Daf Yomi

For the week ending 7 September 2002 / 1 Tishri 5763

#58 - Bava Batra 163-169

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

The One and Only

"Hein (behold) the fear of Hashem; that is wisdom." (Iyov 28:28)

This word hein appears in our gemara in regard to one who makes a vow to be a nazir for the duration of heina. The Sage Sumchus rules that he is obligated to one thirty-day period of abstinence from wine and observance of all the other laws relation to a nazir. Should he use the term digon he must be a nazir for sixty days -two nazir terms and if he said trigon he took upon himself three thirty-day periods. These, explains Tosefos, are all Greek terms used for the numbers one, two and three.

As a source for heina meaning one in Greek, a gemara in Masechta Shabbat (31b) is cited by Tosafot. (Rashbam suggests that in the text of the early commentator Rabbeinu Chananel this section of Masechta Shabbat actually appears in our own gemara.)

There we find Rabbi Yochanan stating in the name of Rabbi Elazar that "The Sacred One, Blessed be He, has nothing in His world except for fear of Heaven". He bases this on the above passage in Iyov which describes the fear of Hashem as hein, thus indicating that this fear stands alone as Hashems possession in this world.

Maharsha in Masechta Shabbat explains this on the basis of a gemara in Masechta Berachot (33b) where Rabbi Chanina declares that "Everything is determined by Heaven except for the fear of Heaven". Rashi there explains that everything in the human condition, whether he will be tall or short, poor or rich, wise or foolish, black or white, is all Heavenly predestined. Whether he will be righteous or a sinner, however, is not determined by Heaven but placed in his power to choose which path to follow and it is up to him to choose fear of Heaven.

This, then, is the meaning of fear of Heaven being all that Hashem possesses in His world. Of course the entire world belongs to its Creator but all that Hashem has from man, which He has left to his free choice, is the decision to live according to his fear of Heaven.

Bava Batra 164b

Who Pays the Bill?

"And he shall write her a document of divorce and give it to her in her hand." (Devarim 24:1)

When a man wishes to divorce his wife he must write a get document and give it to her. Should a scribe be hired to write this get, it is the husband who must pay his fee. This is based on the above passage which stipulates that it is he who has the responsibility of seeing that the get is written.

The Sages, however, feared that a woman might sometimes be in the situation of an agunah (a woman who is not living with her husband but is unable to marry another because of the lack of a get) because of the husbands reluctance to pay the scribes fee. They therefore instituted that the woman could pay the fee instead and the get would be a valid one.

But how does this comply with the Torahs insistence on the husbands writing the get or paying a scribe for its writing?

This question was raised in Masechta Gittin (20a) in a discussion between Rabbi Chisda and the Sage Rava. The answer given was that the Sages have the power of eminent domain known as hefker beit din hefker. This is the power to expropriate the money or possessions of one person and transfer it to another. (The source in Tanach for this power is elaborately discussed in Masechta Gittin 36b). They employed this power in transferring to the husband ownership of the money designated by the wife for the scribes fee. It is therefore considered as if the husband paid the fee and satisfied the Torahs requirement that he be responsible for the writing of the get.

Bava Batra 168a


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