Friday, July 30, 2004

Berachos 27b - Tefillas Arvis R'shus Oy Chovah - Part I

On this page, and on 28a, we have the fascinating story of the disagreement between Rabban Gamliel and R' Yehoshua, Rabban Gamliel's dismissal, and his reinstatement. Because this is an open forum, I want to point out that a careful reading of the gemara shows that every participant in the story was acting for the sake of heaven - l'shem shamayim. Please keep that in mind. I will Iy"H put up a few posts on this sugya.
The gemara - ת"ר מעשה בתלמיד אחד שבא לפני ר' יהושע א"ל תפלת ערבית רשות או חובה אמר ליה רשות בא לפני רבן גמליאל א"ל תפלת ערבית רשות או חובה א"ל חובה א"ל והלא ר' יהושע אמר לי רשות א"ל המתן עד שיכנסו בעלי תריסין לבית המדרש כשנכנסו בעלי תריסין עמד השואל ושאל תפלת ערבית רשות או חובה א"ל רבן גמליאל חובה אמר להם רבן גמליאל לחכמים כלום יש אדם שחולק בדבר זה אמר ליה ר' יהושע לאו א"ל והלא משמך אמרו לי רשות אמר ליה יהושע עמוד על רגליך ויעידו בך עמד רבי יהושע על רגליו ואמר אלמלא אני חי והוא מת יכול החי להכחיש את המת ועכשיו שאני חי והוא חי היאך יכול החי להכחיש את החי - relates how a student asked R' Yehoshua if it was obligatory to daven Ma'ariv. R' Yehoshua answered that it isn't obligatory. The student subsequently asked Rabban Gamliel, the Nasi, and he answered that it is obligatory. When the student mentioned to Rabban Gamliel that R' Yehoshua disagreed, Rabban Gamliel publicly asked R' Yehoshua what his position was. R' Yehoshua publicly answered that it was obligatory - reversing what he had told the student. Rabban Gamliel told him, "We heard it said in your name that it isn't obligatory!" Rabban Gamliel made R' Yehoshua stand up to "face the charges." R' Yehoshua stood up, and said, "If I were alive, and he [the student] were dead, I could contradict him [and say that I never said that it isn't obligatory]. Now that I'm alive and he's alive, how can I contradict him?"
With this gemara we can possibly explain something else. The gemara on 28a, all the way at the end of the story, identifies the student as Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai. Why did the gemara wait until the end? If it was important for us to know (as it obviously is - since the gemara ends up saying it), the gemara should have said it right away!
Also, we know from Shabbos 33b, that Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai spent twelve years in exile, hiding from the Romans. Why was he punished in this manner?
The answer to both these questions may be based on the gemara later on on 56a. (Please see there for the whole story.) Rava cursed bar Hadaya with death. Bar Hadaya said to himself, "What should I do? We learned, that a Chacham's curse, even if based on a false premise is fulfilled! Certanly in my case - where I deserve the curse - it will be fulfilled. I'll go into exile, for we learned that exile atones for sin." We see from here that even if a Chacham curses someone inadvertantly it will be fulfilled. We also see that even if one is cursed with death - exile may atone.
It may be that when Rabbi Yehoshua said, "If I were alive, and he [the student] were dead," he inadvertantly cursed the student with death. The student, R' Shimon bar Yochai had to go to exile to ameliorate the effects of the curse. The gemara only tells us what's necessary. Therefore, when it says the story of R' Yehoshua and Rabban Gamliel it didn't feel it was necessary to tell us who the student was. However, although it has nothing to do with the story, there is something we may learn from knowing the student's identity. That's why the gemara tacks on the student's identity at the end.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

tropic of cancer

4/2/07 2:24 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home