• Rav Uriel Aviges

9 Av 5776


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Exodus 2

A new king arose over Egypt who did not know Joseph.

9 ט

וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אֶל־עַמּ֑וֹ הִנֵּ֗ה עַ֚ם בְּנֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל רַ֥ב וְעָצ֖וּם מִמֶּֽנּוּ׃ And he said to his people, “Look, the Israelite people are much too numerous for us.

10 י

הָ֥בָה נִֽתְחַכְּמָ֖ה ל֑וֹ פֶּן־יִרְבֶּ֗ה וְהָיָ֞ה כִּֽי־תִקְרֶ֤אנָה מִלְחָמָה֙ וְנוֹסַ֤ף גַּם־הוּא֙ עַל־שֹׂ֣נְאֵ֔ינוּ וְנִלְחַם־בָּ֖נוּ וְעָלָ֥ה מִן־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ Let us deal shrewdly with them, so that they may not increase; otherwise in the event of war they may join our enemies in fighting against us and rise from the ground.”

11 יא

וַיָּשִׂ֤ימוּ עָלָיו֙ שָׂרֵ֣י מִסִּ֔ים לְמַ֥עַן עַנֹּת֖וֹ בְּסִבְלֹתָ֑ם וַיִּ֜בֶן עָרֵ֤י מִסְכְּנוֹת֙ לְפַרְעֹ֔ה אֶת־פִּתֹ֖ם וְאֶת־רַעַמְסֵֽס׃ So they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labor; and they built garrison cities for Pharaoh: Pithom and Raamses.

12 יב

וְכַאֲשֶׁר֙ יְעַנּ֣וּ אֹת֔וֹ כֵּ֥ן יִרְבֶּ֖ה וְכֵ֣ן יִפְרֹ֑ץ וַיָּקֻ֕צוּ מִפְּנֵ֖י בְּנֵ֥י יִשְׂרָאֵֽל׃ But the more they were oppressed, the more they increased and spread out, so that the [Egyptians] came to dread the Israelites.

Jeremiah 28

At the beginning of the reign of King Jehoiakim son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

2 ב

כֹּֽה־אָמַ֤ר יְהוָה֙ אֵלַ֔י עֲשֵׂ֣ה לְךָ֔ מוֹסֵר֖וֹת וּמֹט֑וֹת וּנְתַתָּ֖ם עַל־צַוָּארֶֽךָ׃ Thus said the LORD to me: Make for yourself thongs and bars of a yoke, and put them on your neck.

3 ג

וְשִׁלַּחְתָּם֩ אֶל־מֶ֨לֶךְ אֱד֜וֹם וְאֶל־מֶ֣לֶךְ מוֹאָ֗ב וְאֶל־מֶ֙לֶךְ֙ בְּנֵ֣י עַמּ֔וֹן וְאֶל־מֶ֥לֶךְ צֹ֖ר וְאֶל־מֶ֣לֶךְ צִיד֑וֹן בְּיַ֤ד מַלְאָכִים֙ הַבָּאִ֣ים יְרוּשָׁלִַ֔ם אֶל־צִדְקִיָּ֖הוּ מֶ֥לֶךְ יְהוּדָֽה׃ And send them to the king of Edom, the king of Moab, the king of the Ammonites, the king of Tyre, and the king of Sidon, by envoys who have come to King Zedekiah of Judah in Jerusalem;

4 ד

וְצִוִּיתָ֣ אֹתָ֔ם אֶל־אֲדֹֽנֵיהֶ֖ם לֵאמֹ֑ר כֹּֽה־אָמַ֞ר יְהוָ֤ה צְבָאוֹת֙ אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֔ל כֹּ֥ה תֹֽאמְר֖וּ אֶל־אֲדֹֽנֵיכֶֽם׃ and give them this charge to their masters: Thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel: Say this to your masters:

5 ה

אָנֹכִ֞י עָשִׂ֣יתִי אֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הָאָדָ֤ם וְאֶת־הַבְּהֵמָה֙ אֲשֶׁר֙ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י הָאָ֔רֶץ בְּכֹחִי֙ הַגָּד֔וֹל וּבִזְרוֹעִ֖י הַנְּטוּיָ֑ה וּנְתַתִּ֕יהָ לַאֲשֶׁ֖ר יָשַׁ֥ר בְּעֵינָֽי׃ “It is I who made the earth, and the men and beasts who are on the earth, by My great might and My outstretched arm; and I give it to whomever I deem proper.

