Thursday, August 09, 2007


The Gemora asks on the aforementioned braisa: How could Ben Yasyan accept the convert’s statement from Rabbi Akiva? Surely Rabbi Abba stated in the name of Rav Huna in the name of Rav: Wherever a scholar issues a halachic ruling (that was previously unknown) and such a point comes up for a practical decision, he is obeyed if he made the statement before the incident occurred, but if the statement was made only after the incident occurred, he is not obeyed.

The Gemora answers: If you wish I might say that the incident occurred after he made his statement.

Alternatively, I might say that it was because he brought proof from the woman and her seven children.

Alternatively, I might say that here it is different because he related another Rabbi Akiva’s other statement together with it (just as he was believed regarding that statement, he was believed regarding the other one as well).

From Rashi’s commentary (77a), it would seem that the reason we do not accept the scholar’s statement is because we are concerned that he might deliberately falsify the halacha.

The Ritva forcefully disputes this. Heaven forbid that a Torah scholar would deliberately falsify the ruling. Rather, the reason why we don’t believe him in these situations is because he might make a mistake; in the excitement of the moment, it would appear to him that he remembers the tradition in one manner, when in fact, it is really the opposite.

The Ritva explains that the third answer of the Gemora is very understandable according to his explanation. Since he related another one of Rabbi Akiva’s statements that was said at the same time, this is an indicator that the scholar does remember accurately what his teacher taught; he is not just misremembering. The Ritva states further that according to Rashi’s explanation, it is hard to comprehend the Gemora’s answer. If we are concerned that the scholar is lying, why would the additional elements added help to dispel that concern? He might be embellishing his lie in order to give it greater authenticity.