INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: After Raban Gamliel had appeased Rebbi Yehoshua, Rebbi Yehoshua sent a messenger to notify the members of the Beis Midrash that Raban Gamliel should be reinstated as Nasi. He sent the following message: "The one who wears the mantle [of leadership], shall wear the mantle. Shall the one who does not wear the mantle say to the one who wears the mantle, 'Remove your mantle and I shall wear it!'?" The members of the Beis Midrash did not let the messenger enter.
Rebbi Yehoshua then came himself and gave another parable. "A sprinkler [of the Mei Chatas, i.e. a Kohen], the son of a sprinkler, shall sprinkle. Shall one who is not a sprinkler, nor a son of a sprinkler, say to the sprinkler, 'Your waters [are not acceptable]!'?" They accepted his parable and allowed Raban Gamliel to enter.
Why did the members of the Beis Midrash accept the second parable and not the first?
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains that the first parable was insulting, since it implied that Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah was not deserving of the mantle of leadership and that Raban Gamliel was deserving. The second parable compared the position of leadership to that of a Kohen (a "sprinkler"). Rebbi Yehoshua was saying that just like Rebbi Elazar ben Azaryah is a Kohen and has the exclusive rights to sprinkle due to his priestly lineage, so, too, Raban Gamliel's lineage gives him the right to be the Nasi. This parable was not insulting.
Rebbi Yehoshua's forgiveness of Raban Gamliel also demonstrated his focus on rights which are granted as a result of esteemed lineage. He forgave Raban Gamliel due to the honor of Raban Gamliel's father and not due to Raban Gamliel's personal claim to leadership. (This showed that Raban Gamliel's position was due to him primarily because of his lineage.)
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that Rebbi Nechunya ben Hakanah used to recite a special prayer when he entered the Beis Midrash and when he left. Does the practice to recite such a prayer apply today?
ANSWER: The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos) deduces from the text of the Gemara that this practice indeed applies to us. The Gemara begins, "Upon his entrance [to the Beis Midrash], what prayer does he say?" The Gemara does not say, "Upon his entrance [to the Beis Midrash], what prayer did he used to say?" The Gemara obviously understands that the Mishnah that tells us about Rebbi Nechunya's prayer is not merely describing what one Tana used to do; rather, it is telling us what we are supposed to do.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (OC 110:8) says that one should recite these prayers upon entering and leaving the Beis Midrash. The MISHNAH BERURAH (110:36) cites the words of the Rambam who says that these two prayers are obligatory.
QUESTION: The Gemara describes three reasons why the Chachamim instituted eighteen blessings in the Shemoneh Esreh: (1) to correspond to the eighteen times that the name of Hash-m is mentioned in Tehilim 29; (2) to correspond to the eighteen times that the name of Hash-m is mentioned in the three paragraphs of the Shema; (3) to correspond to the eighteen vertebrae of the spine. Are these three reasons mutually exclusive, or can they be understood as three facets of a united idea?
ANSWER: The SEFER HA'IKARIM (1:5) says that the three main tenets of Jewish belief are that (1) Hash-m created the world; (2) Hash-m gave us the Torah and commanded us to follow the Mitzvos; (3) Hash-m sees and knows all of man's actions and will reward and punish accordingly in the World to Come.
It may be that these three basic tenets are reflected in the Shemoneh Esreh according to the three reasons given for the institution of eighteen blessings by the Chachamim.
The verses of the Shema declare Hash-m as the One and Only Creator. Tehilim 29 describes the giving of the Torah, and represents our belief that Hash-m gave us the Torah.
The spine is the part of the central nervous system that directs every movement that a person makes, which are all watched by Hash-m. Thus, the spine represents our awareness that Hash-m sees all of our actions. In addition, Hash-m will use one vertebra from the spine to rebuild the body at the time of the resurrection. The spine, therefore, also alludes to the belief that Hash-m will reward those who follow His ways. (M. KORNFELD)