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Today's Daf Yomi

October 29, 2017 | ט׳ במרחשוון תשע״ח

  • This month's learning is dedicated by Debbie and Yossi Gevir to Rabbanit Michelle and the Hadran Zoom group for their kindness, support, and care during a medically challenging year.

Sanhedrin 105

Some say that all 7 people mentioned in the mishna do receive a portion in the World to Come.  A verse is brought that is explained in a way that the Jews in the time leading up to the destruction thought that they had a winning answer to counter God and his prophets when they told the people to repent.  Three explanations of what was this “winning answer” is brought.   And in two of them, the weakness in their answer is explained.  The gemara now moves on to discuss Bilam as he is mentioned in the list of those who have no portion in the world to come.  What did he do wrong?  How did he succeed in convincing God to let him go?  Why did he get his own donkey ready instead of letting his servants do it?  What was the nature of the conversation he had with his donkey?    How did he think he would succeed in cursing the Jewish people?  And finally, did he really not succeed in cursing them?


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דקאתי מיהודה מואב סיר רחצי זה גחזי שלקה על עסקי רחיצה על אדום אשליך נעלי זה דואג האדומי עלי פלשת התרועעי אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אם יבא דוד שהרג את הפלשתי והוריש את בניך גת מה אתה עושה לו אמר להן עלי לעשותן ריעים זה לזה

who comes from the tribe of Judah. “Moab is My washing pot”; this is referring to Gehazi, who was afflicted with leprosy over matters of washing, as he took money from Naaman, who he instructed to immerse in the Jordan River. “Over Edom I will cast My shoe”; this is referring to Doeg the Edomite. “Philistia, cry aloud [hitroa’i] because of Me”; this is referring to the fact that the ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if David, who killed the Philistine and bequeathed the city of Gath to your sons, will come and complain that You gave a share in the World-to-Come to his enemies Doeg and Ahithophel, what will You do concerning him? Will you accept his complaint? God said to the ministering angels: It is upon me to render David and his enemies friends [re’im] with each other, and even David will agree.

מדוע שובבה העם הזה ירושלים משבה נצחת וגו׳ אמר רב תשובה נצחת השיבה כנסת ישראל לנביא אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אבותיכם שחטאו היכן הם אמרו להן ונביאיכם שלא חטאו היכן הם שנאמר אבותיכם איה הם והנבאים הלעולם יחיו אמר להן (אבותיכם) חזרו והודו שנאמר ׳אך דברי וחקי אשר צויתי את עבדי הנביאים׳ וגו׳

§ With regard to the verse: “Why is this people of Jerusalem slid back in perpetual backsliding?” (Jeremiah 8:5), Rav says: The congregation of Israel answered with a convincing response to the prophet. The prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent, as your ancestors sinned, and where are they? They said to the prophets: And your prophets who did not sin, where are they? They too died, as it is stated: “Your fathers, where are they, and the prophets; do they live forever?” (Zechariah 1:5). The prophet said to the Jewish people: Your ancestors reconsidered and conceded that the admonitions of the prophets were fulfilled, as it is stated: “By my words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? And they repented and said: As the Lord of hosts intended to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so has He dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:6).

שמואל אמר באו עשרה בני אדם וישבו לפניו אמר להן חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו עבד שמכרו רבו ואשה שגרשה בעלה כלום יש לזה על זה כלום אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לנביא לך אמור להן ׳אי זה ספר כריתות אמכם אשר שלחתיה או מי מנושי אשר מכרתי אתכם לו הן בעונותיכם נמכרתם ובפשעיכם שלחה אמכם׳

Shmuel says that this was the convincing answer: Ten people came and sat before the prophet Ezekiel. He said to them: Repent. They said to Ezekiel: In the case of a slave sold by his owner to another master, or a woman divorced by her husband, does this person have any claim upon that person? Since God gave the Jewish people to other masters, the ties that existed between Him and us were severed. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the prophet: Go say to them: “Where is your mother’s scroll of severance, with which I sent her away? Or to which of My creditors have I sold you? For your iniquities you sold yourselves and for your transgressions was your mother sent away” (Isaiah 50:1). Learn from this that God did not sever His ties to the Jewish people.

והיינו דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב דוד עבדי נבוכדנצר עבדי גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתידין ישראל לומר כך לפיכך הקדים הקדוש ברוך הוא וקראו עבדו עבד שקנה נכסים עבד למי נכסים למי

And that is what Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “David, My slave” (II Samuel 3:18), and: “Nebuchadnezzar, my slave” (Jeremiah 43:10)? How can the wicked Nebuchadnezzar be depicted as a slave of God in the same manner that David was depicted? Rather, it is revealed and known before the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that the Jewish people are destined to say that God sold them to the nations and they no longer have ties to Him. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, preemptively called Nebuchadnezzar His slave. With regard to the halakha concerning a slave who acquires property, the slave belongs to whom and the property belongs to whom? They both belong to the master, in this case, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

והעלה על רוחכם היו לא תהיה אשר אתם אמרים נהיה כגוים כמשפחות הארצות לשרת עץ ואבן חי אני נאם ה׳ אלהים אם לא ביד חזקה ובזרוע נטויה ובחמה שפוכה אמלוך עליכם אמר רב נחמן כל כי האי ריתחא לירתח רחמנא עלן ולפרוקינן

With regard to the verse: “And what comes into your mind shall never come to be, that you say: We will be like the nations, like the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you” (Ezekiel 20:32–33), Rav Naḥman says: Let the Merciful One become wrathful at us with all that wrath, and redeem us.

ויסרו למשפט אלהיו יורנו אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו אין אנו יכולין יצר הרע שולט בנו אמר להם יסרו יצריכם אמרו לו אלהיו יורנו

With regard to the verse: “And chastise in judgment; his God will instruct him” (Isaiah 28:26), Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that the prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent. They said to him: We cannot, since the evil inclination dominates us. He said to them: Chastise your inclinations. They said to him: “His God will instruct him,” i.e., God should instruct the evil inclination to allow us to overcome him, as we are incapable of doing so on our own.

ארבעה הדיוטות בלעם ודואג ואחיתופל וגחזי בלעם בלא עם דבר אחר בלעם שבלה עם בן בעור שבא על בעיר

§ The mishna teaches that four prominent commoners, Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi, have no share in the World-to-Come. The Gemara elaborates: The name Balaam is interpreted as a contraction of: Without a nation [belo am], or one who has no share in the World-to-Come with the Jewish nation. Alternatively, the name Balaam is interpreted as one who wore down the Jewish people [bila am]. He is the son of Beor, one who engaged in bestiality [be’ir].

תנא הוא בעור הוא כושן רשעתים הוא לבן הארמי בעור שבא על בעיר כושן רשעתים דעבד שתי רשעיות בישראל אחת בימי יעקב ואחת בימי שפוט השופטים ומה שמו לבן הארמי שמו

It was taught in a baraita: He is Beor, father of Balaam, he is Cushan-Rishathaim, he is Laban the Aramean. He was called Beor because he engaged in bestiality. He was called Cushan-Rishathaim because he performed two evil deeds [rishiyyot] to the Jewish people, one during the time of Jacob, when he pursued him intending to kill him, and one during the time when the judges judged. And what was his actual name? His name was Laban the Aramean.

