Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Daf: Sotah 22-26

Most of the notes on these pages are technical in nature. The casual reader may find some of the notes on 22b and 26a interesting, though.

As always: Best read with a gemara in front of you.

The term צליינית seems to me to come from the same Aramaic root as leads to צלותא, meaning “prayer.”

In the line בתולה דנפלה it should say either בתולה שנפלה or בתולתא דנפלה. It’s either Hebrew or Aramaic, not a mix.

When people say one does not understand his rebbe “until 40 years,” they usually take that as the age of 40 – but see Tosafot, who says it’s 40 years from the time one begins learning. This is important because in the 17th century (starting with the Shach to Yoreh Deah 246:6, I believe) the age of 40 was given as the earliest age to study Kabbalah. If the source is our gemara, then it should be from forty years after one begins learning Torah.

The gemara here is quite concerned about the appearance of self-righteousness. In general, we call this יוהרא; it is brought in halachah in terms of such practices as bowing very low for Modim and taking on extra fasts.

Tosafot לעולם has his famous discussion here (and in four other places) regarding the value of engaging in Torah and mitzvot for the sake of personal gain [good], as opposed to doing so for the sake of gaining power over others [very, very bad].

See Tosafot כל. The initial assumption is that Rashi is referring to a husband’s obligation to fulfill his wife’s korban obligation, but he concludes that Rashi was actually referring to the husband’s rike in ownership of the korban.

See Rashi vs. Tosafot on the difference between the titles of איילונית, עקרה and אינה ראויה לילד. Tosafot assumes that Rashi defines עקרה as a woman who consumed a potion meant to keep her from bearing children, but this is difficult – Rashi on 25b אבל איילונית says that עקרה is the result of a physical wound!

This is strange – Rav Nachman on 25b presented a דברי הכל universal view regarding איילונית, but on 26a (middle of the page) he acknowledges that this is actually a debate among the Tannaim. I haven’t seen anyone comment on this here, but see Tosafot Sanhedrin 2b where Rabbi Avahu does this and Tosafot discusses it.

Don’t be surprised about the preference for male children; as the gemara elsewhere explains, this was an economic preference – the males were the ones who would be the primary wage-earners, and parents expected their children to support them in their old age.

Re: the skin color preference, it is clear in various sources that the Jews of that period, like people of any period, preferred their own appearance as the ideal aesthetic. See, of course, Rashi, Ibn Ezra and Rashbam on Bamidbar 12 regarding the אשה כושית. See also Abarbanel on Bereishit 10 and Amos 9:7, and Ibn Ezra and Radak to Amos 9:7. See also Midrash Tanchuma to Noach, 13.

There is a lot of discussion re: the סריס at the bottom of the page here; Rashi on our Mishnah contradicts Rashi in the Gemara. See Tosafot. See the Rashash, who seems to go with Rashi on our mishnah as opposed to Rashi on our Gemara.

Note the different views in Rashi and Tosafot on שחוף.

I was troubled by the fact that here it seems the husband’s קינוי warning must specify a sexual act, but since the beginning of Sotah we have defined קינוי as “אל תסתרי עם איש פלוני,” “Don’t be alone with that man!” I sent this question to R’ Mordechai Kornfeld’s Kollel l’Iyun haDaf, and they pointed me to Rashi Yevamot 55b, where he writes that “Don’t be alone” is presumed, by default, to refer to “being alone for the sake of a sexual act.” That is valid – as opposed to a warning which specifies a non-sexual act.

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