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Steinsaltz

Because he was occupied with lodging first and did not immediately perform the mitzva of circumcision, as it is stated: “And it came to pass on the way at the lodging-place” (Exodus 4:24).

Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: It was not Moses our teacher that Satan wanted to kill, but rather, that infant who was not circumcised, as it is stated: “Surely a bridegroom of blood are you to me” (Exodus 4:25). Go out and see: Who does it make sense would be the one that is called the bridegroom in this instance? You must say this is the infant, since he is the one who entered the covenant of Abraham by means of the circumcision.

Rabbi Yehuda bar Bizna taught: At the time that Moses our teacher was negligent about the circumcision, the destructive angels named Af, meaning anger, and Ḥeima, meaning wrath, came and swallowed him, and only his legs were left outside. Immediately, “Zipporah took a flint, and cut off the foreskin of her son” (Exodus 4:25), and immediately “He let him alone” (Exodus 4:26).

At that moment, Moses our teacher wanted to kill them, as it is stated: “Cease from anger [af ] and forsake wrath [ḥeima]” (Psalms 37:8), which indicates that he wanted to harm them. And there are those who say: He killed the angel named Ḥeima, as it is stated: “Wrath is not in me” (Isaiah 27:4). The Gemara asks: How is it possible to say that he killed Ḥeima? Isn’t it written that Moses himself said much later: “For I was in dread of the anger and wrath” (Deuteronomy 9:19)? The Gemara answers: There are two types of wrath. And if you wish, say that the army of Ḥeima remained but not the angel itself.

It is taught in a baraita: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi says: Great is the mitzva of circumcision, for there is no one who was engaged in mitzvot like Abraham our Patriarch, and yet he was called wholehearted only due to the mitzva of circumcision, as it is stated: “Walk before Me and you should be wholehearted” (Genesis 17:1), and it is written in the next verse: “And I will make My covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:2), and Abraham was then commanded with regard to circumcision. This indicates that he was not called wholehearted until he performed circumcision.

Alternatively, so great is the mitzva of circumcision that it is equal to all the mitzvot of the Torah, as it is stated at the giving of the Torah: “For according to these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel” (Exodus 34:27), and “covenant” refers to circumcision. Alternatively, so great is the mitzva of circumcision that if not for circumcision heaven and earth would not have been established, as it is stated: “If My covenant be not with day and night, I would not have appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25), and the covenant that exists day and night is the covenant of circumcision, as it is always found on the person’s body.

The Gemara comments: And this statement disagrees with the words of Rabbi Eliezer, for Rabbi Eliezer said: Great is the Torah, for if not for Torah, heaven and earth would not have been established, as it is stated: “If My covenant be not with day and night, I would not have appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth” (Jeremiah 33:25). According to Rabbi Eliezer, the covenant that exists day and night is the Torah, as it says: “You should contemplate it day and night” (Joshua 1:8).

Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: At the time that the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Abraham our Patriarch: “Walk before Me and you should be wholehearted” (Genesis 17:1), a sensation of trembling seized him and he said: Perhaps there is something disgraceful about me due to a transgression that I committed, and therefore I cannot be called complete. When God said to him: “And I will make My covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:2), his mind was set at ease, since he understood that the removal of the foreskin that he was now commanded to do was the reason he had not yet achieved completion.

The Gemara expounds the verse “and He brought him outside” (Genesis 15:5): Abraham said before Him: Master of the Universe, I looked at my constellation and according to it I will have only one son, and a son has already been born to me, i.e., Ishmael. He said to him: Emerge from your astrology because there is no constellation for the Jewish people, as they are not subject to the influence of astrology.

Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Anyone who conducts himself with wholeheartedness, the Holy One, Blessed be He, treats him with wholeheartedness, as it is stated: “With the devout You act devoutly, and with the one who is strong in his wholeheartedness You act wholeheartedly” (II Samuel 22:26).

Rabbi Hoshaya said: Anyone who acts wholeheartedly, time will stand for him, i.e., he will be successful, as it is stated: “Walk before Me and you should be wholehearted” (Genesis 17:1), and it is written: “And you shall be the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:4).

Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi said: Anyone who divines, i.e., he guesses and looks for signs about the future, the sign will injure him, as it is stated: “For there is to him [lo] divination with Jacob” (Numbers 23:23). The Gemara asks: But it is written lo with the letters lamed alef, meaning “no divination,” as opposed to with the letters lamed vav, meaning “there is to him divination.” The straightforward meaning of the verse is that there is no divination with regard to Jacob. Rather, the reason that he will be injured is not based on the verse but rather due to the concept of measure for measure: Since he attempts to tell his fortune, it injures him.

Ahava, son of Rabbi Zeira, teaches: Any person who does not divine his future is brought inside a partition close to God to a place that even the ministering angels cannot enter inside, as it is stated: “For there is no divination with Jacob, neither is there any enchantment with Israel, now it is said to Jacob and Israel what has God wrought” (Numbers 23:23). In other words, matters are revealed to Israel that even the angels do not know, since Israel is closer to God than the angels.

Rabbi Abbahu said that Rabbi Elazar said: For what reason was Abraham our Patriarch punished and his children enslaved to Egypt for 210 years? Because he made a draft [angarya] of Torah scholars, as it is stated: “He led forth his trained men, born in his house” (Genesis 14:14). These trained men that he took to war were actually his disciples, who were Torah scholars.

And Shmuel said: Because he greatly examined [hifriz] the characteristics of the Holy One, Blessed be He, as it is stated: “Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit it?” (Genesis 15:8). And Rabbi Yoḥanan said: He was punished because he distanced people from entering under the wings of the Divine Presence, as it is stated that the king of Sodom said to him: “Give me the people and take the goods to yourself” (Genesis 14:21), but Abraham refused to take any goods either. If he had not listened to the king of Sodom and had allowed the people to remain with him, he would have brought the prisoners under the wings of the Divine Presence.

The Gemara returns to discuss one of the verses cited previously: “He led forth [vayyarek] his trained men, born in his house” (Genesis 14:14). Rav said: He showered them [horikan] with Torah like someone who pours from one vessel into another, and Shmuel said: He showered them [horikan] with gold and gave them an abundance of money so that they would go to war with him.

The Torah states that he took “eighteen and three hundred” (Genesis 14:14) men to war. Rabbi Ami bar Abba said: Eliezer was equivalent to all of them. There are those who say: Only Eliezer is referred to here, as the numerical value of the letters of his name is this amount, i.e., 318.

And Rabbi Ami bar Abba said: Abraham recognized his Creator at the age of three years, as it is stated: “Because [ekev] Abraham hearkened to My voice” (Genesis 26:5). The numerical value of the letters of the word ekev is 172, indicating that he observed the halakha for this many years. If Abraham lived until 175 then his first recognition of the Creator must have been at the age of three.

And Rami bar Abba said in a similar manner:

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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