INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that David ha'Melech conferred with his Rebbi, Mefiboshes, after every Halachic ruling. This is why his Rebbi was called "Mefiboshes," because he would shame ("Mevayesh") David ha'Melech in Halachah by correcting him. In reward for his humility, David ha'Melech merited to have a son who disgraced Mefiboshes in Halachah. This son was called "Kil'av," because he disgraced ("Machlim") the father ("Av") of Halachic ruling, Mefiboshes.
Why is the word "shame" ("Bushah/Mevayesh") used in reference to Mefiboshes and David ha'Melech, and the word "disgrace" ("Kelimah/Machlim") used in reference to Kil'av and Mefiboshes?
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON, MALBIM, and others point out that "Bushah" is the shame that one causes himself, through his own words or actions. "Kelimah" is the disgrace that is caused by others. They base this on a number of verses. For example, the verse in Yechezkel (16:63) says, "In order that you remember and be ashamed (va'Vosht), and never again open your mouth because of your disgrace (Kelimasech)." The verse in Yirmeyahu (3:25) says, "Let us lie down in our shame (bi'Vashteinu) and let our disgrace (Kelimaseinu) cover us (from the outside), because we have sinned against Hash-m our G-d...."
David ha'Melech caused himself to be shamed by going on his own initiative to Mefiboshes to have his Halachic rulings scrutinized. Therefore, the Gemara uses the word "Mevayesh," and hence the name "Mefiboshes." Kil'av, though, would correct Mefiboshes when he heard Mefiboshes make a mistake. Mefiboshes did not ask to be corrected. Hence, the word "Machlim" is used, and David ha'Melech's son was called "Kil'av."
QUESTION: Yakov Avinu was promised that Hash-m would protect him. However, he was still afraid that harm might befall him as a result of a sin he might have committed, which would forfeit Hash-m's promise to him. This implies that a person's sins can bring about the cancellation of a Divine promise.
The RAMBAM (in his Introduction to his commentary on the Mishnah) questions this supposition with an explicit verse in the Torah. "When a prophet says something in the name of Hash-m and it does not take place nor come about, Hash-m did not speak that prophecy" (Devarim 18:22). A prophecy must come true, especially if it is a prophecy of good tidings (see also Hilchos Yesodei ha'Torah 10:4). If the word of Hash-m can be retracted as a result of a person's sins, as Yakov thought, then how can one know that a prophet is false if his prophecy does not come true? Perhaps he is indeed a genuine prophet, but his prophecy was rescinded!
(a) The Rambam explains that, logically, if someone was promised something through a prophecy and he sins, it should be retracted. The only reason it is not retracted is in order to show that the prophet who related the prophecy is a true prophet. It follows that a prophecy will not be retracted when it is given to a prophet to relate to someone else. However, when Hash-m speaks directly to a prophet and promises him personal reward, there is no need for the prophecy to be irrevocable, for if as a result of his sins the prophecy does not occur, doubt will not be cast on his legitimacy. The prophet alone sees the prophecy retracted and he himself knows that he is a true prophet. Since Yakov's promise of protection was issued privately by Hash-m Himself, the promise was indeed subject to cancellation should Yakov's piety be found lacking.
(b) The MAHARAL (Gevuros Hash-m 7) explains that there is a difference between a prophecy that is a promise of reward or punishment for one's righteousness, and an unconditional foretelling of a future event. A promise of reward or punishment can change, depending on the deeds of the person. An unconditional report of a future event, though, cannot change. The prophecy to Yakov was a promise of reward, and therefore he indeed had grounds to fear that it could be rescinded. The verse that says that a prophet is genuine only if his prophecy actually occurs is referring to an unconditional foretelling of a future event. This cannot be rescinded, and therefore it is an accurate assessment of the legitimacy of the prophet.
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan says that one who recites Shemoneh Esreh immediately after he recites the passage which praises Hash-m for the redemption from Egypt is assured that he will be worthy of a share in the World to Come.
Why does one deserve such a lofty reward for the simple act of praying in the proper order?
ANSWER: Two explanations are given by TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH. Both explanations assume that it is not simply following the order of the prayers that earns one a share in Olam ha'Ba. One will achieve this lofty level only if he follows the mention of the redemption with the Shemoneh Esreh prayer for the proper reasons. If one continues and conducts himself throughout the day in accordance with the principles inherent in the reasons for the connection between the account of the Exodus and the Shemoneh Esreh, he will be worthy of the World to Come.
(a) In Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah's first approach, the principal lesson learned from the Exodus is that we are Hash-m's servants. Hash-m redeemed us from Egypt so that we will serve Him (Vayikra 25:42). The Gemara in Bava Kama (92b) says, "What is meant by the verse, 'And you shall serve Hash-m your G-d' (Shemos 23:25)? This refers to the Amidah prayer" (Bava Kama 92b).
This is the connection between the redemption from Egypt and the Shemoneh Esreh. A person who learns the lesson taught to us by the Exodus (that he is a servant of Hash-m) and immediately puts this lesson into practice (by serving Hash-m in the form of prayer) internalizes a very important lesson. Such a person -- who recognizes that he is a servant of Hash-m -- eagerly performs all of Hash-m's commandments. He certainly is worthy of a share in the World to Come.
(b) According to Talmidei Rabeinu Yonah's second explanation, the most significant element in the Exodus was the Jews' trust in Hash-m. As a result of their trust in Hash-m, they were saved from Egypt in an extraordinary manner. When a person mentions the Exodus from Egypt, he acknowledges the reward for those who put their trust in their Creator. Prayer demonstrates a person's trust in Hash-m. As Rabeinu Yonah puts it, "One who does not trust in Him will not request anything of Him." When one prays immediately after he mentions the Exodus from Egypt, he shows that he has learned from the experience of his ancestors. He, too, places his trust in Hash-m.
This is the message of the Gemara. If a person recites Shemoneh Esreh after he mentions the redemption from Egypt because he has learned to trust in Hash-m, his reliance on his Creator will certainly guide him through all of life's trials and tribulations and lead him to Olam ha'Ba.