Friday, August 22, 2008

Can a Tereifah Have Children?

The Gemora cites a braisa (Daf Yomi: Gittin 43a) : If an ox kills one who is a half-slave, half-free man, the (ox) owner gives half the fine (if the ox is a habitual gorer, the owner must pay thirty shekels as a penalty) to his master and half the kofer payment (the value of the victim as determined by what price he would have fetched at the slave market; this serves as an atonement for the owner of the ox) to the slave’s heirs. The Gemora points out that if the kiddushin of a half-slave, half-free man is invalid, how does he have inheritors?

Rav Adda bar Ahavah answers: The case is where he was gored and made a tereifah (deathly ill, where he was going to eventually die from his wounds). The “inheritors” referred to here actually means to the slave himself.

Rava retorted that there are two reasons to refute this answer. One is that the braisa says the money is given to his inheritors (not himself). Additionally, the payment is kofer, and Rish Lakish says that kofer is only paid after an actual death (not when someone is made deathly ill)!

The Peri Chadash asks: Why couldn’t the Gemora use the following case? He was gored and rendered a tereifah. The ox owner is required to pay the penalty after he dies. Before he died, however, the master emancipated him, he married and begot children. Afterwards, he died, and the ox owner should now be obligated to pay to his heirs!?

He proves from this that it must be that a tereifah is not capable of having children.

The Chazon Ish asks that even if we will assume that a tereifah cannot have children, there is another possibility. He was gored and injured so badly that he was dangerously close to death (yet he was not ruled to be a tereifah). The ox owner is required to pay the penalty after he dies. Before he died, however, the master emancipated him, he married and begot children. Afterwards, he died due to the injury, and the ox owner should now be obligated to pay to his heirs!?

He answers that a slave has no lineage, and therefore any children born from him while he was a slave are not regarded as his children. After he is emancipated, and now his children are considered his children, that is only for all matters that are applicable after his death. However, with respect to the obligation of the kofer payment, that is a payment that is owed to the victim’s heirs. If, at the time he was gored, he did not have any inheritors, the owner will not be obligated to pay to the heirs that came about at a later date.

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Afflictions Purge a Person's Sins

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Gittin 42b) states that if a master knocks out the tooth of his slave, or if he blinds his eye, he must release the slave.

It is noteworthy that Rabbi Yochanan in the Gemora in Brochos (5a) derives from here that a person is considered fortunate if Hashem inflicts him. It is taught through a kal vachomer as follows: If the loss of a tooth or an eye, which is only one of the limbs in a person’s body, nevertheless, a slave gains his freedom because of it, then afflictions, which cleanse the person’s entire body, should certainly free a person from sin because of them!

Rish Lakish derives this same lesson from a different source. He says: The word covenant is written with respect to salt and the word covenant is written with respect to afflictions. Just as salt sweetens the meat, so too, afflictions will cleanse a person from his sins.

The Bobover Rebbe in Kedushas Tziyon notes that there is a distinction between the two expositions. According to Rabbi Yochanan, the afflictions will only cleans a person if they emanate from Heaven, similar to the halachos of a slave, where he will only be set free if his master knocks out his tooth or eye. He will not gain his freedom if someone else injures him. However, according to Rish Lakish, any type of afflictions will cleanse him, in the same manner as the salt sweetening the meat. It makes no difference as to who applies the salt.

Based upon this, Rav Tzvi Pesach Frank explains the following. It is written [Shmos 6:5]: And also, I heard the moans of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians are holding in bondage, and I remembered My covenant. The Jewish people thought that the Egyptians were their masters and they were those who were afflicting them. They did not realize that their suffering was decreed from Heaven. Because they didn’t know who was causing them their hardships, they did not gain their freedom. It was only because Hashem remembered His covenant, that all afflictions cleanse a person from his sins, that was the reason they were released from the bondage.

Reb Meir Shapiro adds to this: If a slave does not come to court and testify that his master knocked out his tooth or eye, he will not gain his freedom. If he says that it happened by happenstance, he will not go free. So too, it is with afflictions. If a person does not believe with complete faith that the afflictions are affecting him because of Divine Providence, the afflictions will not purge him of his sins. However, if this principle was derived through the gezeirah shavah from salt, it would not make any difference.

