1) THE REIGN OF SHMUEL
OPINIONS: The Gemara (14b) quotes the verse that relates that "at the end of forty years" Avshalom rebelled. Rebbi Nehora'i in the name of Rebbi Yehoshua says that these "forty years" refer to the forty years from the time that the Jewish people asked Shmuel to anoint a king for them.
How are these forty years -- years from the time that the people asked for a king until Avshalom's rebellion -- calculated?
(a) The version of the Beraisa found in our texts says that Shmuel himself ruled for ten years, and then he ruled together with Shaul for one year. For the next two years, Shaul ruled as king by himself. David served as king for the next thirty-seven years until the rebellion of Avshalom. Since the Jewish people asked for an "ordinary" king the year before Shmuel shared power with Shaul, the rebellion of Avshalom is reckoned to have occurred forty years after they asked for a king.
What is the source for the Beraisa's statement that Shmuel ruled with Shaul for one year, and afterwards Shaul ruled alone for two years?
The HAGAHOS HA'GRA explains that the source is the verse, "Shaul was one year old when he became king (Ben Shanah Shaul b'Malcho), and for two years he ruled over Yerushalayim" (Shmuel I 13:1). It is obvious that the verse does not mean that Shmuel was one year old when he ascended the throne. What does the verse mean? The Vilna Ga'on explains that the meaning of the verse is exactly what is stated in the Beraisa. The verse is saying that Shaul had already ruled for one year, together with Shmuel, before he ruled independently for two years. (See also Insights to Sanhedrin 14:2.)
(b) Another version of the Beraisa (see RASHI DH Eser) relates that Shmuel ruled for eleven years by himself, and then he ruled together with Shaul for the two years of Shaul's reign, until David became king.
What is the source for this statement?
The YAD BINYAMIN explains that this version of the Beraisa is based on a different verse (Shmuel I 7:15) which states, "And Shmuel judged the Jewish people all of the days of his life." The verse implies that Shmuel's role of leadership, which is compared to that of a king, lasted for all of the remaining years of his life.
The Yad Binyamin points out that this verse does not contradict the first version of the Beraisa, because that version may interpret the verse to mean simply that Shmuel served as a Shofet (judge) for the rest of his life, and not that he was the ruler for the rest of his life. (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE "TZIBUR" DOES NOT DIE
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (15a), Rebbi Yehudah argues with the Tana Kama and maintains that when a Chatas Tzibur was lost and another Chatas was offered in its place, and then the first Chatas was found, it must be left to die.
The Gemara questions Rebbi Yehudah's opinion from a Beraisa in which Rebbi Yosi says that the Chatas that the people brought in the times of Ezra (as mentioned in Ezra 8:35) was a Chatas Tzibur to atone for the sin of Avodah Zarah that their ancestors committed (in the times of Tzidkiyahu, at the end of the period of the first Beis ha'Mikdash). The generation of people who committed the sin had already died, and yet their descendants offered a Chatas for their sins! According to Rebbi Yehudah, why were they permitted to bring a Chatas for sinners who had already died? (The Gemara assumes that just as Rebbi Yehudah maintains that a "Chatas Tzibur she'Kipru Ba'aleha" (a Chatas whose owner has already attained atonement from another Chatas) must be left to die, a "Chatas Tzibur she'Mesu Ba'aleha" (a Chatas whose owner has died) is not offered as a Korban but must be left to die.)
The Gemara suggests two answers. The Gemara quotes Rav Papa who answers that even Rebbi Yehudah agrees that a "Chatas Tzibur she'Mesu Ba'aleha" is not left to die, because "Ein ha'Tzibur Mesim" -- the community does not die. The Chata'os were brought on behalf of the Tzibur, and the Tzibur was still alive.
In its second answer, the Gemara explains that the Chata'os that were offered in the times of Ezra were offered on behalf of those people from the generation of the Babylonian exile who were still alive and needed Kaparah for their sins.
This Sugya also appears in the Gemara in Horayos (6a), with some slight differences. One difference is that instead of giving two answers, the Gemara combines the two answers into one answer. It says that even though a Tzibur does not die, a Korban may not be brought on behalf of such a Tzibur. Nevertheless, since the Korban in the times of Ezra was being brought on behalf of those sinners who were still living, it was able to atone for all of the members of the Tzibur who had sinned, even for those who had died.
What is the basis for this difference between the two Gemaras?
ANSWER: The principle of "Ein ha'Tzibur Mesim" may mean one of two things. It may mean that every Tzibur that has ever existed in the history of the Jewish people is considered one large Tzibur to which every new generation adds, and it is this Tzibur that exists forever and cannot die. Alternatively, it may mean that every generation comprises a Tzibur in and of itself; consequently, there have been many Tziburs throughout the history of the Jewish people. Nevertheless, it is not possible for a Tzibur to die, because each one evolves and changes to become a new and different Tzibur; the Tzibur changes but does not die.
It seems that the Gemara here maintains that every Tzibur in the history of the Jewish people is part of one large Tzibur that cannot die. Therefore, it was possible for the people in the times of Ezra to atone for the sins of the members of the Tzibur who had died during the time of the Babylonian exile, because the Tzibur itself did not die.
