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May 16, 2021 | ה׳ בסיון תשפ״א | TODAY'S DAF: Yoma 36 - Shavuot, May 17

Today's Daf Yomi

May 3, 2021 | כ״א באייר תשפ״א

Masechet Yoma is sponsored by Vicky Harari in commemoration of my father's Yahrzeit, Avraham Baruch Hacohen ben Zeev Eliyahu Eckstein z'l, a Holocaust survivor and a feminist before it was fashionable. And in gratitude to Michelle Cohen Farber for revolutionizing women's learning worldwide.

This month's shiurim are sponsored by the Hadran Women of Long Island group in memory of Irwin Weber a”h, Yitzchak Dov ben Avraham Alter and Rachel, beloved father of our member Debbie Weber Schreiber.

Yoma 22

Why was the lottery system instituted for the job of the removal of the ashes? Originally, they didn’t think so many kohanim would be interested in the job so they said that whoever came first would get the job. However one time two kohanim raced up the ramp of the altar and one pushed the other and he fell off and broke a leg. They didn’t think kohanim would all be interested in doing this job because it was a night job and therefore less important. But aren’t there other night jobs that have a lottery? Others suggest it was because they wouldn’t be able to wake up in time. Once they instituted the lottery for removal of the ashes, kohanim were no longer interested in getting the job, so they added a few other jobs to the one who would win that lottery to incentivize kohanim to come. In the time when they used to race for the job, where was the finish line? When they did the lottery, they would put out fingers and the kohen would count fingers. This was because it was forbidden to count heads – from where is this derived? When one takes on a leadership position in the community, one becomes wealthy. This is learned from King Saul as first he counted the people with shards and later with sheep, a sign of his wealth. King Saul pitied the Amalekim and yet did not pity the city of Nov, a city of kohanim who helped save David when he ran away from him. The gemara compares King Saul’s sin to King David’s sin. Even though King Saul sinned once and King David twice, King Saul lost the kingship and King David did not. Why was King Saul punished so harshly? What other sins did King David commit that he was punished for?

מתני׳ בראשונה כל מי שרוצה לתרום את המזבח תורם ובזמן שהן מרובין רצין ועולין בכבש כל הקודם את חבירו בארבע אמות זכה ואם היו שניהן שוין הממונה אומר להן הצביעו

MISHNA: Initially, the practice among the priests was that whoever wishes to remove the ashes from the altar removes them. And when there are many priests who wish to perform that task, the privilege to do so is determined by a race: The priests run and ascend on the ramp leading to the top of the altar. Any priest who precedes another and reaches within four cubits of the top of the altar first is privileged to remove the ashes. And if both of them were equal and neither preceded the other, the appointed priest says to all the priests: Extend your fingers, and a lottery was performed, as will be explained.

ומה הן מוציאין אחת או שתים ואין מוציאין אגודל במקדש

And what fingers do they extend for the lottery? They may extend one or two fingers, and the priests do not extend a thumb in the Temple. The reason is that the lottery was conducted by the appointee choosing a number and counting the extended fingers of the priests standing in a circle. As the count progressed, a priest could calculate and manipulate the result in his favor by surreptitiously extending his thumb and an additional finger. Since there is separation between the thumb and the forefinger it could appear as though they belonged to two different priests, skewing the results of the lottery.

מעשה שהיו שניהם שוין ורצין ועולין בכבש ודחף אחד מהן את חבירו ונפל ונשברה רגלו וכיון שראו בית דין שבאין לידי סכנה התקינו שלא יהו תורמין את המזבח אלא בפייס ארבע פייסות היו שם וזה הפייס הראשון

Initially, that was the procedure; however, an incident occurred where both of them were equal as they were running and ascending on the ramp, and one of them shoved another and he fell and his leg was broken. And once the court saw that people were coming to potential danger, they instituted that priests would remove ashes from the altar only by means of a lottery. There were four lotteries there, in the Temple, on a daily basis to determine the priests privileged to perform the various services, and this, determining which priest would remove the ashes, was the first lottery.

גמ׳ והא מעיקרא מאי טעמא לא תקינו לה רבנן פייסא מעיקרא סבור כיון דעבודת לילה היא לא חשיבא להו ולא אתו כיון דחזו דקאתו ואתו לידי סכנה תקינו לה פייסא

GEMARA: The Gemara questions the original practice of holding a race to determine which priest would remove the ashes: And what is the reason that the Sages did not initially institute a lottery for the removal of the ashes as they did for other parts of the service? The Gemara answers: Initially they thought: Since it is a service performed at night it would not be important to the priests, and not many of them would come to perform it, so a lottery would be unnecessary. Then, when they saw that many priests did indeed come and that they were coming to danger by racing up the altar’s ramp, they instituted a lottery.

והרי איברים ופדרים דעבודת לילה היא ותקינו לה רבנן פייסא סוף עבודה דיממא היא

The Gemara poses a question against the assertion that nighttime Temple services did not normally require a lottery: But there is the burning of the limbs of burnt-offerings and the fats of other offerings, which is a service that is performed at night, and nevertheless the Sages instituted a lottery for that from the outset. The Gemara answers: The burning of those parts is not considered a nighttime service but the end of a daytime service, as the main part of the sacrificial service, the slaughtering and the sprinkling of blood, took place during the day.

האי נמי תחלת עבודה דיממא היא דאמר רבי יוחנן קידש ידיו לתרומת הדשן למחר אין צריך לקדש שכבר קידש מתחילת עבודה

The Gemara asks: If so, it could be argued that this service of removing the ashes is also not a nighttime service but the start of a daytime service, as Rabbi Yoḥanan said: If a priest has sanctified his hands at night by washing them for the removal of the ashes, the next day, i.e., after daybreak, if he remained in the confines of the Temple, he need not sanctify his hands again, because he already sanctified them at the start of the service. Apparently, the removal of the ashes, though performed at night, is considered the start of the next day’s service.

אימא שכבר קידש מתחילה לעבודה

The Gemara responds by emending Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement: Say the following version of the end of Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement: Because he had already sanctified them at the outset for service. According to this formulation, Rabbi Yoḥanan did not say that the removal of the ashes is considered the start of the following day’s service. Rather, he said that although the removal of the ashes is a nighttime service, since the priest sanctified his hands before performing that service, the sanctification remains in effect for the services performed after daybreak as well, since there is no interruption between the two activities.