כתיב בן בעור וכתיב בנו בער אמר רבי יוחנן אביו בנו הוא לו בנביאות

It is written: “Son of Beor” (Numbers 22:5), and it is written elsewhere: “His son Beor” (Numbers 24:3). Rabbi Yoḥanan says in resolving the apparent contradiction: Balaam’s father was his son in terms of prophecy, as Balaam was a much greater prophet.

בלעם הוא דלא אתי לעלמא דאתי הא אחריני אתו מתניתין מני

The Gemara infers from the mishna: Balaam is the one who does not come into the World-to-Come; but other gentiles come into the World-to-Come. Whose opinion is expressed in the mishna?

רבי יהושע היא דתניא רבי אליעזר אומר ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה׳ אלו פושעי ישראל ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ אלו פושעי גויים דברי רבי אליעזר אמר לו רבי יהושע וכי נאמר ׳בכל גוים׳ והלא לא נאמר אלא ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ אלא ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה׳ מאן נינהו ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳

It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: It is written: “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, all that nations that forget God” (Psalms 9:18). “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld”; these are the sinners of the Jewish people, as only the sinners are sentenced to the netherworld. “All the gentiles that forget God”; these are the sinners of the gentiles. From the fact that it is written: “All the gentiles,” it is apparent that none of the gentiles have a share in the World-to-Come. This is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: But is it stated in the verse that the sinners of the Jewish people will be like all of the gentiles? It is stated only: “All the gentiles that forget God.” Rather, the wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, and who are they? They are all the gentiles that forget God. Gentiles who fear God do have a share in the World-to-Come.

ואף אותו רשע נתן סימן בעצמו אמר תמת נפשי מות ישרים אם תמות נפשי מות ישרים תהא אחריתי כמוהו ואם לאו הנני הולך לעמי

And that wicked person, Balaam, also provided a sign with regard to himself. He said: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his” (Numbers 23:10). If I die the death of the righteous, by natural causes, my end will be like his, i.e., I will receive a share in the World-to-Come like the Jewish people. And if I do not die by natural causes: “I will go to my people” (Numbers 24:14), i.e., my fate will be that of the rest of the wicked people in my generation, who have no share in the World-to-Come.

וילכו זקני מואב וזקני מדין תנא מדין ומואב לא היה להם שלום מעולם משל לשני כלבים שהיו בעדר והיו צהובין זה לזה בא זאב על האחד אמר האחד ׳אם איני עוזרו היום הורג אותו ולמחר בא עלי׳ הלכו שניהם והרגו הזאב אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי כרכושתא ושונרא עבדו הלולא מתרבא דביש גדא

With regard to the verse: “And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian set out with their divinations in their hands, and they came to Balaam” (Numbers 22:7), it was taught in a baraita: Midian and Moab had previously never had peace between them, and they were always at war with each other. What led them to make peace at that time? There is a parable of two dogs that were with the flock, and they were hostile to one another. A wolf came and attacked one. The other one said: If I do not help him, today he kills him and tomorrow he comes to attack me. They both went and killed the wolf. Moab and Midian joined together to face the potential common threat, the Jewish people. Rav Pappa says that this is in accordance with the adage that people say: A weasel [karkushta] and a cat made a wedding from the fat of the luckless. Despite their hatred of one another, they join together for their mutual benefit at the expense of a third party.

וישבו שרי מואב עם בלעם ושרי מדין להיכן אזול כיון דאמר להו לינו פה הלילה והשיבתי אתכם דבר אמרו כלום יש אב ששונא את בנו

It is written: “And the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam” (Numbers 22:8). The Gemara asks: And to where did the princes of Midian who accompanied the princes of Moab go? The Gemara answers: Once Balaam said to them: “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word when the Lord speaks to me” (Numbers 22:8), the elders of Midian said: If he seeks permission from the Lord, he will not join us, as is there any father who hates his son? Certainly the Lord will help the Jewish people.

אמר רב נחמן חוצפא אפילו כלפי שמיא מהני מעיקרא כתיב לא תלך עמהם ולבסוף כתיב קום לך אתם אמר רב ששת חוצפא מלכותא בלא תאגא היא דכתיב ואנכי היום רך ומשוח מלך והאנשים האלה בני צרויה קשים ממני וגו׳

Rav Naḥman says: Impudence is effective even toward Heaven. How so? Initially, it is written that God said to Balaam: “You shall not go with them” (Numbers 22:12), and ultimately after Balaam persisted and asked, it is written: “Rise up and go with them” (Numbers 22:20). Rav Sheshet says: Impudence is monarchy without a crown, as it is an assertion of leadership and lacks only the official coronation as king, as it is written: “And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me” (II Samuel 3:39). The sons of Zeruiah, due to their impudence, were as formidable as David himself.

אמר רבי יוחנן בלעם חיגר ברגלו אחת היה שנאמר וילך שפי שמשון בשתי רגליו שנאמר שפיפן עלי ארח הנושך עקבי סוס בלעם סומא באחת מעיניו היה שנאמר שתם העין

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Balaam was disabled in one of his legs, as it is stated concerning him: “And he went limping [shefi]” (Numbers 23:3). Samson was disabled in both his legs, as it is stated with regard to Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, in the prophetic blessing of Jacob: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder [shefifon] in the path that bites the horse’s heels” (Genesis 49:17). Rabbi Yoḥanan interprets shefifon as the plural of shefi, indicating disability in both legs. Balaam was blind in one of his eyes, as it is stated: “Whose eye is open” (Numbers 24:3), indicating that one eye was open and the other was blind.

קוסם באמתו היה כתיב הכא נפל וגלוי עינים וכתיב התם והמן נפל על המטה וגו׳ איתמר מר זוטרא אמר קוסם באמתו היה מר בריה דרבינא אמר שבא על אתונו מאן דאמר קוסם באמתו היה כדאמרן ומאן דאמר בא על אתונו היה כתיב הכא כרע שכב וכתיב התם בין רגליה

The Gemara relates: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. It is written here: “Fallen, yet with opened eyes” (Numbers 24:4), and it is written there: “And Haman was fallen upon the divan whereupon Esther was” (Esther 7:8), indicating that the verb fallen has sexual connotations. It was stated that there is an amoraic dispute with regard to this matter. Mar Zutra says: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. Mar, son of Ravina, says: He engaged in bestiality with his donkey. The one who says that he was a diviner by using his penis derives it as we stated. And the one who says that he engaged in bestiality with his donkey derives it as follows: It is written here: “He crouched, he lay down” (Numbers 24:9), and it is written there: “Between her legs

כרע נפל שכב וגו׳

he sunk, he fell, he lay” (Judges 5:27), which is interpreted as a reference to sexual intercourse between Sisera and Jael.

