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UNEDITED DRAFT of Megillah Daf 7

Submitted by Andrew M. Greene on 2008-08-05Z03:10:15.167979

Rabbi Chiyya bar Avin said that Rabbi Yochanan said: the law is like Rabban Shimon ben Gamilel, who spoke in the name of Rabbi Yose that everything must be done in the second Adar. And that is the halacha as we follow it today.

Rabbi Yochanan said: both of them derive it from a single prooftext: “all years, year in, year out.” (Esth. 9:21) Rabbi Eliezer the don of Rabbi Yose reasons that “all years, year in, year out” means Just as all years, year in and year out, Adar is adjacent to Shevat (which is the immediately preceding month) here, too, Adar is adjacent to Shevat and so the first Adar is the more “authentic” month and the one in which Purim should be observed. But Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel reasons that “all years, year in, year out” means Just as in all years, year in, year out, Adar is adjacent to Nisan (which is the immediately following month) here, too, Adar is adjacent to Nisan and so the second Adar is the more “authentic” month and the one in which Purim should be observed.

Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yose makes sense, his reasoning is clear, that we do not skip over a mitzvah and the earlier opportunity should be taken. But Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel, what is his reasoning? Rabi Tavi said: The reason of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is that connecting the redemption celebrated at Purim and the redemption celebrated at Pesach is more precious and overrides the principle that we try to do mitzvot at the earliest opportunity.

Rabbi Elazar said, the reasoning of Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is from here, as it is written: “To establish this second missive of Purim.” (Est. 9:29). He uses the word “second” as an asmachta, an allusion in the text that hints at a halachic ruling.

So now we have two reasons, and as we turn to page 7a, the Gemara will try to explain why there are two. And it is necessary to write “the second”, and it is necessary to write “in all years, year in, year out.” For if we only had “In all years,” I could have said like our question that “in all years” could mean that we consistently choose the Adar closer to either Shevat or Nissan, and absent an indication that the latter is more precious, we would follow the principle of not missing the chance to do a mitzvah and rule that Purim is to be observed in the earlier Adar. Therefore, we learn from “the second”.

But if we were told “the second” without “in all years” I might have said that it should be observed in the first and in the second That is, “the second” might be interpreted that “when you have an opportunity to observe Purim a second time in the same year, do so!” Therefore, we learn from “in all years, year in, year out” that each year must have the same number of observances of Purim.

And Rabbi Eliezer the son of Rabbi Yose, what does he do with “the second”? Recall that he ruled that Purim is always observed in the first Adar, no matter what. He requires it for that which Rav Shmuel bar Yehuda taught, for Rav Shmuel bar Yehuda said: At first, they established Purim only in Shushan, and in the end Esther sent out the second missive of Purim which established Purim in all the entire world.


Rav Shmuel bar Yehudah said: Esther sent to the sages: “Establish Purim for me for the generations.” They sent to her: “You will bring the wrath of the nations upon us by rubbing their noses in it.” She sent to them: “I’m already written in the annals of the kingdoms of the Medes and the Persians.” so what difference does it make?

Rav, and Rav Chanina, and Rabbi Yochanan, and Rav Chaviva taught….

(Oh, wait, before we get there, you should know (says the Gemara) that In the entire seder Moed (one of the six “orders” of the Mishna, which includes tractate Megillah) whenever this group appears, there are those who leave out Rabbi Yochanan and add Rabbi Yonatan.)

As we were saying, these four rabbis taught that Esther sent to the sages: “Write the Purim story for me for the generations.” That is, include the megillah in the canon of the Writings section of the Bible. They sent to her: a scriptural citation as reply: “Have I not written it for you three times?” (Prov. 22:20) Three times the Bible contains a description of the ongoing battle with and obligation to destroy Amalek, but not four times. The three passages are Ex 17:8-16, when Amalek attacked us on the way out from Egypt; Deut 25:17-19, when we are commanded to remember what Amalek did and to destroy them; and I Sam. 15:2, when Saul went out to war with Amalek.

So that was the response of the sages, until they found this written in the Torah: “Write this as a memorial in the book.” (Ex. 17:14) They used this verse to reinterpret the “three times and not four times” as follows: “Write this” – that is what is written here in Ex. 17 and in the recapitulation of the Torah (literally, Deutero-nomy) “as a memorial” – that is what is written in the Prophets, “in the book” – that is what is written in the megillah. What they’ve done is changed the idea that there can only be three passages about Amalek into the idea that Amalek is to be mentioned in each of the three divisions of the bible.

