Tuesday, September 18, 2007


The Gemora (Kesuvos 17) asks: How should one dance before a bride?, and Beis Shamai says she is to be described as she is, while Beis Hillel opines that she is always to be described as pleasant. Beis Shamai asks Beis Hillel: How is one permitted to one lie? To which Beis Hillel replies, shouldn’t one praise a buyer’s purchase to him? It seems as if Beis Hillel is avoiding the question. On the other hand, how can Beis Shamai just ignore the requirement to judge positively?

The Mishneh Halachos (12:278) suggests that Beis Hillel’s reply was to distinguish between one who asks about the kallah at the beginning (should he even meet her?), versus after they are married. If someone comes to ask about her at the beginning, Beis Hillel would agree that one must speak the truth. To do otherwise would transgress the prohibition against offering bad advice. (See the Gemora in Kesubos 75a-b where not all failings or blemishes are visible.) However, after they are married, to speak the truth (where the truth is not pleasant) would produce nothing but pain. Here, Beis Hillel argues, one must judge positively that there is something pleasant about her. For this reason, Beis Hillel used a comparison to a buyer, after he had purchased.