בלשון עזה דכתיב (יהושע כ, א) וידבר ה' אל יהושע לאמר דבר אל בני ישראל לאמר תנו לכם את ערי המקלט אשר דברתי אליכם וגו' מפני שהן של תורה
with harsh language, as it is written: “And the Lord spoke [vayedabber] to Joshua saying: Speak [dabber] to the children of Israel, saying: Assign you the cities of refuge of which I spoke [dibbarti] to you by means of Moses” (Joshua 20:1–2). Why does the Torah repeatedly employ a term of dibbur, connoting harsh speech, as opposed to the term of amira, connoting neutral speech? It is due to the fact that the cities of refuge are a mitzva of the Torah, and therefore they warrant emphasis.
למימרא דכל דיבור לשון קשה אין כדכתיב (בראשית מב, ל) דבר האיש אדוני הארץ אתנו קשות והתניא (מלאכי ג, טז) נדברו אין נדברו אלא לשון נחת וכן הוא אומר (תהלים מז, ד) ידבר עמים תחתינו דבר לחוד ידבר לחוד:
The Gemara asks: Is that to say that all instances of speaking [dibbur] indicate harsh language? The Gemara answers: Yes, as it is written with regard to Joseph’s brothers: “The man, the lord of the land, spoke [dibber] harshly to us” (Genesis 42:30). The Gemara asks: But isn’t it taught in a baraita with regard to the verse: “Then they who feared the Lord spoke [nidberu] with one another” (Malachi 3:16), that the term “they spoke” is nothing other than a term of gentleness, and likewise, the same is true of the verse which states: “He subdues [yadber] peoples under us” (Psalms 47:4), meaning that God will calmly and gently conduct the nations under the influence of the Jewish people? The Gemara answers: The meaning of dibber is discrete and the meaning of yadber is discrete. There is a difference between the two conjugations of the same root.
(סימנ"י רבנ"ן מהמנ"י וספר"י)
The Gemara provides a mnemonic for the disputes involving Rabbi Yehuda that follow: Rabbis; mehemni, i.e., the dispute with Rabbi Neḥemya; and the dispute with regard to Torah scrolls sewn with threads of flax.
פליגי בה רבי יהודה ורבנן חד אומר מפני ששיהם וחד אומר מפני שהן של תורה
The Gemara resumes the discussion of the harsh language employed in the portion discussing murderers in the book of Joshua. Rabbi Yehuda and the Rabbis disagree with regard to this matter. One says harsh language was employed because Joshua delayed fulfilling the mitzva of designating cities of refuge, and one says it is because the cities of refuge are a mitzva of the Torah, and therefore they warrant emphasis.
(יהושע כד, כו) ויכתוב יהושע את הדברים האלה בספר תורת אלהים פליגי בה ר' יהודה ור' נחמיה חד אומר שמנה פסוקים וחד אומר ערי מקלט
The Gemara cites an additional dispute with regard to the portion of the cities of refuge in the book of Joshua. It is written: “And Joshua wrote these matters in the scroll of the Torah of God” (Joshua 24:26). Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Neḥemya disagree with regard to this matter. One says: The reference is to the final eight verses in the Torah that record the death of Moses and were recorded by Joshua in the scroll of the Torah, in addition to the rest of the Torah that was written by Moses (see Bava Batra 15a). And one says: The reference is to the portion of the cities of refuge that appears in the book of Joshua.
בשלמא למ"ד ח' פסוקים היינו דכתיב בספר תורת אלהים אלא למ"ד ערי מקלט מאי בספר תורת אלהים ה"ק ויכתוב יהושע בספרו את הדברים האלה הכתובים בספר תורת אלהים
The Gemara discusses these two opinions: Granted, according to the one who says that the reference is to the final eight verses in the Torah, that is the reason that it is written: “And Joshua wrote these matters in the scroll of the Torah of God,” as he wrote those verses and they were included in the Torah. But according to the one who says that the reference is to the portion of the cities of refuge in the book of Joshua, what is the meaning of the phrase “in the scroll of the Torah of God”? They appear in the book of Joshua, not in the Torah. The Gemara answers: This is what the verse is saying: And Joshua wrote in his book these matters that are also written in the scroll of the Torah of God.
