Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Sotah 49 – Daily Prophets, Jerusalem of Gold, Eliyahu zachur latov

I’m not sure whether I will post notes for Gittin; we’ll see. But here’s the end of Sotah, best examined with a gemara in front of you.

Using Rashi’s explanation of מוכרי רבב, tallow-merchants, the connection between this passage and the preceding one is unclear. Maharsha, though, suggests that people would use tallow instead of the lost נופת צופים referenced in the gemara’s preceding passage.

The Maharsha points out that King David prayed for livelihood for merchants, but Chavakuk prayed for livelihood for Torah scholars.

Why, specifically, does the gemara stress that two Torah scholars must exchange words of Torah when they are traveling on the road, or face harm? What about at home? Perhaps this is because of the gemara’s general approach to travel, that this is a time of danger, and so one requires special protective merit.

The gemara talks about the importance of kedusha d’sidra, the kedushah recited at the end of Shacharit in “Uva l’Tzion.” The gemara identifies this as Torah study. This dovetails nicely with the view that the reason the chachamim instituted recitation of the opening section in Uva l’Tzion [as the Haftorah] was to ensure that we would learn Navi [Prophets].

This “city of gold” ornament may be the “Yerushalayim shel zahav” “Jerusalem of Gold” ornament worn in mishnaic times and given by R’ Akiva to his wife Rachel; see Mishnah Shabbat 6:1, Shabbat 59a-b and Nedarim 50a. That is the view of Rabbeinu Tam, cited in Rosh to Shabbat 6:4. Rashi would disagree, though, for the ornament here is a crown, and Rashi says the “Jerusalem of Gold” was a brooch.
According to Rabbeinu Tam, how could people wear these in mishnaic times, if they were banned after the destruction of the Beit haMikdash? The Hagahot Ashri to Rosh Shabbat 6:4 explains that the prohibition was specifically for brides and grooms, because of the joy involved when they wore these ornaments.

When the gemara talks about the special traits of each sage, and how each trait disappeared from the world with the death of that sage, Rashi offers passages to explain the relationship between each sage and his trait. For R’ Yochanan ben Zakkai’s special trait of knowledge, though, Rashi does not explain it – but see Succah 28a, where R’ Yochanan ben Zakkai is credited with possessing all sorts of esoteric knowledge.

On the second line, it should say יש לנו להשען.

One the thirteenth line, it should say ועל מי.

In the piece inserted in our gemara, located at the bottom of the page, where it mentions Eliyahu haNavi, the ensuing acronym ז"ל should read “זכור לטוב he should be remembered for the good” rather than “זכרונו לברכה, his memory is a blessing.” See Esther Rabbah 10:9 and Maharil Hilchot Purim on the association of both Eliyahu and Charvonah with this honorific.

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  1. Mazel tov on finishing the masechta!

    Please do go on to post notes on Gittin as well - I really enjoy them (and often they do lead me to notice something I overlooked before), and I'm sure there are other readers who would agree.

  2. Get while the gittin's good, as they say.

  3. Alex-
    Thanks for the encouragement; we'll see.

    Thanks, Moshe. I can always count on you.

  4. Huh? My name is Simon. Who do you think I am?

  5. Simon,
    Really? You have the same sense of humor as a sometimes-reader named Moshe. Sorry for the mistaken attribution.