בְּחַדְתִּי. The Gemara answers: This halakha applies even in the case of a new, sturdy ruin, where there is no danger of collapse. Therefore, the reason because of suspicion is cited in order to warn one not to enter a new ruin as well.
וְתִיפּוֹק לֵיהּ מִשּׁוּם מַזִּיקִין? בִּתְרֵי. The Gemara continues to object: And let this halakha be derived because of demons? The Gemara answers: Demons are only a threat to individuals, so because of demons would not apply to a case where two people enter a ruin together.
אִי בִּתְרֵי — חֲשָׁד נָמֵי לֵיכָּא! בִּתְרֵי וּפְרִיצִי. The Gemara objects: But if there are two people entering a ruin together, then there is no suspicion either. There is no prohibition against two men to be alone with a woman as, in that case, there is no suspicion of untoward behavior. Consequently, if two men enter a ruin together, there is no room for suspicion. The Gemara answers: If two individuals known to be immoral enter together, there is suspicion even though there are two of them.
״מִפְּנֵי הַמַּפּוֹלֶת״, וְתִיפּוֹק לֵיהּ מִשּׁוּם חֲשָׁד וּמַזִּיקִין! The Gemara considers why because of collapse is necessary. Let the prohibition be derived from suspicion and demons.
בִּתְרֵי וּכְשֵׁרֵי. The Gemara responds: There are times when this reason is necessary, e.g., when two upstanding individuals enter a ruin together. Although there is neither concern of suspicion nor of demons, there remains concern lest the ruin collapse.
״מִפְּנֵי הַמַּזִּיקִין״, וְתִיפּוֹק לֵיהּ מִפְּנֵי חֲשָׁד וּמַפּוֹלֶת! The Gemara considers the third reason, because of demons. Why is it necessary to include: Because of demons? Let the prohibition be derived from suspicion and collapse.
בְּחוּרְבָּה חַדְתִּי, וּבִתְרֵי וּכְשֵׁרֵי. The Gemara responds: There are cases where this is the only concern, for example where it is a new ruin into which two upstanding individuals enter, so there is neither concern lest it collapse nor of suspicion.
אִי בִּתְרֵי, מַזִּיקִין נָמֵי לֵיכָּא! The Gemara points out, however, that if there are two people, there is also no concern of demons. As such, the question remains: In what case can demons be the sole cause not to enter a ruin?
בִּמְקוֹמָן חָיְישִׁינַן. וְאִיבָּעֵית אֵימָא: לְעוֹלָם בְּחַד, וּבְחוּרְבָּה חַדְתִּי דְּקָאֵי בְּדַבְרָא, דְּהָתָם מִשּׁוּם חֲשָׁד לֵיכָּא דְּהָא אִשָּׁה בְּדַבְרָא לָא שְׁכִיחָא, וּמִשּׁוּם מַזִּיקִין אִיכָּא. The Gemara responds: Generally speaking, two individuals need not be concerned about demons; but, if they are in their place, i.e., a place known to be haunted by demons (see Isaiah 13:21), we are concerned about demons even with two people. And if you wish, say instead: Actually, this refers to the case of an individual entering a new ruin located in a field. There, there is no suspicion, as finding a woman in the field is uncommon; and since it is a new ruin, there is no danger of collapse. However, there is still concern of demons.
תָּנוּ רַבָּנַן: אַרְבַּע מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי. רַבִּי נָתָן אוֹמֵר: שָׁלֹשׁ. The Sages taught in a Tosefta: The night is comprised of four watches; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rabbi Natan says: The night is comprised of three watches.