The Rashba was asked the following question: If a slave initiates a fight with his master and strikes the first blow, and the master counters with some strikes of his own and knocks out the slave’s tooth, will the slave gain his freedom?

He replied that the slave goes free. The proof is from the aforementioned Gemora, where Rabbi Yochanan derived that afflictions will cleanse a person from his sins through a kal vachomer from the laws of the slave. How can the two be compared? Afflictions come to a person because he has sinned! It was his own fault! Perhaps, then, those afflictions will not purge him from his sins!? Evidently, we see that a slave also gains his freedom, even if he was the one who initiated the fight!

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Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Permitted Rulings

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Gittin 41b) had stated, applying the classic principle that it is preferable to render a permissible ruling. Rashi in Beitzah (2b) explains that this means that something that is permitted indicates that the Tanna is relying on his knowledge of the subject matter, and is not afraid to rule leniently. One can be strict even if he is in doubt and it does not necessarily indicate the conclusiveness of the ruling.

Rashbam in Pesachim (102a) writes that if there is no compelling logic to rule stringently, then ruling leniently is not regarded as a more preferred option. Rather, it is the only option. The Rema in his responsa (§ 54) rules that one is not allowed to be stringent regarding an issue where there is no uncertainty.

Pischei Teshuvah (Yoreh Deah 116:10) cites a dispute amongst the Acharonim if one is permitted to be stringent for himself regarding a matter that has been permitted by the Torah, such as a prohibited matter that was nullified.

Bnei Yissachar writes that it is a mitzvah not to be stringent in such a situation.

The Tzlach writes that it is preferable to record the permitted ruling regarding a situation that may be subject to a Biblical prohibition, because if there would be uncertainty, we would be compelled to rule stringently. The Tanna would not be introducing a novel ruling if the ruling was that the matter is prohibited. Regarding a matter that may be subject to a Rabbinic prohibition, however, the reverse would be true. It is preferable to record the stringent ruling because if there would be uncertainty, we would rule leniently.

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Freeing a Half-Slave

The Mishna (Daf Yomi: Gittin 41a) had stated: Someone who is half-slave and half-free man (he was owned by two partners, and one of them emancipated him), he works for his master one day and for himself one day; these are the words of Beis Hillel. Beis Shamai, however, says: You have created a solution for the master (for he does not lose out through this division), but you have not solved anything for the slave. He may not marry a slavewoman, for he is half-free. He cannot marry a free woman for he is half-slave. If you will say that such a person should refrain from marrying, that cannot be, for the world was created for the purpose of propagation, as it is written: He did not create it to be desolate; He formed it to be inhabited. Rather, to benefit the public (this slave), we force his master to make him a free man, and the slave writes a document for his value. Beis Hillel later retracted and ruled in accordance with Beis Shamai.

The commentators ask: How can we force the master to free the slave? Isn’t there a prohibition against emancipating a slave?

The Kli Chemdah answers this question based upon the Avudraham, who says that a woman is exempt from mitzvos which have a time element to them, because she is pledged to her husband at these times. So too, it can be said with respect to a half-slave half-free man. Since he is partially a free man, he is obligated to observe all the mitzvos. Therefore, at the times where he is responsible to serve his master, he cannot do so completely, for he is obligated in mitzvos. Consequently, the master will anyway not be able to fulfill the mitzvah of working the slave forever; therefore, there is no prohibition against freeing him.

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Women and Slaves Wearing Tefillin

Rabbah bar Rav Shila (Daf Yomi: Gittin 40a) explains that Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is dealing with a case where the master himself placed the tefillin on the slave. Only then, is it an indicator that the slave was previously freed.

In Shulchan Aruch (O”C 38:3) it is written that women and slaves are exempt from the mitzvah of wearing tefillin. The Rama adds that if a woman wishes to act stringently upon herself and don tefillin, you should protest the matter. The Magen Avraham explains that this is because it is difficult for women to be cautious regarding the cleanliness of their body.

The Yerushalmi in Brochos relates that Michal the daughter of Shaul HaMelech wore tefillin, and the sages of that time protested. The Gemora in Eruvin (96a), however, states that the sages did not protest.

The Peri Megadim rules that although slaves are permitted to wear tefillin, they should not be encouraged to, and one should object if they do don tefillin. The Mishna Berurah rules that it should not be frowned upon.

