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Steinsaltz

The Gemara challenges: And let him redeem that which was purchased with second-tithe money and became ritually impure, as we learned in a mishna (Ma’aser Sheni 3:10): An item that is purchased with second-tithe money and that became ritually impure shall be redeemed. The Gemara answers: The mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda, who says: An item that is purchased with second-tithe money and that became ritually impure shall be buried, and it may no longer be redeemed. The Gemara asks: If so, and the mishna is referring to an item purchased with second-tithe money that became ritually impure, why did the mishna cite this halakha specifically in the case of an idolatrous city? The same would hold true even in cities in general as well, as in Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion, the halakha there too is that the item is buried.

Rather, actually, the case in the mishna is with regard to pure second-tithe produce of an idolatrous city that was taken into Jerusalem, and it is a case where the walls of Jerusalem then fell. And this halakha is in accordance with the opinion of Rava, as Rava says: The capacity of the wall of Jerusalem to enable one to partake of second-tithe produce is by Torah law. By contrast, the capacity of the wall of Jerusalem to admit second-tithe produce, in the sense that once it enters Jerusalem the produce assumes the status of the property of the Most High and may no longer be redeemed, is by rabbinic law. And the case where the Sages issue the decree that entry into Jerusalem admits the produce is where the wall is intact; however, in a case where the wall is not intact, no, the Sages did not issue a decree, and the second tithe remains the spoils of the idolatrous city.

§ The mishna teaches: Sacred scrolls must be interred. The Gemara comments: The halakha cited in the mishna is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, as it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer says: Any city in which there is even one mezuza is not rendered an idolatrous city, as it is stated: “And you shall burn it with fire, both the city and all its spoils, entirely for the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 13:17). And in a city where there is a mezuza it is not possible to burn all its spoils, as it is written: “You shall not do so to the Lord your God” (Deuteronomy 12:4), from which it is derived that it is prohibited to destroy any item upon which the name of God appears.

The mishna teaches that Rabbi Shimon says: The Holy One, Blessed be He, says: If you implement judgment on an idolatrous city, I ascribe you credit as though you have sacrificed an entirely burnt offering before Me, and Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yosei HaGelili disagree as to whether one may convert the ruins of the idolatrous city into gardens and orchards. The Gemara posits: Let us say that it is with regard to the statement that Rabbi Avin says that Rabbi Ile’a says that these tanna’im disagree, as Rabbi Avin says that Rabbi Ile’a says: Anywhere that you find a generalization formulated as a positive mitzva followed by a detail formulated as a prohibition, one does not deduce from it that the generalization includes only the detail based on the hermeneutical principle of a generalization and a detail; rather, one interprets them as two independent halakhot.

On that basis, say that the dispute is that one Sage, Rabbi Yosei HaGelili, is of the opinion that the ruling is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Avin, and one Sage, Rabbi Akiva, is of the opinion that the ruling is not in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Avin. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili holds that the positive mitzva: “And it shall be a heap forever,” and the succeeding prohibition: “It shall not be built again” (Deuteronomy 13:17), are independent mitzvot. The result is that the city must remain a heap and may not be converted into gardens and orchards. Rabbi Akiva employs the hermeneutical principle and deduces that the generalization “and it shall be a heap forever” means only that “it shall not be built again,” but converting the ruins of the idolatrous city into gardens and orchards is permitted.

The Gemara rejects this: No, everyone is of the opinion that the ruling is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Avin, and here, they disagree about this: One Sage, Rabbi Yosei HaGelili, holds that the term “again” indicates that it is entirely prohibited to rebuild it at all. And one Sage, Rabbi Akiva, holds that the term “again” indicates that it is not built to be as it was, but it may be converted into gardens and orchards.

§ The Sages taught in a baraita: In a case where there were trees in the city, if they are detached from the ground, they are forbidden and must be burned as the spoils of an idolatrous city; if they are attached to the ground they are permitted, i.e., they are not destroyed. By contrast, trees of another city, whether detached or attached, are forbidden. The Gemara asks: To what is the baraita referring with the phrase: Another city? Rav Ḥisda says: The reference is to Jericho, as it is written: “And the city shall be devoted, it and all that is in it, to the Lord…And Joshua charged them at that time by oath, saying: Cursed be the man before the Lord, that rises up to build this city Jericho; he shall lay its foundation with his firstborn, and with his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it” (Joshua 6:17, 26).

