Vol 4.16 - Chof Av                 Spanish French Audio  Video

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Talmud English- Sanhedrin

Debate of R' Meir and R' Yose about who offered the wood korban on the twentienth of Av - the sons of David or the sons of Joab; in spirituality and in Avodah



1. The only place where I have currently found a reference in Talmud to Chof Av is in tractate Taanit. The 
Mishnah tells there, that Chof Av was a Festival of a certain family because on that day they used their
wood for the Altar in the Temple, It was a time when there was no wood in the wood-chamber and certain families contributed to bring wood for the Altar.

When the wood from one family was used up, another family would contribute and so on. It was enacted that on the day that the family had brought wood, that they would again use their wood on that date, even though they had sufficient wood in the chamber. And that day was considered a Yom Tov for that family.

Concerning the family that contributed on Chof Av, there are two views in the Talmud:

R’ Meir says the sons of Pachas Moav ben Yehudah are identical with the sons of David the son ofJudah; R' Yose says that "They are identical with the sons of Yoav ben Tzeruyah, (commander of King David's armies)"

At first glance, how is it possible to debate a material fact? Moreover, there is a maxim: "both are
the words of the Living G-d" (both views are spiritually correct). How can this be in our case?

One could say that that the above mentioned debate between R' Meir and R' Yose is not in actual fact:
whether it was this family or another - rather both sages are talking about the same family whose
lineage was both from King David and from Yoav (due to their families marrying each other)

And the debate between R' Meir and R' Yose is: Which greatness and prominence of the family tree 
led to their contributing wood to the Altar on Chof Av. R' Meir holds that the merit of King David
called out to them. And R' Yose holds that the merit of Yoav called out to them.

2. What was the great advantage of donating wood on Chof Av that the Talmud sought to find for that family a special impetus and ancestral merit?

The Talmud states:

'From the fifteenth of Av onwards the strength of the sun wanes and they no
longer felled trees for the altar, because they would not dry sufficiently. (Yiddish translation)

The law is that wood with worms is unfit for the Altar and therefore when "the strength of the sun
wanes" they were afraid that the wood would become worm infested.

The first donation of wood after the fifteenth of Av was the twentieth of Av. That wood needed to be
cut earlier as discussed above. And the family members brought the wood to the Altar on the twentieth
of Av, at a time when it was not possible to cut other good wood. Also, they planned how much time
was needed before the wood was required etc. and prepared it for later. Therefore the donation of
wood on the twentieth of Av (and also the donation of the family that contributed later on the twentieth of Ellul) had a prominence that was not present by the earlier contributions of the other families, because the other families could cut new wood.

And since the contributions after the fifteenth of Av, were especially dear, the Talmud clarifies, the incentive that caused these families to perform such a prominent deed.

3. Moreover, the wood itself was not an offering. It was needed for the Maracha (the wood pyre) on which they offered the Korbanot. The Korban itself - which was burned on top of the wood, was not necessarily theirs. Or it was a communal offering (in which they were a part of the community) - it was offerings from all Jews. And more so, among these offerings were also Sin and Guilt offerings etc. which were brought as atonement by sinners. Nevertheless, the families, estimated at an earlier time - as above - not just for their sake, but also to help any Jew that happened to sin, in order that they could bring a korban which would atone for them.

And a greater aspect:

The giving away of an object that cannot be acquired, in order to help another Jew who sinned, was done with happiness, such that the day of the wood-offering, became a festival for the family.

And this is the debate between R. Meir and R'  Yose. Whether the impetus for such a deed stems from King David or Yoav ben Tzeruya.

4. The Talmud (Sanhedrin 49a) states: "But for David, Yoav would not have succeeded in war; and but for Yoav, David could not have devoted himself to the study of Torah”.

The success of Yoav‘s battles were in the merit of David’s study of Torah. And the reason that David could study Torah without worry, was due to Yoav‘s going to war in his stead.

