More Discussions for this daf
1. Demon In A Pit 2. Sheidim 3. Sheidim

Al Berger asks:

i would like to discuss the negative rap that the SHADIM have been getting. i don't believe it is fair to refer to them as demons.

1 Ashmodi was/is a talmud chochum, as our gemarra shows he was accepted into the best yeshivos

2 he learned day and night

3 they were/are given a task by the R"BSO which they work at deligently

4 they were/are spiritual creations that when on a mission had to have special feet to enable them to

be envolved with gashmius

5 when King Ashmodi who was/is Jewish had to deal with Shlomo Hamelech he only took away his

physical posesions and his prestige he did not hurt his body and left him with his cloak and staff

both of which had a spiritual demension[see Beniyahu]

6 K. Ashmodi displayed his good midos with the three examples the gemorrah bothers to give us

[blind man, drunk man,widow]

The Kollel replies:

I am going to continue the attack on the Shedim and will start from the sources in the Torah.

1) The Torah states that we should bring our Korbanos in the Mishkan and that Klal Yisrael "should not sacrifice any more to the Se'irim" (Vayikra 17:7). Rashi writes that "Se'irim" are Shedim. The Ibn Ezra explains that Shedim are called Se'irim by the Torah because the effect they have on anyone who sees them is that his "hair" ("Se'ar") stands on end out of fear.

2) We learn from this two things about Shedim: (a) before we possessed the Mishkan they were a devastating temptation to sin for Bnei Yisrael, causing them to stray after them with their sacrifices; (b) the very name that they are given by the Torah shows how their entire creation was merely in order to scare people.

3) In the light of the above I will have to try and explain the sources that you have cited, which appear to suggest that Shedim are not so bad after all. We may be able to understand this better if we look at the Gemara in Pesachim 110a which states that since Ashmadai was the king of the Shedim, "a king is not called a damager." This suggests that non-royal Shedim are indeed considered Mazikin, damagers. The arguments you have mentioned concerning Ashmadai may not be sufficient to defend the average Shed, because Ashamadai was better than other Shedim.

I will continue soon and address your other points, bs'd.

Kol Tuv,

Dovid Bloom

The Kollel adds:

I will now continue, bs'd, to examine the sources you have mentioned that appear to bring out the positive aspects of the Shadim.

1) Firstly the Gemara 68a that Ashmadai learnt in the Yeshiva in Heaven and the Yeshiva in this world.

I argue that this matter is not simple at all. The Gemara Eruvin bottom 43a may shed a little light on this. The Gemara tells us about certain Halachos that were said in front of Rav Chisda on Shabbos morning in Sura, and then also said in front of Rabah in Pumbedisa on Shabbos afternoon. There was clearly someone who was present at both Shiurim, who must have been leaving the city boundary on Shabbos, which is forbidden. Who was the one who went ouside the boundary on Shabbos? The Gemara answers that it was Yosef Shida. Rashi DH Yosef writes that Yosef Shida did not keep Shabbos. It seems that this Yosef Shida is also mentioned in Pesachim 110a, where he told Rav Yosef some important information about King Ashamdai.

At any rate Yosef Shida was clearly not Jewish, since he did not keep Shabbos. So the Torah that the Shadim learnt must be somewhat different from the Torah that we learn, since the Gemara Sanhderin 59a tells us that only Jews are allowed to occupy themselves with Torah. Even if we say that Ashmadai himself was Jewish, my comment in my first reply still stands; that merely because we seem some good aspects in the king of the Shadim, this does not save the name of all the other Shadim.

2) One other quick comment for the time being about the good way that Ashmadai behaved to the blind man. When asked later why he helped him Ashmadai answered that the blind man is a complete Tzadik. Maharsha 68b DH M'T writes that Shadim damage, but they do not damage somebody who is a Tzadik Gamur and will attain Olam HaBa.

This can be understood with the help of Teshuvos Chasam Sofer Yoreh Deah #7 DH v'Omer who writes that Shadim do not have dominion over the form of a complete person, who possesses Shleimus. They only can harm someone who is lacking something in his da'as and intelligence.

So the good behavior towards the blind man does not prove how good the Shadim are, but rather how good the blind man was, as a result of which the Shadim did not have power to damage him.

Good Shabbos

Dovid Bloom