Sunday, May 20, 2007

Daf Yomi - Yevamos 16 - RABBI DOSA AND THE SAGES

The Gemora states that in the times of Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenas, the co-wife of a daughter was permitted to the yavam. This is a clear proof that Beis Shamai practiced according to their own opinion.

The Gemora cites the entire incident: In the times of Rabbi Dosa ben Hurkenas, the co-wife of a daughter was permitted to the yavam.

This ruling was extremely troubling to the Sages, because Rabbi Dosa was a great Torah scholar and his eyes had stopped seeing, so that he was unable to come to the Beis Medrash to study. A discussion took place as to who should go and notify him that they disagree with him. Rabbi Yehoshua said to them, “I will go.” They asked, “And who will go after him?” Rabbi Elozar ben Azaryah agreed to go. They asked, “And who will go after him?” Rabbi Akiva agreed to go.

They went and stood at the entrance of his house. His maid entered and told him, “Master, the Sages of Israel have come to visit you.” He said to her, “Let them enter,” and they entered. He took hold of Rabbi Yehoshua and sat him upon a golden couch. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, “Master, tell your other disciple to sit down.” Rabbi Dosa asked Rabbi Yehoshua, “Who is he?” Rabbi Yehoshua answered, “He is Rabbi Elozar ben Azaryah.” Rabbi Dosa exclaimed, “Does our friend Azaryah have a son?” He applied to him the following Scriptural text [Tehillim 37:25]: I have been young and now I am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his children begging for bread. He took hold of him also and sat him upon a golden couch. Rabbi Yehoshua said to him, “Master, tell your other disciple to sit down.” Rabbi Dosa asked Rabbi Yehoshua, “Who is he?” Rabbi Yehoshua answered, “He is Akiva ben Yosef.” Rabbi Dosa exclaimed, “Are you the Akiva ben Yosef whose name is known from one end of the world to the other! Sit down, my son, sit down. May there be many men like you in Israel.”

Thereupon, they began to pester him with all sorts of halachic questions on until they reached that of the co-wife of a daughter. They asked him, “What is the halachah regarding the co-wife of a daughter?” He answered them, “This is a dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel.” They asked him, “In accordance with whose ruling is the halachah?” He replied, “The halachah is in accordance with the ruling of Beis Hillel.” They said to him, “But, it was reported in your name that the halachah is in accordance with the ruling of Beis Shamai?” He asked them: “Did you hear it in the name of Dosa or the son of Hurkenas?” They replied, “By the life of our Master, we only heard the son of Hurkenas.” He said to them, “I have a younger brother who is very stubborn and his name is Yonasan and he is a disciple of Shamai. Be careful that he does not crush you regarding halachic matters, because he has three hundred answers to prove that the co-wife of a daughter is permitted. But I call the heavens and the earth to witness that upon this mortar sat the prophet Chaggai and issued three rulings: A co-wife of a daughter is forbidden; tithes could be taken from grain in the lands of Ammon and Moav during the shemitah year; and that converts may be accepted from the Karduyites and the Tarmodites (they were not suspected of being mamzeirim).

The braisa continues: When they came, they entered through one doorway; but when they left, they left through three different doorways. Yonasan met Rabbi Akiva. He questioned him and silenced him. He asked him, “Are you the Akiva whose name is known from one end of the world to the other? You are fortunate indeed to have merited such a name, but you have not yet reached the level of an oxherd.” Rabbi Akiva replied (with humility), “I have not even reached the level of shepherds.”

*** Why were the Sages troubled because Rabbi Dosa was a great Torah scholar; since the correct ruling was that the co-wife of the daughter is forbidden, he would certainly admit? (Arvei Nachal)

*** Why did Rabbi Dosa take hold of Rabbi Yehoshua and Rabbi Elozar ben Azaryah and seat them on the golden couch, but he did not do that to Rabbi Akiva; he merely instructed him to sit down? (Ben Yehoyadah)

*** Why is an oxherd regarded as a higher level that a shepherd? (Igrah D’Kallah)

*** How can a shepherd be considered degrading; weren’t all our Patriarchs, Moshe and King David all shepherds? (Chasam Sofer)

(Kaftor Vaferech)

3 comments:

Yankel said...

My Rebbe said a pshat that the couch was only big enough for three people and there was no more room.

Pilpul said...

Why did they leave his house from three different doors; like the shavatim; ayin hora?

Avromi said...

Yankel: The Ben Yehoyadah says that - how did he know, I'm not sure.

Pilpul: The Maharsha asks that and one answer he gives is to ensure that all three of them should not bump into Yonasan, get shlugged up and the halacha would be like him.