ספר שתפרו בפשתן פליגי בה ר' יהודה ור"מ חד אומר כשר וחד אומר פסול
The Gemara proceeds to cite another dispute between Rabbi Yehuda and one of the Sages in which it is not clear which opinion is attributable to which Sage. In the case of a Torah scroll where one sewed its sheets with linen threads, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Meir disagree with regard to this matter. One says: The Torah scroll is fit for use, and one says: The Torah scroll is unfit for use.
למ"ד פסול דכתיב (שמות יג, ט) למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך ואיתקש כל התורה כולה לתפילין מה תפילין הלכה למשה מסיני לתופרן בגידין אף כל לתופרן בגידין ואידך כי איתקש למותר בפיך להלכותיו לא איתקש
The Gemara elaborates: According to the one who says that the Torah scroll is unfit for use, the reason is as it is written with regard to phylacteries: “And it shall be for you a sign on your hand and a memorial between your eyes, in order that the Torah of God shall be in your mouth” (Exodus 13:9). And in this verse the entire Torah is juxtaposed and likened to phylacteries: Just as with regard to phylacteries, there is a halakha transmitted to Moses from Sinai to sew them with sinews, so too, with regard to all sheets of the Torah scroll, there is a requirement to sew them with sinews. And the other Sage holds: When the Torah scroll is juxtaposed and likened to phylacteries, it is only with regard to the principle that the sheets of the Torah scroll may be prepared only from a species of animal that is permitted to your mouth, i.e., that it is permitted for a Jew to eat; but with regard to its other halakhot, it is not juxtaposed and likened to phylacteries.
אמר רב חזינן להו לתפילין דבי חביבי דתפירי בכיתנא ולית הלכתא כוותיה:
Rav said: I saw that the phylacteries of the house of my uncle, Rabbi Ḥiyya, were sewn with linen. But the halakha is not in accordance with his opinion; phylacteries may be sewn only with sinews.
מתני׳ אחד משוח בשמן המשחה ואחד המרובה בבגדים ואחד שעבר ממשיחותו מחזירין את הרוצח רבי יהודה אומר אף משוח מלחמה מחזיר את הרוצח
MISHNA: The Torah states that an unintentional murderer is required to remain in the city of refuge to which he fled until the death of the High Priest. The mishna elaborates: With regard to High Priests, who were appointed in several different manners, one anointed with the anointing oil, which was the method through which High Priests were consecrated until the oil was sequestered toward the end of the First Temple period; and one consecrated by donning multiple garments, the eight vestments unique to the High Priest, which was the practice during the Second Temple period; and one who received a temporary appointment due to the unfitness of the serving High Priest, who departed from his anointment with the restoration of the serving High Priest to active service, their deaths facilitate the return of the murderer from the city of refuge to his home. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even the death of a priest anointed for war to address the soldiers (see Deuteronomy 20:1–7) facilitates the return of the murderer.
לפיכך אימותיהן של כהנים מספקות להן מחיה וכסות כדי שלא יתפללו על בניהם שימותו:
The mishna continues: Therefore, the mothers of High Priests would provide those exiled to cities of refuge with sustenance and garments so that they would not pray that their sons would die. The more comfortable their lives in the city of refuge, the less urgency they would feel to leave, and the less likely it would be that they would pray for the death of the High Priests.
גמ׳ מנא הני מילי אמר רב כהנא דאמר קרא (במדבר לה, כה) וישב בה עד מות הכהן הגדול וכתיב (במדבר לה, כח) כי בעיר מקלטו ישב עד מות הכהן הגדול וכתיב (במדבר לה, כח) ואחרי מות הכהן הגדול
GEMARA: The Gemara asks: From where are these matters, that the death of these High Priests facilitates the return of the murderer, derived? Rav Kahana said they are derived from a verse, as the verse states: “And he shall dwell there until the death of the High Priest who was anointed with the sacred oil” (Numbers 35:25), and it is written: “For in his city of refuge he shall dwell until the death of the High Priest” (Numbers 35:28), and it is written: “And after the death of the High Priest the murderer shall return to his ancestral land” (Numbers 35:28). The three mentions of the death of the High Priest correspond to the three types of High Priest enumerated by the first tanna of the mishna: One anointed with oil, one consecrated by donning the eight vestments, and one who was relieved of his position.