It is like the Tanaim argued. One said: “write this” – this is what is written here in Ex. “as a memorial” – this is what is written in recapitulation of the Torah; “in the book” – this is what is written in Prophets. Same idea, but distributed as three passages. Who said this? These are the words of Rabbi Yehoshua. But Rabbi Elazar from Moad said: “Write this” – that is what is written here in Ex. 17 and in the recapitulation of the Torah; “as a memorial” – that is what is written in the Prophets, “in the book” – that is what is written in the megillah.


Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: The scroll of Esther does not make the hands tamei. The issue here is whether the book of Esther is part of the biblical canon; by Rabbinic decree, holy texts render the hands tamei in the second degree.

Would you say based on this ruling ascribed to Shmuel that according to Shmuel’s reasoning, the book of Esther was not divinely inspired? For didn’t Shmuel say that Esther was divinely inspired? His position was that it was said with regard to reading, and it was not said with regard to writing. That is: with regard to reading, Esther requires a minyan; with regard to writing, it does not render the hands tamei.

That position is challenged by the following mishnah: (1) Rabbi Meir says, Kohelet does not make the hands tamei, and there’s a dispute regarding the Song of Songs. (2) Rabbi Yosei says, the Song of Songs makes the hands tamei, and there’s a dispute regarding Kohelet. (3) Rabbi Shimon says, regarding Kohelet, the school of Shammai are lenient and the school of Hillel are strict. (4) But regarding Ruth, the Song of Songs, and Esther, these make the hands tamei according to all opinions. By including Esther in this final group, the baraita appears to refute the assertion that Shmuel would hold that Esther does not make the hands tamei.

Shmuel follows the opinion like Rabbi Yehoshua, above, that Esther does not make the hands tamei.

It was taught in a baraita: Shimon ben-M’nasya says: Kohelet does not make the hands tamei, because it is the secular wisdom of Solomon and is not divinely inspired. They said to him, Is that all he said? Doesn’t it also say in I Kings 5, “And Solomon spoke three thousand proverbs”? Since, of all the teachings of Solomon, only the chapters of Kohelet were written down, we deduce that those were on a higher level, and must have been divinely inspired. And it also says in Prov. 30 “Do not add on to his words.” This is also taken as proof that these particular teachings were divinely inspired.

Why do we need the second prooftext of “And it also says”? Because you might say: Solomon said many proverbs, and the ones he wanted to include in Kohelet he wrote down, and those he did not want to include he did not write down. That is, you might suggest this was Solomon’s own editorial judgement, and not divine inspiration. Come and learn then from the second prooftext, “Do not add on to his words.”


The Gemara will now attempt to show that Esther must have been divinely inspired.

It was taught in a baraita: (1) Rabbi Eliezer sais, Esther was divinely inspired, for it says in Esther 6 “And Haman said in his heart,” and only an omniscient narrator would know Haman’s internal monologue. (2) Rabbi Akiva says, Esther was divinely inspired, for it says in Esther 2 “And it was that Ester found favor in the eyes of all who saw her,” and only an omniscient narrator could state this as a fact. (3) Rabbi Meir says, Esther was divinely inspired, for it says in Esther 2 “And the thing the plot by Bigtan and Teresh to assassinate King Achashverosh became known to Mordechai.” (4) Rabbi Yosei ben Durmaskit says, Esther was divinely inspired, for it says in Esther 9 “And on the spoils they did not set their hands” and again, only an omniscient narrator could state as a fact that no Jew anywhere in the 127 provinces took any spoils.

Shmuel said, if I had been there when that Baraita was written I would have said a proof superior to them all. For it says in Esther 9, “They upheld and accepted” which literally refers to the Jews accepting the establishment of the Purim festival. Instead, Shmuel interprets these words thus: They upheld above in the Heavenly court that which they the Jews accepted below. And only a divinely inspired narrator could relate what occurred in the Heavenly court.

Rava said, to all these proofs there is a flaw, except only for the one of Shumel in which there is no flaw. (1) The one of Rabbi Eliezer? It follows logically, for there was no man as respected by the king as Haman, and look, the lengths to which he spoke aloud show what he said in his soul. (2) The one of Rabbi Akiva? Maybe it is like the interpretation of Rabbi Elazar, who said that this verse teaches that to each and every person, Esther appeared to him like one of his own nation. (3) And look, the one of Rabbi Meir? Mayvbe it is like the interpretation of Rabbi Chiyya bar Abba, who said that Bigtan and Teresh were two men from Tarsi, and Mordechai knew their language and overheard them plotting. (4) And look, the one of Rabbi Yosei ben Durmaskit? Maybe messengers were sent to report to the king, and that’s how the author of Esther could state authoritatively that no spoils were taken. The one of Shmuel? Absolutely, there is no flaw in it!

