12th CYCLE DEDICATION
GITIN 56 (6 Elul) - Dedicated in memory of Rivka bas Yechezkel Pinker on the occasion of her first Yahrzeit, by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, all of whom live in Eretz Yisrael.

1)

(a)What prompted bar Kamtza to take revenge?

(b)So off he went to Rome. What did he do in Rome?

(c)How did he 'prove' to the emperor that the Jews had rebelled against him?

(d)Why did he choose to blemish the animal on the upper lip or on the membrane of the eye?

1)

(a)What prompted bar Kamtza to take revenge was the fact that the Rabanan were sitting there and did nothing to prevent the Ba'al ha'Se'udah from embarrassing him. He understood from this that they concurred with him.

(b)So off he went to Rome where he informed the emperor that the Jews had rebelled against him.

(c)He 'proved' this to the emperor by suggesting that he appoint him a Shali'ach to bring a sacrifice on his behalf, and he would see for himself that the Jews would not accept it.

(d)He chose to blemish the animal on the upper lip or on the membrane of the eye because these are spots which we consider to be blemishes, but which the Nochrim do not.

2)

(a)What objection did Rebbi Zecharyah ben Avkulas raise when the Sanhedrin suggested that ...

1. ... they sacrifice the emperor's Korban, even with the blemish?

2. ... they kill bar Kamtza?

(b)So what did they do?

(c)What did Rebbi Yochanan comment on Rebbi Zecharyah ben Avkulas?

2)

(a)Rebbi Zecharyah ben Avkulas objected when the Sanhedrin suggested ...

1. ... to sacrifice the emperor's Korban, even with the blemish, on the grounds that people would then deduce that one is permitted to bring blemished animals on the Mizbe'ach.

2. ... to kill bar Kamtza on the grounds that people would then say that the penalty for blemishing a Korban is death.

(b)So they declined to bring the emperor's Korban, and the Romans attacked.

(c)Rebbi Yochanan commented that Rebbi Zecharyah ben Avkulas' tolerance (of bar Kamtza) destroyed the Beis ha'Mikdash and exiled us from our land.

3)

(a)The commander in charge of the invading force was called Nero. What sorcery did he employ to discover whether he should destroy Yerushalayim or not?

(b)What made him run away and convert?

(c)Which famous Tana descended from him?

(d)How long did the siege of Yerushalayim under Vespasian (Nero's successor) last?

3)

(a)The commander in charge of the invading force was called Nero. The sorcery he employ to discover whether he should destroy Yerushalayim or not was to shoot an arrow in each direction, and each time it turned towards Yerushalayim, a sure sign that he was expected to attack it.

(b)What made him run away and convert was the Pasuk in Yechezkel that the child cited him "Venasati Es Nikmasi b'Edom b'Yad Ami Yisrael". If he was to serve as Hash-m's instrument to destroy His House and then have to suffer for it, he concluded, Hash-m should find someone else.

(c)The famous Tana who descended from him was Rebbi Meir.

(d)The siege of Yerushalayim under Vespasian (Nero's successor) lasted three years.

4)

(a)Yerushalayim withstood the siege for so long due to the benevolence of three immensely wealthy men, Nakdimon ben Gurion, ben Kalba Savu'a, and ben Tzitzis ha'Keses. What is the significance of the name ...

1. ... Nakdimon ben Gurion?

2. ... ben Kalba Savu'a?

3. ... ben Tzitzis ha'Keses?

(b)One of the men provided sufficient wheat and barley to withstand a long siege, another, wine and salt. What did the third one provide?

(c)The one that was considered the most valuable is based on Rav Chisda, who would entrust his servant with all the keys of the house with the exception of one. Which one? Why was that?

(d)What was the bone of contention between the Chachamim and the Biryoni (zealots)?

(e)What did the Biryoni do to force Yisrael's hand to fight the Romans?

4)

(a)Yerushalayim withstood the siege for so long due to the benevolence of three immensely wealthy men, Nakdimon ben Gurion, ben Kalba Savu'a, and ben Tzitzis ha'Keses ...

1. ... Nakdimon ben Gurion because the sun remained in the sky after the time had arrived to set, on his account ('Nakdah Lo Chamah Ba'avuro').

2. ... ben Kalba Savu'a because anyone who came to his house as hungry as a dog, would leave, satisfied.

