Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 27 - BLESSINGS AND RETURNS

From Ohr Sameyach The Weekly Daf can be found here

"What happened to your belt?" asked the Sage Rav of his disciple Rabbi Huna when he noticed that he was wearing some makeshift belt of vegetation rather than his regular one.

"I gave away my belt as collateral in order to secure money to buy wine for Shabbat kiddush."
Rav was so impressed by his disciple's sacrifice of a personal garment for a mitzvah that he blessed him that he should, as a reward, "be covered with clothes."

Some time afterwards Rabbi Huna was hosting a wedding for his son Rabba. Rabbi Huna, who was a very short man, lay down upon a bed to rest while his family gathered for the celebration. His daughters and daughters-in-law did not notice his presence and they placed their coats on the bed, completely covering him with clothes in fulfillment of Rav's blessing.

When Rav heard that his blessing had thus been fulfilled he complained to Rabbi Huna:

"When I blessed you why did you not respond with a blessing of "the same to my master" (Rashi - it may have been a moment of Divine favor and the blessing would have been fulfilled for me as well).

Two problems arise in regard to understanding this story. Why was it necessary to mention the uncomplimentary fact of Rabbi Huna's diminutive size? Even more puzzling is Rav's disappointment in not receiving a counter-blessing after seeing the fulfillment of his blessing. What benefit would Rav have derived from being temporarily covered by clothes as was his disciple?

The simple approach to the first question is that it was necessary to mention Rabbi Huna's size in order to explain why his family members did not notice his presence on the bed where they placed their coats. In regard to the second issue, an interesting explanation is offered in the footnotes of Bach (Rabbi Yoel Sirkis):

Rav was upset because the fulfillment of his blessing indicated that it was moment of Divine favor and had he received a counter-blessing it may well have, in his case because of his greater merit, been fulfilled in the way it was intended by Rav - by being blessed with the wealth which enables one to cover himself with clothes.

A most innovative approach to answering these questions is suggested by Rabbi Yaakov Emden. Rav was the tallest sage of his generation while Rabbi Huna was among the shortest. Rabbi Huna therefore hesitated to return the blessing which Rav gave, as the clothes which fit his short figure would look absurd on the tall figure of his master.

An important lesson is to be learned from this story. When you receive a blessing from anyone, be sure to return it.