BACKGROUND TO THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
BAVA BASRA 121 (3 Teves) - Today's Dafyomi material has been dedicated in memory of Hagaon Rav Yisroel Zev Gustman ZT"L (author of "Kuntresei Shiurim") and his wife, Rebbetzin Sarah Gustman (daughter of Hagaon Rav Meir Bassin, a Dayan in Vilna) in honor of the Yahrzeit of the Rebbetzin. Sponsored by a number of Rav Gustman's Talmidim (Harav Naftali Weinberg, Harav Naftali Weinberg, Harav Hillel Ruvel, Harav Avrohom Feldman, Reb Yechiel Wachtel, and Rav Mordecai Kornfeld).
[121a - 31 lines; 121b - 29 lines]
1) [line 1] MO'ADEI HASH-M NE'EMRU; SHABBOS BEREISHIS LO NE'EMRAH - Moshe only taught this law with regard to the holidays, and not with regard to Shabbos (the Gemara will explain the meaning of this phrase shortly. The seventh day of the week is called "Shabbos Bereishis" to distinguish it from the other holidays, which are also referred to as "Shabbos" or "Shabbos Shabboson")
2) [line 2] HAFARAS NEDARIM - that is, Hataras Nedarim (see Background to Bava Basra 120:28)
3) [line 4] V'LO YADA LEI L'FERUSHAH - and he did not know how to interpret it
4) [line 8] KIDUSH BEIS DIN (KIDUSH BEIS DIN / KIDUSH HA'CHODESH - the declaration that Beis Din makes to proclaim the new month)
(a) The Hebrew calendar month, which determines the Jewish holidays, begins with each new revolution of the moon, at the point after it wanes completely and begins to wax anew.
(b) When the Sanhedrin of the Lishkas ha'Gazis (the Jewish "Supreme Court") convened in Eretz Yisrael, the new month was fixed and sanctified according to the testimony of witnesses. A person who sees the moon (as it begins to grow and is just visible) traveled to the Sanhedrin, or to a Beis Din appointed by the Sanhedrin, to testify. The place where the Beis Din convened to accept testimony was known as the Beis ha'Va'ad. Beis Din cross-examined the witnesses there, and when they were convinced of the accuracy of the testimonies, they announced the beginning of the new month.
(c) Today, mathematical calculations are used to determine the beginning of the new month. According to RAMBAM (Hilchos Kidush ha'Chodesh 5:2) it is a Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai to determine the beginning of the month mathematically when there is no Sanhedrin, and through testimony when there is one.
(d) Rav Sheshes explains that the Beraisa means that the holidays depend upon Kidush ha'Chodesh to determine when they will fall, since they have a fixed Jewish date. Shabbos, however, is not subject to a similar proclamation of Beis Din.
5) [line 10] HO'IL U'CHESIVEI GABEI MO'ADOS - since it is written together with the holidays (see Vayikra 23:1-4 et seq.)
6) [line 13] TZERICHIN MUMCHIN - need experts, i.e. [three] judges of the Sanhedrin or similar competent Halachic authorities of each generation
7) [line 5] PARDESI'OS - guards
8) [line 5] YERAV'AM
(a) Yerav'am Ben Nevat of the tribe of Efrayim was the first king of the ten tribes of Yisrael after their secession from the kingdom of the Davidic dynasty (subsequently known as Yehudah), as recorded in Melachim I 11:26-12:20. Upon the death of Shlomo ha'Melech, Rechav'am, his son, took the counsel of his young advisors to increase the high tax and hard labor that Shlomo had instituted (Melachim I 12:14). As a result, the people rebelled under the leadership of Yerav'am ben Nevat.
(b) In order to prevent the people of the ten tribes from returning to the leadership of the Davidic kings, Yerav'am outlawed the Mitzvah of Aliyah l'Regel, forbidding his people to travel to the Beis ha'Mikdash for Pesach, Shavu'os and Sukos. Instead, he built two other "Temples," one in Beis El and one in Dan, where golden calves were worshipped (ibid. I 12:28). He set up guards on the roads leading to Yerushalayim to prevent anyone from serving HaSh-m by going to the Beis ha'Mikdash.
