Megillah 14aמגילה י״ד א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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14aי״ד א

משל דאחשורוש והמן למה הדבר דומה לשני בני אדם לאחד היה לו תל בתוך שדהו ולאחד היה לו חריץ בתוך שדהו בעל חריץ אמר מי יתן לי תל זה בדמים בעל התל אמר מי יתן לי חריץ זה בדמים

The actions of Ahasuerus and Haman can be understood with a parable; to what may they be compared? To two individuals, one of whom had a mound in the middle of his field and the other of whom had a ditch in the middle of his field, each one suffering from his own predicament. The owner of the ditch, noticing the other’s mound of dirt, said to himself: Who will give me this mound of dirt suitable for filling in my ditch; I would even be willing to pay for it with money, and the owner of the mound, noticing the other’s ditch, said to himself: Who will give me this ditch for money, so that I may use it to remove the mound of earth from my property?

לימים נזדווגו זה אצל זה אמר לו בעל חריץ לבעל התל מכור לי תילך אמר לו טול אותה בחנם והלואי

At a later point, one day, they happened to have met one another. The owner of the ditch said to the owner of the mound: Sell me your mound so I can fill in my ditch. The mound’s owner, anxious to rid himself of the excess dirt on his property, said to him: Take it for free; if only you had done so sooner. Similarly, Ahasuerus himself wanted to destroy the Jews. As he was delighted that Haman had similar aspirations and was willing to do the job for him, he demanded no money from him.

ויסר המלך את טבעתו אמר רבי אבא בר כהנא גדולה הסרת טבעת יותר מארבעים ושמונה נביאים ושבע נביאות שנתנבאו להן לישראל שכולן לא החזירום למוטב ואילו הסרת טבעת החזירתן למוטב

§ The verse states: “And the king removed his ring from his hand” (Esther 3:10). Rabbi Abba bar Kahana said: The removal of Ahasuerus’s ring for the sealing of Haman’s decree was more effective than the forty-eight prophets and the seven prophetesses who prophesied on behalf of the Jewish people. As, they were all unable to return the Jewish people to the right way, but the removal of Ahasuerus’s ring returned them to the right way, since it brought them to repentance.

ת"ר ארבעים ושמונה נביאים ושבע נביאות נתנבאו להם לישראל ולא פחתו ולא הותירו על מה שכתוב בתורה חוץ ממקרא מגילה

The Sages taught in a baraita: Forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied on behalf of the Jewish people, and they neither subtracted from nor added onto what is written in the Torah, introducing no changes or additions to the mitzvot except for the reading of the Megilla, which they added as an obligation for all future generations.

מאי דרוש אמר רבי חייא בר אבין אמר רבי יהושע בן קרחה ומה מעבדות לחירות אמרי' שירה ממיתה לחיים לא כל שכן

The Gemara asks: What exposition led them to determine that this was a proper mode of action? On what basis did they add this mitzva? Rabbi Ḥiyya bar Avin said that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Korḥa said that they reasoned as follows: If, when recalling the exodus from Egypt, in which the Jews were delivered from slavery to freedom, we recite songs of praise, the Song of the Sea and the hymns of hallel, then, in order to properly recall the miracle of Purim and commemorate God’s delivering us from death to life, is it not all the more so the case that we must sing God’s praise by reading the story in the Megilla?

אי הכי הלל נמי נימא לפי שאין אומרים הלל על נס שבחוצה לארץ יציאת מצרים דנס שבחוצה לארץ היכי אמרינן שירה

The Gemara asks: If so, our obligation should be at least as great as when we recall the exodus from Egypt, and let us also recite hallel on Purim. The Gemara answers: Hallel is not said on Purim, because hallel is not recited on a miracle that occurred outside Eretz Yisrael. The Gemara asks: If so, with regard to the exodus from Egypt as well, which was a miracle that occurred outside Eretz Yisrael, how are we able to recite songs of praise?

כדתניא עד שלא נכנסו ישראל לארץ הוכשרו כל ארצות לומר שירה משנכנסו ישראל לארץ לא הוכשרו כל הארצות לומר שירה

The Gemara answers: As it is taught in a baraita: Prior to the time when the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, all lands were deemed fit for songs of praise to be recited for miracles performed within their borders, as all lands were treated equally. But after the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, that land became endowed with greater sanctity, and all the other lands were no longer deemed fit for songs of praise to be recited for miracles performed within them.

