1) AGADAH: BETTER THE GARBAGE OF MASA MECHASYA THAN THE MANSIONS OF PUMBEDISA
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a number of teachings that Rav Mesharsheya told to his son. One of these teachings was that it is better to dwell in the garbage heaps of Masa Mechasya than in the mansions of Pumbedisa. What was Rav Mesharsheya's intention?
(a) RASHI in Horayos (12a, DH d'Masa) explains that in Masa Mechasya there were Talmidei Chachamim who were fit to answer Halachic questions and who excelled in their Midos. The Talmidei Chachamim in Pumbedisa, however, did not have good Midos, and therefore Rav Mesharsheya told his son not to learn with them.
seems to understand that, according to Rashi, the primary difference between Masa Mechasya and Pumbedisa is the contrast in their Midos. The Ya'avetz points out a number of sources that show that the Jewish population of Pumbedisa was known to be plagued with swindlers and frauds (Kesuvos 82a, Rashi to Shabbos 153a, DH d'Sanu; see Background to Avodah Zarah 70:26
). Rashi himself says here (DH v'Lo) that the people of Pumbedisa were thieves.
What, though, is the intention of the first part of Rashi's comments in Horayos? Rashi says that the people of Masa Mechasya were Talmidei Chachamim who were fit to answer Halachic questions. If the point of Rashi is that the difference between the two places was their Midos, then why does Rashi need to mention that the people of Masa Mechasya were Talmidei Chachamim who were fit to answer Halachic questions? Even if it is necessary for Rashi to state that Talmidei Chachamim lived there and it was not a place of unlearned people (see Avos 6:9), why does he need to add that they were fit to answer Halachic questions? It would suffice to mention that they were Talmidei Chachamim!
Moreover, according to Rashi, what advice was Rav Mesharsheya giving to his son? Certainly his son knew, even without his father's advice, that one should dwell in a place of Torah scholars and not in a place of thieves!
Perhaps the words of Rashi may be understood based on the Midrash (Vayikra Rabah 1:15). The Midrash says that "a Talmid Chacham who does not have De'ah is worse than a Neveilah." What is the connection between such a Talmid Chacham and a Neveilah? It is said in the name of the previous GERRER REBBE
(the LEV SIMCHAH
) that De'ah refers to good Midos. The word Neveilah is often used to connote not only an improperly slaughtered animal, but also meat which is rotten (see Insights to Horayos 11:1
). The Gerrer Rebbe said that no Jew would ever eat the meat of Neveilah and transgress the Isur associated with it, because its foul odor would deter anyone who came near it. In stark contrast to a Neveilah, a Talmid Chacham is looked upon as a model from whom to learn, and people are attracted to him because of his great scholarship in Torah. If he has bad Midos, there is nothing to deter anyone from learning from him, and thus people will also begin to learn from and imitate his bad Midos. This is why he is worse than a Neveilah, which will never ensnare or tempt anyone. (See also YEFEI TO'AR
to the Midrash there.)
This might be the intention of Rashi in Horayos. The people of Pumbedisa were also very learned (as there was a well-known Torah academy there). Although the scholars in the academy of Pumbedisa were certainly on a very high level of learning, it was difficult for them not to be affected by the ills of their society in some way, as the average person in Pumbedisa was of a very coarse character. It is possible that Rav Mesharsheya thought that even the Midos of some of the Talmidei Chachamim in Pumbedisa were wanting. This is why he felt the need to instruct his son to go only to Masa Mechasya and not to Pumbedisa.
(b) The MAHARSHA in Horayos (DH Girsu) explains that Rav Mesharsheya was emphasizing to his son two qualities that existed in Masa Mechasya, the quality of humility and the quality of Torah. He stressed the importance of being in Masa Mechasya which was a humble city of Torah, in contrast to the materially lavish setting of Pumbedisa which was not a leading center of Torah.
(c) The BENAIYAHU states that Masa Mechasya was a very clean city; all of its streets, courtyards, and houses were kept very clean. Cleanliness is very healthy for spiritual and physical growth. Unfortunately, cleanliness was not emphasized in Pumbedisa. Rav Mesharsheya was teaching that the garbage dumps of Masa Mechasya were more sanitary places that the mansions of Pumbedisa.