9) [line 7] HARUGEI BEITAR (BEITAR: BEN KOZIVA / BAR KOCHVA)
(a) At the time of the Churban Beis ha'Mikdash (70 CE), Yerushalayim was destroyed and razed to the ground. The Roman Tenth Legion was garrisoned there following its destruction. Emperor Hadrian (who reigned from 117 - 138 CE) founded a new pagan city on the site of Yerushalayim, naming it Aelia Capitolina; Aelia in honor of his own name Publius Aelius Hadrianus, and Capitolina in honor of Jupiter, whose temple in Rome was on the Capitolene hill. At the site of the Beis ha'Mikdash, he erected a new temple to Jupiter. According to the Roman historian Dio Cassius, this was the cause of the revolt of Bar Kochva (132 - 135 CE). However, this could have not been the main cause of the revolt, since no reference to it is made in the Jewish sources. There are references to a number of commandments whose observance was prohibited by the Romans; e.g. Shabbos, circumcision, family purity and Keri'as Shema. All of these decrees brought on the revolt of Bar Kochva (in about 3883/123 CE), which lasted for nine years.
(b) At first the revolt began by Jews who refused to yield to the decrees. They hid in caves and other secret places. (The Chazan Caves, one of these hideouts, can be visited today.) When discovered and raided by the Romans they would resist with great courage and often with great success. Before long, the attacked became attackers, striking out at the Roman troops. At this time, a leader appeared who was a military genius, Shimon bar Koziva. Rebbi Akiva felt that he was great enough to be Mashi'ach and called him Bar Kochva, "son of the star," an allusion to the verse, "Darach Kochav mi'Yakov," "A star shall go forth from Yakov" (Bamidbar 24:17). The "star" of the verse is an allusion to the Mashi'ach.
(c) Bar Kochva succeeded in organizing nets of resistance into an army and gradually pushed the Roman troops out of one position after another. The Tenth Legion was evacuated and withdrew to Caesarea. At this point a period of independent Jewish sovereignty began in Eretz Yisrael, which the Gemara refers to as the Kingdom of Bar Koziva, which lasted for two and a half years (Sanhedrin 97b). Jews all over the world, and other nations, too, were showing evidence of great hostility to the Romans.
(d) Sixty years earlier, at the time of the Churban, the Romans required three legions for the conquest of Yerushalayim. At the time of Bar Kochva, the Romans brought in six legions, besides the legions that were already there, and further detachments of cavalry and infantry. [It seems that one of the reasons for this greater need of military strength was that the Jews were unified, in contrast to the times of the Churban when the Jews were fragmented into opposing groups and sects - Editors note.]
(e) Despite the enormous size of their army, the Romans were unwilling to face Bar Kochva's troops in full battle. They proceeded slowly, attacking isolated localities and interfering with food supplies. When the Twenty-second Legion advanced too deeply and too quickly into Jewish territory, it was totally destroyed. It was never reconstituted, and forever after was omitted from the list of units in the Roman army.
(f) After approximately twelve months of warfare, the Romans started to advance on the Jewish positions. Bar Kochva and his troops withdrew to Beitar, a large city to the southwest of Yerushalayim, where the fighting continued for some three and a half years. Eventually, Bar Kochva accepted a slanderous accusation against his uncle, the sage Rebbi Elazar ha'Moda'i, who had been praying all along for the salvation of Beitar, and killed him in a fit of rage. Afterwards, Beitar fell to the Romans, and Bar Kochva was slain. (YERUSHALMI Ta'anis 4:5)
(g) The blood of the men, women and children killed is said to have flowed into the Mediterranean Sea, which was a distance of one Mil away (Gitin 57a; according to Eichah Rabah 2:4 four Mil; alt. 40 Mil). The Gemara (ibid.) records that the non-Jews in the neighboring towns did not need to fertilize their vineyards for seven years due to the quantity of blood that flowed into the ground.
(h) At first, the Roman Government did not let the Jews bury the bodies. One emperor is said to have fenced in his vineyard with the dead bodies (Eichah Raba 2:4). After quite some time, the next emperor allowed the bodies to be buried. It was seen as a sign of favor from HaSh-m that the Romans changed their minds, and that the bodies did not decompose before they were buried. The Chachamim established the Berachah of ha'Tov veha'Metiv to commemorate the miracles.