ור' יהודה כתיב קרא אחרינא (במדבר לה, לב) לשוב לשבת בארץ עד מות הכהן (וגו') ואידך מדלא כתיב הגדול חד מהנך הוא:
And Rabbi Yehuda holds that another verse is written: “And you shall take no ransom for him that fled to his city of refuge, to return and dwell in the land until the death of the priest” (Numbers 35:32), from which it is derived that the death of the priest anointed for war also facilitates the return of the murderer. And the other tanna says: From the fact that High Priest is not written in that verse, it is clear that the reference is not to an additional type of High Priest; rather, the reference is to one of those High Priests mentioned in the preceding verses.
לפיכך אימותיהן של כהנים וכו': טעמא דלא מצלו הא מצלו מייתי והכתיב (משלי כו, ב) כצפור לנוד כדרור לעוף כן קללת חנם לא תבא (א"ל) ההוא סבא מפירקיה דרבא שמיע לי שהיה להן לבקש רחמים על דורן ולא בקשו
§ The mishna teaches: Therefore, the mothers of High Priests would provide those exiled to cities of refuge with sustenance and garments so that they would not pray that their sons will die. The Gemara asks: The reason that the High Priest will not die is that they do not pray; but if they prayed for the death of the High Priest, would he die? But isn’t it written: “As the wandering sparrow, as the flying swallow, so a curse that is baseless shall come home” (Proverbs 26:2)? Why does the mishna express concern over a baseless curse? A certain elder said to him: I heard in the lecture delivered by Rava that it is not a baseless curse, as the High Priests share the blame for the unintentional murders performed by these people, as they should have pleaded for mercy for their generation, that no murder should transpire, even unintentionally, and they did not plead. Due to their share in the blame, prayers for their death could be effective.
ואיכא דמתני כדי שיתפללו על בניהם שלא ימותו טעמא דמצלו הא לא מצלו מייתי מאי הוה ליה למעבד הכא אמרינן טוביה חטא וזיגוד מנגיד
And some teach a variant reading of the mishna: Therefore, the mothers of High Priests would provide those exiled to cities of refuge with sustenance and garments, so that those exiled would pray that their sons will not die. The Gemara infers: The reason that the High Priests will not die is that they pray, but if they did not pray for the High Priest not to die, would the High Priest die? What could the High Priest have done to prevent the unintentional murder? Here, in Babylonia, we say an adage to describe a situation of that sort: Toviyya sinned and Zigud is flogged. Toviyya violated a prohibition and Zigud came as a single witness to testify against him. Since the testimony of a single witness is not valid in court, he is flogged for defaming Toviyya. The sinner is unpunished and the person who sought to testify against him is flogged. This became a colloquialism for a situation where one is punished for the sin of another.
התם אמרי שכם נסיב ומבגאי גזיר
There, in Eretz Yisrael, they say a different adage with the same application: Shechem married a woman and Mavgai circumcised himself. This is based on the episode of the abduction of Dinah in the city of Shechem (see Genesis, chapter 34), where Shechem compelled all the male residents of the city to undergo circumcision so that he could marry Dinah. Shechem married Dinah, while the rest of the males suffered the pain of circumcision and received no benefit.
אמר ליה ההוא סבא מפירקיה דרבא שמיע לי שהיה להן לבקש רחמים על דורן ולא בקשו כי הא דההוא גברא דאכליה אריא ברחוק תלתא פרסי מיניה דר' יהושע בן לוי ולא אישתעי אליהו בהדיה תלתא יומי
A certain elder said to him: I heard in the lecture delivered by Rava that the High Priests share the blame, as they should have pleaded for mercy for their generation and they did not plead. Consequently, they required the exiles to pray on their own behalf. The Gemara illustrates the concept of the responsibility held by the spiritual leadership: This is like in this incident where a certain man was eaten by a lion at a distance of three parasangs from the place of residence of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, and Elijah the prophet did not speak with him for three days because of his failure to pray that an incident of this kind would not transpire in his place of residence.
