[22a - 53 lines; 22b - 52 lines]

1)[line 1]" ""U'CHESAV HA'NISHTEVAN KASUV ARAMIS U'MESURGAM ARAMIS"- "The text of the letter was in Aramaic script and in the Aramaic language." (Ezra 4:7) - The Gemara interprets the word "ha'Nishtevan" (a rare word, appearing only in this verse, which Rashi and others on the verse explain to mean "letter") to mean "the changed" or "the altered" (from the root "Shoneh"), implying that a change was made to the Hebrew script.

2)[line 2]"[ ; ] , ""[EDAYIN OLIN KOL CHAKIMEI MALKA; V']LO CHAHALIN KESAVA L'MIKREI, U'FISHREI L'HODA'AH L'MALKA" - "Then all the king's sages came in; and they were unable to read writing [like this], nor inform the king as to its interpretation" (Daniel 5:8) (THE WRITING ON THE WALL (1))

(a)To celebrate his victory over Daryavesh the Mede (and his son-in-law Koresh), Belshatzar, King of Bavel, arranged a party for his thousand servants, during which he drank as much wine as all of them combined. Convinced that the time of the redemption of the Jewish people had passed and that they would no longer return to Eretz Yisrael, Belshatzar took out all of the gold and silver vessels belonging to the Beis ha'Mikdash that his grandfather Nevuchadnetzar had captured, and in his state of drunkenness, he, his nobles, the Queen, and his concubines proceeded to drink out of them, praising the gods of gold, silver, copper, iron, wood, and stone.

(b)All of a sudden, fingers of a human hand appeared and began writing opposite the candelabra that was next to the table, on the plaster of the wall of the king's palace, before the very eyes of the king. When the king saw this, his face became contorted with shock, his body began shaking and his knees knocked against each other. He called all his counselors and wise men, promising them honor and great rewards if they would decipher the strange writing on the wall, but not one of them was able to do so. (See below, entry #13.)

3)[line 5] SHE'ALAH IMAHEM ME'ASHUR- it went up with them from Ashur (Assyria). (This does not refer to the Assyrian script, which is completely different from the Hebrew "Kesav Ashuris." Rather, it means that this Kesav, which was revealed to Ezra in Bavel, was later studied and adopted by the Jews living in Ashur. After Belshatzar was killed on that night, the kingdom was taken over by Persian-controlled Mede (see Background to Bava Metzia 55:8), the capital of which was Elam, which was adjacent to Ashur, and thus the entire kingdom was known as Ashur - see ETZ YOSEF.)

4)[line 6] BI'CHESAV ZEH NITNAH TORAH- in this script (Kesav Ashuris) the Torah was given

5)[line 7]RO'ETZ- a frustration (HaSh-m caused them to forget this script due to their sins)

6)[line 8]" , ""SHUVU L'VITZARON, ASIREI HA'TIKVAH! GAM HA'YOM MAGID MISHNEH, 'ASHIV LACH'"- "Return to the fortified city (Yerushalayim), prisoners of hope! Today, also, the announcement is repeated, 'I shall return to you." (Zecharyah 9:12) - The Gemara interprets this to mean that "I shall return to you that which you have forgotten."

7)[line 11] ME'USHERES BI'CHESAV- its script is most praiseworthy (beautiful)

8)[line 12]" ""VAVEI HA'AMUDIM"- "The hooks of the pillars." (Shemos 27:10) - The word for hooks is "Vavim," because the letter Vav is shaped like a hook. The Gemara derives from the fact that the verse refers to hooks as "Vavim" that the letter Vav is written today in the same way that it was written at the time that the Torah was given.

9)[line 13]VAVIM- the letters of Vav (see previous entry)

10)[line 21] B'GEMATRIYA ICHTIV LEHON (A"T Ba"SH)- it [the message that was written at the feast of Belshatzar] was written for them in code. It was written in the "A'T Ba'SH" format, which is a method of linguistic extrapolation whereby each letter at one end of the alphabet is replaced with its corresponding letter at the other end of the alphabet, e.g. Alef with Tav, Beis with Shin, etc.

11)[line 21] () [] YaTaS YaTaS (IDaCH) [AdaCH] PUGCHaMaT- these were the words written in code (see previous entry) which no one could decipher (the word "Adach" should be written without a letter Yud, since it is the word "Tekel" using A"t Ba"sh)

12)[line 21] ?MAI PARISH LEHU?- What did he (Daniel) explain them (the words) to mean?

