MEGILAH 31 - Dedicated by Mr. Avi Berger of Queens, NY, in memory of his father, Reb Pinchas ben Reb Avraham Yitzchak, in honor of his Yahrzeit (16 Adar).

[31a - 45 lines; 31b - 44 lines]

1)[line 7]בפסח גלגלPESACH GILGAL - The account in Yehoshua of the Korban Pesach brought at Gilgal

(a)The verses state, "At that time, HaSh-m said to Yehoshua, 'Make for yourself sharp flint-rocks and circumcise Bnei Yisrael a second time....' And Bnei Yisrael encamped in Gilgal; and they made the Pesach on the fourteenth day of the month, in the afternoon, in the plains of Yericho.... And the Man stopped on the following day, when they ate from the produce of the land, and there was no more Man for Bnei Yisrael" (Yehoshua 5:2, 10, 12).

(b)Pesach Gilgal was the first Korban Pesach that Yisrael offered in Eretz Yisrael, and it took place prior to the conquest of Eretz Yisrael had even begun (the battle against Yericho is recorded only in the following paragraph).

(c)However, the Navi first describes in detail the communal Bris Milah that Yehoshua organized immediately upon crossing the Jordan River. This was essential because Eretz Yisrael would be given only to people who were circumcised (as HaSh-m told Avraham Avinu at the Bris Bein ha'Besarim), and because a person who is uncircumcised is not eligible to offer the Korban Pesach. Moshe Rabeinu performed a similar ceremony in Egypt before the people offered the Korban Pesach there, but that sufficed for the previous generation, not the current one, most of whom were born in the desert and who had not been circumcised (due to the fact that the north wind did not blow in the desert and thus circumcision was dangerous). The sole exception was the tribe of Levi who circumcised in spite of the danger involved.

(d)A major distinction between Moshe's Bris Milah and that of Yehoshua was the act of Peri'ah (the folding over of the skin). The Mitzvah of Peri'ah had not been given to Avraham Avinu, and thus Moshe did not observe it. In contrast, Yehoshua, to whom Peri'ah had been commanded as an intrinsic part of Milah, did perform it.

(e)HaSh-m also informed Yehoshua that with the circumcision the stigma that accompanied the Jewish people in the desert - that until now they were physically no different than the Egyptians - fell away. That is why the place became known as "Gilgal" (from the word "Galosi," or "rolled away"); HaSh-m now "rolled away" their shame. Rashi, however, repeats what he says in Parshas Ki Sisa, where he attributes the shame to the star "Ra'ah" (depicting bloodshed), which the Egyptian astrologers saw facing Yisrael in the desert and which they interpreted as a sign that bloodshed and death would befall Yisrael. Now that Yisrael performed Bris Milah, it was revealed retroactively that the bloodshed that had been predicted was the Mitzvah of Milah, and not the annihilation of the people as the Egyptians thought.

(f)The people crossed the Jordan River on the tenth of Nisan. The moment they recovered from their Milah they brought the Korban Pesach (on the fourteenth of Nisan). On the sixteenth, after they had brought the Korban Omer, they ate the produce of Eretz Yisrael for the first time.

(g)The Man, which stopped falling on the seventh of Adar (the day Moshe Rabeinu died), lasted for forty days. Rashi explains that the Matzos, which they took with them out of Egypt and which lasted for thirty days (until the Man began to fall on the fifteenth of Iyar), tasted like Man, corroborating the verse which states that they ate the Man for [exactly] forty years.

2)[line 9]יאשיהוYOSHIYAHU - The account of the Korban Pesach brought by King Yoshiyahu

(a)The verse states, "Furthermore, all the temples of the high places in the cities of Samaria, which the kings of Israel had built to anger [HaSh-m], Yoshiyahu removed and he did to them like all the deeds that he had done at Beis El" (Melachim II 23:19).