It is taught in a baraita that this includes a prohibition not to build Jericho even after changing its name to the name of another city, and not to build another city after giving it the name of Jericho, as it is written: “Hiel the Bethelite built Jericho; with Abiram, his firstborn, he laid its foundation, and with his young son Segub set up its gates” (I Kings 16:34).

It is taught in a baraita: From the death of Abiram, his firstborn, the wicked, it was not incumbent upon him to learn not to build Jericho, as Abiram’s death could be attributed to chance. But with the death of Segub his young son, it was incumbent upon him to learn that it was due to Joshua’s curse that they died.

The Gemara asks: What did Abiram and Segub do that they are characterized as wicked, and what is the baraita saying? The Gemara answers that this is what the baraita is saying: From the death of Abiram, his firstborn, that wicked man Hiel should have learned about the cause of the death of Segub his young son. By inference from that which is stated: “With Abiram, his firstborn,” do I not know that Segub was his young son? Rather, what is the meaning when the verse states: “His young son Segub”? It teaches that he gradually buried all his sons from Abiram through Segub, and he should have suspected that Joshua’s curse caused the deaths.

Ahab was Hiel’s close friend and groomsman. He and Elijah came to inquire about Hiel’s welfare in the house of mourning [bei tamya]. Hiel sat and said: Perhaps when Joshua cursed, this is what he cursed: Not to build Jericho even after changing its name to the name of another city, and not to build another city after giving it the name of Jericho. Elijah said to him: Yes, that is the curse. Ahab said to Elijah: Now the curse of Moses is not fulfilled, as it is written: “And you go astray and worship other gods,” and it is written: “Then the Lord’s anger will flare against you, and He will close the heavens, and there will be no rain” (Deuteronomy 11:16–17). And that man, referring to himself, established an object of idol worship on each and every furrow in the kingdom of Israel, and the rain is so plentiful that it does not allow him to go and worship it; will the curse of his student, Joshua, be fulfilled?

The verse relates Elijah’s reaction: Immediately: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab: As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew or rain these years, but according to my word” (I Kings 17:1). Elijah prayed for mercy and they gave him the key to rainfall enabling him to dictate when it would rain, and he arose and went.

It is written about Elijah: “And the word of the Lord came to him, saying: Go from here, and turn eastward, and hide yourself by Wadi Cherith…And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning” (I Kings 17:2–3, 6). The Gemara asks: From where did they bring him bread and meat? Rabbi Yehuda says that Rav says: They brought it from the slaughterhouse of Ahab. And it is written: “And it came to pass after some days, that the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land” (I Kings 17:7). Since God saw that there is suffering in the world and Elijah was insensitive to it, it is written: “And the word of the Lord came to him, saying: Arise, go to Zarephath” (I Kings 17:8–9), to initiate a chain of events that would lead Elijah to return the key to rainfall to God.

And it is written: “And it came to pass after these matters, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick” (I Kings 17:17). Elijah prayed for mercy, for God to give him the key to the resurrection of the dead. They said to him from Heaven: Three keys were not typically passed to an agent: The key to a woman in childbirth, the key to rainfall, and the key to the resurrection of the dead. You already have the key to rainfall; do you also request the key to the resurrection of the dead? People will say: Two keys are in the possession of the student and one key is in the possession of the Master. Bring Me this key to rainfall, and take this key to the resurrection of the dead. Due to Elijah’s request, he was forced to revoke his oath, as it is written: “Go, appear before Ahab; and I will give rain” (I Kings 18:1).

A certain Galilean taught before Rav Ḥisda: There is a parable for the actions of Elijah; to what is this matter comparable? It is comparable to a man who slammed his door and lost his key. Elijah first prevented the rain from falling, and then no longer had possession of the key to enable it to fall again.

Rabbi Yosei of Tzippori taught: Father Elijah, a deferential and affectionate characterization for Elijah the prophet,

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
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