Gittin 5 - 11
Our sages instructed a man to say three things in his household on Erev Shabbat before nightfall:
- Have you tithed?
- Have you made an eruv (to permit carrying from one house to another within the same courtyard)
- Light the candles.
All three of these reminders of preparations which must be made before the advent of Shabbat, says the Sage Rabba bar Bar Chana, should be said gently in order that they will be well received by the wife and anyone charged with these responsibilities. When this statement came to the attention of Rabbi Ashi, he declared that even before hearing this in the name of Rabba bar Bar Chana he practiced this policy based on his own understanding.
Maharsha raises the question that Rabba bar Bar Chana also gave his advice based on his own understanding and not from any mishnaic source. What then did Rabbi Ashi mean by stressing that it was he who practiced if from his own understanding?
His answer is that there is a difference in the reason given by each of these sages for issuing those three reminders gently. Rabbah bar Bar Chana was concerned that a reminder issued in rough fashion might actually be counterproductive. In order for each of these three preparations for Shabbat to be effectively executed, the head of the household must appoint an agent to act in his behalf. If he does not speak gently to the agent he appoints, that agent may refuse to accept the appointment and thus render the tithing, eruv or candle-lighting ineffective.
Rabbi Ashi, however, approached the need for gentleness from an entirely different angle. Even if it is certain that the members of the household will accept the appointment as agents for these preparations out of respect for the head of the household, Rabbi Ashi practiced a policy of issuing such orders gently out of his own understanding that a man should always speak gently to people in all situations.
This last point of Maharsha is obviously based on what our sages tell us (Mesechta Yoma 86a) that the ideal behavior of a Torah scholar includes speaking gently to everyone.
Greater Eretz Yisrael
Syria was conquered by King David and annexed to Eretz Yisrael. Did Syria thus acquire the status of Eretz Yisrael or was it still considered chutz la'aretz (outside the Land)?
This depends, says the gemara, on whether we consider conquest by an individual as the kind of conquest which makes territory an integral part of Eretz Yisrael.
But why is David's conquest of Syria considered conquest by an individual when it was done by the king of the nation?
Rashi's explanation focuses on the manner in which this conquest was carried out while Tosefot stresses its timing.
Conquest by the nation which can transform a territory beyond the borders into the status of Eretz Yisrael, says Rashi, depends on two factors which were present in the initial conquest of the land by Yehoshua. The entire nation must be involved in the war and the territory must be acquired for the use of the nation at large. In the case of Syria the conquest was a private venture of David, utilizing only a portion of the national force and dedicated to providing territory for royal rather than national utilization.
Tosefot, however, cites a Midrashic source (Sifrei, Devarim 11:24) which criticizes David's conquest of Syria while he had still not driven out the Jebusites around Jerusalem. Said Hashem to David: "How dare you go and conquer Syria and Mesopotamia when you have not yet conquered those near your own palace!"
On the basis of this Sifrei, Tosefot concludes that after all of Eretz Yisrael was indeed conquered, the Torah's promise that "Wherever you shall tread shall be yours" (Devarim 11:24) means that territory conquered even by an individual like David also has the status of Eretz Yisrael.