web analytics
July 10, 2014 / 12 Tammuz, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim's Restaurant in Tiberias Restaurant in Tiberias Enriches Holocaust Survivors’ Wellbeing

The generosity of Mrs. Lee Steinberg of New York helped establish the Meir Panim Free Restaurant in Tiberias.



Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part II)


QuestionsandAnswers-logo

Question: I find it very difficult to understand the punishment of death that was meted out to Rabbi Akiba’s students. If he was so great, we can assume that his students were of a superior caliber as well. If so, why did they deserve such a harsh punishment?

Zelig Aronson
Queens, NY

Answer: Last week we discussed the prohibition of not marrying or cutting our hair for a minimum period of 34 days between Pesach and Shavuot. We observe these signs of mourning to commemorate the thousands of Rabbi Akiba’s students who died during this period.

We also sought to explain the reason these students deserved such a harsh punishment. We cited a similar story concerning the Nadav and Avihu, whose hasty actions led to their fatal transgression of issuing a ruling before their master Moses, for which they were killed.

* * * * *

The Rambam (Hilchot Talmud Torah 5:2), based upon the Gemara in Eruvin 63a, rules that a person who issues a halachic decision before his master is punished with death (by Heaven’s hand). The Hagahot Maimoniyot (ad loc.) cites exceptions to this rule. For instance, a person may issue a ruling before his master if he sees the ruling clearly recorded in books written by great halachic authorities.

Moses, in his humility, obviously saw no slight to his person when his students, Aaron’s sons, issued their halachic ruling, but he was aware of their infraction. He sought to console his brother on his tragic loss, stating that the untimely death of those who are nearest and dearest to Hashem serves as a means of His sanctification.

Nadav and Avihu and the students of Rabbi Akiba were so great that, like other tzaddikim, they were judged in a very exacting and demanding manner – “kechut hasa’ara – like a fine strand of hair.”

We find the following incident in the Talmud (Yevamot 121b): It once happened that the daughter of Nehonia the well digger (he would dig water wells for the benefit of those traveling on the roads and byways) fell into a large cistern, and people reported this to R. Hanina b. Dosa. During the first hour R. Hanina told them, “All is well.” In the second hour he again said, “All is well.” At the third hour he told them, “She is saved.”

R. Hanina then asked her, “My daughter, who saved you?” She replied, “A ram came to my aid with an aged man leading it.” (Rashi notes that this was our Patriarch Abraham.) The people observing this incident asked R. Hanina b. Dosa, “Are you a prophet?” He replied, “I am neither a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but this I do know: Should the work in which a righteous man is engaged (for the benefit of others) be the cause of disaster for his offspring?”

The Gemara continues: R. Abba stated, “Even so, his [Nehonia’s] son died of thirst. The verse (Psalms 50:3) states, ‘u’sevivav nis’ara me’od – His surroundings are exceedingly turbulent.’ ” This teaches us that Hashem deals with those near Him even to “a hair’s breadth,” i.e., very strictly. Rashi (ad loc.) explains that the word “nis’ara – turbulent” in this verse can also be read as “sa’ara – hair.”

The Maharsha (ad loc.) notes: If this is the manner in which Hashem treats those nearest and dearest to Him, how much stricter will He deal with the wicked.

The students of Rabbi Akiba were so great and close to Hashem that they were punished for even the slightest infraction.

(To be continued)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.

About the Author: Rabbi Yaakov Klass, rav of Congregation K’hal Bnei Matisyahu in Flatbush, Brooklyn, is Torah Editor of The Jewish Press. He can be contacted at yklass@jewishpress.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Q & A: Harsh Punishments (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Illustration: A helicopter lands at Be'er Sheva's Soroka hospital
Missile Fire Heats Up, IDF Warns Gazans to Move
Latest Judaism Stories
Lessons-Emunah-logo

The simple act of kindness should be the reward itself. Anything more in the form of a reward is gravy.

Business-Halacha-logo

“It is sometimes possible through hataras nedarim, nullification of vows,” replied Rabbi Dayan, “but it’s not simple for charity pledges.

Grunfeld-Raphael-NEW

The kohen gadol may not enter the Temple unless his hair is cut every seven days.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

We need to understand why Moshe Rabbeinu decided to ask that his sons inherit his position after this new halacha was introduced.

Ancient Cities, Ancient Walls
(Megillah 3b-4a)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Moshe served dual major roles for bnei Yisrael. He was their teacher and their leader.

An opinion recorded in the Talmud states that prayers correspond to the daily sacrifices offered in the Temple that are mentioned in this week’s portion (Berachot 26b, Numbers 28:4). It’s been argued that this opinion may be the conceptual base for our standardized prayer. Since sacrifices had detailed structure, our prayers also have a set text. […]

Is the fact that we can spend time with our families just a fringe benefit of Shabbos or an integral aspect?

Respect for basic human dignity is such a powerful concept that it overwhelms some areas of Jewish law.

If it is not prohibited when there is a purpose for inflicting the tza’ar, why was Bilam chastised for tza’ar ba’alei chaim?

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Mr. Haber called Rabbi Dayan. “We sold various household items, including my bicycle, the refrigerator and some professional tools with the expectation of being relocated,” he said. “It turns out we’re staying. Can I annul those sales?”

Moshe’s punishment described in the parsha is most tragic. He was chosen to redeem the people, he loved them dearly and personally sacrificed so much for them.

More Articles from Rabbi Yaakov Klass
Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

Question: I recently returned from a trip abroad and wanted to say HaGomel. When I mentioned this to the officers of my synagogue, however, they told me – as per the instructions of the synagogue’s rabbi – that I would have to wait until Shabbos to do so. I was not given any reason for this and did not wish to display my ignorance, so I quietly acquiesced. Can you please explain why I had to wait?

Name Withheld
(Via E-Mail)

    Latest Poll

    Israel's Iron Dome Anti-Missile System:





    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/ask-the-rabbi/q-a-harsh-punishments-part-ii/2012/04/25/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: