1) AGADAH: THE JEWISH PEOPLE COMPLAIN FOR "FISH"
QUESTION: When the Jewish people left Har Sinai, where they had been encamped for nearly a year, they complained that they missed the fish which they ate in Mitzrayim (Bamidbar 11:5). The Gemara says that these "fish" refer to the relationships of Arayos (incestuous relationships) that were permitted until the Torah was given at Har Sinai.
Why did the people start to complain only when they left Har Sinai? The prohibitions of Arayos were given when the Torah was given eleven months earlier (in Sivan)! Why did they wait until they left Har Sinai to complain? (MIZRACHI, Bamidbar 11:10)
(a) The SIFSEI CHACHAMIM answers that when the Jewish people were encamped at Har Sinai, all of the tribes were grouped together. Only when they started to travel were they separated into different camps. At that time, the only women in their midst were those from their immediate family. Since many of the women of their own family and tribe were forbidden to them because of the prohibitions of Arayos, they felt the restriction at this time more than they felt it when they were encamped at Har Sinai.
(b) The MAHARAL (in GUR ARYEH) explains that when the Jewish people complained that they missed the "fish," they indeed meant the foods that they missed. Now that they became overcome with Ta'avah (lust) for those foods, they added the other things for which they craved, including the Arayos.
Perhaps the Maharal means that throughout the time the Jewish people sojourned at Har Sinai, they constantly experienced the awe of the Shechinah's presence as Hash-m taught Moshe the Mitzvos accompanied by thunder and flame (Rashi to Ta'anis 21a, DH El Mul). They had no Ta'avos at Har Sinai because the awe of Hash-m overcame them. Once they departed from Sinai, however, their Ta'avos overcame them and they complained.
(c) The TOSFOS YOM HA'KIPURIM suggests that when a man and a woman who are closely related are permitted to marry each other, it is easier for each one to find a wife or a husband who will be totally subservient to the will of the other. One can find a close relative who, because of the relationship, will be eager to be subservient. When the Jewish people became limited to marrying non-relatives, the husbands and wives (who would have been subservient had they married relatives) were able to make all sorts of demands upon their spouses. At Har Sinai, living conditions were good (since they were settled down and were not traveling) and their spouses were able to give in to those demands, but once they started to travel their standard of living decreased and they were disturbed by the demands their spouses were making.
(d) The KLI YAKAR cites the Gemara in Bava Kama (83a) which teaches that the Shechinah dwells amidst the Jewish people only when there are at least 22,000 Jews in one place. The Gemara derives this from the verse, "... Shuvah Hash-m Rivevos Alfei Yisrael" (Bamidbar 10:36; see Rashi there), which is part of the description of the Jews' departure from Har Sinai. The fact that the Shechinah dwells only amidst such a large number of Jews emphasizes the importance of increasing the number of Jews, for without large numbers the Shechinah cannot dwell among us.
When the Jews were commanded at Har Sinai to divorce their spouses who were closely related to them, they acquiesced and reasoned that there is no need to be married. However, when they left Har Sinai Hash-m said to them, "... Shuvah Hash-m Rivevos Alfei Yisrael." Hash-m told them that they must increase their numbers in order to have the Shechinah among them. When they realized that Hash-m wanted them to be married, they complained about being commanded to divorce their original wives.
This explains why they complained about their wives in terms of "fish." Fish represent the ability to multiply rapidly, as the verse says, "v'Yidgu la'Rov" (Bereishis 48:16).
The Kli Yakar points out that this explains the presence of the backwards "Nun" at the beginning and end of the verses of "Vayehi Binso'a ha'Aron" (Bamidbar 10:35-36). The word "Nun" means fish. The people complained that they were like "inverted fish" -- they were forced to divorce their wives, while at the same time commanded to multiply.
2) THE "SLAV" WHICH FELL WITH THE "MAN"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara discusses the source that Slav descended for the Jewish people in the wilderness. The verse relates that Hash-m gave the Jewish people Slav after they complained, "and it was spread out (Shato'ach) around the encampment" (Bamidbar 11:32). Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah says, "Do not read the word 'Shato'ach' but rather 'Shachot.' This teaches that along with the Man (manna) came something which needed Shechitah."
Rebbi argues and says that the source that Slav descended is not from the word "Shachot." Rather, the verse in Tehilim (78:27) states that "it rained down upon them... winged birds." Rebbi adds that the verse, "v'Zavachta... Ka'asher Tzivisicha" (Devarim 12:21), teaches that when Hash-m commanded the laws of Shechitah, He included the law that a bird must be slaughtered by cutting the majority of one of the two Simanim.
(a) Where is the Man mentioned in the verse which Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah quotes? The verse discusses the Slav and makes no mention of the Man.