מַאי טַעְמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי נָתָן — דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיָּבֹא גִדְעוֹן וּמֵאָה אִישׁ אֲשֶׁר אִתּוֹ בִּקְצֵה הַמַּחֲנֶה רֹאשׁ הָאַשְׁמֹרֶת הַתִּיכוֹנָה״, תָּנָא: אֵין ״תִּיכוֹנָה״ אֶלָּא שֶׁיֵּשׁ לְפָנֶיהָ וּלְאַחֲרֶיהָ. The Gemara explains: What is Rabbi Natan’s reasoning? As it is written: “And Gideon, and the one hundred men who were with him, came to the edge of camp at the beginning of the middle watch” (Judges 7:19). It was taught in the Tosefta: Middle means nothing other than that there is one before it and one after it. From the fact that the verse refers to a middle watch, the fact that the night is comprised of three watches may be inferred.
וְרַבִּי, מַאי ״תִּיכוֹנָה״ — אַחַת מִן הַתִּיכוֹנָה שֶׁבַּתִּיכוֹנוֹת. And what does Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi say about this proof? He argues that it is inconclusive, as one could say: To what does middle refer? It refers to one of the two middle watches.
וְרַבִּי נָתָן מִי כְּתִיב ״תִּיכוֹנָה שֶׁבַּתִּיכוֹנוֹת״? ״תִּיכוֹנָה״ כְּתִיב! And how would Rabbi Natan respond? He would say: Despite Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s objection, is: One of the middle watches, written in the verse? The middle watch is written. This indicates that the night is comprised of only three watches.
מַאי טַעְמֵיהּ דְּרַבִּי? אָמַר רַבִּי זְרִיקָא, אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: כָּתוּב אֶחָד אוֹמֵר: ״חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה אָקוּם לְהוֹדוֹת לָךְ עַל מִשְׁפְּטֵי צִדְקֶךָ״, וְכָתוּב אֶחָד אוֹמֵר: ״קִדְּמוּ עֵינַי אַשְׁמוּרוֹת״ הָא כֵּיצַד, אַרְבַּע מִשְׁמָרוֹת הָוֵי הַלַּיְלָה. What is Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s reasoning? Rabbi Zerika said that Rabbi Ami said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s opinion is based on a comparison of two verses. One verse says: “At midnight I rise to give thanks for Your righteous laws” (Psalms 119:62), and the other verse says: “My eyes forestall the watches, that I will speak of Your word” (Psalms 119:148). Taken together, these verses indicate that their author, King David, rose at midnight, two watches before dawn, in order to study Torah. How is it possible to reconcile these two verses? Only if there are four watches in the night does one who rises two watches before dawn rise at midnight.
וְרַבִּי נָתָן, סָבַר לַהּ כְּרַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ. דִּתְנַן, רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ אוֹמֵר: עַד שָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת, שֶׁכֵּן דֶּרֶךְ מְלָכִים לַעֲמֹוד בְּשָׁלֹשׁ שָׁעוֹת. שֵׁית דְּלֵילְיָא, וְתַרְתֵּי דִּימָמָא, הָווּ לְהוּ שְׁתֵּי מִשְׁמָרוֹת. And how does Rabbi Natan reconcile these two verses? He holds in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehoshua, for we learned in a mishna that Rabbi Yehoshua says: One is permitted to recite the morning Shema during the time when people rise, until the third hour of the day, as it is the custom of kings to rise during the third hour. Since it is customary for kings to rise during the third hour of the day, if David rose at midnight, he would be awake for six hours of the night and two hours of the day, which amounts to two watches. Therefore King David could say that he “forestalls the watches,” as he rose two watches before the rest of the kings in the world.
רַב אָשֵׁי אָמַר: מִשְׁמָרָה וּפַלְגָא נָמֵי ״מִשְׁמָרוֹת״ קָרוּ לְהוּ. Rav Ashi said that the verses can be reconciled in accordance with Rabbi Natan’s opinion in another way: One and one-half watches are still called watches in plural. Therefore King David could rise at midnight yet maintain that he “forestalls the watches.”