13)[line 21]" ""MENEI MENEI TEKEL U'FARSIN" - "Counted, counted, weighed, and divided them" (Daniel 5:25) (THE WRITING ON THE WALL (2))

(a)The Gemara cites Daniel's interpretation of the writing on the wall. HaSh-m had weighed Belshatzar up, Daniel told him, and found him lacking. Instead of taking a lesson from his [grand]father, Nevuchadnetzar, whose arrogance resulted in his downfall, he had followed in his footsteps.

(b)In keeping with Shlomo ha'Melech's teaching, "Pride comes before a fall," Belshatzar was killed that very night, and, as Daniel had informed him, Persia and Medes took over the reins of sovereignty from Bavel.

14)[line 22]"[ ;] , - ""MENEI: MENAH E-LAKA MALCHUSACH [V'HASHLEMAH]"- "[This is the interpretation of the matter:] 'Menei' (counted): HaSh-m has counted [the years of] your kingship and has completed it" (Daniel 5:26).

15)[line 22]", ""TEKEL: TEKILTA V'MOZANYA V'HISHTECHACHAT CHASIR"- "'Tekel' (weighed): you were weighed in the scales and you were found to be lacking" (Daniel 5:27).

16)[line 23]", ""[PEREIS:] PERISAS MALCHUSACH, VI'HIVAS L'MADAI U'FARAS"- "'Pereis' (divided): your kingdom has been divided and given to Mede and Persia." (Daniel 5:28) - The word "Pereis" also implies Persia ("Paras"), and as such, the word "Farsin" is in the plural form.

17)[line 24] MiMTOS NiNKeFeI A'ALRaN - the message was not written as an A"T Ba"SH code, but rather it was written as three words which comprised the letters of the five words of the message. These three words had to be decoded into five other words (Menei Menei Tekel u'Far Sin (splitting the last word into two)), the first letters of which were written together as one word (Mem, Mem, Tav, Vav, Samech), and the second letters of each of the five words written together as a second word (Nun, Nun, Kuf, Peh, Yud), and the third letters of each of the five words written together as a third word (Alef, Alef, Lamed, Reish, Nun). Graphically, the words were written as follows, and misread by being read horizontally instead of vertically:




18)[line 24] ANAM ANAM LAKAS NISREFU- the message (the four words, Menei Menei Tekel u'Farsin) were each written backwards.

19)[line 25] NAMA NAMA KATAL PURSIN- the message (the four words, Menei Menei Tekel u'Farsin) were coded by switching the place of the first and second letter of each word.

20)[line 26]SHARVITO- his staff (this refers to any personal object used by the king, as is clear from the Gemara)

21)[line 28]ADONIYAH- Adoniyah was the fourth son of David ha'Melech (Shmuel II 3:4). All of his older brothers (Amnon, Kil'av, and Avshalom) had died, and thus Adoniyah felt that he was the rightful heir to the throne. Consequently, when David ha'Melech had become advanced in age, Adoniyah declared himself the heir to the kingship of his father, and he garnered support for his cause from a number of influential people (as described at the beginning of Sefer Melachim I).

22)[line 32]" , . . . ""... VA'YOMRU LO AVADAV, 'YEVAKSHU LA'DONI HA'MELECH [NA'ARAH VESULAH, V'AMDAH LIFNEI HA'MELECH U'SEHI LO SOCHENES; V'SHACHEVAH V'CHEIKECHA V'CHAM LA'DONI HA'MELECH. VA'YEVAKSHU NA'ARAH YAFAH B'CHOL GEVUL YISRAEL; VA'YIMTZE'U ES AVISHAG HA'SHUNAMIS, VA'YAVI'U OSAH LA'MELECH. VEHA'NA'ARAH YAFAH AD ME'OD; VA'TEHI LA'MELECH SOCHENES VA'TESHARSEIHU, VEHA'MELECH LO YEDA'AH" - "And his servants said to him, 'Let them search for my master the king a girl who is a virgin; let her stand before the king, and let her serve as a heater, and she will lie in your bosom so that my master the king will become warm. And they sought a beautiful girl throughout the borders of Yisrael, and they found Avishag ha'Shunamis (sister of the Shunamis who hosted Eliyahu ha'Navi) and they brought her to the king. And the girl was extremely beautiful, and so she became the king's heater and she served him; [the king, however, was not intimate with her]" (Melachim I 1:1-4) (AVISHAG HA'SHUNAMIS)

(a)Chazal explain that at the end of David ha'Melech's life (he was almost seventy at the time), clothes no longer warmed him. They attribute this to the episode in which he cut off the corner of Shaul's coat in the cave. Someone who abuses clothes, they say, will eventually be unable to derive benefit from them. On the other hand, the verse's wording implies that it was a natural phenomenon of old age.

