QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi was upset with Rebbi Chiya for disobeying his enactment. When Rebbi Chiya became aware that Rebbi was upset with him, he conducted himself in the manner of a person who observes "Nezifah," and he did not appear before Rebbi for thirty days.
On the thirtieth day, Rebbi sent a message to Rebbi Chiya and told him they he may now appear before him in the Beis Midrash. Rebbi then changed his mind and sent another message saying that Rebbi Chiya should not return yet. The Gemara explains that Rebbi sent his original message based on the assumption that the thirty-day period of Nezifah had concluded because of the principle of "Miktzas ha'Yom k'Kulo," a part of a day is considered like a full day. He then decided that the principle of "Miktzas ha'Yom k'Kulo" does not apply in such a case.
Rebbi Chiya observed the stringencies of Nezifah because Rebbi was upset with him. If Rebbi forgave Rebbi Chiya and invited him to return to the Beis Midrash, what difference did it make if the principle of "Miktzas ha'Yom k'Kulo" applies or not? He should have sent a message to Rebbi Chiya saying simply that he pardoned him; the Nezifah would have ended immediately with the pardon. This question is particularly strong according to the Rishonim who rule that even when a person is placed in Niduy for offending the honor of a Talmid Chacham, the Niduy does not need to last for thirty days if the Talmid Chacham forgives the person. Likewise, the Nezifah certainly should be removed when the Talmid Chacham forgives the person before thirty days have passed.
(a) The ROSH (3:7) quotes the RA'AVAD who answers that since Niduy is so severe, the Chachamim permitted a person to end it early. Nezifah, in contrast, is a much milder form of punishment, and therefore the Chachamim did not grant the option to end it early.
The Ra'avad analyzes the nature of Nezifah and why it is considered milder than Niduy. He concludes that while Niduy is a punishment, Nezifah is not inherently a punitive act but rather an expression of a degree of shame, as the verse says, "... would she not be humiliated..." (Bamidbar 12:14). A person in Nezifah must stay secluded in his home, he may not show his face to the person he slighted, he may not talk a lot or act in a jovial manner, he must limit his business dealings, and he must stay isolated from people in general -- all in order to show how distressed he feels about what he did.
The Ra'avad adds that while Niduy must be formally annulled by Beis Din after its thirty-day period has passed, Nezifah is different and does not need formal annulment. Rather, it ends automatically after thirty days. The very fact that the person acts ashamed and rejected in accordance with the requirements of Nezifah is what attains forgiveness for him, and he needs to do nothing else in order to attain forgiveness.
QUESTIONS: The verse records the "last words" of David ha'Melech. The Gemara asks what the words which preceded the last words were. Finally, it concludes that the first words were the words of the Shirah which David ha'Melech sang, as recorded in the previous chapter. The Gemara continues with a discussion of the Shirah and describes Hash-m's reprimand to David ha'Melech for singing Shirah at the downfall of his enemy, Shaul (who was also a Tzadik).
Why does the Gemara ask what David ha'Melech said before his last words? It should be obvious that he spoke the words that are recorded in the preceding chapter. Moreover, David ha'Melech spoke many words in supplication to Hash-m, as recorded in the Book of Tehilim. Why does the Gemara focus specifically on the words which he said before his last words?
Also, why does the Gemara continue with a discussion of how Hash-m reprimanded David ha'Melech for singing at Shaul's downfall? The subject of the Gemara until now has been David ha'Melech's last words. How is Hash-m's reprimand related to his last words?
(a) RASHI (as cited by the RITVA) explains that when the verse mentions "David's words (Divrei David)," it means "David's words of prophecy." No words of explicit prophecy are found in Tehilim except for the words recorded in chapter 18, which also appear in chapter 22 of Shmuel II -- which is the chapter immediately before his "last words." The chapter begins, "David spoke to (or in honor of) Hash-m the words of this Shirah" -- "Diber l'Hashem... Divrei ha'Shirah...", implying that these were words of prophecy.
Rashi continues and says that there is no direct association between this answer and the Gemara's next discussion of how Hash-m reprimanded David ha'Melech for singing at Shaul's downfall.
(b) The RITVA disagrees with this interpretation. He asserts that all of the words which David ha'Melech said with Ru'ach ha'Kodesh (including the entire Book of Tehilim) may also be described as "David's words."
The Ritva cites TOSFOS who explains that there indeed is a connection between David ha'Melech's "first words" and the Gemara's discussion of Hash-m's admonition to him. The Gemara infers from the fact that the prophet calls the last chapter "David's last words" that there were other words that David ha'Melech spoke which were not recorded explicitly. (If all other words of David ha'Melech were recorded explicitly, the prophet would not have emphasized that the words of the last chapter were David's "last words.") What were those words?
The Gemara answers that those words were the words of admonition with which Hash-m admonished David for singing at Shaul's downfall. Just as David ha'Melech -- in the chapter of his "last words" -- did not explicitly say what Hash-m spoke to him but simply said, "To me Hash-m has spoken," so, too, in his "first words" he did not explicitly state what Hash-m had told him.