רב נחמן אמר קרייתא זו הלילא רבא אמר בשלמא התם (תהלים קיג, א) הללו עבדי ה' ולא עבדי פרעה אלא הכא הללו עבדי ה' ולא עבדי אחשורוש אכתי עבדי אחשורוש אנן

Rav Naḥman said an alternative answer as to why hallel is not recited on Purim: The reading of the Megilla itself is an act of reciting hallel. Rava said a third reason why hallel is not recited on Purim: Granted that hallel is said there, when recalling the exodus from Egypt, as after the salvation there, they could recite the phrase in hallel: “Give praise, O servants of the Lord” (Psalms 113:1); after their servitude to Pharaoh ended with their salvation, they were truly servants of the Lord and not servants of Pharaoh. But can it be said here, after the limited salvation commemorated on Purim: “Give praise, O servants of the Lord,” which would indicate that after the salvation the Jewish people were only servants of the Lord and not servants of Ahasuerus? No, even after the miracle of Purim, we were still the servants of Ahasuerus, as the Jews remained in exile under Persian rule, and consequently the salvation, which was incomplete, did not merit an obligation to say hallel.

בין לרבא בין לר"נ קשיא והא תניא משנכנסו לארץ לא הוכשרו כל הארצות לומר שירה כיון שגלו חזרו להכשירן הראשון

The Gemara asks: Both according to the opinion of Rava and according to the opinion of Rav Naḥman, this is difficult. Isn’t it taught in the baraita cited earlier: After the Jewish people entered Eretz Yisrael, that land became endowed with greater sanctity, and all the other lands were no longer deemed fit for songs of praise to be recited for miracles performed within them. Therefore, there should be no hallel obligation on Purim for the miracle performed outside of the land of Israel, and Rav Naḥman’s and Rava’s alternative explanations are incorrect. The Gemara answers: They understood differently, as it can be argued that when the people were exiled from Eretz Yisrael, the other lands returned to their initial suitability, and were once again deemed fit for reciting hallel on miracles performed within them.

ותו ליכא והכתיב (שמואל א א, א) ויהי איש אחד מן הרמתים צופים אחד ממאתים צופים שנתנבאו להם לישראל

With regard to the statement that forty-eight prophets and seven prophetesses prophesied on behalf of the Jewish people, the Gemara asks: Is there no one else? Isn’t it written with regard to Samuel’s father, Elkanah: “And there was a certain [eḥad] man from Ramathaim-zophim” (I Samuel 1:1), which is expounded as follows to indicate that Elkanah was a prophet: He was one [eḥad] of two hundred [mata’im] prophets [tzofim] who prophesied on behalf of the Jewish people. If so, why was it stated here that there were only forty-eight prophets?

מיהוה טובא הוו כדתניא הרבה נביאים עמדו להם לישראל כפלים כיוצאי מצרים אלא נבואה שהוצרכה לדורות נכתבה ושלא הוצרכה לא נכתבה

The Gemara answers: In fact, there were more prophets, as it is taught in a baraita: Many prophets arose for the Jewish people, numbering double the number of Israelites who left Egypt. However, only a portion of the prophecies were recorded, because only prophecy that was needed for future generations was written down in the Bible for posterity, but that which was not needed, as it was not pertinent to later generations, was not written. Therefore, the fifty-five prophets recorded in the Bible, although not the only prophets of the Jewish people, were the only ones recorded, due to their eternal messages.

רבי שמואל בר נחמני אמר אדם הבא משתי רמות שצופות זו את זו רבי חנין אמר אדם הבא מבני אדם שעומדין ברומו של עולם ומאן נינהו בני קרח דכתיב (במדבר כו, יא) ובני קרח לא מתו תנא משום רבינו מקום נתבצר להם בגיהנם ועמדו עליו

Rabbi Shmuel bar Naḥmani said another explanation of the verse “And there was a certain man from Ramathaim-zophim”: A man who comes from two heights [ramot] that face [tzofot] one another. Rabbi Ḥanin said an additional interpretation: A man who descends from people who stood at the height of [rumo] the world. The Gemara asks: And who are these people? The Gemara answers: These are the sons of Korah, as it is written: “But the sons of Korah did not die” (Numbers 26:11), and with regard to them it is taught in the name of our teacher, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi: A high place was set aside for them in Gehenna, as the sons of Korah repented in their hearts, and were consequently not propelled very far down in Gehenna when the earth opened to swallow Korah and his followers; and they stood on this high place and sung to the Lord. They alone stood at the height of the lower world.

