Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 6 - Mountains vs. Plains

The Gemora elaborates on Zevulun’s complaint. Zevulun said before Hashem: You gave to me mountains and hills while You gave to my brothers fields and vineyards. You gave to me lakes and rivers while You gave to my brothers land. Hashem responded: All your brothers will need to rely on you for the chilazon (a creature that comes up from the water and the blue dye for tzitzis is created from its blood). Zevulun asked Hashem: Who will notify me if anyone attempts to steal the chilazon from me? Hashem answered him that the dye produced from a stolen chilazon will be ruined.

It is evident from Zevulun’s complaint that fields and vineyards are superior to mountains and hills.

My Rosh Yeshiva, Harav Avrohom Chaim Levin asked on this Gemora from a Rashi in Chumash. The possuk in Parshas Ekev [11:11] states: But the land to which you cross over there to take possession of it is a land of mountains and valleys. Rashi explains that mountains are superior to the plains for on a plain, one can plant in a beis kor a kor’s worth of seeds; but on a mountain, one can plant five kors; four on the four slopes and one on the top.

It emerges from this Rashi that it is agriculturally advantageous to have mountains over plains. This is seemingly inconsistent with our Gemora which states that fields are superior to mountains.

I searched but did not find anyone ask this question.

My brother, Reb Binyomin, showed me a Yalkut Shimoni that has a different version regarding Zevulun’s complaint. He asked Hashem why his brothers received fields and vineyards and he only received the chilazon. According to this version, Zevulun never said that fields are superior to mountains.


ben said...

perhaps according to the Yalkut Shimoni Devarim 33 (961) there is no question:
לפי ששבטו של זבולון היה מתרעם לפני המקום ואמר לפניו רבש"ע לאחי נתת ארצות ולי נתת ימים, לאחי נתת שדות וכרמים ולי נתת חלזון, אמר לו סוף שאני מצריכן לירך על ידי זה, אמר לפניו רבש"ע מי מודיעני זה, אמר ליה זה סימן שכל שגונבו לא יהא בפרגמטיא שלו כלום:

Avromi said...

According to the Yalkut, it is not a kasha but this version is still in the Gemora, so how do we reconcile?

Barry said...

I have two questions on the Rashi in ekev.

1. Are mountains any good for agriculture?

2. Why is five times the amount? A beis kor would be that measurement on one side of the mountain - why consider all the sides?

thank you

Anonymous said...

Does the Gemara say that the reason Zevulun complained was because fields are agriculturally superior than mountains. Are there no other qualities in a field over a mountain? In fact Zevulun describes Naftoli's fields as "Meromei Sodeh"-ironically denoting the height of fields. He clearly is not directing his complaint because of its agriculture advantage. Another point can be made is that from the gemara it seems that his mountains of Kitron were extremely beneficial; yet Zevulun still complains, therefore perhaps one can say that even with the Rosh Yeshiva's premise that a mountain CAN produce propotionately more than a field can, however IF it is more difficult to grow on a mountain than it would to be sufficient in justifying Zevulun's complaint.(I hope this does not come across as being critical at one of the shevatim. I'm just trying to understand this based on Chazal)
Ben S

Eliezer said...

Perhaps mountains have the advantage in that you can plant more but are more difficult to plant and therefore Zevulun's complaint wasn't one of amount but of difficulty. At the beggining of Pirkei Rebbi Eliezer that seemed his complaint to his father ,also.

Zaidy said...

no stira, mountains over plains = value; plains over mountains = less Tircha of plowing, planting, harvesting, etc.

Rabbi Kornfeld said...

The Kollel replies:

The implication of the verse in Ekev is that the mountains add value to
Eretz Yisrael. That is why Rashi says that mountains can be more
valuable for farming than plains.

However, it is obvious that not every mountain is arable - the verse
itself distinguishes between mountains that can be plowed and those that
cannot (see Yeshaya 7:25, Mishnayos Pe'ah 2:2). Zevulun's contrast
between mountains and farmland imply that his mountains were not useable
as farmland. (They did, however, grow trees, such as figs, which
together with the mountain goat, made the mountains Zavas Chalav u'Devash.

Best regards,
Mordecai Kornfeld
Kollel Iyun Hadaf

ben said...

tenu kavod LaTorah! if anyone else can share questions or insights from a Gadol Hador, it would be much appreciated!

Feivel K. said...

It is clear from the sugia that the complaint was without merit. H"kbh wanted, nevertheless, to placate them with the point about zavas cholov udvash, but that was not the ikar. The simple truth is what Rashi said in Ekev.

Zalman R. said...

Seems like these mountains had nice air but were not plantable.

Reb Avi said...

when i learned the gemara i though that i remembered that it says somewhere else that mountains are superior - but i could not remember where. shkoyach!

Rav Eliyahu said...


You ask a very good question.

I don't find it in the Meforchim.

However, I'll try to give the following answers:

1. Even if it emerges from this Rashi that it is agriculturally advantageous to have mountains over plains, Zevulun prefer fields and vineyards, because they got advantages which are especially to fields and vineyards. But really, it is agriculturally advantageous to have mountains over plains.

2. The Gemore says that Zevulun has no reason to prefer fields and vineyards than Tsipori's region, since Tsipori is a very good region and flews milk and honey. However Zevulun complains because he prefers fields and vineyards. Even if it is agriculturally advantageous to have mountains over plains, Zevulun individually prefer fields and vineyards.

Kol Tuv

Gut Chabess

Rav Eliahou Lilti.