וידע דעת עליון השתא דעת בהמתו לא הוה ידע דעת עליון הוה ידע מאי דעת בהמתו דאמרי ליה מאי טעמא לא רכבת סוסיא אמר להו שדאי להו ברטיבא

§ Balaam describes himself: “And he knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Numbers 24:16), and the Gemara asks: Now, if the knowledge of his animal he did not know, is it possible that the knowledge of the Most High he knew? The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of the knowledge of his animal? The princes accompanying him said to him: What is the reason that you did not ride horses? Balaam said to them: I brought the horses to graze in the pasture and rest there.

אמרה ליה הלא אנכי אתנך לטעינא בעלמא אשר רכבת עלי אקראי בעלמא ׳מעודך עד היום הזה׳

The donkey said to him: “Am I not your donkey” (Numbers 22:30)? Balaam said to the donkey: Merely for burdens, not for riding. The donkey said to him: “Upon which you have ridden” (Numbers 22:30). Balaam said to the donkey: That was mere happenstance and is not a regular occurrence. The donkey said to him: “Your whole life until this day” (Numbers 22:30).

ולא עוד אלא שאני עושה [לך] מעשה אישות בלילה כתיב הכא ההסכן הסכנתי וכתיב התם ותהי לו סכנת

The donkey continued: Moreover, I perform a conjugal act for you and we engage in bestiality at night. From where is this derived? It is written here: “Was I ever wont [hahasken hiskanti] to do so to you” (Numbers 22:30)? And it is written there with regard to Abishag the Shunammite: “And let her be a companion [sokhenet] to him” (I Kings 1:2). Just as the root samekh, kaf, nun indicates sexual relations in the case of Abishag, the same is true with regard to the donkey. Balaam was unable to best his donkey in a debate.

אלא מאי וידע דעת עליון שהיה יודע לכוון אותה שעה שהקדוש ברוך הוא כועס בה

The Gemara asks: Rather, what, then, is the meaning of the phrase “And he knows knowledge of the Most High”? Is it possible that he knew the knowledge of the Most High? Rather, he would know to determine the moment during which the Holy One, Blessed be He, is angry. He would curse at that moment and the curse was effective.

והיינו דקאמר להו נביא לישראל עמי זכר נא מה יעץ בלק מלך מואב ומה ענה אתו בלעם בן בעור מן השטים עד הגלגל למען דעת צדקות ה׳ מאי למען דעת צדקות ה׳ אמר להן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל דעו נא כמה צדקות עשיתי עמכם שלא כעסתי כל אותן הימים בימי בלעם הרשע שאילמלא כעסתי כל אותן הימים לא נשתייר משונאיהן של ישראל שריד ופליט

And that is what the prophet said to Israel: “My nation, remember what Balak, king of Moab, advised, and how Balaam, son of Beor, responded; from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord” (Micah 6:5). What is the meaning of the phrase “So that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord”? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: Know how many acts of kindness I performed on your behalf, that I did not become angry during all the days of Balaam the wicked, as had I become angry during all those days, no remnant or refugee would have remained among the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself. Instead, God restrained His anger and Balaam’s curse went unfulfilled.

היינו דקאמר ליה בלעם לבלק מה אקב לא קבה אל וגו׳ (אותן היום [הימים] לא זעם ה׳) אל זעם בכל יום וכמה זעמו רגע שנאמר כי רגע באפו חיים ברצונו וגו׳

That is what Balaam said to Balak: “How can I curse, whom God has not cursed? And how can I condemn, whom God has not condemned?” (Numbers 23:8). Since God did not become angry, Balaam was unable to curse the Jewish people. It is written: “And God is angry every day” (Psalms 7:12). And how long is the duration of His wrath? It is one moment, as it is stated: “For His anger endures but a moment; His favor is for a lifetime” (Psalms 30:6).

איבעית אימא לך עמי בא בחדריך וסגר דלתיך בעדך חבי כמעט רגע עד יעבר זעם אימת רתח בתלת שעי קמייתא כי חוורא כרבלתא דתרנגולא כל שעתא ושעתא נמי חוורא כל שעתא ושעתא אית ביה סוריקי סומקי ההיא שעתא לית ביה סוריקי סומקי

If you wish, say instead this proof from another source, as it is stated: “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you; hide yourself for a brief moment, until the anger passes” (Isaiah 26:20), meaning that God’s anger passes in a mere moment. And when is the Holy One, Blessed be He, angry? It is during the first three hours of the day, when the crest of the rooster is white from the sun. The Gemara challenges: Each and every hour of the day the rooster’s crest is also white, as it does not always remain red. The Gemara explains: The difference is that during each and every other hour when the rooster stands that way, there are red streaks in his crest. But at that moment when God is angry, there are no red streaks in the rooster’s crest.

ההוא מינא דהוה בשיבבותיה דרבי יהושע בן לוי דהוה קא מצער ליה יומא חד נקט תרנגולתא ואסר ליה בכרעיה ואותיב אמר כי מטא ההוא שעתא אילטייה כי מטא ההוא שעתא נמנם אמר שמע מינה לאו אורח ארעא דכתיב גם ענוש לצדיק לא טוב אפילו במיני לא איבעי ליה למימר הכי

The Gemara relates: There was a certain heretic who was in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s neighborhood who would upset him by incessantly challenging the legitimacy of biblical verses. One day, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi took a rooster and tied it by its legs and sat and waited. He said: When that moment of God’s wrath arrives, I will curse him. When that moment of God’s wrath arrived, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi dozed off. When he awakened, he said: Conclude from the fact that I dozed off that it is not proper conduct to curse even the wicked, as it is written: “Punishment, even for the righteous, is not good” (Proverbs 17:26). Even with regard to heretics, a righteous person should not state a curse in order to punish them.

תנא משמיה דרבי מאיר בשעה שהחמה זורחת והמלכים מניחין כתריהן על ראשיהן ומשתחוים לחמה מיד כועס

Explaining the cause of God’s anger, it was taught in a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: When the sun rises and the kings place their crowns on their heads and bow down to the sun, the Holy One, Blessed be He, immediately grows angry. Since this occurs in the early hours of every day, God becomes angry at His world at that time every day.

ויקם בלעם בבקר ויחבש את אתנו תנא משום רבי שמעון בן אלעזר אהבה מבטלת שורה של גדולה מאברהם דכתיב ׳וישכם אברהם בבקר׳ שנאה מבטלת שורה של גדולה מבלעם שנאמר ׳ויקם בלעם בבקר ויחבש את אתנו׳

§ It is stated: “And Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Numbers 22:21). It was taught in a baraita in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar: Love negates the standard conduct of those of prominence. This is derived from Abraham, as it is written: “And Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Genesis 22:3). Atypically, he saddled the donkey himself and he did not wait for his servants. Likewise, hatred negates the standard conduct of those of prominence. This is derived from Balaam, as it is stated: “And Balaam rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Numbers 22:21).

