1) RECEIVING BENEFIT FROM AN EVILDOER
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that Yael had relations with Sisera in order to make him weary. The Gemara asks on what grounds did she permit herself to derive pleasure from a transgression? The Gemara answers that a Tzadik abhors any benefit or pleasure he receives from a Rasha. The Gemara cites proof from the verse in which Hash-m warned Lavan not to speak to Yakov "either good or bad" (Bereishis 31:24). It is clear why Hash-m warned Lavan not to say anything bad to Yakov, but why did He warn Lavan not to say anything good to Yakov? This verse proves that even the good words of a Rasha are considered bad to the Tzadikim.
The Gemara proceeds to ask what "bad" would Yakov have endured had Lavan spoken good things to him. The Gemara answers that perhaps Lavan would have uttered the name of an Avodah Zarah while speaking to Yakov.
The Gemara asks what "bad" was in the pleasure of the act that Yael did with Sisera. The Gemara answers that "he infused her with Zuhama" (a form of spiritual contamination).
RASHI explains that the reason why any good of a Rasha is bad for a Tzadik is that the Tzadik despises the Rasha, and thus the Tzadik's sensitivities are disgusted by any benefit he receives from a Rasha. Therefore, the benefit is not at all pleasurable to him.
Rashi's comment is problematic. The Gemara itself gives entirely different reasons for why any good words of Lavan would have been bad for Yakov, and why the pleasure of Yael's act with Sisera was abhorrent to her. The Gemara does not say, as Rashi explains, that Lavan's good words, and the pleasure from the act with Sisera, were detested by Yakov and Yael respectively, because Tzadikim despise Resha'im. Why does Rashi give a reason which the Gemara does not mention? (CHESHEK SHLOMO)
ANSWER: RASHI is bothered by the wording of the Gemara. Rebbi Yochanan says that "all of the good from the Resha'im is bad for the Tzadikim." His statement is clearly a general rule which does not refer to any specific case. What reason explains why, in every situation of a benefit provided by a Rasha for a Tzadik, the benefit is considered bad for the Tzadik? If, as the Gemara says, it is because the Rasha might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah, or the Rasha might infuse the Tzadik with "Zuhama," those reasons are limited and do not apply in many situations, such as when a Rasha gives a present to a Tzadik without talking to him and without having any other interaction with him. Why should the good of a Rasha be bad for the Tzadik in all situations?
It must be that there is a general reason behind this principle. This reason is the one which Rashi gives -- Tzadikim are so disgusted by Resha'im that any good they receive from Resha'im is abhorrent to them. (See also IYUN YAKOV.)
However, according to this explanation, why does the Gemara itself ask what the bad was in the cases of Lavan and Sisera? Rashi's explanation makes it obvious why Yakov did not want to receive any good from Lavan, and why any pleasure derived from Sisera was not pleasurable to Yael.
The answer is that Rashi's logic explains only why the Tzadik does not experience pleasure from any benefit received from a Rasha. It does not explain why the Tzadik experiences pain from the benefit. As Rashi writes, since the Tzadik abhors any benefit from a Rasha, "Lav Hana'ah Hi" -- it is not considered pleasure.
The Gemara asks why Hash-m commanded Lavan not to speak even good to Yakov. If Yakov simply would derive no pleasure from the good that Lavan would speak to him, why did Hash-m warn Lavan not to speak good? What harm would Yakov experience as a result of Lavan's good words? The Gemara answers that Lavan might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah and thereby pain the Tzadik by causing him to hear the name of an Avodah Zarah.
In the case of Yael, however, why does the Gemara ask what pain Yael experienced from the act with Sisera? Perhaps Yael suffered no pain; she merely did not derive pleasure from the act.
TOSFOS (103a, DH v'Ha) explains that when the Gemara asks on what grounds did Yael permit herself to derive pleasure from a transgression, its question is based on the Gemara in Nazir (23b) which lists Yael's act as the prototypical example of a "transgression performed Lishmah." The Gemara here asks that if Yael derived benefit and enjoyed the act, it was not an act of transgression performed "Lishmah."
Consequently, when the Gemara answers that Sisera infused her with "Zuhama," the Gemara means that had Yael merely derived no pleasure from the act with Sisera, the act would not have been considered one done Lishmah. Her act would have been no more Lishmah than any other act done for a positive purpose. What made it Lishmah was that not only did she not derive pleasure, but she even suffered from the act for the sake of saving the Jewish people. The Gemara asks in what way did she suffer, and it answers that she suffered from the "Zuhama" of the Rasha.