3. ... ben Tzitzis ha'Keses either because his Tzitzis were very long and rested on cushions (to prevent them from dragging on the ground), or because his 'chair' was placed among the leaders of Rome.

(b)One of these three men provided wheat and barley, barley to withstand a long siege, whereas another provided wine and salt. The third provided, wood.

(c)The one that was considered the most valuable is based Rav Chisda, who would entrust his servant with all the keys of the house with the exception of the key to the wood-store (since one store of wheat requires sixty stores of wood).

(d)The bone of contention between the Chachamim and the Biryoni (zealots) was the latter's refusal to make peace with the Romans, despite their warning that their efforts to take on the Romans were bound to fail.

(e)To force Yisrael's hand to fight the Romans the Biryoni set fire to the vast silos that held all the above provisions (sufficient stocks to sustain Yerushalayim for twenty-one years).

5)

(a)Who was Marsa bas Baytus?

(b)So severe was the famine when it suddenly hit them, that the bakers could not bake the little flour that was left fast enough. What happened to Marsa's Shali'ach? Which four types of loaves became unavailable one after the other (in order of decreasing quality)?

(c)So Marsa, who happened to be shoeless at the time, went on her own find bread. Some say she died from finnickiness, when she trod in some dung. What do others say?

(d)Who was Rebbi Tzadok?

5)

(a)Marsa bas Baytus was an aristocratic Yerushalmi.

(b)So severe was the famine when it suddenly hit them, that the bakers could not bake the little flour that was left fast enough. Marsa's Shali'ach arrived at the baker to find that they had already sold out of the very best bread manufactured from refined flour. The same happened when he returned to purchase fine white bread ... coarse white bread ... and finally black bread.

(c)So Marsa, who happened to be shoeless at the time, went on her own find bread. Some say she died from finnickiness, when she trod in some dung. Others say that the only food she could find was the remains of a fig that Rebbi Tzadok had (during the time of his recovery) sucked dry and thrown away. And it was the smell of Rebbi Tzadok's sickness that proved too much for her, and she succumbed.

(d)Rebbi Tzadok was a Tana who fasted for forty years (though it is unclear what exactly this means) in an effort to prevent the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash, which he foresaw. He became so thin and weak, that one could see the food that he subsequently ate, passing down his esophagus.

6)

(a)Which Pasuk in Yechezkel did Raban Yochanan apply to Marsa bas Baytus?

(b)What is the significance of the Pasuk in Yechezkel "Kaspam ba'Chutzos Yashlichu"?

(c)Who was Aba Sikra?

(d)What did he reply when Raban Yochanan ben Zakai summoned him to a secret meeting and asked him how long the Biryoni would continue to starve the people to death by forbidding them to make peace with the Romans?

6)

(a)The Pasuk in Yechezkel that Raban Yochanan applied to Marsa bas Baytus was "The most tender among you and the most finicky, who would not deign to place her feet on the ground from finnickiness" (a reference to Marsa bas Baytus, who was normally carried on a sedan-chair).

(b)The Pasuk "Kaspam ba'Chutzos Yashlichu" refers to Marsa who just before she died, took her silver and gold and threw it out into the street, declaring 'What use are these to me'?

(c)Aba Sikra (the son of Raban Yochanan ben Zakai's sister) was leader of the Biryonim in Yerushalayim.

(d)When Raban Yochanan ben Zakai summoned him to a secret meeting and asked him how long the Biryoni would continue to starve the people to death by forbidding them to make peace with the Romans he replied that he now had no choice, since the other Biryoni would kill him were he to betray their cause.

7)

(a)What plan did Aba Sikra devise at Raban Yochanan ben Zakai's request, to get him out of the walls of Yerushalayim? What made the people believe that Raban Yochanan had really died?

(b)Why did Aba Sikra insist that Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua (Raban Yochanan's disciples) carry the coffin?

(c)How did Aba Sikra, who escorted the coffin outside the walls, convince the Biryoni guards not to pierce the coffin with their swords or even to shake it to test whether Raban Yochanan was really dead?

(d)What was Vespasian's response when Raban Yochanan came before him and greeted him with 'Peace be upon you, o king ... !'?

