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Bava Metzia, 114

BAVA METZIA 112-115 - these Dafim have been dedicated anonymously l'Iluy Nishmas Tzirel Nechamah bas Tuvya Yehudah.


QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rabah bar Avuha found met Eliyahu ha'Navi standing in a Beis ha'Kevaros of Nochrim. Rabah bar Avuha asked him whether or not we are "Mesadrin l'Ba'al Chov" (we make the creditor leave certain basic necessities for the debtor when he collects his debt from the debtor's assets). Eliyahu ha'Navi answered that we learn a Gezeirah Shavah from Erchin which teaches that we are "Mesadrin l'Ba'al Chov."

It seems from the Gemara that Halachic rulings of Eliyahu ha'Navi are relevant and acceptable. We see this also in Eruvin (43a), which discusses whether or not Eliyahu taught certain Halachos, and in Berachos (3a), where Rebbi Yosi learned a number of Halachos from Eliyahu. We find also in a number of places that certain Halachic questions remain in doubt "until Eliyahu comes to resolve them for us" (see, for example, Sanhedrin 44a and Menachos 32a).

How do we reconcile this with the teaching of RASHI (Shabbos 108a) who says that we cannot rely on Eliyahu for Halachic questions of Isur v'Heter, but only for questions of "fact or fiction?" In addition, the Gemara in Temurah (16a) teaches that we may not rely on a prophet even to remind us of a Halachah le'Moshe mi'Sinai that was forgotten! The source for this seems to be the Gemara earlier in Bava Metzia (59b), which teaches that even if a Bas Kol emanates from Shamayim and declares the Halachah to be in accordance with a particular opinion, we do not follow the Bas Kol because "Lo ba'Shamayim Hi" (Devarim 30:12).

Moreover, the SEFER HA'CHINUCH (#350), the RAN, and the NIMUKEI YOSEF cite the GE'ONIM who rule that we are "Mesadrin l'Ba'al Chov," and they explain that the reason for the Ge'onim's ruling is that Eliyahu ruled that we are "Mesadrin." How can we follow a ruling issued by Eliyahu ha'Navi? (MAHARATZ CHAYOS here; see also BIRKEI YOSEF OC 32:4.)


(a) The MAHARATZ CHAYOS explains that when Eliyahu gives a reason and a source for his ruling, then it is no worse than the ruling of any other of the Chachamim of the generation.

The Maharatz Chayos in Berachos (3a) adds that when Eliyahu ha'Navi is saying a Halachah as a prophecy, or Nevu'ah, from Hashem, we cannot accept it. When he is saying it as his own, personal opinion of Da'as Torah, then we can accept it. When Rashi in Shabbos says that Eliyahu cannot teach us a Halachah, he means that Eliyahu cannot teach us Halachos as Eliyahu *ha'Navi*, in his role as a prophet. But as a normal person, he is able to teach us Halachos. (See also BIRKEI YOSEF loc. cit., TORAH TEMIMAH, Vayikra 27:216, and CHASAM SOFER, Teshuvos 6:98, as cited by the D'VAR YAKOV here.)

Similarly, the TOSFOS YOM TOV (Eduyos 8:7), in explaining how we can rely on Eliyahu's future rulings on Halachic questions, says that Eliyahu will give his reasoning and proofs for his rulings.

(c) Similarly, when Eliyahu is not saying a prophecy but is saying a Halachah that was once taught (by someone else), we certainly accept it. Only when he teaches something that was never taught before and he is teaching it is as a prophet, do we not accept it. (See also Insights to Eruvin 43:2.)


QUESTION: The Gemara (114a) relates that Rabah bar Avuha met Eliyahu ha'Navi standing in a Beis ha'Kevaros of Nochrim. Rabah bar Avuha asked Eliyahu how he could be in a Beis ha'Kevaros, as Eliyahu was a Kohen and a Kohen is prohibited to enter a Beis ha'Kevaros. Eliyahu answered that the graves of Nochrim have no Tum'ah.

The Rishonim ask that if Eliyahu ha'Navi was a Kohen, then how was he permitted to resurrect the son of the widow by touching him, as described in Sefer Melachim I (ch. 17)?


(a) TOSFOS (DH Amar Lei) answers that since Eliyahu was certain that he would succeed in resurrecting the child, it was a case of "Piku'ach Nefesh" which overrides the prohibition of a Kohen becoming Tamei.

Tosfos' answer is difficult to understand. We find that "Piku'ach Nefesh" overrides Isurim only with regard to saving the life of a person who is alive now. We do not find that one may transgress an Isur in order to bring back to life someone who has already died.

