RESPONSES TO RESHA'IM
There were Baryonim (profligate people) in R. Meir's area who used to bother him a lot; he prayed that they should die.
Bruriyah (his wife): It says, "Yitamu Chata'im (sins) Min ha'Aretz," not "Chot'im" (sinners)!
Also, the end of the verse says, "u'Resha'im Od Einam" (only the termination of the Yetzer ha'Ra will ensure that there will be no more Resha'im).
Rather, you should pray for mercy that Hash-m help them to repent.
R. Meir did so; they repented.
Question (a Tzeduki): "Rani Akarah Lo Yaladah" -- should a barren woman rejoice because she did not give birth?!
Bruriyah: Fool! Read the end of the verse, "Ki Rabim Benei Shomemah mi'Benei Ve'ulah"!
Rather, "Rani Akarah Lo Yaladah" refers to Keneses Yisrael -- she is called barren because she did not give birth to people that will go to Gehinom like you!
Question (a Tzeduki): It says (Tehilim 3), "Mizmor l'David b'Varcho Mipnei Avshalom Beno" and (Tehilim 57) "l'David Michtam b'Varcho Mipnei Shaul" -- David should have discussed fleeing from Shaul before discussing fleeing from Avshalom, since it happened earlier!
Answer (R. Avahu): This is difficult for you [Tzedukim], for you do not expound Semuchim (the reason why Parshiyos are adjacent to each other) -- we expound Semuchim, it is not difficult;
(R. Yochanan): "Semuchim la'Ad l'Olam Asuyim b'Emes v'Yashar" teaches that we should expound Semuchim.
Parshas Avshalom is Samuch to Gog and Magog to dispel doubts of anyone who cannot fathom that a slave would rebel against his master -- he will see that even a son can rebel against his father!
DECLARING HASH-M'S PRAISE
Question (R. Yochanan): "Piha Paschah v'Chachmah v'Soras Chesed Al Leshonah" -- to whom does Shlomo refer?
Answer: He refers to David his father, who lived in five worlds and sang Shirah for each of them:
He was in the womb (and sang Shirah for it) -- "Barchi Nafshi Es Hash-m v'Chol Keravai Es Shem Kodsho";
He left the womb, and saw constellations -- "Barchu Hash-m Mal'achav... Kol Tzeva'av";
He nursed -- "Barchi Nafshi... v'Al Tishkechi Kol Gemulav"
Question: What does "Kol Gemulav" refer to?
Answer (R. Avahu): Hash-m put the breasts over [the heart,] the place of understanding.
He saw the downfall of the wicked -- "u'Resha'im Od Einam..."
He saw the day of death -- "Barchi Nafshi... Elokai Gadalta Me'od Hod v'Hadar Lavashta."
Question: How do we know that this refers to the day of death?
Answer (Rabah bar Tav Shila): After this it says "... Tosef Rucham Yigva'un."
Question (Rav Simi bar Ukva): What do we learn from "Barchi Nafshi Es Hash-m v'Chol Keravai Es Shem Kodsho"?
Answer (R. Shimon ben Pazi): Hash-m's ways are unlike the ways of people -- a person draws a form on the wall, he cannot put in it Ru'ach (breath, or the ability to speak), Neshamah, or innards;
Hash-m draws a form (fetus) within a form (mother), and puts all of these in it.
This is as Chanah said -- we read "Ein Tzur k'Elokeinu" as if it said "Ein Tzayar k'Elokeinu" (no one can make forms like Hash-m).
Question: What do we learn from "Ki Ein Biltecha"?
Answer (R. Yehudah bar Menasya): We read this Ki Ein li'Vlosecha -- Hash-m's ways are unlike the ways of people;
A person's works outlast him, but Hash-m outlasts His works.
Question (Rav Simi bar Ukva): My question was, to whom do the five passages of "Barchi Nafshi" correspond?
Answer (R. Shimon ben Pazi): They were said for Hash-m and the Neshamah:
Just like Hash-m fills the world, the Neshamah fills the body;
Just like Hash-m sees and is not seen, also the Neshamah;
Just like Hash-m sustains the whole world, the Neshamah sustains the body;
Just like Hash-m is Tahor, also the Neshamah;
Just like Hash-m dwells in a hidden place, also the Neshamah.
Thus, the Neshamah, which has these five attributes, should praise Hash-m, who has them!
CHIZKIYAH'S PRAYER AND DEEDS
(Rav Hamnuna): "Mi kehe'Chacham u'Mi Yode'a Pesher Davar" -- who is like Hash-m, who knows how to make a Pesharah (compromise) between two Tzadikim, Chizkiyah and Yeshayah;
Chizkiyah thought, Yeshayah should come to me, for we find that Eliyahu went to the king (Ach'av);
Yeshayah thought, Chizkiyah should come to me, for we find that Yehoram ben Ach'av went to the Navi (Elisha)!