אמר רב יהודה אמר רב קללת חכם אפי' בחנם היא באה מנלן מאחיתופל שבשעה שכרה דוד שיתין קפא תהומא בעא למישטפא לעלמא אמר מהו לכתוב שם אחספא ומישדא בתהומא דליקו אדוכתיה ליכא דאמר ליה מידי אמר כל היודע דבר זה ואינו אומרו יחנק בגרונו
Apropos curses that are realized, Rav Yehuda says that Rav says: With regard to the curse of a Sage, even if it is baseless, i.e., based on a mistaken premise, it nevertheless comes to fruition and affects the object of the curse. From where do we derive this? It is derived from this incident involving Ahithophel. When David dug the drainpipes in preparation for building the Temple, the waters of the depths rose and sought to inundate the world. David said: What is the halakha? Is it permitted to write the sacred name on an earthenware shard and throw it into the depths, so that the water will subside and stand in its place? There was no one who said anything to him. David said: Anyone who knows the answer to this matter and does not say it shall be strangled.
נשא אחיתופל ק"ו בעצמו אמר ומה לעשות שלום בין איש לאשתו אמרה התורה שמי שנכתב בקדושה ימחה על המים לכל העולם כולו לא כל שכן א"ל שרי כתב שם אחספא שדי אתהומא נחת וקם אדוכתיה
Then Ahithophel raised an a fortiori inference on his own and said: And if in order to make peace between a man and his wife in the case of a sota, when the husband suspects his wife of having committed adultery, the Torah says: My name that was written in sanctity shall be erased on the water, then, in order to establish peace for the whole world in its entirety, is it not all the more so permitted? Ahithophel said to David: It is permitted. David wrote the sacred name on an earthenware shard and cast it into the depths, and the water in the depths subsided and stood in its place.
ואפ"ה כתיב (שמואל ב יז, כג) ואחיתופל ראה כי לא נעשתה עצתו ויחבוש את החמור ויקם וילך אל ביתו (ו) אל עירו ויצו אל ביתו ויחנק וגו'
And even so it is written that during the rebellion of Absalom: “And Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not taken, and he saddled his donkey and he arose and went to his house, to his town, and he commanded his household and strangled himself” (II Samuel 17:23). Although David stipulated that his curse would take effect only if one who knows the answer fails to share it with him, and Ahithophel did not fail to share it with him, the curse was realized.
א"ר אבהו קללת חכם אפילו על תנאי היא באה מנלן מעלי דקאמר ליה [עלי] לשמואל (שמואל א ג, יז) כה יעשה לך אלהים וכה יוסיף אם תכחד ממני דבר ואף על גב דכתיב (שמואל א ג, יח) ויגד לו שמואל את כל הדברים ולא כחד ממנו [ואפ"ה] כתיב (שמואל א ח, ג) ולא הלכו בניו בדרכיו וגו'
The Gemara cites a similar statement: Rabbi Abbahu says: With regard to the curse of a Sage, even if it is stated conditionally, it comes to realization. From where do we derive this? It is derived from an incident involving Eli the High Priest, as Eli said to Samuel, after the latter had received a prophetic vision with regard to Eli, that his sons do not follow his path: “Therefore may God do to you, and more also, if you hide any matter from me of all the matters that He spoke unto you” (I Samuel 3:17). And even though it is written immediately thereafter: “And Samuel told him all the matters, and did not hide from him” (I Samuel 3:18), it is written at the time of Samuel’s death: “And his sons did not follow in his ways” (I Samuel 8:3), indicating that God did to Samuel as he prophesied with regard to Eli, and his own sons did not follow his path. Despite the fact that Eli stated the curse conditionally, Samuel was affected by the curse.