(b)Rashi, citing a Medrash, adds that David's blood froze out of fear when he saw the angel standing in Yerushalayim, sword in hand, as he was about to bring on the plague of pestilence (as recorded in the last chapter of Shmuel II). The first reason states the cause of David's punishment, the second, the effect (HaSh-m strikes when the opportunity presents itself).

(c)The reason that they looked for a virgin (implying a girl under the age of twelve) was because her body heat exceeds that of a Na'arah (who is over twelve), and one of the reasons that David ha'Melech was not intimate with her (a demonstration of incredible self-control) was so that she should remain a Besulah. The other reason was because she was forbidden to him, since he already had eighteen wives; marrying her would have transgressed the prohibition of "v'Lo Yarbeh lo Nashim."

23)[line 32]NINSEVAN- let us get married

24)[line 33] , CHASREI L'GANAVA, NAFSHEI L'SHALAMA NAKIT- (a) when a thief finds nothing to steal, he makes himself appear to be a peace-loving (honest) person (RASHI); (b) when a thief becomes old and no longer has the strength to steal, he makes himself into an honest person (saying that he has repented) (RABEINU CHANANEL). See Insights.

25)[line 38]" , ' , . ' ', ' , ""V'ZOS SHENIS TA'ASU: KASOS DIM'AH ES MIZBACH HASH-M, BECHI VA'ANAKAH, ME'EIN OD PENOS EL HA'MINCHAH V'LAKACHAS RATZON MI'YEDCHEM. VA'AMARTEM, 'AL MAH?' AL KI HASH-M HE'ID BEINCHA U'VEIN ESHES NE'URECHA, ASHER ATAH BAGAD'TAH BAH, VE'HI CHAVERTECHA VE'ESHES BRISECHA!"- "And this, moreover, are you doing: You cover with tears the altar of HaSh-m, weeping and sighing, so that He does not anymore turn towards the offering and receive it willingly from your hands. And you say, 'For what reason?' It is because HaSh-m testified between you and between the wife of your youth, that you have rebelled against her, and yet she is your companion and the wife of your covenant!" (Malachi 2:13-14).

26)[line 44]" , ; [] ""BEN ADAM, HINENI LOKE'ACH MIMECHA ES MACHMAD EINECHA B'MAGEFAH; [V']LO SISPOD V'LO SIVKEH V'LO SAVO DIM'ASECHA"- "Son of man, I hereby am taking from you the beloved of your eyes in a plague; and you shall not eulogize, and you shall not cry, and your tears shall not come" (Yechezkel 24:16).

27)[line 46]" ""HINENI MECHALEL ES MIKDASHI GE'ON UZCHEM MACHMAD EINEICHEM"- "I hereby am profaning My holy place, the pride of your strength, the beloved of your eyes" (Yechezkel 24:21).

28)[line 47]" , ""OR CHASHACH B'OHOLO, V'NERO ALAV YID'ACH"- "The light will darken in his tent, and his lamp upon him will be extinguished" (Iyov 18:7).

29)[line 48] PESI'OSAV MISKATZROS- his steps get shorter (i.e., he becomes weak)

30)[line 48]" , ""YETZRU TZA'ADEI ONO, V'SASHLICHEHU ATZASO"- "The footsteps of his strength will become narrow, and his counsel will throw him off" (Iyov 18:7).

