1) DAVID HA'MELECH AND AVISHAG
QUESTIONS: The Gemara explains that David ha'Melech did not want to marry Avishag because he had already married as many wives as he was permitted to marry. When Avishag heard that, she responded, "When a thief can no longer steal, he presents himself as a peace-loving person," implying that David ha'Melech had lost his strength and therefore did not want to marry her (and not because he was prohibited from taking another wife). David ha'Melech proved to her that he still had his full strength by summoning Bas Sheva to be with him.
There are a number of questions on this Gemara.
(a) The Mishnah (21a) permits a king to marry up to eighteen wives. David ha'Melech presumably was telling Avishag that he already had eighteen wives. Why, however, did David ha'Melech not marry Avishag as a Pilegesh?
(b) How could Avishag talk with such temerity and brazenness to the king?
(c) Finally, where in the verses does the Gemara see that the king summoned Bas Sheva to prove anything to Avishag? From the verses, it seems that the two stories are not related! After the verse relates the incident of Avishag, it tells how Bas Sheva came to the king in order to complain that Adoniyah was attempting to usurp the kingship from her son, Shlomo. Her purpose in coming to David ha'Melech had nothing to do with his summons to her to prove anything to Avishag.
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Melachim 3:2) writes that a king is permitted to marry only up to eighteen wives, including Pilagshim. He seems to understand that once the king has eighteen wives, the king is not allowed to take even a Pilegesh. The KESEF MISHNEH writes that this Gemara is the source for the Rambam's ruling.
However, the RA'AVAD there argues and says that the verse which permits the king to marry eighteen wives refers only to proper wives, not Pilagshim. This also appears to be the intention of RASHI (21a, DH v'Ha Kesiv). The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN in the name of RABEINU DAVID cites proof for this opinion from the verse which describes Rechavam as having eighteen wives in addition to sixty Pilagshim (Divrei ha'Yamim II 11:21). If he limited himself to eighteen wives, it must have been because he was observing the Halachah that a king may not have more than eighteen wives. It is evident from there that a king is permitted to marry Pilagshim in addition to his eighteen wives.
The Chidushei ha'Ran answers the question by saying that Avishag herself refused to be a Pilegesh. (Perhaps she refused because David ha'Melech was already old, and after a king dies his wives and Pilagshim are not permitted to remarry anyone else, as the Rabanan (18a) rule. She wanted to remain an unmarried Penuyah, because even though she would be prohibited to marry someone from non-royal lineage after being with David ha'Melech, she would be permitted to marry another king, as the Gemara says. By becoming a Pilegesh she would neither be a full wife of David, nor would she be able to marry anyone else after his death, not even another king.)
(b) When the Gemara says that "Avishag said," it might mean that Avishag thought to herself (see TOSFOS, beginning of Nazir 10a). David ha'Melech understood what she was thinking and responded accordingly.
The ARUCH LA'NER suggests a novel approach to explain the Gemara. The Yerushalmi explains that in order for David ha'Melech to repent fully from his actions with Bas Sheva, David ha'Melech constantly tried to place himself in the same situation as he was in when the incident with Bas Sheva occurred, and then, in that situation, to act with the utmost righteousness and control. (This is the highest form of Teshuvah, as the RAMBAM states in Hilchos Teshuvah 2:1.) For this purpose, David ha'Melech had beautiful Pilagshim brought to him. For the same reason, David ha'Melech wanted an attendant to be found who would be the most beautiful woman in all of Israel. When Avishag saw that David ha'Melech was already very old, she said, "You no longer have the same desire you had in your youth, and therefore having a beautiful woman around will not serve the purpose for which you intend." This is what she meant by saying that even a thief eventually loses his ability to steal and then claims that he has repented, not out of true repentance but merely out of the inability to steal. David ha'Melech showed her that he was still youthful and thus could still accomplish complete Teshuvah. (Even according to the Aruch la'Ner, Avishag might have had the hidden intention in her statement in accordance with the simple reading of the Gemara.)