Hash-m made Chizkiyah sick, and told Yeshayah to visit him.
Question: (Yeshayah told to him) "Ki Mes Atah v'Lo Sichyeh" -- what do we learn from this ("v'Lo Sichyeh" is extra)?
Answer: You will die in this world, and will not live in the World to Come.
Chizkiyah did not know why; Yeshayah explained, because he did not fulfill Peru u'Revu.
Chizkiyah: I did not have children, for I saw through Ru'ach ha'Kodesh that unworthy children would come from me!
Yeshayah: You should not delve into Hash-m's secrets -- you should do what you are commanded, Hash-m will do what He wants!
Chizkiyah: Let me marry your daughter -- perhaps our combined merits will cause proper children to result!
Yeshayah: It was already decreed that you will die!
Chizkiyah: Finish your prophecy (Gra - do not tell it to others, for then it will be harder to overturn it) -- I have a tradition from my father's house (David) that a person should not despair from Hash-m's mercy even if a sword is on his neck!
(R. Yochanan): A person should not despair from Hash-m's mercy even if a sword is on his neck -- "Hen Yikteleni Lo Ayachel."
(Rav Chanan): If a person has a dream that he will die tomorrow, he should not despair from Hash-m's mercy -- "Ki v'Rov Chalomos va'Havalim u'Devarim Harbeh Ki Es ha'Elokim Yera" (Maharsha - even though it is probably from a Shed (and totally false), he should be concerned that it is from Hash-m, and pray).
Question: "Va'Yasev Chizkiyah Panav El ha'Kir va'Yispalel" -- what does this mean?
Answer #1 (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): He prayed mi'Kiros (from the deep chambers) of his heart -- "Me'ai Me'ai Ochilah Kiros Libi."
Answer #2 (R. Levi): He based his prayer on a Kir (wall);
He said, You revived the son of the Shunamis woman, because she built one small wall (to make a lodging for Elisha) ; my ancestor (Shlomo) covered the entire Heichal with gold and silver, all the more so [You should grant me more life in his merit]!
Question: "Zechor Na... veha'Tov b'Einecha Asisi" -- what does this refer to?
Answer #1 (Rav): He was Somech Ge'ulah l'Tefilah.
Answer #2 (R. Levi): He hid the Sefer ha'Refu'os (to ensure that people will pray to Hash-m to be cured.)
(Beraisa): Chachamim approved of three things that Chizkiyah did, and disapproved of three;
They approved of three:
He hid the Sefer ha'Refu'os;
He ground up the copper snake that Moshe had made (to save people who had been bitten by snakes; people had started to worship it);
He dragged his father's bones around on mats (Achaz was a Rasha and deserved this disgrace, and it would be an atonement for him).
They disapproved of three:
He dammed the waters of Gichon (to impede Sancheriv's impending attack against Yerushalayim; Hash-m had promised to save Yerushalayim, he should have relied on this);
He cut off the doors of the Heichal and sent them to Sancheriv (for tribute, so he would not attack);
He was Me'aber the year (added a second Adar) in Nisan.
Question: Did he not agree that, "ha'Chodesh ha'Zeh Lachem Rosh Chadashim," once Nisan begins, it cannot be changed to another month!
Answer: Rather, he erred concerning Shmuel's law:
(Shmuel): We may not be Me'aber the year on the 30th day of Adar, for this day could become Rosh Chodesh Nisan (if witnesses would come). (Me'iri - b'Di'eved, all agree that the year is Me'ubar.)
Chizkiyah held that the fact that it could become Rosh Chodesh Nisan is immaterial.
(R. Yochanan): If one requests something in his own merit, [even if he gets it] it will be attributed to another's merit; if one requests in another's merit, it will be attributed to his own merit;
Moshe requested (that Hash-m pardon Yisrael) in others' merit -- "Zechor l'Avraham l'Yitzchak ul'Yisrael Avadecha";
The pardon was attributed to Moshe -- "va'Yomer l'Hashmidam Lulei Moshe Bechiro Amad ba'Peretz..."
Chizkiyah requested (that Hash-m save Yerushalayim) in his own merit -- "Zechor Na Asher His'halachti Lefanecha";
It was granted in others' merit -- "v'Ganosi Al ha'Ir... Lema'ani u'Lema'an David Avdi."
Question (R. Yehoshua ben Levi): What does it mean, "Hineh l'Shalom Mar Li Mar"?
Answer: Even when Hash-m saved Yerushalayim, it was bitter for Chizkiyah (for it was not attributed to him).