7)

(a)At Raban Yochanan's request Aba Sikra had the word spread that Raban Yochanan was very sick, and people would come and visit him. Then, when he 'died', they would be able to carry his coffin out of the walls for 'burial'. What made the people believe that Raban Yochanan had really died was the smell of the dead rodent that they placed inside his bed after his 'death'.

(b)Aba Sikra insisted that Rebbi Eliezer and Rebbi Yehoshua (Raban Yochanan's disciples) should carry the coffin because they knew the truth and would not ask any questions. Anybody else would want to know why the coffin was so light, since a live person, who carries some of his own weight, weighs less that a dead one (hence the expression 'a dead weight').

(c)Aba Sikra, who escorted the coffin outside the walls, convinced the Biryoni guards not to pierce the coffin with their swords or even to shake it, to test whether Raban Yochanan was really dead by pointing out to them that it would look rather grim if people were able to say that the Jewish guards pierced or shook their own deceased Rebbi.

(d)When Raban Yochanan came before Vespasian and greeted him with 'Peace be upon you, o king ... !' he replied that Raban Yochanan deserved to die on one of two scores. First of all, he argued, he was not king; and if he was, why had Raban Yochanan not come earlier?

56b----------------------------------------56b

8)

(a)How did Raban Yochanan answer Vespasian's ...

1. ... first point by quoting the Pasuk in Yeshayah "ve'ha'Levanon be'Adir Yipol"? What do "Levanon" and "Adir", respectively, refer to?

2. ... second point? Why did he not go and see him earlier?

(b)How did Vespasian respond to Raban Yochanan's answer to his second point, using a Mashal of a barrel of honey?

(c)Raban Yochanan had no answer to offer him. What did Rav Yosef (or Rebbi Akiva) have to say about that?

(d)What did he mean to say when he quoted the Pasuk in Yeshayah "Meishiv Chachamim Achor"?

8)

(a)Raban Yochanan answered Vespasian's ...

1. ... first point by quoting the Pasuk "v'ha'Levanon b'Adir Yipol" meaning that Eretz Yisrael would fall into the hands of a king. Consequently, he must be a king. (Presumably, he considered the burning of the silos the beginning of the destruction of Yerushalayim, since, from that moment on, there was chance of preventing it [See Tos. DH 'I Lav ... '). The Beis ha'Mikdash is referred to as Levanon because it cleanses Yisrael from their sins (from the word 'Lelaben' to clean).

2. ... second point by informing him that the Biryonim would not let him out.

(b)Vespasian responded to Raban Yochanan's answer to his second point, by citing a Mashal of a barrel of honey which was encircled by a snake. What must one do other than break the barrel, killing the snake at the same time, in order to obtain the honey? And so too, should the Chachamim have destroyed the whole of Yerushalayim, in order to get rid of the Biryonim (though it is unclear what Vespasian expected Raban Yochanan ben Zakai to do see note in next question).

(c)Raban Yochanan had no answer to offer him. Rav Yosef (or Rebbi Akiva) points out that he could have answered that one has the option of removing the snake and leaving the barrel intact. Similarly, he could have destroyed the Biryonim without destroying Yerushalayim . Note: It is unclear as to why Rashi does not explain that it was Vespasian who, on account of the Biryonim, had no option other than to destroy the whole of Yerushalayim, Chachamim and all, and that what Raban Yochanan should have answered was that he [Vespasian] could find ways and means to destroy the Biryonim without touching the rest of the people.

(d)When Rav Yosef (or Rebbi Akiva) quoted the Pasuk "Meshiv Chachamim Achor", he meant that sometimes Hash-m blocks the Chachamim's minds, and prevents them from seeing the obvious (such as here, where Yisrael deserved the forthcoming punishment and nothing could save them [this is perhaps connected with the Pasuk in Mishlei "The heart of kings lies in G-d's Hands", since the Chachamim are referred to as kings).

9)

(a)At that moment, a messenger arrived from Rome with the news that the senate had appointed Vespasian Emperor of Rome. What happened to his feet? How did Raban Yochanan ...

1. ... explain this strange phenomenon?

2. ... solve the problem?

(b)What was Raban Yochanan's response when Vespasian offered him anything he wanted? Which two things did he request, besides Yavneh and its Chachamim?

(c)Rav Yosef (or Rebbi Akiva), quoting the same Pasuk in Mishlei, again takes Raban Yochanan ben Zakai to task for not asking for the obvious. What reason might he have had for deliberately not doing so?