(c) It is clear that David ha'Melech summoned Bas Sheva, because no one, even a queen, may come to the king without formally requesting an audience or being invited by the king. The verse does not say that Bas Sheva asked the king's permission to come to him. The Gemara infers that the summons for Bas Sheva involved Avishag since the verse mentions Avishag in the context of Bas Sheva's meeting with the king. (See MAHARSHA.)
Moreover, it seems that the story of Avishag itself is what prompted Adoniyah to attempt to take the kingship for himself. Adoniyah thought that David ha'Melech was too old to notice or to care about what happened, because his call for Avishag demonstrated his deteriorating health and strength. He did not realize that David ha'Melech's suffering was caused by a specific sin (see Berachos 62b) and not by old age. When David ha'Melech heard Avishag's comment about his age, he realized that many others might have had the same thought, and thus he felt it necessary to show his strength in order to prevent a coup against his kingship. It was at this opportunity that Bas Sheva revealed to the king that indeed there already was a coup in process, and that the time to show his strength had come.
2) A NAME WITH TWO WORDS
QUESTION: RASHI (DH Kimchah) explains that the source that Bas Sheva cleansed herself thirteen times is the thirteen words in the verse (Melachim I 1:15) that describes her summons to David ha'Melech. How does Rashi come to the number thirteen? A simple count of the words in the verse shows that there are fourteen words in the verse.
ANSWER: The Acharonim (BE'ER HEITEV EH 129:45 in the name of MAHARASH ALGAZI, the DAGUL MEREVAVAH (at end of the Beis Shmuel's list of spellings of names), the TIV GITIN (2:4), and the VILNA GA'ON (Kol Eliyahu, Sanhedrin)) explain that from this Gemara it is evident that the name "Bas Sheva" is really one word in Hebrew, and should be written as one word in a Get ("Bassheva").
RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM and in L'CHEKER SHEMOS, p. 59) cites a similar instance of the spelling of a name from the Gemara later in Sanhedrin (102b) which says that Achav was granted a rule of twenty-two years because he honored the Torah which is written with twenty-two letters. The RADAK in Melachim I (20:9) writes that this is derived from the number of words in the verse there, "va'Yomer l'Malachei Ven Hadad...." However, the only way to count twenty-two, and not twenty-three, words in that verse is by counting the name "Ven Hadad" as a single word ("Venhadad").
Another instance of such name-contraction is found in the Midrash Tanchuma (Tetzaveh #9) which states that Yehoshua lost ten years of his life because he spoke ten words before Moshe Rabeinu (in Bamidbar 11:28) when he complained about the prophecy of Eldad and Meidad. The verse there, however, contains eleven, not ten, words! It must be that the Midrash counts "Bin Nun" as a single word (TORAH SHE'BA'AL PEH, Yehoshua 1:5). The Radak alludes to this in Yehoshua (1:1) where he writes that "Bin" is written with the vowelization of a Chirik instead of a Segol ("Ben") because the words are always pronounced together and thus it is easier to read with a Chirik.
The RAMBAN (Shemos 33:11) also suggests that "Bin Nun" is to be read as one word and it means "the one of understanding."
RASHI in Bereishis (35:18) mentions a similar concept. Rashi writes that the name "Binyamin" is really a contraction of two words, "Ben" and "Yamin." The word "Ben" was given a Chirik ("Bin") in order to make it more easily pronounced as a single word.
3) THE TRAGEDY OF DIVORCE
QUESTION: Rebbi Eliezer states that when a man divorces his first wife, even the Mizbe'ach sheds tears. He derives this from the verses in Malachi (2:13-14) in which the prophet Malachi states that they had to make a cover for the tears of the Mizbe'ach, which was crying because the people were taking Nochri wives aside from their Jewish wives. Since the Jewish women had endured difficult times, their beauty had been marred, and thus their husbands cast them aside in favor of the Nochri women.
