Daf Yomi

For the week ending 20 March 2004 / 27 Adar I 5764

Chullin 51 - 57

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
Library Library Library

A Metropolis with Everything

"A metropolis that has everything."

This is the praise of the Jewish people that Rabbi Meir states is contained in the Torah passage "He made you and firmly established you" (Devarim 32:6). This quality of being self-sufficient is expressed in the fact that its priests were from their own people in the form of Aharon and his descendants, its kings could not be imported from another nation (ibid. 17:15) and its prophets, like Moshe, would be from their own ranks (ibid 18:15).

To establish this history of self-sufficiency, points out Maharsha, there is no need to cite any further proofs than the Torah sources listed above. Rabbi Meir nevertheless cites a passage from the Prophet Zachariah (10:4) to show that being independent of any other nation for its religious and political leadership is a source of pride.

This passage, however, only makes mention of the fact that "from out of them shall come their cornerstone and their stake", symbolic references to the king and the kohen gadol, and "out of them the battle bow", signifying their lack of dependence on others to fight their wars. There is no allusion to the prophet in it. Perhaps there was no need for the prophet to stress this as well since it was Zachariah, a prophet from his own Jewish people, who was delivering this prophecy and thus serving as a living proof that prophets too did not have to be imported.

Chullin 56b

Bitter Fruits of Anarchy

"In those days there was no king in Israel and every man did what was proper in his eyes." (Shoftim 17:7)

This observation on the anarchy that existed in a period of Jewish history is used in our gemara by Rabbi Acha, the son of the Sage Rava, as a challenge to the experiment made by Rabbi Shimon ben Chalafta to scientifically verify King Solomons thesis that ants have no ruler. The latter had maneuvered a group of ants into suspecting one of their number as having deceived them. The fact that these ants immediately fell upon the suspected liar and killed him without receiving permission from their ruler convinced the Sage that ants have no ruler and he assumed that King Solomon had based his thesis on such an experiment.

One of the challenges posed to this proof in order to establish that Solomons thesis was based on divine inspiration rather than human wisdom was that the above-mentioned experiment may have been conducted during an interregnum period before a new ruler was appointed to succeed the one who had passed away. In such a period anarchy reigns as we see in that period of Jewish history when there was no king.

The tragic result of that anarchy was the emergence of Pessel Micha, an idol that was worshipped by the Tribe of Dan for the centuries that the Mishkan Sanctuary stood in Shilo. Had there been a king in Israel he would certainly have taken action to prevent such an abomination from taking hold.

The commentaries place this period as the time following the passing of Yehoshua who ruled as a virtual king. The judges who followed this period of anarchy, beginning with Osniel ben Kenaz and ending with Eli Hakohen, lacked the power to eliminate this already established evil and it was left to the Prophet Shmuel to do so following the destruction of the Shiloh Sanctuary.

Chullin 57b

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