6 ו

וְעַתָּ֗ה אָֽנֹכִי֙ נָתַ֙תִּי֙ אֶת־כָּל־הָאֲרָצ֣וֹת הָאֵ֔לֶּה בְּיַ֛ד נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּ֥ר מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֖ל עַבְדִּ֑י וְגַם֙ אֶת־חַיַּ֣ת הַשָּׂדֶ֔ה נָתַ֥תִּי ל֖וֹ לְעָבְדֽוֹ׃ I herewith deliver all these lands to My servant, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon; I even give him the wild beasts to serve him.

7 ז

וְעָבְד֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ כָּל־הַגּוֹיִ֔ם וְאֶת־בְּנ֖וֹ וְאֶֽת־בֶּן־בְּנ֑וֹ עַ֣ד בֹּא־עֵ֤ת אַרְצוֹ֙ גַּם־ה֔וּא וְעָ֤בְדוּ בוֹ֙ גּוֹיִ֣ם רַבִּ֔ים וּמְלָכִ֖ים גְּדֹלִֽים׃ All nations shall serve him, his son and his grandson—until the turn of his own land comes, when many nations and great kings shall subjugate him.

8 ח

וְהָיָ֨ה הַגּ֜וֹי וְהַמַּמְלָכָ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר לֹֽא־יַעַבְד֤וּ אֹתוֹ֙ אֶת־נְבוּכַדְנֶאצַּ֣ר מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֔ל וְאֵ֨ת אֲשֶׁ֤ר לֹֽא־יִתֵּן֙ אֶת־צַוָּאר֔וֹ בְּעֹ֖ל מֶ֣לֶךְ בָּבֶ֑ל בַּחֶרֶב֩ וּבָרָעָ֨ב וּבַדֶּ֜בֶר אֶפְקֹ֨ד עַל־הַגּ֤וֹי הַהוּא֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה עַד־תֻּמִּ֥י אֹתָ֖ם בְּיָדֽוֹ׃ The nation or kingdom that does not serve him—King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon—and does not put its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, that nation I will visit—declares the LORD—with sword, famine, and pestilence, until I have destroyed it by his hands.

9 ט

וְ֠אַתֶּם אַל־תִּשְׁמְע֨וּ אֶל־נְבִיאֵיכֶ֜ם וְאֶל־קֹֽסְמֵיכֶ֗ם וְאֶל֙ חֲלֹמֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם וְאֶל־עֹֽנְנֵיכֶ֖ם וְאֶל־כַּשָּׁפֵיכֶ֑ם אֲשֶׁר־הֵ֞ם אֹמְרִ֤ים אֲלֵיכֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹ֥א תַעַבְד֖וּ אֶת־מֶ֥לֶךְ בָּבֶֽל׃ As for you, give no heed to your prophets, augurs, dreamers, diviners, and sorcerers, who say to you, ‘Do not serve the king of Babylon.’

10 י

כִּ֣י שֶׁ֔קֶר הֵ֖ם נִבְּאִ֣ים לָכֶ֑ם לְמַ֨עַן הַרְחִ֤יק אֶתְכֶם֙ מֵעַ֣ל אַדְמַתְכֶ֔ם וְהִדַּחְתִּ֥י אֶתְכֶ֖ם וַאֲבַדְתֶּֽם׃ For they prophesy falsely to you—with the result that you shall be banished from your land; I will drive you out and you shall perish.

11 יא

וְהַגּ֗וֹי אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָבִ֧יא אֶת־צַוָּאר֛וֹ בְּעֹ֥ל מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֖ל וַֽעֲבָד֑וֹ וְהִנַּחְתִּ֤יו עַל־אַדְמָתוֹ֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה וַֽעֲבָדָ֖הּ וְיָ֥שַׁב בָּֽהּ׃ But the nation that puts its neck under the yoke of the king of Babylon, and serves him, will be left by Me on its own soil—declares the LORD—to till it and dwell on it.”

