המדרש הגדול על מיעוט הלבנה
רבי שמעון בן פזי מקשה:
כתוב "וַיַּעַשׂ אֱלֹהִים אֶת שְׁנֵי הַמְּאֹרֹת הַגְּדֹלִים" (בראשית א, טז), וכתוב (שם): " אֶת הַמָּאוֹר הַגָּדֹל וְאֶת הַמָּאוֹר הַקָּטֹן"!
אמרה ירח לפני הקדוש ברוך הוא: ריבונו של עולם, אפשר לשני מלכים שישתמשו בכתר אחד?
אמר לה: לכי ומעטי את עצמך.
אמרה לפניו: ריבונו של עולם, הואיל ואמרתי לפניך דבר הגון אמעיט את עצמי?
אמר לה: לכי ומשלי ביום ובלילה.
אמרה לו: מה רבותא בכך? נר בצהריים מה יועיל?
אמר לה: לך, ימנו בך ישראל ימים ושנים.
אמרה לו: גם השמש, אי אפשר שלא ימנו בו תקופות [עונות], שכתוב "וְהָיוּ לְאֹתֹת וּלְמוֹעֲדִים וּלְיָמִים וְשָׁנִים" (בראשית א, טו) .
[אמר לה]: לך, ייקראו צדיקים בשמך - יעקב הקטן ["סְלַח נָא מִי יָקוּם יַעֲקֹב כִּי קָטֹן הוּא" (עמוס ז, ב)], שמואל הקטן [ברכות, כח ע"ב, חכם מתקופת המשנה שנודע בצדקותו], דוד... הקטן ["וְדָוִד הוּא הַקָּטָן" (שמואל א יז, יד)].
ראה שלא מתיישבת דעתה.
אמר הקב"ה: הביאו כפרה עלי שמיעטתי את הירח.
וזהו שאמר רבי שמעון בן לקיש: מה נשתנה שעיר של ראש חדש, שנאמר בו "[וּשְׂעִיר עִזִּים אֶחָד לְחַטָּאת] לה'"* (במדבר כח, טו)?
אמר הקב"ה: שעיר זה יהא כפרה על שמיעטתי את הירח.
* בקורבנות השעירים של מועדים אחרים נכתב למשל 'וּשְׂעִיר עִזִּים אֶחָד חַטָּאת לְכַפֵּר עֲלֵיכֶם' (במדבר כח, כב)
what is the halakha according to Rabbi Ḥanina bar Pappa? Shall one say that since the phrase “after its kind” is not written as a mitzva with regard to them, one is not liable for transgressing the prohibition against mixing diverse kinds? Or perhaps, since God agreed with them after the fact, as the verse states: “Let the Lord rejoice in His works,” it is as if the mitzva “after its kind” is written with regard to them. The Gemara responds: The dilemma shall stand unresolved. § Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi raises a contradiction between two verses. It is written: “And God made the two great lights” (Genesis 1:16), and it is also written in the same verse: “The greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night,” indicating that only one was great. Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi explains: When God first created the sun and the moon, they were equally bright. Then, the moon said before the Holy One, Blessed be He: Master of the Universe, is it possible for two kings to serve with one crown? One of us must be subservient to the other. God therefore said to her, i.e., the moon: If so, go and diminish yourself. She said before Him: Master of the Universe, since I said a correct observation before You, must I diminish myself? God said to her: As compensation, go and rule both during the day along with the sun and during the night. She said to Him: What is the greatness of shining alongside the sun? What use is a candle in the middle of the day? God said to her: Go; let the Jewish people count the days and years with you, and this will be your greatness. She said to Him: But the Jewish people will count with the sun as well, as it is impossible that they will not count seasons with it, as it is written: “And let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1:14). God said to her: Go; let righteous men be named after you. Just as you are called the lesser [hakatan] light, there will be Ya’akov HaKatan, i.e., Jacob our forefather (see Amos 7:2), Shmuel HaKatan the tanna, and David HaKatan, i.e., King David (see I Samuel 17:14). God saw that the moon was not comforted. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Bring atonement for me, since I diminished the moon. The Gemara notes: And this is what Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish says: What is different about the goat offering of the New Moon, that it is stated with regard to it: “For the Lord” (Numbers 28:15)? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: This goat shall be an atonement for Me for having diminished the size of the moon. § Rav Asi raises a contradiction between two verses. It is written: “And the earth brought forth grass” (Genesis 1:12), on the third day of the week of Creation. And it is also written: “No shrub of the field was yet in the earth” (Genesis 2:5), on Shabbat eve, the sixth day of Creation, immediately before Adam was created. Rav Asi explains: This teaches that the grasses emerged on the third day and stood at the opening of the ground, but they did not grow until Adam, the first man, came and prayed for mercy upon them, and rain came, and they sprouted. And this is meant to teach you that the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires the prayers of the righteous. The Gemara recounts: Rav Naḥman bar Pappa had a certain garden. He planted seeds but they did not sprout. He prayed for mercy, and rain came, and they sprouted. He said: This is what is meant by the statement of Rav Asi, that the Holy One, Blessed be He, desires the prayers of the righteous. § In one of the passages discussing kosher and non-kosher animals, the Torah states: “Nevertheless, these you shall not eat of them that only chew the cud, or of them that have split hooves that