(d) The BEN YEHOYADA explains that even the ordinary people of Masa Mechasya were respected and esteemed Talmidei Chachamim, unlike the people of Pumbedisa. He apparently understands that "garbage" refers to the lower class of people in Masa Mechasya, while the "mansions" of Pumbedisa refer to the higher class of people there.
(e) Alternatively, the Ben Yehoyada says that the price of meat in Masa Mechasya was very low, since there were a lot of cattle there (see Bava Kama 119b). It is known that the consumption of meat strengthens the body. Therefore, Rav Mesharsheya told his son to live in Masa Mechasya where everyone could afford to buy meat every day, giving him the ability to be strong to toil in learning Torah. In contrast, if he would live in Pumbedisa, he would eat only vegetables most of the time. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) BURYING USED "BIGDEI KEHUNAH"
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa that says that the used Bigdei Kehunah require Genizah, burial. This is derived from the verse, "v'Hinicham Sham" -- "Aharon shall then go into the Ohel Mo'ed, and take off the white linen garments that he wore when he entered the inner sanctuary, and he shall leave them there" (Vayikra 16:23).
This verse, however, refers only to the Bigdei Lavan, the white linen garments that the Kohen Gadol wears on Yom Kippur and that must be hidden away after Yom Kippur. What is the source for hiding away the Bigdei Kehunah of an ordinary Kohen, or for hiding away the Bigdei Zahav of the Kohen Gadol?
(a) Indeed, it appears that the Bigdei Kehunah of an ordinary Kohen and the Bigdei Zahav of the Kohen Gadol do not need Genizah. This is evident from the Gemara in Shabbos (51a) that says that they would use the worn-out pants of the Kohanim for making wicks for lighting during the Simchas Beis ha'Sho'evah. The Yerushalmi (Sukah 5:3) adds that they would use the old Bigdei Kehunah of the Kohen Gadol to make wicks for lighting the Menorah in the Beis ha'Mikdash.
Similarly, in the Gemara here, Rebbi Dosa and the Chachamim argue only about the Bigdei Lavan, and they do not mention the other Bigdei Kehunah. This implies that the other Bigdei Kehunah do not need Genizah.
(b) However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 8:5-6) writes that the Bigdei Zahav of the Kohen Gadol also require Genizah. This is difficult to understand in light of the Yerushalmi cited above, as the MISHNEH L'MELECH asks. Furthermore, what is the Rambam's source for the requirement of Genizah for Bigdei Zahav?
Perhaps the Rambam infers from the wording of the Gemara -- which mentions merely, "Bigdei Kehunah require Genizah," and does not specify which garments require Genizah -- that all of the Bigdei Kehunah of the Kohen Gadol require Genizah. (It could be that the Rambam's text read explicitly, "Bigdei Kehunah Gedolah require Genizah.") (M. KORNFELD)
3) "MEI RAGLAYIM"
OPINIONS: The Beraisa states that Mei Raglayim is not used in making the Ketores because it is degrading to bring it into the Azarah.
What exactly is Mei Raglayim?
(a) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES (#28) explains that it means literally "urine."
(b) The Shitah Mekubetzes cites a second opinion that rejects this explanation. Mei Raglayim (in this context) certainly cannot mean urine, because there would be no reason even to suggest that such a disgraceful ingredient should be used in the holy Ketores. He suggests that there is a type of grass called "Mei Raglayim." It is not used in the Ketores, because since its name is synonymous with the word for urine it is degrading to bring it into the Azarah.
(c) The BE'ER SHEVA quotes from the KOL BO that there is a spring whose waters are called "Mei Raglayim." It is not used for the Ketores because its name is synonymous with the word for urine, as mentioned above.
It is interesting to note that a wellspring in the area of Yerushalayim is referred to by the Nevi'im as "Ein Rogel" (Yehoshua 16:4 and 18:16, Shmuel II 17:17).
The Be'er Sheva asks two questions on the Kol Bo's explanation, and the Shitah Mekubetzes' second explanation, for the meaning of Mei Raglayaim. When using the fluid extracted from the grass called "Mei Raglayim" or the water of the spring called "Mei Raglayim" for the Ketores, it would not be discernible that the water being used has a disgraceful name. Why, then, should it be considered degrading to use it in the Ketores?