איכא דאמרי מעיקרא סבור כיון דאיכא אונס שינה לא אתו כיון דחזו דאתו וקאתו נמי לידי סכנה תקינו לה רבנן פייסא והרי איברים ופדרים דאיכא אונס שינה ותקינו לה רבנן פייסא שאני מיגנא ממיקם

Some say that the original practice should be explained as follows: Initially, the Sages thought that since there is a likelihood of being overcome by sleep at that time of night, not many priests would come. When they saw that they did indeed come and that they were also coming to danger, the Sages instituted a lottery for this task. The Gemara asks: But there is the burning of the limbs of burnt-offerings and the fats of other offerings, a service for which there is the same likelihood of being overcome by sleep, and nevertheless the Sages instituted a lottery for that from the outset. The Gemara answers: Lying down to go to sleep late is different from rising in the middle of the night. It is not as difficult to stay up late in order to burn limbs on the altar as it is to rise before dawn to remove the ashes from the altar.

ותקנתא להך גיסא הואי תקנתא להאי גיסא הואי דתניא מי שזכה בתרומת הדשן (יזכה) בסידור מערכה ובשני גזירי עצים

The Gemara addresses the substance of the mishna’s claim: But was the ordinance to assign the removal of ashes by means of a lottery due to that reason cited in the mishna, the matter of the dangerous incident? The ordinance was instituted due to this reason: There were other important tasks associated with the removal of the ashes that required a lottery in their own right, as it was taught in a baraita: The priest who was privileged to perform the removal of the ashes was also privileged with laying out the arrangement of wood on the altar and with placing the two logs that were placed on the altar each morning. Since these were inherently important tasks, the only way to assign them was through a lottery, which would also determine who removed the ashes.

אמר רב אשי שתי תקנות הוו מעיקרא סבור לא אתו כיון דחזו דקאתו ואתו נמי לידי סכנה תקינו לה פייסא כיון דתקינו לה פייסא לא אתו אמרי מי יימר דמתרמי לן הדר תקינו להו מי שזכה בתרומת הדשן יזכה בסידור מערכה ובשני גזירי עצים כי היכי דניתו וניפייסו

The Gemara answers: Rav Ashi said: There were two separate ordinances instituted. Initially, the Sages thought that priests would not come forward to perform the task of removing the ashes. Once they saw that many priests did come and that they were also coming to danger, the Sages instituted a lottery for this task. Once they established a lottery for removing the ashes, the priests did not come anymore. They said: Who says the lottery will fall in our favor? Therefore, they did not bother to come. Then the Sages instituted for the priests that whoever was privileged with performing the removal of the ashes would also be privileged with laying out the arrangement of wood on the altar and with placing the two logs, so that the importance of all these tasks combined would ensure that the priests would come and participate in the lottery.

ובזמן שהן מרובין וכו׳ אמר רב פפא פשיטא לי ארבע אמות דארעא לא רצין ועולין בכבש תנן קמייתא נמי לא רצין ועולין בכבש תנן והדר כל הקודם את חבירו

§ It was taught in the mishna that before the lottery was instituted, when there were many priests who sought to perform the removal of the ashes, the first priest to reach within four cubits of the top of the altar was privileged with performing the removal of the ashes. Rav Pappa said: It is obvious to me that the four cubits the mishna is referring to are not the four cubits adjacent to the ramp on the ground, because we learned in the mishna that the priests run and ascend on the ramp, and not adjacent to the ramp. It is also not referring to the first four cubits from the foot of the ramp, because we learned that the priests run and ascend on the ramp, and only afterward it says: Any priest who precedes another and reaches within four cubits of the altar first, indicating that the competition begins only once they have ascended the ramp to some extent.

דביני ביני נמי לא דלא מסיימא מילתא פשיטא לי דגבי מזבח תנן

It is also not referring to four cubits somewhere in the middle, between the four on the bottom and the top of the altar, because the matter is not defined and there is no clear indication which four cubits on the ramp are the determining cubits. In light of all this, it is obvious to me that the four cubits we learned in the mishna are referring to the four cubits that are adjacent to the altar itself. The priest who reaches those four cubits first is the one privileged to remove the ashes.

בעי רב פפא ארבע אמות שאמרו בהדיה אמה יסוד ואמה סובב

Rav Pappa raised a dilemma based on the above clarification: Are the four cubits that they stated, which are the four cubits adjacent to the altar, calculated including the cubit of the base of the altar and the cubit of its ledge, as the ramp continues and overlaps these two cubits at the top of the altar,

או דילמא בר מאמה יסוד ואמה סובב תיקו

or are they perhaps calculated excluding the cubit of the base of the altar and the cubit of its ledge? The altar’s edge can be considered to be at the end of the ramp, the point at which it meets the altar, or it can be considered the point on the ramp that is directly over the external base of the altar, which is two cubits away from the point where the ramp meets the altar. Which of these two calculations is the correct one? Rav Pappa’s question remains unanswered, and the Gemara concludes: The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

ואם היו שניהן שוין הממונה אומר להם הצביעו וכו׳ תנא הוציאו אצבעותיכם למנין ונימנינהו לדידהו מסייע ליה לרבי יצחק דאמר רבי יצחק אסור למנות את ישראל אפילו לדבר מצוה דכתיב ויפקדם בבזק

§ It was taught in the mishna that if both of them were equal and neither preceded the other, the appointed priest says to all the priests: Extend your fingers [hatzbiu], and a lottery was performed. A tanna taught the meaning of the unusual term hatzbiu: Put out your fingers for a count. The Gemara asks: Let him count the priests themselves directly, rather than counting their fingers. The Gemara answers: This is a support for a teaching of Rabbi Yitzḥak, as Rabbi Yitzḥak said: It is prohibited to count Jews directly, even for the purposes of a mitzva, as it is written concerning King Saul and his count of his soldiers: “And he numbered them with bezek(I Samuel 11:8),meaning that he counted them through shards, one shard representing each man, rather than counting them directly.

