THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Bava Basra, 141
BAVA BASRA 141 (30 Av) - This daf has been dedicated l'Iluy Nishmas Esther
Chaya Rayzel (Friedman) bas Gershon Eliezer, upon her Yahrzeit and Yom
Kevurah, by her daughter and son-in-law, Jeri and Eli Turkel. Esther
Friedman was a woman of valor who was devoted to her family and gave of
herself unstintingly, inspiring all those around her.
1) ONE WHO LEAVES NO SONS TO INHERIT HIM
OPINIONS: Rebbi Yochanan says in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai that
Hashem becomes "filled with anger upon" anyone who leaves no son to inherit
him. What is the meaning of this statement?
2) HAVING NO SONS
(a) The YAD RAMAH (116a) writes that this applies only when the person did
not engage in fulfilling the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah. If, however, he did
attempt to fulfill the Mitzvah but was unable to because of circumstances
beyond his control, then Hashem does *not* become angry with him.
(b) The RASHASH explains that this refers to one who has a son but does not
let the son inherit him, but rather he gives away all of his possessions as
a gift to someone else.
(c) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM (#480) explains that having no sons is not a
*reason* for why Hashem becomes angry at a person; it is beyond a person's
control to have sons. Rather, the fact that he has no sons is a *sign* that
Hashem is angry with him for some other reason, and Hashem therefore is not
granting a son to him. (I. Alsheich)
QUESTION: Rebbi Yochanan says in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai that
Hashem becomes "filled with anger upon" anyone who leaves no son to inherit
him. However, earlier (116a) the Gemara relates that Rebbi Yochanan himself
would comfort mourners who had lost children by showing them the tooth or
bone (see Background to the Daf there) of his tenth son who died. If Rebbi
Yochanan maintains that one who leaves no sons is subject to Hashem's anger,
then why was he publicizing the fact that he left no sons? Having no sons is
indicative of wrongdoing (see previous Insight), and one is supposed to be
ashamed and hide his wrongdoing from others, as they verse states,
"Praiseworthy is the one who bears his iniquity, who hides his sin" (Tehilim
32:1), as the Rashbam writes earlier!
3) DAUGHTERS ARE MORE PREFERABLE
Indeed, the Gemara there already questioned Rebbi Yochanan's actions from a
different statement of Rebbi Yochanan. The Gemara asks how could Rebbi
Yochanan comfort mourners by showing them that he had lost all of his sons,
when Rebbi Yochanan himself stated that the verse, "Asher Ein Chalifos
Lamo..." (Tehilim 55:20), refers to one who leaves no sons after him. Why,
though, does the Gemara there not find any difficulty with the statement of
Rebbi Yochanan in the name of Raban Shimon bar Yochai? How could Rebbi
Yochanan say that Hashem is filled with anger with one who leaves no sons to
inherit him, when Rebbi Yochanan himself would publicize the fact that he
left no sons?
(a) The RASHASH explains, based on his approach (see (b) of previous
Insight) to the meaning of Rebbi Yochanan's statement in the name of Raban
Shimon bar Yochai, that in truth Hashem does *not* become angry with someone
who has no sons. Rather, He becomes angry only with someone who has sons and
redirects his inheritance away from his sons, giving his property to other
people. Accordingly, there is no contradiction in the acts and statements of
(b) The RAMBAN (116a) writes that the Gemara earlier answers its question by
saying, "This statement is his, and the other statement is his teacher's."
That is, the statement that Rebbi Yochanan said in which he applied the
verse, "Asher Ein Chalifos Lamo," to a person who leaves no sons was
actually his teacher's statement, and he, personally, did not agree with
that way of expounding the verse. Accordingly, the statement that Rebbi
Yochanan says here in the name of Raban Shimon ben Gamliel might also be
merely his teacher's opinion, but Rebbi Yochanan himself does not agree. (I.
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses why a man would prefer to have a daughter
than a son, as the Mishnah (140b) implies. The Gemara suggests that the
Mishnah is referring to a woman giving birth to her first child, and it is
in accordance with the view of Rav Chisda who says that having a daughter as
the first child is a "Siman Tov," a "good sign," for sons (the Gemara goes
on to explain why that is so). Rav Chisda adds, "And as for me, daughters
are more preferable to me than sons."
Why did Rav Chisda personally prefer daughters over sons?
(a) The RASHBAM explains first that Rav Chisda was referring to the first
child that was born to him, consistent with Rav Chisda's own statement that
a daughter born first is a good sign. However, he immediately rejects this
explanation, since the Rav Chisda's wording does not imply that he is
referring here only to a daughter who was born first. Instead, the Rashbam
explains that Rav Chisda said that he prefers daughters because none of his
sons survived, and therefore he cherished his daughters so much more. The
Rashbam concludes, however, that he is not satisfied with this explanation
of the statement of Rav Chisda.
(b) TOSFOS questions the Rashbam's explanation as well, saying that we know
that Rav Chisda had many sons, and we do not find that they died before him.