What is the meaning of the Mizbe'ach shedding tears?
(a) The Midrash (Bereishis Rabah 18:5) says that when the Jewish wives were cast aside, they would go surround the Mizbe'ach in anguish and cry. This is what the verse means when it states that Hash-m "will no longer turn to your Minchah offering." Hash-m will not accept the offerings upon the Mizbe'ach which had absorbed so many tears due to the evil actions of the owners of those offerings.
(b) The ETZ YOSEF explains that the prophet Yeshayah (54:6) gives a metaphor for the Jewish people as being the first "wife" of Hash-m. Therefore, someone who divorces his first wife shows his belief that the love for a first wife, included in the metaphor in Yeshayah, is not an eternal, everlasting love. For such a show of disbelief in the love that Hash-m has for the Jewish people, the Mizbe'ach cries. (It seems that the significance of the tears of the Mizbe'ach according to the Etz Yosef is that the Mizbe'ach is where peace is made between the Jewish people and Hash-m. Therefore, the Mizbe'ach cries because of the symbolic dent in the solidity of the relationship between Hash-m and the Jewish people.)
(c) The ME'IRI explains that if a man divorces his wife when it is not really necessary, then even his defending angels turn to prosecute him. This is why the Mizbe'ach cries for him, as it can no longer help him attain atonement for his sins. (According to the Me'iri, the Mizbe'ach's crying is a side effect of the divorce, and it is not due to the sadness of the divorce itself.)
(d) The TORAS CHAIM writes that it is known that Adam and Chavah were created from earth taken from the location of the Mizbe'ach. Someone who "betrays" this bond of man and wife, symbolized by Adam and Chavah, by divorcing his wife is considered one who has betrayed the Mizbe'ach.
Alternatively, he refers to the Gemara in Sotah (17a) which says that when a man and his wife are worthy, the Shechinah dwells in their midst. This is derived from the different spelling of "Ish" and "Ishah." "Ish" is spelled Alef, Yud, Shin, while "Ishah" is spelled Alef, Shin, Heh. Normally, in order to denote the feminine form of a thing, the letter Heh is added to the word (for example, a female "Par" (cow) is a "Parah"). In the case of a man and a woman, though, not only is the letter Heh added to the word for woman, but the letter Yud is added to the word for man. These two special additions demonstrate that when a man and his wife are worthy, the Shechinah is with them, for when the Yud and the Heh come together they spell the name of Hash-m. When a man divorces his wife, he breaks apart the name of Hash-m, and therefore the Mizbe'ach cries.
It is specifically the Mizbe'ach that cries, because it was from the place that the Mizbe'ach would be built that floodwaters emerged and threatened to drown the entire world. The Gemara in Sukah (53a) relates that when David ha'Melech dug the Shisin (the hollow under the place where the Mizbe'ach eventually would be built, into which the water and wine libations flowed), he inadvertently removed a potsherd that covered (and plugged) the hole of the Waters of the Deep. The waters arose and threatened to drown the world. David ha'Melech inquired whether he was permitted to write the name of Hash-m on the potsherd and to throw it back into the water in order to stop the deluge. No one gave him an answer, until he pronounced a curse on anyone who knew the ruling but would not reveal it to him. Achitofel told him that he was permitted to write the name of Hash-m on the potsherd and throw it into the water, even though Hash-m's name would be erased by the water. David ha'Melech followed Achitofel's ruling, and when he saw that the water descended too much as a result of the potsherd, he said fifteen psalms of Shir ha'Ma'alos in order to raise the water level.
The KLI YAKAR (Bereishis 6:15) points out that when there is a widespread problem with marital harmony among the people, and wives and husbands are involved in licentious activities, Hash-m punishes the people with water. The world was punished with the Great Flood in the times of Noach because of the sin of immoral relations (Arayos), as the Torah states (Bereishis 6:11-12). (This also may be why the Egyptians were punished by being drowned; the Torah (Vayikra 18:3) describes the people of Egypt as being exceedingly promiscuous.)
