POINT BY POINT OUTLINE
THE NEFF FAMILY MASECHES BERACHOS
prepared by Rabbi P. Feldman of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
1) HASHEM'S PRAYER AND HIS MIDAH OF WRATH
(a) Question (R. Yochanan): What is the source that Hash-m prays?
(b) Answer: "Va'Havi'osim El Har Kodshi v'Simachtim b'Veis Tefilasi," i.e. where I (Hash-m) pray. (Obviously, Hash-m has no need to "pray"! Some explain that this is a lesson in how to pray, or a request that we merit His mercy.)
(c) Question: What is Hashem's prayer?
(d) Answer (Rav Zutra bar Tuvya): "May it be My will that My mercy overpower My anger, and My mercy overcome My [other] attributes, and that I should treat My children with mercy, and go beyond the letter of the law with them [in judgement]."
(e) (Beraisa - R. Yishmael ben Elisha (he was Kohen Gadol)): Once I entered the Kodesh ha'Kodashim to burn the Ketores, and I saw Achasri'el (a prophetic vision of Hash-m. Some say that it was an angel of Hash-m) sitting on an exalted throne. He asked me to bless Him.
(f) R. Yishmael: May it be Your will that Your mercy overpower Your anger, and Your mercy overcome Your attributes, and that You should treat Your children with mercy, and go beyond the letter of the law with them.
1. He nodded His head to me. This shows that one should not belittle the blessing of a simple person.
(g) Question (R. Yochanan citing R. Yosi): What is the source that one should not try to appease a person when he is angry?
(h) Answer: "Panai Yelechu va'Hanichosi Lach" -- after My anger passes, I will (destroy your enemies, and) give you serenity. (Alternatively - I will leave you alone, but not Bnei Yisrael. Alternatively - I will permanently put on you the supreme light, or prophecy.)
(i) Question: Does Hash-m really get angry?!
(j) Answer: Yes!
1. (Beraisa): "V'Kel Zo'em b'Chol Yom" -- Hashem's fury is for a Rega (moment); this is one part in 58,888 parts of an hour (about 1/15th of a second);
2. The only creature that knew when this moment comes was Bil'am, about whom it says "v'Yode'a Da'as Elyon."
3. Question: He did not even know his donkey's mind. (His donkey won the argument.) How could he know Hashem's mind?!
4. Answer: Rather, "v'Yode'a Da'as Elyon" teaches that Bil'am knew the moment of Hashem's wrath.
(k) (R. Elazar): "Ami Zechor Na Mah Yo'atz Balak... Lema'an Da'as Tzidkos Hash-m" -- we should know what Hash-m did for us, He was not angry for a moment the entire time Bil'am was trying to curse us;
1. Had He become angry, [Bil'am would have succeeded to curse us and] there would be no remnant of us.
(l) This explains, "Mah Ekov Lo Kaboh Kel, u'Mah Ez'om Lo Za'am Hash-m."
2) HASHEM'S WRATH
(a) Question: How long does Hashem's wrath last?
(b) Answer: It is for a Rega.
(c) Question: How long is a Rega?
(d) Answer (R. Avin or R. Avina): It is the time needed to say "Rega."
(e) Question: What is the source that Hashem's wrath is a Rega?
(f) Answer #1: It says "Ki Rega b'Apo."
(g) Answer #2: It says "Chavi Chim'at Rega Ad Ya'avor Za'am."
(h) Question: When does this Rega come?
(i) Answer (Abaye): It is in the first three hours of the day, when a rooster's mane turns white.
(j) Question: Its mane is always white!
(k) Answer: At all other times, it has red speckles. During the Rega, it is totally white.
(l) A certain heretic used to bother R. Yehoshua ben Levi with [perverted explanations of] verses. R. Yehoshua ben Levi set a rooster between the legs of his bed. He intended to curse him when the mane turned all white.
1. When the moment came, R. Yehoshua ben Levi fell asleep. He realized that Hash-m did not want him to curse him. It says "v'Rachamav Al Kol Ma'asav," and "Gam Anosh la'Tzadik Lo Tov."
(m) (Beraisa - R. Meir): When kings put on their crowns and bow to the sun, immediately Hash-m gets angry.
(n) (R. Yochanan): One chastisement in the heart of man is better than many lashes -- "v'Ridfah Es Me'ahaveha... v'Ashuvah El Ishi ha'Rishon Ki Tov Li Az me'Atah."
(o) (Reish Lakish): It is better than 100 lashes -- "Tachas Ge'arah v'Mevin me'Hakos Kesil Me'ah."