12 יב

וְאֶל־צִדְקִיָּ֤ה מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָה֙ דִּבַּ֔רְתִּי כְּכָל־הַדְּבָרִ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לֵאמֹ֑ר הָבִ֨יאוּ אֶת־צַוְּארֵיכֶ֜ם בְּעֹ֣ל מֶֽלֶךְ־בָּבֶ֗ל וְעִבְד֥וּ אֹת֛וֹ וְעַמּ֖וֹ וִֽחְיֽוּ׃ I also spoke to King Zedekiah of Judah in just the same way: “Put your necks under the yoke of the king of Babylon; serve him and his people, and live!

13 יג

לָ֤מָּה תָמ֙וּתוּ֙ אַתָּ֣ה וְעַמֶּ֔ךָ בַּחֶ֖רֶב בָּרָעָ֣ב וּבַדָּ֑בֶר֙ כַּֽאֲשֶׁר֙ דִּבֶּ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה אֶל־הַגּ֕וֹי אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־יַעֲבֹ֖ד אֶת־מֶ֥לֶךְ בָּבֶֽל׃ Otherwise you will die together with your people, by sword, famine, and pestilence, as the LORD has decreed against any nation that does not serve the king of Babylon.

14 יד

וְאַֽל־תִּשְׁמְע֞וּ אֶל־דִּבְרֵ֣י הַנְּבִאִ֗ים הָאֹמְרִ֤ים אֲלֵיכֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר לֹ֥א תַעַבְד֖וּ אֶת־מֶ֣לֶךְ בָּבֶ֑ל כִּ֣י שֶׁ֔קֶר הֵ֖ם נִבְּאִ֥ים לָכֶֽם׃ Give no heed to the words of the prophets who say to you, ‘Do not serve the king of Babylon,’ for they prophesy falsely to you.

15 טו

כִּ֣י לֹ֤א שְׁלַחְתִּים֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה וְהֵ֛ם נִבְּאִ֥ים בִּשְׁמִ֖י לַשָּׁ֑קֶר לְמַ֨עַן הַדִּיחִ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ וַאֲבַדְתֶּ֔ם אַתֶּ֕ם וְהַנְּבִאִ֖ים הַֽנִּבְּאִ֥ים לָכֶֽם׃ I have not sent them—declares the LORD—and they prophesy falsely in My name, with the result that I will drive you out and you shall perish, together with the prophets who prophesy to you.”

16 טז

וְאֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים֩ וְאֶל־כָּל־הָעָ֨ם הַזֶּ֜ה דִּבַּ֣רְתִּי לֵאמֹ֗ר כֹּה֮ אָמַ֣ר יְהוָה֒ אַֽל־תִּשְׁמְע֞וּ אֶל־דִּבְרֵ֣י נְבִֽיאֵיכֶ֗ם הַֽנִּבְּאִ֤ים לָכֶם֙ לֵאמֹ֔ר הִנֵּ֨ה כְלֵ֧י בֵית־יְהוָ֛ה מוּשָׁבִ֥ים מִבָּבֶ֖לָה עַתָּ֣ה מְהֵרָ֑ה כִּ֣י שֶׁ֔קֶר הֵ֖מָּה נִבְּאִ֥ים לָכֶֽם׃ And to the priests and to all that people I said: “Thus said the LORD: Give no heed to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, ‘The vessels of the House of the LORD shall shortly be brought back from Babylon,’ for they prophesy falsely to you. Give them no heed. Serve the king of Babylon, and live! Otherwise this city shall become a ruin.

18 יח

וְאִם־נְבִאִ֣ים הֵ֔ם וְאִם־יֵ֥שׁ דְּבַר־יְהוָ֖ה אִתָּ֑ם יִפְגְּעוּ־נָא֙ בַּֽיהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת לְבִלְתִּי־בֹ֜אוּ הַכֵּלִ֣ים ׀ הַנּוֹתָרִ֣ים בְּבֵית־יְהוָ֗ה וּבֵ֨ית מֶ֧לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֛ה וּבִירוּשָׁלִַ֖ם בָּבֶֽלָה׃ (פ) If they are really prophets and the word of the LORD is with them, let them intercede with the LORD of Hosts not to let the vessels remaining in the House of the LORD, in the royal palace of Judah, and in Jerusalem, go to Babylon!