Moreover, the Yerushalmi (Yoma 4:5) says that the reason why Mei Raglayim may not be used in the Ketores is that "we do not bring a bad smell into the Azarah." The fluid extracted from grass, and the waters of a spring, do not have such a bad smell.
The Be'er Sheva therefore concludes that Mei Raglayim indeed refers to urine, which is the way the term is used in all other contexts.
Two answers may be suggested to these questions on the explanations of the Shitah Mekubetzes and the Kol Bo. Perhaps the fluid of the grass and the waters of the spring indeed have a pungent odor, similar to that of urine. It is interesting to note that RASHI (Shmuel II 17:17) says that the wellspring of Ein Rogel is also called "Ein Katzra" because its waters were used to wash clothes ("Katzra" means clothes-washer; see Shabbos 19a, Bava Kama 119b, Menachos 41b, and elsewhere). Such a usage easily could have caused its waters to become malodorous.
Also, even though it is not normally disrespectful to bring objects with pungent odors into the Beis ha'Mikdash, since this fluid's odor resembles that of urine to the extent that it was nicknamed "urine," it is disrespectful to bring it into the Beis ha'Mikdash, as the Yerushalmi states. (M. KORNFELD)
4) OMITTING ONE OF THE INGREDIENTS OF THE "KETORES"
QUESTION: After the Beraisa lists the ingredients used for the Ketores, it states that one who omits any one of the ingredients is Chayav Misah. RASHI (DH Chayav) explains that this refers to one who enters the Kodesh ha'Kodashim on Yom Kippur with Ketores missing an ingredient. The Torah commands the Kohen Gadol that "he shall not come at all times into the Kodesh within the Paroches curtain, in front of the Kapores cover that is on the Aron, and he shall not die" (Vayikra 16:2). Rather, "With this he shall come into the Kodesh..." (16:2). The Torah describes the service performed on Yom Kippur, and says that "he shall place the Ketores on the fire before Hash-m, and the cloud of the Ketores shall cover the Kapores... so that he not die" (16:3). Rashi says that coming into the Kodesh with Ketores missing an ingredient is considered a "Bi'ah Reikanis," an "empty entry," for which the Kohen Gadol is Chayav Misah.
There are several questions on Rashi's explanation.
1. Why does Rashi say that the Kohen is Chayav Misah for entering the Kodesh with an improper Ketores only on Yom Kippur? He should be Chayav Misah for entering the Kodesh with such a Ketores on any day!
2. The Gemara in Yoma (53a) contradicts Rashi's explanation. The Gemara there cites a Beraisa that says that one who omits the Ma'aleh Ashan from the Ketores, or one who omits any of the ingredients, is Chayav Misah. The Gemara asks why the Beraisa says that he is Chayav Misah for making an incomplete Ketores; it should say that he is Chayav Misah for entering the Kodesh with a "Bi'ah Reikanis." Rashi there (DH Teipuk Lei) explains that even had the Torah not stated that Aharon would die if he does not bring the complete Ketores (with no missing ingredients), he still would be Chayav Misah for a different reason -- for entering the Kodesh unnecessarily (as stated in Vayikra 16:2). (The Gemara there answers that there are two possible cases in which the Kohen Gadol will be Chayav for preparing an incomplete Ketores but not for entering the Kodesh unnecessarily. The first case is when he did not know that it is forbidden to enter unnecessarily, but he did know that it is forbidden to make an incomplete Ketores. The second case is when he brought in two sets of Ketores, one complete and one incomplete, in which case his entry is not unnecessary, but he is still Chayav for bringing the incomplete Ketores.)
It is evident from the Gemara's question in Yoma that one is Chayav Misah for the very act of bringing an incomplete Ketores into the Kodesh ha'Kodashim, and this Chiyuv is not related to the Chiyuv of entering the Kodesh ha'Kodashim unnecessarily ("Bi'ah Reikanis"). Why, then, does Rashi here write that when one brings Ketores that is missing an ingredient, he is Chayav Misah only for "Bi'ah Reikanis"? (See GILYON HA'SHAS here, and MISHNEH L'MELECH, Hilchos Klei ha'Mikdash 2:3, DH Tanya.)