שבע נביאות מאן נינהו שרה מרים דבורה חנה אביגיל חולדה ואסתר שרה דכתיב (בראשית יא, כט) אבי מלכה ואבי יסכה ואמר ר' יצחק יסכה זו שרה ולמה נקרא שמה יסכה שסכתה ברוח הקדש שנאמר (בראשית כא, יב) כל אשר תאמר אליך שרה שמע בקולה ד"א יסכה שהכל סוכין ביופיה

§ The Gemara asks with regard to the prophetesses recorded in the baraita: Who were the seven prophetesses? The Gemara answers: Sarah, Miriam, Deborah, Hannah, Abigail, Huldah, and Esther. The Gemara offers textual support: Sarah, as it is written: “Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah” (Genesis 11:29). And Rabbi Yitzḥak said: Iscah is in fact Sarah. And why was she called Iscah? For she saw [sakhta] by means of divine inspiration, as it is stated: “In all that Sarah has said to you, hearken to her voice” (Genesis 21:12). Alternatively, Sarah was also called Iscah, for all gazed [sokhin] upon her beauty.

מרים דכתיב (שמות טו, כ) ותקח מרים הנביאה אחות אהרן ולא אחות משה אמר ר"נ אמר רב שהיתה מתנבאה כשהיא אחות אהרן ואומרת עתידה אמי שתלד בן שיושיע את ישראל ובשעה שנולד נתמלא כל הבית כולו אורה עמד אביה ונשקה על ראשה אמר לה בתי נתקיימה נבואתיך

Miriam was a prophetess, as it is written explicitly: “And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand” (Exodus 15:20). The Gemara asks: Was she the sister only of Aaron, and not the sister of Moses? Why does the verse mention only one of her brothers? Rav Naḥman said that Rav said: For she prophesied when she was the sister of Aaron, i.e., she prophesied since her youth, even before Moses was born, and she would say: My mother is destined to bear a son who will deliver the Jewish people to salvation. And at the time when Moses was born the entire house was filled with light, and her father stood and kissed her on the head, and said to her: My daughter, your prophecy has been fulfilled.

וכיון שהשליכוהו ליאור עמד אביה וטפחה על ראשה ואמר לה בתי היכן נבואתיך היינו דכתיב (שמות ב, ד) ותתצב אחותו מרחוק לדעה לדעת מה יהא בסוף נבואתה

But once Moses was cast into the river, her father arose and rapped her on the head, saying to her: My daughter, where is your prophecy now, as it looked as though the young Moses would soon meet his end. This is the meaning of that which is written with regard to Miriam’s watching Moses in the river: “And his sister stood at a distance to know what would be done to him” (Exodus 2:4), i.e., to know what would be with the end of her prophecy, as she had prophesied that her brother was destined to be the savior of the Jewish people.

דבורה דכתיב (שופטים ד, ד) ודבורה אשה נביאה אשת לפידות מאי אשת לפידות שהיתה עושה פתילות למקדש

Deborah was a prophetess, as it is written explicitly: “And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lappidoth” (Judges 4:4). The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of “the wife of Lappidoth”? The Gemara answers: For she used to make wicks for the Sanctuary, and due to the flames [lappidot] on these wicks she was called the wife of Lappidoth, literally, a woman of flames.

