Vol 19.09 - Shabbat Nachamu Spanish French Audio Video
(5737) Siyum of tractate Makkot. The viewpoint of R' Akiva ( who "laughed") and the other Tannaim ( who "cried")
1. Concerning the double expression of the verse: "Console, console My people says your G-d” (“Nachamu Nachamu”),
the Midrash says:
“They were struck doubly and they were comforted doubly”.
This means that the aspect of comfort will be double.
One must understand what the meaning and essence of double comfort is?
On the other hand, the simple question is known: What is the innovation that “they were comforted doubly”, since the “striking” was “double”?
One can understand this by prefacing as explanation in the Siyum of Tractate Makkot, where we also find the double wording of comfort:
“Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!”
For also there it is speaking regarding the aspect of Churban and Galut, and on this comes the double wording of comfort.
According to the known principle that aspects of the Written Torah are explained and clarified in the Oral Torah – we can also do so with regard to our case.
2. In the conclusion of Tractate Makkot, the Talmud says:
“Long ago, as Rabban Gamaliel, R’ Eleazar ben Azariah, R’ Yehoshua and R’ Akiva were walking on the road, they heard the noise of the crowds at Rome (on travelling) from Puteoli, a hundred and twenty miles away. They all started weeping, yet R' Akiva was laughing. They said to him: ‘Why are you merry?’ Said he to them: ‘Why are you weeping? Said they: ‘These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols dwell securely and tranquilly, yet for us, the House of the footstool of our G-d, the Temple, is burnt with fire, and shall we not weep? Rabbi Akiva said to them: That is why I am laughing. If for those who violate His will, it is so (that they are rewarded for the few good deeds they performed), for those who perform His will, all the more so (will they be rewarded).
On another occasion, they were ascending to Jerusalem. When they arrived at Mount Scopus coming up to Jerusalem together, and just as they came to Mount Scopus (and saw the site of the Temple), they rent their garments (in mourning). When they reached the Temple Mount, they saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies. They began weeping, and Rabbi Akiva was laughing. They said to him: ‘For what reason are you laughing?’. Rabbi Akiva said to them: ‘For what reason are you weeping?’ They said to him: ‘This is the place concerning which it is written: “And the non-priest (Zar) who approaches shall die” (Numbers 1:51), and now foxes walk in it; and shall we not weep?’
Rabbi Akiva said to them: ‘That is why I am laughing, for it is written, (when G-d revealed the future to the prophet Isaiah): “And I will take to Me faithful witnesses to attest: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah” (Isaiah 8:2)”.
Now what is the connection between Uriah and Zechariah? Uriah prophesied during the First Temple period, and Zechariah prophesied during the Second Temple period.
However, Scripture linked the (later) prophecy of Zechariah with the (earlier) prophecy of Uriah, In the (earlier) prophecy (in the days) of Uriah it is written: “Therefore shall Zion for your sake be ploughed as a field etc. (Micah 3:12)”
In Zechariah it is written: “There shall yet be elderly men and elderly women sitting in the streets of Jerusalem” (Zechariah 8:4).
Until the prophecy of Uriah with regard to the destruction of the city was fulfilled I was afraid that the prophecy of Zechariah would not be fulfilled. Now that the prophecy of Uriah was fulfilled, it is evident that the prophecy of Zechariah remains valid”. The Sages said to him, with these words: “Akiva, you have comforted us!; Akiva, you have comforted us!”
Indeed, even though the aforementioned Talmud is from the Aggadah portion of Torah, and it is a maxim that we do not learn Halacha from Aggadah - this is only when the study from the Aggadah contradicts the Halacha. However, if there is no contradiction, one can indeed learn aspects of Halacha from Aggadah and one can rely on this.
Even, if we were to say, that we do not learn practical Halacha from Aggadah, however, a reasoning (סברא) in Halacha, can be learnt.
In addition to the aforementioned, in our case it is not just words of Homily, but also the citing of an important act, an actual deed regarding how the Tannaim (according to Halacha) acted. And the Beraita also records their names, including R’ Akiva, where the principle is “All ( of the Oral Torah) follows the opinion of R’ Akiva”. Therefore, it is understood plainly that, in this, there are many concepts related here, which pertain to Halacha.
Particularly, that is the second incident, it tells not only that they were weeping and laughing, but also regarding an actual Halachic deed, namely that: “When they arrived at Mount Scopus they rent their garments (in mourning)“ – for “the law is to act so”.