וְאָמַר רַבִּי זְרִיקָא, אָמַר רַבִּי אַמֵּי, אָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: אֵין אוֹמְרִין בִּפְנֵי הַמֵּת אֶלָּא דְּבָרָיו שֶׁל מֵת. Following this discussion, another halakha that Rabbi Zerika said that Rabbi Ami said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said is cited: Before the dead, one may speak only of matters relating to the dead, as speaking of other matters appears to be contemptuous of the deceased, underscoring that he is unable to talk while those around him can. Therefore, one must remain fully engaged in matters relating to him.
אָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּא בַּר כָּהֲנָא: לָא אֲמַרַן אֶלָּא בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, אֲבָל מִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא לֵית לָן בַּהּ. Two traditions exist with regard to the details of this halakha in the name of Rabbi Abba bar Kahana. According to one version, Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: This halakha was only said with regard to matters of Torah. Speaking of other matters, however, is not prohibited, since no contempt is expressed for the deceased by the fact that he is unable to speak of such topics.
וְאִיכָּא דְאָמְרִי: אָמַר רַבִּי אַבָּא בַּר כָּהֲנָא לָא אֲמַרַן אֶלָּא [אֲפִילּוּ] בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה וְכָל שֶׁכֵּן מִילֵּי דְעָלְמָא. Others say another version of this halakha in the name of Rabbi Abba bar Kahana: This halakha was said even with regard to matters of Torah, and all the more so with regard to other matters. If one must refrain from speaking of matters of Torah, regarding which one is commanded to speak, and limit himself to matters concerning the deceased, all the more so should he refrain from speaking of other matters, regarding which one is not commanded to speak.
וְדָוִד בְּפַלְגָא דְלֵילְיָא הֲוָה קָאֵי? מֵאוּרְתָּא הֲוָה קָאֵי! דִּכְתִיב: ״קִדַּמְתִּי בַנֶּשֶׁף וָאֲשַׁוֵּעָה״, וּמִמַּאי דְּהַאי ״נֶשֶׁף״ אוּרְתָּא הוּא? — דִּכְתִיב: ״בְּנֶשֶׁף בְּעֶרֶב יוֹם בְּאִישׁוֹן לַיְלָה וַאֲפֵלָה״! Incidental to the Gemara’s mention of King David, other sources are cited that describe his actions. Regarding that which was cited above, that he would rise in the middle of the night in order to serve his Creator, the Gemara asks: Did David rise at midnight? He rose in the evening. As it is written: “I rose with the neshef and cried, I hoped for Your word” (Psalms 119:147). And how do we know that this neshef is the evening? As it is written: “In the neshef, in the evening of the day, in the blackness of night and the darkness” (Proverbs 7:9). Apparently, King David did indeed rise when it was still evening.
אָמַר רַב אוֹשַׁעְיָא, אָמַר רַבִּי אַחָא: הָכִי קָאָמַר (דָּוִד): מֵעוֹלָם לֹא עָבַר עָלַי חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה בְּשֵׁינָה. The Gemara suggests several ways to resolve this contradiction. Rabbi Oshaya said that Rabbi Aḥa said: David said as follows: Midnight never passed me by in my sleep. Sometimes I fulfilled the verse, “I rose with the neshef and cried,” but I always, at least, fulfilled the verse, “At midnight I rise to give thanks for Your righteous laws.”
רַבִּי זֵירָא אָמַר: עַד חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה הָיָה מִתְנַמְנֵם כְּסוּס, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ הָיָה מִתְגַּבֵּר כַּאֲרִי. רַב אָשֵׁי אָמַר: עַד חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה הָיָה עוֹסֵק בְּדִבְרֵי תוֹרָה, מִכָּאן וְאֵילָךְ בְּשִׁירוֹת וְתִשְׁבָּחוֹת. Rabbi Zeira said: Until midnight, David would doze like a horse, as a horse dozes, but never sleeps deeply. From midnight on, he would gain the strength of a lion. Rav Ashi said: Until midnight, he would study Torah, as it is written: “I rose with the neshef and cried, I hoped for Your word,” and from midnight on, he would engage in songs and praise, as it is written: “At midnight I rise to give thanks.”
