Friday, June 27, 2008

Daf: Sotah 33-35 - lots happening here

There's a lot going on in these pages; I've just added some notes on a few of the many issues. As always, read with a gemara in front of you, but I have taken a few extra minutes to try to make some of these items comprehensible for those without a gemara.

The gemara says that the entire Torah is supposed to be read in the original Hebrew. Rashi and Tosafot Shantz disagree on the application of that statement, as far as whether it refers to the weekly Torah reading or only to the biblically required Torah readings. Of particular note is the marginal comment on the Tosafot Shantz, suggesting that Parshat Parah is biblical.

Do the angels only speak Hebrew, or do they speak all non-Aramaic languages? See the Maharsha. (And boy is that topic odd – especially as it has halachic ramifications!)


Tosafot and the Maharsha seem to have different explanations of the question of והלא לא ראו את הגלגל – Tosafot מול understands it to be asking that one cannot see Gilgal from Mount Gerizim and Mount Eval, but the Maharsha seems to think it is asking that the Jews cannot see Gilgal from their desert location.

The gemara lists times when Kohanim carried the Aron. See the Gilyon haShas on other times the Aron was carried by Kohanim. The Radak he cites asks and answers as Tosafot וכשהחזירוהו does here.


I would have assumed the “300 mil” number was just an exaggeration, as is the gemara’s evaluation of the distance from earth to the clouds (in other discussions), but Tosafot יותר does not think so.


See Tosafot כחנייתן on the matter of how the Jews crossed the Yarden.

The idea that a person could walk faster than water travels downstream is odd, to say the least. Rashi רבה and Tosafot מר both wrestle with this issue, and develop different solutions.

Regarding the issue of naming someone for an event that has not yet happened (as in the case of נחבי בן ופסי and סתור), see the Maharsha in Berachot on naming Ruth רות for the deeds of her descendant Dovid haMelech. Naming has elements of prophecy associated with it. See also our earlier discussion on Leah naming Yehudah for what he would do in the future.

The gemara here famously describes Moshe re-naming Yehoshua before his espionage mission; the Maharsha says that Yehoshua’s earlier labelling of “Yehoshua” in the Torah is only because his name would be changed later.

See Tosafot אבותי on the question of whether the deceased actually know what is happening in this world – and follow up in that gemara in Berachot 18-19 on this issue, particularly given the comment in the margin here. Based on our liturgy, such as some of the Tisha b’Av kinot, we certainly believe that the deceased do find out what is happening in this world.

See the Aruch on ענק; he renders it as neck.

The Torah Temimah, commenting on the story of the spies, explains why the spies should have suffered particularly from wounds to their tongue and belly, and from the dreaded askerah death. The tongue was for lashon hara. The belly was for slandering Israel, which is seen in the gemara as the navel of the world. Askera is considered an appropriate punishment for lashon hara [but see also Pesachim 105a, where it is also a punishment for eating before havdalah…]

The idea of Dovid being blamed for Uzza’s death, when Uzza acted independently, is reminiscent of an issue discussed in many halachic authorities, of one’s liability for the death of a person who is doing a job for you. The Mahari Weil ruled that one is spiritually liable for the death of a person who is doing a job in his employ, and the issue has been greatly debated since. See Sanhedrin 95, Mahari Weil 125, Maharshal 96, Maharam Lublin 44, Beis Yosef at the end of Choshen Mishpat 188 (on financial liability), Tzemach Tzedek (the earlier) 6, Chasam Sofer 177, Avnei Nezer Yoreh Deah 478.


Rashi’s explanation of בעבר הירדן is interesting; see also Rashbam to Devarim 1:1. There are others who are more troubled by this phrase.

If the Jews are not supposed to accept peace with the Canaanites they encounter, how do we understand Rachav’s survival? Tosafot לרבות gives one answer here, and this approach is seen in Malbim to Yehoshua 2:12 as well. Radak to Yehoshua 6:25 gives a similar answer, saying she converted. On the other hand, Ibn Ezra to Shemot 20:7 says that the oath bound the Jews, despite their mitzvah regarding her.

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