Thursday, July 19, 2007

DIVINE RETRIBUTION - Yevamos 77 - Daf Yomi

The Gemara in Sanhedrin (106b) describes Doeg’s downfall:

Rabbi Ami said: Doeg did not die until he forgot his learning, as it is stated: He shall die bereft of wisdom, led into error by his great folly. Rav Ashi said: Doeg was afflicted by tzaraas before he died, as it is stated: You cut down (hitzmatah) all who stray from You. The verb hitzmatah alludes to tzaraas, as follows: It is written there, in connection with the Yovel year: litzmisus, which Targum Onkelos renders as lachalutin; and we learned in a Mishnah: There is no difference between a confined metzora and a confirmed (muchlat) metzora except the regulations concerning letting the hair grow and rending the garments. The term muchlat, which is used in this Mishnah in connection with tzaraas, has the same root as lachalutin, which is the Targum for litzmisus. It follows that hitzmatah, which has the same root as litzmisus, also alludes to tzaraas. Thus, scripture implies that Doeg was afflicted with tzaraas.

One may wonder why it was necessary for Doeg to be afflicted with tzaraas before he died. Was it not sufficient for him to die young?

My brother, Reb Binyomin, in his sefer on Sanhedrin explains: Let us understand the punishment of tzaraas. One who slanders someone is liable the punishment of tzaraas, as we see from numerous incidents in the Torah with Moshe disparaging the Jewish People, Miriam talking ill about her brother Moshe, and other instances. The affliction of tzaraas is meant to demonstrate to the sinner that he is an outcast, and the sinner must mend his or hers ways before being allowed normal social interaction. Doeg had slandered Dovid and thus earned the punishment of tzaraas. Although Doeg’s punishment is only inferred from the exposition of the Gemara, the Gemara is teaching us that no one can escape Divine Retribution. Reb Moshe Feinstein, in the Sefer Derash Moshe, explains that this is the reason why the plague of Barad, fire and hail, only affected the flax and the barley in Egypt, while the wheat and the spelt were not struck, as Hashem only punished the Egyptians commensurate with their evil deeds. If we would recognize that Hashem rewards our good deeds five hundred fold , then we would make every attempt to study Torah whenever possible, and perform as many mitzvos as possible.