1) AGADAH: COMPARING TZADIKIM TO BARLEY
QUESTION: The Gemara expounds the verse, "And I bought her for me for fifteen pieces of silver and for a Chomer of barley and for a Lesech of barley" (Hoshea 3:2). Rebbi Yochanan in the name of Rebbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak says that the number "fifteen" alludes to the fifteenth day of Nisan, the day on which the Jewish people were redeemed from Mitzrayim. The "silver" refers to Tzadikim, as the verse in Mishlei (7:20) says. A "Chomer" is equal to thirty Se'ah, and a "Lesech" is equal to fifteen Se'ah, for a total of forty-five. These forty-five Se'ah of barley allude to the forty-five Tzadikim in whose merit the world endures.
Why, though, does the verse first refer to Tzadikim as "silver," and then refer to them as "barley"?
ANSWER: The MAHARSHA explains that when the Jewish people fulfill the will of Hash-m, they are referred to as silver, but when they do not fulfill the will of Hash-m, they are referred to as "Sig," or dross, the waste material found in metal (see Yeshayah 1:25). Similarly, Tzadikim who fulfill the will of Hash-m are considered pure like unadulterated silver, as the verse in Mishlei (10:20) expresses, "The tongue of the Tzadik is choice silver, but the heart of Resha'im is almost worthless." The tongue of the Tzadik is pure with no waste material. The Tzadik does whatever he says, never failing to carry out his word. The Resha'im, in contrast, do not speak with their mouths what they think in their hearts, and their words are mostly waste, containing very little value.
This concept is expressed in the verse that describes how Hash-m took the Jewish people "from the smelting furnace, from Mitzrayim" (Devarim 4:20). In Mitzrayim, Hash-m purified the Jewish people as silver is purified in the furnace, until, by the arrival of the time of redemption on the fifteenth of Nisan, they had become totally purified through the Mitzvos of Bris Milah and Korban Pesach.
The Tzadikim at the time of the redemption are compared to silver. During the subsequent exiles, however, when they are scattered throughout the world, they are compared to barley seeds that are scattered by the wind.
The Maharsha explains, based on the Gemara in Pesachim (87b), that Hash-m sent the Jewish people into Galus among the nations only so that righteous converts should join them. This is derived from the verse, "I have sown her for Me in the land" (Hoshea 2:25). Just as a farmer sows a Se'ah of seeds in the ground so that he should reap a crop of several Kor of produce, Hash-m sows the Tzadikim like seeds around the world.
The Gemara in Sanhedrin (93b) also compares Tzadikim to barley. The Gemara there derives from a verse that Boaz gave to Ruth six kernels of barley. The Gemara explains that these six kernels of barley alluded to the progeny that she was destined to bear -- six righteous descendants who would each be blessed with six unique qualities: David, Mashi'ach, Daniel, Chananyah, Misha'el, and Azaryah (see Insights to Sanhedrin 93:2
). The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM
there explains that barley is an allusion to the exceptionally righteous, as mentioned here in Chulin (and as cited by Rashi to Sanhedrin 96b, DH Kesef; see also Berachos 57a, where the Gemara says that seeing barley, or "Se'orim," in a dream is a sign that one is free of sin ("Saru Avonosav")).
The Gemara here says that the forty-five Tzadikim in whose merit the world endures are divided between Bavel and Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara derives from the verse in Zecharyah (11:13), "And I took the thirty silver coins and I threw it into the house of Hash-m," that thirty of these Tzadikim are in Eretz Yisrael. These Tzadikim are like pure silver because they never had to be scattered in exile. (D. BLOOM)
2) THE THREE BRANCHES OF THE VINE
QUESTION: The Gemara records seven interpretations of the verse which describes the dream of Pharaoh's wine steward, "And on the vine there were three branches, and it was as though it was blooming; its buds formed and its clusters ripened into grapes" (Bereishis 40:10). The Gemara concludes with Rebbi Yirmeyah bar Aba's interpretation.
Rebbi Yirmeyah bar Aba explains that "the vine" refers to the Jewish people, who are compared to a vine in the verse, "You caused a grapevine to travel out of Mitzrayim" (Tehilim 80:9).
The "three branches" refer to the Shalosh Regalim, the three festivals during which all of the Jews go up to the Beis ha'Mikdash in Yerushalayim.
The words, "it was blooming," refer to the time that had arrived for the Jews to become fruitful and multiply, increasing dramatically in number.
"Its buds formed" refer to the time that had arrived for the Jews to be redeemed from Mitzrayim.
"Its clusters ripened into grapes" refer to the time that had arrived for the Egyptians to drink from the "cup of wrath."
Rebbi Yirmeyah bar Aba clearly relates the steward's dream -- which ultimately enabled Yosef to be released from prison and be promoted to the second highest rank in the country -- to the future release of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Yosef's freedom symbolized the future redemption of the Jewish people. Accordingly, every detail of Rebbi Yirmeyah bar Aba's Derashah fits this theme perfectly, except for the mention of the Shalosh Regalim. In what way do the Shalosh Regalim relate to the theme of redemption and freedom from bondage?
ANSWER: Rebbi Yirmeyah bar Aba understands that in the merit of the pilgrimages that the Jews would undertake at each of the Shalosh Regalim, they were redeemed from Mitzrayim and brought to Eretz Yisrael. During these three festivals, the Jews leave their homes unprotected, displaying absolute faith and trust in Hash-m (Pesachim 8b). It was the same display of loving trust that gave the Jews the courage to "follow Me into the wilderness, into an untilled land" (Yirmeyahu 2:2) when they left Mitzrayim. This is why the verse alludes to the Shalosh Regalim when it discusses the redemption from Mitzrayim.
