web analytics
October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
Judaism
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » Judaism » Parsha »

Committed To Rabbeinu Gershom

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

In this week’s parshah the Torah discusses the halachos of one who has two wives and they both bare children. The Torah says that though one wife is more loved in her husband’s eyes, he may not give her son the firstborn rights if the other wife bore a child first.

Famously, around the year 1000, Rabbeinu Gershom issued a series of takanos, including a prohibition on polygamy.

The Acharonim were bothered by the following question: the Taz (in Orach Chaim 588 and Yorah Deah 117) says that the Rabanan may not forbid something that the Torah explicitly permitted. In truth this concept is found in Tosafos in Baba Metzia 70b. Therefore, they ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

Similarly they ask on another takanah of Rabbeinu Gershom, not to divorce a woman against her will. The Torah explicitly says that a husband may divorce his wife if he so pleases. How can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid these things when the Torah seemingly explicitly permits them?

One could suggest that Rabbeinu Gershom fundamentally disagrees with this concept and opines that the Rabanan may forbid something even if the Torah explicitly permits it. However, since we do not find any Rishonim who openly disagree with this concept, it is difficult to assume that Rabbeinu Gershom did.

I believe that the simplest answer to this question is that Rabbeinu Gershom did not enact a prohibition against marrying more than one wife or divorcing her against her will. Rather, he made a cherem against one who does these things. This means that one who acts in this manner should be put in cherem. However, it is not forbidden to act this way. Tosafos and the Taz only said that the Rabanan may not create an issur to do something which the Torah explicitly permitted. They never said that the Rabanan may not issue a cherem against such an act. This answer is brought in the Chasam Sofer (likutim chelek 6, siman 56).

To this extent, the Beis Shmuel (Even Ha’ezer 1:21) says that if a doubt arises concerning the cherem of Rabbeinu Gershom one may be lenient. This is because Rabbeinu Gershom never intended to create an issur; rather he wanted to prevent fighting.

Rav Shlomo Kluger (Teshuvos Tuv Tam Va’da’as 1:22) says that the Torah never explicitly permitted one to marry more than one wife. The Torah only discussed the halachah of when someone was in this situation. The Taz was discussing making a bris milah on Shabbos, where the Torah explicitly commands that we desecrate the Shabbos in order to make the bris milah. There the Rabanan do not have the authority to enact a decree forbidding such an action. Similarly, Tosafos in Baba Metzia was discussing lending to goyim with interest, something that the Torah explicitly permits. Tosafos says that the Rabanan would not be able to enact a decree forbidding such an action. However, here the Torah never explicitly said that one should or could marry more than one wife.

Rav Kluger continues to say that in our case there is one opinion in the Gemara in Yevamos (23a) that explains that the “hated” wife refers to a woman who it was forbidden to marry. She is halachicly “hated” and the pasuk is coming to teach us that her son will nonetheless receive the firstborn rights. We see that according to this opinion there is no source that the Torah ever permitted one to marry more than one woman.

The Minchas Elazar (1:62) suggests another solution to the original question. He first asks why Rabbeinu Gershom stipulated that this cherem last only until the end of the fifth millennium (see Shulchan Aruch, Even Ha’ezer, siman 1:10. The Rama says that communities have accepted this upon themselves even afterwards). The Minchas Elazar says that Rabbeinu Gershom did not enact his cherem for all generations because he couldn’t, since the Torah had permitted marrying two wives. He explains that the Rabanan cannot make a new prohibition that will be in affect forever when the Torah permitted something. They can, however, make a temporary prohibition. Therefore Rabbeinu Gerhsom only made his cherem for a short period of time. Afterwards the communities have accepted upon themselves to continue this on their own accord.

About the Author: For questions or comments, e-mail RabbiRFuchs@gmail.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Committed To Rabbeinu Gershom”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Ismail Haniyeh, highest ranking Hamas member in Gaza, pictured Nov. 25, 2012.
Hamas Leader’s Daughter Treated in Israeli Hospital; #BDSFail
Latest Judaism Stories
God-and the world

The creation of the world is described twice. Each description serves a unique purpose.

Questions-Answers-logo

Question: I recently loaned money to a friend who has been able to repay only part of it. This was an interest-free loan. We exchanged a signed IOU, not a proper shtar with witnesses, since I have always trusted her integrity and only wanted a document that confirms what was loaned and what was repaid. Now that shemittah is approaching, what should I do? Should I forgive the loan? And if my friend is not able to repay it, may I deduct the unpaid money from my ma’aser requirement?

Name Withheld

Lessons-in-Emunah-new

To the surprise of our protectzia-invested acquaintances, my family has thrived in our daled amos without that amenity, b’ezras Hashem.

Business-Halacha-logo

Shimon started adjusting the branches on the roof. In doing so, a branch fell off the other side of the car and hit the side-view mirror, cracking it.

I, the one who is housed inside this body, am completely and utterly spiritual.

Should we sit in the sukkah on a day that may be the eighth day when we are not commanded to sit in the sukkah at all?

For Appearance’s Sake
‘Shammai Did Not Follow Their Own Ruling’
(Yevamos 13b 14a)

If one hurts another human being, God is hurt; if one brings joy to another, God is more joyous.

I’m grateful to Hashem for everything; Just the same, I’d love a joyous Yom Tov without aggravation.

Bereshit: Life includes hard choices that challenge our decisions, leaving lingering complications.

Rabbi Fohrman:” Great evils are often wrought by those who are blithely unaware of the power they wield.”

The emphasis on choice, freedom and responsibility is a most distinctive features of Jewish thought.

The Torah emphasizes the joy of Sukkot, for after a season of labor, we celebrate our prosperity.

The encounter with the timeless stability of the divine occurs within the Sukkot.

Hashem created all human beings and it should sadden us when Hashem, their Father, does not see nachas from them.

More Articles from Rabbi Raphael Fuchs
Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

Others suggest that one cannot separate Shabbos from Yom Kippur by accepting Shabbos early.

Taste-of-Lomdus-logo

While women are exempt from actually learning Torah, they are obligated in a different aspect of the mitzvah.

The Chafetz Chaim answered that there are two forms of teshuvah; teshuvah m’ahava and teshuvah m’yirah.

Since it is a Rabbinic prohibition we may follow the more lenient opinion.

They ask, how can Rabbeinu Gershom forbid marrying more than one wife, when the Torah explicitly permits it in this parshah?

First, how could a beis din of 23 judges present a guilty verdict in a capital punishment case? After all, only a majority of the 23 judges ruled in favor of his verdict.

According to Rabbi Yishmael one was not permitted to eat such an animal prior to entering Eretz Yisrael, while according to Rabbi Akiva one was permitted to eat animals if he would perform nechirah.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/parsha/committed-to-rabbeinu-gershom/2014/09/04/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: