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Yevamos, 65

YEVAMOS 46-65 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


QUESTION: Rebbi Ila'i teaches that it is permitted to alter the truth for the sake of peace, as he derives from the conduct of the brothers of Yosef, who told him that their father had commanded before his death that Yosef forgive them (when their father did not actually make such a statement). Rebbi Nasan asserts that it is a Mitzvah to alter the truth for the sake of peace, as he derives from Hashem's command to Shmuel to alter the truth when speaking to Shaul and to tell him that he was on his way to sacrifice a Korban to Hashem (when he was really on his way to corronate David ha'Melech). D'Vei Rebbi Yishmael adds that "great is peace, because even Hashem altered the truth for the sake of peace." He derives this from Hashem's statement to Avraham Avinu concerning what Sarah said when she was informed that she would have a child. Hashem told Avraham (Bereishis 18:13) that she said, "Can I really have a child! But I have become old!" In truth, though, she said, "My husband is old!" Hashem altered her words when relating them to Avraham in order not to cause them to quarrel.

How do we see from there that Hashem changed her statement for the sake of peace? There were actually two parts to Sarah's statement (Bereishis 18:12): first, she said, "After I have become old, how could I become youthful again," and second, she added, "And my husband is old!" When Hashem quoted her as having said, "I have become old," perhaps Hashem was quoting the first part of her statement ("after I have become old, how could I become youthful again") and thus he was not changing her words at all!


(a) The MIZRACHI explains that in her statement, Sarah was not wondering how she could regain her youth. Rather, she was making a declarative statement, saying that, "After I have become old, *I have become youthful again*," since she indeed experienced a rejuvenation of her womanly attributes, as Rashi there explains. She wondered that "even though I have regained my youth, how can my husband have children -- he is old!" Thus, when Hashem told Avraham that she wondered because *she* was old, He indeed was changing her statement.

(b) Rashi on the verse and other Rishonim, however, do explain that Sarah was asking wondering how she could return to her youth after being old. The MAHARSHA answers that, nevertheless, when Hashem quoted Sarah, he obviously was quoting the second part of her statement that "my husband is old" ("Adoni Zaken") because Hashem used a parallel phrase ("Ani Zakanti" -- and not the word "Belosi" that Sarah used when referring to herself). Therefore, He was indeed changing what she said.

(c) The RAMBAN there explains that when Hashem changed what she said, it means that instead of informing Avraham of both parts of her statement, instead He only told him one part (that *she* was old). This is also the explanation given by the CHAFETZ CHAIM (Hilchos Rechilus, Be'er Mayim Chaim 1:14), who adds that although Hashem did not actually change Sarah's statement but He merely omitted part of it, it is permitted to even misquote and change a statement, as the Gemara learns from what the brothers of Yosef told him.

This distinction might answer a number of questions. Rebbi Ila'i said that it is *permitted* to alter the truth for the sake of peace, quoting the brothers of Yosef. Why, then, did Rebbi Nasan say that it is a *Mitzvah* and bring proof from Shmuel?

Furthermore, the ARUCH LA'NER asks how can it be a Mitzvah to lie? We can understand that the Torah might permit it under certain circumstances, but how can it be a *Mitzvah*? On the contrary, the Torah says that a person should distance himself from lying ("mi'Devar Sheker Tirchak"). Finally, the OR HA'CHAIM asks how it is possible to say that Hashem, whose essence is "Emes," truth, told a Navi something that is not true?

The answer might be that there are two types of altering the truth for the sake of peace. The first manner is to say an outright lie. When a person actually lies for the sake of peace, it is only *permitted* to do so, but there is no obligation or Mitzvah to do so. The example of this is the case of the brothers of Yosef. It cannot be a Mitzvah, because the Torah tells us clearly that one may not lie. We never find Hashem altering the truth in such a way, even for the sake of peace.

