1) A "CHAVER" APPOINTED AS A TAX COLLECTOR
QUESTION: The Gemara cites a Beraisa that states that, originally, the Chachamim said that a Chaver who becomes a "Gabai" loses his status of being a Chaver. RASHI (DH Gabai) explains that a "Gabai" is a tax collector appointed by the king to collect taxes from the Jews.
The Beraisa continues and says that even if he resigns from his job as Gabai, he is not re-accepted as a Chaver. However, the Chachamim later retracted their ruling and said that if he resigns from his job as Gabai, he is re-accepted as a Chaver.
Rashi's explanation of a Gabai as a tax collector seems problematic in light of the Mishnah in Demai (2:3). In the Mishnah there, Rebbi Yehudah states that one who accepts upon himself the responsibilities of being a Chaver is not permitted to raise Behemah Dakah (small, domesticated animals, such as sheep and goats). The BARTENURA explains that raise such animals in Eretz Yisrael is forbidden because they tend to enter the fields of others and eat the produce there, and this is considered as though the owner of the animals is stealing from the owners of the fields. The Chachamim replied to Rebbi Yehudah that the fact that a person raises Behemah Dakah does not disqualify him from being a Chaver. The Bartenura explains that the suspicion that his animals might be grazing in other fields has no connection with the responsibilities of being a Chaver, since those responsibilities involve only scrupulousness with regard to Taharah. Therefore, a Chaver is not disqualified from his status if he raises Behemah Dakah.
The Mishnah there implies that even though the Chaver raises Behemah Dakah, he retains the status of a valid Chaver, according to the Chachamim (whom the Halachah follows), even though the RAMBAM (Hilchos Edus 10:4) refers to those who raise Behemah Dakah as "Resha'im" and rules that they are invalid as witnesses in Beis Din. Moreover, the Rambam (Hilchos Metamei Moshav u'Mishkav 10:9) rules that an Am ha'Aretz who accepted upon himself to be a Chaver and then was suspected of transgressing a certain Aveirah is suspected only for that particular Aveirah, but he remains a Chaver.
Why, then, is a Chaver who becomes a tax collector disqualified from his status of being a Chaver? If he remains a Chaver even though he raises Behemah Dakah, then he also should remain a Chaver even though he is a tax collector.
ANSWER: The SHEMEN ROKE'ACH answers this question based on the Gemara in Sanhedrin (25b). The Gemara there says that the reason why tax collectors are disqualified from serving as witnesses is that they tend to take more taxes from the public than they are authorized by the king to take. Their actions constitute theft mid'Oraisa, and one who is suspected of transgressing an Isur d'Oraisa is certainly suspected of transgressing an Isur d'Rabanan (such as matters pertaining to Taharah). The Mishnah earlier (30a) states clearly that one who is suspected of transgressing the laws of Shevi'is and Ma'aseros is certainly not trustworthy with regard to questions of Taharos. The Gemara there explains that since he is not trustworthy with regard to a Mitzvah d'Oraisa (such as Shevi'is), he is certainly suspected of transgressing Mitzvos d'Rabanan, such as the laws of Taharos.
Accordingly, a Chaver who was appointed as a Gabai is disqualified from being a Chaver because, as a tax collector, he is likely to transgress the Isur d'Oraisa of taking more money than he is entitled to take. In contrast, one who raises Behemah Dakah in Eretz Yisrael transgresses only an Isur d'Rabanan. (See Bava Kama 79b and Rashi there, who explains that the reason for the Isur against raising Behemah Dakah is to protect the settlement of Eretz Yisrael from the animals that will destroy the fields). Since this is only an Isur d'Rabanan, one who transgresses this Isur is not suspected of transgressing a different Isur d'Rabanan (of Taharos). (This is the opinion of the Chachamim earlier (30b), who maintain that one is suspect only for this particular transgression but not for other Isurim d'Rabanan.) Therefore, the Mishnah in Demai states that even if a Chaver raises Behemah Dakah, he retains his status of a Chaver. (D. BLOOM)
2) HALACHAH: DECIDING HALACHIC QUESTIONS FOR ONESELF
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Nega'im (2:5) which says, "A Chacham may rule on all Bechoros, except for his own. However, he may rule even on his own Korbanos, Ma'aseros, and Taharos." The Gemara here explains that a person may rule on his own Taharos because there is no real difference to him whether they are Tahor or Tamei; even if he finds them to be Tamei he may eat them while he is Tamei.
According to the reasoning of the Gemara, a person should be allowed to rule only on the Taharah of his own Chulin, but not on the Taharah of his Terumah (if he is a Kohen). When a question arises concerning the Taharah of his own Terumah (which may not be eaten at all when it is Tamei), a Kohen who is a Chacham should not be allowed to rule. Why, then, does the Mishnah imply that one is permitted to rule on his own Terumah?
Moreover, according to the reasoning of the Gemara, one should not be allowed to rule on any of his own items in any question of Isur v'Heter (such as meat that was mixed with milk). However, the Gemara in Eruvin (63a) clearly permits a Talmid Chacham to rule for himself in such matters.
ANSWER: The RASH (Nega'im 2:5) answers that a Chacham is allowed to rule for himself in any case of Isur v'Heter that is not "Ischazek Isura" (presumed to have been forbidden until now). When the item is Ischazek Isura, he may not rule for himself. (See also PISKEI TOSFOS (Bechoros #72) who writes that a person is trusted to rule for himself in all cases of Isur v'Heter.)
