GITIN 56 (6 Elul) - Dedicated in memory of Rivka bas Yechezkel Pinker on the occasion of her first Yahrzeit, by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Eretz Yisrael.


(a)Bar Kamtza (to himself): Chachamim were there and they did not protest. They must have approved! I will inform on them to the king.

(b)Bar Kamtza (to the Keisar): The Jews have rebelled against you.

1.Keisar: Why should I believe you?

2.Bar Kamtza: Send a Korban, and see if they will offer it.

(c)He sent a choice calf with Bar Kamtza. On the way, Bar Kamtza blemished it on the upper lip (some say, in the eye).

1.This is not a blemish in a Nochri's Korban (on a private altar), but it is a blemish for Yisrael (or for offering on behalf of Nochrim in the Mikdash).

(d)Chachamim thought to offer it, to avoid angering the Keisar.

1.R. Zecharyah ben Avkulas: If so, people will say that we may offer blemished animals on the Mizbe'ach!

(e)Chachamim thought to kill Bar Kamtza, lest he tell the Keisar that Yisrael did not offer his Korban.

1.R. Zecharyah: If so, people will say that one who blemishes a Korban is killed!

(f)(R. Yochanan): The humility of R. Zecharyah destroyed our Mikdash, burned our Heichal and exiled us from our land.

(g)Niron Keisar led the army sent against Yerushalayim. He shot an arrow eastward, and it fell in Yerushalayim. He shot an arrow westward... in all four directions, and all landed in Yerushalayim.

(h)He asked a child 'which verse are you learning?'

1.The child: "I will take my vengeance against Edom (Rome), through my nation Yisrael."

2.Niron: Hash-m wants to destroy His house, and punish the conqueror!

(i)Niron abandoned his position and converted. R. Meir descended from him.


(a)Aspasyainus Keisar was sent against Yerushalayim. He besieged it for three years.

(b)There were three wealthy men in Yerushalayim - Nakdimon ben Guryon, Ben Kalba Savu'a, and Ben Tztzis ha'Keses.

1.Nakdimon ben Guryon was called so because the sun Nokdah (pierced through and reappeared after it set) for him. (The episode is brought in Ta'anis 20a.)

2.Ben Kalba Savu'a was called so because anyone who entered his house as hungry as a Kelev (dog) would leave Savu'a (satiated).

3.Ben Tztzis ha'Keses was called thusly because the fringes of his Talis dragged on pillows and blankets (he walked only on silk);

i.Others say, his Kisei (seat) was among the great officials of Rome.

(c)One of these three offered to supply the city (during the siege, for up to 21 years,) with wheat and barley. One offered to supply wine, salt and oil, and the third offered to supply wood.

1.The third was most praiseworthy. Rav Chisda trusted his servant with all his keys except for the key to his storehouse of wood.

2.Rav Chisda: (To cook) one storehouse of wheat, one needs 60 storehouses of wood.

(d)There were provisions for the city for 21 years. Chachamim wanted to make peace with the besieging army. Baryonim (impudent youths) did not allow them.

(e)Baryonim: Let us go out and fight them!

(f)Chachamim: That will not succeed.

1.The Baryonim burned the storehouses of wheat and barley. There was terrible hunger in the city.

(g)Marsa bas Baisus was the richest woman in Yerushalayim. She sent her servant to buy fine flour; it was sold out before he got there.

1.The servant: There is no fine flour; there is clean bread.

2.Marsa: Go buy it.

(h)The clean bread was sold out before he got there. He told her that there was coarse bread. She told him to buy it.

(i)The coarse bread was sold out before he got there. He told her that there was barley flour. She told him to buy it.

(j)The barley flour was sold out before he got there. Marsa Bas Baisus decided to try to find food herself.

(k)Version #1: She was barefoot, and stepped on some dung and died (because she was so fastidious).

1.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: She exemplified "the soft and delicate among you, who never put her foot on the ground."

(l)Version #2: She died from eating figs that R. Tzadok had sucked on.

1.R. Tzadok fasted for 40 years that Yerushalayim should not be destroyed. When he would eat, one could see, from the outside, the food passing to his stomach. When he stopped fasting, he would suck the juice of figs, and discard the figs. (end of Version #2)

(m)When Marsa was dying, she threw all her money into the street and said 'what good will it do me?!'

1.This fulfilled the verse "they will cast out their money."


(a)Aba Sikra, the head of the Baryonim, was R. Yochanan ben Zakai's nephew. R. Yochanan ben Zakai asked him to come secretly to see him.

1.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: How long will you cause us to die of hunger?

2.Aba Sikra: What can I do? If I say anything (suggest making Shalom with the besiegers), the Baryonim will kill me!

3.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Find a way for me to leave the city. Perhaps I can salvage something.

4.Aba Sikra: Pretend to be sick. Everyone will come to visit you. Take something putrid with you in the bed, and people will say that you died.

5.Instruct that only your Talmidim carry the coffin, for whoever carries it will know that you are alive;

i.People know that a corpse is heavier than a living person.

(b)R. Yochanan ben Zakai did so. R. Eliezer and R. Yehoshua carried the coffin.

(c)At the gate (to leave the city), Baryonim suspected the ruse and wanted to pierce the coffin.

1.Chachamim: They besiegers will say that we stabbed our Rebbi!

2.Baryonim: Let us jolt the coffin.

3.Chachamim: The besiegers will say that we jolted our Rebbi!!

