1) SUSPECTING THAT "LASHON HA'RA" MIGHT BE TRUE
QUESTION: Rava says that although one may not believe Lashon ha'Ra, he may suspect that it is true in certain situations. The Gemara demonstrates this from the conduct of Rebbi Tarfon, who refused to harbor two individuals who were rumored to have killed someone. RASHI (DH Meichish Lei) explains that he refused to save them because perhaps he was concerned that they indeed killed someone, and one is not allowed to protect murderers.
However, if Rebbi Tarfon refused to protect them because one is not allowed to protect murderers, then he was not only suspecting that the Lashon ha'Ra was true; he was accepting it fully! How could he accept Lashon ha'Ra as true if the Gemara says that one is permitted only to suspect that it is true? (ROSH)
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Atmarinchu) cites the SHE'ILTOS D'RAV ACHAI who explains that Rebbi Tarfon did not want to harbor the suspected murderers because the king had decreed that anyone who harbors a murderer would be killed, and thus he was suspecting that the Lashon ha'Ra might be true only in order to protect himself. In such a situation -- to protect oneself or others -- one may suspect that Lashon ha'Ra is true. This is what Rashi means when he says that "one is forbidden" to save the murderers. He means that it was forbidden by the king, and doing so would have endangered Rebbi Tarfon's life.
2) AGADAH: SAVING OG FROM THE "MABUL"
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan teaches that the "refugee" (Bereishis 14:13) who came to relate to Avraham Avinu that Lot was captured was Og, the king of Bashan, who survived the Mabul in the times of Noach.
Og's rescue from the waters of the Mabul needs explanation. Why did Hash-m allow him to survive? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (108b) relates that the people in that generation knew that Hash-m was powerful but they thought they could withstand any punishment that He might bring upon them. The Gemara says that their reply to Noach's prophecy of the Mabul was, "Mabul Shel Mah" -- "What kind of Mabul [can He bring to harm us]?" Why did Hash-m let even one of them survive in a way that would validate their claim that they in fact were strong enough to withstand and survive any punishment that Hash-m might bring upon them?
(a) The RAMA MI'PANO in ASARAH MA'AMAROS (Ma'amar Chikur ha'Din 4:12) writes that Og was saved through the merit of his grandfather, Shamchazai. Shamchazai was one of the Bnei Elokim who descended to this world from the heavens and proceeded to marry and beget children (see Bereishis 6:2). The Rama mi'Pano adds that Shamchazai's two sons had a dream that the Mabul was coming and they informed him of their dream. (The YAD YEHUDAH commentary on the Rama mi'Pano notes that this is mentioned in the "Midrash Avkir.") One of the ministering Mal'achim (see Chagigah 15a) also informed Shamchazai of the Mabul. Once he found out, Shamchazai repented. (Indeed, according to the PANIM YAFOS to Bamidbar 21:34, he, too, survived the Mabul.) The Rama mi'Pano then cites the Gemara that describes how Og survived the Mabul, and he cites Tosfos here in Nidah (DH Zeh) who comments that Sichon also survived the Mabul. The conclusion of the Rama mi'Pano is that we learn from here that "whoever mourns for the Tzibur (the public welfare), he and his children merit to see the comfort of the Tzibur."
(b) Perhaps another answer may be suggested based on the words of the SEFER HA'CHINUCH in his discussion of the Mitzvah for the Kohanim to place a fire on the Mizbe'ach (Mitzvah 132). He asks that since a fire from Shamayim was always on the Mizbe'ach, why was it necessary for the Kohanim to place fire on the Mizbe'ach? He answers that Hash-m always hides His miracles in ways that can give people reason to believe that no miracle is happening. Hash-m wanted the Kohanim to bring fire to the Mizbe'ach in order to obscure the fact that there was a miraculous fire from Shamayim that was constantly there.
He cites another example. The Torah says with regard to the splitting of the Yam Suf, "va'Yolech Hash-m Es ha'Yam b'Ru'ach Kadim..." -- "and Hash-m made the water move with a strong easterly wind the entire night" (Shemos 14:21). If Hash-m was performing a miracle of making the Sea split, then why did He not simply split it at the moment that He wanted it to split? Why did He need to bring a strong wind and make it look as though the Jewish people were simply benefiting from a rare natural phenomenon? The Sefer ha'Chinuch concludes that this is because of the "greatness of the Master, and the lowliness of the receiver." It appears that the Sefer ha'Chinuch's intention is that Hash-m does not want to make His miracles obvious and revealed to all, either because of the unworthiness of man or because doing so would make man more accountable for his actions. (See CHAYEI OLAM 1:19, and YOSHEV OHALIM, Parshas Tzav.)
