More Discussions for this daf
1. Birkas v'Lamalshinim 2. Yehudah Ger Amoni 3. R. Gamliel and R. Elazar ben Azaryah
4. Bribes (Shochad) 5. Know before Whom you stand 6. Sancheriv
7. Shmuel ha'Katan 8. Raban Gamliel being reinstated as Nasi 9. May the Living Lie about the Dead?
10. The Right to Depose Raban Gamliel 11. Tocho K'Boro 12. "Nikra Poshe'a"
13. Chizkiyahu 14. Tocho K'Boro 15. Musaf after Seven Hours
16. Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai 17. Shimon bar Yochai 18. Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah taking over the Nesi'us from Raban Gamliel
19. Praying for a friend in order to be answered first 20. Shmuel ha'Katan and Birkas ha'Minim 21. Zav
22. Which prayers require standing 23. R. Gamliel and R. Elazar ben Azaryah

Yehuda Moshe asks:

Since the pasuk says "The sceptor shall not depart from Judah nor a scholar from among his descendents" how were they able to depose him from being Nasi soley for the honor of R' Yehoshua?

And if there was a good reason to depose him, why was it ok to reinstate him to Nasi therby demoting R' Elazar ben Azaryah' powers (except for occasionally lecturing). This sounds similar (although not exactly the same) as a dictatorship.

Yehuda Moshe, Passaic, NJ

The Kollel replies:

1. This is an interesting question which can be illustrated a little further if we look at the Gemara in Sanhedrin (5a) which states: "'The sceptor shall not depart from Yehudah' -- this refers to the heads of the exile in Babylonia who discipline the people; 'Nor the scholar from among his descendants' -- this refers to the sons of the sons of Hillel who teach Torah in public."

2. The question would not be so difficult if one could show that the possible replacements for Raban Gamliel were from the Shevet of Yehudah and were descendants of Hillel. This, however, was not the case. Even though Tosfos in Sanhedrin (5a, DH d'Hacha) writes that the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael was required to be from Yehudah only on his maternal line, it still is problematic how Rebbi Akiva could have been suggested as a candidate since he was from a line of Gerim. The Gemara implies that this fact was a reason to reject him as a candidate only because he might lack the merit for protection, but in theory there was no Halachic objection to him being considered for the post even though he was not descended from Yehudah.

3. Therefore, I would like to suggest that the solution lies in the words of the Magen Avraham (Orach Chaim 53:33). He cites Rebbi Menachem Azaryah of Panu who states that all public positions connected with the "Crown of Torah" are not heriditary in principle. According to Torah law, the son does not take priority. (See Machatzis ha'Shekel there, who writes that whoever wishes to take the crown of Torah should come and take it. This means that a Torah position depends solely on a person's merit and ability.) However, from the time of Hillel onwards the custom indeed was that the sons of the Nasi took precedence.

4. Now we may be able to explain what happened in our Gemara with Raban Gamliel. He caused anguish for Rebbi Yehoshua on three separate occasions, so in order to protect the honor of Rebbi Yehoshua the Chachamim decided to remove Raban Gamliel as Nasi. It was possible to remove the position of Nasi from the descendants of Hillel because this was not a requirement of the Torah that his descendants should hold this post, but it was merely a custom. This custom could be waived if the existing Nasi did not fulfil his responsibility properly.

5. However, since the title of Nasi indeed belonged to Raban Gamliel, it followed that when, later, Rebbi Yehoshua forgave Raban Gamliel for his conduct towards him, it was appropriate that Raban Gamliel should be reinstated as Nasi. However, there remained a problem, because once Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah had been appointed Nasi he could not be removed (because of "Ma'alin ba'Kodesh..."). This was why the compromise solution was made whereby Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah would serve as the primary lecturer for one week, and Raban Gamliel for two, and thereby it would not be considered that he had been removed totally from his post.

6. In summary, the position of Nasi essentially belonged to Raban Gamliel because he was a descendant of Hillel. However, when the honor of Rebbi Yehoshua was insulted it was decided that Raban Gamliel be removed; this could be done because his original appointment did not possess the status of Torah law but rather was merely a Minhag. Therefore, when Rebbi Yehoshua forgave Raban Gamliel it was natural that the post of Nasi should return to Raban Gamliel. As for Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah it was possible to reduce his responsibilities and this was sufficient as long as he was not removed totally from the position. (A further indication that the post essentially belonged to Raban Gamliel is seen from the reaction of Rebbi Elazar's wife, who understood from the very beginning that Rebbi Elazar also might lose his positon before long.)

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds:

I found, Bs'd, a responsum written by the son of the Rambam, who wrote on somewhat similar lines to what I wrote in my previous reply.

1. First, we should look at the words of the Rambam himself, in Hilchos Sanhedrin 1:3, who explains how a Torah court of law is comprised. The Rambam writes: "The greatest in wisdom is appointed as the Head of the Beis Din. He is the Rosh Yeshivah to whom the Sages always referred as the Nasi."

