Saturday, November 03, 2007

Punishment for Causing Grief to Another

The Mishna had stated: The conjugal rights of a sailor’s wife is once in six months; these are the words of Rabbi Eliezer.

Rav Beruna said in the name of Rav: The halacha follows the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer (namely, that a Torah scholar may leave home to study Torah for thirty days without his wife’s permission).

Rav Adda bar Ahavah said in the name of Rav: These are the words of Rabbi Eliezer; however, the Chachamim say: A Torah scholar may leave home to study Torah for two or three years without his wife’s permission.

Rava stated: The Rabbis (and left home for more than a month to study Torah without their wife’s permission) relied on Rav Adda bar Ahavah, but act accordingly at the risk of losing their lives (they may die before their time as a penalty for neglecting their wives).

The Gemora cites an incident supporting Rava’s statement: Rav Rechumi who was frequenting the lectures of Rava at Mechoza used to return home every Erev Yom Kippur. On one occasion, he was so engrossed by his subject that he forgot to return home. His wife was expecting him home every moment, saying, “Now, he is coming, now, he is coming.” When he did not arrive, she became so depressed that a tear began to flow from her eyes. He was at that moment sitting on a roof. The roof collapsed under him and he was killed.

Reb Chaim Shmeulwitz (Sichos Mussar 5731; 23) derives from here that the punishment incurred because of a transgression against a fellow person is not for the purpose of appeasing the person suffering, for in this incident, not only was his wife not appeased by the result; she now was forced to endure even more sorrow and anguish by the fact that she was now a widow. Rather, the punishment for one who pains another is akin to a fire consuming and one who torments another is naturally consumed by fire.