1) AN ADDITIONAL ENACTMENT OF EZRA
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which relates the ten enactments that Ezra made. The Gemara in Megilah (21b), however, mentions another enactment that is not mentioned here. The Beraisa there quotes Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar who states that Ezra enacted that the Jewish people read the Kelalos (curses) in Toras Kohanim (Parshas Bechukosai) before Shavuos, and the Kelalos in Mishnah Torah (Parshas Ki Savo) before Rosh Hashanah. Why does the Beraisa here not mention this enactment?
(a) The RASHASH here answers that it is only the view of Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar that Ezra enacted that the Kelalos be read before Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah. The Beraisa here expresses the view of the Rabanan who disagree and maintain that Ezra did not make that enactment.
(b) The TOSFOS RID (Mahadura Kama) in Megilah answers that all of the enactments related to Keri'as ha'Torah are included in Ezra's enactment that the Torah be read in public on Mondays and Thursdays.
This answer is difficult to understand, because the Beraisa here also mentions a separate enactment to read the Torah on Shabbos at Minchah. According to the Tosfos Rid, this enactment should not have been mentioned independently, but it should have been included in the enactment to read the Torah on Mondays and Thursdays.
(c) A deeper understanding of the enactment mentioned in Megilah may provide an answer to this question. When the Beraisa there teaches that Ezra enacted that the Kelalos be read before Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah, it does not mean that Ezra enacted that the people must go out of their way to read the curses when Rosh Hashanah approaches. Rather, he enacted that in the course of the weekly readings, the Jewish people should not read the curses shortly after the start of a new year, because starting a year with curses is a bad sign. Ezra proposed that when the reading of the curses in the weekly reading coincides with Rosh Hashanah, the people should be careful to advance the reading of the curses to the Shabbos before the new year.
That is, Ezra's enactment was a preventative enactment (avoid reading the curses at the start of the new year) rather than an active one (specifically read the curses at the end of the year).
All of the other enactments which Ezra made, as listed in the Gemara here, were active ones, decrees to do something and not to avoid doing something. For that reason, the Gemara here does not mention the enactment of reading the Kelalos before Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah!
(See Insights to Megilah 31:4 for other important questions that this approach answers.)
2) EZRA'S ENACTMENT THAT A WOMAN COMB HER HAIR PRIOR TO IMMERSION
QUESTION: One of the ten enactments which Ezra made was that a woman must comb her hair prior to her immersion in a Mikvah. Why did he enact this requirement only for a woman, and not for a man who immerses (to become Tahor to handle Taharos, or to eat Kodshim, or to eat Terumah if he is a Kohen)?
(a) The SEFER HA'TERUMAH (Rabeinu Baruch) answers (in Hilchos Nidah) that since a man frequently immerses in a Mikvah because he eats Terumah and Kodshim often, it is unlikely that there will be any intervening substance on his body. Therefore, he is not required to comb his hair or body. He proves this from the Yerushalmi in Pesachim (4:7) which says that the daughter of a Kohen may immerse without combing her hair, because she frequently immerses herself in order to eat Terumah and Kodshim. The same logic applies to a man.
The CHESHEK SHLOMO questions this proof from the Yerushalmi. The Yerushalmi refers specifically to Kohanim who frequently immerse to eat Kodshim and Terumah. Non-Kohanim, who immerse only in order to eat Kodshim, are not accustomed to immersing so often, and therefore the logic of the Yerushalmi should not apply to men who are not Kohanim. Furthermore, if the reason why men do not have to comb before immersing is that they eat Kodshim and thus immerse frequently enough that there is no intervening substance on their bodies, then women also should not have to comb for the same reason, since they, too, eat Kodshim.
(b) The CHESHEK SHLOMO explains that the purpose of the enactment to comb the hair is not the concern that most of the hairs are dirty and tangled, since that is very uncommon. Rather, the requirement to comb is because of the few hairs that are dirty and tangled. An ordinary man is not conscientious about a few hairs being dirty or tangled (and thus it is a "Mi'ut v'Eino Makpid"). In contrast, an ordinary woman is conscientious about even just a few hairs (and thus it is a "Mi'ut v'Makpid"). Therefore, a woman must comb her hair before she immerses because of the few hairs that might be dirty and tangled. (The Cheshek Shlomo cites proof for his logic from the Mishnah in Mikva'os 9:3.)
(c) The Cheshek Shlomo suggests further that perhaps at the time that Ezra made this enactment, the second Beis ha'Mikdash had not yet been built and the Jews had not yet returned from Bavel. Hence, they were neither involved in handling Taharos nor were they eating Kodshim, and thus the men were not immersing for those purposes. Since only the women were immersing at that time (in order to become permitted to be with their husbands), Ezra's enactment was directed only towards the women.