(d)The Baryonim allowed them to leave. When R. Yochanan ben Zakai approached Aspanyainus, he said 'Shalom to the king, Shalom to the king,'

(e)Aspanyainus: You are worthy of death for two reasons!

1.I am not the king;

2.If I were the king, why didn't you come to me earlier?!

(f)R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Regarding the first point, in truth, you will be king! If not, Yerushalayim would not fall to you;


1.It says "ha'Levanon will fall to an Adir." Verses teach that Adir means king, and Levanon refers to the Mikdash.

2.Regarding the second point, until now, the Baryonim did not allow me to leave.

(g)Aspanyainus: If a snake is around a barrel of honey, one should break the barrel to make the snake go away! (You should have burned the wall to dispel the Baryonim.)

(h)R. Yochanan ben Zakai was quiet.

1.Rav Yosef: "(Hash-m) turns back the wisdom of Chachamim" - he should have answered that one removes the snake with tongs and saves the barrel! (We hoped to overcome the Baryonim and preserve the city wall.)

(i)Just then, a Shali'ach came from Rome and said that the Keisar died, and the most important officials decided that Aspanyainus will be the new leader.

(j)Aspanyainus had put on one shoe before hearing this. He was unable to put on the other, nor could he take off the first, and did not know why.

1.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Don't worry - "good tidings fatten bones."

2.Aspanyainus: What should I do?

3.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Someone you hate should pass in front of you - "a crushed spirit dries bones."

4.Aspanyainus: If you are so wise, why didn't you see me until now?

5.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: I already told you!

6.Aspanyainus: I rejected your answer!

(k)Aspanyainus: I will return to Rome and send someone else in my stead. Make a request, and I will grant it.

1.R. Yochanan ben Zakai: Do not destroy Yavneh and its Chachamim, do not kill off the line of R. Gamliel, and give us doctors to cure R. Tzadok.

(l)(Rav Yosef): "(Hash-m) turns back the wisdom of Chachamim" - he should have asked him to pardon Yerushalayim this time!

1.R. Yochanan ben Zakai thought that perhaps he would not agree, and nothing will be salvaged.

(m)Question: How did they cure R. Tzadok?

(n)Answer: The first day, he drank water in which bran was soaked. The next day he drank water in which large bran and flour was soaked. The next day he drank water in which flour was mixed in.

1.With time, his intestines grew (and he was able to eat again).


(a)Aspanyainus sent Titus to conquer Yerushalayim. Titus blasphemed "where is the Rock they trusted in?!"

1.He took a harlot into the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim (the holiest part of the Mikdash), spread a Sefer Torah, and sinned on it.

2.He took a sword and pierced the Paroches (the curtain in front of the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim); miraculously, blood spurted out.

3.He thought he had killed 'himself' (this is a euphemism for Him) - "the enemies roared in Your meeting place; they believed in their omens."

(b)(Aba Chanan): "Mi Chamocha Chasin Kah" - who has restraint like You?! You hear the blasphemy of that Rasha, and You are silent!

1.(Tana d'Vei R. Yishmael): "Mi Chamocha ba'Elim Hash-m" - who is like You among the Ilmim? (You are silent like a mute!)

(c)Titus took the Paroches, and made it like a sack in which he took all the Kelim of the Mikdash. He boarded a boat to return to aggrandize himself in his city.

1."I have seen buried wicked people. They came from a holy place, they go and are forgotten in the city that they did so" - do not read Kevurim (buried), rather Kevutzim gathered). Do not read forgotten (va'Yishtachechu), rather va'Yishtabchu (they praised themselves).

2.Others expound "buried" to teach that even our buried treasures were exposed to them.

(d)A stormy wind was about to sink Titus' boat.

1.Titus: Their G-d has power only in water. He drowned Pharoah and Sisero (and their armies) in water, and now He wants to drown me!

2.If He is mighty, let Him come onto the land and fight me!

3.A voice from Heaven: Rasha, son of a Rasha, descendant of Esav the Rasha! I have a light creation in my world, the mosquito. Come to land and fight it!

i.Question: Why is it called a light creation?

ii.Answer: It has a mouth, but nothing from which to excrete.

(e)Titus alighted. A mosquito entered his nose and bored into his brain for seven years.

1.One day, he was passing by a smith, and heard the hammer banging. The mosquito stopped pecking. He found a solution!

2.Each day he brought a smith to bang in front of him. If it was a Nochri, he would pay him four Zuz. If it was a Yisrael, he said 'it suffices that you see your enemy (being punished).'

3.After 30 days, the mosquito became used to the banging, and it resumed pecking.

(f)(Beraisa#1 - R. Pinchas ben Arova): When he died, they pierced his skull. A wild bird was found, weighing two Sela'im;

(g)(Beraisa #2): It was like a year old bird weighing two Litrin.

(h)(Abaye): Its mouth was copper, its claws were iron.

(i)When Titus was dying, he asked to be cremated, and that his ashes be spread on the seven seas, lest the G-d of Yisrael be able to judge him.

(j)Unkelus bar Klonikus was Titus' nephew; he wanted to convert. He conjured up his uncle from the dead.

1.Unkelus: Who is important in the next world?

2.Titus: Yisrael are.

3.Unkelus: Should I cling to them (convert)?

4.Titus: They have too many Mitzvos, you cannot fulfill them. Rather, fight them in your world, and you will become a head.

i."Its oppressors became leaders" - whoever oppresses Yisrael becomes a leader.

5.Unkelus: What was your judgment?

6.Titus: It is what I myself declared. Each day, my ashes are gathered, judged, burned, and scattered on the seven seas.