Makos 11b. (2)  Shiur 12/23/14

Makos 11b (2)

Thanks to Eli Chitrik.

1- We continue our explanation of the novel idea of the Rogatchover pertaining to our Gemara about the conditional self-excommunication of Yehudah if he were not to return Binyomin to his father Yaakov:

His explanation is broad and encompasses the entire saga of the tug-of-war between Yosef and Yehudah in regard to Binyomin as the Torah relates in detail in Parshas Mikeitz and Vayigash.

Yehuda pleads for Binyomin

Briefly, these two giants, Yosef and Yehudah were fighting not just for the custody of Binyomin but also and primarily for setting the stage for the future of the Jewish people.

The Gemara in Zevachim explains that the Mizbe’ach,  the one in Shiloh and  in the Beis Hamikdash, was located in the land of Binyomin. Whereas the Sanhedrin was in the land of Yosef at Shiloh and in the portion of Yehuda when in Yerushalayim.


If the Mizbe’ach were indeed to have been located in the portion of Yehuda in the Beis Hamikdash, the Gemara says, it would have never been destroyed.

The Rogatchover explains that the Sanhedrin symbolizes Torah and the Mizbe’ach the ‘Avoda’. Had both the Sanhedrin and the Mizbe’ach been located in the portion of one of the Shevotim (as opposed to being split in two – symbolizing division) there would not have been any Golus. Jews would have lived forever in Eretz Yisroel never having to suffer the tribulations and suffering of exile.

The two brothers, Yosef and Yehudah were struggling to ‘control’ Binyomin. It was their will to unite what they symbolized, Torah, with what Binyomin symbolized, Avodah. It was to be a perfect and eternal union.

In the Rogatchover’s words “it would have been Torah u’Gedula b’mokom echad. However the Cause of All Causes made it so that this unity should not occur until Moshiach may he arrive speedily.”

It was therefore ordained that Binyomin should refuse to subjugate himself to either Yosef or Yehudah. He declared his independence and his unwillingness to bond with either.

He manifested this independence by returning to Eretz Yisroel not with Yehuda as his chaperon but as an independent son of Yaakov.  He returned on his own. 

So ultimately Yehudah did not return Binyomin. He didn’t fulfill his obligation and therefore Yaakov could not nullify the excommunication self imposed by Yehuda. 

יח ויגש אליו יהודה עמ”ש בזה בהך דזבחים דף קי”ח ע”ב א עיקר הדבר דיוסף רצה שהוא יהי’ עיקר לבנימין, דגם בזמן שילה הוי עיקרבחלקו של בנימין.

ואז אם הי’ תורה עם עבודה במקום אחד הוי קיים.

וכן יהודה רצה זה. אך שניהם לא הועילו כי בנימין לא הסכים רצון הבורא כן שיהי’ גלות אחר גלות עד משיח במהרה ואז יתגבר מבני יהודה משיח בן דוד אי”ה

2- We continued learning about the “imprisonment” of the Shogeg killer in the Arei Miklot. The Mishna states that unless the Kohen Gadol dies,  he may not leave under circumstance.  Not for any Mitzvah and “even if the entire Jewish nation needs him he may not leave”. Meaning that even if he is warrior whose capabilities would save Klal Yisroel still he would not be permitted to leave.

The questions asked by many commentators is  that there is a general rule that to save a single life one must transgress all but three Mitzvos. (a”z, g”a, and s”d) and So why is this imprisonment so strict that would go against this principal? He should be obligated to leave his city and fight the necessary battles to save lives!

Many and various answers are given. For example: His leaving the Orei Miklot puts his life at risk by exposing himself to the Goel Hadam. One is not obligated to put his life at risk for saving another. Others say that no salvation can come from such a person to begin with.

The Rebbe addresses the various answers and comes up with an original explanation basing himself on the Rambam who states this rule of the Shogeg never being allowed to leave his city of refuge. Interestingly the Rambam adds a few perplexing words: By leaving, he (the Shogeg killer) allows himself to be killed. 

The Rambam, says the Rebbe, is saying that a person is such a situation,  should he step out of the Arei Miklot with a Goel Hadam waiting for this to happen, is technically considered a dead man!

Likkutei Sichos v38 p130

Thus the Torah cannot obligate him to leave as the Torah does not give instruction  to humans (even in a case of national Pikuach Nefesh) that will cause them to become technically dead….


Gut Shabbos.

LIK”S 38, 130. 


Makos 11b Shiur 12/16/14

Makos 11b

Our Gemara relates the tragic story of Yehudah and his guarantee to return Binyomin safely to his father.