וְ״נֶשֶׁף״ אוּרְתָּא הוּא? הָא ״נֶשֶׁף״ צַפְרָא הוּא! דִּכְתִיב: ״וַיַּכֵּם דָּוִד מֵהַנֶּשֶׁף וְעַד הָעֶרֶב לְמָחֳרָתָם״. מַאי לָאו — מִצַּפְרָא וְעַד לֵילְיָא? To this point, the discussion has been based on the assumption that neshef means evening. The Gemara asks: Does neshef really mean evening? Doesn’t neshef mean morning? As it is written: “And David slew them from the neshef until the evening of the next day” (I Samuel 30:17). Doesn’t this verse mean from the morning until the night, in which case neshef must mean morning?
לָא, מֵאוּרְתָּא וְעַד אוּרְתָּא. The Gemara responds: No, this verse means that David slew them from one evening until the next evening.
אִי הָכִי, לִכְתּוֹב ״מֵהַנֶּשֶׁף וְעַד הַנֶּשֶׁף״ אוֹ ״מֵהָעֶרֶב וְעַד הָעֶרֶב״! The Gemara rejects this response: If so, let the verse be written: From the neshef until the neshef, or from the evening until the evening. Why would the verse employ two different terms for a single concept?
אֶלָּא אָמַר רָבָא: תְּרֵי נִשְׁפֵי הָווּ — נְשַׁף לֵילְיָא וְאָתֵי יְמָמָא, נְשַׁף יְמָמָא וְאָתֵי לֵילְיָא. Rather, Rava said: There are two times referred to as neshef, and the word can refer to either evening or morning. Neshef must be understood in accordance with its Aramaic root: The night moves past [neshaf ] and the day arrives, and the day moves past [neshaf ] and the night arrives.
וְדָוִד מִי הֲוָה יָדַע פַּלְגָא דְּלֵילְיָא אֵימַת? הַשְׁתָּא מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּינוּ לָא הֲוָה יָדַע, דִּכְתִיב ״כַּחֲצוֹת הַלַּיְלָה אֲנִי יוֹצֵא בְּתוֹךְ מִצְרָיִם״. When King David said: At midnight I rise, the assumption is that he rose precisely at midnight. The Gemara asks: Did David know exactly when it was midnight? Even Moses our teacher did not know exactly when it was midnight. How do we know this about Moses? As it is written that he said to Pharaoh: “Thus said the Lord: About midnight, I will go out into the midst of Egypt” (Exodus 11:4). The word about indicates that it was only an approximation.
מַאי ״כַּחֲצוֹת״. אִילֵימָא דַּאֲמַר לֵיהּ קוּדְשָׁא בְּרִיךְ הוּא ״כַּחֲצוֹת״ — מִי אִיכָּא סְפֵיקָא קַמֵּי שְׁמַיָּא?! אֶלָּא: דַּאֲמַר לֵיהּ (לִמְחַר) ״בַּחֲצוֹת״ (כִּי הַשְׁתָּא), וַאֲתָא אִיהוּ וַאֲמַר ״כַּחֲצוֹת״, אַלְמָא: מְסַפְּקָא לֵיהּ, וְדָוִד הֲוָה יָדַע?! The Gemara clarifies: What is the meaning of the expression: About midnight? Did Moses say it or did God say it? If we say that the Holy One, Blessed be He, Himself, said: About midnight, to Moses, is there doubt before God in heaven? Rather, this must be understood as follows: God told Moses: At midnight, but from the fact that when Moses came to Pharaoh he said: About midnight; apparently, Moses was uncertain about the exact moment of midnight. Moses, the greatest of all the prophets, was uncertain, and David knew?