19 יט

כִּ֣י כֹ֤ה אָמַר֙ יְהוָ֣ה צְבָא֔וֹת אֶל־הָֽעַמֻּדִ֔ים וְעַל־הַיָּ֖ם וְעַל־הַמְּכֹנ֑וֹת וְעַל֙ יֶ֣תֶר הַכֵּלִ֔ים הַנּוֹתָרִ֖ים בָּעִ֥יר הַזֹּֽאת׃ “For thus said the LORD of Hosts concerning the columns, the tank, the stands, and the rest of the vessels remaining in this city,

20 כ

אֲשֶׁ֣ר לֹֽא־לְקָחָ֗ם נְבֽוּכַדְנֶאצַּר֙ מֶ֣לֶךְ בָּבֶ֔ל בַּ֠גְלוֹתוֹ אֶת־יְכָונְיָ֨ה בֶן־יְהוֹיָקִ֧ים מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֛ה מִירֽוּשָׁלִַ֖ם בָּבֶ֑לָה וְאֵ֛ת כָּל־חֹרֵ֥י יְהוּדָ֖ה וִירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ (ס) which King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon did not take when he exiled King Jeconiah son of Jehoiakim of Judah, from Jerusalem to Babylon, with all the nobles of Judah and Jerusalem;

21 כא

כִּ֣י כֹ֥ה אָמַ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה צְבָא֖וֹת אֱלֹהֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל עַל־הַכֵּלִ֗ים הַנּֽוֹתָרִים֙ בֵּ֣ית יְהוָ֔ה וּבֵ֥ית מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֖ה וִירוּשָׁלִָֽם׃ for thus said the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel, concerning the vessels remaining in the House of the LORD, in the royal palace of Judah, and in Jerusalem:

22 כב

בָּבֶ֥לָה יוּבָ֖אוּ וְשָׁ֣מָּה יִֽהְי֑וּ עַ֠ד י֣וֹם פָּקְדִ֤י אֹתָם֙ נְאֻם־יְהוָ֔ה וְהַֽעֲלִיתִים֙ וַהֲשִׁ֣יבֹתִ֔ים אֶל־הַמָּק֖וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃ (פ) They shall be brought to Babylon, and there they shall remain, until I take note of them—declares the LORD of Hosts—and bring them up and restore them to this place.”

Guittin 56a

Because of Kamtsa and Bar Kamtsa, Jerusalem was destroyed:

דההוא גברא דרחמיה קמצא ובעל דבביה בר קמצא עבד סעודתא אמר ליה לשמעיה As a certain man whose friend was Kamtsa and whose enemy was Bar Kamtsa arranged a banquet. He said to his servant,

זיל אייתי לי קמצא אזל אייתי ליה בר קמצא "Bring me Kamtsa." He went [and, instead,] he brought him Bar Kamtsa.

אתא אשכחיה דהוה יתיב אמר ליה He came [and] found that he was sitting. He said to him,

מכדי ההוא גברא בעל דבבא דההוא גברא הוא מאי בעית הכא "How is this? That man is an enemy of this man. What do you want here?

קום פוק Get up and go away!"

אמר ליה He said to him,

הואיל ואתאי שבקן ויהיבנא לך דמי מה דאכילנא ושתינא "Since I have [already] come, leave us and I will give you money for that that which I eat and drink."

56aנ״ו א

אמר ליה He said to him,

לא "No."

אמר ליה He said to him,

יהיבנא לך דמי פלגא דסעודתיך "I will give you money for half of your

banquet."

אמר ליה He said to him,

לא "No."

אמר ליה He said to him,

יהיבנא לך דמי כולה סעודתיך "I will give you money for all of your banquet."

א"ל He said to him,

לא "No."

נקטיה בידיה ואוקמיה ואפקיה He took him by the hand and picked him up and removed him.