This explains why the waters of the Flood rose fifteen Amos above the highest mountain. The people sinned by abusing the Yud and Heh that spell Hash-m's name that dwells among the people when there is peace between man and wife, and therefore they were punished with water that rose fifteen Amos above the highest point (the Gematriya of Yud and Heh is fifteen). Similarly, the rain descended for 150 days, a multiple of fifteen. Each of the three levels of Noach's Teivah (the Ark) was 50 Amos wide, 300 Amos long, and 10 Amos high, or a total of 150,000 cubic Amos. This multiple of fifteen alludes to the fact that it was the name of Hash-m, Yud and Heh, which protected Noach and his family in the Teivah, for they were not involved in Arayos.
David ha'Melech wrote the name of Yud and Heh upon the potsherd in order to prevent the waters of the depth from flooding the world. By doing so, David ha'Melech called upon the merit of the people who guarded themselves from sins of immorality to protect the world from the water. Since the waters beneath the Mizbe'ach are sensitive to marital harmony, it is those "tears" that the Mizbe'ach begins to shed when marital harmony is disrupted. (See Insights to Sukah 53:1.)
4) "ZIVUG RISHON" AND "ZIVUG SHENI"
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan states that the making of a Zivug is as difficult as the Splitting of the Sea (Keri'as Yam Suf). RASHI in Sotah (2a) explains that it is so difficult because a person's Zivug is made according to his deeds; he is paired with a woman whose deeds match his deeds.
The Gemara challenges Rebbi Yochanan's assertion that the making of a Zivug is as difficult as Keri'as Yam Suf from the statement of Rav Yehudah in the name of Rav, who says that forty days before the creation of the embryo a Bas Kol issues forth and pronounces his Zivug ("Bas Ploni l'Ploni"). If the Zivug is already determined based on Hash-m's process of the creation of the person, then how can it be based on a person's deeds?
The Gemara answers that only the "Zivug Sheni" is determined by one's deeds. The "Zivug Rishon" is determined before the person is born.
The reason why the Zivug is determined according to one's deeds is that if a person's deeds are meritorious, he is given a better Zivug (see Rashi in Sotah there). Why, though, is the Zivug Rishon -- which is decreed before the person is born -- not dependent on the person's deeds? Why should a person who is a Tzadik be destined to have to marry a woman who is not a Tzadekes just because of what was decreed for him at the time of his creation?
(a) When Hash-m first created man, He created Adam and Chavah together as one, and then He separated them. The RASHBA (Teshuvos 1:60) explains that Hash-m first created man and woman together and then separated them so that they would later be able to join together and feel like a single unit. Perhaps it is for this reason that before a man is born a Bas Kol announces the selection of his Zivug. This declaration demonstrates that he and his Zivug come from the same spiritual root, and that the woman he eventually marries will be part of his own Neshamah. To bond their souls together in such a way after they are created would not be possible, and therefore Hash-m bonds them together before they are created. (If one of them is a Tzadik and the other a Rasha, the Tzadik can influence the Rasha due to their strong spiritual bond.) Of course, it is possible only for one man to be bonded to one woman. A second Zivug cannot come from the same spiritual root, and therefore the Zivug Sheni must be "Lefi Ma'asav," determined according to one's deeds.
(b) RABEINU TAM (cited by the TOSFOS SHANTZ in Sotah 2a) explains that "Zivug Sheni" refers to a widow or widower. The Zivug Sheni occurs only after the first Zivug. In order for the Zivug Sheni to occur, Hash-m must take the life of one of the spouses in the Zivug Rishon. Rabeinu Tam explains that this is the similarity between Zivug Sheni and Keri'as Yam Suf. In both of them, Hash-m must take the life of some in order to benefit others.