3) MATTERS THAT HASH-M GRANTED TO MOSHE
(a) (R. Yochanan): Moshe requested three things from Hash-m, and Hash-m agreed:
1. He asked that the Shechinah dwell among Yisrael -- "ha'Lo b'Lechtecha Imanu";
2. He asked that the Shechinah not dwell amidst Nochrim -- "v'Niflinu Ani v'Amcha";
3. He asked that Hash-m show His ways to him -- "Hodi'eni Na Es Derachecha."
i. He wanted to know why some Tzadikim prosper and others suffer, and why some Resha'im prosper and others suffer;
ii. Hash-m: A Tzadik ben Tzadik (his father was also a Tzadik) prospers. A Tzadik ben Rasha suffers. A Rasha ben Tzadik prospers. A Rasha ben Rasha suffers.
(b) Objection: How can he say that a Tzadik ben Tzadik prospers, but a Tzadik ben Rasha suffers?
1. Contradiction: It says "Poked Avon Avos Al Banim," and "u'Vanim Lo Yumsu Al Avos"!
2. Resolution: Hash-m punishes a person for his father's sins only if he continues in his father's evil way. (R. Yochanan says that even a Tzadik ben Rasha suffers!)
(c) Correction: Rather, Hash-m said that a pure Tzadik prospers. A Tzadik with some sins suffers. A Rasha with some merits prospers. An absolute Rasha suffers.
(d) R. Yochanan argues with R. Meir;
1. (R. Meir): Hash-m granted two of Moshe's three requests. "V'Chanosi Es Asher Achon v'Richamti Es Asher Arachem" -- even if they are unworthy. (He did not explain to Moshe why some Tzadikim suffer....)
(e) (Beraisa - R. Yehoshua ben Korchah): "Lo Suchal Lir'os Es Panai" -- when I wanted you to look [at the Sneh, i.e. burning bush on Sinai], you did not want to. Now, you want to look [at My glory], but I do not want you to.
(f) This is unlike R. Shmuel bar Nachmani;
1. (R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): Moshe merited three things in reward for his three-fold reluctance to look at the Sneh:
i. In reward for "va'Yaster Moshe Panav," he merited that [later] his face radiated light;
ii. In reward for "Ki Yarei," he merited that Bnei Yisrael were afraid to approach him;
iii. In reward for "me'Habit," he merited "u'Semunas Hash-m Yabit."
(g) (Rav Chana bar Bizna): "Va'Hasirosi Es Kapi v'Ra'isa Es Achorai" -- Hash-m showed to Moshe the knot of His Tefilin (which is on the back of the neck.)
(h) (R. Yochanan): Whenever Hash-m promised to do something good, even if it was conditional, He never retracted. We learn this from Moshe;
1. Hash-m said "Heref Mimeni v'Ashmidem v'E'eseh Oscha l'Goy Atzum";
2. Even though He accepted Moshe's prayer and did not destroy Yisrael, still He made a great nation from Moshe's children -- "Bnei Moshe... Ravu l'Ma'alah."
3. (Rav Yosef - Beraisa): It says "Ravu," like it says about Bnei Yisrael in Mitzrayim, to teach that he had 600,000 descendants.
4) THE SIGNIFICANCE OF NAMES
(a) (R. Yochanan): Avraham was the first person to call Hash-m "Adon" -- "va'Yomer Ado-nai ba'Mah Eda."
(b) (Rav): Daniel was saved (in the lions' den) only in the merit of Avraham -- "Shema Elokeinu El Tefilas Avdecha... Lema'an Ado-nai";
1. Question: It should say "Lema'ancha"!
2. Answer: He asked to be saved in the merit of Avraham, who called Hash-m "Adon."
(c) (R. Yochanan citing R. Shimon): What is the source that one should not try to appease a person when he is angry?
(d) Answer: "Panai Yelechu va'Hanichosi Lach" -- after My anger passes, I will give you serenity.
(e) (R. Yochanan): Leah was the first person to thank Hash-m (when she had her fourth son) -- "ha'Pa'am Odeh Es Hash-m." (She was the first to feel that she received more than her portion. Normally, there is no limit to the good Hash-m can bestow. However, she knew that there would be only 12 Shevatim from four wives, an average of three each - PF.)
(f) (R. Elazar): She called her first son "Reuven" (with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh) -- Re'u (see) the difference between my Ben (son) and Esav;
1. Even though Esav willingly sold his birthright, he hated Yakov for taking it;
2. Reuven will lose his birthright to Yosef against his will, yet he will not be jealous (and will even save Yosef) -- "va'Yishma Reuven va'Yatzilehu mi'Yadam."
