Talmud Tips

For the week ending 7 December 2013 / 4 Tevet 5774

Yoma 30 - 36

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Hillel is certainly worthy that we should desecrate Shabbat to save him!”

This statement, taught in a beraita on our daf, was made by the great Sages Shamaya and Avtalyon to show the greatness of the Hillel, who despite his poverty made every effort to learn as much Torah as he could. The gemara relates how each day he would work a bit in order to be able to pay the guard at the entrance to the yeshiva of these Sages, and then he would toil the rest of the day learning Torah inside the yeshiva. One winter day, however, he failed to find a means to earn anything, and went onto the roof instead to hear the words of Torah from the yeshiva through the chimney. However, it snowed heavily and he fell asleep, but was rescued and warmed up on Shabbat.

But why was there a need for a yeshiva guard and therefore a need to pay the guard each day? The Maharsha offers two possibilities. One is that that the yeshiva was located — as was customary in those days — in a field, in a place of danger that needed guarding. Another reason for the guard and his fee, suggests the Maharsha, was that the yeshiva accepted only students who were the same “inside and out” — and not hypocrites. The guard was a scholar who was appointed to ascertain the worthy nature of those who came to learn in the yeshiva.

  • Yoma 35b

“Master of the Universe! When the Jewish People sin before You, but afterwards they repent, view their intentional transgressions as if they were unintentional.”

Aviti, pashati, chatati” — this is the order of the the vidui confession by the Kohen Gadol on Yom Kippur according to Rabbi Meir in a beraita on our daf. Rabbi Meir cites a verse in which Moshe called for G-d’s mercy after the sin of the golden calf, in which he mentions the various transgressions in this order (Shmot 34:7).

The Chachamim, however, disagree with this proof, and with the order of the vidui of the Kohen Gadol. They state that it should be “chatati, aviti, pashati”. They claim that the verse cited by Rabbi Meir is not a proof, since “After he has confessed his more severe intentional sins (aviti,pashati) why would he then mention the less severe unintentional ones? The Chachamim therefore state that the order of the vidui is “chatai, aviti, pashati”, and the verse states “chet” at the end to teach that Moshe begged G-d that even if the sins were initially done intentionally — after repentance they should be considered as unintentional.

  • Yoma 36b

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