(i) After the revolt was crushed, no Jews were allowed to live in Yerushalayim for 500 years. The rulers killed any Jew who set foot in the city. The fall of the Beis ha'Mikdash sixty-three years earlier triggered the destruction of Yerushalayim; the fall of Beitar triggered the destruction of Eretz Yisrael. Nevertheless, Jews always remained in Eretz Yisrael.
(from History of the Jewish People/From Yavneh to Pumbedisa, Artscroll Publishers, Brooklyn, New York, 1986, by Meir Holder)
10) [line 8] YAVNEH
Yavneh was the seat of the Sanhedrin after the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash. It was known as "Kerem b'Yavneh" since the students sat in rows resembling grapevines in a vineyard.
11) [line 10] MA'ARACHAH - the wood-pile on the Mizbe'ach on which the sacrifices were burned
12) [line 11] TASHASH KOCHAH SHEL CHAMAH - the strength (heat) of the sun becomes weak (and cannot properly dry out the cut wood)
13) [line 12] YOM TEVAR MAGAL - the Day of the Breaking of the Axe (a Magal, usually translated as a scythe or sickle, may also be a type of axe used for cutting down trees) (RASHI to Ta'anis 31a)
14a) [line 12] D'MOSIF YOSIF - the one who adds hours of learning from the night to his daytime learning, will add time to his life
b) [line 12] SHE'EINO MOSIF YASEIF - and the one who does not add hours of learning will die early
15) [line 13] TIKBEREI IMEI - his mother will bury him
16) [line 13] KIPLU ES KOL HA'OLAM KULO - wrapped, spanned the entire [history of the] world
17) [line 15] ACHIYAH HA'SHILONI - Achiyah ha'Shiloni was one of the great prophets of Yisrael, the teacher of Eliyahu ha'Navi. He was probably at least 61 years old at the time of the Exodus from Egypt (RASHBAM). He prophesied that the kingdom of Yisrael under Rechav'am the son of Shlomo would be divided, and that Yerav'am would become the king of the ten tribes that seceded (see above, entry #8). After the grave sins of Yerav'am, he prophesied that Yerav'am's house would be totally destroyed and that the Jews would be exiled as an end result of the worship of Avodah Zarah and other transgressions (Melachim I 14:1-18).
18) [line 19] PEKUDAV - the count [of their tribe]
19) [line 24] SHE'SHAKUL K'RUBAH SHEL SANHENDRIN - who is equal [in importance] to [36 judges,] the majority of the Sanhedrin (which consists of 71 judges)
20) [line 27] GAMAR "VA'MA'LAH" "VA'MA'LAH" ME'ERCHIN - it is learned through a Gezeirah Shavah between the words "va'Ma'lah" from the Parshah of Erchin (ERCHIN)
(a) Erech (endowment valuation) refers to a special form of vow. If a person declares, "Erech Ploni Alai" ("I accept upon myself to give the endowment value of so-and-so [to Hekdesh]"), he must give the specific value that the Torah designates for the person's gender and age group as stated in Vayikra 27:1-8 (see below, (b)). It makes no difference at all whether the person is healthy or sick, strong or weak.
(b) The Erech that the Torah specifies for children between the ages of 1 month and 5 years is 5 Shekalim for males and 3 Shekalim for females (Vayikra 27:6). For youths and young adults between the ages of 5 years and 20 years, the Erech that the Torah specifies is 20 Shekalim for males and 10 Shekalim for females (Vayikra 27:5). For adults between the ages of 20 years and 60 years, the Erech that the Torah specifies is 50 Shekalim for males and 30 Shekalim for females (Vayikra 27:3-4). For adults over 60 years of age, the Erech that the Torah specifies is 15 Shekalim for males and 10 Shekalim for females (Vayikra 27:7).
21a) [last line] LI'SHEVATIM IFLUG - it was divided according to the number of tribes, i.e. into 12 equal parts
b) [last line] L'KARKAF GAVREI IFLUG - it was divided according to the number of people (either those who left Mitzrayim according to Rebbi Yoshi'a or those who entered Eretz Yisrael according to Rebbi Yonasan)
Index to Background for Maseches Bava Basra