Monday, June 16, 2008

Daf: Sotah 20-21

[Haveil Havalim is out here!]

Some interesting items here - in particular the note from the Maharatz Chajes on 20a and the comments on 21b on women's learning. As always: Please read with a gemara.

The word תפלות does not lend itself to easy translation. One could read it as a form of תפל, meaning bland, as in רוק תפל which is mentioned in the gemara for certain laws. The standard translations are “cunning” or “sexual immorality,’ but their etymologies are not clear to me.

Rabbi Yishmael’s warning to Rabbi Meir about taking care with each letter in writing a Torah is hard to undersand. The Maharsha on Tosafot in Eruvin 13a seems to say that this is either about causing heretical misunderstandings of Torah by making a mistake with a letter, or about making a mistake in one of the Divine Names. However, from Rabbi Meir’s response it appears that Rabbi Yishmael’s comment was not about about the Divine Name, specifically. This is also clear in Rashi ומשוי ליה רי"ש.
The Maharatz Chajes, on the other hand, takes this story entirely differently – it’s not about writing a Torah, but about writing explanatory references in the margins of the Torah. See his comments inside.

See Tosafot יש from the Yerushalmi.

Rashi on the whole page here is a must-read.

Rashi לכבות את האהבה connects wine, Torah and סוד (secrets). For a similar connection see the title of Rav Pappa on Niddah 12a-b – he is called סודני, either because he is a talmid chacham or because he is a beer-maker.

See Tosafot זה.

The word מככה eight lines up from the bottom ought to be מכבה, obviously.

It’s funny to see Rav Yosef say that R’ Menachem bar Yosi explained a pasuk “like Sinai” – Rav Yosef himself is termed “Sinai” (for his encyclopedic knowledge) in Berachot 64a.

See the Maharsha on בוז יבוזו לו.

See Tosafot רוצה. This is an observation on basic human nature – people would prefer to have their family home together more, and make less money.

Of course, the concern that learning will be misappropriated applies for both genders (hence the law that one may not teach a תלמיד שאינו הגון, a student who displays poor character). However, with a male there is a basic obligation for him to learn the whole Torah, whereas she “only” is required to learn practical law and everything related to Jewish thought.

The Rabbanan here (seven lines down) seem to follow Ben Azzai, so it’s not clear why all of the ספרי הלכה cite R’ Eliezer as the law?

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