THE MIRACLE DONE FOR CHANANYAH, MISHA'EL AND AZARYAH
(R. Yochanan): Tzadikim are greater than angels - "Guvrun Arb'ah... Revi'a'ah Dame l'Var Elahin (the angel is called the fourth, after Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah).
(Rav Tanchum bar Chanilai): When Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah left the furnace, all the nations hit Yisraelim on the faces, and said 'you have a G-d who does such miracles for you, and you bowed to the image?!'
The Yisraelim responded by saying "Lecha Hash-m ha'Tzedakah v'Lanu Boshes ha'Panim."
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): "Omarti E'eleh b'Samar" - Hash-m intended that Yisrael be full of Tzadikim (like a date tree is dull of dates), but "Ochazah b'Sansinav", He only has one branch, i.e. Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah.
(R. Yochanan): "Ra'isi Laylah" - Hash-m wanted to turn the entire world to night (destroy it, because Yisrael bowed to the image);
"Al Sus Adom" - Hash-m wanted to turn the entire world to blood. He looked at the act of Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah, and was assuaged - "ha'Hadasim (Tzadikim - Esther was called Hadasah) Asher ba'Metzulah (Bavel)... Mele'im Rogez... Na'asim Levanim."
(Rav Papa): (Since red horses symbolize a curse,) this shows that white horses are a good sign in a dream.
Question: What happened to Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah afterwards?
Answer #1 (Rav): They died due to Ayin ha'Ra;
Answer #2 (Shmuel): They drowned in the spit (of Nochrim despising the Yisraelim who had bowed. This is because they were not at a high enough level to make a pure Kidush Hash-m without the negative result for other Yisre'elim - heard from R. C. T. Fogel Shlita.)
Answer #3 (R. Yochanan): They went to Eretz Yisrael, married women and fathered children.
Tana'im argue as the Amora'im do.
(Beraisa - R. Eliezer): They died due to Ayin ha'Ra;
R. Yehoshua says, they drowned in spit;
Chachamim say, they went to Eretz Yisrael, married women and fathered children - "Yehoshua ha'Kohen ha'Gadol Atah v'Re'echa ha'Yoshevim Lefanecha Ki Anshei Mofes Hemah"
Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah are the ones for whom a Mofes (miracle) was done (and now they were in front of the Kohen Gadol, i.e. in Eretz Yisrael).
Question: Where had Daniel gone?
Answer #1 (Rav): He went to dig and forge a river (some say - to a mountain).
Answer #2 (Shmuel): Nebuchadnetzar had sent him to bring fodder.
Answer #3 (R. Yochanan): Nebuchadnetzar had sent him to bring pigs from Alexandria (where they are big, in order to raise them in Bavel).
Question (Mishnah): Tudus the doctor said that they cut the wombs of all cows and pigs that leave Miztrayim (so they will not reproduce).
Answer: He took small ones. The Mitriyim did not think that he took them for breeding.
(Beraisa): Three parties all wanted Daniel to go - Hash-m, Daniel and Nebuchadnetzar:
Hash-m wanted Daniel to go, lest people think that Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah were saved in his merit;
Daniel wanted to go, for Nebuchadnetzar worshipped him, and he feared lest he himself be burned (for idolatry should be burned) - "Pesilei Eloheihem Tisrefun ba'Esh"!
Nebuchadnetzar wanted him to go, lest people say that Nebuchadnetzar burned his own god (Daniel).
Question: What is the source that Nebuchadnetzar worshipped him?
Answer: "Nebuchadnetzar Nafal Al Anpohi ul'Daniel Segid."
FALSE NEVI'IM BURNED IN THE FIRE
"... Achav ben Kolayah v'El Tzidkiyahu ben Ma'aseyah ha'Nib'im Lachem bi'Shmi Shaker... Asher Kalam Melech Bavel ba'Esh" - It does not say that he burned him, rather, Kalam (roasted);
(R. Yochanan): He parched them like grain.
Question: "Va'Yna'afu Es Neshei Re'eihem" - what did they do?
