1) REBBI'S POLICY OF FOOD DISTRIBUTION
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that when Rebbi opened the storehouses to support the poor during a time of famine, he distributed food to those versed in Mikra, Mishnah, Gemara, and Agadah, but he did not distribute food to Amei ha'Aretz.
Why did Rebbi not distribute food to Amei ha'Aretz? After all, there is an obligation to provide even for poor Amei ha'Aretz! (KOVETZ SHI'URIM)
Moreover, the Gemara in Gitin (61a) says that there is a requirement to support Nochrim who are poor (because of Darchei Shalom), so certainly Rebbi should have helped support poor Jews who were Amei ha'Aretz. (MAHARSHA)
(a) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM answers that there was not enough food for all of the poor people. In such a situation, a Talmid Chacham takes precedence over an Am ha'Aretz (as the Mishnah says in Horayos 13a). This is also the explanation of the RITVA cited by the BEIS YOSEF (YD 251). The Ritva says that if Rebbi had given food to the Amei ha'Aretz, there would not have been food left for the Talmidei Chachamim.
The Kovetz Shi'urim rejects this answer. He reasons that if Rebbi did not give food to the Amei ha'Aretz only because there was not enough food for everyone, then the Gemara would not have said that "Rebbi was acting in accordance with his own view, for Rebbi said, 'Troubles (such as famine) come to the world only on account of the Amei ha'Aretz.'" If there was not enough food for everyone, then Rebbi would not have given food to the Amei ha'Aretz even if he did not maintain that troubles come to the world on their account. It must be that there was enough food for all of the poor people, and still Rebbi did not give food to the Amei ha'Aretz because of his position that they were the cause of the famine. The original question, however, still stands. Even if the Amei ha'Aretz were the cause of the famine, there still is an obligation to support them. How could Rebbi have disregarded that Halachah?
(b) The MAHARSHA answers that in the incident that the Gemara discusses, the entire world was suffering from famine. The Gemara in Ta'anis (11a) teaches that when an entire community suffers, even individuals who are not personally affected by the calamity should join in the suffering of the community. Hence, the Gemara states that "he who starves himself during a time of famine will be saved from a gruesome death," and "it is prohibited for a person to engage in marital relations during a time of famine." Amei ha'Aretz do not follow this dictum and they do not join in the suffering of the community; instead, they continue to eat their fill during a time of famine, while Talmidei Chachamim refrain from eating. In accordance with the Gemara in Ta'anis, Rebbi did not want to feed the Amei ha'Aretz, so that they would join in the suffering of the community with everyone else. (I. Alsheich)
2) HALACHAH: WHEN MUST ONE PLACE A MEZUZAH ON A RENTED DWELLING
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Beraisa which states that if a person makes a Neder that prohibits him from receiving benefit from "Anshei ha'Ir," the "people of the city," he may not receive benefit from anyone who has lived in the city for at least twelve months. If a person makes a Neder that prohibits him from receiving benefit from "Yoshvei ha'Ir," the "residents of the city," he may not receive benefit from anyone who has lived in the city for at least thirty days.
The KOVETZ SHI'URIM points out that the same guidelines apply with regard to the obligation to affix a Mezuzah on a rented dwelling. A person who rents a house for less than thirty days is not required to affix a Mezuzah. A person who rents a house for more than thirty days must affix a Mezuzah. However, the Acharonim discuss whether he must affix the Mezuzah right away (even before he has lived there for thirty days), or whether he is required to affix the Mezuzah only after he has lived there for thirty days.
(a) The NIMUKEI YOSEF infers from the Gemara here that a person's status with regard to his residency in a home is not determined based on how long he intends to remain there, but on how long he actually has lived there. Hence, if a person makes a Neder prohibiting himself from benefiting from "Yoshvei ha'Ir," he may receive benefit from someone who intends to remain in the city for thirty days, as long as that person has not actually lived there yet for thirty days. Similarly, it seems that one is not required to affix a Mezuzah to a rented dwelling until he has actually lived there for thirty days.
(b) The MORDECHAI (#477), however, quotes RABEINU BARUCH in SEFER HA'CHOCHMAH who writes that when a person moves to a city and intends to stay there for an extended period, he is comparable to a person who has bought a home in the city, and he has the status of a full-fledged resident of the city (as the Mishnah (7b) says with regard to one who buys a home in a city). Accordingly, the Sefer ha'Chochmah might also maintain that if a person intends to stay in a rented dwelling for a long time (more than thirty days), he is obligated to affix a Mezuzah as soon as he moves in. (See Kovetz Shi'urim.) (I. Alsheich)
3) AVOIDING SUSPICION
QUESTION: The Gemara states that when there are no more poor people to whom the treasurers of the Tzedakah collection can distribute money, the treasurers may not replace the small coins they have received with larger coins (of a superior metal that will last longer) of their own. Rather, they should exchange the small coins for large coins that belong to other people. This is required so that they will not be suspected of exchanging the coins for themselves at a rate that benefits themselves. Similarly, when the treasurers of the food collection have no more poor people to whom to distribute the food, they should sell the food to others and not to themselves, lest they be suspected of selling the food to themselves at an unfair price.
What is the basis of this obligation?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Pesachim (13a) says that the reason for this Halachah is the verse, "You shall be vindicated from Hash-m and from Yisrael" (Bamidbar 32:22). This is in accordance with the Mishnah in Shekalim (3:2), "A person must be vindicated in the eyes of others, just as he must be in the eyes of Hash-m, as it says, 'You shall be vindicated from Hash-m and from Yisrael.'" The Mishnah there cites additional verses as the source for this Halachah, but the Yerushalmi says that this verse is the primary source.
RABEINU YONAH in Berachos (3b of the pages of the Rif) adds that this verse teaches that even when a person did no wrongdoing, he still must make every effort to avoid suspicion. (I. Alsheich)