(d)The Roman doctors cured Rebbi Tzadok by administering to him 'Maya de'Pari' on the first day, 'Maya de'Sipuka' on the second, and 'Maya de'Kimcha' on the third. What is ...

1. ... 'Maya de'Pari'?

2. ... 'Maya de'Sipuka'?

3. ... 'Maya de'Kimcha'?

9)

(a)At that moment, a messenger arrived from Rome with the news that the senate had appointed Vespasian Emperor of Rome. Immediately, his feet swelled, and he was unable either to put the shoe on to his one bare foot, or to remove the one shoe from the other foot. Raban Yochanan ...

1. ... explained this strange phenomenon with the Pasuk "Shemu'ah Tovah Tedashen Etzem" ('Good news causes a swelling of the bones').

2. ... solved the problem with another Pasuk "v'Ru'ach Nich'eh Teyavesh Garem" (an air of dejection causes the bones to contract). So he suggested that someone to whom Vespasian took an intense dislike pass in front of him.

(b)When Vespasian offered Raban Yochanan anything he wanted, besides Yavneh and its Chachamim he requested that the princely lineage of Raban Gamliel be spared, and that a doctor be provided to cure Rebbi Tzadok.

(c)Rav Yosef (or Rebbi Akiva), quoting the same Pasuk in Mishlei, again takes Raban Yochanan ben Zakai to task for not asking for the obvious. Yet, we conclude, he might have declined to do so deliberately in the knowledge that if one asks for too much, one gets nothing.

(d)The Roman doctors cured Rebbi Tzadok by administering to him 'Maya d'Pari' on the first day, 'Maya d'Sipuka' on the second, and 'Maya d'Kimcha' on the third. 'Maya ...

1. ... d'Pari' is water in which bran has been soaked.

2. ... d'Sipuka' is water in which thick bran mixed with flour has been soaked.

3. ... d'Kimcha' is water that is mixed with flour.

10)

(a)The Emperor Vespasian sent his son Titus to replace him as commander of the Roman forces. To which does the Pasuk in Ki Savo "ve'Amar Ei Elokeimo, Tzur Chasayu Bo" refer?

(b)What did Titus think when blood oozed from the Paroches?

(c)What did ...

1. ... Aba Chanan mean when he quoted the Pasuk in Tehilim "Mi Chamochah Chasin Kah"?

2. ... Tana de'Bei Rebbi Yishmael mean when he quoted the Pasuk in Beshalach "Mi Chamochah be'Eilim Hash-m"? How does he interpret "ba'Eilim"?

(d)What did he then do with the Paroches?

(e)How do we explain the Pasuk in Koheles "u've'Chein Ra'isi Resha'im Kevurim u'Va'u mi'Makom Kadosh Yehaleichu ve'Yishtakchu ba'Ir Asher Kein Asu"? What do "Kevurim" and "ve'Yishtakchu" mean in this context? How might we even interpret "Kevurim" literally?

10)

(a)The Emperor Vespasian sent his son Titus to replace him as commander of the Roman forces. The Pasuk in Ki Savo "v'Amar Ei Elokeimo, Tzur Chasayu Bo" refers to to the incident when Titus took a prostitute into the Kodesh ha'Kodashim, spread out a Sefer-Torah and fulfilled his desires with her on the Sefer-Torah. He then took his sword and pierced the Paroches, and when a miracle occurred and blood oozed from it ...

(b)... Titus (attributing mortality to Hash-m [kiv'Yachol]) thought that he had performed the ultimate.

(c)When ...

1. ... Aba Chanan quoted the Pasuk "Mi Chamochah Chasin Kah" he meant that, based on the Mishnah in Pirkei Avos 'Eizehu Gibor, ha'Kovesh Es Yitzro', there was nobody as strong as Hash-m, who could swallow such an insult without responding.

2. ... Tana d'Bei Rebbi Yishmael quoted the Pasuk "Mi Chamochah b'Eilim Hash-m", he meant 'Who is like Hash-m among the dumb ones (interpreting "ba'Eilim" as 'ba'Ilmim' the dumb ones), who can remain silent at such insults.

(d)He then placed all the Holy vessels of the Beis ha'Mikdash on the Paroches, which he then tied like a bag, before taking them with him on the boat back to Rome.