Answer: Achav told Nebuchadnetzar's daughter 'Hashem said that when Tzidkiyahu wants to have Bi'ah with you, consent to him.' Likewise, Tzidkiyahu told her that Hash-m wants her to consent to Achav.
She told her father. He said 'their G-d hates sexual immorality. When they come, send them to me.' She did so. They told him that Hash-m commanded them.
Nebuchadnetzar: Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah said that it is forbidden!
Achav and Tzidkiyahu: We are also Nevi'im. Hash-m permitted us, but he did not permit them.
Nebuchadnetzar: I want to test you, like I tested them!
Achav and Tzidkiyahu: They were three, so they had more merit to be saved. We are only two!
Nebuchadnetzar: Pick anyone you want to accompany you!
Achav and Tzidkiyahu: We want Yehoshua the Kohen Gadol (they hoped that his merit would suffice to save them).
All three of them were thrown in. Achav and Tzidkiyahu were burned, and Yehoshua's garments were singed - "Yehoshua... (Ud Mutzal me'Esh)."
Nebuchadnetzar: I see that you (Yehoshua) are a Tzadik. Why did the fire affect you (your garments)? It did not affect Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah at all!
Yehoshua: They were three, therefore they had more merit. I was alone (Achav and Tzidkiyahu had no merits.)
Nebuchadnetzar: Avraham was thrown into a furnace alone, and he was totally saved!
Yehoshua: I had Resha'im with me. Since the fire was permitted to kill them, it also affected me;
This is like people say, if two dry spits are with a wet one, they will cause it to be burned.
Question: Why was Yehoshua punished?
Answer (Rav Papa): His sons married women forbidden to Kohanim, and he did not protest - "vi'Hoshua Hayah Lavush Begadim Tzo'im";
Question: Would the Kohen Gadol be wearing filthy garments?!
Answer: Rather, his sons married women forbidden to Kohanim, and he did not protest.
THE BLESSINGS OF RUS' DESCENDANTS
Question (R. Tanchum): Why does it say "Shesh ha'Se'orim ha'Eleh Nosan Li"? Surely, Bo'az did not give Rus a mere six barley seeds!
Answer #1: Rather, he gave to her six Sa'im (a Se'ah is about 12 liters).
Rejection: A woman does not carry so much!
Answer #2: Indeed, he gave to her six barley seeds. He hinted that six sons will come from her, and each will receive six blessings:
It says about David "Yode'a Nagen v'Gibor Chayil v'Ish Milchamah u'Nevon Davar v'Ish To'ar va'Shem Imo";
(Rav Yehudah): This entire verse was Lashon ha'Ra (Do'eg praised David to make Sha'ul envy him):
Yode'a Nagen - he knows how to ask. Gibor - he knows how to answer. Ish Milchamah - he can debate in Torah. Navon - he understands a matter through another matter. Ish To'ar - he brings proof for what he says. Va'Shem Imo - the Halachah always follows him.
Regarding the first five, Sha'ul said 'this is true also about my son Yonason.' Regarding va'Shem Imo, which was not true even about Sha'ul himself, Sha'ul was demoralized and envied him.
Question: What is the source that this was true about David, but not about Sha'ul?
Answer: Regarding Sha'ul it says "uv'Chol Asher Yifneh Yarshi'a." Regarding David it says "uv'Chol Asher Yifneh Yatzli'ach."
Question: What is the source that Do'eg is the one who said "Yode'a Nagen..."?
Answer: "Va'Ya'an Echad meha'Ne'arim" refers to the most special one, "Do'eg ha'Edomi Abir ha'Ro'im."
Regarding Mashi'ach it says "v'Nochah Alav Ru'ach Hash-m Ru'ach Chachmah u'Vinah Ru'ach Etzah u'Gvurah Ru'ach Da'as v'Yir'as Hash-m."
(R. Alexandri): "Va'Haricho b'Yir'as Hash-m" teaches that Hash-m loaded Mashi'ach with Mitzvos and afflictions like a Reichayim (millstone).
(Rava): "Va'Haricho..." teaches that he is Morach (smells, i.e. senses who is guilty) and judges - "v'Lo l'Mar'e Einav Yishpot... v'Shofat Tzedek."