(c) The TOSFOS HA'ROSH offers another explanation in the name of the RA'AVAD. The Gemara understands that David ha'Melech's "last words" are not only the words in the last chapter of Shmuel II, but they also include the words in the previous chapter, the chapter of David's song. This is implied by the way the last chapter begins: "and these are David's last words." The word "and" implies that "these [previous] words and these [following] words are David's last words."
The Gemara asks how the song in chapter 22 of Shmuel II and in Tehilim 18 can be called "David's last words" if it is followed by over 100 other psalms in Tehilim. The answer must be that these were David's last words on a particular subject -- the subject of overcoming Shaul. However, these words may be called the "last words" only if David ha'Melech spoke about this subject at some other time. In which preceding chapter in Tehilim did David ha'Melech speak about this subject such that his words here may be called his "last words" on the subject?
The Gemara answers that the "first words" -- the first time David ha'Melech spoke about Shaul -- appear in Tehilim 7 in which David discusses "Kush ben Yemini," or Shaul (as the Gemara concludes here). Those were David's "first words" in Tehilim about Shaul.
(d) The SHITAH L'TALMID RABEINU YECHIEL apparently follows a different approach. The Gemara's question is why the verse must specify that these were David's "last words." It does not mean simply that these words were said after the words of the previous chapter, for that is understood by itself and there is no need to state so explicitly.
The Gemara's answer is that the phrase "last words" means "David's ultimate outlook on the matter." That is, the verse wants to emphasize that David ha'Melech felt regret for the manner in which he sang the Shirah of the previous chapter, which he sang to Hash-m about Shaul's downfall, and therefore he did not mention Shaul's downfall again. This is what is meant by "David's last words." (The IYUN YAKOV and PERUSH HA'RIF in the Ein Yakov offer similar explanations. For an entirely different explanation of the Gemara here, see NETZIV in Birkas ha'Netziv to the Sifri, footnote at end of Parshas Beha'aloscha.)
3) AGADAH: ONLY 800 OUT OF 1000
QUESTION: The Gemara says that David ha'Melech was able to kill 800 enemies at one time. Nevertheless, it troubled him that he did not merit the miracle of being able to kill 1000 enemies at one time as mentioned in the verse (Devarim 32:30). A Bas Kol issued forth and declared that he did not merit to be able to kill 1000 at one time because of the sin of Bas Sheva and Uriyah. RASHI explains that "200 were taken from him" as a result of his sin that involved Uriyah.
The VILNA GA'ON (in DIVREI ELIYAHU) asks why Rashi says that "200 were taken from him," implying that he indeed was able to kill 1000 enemies at one time before the sin of Uriyah. Where is any mention made of David ha'Melech's ability to kill 1000 enemies at once at some point in time before this battle? David ha'Melech does not describe his combat experience in any other place. (Indeed, RASHI KESAV YAD does not mention that the ability to kill an additional 200 was taken away from him, but rather that David lacked that ability and never had it in the first place.)
(a) The VILNA GA'ON answers that there is an allusion in the verses that David ha'Melech did have the ability to kill 1000 enemies at one time and that he lost that ability, as Rashi here says.
The Shirah of David ha'Melech (in which he praises Hash-m for vanquishing his enemies) is recorded twice in Tanach: in chapter 22 of Shmuel II, and in chapter 18 of Tehilim. Both accounts are nearly identical, with only a few minor differences. The Chachamim explain the reasons for these differences (see, for example, Insights to Shabbos 116:2).
One difference, however, which is not discussed is that in David's Shirah in Shmuel II, the verse (22:44) says, "Tishmereni l'Rosh Go'yim" -- "You preserved me to be the head of nations." In Tehilim, the verse (18:44) says, "Tesimeni l'Rosh Go'yim" -- "You have placed me to be the head of nations."
The VILNA GA'ON explains the reason for the difference. The Shirah of David ha'Melech in Shmuel II was recorded when he was younger, before the sin of Uriyah. The account of the Shirah in Tehilim was recorded after the sin. Before the sin, he said "Tishmereni." The Gematriya of "Tishmereni" is 1000. David ha'Melech alluded to the ability which Hash-m granted to him to defeat his enemies and become "the head of the nations" by killing 1000 enemies at a time. After his sin, he omitted the letter "Reish" so that the word became "Tesimeni," the Gematriya of which is 800, an allusion to his ability to defeat his enemies only by killing 800 at a time. (Although the word "Tesimeni" contains a "Yud" after the "Sin," the Gematriya is based not on the way the word is written but on the way it is pronounced, and the first "Yud" is not noticeable in the pronunciation of the word.)