According to all the aforementioned, one must understand, and in the words of the Talmud: “In what do they argue”(קמפלגי במאי) . In other words what are the Halachic theories, which are the reason and cause that the aforementioned, Sages, differ with R’ Akiva. And it is from one extreme to the other: From “crying” to “laughing”?
And although the Talmud continues “Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” it is understood that their supposition as to why they “began crying”, has a place in the concepts of Halacha. Especially since in the beginning of the story, it is not mentioned that they said “R’ Akiva comfort us”. And this is also apparent from that which R’ Akiva's answer to them, in the first incident, did not halt their crying by the second incident – “On another occasion“.
3. One must also understand many of the precise details in the essence and continuation of the aforementioned stories.
Some of them are:
When it is told in the second incident that “When they arrived at Mount Scopus they rent their garments“, it is simple (as it appears from the plain and continuous wording) that even R’ Akiva did so. This means that even R’ was distressed (געטרויערט) by this, over the destruction of the Beit HaMikdash. Therefore, why did he ask “For what reason are you weeping“?
The Maharsha states on the (7th and 8th) question:
“They repeated the words according to the two incidents that they remembered”.
However, even this answer requires explaining. These “two incidents” happened after a delay of time and place.
4. Plainly, one could explain, that in both incidents, one sees a common point in the view of Rabban Gamaliel, R’ Eleazar ben Azariah and R’ Yehoshua on one hand, and R’ Akiva on the other hand:
According to this one can explain the reason that the Talmud cites both incidents in one section, even though they happened in different places and times, as aforementioned. For this is not only because both stories occurred with the same Tannaim, but because in both incidents, we find the same point in the view of R’ Akiva – to constantly see in everything, the benefit and good which comes out from it later.
5. However, according to the aforementioned, one must understand:
6. One can understand this by prefacing a simple explanation of the Talmud:
The reason for the puzzlement of R’ Akiva: “why are you crying” is because he was puzzled why they first started crying when they “heard the noise of the crowds at Rome“ and not beforehand. From this it proves that their crying was not because of the actual knowledge that Rome is in power. For they knew this even before they went “on the road”. (Moreover: their actual travelling to Rome to nullify the decrees on the Yidden, was because of the harshness of Galut).
And it is similar with the second incident:
Their crying was not on the actual Churban. Especially since regarding the Churban it expressly states that they (just) “tore their clothes”, even beforehand. But rather the reason for the weeping was “when they saw a fox . . they began weeping“.
Therefore, R’ Akiva asked them “For what reason are you weeping?“. In other words, what happened now that caused you “to begin to cry”?
7. Their answer to R’ Akiva: “These heathens who bow down to images and burn incense to idols dwell securely and tranquilly, yet for us, the House of the footstool of our G-d, the Temple, is burnt with fire“ means:
The actual reality that the Roman empire is in a condition of “security and tranquility“, in physical worldly things, could not be grasped by them, until it came to the point of tears.
And on the contrary:
The reason that the Roman Empire is strong and secure is, in actuality, for the good of Yisroel, since, as the verse states: “the Levanon (the Beit HaMikdash) shall fall through a mighty one“. However, since “It all depends on the stature of the one who humiliates the other and the one who is humiliated“ (הכל לפי המבייש והמתבייש), the shame is much smaller when the downfall of “Levanon” ( the Beit HaMikdash) is specifically through a mighty kingdom.
(And in this it is fitting, why in their answer, they did not begin to emphasize, that the Roman Empire destroyed the Beit HaMikdash, and is in power (“securely and tranquilly”) – since, on the contrary, this is for the good of Yisroel, making the feeling of shame etc. lighter, as aforementioned).
Their issue was:
The reason that Rome finds itself in a condition of “security and tranquility“, in the time that “for us, the House of the footstool of our G-d, the Temple, is burnt with fire“, is a ‘Chillul Sheim Shamayim’ - a profanation of G-d’s name (in addition to a ‘Chillul Sheim Yisroel’ –a profanation of Yisroel).
Since Rome’s entire strength etc. is only to fulfill the verse: “the Levanon shall fall through a mighty one“, why is Rome still “mighty” and “secure and tranquil“ even now when the Beit HaMikdash has already (from beforehand, been) burnt?
Similarly, it is also in the second incident:
When seeing a “fox emerging from the Holy of Holies“, they saw a “Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel”. Namely, that a “place concerning which is written: ‘And the non-priest who approaches shall die’”, where no Yid can even approach it, so much so that even a Kohen Gadol (the Holy of Holy of Yidden) may not enter (except for once a year, on Yom Kippur, for (specifically ) then, may he enter). Even he is considered a non-Kohen the entire year etc. – and yet “now foxes walk in it“?!