The REMA (YD 18:18) writes that in some places, the custom is not to rule on the Kashrus of one's own slaughtered animals. The TAZ there asks that this should be prohibited by law (and not just by custom) according to the Rash, since an animal has a Chezkas Isur that it is forbidden while it is alive (because one may not eat a part of a live animal). The Taz indeed rules that when a question arises regarding the Kashrus of an act of Shechitah, a second party should be consulted.
However, the YAD AVRAHAM (YD 18, see also BECHOR SHOR here) points out that since it is possible for the Chacham to remove the Chezkas Isur of a live animal by slaughtering it (that is, it is "b'Yado l'Sakno"), he is permitted to rule on the animal (just as the Gemara here allows a Chacham to rule on his own Ma'aseros since it is "b'Yado" to make his entire flock Ba'alei Mumim before he separates Ma'aser Behemah).
3) AGADAH: LIPS THAT QUIVER IN THE GRAVE
The Gemara relates that Rav Sheshes was upset with his attendant for not relating his teachings in his name. The Gemara explains that Rav Sheshes wanted to have the merit of Torah teachings being related in his name, because, as Rebbi Yochanan said in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai, when one relates teachings in the name of the one who originally taught them, the original source of the teachings merits that his "lips quiver in the grave" and he is considered still alive (and it is considered as though he himself is still teaching Torah).
Based on the Gemara here, the MAHARSHA (Yevamos 96b, Mahadura Basra) suggests a novel interpretation for why Yakov Avinu was so upset at the news of Yosef's death.
When Yakov Avinu heard that Yosef died, he refused to be comforted. He said, "I will descend to the grave in mourning" -- "Ki Ered El Beni Avel She'olah" (Bereishis 37:35). He did not say "b'Yagon She'olah," as he said when he protested the brothers' desire to take Binyamin to Mitzrayim (Bereishis 42:38), but rather "b'Evel She'olah." Why did he use a different expression?
The Midrash relates that Yakov Avinu taught Yosef everything he learned from Shem and Ever (Bereishis Rabah 84:8, cited by Rashi to Bereishis 37:3). Accordingly, to Yakov Avinu the tragic report that Yosef had died meant that no one would be able to repeat his teachings after his death. This greatly worried him, as he feared that after his death he would "have no mouth, like a mourner (Avel)" (Rashi to Bereishis 25:30) -- his lips would not continue to move with no one alive to repeat his teachings in his name.
When Yakov Avinu refused to be comforted "because (Ki) I will descend to the grave in mourning," he meant, "Although I might be comforted for the loss of my precious son, how can I be comforted for the loss I will endure after I reach the World of Truth, where I will be silent eternally like a mourner?"
When Yakov Avinu was reunited with Yosef, he declared "Amusah ha'Pa'am" -- "Now I can die after having seen your face" (Bereishis 46:30). After he saw that Yosef was still alive, he was no longer afraid to die. He knew that Yosef would teach the Torah he had learned from his father, and thereby cause his father's lips to move in the grave and keep his father alive even after his departure from this world.
When Yosef sent gifts back to his father (after he revealed himself to his brothers and beckoned them to come to Mitzrayim), he selected gifts which would convey to his father that he need not fear eternal silence in the grave. The Gemara in Megilah (16b) relates that one of the gifts he sent to Yakov Avinu was aged wine.
The Yerushalmi in Shekalim teaches that the pleasure the deceased experiences when one relates his teachings is comparable to the pleasure of a person "who drinks aged wine; even after he drinks it, the taste remains in his mouth for a long time." When he sent a gift of "Agalos" to his father, Yosef hinted that he did not forget any of his father's teachings; the "Agalos" alluded to the last Halachic discussion which they had together before they were separated (Rashi to Bereishis 45:27). The gift of aged wine indicated that Yosef would repeat Yakov's teachings after Yakov's death, and Yakov's lips would move in the grave, like one who drinks aged wine and continues to have pleasure from the taste after the wine is finished. (See also Insights to Yevamos 96:2.)
4) PUBLISHING TORAH TEACHINGS ANONYMOUSLY
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rav Sheshes was upset with his attendant for not relating his teachings in his name. The Gemara explains that Rav Sheshes wanted to have the merit of Torah teachings being related in his name because, as Rebbi Yochanan said in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai, when one relates teachings in the name of the one who originally taught them, the original source of the teachings merits that his "lips quiver in the grave" and he is considered still alive (and it is considered as though he himself is still teaching Torah).
This principle of "Sifsosav Dovevos ba'Kever" should require that one not publish his original Torah insights anonymously, so that he not lose the merit of "Sifsosav Dovevos ba'Kever." Why, then, have a number of works of Torah insights been published by Talmidei Chachamim anonymously?
ANSWER: The PANIM ME'IROS (introduction to Teshuvos) discusses the question of whether it is fitting for Talmidei Chachamim to publish their works anonymously. He concludes that since Hash-m knows who said each teaching, even when the teaching is related without the name of the one who said it the person merits "Sifsosav Dovevos ba'Kever." The reason why Rav Sheshes was upset was that if his teachings would be repeated without his name, then they would not be regarded as authoritative, and, consequently, they would not be repeated further. In contrast, when Torah teachings are written anonymously, those who read them will be impressed with them and recognize that they are authoritative, and thus they will quote them often.
Moreover, when people attribute a teaching to the title of a book (such as the "Panim Me'iros" or the "Chafetz Chaim"), the title of the book is in the place of the name of the Talmid Chacham, and he still gains the merit of "Sifsosav Dovevos ba'Kever." (See also CHIDA in SHEM HA'GEDOLIM, Ma'areches Sefarim 7:26, as cited by YOSEF DA'AS.)