31)[line 48] ATZASO NOFELES- his advice fails

32)[line 48]" " - see above, entry #30 33) [line 49] "- , ; [ ]""ELOKIM MOSHIV YECHIDIM BAISAH, MOTZI ASIRIM BA'KOSHAROS; [ACH SORERIM SHACHENU TZECHICHAH]"- "El-kim settles individuals into a household, He releases prisoners at suitable moments; [only the rebellious dwell in the thirsty land]." (Tehilim 68:7) - The Chachamim learn that the second part of this verse is referring to the Redemption from Egypt. They render "ba'Kosharos" as a contraction of the words "Bechi" (weeping) and "Shiros" (songs). When Bnei Yisrael were released from slavery, it was a time of weeping for the Egyptians and of song for Bnei Yisrael. HaSh-m redeemed Yisrael from Egypt in the most suitable (Kosher) season of the year, springtime, for then the weather is optimal for traveling on the road; it is neither to hot nor too cold (RASHI ibid.). According to Chazal, this phrase also relates to the formation of the family unit. When HaSh-m matches a couple, their union is undoubtedly suitable and has the potential for happiness. Ultimately, however, only the efforts of the husband and wife determine whether or not the match will succeed. If they appreciate HaSh-m's choice, the resulting happiness will cause them to sing "Shiros" (songs) of joy and gratitude; but if they refuse to accept their Divinely designated mates, they will be engulfed in unhappy "Bechi" (weeping) (Bereishis Rabah 68:4). Furthermore, if the couple is fearful of HaSh-m, they will be "Motzi Asirim ba'Kosharos," i.e. bring forth scholarly sons who are able to decide what is Halachically "Asur" or "Kasher." If the couple is not meritorious, however, their sons will be ignoramuses whose parched minds are barren of Torah knowledge (ARTSCROLL Tehilim ibid.).

34)[line 51] ZIVUG/ZEVEG RISHON- first marriage (see Insights)

35)[line 52]TEMURAH- replacement

36)[last line] KORAS RU'ACH- (lit. cooling of the spirit) satisfaction, comfort

37)[last line]" , ""YEHI MEKORCHA VARUCH, U'SEMACH ME'ESHES NE'URECHA"- "Your source will be blessed, and you will have happiness from the wife of your youth" (Mishlei 5:18).


38)[line 2] MAKRI LEI- he read [and explained a verse] to him

39a)[line 4]METZODIM- traps

b)[line 4]CHARAMIM- nets

40)[line 5] MISKAF TEKIFA- she is hot-tempered

41)[line 5] IBUREI MI'ABRA B'MILAH- [but she is easily appeased and] she overcomes her impulses

42)[line 7]GOLEM- a shapeless (incomplete) form

43)[line 12]" , [ ]" -"VA'YAMAS ELIMELECH ISH NAOMI, [VA'TISHA'ER HI U'SHNEI VANEHAH.]" - "And Elimelech the husband of Naomi died, [and she and her two sons remained" (Rus 1:3) (ELIMELECH'S PUNISHMENT)

(a)See Background to Bava Basra 91:54.

(b)HaSh-m punished Elimelech for having left Eretz Yisrael and forsaken the poor, who needed him, and he died, though not before he had lost all of his wealth. Only when they failed to do Teshuvah, first Elimelech died, and then his two sons (who had in the meantime had married non-Jewish women).

(c)Naomi too, suffered tremendously on account of losing first her husband (indeed, Chazal learn from this verse that when a man dies, it is his wife who suffers the most) and then her two sons. She remained a childless widow living in a foreign land. Yet the Midas ha'Din did not strike her directly, say Chazal, and she survived her husband, because a woman is subservient to her husband, and is bound to follow him out of duty rather than out of choice.

44)[line 19] HO'IL U'MISHMAROS MISCHADSHOS - since the Mishmaros are renewed each week (and thus the Kohen Gadol must appear well groomed) (MISHMAROS)

The Kohanim were divided into 24 shifts according to their families (Mishmaros), each of which served in the Mikdash for two weeks out of a year. The Mishmaros changed on Shabbos, when the outgoing Mishmar did the Avodah in the morning and the incoming Mishmar did the Avodah in the afternoon.

45)[line 21]" ; ""V'ROSHAM LO YEGALECHU, U'FERA LO YESHALECHU; KASOM YICHSEMU ES ROSHEIHEM"- "And they shall not shave their heads, nor let their hair grow unkempt; [rather,] they shall trim [the hair of] their heads" (Yechezkel 44:20).

46)[line 23]"[ , ; ' ,] "[KOL YEMEI NEDER NIZRO, TA'AR LO YA'AVOR AL ROSHO... KADOSH YIH'YEH,] GADEL PERA SE'AR ROSHO"- "[All the days of the vow of his Nezirus no razor shall come upon his head; until the days are fulfilled, during which he separates himself for HaSh-m, he shall be holy,] and shall let the hair of his head grow unkempt" (Bamidbar 6:5).


If a person makes a vow to become a Nazir without stipulating a time period, his or her Nezirus lasts for a period of thirty days. If the person stipulates a time period, his or her Nezirus lasts for whatever amount of time he stipulated. During this period, the Nazir is not allowed to 1. cut his hair; 2. become Tamei by touching or being in the same room as a corpse; or 3. consume any products of the grapevine (Bamidbar 6:1-21, SEFER HA'CHINUCH #377). Transgressing any one of these prohibitions makes the Nazir liable to Malkos, as long as he was warned beforehand.

