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May 26, 2016 / 18 Iyar, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Daf’

Daf Yomi

Thursday, May 19th, 2016

In Spite Of The Consequences
‘There Is Birtha di’Satya In Babylon’
(Kiddushin 72a)

 

We are told (Kiddushin 72a) that on his deathbed Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi was granted prophetic vision (ruach hakodesh) and revealed to his disciples a number of secrets. Among them was the fact that the inhabitants of the Babylonian town of Birtha di’Satya had abandoned Judaism, becoming apostates. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who lived in Eretz Yisrael, was able to tell them something that had occurred very recently in Babylon, even providing the detail that R. Ahi had excommunicated them because they had, on Shabbos, caught fish that they trapped in a pond that had overflowed.

Why did Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi reveal an event to his disciples that they would subsequently hear about anyway? Why did he choose to reveal this incident amidst sharing mysteries and secrets of the Torah?

A Harsh Punishment

The Terumas HaDeshen (138), cited by the Rema (Yoreh De’ah 334:1), concludes that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi intended to teach his disciples an important halachic principle: A person who commits a grave transgression – such as desecrating Shabbos – must be excommunicated even if doing so may lead him to abandon Judaism altogether, just as the residents of Birtha di’Satya were excommunicated by R. Ahi even though this act drove them to apostasy.

The Taz, on the other hand (Yoreh De’ah ibid.), maintains that excommunication should be avoided if it might lead the transgressor to apostasy. He claims that Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi mentioned what was taking place in Birtha di’Satya for a different reason – as if to say: Just as this event will be proven true within a short while (when the news reaches Eretz Yisrael), so too will the rest of the secrets I am divulging.

He might, perhaps, also have been cautioning his disciples to refrain from excommunicating those who stray if it can lead to an extreme reaction.

The accepted halacha is in accordance with the position of Rema, who notes that someone who does not act in accordance with halacha should be dealt with severely, and beis din is not required to take into account the possible repercussions of the punishment it plans to impose.

The Shabbetai Zvi Cult

The Chasam Sofer (Yoreh De’ah 322; Even HaEzer 36) adopts a similar position and touches on a point his predecessors did not mention. He maintains that, based on Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi’s remarks, we can deduce that even if the wife and children of someone who is excommunicated are liable to abandon Judaism following the excommunication of the head of the family, the punishment should still be carried out, just as it was against for the residents of Birtha di’Satya and their wives and children, who did indeed convert after they were excommunicated.

He mentions, as an example, the followers of Shabbetai Zvi, who were excommunicated by the leading rabbanim of their generation even though they knew what would likely happen to the children of the cult members. Ultimately, however, the Chasam Sofer stipulates that this rule only applies when it is clear to beis din that the individual who stands to be excommunicated would corrupt his children anyway.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Daf Yomi

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

The Recanted Testimony
‘A Solitary Witness Said To Him’
(Kiddushin 65b)

 

The Torah states (Devarim 19:15), “A single witness shall not stand up…” In general, bet din will not accept testimony given by a single individual. There are exceptions, though:

1) ritual prohibitions, such as kashrus

2) incidental statements of fact – in certain cases we may believe a non-Jew who, in casual conversation, testifies to something.

3) identification of a father that someone is his son

4) the testimony of a woman that she heard from a single witness that her husband died. She may remarry based on this testimony even though two witnesses are ordinarily required in matrimonial matters – see Yevamos 25a.

The Childless Widow

The Ran discusses the following case: A widow, whose husband left her no children, was unsure whether her husband’s brother was alive (if he was, she would need chalitza in order to remarry). A certain person told the woman that her husband’s brother was alive, but when he later appeared before bet din, he retracted his original statement, stating that the brother died long ago. The bet din was unsure whether to believe the first statement or the second.

The Gemara (Sanhedrin 44b) states that once a witness has given his testimony, he cannot alter it. But this individual did not make his original statement in bet din. Perhaps different rules apply to statements made outside beit din – statements which presumably are made with less seriousness.

The Ran rules that a person is permitted to retract a statement made outside a bet din. This ruling is accepted by the Shulchan Aruch (Even HaEzer 17:20) as well.

 

Self Incrimination

The Chazon Ish, however, argues that the individual in this particular case cannot retract his statement since doing so will be a form of self-incrimination, which is forbidden (Sanhedrin 25a). He maintains that we must distinguish between cases where a person’s original testimony prohibited something and his later testimony allowed it, and cases where the original testimony permitted something and the later testimony prohibited it. Since in our case the first statement prevented the widow from remarrying, the witness cannot now change his testimony to permit the widow to remarry.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Daf Yomi

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

You Are That Man!
A Poor Man Looking For A Griddlecake…’
(Kiddushin 59a)

 

Our daf relates that a sage, R. Giddal, was in the process of buying a parcel of land when R. Abba came to that same field and purchased it. Since R. Abba was a student of R. Yitzhak Nappacha, R. Giddal’s complaint was brought to him.