מתקיף לה רב אשי ממאי דהאי בזק לישנא דמיבזק הוא ודילמא שמא דמתא הוא כדכתיב וימצאו אדוני בזק אלא מהכא וישמע שאול את העם ויפקדם בטלאים

Rav Ashi strongly objects to this interpretation of the verse: From where do you derive that this word bezek is a term related to the verb meaning to break apart, so that it means shards? Perhaps it is the name of a town, and it means that Saul counted them in Bezek, as it is written: “And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek” (Judges 1:5), which shows that Bezek is the name of a place. The Gemara answers: Indeed, the proof is not from that verse but from here, where it says: “And Saul summoned the people and numbered them by sheep” (I Samuel 15:4), meaning that Saul tallied his soldiers by having each one take a sheep and put it aside to represent him in the count.

אמר רבי אלעזר כל המונה את ישראל עובר בלאו שנאמר והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים אשר לא ימד רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר עובר בשני לאוין שנאמר לא ימד ולא יספר

Rabbi Elazar said: Whoever counts a group of Jews violates a negative mitzva, as it is stated: “And the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured” (Hosea 2:1). Rabbi Elazar interprets the verse to be saying: Which may not be measured. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: One who counts a group of Jews in fact violates two negative mitzvot, as it is stated in that verse: “Which cannot be measured and cannot be counted” (Hosea 2:1).

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני רבי יונתן רמי כתיב והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים וכתיב אשר לא ימד ולא יספר

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan raised a contradiction: It is written in this verse: “And the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea,” suggesting that they will have a specific number, though it will be very large. On the other hand, it continues and says: “Which cannot be measured and cannot be counted,” which means they will not be countable at all. How can these two statements be reconciled?

לא קשיא כאן בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום כאן בזמן שאין עושין רצונו של מקום רבי אמר משום אבא יוסי בן דוסתאי לא קשיא כאן בידי אדם כאן בידי שמים

It is not difficult: Here, in the second statement, it is referring to a time when the Jewish people fulfill the will of God; then they will be innumerable. There, in the first statement, it is referring to a time when the Jewish people do not fulfill the will of God; then they will be like the sand of the sea, having a specific number. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said a different resolution in the name of Abba Yosei ben Dostai: It is not difficult: Here, in the second statement, it is referring to counting by the hand of man; the Jewish people will be too numerous to count by man. There, in the first statement, it is referring to counting by the hand of God, and He will find that they are like the number of the grains of the sand of the sea.

אמר רב נהילאי בר אידי אמר שמואל כיון שנתמנה אדם פרנס על הציבור מתעשר מעיקרא כתיב ויפקדם בבזק ולבסוף כתיב ויפקדם בטלאים ודילמא מדידהו אם כן מאי רבותא דמילתא

Rav Nehilai bar Idi said that Shmuel said: Once a man is appointed as a leader of the community, he becomes wealthy. This is derived from the verses cited above. Initially, it is written with regard to Saul: “And he numbered them with bezek,” meaning pottery shards, and in the end it is written: “And he numbered them with sheep,” indicating that he was able to provide enough of his own sheep to use them in counting the people. The Gemara asks: But perhaps the people provided these sheep from their own flocks. The Gemara rejects this: If so, what is the novelty in the matter? Why would the text tell us that the people were counted with sheep if not to illustrate incidentally the great wealth of Saul?

וירב בנחל אמר רבי מני על עסקי נחל בשעה שאמר לו ראה הקדוש ברוך הוא לשאול לך והכית את עמלק אמר ומה נפש אחת אמרה תורה הבא עגלה ערופה כל הנפשות הללו על אחת כמה וכמה

§ Having mentioned the verse about Saul, the Gemara proceeds to interpret more of that passage: “And Saul came to the city of Amalek and he strove in the valley” (I Samuel 15:5). Rabbi Mani said: This means that Saul strove with God, as it were, concerning the matter of the valley. At the time when the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Saul: “Now go and attack Amalek and proscribe all that belongs to him; do not pity him, but kill men and women alike, infants and sucklings alike, oxen and sheep alike, camel and donkey alike” (I Samuel 15:3), Saul countered and said: Now, if on account of one life that is taken, in a case where a slain person’s body is found and the murderer is unknown, the Torah said to bring a heifer whose neck is broken to a barren valley, in the atonement ritual described in Deuteronomy 6:1–9, all the more so must I have pity and not take all these Amalekite lives.

ואם אדם חטא בהמה מה חטאה ואם גדולים חטאו קטנים מה חטאו יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו אל תהי צדיק הרבה ובשעה שאמר לו שאול לדואג סוב אתה ופגע בכהנים יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו אל תרשע הרבה

And he further reasoned: If the men have sinned, in what way have the animals sinned? Why, then, should the Amalekites’ livestock be destroyed? And if the adults have sinned, in what way have the children sinned? A Divine Voice then came forth and said to him: “Do not be overly righteous” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). That is to say: Do not be more merciful than the Creator Himself, Who has commanded you to do this, for to do so would not be an indication of righteousness but of weakness. At a later time, when Saul said to Doeg: “Turn around and strike down the priests, and Doeg the Edomite turned around and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod, and he struck Nob the city of priests by the sword, man and woman alike, infants and sucklings alike, oxen and donkeys and sheep, by the sword” (I Samuel 22:18–19), a Divine Voice came forth and said to him: “Do not be overly wicked” (Ecclesiastes 7:17).

אמר רב הונא כמה לא חלי ולא מרגיש גברא דמריה סייעיה שאול באחת ועלתה לו דוד בשתים ולא עלתה לו שאול באחת מאי היא מעשה דאגג והא איכא מעשה דנוב עיר הכהנים אמעשה דאגג כתיב נחמתי כי המלכתי את שאול למלך

Apropos Saul’s contravention of God’s command to obliterate Amalek, the Gemara observes that Rav Huna said: How little does a person who has the support of his Lord have to worry or be concerned. The proof for this assertion is a comparison between Saul and David. Saul failed with one single sin and it was counted against him, costing him the throne. David, however, failed with two sins and they were not counted against him, as he retained his position. The Gemara asks: What was Saul’s one sin? The incident with Agag, king of Amalek, whom Saul spared in defiance of God’s command (see I Samuel 15:9). But was this his sole sin? There is also the incident of Nob, the city of priests, in which Saul later slew many innocent people, as cited above. The Gemara answers: It was after the incident with Agag, and even before the incident at Nob, that God said: “I regret that I have crowned Saul to be king” (I Samuel 15:11).

דוד בשתים מאי נינהו דאוריה ודהסתה

Rav Huna stated above that David failed with two sins. What were they? One was the incident in which he had Uriah killed. The other was the matter of the incitement of David to conduct a census of the Jewish people (see II Samuel 24:1), which led to many deaths in a plague.