Bar Koziva ruled for two and a half years, and told Chachamim that he is Mashi'ach. Chachamim tested him. They saw that he cannot judge by 'smell', so they killed him (Ramah - like a false Navi. (Our Gemara argues with the Medrash that Romi killed him.))
Regarding Daniel, Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah it says "Ein Bahem Kol Mum v'Tovei Mar'eh u'Maskilim b'Chol Chachmah v'Yod'ei Da'as u'Mevinei Mada va'Asher Bahem Ko'ach... u'Lelamdam Sefer u'Lshon Kasdim."
Question: What does it mean "Ein Bahem Kol Mum"?
Answer (R. Chama b'Rebbi Chanina): They did not even have a wound from bloodletting. (Most people used to let blood regularly.)
Question: What does it mean "va'Asher Bahem Ko'ach La'amod b'Heichal ha'Melech"?
Answer (R. Chama b'Rebbi Chanina): When in front of the king they would not joke, converse, sleep, or go to relieve themselves, due to fear of the king.
(R. Elazar): "Va'Yhi Bahem mi'Bnei Yehudah Daniel Chananyah, Misha'el va'Azaryah" - all of them are from Yehudah.
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): Daniel is from Yehudah. "Mi'Bnei Yehudah" does not refer to Chananyah, Misha'el and Azaryah. They are from other Shevatim. (Rashi - he argues with Answer #2 above. Rashi assumes that we discuss pure paternal lineage, like for David and Mashi'ach, for Rus could have descendants in other Shevatim through females.)
Question: "Umi'Banecha... Sarisim b'Heichal Melech Bavel" - what does "Sarisim" refer to?
Answer #1 (Rav): It is literal (they were castrated).
Answer #2 (R. Chanina): Idolatry was castrated in their days (the Yetzer ha'Ra for it was abolished).
Question: According to R. Chanina, we understand "va'Chaval Lo Isi Behon (they have no blemish)." According to Rav, they were blemished!
Answer: The verse teaches that the fire made no mark on them.
Question: We already know this from "v'Re'ach Nur Lo Adas Behon"! (Even the smoke of the fire did not impart a smell to them.)
Answer: The verses teach that the fire made no mark and the smoke did not leave a smell.
Question: According to R. Chanina, "la'Sarisim Asher Yishmeru Es Shabsosai" is not derogatory;
However, according to Rav, why does the verse speak this way about Tzadikim?
Answer: He holds that they were castrated and idolatry was castrated in their days. "La'Sarisim..." refers to castration of idolatry.
Question: According to Rav, we understand "...Yad va'Shem Tov mi'Banim umi'Banos" (for they cannot have children). How does R. Chanina understand this?
Answer (Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak): It will be better than the children they had, who already died.
Question: What does it mean "Shem Olam Eten Lo Asher Lo Yikares"?
Answer (R. Tanchum): This is Sefer Daniel, which is called by his name.
WHY SEFER EZRA IS NOT ATTRIBUTED TO NECHEMYAH
Question: Nechemyah wrote most of Sefer Ezra. Why wasn't it called by his name?
Answer #1 (R. Yirmeyah bar Aba): It is because he took credit for himself - "Zochrah Li Elokai l'Tovah."
Question: Why is this called crediting himself? Also David said "Zochreni Hash-m... Pokdeni bi'Shu'asecha"!
Answer: David was asking for mercy.
Answer #2 (Rav Yosef): It is because he denigrated the earlier leaders - "veha'Pachos ha'Rishonim Asher Lefanai Hichbidu Al ha'Am...";
He criticized even Daniel, who was greater than himself.
Question: What is the source that Daniel was greater than Nechemyah?
Answer: "V'Ra'isi Ani Daniel... veha'Anashim Asher Hayu Imadi Lo Ra'u";
Question: Who were the people with Daniel?
Answer (R. Yirmeyah): They were Chagai, Zecharyah and Malachi. (Daniel was greater than Nevi'im. All the more so he was greater than Nechemyah!)
[In this respect, Daniel was greater than them. In another respect, they were greater than him, for they were Nevi'im, and he was not. Most texts delete this (Rashi).]