1) KING CHIZKIYAH AND THE BOOK OF CURES
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that King Chizkiyah was praised by the Rabanan for hiding away the Sefer Refu'os (the Book of Cures). What was the Sefer Refu'os, and why did Chizkiyah hide it?
(a) RASHI (DH v'Ganaz Sefer Refu'os) says that the Book of Cures listed the remedies for all illnesses. He hid it in order to force the Jews to rely solely on Hash-m for their healing and to pray for mercy from Him, and not to rely on the Book of Cures.
(b) The RAMBAM here (Perush ha'Mishnayos) strongly opposes Rashi's explanation. He maintains that the use of natural means of healing does not detract in any way from one's reliance on the Almighty. He compares it to one who deprives a starving man of food in order to force him to pray to Hash-m for food. A person who uses natural remedies will still rely on Hash-m's mercy for his health, because it is Hash-m Who makes those remedies work.
The Rambam explains that the Book of Cures was used by astrologers to heal illnesses through placing certain images or carvings in certain places at certain times. (The Rambam refers to this by its Greek name, "Talisman"). King Shlomo wrote it to teach the wonders of the natural world, but he did not intend it to be used in practice. Chizkiyah hid it when he saw people using it for idolatrous purposes.
(c) Alternatively, the Rambam says that the Book of Cures listed both antidotes and poisons. Chizkiyah hid it when people began using the poisons described in the book instead of using only the antidotes.
How does Rashi answer the Rambam's question on his explanation? Why did Chizkiyah hide the Book of Cures, but still permit people to go to doctors? Why was he not concerned that people might lose trust in Hash-m and place their trust in other sources of healing?
Rashi emphasizes here that when people healed themselves with the Book of Cures, "their hearts did not become humble from their illness," because they were able to heal themselves immediately and did not need to feel submissive to Hash-m. After the Book of Cures was hidden, the people were unable to heal themselves immediately but were forced to go to a doctor. The need to rely on someone else humbles a person.
Alternatively, perhaps Rashi agrees that there is nothing wrong with using natural remedies. The Book of Cures, however, may have included remedies based on alternative forms of medicine which, to the layman, appeared to be related to witchcraft, or which were actually based on supernatural means. Chizkiyah feared that those who used the Book of Cures would come to believe that they can circumvent nature and rely on magical cures, and their reliance on Hash-m would be diminished. Even though "anything used for medicinal purposes is not considered to be the way of idolaters" (Shabbos 77a), when Chizkiyah saw that people tended to attribute power to forces other than Hash-m, he hid the book. (M. KORNFELD)
2) SAYING "BARUCH SHEM KEVOD MALCHUSO" QUIETLY
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that after one recites the verse, "Shema Yisrael," he should recite the verse, "Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso" quietly. Rebbi Yitzchak relates an allegory to clarify why this verse is said quietly. He says that it is comparable to a princess who smelled the aroma of delicious food. On one hand, she is embarrassed to ask for the food explicitly. On the other hand, if she does not partake of the food, she will suffer as a result of her urge. In order to resolve her dilemma, her servants bring the food to her quietly without announcement.
This analogy implies that there is some element of embarrassment in the recitation of the verse "Baruch Shem," and that is why it is recited quietly. Indeed, the NEFESH HA'CHAYIM (3:6) and other Kabalistic sources explain that it is a lower level of declaration of the unity (Yichud) of the name of Hash-m.
However, other sources indicate that "Baruch Shem" is a higher form of Yichud ha'Shem, and not a lower form as the Gemara here implies.
First, the TUR (OC 61) cites the Midrash that says that Moshe Rabeinu heard the angels declare, "Baruch Shem Kevod...," and he wanted to incorporate it into the prayers of the Jewish people. However, because it is an "otherworldly" praise and is too lofty to be recited in this world, he could institute only that it be said quietly. By saying "Baruch Shem" quietly, we show that we have no intention to encroach on the domain of the angels.
Second, we find that in the Beis ha'Mikdash, the Jewish people would respond with "Baruch Shem Kevod..." in place of "Amen" to every blessing they heard from the Kohen Gadol (Berachos 63a, Ta'anis 16b). Due to its lofty status, "Baruch Shem" may be said aloud only in the holiest place.
Third, the MAHARAL (Nesiv ha'Avodah 7) writes that the reason why we recite "Baruch Shem" aloud on Yom Kippur is because on that day we are elevated to a higher realm of existence. Similarly, Yakov Avinu recited this verse aloud because he was on a higher realm of existence.
These sources seem to contradict the implication of the Gemara here that "Baruch Shem" is embarrassing in some way.
ANSWER: RAV YITZCHAK HUTNER zt'l (Pachad Yitzchak, Yom Kippur 5:2:15) explains that both implications are true and do not conflict with each other. They reflect different aspects of "Baruch Shem." In one sense, "Baruch Shem" is a lower and embarrassing form of praise, while in other sense, it is a lofty and holy form of praise.
"Baruch Shem Kevod Malchuso..." means that the name of Hash-m is eternal and will remain forever. The name of Hash-m, however, is comprised of two different elements (see Pesachim 50a and Insights there). There is the name as it is written, which emphasizes the eternalness of Hash-m, and there is the name as it is pronounced (the name of "Adnus"), which emphasizes the sovereignty of Hash-m in this world and expresses that Hash-m is the Master of the world. The name of "Adnus" is used only in this world; it has no place in the World to Come, where Hash-m's name will be pronounced the same way that it is written, as the Gemara earlier teaches (50a).
Accordingly, it is inappropriate to say "Baruch Shem Kevod... l'Olam va'Ed" in reference to the name of "Adnus." That name is used only in this world, while "Baruch Shem... l'Olam va'Ed" is a praise for the eternal use of the name of Hash-m. The name of "Adnus" is a lower level of Yichud ha'Shem, a Yichud only for this world that expresses the limited extent to which we are able to perceive Hash-m. It does not express the way that Hash-m will be perceived in the next world.
