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Pesachim 57


QUESTION: The Mishnah (55b) says that one of the practices of the people of Yericho to which the Chachamim objected was that they used to leave Pe'ah from their vegetable (Yerek) harvests. RASHI (56a, DH u'Michu b'Yadan, and 57a, DH Ein Nosnim Pe'ah l'Yerek) explains that such a practice was unacceptable because the poor people who take the Pe'ah will assume that it is exempt from Ma'aser because it is Hefker, but in reality there is no Mitzvah to leave Pe'ah from Yerek. But why should it not be exempt from Ma'aser? Granted, even if Yerek is exempt from Pe'ah, when one makes it Pe'ah it is as if he is making it Hefker, and Hefker is Patur from Ma'aser!


(a) TOSFOS (DH Ela) argues with Rashi and says that it is not considered Hefker because one is making it Hefker only for poor people and not for everyone. The Mishnah in Peah (6:1) says that an item is not conisdered Hefker unless it is made Hefker for everyone, including wealthy people. The reason that Pe'ah is not Chayav in Ma'aser is not because it is Hefker, but because of an independant Gezeiras ha'Kasuv that states that Pe'ah is exempt from Ma'aser. If it is not Pe'ah, though, such as Yerek, then it remains Chayav in Ma'aser.

(b) To answer the question according to Rashi, it seems that when one leaves Pe'ah from Yerek, even though it is considered as though he is being Mafkir it, it is considered Hefker b'Ta'us -- Hefker made in error, since he did not know that Yerek is not Chayav in Pe'ah. It is therefore not Hefker and it is not exempt from Ma'aser.

It could be that Rashi agrees with Tosfos and holds that when one willingly gives something only to poor people, then it does not become exempt from Ma'aser. Only if he is *obligated* to give it to poor people does the Gezeiras ha'Kasuv apply and make it exempt from Ma'aser. If one thinks that he is obligated to give it to poor people but is really not obligated, it does not become exempt from Ma'aser.

QUESTION: Aba Shaul ben Botnis, in the name of Aba Yosef ben Chanin, bemoaned and prayed not to come into contact with certain people who had certain characteristics. "Woe unto me from the family of Yishmael ben Fiabi, woe unto me from their strong fists, for they are Kohanim Gedolim, their sons are the treasurers [of the Mikdash], their sons-in-law are the ones who give all the orders, and their servants smite the people with their clubs!"

A little later, the Gemara says that the Azarah cried out, "Open your heads, o' gates, and allow to enter Yishmael ben Fiabi, the student of Pinchas, and let him serve as the Kohen Gadol!"

Who was Yishmael ben Fiabi and what was unique about him? Why was he called the student of Pinchas?


(a) Josephus records that Yishmael Ben Fiabi was appointed Kohen Gadol by the Roman ruler of Israel, Agrippa. Some time after appointing Yishmael Ben Fiabi as Kohen Gadol, Agrippa built a balcony on the roof of his palace in order to view the Avodah being performed in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Yishmael Ben Fiabi fiercely opposed this and built a high wall to block the Roman ruler's view of the Avodah. He then traveled to Rome in order to lodge a complaint against Agrippa and justify his raising the wall of the Beis ha'Mikdash. This episode demonstrated the zeal with which Yishmael Ben Fiabi safeguarded the sanctity of the Mikdash.

Perhaps when the Gemara says that he was a student of Pinchas, it refers to Pinchas the son of Aharon, who was known for his zealousness (end of Parshas Balak).

The first description in our Gemara also demonstrates the strength of character of the family of Yishmael Ben Fiabi. Unfortunately, his descendants did not channel their strength towards the honor of heaven, but misused those traits.

(b) The family name may shed new light on an incident recorded by the Gemara elsewhere. The Yerushalmi (Yoma 6:3) relates, "All the days of Shimon ha'Tzadik, the Lechem ha'Panim and Shtei ha'Lechem were blessed and each Kohen received a k'Zayis. Some ate and were satisfied, others even left some over. When Shimon ha'Tzadik passed away this blessing stopped and each Kohen managed to get only the size of a *bean*. The modest Kohanim refrained from taking at all, while the gluttons would grab. It happened once that a Kohen grabbed his portion and his friend's portion. From then on was called 'Ben ha'Afun' ('son of the bean')." The Gemara in Yoma (39b) relates a similar story, concluding that the Kohen was called thereafter "Ben Chamtzan." Chimtza can also mean "bean" (Yevamos 63a, but see Gemara in Yoma, ibid.), so it is probable that the two stories are referring to the same incident and to the same nickname.

The Latin term for bean is "faba." It could be that the Kohen who grabbed was a descendant of Yishmael Ben Fiabi. As we have seen, Yishmael's descendants ruled with arrogance and took what was not theirs. In a play on words, instead of calling this person Ben Fiabi, he was renamed "Ben Faba" or "Ben ha'Afun."

The Tosefta (Kelim, Bava Kama 1:6) relates that "the Ba'al ha'Pul would club to death any Kohen who went between the Mizbe'ach and the Beis ha'Mikdash without performing Kidush Yadayim v'Raglayim (washing of the hands and feet)." No mention is made about the identity of this "Ba'al ha'Pul." Who was this mysterious "Ba'al ha'Pul?" Perhaps it was the descendant of Yishmael Ben Fiabi who was known as the "Ben ha'Afun," since "Ba'al ha'Pul literally means "master of the bean." Despite the fact that he sometimes expressed his zealousness in terms of greed, nevertheless, like his grandfather he zealously guarded the sanctity of the Beis ha'Mikdash. (RAV RE'UVAIN MARGULIOS, Cheker l'Shemos v'Kinuyim b'Talmud)


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