SANHEDRIN 14 (7 Av) - Dedicated in memory of Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens, N.Y., Niftar 7 Av 5757, by his wife and daughters. G-d-fearing and knowledgeable, Simcha was well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah. He will long be remembered.
1) NO "SEMICHAH" FOR THE FAMILY OF ELI
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that Rebbi Yochanan sought to give Semichah to Rebbi Chanina and Rebbi Hoshiya, but that he was unsuccessful. Every time they were in his presence, he could not find another two judges to join him to give Semichah. When they saw that he was upset that he was unable to give them Semichah, they consoled him by explaining that they were descended from the house of Eli, and that Rebbi Yonasan had taught that no one from the house of Eli would ever receive Semichah, as the verse states, "There will be no elder in your house all of the days" (Shmuel I 2:32). The word "elder" ("Zaken") in this verse cannot mean one who has reached old age, because the previous verse states that the men from the house of Eli will die young. This verse must mean that they will never be granted Semichah.
Why did Rebbi Yochanan have difficulty in finding two others to join him in granting Semichah? Do those two others need to have Semichah themselves?
(a) The YAD RAMAH writes that Rebbi Yochanan needed two other people who had Semichah, and he could not find them when he needed them.
(b) However, the RAMBAM maintains that only one member of the Beis Din must have Semichah when the Beis Din grants Semichah to others. What, then, was Rebbi Yochanan's difficulty in giving Semichah to his two students? The BEN YEHOYADA answers that the Rambam actually maintains that two of the three people who grant Semichah must have Semichah themselves. However, only one of them needs to have the Semichah with the power of giving Semichah to others, while the second may have the regular Semichah mentioned earlier, which grants the bearer the title of "Rebbi" and authorizes him to judge cases of penalties.
Alternatively, he answers that although the Rambam maintains that one judge with Semichah suffices, the custom was to give Semichah in public among the other scholars in order to publicize the Semichah. Rebbi Yochanan did not find the opportunity to do this.
The MAHARSHA asks that if these two students of Rebbi Yochanan did not receive Semichah, then why are they called Rebbi Chanina and Rebbi Hoshiya? The Gemara states that the title "Rebbi" is reserved only for those who received Semichah!
He answers that the title of "Rebbi" granted by Semichah means that the person is to be called only "Rebbi," without the use of the person's first name. Second, he suggests that they were not called "Rebbi," but rather "Rav." Indeed, the Gemara later refers to them as Rav Chanina and Rav Hoshiya. The Maharsha adds that this is why the Amora'im of Bavel are always referred to with the title "Rav," while those in Eretz Yisrael are referred to with the title "Rebbi." The Amora'im in Eretz Yisrael received Semichah from the judges in Eretz Yisrael. Since there was no Semichah in Bavel, the Amora'im there are called only "Rav." (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE PARDON OF SINS FROM ONE WHO BECOMES A SPIRITUAL LEADER
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rebbi Zeira evaded receiving Semichah because of Rebbi Elazar's teaching that "one who lives in obscurity will live long." RASHI explains that this means that one should distance himself from positions of authority, because "authority buries its bearer." However, when Rebbi Zeira heard the other teaching of Rebbi Elazar, that "a person does not rise to a position of greatness unless all of his sins are forgiven," he sought to receive Semichah.
What is the source for Rebbi Elazar's statement that a person's sins are forgiven when he rises to a position of importance?
(a) The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM quotes RAV HAI GA'ON who explains that the statement that a person's sins are forgiven when he rises to a position of importance is learned from verses in the Torah. The verse that teaches the Mitzvah to stand in the presence of an elder (Vayikra 19:32) immediately precedes the verse that teaches the Mitzvah not to oppress a convert (19:33). This proximity teaches that one who is appointed to a position of honor is considered like a convert, who is considered free of sin like a newborn child.
The Margoliyos ha'Yam quotes various other early sources, such as Midrashim and writings attributed to Rashi, which concur with this explanation.