(g) Question: What is the significance of the name "Rus"?
(h) Answer (R. Yochanan): She merited that David descended from her, and he RiVah (satiated) Hash-m with songs and praises (Tehilim).
(i) Question: What is the source that names influence things?
(j) Answer (R. Elazar): We read "Asher Sam Shamos (destruction) ba'Aretz" like "Shemos".
5) DEALING WITH THE WICKED
(a) (R. Yochanan): Evil in a person's house is worse than the war of Gog and Magog:
1. Regarding Avshalom, it says "Mah Rabu Tzarai";
2. It does not say this about Gog and Magog, rather, "Lamah Ragshu Goyim ul'Umim Yehegu Rik." (This connotes a minor matter.)
(b) Question: Why does it say "Mizmor l'David b'Varcho Mipnei Avshalom Beno"? (This connotes that David rejoiced that his son sought to kill him.) It should say "Kinah (a lamentation) l'David"!
(c) Answer (R. Shimon ben Avishalom): This is like a man who had to pay a loan document. Before paying it, he was sad. After paying it, he rejoiced;
1. Hash-m had told David "Hineni Mekim Alecha Ra'ah mi'Beisecha." David was worried lest a slave or Mamzer, who would not have mercy on him, pursue him;
2. When he saw that it was his son, he rejoiced. Therefore, it says "Mizmor."
(d) (R. Yochanan): One may confront Resha'im in this world -- "Ozvei Sorah Yehalelu Rasha v'Shomrei Sorah Yisgaru Vam";
(e) Support (Beraisa - R. Dostai): One may confront Resha'im in this world -- "Ozvei Sorah...";
1. Question: It says "Al Tischar ba'Mere'im Al Tekanei b'Osei Avlah" (do not challenge them)!
2. Answer: It means 'do not compete with or be envious of their deeds' -- "Al Yekanei Libcha ba'Chata'im Ki Im b'Yir'as Hash-m Kol ha'Yom."
(f) Question: R. Yitzchak taught that if you see a Rasha prosper, do not confront him -- "Yachilu Derachav b'Chol Es"! (He will always succeed);
1. Further, he will win in judgment - "Marom Mishpatecha mi'Negdo";
2. Further, he will see (defeat) his enemies - "Kol Tzorerav Yafi'ach Bahem"!
(g) Answer #1: Do not confront him in his affairs, but confront him in Heavenly matters.
(h) Answer #2: Also R. Yitzchak refers to Heavenly matters. R. Yochanan agrees that one should not confront him when he prospers.
(i) Answer #3: Both discuss confronting a prospering Rasha in Heavenly matters;
1. A total Tzadik may confront a Rasha. A Tzadik with some sins should not.
2. (Rav Huna) Question: "B'Vala Rasha Tzadik Mimenu" -- can a Rasha swallow (destroy) a Tzadik?! It says, "Hash-m Lo Ya'azvenu v'Yado"!
3. Answer #1: He can destroy someone more righteous than himself, but he cannot destroy a perfect Tzadik.
4. Answer #2: A prospering Rasha can destroy a Tzadik.
(j) (R. Yochanan): If one fixes a place for Tefilah (Rif - Torah), his enemies will fall under him -- "v'Samti Makom l'Yisrael Avdi u'Netativ v'Shochen Tachtav v'Lo Yosifu Bnei Avlah v'Lo Yirgaz Od l'Anoso."
(k) Contradiction (Rav Huna): It says [our enemies will not be able] "Le'anoso" (to afflict us). Elsewhere, it says "Levaloso" (to consume us)!
(l) Resolution: When the Mikdash was first built, it prevented our enemies from afflicting us. After Yisrael sinned, it afforded only protection that they not consume us!
(m) (R. Yochanan): Shimush (service of) Chachamim is greater than learning Torah -- "Po Elisha... Asher Yatzak Mayim Al Yedei Eliyahu";
1. It does not say that Elisha learned from Eliyahu, rather, that he poured water on his hands, for this is greater. (Often (but not here), Shimush Chachamim refers to understanding how to resolve difficulties between Mishnayos.)
6) THE GREATNESS OF TEFILAH B'TZIBUR
(a) R. Yitzchak (to Rav Nachman): Why didn't you pray in the Beis ha'Keneses?
(b) Rav Nachman: I was too weak.
(c) R. Yitzchak: You should have gathered 10 men to pray with you!
(d) Rav Nachman: That is an exertion.
(e) R. Yitzchak: You should have asked a messenger to tell you when the congregation prays, so that you could pray at the same time!
(f) Question (Rav Nachman): Why is this important?