1) READING THE LAST EIGHT VERSES OF THE TORAH
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes Rav who rules that when the Torah is read, the last eight verses of the Torah are read by a "Yachid" ("Yachid Korei Osan"). What does this mean?
(a) RASHI and RABEINU TAM explain that during the public reading of the Torah, there may not be an interruption in these eight verses. They must be read together by one person and cannot be split into two separate Aliyos, with the first four verses read by one person and the last four by another.
The reason for this is, as the MACHZOR VITRI (#418) writes, "in order not to interrupt in relating the passing of the foundation of the world." (The authorship of the Machzor Vitri is attributed to Rashi).
(b) TOSFOS cites RABEINU MESHULAM who explains that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that these verses must be read by one person by himself, rather than simultaneously by both the person who has the Aliyah and the Shali'ach Tzibur.
RABEINU TAM points out that this explanation is difficult to understand, because the Halachah is that all parts of the Torah must be read by one person and not by two people together, for "two voices together are not heard" (Megilah 21b).
(c) The RI MI'GASH (cited by the Shitah Mekubetzes) explains that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that the last eight verses should be read by a different person than the one who read the previous verses. If the same person were to continue and read these verses until the end of the Torah, he would be reading both the verses that Moshe Rabeinu transcribed and the verses that Yehoshua transcribed. The Rabanan require a separation between the verses of Moshe and those of Yehoshua, so that it will be evident that they are unique.
(d) The RI MI'GASH gives another explanation which is the opposite of his first. The second explanation is that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that the person who read the previous verses must continue and read these eight verses with no interruption, so that it should not appear that these verses are different from the rest of the Torah.
(e) The MORDECHAI, cited by the DARCHEI MOSHE and PERISHAH (OC 428), writes that the word "Yachid" refers to a Talmid Chacham, who is called a "Yachid" in the sense that he is unique, singular, and exceptional. According to this, the Gemara means that the last eight verses of the Torah must be read by a Talmid Chacham. (Indeed, the practice nowadays is to give a Talmid Chacham the honor of Chasan Torah.)
(f) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Tefilah 13:6) writes that "it is permitted to read the last eight verses of the Torah in the Beis ha'Keneses without a Minyan. Even though it is all part of the Torah written by Moshe as he heard it from Hash-m, nevertheless since these verses discuss the time after the death of Moshe, they are to be treated differently. Therefore, it is permitted for a Yachid (without a Minyan) to read them." The KESEF MISHNEH explains that the Rambam understands that "Yachid Korei Osan" means that it is permitted for a Yachid, a person without a Minyan, to read these verses from the Sefer Torah, in contrast to all other parts of the Torah, which one may not read from the Sefer Torah without a Minyan.
(See the RA'AVAD there who rejects the Rambam's explanation, and see the Kesef Mishneh there who defends it. See also the CHASAM SOFER who defends the Rambam's explanation.) (I. Alsheich)
2) THE MYSTERY OF IYOV
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes many opinions about the identity of Iyov and when he lived.
One opinion says that he lived in the time of Moshe. The Gemara suggests that he may have lived in the time of Yitzchak, Yakov, or Yosef. Another opinion says that he lived in the time of the Meraglim, while yet another opinion says that he returned with the exiles from the Galus in Bavel and set up a Beis Midrash in Teverya. The Gemara attempts to suggest that he lived from the time the Jews descended to Mitzrayim until they left. The Gemara then quotes more opinions which maintain, respectively, that he lived during the days of Achashverosh, during the time of Queen Sheva, and during the time of the Kasdim (Nebuchadnetzar).
Nowhere else in the Gemara are there so many opinions about the identity and chronology of a single person. Why is the identity of Iyov subject to so much doubt?
ANSWER: The RITVA writes that the reason there are many views about the identity of Iyov is that the Book of Iyov was not well known to all of the people, but was hidden in the possession of individuals. As a result, Iyov's exact identity and the time in which he lived was forgotten. Had everyone learned the Book of Iyov throughout the generations, it would have been known who Iyov was and when he lived. (I. Alsheich)
3) THE GREATNESS OF IYOV
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan states that what is written about Iyov is greater than what is written about Avraham. About Avraham it is written, "For now I know that you are G-d-fearing" (Bereishis 22:12), while about Iyov it is written, "[Iyov was] a perfect and upright man, G-d-fearing, and he kept away from evil" (Iyov 1:1).
How does this prove that Iyov was greater than Avraham? The verse which the Gemara quotes regarding Avraham was said by Hash-m when He was speaking directly to Avraham, and there is a rule that one should not tell all of the praises of a person in his presence (). The verse about Iyov, though, was not said in his presence and therefore it lists all of his praises. It is possible, however, that there were many more praises befitting Avraham. (RITVA)
ANSWER: The RITVA answers that even though Hash-m was speaking in the presence of Avraham, He still could have added more praises without mentioning all of Avraham's praises. The fact that the verse does not mention more praises shows that, indeed, that which is written about Iyov is greater than that which is written about Avraham. (I. Alsheich)