However, a different question remains. If Lavan's good words would have been painful to Yakov because he might have uttered the name of an Avodah Zarah, how can the Gemara prove from there that all benefits of Resha'im are bad for Tzadikim? Perhaps only benefits such as Lavan's "good" words are bad for Tzadikim, because the Rasha might mention the name of an Avodah Zarah.
The answer is that if Yakov Avinu would have enjoyed a benefit that Lavan gave to him even though Lavan might have also mentioned the name of an Avodah Zarah, perhaps that benefit would have offset the detriment of hearing the name of an Avodah Zarah. However, if that would have been the case, Hash-m would not have commanded Lavan not to do or say anything to Yakov. It must be that since Yakov Avinu would only be hurt by any benefit from Lavan, Hash-m warned Lavan not to speak "good or bad" to Yakov. Accordingly, the Gemara proves from there that the Tzadik is disgusted by any benefit given to him by a Rasha. (M. KORNFELD)
2) HASH-M'S WARNING TO LAVAN
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that Hash-m warned Lavan not to speak to Yakov "either good or bad" (Bereishis 31:24) so that Yakov would not hear the name of an Avodah Zarah that Lavan might utter. (Similarly, RASHI in Horayos (10b) explains that Hash-m commanded Lavan not to speak at all to Yakov, "either good or bad," so that Yakov would not hear Lavan swear in the name of an Avodah Zarah.) RASHI gives an example of a statement spoken by Lavan in which he uttered the name of an Avodah Zarah: When Lavan accused Yakov of stealing his Terafim he said, "Why did you steal my gods?" (Bereishis 21:20), referring to his Avodah Zarah.
The MAHARSHA in Horayos asks that it does not seem reasonable that Hash-m commanded Lavan not to say the name of an Avodah Zarah. The Torah relates that Lavan was careful not to transgress Hash-m's command; Lavan himself admitted that it was only because of Hash-m's command to him that he did not harm Yakov (Bereishis 31:29). If, however, Lavan obeyed Hash-m's command, why does the Gemara assert that Hash-m warned him not to say the name of an Avodah Zarah? The fact that Lavan did utter the name of an Avodah Zarah indicates that this was not what Hash-m commanded him not to do! He would not have uttered the name of an Avodah Zarah had Hash-m commanded him not to do so (since he obeyed Hash-m's commands). (The same question may be asked according to Rashi in Horayos. The fact that Lavan did swear in the name of an Avodah Zarah, saying, "May the... god of Nachor judge between us..." (Bereishis 31:53; see Rashi there), indicates that swearing in the name of an Avodah Zarah was not what Hash-m warned him against doing.)
(a) RAV YAKOV EMDEN (in HAGAHOS HA'YA'AVETZ) explains that when Rashi says that Lavan said, "Why did you steal my gods," Rashi's intention is merely to demonstrate that Lavan was accustomed to mentioning the name of Avodah Zarah. However, this particular mention of Avodah Zarah was not "good" or "bad," and thus Lavan did not transgress the command of Hash-m not to speak in this manner to Yakov Avinu.
This answer is difficult to understand. This statement of Lavan clearly was "bad," for he was accusing Yakov Avinu of stealing his gods.
(b) The ARUCH LA'NER explains that the Maharsha's question on Rashi in Horayos is unfounded. Lavan did nothing wrong by swearing in the name of "the god of Nachor," because he did not swear only in the name of that god, but he also mentioned the name of Hash-m ("May the G-d of Avraham and the god of Nachor judge between us..."). TOSFOS in a number of places (see Bechoros 2b) writes that a Nochri is prohibited only from taking an oath in the name of Avodah Zarah alone. He is not prohibited from swearing in the name of Hash-m together with the name of an Avodah Zarah. Since Lavan mentioned the name of Hash-m with the name of his Avodah Zarah, he transgressed no command of Hash-m.
