ט׳ באדר ה׳תשע״ג (February 19, 2013)

Shabbat 139a-b: Will the Torah Really be Forgotten?

As we learned on yesterday’s daf,  Rav Huna related that Rav said: “The Torah is destined to be forgotten from the Jewish people.” This position is somewhat surprising, and an opposing view was taught in another baraita that appears on today’s daf.

Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai says: Heaven forfend that the Torah should be forgotten from the Jewish people, as it is stated: “And this song shall answer to him as a witness, for it shall not be forgotten from his seed” (Devarim 31:21). Rather, how do I explain: “They will roam to find the word of God, but they will not find it”? It means that they will not find clear halakha and clear teaching together, but rather there will be disputes among .

The concept of “clear halakha” may be understood as follows: As long as the Great met in the Chamber of the Hewn Stone in the Temple, every legal discussion concluded with a vote that determined the halakha. After the destruction of the Temple, the number of disputes increased (Tosefot Rid). Some commentaries emphasize the problem to be that clear halakhah cannot be found in one place; rather, people will be forced to seek answers in many places, as in each place they will know only a bit.

Following this teaching, the Gemara continues with other statements about judges and their legal decisions.

It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yosei ben Elisha says: If you see a generation that many troubles are befalling it, go and examine the judges of Israel. Perhaps their sins are the cause, as any calamity that comes to the world comes due to the judges of Israel acting corruptly, as it is stated: “Please hear this, heads of the house of Jacob, and officers of the house of Israel, who abhor justice and pervert all equity, who build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Their heads they judge for bribes, and their priests teach for hire, and their prophets divine for money; yet they lean upon the Lord, saying: Is not the Lord in our midst? No evil shall befall us” (Micah 3:9–11).
The Gemara comments: They are wicked, but they placed their trust in the One Who spoke and the world came into being, the Almighty. Therefore, the Holy One, Blessed be He, brings upon them three calamities corresponding to the three transgressions for which they are responsible, as it is stated in the following verse: “Therefore, because of you, Zion shall be plowed as a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the Temple Mount as the high places of a forest” (Micah 3:12).

One explanation of the fact that people who placed their trust in the Almighty are called wicked is because they believed that since God determines the world order and planted the evil inclination within each person, individuals do not bear responsibility for their actions (Ahavat Eitan).

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