A similar idea is expressed by RASHI (to Bamidbar 22:28), who explains that when Bil'am tried to stop the Jews from entering Israel, it was the merit of the Shalosh Regalim that protected them from his evil design. (M. KORNFELD)
3) THE THIRTY MITZVOS OF A BEN NOACH
The Gemara quotes Ula who says that the verse, "And I took the thirty silver coins and I threw it into the house of Hash-m, to the treasurer" (Zecharyah 11:13), refers to the thirty Mitzvos that Bnei Noach accepted upon themselves. As RASHI (DH Sheloshim) mentions, these Mitzvos are not discussed anywhere in the Gemara.
A number of commentators offer suggestions to identify these thirty Mitzvos. All of the opinions follow the general assumption that the thirty Mitzvos are subdivisions of the seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach.
The RAMA MI'PANO in ASARAH MA'AMAROS (Ma'amar Chikur ha'Din 3:21) enumerates the thirty Mitzvos as follows (the first Mitzvah in each group represents the category of the seven Mitzvos of Bnei Noach).
1. AVODAH ZARAH (not to worship idols or practice idolatry in any form)
2. Ma'avir ba'Esh
7. Chover Chaver
10. Doresh El ha'Mesim
11. GILUY ARAYOS (not to engage in illicit or incestuous relationships)
14. Ba Al ha'Zachor
15. Kil'ei Behemah
17. Harkavas ha'Ilan
18. SHEFICHUS DAMIM (not to murder)
19. Soter Lo'o Shel Yisrael
20. BIRKAS HASH-M (not to curse Hash-m)
21. Kavod ha'Torah
22. La'Asok ba'Torah she'Nitnah Lahem
23. GEZEL (not to steal)
24. Lo la'Asok ba'Torah Shel Yisrael
25. DINIM (appointing courts and judges to keep law and order)
26. Lo Yishbosu
27. EVER MIN HA'CHAI (not to eat a limb detached from a live animal)
28. Dam Min ha'Chai
30. Basar ha'Mes
4) HALACHAH: "KENOKENOS"
QUESTION: Rav Yitzchak bar Shmuel bar Marta says that the Torah forbids only the small branches ("Kenokenos") of the Gid ha'Nasheh which are soft and have a taste, but not the actual Gid ha'Nasheh itself, which is hard and has no taste. Ula argues and says that even though the Gid ha'Nasheh itself is like wood and has no taste, the Torah forbids one from eating it. Abaye rules in accordance with Ula.
Does Ula agree that the Kenokenos are prohibited, or does he argue that only the Gid ha'Nasheh itself is prohibited, while the small branches of the Gid ha'Nasheh are permitted?
ANSWER: TOSFOS (DH Kevasei) explains that Ula maintains that the Kenokenos are permitted mid'Oraisa, but they are prohibited mid'Rabanan.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 65:8) rules that there are two Gidim -- the inner Gid, which is prohibited mid'Oraisa, and the outer Gid, which is prohibited mid'Rabanan. The Kenokenos of both the inner and outer Gidim are prohibited mid'Rabanan and must be removed entirely. (Z. Wainstein)
5) HALACHAH: "LOBEN KULYA" -- THE FAT IN THE GROOVE OF THE KIDNEY
OPINIONS: Rebbi and Rebbi Chiya argue about whether the Chelev in the groove of the kidney is forbidden. The Gemara relates that Rabah and Rebbi Yochanan would dig all of it out, while Rebbi Asi would remove only the part that covers the kidney (the Chelev above the surface of the kidney), but he would eat the part that spreads within the kidney. Abaye rules in accordance with Rebbi Asi, because Shmuel taught that only the Chelev that covers the flesh is prohibited, but not Chelev that is covered by the flesh, as the verse, "[Chelev] Al ha'Kesalim" (Vayikra 3:10), implies.
What is the Halachah with regard to the Chelev below the surface of the kidneys?
(a) RASHI (93a, DH Chelev) rules that Chelev covered by flesh is permitted, except in the case of the kidney. In the case of the Chelev of the kidney, Rashi rules that one should not eat the Chelev below the surface of the kidneys because the issue is not resolved conclusively in the Gemara. Why, though, should one be stringent in the case of the kidney, when Chelev that is covered by other flesh is permitted?
The RASHBA explains that the Chelev below the surface of the kidneys is prohibited because the entire kidneys themselves were offered as part of the Korban. Chelev covered by flesh is permitted only when such flesh was not burned on the Mizbe'ach when offering a Korban.
(b) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Ma'achalos Asuros 7:7) rules that Chelev covered by flesh is permitted because of the verse "she'Al ha'Kesalim." The Chelev below the surface of the kidney is permitted for this reason as well.
TOSFOS (DH Amar Abaye) explains that the Halachah actually depends on the Girsa of one word in the Gemara. It depends on whether the one who extracted the Chelev from the inside of the kidney was Rabah or Rava. If it was Rabah, then the Halachah follows the ruling of Abaye, as it does in most cases when Abaye and Rabah disagree. If, however, the correct Girsa in the Gemara is "Rava," then the Halachah does not follow Abaye when Rava disagrees.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 64:12) records both opinions. The REMA adds that when one did not extract the Chelev from inside the kidney and he cooked it in that state, everyone agrees that it may be eaten b'Di'eved. The VILNA GA'ON (YD 64:22) explains, based on the RAN, that the reason for this is that the stringent opinion (of Rashi) is only a Chumra. (Z. Wainstein)