והא איכא נמי מעשה דבת שבע התם אפרעו מיניה דכתיב ואת הכבשה ישלם ארבעתים ילד אמנון תמר ואבשלום

The Gemara asks: But were these his only two sins? There is also the incident of Bathsheba, in which he took another man’s wife as his own. The Gemara answers: There, in that case, punishment was exacted from him separately, so the matter is no longer listed among his sins, as it is written with regard to this incident: “And he shall restore the lamb fourfold” (II Samuel 12:6). The lamb was a metaphor for Bathsheba, and ultimately David was indeed given a fourfold punishment for taking Bathsheba: The first child born to Bathsheba and David died (see II Samuel 12:13–23); David’s son Amnon was killed; Tamar, his daughter, was raped by Amnon (see II Samuel 13); and his son Avshalom rebelled against him and was ultimately killed (see II Samuel 15–18).

התם נמי אפרעו מיניה דכתיב ויתן ה׳ דבר (בעם מן הבוקר) ועד עת מועד התם לא אפרעו מגופיה

The Gemara asks: If sins for which was David was punished separately are not counted, one could ask: There, too, with regard to the sin of the census, he was punished separately, as it is written: “And the Lord sent a plague against Israel from the morning until the appointed time” (II Samuel 24:15). The Gemara responds: There, David was not punished personally, in his own body; rather, the punishment was inflicted on the Jewish people.

התם נמי לא אפרעו מגופיה לאיי אפרעו מגופיה דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ששה חדשים נצטרע דוד ופרשו הימנו סנהדרין ונסתלקה הימנו שכינה דכתיב ישובו לי יראיך ויודעי עדותיך וכתיב השיבה לי ששון ישעך

The Gemara challenges this: There, too, in the incident with Bathsheba, David was not punished personally, in his own body; rather, it was his children who suffered punishment. The Gemara answers: That is not so; he was punished personally, in his own body, for that sin, as Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: David was stricken with leprosy for six months after that incident, and the Sanhedrin withdrew from him in protest over his behavior, and the Divine Presence also left him. As it is written that David prayed: “May those who fear You return to me, and they who know Your testimonies” (Psalms 119:79). Since he prayed for the return of those who fear God and who know His testimonies, referring to the Sages of the Sanhedrin, it can be inferred that they had withdrawn from him. And it is written as well: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, let a vigorous spirit support me” (Psalms 51:14), where David asks for the return of the Divine Spirit, which had left him.

והא אמר רב קבל דוד לשון הרע כשמואל דאמר לא קבל דוד לשון הרע

The Gemara asks: And didn’t David commit other sins? Didn’t Rav say: David accepted a slanderous report from Ziba about Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, stating that the latter was pleased with David’s downfall? There was, in that case, this additional sin. The Gemara responds: Consequently, it is necessary to follow the approach of Shmuel, who said: David did not accept a slanderous report, because Ziba’s claim was true.

ולרב נמי דאמר קבל דוד לשון הרע הא איפרעו מיניה דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שאמר לו דוד למפיבושת אמרתי אתה וציבא תחלקו את השדה יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו רחבעם וירבעם יחלקו את המלכות

The Gemara continues: And even according to Rav, who said that David accepted a slanderous report, one could answer that that sin is not counted, as was he not punished for it? As Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: At the time when David said to Mephibosheth: “I say that you and Ziba should divide the field” (II Samuel 19:30), a Divine Voice came forth and said to him: Rehoboam and Jeroboam will divide the kingship. Because David believed Ziba’s slanderous report and awarded him half of Mephibosheth’s field, David was punished by having his kingdom divided into two. Following King Solomon’s death the Jewish people split into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judea to the south (see I Kings 12). Therefore, David was punished for that sin too.

בן שנה שאול במלכו אמר רב הונא כבן שנה שלא טעם טעם חטא

§ The Gemara continues its discussion of Saul and David. It is written: “Saul was one year old when he began to reign” (I Samuel 13:1), which cannot be understood literally, as Saul was appointed king when he was a young man. Rav Huna said: The verse means that when he began to reign he was like a one-year–old, in that he had never tasted the taste of sin but was wholly innocent and upright.

מתקיף לה רב נחמן בר יצחק ואימא כבן שנה שמלוכלך בטיט ובצואה אחויאו ליה לרב נחמן סיוטא בחלמיה אמר נעניתי לכם עצמות שאול בן קיש הדר חזא סיוטא בחלמיה אמר נעניתי לכם עצמות שאול בן קיש מלך ישראל

Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak strongly objects to this interpretation of the verse, saying: You could just as well say that he was like a one-year-old in that he was always filthy with mud and excrement. Rav Naḥman was shown a frightful dream that night, and he understood it as a punishment for having disparaged Saul. He said: I humbly submit myself to you, O bones of Saul, son of Kish, and beg your forgiveness. But once again he was shown a frightful dream, and he understood that he had not shown enough deference in his first apology. He therefore said this time: I humbly submit myself to you, O bones of Saul, son of Kish, king of Israel, and beg your forgiveness. Subsequently, the nightmares ceased.

אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל מפני מה לא נמשכה מלכות בית שאול מפני שלא היה בו שום דופי דאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק אין מעמידין פרנס על הציבור אלא אם כן קופה של שרצים תלויה לו מאחוריו שאם תזוח דעתו עליו אומרין לו חזור לאחוריך

Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Why did the kingship of the house of Saul not continue on to succeeding generations? It is because there was no flaw in his ancestry; he was of impeccable lineage. As Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: One appoints a leader over the community only if he has a box full of creeping animals hanging behind him, i.e., he has something inappropriate in his ancestry that preceded him. Why is that? It is so that if he exhibits a haughty attitude toward the community, one can say to him: Turn and look behind you and be reminded of your humble roots. This is why David’s kingdom lasted while Saul’s did not, as David descended from a family with problematic ancestry, namely Tamar (see Genesis, chapter 38) and Ruth the Moabite (see Ruth 4:18–22).

