BEARS KILLED THE YOUTHS
(Rav or Shmuel): "Two bears came from the forest and killed 42 children" - this was a miracle.
(The other of Rav and Shmuel): This was a miracle within a miracle.
The first opinion holds that a forest already was there. The bears came miraculously.
The second opinion holds that also the forest came miraculously.
Question: Why was it necessary to miraculously bring a forest. It suffices to bring bears!
Answer: The bears would be too timid to attack if they did not have a place to hide.
(R. Chanina): Because of the 42 Korbanos that Balak brought, 42 children of Yisrael died.
Question: Rav Yehudah taught that his reward was that Rus descended from him, and from her Shlomo, who brought thousands of Korbanos!
(R. Yosi ben Choni): Rus was the daughter of Eglon, who was the son of Balak.
We learn from Balak that one should always engage in Torah and Mitzvos, even Lo Lishmah (for ulterior motives), for he will come to engage in them Lishmah!
Answer: Balak's intention was to curse Yisrael (i.e. to diminish Yisrael; this was fulfilled).
Question: "The people of the city told Elisha, this is a good city, as you can see." How could they say this? The water was bad, and there were miscarriages!
Answer (R. Chanin): People love the place they live in.
(R. Yochanan): Three things always find grace: people love the place they live in, a wife has grace in the eyes of her husband, and a buyer is happy with what he bought.
REBUKE SHOULD NOT BE TOO HARSH
(Beraisa): Elisha fell sick three times. One was (punishment) for bringing the bears (through his curse), one was for casting off Gechazi with both hands, and one was the sickness he died from.
(Beraisa): One should dispel with the left hand, and bring close with the right, unlike Elisha and Yehoshua ben Perachyah, who dispelled with both hands.
Question: Why did Elisha rebuke Gechazi "you took (from Na'aman) the money, garments, olives, vineyards, flock, cattle, male and female servants"? He took only money and garments!
Answer (R. Yitzchak): At the time, Gechazi was learning about the eight Sheratzim (rodents) from Elisha. Elisha mentioned eight things in his rebuke to hint to him 'the time has come for you to receive your reward for learning about the eight rodents.' (The Targum of the verse says that Gechazi intended to buy these things with the money.)
(R. Yochanan): "The Tzara'as of Na'aman should cling to you forever" - the four Metzoras mentioned later (the Haftorah for Parshas Metzora) are Gechazi and his three sons.
(R. Yochanan): "Elisha went to Damesek" - he went to get Gechazi to repent.
Gechazi: You taught me that if one sinned and made many others sin, he is not able to repent.
Question: What did Gechazi do?
Answer #1: He used a magnet to suspend Yeravam's idols in the air (to make people believe that they have powers).
Answer #2: He carved Hash-m's name on the mouth of the idol, and the idol would say the first two of the Aseres ha'Dibros (commanding people to worship only it).
Answer #3: He rejected Talmidim who wanted to learn from Elisha.
After he left, there were so many Talmidim that they were cramped.
When King Yanai killed the Chachamim, his wife hid her brother, Shimon ben Shetach, to save him. R. Yehoshua ben Perachyah fled to Alexandria. When the danger subsided, Shimon ben Shetach wrote to R. Yehoshua, suggesting that he return.
On his way back, he stayed at an inn; the innkeeper showed great honor.
R. Yehoshua ben Perachyah: Our hostess is very nice!
A Talmid (Yeshu): But her eyes are round!
R. Yehoshua: Rasha! You gaze at married women?!
R. Yehoshua excommunicated him, and 400 people publicized this. Each day, the Talmid came before him, but he refused to see him. One day, he came before him when R. Yehoshua was reading Shema Yisrael. He gestured that he would see him when he finished.
The Talmid misinterpreted the gesture, and thought that he would not see him. He set up a brick and worshipped it.
R. Yehoshua: Repent!
The Talmid: You taught me that if one sinned and made many sin, he is not able to repent.
The Talmid did witchcraft, enticed individuals and the masses to serve idols, and caused Yisrael to sin.
(R. Shimon ben Elazar): The left hand should repel the following, and the right hand should draw them close: the evil inclination, a child, and a wife.
BEHEADING THE CALF
(Mishnah): If the murderer was found before beheading the calf, the calf may graze with the herd (i.e. it is totally permitted);
If he was found after the calf was beheaded, it is buried in its place. It is always brought to atone before the murderer is found, lest he not be found! Finding the murderer later does not change the status of the calf.
If the murderer is found after beheading the calf, he is killed.
If one witness says that he saw the murderer, and one witness contradicts him; or, one woman says that she saw the murderer, and one woman contradicts her, we behead a calf;
If one witness says that he saw, and two witnesses contradict him, we behead. If two witnesses say that they saw, and one witness contradicts them, we do not behead.
After murder became widespread, Eglah Arufah was abolished;
This was in the days of Eliezer ben Dinai, who was called Techina ben Prisha. They started calling him the murdering son.
When adultery became rampant, R. Yochanan ben Zakai abolished the Sotah water - "I will not visit upon your daughters, for they have Bi'as Znus, and your daughter-in-laws, for they commit adultery..."
When Yosi ben Yo'ezer of Tzreidah and Yosi ben Yehudah of Yerushalayim died, there were no more clusters (this will be explained).
Yochanan Kohen Gadol abolished Viduy Ma'asros (in which one says that he gave Ma'asros properly), the arousers, and the beaters (this will be explained);
Until his day, one would hear hammers in Yerushalayim.
In his day, there was no need to ask about doubtfully tithed produce.
