HASH-M DISGRACED SANCHERIV
Angels in the forms of men were grinding date pits. They agreed to lend him scissors if he would grind some pits. (The above verse continues "b'Sa'ar ha'Sechirah b'Evrei Nahar" - he rented the razor through work normally done by the river.)
By the time Sancheriv returned, it was dark. He brought a fire. (The man was cutting his hair,) and Sancheriv was blowing the fire to fan it. His beard caught fire, and it consumed all the hair of his beard and face - "v'Gam Es ha'Zaken Tispeh." (Maharal - Hash-m 'shaved' Sancheriv of all his grandeur. He used to be a world ruler, and now he had no soldiers left. He feared the other kings (whom he used to exile to different places) so much that he had to disguise himself.)
(Rav Papa): This is like people say, if you singe a Nochri and he likes it, you can burn his beard, and he will be an endless source of laughter.
Sancheriv found a board from Noach's ark. He said 'this (Rashi - plank; Maharsha - the plank's Mazel above; Ramah - Hash-m) is the great god (Ramah - G-d) that saved Noach from the flood! If I am saved (from the kings) I will sacrifice my two sons to it (to You). His sons heard this and killed him - "Hu Mishtachaveh Beis Nisroch (like Neser, plank) Elohav... Banav Hikuhu."
(R. Yochanan): "Va'Yechalek Aleihem Laylah Hu va'Avadav va'Yakem" - the angel that helped Avraham fight the four kings is called Laylah - "veha'Laylah Omar Horah Gever." (Maharsha - this angel asks Hash-m (at the time of conception) if the child will be a Gibor (mighty one). It was proper that he help Avraham overcome the Gevurah of Nimrod and the other kings.)
(R. Yitzchak Nafcha): "Laylah... va'Yakem" - Hash-m performed a nighttime miracle for Avraham (just like he did for Barak), "ha'Kochavim mi'Mesilosam Nilchamu Im Sisra."
(R. Yochanan): "Va'Yirdof Ad Dan" - when Avraham reached Dan, his strength waned, for he saw that his descendants would serve idolatry there - "va'Yasem (Yar'ovom made two golden calves for idolatry, and put)...v'Es ha'Echad b'Dan";
Nebuchadnetzar did not reach his strength until he reached Dan -"mi'Dan Nishma Nachras Susav."
(R. Zeira citing R. Yehudah ben Beseira): Beware of a Chacham who forgot his learning through Ones;
Be careful to cut the veins (of a bird during slaughter, for it is often roasted whole and not salted like animals) like R. Yehudah;
Be careful to honor the children of ignoramuses who became Chachamim, for they will be sources of Torah for Yisrael.
Version #1 (R. Zeira): We tell them (the children of ignoramuses) about Sancheriv's children (who taught Torah to multitudes - Amud B). They should realize that their honor is due to their Torah, and because their ancestors were Tzadikim.)
Version #2 (R. Zeira): We tell them the following about Nebuchadnetzar, so they will realize that their ancestors' merits, even if small, is the reason for their honor.
Yirmeyah asked "Tzadik Atah Hash-m... Madu'a Derech Resha'im Tzalecha..."
Hash-m answered "Ki Es Raglayim Ratzta..." A parable explains this. A man boasted 'I can run 12 Mil in front of horses, even in marsh.' He saw a man running, and he ran in front of him for three Mil on dry land, and wearied.
If he wearied running in front of a man, all the more so he would weary in front of horses! If he wearied running three Mil, all the more so he would weary running 12 Mil! If he wearied running on dry land, all the more so he would weary on marsh!
Similarly, if you are amazed about the reward given to Nebuchadnetzar for four steps he took for My honor (this will be explained), how much more will you be amazed at the reward given to Avraham, Yitzchak and Yakov, who ran in front of Me (did My will) like horses!
"La'Nevi'im Nishbar Libi..." (Yirmeyah is in awe when he thinks about the reward they will receive).
Question: What were the four steps that Nebuchadnetzar took for Hash-m's honor?
Answer: "Sholach Merodach Bal'adan...";
Question: Because Chizkiyah was sick and recovered, the king of Bavel sent letters and a gift?!
Answer (R. Yochanan): "Lidrosh ha'Mofes Asher Hayah ba'Aretz" - the day that Achaz died there were only two hours of sun (so there would not be time to bury and eulogize him);
When Chizkiyah was sick and recovered, Hash-m returned the extra 10 hours - "va'Toshav ha'Shemesh Eser Ma'alos ba'Ma'alos Asher Yoradah."
When Bal'adan heard the reason for the miracle, he wanted to send Shalom. They wrote 'Shalom to Melech Chizkiyah, Shalom to Yerushalayim, Shalom to the great G-d.' Nebuchadnetzar, Bal'adan's usual scribe, was away. When he returned, he was disturbed by the text:
'The great G-d' should be first! Rather, we must write 'Shalom to the great G-d, Shalom to Yerushalayim, Shalom to Melech Chizkiyah,'
They agreed, and said that it is proper that he recall the letter. He ran four steps after the messenger. Gavri'el stopped him.
(R. Yochanan): Had Gavri'el not stopped him, Nebuchadnetzar's reward would have been so great that he would have totally destroyed Yisrael.
