INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: Kuntrukus, a Roman officer, questioned Raban Yochanan ben Zakai about Moshe Rabeinu's integrity regarding the amount of silver that he collected from the Machtzis ha'Shekel donations. According to Kuntrukus' calculation, there was a discrepancy in the amount of silver that was collected and the amount that was distributed for the building of the Mishkan. Kuntrukus therefore asked mockingly, "Was Moshe a thief or a Kuvyustus, or did he not know how to add?"
TOSFOS (DH Kuvyustus) cites RASHI in Chulin (91b, DH Kuvyustus) who explains that "Kuvyustus" means "kidnapper."
As Tosfos points out, Moshe Rabeinu's alleged dishonesty was due not to suspected kidnapping, but to suspected embezzlement. Why does Rashi define "Kuvyustus" as "kidnapper"?
(a) TOSFOS in Bava Basra (92b, DH Kuvyustus) justifies Rashi's explanation by explaining that stealing the Machtzis ha'Shekel is comparable to kidnapping, because the Machtzis ha'Shekel was collected as part of the census of the Jewish people, and thus each Machtzis ha'Shekel represented one person.
(b) The SHITAH MEKUBETZES (#5) suggests that when the Roman officer said, "Was Moshe a thief or a Kuvyustus," he was referring to two different discrepancies. When he referred to Moshe as a "thief," he was referring to the Machtzis ha'Shekel funds that were collected. When he referred to Moshe as a "Kuvyustus," he was referring to the apparent discrepancy regarding the number of Leviyim (which, in the preceding lines of the Gemara, the Roman officer questioned). Since he found a discrepancy in the number of Leviyim, he referred to Moshe as a "kidnapper."
(c) The MAHARSHA and others suggest that the Roman officer was asking, "Did Moshe 'kidnap' half of the Jews, such that they were not to be found at the time that the Machtzis ha'Shekel was collected from the rest?"
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes the verse in Yechezkel (45:12): "The Shekel will be twenty Gerah. Twenty Shekels, twenty-five Shekels, and fifteen Shekels will constitute a Maneh for you." The intention of the verse is to add the amounts listed, teaching that there are sixty Shekels in one Maneh.
Why does the verse not say simply, "Sixty Shekels will constitute a Maneh for you"? Why does the verse divide the sum into three parts?
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Esrim) explains that these three parts represent the actual measuring units used in the Beis ha'Mikdash. "Twenty Shekels" was used as a measure for a third of a Maneh of Kodesh. "Twenty-five Shekels" was used to measure one plain (non-Kodesh) Maneh. "Fifteen Shekels" measured one quarter of a Maneh of Kodesh.