This means that the point of their claim was:
It is indeed true that it was decreed that the Beit HaMikdash should be destroyed and that Yidden should be driven into Galut. However why must it involve such a Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel?
8. On this R’ Akiva answered:
“If for those who violate His will, it is so, for those who perform His will, all the more so (will they be rewarded)“.
Indeed it is true that Rome being in a condition of “security and tranquility“, at the time when the Beit HaMikdash is burnt with fire, is a Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel. However, through this, also the reward and good that will come after it will also be that much stronger. For “If for those who violate His will, it is so and they are rewarded for the few good deeds they performed, for those who perform His will, all the more so will they be rewarded “.
This means that R’ Akiva saw in the success of Rome and even in the Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel, the good that will come though it.
And similarly in the second incident:
Since the prophecy of the Churban was fulfilled to the greatest degree. So much so that a fox came out of the Holy of Holies, this itself is a proof that Zechariah’s prophecy of the Geulah, will be fulfilled in the greatest manner. There was no doubt within him, G-d forbid, that the prophecy would be fulfilled. The only doubt was in the manner of the fulfillment. Whether it will be in the epitome of loftiness, or not – similar to what we find by many of the Torah’s tidings.
Similarly by the verse “ploughed as a field etc.“ (Note: it can be understood in a positve manner, namely that), there can be the growth of “you shall gather your grain“, even more than “one hundredfold”, more than “wheat the size of kidneys”, even more than it will be in the Future where it states: “the plowman shall meet the reaper“ (Note: "They will not finish plowing until the harvest comes, and they will not finish harvesting until the time of sowing comes" –Rashi).
Through this manner of the fulfillment of (Uriah’s) prophecy of the Churban, R’ Akiva saw that even the fulfillment of the prophecy of the Geulah will be in the loftiest manner.
According to this, it is understood why he brings specifically here, the prophecy of “Therefore shall Zion . . be ploughed as a field etc.“.
The purpose of plowing a field is not to ruin the field. On the contrary, plowing is a preparation in order that the field should produce the maximum, as the verse states: “and the land should give its produce“. After plowing, the produce grows properly. And the more one turns over the earth, is better the planting and afterward the growth.
Similarly, it is in our case:
The Churban of the Beit HaMikdash is similar to plowing. For specifically through (and from) it comes the advantage in the growth of Geulah. Therefore, when R’ Akiva saw that the Churban (the plowing) reached its completeness. So much so that it reached the Holy of Holies, it was a proof to him that even the Geulah (the growth) would be in the epitome of loftiness.
9. According to this one can explain the different opinions in the debate of R’ Akiva with the other Tannaim. For this is dependent on a general question that we find by many Mitzvot:
The issue is whether we must deal (and accordingly decide) now, with a Mitzvah that will occur in the future.
A sick person, where the doctors say that if he fasts on Tzom Gedalia, he will not be able to fast on Yom Kippur.
One could say that this is also the reasoning in the debate between R’ Akiva and the other Tannaim, with regard to the Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel of the present time, from which afterward will cause a great loftiness for the Yidden and a greater ‘Kiddush Sheim Shamayim’ - sanctification of G-d.
10. One could say that their debate is also dependent in another general question, which is more relevant to our case:
The question is:
What matters most – the fulfilling of the Mitzvah in all its details, or the Hiddur in the general Mitzvah?
(An (approximate) example of this is the question of the Acharonim regarding Brit Milah:
In this case, which is more important?
Similarly, it is with many aspects. Namely, If by postponing the fulfillment of the Mitzvah until later, he will fulfill the Mitzvah with Hiddur and in the best manner).
And it is also simple that their debate also concerns that which Yidden will receive reward for their doing G-d’s will etc. and at the time of the Geulah, it will be a Kiddush Sheim Shamayim and Kiddush Sheim Yisroel.
The question is that (the two matters, namely):
are (already now) an aspect of Chillul Sheim Shamayim. It is a lack in the essential aspect of Kiddush Sheim Shamayim.
And opposed to this, the issue that Yidden will receive a very lofty reward, and that the Zechariah’s prophecy will be fulfilled in a very wondrous manner, is an aspect of Hiddur and addition ( in longevity, health, etc. – in their general aspects) in Kiddush Sheim Shamayim ( which will come later, after a period)
(Even though, in any event, after the Churban, there is no Kiddush Sheim Yisroel and Kiddush Sheim Shamayim, this can be not in a manner of Chillul),
It is not relevant that later there will come a Hiddur and addition in Kiddush Sheim Shamayim – and therefore “they began to cry”.