48)[line 25]" ""KADOSH YIHEYEH"- "... he shall be holy" (Bamidbar 6:5). See above, entry #46.

49)[line 25] B'GEMATRIYA TELASIN HAVU- they (the letters of the word "Yiheyeh") equal 30 in Gematriya

50)[line 26] LO LIRBU KELAL- they should not grow their hair at all (even for thirty days; rather, they should cut it on the 29th day)

51a)[line 27] PERA LEHEVEI- it may be "Pera," a growth of a hair of 30 days

b)[line 27] SHELUCHEI LO LISHALCHU- but they may not let it grow for any more than 30 days

52)[line 27] HA'IDNA NAMI- nowadays (while the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing) also [the Kohanim should be required to cut their hair every 30 days]

53)[line 28] BI'ZEMAN BI'AH- at the time of entering the [Azarah of the] Beis ha'Mikdash

54)[line 30] SHE'TAKANASO KALKALASO- (a) (lit. his benefit stems from his destruction) the fact that the Beis ha'Mikdash has not been rebuilt for all of these years has been the reason that the Kohanim are permitted to drink wine. With regard to this Halachah, we do not consider the possibility that it will be rebuilt immediately after the Kohen drinks (RASHI to Ta'anis 17a); (b) since he does not know to which Beis Av he belongs, he is permitted to drink wine, because even if the Beis ha'Mikdash were to be rebuilt today, he will not do the Avodah until a Beis Din of Kohanim convenes to determine which Kohanim belong to which family, and to fix the days when each family of Kohanim are to perform the Avodah (RABEINU CHANANEL to Ta'anis 17a, and RASHI here)

55)[line 31] ?K'MAN SHASEI KOHANEI CHAMRA HA'IDNA?- In accordance with whose opinion do Kohanim drink wine nowadays?

56)[line 34] EFSHAR D'NAYIM PURTA V'AYIL- it is possible for him to sleep a little and then go up [into the Mikdash]

57)[line 34] DERECH MIL- walking a distance of one Mil (1 Mil = 2000 Amos = approximately 960 or 1152 meters, depending upon the differing Halachic opinions)

58)[line 35] MEFIGIN ES HA'YAYIN- weaken and remove the effect of the wine

59)[line 36] KEDEI REVI'IS- like the amount that fills a Revi'is (see Background to Bava Basra 58:42 for a table of measures of volume used by the Gemara. The modern equivalent of a Revi'is is 75, 86.4 or 150 ml, depending upon the differing Halachic opinions.)

60)[line 37]TORADTO- confounds him

61)[line 37] D'MECHALEI AVODAH- [Kohanim who perform the Avodah while intoxicated] cause the Avodah which they perform to become invalidated (lit. they profane the Avodah)

62)[line 41]" [ , ]""V'YAYIN LO YISHTU [KOL KOHEN, B'VO'AM EL HE'CHATZER HA'PENIMIS]"- "And they shall not drink wine, [any Kohen, when they enter the inner courtyard]" (Yechezkel 44:21).

63)[line 45]" , , ()""KOL BEN NECHAR, EREL LEV V'EREL BASAR, LO YAVO EL MIKDASHI (L'SHARSENI)"- "Any stranger with an uncircumcised heart or uncircumcised flesh shall not come into My holy place (to serve me)." (Yechezkel 44:9) - The word "l'Sharseni" ("to serve me") does not appear in the verse and should be omitted from the text of the Gemara - DIKDUKEI SOFRIM #8)

64)[line 47] GEMARA GEMIREI LAH- we know it from the tradition that Moshe received on Mount Sinai (Halachah l'Moshe mi'Sinai)

65)[line 47] ASMECHAH A'KERA- he gave it a verse as support

66)[line 49] TISPORES LULIYANIS- the Lulian (Julian) style of hair-cutting; clipped hair (see entry #68 below)

67)[line 50] TISPORTA YECHIDA'AH- a unique (and comely) haircut (RASHI)

68)[line 51] ROSHO SHEL ZEH B'TZAD IKARO SHEL ZEH- the head of this [hair] meets the root of this [other, neighboring hair]. This means that each hair loops over ("Lulya," meaning "loop") and reaches the bottom of the neighboring hair, so that the entire head is covered with these short, looped hairs.

69)[line 51] BEN ELASHAH- Ben Elashah, the son-in-law of Rebbi. He was a great Chacham and very wealthy (Seder ha'Doros).