THE CHESED DONE FOR ELISHA
(Rav or Shmuel): "Na'aseh Lo Na Aliyas Kir Ketanah" -- the Shunamis and her husband already had an exposed attic room, they put a ceiling over it (for Elisha);
(The other of Rav and Shmuel): They already had a [ground floor] room, they divided it into two.
Question: According to the second opinion, we understand why it says "Kir" (they added a wall);
How does the first opinion explain "Kir"?
Answer: "Kiruha" -- they covered it.
Question: According to the first opinion, we understand why it says "Aliyas";
How does the second opinion explain this?
Answer: It means, it was "Me'ulah" (the best) quarters.
(Abaye): If one wants to benefit from others, there is nothing wrong with this -- "v'Nasim Lo Sham Mitah v'Shulchan v'Chisei u'Menorah" (Me'iri - but he should do something in return, like Elisha, who prayed that she should have a son);
If one does not want to benefit from others, there is nothing wrong with this -- "u'Seshuvaso ha'Ramasah Ki Sham Beiso";
(R. Yochanan): [This is extra, to teach that] Shmuel's house (i.e. everything he needed) was with him wherever he travelled (Me'iri - this is not haughtiness, people know that a judge must distance himself from benefiting from people).
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): "Va'Tomer El Ishah Hinei Na Yadati Ki Ish Elokim Kadosh Hu" -- this shows that a woman understands the nature of guests more than a man does.
Question: How did she know that he was Kadosh?
Answer #1 (Rav or Shmuel): She never saw a fly above his table.
Answer #2 (The other of Rav and Shmuel): She put a linen sheet on his bed and never saw a discharge on it.
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): "Kadosh Hu" -- he is Kadosh, but his servant (Gechazi) is not;
"Va'Yigash Gechazi l'Hodfah" -- he grabbed her by her "Hod" (most beautiful part).
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): "Over Aleinu Tamid" -- if one hosts and benefits a Chacham from his property, it is considered as if he offered the Korban Tamid (the daily Tamid offering).
HOW TO PRAY AND WHEN TO SAY SHEMA
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): "Mi'Ma'amakim Kerasicha Hash-m" -- one should not pray from a high place, rather, from a low place.
Support (Beraisa): One should not stand on a chair or stool or a high place when praying, rather, from a low place, for one may not act haughtily in front of Hash-m -- it says, "Mi'Ma'amakim Kerasicha Hash-m" and "Tefilah l'Ani Ki Ya'atof."
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): One must put his feet together when praying -- "v'Ragleihem Regel Yesharah" (it is as if they have only one foot). (Rashba - we emulate the angels during prayer, for one must try to emulate their perfect deeds. Additionally, one should consider himself unable to move without Hash-m's help.)
(R. Yosi b'Rebbi Chanina): "Lo Sochlu Al ha'Dam" -- do not eat (in the morning) before praying for your Dam (life).
(R. Yitzchak): "V'Osi Hishlachta Acharei Gavecha" -- this refers to one who eats before praying;
We read this "Ge'echa" -- after acting haughtily, you accept Ol Malchus Shamayim?!
(Mishnah - R. Yehoshua) Answer #3: The time (for morning Shema) extends until the third hour.
(Rav Yehudah): The Halachah follows R. Yehoshua.
(Mishnah): One who says it after this time does not lose.
Version #1 (Rav Chisda): However, he may not say the blessing of Yotzer Or.
Question (Beraisa): One who says Shema after this does not lose, this is like learning [any other part of] Torah, but he makes two Berachos before it and one after it.
Rav Chisda is refuted.
Version #2 (Rav Chisda): The Mishnah means, he does not lose the Berachos.
Support (Beraisa): One who says Shema after this does not lose, this is like learning Torah, but he makes two Berachos before it and one after it.
(Rav Mani): Reading Shema in its time is greater than engaging in Torah;
We learn this from the Mishnah -- it says that one who says Shema after this does not lose, this is like learning Torah;
This implies that reading Shema in its time is greater.
HOW AND WHEN TO SAY SHEMA
(Mishnah - Beis Shamai): At night, one should lie down and recite [Shema]; in the morning, he should stand to say it -- "uv'Shochbecha uv'Kumecha";
Beis Hillel says, one should recite in whatever position he is -- "uv'Lechtecha va'Derech."
Question: If so, what do we learn from "uv'Shochbecha uv'Kumecha"?
Answer: We recite at the time that [most] people lie down and rise.
R. Tarfon: I was on the road and lied down to say Shema, like Beis Shamai -- I endangered myself on account of bandits.
Chachamim: You were liable to die for transgressing Beis Hillel's opinion!