R. Yitzhak Nappacha confronted R. Abba and asked him the following: “What would we think of someone who snatched a griddlecake from an indigent man who was looking for it?” R. Abba replied, “We would consider him a wicked man.”

When R. Yitzhak Nappacha asked R. Abba how then he could’ve purchased a piece of land that R. Giddal was in the middle of buying, R. Abba explained that he had had no idea R. Giddal was in the process of buying it and was therefore blameless.

A Sliding Scale

Rashi (s.v. “Ani ha’mehapech becharara”) explains that it is forbidden to snatch away an abandoned item that an indigent fellow is seeking to acquire since doing so deprives a poor man of his sustenance. The Ran (ad loc.) writes that this rule applies only to an indigent individual. One may snatch an ownerless item from a wealthy man as long as it isn’t yet in his possession. The reason is simple: The wealthy person has no need for ownerless, abandoned items. He can purchase whatever he needs.

Wicked?

When it comes, however, to the purchase of a specific parcel of land which cannot be purchased elsewhere, one may not snatch it from another person trying to buy it – even if that other person is wealthy. If a person does so nonetheless, he is considered wicked.

Tosafos (s.v. “Ani ha’mehapech becharara…”) maintains that it is always forbidden to interfere with another person buying something if the item is scarce and cannot easily be obtained elsewhere. Otherwise, one may interfere.

Effort Expended

Tosafos concedes that if effort was expended by an individual, such as a fisherman who cast bait in a section of the sea to attract fish, another fisherman may not fish in that area.

Based on this halacha, Tosafos concludes that it is unethical for a teacher to apply for a position that is already filled by another teacher.

Atzmos Yosef (ad loc.) asks why Tosafos emphasizes that a second teacher may not apply for the job if another teacher already fills it. Even if the first teacher was just negotiating terms for the position, that should be reason enough for the second teacher to seek employment elsewhere.

Maharit (ad loc.) explains that teaching positions with decent wages are difficult to obtain and thus even Tosafos agrees that a second teacher may apply for a position that someone else is already about to fill (but hasn’t yet filled).

A person who already has a teaching position, though, has – like the fisherman mentioned by Tosafos – expended effort (in this case, by teaching children). Thus, it is prohibited to snatch the position from him.

Passing A Sentence

Speaking at an Agudath Israel convention several years ago, Rabbi Avraham Pam, zt”l, rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Torah Vodaath, cited the famous incident of the prophet Nathan confronting King David and relaying the parable of a rich man who snatched the lone sheep of a poor person. King David said the man deserved to die for what he did. Nathan then pointed to the king and said, “You are that man.” (The Talmud [Shabbat 56a] informs us that from a strict halachic point of view David’s behavior was permitted but not ethical.)

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Daf Yomi

Thursday, April 28th, 2016

The Snatched Zuz
‘None Pay Regard To R. Shimon’s Dictum …’
(Kiddushin 52b)

 

The Talmud (Bava Kamma 66a-67a) establishes that a person loses legal ownership of an item stolen from him if 1) he despaired (experienced ye’ush) of ever retrieving the stolen object and 2) the object changed hands (a shinnui reshus took place).

Thus, if a thief sells a stolen item after the owner despaired of retrieving it, and the original owner later finds out that the item is now in the possession of someone who has acquired it from the thief, he may not demand that the buyer return the object to him. His only recourse is to approach the thief and demand payment from him.

 

Robbery Involves Ye’ush

Our daf relates an incident where an individual snatched a zuz from his fellow and threw it to a woman, exclaiming, “You are betrothed to me [with this coin].” That individual came to Raba to inquire whether the betrothal (kiddushin) was valid. Raba responded that the owner didn’t necessarily abandon hope of retrieving his money and therefore the betrothal is not valid.

 

Rabbinical Or Biblical?

Rishonim deduce from Raba’s phrasing that if we have definite knowledge that the owner did despair of regaining possession of his coin, the betrothal is valid. The Rosh (Bava Kamma 7:2), though, rules the betrothal only rabbinically valid. Biblically it isn’t valid because legal ownership of the coin (shinnui reshus) never changed.

Shinnui Reshus

The Ran (23a in the pages of the Rif) argues that the betrothal is biblically valid because legal ownership of the coin did change when the woman caught it (even if the thief never acquired ownership).

A Grave Sin

The Rambam (Hilchos Ge’neva 5:1) heaps scorn on such a betrothal regardless of its validity. He rules, based on the Gemara (Kiddushin 56b), that it is forbidden to purchase stolen items from a thief. Doing so is a grave sin, for such an act, in effect, aids and abets sinners and encourages them to continue stealing. If they did not find customers for their stolen items, they would not steal.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Daf Yomi

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Polite And Respectful
‘It Is Audacious To Appoint One’s Father A Shliacht’
(Kiddushin 45b)

Out of the blue, a Jewish man living in Pittsburgh, PA, packed his bags and left his family. The only contact the husband subsequently made was in the form of a letter to his father in which he wrote, “Father, I am traveling abroad and I do not intend to remain with my wife anymore. If you want to, you may provide her with a divorce from me.” Afterwards, he severed all ties with his family. The only way to allow the woman to remarry was to contend that in his letter the son intended to appoint his father to be a shliach to divorce his wife. But this contention is halachically problematic.