(d) The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 4:8) gives a beautiful explanation which answers this question and many others. He points out that none of Ezra's enactments which the Gemara here mentions were made for the usual purpose for which enactments are made -- as safeguards to a law in the Torah. Rather, all of Ezra's enactments were made for the benefit of the continuity of the nation and for the welfare of family life and marital contentment. Indeed, the prophet Malachi (who, according to Rav Nachman in Megilah, was Ezra) rebuked the people about their deficiency in these areas.
For this purpose, Ezra enacted that the cities allow spice-peddlers to roam freely so that the wives will be able to buy perfumes to make themselves more attractive to their husbands. He enacted that the women comb themselves before immersing so that there be no unpleasant substance on their bodies when they are with their husbands (as was the case with Pilegesh b'Giv'ah as described in Gitin 6b, and with Tamar as described in Sanhedrin 21a).
All of his other enactments were also for the sake of increasing marital harmony. He enacted that the clothes be laundered on Thursdays, and that people eat garlic on Erev Shabbos. He enacted Tevilah for a Ba'al Keri so that men would refrain from overindulging in marital relations, so that their wives would be more beloved to them.
When the Gemara asks that the requirement to comb before immersion is not an enactment of Ezra but is a Halachah d'Oraisa, it means that although it was an enactment it was not for the sake of marital harmony but for the sake of safeguarding a Halachah d'Oraisa. The Gemara answers that although examining for intervening substances indeed is part of the Halachah d'Oraisa, combing is for the sake of beautifying herself so that her husband's fondness for her grows.
Accordingly, it is clear why the Beraisa does not say that Ezra enacted that men should comb before immersing. Such an enactment would be to ensure that the Halachah d'Oraisa of Tevilah is done properly, and not to increase the degree of marital harmony among the nation, the purpose of Ezra's decrees.
3) THE CONSEQUENCE OF STUDYING "CHOCHMAS YEVANIS"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara records the incident that prompted the decree that pigs may not be raised in Eretz Yisrael, and the decree that a father may not teach his son Chochmas Yevanis. During the civil war between Aristobulus and Hyrkanus (near the end of the period of the second Beis ha'Mikdash; see Background to the Daf), when the men of Hyrkanus laid siege to Yerushalayim, the Korbanos continued to be offered in the Beis ha'Mikdash. Every day, the people inside the city, behind the city's wall, would lower down some money, and the people outside the city would send up the animals for the Korban Tamid. An elderly man -- who knew Chochmas Yevanis -- divulged to the besieging army that as long as Korbanos were being offered, Yerushalayim would not fall. The next day, instead of sending up proper animals for the Korban, the besieging army sent up a pig. The entire land of Eretz Yisrael trembled. The Gemara says that at that time, the Chachamim decreed, "Cursed is the man (Arur ha'Ish) who raises pigs, and cursed is the man (Arur ha'Adam) who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis."
(a) It is clear that the besieging army sent up a pig as a result of someone who had taught his son Chochmas Yevanis. Why did the Chachamim reverse the order in their decree? They should have said first, "Cursed is the man who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis," and then, "Cursed is the man who raises pigs"!
(b) Why did the Chachamim proclaim, "Cursed is the Ish" with regard to one who raises pigs, but they proclaimed, "Cursed is the Adam" with regard to one who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis?
(a) The BEN YEHOYADA answers that at the moment the pig was lifted up and the land of Eretz Yisrael trembled, it was not known that the cause was that Chochmas Yevanis had been taught. The Chachamim immediately proclaimed a curse on whoever raises pigs. Later, they discovered that it happened as a result of someone who had learned Chochmas Yevanis, and thus they cursed the one who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis. (This is why the Gemara emphasizes, "At that moment, they said..." ("b'Osah Sha'ah") -- meaning that they made their proclamation immediately when the calamity occurred.)
(b) The Ben Yehoyada answers that the difference between "Ish" and "Adam" is that "Adam" refers to a more refined, important, and wise person, and hence it was more appropriate for the Chachamim to refer to an "Adam" when they prohibited the teaching of Chochmas Yevanis, since only a wise person would be involved in such a pursuit. "Ish" refers to a less-refined person, and thus it was appropriate for the Chachamim to refer to an "Ish" when they prohibited the raising of pigs. (Others, however, describe the difference between "Adam" and "Ish" differently; see Maharsha in Chidushei Agados, end of Bava Basra 164b.)