THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) "CHOSHESHIN L'LA'AZ"
OPINIONS: In the Mishnah (2a), Rebbi Meir and the Chachamim argue regarding
how many judges are required for judging a case of "Motzi Shem Ra." Rebbi
Meir says that only three judges are necessary, while the Chachamim require
twenty-three judges, the same number that is required in a case of capital
The Gemara asks why the Chachamim require the case to be judged by
twenty-three judges, if the issue being judged is only a monetary issue.
Even though the case might eventually become a capital case if the husband
brings witnesses who testify that his wife was Mezanah while she was
betrothed to him, nevertheless that is not the issue now; the issue now is
only a monetary one.
Ula answers that the Chachamim and Rebbi Meir argue about "Chosheshin
l'La'az." Rebbi Meir maintains that we are not concerned for "La'az," while
the Chachamim say that we are concerned for "La'az."
What does "Chosheshin l'La'az" mean? Moreover, what monetary issue is the
Beis Din judging in the case of Motzi Shem Ra, where three judges suffice?
(a) RASHI explains that the monetary issue being judged is the husband's
claim that he does not have to pay the Kesuvah to his wife. Even though the
husband does not have witnesses at present to testify that this woman was
unfaithful to him, once the word is spread about his appearance in Beis Din
witnesses might come forth who saw his wife being unfaithful. If this would
occur, then the Beis Din would need an additional twenty judges in order to
judge the capital case of Motzi Shem Ra.
Why, though, do the Chachamim consider the need to get twenty additional
judges in such a case something undesirable?
The MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM says that the Chachamim are concerned that the Beis
Din of three judges might issue a verdict of guilt against the woman before
the case is transferred to the larger Beis Din. The larger Beis Din would
then not be able to judge her, since a capital case may be judged only when
there is complete impartiality; when the defendant's status has already been
declared as guilty, Beis Din cannot judge the case. Rashi is explaining that
Rebbi Meir holds that we do not worry about this possibility, while the
Chachamim hold that we do worry for it and therefore we do not start judging
without twenty-three judges present.
(b) TOSFOS asks many questions on the explanation of Rashi. Among his
questions are that if the case of Motzi Shem Ra stated in the Mishnah is a
case of a monetary matter (such as the husband's claim that he does not owe
the Kesuvah), then why is it listed in the Mishnah among cases of
*penalties* such as Ones u'Mefateh (rape and seduction)? In addition, the
Gemara quotes a Beraisa which describes the case as one in which "he claimed
money [from the other party]." If the monetary issue involved is that the
husband claims to be exempt from paying the Kesuvah, then he is not claiming
anything from his wife or from her family! Rather, he is *exempting* himself
from *their* claim!
Tosfos also asks that the word "La'az" refers to something that is not true,
such as a false rumor. It does *not* refer to something that is true but
just bad, as Rashi seems to explain.
Because of these questions, RABEINU TAM explains the Gemara in an entirely
different manner. The case of Motzi Shem Ra that the Mishnah is discussing
is a case in which the *father* of the bride claims from the husband one
hundred Sela'im for defaming his daughter's reputation. This amount is the
penalty mandated by the Torah for the crime of Motzi Shem Ra. Hence, this
case is listed in the Mishnah together with the other cases involving a
The Gemara is discussing a case in which the husband originally brought
witnesses who testified that this woman was unfaithful, but his witnesses
were then contradicted by other witnesses. The father now claims from the
husband the penalty of one hundred Sela'im. The argument between Rebbi Meir
and the Chachamim in the Mishnah applies to this point in the case. On one
hand, more witnesses might come to testify on behalf of the husband, thus
requiring twenty-three judges. The Chachamim say that if this happens, and
twenty judges are added to this case, this will cause false rumors to spread
about the incompetence of the first three judges. Rebbi Meir says that we do
not worry about this possibility.