(b)After making a covenant to do everything commanded by the Torah, Yoshiyahu, the great Ba'al Teshuvah king, ordered Chilkiyah the Kohen Gadol and the Kohanim to destroy all forms of idolatry from the land, and put to death all the priests who worshipped them. He ordered all the brothels and the altars that they had set up in the Beis ha'Mikdash smashed, and he put to death all those who worshipped on them. Among the idols that he had destroyed was the one in the Valley of Hinom, on which the people would burn their children to the abominable Molech. He ordered the horses on which the worshippers of the sun rode to perform their abominations killed, the altar that Yeravam set up in Beis El demolished, and those erected by his predecessors, Achaz and Menasheh, destroyed. He also ordered the killing of the witches and sorcerers that abounded in Yehudah and Yerushalayim, together with all the images connected with them, and the Asheirah trees cleared out from the House of HaSh-m. He even had the bones of the dead Resha'im who had been guilty of the above sins burned.

(c)Yoshiyahu disqualified the priests who had served on the Bamos from serving in the Beis ha'Mikdash, although he did permit them to partake of the Korbanos that were allotted to the Kohanim.

(d)Having achieved all of that, he ordered the people to bring the Korban Pesach, in the eighteenth year of his reign. The people responded enthusiastically, and the result was that so many people participated in bringing the Korban Pesach that no Pesach like it had been seen since the days of Shmuel who, like Yoshiyahu, encouraged Yisrael to do Teshuvah and gathered them all to Mitzpah.

(e)Alternatively, this statement refers to the ten tribes (whom Yirmeyahu had brought back from exile, and over whom Yoshiyahu ruled together with the kingdom of Yehudah). From the time that Yeravam ben Nevat came to power, they had been denied permission to go to Yerushalayim for Yom Tov. Consequently, this was the first time in hundreds of years that the entire population of Yisrael was able to participate in bringing the Korban Pesach.

(f)The above list incorporates most of the things that Yoshiyahu achieved at that time.

3)[line 13]וידבר דודVA'YEDABER DAVID - The Song of David

(a)This chapter begins with the words, "And David spoke to HaSh-m this song, on the day that HaSh-m delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Shaul" (Shmuel II 22:1).

(b)Few people had more enemies than David ha'Melech, and so it is not surprising that at the end of his life, having survived many attempts to kill him and to denigrate him in all sorts of ways, he sang a song of thanks to HaSh-m.

(c)The verse mentions Shaul even though it already mentions "all his enemies" because, as Rashi explains, Shaul's efforts to kill him surpassed those of all the others. Perhaps we may add that David found Shaul's enmity particularly harassing because of that fact that Shaul was the king and because Shaul was his father-in-law, which made defending himself and retaliation that much more difficult. Indeed, even when David could have easily killed Shaul, he declined not to do so because, as he explained, he refused to lay a hand on the anointed one of HaSh-m, a policy, one may add, which his many enemies did not follow towards him.

4)[line 17]חבקוקCHAVAKUK - The prayer of Chavakuk ha'Navi

(a)This chapter in Navi is introduced by the verse, "The prayer that Chavakuk the prophet prayed regarding the Resha'im who do Teshuvah, and whose deliberate sins then become inadvertent ones" (Targum Yonasan, Chavakuk 3:1).

(b)Rashi explains that in the earlier chapters Chavakuk spoke strong words against HaSh-m (the "Shigyonos" mentioned in the verse), and he is now praying to HaSh-m for forgiveness. The Metzudas David concurs with Rashi but adds that the Navi goes on to praise HaSh-m to make up for his earlier complaints.

(c)The Radak compares the prayer of Chavakuk to David ha'Melech's Tehilim in style, pointing out that a number of expressions used by the Navi are similar to expressions in Tehilim and nowhere else (such as "Shigyonos," "la'Menatze'ach bi'Neginosai," and the word "Selah"). In an overview of the prayer, the Radak explains how the Navi discusses the troubles of Yisrael in the current Galus, relates all the miracles that HaSh-m performed with Yisrael from the time of the exodus from Egypt, and prays that He should repeat those miracles now. Finally, Chavakuk talks about the exodus from our current Galus and the battle of Gog and Magog.