11. This is in general. However, in detail there is a necessity and an innovation in the second incident versus that of the first incident in all the three aforementioned details:
The reason that R’ Akiva says “All that the Merciful One does, He does for good “ is because although in the present time it is bad, nevertheless, the intent of this is for the good.
We see this from the example that the Talmud brings regarding R’ Akiva himself. Although he spent the night in the field and not in the town, and that he lost his donkey and rooster, and the light was extinguished – from this came afterward, the good of saving his life. In other words, this story itself is a thing of pain and damage, yet it was for the sake of good.
Accordingly, it is understood how this fits with the law that the Talmud states, that when an unfortunate situation happens, even though that later, good will come out of it,
(“for example: a flood has washed away his field even though when the flood passes, it will be good for him, as the field has been watered),
one must still recite the blessing “blessed be the true Judge” (ברוך דיין האמת). For “now, it is bad”.
And in being accustomed “to say: ‘All that the Merciful One does, He does for good etc.”, even Rabban Gamaliel, R’ Eleazar ben Azariah and R’ Yehoshua agree with R’ Akiva, as aforementioned.
The innovation in our case is in the evil itself. In the incident of “a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies”, R’ Akiva did not just see the future positive outcome, but he saw this itself, as a part and start of good.
According to the saying of the Sages on the verse: “The L-rd has spent His fury“ that:
“He spent His fury on the wood and stones, and did not pour out His wrath on Bnei Yisroel“.
Therefore, Asaf’s (reflections on the destruction of the Holy Temple and Yerushalayim, found in Tehillim, (ps. 79)) is not dubbed, “A lament of Asaf,” but rather “A song of Asaf”. And when and through that which G-d (completely) spent His fury, through foxes emerging from the Holy of Holies ( and Yerushlayim. See etc.)
In the first incident, however, although even there, there was “laughter” and even there, there was the innovation of “All that the Merciful One does, He does for good”.
This is however, not in a manner that this itself is a portion and beginning of good.
12. Similarly, the other two questions may be answered:
According to the theory that the future outcome decides the manner of the effect of the Mitzvah, in the present, also according to the reasoning that the Hiddur in the general Mitzvah matters more than the detail of the Mitzvah itself.
The reason for this (in general) is because this is more important and takes precedence. This means that the deed in the present and regarding the detail of the Mitzvah is indeed a deficiency. However, the advantage of the future, and the Hiddur in general takes precedence and is more important than the deficiency. Indeed, this is so (in general) in the first incident
In our case, however, in the second incident, this is according to the view of R’ Akiva, not just in the scope of what is important, but also in the deed of the present etc. He only sees the virtue of the future. This means that the Hiddur of Kiddush Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel which will result from this in the future, is seen by R’ Akiva as if it has already begun, in the present deed – in that which appears to be a deficiency in Kiddush HaShem and Sheim Yisroel .
13. And this is the reason why specifically in the second incident they said “Akiva, you have comforted us! Akiva, you have comforted us!” and not in the first incident:
The innovation in the explanation of the matter that “a fox emerged from the Holy of Holies” according to R’ Akiva over that of the other Tannaim who began to cry is in in two things, not just in one thing but also in another (לא זו אף זו): (Note: a form of construction known as lo zu af zu)
According to their view, they saw a matter that is the opposite of good, which aroused crying. Whereas the view of R’ Akiva is that not only must one look at the aspect of good – (Kiddush Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel in the epitome of completeness), which will result from it. But even more so: that the advantage and benefit in the Geulah is not like a thing which becomes prepared through a second (non-positive) thing. But rather that this is one matter – “Therefore shall Zion . . be ploughed as a field etc.”. The Churban itself has the advantage of plowing of a field, where its continuation is sowing and growth.
And this is the double comfort:
And the necessity for this is, as it states: “And I will take to Me faithful witnesses to attest: Uriah the priest, and Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah etc. Scripture linked etc. “
The verse itself states that these are not two separate things. But rather, they are one – and like the scope of testimony (העדות - as it states, according to two witnesses – it becomes one entity of “testimony”). The prophecy of Zechariah and the prophecy of Uriah are one testimony.
However, by the first incident, were R’ Akiva “laughed”, because of the reason that “If for those who violate His will, the wicked, it is so and they are rewarded for the few good deeds they performed, for those who perform His will, all the more so will they be rewarded “, this is just according to the view of R’ Akiva.
The other Tannaim however, stood by their view. And especially that in this one must learn and see the virtue and good of one thing (“performing His will)- from a second thing “violate His will”).