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב מפני מה נענש שאול מפני שמחל על כבודו שנאמר ובני בליעל אמרו מה יושיענו זה ויבזוהו ולא הביאו לו מנחה ויהי כמחריש וכתיב ויעל נחש העמוני ויחן על יבש גלעד וגו׳

Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Why was Saul punished in that he was ultimately led to commit the sins described above? Because at the very outset of his reign he inappropriately forwent his royal honor, as it is stated with regard to Saul’s inauguration: “And some base fellows said: How can this man save us? So they disparaged him and brought him no present. But he made himself as if he did not hear” (I Samuel 10:27). And it is stated immediately afterward: “And Nahash the Ammonite marched up and encamped against Jabesh-gilead” (I Samuel 11:1). The implication is that if Saul had forcefully assumed his throne, Nahash would not have dared to attack the people of Jabesh-gilead. In this way, his humility led to the crisis.

ואמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק כל תלמיד חכם

And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: Any Torah scholar

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מתני׳ בראשונה כל מי שרוצה לתרום את המזבח תורם ובזמן שהן מרובין רצין ועולין בכבש כל הקודם את חבירו בארבע אמות זכה ואם היו שניהן שוין הממונה אומר להן הצביעו

MISHNA: Initially, the practice among the priests was that whoever wishes to remove the ashes from the altar removes them. And when there are many priests who wish to perform that task, the privilege to do so is determined by a race: The priests run and ascend on the ramp leading to the top of the altar. Any priest who precedes another and reaches within four cubits of the top of the altar first is privileged to remove the ashes. And if both of them were equal and neither preceded the other, the appointed priest says to all the priests: Extend your fingers, and a lottery was performed, as will be explained.

ומה הן מוציאין אחת או שתים ואין מוציאין אגודל במקדש

And what fingers do they extend for the lottery? They may extend one or two fingers, and the priests do not extend a thumb in the Temple. The reason is that the lottery was conducted by the appointee choosing a number and counting the extended fingers of the priests standing in a circle. As the count progressed, a priest could calculate and manipulate the result in his favor by surreptitiously extending his thumb and an additional finger. Since there is separation between the thumb and the forefinger it could appear as though they belonged to two different priests, skewing the results of the lottery.

מעשה שהיו שניהם שוין ורצין ועולין בכבש ודחף אחד מהן את חבירו ונפל ונשברה רגלו וכיון שראו בית דין שבאין לידי סכנה התקינו שלא יהו תורמין את המזבח אלא בפייס ארבע פייסות היו שם וזה הפייס הראשון

Initially, that was the procedure; however, an incident occurred where both of them were equal as they were running and ascending on the ramp, and one of them shoved another and he fell and his leg was broken. And once the court saw that people were coming to potential danger, they instituted that priests would remove ashes from the altar only by means of a lottery. There were four lotteries there, in the Temple, on a daily basis to determine the priests privileged to perform the various services, and this, determining which priest would remove the ashes, was the first lottery.

גמ׳ והא מעיקרא מאי טעמא לא תקינו לה רבנן פייסא מעיקרא סבור כיון דעבודת לילה היא לא חשיבא להו ולא אתו כיון דחזו דקאתו ואתו לידי סכנה תקינו לה פייסא

GEMARA: The Gemara questions the original practice of holding a race to determine which priest would remove the ashes: And what is the reason that the Sages did not initially institute a lottery for the removal of the ashes as they did for other parts of the service? The Gemara answers: Initially they thought: Since it is a service performed at night it would not be important to the priests, and not many of them would come to perform it, so a lottery would be unnecessary. Then, when they saw that many priests did indeed come and that they were coming to danger by racing up the altar’s ramp, they instituted a lottery.

והרי איברים ופדרים דעבודת לילה היא ותקינו לה רבנן פייסא סוף עבודה דיממא היא

The Gemara poses a question against the assertion that nighttime Temple services did not normally require a lottery: But there is the burning of the limbs of burnt-offerings and the fats of other offerings, which is a service that is performed at night, and nevertheless the Sages instituted a lottery for that from the outset. The Gemara answers: The burning of those parts is not considered a nighttime service but the end of a daytime service, as the main part of the sacrificial service, the slaughtering and the sprinkling of blood, took place during the day.

האי נמי תחלת עבודה דיממא היא דאמר רבי יוחנן קידש ידיו לתרומת הדשן למחר אין צריך לקדש שכבר קידש מתחילת עבודה

The Gemara asks: If so, it could be argued that this service of removing the ashes is also not a nighttime service but the start of a daytime service, as Rabbi Yoḥanan said: If a priest has sanctified his hands at night by washing them for the removal of the ashes, the next day, i.e., after daybreak, if he remained in the confines of the Temple, he need not sanctify his hands again, because he already sanctified them at the start of the service. Apparently, the removal of the ashes, though performed at night, is considered the start of the next day’s service.

אימא שכבר קידש מתחילה לעבודה

The Gemara responds by emending Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement: Say the following version of the end of Rabbi Yoḥanan’s statement: Because he had already sanctified them at the outset for service. According to this formulation, Rabbi Yoḥanan did not say that the removal of the ashes is considered the start of the following day’s service. Rather, he said that although the removal of the ashes is a nighttime service, since the priest sanctified his hands before performing that service, the sanctification remains in effect for the services performed after daybreak as well, since there is no interruption between the two activities.

איכא דאמרי מעיקרא סבור כיון דאיכא אונס שינה לא אתו כיון דחזו דאתו וקאתו נמי לידי סכנה תקינו לה רבנן פייסא והרי איברים ופדרים דאיכא אונס שינה ותקינו לה רבנן פייסא שאני מיגנא ממיקם

Some say that the original practice should be explained as follows: Initially, the Sages thought that since there is a likelihood of being overcome by sleep at that time of night, not many priests would come. When they saw that they did indeed come and that they were also coming to danger, the Sages instituted a lottery for this task. The Gemara asks: But there is the burning of the limbs of burnt-offerings and the fats of other offerings, a service for which there is the same likelihood of being overcome by sleep, and nevertheless the Sages instituted a lottery for that from the outset. The Gemara answers: Lying down to go to sleep late is different from rising in the middle of the night. It is not as difficult to stay up late in order to burn limbs on the altar as it is to rise before dawn to remove the ashes from the altar.