Question: Why was he called Bal'adan ben Bal'adan?
Answer: His father Bal'adan was king. His face became like a dog's face, and his son became king. To honor his father, he would always append his father's name to his own - "Ben Yechaved Av v'Eved Adonav."
"V'Eved Adonav" was fulfilled by Nevuzaradan - "Nevuzaradan Rav Tabachim Amad Lifnei Melech Bavel bi'Rushalayim."
Question: Nebuchadnetzar was not in Yerushalayim - "va'Ya'alu Oso El Melech Bavel Rivlasah!
(R. Avahu): Rivlah is Antuchya.
Answer #1 (Rav Chisda or R. Yitzchak bar Avdimi): Nebuchadnetzar's image was engraved on Nevuzaradan's chariot.
Answer #2 (The other of Rav Chisda and R. Yitzchak bar Avdimi): Nevuzaradan had such fear of Nebuchadnetzar, that it was as if he was in front of him.
NEBUCHADNETZAR BROUGHT THE CHURBAN
(Rava): "Pitucheha Yachad b'Chashil v'Cheilapos Yahalomun" - Nebuchadnetzar sent to Nevuzaradan 300 mule- loads of iron axes that can cut iron. All of them broke on one gate of Yerushalayim.
Nevuzaradan wanted to give up, lest he and his army be wiped out like Sancheriv's army. A Bas Kol (voice from Heaven) announced 'jumper, son of a jumper, attack now, for the time has come for the Mikdash to be destroyed and the Heichal to be burned.'
Nevuzaradan had one axe left. He struck the back of the axe on the gate, and it opened - "Yivada k'Mevi l'Ma'alah bi'Svach Etz Kardumos" (it should be considered as if the axe was used against Hash-m's throne).
He went and killed until he reached the Heichal. He set fire to it. The Heichal started ascending; Hash-m lowered it - "Gas Darach Hash-m li'Vsulas Bas Yehudah."
He started getting haughty. A Bas Kol announced 'you killed a dead nation (their death was already decreed), you burned a burnt Heichal, you grinded ground flour' - "Kechi Rechayim v'Tachani Kemach (not wheat)..."
He saw the blood of Zecharyah seething. They told him that it is blood of Korbanos that was spilled. He slaughtered Korbanos and saw that it was different. He threatened an excruciating death if they would not tell him the truth. They told him that a Kohen and Navi was prophesizing about the Churban of Yerushalayim (hundreds of years ago), and he was killed.
Nevuzaradan decided to appease the blood. He killed Chachamim, but it kept seething. He killed children learning from their Rebbi, then young Kohanim, then 940,000 people, but it still seethed. He approached the blood and said 'Zecharyah, I killed the best of them. Do you want me to kill all of them?'
The blood rested. Nevuzaradan thought, if they were punished so severely for killing one person, how great will be my punishment! He did Teshuvah, sent a letter commanding about his estate, and converted.
(Beraisa): Na'aman was a Ger Toshav, Nevuzaradan was a convert;
Descendants of Sisera taught Torah in Yerushalayim. Descendants of Sancheriv (Shemayah and Avtalyon) taught Torah to multitudes. Descendants of Haman taught Torah in Bnei Berak;
Hash-m wanted to make converts out of descendants of Nebuchadnetzar, but angels protested, for he commanded to destroy the Mikdash and burn the Heichal (therefore, his descendants are not proper to be converts).
(Ula): "Ripinu Es Bavel v'Lo Nirpasa" refers to Nebuchadnetzar. (Hash-m sought to cure him, i.e. atone for him. It was not fulfilled.)
(R. Shmuel bar Nachmani): This refers to the rivers of Bavel, i.e. they inhibit the date trees from producing dates.
(Ula): Amon and Mo'av were bad neighbors of Yerushalayim. When they heard the prophecies of the Churban they told Nebuchadnetzar to come.
Nebuchadnetzar: I fear that I will be defeated, like those before me (Sancheriv)!
Amon and Mo'av: "Ein ha'Ish (Hash-m) b'Veiso."
Nebuchadnetzar: He is near. He will return!
Amon and Mo'av: "Holach b'Derech me'Rachok."
Nebuchadnetzar: There are Tzadikim in Yisrael who will pray, and He will return!
Amon and Mo'av: "Tzeror ha'Kesef Lokach b'Yado" - the Tzadikim already left!
Nebuchadnetzar: The Resha'im will do Teshuvah and pray, and He will return!
Amon and Mo'av: He already fixed a time (70 years of Galus before he will return) - "l'Yom ha'Kese Yavo Veiso."
Nebuchadnetzar: It is winter. I cannot go in the snow and rain.
Amon and Mo'av: You can go under overhanging mountains. They shield from snow and rain.
Nebuchadnetzar: If I go, I will have no place to stay!
Amon and Mo'av: Their graves (caves, which they use for burial) are better than your palaces. You and your army can stay there;
It was foretold "Yotzi'u Es Atzmos Malchei Yehudah... ha'Kohanim... ha'Nevi'im v'Es Atzmos Yoshvei Yerushalayim mi'Kivreihem u'Shtachum la'Shemesh vela'Yare'ach... va'Asher Avadum."