Thursday, September 25, 2008

Daf: Gittin 58-60 – The captive R’ Yishmael ben Elisa, ransoming captives, Recording Spoken Torah

Still trying to catch up on my Daf notes. It should be easier as we conclude the Tisha b'Av passages and move into more law-oriented material... For those who are looking for other material, jump down to read about my neurotic dream, or go here to read my rejection of the tyranny of 120.

Gittin 58a
I wonder if the 40 Seah and 9 Kav reference, regarding the quantity of tefillin of the Betar victims, is connected to the purification that comes from immersing in 40 Seah or, in certain cases, standing beneath a flow of 9 Kav of water.

R’ Yehoshua ben Chananiah is the one to encounter a Jewish prisoner in Rome because he was involved with the Roman aristocracy in general, as we see in many places in the gemara.

On the imprisoned child’s “ordered hair קווצותיו תלתלים,” see Nazir 4b on the righteous Nazir, who has the same description.

The imprisoned child, a young R’ Yishmael ben Elisha, completes the pasuk begun by R’ Yehoshua ben Chananiah. R’ Yehoshua ben Chananiah is impressed, and he declares that he Is certain this child is providing/will provide halachic rulings for Israel.
One standard explanation is that he is impressed by the child’s knowledge, as well as his acceptance of Divine judgment (as expressed in the pasuk he quoted).
However, note that in a similar passage in Nazir 29b with R’ Chanina, the child actually is offering a ruling with his statement, now. The same could be true here – perhaps the future R’ Yishmael ben Elisha is “providing a ruling” by completing the pasuk, reminding R’ Yehoshua ben Chananiah that one may not cite only half a pasuk.

Note that there are at least 2, and possibly 3, sages named R’ Yishmael ben Elisha, like this child in the story. See Tosafot Yevamot 104a אמר.

See Tosafot כל ממון on the problem of ransoming captives for an astronomical amount of money, and see my comments on another Tosafot here. Our Tosafot adds a justification to the three items already on the list of justifications in that other Tosafot: A captive whose life is in danger.

Gittin 59a

See Tosafot דכולהו on why Rebbe did not vote first in his beit din – as a matter of procedure, or as a matter of personal humility.

Gittin 59b
I think R’ Yitzchak Nafcha’s pasuk adds to Rav Matnah’s pasuk, because it is in a context of the kohanim receiving a gift – an honor which is like that of an aliyah.

Gittin 60a
The gemara here justifies the recording of works of aggada (extra-legal comments on Torah passages), despite the standing prohibition against recording the Spoken Torah, because otherwise people would forget them. This practice of writing things down preceded the recording of the mishnah; we find in the gemara references to מגילת סתרים, scrolls recorded and kept in secret, for example.
Sfat Emet to Megilah 3a notes that the prohibition was against publishing these scrolls, not against recording them.
Pnei Yehoshua to Megilah 3a observes that the concern that drove the sages to write down the Spoken Torah was not really about forgetting, but rather was about the intramural division and strife that would result from that forgetting.

Note that Rashi and Rambam disagree on the meaning of בסירוגין here.

Gittin 60b
The gemara talks about not having “shofar” rotate from place to place, lest people think it is being moved because of a problem at the first site. See Rashi’s two views on what they mean with the “shofar” here, and Tosafot’s reason for preferring his second explanation.

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