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ובמצוה אפילו שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה שבשכר ארבעים ושתים קרבנות שהקריב בלק זכה ויצאה ממנו רות אמר רבי יוסי בר הונא רות בתו של עגלון בן בנו של בלק מלך מואב היתה

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: A person should always engage in Torah study and performance of a mitzva even if he does not do so for their own sake, as through engaging in them not for their own sake, he will ultimately come to engage in them for their own sake. Proof for this can be cited from the example of Balak, as in reward for the forty-two offerings that Balak sacrificed, even though he sacrificed them to facilitate the destruction of the Jewish people, he was privileged and Ruth descended from him. Rabbi Yosei bar Huna says: Ruth was the daughter of Eglon, son of the son of Balak, king of Moab.

אמר ליה רבא לרבה בר מרי כתיב ייטב אלהים את שם שלמה משמך ויגדל [את] כסאו מכסאך אורח ארעא למימרא ליה למלכא הכי אמר ליה מעין קאמרה ליה

Apropos Ruth, matriarch of the Davidic line, the Gemara cites that which Rava said to Rabba bar Mari: It is written that the servants of David said to David: “May God make the name of Solomon better than your name and make his throne greater than your throne [mikisekha]” (I Kings 1:47). Rava asks: Is it proper conduct to speak to a king in that manner and say that his son will be greater than he is? Rabba bar Mari said to Rava: She said to him: May the throne of Solomon be of the nature of your throne.

דאי לא תימא הכי תברך מנשים יעל אשת חבר הקיני מנשים באהל תברך נשים באהל מאן נינהו שרה רבקה רחל ולאה אורח ארעא למימר הכי אלא מעין קאמר הכי נמי מעין קאמר

He explains: As if you do not say so and do not explain it in this manner, then the verse: “Blessed above women Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed is she more than the women [minashim] in the tent” (Judges 5:24), is difficult. “The women in the tent,” who are they? They are Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Is it proper conduct to speak in that manner about the Matriarchs? Rather, of the nature of the Matriarchs is what the verse says, not greater. So too in the case of David’s servants: Of the nature of his throne, is what the verse says.

ופליגא דרב יוסי בר חוני דאמר רב יוסי בר חוני בכל אדם מתקנא חוץ מבנו ותלמידו בנו משלמה ותלמידו איבעית אימא ויהי נא פי שנים ברוחך אלי ואיבעית אימא ויסמך את ידיו עליו ויצוהו

The Gemara notes: This explanation disagrees with the opinion of Rav Yosei bar Ḥoni, as Rav Yosei bar Ḥoni says: A person is jealous of everyone except for his son and his student. Since their success reflects well upon him, he celebrates their success. The fact that one is not jealous of his son is derived from King David’s servants telling him: May Solomon be greater than he is. And the fact that one is not jealous of his student; if you wish, say that it is derived from that which Elisha said to Elijah: “I pray you that a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (II Kings 2:9). He asked of his mentor to be greater than him, indicating that it is not an objectionable matter. And if you wish, say instead that it is derived from Moses: “And he laid his hands upon him and commanded him” (Numbers 27:23). God commanded Moses to lay only one hand upon Joshua, and instead he laid both hands upon him with all his strength.

וישם דבר בפי בלעם רבי אלעזר אומר מלאך רבי יונתן אמר חכה

§ With regard to the verse: “And the Lord placed a matter in Balaam’s mouth” (Numbers 23:5), Rabbi Elazar says: It was an angel that spoke from his mouth. Rabbi Yonatan says: It was a hook placed in his mouth to prevent him from saying anything else.

אמר רבי יוחנן מברכתו של אותו רשע אתה למד מה היה בלבו ביקש לומר שלא יהו להם בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות מה טבו אהליך יעקב לא תשרה שכינה עליהם ומשכנתיך ישראל לא תהא מלכותן נמשכת כנחלים נטיו לא יהא להם זיתים וכרמים כגנת עלי נהר לא יהא ריחן נודף כאהלים נטע ה׳

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: From the blessing of that wicked person, Balaam, you can ascertain what was in his heart. God transformed the curses that he planned into blessings. He sought to say that they should not have synagogues and study halls, and he said instead: “How goodly are your tents, Jacob” (Numbers 24:5), a blessing on their synagogues. He sought to say that the Divine Presence [shekhina] will not rest upon them, and he said instead: “And your dwellings [mishkenot] Israel.” He sought to say that the kingdom of Israel would not continue, and he said instead that it would continue: “Like the winding brooks” (Numbers 24:6), which flow continuously. He sought to say that they would have no olive trees and vineyards, and he said instead: “Like gardens by the river’s side” (Numbers 24:6). He sought to say that their fragrance would not diffuse from their fulfillment of mitzvot, and he said instead: “Like aloes that the Lord has planted” (Numbers 24:6).

לא יהיו להם מלכים בעלי קומה כארזים עלי מים לא יהיה להם מלך בן מלך יזל מים מדליו לא תהא מלכותן שולטת באומות וזרעו במים רבים לא תהא עזה מלכותן וירם מאגג מלכו לא תהא אימת מלכותן ותנשא מלכתו

He sought to say that they would not have kings of stature, and he said instead: “Like cedar trees beside the waters” (Numbers 24:6). He sought to say that they will not have a king the son of a king, and he said instead: “Water shall flow from his branches” (Numbers 24:7). He sought to say that their kingdom would not rule over the nations, and he said instead: “And his seed shall be in many waters” (Numbers 24:7). He sought to say that their kingdom would not be fierce, and he said instead: “And his king shall be higher than Agag.” He sought to say that there will be no fear of their kingdom, and he said instead: “And his kingdom shall be exalted” (Numbers 24:7).

אמר רבי אבא בר כהנא כולם חזרו לקללה חוץ מבתי כנסיות ומבתי מדרשות שנאמר ויהפך ה׳ אלהיך לך את הקללה לברכה כי אהבך ה׳ אלהיך קללה ולא קללות

Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: All of the blessings ultimately reverted to be fulfilled as the curse that he originally intended, as all of those circumstances befell the Jewish people, except for the destruction of synagogues and study halls, as it is stated: “And the Lord your God transformed the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you” (Deuteronomy 23:6). A curse in the singular, not curses in the plural, was transformed permanently.

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן מאי דכתיב נאמנים פצעי אוהב ונעתרות נשיקות שונא טובה קללה שקילל אחיה השילוני את ישראל יותר מברכה שברכם בלעם הרשע אחיה השילוני קילל את ישראל בקנה שנאמר והכה ה׳ את ישראל כאשר ינוד הקנה במים וגו׳ מה קנה זה עומד במקום מים וגיזעו

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are importunate” (Proverbs 27:6)? Better is the curse that Ahijah the Shilonite cursed the Jewish people than the blessing that Balaam the wicked blessed them. Ahijah the Shilonite cursed Israel with a reed, as it is stated: “For the Lord shall smite Israel as a reed is shaken in water” (I Kings 14:15). There is an aspect of blessing in that curse, as he was saying they will be just like a reed that stands in a place near water, as the water sustains it, and its stalk

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Sanhedrin 105

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Sanhedrin 105

דקאתי מיהודה מואב סיר רחצי זה גחזי שלקה על עסקי רחיצה על אדום אשליך נעלי זה דואג האדומי עלי פלשת התרועעי אמרו מלאכי השרת לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא רבונו של עולם אם יבא דוד שהרג את הפלשתי והוריש את בניך גת מה אתה עושה לו אמר להן עלי לעשותן ריעים זה לזה

who comes from the tribe of Judah. “Moab is My washing pot”; this is referring to Gehazi, who was afflicted with leprosy over matters of washing, as he took money from Naaman, who he instructed to immerse in the Jordan River. “Over Edom I will cast My shoe”; this is referring to Doeg the Edomite. “Philistia, cry aloud [hitroa’i] because of Me”; this is referring to the fact that the ministering angels said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, if David, who killed the Philistine and bequeathed the city of Gath to your sons, will come and complain that You gave a share in the World-to-Come to his enemies Doeg and Ahithophel, what will You do concerning him? Will you accept his complaint? God said to the ministering angels: It is upon me to render David and his enemies friends [re’im] with each other, and even David will agree.

