Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Placing Money on the Horns of a Deer

The Gemora (Nedarim 33) cites a Mishna: If a person went overseas and someone supported his wife in the interim, Chanan ruled that he has lost his money.

The sons of the kohanim gedolim argued that the supporter may swear how much he gave his wife and collect the monies from him. Rabbi Dosa ben Harkinu agreed. Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai said: Chanan is correct; the supporter has placed his monies on the horn of a deer.

What is the meaning of the expression, “He has placed his money on the horn of a deer”?

The Tosfos Yom Tov explains: Just as a deer runs very fast, and one chasing it will probably not catch it; so too, one who “lends” money in this manner will be unlikely to recover the money.

Tosfos Chadashim offers a different explanation: It is common for a deer to bob its head back and forth when it is running. One who places his money on the horn of a deer is likely to lose the money for the money will fall off the horns of the deer.