(Permission is granted to print and redistribute this material
as long as this header and the footer at the end are included.)


brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld

Ask A Question about the Daf

Previous daf

Bava Basra, 9

BAVA BASRA 9 & 10 - these Dafim have been dedicated anonymously l'Iluy Nishmas Tzirel Nechamah bas Tuvya Yehudah.


QUESTION: Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah argue about what type of need of a poor person must be verified before giving him what he needs. Rav Huna says that when a poor person comes seeking food, we determine first whether he is really poor. When a poor person comes seeking clothing, we give to him right away without checking if he is really poor. This is because a person without clothes suffers disgrace, while a person without food suffers no disgrace. Rav Yehudah argues and says that we check a poor person who comes seeking clothing but not a poor person who comes seeking food. His reasoning is that a poor person who has no food is in great pain, while a poor person who has no clothing is not in pain.

Why do the Amora'im argue about whether the distress of being hungry is greater, or whether the distress of being unclothed is greater? We find in Sanhedrin (44b-45a) that this is the subject of a dispute among Tana'im! The Tana'im there argue with regard to unclothing a person when administering Sekilah to him. They argue whether the physical pain to a person's body is greater than the emotional pain of the disgrace of being unclothed, or whether the disgrace of being unclothed is greater than physical pain. Why, then, do the Amora'im here argue about this?

Moreover, the Gemara here makes it clear that the Halachah follows Rebbi Yehudah (that the physical pain of hunger is greater than the disgrace of being unclothed), since a Beraisa supports his view. However, the RAMBAM (Hilchos Sanhedrin 15:1) rules that when a woman is punished with Sekilah, she is *not* unclothed. The Rambam seems to be ruling like the opinion that says that the disgrace of being unclothed is greater than physical pain, contrary to the ruling of Rebbi Yehudah!

In addition, we find that maintaining the honor of a person ("Kavod ha'Briyos") overrides Isurim d'Rabanan, and it even overrides Isurim d'Oraisa which are done passively ("Shev v'Al Ta'aseh"), as the Gemara in Berachos (20a) teaches. We do not find, though, that one who experiences physical pain is permitted to transgress an Isur d'Rabanan or an Isur d'Oraisa of "Shev v'Al Ta'aseh!" This clearly implies that the disgrace to a person is more severe than physical pain. (OR SAME'ACH, Hilchos Sanhedrin 15:1)


(a) The OR SAME'ACH explains that, in essence, the pain of suffering disgrace is greater than the pain of physical suffering, as Rav Huna says. What, then, is Rebbi Yehudah's reasoning?

Rebbi Yehudah's reasoning is that if this "poor" person is prevaricating and he is not really poor, then buy starving himself (in order to get money from the charity fund) he, anyway, experiences the physical pain of hunger, even though he caused himself to suffer. Therefore, we do not check to see if he is really poor, because anyway he is suffering as a result of his hunger (albeit self-inflicted). With regard to clothing, though, if he is lying and he is not clothing himself in order that we give him money, then he, in fact, experiences no disgrace or embarrassment. The sense of embarrassment is an internal feeling, and if a person values money more than he values his own honor, he will not experience any shame in unclothing himself. Therefore, we must check to see if he is really poor before we give him money for clothes.

(b) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM answers that when the Gemara teaches that "Kavod ha'Briyos" overrides certain types of Isurim, it does not mean that a specific person's honor overrides Isurim. Rather, it means that the honor of *people in general* overrides certain Isurim. That is, the Torah is not concerned, in this regard, with the specific feelings of the individual. The Torah would not permit a person to transgress an Isur in order to save himself from feeling embarrassed. Rather, the Torah is concerned for the honor that all people deserve. Proof for this is the fact that the obligation to bury a Meis Mitzvah overrides almost all other Mitzvos and Isurim, even though the deceased person himself is not experiencing shame (since he is dead). Rather, it is the Torah's will that the honor of people be upheld, and therefore certain Isurim are waived for this purpose. This is also why the person receiving Sekilah must be dressed; it is to protect and uphold the honor of people in general (and not necessarily the honor of this particular person). This form of honor -- the honor of mankind -- certainly is more severe than the physical pain suffered by an individual.

In contrast, with regard to giving Tzedakah, the reason why we are obligated to give Tzedakah is not in order to uphold the general honor of mankind. Rather, we are obligated to give Tzedakah in order to help the individual who is in need. Therefore, there is a question whether or not the honor of a specific individual is greater than the physical pain of a specific individual. The Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Yehudah who says that the physical pain suffered by an individual is greater than the pain of disgrace. (I. Alsheich)


QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if a person is worthy, then Hashem causes people who are indeed deserving of charity to come to him. If a person is not worthy, then people who are not deserving of charity come to him. Rabah derived this from the verse, "May they be caused to stumble before You; at the time of Your anger, act against them" (Yirmiyahu 18:23), in which Yirmiyahu asks Hashem to cause the sinners of the people to stumble. Rabah explains that Yirmiyahu was asking Hashem that even at a time when the people bend their evil inclinations and seek to do charity, Hashem should bring to them people who are not deserving of charity so that they should not receive reward for their acts of charity.

The Acharonim ask that the Gemara in Berachos (6a) and in Kidushin (40a) teaches that when one has intention to do a Mitzvah but is prevented from doing it (due to an Ones, circumstances beyond his control), he is rewarded as if he had done the Mitzvah. Why, then, will it help Yirmiyahu's purpose if the people give charity to those who are undeserving of charity? The givers still had intention to do the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, and therefore they should receive reward for that intention! (SUKAS DAVID, DEVAR MOSHE)


(a) The DEVAR MOSHE suggests that it is the sins of the givers themselves that make them unfit to give charity to deserving causes. Consequently, the fact that undeserving people come to them for charity is not an Ones, for it is a result of the givers' own sins.

(b) The NIMUKEI YOSEF in Bava Kama (6b of the pages of the Rif) cites the RAMAH who explains that a person who gives charity to one who is underserving will still receive reward only when the giver *is not aware* that the recipient is undeserving. When the giver is aware that the recipient is undeserving, then he does not receive any reward for his act. (I. Alsheich)

Next daf


For further information on
subscriptions, archives and sponsorships,
contact Kollel Iyun Hadaf,