are cloven [hashesua]: The camel, and the hare, and the hyrax” (Deuteronomy 14:7). Rav Ḥanan bar Rava said: “Hashesua” is not a redundant description of the split hooves but a distinct creature, which has two backs and two spines and therefore looks like an entirely cloven animal. One might ask: But was Moses our teacher a hunter, or was he an archer, who was familiar with the most exotic animals? Rather, from here there is a refutation to those who say that the Torah is not from Heaven, since Moses could not have known of the existence of such an animal save by divine revelation. Rav Ḥisda said to Rav Taḥlifa bar Avina: Go write this statement about the hunter [kinnigi] and the archer [ballisteri] in your book of aggada, and explain those two words, since some are unfamiliar with them. The Gemara relates another statement. The verse states: “The five lords of the Philistines: The Gazite, and the Ashdodite, the Ashkelonite, the Gittite, and the Ekronite; also the Avvim” (Joshua 13:3). The verse is difficult, since it first said there are five lords of the Philistines, but it then lists six. Rabbi Yonatan said: There were in fact six lords, but the greatest of them were only five. Rav Ḥisda said to Rav Taḥlifa bar Avina: Write this statement about the greatest [arunekei] in your book of aggada, and explain that word. The Gemara notes: And this statement disagrees with the opinion of Rav, as Rav says: The Avvim were not Philistines; rather, they came from Teiman. This is also taught in a baraita: The Avvim came from Teiman. And why were they called Avvim and not Teimanim? Because they corrupted [ivvetu] and destroyed their place of origin when they left. Alternatively, they were called Avvim since they desired [ivvu] many deities. Alternatively, they were called Avvim since they were so fearsome that all who saw them were seized by convulsions [avit]. Rav Yosef said: And each one of them has sixteen rows of teeth. The Gemara cites another statement related to the Avvim: Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish says: There are many verses that are seemingly fit to be burned as books of the heretics, since they appear redundant or frivolous, and yet they are themselves the essence of Torah. For example, the verse states: “And the Avvim, that dwelt in villages as far as Gaza, the Caphtorim, that came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead” (Deuteronomy 2:23). What practical difference does this make for us? The verse teaches the following: Since Abimelech, king of the Philistines, administered an oath to Abraham: “That you will not deal falsely with me, nor with my son, nor with my grandson” (Genesis 21:23), the Jewish people were prohibited from conquering the land of the Philistines until four generations had passed. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Let the Caphtorim come and remove the land from the Avvim, who are the same as the Philistines, and let Israel come and remove it from the Caphtorim, circumventing the prohibition. Similarly, you say with regard to another apparently unnecessary verse, describing a city that the Israelites conquered: “For Heshbon was the city of Sihon, the king of the Amorites, who had fought against the former king of Moab, and taken all his land out of his hand” (Numbers 21:26). What is the practical difference in knowing this information? It teaches that since the Holy One, Blessed be He, said to Israel: “Be not at enmity with Moab” (Deuteronomy 2:9), the Jewish people were prohibited from conquering the land of Moab. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, said: Let Sihon come and remove the land from Moab, and let Israel come and remove it from Sihon. The Gemara notes: And this is what Rav Pappa says: The lands of Ammon and Moab were purified by Sihon, i.e., rendered permitted for conquest. The Gemara cites another seemingly superfluous verse, describing Mount Hermon: “Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion, and the Amorites call it Senir” (Deuteronomy 3:9). A Sage taught: Senir and Sirion are mountains of Eretz Yisrael. The verse teaches that every one of the nations of the world went and built itself a great city on Mount Hermon, and named it after one of the mountains of Eretz Yisrael, teaching you that even the mountains of Eretz Yisrael are beloved by the nations of the world. Similarly, a difficult verse describes Joseph’s treatment of the Egyptians: “And as for the people, he removed them city by city” (Genesis 47:21). What is the practical difference of this information? It teaches Joseph’s love for his brothers, as he transferred the entire Egyptian population so that they would not call his brothers exiles. § The mishna states: The signs of the kosher bird were not explicitly stated in the Torah. The Gemara asks: And is it true that they were not stated in the Torah? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: “The nesher” (Leviticus 11:13) is a non-kosher bird.