Sunday, December 21, 2008

Money Purifies a Mamzer

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Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said (Kiddushin 71) : Money will purify mamzeirim (if they are accepted into Klal Yisroel through their wealth, Hashem will not make their disqualifications known in the Messianic era).

The question is obvious: How can money purify mamzeirim? Is money the answer for all things?

The Ri”f, when he cites Rabbi Tarfon in the Mishna (Rabbi Tarfon said: There is a manner in which mamzeirim can be purified. How is this? If a mamzer marries a slavewoman, the child is classified as a slave (and not a mamzer). If the child is freed, he is regarded as a free man, and is permitted to marry into the congregation.), writes: and this is what Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said that money will purify mamzeirim.

The Ra”n explains the Ri”f as follows: He means that a mamzer can purify himself with money, by purchasing a slavewoman and marrying her. However, the Ra”n concludes that it does not appear that this is the simple explanation in the Gemora.

Reb Heshel from Cracow explained our Gemora based upon a Gemora in Bava Metzia (83b), which states that a person who acts with chutzpah is a sign that he is a mamzer. However, it is also known that rich people can also act with chutzpah. It emerges as follows: If one is seen acting with chutzpah, there is a strong possibility that he is a mamzer. However, money can purify a mamzer. For if he is wealthy, we will say that it is on account of his wealth that he is acting with chutzpah, and not because he is a mamzer.