5)[line 18]מרכבהMERKAVAH - Yechezkel's vision of the Ma'aseh ha'Merkavah

(a)The Book of Yechezkel begins, "And it was in the thirtieth year [of the second Yovel of Galus Bavel] on the fifth day of the fourth month, and I was in the Golah, by the River Kevar, when the Heavens opened and I saw a vision of the Shechinah, that was the fifth year of the Galus of King Yehoyachin" (Yechezkel 1:1-2).

(b)Despite the principle that once Eretz Yisrael was chosen there can be no prophecy in Chutz la'Aretz, Yechezkel - who was a disciple of Yirmeyahu, was permitted to prophesy in Bavel because he had already begun to prophesy in Eretz Yisrael (see Rashi to verse 3) before accompanying Yechonyah into Galus. The verse makes a point of mentioning the River Kevar, because even when one is permitted to prophesy in Chutz la'Aretz, it is only in a location which is Tahor, such as by a river.

(c)Yechezkel's vision, known as Ma'aseh ha'Merkavah, constituted a vision of the Throne of HaSh-m and the various groups of angels that surround it and support it, and it describes how they operate. The true meaning of his vision is clouded in obscurity, as its true meaning is beyond the comprehension of most people.

(d)The prophecy is not a pleasant one, since its objective is to predict the destruction of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, which took place only four years later, and Galus Bavel that would follow. This explains why - before the actual prophecy - even begins, the Navi refers to a storm-wind coming from the north, a large cloud with a burning fire and a shining light surrounding it. This is a reference to Nevuchadnetzar and his army, which was destined to attack from the north. It was inside of this apparition that Yechezkel beheld the Chashmal (the word the Navi uses to describe the Merkavah) (RASHI).

6)[line 27]יונהYONAH - The Book of Yonah

(a)The Book Yonah begins, "And the word of HaSh-m came to Yonah ben Amitai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh the great city and announce on it, for their evil has come before Me" (Yonah 1:1-2).

(b)When HaSh-m instructed Yonah (who was the son of the widow from Tzorfis whom Eliyahu had brought back to life) to report to Nineveh that on account of their evil ways the entire city would be destroyed in forty days' time, he fled. The commentaries ask two questions:

1.How can one flee from HaSh-m?

2.Why did he want to flee anyway? Why was he loath to go on the errand for which he had been Divinely appointed?

(c)In response to the first question, the Midrash explains that Yonah left Eretz Yisrael to go to Tarshish, which is in Chutz la'Aretz, where the Shechinah does not rest. He reasoned that HaSh-m would then exempt him from his unwanted errand and find somebody else to replace him. HaSh-m did not comply. Having many agents at His disposal, He sent a storm and a couple of whales to force Yonah to comply with His wishes instead.

(d)In response to the second question, the Midrash ascribes Yonah's evasive tactics to the fact that Nochrim repent as readily as they sin. He was afraid that they would do Teshuvah (as indeed they did) and that this would evoke the Midas ha'Din against Yisrael, who refused to obey the instructions of the Nevi'im.

(e)Eventually, Yonah did go to Nineveh. He warned them of their impending doom, and, indeed, they believed him and listed to his word, and the entire city did Teshuvah, as Yonah had predicted. Everybody - man, woman, and child, and even the animals - wore sackcloth and fasted for three days. In fact, so sincere was their Teshuvah that they not only returned all of their numerous stolen articles, but they even went so far as to demolish any house that contained a stolen beam in order to restore the beam to its rightful owner. They all prayed to HaSh-m from the depths of their hearts to forgive them for their past sins.