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Kiddushin with a Slavewoman

Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak (Daf Yomi: Gittin 40b) explains the braisa to be dealing with the following case: The master told her, “Become free with this deed (of betrothal) and be betrothed to me with this.” [In this case, she was obviously not freed from beforehand.] Rabbi Meir holds that this expression (be betrothed) includes emancipation (for she cannot become betrothed to him unless he frees her first), and the Chachamim maintain that it does not include emancipation.

Tosfos in Yevamos (47b) asks: How can the kiddushin be effective if the slave did not immerse herself in a mikvah beforehand? The halachah is that after a slave becomes free, he is immersed in a mikvah to become a complete Jew. If so, this woman is still a slave, and kiddushin is not effective with a slave!?

Tosfos answers that we are dealing with a case where she immersed herself prior to the kiddushin.

The Nimukei Yosef states that the requirement for this immersion is only Rabbinical, and therefore, the kiddushin will be Biblically effective even if she did not immerse beforehand.

Reb Chaim Brisker asks that both of these answers will not resolve the issue according to the Rambam. He proves that the Rambam holds that this immersion is a Biblical requirement. This is because the Rambam maintains that this immersion is a completion of her conversion process. If so, asks Reb Chaim, it is obviously a Biblical requirement and it also cannot be done before she becomes free, for it is part of her conversion process and that can only be accomplished after she becomes free! How would the Rambam understand our Gemora? How can the kiddushin be effective with a slavewoman?

He answers as follows: A freed slave requires immersion in order to accept upon himself those halachos that he was lacking while he was still a slave, for at that time, he was not a complete Jew. This, however, has no bearing on the fact that kiddushin is not effective with a slave or a slavewoman. That, the Gemora in Kiddushin (68a) explains is because a slave does not have any lineage (yuchasin). A slave, in this respect, is inferior to an idolater, for an idolater does have lineage. As soon as the slave is freed and he is no longer a slave, he does have lineage, even though his conversion was not completed, for even an idolater has lineage. It is for this reason that kiddushin can be effective in this case even though she did not immerse in the mikvah yet. For in order for the kiddushin to be effective, it is not necessary for her to have a completed conversion; as long as she is not a slave is sufficient, and since at the moment she becomes free, she is no longer a slave, kiddushin may take effect.

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Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who is the "I"?

Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said (Daf Yomi: Gittin 39a) : They asked before Rebbe: What is the law if someone says that he gives up hope of ever retrieving his slave? Rebbe replied: I say that such a slave can only be fixed (to marry) with a document.

Many times in Shas, it is found that Rebbe used this terminology, “I say etc.” What was his intention with these words?

Reb Yosef Engel in Beis Haotzar explains that it is known that Rebbe was a tremendously humble person. The Gemora in Sotah (49a) states that when Rebbe died, humility ceased. Perhaps what Rebbe was saying was that it appears to him that the halachah is like this-and-this, but not that it is most definitely so.

He also writes that it is clear from the seforim of the students of the Baal Shem Tov that lofty people are constantly thinking that their words and actions are not emanating from their own power and strength; rather, it is all coming from the Ribbono shel Olam. In kabbalah, the Shechinah is referred to as “Ani,” “I.” This is the explanation in the Gemora Sukkah (53a) when Hillel said, “If I am here, then everyone is here.” The “I” did not refer to himself, for Hillel, we also know was extremely humble. Rather, he was referring to the Shechinah. This, perhaps, is what Rebbe was saying when he said, “I say.” The Shechinah which is inside of me is saying that the halachah is like this.

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Half and Half

The Gemora (Daf Yomi: Gittin 38a) relates an incident: There was a certain slavewoman in Pumbedisa who was used by men for sinful acts. Abaye said: Were it not that Rav Yehudah has said in the name of Shmuel that whoever emancipates his Canaanite slave violates a positive commandment, I would compel her master to write an emancipation document for her.

Ravina said: In such a case, Rav Yehudah would agree that this is proper, in order to prevent the immorality.

The Gemora asks: Shouldn’t Abaye permit this as well? But Rav Chanina bar Rav Katina has said in the name of Rabbi Yitzchak: There was an incident regarding a certain woman who was half slavewoman and half free woman (she had two masters, and one of them freed her), and they forced her master to make her a free woman. And Rav Nachman bar Yitzchak said: It was because people were acting immorally with her!?

