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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.


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?


(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 approach answers.)

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.


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 Chochmas Yevanis."
(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.)

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