(Gemara - Beraisa): "Atonement for the land will only come through the blood of the murderer" teaches that if the murderer is found after beheading the calf, he is killed.
ONE WITNESS IS BELIEVED
(Mishnah): If one witness says that he saw the murderer...
Inference: We behead only because one witness contradicts him. If not, the witness would be believed.
Question: What is the source for this?
Answer (Beraisa): "It is not known who killed him" - if even one person at the end of the world knows, we do not behead.
R. Akiva says, "our eyes did not see" - if the Sanhedrin saw the murder, even though they do not recognize the murderer, we do not bring a calf.
Question: If one witness is believed, how can one witness contradict him?
(Ula): Wherever the Torah believed one witness, he is believed like two. The other witness is not believed against two!
Answer #1 (Ula and R. Yitzchak): The Mishnah should say that a calf is not brought.
(R. Chiya): A calf is brought.
Question: How does R. Chiya answer question (f)?
Answer #2: The Mishnah discusses when the witnesses testify together. Ula's law applies only when they come at different times.
(Mishnah): If one witness says that he saw, and two contradict him, a calf is brought.
Inference: If only one witness contradicted him, a calf is not brought.
Question: This refutes R. Chiya!
Counter-question (Mishnah): If two say that they saw, and one contradicts them, a calf is not brought.
Inference: If only one witness saw, a calf is brought. (This supports R. Chiya and refutes Ula!)
Answer to both questions: Both Ula and R. Chiya must explain that these two clauses discuss invalid witnesses, like R. Nechemyah taught:
(Beraisa - R. Nechemyah): Wherever the Torah believed one witness, we follow the majority;
Version #1: Two women who contradict a man are like two men who contradict a man (and they are believed. One woman is not believed to contradict a man.)
Version #2: If a valid witness came first, even if 100 women later contradict him, they are only like one man (and they are not believed, since the valid witness was believed like two);
The Mishnah discusses when a woman testified first.
We explain R. Nechemya's words as follows. Wherever the Torah believed one witness, we follow the majority. Two women who contradict one woman are like two men who contradict a man (they are believed);
If two women contradict one man, we are in doubt who to believe.
Question: Why must the Mishnah teach two clauses about invalid witnesses?
Answer: One might have thought that we follow the majority (of invalid witnesses) only to be stringent. The other clause teaches that we follow them even to be lenient.
THE DECLINE OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
(Mishnah): After murder became widespread...
(Beraisa): After murder became widespread, Eglah Arufah was abolished, since it comes only when the murderer is unknown;
The murderers killed in public.
(Mishnah): When adultery became rampant...
(Beraisa): "The man will be clean from sin" - the water checks his wife only when her husband is clean from sin.
It also says "I will not visit upon your daughters, for they have Bi'as Znus..."
Question: Why is the second verse needed?
Answer: One might have thought that his own sin prevents the water from working, but the sin of his children does not. The second verse teaches that this is not so.
Suggestion: Perhaps only adultery prevents the water from working, but not Bi'ah with a single woman!
Rejection: "They are company with harlots..."
Question: What does it mean "a nation that does not understand will grow weary (from punishments)"?
Answer (R. Elazar): The Navi told them: if you yourselves conduct morally, the water will test your wives. If not, it will not.
(Continuation of Beraisa): When judges who seek pleasures increased, judgments became distorted and deeds became perverted, and the world is not pleasing to Hash-m;
When judges who show favoritism became rampant, "do not fear (in judgment)" ceased;
They cast of the yoke of Heaven, and the yoke of human kings was put upon them.
When those who try to persuade judges became rampant, Hash-m's anger against Yisrael increased, and the Divine Presence departed - "Hash-m will judge amidst the judges."
When those who pursue pleasure became rampant, flatterers increased. When flatterers increased, woe increased;
When those who draw out their spit became rampant, haughtiness increased, and Talmidim decreased, and the Torah seeks those who will learn it;
When haughtiness increased, Bnos Yisrael started marrying haughty men. In our generation, only the external is seen.
Question: It was taught that if one is haughty, even his household disgraces him. "A haughty man's dwelling will not last" - he will not even dwell in his home! (If so, why did girls marry such men?)
Answer: At first, she wanted to marry him. Later, he was disgraced in her eyes.
When judges who ask merchants to do business for them became rampant, bribery and tilting of judgment increased, and goodness ended;
When judges who showed their appreciation of favors became rampant, there was an increase in people doing like they see fit. The lowly were raised, the great ones were lowered, and the kingship in Yisrael degenerated.
When stingy people and thieves became rampant, there was more callousness and refusal to lend to money;
People transgressed "lest there be a base thought in your heart (and you will refuse to lend out of fear lest Shemitah cancel the loan)."
When people who walk with raised necks and scorning eyes became rampant, there were more Sotos, but they ceased to drink.
When people who receive gifts became rampant, days and years were shortened - "one who hates gifts will live."
THE DECLINE IN TORAH
When people who rely on their own understanding became rampant, dispute increased in Yisrael;
When the Talmidim of Hillel and Shamai increased, who did not learn long enough from their Rabbis, dispute became rampant, and it is as if there are two Toros (Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel);
When people who take Tzedakah from Nochrim became rampant, Yisrael rose and they declined. (All this is a euphemism for the opposite.) Yisrael was in front, and there were in back.
(Mishnah): When Yosi ben Yo'ezer of Tzreidah died... (the clusters ceased).
Question: What are the clusters?
Answer (Rav Yehudah): They are men who contain everything (Chachmos and good traits).