(f)Their Teshuvah might have incited the Satan against Yisrael, as Yonah feared, yet there is much that we can learn from them. Two lessons stand out:

1.Teshuvah depends not so much on sackcloth and ashes, or even on fasting. The major ingredient of Teshuvah is a change of deed (based presumably on a change of heart). As the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah teaches, one of the things that tears up the evil decree is changing one's deeds for the better. The Gemara learns this from Nineveh, about whom the Navi writes, "And HaSh-m saw [not their sackcloth and fasting, but] their deeds."

2.HaSh-m's mercy extends to all His creatures ("v'Rachamav Al Kol Ma'asav"), as He taught Yonah when He caused the Kikayon-tree, which had grown to provide Yonah with shelter from the heat, to wither. When Yonah became extremely agitated, HaSh-m pointed out to him that if he (Yonah) became upset by the destruction of a tree (which was not even a day old), then how much more so should He (HaSh-m) be upset at the prospect of destroying a city of 120,000 souls as well as a vast amount of animals.

7)[line 29]ענוותנותוANVESANUSO- his humility

8)[line 33]"סולו לרוכב בערבות בי-ה שמו""SOLU LA'ROCHEV BA'ARAVOS B'KAH SHEMO"- "Praise the One Who rides on the Heavens with his name, Kah" (Tehilim 68:5).

9)[line 36]ויקהלו אל המלך שלמהVA'YIKAHALU EL HA'MELECH SHLOMO - The Haftarah for the first day of Sukos and the Haftarah for Shemini Atzeres.

(a)The chapter begins, "Then Shlomo gathered the elders of Yisrael and all the heads of the tribes, the princes of the fathers of Bnei Yisrael, to King Shlomo to Yerushalayim, to bring up the Aron of HaSh-m from the city of David, Tziyon. And all the men of Yisrael assembled to King Shlomo in the month of 'the strong ones,' that is the seventh month" (Melachim I 8:1-2).

(b)See the following two entries.

10)[line 38]ויהי ככלות שלמהVA'YEHI K'CHALOS SHLOMO - The Haftarah of Shemini Atzeres

(a)At the end of the Haftarah, we learn,, "And it was when Shlomo finished constructing the house of HaSh-m and the royal palace and all that the king fancied, that HaSh-m appeared to Shlomo a second time, like he appeared to him in Giv'on" (Melachim I 9:1-2).

(a)Following Shlomo's inaugural Tefilah (upon the completion of the Beis ha'Mikdash), HaSh-m responded that He had accepted it. He assured Shlomo that, in principle, He had sanctified the Beis ha'Mikdash and that His "eyes and heart" would personally be there forever.

(b)However, this assurance - that HaSh-m would establish Shlomo's throne over Yisrael forever - was on condition that Shlomo would follow in the footsteps of David his father, to go in the ways of HaSh-m in all respects. If he or his descendants and the people move away from that path, and worship other gods, then He would exile Yisrael from their land and destroy the Beis ha'Mikdash.

11)[line 39]ויעמד שלמהVA'YA'AMOD SHLOMO - Shlomo inaugurates the Beis ha'Mikdash

(a)The verse states, "And Shlomo stood before HaSh-m in front of all Yisrael, and he spread his hands toward the Heavens. And he said, 'HaSh-m, G-d of Yisrael, there is nobody like You in the Heavens above or on the earth below, Who preserves the covenant and kindness for Your servants who walk before You with all their heart" (Melachim I 8:22-23).

(b)This gathering to bring the Aron (the seat of the Shechinah in this world) from Tziyon to the Beis ha'Mikdash heralded the completion of the Beis ha'Mikdash. The Navi goes on to describe the final touches made to the Beis ha'Mikdash before citing Shlomo's monumental Tefilah and his subsequent blessing of Klal Yisrael (see Rosh Hashanah 8b, 11a, and 16a, and Megilah 22b). All of this took place in the month of Tishrei, which is referred to as "the month of the strong ones," either because that is the month in which the Avos were born, or because it contains the most Yamim Tovim (see RADAK).