Ravina said about Rava’s analysis of the five proofs, “It’s like they say, better one sharp pepper than a basketful of melons!”

Rav Yosef said you can prove that Esther was divinely inspired from this prooftext in Esther 9: “And these days of Purim shall not pass from among the Jews…” Since this is an eternel prophecy, it must be divinely inspired.

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak says you can prove it from this prooftext, the continuation of Rav Yosef’s chosen verse: “…and their commemoration shall not stop from their seed.”


The Mishna stated “And gifts to the poor”. Rav Yosef taught, we learn from the exact wording of the Megillah, “and sendings of food, each man to his fellow,” that the minimum obligation is two sendings to one person because the word “sendings” is plural and the word “fellow” is singular. The wording of the Megillah continues “and gifts to the poor” from which we learn two gifts to two people because “gifts” and “the poor” (evyonim) are both plural.

Rabbi Yehudah the Nasi sent to Rabbi Osha’aya the thigh portion from a calf of three This is a term whose exact meaning is unclear – either a three-year-old calf or a third-born calf – but it refers to a particularly desirable portion and a flask of wine. Rabbi Osha’aya sent this message to him: 7b Our teacher, you have fulfilled both “and sendings of food, each man to his fellow, and gifts to the poor.” We can deduce from this that Rabbi Osha’aya was both a friend of Rabbi Yehudah the Nasi and a poor man.

Rabba sent to Mari Bar Mar, by the hand of Abaye, a basketful of dates and a cupful of flour made from roasted wheat. Abaye said to Rabba: Now, Mari will say “If a peasant becomes a king, doesn’t he take the basket from his shoulders?” I.e., when a person is elevated to a higher position, his actions should also become elevated; Rabba had become the head of Pumbedita, but was still sending ordinary gifts for Purim.

Mari sent back to Rabba a basketful of ginger and a cupful of long peppers. Abaye said to Mari: Now, master Rabba will say “I sent him sweets and he sends me bitter food!”

Abaye said: When I left from my master’s house, I was full; but when I arrived there, they brought to me sixty platters with sixty varieties of cooked food, and I ate sixty portions one bite from each. The final cooked food they called “pot roast”, and when I had eaten it I wanted to chew the plate! Abaye said: It’s like they say, “A poor man hungers and doesn’t know it!” Or you could say, “There’s always room for sweets!”


Abaye bar Avin and Rabbi Chanina bar Avin would swap feasts with one another. Since neither could afford both to send gifts of food and to have his own feast, they exchanged food in order to fulfil the mitzvah of mishloach manot, and then each used the food that he had received to fulfil the mitzvah of the Purim feast.


Rava said: A person is obligated to become intoxicated on Purim until he is unaware of the difference between “Cursed be Haman” and “Blessed by Mordechai”.

Rabba and Rabbi Zeira made the Purim feast one with the other. They became intoxicated. Rabba stood up and slaughtered Rabbi Zeira. On the next day, Rabbah prayed for mercy, and brought Rabbi Zeira to life. The next year, Rabbah said to Rabbi Zeira: May my master come and may we make the Purim feast one with the other! Rabbi Zeira said to Rabbah, It is not on each and every occasion that a miracle will happen.


Rava said: A Purim feast that is eaten at night does not deliver a person from his obligation. What is the reason? In Esther 9 is written: “Days of drinking-feasts and rejoicing.” Days, and not nights.

Rav Ashi was sitting in front of Rav Kahana; the hour grew late but the rabbis did not come. Rav Ashi said to Rav Kahana: What is the reason that the rabbis have not yet come?

Rav Kahana replied: Maybe they’re involved with the Purim feast.

Rav Ashi said to Rav Kahana: But it is not possible to eat it at night!

Rav Kahana said to Rav Ashi: Did you not hear what Rava said to the master? A Purim feast that is eaten at night does not deliver a person from his obligation.

Rav Ashi said to Rav Kahana: Rava said that?

Rav Kahana said to Rav Ashi: Yes!

Rav Ashi studied this from Rav Kahana forty times, and he was like one who secured it the learning in his satchel.


