Melachim Bet

We just can't stop learning! ...The Bekiut Nach class of 5766 in a quest to complete Nevi'im Rishonim

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Yotam Ben Uzziah - the view from Daf Yomi

Daf Yomi a day or two ago, had a facinating line on the next King of Yehuda; Yotam ben Uziah. In this piece of Massechet Sukka, Rabbi Shimon bar Yoachai is talking about the manner in which the greatness of a few lone individuals can hold sway for the entire world:

תלמוד בבלי מסכת סוכה דף מה עמוד ב
ואמר חזקיה אמר רבי ירמיה משום רבי שמעון בן יוחי: יכול אני לפטור את כל העולם כולו מן הדין מיום שנבראתי עד עתה, ואילמלי אליעזר בני עמי - מיום שנברא העולם ועד עכשיו, ואילמלי יותם בן עוזיהו עמנו - מיום שנברא העולם עד סופו.
Hizkiyah quoted Rav Yirmiyah in the name of R. Shimon b. Yochai: I could save the world from judgement from the time I was born unto the present moment; and together with my son Eliezer, from the moment of creation until the present time; and in conjunction with Yotam ben Uzziah we could exempt the world from Judgement from Creation until the end of time."
Now, if we may ignore the apparent self congratulatory nature of this statement; we find the name of Yotam ben Uzziahu mentioned here in an enormously positive context. Who was this man?

יותם בן עוזיהו - צדיק היה, ועניו יותר משאר מלכים, וזכה בכיבוד אביו, ועליו נאמר בן יכבד אב (מלאכי א), שכל הימים שהיה אביו מצורע והוא היה שופט עם הארץ, כדכתיב (מלכים ב טו), ויותם (בנו) +מסורת הש"ס: [בן המלך על הבית]+ שופט וגו' לא נטל עליו כתר מלכות בחייו, וכל דינין שהיה דן - אומרן בשם אביו.
The Rabbeinu Channanel takes this further and states that this group of 3 people all failed to receive the rewards of this world in this world. (Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai and his son lived for 12 years in a cave denying themselves worldly pleasures for an extended period. Likewise, Yotam did not reap a this-worldly reward. Maybe this has something to do with Yotam missing his chance , so to speak, to rule during the period in which his father was in a state of leprosy.) Steinsaltz adds that in the Tanach account of Yotam, nothing negative is mentioned about him; no qualifiers or minus points. All that is mentioned is that he "did that which was right in God's eyes... and he built the (upper) gate of the House of God."