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Yevamos, 78


QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the Halachos of when a Ger Mitzri is permitted to marry a Jew and fully enter the Jewish people. The Torah says that the third-generation descendant of a Ger Mitzri is fully accepted into the Jewish people. The Gemara explains that the verse uses the term "Lahem" twice (Devarim 23:9). One of those terms teaches that we start counting the three generations *from and including* the person who converted, and not from his children.

The Gemara continues and says that it is necessary for the verse to say both "Lahem" and "Asher Yivaldu." Had it said only "Asher Yivaldu," we might have thought that there must be *three* generations of children after the original convert, and the third generation *of children* which is the fourth generation including the original convert, is permitted. "Lahem" teaches that the third generation is permitted (the *second* generation of children (i.e. grandchildren) of the original convert). On the other hand, had the verse said only "Lahem," we might have thought that if a pregnant woman converts, the fetus is considered to be -- together with the mother -- the first generation of converts. Therefore, the Torah says "Asher Yivaldu" in order to teach that the fetus is considered the second generation, and its children are permitted.

RASHI explains that when the Gemara says that we need both "Lahem" and "Asher Yivaldu," the Gemara means that we should not think that "Asher Yivaldu" is *contradicting* the verse of "Lahem" and implying that only the third generation of children (the fourth generation after and including the original convert) is permitted. Rather, the verse is teaching something else entirely and it is not contradicting the verse of "Lahem."

What does Rashi mean? Why does Rashi say that the point of the Gemara is to resolve a contradiction in the verses? Without the Gemara, why would we have explained the verses in a way that they contradict each other?

ANSWER: Rashi is bothered by the wording of the Gemara. Normally, whenever the Gemara says "Itztrich" ("[the verse] is necessary"), it means that there are two verses that seem to be teaching the same thing. The Gemara proceeds to demonstrate that the verses actually are unique, and that they are teaching two different lessons.

In our Gemara, though, the verses do not teach the same, or similar, lessons at all. To the contrary, on their simplest level, they contradict each other! "Lahem" implies that the third generation *including* the converts themselves is permitted, while "Asher Yivaldu" implies that the third generation 8of children* (four generations from the converts themselves) is permitted! Why, then, does the Gemara use the terminology of "Itztrich," ("We *need* both of them") which is normally used when two verses teach the same thing?

In response to this question, Rashi explains that the Gemara is really asking a contradiction rather than a repetition. The Gemara is saying that we should not think that one of the verses implies a seemingly *incorrect* statement (since it seems to contradict what is written in the other verse). Actually, the second verses is "needed" to teach a different Halachah altogether.


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