(There is no explicit source that the two versions of David ha'Melech's Shirah were said at different times, and no reference is made to which of the two was said first if they were said at different times. Nevertheless, the METZUDAS DAVID (in Shmuel and in Tehilim) suggests that David may have sung this song every time he was saved from his enemies, or that he sang it once at the end of his lifetime when he saw that he had been saved from the last of his possible enemies (see also Rashi, whose words echo those of the Zohar in Bamidbar 285a). Both explanations of the Metzudas David may be true: The chapter begins with the words, "the song which David sang the day Hash-m saved him from his enemies, from Shaul." The verse implies that David ha'Melech sang this song twice -- once upon being saved "from Shaul" (before the sin with Uriyah), and again at the end of his life when he saw that he had merited a total and full salvation ("the day [he saw that] Hash-m saved him from his enemies"). This inference from the verse still does not prove which of the two versions is the earlier one. However, the ABARBANEL (in Shmuel, cited by the Malbim there) explains that the version in Shmuel was the original Shirah of David ha'Melech. The version in Tehilim was the version which he later adapted for any person to sing during times of difficulty as a form of supplication to Hash-m. Accordingly, the version in Tehilim clearly is the later one.
That the version in Tehilim was said after the sin of Uriyah may also be inferred from the Midrash there (Shocher Tov #18) which explains that David ha'Melech was called "the servant of Hash-m" in the beginning of the version of the Shirah in Tehilim (and not in the beginning of the version in Shmuel) to denote that he repented for his sins and Hash-m forgave him. -M. Kornfeld)
The allusion of the Gematriya of the words "Tishmereni" and "Tesimeni" was actually pointed out by the TOSFOS HA'ROSH long before the Vilna Ga'on. However, he explains it somewhat differently. He explains that the two versions of the Shirah were not said at different times. Rather, the one which alludes to 800 describes actual events, while the one which alludes to 1000 describes David ha'Melech's supplication to Hash-m; he prayed to Hash-m to give him another 200, to make a total of 1000.
(b) Another approach is presented by the Manostrishtcher Rebbe, RAV YEHOSHUA HESHEL RABINOWITZ zt'l, in ERCHEI YEHOSHUA (30:13). He cites ha'Ga'on Rav Moshe of Savran who explains why David ha'Melech lost the 200 specifically because of the sin of Uriyah.
He quotes the verse, "The thousand are to You, the Master of peace (Shlomo), and two hundred more to those who guard his fruit" (Shir ha'Shirim 8:12). This verse alludes to the responsibility of the Gadol ha'Dor to contemplate 1000 Yichudim every day (to perceive 1000 different perspectives of Hash-m's Oneness; Hash-m is referred to as "Shlomo," which means "the King to Whom Shalom belongs," see Shevuos 36b). In order to achieve the last 200 of the 1000 Yichudim, however, one needs special Divine assistance which is granted only to a person who is especially careful in all aspects of his moral conduct. Accordingly, the verse means, "One thousand [Yichudim may be ascribed] to You (Hash-m), the Master of peace, and two hundred [of them are given only] to one who guards his fruit (to those who guard the source of reproduction)." David ha'Melech lost the ability to perceive the last 200 Yichudim because of his conduct with Uriyah and Bas Sheva.
This approach clarifies a cryptic Gemara in Nedarim (50b). The Gemara there relates that it happened once that a person paid his friend to teach him 1000 ways to make a certain type of fruit dessert. However, his friend taught him only 800 ways. He brought his friend to the court of Rebbi, the leading sage of the generation. Rebbi declared, "Our fathers said, 'We have forgotten all good,' while we have never seen [such lavishness]." He was expressing his amazement that someone would pay another person to teach him 1000 ways to make a dessert.
Why did the person who felt he was wronged bring such a petty complaint to the Gadol ha'Dor?
The Manostrishtcher Rebbe explains that the two people involved in the dispute were actually great Tzadikim. One hired the other to teach him the 1000 Yichudim. The Yichudim are represented by "fruit desserts," for each type of dessert is comprised of a combination of various fruits, and each combination makes a different taste. His friend, however, was able to teach him only 800 Yichudim because he had not merited to comprehend the last 200. Therefore, they came to Rebbi, the Gadol ha'Dor, who certainly knew all 1000 Yichudim and would be able to teach them the remaining 200.
Rebbi responded, "Our fathers said, 'We have forgotten all good,' while we have never seen [such lavishness]" -- an allusion that he, too, did not know the other 200 Yichudim and could not teach them. (Actually, Rebbi certainly knew the other 200 Yichudim. He did not divulge that fact because he always endeavored to uphold the integrity of his great forebear, David ha'Melech, as the Gemara says in Shabbos (56a). Therefore, even though Rebbi's moral conduct was indeed exceptional (Shabbos 118b), he did not want to reveal that he had attained a greater level than David ha'Melech in this area and thus he did not openly admit that he knew all 1000 Yichudim.) This is what Rebbi meant when he said, "Our fathers (David ha'Melech) said, 'We have forgotten all good'" -- David ha'Melech once knew the other 200 Yichudim, but he forgot it as a result of the incident with Uriyah. In contrast, "We have never seen such lavishness" -- we never learned all 1000 Yichudim in the first place. Rebbi said this out of humility and to show the greatness of David ha'Melech.