(b) TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ (cited by the SHITAH MEKUBETZES) answers that perhaps the child had not actually died, but was just unconscious (see also TARGUM YONASAN). Tosfos Rabeinu Peretz infers this from the verse that says, "... until there was no more breath left within him" (Melachim I 17:17).

We may question this answer from the verse in Melachim II (2:9) which says that Elisha requested from Eliyahu that he bestow upon him twice his strength. The Gemara in Sanhedrin (47a) explains that Elisha was requesting from Eliyahu the power to resurrect *two* dead, even though Eliyahu had resurrected only *one*. The one that Eliyahu resurrected was this child of the widow (see Rashi there, DH Na Pi Shenayim). The Gemara there implies that the child of the widow was actually dead.

Tosfos Rabeinu Peretz continues and asks a different question on his answer. Reish Lakish (in Nazir 43a) maintains that a Kohen is not permitted to touch a Goses, a person on his deathbed. The unconscious child was certainly no better than a Goses. How, then was Eliyahu permitted to touch him? Tosfos Rabeinu Peretz answers this question by saying that a Goses, according to Reish Lakish, is considered to be dead already since he is certainly going to die. Since the child was eventually revived, he did not have a status of a Goses whom a Kohen is prohibited to touch.

(c) RABEINU BACHYE (Parshas Pinchas, end of 25:11) says that the woman (Ishah ha'Tzarfatis) was a Nochris, and thus her dead son had no Tum'as Ohel. Even though the corpse of a Nochri does have Tum'as Maga, it could be that Eliyahu did not actually touch the child, but rather he bent over him without touching him.

The RIDVAZ refutes this answer, citing Chazal who say that the child resurrected by Eliyahu was the prophet Yonah ben Amitai, who was a Jew. (Tosfos (114a-b, end of DH Mahu) says in the name of a Midrash that the child resurrected by Eliyahu was Mashi'ach ben Yosef.) The Ridvaz says further that it is not reasonable to say that such a miracle would have occurred for a Nochri. In addition, Eliyahu certainly would not have permitted himself to lodge in the home of a Nochris.

(d) The RIDVAZ (Teshuvos 6:203) cites a number of answers to this questions and rejects them. He concludes that Eliyahu's Heter to be Metamei was because of a "Hora'as Sha'ah" that was issued at that time permitting him to become Tamei in order that a Kidush Shem Shamayim be achieved through him. This is also the answer of the TOSFOS HA'ROSH.

QUESTION: The Gemara derives from the verse, "v'Im Ish Ani Hu..." (Devarim 24:12), that a creditor must return a collateralized object at the end of each day only when the debtor is poor. If the debtor is wealthy, he does not have to return the object.

The TOSFOS HA'ROSH and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ question the ruling of our Gemara from the Sifri (to Devarim 24:12) which states, "We would have understood that one is obligated to return a Mashkon each day only to a poor person. How do we know that this obligation applies to a wealthy borrower as well? The Torah teaches the extra words 'v'Im Ish' in order to include a wealthy man as well." (According to the Sifri, the reason why the verse specifically mentions a poor person is because in the case of a poor person, the punishment for not returning the Mashkon to him is much more severe.)

How are we to reconcile this Sifri with the ruling of our Gemara that says that one does *not* have to return a Mashkon to a wealthy borrower?

ANSWER: The TOSFOS HA'ROSH and TOSFOS RABEINU PERETZ answer that the term "Ashir" (wealthy person) has two different connotations. When our Gemara refers to an "Ashir," it refers to a person who is not actually wealthy, but rather he is wealthy only with regard to the specific object that was taken as a Mashkon, meaning that he has another object of this type and has no need for the one that was taken as a Mashkon. Since he does not need the object that was taken as a Mashkon, the creditor is not obligated to return it to him.

The Sifri, on the other hand, is referring to a borrower who is literally rich, but who does not have another object similar to the collateral. In such a case, the creditor *is* obligated to return the object to him each day, despite the fact that he is rich. This is also the explanation of the RAMBAN (to Devarim 24:12), who defines an "Ani," a poor person, as one who does not have two of the same object.

(The ME'IRI, however, seems to learn that our Gemara argues with the Sifri, because he writes that when the borrower is wealthy, then even if the borrower has only one such object and he needs it, the creditor does *not* need to return it to him because he is wealthy.)

This answer is cited by the SHULCHAN ARUCH (CM 97:20). The VILNA GA'ON there (Hagahos ha'Gra 97:62) cites further proof to this answer from the Mishnah earlier (113a) which does not differentiate between a rich man and a poor man, but rather it differentiates between whether the borrower has only one object or he has two objects.

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