דָּוִד, סִימָנָא הֲוָה לֵיהּ, דְּאָמַר רַב אַחָא בַּר בִּיזְנָא, אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן חֲסִידָא: כִּנּוֹר הָיָה תָּלוּי לְמַעְלָה מִמִּטָּתוֹ שֶׁל דָּוִד, וְכֵיוָן שֶׁהִגִּיעַ חֲצוֹת לַיְלָה, בָּא רוּחַ צְפוֹנִית וְנוֹשֶׁבֶת בּוֹ וּמְנַגֵּן מֵאֵלָיו, מִיָּד הָיָה עוֹמֵד וְעוֹסֵק בַּתּוֹרָה עַד שֶׁעָלָה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר. כֵּיוָן שֶׁעָלָה עַמּוּד הַשַּׁחַר נִכְנְסוּ חַכְמֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶצְלוֹ. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: אֲדוֹנֵינוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ, עַמְּךָ יִשְׂרָאֵל צְרִיכִין פַּרְנָסָה. אָמַר לָהֶם: לְכוּ וְהִתְפַּרְנְסוּ זֶה מִזֶּה. אָמְרוּ לוֹ: אֵין הַקּוֹמֶץ מַשְׂבִּיעַ אֶת הָאֲרִי, וְאֵין הַבּוֹר מִתְמַלֵּא מֵחוּלְיָתוֹ. אָמַר לָהֶם: לְכוּ וּפִשְׁטוּ יְדֵיכֶם בִּגְדוּד. The Gemara offers several answers to this question:
David had a sign indicating when it was midnight. As Rav Aḥa bar Bizna said that Rabbi Shimon Ḥasida said: A lyre hung over David’s bed, and once midnight arrived, the northern midnight wind would come and cause the lyre to play on its own. David would immediately rise from his bed and study Torah until the first rays of dawn.
Once dawn arrived, the Sages of Israel entered to advise him with regard to the various concerns of the nation and the economy. They said to him: Our master, the king, your nation requires sustenance.
He said: Go and sustain one another, provide each other with whatever is lacking.
The Sages of Israel responded to him with a parable: A single handful of food does not satisfy a lion, and a pit will not be filled merely from the rain that falls directly into its mouth, but other water must be piped in (ge’onim). So too, the nation cannot sustain itself using its own resources.
King David told them: Go and take up arms with the troops in battle in order to expand our borders and provide our people with the opportunity to earn a livelihood.
מִיָּד יוֹעֲצִים בַּאֲחִיתוֹפֶל, וְנִמְלָכִין בְּסַנְהֶדְרִין, וְשׁוֹאֲלִין בְּאוּרִים וְתוּמִּים. The Sages immediately seek advice from Ahitophel to determine whether or not it was appropriate to go to war at that time and how they should conduct themselves, and they consult the Sanhedrin in order to receive the requisite license to wage a war under those circumstances (Tosefot HaRosh). And they ask the Urim VeTummim whether or not they should go to war, and whether or not they would be successful.
אָמַר רַב יוֹסֵף: מַאי קְרָא? דִּכְתִיב ״וְאַחֲרֵי אֲחִיתֹפֶל בְּנָיָהוּ בֶּן יְהוֹיָדָע וְאֶבְיָתָר וְשַׂר צָבָא לַמֶּלֶךְ יוֹאָב״. Rav Yosef said: Upon what verse is this aggada based? As it is written: “And after Ahitophel was Yehoyada son of Benayahu and Evyatar, and the general of the king’s army, Yoav” (I Chronicles 27:34).
אֲחִיתוֹפֶל — זֶה יוֹעֵץ, וְכֵן הוּא אוֹמֵר: ״וַעֲצַת אֲחִיתֹפֶל אֲשֶׁר יָעַץ בַּיָּמִים הָהֵם כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשְׁאַל אִישׁ בִּדְבַר הָאֱלֹהִים״. The individuals named in this verse correspond with the roles in the aggada as follows: Ahitophel is the adviser whose advice they sought first with regard to going to war, and so it says: “Now the counsel of Ahitophel, which he counseled in those days, was as a man who inquires of the word of God; so was the counsel of Ahitophel both with David and with Absalom” (II Samuel 16:23).