Friday, January 19, 2007

Daf Yomi - Taanis 11 - MARITAL RELATIONS DURING A FAMINE

Rish Lakish rules that one who has children should not engage in marital relations during a famine year.

His source is from the fact that the Torah states that Yosef’s two sons were born prior to the famine. This would indicate that once the famine has begun, it would be prohibited from engaging in marital relations.

Tosfos asks that Yocheved, who was born as they were entering Mitzrayim, was born to Levi two years after the famine had already started.

Tosfos concludes that this is not a general prohibition that everyone must follow; rather it is only for people who wish to conduct themselves in a pious manner. Yosef decided to on such a course but Levi did not.

The Sfas Emes explains that it was not regarded as a universal prohibition prior to the receiving of the Torah; however after the torah was given, there is a prohibition that everyone is obligated to follow.

The Maharsha explains Tosfos that there was a prohibition even before the Torah was given but not for people that did not yet fulfill the obligation of fathering children. Those people had a choice and Yosef chose to conduct himself in a pious manner and Levi did not.

There are many other answers on Tosfos’ question. The Ritva answers that there is only a prohibition when the famine strikes a Jewish community. Yosef was under the impression that his family did not have food and that is why he refrained from having marital relations. Levi, on the other hand, knew that they had sufficient food and therefore it was permitted for him to engage in marital relations and that is when Yocheved was born.

The Beis Yosef (574) writes that the prohibition did not apply at all prior to the giving of the Torah.

The Maharsha cites a Yerushalmi that rules that on the night that a woman immersed herself in the mikvah; it will be permitted for the man to cohabit with his wife. Perhaps Levi had relations with his wife on the night that she went to the mikvah.

The Beis Yosef rules in accordance with this Yerushalmi. The Magen Avraham disagrees and maintains that the Yerushalmi means that someone who didn’t father children yet is permitted to cohabit with his wife on the night that she went to the mikvah but this does not apply to someone who already has children.

The Netziv answers that the famine was not so severe in Eretz Canaan where the shevatim were and therefore they were not subject to this prohibition. He states that the famine affected the rich people there since they were lacking their usual delicacies but for the common person, there was ample food. The Chida cites the Rosh that the famine did not strike the city where Yaakov and his sons were living at all.

It is brought in the name of Rabbi Yehuda Hachasid that Yosef knew when the famine will end and therefore he did not have relations with his wife. Levi, who did not know at all when the famine will end was permitted to cohabit with his wife for otherwise how long should he wait. The Chida questions this answer since if it would be correct, the prohibition will almost never apply. During a famine, it is not known how long it will last and therefore it should be permitted to engage in marital relations.

2 comments:

Dror Maor said...

Avromi wrote:
"The Maharsha cites a Yerushalmi that rules that on the night that a woman immersed herself in the mikvah; it will be permitted for the man to cohabit with his wife. Perhaps Levi had relations with his wife on the night that she went to the mikvah.

The Beis Yosef rules in accordance with this Yerushalmi. The Magen Avraham disagrees and maintains that the Yerushalmi means that someone who didn’t father children yet is permitted to cohabit with his wife on the night that she went to the mikvah but this does not apply to someone who already has children."

I think this requires further explanation, since it is unlikely that Osnas (Yosef's wife) didn't go to the mikva during the seven years of the famine (as Efraim would have been weaned after two years, thus reverting Osnas to her orach kanoshim [ways of women].)
And even according to the Magen Avrohom, Yosef had two boys, and we hold like Beis Hillel who requires a boy and a girl to fulfill pru u'rvu.

ben said...

Good vort, Reb Dror. I have mentioned to you in the past that the Sforno in Vayeitzei maintains that the Avos did not keep the laws of tahras hamishpacha.