to be a mistake in the transmission of this Gematria, because in
our Mishnayos a computer search turns up the name of Rebbi Akiva 338 times.
Perhaps what he meant to say is that the Gematria of the words, "mi'Sof" and
"Sofo" (without the words "ha'Olam Ad") is exactly 338, and that the Gematria
of one of those two words is equal to the number of times the Halachic ruling
follows Rebbi Akiva.)
Rebbi Dosa ben Hurkenos told his three distinguished guests, Rebbi Yehoshua,
Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, and Rebbi Akiva, that he heard three Halachos that
Chagai ha'Navi taught. Those three Halachos were that "Tzaras ha'Bas" (the
Tzarah of the daughter of the surviving brother) is prohibited to do Yibum,
people in the lands of Amon and Moav must give Ma'aser Ani during the
Shemitah year, and that we accept converts from the Tarmodi'im.
3) AGADAH: REBBI AKIVA THE SHEPHERD
The ARUCH LA'NER explains why Rebbi Dosa chose to teach these three Halachos
in particular to his guests. He says that each Halachah was addressed to one
of the guests, in the order in which they entered to visit him. Rebbi Dosa's
intention was to correct mistakes in Halachah that his guests had made.
The Halachah that "Tzaras ha'Bas" is prohibited was directed towards Rebbi
Yehoshua. Rebbi Yehoshua was the first who entered, leading the delegation of
Tana'im who came to question the supposed ruling of Rebbi Dosa concerning
"Tzaras ha'Bas." It was Rebbi Yehoshua (on 15b) who did not want to rule
concerning the case of "Tzaras ha'Bas," excusing himself by saying that he
did not want to put his head "between the mountains" who argue about it.
Rebbi Dosa told him that he did not have to be afraid to rule that "Tzaras
ha'Bas" is prohibited. (It could be that Rebbi Yehoshua did not want to rule
openly on the issue against the opinion of Beis Shamai because of the
incident recorded in Chagigah 22b.)
The second Halachah that Rebbi Dosa related -- that the people in the lands
of Amon and Moav must separate Ma'aser Ani during the Shemitah year -- was
directed towards Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah. It was Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah
who discussed that Halachah in Maseches Yadayim (4:3) and said that one must
separate Ma'aser Sheni, and not Ma'aser Ani, during the Shemitah year in the
lands of Amon and Moav. (Perhaps during their prior discussion of various
Halachos the conversation turned to this Halachah and Rebbi Elazar ben
Azaryah expressed his opinion on the matter.)
The third Halachah -- that we accept converts from the Tarmodi'im -- was
directed towards Rebbi Akiva. Rebbi Akiva (49a) ruled that a child produced
through a union with a Chiyuv Lav (and not only a Chiyuv Kares) is a Mamzer.
Consequently, according to Rebbi Akiva, the child born from a Jewish woman
and a Nochri is a Mamzer, and that is why we may not accept converts from the
Tarmodi'im (see Tosfos 16b DH Kasavar). Rebbi Dosa corrected him and said, in
the name of Chagai ha'Navi, that we may accept converts from the Tarmodi'im,
because the Halachah is that a union with a Chiyuv Lav does not produce a
(The Halachah follows the rulings of Rebbi Dosa in all three cases.)
QUESTION: Yonasan ben Hurkenos, when he outwitted Rebbi Akiva, exclaimed,
"Happy are you that you merited such a reputation, and you still have not yet
reached the rank of cattle shepherd (Ro'ei Bakar)." Rebbi Akiva responded, "I
have not even reached the level of shepherds of sheep (Ro'ei Tzon)!"
Why did Yonasan ben Hurkenos compare Rebbi Akiva to "Ro'ei Bakar?"
(a) The MAHARSHA points out that Amos ha'Navi said about himself, "I am a
cattle shepherd" (Amos 7:14). Yonasan ben Hurkenos was saying to Rebbi Akiva
that although Rebbi Akiva might have received a tradition from Chagai ha'Navi
saying one thing, he did not have a tradition from an earlier Navi -- Amos,
the "cattle shepherd" -- but only from a later Navi. Perhaps the earlier
Nevi'im had ruled like he, Yonasan, said. Rebbi Akiva responded, "A tradition
from Chagai is even more authoritative than one from Amos. A tradition from
any Navi is like one stemming directly from the 'shepherd of sheep'" --
referring to Moshe Rabeinu (Shemos 3:1)!
(b) The ARUCH LA'NER explains that Rebbi Akiva, before he started to learn
Torah, actually had been the shepherd of Kalba Savua (Kesuvos 62b), and
Yonasan was trying to remind him of that. Rebbi Akiva responded, in his
humility, that he had not even reached the rank of less reputable shepherds,
such as shepherds of sheep (Ro'eh Behemah Dakah"), who are suspected of
allowing their charges to graze in the fields of others (see Sanhedrin 26a,
Bava Kama 79b).
(c) MAHARITZ CHIYUS cites an explanation that he heard, which points out that
according to the Gemara in Berachos (63a) Rebbi Akiva declared a leap year
while he was living outside of Eretz Yisrael. Several Tana'im were not
pleased with him for doing so, since it is the job of Beis Din in Eretz
Yisrael to do so.
The Tana says in Pirkei d'Rebbi Elazar (chapter 8) that even if there are
great Tzadikim and Talmidei Chachamim in Chutz la'Aretz and in Eretz Yisrael
there are only shepherds, the shepherds in Eretz Yisrael should determine the
leap year rather than the Talmidei Chachamim outside of Eretz Yisrael. (The
Gemara in Sanhedrin (18b, 26a) says that even "Ro'ei Tzon and Ro'ei Bakar"
may declare a leap year.) Yonasan ben Hurkenos was reprimanding Rebbi Akiva
for declaring a leap year outside of Eretz Yisrael by telling him that with
regard to declaring leap years, "you are not even as authoritative as Ro'ei
Bakar [in Eretz Yisrael]!"