In general, a Beis  Din can excommunicate an individual as a result of his wrongful conduct to coerce him to amend or retract his actions. When he does retract, the Beis Din needs to nullify the ban.

Similarly  a  person may conditionally excommunicate  himself  to ensure that he performs a certain desirable act. Similar to the Halocha  that ‘one is permitted to swear that he will  perform a Mitzvah’.

But here is the perplexing part:  In a conditional excommunication even if the condition was satisfied an active nullification must take place. If not – the ban and its consequences remain.

Let us use an example: A Lubavitcher decides mid- winter that on the next Yom Tov he will go on Tahalucha to the East Side…… In order to solidify his resolve he adds “if I don’t go I will be excommunicated” ……

Now Pesach comes and ….. afraid his wife will stop communicating with him because of the impending excommunication…. he does his Chasidic duty and trudges an East Side shul.

Nevertheless, this fellow needs to have this excommunication nullified. If not, it remains in place.

The source for this perplexing Halacha is found in our Gemara, Makos 11b.

Wanting to convince his father Yaakov to allow him to take Binyomin to Mitzraim he utters a conditional ‘self-excommunication; If he, Yehudah, were not to bring Binyomin back safely, the excommunication would take effect.

Although Binyomin did survive the trip to Mitzraim and was united with his father, the excommunication of Yehudah took effect. It was never nullified. Thus, even after Yehudah’s death, this excommunication had its effect on Yehudah. It manifested itself in the ‘rattling’ of his coffin; his bones which disconnected from the spine causing them to juggle for forty years while in transit to Eretz Yisroel.

It was only after Moshe Rebeinu prayed for the excommunication of Yehudah to be nullified that his bones were reconnected and his suffering and rattling ceased.

The Gemara derives from this fascinating story that all excommunications even if it conditional must be nullified regardless of  whether or not the condition was met.

The glaringly obvious question is of course as to why was this excommunication not nullified by Yehudah himself or by Yaakov his father?

The Rambam and Raavad discuss the question as to why Yehudah did not annul the ban himself, as is the Halacha in regard to a Talmid Chacham. The Raavad concludes his remarks by saying “the question I remain with is why Yaakov didn’t annul and relieve Yehudah of his obligations”. Rabeinu Eliyahu Mizrachi also asks this question.

Some answer the question by saying that Binyomin didn’t return with all his brothers to Eretz Yisroel to pick up Yaakov and the rest of the family. He remained in Mitzrayim and only met his father there. Thus Yehudah never did bring Binyomin back.

In other words Yehudah never fulfilled his vow and the excommunication could not be lifted.

So here we come to a most brilliant idea from the Rogatchover:

He suggests that Yehuda’s obligation was specifically “I will bring back Binyomin to you”.

And Binyomin did indeed return to Yaakov…

But it was not Yehudah’s doing. Binyomin returned on his own.

Neither Yaakov nor Yehudah could therefore annul the excommunication.

What is the meaning of this? And what is the difference on how he returned? And why is Yehudah still punished for this if all ended well?

To be continued…


Makos 11a. Shiur 12/9/14

Makos 11a.

  1. The Gemara states that the Arei Miklot need to be populated by ‘normal’ working people. Only a minority of the inhabitants can be *Shogeg refugees. (Amnesty, as we are now witnessing in the USA is not an option….. Only the passing away of the Kohen Godol cleans the slate and sets them free.)

Shogeg Refugee = inadvertent manslaughter.

If the majority of the inhabitants are Shogeg refugees then the city loses its status as in Ir Miklat.

​​The reason is that the Posuk says “And the killer who has fled to the city of refuge shall speak his matters to the ears of the elders of that city” (Joshua, 20:4)

Quiet Retreat of Jewish Elders

This seems to imply that the purpose of the killer speaking to the elders is to convince them to take him in although he has killed. Now, this would be unnecessary if a majority of the populace were killers, for they would certainly have no reason to turn him away in such a case! Therefore, the verse establishing the parameters for the Arei Miklot states that the Arei Miklot need to be a cities where the populace are not mostly killers.

2- We mentioned the Minchas Chinuch who has a funny query: Say the current inhabitants are split exactly 50/50. Half are native non-refugees and half are Shogeg aliens.

Now, when this fellow stands at the gate and pleads for asylum – if they grant him his request……then with him joining half the population of refugees (making them the majority) he is basically entering a city that is now disqualified as an Ir Miklat! (Because the new majority are now Shogeg aliens).

He does say that he thinks that it still has the status of refuge if they take him in. This is because there was no majority before he got there.

3-  Our Gemara mentioned briefly about the last 8 Pesukim in Devorim.