מדוע שובבה העם הזה ירושלים משבה נצחת וגו׳ אמר רב תשובה נצחת השיבה כנסת ישראל לנביא אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אבותיכם שחטאו היכן הם אמרו להן ונביאיכם שלא חטאו היכן הם שנאמר אבותיכם איה הם והנבאים הלעולם יחיו אמר להן (אבותיכם) חזרו והודו שנאמר ׳אך דברי וחקי אשר צויתי את עבדי הנביאים׳ וגו׳

§ With regard to the verse: “Why is this people of Jerusalem slid back in perpetual backsliding?” (Jeremiah 8:5), Rav says: The congregation of Israel answered with a convincing response to the prophet. The prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent, as your ancestors sinned, and where are they? They said to the prophets: And your prophets who did not sin, where are they? They too died, as it is stated: “Your fathers, where are they, and the prophets; do they live forever?” (Zechariah 1:5). The prophet said to the Jewish people: Your ancestors reconsidered and conceded that the admonitions of the prophets were fulfilled, as it is stated: “By my words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers? And they repented and said: As the Lord of hosts intended to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so has He dealt with us” (Zechariah 1:6).

שמואל אמר באו עשרה בני אדם וישבו לפניו אמר להן חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו עבד שמכרו רבו ואשה שגרשה בעלה כלום יש לזה על זה כלום אמר לו הקדוש ברוך הוא לנביא לך אמור להן ׳אי זה ספר כריתות אמכם אשר שלחתיה או מי מנושי אשר מכרתי אתכם לו הן בעונותיכם נמכרתם ובפשעיכם שלחה אמכם׳

Shmuel says that this was the convincing answer: Ten people came and sat before the prophet Ezekiel. He said to them: Repent. They said to Ezekiel: In the case of a slave sold by his owner to another master, or a woman divorced by her husband, does this person have any claim upon that person? Since God gave the Jewish people to other masters, the ties that existed between Him and us were severed. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the prophet: Go say to them: “Where is your mother’s scroll of severance, with which I sent her away? Or to which of My creditors have I sold you? For your iniquities you sold yourselves and for your transgressions was your mother sent away” (Isaiah 50:1). Learn from this that God did not sever His ties to the Jewish people.

והיינו דאמר ריש לקיש מאי דכתיב דוד עבדי נבוכדנצר עבדי גלוי וידוע לפני מי שאמר והיה העולם שעתידין ישראל לומר כך לפיכך הקדים הקדוש ברוך הוא וקראו עבדו עבד שקנה נכסים עבד למי נכסים למי

And that is what Reish Lakish says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “David, My slave” (II Samuel 3:18), and: “Nebuchadnezzar, my slave” (Jeremiah 43:10)? How can the wicked Nebuchadnezzar be depicted as a slave of God in the same manner that David was depicted? Rather, it is revealed and known before the One Who spoke and the world came into being, that the Jewish people are destined to say that God sold them to the nations and they no longer have ties to Him. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, preemptively called Nebuchadnezzar His slave. With regard to the halakha concerning a slave who acquires property, the slave belongs to whom and the property belongs to whom? They both belong to the master, in this case, the Holy One, Blessed be He.

והעלה על רוחכם היו לא תהיה אשר אתם אמרים נהיה כגוים כמשפחות הארצות לשרת עץ ואבן חי אני נאם ה׳ אלהים אם לא ביד חזקה ובזרוע נטויה ובחמה שפוכה אמלוך עליכם אמר רב נחמן כל כי האי ריתחא לירתח רחמנא עלן ולפרוקינן

With regard to the verse: “And what comes into your mind shall never come to be, that you say: We will be like the nations, like the families of the countries, to serve wood and stone. As I live, says the Lord God, surely with a mighty hand, and an outstretched arm, and with wrath poured out, will I rule over you” (Ezekiel 20:32–33), Rav Naḥman says: Let the Merciful One become wrathful at us with all that wrath, and redeem us.

ויסרו למשפט אלהיו יורנו אמר רבה בר בר חנה אמר להן נביא לישראל חזרו בתשובה אמרו לו אין אנו יכולין יצר הרע שולט בנו אמר להם יסרו יצריכם אמרו לו אלהיו יורנו

With regard to the verse: “And chastise in judgment; his God will instruct him” (Isaiah 28:26), Rabba bar bar Ḥana says that the prophet said to the Jewish people: Repent. They said to him: We cannot, since the evil inclination dominates us. He said to them: Chastise your inclinations. They said to him: “His God will instruct him,” i.e., God should instruct the evil inclination to allow us to overcome him, as we are incapable of doing so on our own.

ארבעה הדיוטות בלעם ודואג ואחיתופל וגחזי בלעם בלא עם דבר אחר בלעם שבלה עם בן בעור שבא על בעיר

§ The mishna teaches that four prominent commoners, Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi, have no share in the World-to-Come. The Gemara elaborates: The name Balaam is interpreted as a contraction of: Without a nation [belo am], or one who has no share in the World-to-Come with the Jewish nation. Alternatively, the name Balaam is interpreted as one who wore down the Jewish people [bila am]. He is the son of Beor, one who engaged in bestiality [be’ir].

תנא הוא בעור הוא כושן רשעתים הוא לבן הארמי בעור שבא על בעיר כושן רשעתים דעבד שתי רשעיות בישראל אחת בימי יעקב ואחת בימי שפוט השופטים ומה שמו לבן הארמי שמו

It was taught in a baraita: He is Beor, father of Balaam, he is Cushan-Rishathaim, he is Laban the Aramean. He was called Beor because he engaged in bestiality. He was called Cushan-Rishathaim because he performed two evil deeds [rishiyyot] to the Jewish people, one during the time of Jacob, when he pursued him intending to kill him, and one during the time when the judges judged. And what was his actual name? His name was Laban the Aramean.

כתיב בן בעור וכתיב בנו בער אמר רבי יוחנן אביו בנו הוא לו בנביאות

It is written: “Son of Beor” (Numbers 22:5), and it is written elsewhere: “His son Beor” (Numbers 24:3). Rabbi Yoḥanan says in resolving the apparent contradiction: Balaam’s father was his son in terms of prophecy, as Balaam was a much greater prophet.

