Monday, September 29, 2008

Daf: Gittin 61-64 – Tzedakah for all human beings, Halachic deception, Feed animals first

[Haveil Havalim is here...]

This is a feeble attempt to sort of catch up with my notes a little bit, in the middle of Yamim Noraim when I ought to be writing my Shabbos Shuvah derashah. If you’re not into the notes on the Daf, feel free to scroll down for other material, perhaps to speeches for Day 1 (Risk-taking) and Day 2 (Depression) of Rosh HaShanah. I won’t be offended.

Gittin 61a
The gemara says that there is a debate regarding the ownership of wild creatures caught in a trap which does not have a receptacle component, but I am not clear on why this is a debate. In the mishnah in Rosh HaShanah and Sanhedrin regarding disqualifying people from testimony for acts which are classified rabbinically as theft, we include people who lure birds from others’ dovecotes, even those the dovecotes do not hold the birds in receptacles.

In the story of Rav Kahana taking someone’s dates, he had the halachic status of a pauper because he was traveling on the road, and so he was entitled to them.

See Tosafot שדי אופיי, who disagrees with Rashi as to what Rav Kahana was doing to get the dates.

The gemara here approves of providing tzedakah for non-Jewish needy people when we provide it for Jewish needy people. Note that this does not qualify, though, for the maaser kesafim custom of giving 1/10. This is because we are dealing with two different practices here: Tzedakah obligates me to give to a needy person I see. Maaser Kesafim is a separate custom to separate 1/10 and find someone who needs it. (There are views that MK is more than a minhag, but I find the minhag explanation most compelling. See Prof. Cyril Domb’s excellent selection of resources on the topic in his book Maaser Kesafim.)

Gittin 61b
Note that Abayye here disagrees with Rava, but answers a challenge to Rava's view on his behalf.

Gittin 62a
The gemara here recommends that we tell an am ha’aretz that by touching dough he will return it to its untithed state, because we know he doesn’t take impurity seriously but he does take tithes seriously.
This idea of lying for halachic gain bothers me a great deal, especially when Tosafot שלמא further down the page says that one may not pretend to greet someone warmly when you are really greeting a third party, lest you be guilty of deception!

The gemara here notes that one should feed his animals before eating personally, from the order of HaShem’s promise that if you will follow the mitzvot, Hashem will give grass for your animals, and you will eat and be full. Note, though, that regarding drinking we say that people should drink first, since Rivkah gives water to Eliezer first, and only afterward to his camels.

Gittin 63b
In the middle of the page: I believe that the word should be ליישה rather than לישא. It’s a feminine verb for “kneading.”

Gittin 64a
We say here that if a man sends a proxy to betrothe an unspecified woman, and the proxy dies without informing him whom he betrothed (if any), then the man may not wed, lest he accidentally wed a relative of his betrothed. This is often cited as an explanation for how Lavan wished to destroy “everything,” as alleged in the Haggadah – since he and Betuel plotted to kill Eliezer, with the result that Yitzchak would now not have been able to wed. However, see my notes here explaining why this is not a concern, using Tosafot from Nazir 12a.

Gittin 64b
The gemara here says that the sages empowered an underage shifchah to acquire the meal of שיתופי מבואות on behalf of others, even though she is underage, since the entire construct is rabbinic. But I don’t understand – once they felt free to expand to an underage shifchah, why didn’t they also permit one’s underage children?
Perhaps it’s because then you have two problems – the fact that they are underage, and the fact that it isn’t actually a transaction, where they live in the parents’ home. (But then what if they live independently, and don’t depend on the parents’ table?)


  1. you'll please forgive me(since its that season) but the fact that you are working on your shabbat shuva derasha while im still finishing my rosh hashanah ones makes me a little bit nauseous. Kesiva u chasimah tova to you, your family, the community and the entire Jewish people.Brad

  2. Hi Brad,

    You might try what I do: Start sweating over it after Tisha b'Av.

    Also: Write down ideas during the year, as they occur to you. And don't lose the paper/file where you write them...

  3. how do you know when an idea is good enough for a rosh hashana/shabbas shuvah derasha? I basically wait until the last minute bc i dont think any of my ideas are good enough and then whatever i make up in the last few days--well I pray it's good enough:)Brad

  4. Hi Brad,
    Good question.
    For the big derashos, I have a goal of saying something which will have an impact, on an issue that matters beyond the moment. When my rebbetzin agrees with me that a given theme/source/story will achieve that end, I know I'm on the right track.

  5. ahhhh--i guess finding a rebbetzin is the next step. imy"h soon. Im actually having more trouble making up classes(and delivering them, and making sure the content is coherent) than i am in writing speeches. What eitzahs do you have for that?(but speech writing advice is appreciated as well)

  6. Brad-
    For classes, I just pick topics that interest me, do my research, and then make sure the structure of the class is coherent. I always use Roman Numeral outlines for myself, and I always make up source sheets, and I find that helps.