Photo Credit:

Bava Metzia 12

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses why a found item of a minor belongs to the father: “Because the minor does not intend to acquire it for himself, as when he finds it, he runs with it to his father.”


The propensity of this young boy speaks of a form of attachment that fathers specifically enact. A father might toss his child in the air, simultaneously terrifying and delighting him or her. While mother stands for safety and nurturing, father smells of the mysteries of the outside world. He is the one who leaves the house (mother, womb), and comes back from his quests with the great totems of manhood, car keys, wallet, hat etc. The child too, bravely forays into the world, makes a discovery, and then brings it to his father so he would be proud.

Researcher Daniel Paquette discusses the psychological process that fathers bring to the parenting of a child (“Theorizing the Father-Child Relationship: Mechanisms and Developmental Outcomes”, Human Development, August 2004.):

“Fathers play a particularly important role in the development of children’s openness to the world. Men seem to have a tendency to excite, surprise, and momentarily destabilize children; they also tend to encourage children to take risks, while at the same time ensuring the latter’s safety and security, thus permitting children to learn to be braver in unfamiliar situations, as well as to stand up for themselves.”

However, in order to encourage risk, there must be a sense of safety. A roller coaster is fun because it makes you afraid, but you also know (hope?) that it is engineered to be safe. This is why:

“…this dynamic can only be effective in the context of an emotional bond between father and child; this relationship is termed the father-child activation relationship, in contrast to the mother-child attachment relationship aimed at calming and comforting children in times of stress. The activation relationship is developed primarily through physical play. It is postulated, in particular, that father-child rough-and-tumble play encourages obedience and the development of competition skills in children.”

Paquette reports further:

“Moreover, during physical play, fathers use teasing to destabilize children both emotionally and cognitively. As pointed out by Labrell [1996], both irregularities and regularities are important to cognitive development, and children need to learn to deal with unexpected events. According to Le Camus [1995a], the need of children to be stimulated, pushed and encouraged to take risks is as great as their need for stability and security.”

We see that a father’s natural tendency toward aggression goads and challenges the child to develop autonomy and self-efficacy. But the child only does that when he feels he can still fall back on the father for emotional support. Fairness, consistency, patience but also expectations with a form of optimism and belief the child can meet the challenges successfully, are a part of a good father-child bond. This propels the child toward emotional and psychological independence, which is necessary for health productivity and relationships.


Gifts and Intimacy

Bava Metzia 15

Our Gemara on Amud Beis discusses an interesting case where a man attempts to enact marriage to a person to whom he is forbidden, such as a sister. Usually marriage is enacted via an exchange of an object of value (classically, a gold ring). In this situation, since the marriage is obviously impossible, what did he intend to do with the object of value or the money? This is subject to a dispute between Rav and Shmuel:

Rav says: The money he gave for the betrothal is returned, since the betrothal does not take effect. Shmuel says: This money is a gift, meaning that he wished to give a gift to his sister and he did so in this manner. Rav says: The money must be returned since a person knows that betrothal does not take effect with his sister, and he decided to give the money to her for the purpose of a deposit. And Shmuel says: The money is considered to be a gift because a person knows that betrothal does not take effect with his sister, and he decided to give the money to her for the purpose of a gift.

Sefer Daf Al Daf quotes Sefer Nitzotze Ohr who suggests that this Rav’s position here is dependent on his directive regarding the ethics of gifts, discussed in Gemara Shabbos (10a);

Rav said as follows: One who gives a gift to his friend needs to inform him.

The Gemara proves this idea from the fact that G-d conducted himself in this manner, informing Moshe and the Jewish people regarding the gift of Shabbos. Since Rav holds that one must inform a recipient of a gift, the man in our case could not have intended to give a gift, as he gave it in this backhanded manner, without making his intentions explicit.

What is the purpose behind this ethical requirement? Rashi (Shabbos ibid) explains that it both makes it easier for the person to accept the gift, as he feels your good will, and it enhances the sense of love and connection.

People can sometimes offer gifts, but out of fear of intimacy, avoid expressing the romantic thoughts or feelings behind them. Or a person might have other resentments, and so passive aggressively refrain from a robust expression of generosity that comes along with the gift.

Some may feel that doing loving things is enough, even if not verbally expressed. While it is a generosity of sorts, it can be maddening to the receiver who wants to feel more acknowledgement. On the screenplay of Fiddler on the Roof, Tevye and Golde exemplify the connecting spouse trying to get some validation from the emotionally avoidant spouse:

Tevye: It’s a new world, Golde…A new world!…Love…Golde…Do you love me?

Golde: Do I what? !Ssh!

Tevye: Do you love me?

Golde: Do I love you?

Tevye: Well?

Golde: With our daughters getting married, and this trouble in the town, – you’re upset, you’re worn out, -go inside, go lie down. — Maybe it’s indigestion!

Tevye: Ah, no, Golde, I’m asking you a question. Do you love me?

Golde: You’re a fool.

Tevye: I know. But do you love me?

Golde: Do I love you?

Tevye: Well?

Golde: For 25 years, I’ve washed your clothes, cooked your meals, cleaned your house, given you children, milked your cow. After years, why talk about love right now?

Tevye: Golde.

Golde: The first time I met you Was on our wedding day –

Tevye: – I was scared

Golde: – I was shy

Tevye: – I was nervous

Golde: – So was I

Tevye: But my father and my mother said we’d learn to love each other, and now I’m asking, Golde, Do you love me?

Golde: I’m your wife

Tevye: I know. But do you love me?

Golde: Do I love him?

Tevye: Well?

Golde: For 25 years, I’ve lived with him, fought with him, starved with him. For 25 years, my bed is his, if that’s not love, what is?

Tevye: Then you love me?

Golde: I suppose I do.

Tevye: And I suppose I love you, too

While the dialogue does not go as well as Tevye might as hoped. These simple, impoverished and persecuted Jews from Anatevka, see no choice but to accept each others’ form of attachment without a full resolution.

Share this article on WhatsApp:

Previous articleIn Shift, Israel Engaging Palestinian Authority on Governing Post-War Gaza
Next articleWhere Am I: Name That Marina