DID SHMUEL'S SONS SIN?
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): If one says that Shmuel's sons sinned [took bribes and perverted judgment], he errs!
It says "V'Lo Holchu Vanav bi'Drachav" - they were not as pious as Shmuel, but they did not sin.
Question: If so, how do we explain "Va'Yitu Acharei ha'Batza [va'Yikchu Shochad va'Yatu Mishpat]"?
Answer: Shmuel used to travel around Yisrael to judge - "...V'Sovav Beis Kel veha'Gilgal veha'Mitzpah v'Shofat Es Yisrael"; his sons stayed in their cities and judged, in order to benefit their attendants (that summons people to judgment) and scribes.
Tana'im argue about whether or not they sinned:
(Beraisa - R. Meir): "Va'Yitu Acharei ha'Batza" - they explicitly requested Ma'aser Rishon (and people would not refuse them - this hurt other Leviyim).
R. Yehudah says, they gave merchandise to people for business, the latter would return the profit [and Benei Shmuel would favor these people in judgment];
R. Akiva says, they took by force more Ma'aser than they were entitled to;
R. Yosi says, they took by force Matanos [Ma'aser Rishon; alternatively, the foreleg, jaw and stomach of Chulin animals, which should be given to a Kohen].
KING DAVID'S SIN
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): If one says that David sinned [with Bas Sheva], he errs!
"Va'Yhi David l'Chol Derachav Maskil va'Shem Imo" - had he sinned, the Shechinah would not be with him!
Question: If so, how do we explain "Madu'a Bazisa Es Devar Hash-m La'asos ha'Ra"?
Answer: He sought to sin (have relations with her before she was divorced), but did not.
Rav: Rebbi descends from David, he toils to expound to defend David!
(Rebbi): Everywhere else, it says 'va'Ya'as ha'Ra' - here it says "La'asos ha'Ra", to teach that he sought to sin, but did not.
"Es Uriyah ha'Chiti Hikisa va'Cherev" - you should have judged him through the Sanhedrin, but you did not;
"V'Es Ishto Lokachta Lach" - you could have been Mekadesh her (she was divorced);
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): Everyone who went to war in David's army wrote a Get (document of divorce) to his wife (like Yishai's household used to do, lest one will be killed without witnesses or captured and his wife will be unable to remarry).
Question: What does it mean "...V'Es Arubasam Tikach"?
Answer (Rav Yosef): This is what joins a man to his wife (Kidushin; Yishai told David to take Gitin from his brothers at war).
"V'Oso Haragta b'Cherev Benei Amon" - just as you will not be punished for the sword of Amon, you will not be punished for Uriyah.
Question: What is the reason?
Answer: He [was Chayav Misah because he] rebelled against the king - "Va'Doni Yo'av..." (Rashi - he called Yo'av 'Adoni'; Tosfos - he disobeyed David - "va'Ani Avo El Beisi...").
(Rav): The only sin of David we find is regarding Uriyah - "Rak bi'Dvar Uriyah ha'Chiti".
Contradiction (Abaye Kashisha): Rav himself taught that David believed Lashon ha'Ra!
This is left difficult.
(Rav): "Va'Yomer Tziva... Hu Beis Machir...b'Lo Davar" (Tziva said that his master (Mefivoshes) is not a Chacham);
Question: David saw that Tziva lied - "Va'Yikach... Milo Davar" - why did he later believe Tziva when he said "Hinei Yoshev bi'Yrushalayim..." (Mefivoshes was hoping that you would die and he, the grandson of Sha'ul, would become king)?
Question: What is the source that David believed this?
Answer: [He gave Mefivoshes' property to Tziva -] "Va'Yomer ha'Melech l'Tziva Hine Lecha Kol Asher l'Mefivoshes".
(Shmuel): David did not believe the Lashon ha'Ra (he only suspected it, the gift was on condition that his words will be found to be true) - rather, he saw indications that it was true:
"U'Mefivoshes...v'Lo Asah Raglav v'Lo Asah Sefamo v'Es Begadav Lo Chives" (he was waiting until David would resume kingship to fix his appearance - David thought that Mefivoshes was saddened by David's return).
David asked Mefivoshes why he did not accompany David when David fled from Avshalom.
Mefivoshes: I wanted to, I asked my slave to prepare a donkey for me - he tricked me (I am lame, I could not do so myself)! You are [full of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh] like an angel, you will do as you see fit.
David: "Amarti Ata v'Tziva Tachleku Es ha'Sadeh" (Maharsha - I am unsure, therefore both of you will split the field; Maharshal - this is like I initially said, that all Mefivoshes' property will [also] be Tziva's, i.e. they will be partners).
Mefivoshes: "Gam Es ha'Kol Yikach Acharei Asher Ba Adoni ha'Melech b'Shalom" - I was hoping for your return, and you treat me like this?! My complaints are not against you, rather, against He who returned you!