אמר He said [to himself],

הואיל והוו יתבי רבנן ולא מחו ביה ש"מ קא ניחא להו איזיל איכול בהו קורצא בי מלכא Since there were rabbis sitting there and they did not protest, it is implied that it was acceptable to them. I will go and tale-bear against them at the king's court.

אזל אמר ליה לקיסר He went and he told the Caesar,

מרדו בך יהודאי "The Jews are rebelling against you."

א"ל He said to him,

מי יימר "How can one tell?"

א"ל He said to him,

שדר להו קורבנא חזית אי מקרבין ליה "Send them a sacrifice - see if they will sacrifice it."

אזל שדר בידיה עגלא תלתא He proceeded to send with him a fattened calf.

בהדי דקאתי שדא ביה מומא בניב שפתים ואמרי לה בדוקין שבעין דוכתא דלדידן הוה מומא ולדידהו לאו מומא הוא While he was coming, he placed a blemish in its upper lip, and some say in the white of its eye - a place that for us is [considered] a blemish and for them is not [considered] a blemish.

סבור רבנן לקרוביה משום שלום מלכות אמר להו רבי זכריה בן אבקולס יאמרו The Rabbis thought to sacrifice it for the sake of peaceful relations with the government. Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkulos said to them, "They will say

בעלי מומין קריבין לגבי מזבח 'Blemished animals can be sacrificed on the altar.'"

סבור למיקטליה דלא ליזיל ולימא אמר להו רבי זכריה יאמרו They thought to kill him, [so] that he not go and say [what happened]. Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkulos said to them, "They will say

מטיל מום בקדשים יהרג 'One that places a blemish on consecrated animals is [to be] killed.'"

אמר רבי יוחנן Rabbi Yochanan said,

ענוותנותו של רבי זכריה בן אבקולס החריבה את ביתנו ושרפה את היכלנו והגליתנו מארצנו "The humility of Rabbi Zecharia ben Avkulos destroyed our Temple and burned our Sanctuary and exiled us from our land."

Choulhan aruch 656

Rema: One is not obligated to spend an exorbitant amount for an Esrog or any other transient Mitzvoh as we are taught "He who wishes to spend should not spend more than a fifth of his wealth" this is true even though if he misses the opportunity for the Mitzvoh he will not be able to make it up later. (Rosh and Rabbeinu Yeruchem). This is only true by a positive commandment. To avoid transgressing a negative one must give away all of their money (Rashba and Raavad) See the end of Siman 658 (in the comment of the Rema)

מגן אברהם סימן תרנו ס"ק ח

משמע קצת בגיטין ד' נ'ו במעש' דבר קמצא שמותר לעבור על ל"ת מפני אימת המלכות ע"ש:

It seems from the talmud guittin 56 in the story of bar kamtsah, that someone is allowed to transgress a torah prohibition if he fears the government.

Guittin 57

Abba Sikra, the head of the thugs of Jerusalem, was the son of Rabban Yochanan Ben Zakai's sister. [Rabban Yochanan] sent him [a message],

תא בצינעא לגבאי "Come privately to me."

אתא א"ל He came. [Rabban Yochanan] said to him,

עד אימת עבדיתו הכי וקטליתו ליה לעלמא בכפנא "Until when will you do this and kill the world with famine."

א"ל He said to him,

מאי איעביד דאי אמינא להו מידי קטלו לי "What should I do? Since, if I say anything to them, they will kill me."

א"ל חזי לי תקנתא לדידי דאיפוק אפשר דהוי הצלה פורתא He said to him,"Show me a solution for me, that I should get out; maybe there will be a small salvation [from it]."

א"ל He said to him,

נקוט נפשך בקצירי וליתי כולי עלמא ולישיילו בך ואייתי מידי סריא ואגני גבך ולימרו דנח נפשך וליעיילו בך תלמידך ולא ליעול בך איניש אחרינא דלא לרגשן בך דקליל את דאינהו ידעי דחייא קליל ממיתא "Act as if you are sick, and have everyone come and ask about you; and [then] bring something putrid and have it lay with you and they will say that you have died. And have your students bring you out and no other men should bring you out, so that we don't become aware that you are light, since they know that a living person is lighter than a dead one."