בלעם הוא דלא אתי לעלמא דאתי הא אחריני אתו מתניתין מני

The Gemara infers from the mishna: Balaam is the one who does not come into the World-to-Come; but other gentiles come into the World-to-Come. Whose opinion is expressed in the mishna?

רבי יהושע היא דתניא רבי אליעזר אומר ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה׳ אלו פושעי ישראל ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ אלו פושעי גויים דברי רבי אליעזר אמר לו רבי יהושע וכי נאמר ׳בכל גוים׳ והלא לא נאמר אלא ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳ אלא ׳ישובו רשעים לשאולה׳ מאן נינהו ׳כל גוים שכחי אלהים׳

It is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: It is written: “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, all that nations that forget God” (Psalms 9:18). “The wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld”; these are the sinners of the Jewish people, as only the sinners are sentenced to the netherworld. “All the gentiles that forget God”; these are the sinners of the gentiles. From the fact that it is written: “All the gentiles,” it is apparent that none of the gentiles have a share in the World-to-Come. This is the statement of Rabbi Eliezer. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: But is it stated in the verse that the sinners of the Jewish people will be like all of the gentiles? It is stated only: “All the gentiles that forget God.” Rather, the wicked shall be turned back to the netherworld, and who are they? They are all the gentiles that forget God. Gentiles who fear God do have a share in the World-to-Come.

ואף אותו רשע נתן סימן בעצמו אמר תמת נפשי מות ישרים אם תמות נפשי מות ישרים תהא אחריתי כמוהו ואם לאו הנני הולך לעמי

And that wicked person, Balaam, also provided a sign with regard to himself. He said: “Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my end be like his” (Numbers 23:10). If I die the death of the righteous, by natural causes, my end will be like his, i.e., I will receive a share in the World-to-Come like the Jewish people. And if I do not die by natural causes: “I will go to my people” (Numbers 24:14), i.e., my fate will be that of the rest of the wicked people in my generation, who have no share in the World-to-Come.

וילכו זקני מואב וזקני מדין תנא מדין ומואב לא היה להם שלום מעולם משל לשני כלבים שהיו בעדר והיו צהובין זה לזה בא זאב על האחד אמר האחד ׳אם איני עוזרו היום הורג אותו ולמחר בא עלי׳ הלכו שניהם והרגו הזאב אמר רב פפא היינו דאמרי אינשי כרכושתא ושונרא עבדו הלולא מתרבא דביש גדא

With regard to the verse: “And the elders of Moab and the elders of Midian set out with their divinations in their hands, and they came to Balaam” (Numbers 22:7), it was taught in a baraita: Midian and Moab had previously never had peace between them, and they were always at war with each other. What led them to make peace at that time? There is a parable of two dogs that were with the flock, and they were hostile to one another. A wolf came and attacked one. The other one said: If I do not help him, today he kills him and tomorrow he comes to attack me. They both went and killed the wolf. Moab and Midian joined together to face the potential common threat, the Jewish people. Rav Pappa says that this is in accordance with the adage that people say: A weasel [karkushta] and a cat made a wedding from the fat of the luckless. Despite their hatred of one another, they join together for their mutual benefit at the expense of a third party.

וישבו שרי מואב עם בלעם ושרי מדין להיכן אזול כיון דאמר להו לינו פה הלילה והשיבתי אתכם דבר אמרו כלום יש אב ששונא את בנו

It is written: “And the princes of Moab stayed with Balaam” (Numbers 22:8). The Gemara asks: And to where did the princes of Midian who accompanied the princes of Moab go? The Gemara answers: Once Balaam said to them: “Lodge here this night, and I will bring you word when the Lord speaks to me” (Numbers 22:8), the elders of Midian said: If he seeks permission from the Lord, he will not join us, as is there any father who hates his son? Certainly the Lord will help the Jewish people.

אמר רב נחמן חוצפא אפילו כלפי שמיא מהני מעיקרא כתיב לא תלך עמהם ולבסוף כתיב קום לך אתם אמר רב ששת חוצפא מלכותא בלא תאגא היא דכתיב ואנכי היום רך ומשוח מלך והאנשים האלה בני צרויה קשים ממני וגו׳

Rav Naḥman says: Impudence is effective even toward Heaven. How so? Initially, it is written that God said to Balaam: “You shall not go with them” (Numbers 22:12), and ultimately after Balaam persisted and asked, it is written: “Rise up and go with them” (Numbers 22:20). Rav Sheshet says: Impudence is monarchy without a crown, as it is an assertion of leadership and lacks only the official coronation as king, as it is written: “And I am this day weak, though anointed king; and these men the sons of Zeruiah are too hard for me” (II Samuel 3:39). The sons of Zeruiah, due to their impudence, were as formidable as David himself.

אמר רבי יוחנן בלעם חיגר ברגלו אחת היה שנאמר וילך שפי שמשון בשתי רגליו שנאמר שפיפן עלי ארח הנושך עקבי סוס בלעם סומא באחת מעיניו היה שנאמר שתם העין

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Balaam was disabled in one of his legs, as it is stated concerning him: “And he went limping [shefi]” (Numbers 23:3). Samson was disabled in both his legs, as it is stated with regard to Samson, who was from the tribe of Dan, in the prophetic blessing of Jacob: “Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder [shefifon] in the path that bites the horse’s heels” (Genesis 49:17). Rabbi Yoḥanan interprets shefifon as the plural of shefi, indicating disability in both legs. Balaam was blind in one of his eyes, as it is stated: “Whose eye is open” (Numbers 24:3), indicating that one eye was open and the other was blind.

קוסם באמתו היה כתיב הכא נפל וגלוי עינים וכתיב התם והמן נפל על המטה וגו׳ איתמר מר זוטרא אמר קוסם באמתו היה מר בריה דרבינא אמר שבא על אתונו מאן דאמר קוסם באמתו היה כדאמרן ומאן דאמר בא על אתונו היה כתיב הכא כרע שכב וכתיב התם בין רגליה

The Gemara relates: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. It is written here: “Fallen, yet with opened eyes” (Numbers 24:4), and it is written there: “And Haman was fallen upon the divan whereupon Esther was” (Esther 7:8), indicating that the verb fallen has sexual connotations. It was stated that there is an amoraic dispute with regard to this matter. Mar Zutra says: Balaam was a diviner by using his penis. Mar, son of Ravina, says: He engaged in bestiality with his donkey. The one who says that he was a diviner by using his penis derives it as we stated. And the one who says that he engaged in bestiality with his donkey derives it as follows: It is written here: “He crouched, he lay down” (Numbers 24:9), and it is written there: “Between her legs

כרע נפל שכב וגו׳

he sunk, he fell, he lay” (Judges 5:27), which is interpreted as a reference to sexual intercourse between Sisera and Jael.

וידע דעת עליון השתא דעת בהמתו לא הוה ידע דעת עליון הוה ידע מאי דעת בהמתו דאמרי ליה מאי טעמא לא רכבת סוסיא אמר להו שדאי להו ברטיבא

§ Balaam describes himself: “And he knows the knowledge of the Most High” (Numbers 24:16), and the Gemara asks: Now, if the knowledge of his animal he did not know, is it possible that the knowledge of the Most High he knew? The Gemara explains: What is the meaning of the knowledge of his animal? The princes accompanying him said to him: What is the reason that you did not ride horses? Balaam said to them: I brought the horses to graze in the pasture and rest there.