And on this he did not cite any proof from Scripture like in the second incident (of which we should know by a kal v’chomer with regard to the first incident).
14. According to this, one can explain the reason why the Talmud specifies the names of all the Tannaim. For through this, the reason and cause of their different views is understood:
Plainly, who can see (and accomplish) in the Other Sde, in the opposite side, the nullification of the evil that is within it, even when it is at its height of power, and the virtue and benefit in the aspect of the Churban in a manner of double comfort - specifically one who, himself, was in the same manner.
(Similar to what the Talmud states that specifically Ovadia, prophesized on the downfall of Edom, since “ Ovadia was an Edomite convert. This is as people say: From and within the forest comes the ax to it (מיניה וביה אבא ניזיל ביה נרגא), (Note: as the handle for the ax that chops the tree is from the forest itself). Whereas, one who is born a Jew, whether it is a Kohen, Levi, or Yisroel – cannot see this on his own. For him it is a novelty.
Similarly, the difference between their opinions in Halacha:
What is more important, the present or the future? A detail of a Mitzvah or a Hiddur in the general Mitzvah?
Specifically R’ Akiva, who, in addition to that which he descended from converts, he, also himself, began learning Torah, only when he was forty years old. And if he would have looked and considered his condition and situation of the present, he would not have come to the greatness of R’ Akiva.
Specifically, since he saw the outcome and virtue which would result (and which actually was achieved by him) in the future, and clearly and saw with certainty like the sight of “stones eroded by water“ – this caused that he should begin studying Torah in a manner that is explanation in the saying of the Sages.
15. According to this one could say that this is also the reasoning in the increase and virtue of the double comfort (“Nachamu Nachamu Ami”) on the general aspect of Galut and the Churban, in a manner of “They were struck doubly“:
“Struck doubly” manifested itself in that which, in addition to that which the essence of the Churban and the Galut (and the opposite of Kiddush Sheim Shamayim and Sheim Yisroel, in this), there is also, here, the more severe Chillul Sheim Shamayim and Chillul Sheim Yisroel. More than through the actual Churban and Galut (and as aforementioned, this is similar to the aforementioned story in the conclusion of Tractate Makkot: “These heathens who bow . . dwell securely and tranquilly, yet for us etc. They saw a fox emerging from the Holy of Holies“)
And in conjunction with this there is also the double comfort:
In addition to the comfort in which the benefit and good of the actual Churban and Galut will be revealed - which was all done in order that the revelations of the future Geulah, will be revealed. There will also be revealed the virtue and loftiness in the increase ( “Struck doubly“) of the Churban and Galut.
(And this itself, in a manner of double comfort).
This means that not only will it be perceived that the severe degradation and Galut was worth it, as long as it comes to the increase and Hiddur in the time of Geulah, but that one perceives the loftiness and good in the increase of the Churban and Galut itself. And one says on this: “I will thank You, O L-rd, for You were wroth with me“.
According to this, one could say the allusion of the comfort in our Parsha. As the Sages state (and Rashi cites it) regarding the proclamation (Deut. 4:25): “When you beget children and children's children and you will be long established in the land“ that:
“He hinted to them that they would be exiled from it at the end of 852 years, the gematria, numerical value, of the word וְנוֹשַׁנְתֶּם, but He exiled them earlier, at the end of 850 years. He did this two years earlier than the numerical value of וְנוֹשַׁנְתֶּם in order that the prophecy about them should not be fulfilled “that you shall utterly perish.”(verse 26) This is the meaning of what is said:“And the L-rd ‘hastened’ with the evil and brought it upon us, for the L-rd our G-d is charitable (צַדִּיק)” (Dan. 9:14). He was charitable with us for He hastened to bring it (the exile) two years before its time (San. 38a; Gittin 88a).“
This means not only the virtue and benefit of Galut itself, as it causes that it will bring as the verse continues (ibid 29,30): “And from there you will seek the L-rd your G-d, and you will find Him, if you seek Him . . then you will return to the L-rd your G-d etc.”. But also the virtue in the prefacing (קדימה) of Galut, for the prefacing nullifies the “you will speedily and utterly perish“.
And through our deeds and Avodah during the time of Galut, we will merit to visibly and actually see the “Nachamu Nachamu“ and moreover to (Isa. 51:12): “I am He Who consoles you“ (אָֽנֹכִ֧י אָֽנֹכִ֛י ה֖וּא מְנַֽחֶמְכֶ֑ם), with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
M'Sichas Chof Menachem Av, Shabbat Parshat Eikev, Shabbat Parshat Re’eh 5734
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