Daf Yomi

For the week ending 18 August 2012 / 29 Av 5772

Berachot 16 - 22

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Errors in recital of Shma
  • Location
  • Exceptions
  • Rabban Gamliels unusual behavior
  • Who is called a Patriarch
  • The mourner and buriers in regard to Shma
  • Decorum in the graveyard
  • The awareness of the dead
  • Respect for the Rabbinical authority
  • Human dignity and its limitations
  • Who deserves miracles
  • The evil eye
  • Exemptions from Shma and other mitzvot
  • Ritual impurity and the study of Torah
  • Latecomer to the synagogue

Seeing Red

In an essay titled "When Black Hat Sees Red" which recently appeared in the Jerusalem Post, Shira Leibowitz Schmidt of the Chareidi College does a creditable job of lambasting the Israeli media for its irresponsible chareidi bashing. In her effort to trace things back to the Talmud, she is unfortunately way off base, as all learners of this weeks Daf Yomi will recognize.

The background for her essay was the tumult in the media over an alleged ruling by a dayan in Beersheba, Rabbi Eliyahu Abergil, that it is forbidden for a woman to wear red clothing. Demonstrations by "women in red" were organized and the chareidi bashers had a field day. Not one of these champions of feminine rights even bothered to contact the rabbi involved. Had they done so, as the essays author did, they would have discovered that what really happened was that a quarrel had erupted in a certain home over the husbands attitude towards his wifes clothing and the rabbis ruling was specifically directed to them as a guideline on feminine modesty which succeeded in restoring domestic harmony.

So far, so good. But then the essayist suggests that Rabbi Abergil may have been basing this ruling, which later appeared in a collection of his halachic responsa published a decade ago, on a story in the Talmud about a Sage who ripped a red cape from a woman who he assumed was an immodestly clad Jewess. "The Talmud itself is not happy about it," writes the essayist in the role of apologist. May we suggest that she take another look at that section of the Talmud. There the Sage Abaye explains to his disciple that the reason miracles happened in the days of earlier Sages and not in their own was that the earlier generations had people who were ready to sacrifice themselves for the sanctification of G-ds Name. The example he cites is the action of Rabbi Adda. This hardly qualifies as "the Talmud not being happy about it".

When Rabbi Adda, after suffering a fine for embarrassing the woman who turned out to be non-Jewish, criticized himself for lacking patience before acting, he was not expressing any regret for what he had based on his mistaken assumption that the Jewish modesty code was being flagrantly violated. He was only regretful that he did not first investigate whether the wearer of the immodest cape was indeed Jewish.

Rabbi Adda must certainly have been aware that a woman wearing a garment which violated the dress code of Jewish women might be of another faith or at least a rebellious Jewish "woman in red" who would prosecute him for his action. He felt, however, that there was an urgent need to publicly demonstrate in a non-violent way his opposition to such a breach of the modesty in clothing which was then the standard and show that he was willing to sacrifice himself even if it would turn out that he would suffer from his actions.

In conclusion, someone affiliated with the Chareidi College should be more careful in dealing with Talmud sources. Nevertheless, a yashar koach to her for exposing the anti-religious hypocrisy of the secular media.

  • Berachot 20a

What the Sages Say

"Sovereign of the Universe, it is well known to You that it is our will to do Your will. Who prevents us from doing so? The leavening agent in the dough (the evil inclination within us) and our subservience to the nations. May it be Your will to save us from these so that we can return to fulfilling Your commandments wholeheartedly."

Prayer of Rabbi Alexandrai

  • Berachot 17a

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