In contrast, when "Baruch Shem" is used in reference to the name of "Yud-Heh," it is an appropriate and lofty praise, because it means that the name of "Yud-Heh" will be blessed in this world and in the next.
Praising the name of "Adnus" with the verse "Baruch Shem" is a lesser form of Yichud, because it applies only to this world. Praising the name of "Yud-Heh," the name of Hash-m as it is written, with the verse "Baruch Shem" is a much higher form of Yichud. The angels experience Hash-m's presence and perceive His reality in the ultimate way, the way expressed by the written form of His name. When they say "Baruch Shem," they praise that name, the name of "Yud-Heh." Similarly, in the Beis ha'Mikdash, the people declare "Baruch Shem" in response to the Kohen Gadol's elocution of Hash-m's name as it is written. Since the lower level name of "Adnus" is not used, "Baruch Shem" may be said aloud. This is also why Yakov Avinu said "Baruch Shem" aloud; he perceived Hash-m's presence the way the angels do.
When we say the name of Hash-m in this world, however, we say only the name of "Adnus." We praise that name by quietly intoning, "Baruch Shem." The verse of "Baruch Shem" has two meanings. One is a lower form of praise of the name of "Adnus," and one is a lofty form of praise of the name of "Yud-Heh." Therefore, we say it quietly, like a person who has a message that can be understood in two ways, one that is lofty, and one that sounds incongruous. He whispers it so that the wise people who understand the lofty meaning will hear it and know that he is whispering it in order not to reveal the lofty wisdom behind it. The unlearned people will think that he is whispering it because it is a senseless statement and he is embarrassed to say it aloud. Accordingly, when the Gemara here implies that "Baruch Shem" is a lower form of praise, it does not contradict the other sources that imply that it is a higher form of praise. Both are correct, because both meanings are contained in "Baruch Shem."
3) REDEEMING GROWTHS OF "HEKDESH"
QUESTION: The Mishnah (55b) says that one of the practices of the people of Yericho to which the Chachamim objected was that they would use, for their personal benefit, small branches and other things that grew from trees that their ancestors had dedicated as Hekdesh.
The Gemara explains their reasoning. The people of Yericho followed the opinion that says that the prohibition of Me'ilah does not apply to things that grow from a tree that was dedicated as Hekdesh (see Me'ilah 13a). They maintained that their forebears had dedicated these trees in order to supply beams to Hekdesh, and not in order that the growths be Hekdesh as well. The Chachamim argued that although growths that come from an object of Hekdesh are not subject to the prohibition of Me'ilah, nevertheless one is forbidden to derive personal benefit from them.
TOSFOS in Menachos (71b, DH u'Matirin) asks that there was a simple way for the people of Yericho to circumvent the prohibition against using growths of Hekdesh. The Gemara in Erchin (29a) says that when the Beis ha'Mikdash is not standing, one may redeem the Kedushah of a large amount of Hekdesh on a small coin. Why did the people of Yericho not simply redeem all of the growths of the trees of Hekdesh onto a small coin and thereby permit the growths to be used according to all opinions?
(a) TOSFOS in Menachos answers that the trees originally were made Hekdesh with the expression of "Konam." Hekdesh made in this manner cannot be redeemed. (Tosfos adds that this must also be the case in Bava Metzia (6b), where the Gemara discusses a case of Hekdesh that apparently could not be redeemed.)
(b) Tosfos there suggests a second answer. He explains that the Gemara in Erchin does not mean that anyone may redeem items of Hekdesh that are very valuable on a single coin. Rather, the Gemara means that only the person who made the item Hekdesh may redeem it in such a manner, but no one else (such as his descendants) may redeem the Hekdesh in such a manner. Why may the original owner of the item, and no one else, redeem Hekdesh in such a manner?
1. The TUREI EVEN in Megilah (23b) explains that since the owner is the one who made the item Hekdesh, he has the power to remove the status of Hekdesh from the item by redeeming it on any coin.
2. The Turei Even explains further that the Torah allows for a person to ask a Beis Din to release him from his pledge to Hekdesh. Since it is within the owner's power to ask Beis Din for this release, it is as if he still has some degree of ownership on the item. Consequently, he has the authority to redeem the item for less than its true value.
The Turei Even presents a practical difference between these two reasons. When the item was already given to the treasurer of Hekdesh, the pledge may no longer be annulled by Beis Din, and thus the second reason does not apply. The first reason, however, still applies, and therefore the owner may redeem his item for a minimal sum even after he has given it to the treasurer of Hekdesh.
3. The DEVAR AVRAHAM (#15) points out that Tosfos writes that "it is not logical that everyone may redeem his friend's Hekdesh for a minimal sum and take it for himself." These words imply that the original owner has the right to stop others from enriching themselves by redeeming his valuable donations to Hekdesh for a negligible sum of money. Why, though, may the original owner himself redeem the Hekdesh in this manner?
The MISGERES ZAHAV (the father of the Devar Avraham) explains that when a person dedicates an object to Hekdesh, he does so with the implicit condition that he retains the right to redeem the item on a less valuable sum. This condition is a right that the owner retains exclusively for himself, and thus no one else has the right to redeem the Hekdesh in this manner.
Why, though, may others not redeem it? Others should be able to redeem it, but with the risk of being brought to Beis Din by the original owner. Why should their redemption not work at all? The Misgeres Zahav explains that part of the owner's condition when he makes the item Hekdesh is that the redemption of any other person (for less than the actual value of the item) will not work. He makes this condition in order not to be troubled to go to Beis Din to collect his losses. (Y. MONTROSE)