PESACHIM 113 (7 Cheshvan) - Dedicated in honor of the Yahrzeit of ha'Gaon Rav Meir Shapiro (n. 5694/1933), founder of the renowned Yeshivas Chachmei Lublin, representative of the Jewish community in the Polish parliament, and creator of the DAFYOMI STUDY CYCLE (see for more) - may he entreat before Hash-m's holy throne for the complete redemption of Klal Yisrael, speedily in our days!. Dedicated by Mr. and Mrs. Shmuel Kovacs of Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel; may the great Gaon be a Melitz Yosher for the Kovacs children, including their newborn baby, to grow up with love of Torah and Yir'as Shamayim and succeed in all that they do.


QUESTION: The Gemara says that the "Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel despise each other." Certainly the great and holy Amora'im were not suspect of any sin, let alone the terrible transgression of hate for their colleagues. What does the Gemara mean?
ANSWER: The Gemara in Kidushin (30b) cites the verse, "Happy is the person who has many children, he will not be embarrassed when he speaks with his enemies at the gate" (Tehilim 127:5).
The Gemara there asks, "Who are these enemies?" Rebbi Chiya bar Aba answers that the verse refers to a father and his son or to a Rebbi and his Talmid. When they learn together they are called "enemies" of each other. The Gemara adds that "they do not leave from there until they become beloved unto one another."
Rashi explains that they are "enemies" because they constantly challenge each other with questions and are not satisfied until they are convinced that they have arrived at the truth.
According to that Gemara, the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel do not harbor any hatred. Rather, they look like enemies when they learn because they challenge each other like despised enemies, while their sole intention is to arrive at the truth.
Why does the Gemara specifically say that the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel despise each other, and not those in Eretz Yisrael? The Gemara in Sanhedrin (24a) reveals that the Talmidei Chachamim in Eretz Yisrael were "pleasant to each other" when they argued about Halachah. This is in contrast to the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel who "fought with heated arguments" when they argued about Halachah (see Rashi there).
When the Gemara there lists examples of Talmidei Chachamim in Eretz Yisrael, it includes only Tana'im. On the other hand, the Talmidei Chachamim in Bavel were all Amora'im. This indicates that the Gemara means that there was Yeridas ha'Doros, a spiritual generation gap. In the times of the Tana'im, it was possible to arrive at the truth through peaceful discussion. By the time of the Amora'im, though, the truth had become cloudy and only intense dialectical disputes had the ability to clarify Torah issues and bring about clear understanding. Accordingly, the "Talmidei Chachamim of Bavel" mentioned in the Gemara here also refers to the Amora'im of Bavel. (M. KORNFELD)
(For an in-depth explanation, see MAHARAL in Nesiv ha'Torah 13.)
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that the source for the prohibition against requesting advice or information from the "Kaldiyim" is the verse, "You shall be completely faithful to Hash-m your G-d" (Devarim 18:13).
The Gemara in Shabbos (156b) describes a "Kalda'ei" as a Nochri astrologer who uses the constellations to predict future events. The Gemara in Shabbos describes this discipline as legitimate and trustworthy. Why, then, does the Gemara here say that one is prohibited to rely on the advice of Kaldiyim?
(a) RASHI here translates "Kaldiyim" as "Ba'alei Ovos," those who divine with bones and commune with dead people. However, in all other places in the Gemara where Kaldiyim are mentioned, Rashi defines the word as "astrologers." Apparently, Rashi understands that the Gemara here in Pesachim cannot refer to astrologers, because -- as the Gemara in Shabbos states -- it is not wrong to take counsel with astrologers. (TOSFOS and the RASHBAM here take issue with Rashi's definition of "Kaldiyim" as "Ba'alei Ovos.")
(b) The RAMBAN (in Teshuvos ha'Meyuchasos #243) and the NIMUKEI YOSEF (Sanhedrin 65b) write that the Gemara here does not mean that there is an Isur d'Oraisa to consult astrologers. If there was such an Isur d'Oraisa, the Gemara would have cited as the source the verse that commands not to be involved in any type of divination (Devarim 18:10). It must be that to consult astrologers is not included in that prohibition, and that there is some veracity to the science of astrological prediction. Consequently, if a person is told his astrological forecast, he must not attempt to defy it because he might thereby place himself in danger. Rather, he should heed the warning and avoid the situation which his forecast says is dangerous for him.
When the Gemara here says that one may not consult with astrologers, it means that the Chachamim advise that one not look into astrology in the first place. Instead, one should place his trust in Hash-m and acknowledge that his prayers to Hash-m can affect and alter his fate. The Tana'im and Amora'im in the Gemara in Shabbos who were concerned with their astrological forecasts had not gone to consult with astrologers. Rather, they had happened to find out about their predictions. To defy what they had heard in such a manner would have required them to rely on a miracle to save them, and one may not rely on a miracle.
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 11:8) rules that an Isur d'Oraisa forbids one to look into his astrological horoscope. How does the Rambam explain the Gemara in Shabbos?
The Gemara there lists each Mazal and its effects on a person born during each Mazal. However, that information does not tell the person how he should act on any given day in the future. It does not tell him what day will be good and what day will be bad. Rather, that information merely relates the facts about what that person's tendency will be. Apparently, accepting such information is not included in the prohibition against divining. Similarly, when the Gemara in Shabbos records that Rebbi Akiva was concerned for the astrological prediction that was said about the fate of his daughter, it means that he was merely worried, but he did not act on the prediction of the astrologer.
However, the Rambam writes later (11:16) that anyone who believes that there is any truth in such predictions is foolish and childish. How, then, could Rebbi Akiva and the Amora'im be concerned for the predictions of astrologers?
The Rambam, in his Introduction to Perush ha'Mishnayos, implies that the predictions of astrologers contain truth, but they are not exact. A person's fate, as seen by the astrologer, is liable to change based on the performance of good deeds (as the Gemara in Shabbos concludes). In Hilchos Avodah Zarah, when the Rambam writes that anyone who believes in astrological predictions is foolish, he means that one must put his faith only in Hash-m and acknowledge that Tefilah and Yir'as Shamayim can change one's fate entirely, and that, therefore, it is futile to put one's trust in the Mazalos, as the Gemara in Shabbos concludes.
When Rebbi Akiva was worried about the prediction of the astrologer, he was worried for someone else (his daughter) -- perhaps she might not be G-d-fearing enough to merit a good future. Similarly, the Gemara in Shabbos says that the mother of Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak was worried for the prediction said about Rav Nachman, because perhaps her son did not have enough merit to save him from the fate that the astrologer predicted. About one's self, though, a person needs not fear; let him simply place his trust in Hash-m and perform Mitzvos, and the dreaded outcome will not come to pass. (M. KORNFELD)