Sunday, August 05, 2007


Rav Yehudah said in the name of Rav: Rabbi Elozar could have expounded from this verse a pearl, but instead, he expounded from it only a shard (it is obvious that a letter of divorce received from a man to whom the woman is not married to is pointless, and it would not render her ineligible to marry a Kohen).

(The Mishna had stated: If they said to her, “Your husband died,” and she became betrothed to another man, and afterwards her husband came back, she is permitted to return to him. Even though the latter one gave her a bill of divorce, he did not disqualify her from the Kehunah. This was expounded by Rabbi Elozar ben Masya: It is written [Vayikra 21:7]: And nor shall the Kohanim take in marriage a woman divorced from her husband. This teaches us that a woman who is divorced from her legal husband is forbidden to be married to a Kohen, but a woman divorced from a man who is not her husband will not disqualify her.

What is the pearl that he could have expounded? He could have expounded that which we learned in the following braisa: It is written [Vayikra 21:7]: Nor shall the Kohanim take a woman divorced from her husband. This teaches us that even if she was divorced from her husband alone (if the husband inserted in the letter of divorce a clause forbidding her to marry anyone else), she becomes disqualified from marrying a Kohen. And this is what is meant when it is stated: The scent of the divorce can disqualify a woman from marrying a Kohen.)

How could Rav refer to Rabbi Elozar’s exposition of the verse as a shard? His exposition is also halachically correct. Just because it is not as novel of a ruling, is that grounds to degrade it? Furthermore, the Gemora states elsewhere that one should not say that this teaching he likes, and this one he does not; one who does say that is discarding the glory of the Torah.

Ohel Moshe explains that Rav meant to say like the Gemora Bava Metzia (17b) states: If I had not lifted the shard for you, you would not have found the pearl underneath. Rav was saying that Rabbi Elozar could have expounded the second exposition, which is a deeper one and more novel of a ruling, but Rabbi Elozar was compelled to initially “lift the shard,” by expounding the verse according to its simple interpretation, and only afterwards could we “find the pearl,” and expound the verse with a more novel ruling.