Talmud Tips

For the week ending 30 December 2023 / 18 Tevet 5784

Bava Kama 58-64

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
Become a Supporter Library Library

An Indiscriminate Trait

“Once ‘the destroyer’ is given permission to destroy, it does not distinguish between the righteous and the wicked.”

This statement by Rav Yosef is derived from a verse in Chumash that warns all of the Jewish People to remain indoors on the night of the final plague in Egypt — the smiting of the firstborn. The verse states, “And no person shall go out from the entrance of his house until morning.”

This concept of seemingly indiscriminate and collective Divine punishment is one that is reserved for unique and special occasions. It is a concept which seems to be far beyond our understanding. Aside from this being the manner of punishment on the night of the Exodus, I have heard from my teachers that the same was true during the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and during more recent holocausts.

Rav Yosef adds a caveat to this idea. The destruction begins with the righteous, as the verse states, “And I shall cut off from you the righteous and the wicked” (Yechezkel 21:8). Rav Yosef, when he taught this, cried, since the righteous are mentioned first in line for punishment, indicating that they are relatively “worthless” - Rashi. Abayei comforted Rav Yosef, explaining that the punishment of the righteous first is actually a favor from Above. In this way, they would not see the terrible punishment to follow (Rashi). Abayei cites his source as the verse, “The righteous man has perished, but no one takes it to heart, and men of kindness are taken away, with no one understanding that because of the evil the righteous man has been taken away.” (Yeshayahu 57:1) The word for “because” in the verse is “mipnei,” which can also mean “before” or “prior to.”

Bava Kama 60a

© 1995-2024 Ohr Somayach International - All rights reserved.

Articles may be distributed to another person intact without prior permission. We also encourage you to include this material in other publications, such as synagogue or school newsletters. Hardcopy or electronic. However, we ask that you contact us beforehand for permission in advance at ohr@ohr.edu and credit for the source as Ohr Somayach Institutions www.ohr.edu

« Back to Talmud Tips

Ohr Somayach International is a 501c3 not-for-profit corporation (letter on file) EIN 13-3503155 and your donation is tax deductable.