אמרה ליה הלא אנכי אתנך לטעינא בעלמא אשר רכבת עלי אקראי בעלמא ׳מעודך עד היום הזה׳

The donkey said to him: “Am I not your donkey” (Numbers 22:30)? Balaam said to the donkey: Merely for burdens, not for riding. The donkey said to him: “Upon which you have ridden” (Numbers 22:30). Balaam said to the donkey: That was mere happenstance and is not a regular occurrence. The donkey said to him: “Your whole life until this day” (Numbers 22:30).

ולא עוד אלא שאני עושה [לך] מעשה אישות בלילה כתיב הכא ההסכן הסכנתי וכתיב התם ותהי לו סכנת

The donkey continued: Moreover, I perform a conjugal act for you and we engage in bestiality at night. From where is this derived? It is written here: “Was I ever wont [hahasken hiskanti] to do so to you” (Numbers 22:30)? And it is written there with regard to Abishag the Shunammite: “And let her be a companion [sokhenet] to him” (I Kings 1:2). Just as the root samekh, kaf, nun indicates sexual relations in the case of Abishag, the same is true with regard to the donkey. Balaam was unable to best his donkey in a debate.

אלא מאי וידע דעת עליון שהיה יודע לכוון אותה שעה שהקדוש ברוך הוא כועס בה

The Gemara asks: Rather, what, then, is the meaning of the phrase “And he knows knowledge of the Most High”? Is it possible that he knew the knowledge of the Most High? Rather, he would know to determine the moment during which the Holy One, Blessed be He, is angry. He would curse at that moment and the curse was effective.

והיינו דקאמר להו נביא לישראל עמי זכר נא מה יעץ בלק מלך מואב ומה ענה אתו בלעם בן בעור מן השטים עד הגלגל למען דעת צדקות ה׳ מאי למען דעת צדקות ה׳ אמר להן הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל דעו נא כמה צדקות עשיתי עמכם שלא כעסתי כל אותן הימים בימי בלעם הרשע שאילמלא כעסתי כל אותן הימים לא נשתייר משונאיהן של ישראל שריד ופליט

And that is what the prophet said to Israel: “My nation, remember what Balak, king of Moab, advised, and how Balaam, son of Beor, responded; from Shittim to Gilgal, so that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord” (Micah 6:5). What is the meaning of the phrase “So that you may know the righteous acts of the Lord”? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: Know how many acts of kindness I performed on your behalf, that I did not become angry during all the days of Balaam the wicked, as had I become angry during all those days, no remnant or refugee would have remained among the enemies of Israel, a euphemism for Israel itself. Instead, God restrained His anger and Balaam’s curse went unfulfilled.

היינו דקאמר ליה בלעם לבלק מה אקב לא קבה אל וגו׳ (אותן היום [הימים] לא זעם ה׳) אל זעם בכל יום וכמה זעמו רגע שנאמר כי רגע באפו חיים ברצונו וגו׳

That is what Balaam said to Balak: “How can I curse, whom God has not cursed? And how can I condemn, whom God has not condemned?” (Numbers 23:8). Since God did not become angry, Balaam was unable to curse the Jewish people. It is written: “And God is angry every day” (Psalms 7:12). And how long is the duration of His wrath? It is one moment, as it is stated: “For His anger endures but a moment; His favor is for a lifetime” (Psalms 30:6).

איבעית אימא לך עמי בא בחדריך וסגר דלתיך בעדך חבי כמעט רגע עד יעבר זעם אימת רתח בתלת שעי קמייתא כי חוורא כרבלתא דתרנגולא כל שעתא ושעתא נמי חוורא כל שעתא ושעתא אית ביה סוריקי סומקי ההיא שעתא לית ביה סוריקי סומקי

If you wish, say instead this proof from another source, as it is stated: “Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you; hide yourself for a brief moment, until the anger passes” (Isaiah 26:20), meaning that God’s anger passes in a mere moment. And when is the Holy One, Blessed be He, angry? It is during the first three hours of the day, when the crest of the rooster is white from the sun. The Gemara challenges: Each and every hour of the day the rooster’s crest is also white, as it does not always remain red. The Gemara explains: The difference is that during each and every other hour when the rooster stands that way, there are red streaks in his crest. But at that moment when God is angry, there are no red streaks in the rooster’s crest.

ההוא מינא דהוה בשיבבותיה דרבי יהושע בן לוי דהוה קא מצער ליה יומא חד נקט תרנגולתא ואסר ליה בכרעיה ואותיב אמר כי מטא ההוא שעתא אילטייה כי מטא ההוא שעתא נמנם אמר שמע מינה לאו אורח ארעא דכתיב גם ענוש לצדיק לא טוב אפילו במיני לא איבעי ליה למימר הכי

The Gemara relates: There was a certain heretic who was in Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi’s neighborhood who would upset him by incessantly challenging the legitimacy of biblical verses. One day, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi took a rooster and tied it by its legs and sat and waited. He said: When that moment of God’s wrath arrives, I will curse him. When that moment of God’s wrath arrived, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi dozed off. When he awakened, he said: Conclude from the fact that I dozed off that it is not proper conduct to curse even the wicked, as it is written: “Punishment, even for the righteous, is not good” (Proverbs 17:26). Even with regard to heretics, a righteous person should not state a curse in order to punish them.

תנא משמיה דרבי מאיר בשעה שהחמה זורחת והמלכים מניחין כתריהן על ראשיהן ומשתחוים לחמה מיד כועס

Explaining the cause of God’s anger, it was taught in a baraita in the name of Rabbi Meir: When the sun rises and the kings place their crowns on their heads and bow down to the sun, the Holy One, Blessed be He, immediately grows angry. Since this occurs in the early hours of every day, God becomes angry at His world at that time every day.

ויקם בלעם בבקר ויחבש את אתנו תנא משום רבי שמעון בן אלעזר אהבה מבטלת שורה של גדולה מאברהם דכתיב ׳וישכם אברהם בבקר׳ שנאה מבטלת שורה של גדולה מבלעם שנאמר ׳ויקם בלעם בבקר ויחבש את אתנו׳

§ It is stated: “And Balaam rose in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Numbers 22:21). It was taught in a baraita in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Elazar: Love negates the standard conduct of those of prominence. This is derived from Abraham, as it is written: “And Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Genesis 22:3). Atypically, he saddled the donkey himself and he did not wait for his servants. Likewise, hatred negates the standard conduct of those of prominence. This is derived from Balaam, as it is stated: “And Balaam rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey” (Numbers 22:21).