The Aruch la'Ner explains that when Rashi here writes that Lavan said, "Why did you steal my gods," he does not mean that Lavan uttered the name of an Avodah Zarah in his statement. Rather, Rashi means that Lavan was commanded not to swear in the name of Avodah Zarah (as Rashi in Horayos explains). Why, though, was Hash-m concerned that Lavan would do such a thing? What indication is there that Lavan served Avodah Zarah, or that he deified his Terafim as gods? Perhaps he considered them as mere symbolic figureheads. Rashi answers this question by quoting Lavan's statement, "Why did you steal my gods," which shows that Lavan actually considered them gods, and therefore there was cause for concern that he might swear in the name of Avodah Zarah.
(c) Another approach may be suggested as follows. Lavan apparently deluded himself into misconstruing Hash-m's command to him. This is evident from a simple reading of the verses. Hash-m told Lavan, "Do not speak to Yakov, either good or bad" (Bereishis 31:24). When Lavan justified his actions to Yakov he said, "I have the power to harm you, but Hash-m told me last night, 'Be careful not to speak with Yakov good or bad'" (Bereishis 31:29). Lavan obviously convinced himself that when Hash-m told him not to "speak" to Yakov good or bad, Hash-m meant that he should not "speak to do" to Yakov good or bad (that is, he should not threaten Yakov with physical harm or bribe him with financial gain). That is why Lavan was careful not to threaten to harm Yakov. However, he did not refrain from speaking good or bad to Yakov (as he accused him of stealing and other wrongs), and in that regard he did not fulfill the command of Hash-m.
The Gemara explains that Hash-m's command was to be taken at face value: that Lavan was not to speak good or bad to Yakov. Lavan did not heed that part of the command. In his wickedness, he took the command of Hash-m out of its literal meaning and permitted himself to speak harshly to Yakov, and refrained merely from threatening to do harm to Yakov. (M. KORNFELD)
3) THE SHOE OF AN IDOL
QUESTION: Rava rules that one may not perform Chalitzah with a "Sandal Shel Avodas Kochavim," a shoe of an idol. However, if one performed Chalitzah with such a shoe, b'Di'eved the Chalitzah is valid.
The Gemara (104a) teaches that the shoe used for Chalitzah must be one made for walking. The shoe of an idol, however, obviously is not used for walking. Why, then, is the Chalitzah performed with such a shoe valid?
(a) RASHI explains that the shoe indeed is placed on the foot of the idol and left there while the idol is moved from place to place. Even though the idol is just a carved piece of stone, the shoe is considered "made for walking" since it protects the stone foot from being harmed by the ground as the idol is moved from place to place.
(b) The RITVA rejects Rashi's explanation. He argues that being moved from place to place is not called "walking." Indeed, when the verse discusses the powerlessness of idols it explicitly states, "They have feet but they do not walk" (Tehilim 115:7).
The Ritva explains instead that the shoe of an idol refers to a shoe that was used originally by a person for walking, and then was donated to the idol and placed upon the idol's foot. Since, until now, it was used for walking, it is called "made for walking."
Rashi apparently does not accept this explanation because he maintains that as long as a shoe is not presently used for walking, it is not valid for Chalitzah. A shoe that was once used by a person for walking and then was donated to the idol is not considered "made for walking"; its original use is irrelevant. If, on the other hand, a person would remove the shoe from the foot of the idol and walk in it, he would thereby annul its use for Avodah Zarah (a concept called "Bitul") and it would no longer be considered a shoe of Avodah Zarah.
Perhaps the underlying dispute between Rashi and the Ritva is the definition of a shoe made for walking. Does "made for walking" describe the usage of the shoe, or does it describe the type of shoe?
Rashi apparently maintains that "made for walking" means that the shoe is used for walking. Therefore, it actually must be used for walking in order to qualify as a valid shoe for Chalitzah. The fact that it was once used for walking does not give it the status of a shoe made for walking.
The Ritva disagrees and maintains that "made for walking" refers to the type of shoe normally worn for walking. As long as the shoe was once worn by a person and used for walking, it is a type of walking shoe and may be used for Chalitzah. Although now it has been placed on the idol, a general rule teaches that an object does not lose its original status unless a physical change is made in the composition of the object. (For example, a utensil that becomes Tamei does not lose its status as a utensil to become Tahor unless a "Shinuy Ma'aseh," a physical change, is made in the utensil; see Shabbos 52b.) If a person merely decides to use the object for a different purpose, its status does not change. Accordingly, the shoe remains a shoe "made for walking" even though it is placed on the foot of an idol and is no longer used for walking.