This explains "U'Ven Yehonason Meriv Ba'al".
Question: His name was Mefivoshes, not Meriv Ba'al!
Answer: He is called Meriv Ba'al because he made a Merivah (quarrel) with his Master;
A Bas Kol (voice from Heaven): You are a Netzei (bickerer), the [grand]son of a Netzei (Sha'ul).
(R. Mani): "Va'Yavo Sha'ul Ad Ir Amalek va'Yarev ba'Nachal" - he quarreled about things done in a valley (Eglah Arufah. Sha'ul said, murder of an innocent person is so severe that it requires a special atonement, all the more so I should not kill animals and children that did not sin!)
(Rav Yehudah citing Rav): When David said that Tziva will split the field with Mefivoshes, a Bas Kol announced that [Midah k'Neged Midah, Shlomo's son] Rechav'om and Yarov'om (his slave) will split the kingdom of Yisrael.
(Rav Yehudah citing Rav): Had David not believed the Lashon ha'Ra, the kingdom of Yisrael would not have been split, Yisrael would not have served idolatry, and we would not have been exiled from our land.
KING SHLOMO'S SIN
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): If one says that Shlomo sinned [did idolatry], he errs!
"V'Lo Hayah Levavo Shalem...ki'Lvav David Aviv" - he was not as pious as David, but he did not sin.
Question: If so, how do we explain "V'Yhi l'Es Ziknas Shlomo Nashav Hitu Es Levavo [Acharei Elohim Acherim]"?
Answer: We explain it like R. Noson:
Contradiction (R. Noson): It says "...Nashav Hitu Es Levavo" - but it also says "V'Lo Hayah Levavo...ki'Lvav David " - he was not like David, but he did not sin!
Answer (R. Noson): His wives swayed his heart to serve idolatry, but he did not serve.
Question: But it says "Az Yivneh Shlomo Bamah li'Chmush Shikutz Mo'av"!
Answer #1: He sought to serve, but he did not.
Objection: It also says "Az Yivneh Yehoshua Mizbe'ach la'Shem" - will you say that he sought to serve, but he did not?!
Rather, Yehoshua built a Mizbe'ach - also Shlomo built one!
Answer #2 (Beraisa - R. Yosi) Question: [Yoshiyahu eradicated] "V'Es ha'Bamos...Asher Banah Shlomo" - Asa and Yehoshafat previously destroyed all the idolatry in Yisrael, how is it possible that they did not destroy these Bamos?!
Answer: [Indeed, he is credited for destroying even though he did not destroy -] we equate Shlomo to Yoshiyahu, just like Yoshiyahu is praised for something he did not do, Shlomo is blamed for [building the Bamos,] something he did not do.
Question: But it says "Va'Ya'as Shlomo ha'Ra b'Einei Hash-m"!
Answer: Because he could have protested against his wives [who served idolatry] but did not, the Torah considers it as if he sinned.
(Rav Yehudah): It would have been better for this Tzadik to be a servant [to cut wood and draw water] for idolatry than to have the verse say "Va'Ya'as Shlomo ha'Ra b'Einei Hash-m"!
(Rav Yehudah): When Shlomo married Bas Par'o, she brought 1000 instruments and told him which are played for various idolatries - he did not protest.
(Rav Yehudah): When Shlomo married Bas Par'o, Gavri'el inserted a reed in the sea; dirt was deposited there, the great city of Romi was later built there (when Yakov falls, Esav rises).
(Beraisa): The day that Yarov'om set up golden calves in Beis Kel and Dan, a small hut was built, it was the start of Italya of Yavan.
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): If one says that Yoshiyahu sinned, he errs - "Va'Ya'as ha'Yashar b'Einei Hash-m".
Question: If so, how do we explain "...Asher Shav" (implying that he sinned and repented)?
Answer: He overturned every judgment he made from the age of eight until 18 [years later, when they found the Sefer Torah. An opinion brought in Shulchan Aruch (perhaps based on our text in Rashi) explains, from the age of 18, for one should not judge before this.]
Suggestion: Perhaps he took back the money from the one to whom he gave it!
Rejection: He did this "B'Chol Me'odo" (from his own money).
Rav Shmuel argues with Rav:
(Rav): Yoshiyahu was the greatest penitent of his generation;
The greatest [penitent] of our generation is Aba, the father of R. Yirmeyah bar Aba; some say, it is Acha, R. Yirmeyah's uncle.
R. Aba and Acha were brothers.
(Rav Yosef): The greatest of our generation is Ukvan, the son of R. Nechemyah the Reish Galusa - this is Noson d'Tzutzisa (light radiated from his head; he is usually called Mar Ukva);
In a dream. I saw an angel's hand stretched out to accept his Teshuvah.