ותקנתא להך גיסא הואי תקנתא להאי גיסא הואי דתניא מי שזכה בתרומת הדשן (יזכה) בסידור מערכה ובשני גזירי עצים

The Gemara addresses the substance of the mishna’s claim: But was the ordinance to assign the removal of ashes by means of a lottery due to that reason cited in the mishna, the matter of the dangerous incident? The ordinance was instituted due to this reason: There were other important tasks associated with the removal of the ashes that required a lottery in their own right, as it was taught in a baraita: The priest who was privileged to perform the removal of the ashes was also privileged with laying out the arrangement of wood on the altar and with placing the two logs that were placed on the altar each morning. Since these were inherently important tasks, the only way to assign them was through a lottery, which would also determine who removed the ashes.

אמר רב אשי שתי תקנות הוו מעיקרא סבור לא אתו כיון דחזו דקאתו ואתו נמי לידי סכנה תקינו לה פייסא כיון דתקינו לה פייסא לא אתו אמרי מי יימר דמתרמי לן הדר תקינו להו מי שזכה בתרומת הדשן יזכה בסידור מערכה ובשני גזירי עצים כי היכי דניתו וניפייסו

The Gemara answers: Rav Ashi said: There were two separate ordinances instituted. Initially, the Sages thought that priests would not come forward to perform the task of removing the ashes. Once they saw that many priests did come and that they were also coming to danger, the Sages instituted a lottery for this task. Once they established a lottery for removing the ashes, the priests did not come anymore. They said: Who says the lottery will fall in our favor? Therefore, they did not bother to come. Then the Sages instituted for the priests that whoever was privileged with performing the removal of the ashes would also be privileged with laying out the arrangement of wood on the altar and with placing the two logs, so that the importance of all these tasks combined would ensure that the priests would come and participate in the lottery.

ובזמן שהן מרובין וכו׳ אמר רב פפא פשיטא לי ארבע אמות דארעא לא רצין ועולין בכבש תנן קמייתא נמי לא רצין ועולין בכבש תנן והדר כל הקודם את חבירו

§ It was taught in the mishna that before the lottery was instituted, when there were many priests who sought to perform the removal of the ashes, the first priest to reach within four cubits of the top of the altar was privileged with performing the removal of the ashes. Rav Pappa said: It is obvious to me that the four cubits the mishna is referring to are not the four cubits adjacent to the ramp on the ground, because we learned in the mishna that the priests run and ascend on the ramp, and not adjacent to the ramp. It is also not referring to the first four cubits from the foot of the ramp, because we learned that the priests run and ascend on the ramp, and only afterward it says: Any priest who precedes another and reaches within four cubits of the altar first, indicating that the competition begins only once they have ascended the ramp to some extent.

דביני ביני נמי לא דלא מסיימא מילתא פשיטא לי דגבי מזבח תנן

It is also not referring to four cubits somewhere in the middle, between the four on the bottom and the top of the altar, because the matter is not defined and there is no clear indication which four cubits on the ramp are the determining cubits. In light of all this, it is obvious to me that the four cubits we learned in the mishna are referring to the four cubits that are adjacent to the altar itself. The priest who reaches those four cubits first is the one privileged to remove the ashes.

בעי רב פפא ארבע אמות שאמרו בהדיה אמה יסוד ואמה סובב

Rav Pappa raised a dilemma based on the above clarification: Are the four cubits that they stated, which are the four cubits adjacent to the altar, calculated including the cubit of the base of the altar and the cubit of its ledge, as the ramp continues and overlaps these two cubits at the top of the altar,

או דילמא בר מאמה יסוד ואמה סובב תיקו

or are they perhaps calculated excluding the cubit of the base of the altar and the cubit of its ledge? The altar’s edge can be considered to be at the end of the ramp, the point at which it meets the altar, or it can be considered the point on the ramp that is directly over the external base of the altar, which is two cubits away from the point where the ramp meets the altar. Which of these two calculations is the correct one? Rav Pappa’s question remains unanswered, and the Gemara concludes: The dilemma shall stand unresolved.

ואם היו שניהן שוין הממונה אומר להם הצביעו וכו׳ תנא הוציאו אצבעותיכם למנין ונימנינהו לדידהו מסייע ליה לרבי יצחק דאמר רבי יצחק אסור למנות את ישראל אפילו לדבר מצוה דכתיב ויפקדם בבזק

§ It was taught in the mishna that if both of them were equal and neither preceded the other, the appointed priest says to all the priests: Extend your fingers [hatzbiu], and a lottery was performed. A tanna taught the meaning of the unusual term hatzbiu: Put out your fingers for a count. The Gemara asks: Let him count the priests themselves directly, rather than counting their fingers. The Gemara answers: This is a support for a teaching of Rabbi Yitzḥak, as Rabbi Yitzḥak said: It is prohibited to count Jews directly, even for the purposes of a mitzva, as it is written concerning King Saul and his count of his soldiers: “And he numbered them with bezek(I Samuel 11:8),meaning that he counted them through shards, one shard representing each man, rather than counting them directly.

מתקיף לה רב אשי ממאי דהאי בזק לישנא דמיבזק הוא ודילמא שמא דמתא הוא כדכתיב וימצאו אדוני בזק אלא מהכא וישמע שאול את העם ויפקדם בטלאים

Rav Ashi strongly objects to this interpretation of the verse: From where do you derive that this word bezek is a term related to the verb meaning to break apart, so that it means shards? Perhaps it is the name of a town, and it means that Saul counted them in Bezek, as it is written: “And they found Adoni-bezek in Bezek” (Judges 1:5), which shows that Bezek is the name of a place. The Gemara answers: Indeed, the proof is not from that verse but from here, where it says: “And Saul summoned the people and numbered them by sheep” (I Samuel 15:4), meaning that Saul tallied his soldiers by having each one take a sheep and put it aside to represent him in the count.

אמר רבי אלעזר כל המונה את ישראל עובר בלאו שנאמר והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים אשר לא ימד רב נחמן בר יצחק אמר עובר בשני לאוין שנאמר לא ימד ולא יספר

Rabbi Elazar said: Whoever counts a group of Jews violates a negative mitzva, as it is stated: “And the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured” (Hosea 2:1). Rabbi Elazar interprets the verse to be saying: Which may not be measured. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak said: One who counts a group of Jews in fact violates two negative mitzvot, as it is stated in that verse: “Which cannot be measured and cannot be counted” (Hosea 2:1).

