Sunday, July 22, 2007

SORAH WAS AN AYLONIS - Yevamos 80 - Daf Yomi

The Torah relates that Sorah died at the age of 127. Rashi notes that the Torah mentions “years” after each component of her age (“100 years and 20 years and 7 years”) in order to teach that each of these units of her life had a unique significance. At the age of 100, Sorah was just as free of sin as she had been when she turned 20, as the Heavenly Court doesn’t punish a person for his sins until he turns 20. Although a person doesn’t receive punishment, his transgressions are still considered sins – as evidenced by the fact that somebody under the age of 20 is still required to bring a sacrifice in order to atone for his transgressions – so how can Rashi write that a person who turns 20 is free of all sins?

Reb Oizer Alpert cites the Brisker Rov who answers that the Gemora in Yevamos (64b) states that Sorah was an aylonis – a woman who is unable to have children. Such a woman never develops the physical signs of adulthood. The Gemora in Yevamos (80a) rules that when a woman turns 20 without becoming physically mature, she is declared an aylonis and legally considered to be an adult from that time onward. Therefore, although sins which are committed before a person turns 20 are indeed considered sins even if they aren’t punishable at that time by the Heavenly Court, the transgressions of Sorah were indeed not considered sins, as she was legally viewed as a minor until she turned 20!

Rashi additionally writes that Sorah was as beautiful at the age of 20 as she had been at the age of 7. In what way is this comparison considered praiseworthy, as a woman is typically expected to be considered prettier at 20 than she was at 7? We may similarly answer by noting that the Gemora in Yevamos (80b) lists the signs commonly associated with an aylonis, all of which are features traditionally viewed as being ugly. The Gemora in Sanhedrin (49b) states that women in these early generations were able to give birth as young as 8. As this was the age at which their bodies began to develop and mature, this was also the age at which an aylonis began to exhibit signs of ugliness. Although most women are expected to be prettier at age 20 than they were at age 7, Sorah became a full-fledged aylonis at age 20, so Rashi notes that she was nevertheless just as beautiful as she had been at age 7 before her condition developed!