INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
prepared by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the statement of Reish Lakish that the Posh'ei Yisrael, the sinners of Yisrael, will not be burned by the fire of Gehinom, just as the thin layer of gold upon the Mizbe'ach was not burned by the fire that burned there each day.
This statement is difficult to understand. The Gemara in Chagigah (27a) says that Talmidei Chachamim will not be burned by the fire of Gehinom. This is derived from a Kal v'Chomer from the "Salamandra." Just as the Salamandra comes from fire and its oil is fire-proof and protects a person's skin from fire, certainly Talmidei Chachamim -- whose entire bodies are fire (because they learn Torah) -- will be protected from the fire of Gehinom. How can the Gemara place Talmidei Chachamim and Posh'ei Yisrael together in the same category and say that neither will be affected by the fire of Gehinom? This implies that Talmidei Chachamim have no benefit over sinners!
ANSWER: TOSFOS YESHANIM here answers that although the Posh'ei Yisrael will not be burned by the fire of Gehinom, nevertheless their faces will become blackened from it. Talmidei Chachamim, on the other hand, will not be harmed at all by the fire.
The source for this answer seems to be the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (17a) which says that there is a type of sinner who will be punished by being dipped into Gehinom and immediately removed. The Gemara there concludes that even though those sinners are not burned, the fire of Gehinom blackens their faces like the bottom of a pot. Similarly, the Gemara here says that the reason Posh'ei Yisrael are not burned in Gehinom is that when they are sent to Gehinom, Avraham Avinu comes and brings them out. After being there for a short period their faces are blackened, just like the sinners mentioned in Rosh Hashanah. The Talmidei Chachamim, though, are not sent to Gehinom in the first place.
This may be understood in a deeper way. The Gemara in Berachos (17a) says that it is our inherent desire to fulfill the will of Hash-m, but there are external factors that prevent us from doing His will, such as the Yetzer ha'Ra and our subjugation to the nations of the world. This inner desire to do the will of Hash-m is expressed in the ruling of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Gerushin 2:20-22), that if a sinner refuses to give a Get to his wife when he is required to give one, the Beis Din may strike him until he says, "Rotzeh Ani" ("I want to!"). The Rambam explains, based on the Gemara in Kidushin (50a), that in his heart even the Rasha wants to do the will of Hash-m, and it is just external temptations and impediments that prevent him from doing so. Therefore, when he says "Rotzeh Ani," we consider his words an expression of his inner desire, and we may rely upon them and consider his giving of the Get willful and not coerced.
This is also what the Gemara here means when it says that "the Posh'ei Yisrael are filled with Mitzvos like a pomegranate." Beneath their external shell, they are filled with Mitzvos, but they have physical lusts that prevent them from doing the will of Hash-m.
This inner desire to do Hash-m's will is a trait that Jews inherit from their forefathers, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov. The Gemara in Yevamos (79a) says that certain character traits are ingrained in the Jewish people, as they inherited them from the forefathers, the Avos. This is what the Gemara here in Eruvin means when it says that Avraham Avinu rescues the sinners from Gehinom. The Midos that they inherited from Avraham Avinu save them from Gehinom, for their inner desire during their lifetime was to do Hash-m's will. (However, the Gemara adds that their rescue depends on their identifying themselves with the Jewish people even though they sinned. If they do not identify with the Jewish people, such as one who marries a Nochri, they lose the Midos that they inherited and are not saved by Avraham Avinu.)
What does the Gemara mean when it says that the faces of the sinners become blackened? Perhaps we may suggest that the face represents the body as a whole, the external part of the person and the part that everyone on the outside sees (in contrast to the soul; see Megilah 14a, "Hem Lo Asu Ela l'Fanim"). The body is the source of the external lusts that prevent the full actualization of one's inner will to serve Hash-m. As such, the body must be punished. The Gemara in Shabbos (152a) says that the destruction of the body is part of the final judgment of a person. (That is why the final judgment lasts for twelve months; it takes twelve months for the body to decompose, as the Gemara there says.) Decomposition of the body is a reflection of the judgment of Gehinom. The Neshamah of the sinner, however, is pulled out of Gehinom. The Neshamah does not have to be destroyed. (The Gemara in Rosh Hashanah says that there are other types of sinners whose Neshamos do have to be destroyed). This type of sinner has only his body destroyed, because his body was the source of his sins.
On the other hand, the Gemara in Bava Metzia (82b) teaches that the bodies of Tzadikim do not decompose in the grave. Their bodies remain complete even after interred. Since the Tzadik's bodily passions did not cause him to sin, there is no reason to punish his body.
This is why the Gemara in Chagigah says that "the bodies of Talmidei Chachamim are fire," and therefore their bodies are not punished in Gehinom. In contrast, the bodies of Posh'ei Yisrael do have to be destroyed, as the Tosfos Yeshanim writes, and only their Neshamos -- their souls, which are holy and are compared to the gold upon the holy Mizbe'ach -- are not destroyed, because their inner desire was to fulfill the will of Hash-m. (M. KORNFELD)
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (18a), Rebbi Yehudah says that the area enclosed by Pasei Bira'os must not be more than Beis Se'asayim (5000 square Amos) in order to be considered a Reshus ha'Yachid. The Rabanan question why, according to his opinion, one is permitted to carry in an animal corral, storehouse, or courtyard that is larger than Beis Se'asayim. Rebbi Yehudah answers that Pasei Bira'os do not work the same way as ordinary Mechitzos. Ordinary Mechitzos may not have gaps more than ten Amos wide, while Pasei Bira'os may have gaps as long as 13 1/3 Amos.
It is difficult to understand the Gemara's assertion that, according to Rebbi Yehudah, only a gap that is ten Amos wide or less is permitted in an ordinary Mechitzah. The Gemara earlier (2b, 11a) clearly states that Rebbi Yehudah maintains that a Korah permits one to carry in a Mavoy even when the gap is more than ten Amos wide. Even though the gap is more than ten Amos wide, the partition is still considered a Mechitzah and it transforms the area into a Reshus ha'Yachid!
Furthermore, the Gemara earlier (6b) says that Rebbi Yehudah permits one to carry in an area which once had the status of a Reshus ha'Rabim -- because it is 16 Amos wide -- when there is a wall of a house on each side of the Reshus ha'Rabim and a Lechi or Korah is placed at each end! We see from there that a breach even wider than ten Amos is considered closed according to Rebbi Yehudah.
ANSWER: The RASHBA answers that Rebbi Yehudah considers a breach more than ten Amos wide to have the status of an entranceway only when there are at least two full Mechitzos. If there are no full Mechitzos, as in the case of Pasei Bira'os, a breach of more than ten Amos on three sides (i.e. more than two sides) is not considered an entranceway mid'Oraisa, and the area is considered a Reshus ha'Rabim. (Apparently, the reason for this is that it is not the normal manner to make wide entranceways on three sides of a house.)