(b) Why does Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah need to prove that birds came down with the Man by reversing the letters of the word "Shato'ach," and why does Rebbi need to prove from the verse in Tehilim that birds came down? No proof is necessary, because the verse explicitly states that Slav came down and covered the camp.
(c) When Rebbi asserts that the verse in Tehilim teaches that birds came down, why does the Gemara add that Rebbi maintains that birds need Shechitah? What does this Halachah add to Rebbi's rejection of Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah's proof that Slav descended?
If Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah's intention is to teach that birds need Shechitah, then why does Rebbi respond with the verse in Tehilim that says that birds came down but makes no mention of Shechitah?
(a) The NIMUKEI HA'GRIV points out that when RASHI quotes the words of the Gemara, he omits the words "with the Man." Apparently, Rashi's text of the Gemara did not include those words. That Girsa makes sense, because the verse that discusses the Slav makes no mention of the Man.
(According to our text which includes the words "with the Man," perhaps those words mean simply that Slav came down for the Jewish people just as Man came down, but the two indeed are unrelated to each other.)
(b) Apparently, Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah was unsure what the Slav were. The verse states that they "came from the sea" (Bamidbar 11:31), and thus he was in doubt whether the Slav were birds or whether they were fish. He derives from the word "Shato'ach" which can be read "Shachot" that the Slav must have been birds, because fish do not require Shechitah.
(c) Why, in his response to Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah, does Rebbi need to mention the law that birds need Shechitah in addition to the verse in Tehilim which teaches that birds came down for the Jewish people? Apparently, Rebbi is unsure what Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah was trying to prove (that is, Rebbi is unsure about what Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah was unsure about). In case Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah wanted to prove that birds came down and not fish, Rebbi cites the verse in Tehilim which teaches that the Slav were birds. In case Rebbi Yehoshua ben Korchah knew that the Slav were birds but he wanted to prove that birds need Shechitah, Rebbi shows that there is a different source for the requirement for Shechitah of birds -- the verse "v'Zavachta Ka'asher Tzivisicha." (M. KORNFELD)
3) AGADAH: THE GEMARA'S DISCUSSION OF THE "MAN"
QUESTION: The Gemara continues its lengthy discussion about the Man (manna) and records a dispute about why the Man was called "Lechem Abirim" (Tehilim 78:25). According to Rebbi Akiva, the Man was the food of angels ("Abirim"). According to Rebbi Yishmael, the Man became entirely absorbed into the limbs ("Nivla b'Evarim") of the person who ate it, leaving no waste products.
Why does the Gemara choose to discuss the Man specifically in this chapter of Yoma? In what way is the Man related to the primary topics of discussion?
ANSWER: REBBI TZADOK (in PRI TZADIK, end of Erev Yom Kippur #1) explains that whenever the Gemara discusses a topic of Agadah at length, that topic has some connection to both the name of the Maseches and to the first words of the chapter. For example, the Gemara in Perek ha'Nizakin, the fifth chapter of Gitin, discusses the topic of the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash at length. Hash-m's expulsion of the Jewish people from Eretz Yisrael at the time of the Churban was similar to a man's divorce of his wife (as the verse says in Yeshayah 50:1). Accordingly, the Gemara's discussion of the Churban there is related to the name of the Maseches, Gitin. Furthermore, the discussion of the Churban is related to Perek "ha'Nizakin" because the destruction of the Beis ha'Mikdash was like damage ("Nezek") done to the Jewish people, as the Gemara in Bava Kama (60b) describes. (The Gemara there says that Hash-m will have to compensate for burning down the Beis ha'Mikdash, as it were, by rebuilding it, just as a Mazik, a person who damages the property of another, is obligated to pay for the damages.)
Rebbi Tzadok explains that in the Gemara here, both Rebbi Akiva and Rebbi Yishmael are correct. The Man was the food of the angels, as Rebbi Akiva says, and yet it was eaten by mortal man. How could mortal man eat the heavenly Man, a spiritual substance? When the spiritual entity of the Man descended to the physical world, it became corporeal itself (like every Neshamah that descends to this world), and thus it could be eaten by man.
The contrasting experiences of feasting on Erev Yom Kippur and fasting on Yom Kippur are comparable to the two forms of the Man, its original spiritual form and its eventual physical form. On Erev Yom Kippur one is commanded to eat and to enjoy the physical pleasure of food (81b). In contrast, on Yom Kippur one attains an elevated level of holiness, a level even greater than the holiness one attains on Shabbos, and his source of pleasure becomes the spiritual pleasure of Olam ha'Ba, where "there is no eating or drinking, but rather the righteous sit with their crowns upon their heads and bask in the pleasure of the Shechinah" (Berachos 17a). The spiritual pleasure which one experiences on Yom Kippur corresponds to the pristine, spiritual Man itself, the food of the angels.