Rabeinu Tam may maintain that everything that occurs to a person is based on Mazal unless he is an outstanding Tzadik (as Tosfos writes in Shabbos 156a). When the Gemara says that the Zivug Rishon is pronounced before the person is born, it means that his Mazal is determined already from the time he is born. The Zivug Sheni also should be determined by his Mazal like the other major events in his life. However, there are times when a woman loses her husband not because it was the Mazal of her husband to die, but because of the great merit of another person who deserved her as his wife. This is the Zivug Sheni to which the Gemara refers.
(c) The ME'IRI takes the opposite approach. He writes that the Zivug should always be determined by the Zechus and actions of a person. When the Gemara says that the Zivug Rishon is determined by Mazal, it refers to the Zivug which a person finds when he reaches the age of Mitzvos, the proper time for getting married (see ROSH, Kuntrus Pidyon ha'Ben, end of Bechoros). Since he has not yet had the opportunity to do many Mitzvos or Aveiros, his Zivug is still determined by his Mazal. However, any spouse he finds after he has reached the age at which he is rewarded or punished for his deeds is determined according to his deeds. The Gemara calls it a "Zivug Sheni" because when a person gets married at this advanced age it is usually his second marriage (since most people, at that time, were married at the age of Bar Mitzvah).
(d) The Mekubalim explain that "Zivug Sheni" does not refer to a second marriage. Rather, it means a second matching. Hash-m determines -- before a person is born -- who will be the best match for the person. However, he receives that match only if he deserves it because of his Ma'asim Tovim. If he does not merit to receive his intended match, he ends up with another woman. This is what the Gemara calls "Zivug Sheni" (a "secondary" match in place of the primary one). (HAGAHAH in BE'ER SHEVA; YA'AVETZ; see also TASHBETZ 2:1. See also Insights to Sotah 2:1.)
5) THE HAIRCUT OF THE KOHEN GADOL
QUESTION: Rebbi states that his son-in-law, Ben El'ashah, did not waste his money when he paid to see a very special haircut, because he wanted to learn the unique haircut that was given to the Kohen Gadol each week. The haircut to which he is referring, the Gemara explains, is the "Luliyanis" style haircut, which the Gemara learns from the verse, "Kasom Yichsemu Es Rosheihem" -- "they shall trim [the hair of] their heads" (Yechezkel 44:20).
However, that verse appears together with the words "Pera Lo Yeshalechu," from which the Gemara learns that every Kohen must cut his hair once every thirty days. The haircut mentioned in the verse, therefore, should refer to the haircut of a Kohen Hedyot, and not just to the Kohen Gadol's haircut!
(a) The TALMIDEI RABEINU YONAH answer that some erase the word "Gadol" (in the phrase "the haircut of the Kohen Gadol") from the text of the Gemara, and thus the Gemara indeed refers to the haircut of an ordinary Kohen.
The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN challenges this Girsa. If every Kohen had such a haircut, then why was it so difficult to find a barber who knew how to give it? Even if the Kohanim stopped having such haircuts when the Beis ha'Mikdash was destroyed, Rebbi did not live that long after the Churban, and thus it still should have been well-known how the Kohanim had cut their hair.
An answer to the Chidushei ha'Ran's question may be suggested as follows. The Rishonim argue about what the Gemara means when it says that Kohanim are allowed to grow their hair long "when it is not the time for entering the Mikdash" ("Zeman Bi'ah"). The RA'AVAD (Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash 1:10) understands this to mean that as long as the Beis ha'Mikdash was standing, the Kohanim had to have haircuts every thirty days. The RAMBAM there understands the Gemara to mean that a Kohen had to cut his hair after thirty days only if he was going to enter the Beis ha'Mikdash in order to perform the Avodah. The Girsa mentioned by Rabeinu Yonah is understood according to the Rambam's view, since the only barbers who knew this unique haircut were the ones who cut the Kohanim's hair in the Beis ha'Mikdash. After the Churban, that expertise was forgotten.
