Daf Yomi

For the week ending 24 August 2002 / 16 Elul 5762

#56 - Bava Batra 149-155

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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The Mysterious Mori

Who was Rabbi Mori?

In our gemara he is identified as the biological son of a convert named Issur who wished to transfer some money to him before his death. Issurs own conversion took place after his Jewish mate had conceived Mori but before he was born. This meant that Mori could not inherit this money because Issur was not halachically his father and there was a need to find a method of transferring the money to him although it was in someone elses possession at the time.

Tosafot suggests that this is the very same Rabbi Mori the son of Rachel whom the Sage Rava certified as a full-fledged Jew and even appointed to a position of authority in Babylon. In reporting this the gemara (Mesechta Yevomot 45b) raises the question as to how such an appointment could be made. From among your brothers shall you shall appoint a king over you says the Torah (Devarim 17:15), and this includes any position of authority to be out of bounds for a convert. The answer given is that since Moris mother was Jewish he was also considered as being from among your brothers.

The indication from both of these sources that Mori son of Rachel had a non-Jewish father is in conflict, however, with the gemara in Mesechta Shabbat (154a) which identifies a Jew name Rabbah as the father of Mori son of Rachel. The resolution of this conflict by Tosafot is that there were two different Moris both of whose mothers name was Rachel, one with a Jewish father and the other whose father converted after he was conceived.

Rashbam has an entirely different approach to the identity of this mysterious Mori. The gemara in Mesechta Ketubot (23a) relates that the daughters of the Sage Shmuel were taken captive by non-Jews and when they were ransomed they told the rabbinical court that they had not been violated by their captors. One of them, Rachel, did not make this claim and eventually married the captor named Issur through whom she had conceived Mori.

This approach, though rejected by Tosafot here, is repeated in the Tosafot in Mesechta Shabbat.

Bava Batra 149a

No Women or Children

Neither women nor minor males are eligible to be witnesses according to Torah law. Their exclusion is based on the passage (Devarim 19:17) which speaks of litigation and states that both men shall stand before Hashem. The stressing of men serves to exclude both women and minors.

The only problem with this is that immediately following the words both men are the words between whom is the controversy. This seems to clearly indicate that the men referred to are the litigants, not the witnesses. How can we then apply this term to serve as an exclusion of women and minors as witnesses?

The gemara in Mesechta Shavuot (30a) raises this question and offers two solutions.

One is that there is a need to separate the two parts of this passage and relate them to different identifies. Since the phrase between whom is the controversy obviously refers to the two litigants, we can conclude that the phrase two men preceding it refers to the witnesses.

A second indication that the two men refers to witnesses rather than litigants is the fact that the same word two which appears in this passage also appears in the passage before it (ibid. 19:16). Through the interpretative method of gezereh shaveh (the comparison of two subjects based on a similar term appearing in both) we conclude that just as the two in that passage explicitly refers to witnesses so too does the two here refer to witnesses and the men that follows therefore excludes women and minors.

Bava Batra 155b

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