We mentioned that the Gemara (BB 15a, Menachos30a) has two opinions as to who wrote them –  Moshe Rabbeinu or Yehoshua. In any case, the Gemara concludes there that these 8 Pesukim “only one person should read them”.

What does that mean?

Rabbeinu Meshulem explains that one person must read them unassisted, unlike other verses, where the official reader reads together with the person called to the Torah.

Rabbeinu Tam however, rejects this explanation.  The entire Torah reading, as opposed to Megilla, can only be read by one person. Either the receiver of the Aliya or the Baal Koreh.

Rather, Rabeinu Tam asserts, we must explain the Gemara as Rashi does, which is you cannot split them into two separate Alios.

The Ramabam has a different approach ”The eight verses at the conclusion of the Torah may be read in a synagogue when fewer than ten people are present. They are indeed all [integral parts] Torah and were related by Moses from the Almighty. However, since, on the surface, they appear to have been recited after Moses death, the [rules governing them] are different. Therefore, it is permissible for an individual to read them.”

Reacting the Ramabam’s view that a person can read it without a Minyan, the Ravad asks: “I never heard of such a thing. …..and where did the Minyan go exactly?”

meaning to say “how did it happen that all of a sudden you don’t have a Minyan”. Therefore he explains the Gemra similarly to Rabeinu Tam.

4- The Tzemach Tzedek to refrain form adding on Shabbos more than seven Alios. O”C 35.

5-  The Gemara mentions that the reason the accidental killers stay in the Arei Miklat until the death of the Kohen Gadol is because the Torah is punishing the Kohen Gadol that he did not Daven for his people that no murder should occur during his tenure.




We asked in Shiur- what exactly is the punishment? How are you punishing the Kohen Gadol by making his death conditional for all unintentional murderers to go free? ​



Makos 10a (2)  Shiur Points 12 2 14

Makos 10a (2)

Thanks to Eli Chitrik

  1. The Gemara mentions the Passuk from Kohelet “A lover of silver shall not be satiated with silver, and whoever loves a multitude has no produce”. (5:10)

In simple English it means that people that “need much” are never satisfied.

We mentioned a famous contradiction between two Mamarei Chazal:

One Medrash says: .”Mi she’yesh lo mone rotze mo’sayim.  Whoever has a hundred wants two hundred…”

On the other hand it says: “A person passes on from this world, without even appeasing half of what his heart desires.” That means that no one ever accumulates even half of their goals!

These two sayings seem contradictory. Why?

Say for example a person accumulates ‘100’; at the end his life he has achieved – despite always wanting 200, only half of his goal. Thus one does indeed pass away with half of his goal.

One answer we mentioned is that the meaning of that “he wants two hundred” is, that he wants two hundred more, in addition to the one hundred he already has. He really wants 300 in total. Meaning that when his life is over he only obtained a third!

The Maharam Shif explains: the second hundred is a lot more important in his eyes than the first hundred. Meaning, the yearning and desire to get the second hundred is double or triple the yearning of the first hundred, therefore the first hundred is not considered half!

  1. The Gemara mentions how eventually everyone  gets what one deserves:

Act one:  “As the proverb of the ancient one says, ‘From the wicked comes forth wickedness, etc.’ What is this verse talking about?

About two people each of whom killed a person. One killed inadvertently – shogeg, and one killed intentionally- meizid. Neither case was seen by witnesses.

Both move on with their lives as if nothing has occurred.

Act two: The Holy One Blessed is He, arranges that they both come to the same inn. Witnesses are watching the unfolding drama. The one who killed inadvertently (in Act One) descends down a ladder. The one who killed intentionally (in Act One) sits under a ladder. The man on the top falls upon him and kills him.

Since witnesses see all this the result is that the one who had killed intentionally (in Act One) is killed, and the one who killed inadvertently (in Act One) is finally exiled.

Now in Act One the meizid killer did something unthinkable. He’s a plain murderer. What about the shogeg guy? He killed unintentionally. Nevertheless it is implied from this story that both people have committed (another) wrong by walking away from the crime scene.

The Maharsha mentions two points here:

  1. Although the Gemara does not discuss this, the first pair of victims must have also committed some sins that caused them to be liable to Heaven retribution. For otherwise why would they be killed?
  2. He then asks why does the person who killed unintentionally (in Act One) have to go to galus? Is not galus merely for the protection from the Goel Ha’dam? But in our story no one witnessed the inadvertent accidental killing. So why does he need to go to galus?

The Maharsha suggest some answers.

We asked in Shiur, that this is very puzzling. The Gemara on Daf Beis clearly mentions that going to Galus is also for “kaparah” – atonement for the sin of killing a person even if it was b’shogeg.

This atonement applies whether there is a Goel Hadam or not?!

Hit up the comments for the some answers!