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Bava Kama, 82
BAVA KAMA 82 (30 Tishrei) - dedicated by Reb Mordechai Rabin
(London/Yerushalayim) l'Iluy Nishmas his father, ha'Gaon Rav Gedalya
Rabinowitz of Manchester, England (and in his later years, Bnei Brak,
Israel). Hearing a Shiur of his was an unforgettable experience, as his many
Talmidim, both Bnei Yeshiva and Ba'alei Batim, can attest.
1) AN ADDITIONAL ENACTMENT OF EZRA
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which relates the ten enactments that
Ezra made. The Gemara in Megilah (21b), however, mentions another enactment
that is not mentioned here. The Beraisa there quotes Rebbi Shimon ben Elazar
who said that Ezra enacted that the Jewish people read the Kelalos (curses)
in Toras Kohanim (Parshas Bechukosai) before Shavuos, and the Kelalos in
Mishnah Torah (Parshas Ki Savo) before Rosh Hashanah. Why does our Beraisa
not mention this enactment?
2) EZRA'S ENACTMENT FOR A WOMAN TO COMB HER HAIR BEFORE IMMERSING
(a) The RASHASH here answers that it is only the view of Rebbi Shimon ben
Elazar that Ezra enacted that the Kelalos be read before Shavuos and Rosh
Hashanah. The Rabanan argue and hold that Ezra did not make that enactment.
Our Beraisa is the view of the Rabanan.
(b) The TOSFOS RID (Mahadura Kama) in Megilah there answers that all of the
enactments related to Keri'as ha'Torah are included in the one enactment
that Ezra enacted that the Torah be read in public on Mondays and Thursdays.
This answer is difficult to understand, because our Beraisa also mentions,
as a separate enactment, the enactment to read the Torah on Shabbos at
Minchah. According to the Tosfos Rid, this enactment should not have been
mentioned, but should have been included in the enactment to read the Torah
on Mondays and Thursdays.
(c) Perhaps we can answer this question based on a deeper understanding of
the enactment mentioned in Megilah.
When the Beraisa there teaches that Ezra enacted that we read the Kelalos
before Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah, it does not mean that Ezra enacted that we
must go out of our way and read curses when Rosh Hashanah approaches.
Rather, he enacted that in the course of our weekly readings, we should not
read the curses shortly *after* the start of a new year, as starting a year
with curses would be a bad sign. What he proposed was that when the reading
of the curses in the weekly reading coincides with a Rosh Hashanah, we
should be careful to advance the reading of the curses to the Shabbos
*before* the new year.
That is, Ezra's enactment was a *preventative* enactment (avoid reading the
curses at the start of the new year), rather than an *active* one
(specifically read the curses at the end of the year).
All of the other enactments that Ezra made, as listed in our Gemara, are
*active* decrees, decrees to *do* something and not to *avoid* doing
something. For that reason, our Gemara does not mention the enactment of
reading the Kelalos before Shavuos and Rosh Hashanah!
(See Insights to Megilah 31:4 for other important questions that this
QUESTION: One of the ten enactments that Ezra made was that a woman must
comb her hair before immersing in a Mikvah. Why did he only enact this
requirement for a woman, and not for a man who is immersing (such as to
become Tahor so that he may handle Taharos, or eat Kodshim, or Terumah if he
is a Kohen)?
(a) The SEFER HA'TERUMAH (Rabeinu Baruch) answers (in Hilchos Nidah) that
since a man frequently immerses in a Mikvah because he eats Terumah and
Kodshim often, it is unlikely that there will be any intervening substance
on his body. Therefore, he is not required to comb his hair or body. He
proves this from the Yerushalmi in Pesachim (4:7) which says that the
daughter of a Kohen may immerse without combing her hair, because she
frequently immerses herself in order to eat Terumah and Kodshim. The same
logic would apply to a man.
The CHESHEK SHLOMO questions this proof from the Yerushalmi, saying that the
Yerushalmi is discussing specifically *Kohanim* who frequently immerse.
Non-Kohanim, who only immerse in order to eat Kodshim, are not accustomed to
immersing so often, and therefore the logic of the Yerushalmi would not
apply to men who are not Kohanim. In addition, he asks, if the reason why
men do not have to comb before immersing is because they eat Kodshim and
thus immerse frequently enough that there is no intervening substance on
their bodies, then women, also, should not have to comb for the same reason,
since they, too, eat Kodshim!
(b) The CHESHEK SHLOMO answers differently. He explains that the purpose of
the enactment to comb the hair is not because we are afraid that most of the
hairs are dirty and tangled, since that is very uncommon. Rather, the
requirement to comb is because of the few hairs that are dirty and tangled.
The normal man is not conscientious about a few hairs being dirty or tangled
(and thus it is a "Mi'ut v'Eino Makpid"). In contrast, the normal woman *is*
conscientious about even just a few hairs (and thus it is a "Mi'ut
v'Makpid"). Therefore, a woman must comb her hair before she immerses
because of the few hairs that might be dirty and tangled. (The Cheshek
Shlomo brings proof for his logic from the Mishnah in Mikva'os 9:3.)