(c)The Navi describes the inaugural sacrifices that Shlomo and the people brought - 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep. To this end, Shlomo found it necessary to sanctify the floor of the Azarah, since the Mizbe'ach was too small to contain them all (see RADAK).

(d)Finally, the Navi describes the inaugural celebrations involving the entire nation, lasting seven days from the eighth of Tishrei until the fourteenth (including Yom Kippur), followed by the seven days of Sukos. "On the eighth day (Shemini Atzeres), he sent the people, and they blessed the king, and they returned to their tents, happy and contented because of all the good that HaSh-m did to David His servant and to Yisrael His people (whom He forgave for eating on Yom Kippur)" (8:66).

12)[line 41]העצמות היבשותHA'ATZAMOS HA'YEVESHOS - The account of the "Valley of Dry Bones"

(a)Yechezkel begins the description of his vision: "The Hand of HaSh-m was upon me; and He took me out (by force) with the spirit of prophecy, and it placed me in the valley, which was full of bones" (Yechezkel 37:1).

(b)The bones, the Chachamim explain, were those of the Bnei Efrayim, who left Egypt prematurely, thirty years before the Exodus, and who were killed by the inhabitants of Gas (a town belonging to the Pelishtim), when they attempted to force their way through the land of Gas on their way to conquer Eretz Kena'an. The Navi describes the bones as being very dry, which is understandable considering that they were nearly a thousand years old. Interestingly, HaSh-m did not send Yechezkel too close to the bones, because he was a Kohen. He saw them and spoke to them from a distance.

(c)As he spoke to the bones, flesh covered them, and skin covered the flesh. The bones came together, and the entire congregation of 200,000 corpses came to life and stood up on their feet.

(d)The purpose of this miracle was to strengthen the faith of the Jews in Bavel, many of whom did not believe that they would ever return to Eretz Yisrael. HaSh-m therefore allowed them to witness these corpses coming back to life, and assured them that when the time would arrive, Techiyas ha'Mesim would take place and they would come back to life, too.

13)[line 41]ביום בא גוגB'YOM BA GOG - The account of the Battle of Gog

(a)The verse stats, "And it will be on that day, on the day when Gog attacks the land of Yisrael, says HaSh-m El-okim: My raging anger will flare up" (Yechezkel 38:18).

(b)The Navi describes the downfall of Gog on the day that he attacks Eretz Yisrael. His attack will arouse HaSh-m's fury. The ensuing earthquake will shake the whole of Eretz Yisrael, traumatizing man and animal alike, and cause all the buildings to fall. This will be followed by wholesale slaughter, when the armies under Gog's command kill each other. Following this, HaSh-m will strike both him and all the armies with pestilence, bloodshed, rainstorms, huge hailstones, fire and sulfur, so that His Name will be glorified before the nations of the world, and they will know that He is HaSh-m.

(c)Gog and all the nations that are with him will fall on the mountains of Yisrael, but not before HaSh-m has broken their bows from their right hand and their arrows from their left hand. Their carcasses will initially lie in the open, food for the wild beasts of the field and the vultures. Yisrael will collect all their weapons and set them on fire, causing a conflagration that will last seven years, relieving them of the need to collect firewood from other sources. They will strip the corpses of all the spoil.

(d)Yisrael will spend seven months burying the corpses in a valley on the east bank of the Jordan River, in order to purify the land. And they will call it "Gei Hamon Gog," the Valley of the Multitude of Gog.

14)[line 42]נרות דזכ ריהNEROS D'ZECHARYAH - The Lamps of Zecharyah

(a)The prophet relates, "He said to me, 'What do you see?' I said, 'I see, and behold there is a Menorah made entirely of gold with its bowl on its top; its seven lamps are upon it, and there are seven ducts for each of the lamps on its top" (Zecharyah 4:2).