(e)We explain the Pasuk in Koheles "u've'Chen Ra'isi Resha'im Kevurim u'Va'u mi'Makom Kadosh Yehaleichu v'Yishtakchu ba'Ir Asher Kein Asu" with reference to the current incident, describing how, following the destruction of the Beis-Haikdash, the Resha'im gathered ("Kevurim" = 'Kevutzim') in Rome to boast ("Yishtakchu" = 'Yishtabchu') of their conquest. "Kevurim" might also refer to the buried treasures of Yisrael, denoting that everything was revealed to the Romans.

11)

(a)Whilst Titus sailing for home with his booty, Hash-m caused a violent storm to erupt, which threatened to sink his ship. How did Hash-m respond when the victorious Titus, citing examples from Par'oh and Sisro, claimed that G-d was only capable of fighting at sea, and challenged Him to a dual on land? Why did Hash-m refer to His champion (a gnat) as a 'Beryah Kalah'?

(b)How did the contest end?

11)

(a)Whilst Titus was at sea, sailing for home with his booty, Hash-m caused a violent storm to erupt, which threatened to sink his ship. When the victorious Titus, citing examples from Par'oh and Sisro, claimed that G-d could was only capable of fighting at sea, and challenged Him to a dual on land Hash-m responded by appointing as His champion (kiv'Yachol) a gnat (which He referred to as a 'Beryah Kalah' because it takes in food but does not give it out.

(b)The contest ended when the gnat flew into Titus nostril and crawled up into his brain (measure for measure, for using his Seichel to insult Hash-m by denying his immortality).

12)

(a)For seven years the gnat hammered at Titus brain. What caused it to stop? How long did the break last?

(b)During those thirty days, the remuneration for a day's hammering depended on the blacksmith's nationality. How much would Titus pay (per day) to ...

1. ... a gentile blacksmith?

2. ... a Jew?

(c)Rebbi Pinchas ben Aruva was present when, after Titus death, they cut open his brain. What did they find there?

(d)According to the Beraisa, it was the size of a one year old dove that weighed two Litrin (which is considerably more than two Sela'im). What is the significance of the dove in this context?

12)

(a)For seven years the gnat hammered at Titus brain. What caused it to stop was the sound of a blacksmith hammering on his anvil. Titus respite was short-lived however. It took but thirty days for the gnat to get used to the sound, and it continued with its own hammering.

(b)During those thirty days, the remuneration for a day's hammering depended on the blacksmith's nationality. Titus would pay ...

1. ... a gentile blacksmith (the equivalent of) four Zuz.

2. ... a Jew nothing, based on the argument that, being a firdst-hand witness to his enemy's extreme suffering was sufficient payment.

(c)Rebbi Pinchas ben Aruva was present when, after Titus death, they cut open his brain and found there a starling that weighed two Sela'im.

(d)According to the Beraisa, it was the size of a one year old dove that weighed two Litrin (which is considerably more than two Sela'im). The significance of the dove in this context is that this too, was measure for measure, for sending Yisrael, who are compared to a dove, into exile.

13)

(a)What did Titus order his family to do with him after his death?

(b)Who was Unklus bar K'lonikus?

(c)What did Titus answer him when he conjured up his spirit and asked him ...

1. ... who is important in this world?

2. ... whether one should cleave to them? Why did he cite the Pasuk in Eichah "Hayu Tzarehah le'Rosh"?

3. ... what his own lot was in the other world?

13)

(a)Titus ordered his family to take him after his death cremate him and scatter his ashes over the seven seas, so that the G-d of the Jews would not be able to put him together and punish him (he thought he would have the last laugh at sea, where even He had conceded Hash-m's supremacy!).

(b)Unklus bar K'lonikus was a nephew of the emperor Hadrian.

(c)When he conjured up Titus spirit and asked him ...

1. ... who is important in this world he replied 'Yisrael'.

2. ... whether one should cleave to them he replied that they had many Mitzvos (and it would be too difficult). Rather fight them, he suggested, because whoever fights Yisrael becomes a leader, as the Pasuk writes "Hayu Tzarehah l'Rosh" ('If you cannot join 'em, beat 'em!').

3. ... what his own lot was in the other world he replied that he received what he asked for: they would collect his ashes each day (so that he now knew that there was nothing that Hash-m could not do), burn him and scatter his ashes over the seven seas.

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