We observe that in connection with the Nasi, the Rambam mentions only that this position is dependent on Torah greatness. He does not mention anything about him being descended from Yehudah.

2. In Teshuvos Rabeinu Avraham ben ha'Rambam, the Rambam's son cites the Gemara in Horayos (13b) which states in connection with the question of who is worthy to be the Nasi: "Who is fit to praise the mighty deeds of Hashem? -He who can proclaim all of Hashem's praise." Chazal learn from here that the Nasi should know all of the Torah. Rabeinu Avraham, the son of the Rambam, writes that we learn from here that being the Nasi does not depend on being descended from the House of David, but rather the crucial qualification is Torah wisdom.

3. Rabeinu Avraham adds that even if the Nasi was properly qualified for his position, if Chas v'Shalom he would fall short of his responsibility, the sages of his generation possess the power to remove him. Even if he did not sin at all but merely caused pain to other sages, he may be removed, as our Gemara relates that Raban Gamliel was removed because he caused pain to Rebbi Yehoshua.

4. As for the verse that a scholar "shall not depart from Yehudah," perhaps one can answer with the words of Tosfos in Yoma (26a) who writes that while this verse is a blessing granted to the Shevet of Yehudah by Hashem, it is not actually a Torah obligation that the Nasi must be from Yehudah.

5. Also, Rav Yehonasan Eibeshitz, in his sefer Ye'aros Devash (vol. II, #17, p. 263, DH Ach Zeh), asks your question: How could Raban Gamliel be removed in favor of Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah, who was a Kohen and not descended from Yehudah? He answers that Tosfos in Sanhedrin (5a, DH d'Hacha) writes that it is necessary only that the Nasi in Eretz Yisrael be descended from Yehudah from the maternal line, not from the paternal line. We know that the wife of Aharon, the Kohen Gadol, the founder of the Kohen lineage, was the sister of Nachshon ben Aminadav (Shemos 6:23). Nachshon was the prince of Yehudah (Bamidbar 1:7), and so it follows that every Kohen is descended from Yehudah on the maternal line! Therefore, there was no objection to Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah (the tenth-generation descendant of Ezra the Scribe, who was a Kohen) serving as Nasi.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds further:

1) Rav Elyashiv zt'l, in his He'oros l'Maseches Berachos, explains that the only reason why it was permitted to remove Raban Gamliel from the position of Nasi and violate the verse of, "The sceptor shall not depart from Yehudah," was simply because once Raban Gamliel did not conduct himself with the appropriate respect for Rebbi Yehoshua, there remained no suitable candidate from Yehudah.

2. Rav Elyashiv cites the commentary of the Ramban on the Torah, on the verse, "The sceptor shall not depart" (Bereshit 49:10), who writes that the Chashmona'i kings, who were Kohanim and ruled over Yisrael during the period of the second Beis ha'Mikdash, were punished becaused they transgressed the command of Ya'akov Avinu that only descendants of Yehudah may rule. The Ramban writes that, this misdeed notwithstanding, the Chashmona'i kings were "Chasidei Elyon" of high piety. Without them, the Torah and Mitzvos would have been forgotten from the Jewish people. Nevertheless, they were punished severely when four sons of the elder Chashmona'i, who ruled one after the other, all fell by the sword at the hands of their enemies, despite all their might and success.

3. The Ramban writes that the punishment was so great that the Gemara later (Bava Batra 3b) states that anyone who claims that he is descended from the Chashmona'i house must in reality be a slave, because all of the Chashmona'im were destroyed due to this sin (that one who is not descended from Yehudah and House of David may not rule).

xx 35 min

4. Rav Elyashiv also explains how Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah could subsequently be removed from the position of Nasi. Once peace with Raban Gamliel had been re-established, there was no longer any justification for Rebbi Elazar, who was not descended from Yehudah, to remain in the position, which is why Raban Gamliel was reinstated at the first possible opportunity.

5. I found a similar idea in the Rishonim to explain an even greater enigma. How could Shemayah and Avtalyon, who were both Gerim, serve as Nasi and Head of Beis Din respectively? (See Bartenura to Pirkei Avos 1:4 and 1:10.) Since a Ger may not judge capital cases (see Bartenura to Sanhedrin 4:2), how could Shemayah and Avtalyon be the leaders of Klal Yisrael? The Baalei ha'Tosfos on the Chumash, at the beginning of Parshas Mishpatim, cite the Riva in the name of Rabeinu Moshe mi'Kutzi who says that a Ger is invalid only when there are alternative candidiates, but when there is nobody who knows the Torah as well as they, they may be judges. The proof for this is Shemayah and Avtalyon.

(According to this approach, the question of the Tosfos Yom Tov on Pirkei Avos 1:10 on the Rambam and the Bartenura is answered.)

6. It seems that one may apply similar logic to explain how someone who is not from Shevet Yehudah can serve as the Nasi. The command that the "sceptor shall not depart from Yehudah" applies only when there is someone from Yehudah who is capable of filling the position.

Dovid Bloom