(a)The angel showed Zecharyah a vision of a golden Menorah. Atop the seven branches were seven crucibles, on top of which was placed a bowl of oil which fed the seven pipes that led into each crucible. One olive-tree grew on either side of the Menorah, from which the oil flowed into the pipes.

(b)When Zecharyah asked the angel what this represented, the angel replied that it symbolized the Mashi'ach (who would be a descendant of Zerubavel) and who was destined to rule over the nations of the world, not by force, but by the Spirit of HaSh-m, which will prevail at that time, just as the olives pressed themselves on account of the Divine Spirit (without human assistance) and filled the bowl, and the oil flowed by itself from there into the crucibles via the forty-nine pipes.

(c)The forty-nine pipes signified the light of the sun which, at the time of Mashi'ach, will be forty-nine times as powerful as the light of the creation (as we say in Kidush Levanah).

15)[line 43]ונרות דשלמהNEROS D'SHLOMO - The Lamps of Shlomo

(a)The prophet relates, "And he made the Menoros, five on the right and five on the left, in front of the dividing curtain, of top-quality gold, the flowers, the crucibles, and the tweezers, all made of gold" (Melachim I 7:49).

(b)Bearing in mind that the Menoros had to be on the south side of the Heichal, five on the right and five on the left cannot refer to the right and the left of the entrance of the Heichal. Rather, the commentaries explain, it refers to the unmentioned Menorah of Moshe Rabeinu, which was in the middle, with one row of five Menoros on its right, and one row on its left (but all were on the south side of the Heichal).

16)[last line]"ויאמר לו יהונתן מחר חדש""VA'YOMER LO YEHONASAN MACHAR CHODESH" - "And Yehonasan said to him, 'Tomorrow is Rosh Chodesh, [and you will be remembered, because your place will be empty. For three days you shall go deep into the valley and hide there in the place where you hid on the ordinary day (that was not Rosh Chodesh), and you shall wait there by the stone marker']" (Shmuel I 20:18-19) (THE PLAN OF DAVID AND YEHONASAN: HAFTARAH OF MACHAR CHODESH)

(a)Yehonasan, whose devotion to David is legendary, decided to test his father's reaction to David's absence from the Rosh Chodesh meal twice in a row, to determine the depth of his hatred towards David so that David would know whether it was safe for him to remain or whether he should flee. He suggested that David hide for the two days of Rosh Chodesh, and he would apologize on David's behalf, who, he would say, excused himself because he had a family offering to attend.

(b)On the first day, Avner sat on one side of Shaul ha'Melech, while David's seat on the other side of the king remained vacant. Shaul, however, assuming that David was Tamei, said nothing. The next day, however, he enquired from Yehonasan as to the whereabouts of his friend, David, and he replied as he had informed David that he would. Shaul immediately vent his fury, cursing his son and nearly piercing him with his sword. Yehonasan realized the extent of the king's hatred for David, and he stormed out of the room without having eaten anything that day.

(c)Putting into practice the final part of his plan with David, the following morning he proceeded to the field where David was hiding with a young servant. After instructing the boy to go and retrieve the arrow that he was about to shoot, he shot an arrow to land beyond the spot where the boy was running and ordered him to continue running, because the arrow had landed beyond him. Had his father reacted more favorably towards David, he would have shot the arrow to land short of where the boy was running, and he would have then ordered him to come back, as a sign that it was safe for David, too, to return. Now, however, according to their pre-arranged signal, David knew it was not safe for him to return and that he had to run away.

(d)The Vilna Ga'on explains that Yehonasan chose this method of informing David, rather than telling him directly about Shaul's reaction, in order to avoid having to speak Lashon ha'Ra (about his own father).


17)[line 30]וקא מגמגם קמיה דרב הונא בארוריV'KA MEGAMGEM KAMEI D'RAV HUNA B'ARUREI- he was reading the curses in front of Rav Huna quickly and unclearly

18)[line 31]אכנפשךA'CH'NAFSHACH- as your soul desires (if you want to stop in the middle, stop)