No Explicit Appointment

The son’s words – “If you want to” – do not amount to an explicit appointment of his father as a shliach. Indeed, one can argue that these words imply that he wanted his father to make his own decision regarding what to do (see Gittin 66a, Tosafos s.v. “Kol hashome’a“). Acharonim are unsure what the halacha is in such a case (see Beth Shmuel 141:27; Hafla’ah, Kuntress Acharon 70:18). And since the son was unclear concerning his wishes, the father is not allowed to write a get on his son’s behalf.

Ravina’s Statement

An additional reason not to allow the father to act as a shliach for his son is Ravina’s statement on our daf: “A son cannot have the audacity to appoint his father as his shliach.” This rule strengthens the supposition that the son did not intend to appoint his father as a shliach to divorce his wife.

Polite Conduct Of A Son

The Maharsham, however, argues that we should assume – on the contrary – that the son did, in fact, intend to appoint his father as his shliach. The Maharit points out (Even HaEzer 2:43) that proper conduct dictates that a son avoid appointing his father as a shliach in a direct manner. He may, however, do so indirectly, using refined language such as, “If you would like to be my shliach, you may.” Accordingly, writes the Maharsham, we can assume that the son wanted to appoint his father as his agent and intentionally used ambiguous language out of politeness. Therefore, the father can write a get for his daughter-in-law on behalf of his son, thus enabling her to remarry.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Daf Yomi

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

A Year And A Day
‘Hashem…Completes The Years Of The Righteous’
(Kiddushin 38a)

 

Our daf states that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away on his birthday, the 7th of Adar, in accordance with the principle that Hashem “completes the years of the righteous [exactly].” Some Rishonim contend that Moshe Rabbeinu passed away on Shabbos at Minchah time, which is why we say Tzidkas’cha Tzedek after Minchah on Shabbos (as an expression of tzidduk ha’din, accepting the harsher manifestations of Heaven’s justice). However, since tradition has it that Moshe Rabbeinu wrote 13 sifrei Torah on the day he passed away, that day could not possibly have been Shabbos (Tosafos, Menachos 31a, s.v. “Mikani”).

 

Which Adar Was It?

Some people, particularly Chevra Kaddisha members, have the custom to fast on Moshe Rabbeinu‘s yahrzeit (Shulchan Aruch, Orach Chayim 580:2). But in which Adar was Moshe niftar? According to some opinions, he died during a leap year in the first month of Adar. Rabbi Yaakov Emden (Ya’avetz), however, uses our sugya to prove that his death occurred in the month of Adar immediately preceding Passover.

Our sugya informs us that the manna stopped falling on the day of Moshe’s passing. During the following 38 days, until the 16th of Nissan when they entered the Land of Israel and ate of its fruits, the Children of Israel ate the manna remaining in their vessels. Moshe, therefore, could not have passed away during the first month of Adar in a leap year; if he had, there would have been 68 days between the date of his death and the 16th of Nissan (see She’ilath Yaavetz 1:117 and Siddur Ya’avetz; Responsa Chasam Sofer, Orach Chayim 163). The Mishnah Berurah notes that the accepted custom is to fast during the first month of Adar (Orach Chayim. 163:15).

She Died On Her First Wedding Anniversary

The following case was brought before Rabbi Meir Eisenstadt, zt”l (1670-1744), author of Panim Me’iros (2:174): A woman tragically died exactly one year after her wedding. Following her passing, a bitter dispute broke out between the widower and his late wife’s relatives. They claimed that according to a takanah instituted by Rabbeinu Tam and the French Tosafists, a widower cannot inherit his wife’s estate within a year of their wedding (see Rema, Even HaEzer 52:4). The husband, however, argued that they were indeed married for a year.

Rabbi Eisenstadt examines both sides of the issue. One of his proofs he advances for the husband’s position is based on the statement in our sugya, in connection with Moshe Rabbeinu’s passing, that “Hashem completes the years of the righteous [exactly] from day to day and month to month.” If the anniversary date of an event marked not the end of a year but the beginning of a new one, though, Moshe Rabbeinu should have died on the 6th of Adar, not the 7th. Evidently, then, the anniversary date of an event marks the end of the previous year.

Nonetheless, despite this proof, the Panim Me’iros rules that the inheritance should be left to the husband since the question of when a year ends is not clear cut, and without solid proof the estate should not be taken away from the husband once it is already in his hands.

Rabbi Yaakov Klass

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/judaism/halacha-hashkafa/daf-yomi-229/2016/04/14/

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