For the week ending 2 May 2015 / 13 Iyyar 5775

Ketubot 93 - 99

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Dividing the deceased husband's funds between his wives
  • Dividing the profits when one partner invested more than the other
  • Two documents of sale bearing the same date
  • The mother who gifted two sons the same property
  • The wife who waived her claim to the property mortgaged for payment of her ketubah while the other wife did not
  • A gift made to one recipient on condition that after him it should go to another designated party
  • Obligations of the heirs towards the widow
  • The disciple's obligations towards his teacher
  • The widow who failed to demand support from the heirs and the one who sold the inherited property for her support
  • Selling her ketuba rights for support
  • When the agent buys a bargain who gains the difference
  • When the agent or the one who sent him is guilty of embezzlement of sacred property
  • Other dimensions of the law of agency

Serving the Master

  • Ketubot 96a

The disciple of a Sage has a responsibility to serve his teacher as a slave serves his master. This ruling of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is followed by a warning from Rabbi Yochanan that the teacher who denies his disciple the ability of serving him is guilty of withholding kindness from him.

To what form of service is Rabbi Yochanan referring?

One approach is that he is referring to the actual physical service such as that mentioned by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi. This is based on the concept mentioned in Pirkei Avot (4:12) by Rabbi Elazar bar Shamma that "respect for your teacher must be like respect for Heaven". Denying the disciple this opportunity to express his respect for Heaven in this tangible way is therefore considered a withholding of kindness.

A different approach is that the service mentioned by Rabbi Yochanan is participating with the Sage in the study and application of halacha. Regarding such denial Rabbi Shimon Chasida has stated (Sanhedrin 91a) that one who withholds the teaching of halacha from a disciple is cursed even by the children still in their mothers' wombs. The meaning of service in this approach is learning the halachic process from the teacher. Although this seems to negate the physical service mentioned in the first approach there is actually a connection between the service mentioned by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi and that of Rabbi Yochanan. The reason for the disciple's obligation to physically serve his teacher is that he should always be near to him and thus learn halacha from him.

What the Sages Say

"The teacher who denies his disciple the opportunity to serve him is guilty of removing from him the fear of Heaven."

  • Rabbi Nachman bar Yitzchak - Ketubot 96a

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