The Weekly Daf

For the week ending 21 November 2009 / 3 Kislev 5770

Bava Basra 93 - 99

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

Jerusalem Greats

There were two great customs in Jerusalem:

  • If someone offered to cook the food which his friend had prepared to serve guests and he spoiled the food he was required not only to compensate the host for the damaged food but also for the embarrassment suffered by him and his guests.
  • In a home which welcomed guests a tablecloth was hung at the entrance to the house as a signal that guests were invited. Once the tablecloth was removed it was understood that guests could no longer be accommodated.

These are referred to as "great" customs, explains Maharsha, because the mitzvah of hospitality, which is the subject of these customs, is considered a "great" mitzvah, surpassing even the welcoming of the Divine Presence as we learn from Avraham Avinu who excused himself from the Divine Presence, which had come to pay him a sick visit, in order to welcome his guests.

  • Bava Basra 93b

Poetic Justice and Pretenders

"Wine turning sour", says Rabbi Chiya bar Yosef, "is a case of Heavenly justice of measure for measure."

The man who haughtily pretends to be what he is not finds that what he thought was wine was only vinegar pretending to be more than it really is. Such a haughty pretender, adds Rabbi Mori, ends up being rejected even by his own wife.

The Talmud in Masechta Sotah (47b) notes that many women were attracted to men who had the outward appearance of being pious scholars because they judged people only superficially. When they eventually discovered that their husbands were only haughty pretenders they lost all respect for them as Rabbi Mori warned they would.

  • Bava Basra 99a

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