אמר רבי שמואל בר נחמני רבי יונתן רמי כתיב והיה מספר בני ישראל כחול הים וכתיב אשר לא ימד ולא יספר

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said that Rabbi Yonatan raised a contradiction: It is written in this verse: “And the number of the children of Israel will be like the sand of the sea,” suggesting that they will have a specific number, though it will be very large. On the other hand, it continues and says: “Which cannot be measured and cannot be counted,” which means they will not be countable at all. How can these two statements be reconciled?

לא קשיא כאן בזמן שישראל עושין רצונו של מקום כאן בזמן שאין עושין רצונו של מקום רבי אמר משום אבא יוסי בן דוסתאי לא קשיא כאן בידי אדם כאן בידי שמים

It is not difficult: Here, in the second statement, it is referring to a time when the Jewish people fulfill the will of God; then they will be innumerable. There, in the first statement, it is referring to a time when the Jewish people do not fulfill the will of God; then they will be like the sand of the sea, having a specific number. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said a different resolution in the name of Abba Yosei ben Dostai: It is not difficult: Here, in the second statement, it is referring to counting by the hand of man; the Jewish people will be too numerous to count by man. There, in the first statement, it is referring to counting by the hand of God, and He will find that they are like the number of the grains of the sand of the sea.

אמר רב נהילאי בר אידי אמר שמואל כיון שנתמנה אדם פרנס על הציבור מתעשר מעיקרא כתיב ויפקדם בבזק ולבסוף כתיב ויפקדם בטלאים ודילמא מדידהו אם כן מאי רבותא דמילתא

Rav Nehilai bar Idi said that Shmuel said: Once a man is appointed as a leader of the community, he becomes wealthy. This is derived from the verses cited above. Initially, it is written with regard to Saul: “And he numbered them with bezek,” meaning pottery shards, and in the end it is written: “And he numbered them with sheep,” indicating that he was able to provide enough of his own sheep to use them in counting the people. The Gemara asks: But perhaps the people provided these sheep from their own flocks. The Gemara rejects this: If so, what is the novelty in the matter? Why would the text tell us that the people were counted with sheep if not to illustrate incidentally the great wealth of Saul?

וירב בנחל אמר רבי מני על עסקי נחל בשעה שאמר לו ראה הקדוש ברוך הוא לשאול לך והכית את עמלק אמר ומה נפש אחת אמרה תורה הבא עגלה ערופה כל הנפשות הללו על אחת כמה וכמה

§ Having mentioned the verse about Saul, the Gemara proceeds to interpret more of that passage: “And Saul came to the city of Amalek and he strove in the valley” (I Samuel 15:5). Rabbi Mani said: This means that Saul strove with God, as it were, concerning the matter of the valley. At the time when the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Saul: “Now go and attack Amalek and proscribe all that belongs to him; do not pity him, but kill men and women alike, infants and sucklings alike, oxen and sheep alike, camel and donkey alike” (I Samuel 15:3), Saul countered and said: Now, if on account of one life that is taken, in a case where a slain person’s body is found and the murderer is unknown, the Torah said to bring a heifer whose neck is broken to a barren valley, in the atonement ritual described in Deuteronomy 6:1–9, all the more so must I have pity and not take all these Amalekite lives.

ואם אדם חטא בהמה מה חטאה ואם גדולים חטאו קטנים מה חטאו יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו אל תהי צדיק הרבה ובשעה שאמר לו שאול לדואג סוב אתה ופגע בכהנים יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו אל תרשע הרבה

And he further reasoned: If the men have sinned, in what way have the animals sinned? Why, then, should the Amalekites’ livestock be destroyed? And if the adults have sinned, in what way have the children sinned? A Divine Voice then came forth and said to him: “Do not be overly righteous” (Ecclesiastes 7:16). That is to say: Do not be more merciful than the Creator Himself, Who has commanded you to do this, for to do so would not be an indication of righteousness but of weakness. At a later time, when Saul said to Doeg: “Turn around and strike down the priests, and Doeg the Edomite turned around and struck down the priests, and he killed on that day eighty-five men who wore the linen ephod, and he struck Nob the city of priests by the sword, man and woman alike, infants and sucklings alike, oxen and donkeys and sheep, by the sword” (I Samuel 22:18–19), a Divine Voice came forth and said to him: “Do not be overly wicked” (Ecclesiastes 7:17).

אמר רב הונא כמה לא חלי ולא מרגיש גברא דמריה סייעיה שאול באחת ועלתה לו דוד בשתים ולא עלתה לו שאול באחת מאי היא מעשה דאגג והא איכא מעשה דנוב עיר הכהנים אמעשה דאגג כתיב נחמתי כי המלכתי את שאול למלך

Apropos Saul’s contravention of God’s command to obliterate Amalek, the Gemara observes that Rav Huna said: How little does a person who has the support of his Lord have to worry or be concerned. The proof for this assertion is a comparison between Saul and David. Saul failed with one single sin and it was counted against him, costing him the throne. David, however, failed with two sins and they were not counted against him, as he retained his position. The Gemara asks: What was Saul’s one sin? The incident with Agag, king of Amalek, whom Saul spared in defiance of God’s command (see I Samuel 15:9). But was this his sole sin? There is also the incident of Nob, the city of priests, in which Saul later slew many innocent people, as cited above. The Gemara answers: It was after the incident with Agag, and even before the incident at Nob, that God said: “I regret that I have crowned Saul to be king” (I Samuel 15:11).

דוד בשתים מאי נינהו דאוריה ודהסתה

Rav Huna stated above that David failed with two sins. What were they? One was the incident in which he had Uriah killed. The other was the matter of the incitement of David to conduct a census of the Jewish people (see II Samuel 24:1), which led to many deaths in a plague.

והא איכא נמי מעשה דבת שבע התם אפרעו מיניה דכתיב ואת הכבשה ישלם ארבעתים ילד אמנון תמר ואבשלום

The Gemara asks: But were these his only two sins? There is also the incident of Bathsheba, in which he took another man’s wife as his own. The Gemara answers: There, in that case, punishment was exacted from him separately, so the matter is no longer listed among his sins, as it is written with regard to this incident: “And he shall restore the lamb fourfold” (II Samuel 12:6). The lamb was a metaphor for Bathsheba, and ultimately David was indeed given a fourfold punishment for taking Bathsheba: The first child born to Bathsheba and David died (see II Samuel 12:13–23); David’s son Amnon was killed; Tamar, his daughter, was raped by Amnon (see II Samuel 13); and his son Avshalom rebelled against him and was ultimately killed (see II Samuel 15–18).

