The Gemara discusses 18 maledictions Isaiah stated in 3:1-4. After explaining the meaning of the verses from Isaiah 3:1-4 the Gemara continues and says that Isaiah added one more in verse 5. The Gemara says that this verse about the young ruling over the old means that those who are empty of mitzvos will rule over those who are filled with mitzvos like a pomegranite is filled with seeds.
How can the Gemara(14a)say this refers to those who are empty of mitzvos will rule over those who are filled with mitzvos, when the Gemara elsewhere states that all Jews are filled with mitzvos as pomegranite is filled with seeds? How can there be Jews empty of mitzvos when even the most not yet observant Jew is filled with mitzvos?
Zvi Shapiro, Long Beach, CA USA
The second Gemara to which you refer is, among other places, in Eruvin 19a, which draws a distinction between 'Posh'ei Yisrael' (sinners of Yisrael) and 'Posh'ei Umos ha'Olam' (gentile sinners), referring to the former as full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate.
I heard that the Chasam Sofer in Megilah (Daf 6) explains that the latter statement is relative; meaning that 'Posh'ei Yisrael' are only 'full of Mitzvos' compared to Nochrim, but not per se. In other words, they really posses only a few Mitzvos, but compared to Nochrim, it appears like a lot.
Likewise I thought to explain the first Gemara that you cited. Strictly speaking, every Jew has some Mitzvos. However, compared to those righteous people who are really full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate, those who have few Mitzvos, are considered empty of Mitzvos.
I once asked on the Gemara in Eruvin from the Pasuk in Melachim 1, 14:13, which writes (with reference to the son of Yeravam who was ill and about to die) that he alone, out of all the family of Yeravam, was destined to merit burial because he had performed one good deed (see Rashi there). And the Metzudas David explains that from the entire family of Yeravam, this was the good deed that could be found.
Indeed, it is difficult to see how a Mumar Lehach'is (an apostate whose motive is to anger Hash-m) can be described as 'full of Mitzvos'?
I though perhaps that when the Gemara stays that even those among you are full of Mitzvos ... ', we will apply the principle 'Ein Lemeidin min ha'Kelalos' (every rule has its exceptions, and that there are some people who have no Mitzvos at all or at least, that they are not full of Mitzvos like a pomegranate.
Be'Virchas Kol Tuv