(b) The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN answers as follows. The verse says, "Kasom Yichsemu Es Rosheihem" -- "they shall trim [the hair of] their heads." The words "their heads" seem superfluous, since it is obvious that the only hair that is cut very short is that of their heads. These extra words imply that that the verse is referring to specific heads, meaning those of Kohanim Gedolim and not of ordinary Kohanim, even though the other words in the verse, such as "Pera Lo Yeshalechu," refer to all Kohanim.
(c) The METZUDAS DAVID explains that all the verses there describe the Kohen Gadol when he enters the Kodesh ha'Kodashim on Yom Kippur. He learns this from verse 17 which says that the Kohanim wore only linen, and not wool, garments. The only clothes that match this description are those of the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur (see Yoma 12b). Moreover, verse 22 says that the Kohen is not allowed to marry an Almanah but only a Besulah, which is a law that applies only to the Kohen Gadol. This explains why verse 21 -- which discusses drinking wine -- adds the word "every" when it says that "every Kohen shall not drink wine;" this verse emphasizes "every" Kohen, since the other verses discuss only the Kohen Gadol.
The RADAK cites such an explanation but rejects it. However, the Metzudas David defends this opinion and answers the questions of the Radak.
According to the Metzudas David, how can the Gemara learn from "Pera Lo Yeshalechu" that every Kohen must cut his hair after thirty days? Perhaps that verse, too, refers only to a Kohen Gadol!
A number of answers to this question may be suggested.
1. That verse cannot be discussing a Kohen Gadol, because a "Pera" is a thirty-day growth of hair, and the verse there says afterwards "Kasom Yichsemu," which implies that the Kohanim must cut their hair even shorter than that (shorter than hair-growth which has not reached the stage of "Pera"). It must be that the verse that allows "Pera," a thirty-day growth, refers to a Kohen Hedyot.
2. Another possibility is that the Metzudas David follows the view of the RAMBAM. The Rambam (in Sefer ha'Mitzvos, Mitzvah 163, and in his list of Mitzvos at the beginning of Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash) writes that the verse, "Rosheichem Al Tifra'u" (Vayikra 10:6), teaches that a Kohen may not enter the Beis ha'Mikdash with uncut hair, "Pera." If a verse in the Torah prohibits a Kohen from serving in the Beis ha'Mikdash with "Pera," then why does the Gemara here ask for a source that a Kohen is Chayav Misah for entering the Beis ha'Mikdash with "Pera" and cite the verse in Yechezkel? Why does the Gemara bring this source from Yechezkel for the prohibition and for the Chiyuv Misah? (See Chidushei ha'Ran and Kesef Mishneh to Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash 1:8, who suggest various answers.)
From the words of the Rambam (in Hilchos Bi'as ha'Mikdash 1:8 and 10) it seems that he learns that the Gemara cites the verse from Yechezkel only to prove that the Kohen is not prohibited from growing long hair except while he is in the Beis ha'Mikdash (like the law of an inebriated Kohen). The verse in Yechezkel simply adds a point to what the verse in Vayikra says. Accordingly, even if the verse in Yechezkel is discussing only the Kohen Gadol, it teaches how to apply the prohibition for a normal Kohen to grow "Pera," because if the Kohen Gadol is permitted to grow "Pera" outside of the Beis ha'Mikdash then certainly the Kohen Hedyot may do so. (M. KORNFELD)
(d) The YAD RAMAH explains that the verses in Yechezkel indeed refer to a Kohen Hedyot. However, they refer to the future Kohen Hedyot, in the third and final Beis ha'Mikdash. Due to the great Kedushah of the third Beis ha'Mikdash, even a Kohen Hedyot will have the laws that today apply only to a Kohen Gadol. That is why the verse mentions a number of Halachos which apply only to Kohanim Gedolim (as mentioned above). This also seems to be the intention of the RADAK there (verses 17 and 21).
What, then, is the source that even a Kohen Hedyot today may not grow his hair long? This approach must also follow the view of the Rambam that the verse in Yechezkel merely adds a point to the verse in Vayikra, which refers to a Kohen Hedyot.