עביד הכי נכנס בו רבי אליעזר מצד אחד ורבי יהושע מצד אחר כי מטו לפיתחא בעו למדקריה אמר להו He did this. Rabbi Eliezer went in on one side and Rabbi Yehoshua went in on the other side. When they came to the opening, [the thug gate keepers] wanted to stab him. They said to them,

יאמרו רבן דקרו "[The Romans] will say, 'they stabbed their rabbi.'"

בעו למדחפיה אמר להו And [then] they wanted to jostle him. They said to them,

יאמרו רבן דחפו "They will say, 'they jostled their rabbi.'"

פתחו ליה בבא נפק They opened the gate. He went out.

כי מטא להתם אמר He got there [and] said,

שלמא עלך מלכא שלמא עלך מלכא "Peace to you, O king, peace to you, O king."

א"ל [Vespasian] said to him,

מיחייבת תרי קטלא חדא דלאו מלכא אנא וקא קרית לי מלכא "You have made yourself guilty of two death penalties: first, since I am not a king and you have called me, 'king;'

ותו אי מלכא אנא עד האידנא אמאי לא אתית לגבאי and also, if I am a king, why did you not come to me until now?"

א"ל He said to him,

דקאמרת לאו מלכא אנא "That which you said, 'I am not a king,'

56bנ״ו ב

איברא מלכא את דאי לאו מלכא את לא מימסרא ירושלים בידך דכתיב you will be a king; since were you not a king, Jerusalem would not be delivered into your hand, as it is written (Isaiah 10:34),

(ישעיהו י, לד) והלבנון באדיר יפול ואין אדיר אלא מלך דכתיב 'and the Levanon will fall by a mighty one.' And 'mighty' can only be a king, as it is written (Jeremiah 30:21),

(ירמיהו ל, כא) והיה אדירו ממנו וגו' ואין לבנון אלא ביהמ"ק שנאמר 'And his mighty one shall be from him.' And Levanon can only be the Temple, as it is stated (Deuteronomy 3:25),

(דברים ג, כה) ההר הטוב הזה והלבנון 'this goodly mountain and the Levanon.'

ודקאמרת אי מלכא אנא אמאי לא קאתית לגבאי עד האידנא בריוני דאית בן לא שבקינן And that which you said, 'If I am a king, why did you not come to me until now;' the thugs that we have with us did not allow us."

אמר ליה He said to him,

אילו חבית של דבש ודרקון כרוך עליה לא היו שוברין את החבית בשביל דרקון "If there was a barrel of honey with a serpent wrapped over it, would one not break the barrel for the sake of [getting rid] of the serpent?"

אישתיק He was silent.

קרי עליה רב יוסף ואיתימא רבי עקיבא Rav Yosef - and some say, Rabbi Akiva - would read [this verse to be] about this (Isaiah 44:25),

(ישעיהו מד, כה) משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל איבעי ליה למימר ליה "He turns back the wise and renders their knowledge foolish." He should have said to him,

שקלינן צבתא ושקלינן ליה לדרקון וקטלינן ליה וחביתא שבקינן לה "We take tongs and we take the serpent and kill

him and leave the barrel."

אדהכי אתי פריסתקא עליה מרומי אמר ליה Bye and bye, a messenger came to him from Rome. He said to him,

קום דמית ליה קיסר ואמרי הנהו חשיבי דרומי לאותיבך ברישא הוה סיים חד מסאני בעא למסיימא לאחרינא לא עייל בעא למשלפא לאידך לא נפק אמר "Get up, the [reigning] Caesar has died, and those dignitaries of Rome have placed you at the helm." He had put on one of his shoes, [and] wanted to put the other one on. It would not go on. He tried to remove the [first one and] it would not come off. He said,

מאי האי "What is this?"

אמר ליה He said to him,

לא תצטער שמועה טובה אתיא לך דכתיב "Do not be troubled; it is a good tiding that has come to you, as it is written (Proverbs 15:30),

(משלי טו, ל) שמועה טובה תדשן עצם 'a good tiding fattens the bone.'"

אלא מאי תקנתיה [Vespasian said to him,] "But what is its remedy?"