Among his sons mentioned throughout the Gemara are Rav Nachman bar Rav
Chisda, Mar Yenuka and Mar Keshisha, Rav Chanan bar Rav Chisda, Rav Mari and
Rav Pinchas. Tosfos therefore explains that the reason why Rav Chisda said
that daughters are preferable to him is because even though his sons were
great Amora'im, his *sons-in-law*, the husbands of his daughters, were the
Gedolei ha'Dor -- Rava, Rami bar Chama, and Mar Ukva bar Chama (as mentioned
in Bava Basra 12b and Berachos 44a).
RAV YAKOV EMDEN gives a similar explanation to that of Tosfos, but he adds
that perhaps at the time that Rav Chisda made this statement, his daughters
were already married to the Gedolei ha'Dor, while his sons were still young
and he did not know yet whether they would achieve such greatness or not. He
also adds that certainly the daughters of Rav Chisda were great and wise
women in their own right, as the Gemara in Berachos (56a) implies, where
Rava says to Bar Hedya, the dream-interpreter, that he could forgive Bar
Hedya for all of the hardships that he caused him except for the death of
his wife, the daughter of Rav Chisda.
Rav Yakov Emden writes further (as printed in the new Wagshal Gemara) that
Rav Chisda's sons-in-law were also his students, and thus he considered them
to be like his own sons. Therefore, he said that his daughters are more
preferable to him, because not only are their husbands the Gedolei ha'Dor,
but their husbands are like sons to him, since they are his students as
(c) REBBI TZADOK HA'KOHEN (in Divrei Sofrim) writes that Rav Chisda already
had seven sons who were Talmidei Chachamim, but he did not yet have one
daughter. Therefore, he prayed to Hashem to have a daughter so that he could
properly fulfill the Mitzvah of Piryah v'Rivyah, and he prayed for
additional daughters because daughters bring propagation to the world (as
the Gemara says earlier on 16b; see Insights there). (I. Alsheich)
4) WHEN A GIFT OF A "SHECHIV MERA" DOES NOT TAKE EFFECT
QUESTION: The Gemara discusses a case in which a man said to his pregnant
wife, "My property is hereby given to the fetus with which you are
pregnant." Rav Huna ruled that it is a case of attempting to grant ownership
to a fetus, and a fetus cannot acquire ownership (since it is not considered
to have come into the world yet).
It is clear from the continuation of the Gemara that the case being
discussed is that of a gift being given by a Shechiv Mera, a dying man. Even
though there is a rule that the words of a Shechiv Mera are binding as if
they are written in a Shtar, here the Shechiv Mera's gift does not take
effect. TOSFOS points out that even if the benefactor was a healthy man who
committed himself to give the gift with an act of a Kinyan, the gift does
not take effect.
Why, though, does the gift of a Shechiv Mera not take effect in this case?
The Gemara later (145a) says that the gift of a Shechiv Mera takes effect
even when the gift of a healthy person would not take effect, such as in
transferring the ownership of a debt. When a Shechiv Mera gives the debt
(that is, the right to collect it from the debtor) to someone else, the
recipient acquires it. When a healthy person gives a debt to someone else,
its ownership is not transferred to the recipient even when a Kinyan is made
(because a debt is a non-tangible entity which cannot be transferred to a
different owner; the ownership of a debt can be transferred only when it is
written in a Shtar and the Shtar is transferred, or when the debt is
transferred through the rabbinical instrument of "Ma'amad Sheloshtan"). The
Gemara here, though, is saying that since a healthy person cannot transfer
the ownership of this gift (to an unborn fetus) even with a Kinyan, a
Shechiv Mera also cannot transfer the ownership through the enactment of
Matnas Shechiv Mera!
TOSFOS writes that the cases are different and cannot be compared, but he
does not write why they are different. What is the difference between the
case of the Gemara here, and the case of the Gemara later (145a)?
ANSWER: The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Zechiyah u'Matanah 9:13) writes that in the
Gemara later, Rav Papa says that the reason why a Shechiv Mera is able to
transfer the ownership of a loan is "because it is inherited by his heirs."
The RASHBAM there explains that the Gemara later (149a) says that the
Rabanan made a Matnas Shechiv Mera work like an inheritance, and therefore
it works for a loan, since a man's heirs inherit any loans owed to him when
This applies, though, only to a loan, where the impediment in the transfer
of ownership is not in the giver or the recipient, but in the object itself
(the loan). Since a loan *can* be inherited, it therefore can be given to
someone else through a Matnas Shechiv Mera. In contrast, when the impediment
in the transfer of ownership of an object is in the recipient of the object
(as in our case, in which the recipient does not yet exist in the world and
thus cannot be Koneh), the fact that the item can be inherited does not
help, since this person cannot inherit or be Koneh the object.
(RAV SHMUEL ROZOVSKY zt'l explains (in Shi'urei Reb Shmuel, Gitin 14:2,
#278) that when the Rabanan enacted that a Matnas Shechiv Mera is effective
because it works like Yerushah, they did not give the status of a Yoresh to
the recipient of the gift. Rather, they said that the manner in which the
transfer of ownership works is like that of Yerushah. Consequently, where
the recipient is able to be Koneh, the Rabanan made the transfer of
ownership of the object work like Yerushah. Where the recipient is unable to
be Koneh, such as in the case of a fetus, even if the transfer of ownership
works like Yerushah, the fetus cannot acquire the object because the fetus
itself is unable to be Koneh anything.) (See SHI'UREI REB SHMUEL there for
an alternative approach.) (I. Alsheich)