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב לעולם יעסוק אדם בתורה ובמצוה אפילו שלא לשמה שמתוך שלא לשמה בא לשמה שבשכר ארבעים ושתים קרבנות שהקריב בלק זכה ויצאה ממנו רות אמר רבי יוסי בר הונא רות בתו של עגלון בן בנו של בלק מלך מואב היתה

Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: A person should always engage in Torah study and performance of a mitzva even if he does not do so for their own sake, as through engaging in them not for their own sake, he will ultimately come to engage in them for their own sake. Proof for this can be cited from the example of Balak, as in reward for the forty-two offerings that Balak sacrificed, even though he sacrificed them to facilitate the destruction of the Jewish people, he was privileged and Ruth descended from him. Rabbi Yosei bar Huna says: Ruth was the daughter of Eglon, son of the son of Balak, king of Moab.

אמר ליה רבא לרבה בר מרי כתיב ייטב אלהים את שם שלמה משמך ויגדל [את] כסאו מכסאך אורח ארעא למימרא ליה למלכא הכי אמר ליה מעין קאמרה ליה

Apropos Ruth, matriarch of the Davidic line, the Gemara cites that which Rava said to Rabba bar Mari: It is written that the servants of David said to David: “May God make the name of Solomon better than your name and make his throne greater than your throne [mikisekha]” (I Kings 1:47). Rava asks: Is it proper conduct to speak to a king in that manner and say that his son will be greater than he is? Rabba bar Mari said to Rava: She said to him: May the throne of Solomon be of the nature of your throne.

דאי לא תימא הכי תברך מנשים יעל אשת חבר הקיני מנשים באהל תברך נשים באהל מאן נינהו שרה רבקה רחל ולאה אורח ארעא למימר הכי אלא מעין קאמר הכי נמי מעין קאמר

He explains: As if you do not say so and do not explain it in this manner, then the verse: “Blessed above women Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite; blessed is she more than the women [minashim] in the tent” (Judges 5:24), is difficult. “The women in the tent,” who are they? They are Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, and Leah. Is it proper conduct to speak in that manner about the Matriarchs? Rather, of the nature of the Matriarchs is what the verse says, not greater. So too in the case of David’s servants: Of the nature of his throne, is what the verse says.

ופליגא דרב יוסי בר חוני דאמר רב יוסי בר חוני בכל אדם מתקנא חוץ מבנו ותלמידו בנו משלמה ותלמידו איבעית אימא ויהי נא פי שנים ברוחך אלי ואיבעית אימא ויסמך את ידיו עליו ויצוהו

The Gemara notes: This explanation disagrees with the opinion of Rav Yosei bar Ḥoni, as Rav Yosei bar Ḥoni says: A person is jealous of everyone except for his son and his student. Since their success reflects well upon him, he celebrates their success. The fact that one is not jealous of his son is derived from King David’s servants telling him: May Solomon be greater than he is. And the fact that one is not jealous of his student; if you wish, say that it is derived from that which Elisha said to Elijah: “I pray you that a double portion of your spirit be upon me” (II Kings 2:9). He asked of his mentor to be greater than him, indicating that it is not an objectionable matter. And if you wish, say instead that it is derived from Moses: “And he laid his hands upon him and commanded him” (Numbers 27:23). God commanded Moses to lay only one hand upon Joshua, and instead he laid both hands upon him with all his strength.

וישם דבר בפי בלעם רבי אלעזר אומר מלאך רבי יונתן אמר חכה

§ With regard to the verse: “And the Lord placed a matter in Balaam’s mouth” (Numbers 23:5), Rabbi Elazar says: It was an angel that spoke from his mouth. Rabbi Yonatan says: It was a hook placed in his mouth to prevent him from saying anything else.

אמר רבי יוחנן מברכתו של אותו רשע אתה למד מה היה בלבו ביקש לומר שלא יהו להם בתי כנסיות ובתי מדרשות מה טבו אהליך יעקב לא תשרה שכינה עליהם ומשכנתיך ישראל לא תהא מלכותן נמשכת כנחלים נטיו לא יהא להם זיתים וכרמים כגנת עלי נהר לא יהא ריחן נודף כאהלים נטע ה׳

Rabbi Yoḥanan says: From the blessing of that wicked person, Balaam, you can ascertain what was in his heart. God transformed the curses that he planned into blessings. He sought to say that they should not have synagogues and study halls, and he said instead: “How goodly are your tents, Jacob” (Numbers 24:5), a blessing on their synagogues. He sought to say that the Divine Presence [shekhina] will not rest upon them, and he said instead: “And your dwellings [mishkenot] Israel.” He sought to say that the kingdom of Israel would not continue, and he said instead that it would continue: “Like the winding brooks” (Numbers 24:6), which flow continuously. He sought to say that they would have no olive trees and vineyards, and he said instead: “Like gardens by the river’s side” (Numbers 24:6). He sought to say that their fragrance would not diffuse from their fulfillment of mitzvot, and he said instead: “Like aloes that the Lord has planted” (Numbers 24:6).

לא יהיו להם מלכים בעלי קומה כארזים עלי מים לא יהיה להם מלך בן מלך יזל מים מדליו לא תהא מלכותן שולטת באומות וזרעו במים רבים לא תהא עזה מלכותן וירם מאגג מלכו לא תהא אימת מלכותן ותנשא מלכתו

He sought to say that they would not have kings of stature, and he said instead: “Like cedar trees beside the waters” (Numbers 24:6). He sought to say that they will not have a king the son of a king, and he said instead: “Water shall flow from his branches” (Numbers 24:7). He sought to say that their kingdom would not rule over the nations, and he said instead: “And his seed shall be in many waters” (Numbers 24:7). He sought to say that their kingdom would not be fierce, and he said instead: “And his king shall be higher than Agag.” He sought to say that there will be no fear of their kingdom, and he said instead: “And his kingdom shall be exalted” (Numbers 24:7).

אמר רבי אבא בר כהנא כולם חזרו לקללה חוץ מבתי כנסיות ומבתי מדרשות שנאמר ויהפך ה׳ אלהיך לך את הקללה לברכה כי אהבך ה׳ אלהיך קללה ולא קללות

Rabbi Abba bar Kahana says: All of the blessings ultimately reverted to be fulfilled as the curse that he originally intended, as all of those circumstances befell the Jewish people, except for the destruction of synagogues and study halls, as it is stated: “And the Lord your God transformed the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loved you” (Deuteronomy 23:6). A curse in the singular, not curses in the plural, was transformed permanently.

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר רבי יונתן מאי דכתיב נאמנים פצעי אוהב ונעתרות נשיקות שונא טובה קללה שקילל אחיה השילוני את ישראל יותר מברכה שברכם בלעם הרשע אחיה השילוני קילל את ישראל בקנה שנאמר והכה ה׳ את ישראל כאשר ינוד הקנה במים וגו׳ מה קנה זה עומד במקום מים וגיזעו

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani says that Rabbi Yonatan says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are importunate” (Proverbs 27:6)? Better is the curse that Ahijah the Shilonite cursed the Jewish people than the blessing that Balaam the wicked blessed them. Ahijah the Shilonite cursed Israel with a reed, as it is stated: “For the Lord shall smite Israel as a reed is shaken in water” (I Kings 14:15). There is an aspect of blessing in that curse, as he was saying they will be just like a reed that stands in a place near water, as the water sustains it, and its stalk

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