This concept may also explain why Hash-m allowed the most powerful person or people to survive the Mabul. The fact that someone survived would give people the opportunity to doubt Hash-m's omnipotence. Although such a notion is obviously ridiculous, as the Mabul was foretold in a prophecy and caused unprecedented and unequalled destruction, the fact that someone survived the Mabul is sufficient grounds for the disbeliever to deny Hash-m's omnipotence, just as the wind at the Yam Suf and the fire brought by the Kohanim to the Mizbe'ach provide opportunity for the disbeliever to deny Hash-m's omnipotence. This makes people less responsible for their sins and, as the Chayei Olam writes, allows Hash-m to apply His attribute of Erech Apayim, letting the world survive without being punished for its sins. (Y. MONTROSE) (See also Insights to Zevachim 113:2.)
3) THE OBLIGATION TO OBSERVE MITZVOS AFTER "TECHIYAS HA'MESIM"
OPINIONS: Rav Yosef infers from the Beraisa that permits making shrouds for a Mes from Sha'atnez that "Mitzvos will no longer be binding in the future." Similarly, Rebbi Yochanan deduces from a verse that "once a person dies, he becomes absolved from the Mitzvos." What does this mean?
(a) TOSFOS (DH Amar Rav Yosef) explains that when a person is resurrected when Techiyas ha'Mesim occurs, and he rises in the Sha'atnez shrouds in which he was buried, he will not be obligated in Mitzvos and he will not have to remove his Sha'atnez shrouds.
(b) The RASHBA (cited by the Ran) understands that this means that while a person is dead he has no obligation to observe the Mitzvos. Certainly, however, he will be obligated to observe the Mitzvos when he is resurrected, and he will need to remove the Sha'atnez shrouds at that time.
The SIDREI TAHARAH cites proof for the opinion of the Rashba. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (90b; see Insights there) quotes the verse, "And you shall give Terumah to Aharon," and asks, "Will Aharon be alive forever [so that you will give Terumah to him]?" The Gemara answers in the name of Rebbi Yochanan that Aharon will be resurrected and the Jewish people will give Terumah to him. The Gemara there is proof that a person will be obligated in Mitzvos when he comes back to life, for otherwise why should we give Terumah to Aharon after Techiyas ha'Mesim? This supports the opinion of the Rashba.
How does Tosfos understand the Gemara in Sanhedrin? The ARUCH LA'NER explains that there will actually be two sets of Techiyas ha'Mesim. (This notion is based on the Gemara in Yoma 5a and the Zohar. See also Ritva to Rosh Hashanah, end of 16b.) The first will involve the resurrection of Moshe and Aharon, who will teach the Jewish people the laws relevant to the Beis ha'Mikdash which will be rebuilt. The second will be the final and mass resurrection of the Jewish people. After the first resurrection, the Mitzvos will still be binding on everyone, of course, since no one will have been resurrected other than Moshe and Aharon. After the second resurrection, the Mitzvos will no longer be binding.
The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 301:6) rules like Tosfos, as is evident from the explanation of the TAZ there (301:9).
4) SHA'ATNEZ -- SHU'A, TAVI, AND "NOZ"
OPINIONS: The Gemara teaches that the word, "Sha'atnez," is a combination of the words "Shu'a" (combed), "Tavi" (spun), and "Noz." What is the meaning of the word "Noz"?
(a) RASHI (DH v'Noz) explains that Noz means woven together. (The wool and linen are joined to each other by needle.) The RASH (Kil'ayim 9:8) agrees with Rashi
(b) TOSFOS (DH Shu'a Tavi v'Noz) disagrees with Rashi's explanation. The word "Yachdav" in the verse teaches that the prohibition of Sha'atnez applies only when the wool and linen are woven together. Accordingly, the word "Noz" in "Sha'atnez" cannot mean "woven together," since "Yachdav" already teaches that. Rather, Noz means that the threads must be wound together.
5) SHA'ATNEZ -- SPUN AND WOVEN TOGETHER OR INDEPENDENTLY
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses the prohibition against wearing a garment made from Sha'atnez, a mixture of wool and linen. The Gemara teaches that the prohibition is transgressed only when the wool and linen are "Shu'a, Tavi, v'Noz" (see previous Insight). Does this mean that in order for the prohibition to be transgressed, the wool and linen must be Shu'a, Tavi, v'Noz (combed, spun, and wound or woven) with each other, or independently (the wool by itself and the linen by itself) and then combined?
(a) RASHI maintains that they must be Shu'a, Tavi, v'Noz together. That is, the strands of wool must be combed and spun together with the strands of linen in order for one to transgress the prohibition of Sha'atnez. If the strands of wool are combed or spun separately from the strands of linen, then the prohibition of Sha'atnez has not been transgressed mid'Oraisa, even though they are later sewn into a garment together.
(b) TOSFOS learns that Shu'a, Tavi, v'Noz means that each type of material is combed, spun, and wound by itself, and afterwards the wool and linen threads are sewn together.
The RASH (Kil'ayim 9:8) learns like Tosfos, that if each type of thread is processed separately and later combined, the prohibition of Sha'atnez is transgressed.