Talmud Tips

For the week ending 4 November 2017 / 15 Heshvan 5778

Sanhedrin 100 - 106

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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Reward for Building a City

Rabbi Yochanan said, “Why did Omri merit kingdom? Because he added one city to Eretz Yisrael…”

Rabbi Yochanan continues this statement on our daf by citing a verse (Kings I 16:24): “And he bought the mountain of Shomron from Shemer for two talents of silver… he built up the mountain and called the name of the city which he built… Shomron.”

Omri merited a reward of kingdom despite his being quite evil, as it says in the next verse, “And Omri did what was bad in the eyes of the Lord, and he was more wicked than all those that preceded him.” (Kings I 16:25)

However, if we look at the verse before the one that speaks about his building a new city — Kings I 16:23 — it appears that Omri already became king before he added a city to Eretz Yisrael. That verse states, “In the thirty-first year of Asa the king of Judah, Omri ruled over Israel for twelve years, in Tirzah he ruled for six years.” Rashi comments that Omri ruled there as king for six years before he built the city of Shomron in the Land of Israel.

This question is posed by the Maharsha, who answers as follows: Rabbi Yochanan isn’t teaching the reason why the evil Omri merited being king of Israel. Rather, he is explaining why Omri merited a kingdom that would span for more generations than previous kings of Israel. He merited that not only his son, but also his son’s son would sit on the throne of kingship. The Maharsha cites a Midrash Yalkut which appears to support his explanation of our gemara.

(Had the Maharsha not explained Rabbi Yochanan’s words in this manner, perhaps one might have thought to explain them differently, since Rabbi Yochanan’s words explicitly appear to be giving a reason for Omri himself meriting being a king. It was certainly known to the One Above that Omri would, in the future, when he would gain the power of a king, add a new city to Eretz Yisrael — and this would be his merit for becoming king in the first place.)

  • Sanhedrin 102b

Not Green with Envy

Rav Yossi bar Choni said, “A person may become envious of anyone else, except of his child or his student.”

The gemara explains that a (normal) person is not capable of feeling envy if his offspring or his student surpasses him. The case of not envying one’s child is learned from David’s lack of envy towards his son Shlomo. At first, Adoniyahu tried to seize the throne as king to follow King David. However, this plan was foiled, and the prophet Natan anointed King David’s son, Solomon, to be the true king to follow King David (see Kings I chapter 1). Subsequently, a verse (Kings I 1:47) relates that “King David’s servants came to bless King David saying, ‘May G-d make the name of Solomon better than your name, and make his throne greater than your throne.’ And the king (David) bowed down upon the bed.” From here we see that King David was not envious of his son being blessed to surpass him, and showed acceptance and happiness of his son’s lofty station — and certainly not an iota of envy.

Regarding the lack of envy towards a person’s student, the gemara cites two possible sources for this teaching. One is that the prophet Elisha said to his mentor, the prophet Eliyahu, (Kings II 2:9), “"Please let there be a double portion of your spirit on me." And Eliyahu allowed Elisha, his student, his request (Rashi). A second possible source for lack of envy towards one’s student is seen in the manner in which Moshe Rabbeinu transferred his authority to teach Torah and rule in matters of Jewish Law. One verse states (Bamidbar 27:18): “G-d said to Moshe, ‘Take for yourself Yehoshua the son of Nun, a man of spirit, and you shall lay your hand upon him’.” However, in verse 23 we see that Moshe “laid his hands upon him (Yehoshua).” Although G-d had told Moshe to place one hand, Moshe placed two hands. This shows that Moshe felt no envy towards his student (Rashi). Moshe generously, above and beyond, desired to bestow on his beloved student abundant wisdom and authority, certainly without envy (as explained by Rashi in Bamidbar 27:23).

  • Sanhedrin 105b

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