(Since these two aspects are derived from the same verse, is proof that the two things have a connection. Therefore, one could say that the reason that Yoav was successful, due to the Torah study of David , is not just because of the merit of David , but rather because Yoav had a portion in David’s Torah study, for “but for Yoav, David could not have devoted himself to the study of Torah”. Therefore, David’s Torah study helped Yoav.

The difference between the Avodah that is stated by David compared to that of Yoav is:

Both of them had bitul and self-sacrifice (mesiras nefesh).

But the bitul of David in this Avodah, manifested itself, in actuality, in the study of Torah (and this is the advantage of David‘s Torah, that his learning was with bitul, And therefore “G-d is with him, for the Halacha is like his opinion”)

And the bitul and self-sacrifice of Yoav manifested itself in the Avodah of dealing with worldly things. So much so that - nations opposed them to the extent that they fought with them. Yet (even there) he made there a dwelling place for G-d.

From the aspect of inclusion (hisKlalelut) which is (a property) in holiness, each one helped the other.

·         Yoav’s battles helped David‘s Torah study

·         And David‘s Torah study helped Yoav to be victorious in battle

However, there is a difference between them:

·         The main aspect of David at that time was – Torah and he was isolated from the world.

·         And the main aspect of Yoav was – battle and dealing with the world.

And this is the debate between R’ Meir and R’ Yose – which of them was higher.

·         (The name) R' Meir is from the word Light/Or which is higher from the (hiddenness of the) world. Therefore he was ardent about the aspect of bitul of Torah, light – David.

·         And (the name) R' Yose is the numerical value (gematria) of G-d’s name Elokim, which is the same numerical value of ‘Nature/Teva” . Therefore he was ardent about the quality of battle and the Avodah of refining (birurim) - Yoav .

5. Another explanation in this is:

We find in many places disagreements between Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi whether one is obligated to do a minor burden (hachbada Kalah) (now) in order to later achieve a great benefit.

·         The opinion of the Talmud Yerushalmi is that since the inconvenience is insignificant to the benefit, even though the benefit will not occur until later, one is obligated to do the inconvenience (now).

·         The opinion of the Talmud Bavli is that one has to deal with present. Since the burden is now and the benefit will only come in the future - even though the benefit is great, it does not outweigh the present burden.

The benefit that David  was able to learn with a carefree heart, is truly much greater than the hardship which Yoav had in going to war, but it came after  Yoav’s going to war. Therefore according to opinion of the Talmud Yerushalmi, Yoav was obligated to go to battle.

However, according to the opinion of the Talmud Bavli, Yoav did something that was not obligated.

Therefore R’ Meir – light/Or (yashar/direct light; synonymous with the Talmud Yerushalmi) – holds that the main greatness came from David. For Yoav was obligated to go to war.

And R’ Yose – (refinement of nature – of darkness; synonymous with the Talmud Bavli) – holds that the main greatness came from Yoav. For he did something that he was not obligated to do (yet did it voluntarily).

6. The lesson from the aforementioned is:

When one has something that another cannot obtain in the entire world, he must be prepared to give it away in order to help another Jew, even to one who has stumbled in a sin, even when he will not get any credit for it. And more so, he must consider it a merit that the other Jew was able to be helped by him. So much so that he has true happiness and he makes it a family celebration (yom tov).

And in order to imbue this sentiment in actual children (“who are the descendants of David etc. and the descendants of Yoav “) - or in students ( “‘your children’ refers to the students”), one’s personal conduct must be permeated with the disposition of self-sacrifice. And both, those who occupy themselves with Torah (yosheiv ohel) and their main aspect is Torah, as well as those who occupy themselves with business (etc. baalei esek), whose main aspect is engaging the world (milchama) and the service of refining (Avodat HaBirurim), their Avodah must be with self-sacrifice.

And this will enable us to raise (hodavet) a generation which is prepared to give, and give with happiness, that which they possess, for the sake of another Jew. And great is the attribute of Ahavat Yisroel, free love (the opposite of baseless hate (sinat chinam which brought the destruction of the Temple), for it will usher in the true and complete redemption (Geulah Amitit veHaShelaima) speedily mamash.

(m’Sichas Chof Menachem Av 5711)




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