(שופטים ד, ה) והיא יושבת תחת תומר מאי שנא תחת תומר אמר ר' שמעון בן אבשלום משום יחוד דבר אחר מה תמר זה אין לו אלא לב אחד אף ישראל שבאותו הדור לא היה להם אלא לב אחד לאביהן שבשמים

With regard to Deborah, it says: “And she sat under a palm tree” (Judges 4:5). The Gemara asks: What is different and unique with regard to her sitting “under a palm tree” that there is a need for it to be written? Rabbi Shimon ben Avshalom said: It is due to the prohibition against being alone together with a man. Since men would come before her for judgment, she established for herself a place out in the open and visible to all, in order to avoid a situation in which she would be secluded with a man behind closed doors. Alternatively, the verse means: Just as a palm tree has only one heart, as a palm tree does not send out separate branches, but rather has only one main trunk, so too, the Jewish people in that generation had only one heart, directed to their Father in Heaven.

חנה דכתיב (שמואל א ב, א) ותתפלל חנה ותאמר עלץ לבי בה' רמה קרני בה' רמה קרני ולא רמה פכי דוד ושלמה שנמשחו בקרן נמשכה מלכותן שאול ויהוא שנמשחו בפך לא נמשכה מלכותן

Hannah was a prophetess, as it is written: “And Hannah prayed and said, My heart rejoices in the Lord, my horn is exalted in the Lord” (I Samuel 2:1), and her words were prophecy, in that she said: “My horn is exalted,” and not: My pitcher is exalted. As, with regard to David and Solomon, who were anointed with oil from a horn, their kingship continued, whereas with regard to Saul and Jehu, who were anointed with oil from a pitcher, their kingship did not continue. This demonstrates that Hannah was a prophetess, as she prophesied that only those anointed with oil from a horn will merit that their kingships continue.

(שמואל א ב, ב) אין קדוש כה' כי אין בלתך אמר רב יהודה בר מנשיא אל תקרי בלתך אלא לבלותך שלא כמדת הקב"ה מדת בשר ודם מדת בשר ודם מעשה ידיו מבלין אותו אבל הקדוש ברוך הוא מבלה מעשה ידיו

Apropos the song of Hannah, the Gemara further explains her words: “There is none sacred as the Lord; for there is none beside You [biltekha]” (I Samuel 2:2). Rav Yehuda bar Menashya said: Do not read it as biltekha, “beside You,” but rather read it as levalotekha, to outlast You. As the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is unlike the attribute of flesh and blood. It is an attribute of man that his handiwork outlasts him and continues to exist even after he dies, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, outlasts His handiwork, as He exists eternally.

(שמואל א ב, ב) ואין צור כאלהינו אין צייר כאלהינו אדם צר צורה על גבי הכותל ואינו יכול להטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים אבל הקב"ה צר צורה בתוך צורה ומטיל בה רוח ונשמה קרבים ובני מעים

Hannah further said: “Neither is there any rock [tzur] like our God” (I Samuel 2:1). This can be understood as saying that there is no artist [tzayyar] like our God. How is He better than all other artists? Man fashions a form upon a wall, but is unable to endow it with breath and a soul, or fill it with innards and intestines, whereas the Holy One, Blessed be He, fashions a form of a fetus inside the form of its mother, rather than on a flat surface, and endows it with breath and a soul and fills it with innards and intestines.

אביגיל דכתיב (שמואל א כה, כ) והיה היא רוכבת על החמור ויורדת בסתר ההר בסתר ההר מן ההר מיבעי ליה

Abigail was a prophetess, as it is written: “And it was so, as she rode on the donkey, and came down by the covert of the mountain” (I Samuel 25:20). The Gemara asks: Why does it say: “By the covert [beseter] of the mountain”? It should have said: From the mountain.

אמר רבה בר שמואל על עסקי דם הבא מן הסתרים נטלה דם והראתה לו אמר לה וכי מראין דם בלילה אמרה לו וכי דנין דיני נפשות בלילה אמר לה

The Gemara answers that in fact this must be understood as an allusion to something else. Rabba bar Shmuel said: Abigail, in her attempt to prevent David from killing her husband Nabal, came to David and questioned him on account of menstrual blood that comes from the hidden parts [setarim] of a body. How so? She took a blood-stained cloth and showed it to him, asking him to rule on her status, whether or not she was ritually impure as a menstruating woman. He said to her: Is blood shown at night? One does not examine blood-stained cloths at night, as it is difficult to distinguish between the different shades by candlelight. She said to him: If so, you should also remember another halakha: Are cases of capital law tried at night? Since one does not try capital cases at night, you cannot condemn Nabal to death at night. David said to her: