Monday, June 30, 2008

A big question, and Sotah 36-38

First, a question: I’ve been mixing gemara notes and derashot and personal observations on the rabbinate and life in this blog, and I’m not sure it’s jelling well. What do you think? Split off gemara notes and derashot into a separate blog? Or leave it all together, because that's the way my life works anyway?

As always: Best to read these notes with a gemara in front of you. Some big points on parenting and society toward the end. I'm working on a computer that doesn't have Hebrew options, so please bear with the annoying transliterations.

The Maharsha addresses the question of how we know that the tzirah did not cross the Yarden with the Jews; the gemara here just seems to take it as a given.

See Tosafot esrim who provides the Yerushalmi’s version of the alignment of tribal names on the two stones of the Ephod, including the interesting idea of splitting the name of Binyamin. (This Tosafot, as well as the very interesting Tosafot mai, address points published on 36b in the gemara.)

Make sure to see Tosafot la'asot and b’otah.

Fascinating: Back on 10b we credited Yehudah with “sanctifying Gd’s Name in public” by acknowledging Tamar’s righteousness (a troubling concept, as we noted here). Here, though, we have the same statement regarding Yehudah, but we understand it to refer to Nachshon ben Aminadav, descendant of Yehudah, and his bold march into the Yam Suf at the head of the Jewish people.

At Yam Suf (the Sea of Reeds), with the Egyptian army bearing down on the Jews, the Jews cry out in frustration and anger, asking why Moshe took them out of Egypt to die at the sea. Moshe rebukes them, and says Gd will fight for them. Gd then says to Moshe, “Mah titzak eilai? Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the Jews to go forward, and you raise your staff and stretch it over the sea, and split the sea.” The opening line of “Why are you crying out to Me” is problematic – we don’t find Moshe crying out to Gd.
The gemara here offers one solution, by adding that Moshe was davening to Gd, it just wasn’t mentioned in the Torah's text.
Another approach I’ve seen parses the sentence, “Mah titzak? Eilai!” “Why are you shouting? Rally to Me!”
As some commentators note, though, the most straightforward read is that Moshe represents the nation, so that “Why are you crying out to Me” is addressed to Moshe as the nation’s representative. The only problem with this read is that “you” then transitions from “you the nation’s representative” to “you Moshe” without textual hint.

See Tosafot v’hayu.

Here we receive a huge lesson in parenting. The parent who creates a mamzer is responsible for the fact that the mamzer child, frustrated with Judaism, leaves the religion. The same is true for any parent who – by refusing to educate a child properly, or by failing to be a good role model – leads a child to abandon a good path for a bad one.

The gemara’s harei kvar neemar is reversed here, and should not be taken literally; kvar is a reference to a later pasuk, not an earlier one.

See Rashi on the mishnah, and Tosafot O, on the meaning of the word kinui here in the gemara.

Rashi here, Upatarnuhu, says something of crucial importance for society. He explains the case of eglah arufah, saying that if I don’t aid a traveler, so that the traveler then goes hungry, and that traveler then turns to theft and is killed in trying to steal food, then I am responsible for his death. Because I failed to provide proper social services, I am responsible for the needy person’s life of crime. Senator McCain, Senator Obama, are you listening?

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  1. The same is true for any parent who – by refusing to educate a child properly, or by failing to be a good role model – leads a child to abandon a good path for a bad one.

    Ooh, I should have read this before I commented on your summer camp post. :)

    I've seen this happen so many times (not mamzers, but parents who want the kids to be Jewish, without actually wanting to live the life themslves) and it NEVER ever works. Do as I say, not as I do, is just a bad model.

  2. On the question of one blog with everything, vs. several individual blogs - I personally like it this way. It's true; life can't be compartmentalized so neatly.

    About your last paragraph, "Because I failed to provide proper social services, I am responsible for the needy person’s life of crime." I'm sure it's unnecessary to point out to you the flip side of this, that we need to also ensure that what's being provided isn't nahama dekisufa, "bread of shame" without anything being done to deserve it. That is also morally destabilizing, as we see with the pre-Flood generations.

  3. Tzipporah-
    If it works, it's in spite of the parent.
    But you didn't answer the big question: One integrated blog, or Bifurcation?

    Thanks. I entirely agree re: nahama d'kisufa. Help must be given in a way that it will truly help the human being, and not simply provide financial aid.

  4. yes, one integrated blog is better. If you don't mind ignoramuses like me commenting on your sophisticated daf analyses. :)

  5. My vote would be for splitting.
    kol tuv and keep up the good work.

  6. Tzipporah, Steve-
    Thanks for voting; now it's 2-1 for keeping the blog integrated. Not sure what I'll do yet. Too bad Blogger doesn't have a template for two-column posting; maybe I'll play with doctoring the template.

  7. Hi, I've been reading your blog for a while without commenting.

    I don't think there is any need to split your blog. Whatever way you divide it, people are going to read and like different things in each blog (for example, I read you derashot, but only glance at your gemara notes).

    I've had the same problem with the eclectic mix of stuff on my own blog. I've thought of dividing it, but in practice it's often hard to draw precise distinctions between different topics, so I would end up cross-posting a lot of the time anyway.

  8. Hi Daniel,

    Thanks for commenting (and reading!). I agree that people can find what they want, but I'm also thinking about people who come through from random searches or a blogroll link and then don't come back. Don't know. For now, I'll go with the שב ואל תעשה principle, doing nothing with it until I have a clearer idea of what I want to do.