He says that an additional source is the verse that states that Shaul ha'Melech was one year old when he ascended the throne (Shmuel I 13:1). In Rashi's LIKUTEI HA'PARDES, Rashi explains that the verse is teaching that just as a one year old child has no sins, so, too, when Shaul became king, he was considered free of sin, since all of his sins were forgiven. (See also RADAK to Shmuel I 13:1. See, however, Rashi there.)
The MAHARATZ CHAYOS addresses another question on this Gemara. Why are Rebbi Elazar's statements not considered contradictory to each other? His first statement teaches that a person should remain obscure and avoid positions of authority in order to live long. This implies that a position of authority is undesirable. His second statement teaches that when a person rises to a position of authority, his sins are forgiven, implying that a position of authority is desirable!
The Maharatz Chayos explains that Rebbi Elazar's first teaching is that when one does not call attention to oneself, no one will investigate him to uncover his faults and imperfections. Consequently, he is able to serve Hash-m unhindered. In contrast, when a person is in a position of authority and leadership, people will search for his faults and misdeeds and they will complain that he should not be guiding the people when he has faults and has done misdeeds himself. However, now that the people know that Hash-m forgives all of the sins of the person who is appointed as a leader, they will not complain about him (assuming, of course, that he indeed has corrected his faults and no longer performs those misdeeds). (Y. MONTROSE)
3) THE THREE "LEKUCHOS"
OPINIONS: The Beraisa states that three "Lekuchos" ("buyers") are needed to appraise fruits of Ma'aser Sheni in order for the owner to redeem them when the value of those fruits is not known. Who are these "Lekuchos" and what qualifications, if any, must they have to appraise the value of fruits of Ma'aser Sheni?
(a) RASHI explains that these three people are merchants who are experts in assessing the value of fruit.
(b) TOSFOS writes that there are some who explain that these "Lekuchos" are bidders who bid for the fruit in an auction-like sale which will determine the market value of the fruit. Tosfos disproves this explanation from the Gemara later which asks whether a man and his two wives may qualify as the three "Lekuchos." According to this explanation, how can it be that a man and his two wives are bidding separately for the fruits? A man owns everything that his wives own and acquire!
The ARUCH LA'NER asks another question on this explanation. Why does the Gemara say that "even" a Nochri or the owner may serve as one of the "Lekuchos," if it means that he can be one of the bidders for the fruit? Being a bidder has nothing to do with being Jewish or owning the fruit! Moreover, in the case of a Sadeh Mikneh, the bidding begins with the owner's bid, because an owner values his property more than others and therefore will likely give a higher opening bid. Hence, the word "even" is inappropriate according to the explanation that "Lekuchos" means bidders.
The RAN, on the other hand, questions the explanation of Rashi. According to Rashi, what is the question of the Gemara regarding whether the three "Lekuchos" can be partners? If these three people are merely experts in the assessment of the value of fruit, then what difference does it make if they are partners? The fact that they are business partners does not affect their knowledge of the market value of fruit! If, on the other hand, they are bidders, then the fact that they are partners indeed might cause their bids to be altered, since they will tend to conspire with each other to give bids that are lower than the market value.
Moreover, Rashi's explanation is not consistent with the wording of the Gemara, the which says that these three partners "redeem" Ma'aser Sheni. It does not say that they "evaluate" Ma'aser Sheni.
Therefore, the Ran sides with the explanation quoted by Tosfos. The YAD RAMAH and RABEINU YONAH agree with the Ran. Rabeinu Yonah adds that the word "Lekuchos" also implies that these three people are buyers who are bidding for the fruit. If the Gemara would have meant merchants or price experts, then it would have said the word for merchants ("Tagrim").
The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM suggests that Rashi agrees that these merchants are people who are interested in buying the fruit. However, they must have knowledge of the real market value of the fruit being redeemed, because if they are merely uninformed bidders, then even the highest bid could end up being too low. (Y. MONTROSE)