(c) The RAN offers an explanation which combines aspects of both Rashi's
explanation and Rabeinu Tam's. The Ran says that the Gemara is discussing a
case in which he know that the husband has witnesses whom he will bring to
court to testify about his wife's unfaithfulness (this is in contrast to
Rashi, who says that there presently are no known witnesses). At this
moment, the husband wants to deal only with the monetary issue of the
Kesuvah, or the father wants to deal with the issue of his daughter's
tarnished reputation and the penalty owed by the husband for it. Rebbi Meir
says that we do not mind adding more judges if the need arises, because
Rebbi Meir does not suspect that people will start rumors about the
incompetence of the first judges. The Chachamim *are* concerned for such
rumors, and therefore they maintain that twenty-three judges must judge the
case from the outset.
The Ran adds that we now understand why the Mishnah requires expert judges
in a case of Motzi Shem Ra, even though it seems to be a case of a simple
monetary matter according to Rashi's explanation. The Ran says that even
Rebbi Meir would agree that we suspect that people might start rumors about
the judges after it actually becomes a capital case and twenty more judges
are called in. If, however, the original three judges are experts, then no
rumors will start when we add judges, because it is clear that it is merely
the nature of the case which is causing the change in the number of judges.
The Chachamim, on the other hand, are concerned for the possibility of
rumors even when the original three judges are experts. (Y. Montrose)
2) DOES A "MESIS" NEED "HASRA'AH"
OPINIONS: The Gemara cites a Tosefta which records a Machlokes between the
Tana Kama and Rebbi Yehudah regarding Hasra'ah. The Tana Kama says that
unlike the death penalty in the case of a "Mesis" (a man or woman who leads
a fellow Jew astray by trying to influence him or her to commit idolatry,
and who is put to death by stoning, as described in Devarim 13:7-12),
administering the death penalty in all other cases requires an "Eidah" --
witnesses and Hasra'ah, warning, before the act is perpetrated. Rebbi
Yehudah argues and says that not only is Hasra'ah required, but the
perpetrator must be warned of the *type* of death he faces if he commits the
sin. It appears from this Tosefta that a Mesis does not need all of the
above qualifications in order to receive the death penalty. Is this true?
(a) TOSFOS implies that a Mesis *does* require Hasra'ah in order to be
punished. However, it is done in a more subtle way. Tosfos quotes the
Mishnah later (67a) which states that we situate two witnesses in a hidden
area where they will hear the Mesis' conversation with his intended victim.
When the Mesis starts his persuasion, the intended victim should say, "But
how can we leave our Father in Heaven and worship wood and stones?" If he
continues with his attempts to persuade, then he is deemed guilty.
Tosfos understands that this process of hiding witnesses ("Hachmanah") and
the words of the intended victim, "But how can we leave our Father...," is
The MINCHAS CHINUCH (Mitzvah 462) rules this way, and also brings this
opinion in the name of the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 5:3).
(RAV YERUCHAM FISHEL PERLOW (cited by the footnotes to the Minchas Chinuch,
Machon Yerushalayim edition, footnote 13) writes that the Minchas Chinuch
was not careful in this respect, since the Rambam elsewhere says exactly
like Rashi says -- that the Mesis does not need to be warned at all. The
Rambam (Hilchos Sanhedrin 11:5) writes regarding the Mesis, "And he does not
need to be warned like others who are put to death." Others, however,
understand the words of the Rambam the way the Minchas Chinuch understands
his words. The MAYIM CHAIM, AVODAS HA'MELECH, and MITZPEH EISAN (Sanhedrin
85b) understand that the Rambam specifically added the words "*like others*"
to teach that the Mesis *does* require Hasra'ah, but not Hasra'ah *like
others*. If the Rambam meant that the Mesis does not need any Hasra'ah at
all, then that is already understood, since the Rambam already
differentiates between a Mesis and other sinners, and it would have sufficed
for the Rambam to write, "And he does not need to be warned.")
(b) RASHI (DH u'She'ar), however, implies that a Mesis does not need
Hasra'ah at all in order to be punished. This also seems to be the view of
Rashi later. The Mishnah later (67a) says that if someone attempts to
persuade two people to worship idols, then they take him directly to Beis
Din to be tried as a Mesis. Rashi there explains that this means that there
is no need to give him any Hasra'ah.
Rashi understands that the process of "Hachmanah" is not considered
Hasra'ah, but rather the hiding of the witnesses is necessary merely in
order to have Edus, testimony, about the act of the Mesis, so that they can
then testify against him in Beis Din. (Y. Montrose)