The Gemora answers: In that case, she was not suitable to marry a slave or a free man; here, they could have designated a slave for her, and he would have protected her (therefore, there is no reason to free her).

The Minchas Chinuch (§ 347) asks from this Gemora on the Rashba, who holds that there is no prohibition against freeing a half slave, half free man because of his “free half.” If so, what is the Gemora asking on Abaye from the case of the half slavewoman and half free woman? Abaye would concede there that it is permitted to free her because she is already half free!?

The Oneg Yom Tov (§ 51) answers that the Rashba only said that regarding a slave, where his free half is obligated in more mitzvos than his slave half, for if he gains his freedom, he will have the ability to fulfill the mitzvah of procreation. The Torah, therefore, did not obligate the master to work him forever. However, by a slavewoman, who will not have the mitzvah of procreation even if she gains her freedom, the prohibition against emancipating her remains!

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Missing a Hand

Shmuel said (Daf Yomi: Gittin 38a) : A master who declares his slave ownerless, the slave goes out to freedom and it is not necessary to write a document of emancipation.

The Ketzos Hachoshen (200:5) asks: If, according to Shmuel, an emancipation deed is not necessary, even to permit him to marry a Jewish woman, why then, in an ordinary case of emancipating a slave through a document, would it be necessary for the deed to written for the sake of this particular slave? It should be regarded as if he was granting his slave to another owner through a document, where definitely, the halachah would not require that it should be written lishmah, for it is merely an acquisition document!?

He answers that if the document would only be regarded as an acquisition document, the slave would not have the ability to acquire it, for his hand if like his master’s hand. It is only when the master hands over to the slave a deed of emancipation, then he is granting him “his hand” to acquire the document at the same time.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Mechanics of a pruzbul

We learned in a Mishna: A pruzbul is not made out unless the borrower has some land. If he has none, the creditor can give him ownership (through a third party) from any amount of his own land (and then a pruzbul may be written).

Rav Chiya bar Ashi said in the name of Rav (Daf Yomi: Gittin 37a): Even land the size of a carob stalk is sufficient.

Rav Yehudah said: Even if the creditor only lends him a place sufficient for the borrower to put his stove or oven, a pruzbul may be written because of it.

Rashi explains that the Rabbinical establishment of a pruzbul is only for a usual case, and since, generally, one did not lend money to someone who did not possess land, a pruzbul cannot be written in such a case.

The Rashba asks on Rashi: Is the case where the creditor lends the debtor land in order to collect from considered a usual case? Why there did we allow a pruzbul to be written? He explains that the Rabbis did not differentiate between the cases, and as long as the debtor has some property, a pruzbul may be written.

The Tumim (67:22) writes that it would seem from Rashi that the debtor is required to have land at the time of the loan, for then, it will be usual for the creditor to lend him money. However, there is no necessity for him to have land at the time that the pruzbul is being written! This, he states, is bewildering, for the primary reason for the land is that the creditor should have what to collect from!?

He answers that this case would also be an unusual one. For it is not common for a debtor to have land at the time of the loan and afterwards sell it, for there will not be many purchasers interested in buying land that is pledged to a creditor. Therefore, the presumption is that if he had land at the time of the loan, he would still have land at the time the pruzbul is being written.

Accordingly, the Tumim concludes, that if the loan would be a verbal one, and there is no land to collect from, it is not considered a usual case and a pruzbul would not be written.

The Rash explains differently. He states that a pruzbul is written only when the debtor has land, for then, the debt is regarded as if it has been already collected. This is comparable to the case where he lent with a collateral, where in that case, shemitah does not cancel the loan for that very same reason.

The Rashbam in Bava Basra (66a) also explains like that, but he adds that when the debtor has land, it not completely regarded as if it is paid already like the collateral case; rather, it appears as if there is a security on the loan. If there would be a collateral, shemitah would not cancel the debt according to the Biblical law. The Chachamim did not want to establish this institution in a manner that appeared as if they were uprooting a halachah from the Torah.

The Ran writes that there is an apparent distinction between the two explanations. According to the Rash, it would be necessary for the debtor to possess the land at the conclusion of shemitah, for then is when the loan would be cancelled. According to Rashi, it is only necessary for the debtor to possess land in the beginning, for then it is a usual circumstance, and a pruzbul may be written.

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