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Yoma 84

YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which says that we do not desecrate Shabbos or Yom Kipur for a Choleh based on the opinion of women or Kusim, "but they join to another opinion" ("Aval Mitztarfin l'Da'as Acheres"). Rashi explains that this means that if two men say that the Choleh needs to eat and three men say that he does not, a woman cannot join the two to balance the two opinions so that the Choleh can eat (because of "Safek Nefashos l'Hakel). Rather, we do not feed the Choleh in such a case, because the majority opinion (of men) says that he does not need to eat.

Rashi's explanation is difficult to understand. The Gemara earlier (83a) said that when it comes to Piku'ach Nefesh, we do not take into account the number of opinions ("Ein Holchin Achar Rov De'os")! As long as there are two opinions saying that he must eat, it does not matter how many people say he does not need to eat -- we feed him for the sake of Piku'ach Nefesh! Why, then, does Rashi say that a woman joins two men to balance the number of opinions? Even if there are less opinions saying that he needs to eat, he may eat!


(a) RASHI appears to learn that according to the Gemara's conclusion (Mar bar Rav Ashi, on Daf 83a), the Gemara does not accept the logic that we do not follow the majority opinion when it comes to Piku'ach Nefesh. Rather, the conclusion is that we *do* follow the majority opinion, even when it comes to Piku'ach Nefesh (ROSH, 8:13). This is also how the SHE'ILTOS rules.

(b) In contrast, the RAMBAM, RAMBAN, and ROSH here (8:13) maintain that the Gemara's conclusion is that we do *not* follow the majority opinion, unless the minority opinion is that of only *one* person. Therefore, the Rosh says that this Gemara must be discussing a situation where the woman is supporting *one* doctor who says that the Choleh must eat, rather than supporting two doctors who say that he must eat, because two do not need support.

(c) The Rosh cites the RIVA who challenges the entire concept of not relying on a woman. Why should a medical expert who is a woman be less reliable that an expert who is a man? Rather, he holds that we must insert an additional word "Lo" into the Gemara and read it as follows: "v'Ein Omrin *Lo* Ye'asu Devarim Halalu..." -- "We do not say that these things may *not* be done based upon the opinion of women... but rather we accept theirs as a second opinion." That is, we *do* feed the Choleh based on the women's opinion, even if they are contradicting men ("Mitztarfin l'Da'as Acheres").

(d) The RIF (also cited and elucidated by the Rosh) seems to have had a similar Girsa, except that his text of the Gemara concluded "*Mipnei* she'Mitztarfin l'Da'as Acheres." That is, the Gemara is saying that we do not accept the opinion of women who say *not* to be Mechalel Shabbos, because we consider them to be of "another mind." That is, if women insist that refraining from food will not endanger the Choleh's life, we do not accept their opinion. Rather, we suspect that they may be exhibiting a tendency to be extra stringent in observing the Mitzvos even at the risk of a person's life -- like the approach of the Minim, who reject Torah she'Ba'al Peh.

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