(c) The Cheshek Shlomo suggests further that perhaps at the time that Ezra
made this enactment, the second Beis ha'Mikdash had not yet been built, and
the Jews had not yet returned from Bavel. Hence, they were not involved in
handling Taharos nor were they eating Kodshim, and thus the men were not
immersing. Since only the women were immersing at that time (in order to
become permitted to live with their husbands), Ezra's enactment was directed
only towards the women.
(d) The OR SAME'ACH (Hilchos Isurei Bi'ah 4:8) gives a beautiful explanation
which answers this and many other questions. He points out that none of
Ezra's enactments which our Gemara mentions were made as a safeguard to a
Halachah in the Torah, which is the purpose of most enactments that the
Chachamim make. Rather, all of the enactments of Ezra were made for the
benefit of the continuity of the nation and for the welfare of family life
and marital contentment. Indeed, we find that the prophet Malachi (who,
according to Rav Nachman in Megilah, was Ezra) rebuked the people about
their deficiency in these areas.
Toward this goal, Ezra enacted that the cities allow spice-peddlers to roam
freely, so that the wives will be able to buy perfumes to make themselves
more attractive to their husbands. He enacted that the women comb themselves
before immersing, so that there be no unpleasant substance on their bodies
when they are with their husbands (as was the case with Pilegesh b'Giv'ah,
as described in Gitin 6b, and with Tamar, as described in Sanhedrin 21a).
His other enactments were also all for the sake of increasing marital
harmony -- he enacted that the clothes be washed on Thursdays, and that
people eat garlic on Erev Shabbos. He enacted Tevilah for a Ba'al Keri, so
that men would refrain from overindulging in marital relations so that their
wives would be more beloved to them.
When the Gemara asks that the requirement to comb before immersion is not an
enactment of Ezra but is a Halachah d'Oraisa, it means that although it was
an enactment, it was not for the sake of marital harmony, but for the sake
of safeguarding a Halachah d'Oraisa. The Gemara answers that *examining* for
intervening substances is indeed part of the Halachah d'Oraisa, but
*combing* is for the sake of beautifying herself so that her husband's
fondness for her grows.
It is clear, then, why the Beraisa does not say that Ezra enacted that men
should comb before immersing. Such an enactment would be merely to ensure
that the Halachah d'Oraisa of Tevilah would be done properly, and not to
increase the degree of marital harmony among the nation.
3) THE CONSEQUENCE OF STUDYING "CHOCHMAS YEVANIS"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara records the incident that was the reason for the
decree that pigs not be raised in Eretz Yisrael, and for the decree that a
father not teach his son Chochmas Yevanis. During the civil war between
Aristobulus and Hyrkanus (near the end of the period of the second Beis
ha'Mikdash; see Background), when the men of Hyrkanus laid siege to
Yerushalayim, the Korbanos continued to be offered because, every day, those
inside the city would lower down some money, and those outside the city
would send up the animals for the Korban Tamid. An elderly man -- who knew
Chochmas Yevanis -- indulged to the besieging army that as long as Korbanos
were being offered, Yerushalayim would not fall. The next day, instead of
sending up proper animals for the Korban, the besieging army sent up a pig,
causing all of the land of Eretz Yisrael to tremble. The Gemara says that at
that time, the Chachamim decreed, "Cursed is the man (Arur ha'Ish) who
raises pigs, and cursed is the man (Arur ha'Adam) who teaches his son
(a) It is clear from the event that happened that the reason why the
besieging army sent up a pig was because someone had taught his son Chochmas
Yevanis. Why, then, did the Chachamim reverse the order in their decree?
They should have said first, "Cursed is the man who teaches his son Chochmas
Yevanis," and then said, "Cursed is the man who raises pigs!"
(b) Also, why did the Chachamim proclaim, "Cursed is the *Ish*" with regard
to one who raises pigs, while they proclaimed, "Cursed is the *Adam*" with
regard to one who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis?
(a) The BEN YEHOYADA answers that at the moment that the pig was lifted up
and the land of Eretz Yisrael trembled, it was not known that the cause was
that Chochmas Yevanis had been taught. The Chachamim immediately proclaimed
a curse on whoever raises pigs. Afterward, when they discovered that it
happened as a result of someone who had learned Chochmas Yevanis, they
cursed the one who teaches his son Chochmas Yevanis. (This is why the Gemara
emphasizes, "*At that moment*, they said..." ("b'Osah Sha'ah") -- meaning
that immediately when the calamity, they made their proclamation.)
(b) The Ben Yehoyada answers that the difference between "Ish" and "Adam" is
that "Adam" refers to a more refined, important, and wise person, and hence
it is more appropriate to refer to an "Adam" when prohibiting the teaching
of Chochmas Yevanis, since it is only a wise person who would be involved in
such a pursuit. "Ish" refers to a less-refined person, and thus it is
appropriate to refer to an "Ish" when prohibiting the raising of pigs.
(Others, however, describe the difference between "Adam" and "Ish"
differently; see Maharsha, Chidushei Agados, end of Bava Basra 164b.)