There is a second manner of altering the truth for the sake of peace, which the Gemara calls a Mitzvah. That is the way that Hashem altered the truth when He quoted Sarah, and when He told Shmuel what to say to Shaul. In those cases, Hashem did not say an untruth; rather, He said a true statement that was left open for misinterpretation. When He spoke to Avraham, He merely omitted part of Sarah's statement. When He spoke to Shmuel, He was not telling him to lie, because Shmuel really did go to bring a Korban. This manner of altering the truth for the sake of peace is what the Gemara calls a Mitzvah. (SALMAS CHAIM #485 and the Taz in DIVREI DAVID, Bereishis 18:15)

(d) Others (ANAF YOSEF on Bava Metzia 23b and ARUCH LA'NER here) explain that the Gemara says only that it is "Mutar *l'Shanos*" ("to change") for the sake of peace; it does not say "Mutar *l'Shaker*" ("to lie"). They write that not only when Hashem quoted Sarah did He not say an actual lie, but even when the brothers misquoted their father to Yosef, they did not lie outright. The Aruch la'Ner explains that the brothers did not say to Yosef openly that their father had told them to tell Yosef to forgive them. Rather, they told him (via messengers) what their father had said before his death (unrelated to their sin against Yosef), and then they added on their own that *the messengers* should ask Yosef to forgive them. When they said, "Your father commanded, saying" -- "Avicha Tzivah Leimor," that was the end of their quote of their father; they were saying that Yakov had expressed his final will and testament. Then, the brothers added on their own to their messengers, "So shall you say to Yosef...." They did not tell their messengers to say that their father had said it, but rather they said it in a way that would mislead the messengers into thinking that it was their father who said it.

However, SEFER DIVREI SHALOM (4:38) rejects this based on the Gemara in Beitzah (20a), which relates that Hillel once brought a male animal to the Beis ha'Mikdash on Yom Tov to be offered as a Korban Olah, contrary to the opinion of Beis Shamai who held that an Olah may not be offered on Yom Tov. When students of Shamai confronted Hillel, he told them that the animal was female and that he was bringing it as a Korban Shelamim. Rashi explains that Hillel altered the truth, in his great humility, for the sake of peace. It is clear from here that it is permitted to say even an outright lie for the sake of peace.

QUESTION: The Gemara tells us that it is permitted to lie or to alter the truth in order to maintain peace. Earlier (63a), we were told that when Rav would send a request to his wife via his son Chiya, Chiya would reverse Rav's requests because he knew that his mother would do the opposite of whatever Rav requested. When Rav found out about this he told his son to stop doing this, because it is improper to train oneself to lie. Why did Rav stop him, if our Gemara says that it is permitted to lie in order to maintain peace?


(a) The ME'IRI answers that in the case of Rav, the peace of the home was not at stake. Rav never became angry when his wife did not fulfill his requests and he was entirely forgiving. Therefore it was not necessary for his son to lie for the sake of peace.

(b) The SEFER CHASIDIM (#426) writes that when the Chachamim permitted lying, they did so only when it is necessary to lie in order to correct a situation *that has already arisen* which can potentially lead to strife. One may alter the truth in order to avoid the quarrel. Lying in such a situation is considered to be fixing something that happened already, and it is permitted. In contrast, to lie about something in the future, such as what a person will or should do, is prohibited.

RAV RE'UVEN MARGULIOS, in his footnotes, cites the DIVREI SHAUL (Yevamos, here) and MAHARI ASAD (YD #316) who explain the logic of this distinction. Where the situation has already arisen, one may lie because it will not give him any reinforcement to lie again in the future; he is lying only to correct a situation that already arose, so he will only lie if such a situation arises again. He will not learn that it is permitted to lie all the time. In contrast, if a person lies about the future, he will get into the habit of lying about what will happen in the future and get used to it, since he can constantly find excuses for lying about his plans "to avoid strife.

The YAM SHEL SHLOMO (here) uses a similar distinction to explain why Rav told his son not to lie. He explains that in the cases cited by the Gemara, the situation that could cause strife was already in existence. In the case of Rav's wife, though, his wife had not yet mishandled his present request. His son was lying in order to prevent strife between his mother and father from arising when the situation for that strife had not yet arisen. Lying under such circumstances is not permitted.

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