ליתי איניש דלא מיתבא דעתך מיניה ולחליף קמך דכתיב [Rabbi Yochanan responded,] "Bring someone who is hard for you to take and have him pass in front of you, as it is written (Proverbs 17:22),

(משלי יז, כב) ורוח נכאה תיבש גרם עבד הכי עייל 'And a lowly spirit dries the bone.'" He did this [and the other shoe] went on.

אמר ליה He said to him,

ומאחר דחכמיתו כולי האי עד האידנא אמאי לא אתיתו לגבאי "And since you are so wise, until now why did you not come to me?

אמר ליה He said to him,

ולא אמרי לך "Didn't I [already] tell you?"

אמר ליה He said to him,

אנא נמי אמרי לך "I also [already] told you."

אמר ליה He said to him,

מיזל אזילנא ואינש אחרינא משדרנא אלא בעי מינאי מידי דאתן לך "I am leaving and I will send someone else, but ask something that I can give you."

אמר ליה He said to him,

תן לי יבנה וחכמיה ושושילתא דרבן גמליאל ואסוותא דמסיין ליה לרבי צדוק "Give me Yavneh and her Sages and the line of Rabban Gamliel and a cure to heal Rabbi Tsadok"

קרי עליה רב יוסף ואיתימא רבי עקיבא Rav Yosef - and some say, Rabbi Akiva - would read [this verse to be] about this (Isaiah 44:25),

(ישעיהו מד, כה) משיב חכמים אחור ודעתם יסכל איבעי למימר ליה לשבקינהו הדא זימנא "He turns back the wise and renders their knowledge foolish." He should have said to him, "Leave us this time."

והוא סבר דלמא כולי האי לא עביד והצלה פורתא נמי לא הוי And he thought that perhaps that much he would not do, and there would [then] not even be a small salvation

Abravanel and Monarchy

Abravanel opposes the monarchy completely, and holds it is never the preferred form of government. In his opinion, you may “observe the countries ruled by kings, notice their idolatry and abominations. Each king does exactly as he sees fit, and the earth is full of violence on their account. And who can tell him what to do?”1

In fact, Abravanel’s opinion of kingship is so low, that he goes so far as to argue with King Solomon’s comments on it in the Bible! Whereas Solomon praises the monarchy, since “The king’s smile brings life” (Prov. 16:14), Abravanel says that having a king is considered nothing less than “abandoning the leadership of God2.

But how could Abravanel argue with Solomon, the wisest of all men and a prophet?

He simply explains that “Even if Solomon praised the institution of kingship- he spoke on his own behalf. But how can we ignore what is self-evident (that is, the dangers of monarchy)?”3 In other words, Solomon was biased towards kingship because he was a king, but an objective bystander would understand that monarchy is a bad form of government4.

In short, Abravanel finds in scripture that “a king per se, whatever type he might be, constitutes a great evil and a serious transgression5.” This in mind, he takes his positions to their natural conclusions, and describes both the kind of regime we should have in the end of days, and the kind of regime we should have until then.

Until the End of Days

As to the practical question of the form of government now and until the Messianic Age, Abravanel tells us of a system will probably sound very familiar to all of us:

“Why shouldn’t any government be temporary, from year to year, more or less?…And why shouldn’t their prerogatives be limited and ordered according to law?…It is more likely that that an individual ruler will sin and transgress…than that many will transgress when they are jointly appointed rulers. For if one of these should transgress, the others will protest. Since they are destined to give an account of their behavior, they will be fearful of other people…”6

In other words, Abravanel supports the idea of a basic from of a responsible, representative, and democratic government. While this political vision is far from the utopia he envisions for the future, it is the best we have for now.

Democracy trend to increase communitarianism, the minorities are very effective in pressuring the government and changing the policies. The freedom of democracy has created an identity vacuum, that can be filed only by more ancient cultures. The more democracy will develop, the more the sense of patriotism will decrease. More and more people will rather identify themselves to ethnical group than to a country. If the messiah has to come through democracy, universal peace should be obtained through a dialogue between the different ethnic groups rather than through regular diplomacy.

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Hanouca 5780

דמשק אליעזר חדושים וביאורים על האבי עזרי בהלכות חנוכה : pdf

©2018 by Uriel Aviges.