Sunday, February 13, 2011

Shabbas 130a - Was Elisha Baal Kenafayim a model of Mesirus Nefesh?

According to the simple peshat of our sugya, the gemara is saying that we are not moser nefesh for tefillin the way that Elisha Baal Kenafayim did. But Tosfos on 130a quotes the Rashbam who says the opposite. When Elisha answered the officer and did not say he had tefillin, this was a proof to the claim of the gemara that no one is moser nefesh for tefilln, since even he did not and instead said he had kanfei yona.

The Maharam explains that the reason The Rashbam did not follow Rashi’s peshat is that Rashi implies that you need everyone to be moser nefesh and here only one person did. However, this is not true since even by Avoda Zara we find most did not other than Chananya Mishael and Azarya.

So why did a miracle happen to him? Perhaps because he was dedicated to the mitzva in a way that others were not in terms of being makpid on Guf Naki?