3. The Mishnah l'Melech points out that the Gemara in Menachos (27b) states that a Kohen is Chayav Misah for "Bi'ah Reikanis" only for entering the Kodesh ha'Kodashim, but not for entering any other part of the Heichal (for which he is Chayav Malkus). Why, then, does Rashi explain that the Chiyuv Misah here is because of "Bi'ah Reikanis," which applies only on Yom Kippur (as the Gemara in Menachos says), and it is not because of the Isur of omitting an ingredient from the Ketores, which applies throughout the year?
(a) The TZON KODASHIM (cited by the Yad Binyamin) answers that Rashi maintains that one is Chayav Misah for a missing ingredient only on Yom Kippur, but not on any other day of the year. The verse (Vayikra 16:13) that states that the smoke of the Ketores must cover the Kapores so that Aharon not die refers only to Yom Kippur, and we cannot learn from there that one who omits an ingredient on any other day is Chayav Misah.
However, Rashi agrees that besides the Chiyuv for "Bi'ah Reikanis," one also can be Chayav for offering Ketores with a missing ingredient. However, the normal case of becoming Chayav for omitting an ingredient occurs when the Kohen knowingly and intentionally enters the Kodesh ha'Kodashim unnecessarily with an incomplete Ketores (that is, neither of the two cases mentioned in Yoma). In such a case, he is Chayav for "Bi'ah Reikanis." Since this is the normal case, Rashi mentions "Bi'ah Reikanis" even though it is true that the Isur of a missing ingredient also applies.
The BIRKAS HA'ZEVACH also states that Rashi mentions only one of the two possible reasons for why one is Chayav Misah when he omits an ingredient from the Ketores, because there is no practical difference between whether he is Chayav Misah for "Bi'ah Reikanis" or for omitting an ingredient. (The Birkas ha'Zevach adds that Rashi sometimes explains a Gemara based on the initial understanding (and not the conclusion) of a Gemara elsewhere, as long as it does not make a difference in the Sugya that he is explaining.) (D. BLOOM)
(b) RAV YAAKOV D. HOMNICK proposes the following approach to explain the words of Rashi. The Beraisa in Yoma is teaching that the absence of the grass known as "Ma'aleh Ashan" from the Ketores is cause for a Chiyuv Misah. However, the Beraisa in Kerisus, after citing the law that Ma'aleh Ashan, although not one of the eleven Samemanin of the Ketores, is included in the composition of the Ketores, states that the Chiyuv Misah applies only if one of the herbs is missing. The implication is that the absence of Ma'aleh Ashan is not a cause for Misah, which contradicts the Beraisa in Yoma!
The Mishneh l'Melech (ibid.) points out this apparent contradiction. He answers (according to the view of the Rambam) that the absence of Ma'aleh Ashan warrants a Chiyuv Misah only on Yom Kippur, which the Gemara in Yoma is discussing, but not on any other day of the year, which the Gemara here in Kerisus is discussing. The Mishneh l'Melech proves this by pointing out that the Rambam mentions the Chiyuv Misah for omitting the Ma'aleh Ashan only in the Halachos of Yom Kippur (Hilchos Avodas Yom ha'Kipurim 5:25).
However, Rashi explicitly states that the Beraisa here in Kerisus is also referring to Yom Kippur. Accordingly, Rashi clearly understands that the two Beraisos are in disagreement.
Rashi understands from the fact that the Beraisa in Yoma introduces the concept of a Chiyuv Misah for a Ketores Chaserah (an incomplete Ketores, as Rashi phrases it in Yoma) and then equates a lack of Ma'aleh Ashan with the absence of one of the Samemanin, that both scenarios constitute a Ketores Chaserah. Thus, when the Beraisa here in Kerisus states that the lack of Ma'aleh Ashan is not a capital offense, Rashi deduces that this Beraisa does not accept the principle of a Chiyuv Misah for a Ketores Chaserah! This leaves only the transgression of "Bi'ah Reikanis" that one commits when he brings Ketores that is lacking one of the eleven Samemanin.