In contrast, the Gemara in Horayos maintains that every generation is a Tzibur in and of itself, and therefore a new Tzibur cannot bring a Korban for an old Tzibur that has already vanished completely. (Even though the old Tzibur did not die per se, since it has changed completely the new and different Tzibur should not be able to atone for it.) Therefore, the Gemara in Horayos says that only when the Korban achieves atonement for people who are still living does it also achieve atonement for the Tzibur of the past generation. (M. KORNFELD)
3) "HORA'AS SHA'AH HAYESAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara attempts to prove that "Ein ha'Tzibur Mesim" -- a communal body does not die -- from the fact that Chata'os Tzibur were brought by those who returned from the Babylonian exile together with Ezra in order to atone for the sin of Avodah Zarah that the Jewish people committed at the time of the first Beis ha'Mikdash, during the reign of Tzidkiyahu.
The Gemara questions this proof. A Chatas is brought only for an unintentional sin, but the people in the times of Tzidkiyahu committed the sin of Avodah Zarah intentionally! The Gemara answers that the bringing of Korbanos in the times of Ezra was a "Hora'as Sha'ah," a special enactment that applied only to that time.
If the bringing of Korbanos in the times of Ezra was a Hora'as Sha'ah, then how can the Gemara prove from there the rule of "Ein ha'Tzibur Mesim"? Even if a Tzibur can die, Ezra was able to bring Korbanos for the deceased Tzibur because of a Hora'as Sha'ah!
ANSWER: TOSFOS in Horayos (6a) explains that, indeed, now that the Gemara suggests that these Korbanos were a Hora'as Sha'ah, the Gemara has no proof from these Korbanos that "Ein ha'Tzibur Mesim."
4) AN "ESHKOL"
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Sotah (47a) that states that when Yosef ben Yoezer and Yosef ben Yochanan died, there were no longer any "Eshkolos." What is an Eshkol? Rav Yehudah explains that this word is an acronym for the words, "Ish sheha'Kol Bo" -- "a man who has everything in him." Rav Yehudah adds that all of the "Eshkolos" that lived from the time of Moshe Rabeinu to that of Yosef ben Yoezer learned Torah like Moshe Rabeinu.
What does Rav Yehudah mean when he says that the people who were called "Eshkolos" had "everything" in them?
(a) RASHI (DH sheha'Kol Bo) explains that "everything" refers to the three qualities of Torah, Yir'as Chet, and Gemilus Chasadim.
The SHITAH MEKUBETZES has difficulty with this explanation. There were leaders, after Moshe Rabeinu and before Yosef ben Yoezer, who were not full of Yir'as Chet. The Gemara in Bava Basra (15b) quotes Rebbi Yochanan who derives from the verse, "And it was in the days that the judges judged" (Ruth 1:1), that in the times of the Shoftim, the people had to judge their own judges. When a judge would tell someone that he had acted incorrectly, the defendant would respond that the judge himself did even worse. It is clear from Rebbi Yochanan's teaching that it was a generation whose judges were corrupt. How, then, can Rashi say that all of the leaders of the Jewish people were full of Yir'as Chet?
The MELECHES CHOSHEV does not understand the question of the Shitah Mekubetzes on Rashi's explanation. The Gemara does not say that the Shoftim were Eshkolos. It says merely that all of the Eshkolos learned Torah like Moshe Rabeinu.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES explains that "Eshkol" means only that they had one characteristic: they learned Torah as Moshe Rabeinu did.
It is interesting to note that Rashi in Sotah (47b, DH sheha'Kol Bo) seems to explain like the Shitah Mekubetzes when he defines "Eshkol" as "true Torah [knowledge] without impurity, forgetting, and argument." He makes no mention of Yir'as Chet and Gemilus Chasadim.
The TEMURAS TODAH explains that there actually is no argument about the meaning of "Eshkol." Everyone agrees that "Eshkol" refers to someone who has excelled in Torah learning, as the Shitah Mekubetzes says here and as Rashi says in Sotah. Rashi here is explaining "Eshkol" according to the Gemara's initial assumption. The Gemara's assumption is apparent from its question from the story involving Rebbi Yehudah ben Bava (or Rebbi Yehudah ben Ila'i). The Beraisa states that all of the Eshkolos from Moshe Rabeinu until Yosef ben Yoezer had no impurities. The Gemara asks that since Rebbi Yehudah ben Bava (or ben Ila'i) never committed a sin, how can one say that there were no Eshkolos after Yosef ben Yoezer, who lived many years earlier? The Gemara answers that the Beraisa is not referring to impurities of sin, but rather to impurities of being uncertain in Torah matters and having a doubt or an argument about a Halachah. According to the Gemara's answer, Rashi agrees that the term "Eshkol" connotes only pure Torah knowledge, like that of Moshe Rabeinu. (It seems that the Meleches Choshev's defense of Rashi is still necessary, because the Gemara, even in its Havah Amina, would not have suggested something illogical.) (Y. MONTROSE)