The previous Mishnah ended with the formula “There is no difference between X and Y, except Z”. As it does, the Talmud will now bring out a series of other teachings whose only connection is that their wording follows the same formula.

MISHNAH: There is nothing between Yom Tov and Shabbat, except the preparation of food alone.

GEMARA: Thus, in the case of the setup for food preparation, this and that i.e., both cases are equivalent.

Our Mishna is not like the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda; for it was taught in a baraita: There is no difference between Yom Tov and Shabbat, except for the preparation of food; but Rabbi Yehuda permits even the setup for food preparation.

What is the reason that the first Tanna uses to prohibit the setup on Yom Tov? Scripture says in Ex. 12, regarding food preparation on Yom Yov, “it may be done” – ”it” and not its setup.

And Rabbi Yehudah? The verse saysit may be done for you.” — “for you” means for all your requirements.

And the other one the first Tanna also must explain that the word “for you” is written at the end of the verse. How does he do so? He explains: “for you” means and not for the worshippers of the stars; “for you” and not for dogs.

And the other one Rabbi Yehudah also must explain that the word “it” is written earlier in the verse. How does he do so? he explains: “It” is written, and “for you” is written. Here, the word “it” is restrictive, and prohibits any setup that is possible to do on the eve of Yom Tov. There, the word “for you” is permissive, and permits any setup that is impossible to do on the eve of Yom Tov. Thus, Rabbi Yehudah permits only those acts of setup on Yom Tov that could not have been done beforehand.


MISHNA - There is no difference between Shabbat and Yom Kippur except this: one who deliberately violates Shabbat is executed by human hands, and one who deliberately violates Yom Kippur is punished with karet.

GEMARA - Thus, in the case of restitution, this and that i.e., both cases are equivalent. If a single act is both a violation of the sanctity of the day and an action which results in a monetary obligation, the rules regarding restitution are the same.

Who is our Mishna following? It’s Rabbi N’chunya ben Hakana, for it was taught in the Baraita: Rabbi N’chunya ben Hakana would make Yom Kippur like Shabbat for restitution. Just as Shabbat violations cost the violator his life, but exempt him from restitution since when a single act would result in two penalties, only the more severe penalty is imposed, so too, Yom Kippur costs him his life by divine retribution and exempts him from restitution.

We learned there in a Mishna in Makkot 23a: All who are sentenced by the Heavenly court to karet, that are lashed by order of the human court, are exempted from the hands of their karet, as it is said in Deut. 25: And your brother shall be lessened in your eyes. The prooftext is in the context of administering lashes, and imposes a maximum punishment of forty lashes; the reasoning of the Mishna being cited here is that once the human court has imposed the full measure of forty lashes, any additional punishment — by either the human or Heavenly courts — is inappropriate, because once he has been given lashes, behold, he is like your brother. The cited Mishna ends by citing its source: The words of Rabbi Chananya ben Gamliel.

Rabbi Yochanan said: The fellows of Rabbi Chananya ben Gamliel disagree with him.

Rava said: As proof of the disagreement, they said in the school of Rav, this Mishna: “There is no difference between Yom Kippur and Shabbat except this: one who deliberately violates Shabbat is executed by human hands, and one who deliberately violates Yom Kippur is punished by karet.” If it is really so that the human court can administer lashes and thereby commute the punishment of karet, then both this and that are punished by human hands. Since the Mishna states that Yom Kippur violations are divinely punished, and Rabbi Chananya ben Gamliel permits the human court to commute the punishment, these are in opposition.

Rav Nachman said: Who is this? Whose is the position in the Mishna we just cited? It’s Rabbi Yitzchak, who says there are no lashes in cases where the sentence is karet. As it was taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yitzchak says, in Lev. 18, after enumerating all the forbidden sexual relations, the Torah section concludes by establishing a general rule obligating karet as the punishment; so why is karet mentioned separately in the case of one who has sex with his sister? To reinforce the rule that it is punished with karet and not with lashes. And we can apply the eighth of the general exegetical principles (bishlosh-esrei midot ha-Torah nidreshet), which states that when a general rule is given, followed by a single case singled out, the rule emphasized by the single case also applies to the general case; thus, not only the case of a man who has sex with his sister, but all these cases, are punished specifically by karet and not by lashes.

Rav Ashi said: You can even say that the rabbis wrote the Mishna that we cited above, the primary punishment for one who deliberately violates Shabbat is by human hands, and the primary punishment for one who deliberately violates Yom Kippur is with karet.


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