התם נמי אפרעו מיניה דכתיב ויתן ה׳ דבר (בעם מן הבוקר) ועד עת מועד התם לא אפרעו מגופיה

The Gemara asks: If sins for which was David was punished separately are not counted, one could ask: There, too, with regard to the sin of the census, he was punished separately, as it is written: “And the Lord sent a plague against Israel from the morning until the appointed time” (II Samuel 24:15). The Gemara responds: There, David was not punished personally, in his own body; rather, the punishment was inflicted on the Jewish people.

התם נמי לא אפרעו מגופיה לאיי אפרעו מגופיה דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב ששה חדשים נצטרע דוד ופרשו הימנו סנהדרין ונסתלקה הימנו שכינה דכתיב ישובו לי יראיך ויודעי עדותיך וכתיב השיבה לי ששון ישעך

The Gemara challenges this: There, too, in the incident with Bathsheba, David was not punished personally, in his own body; rather, it was his children who suffered punishment. The Gemara answers: That is not so; he was punished personally, in his own body, for that sin, as Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: David was stricken with leprosy for six months after that incident, and the Sanhedrin withdrew from him in protest over his behavior, and the Divine Presence also left him. As it is written that David prayed: “May those who fear You return to me, and they who know Your testimonies” (Psalms 119:79). Since he prayed for the return of those who fear God and who know His testimonies, referring to the Sages of the Sanhedrin, it can be inferred that they had withdrawn from him. And it is written as well: “Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, let a vigorous spirit support me” (Psalms 51:14), where David asks for the return of the Divine Spirit, which had left him.

והא אמר רב קבל דוד לשון הרע כשמואל דאמר לא קבל דוד לשון הרע

The Gemara asks: And didn’t David commit other sins? Didn’t Rav say: David accepted a slanderous report from Ziba about Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, stating that the latter was pleased with David’s downfall? There was, in that case, this additional sin. The Gemara responds: Consequently, it is necessary to follow the approach of Shmuel, who said: David did not accept a slanderous report, because Ziba’s claim was true.

ולרב נמי דאמר קבל דוד לשון הרע הא איפרעו מיניה דאמר רב יהודה אמר רב בשעה שאמר לו דוד למפיבושת אמרתי אתה וציבא תחלקו את השדה יצאה בת קול ואמרה לו רחבעם וירבעם יחלקו את המלכות

The Gemara continues: And even according to Rav, who said that David accepted a slanderous report, one could answer that that sin is not counted, as was he not punished for it? As Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: At the time when David said to Mephibosheth: “I say that you and Ziba should divide the field” (II Samuel 19:30), a Divine Voice came forth and said to him: Rehoboam and Jeroboam will divide the kingship. Because David believed Ziba’s slanderous report and awarded him half of Mephibosheth’s field, David was punished by having his kingdom divided into two. Following King Solomon’s death the Jewish people split into two kingdoms, Israel to the north and Judea to the south (see I Kings 12). Therefore, David was punished for that sin too.

בן שנה שאול במלכו אמר רב הונא כבן שנה שלא טעם טעם חטא

§ The Gemara continues its discussion of Saul and David. It is written: “Saul was one year old when he began to reign” (I Samuel 13:1), which cannot be understood literally, as Saul was appointed king when he was a young man. Rav Huna said: The verse means that when he began to reign he was like a one-year–old, in that he had never tasted the taste of sin but was wholly innocent and upright.

מתקיף לה רב נחמן בר יצחק ואימא כבן שנה שמלוכלך בטיט ובצואה אחויאו ליה לרב נחמן סיוטא בחלמיה אמר נעניתי לכם עצמות שאול בן קיש הדר חזא סיוטא בחלמיה אמר נעניתי לכם עצמות שאול בן קיש מלך ישראל

Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak strongly objects to this interpretation of the verse, saying: You could just as well say that he was like a one-year-old in that he was always filthy with mud and excrement. Rav Naḥman was shown a frightful dream that night, and he understood it as a punishment for having disparaged Saul. He said: I humbly submit myself to you, O bones of Saul, son of Kish, and beg your forgiveness. But once again he was shown a frightful dream, and he understood that he had not shown enough deference in his first apology. He therefore said this time: I humbly submit myself to you, O bones of Saul, son of Kish, king of Israel, and beg your forgiveness. Subsequently, the nightmares ceased.

אמר רב יהודה אמר שמואל מפני מה לא נמשכה מלכות בית שאול מפני שלא היה בו שום דופי דאמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק אין מעמידין פרנס על הציבור אלא אם כן קופה של שרצים תלויה לו מאחוריו שאם תזוח דעתו עליו אומרין לו חזור לאחוריך

Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said: Why did the kingship of the house of Saul not continue on to succeeding generations? It is because there was no flaw in his ancestry; he was of impeccable lineage. As Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: One appoints a leader over the community only if he has a box full of creeping animals hanging behind him, i.e., he has something inappropriate in his ancestry that preceded him. Why is that? It is so that if he exhibits a haughty attitude toward the community, one can say to him: Turn and look behind you and be reminded of your humble roots. This is why David’s kingdom lasted while Saul’s did not, as David descended from a family with problematic ancestry, namely Tamar (see Genesis, chapter 38) and Ruth the Moabite (see Ruth 4:18–22).

אמר רב יהודה אמר רב מפני מה נענש שאול מפני שמחל על כבודו שנאמר ובני בליעל אמרו מה יושיענו זה ויבזוהו ולא הביאו לו מנחה ויהי כמחריש וכתיב ויעל נחש העמוני ויחן על יבש גלעד וגו׳

Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Why was Saul punished in that he was ultimately led to commit the sins described above? Because at the very outset of his reign he inappropriately forwent his royal honor, as it is stated with regard to Saul’s inauguration: “And some base fellows said: How can this man save us? So they disparaged him and brought him no present. But he made himself as if he did not hear” (I Samuel 10:27). And it is stated immediately afterward: “And Nahash the Ammonite marched up and encamped against Jabesh-gilead” (I Samuel 11:1). The implication is that if Saul had forcefully assumed his throne, Nahash would not have dared to attack the people of Jabesh-gilead. In this way, his humility led to the crisis.

ואמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי שמעון בן יהוצדק כל תלמיד חכם

And Rabbi Yoḥanan said in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yehotzadak: Any Torah scholar

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