Daf Yomi

For the week ending 4 July 2015 / 17 Tammuz 5775

Nedarim 40 - 46

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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Praying for the Sick

Whoever visits the sick man, says Rabbi Dimi, causes him to live, and whoever fails to visit him causes him to die.

The gemara assumed that Rabbi Dimi was not referring to the lifesaving care for the sick mentioned in the preceding story about Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Akiva saved the life of a sick disciple by cleaning up his domicile, and then announced that anyone who fails to visit the sick is considered as if he is guilty of bloodshed. (Maharsha explains that this assumption is based on Rabbi Dimi's statement not being more specific.) It is therefore assumed that Rabbi Dimi was referring to the power of the prayer which one is inspired to offer for the recovery of one whose sickness he sees with his own eyes.

But how does this approach fit into Rabbi Dimi's statement, asks the gemara. It certainly cannot mean that one who visits the sick man prays for him to live while the one who fails to visit him prays for him to die! The conclusion is that while the visitor prays for the sick man to live, the one who fails to visit prays neither for him to live nor to die.

Ran explains this against the background of the story of Rebbie's maid who, after observing the terrible pain suffered by her master, prayed to Heaven to grant him death to relieve him of his pain (Ketubot 104a). Rabbi Dimi's point, he says, is that one who visits the sick can achieve the greater goal of keeping him alive, while the one who fails to visit him not only will not pray to keep him alive, but will even miss the opportunity of achieving the minor goal of praying for his death if necessary.

Maharsha, basing himself on the commentary of Rosh, offers a different approach. One who visits the sick man, says Rabbi Dimi, is obviously his friend who will pray for him and keep him alive. The one who fails to visit is obviously an enemy. Although the idea that such an enemy will actually pray for his death is rejected by the gemara, which concludes that such a person will pray for him neither to live nor to die, such behavior of withholding prayer for one whom he hates is equated with bloodshed, because his prayer may have come at the right moment and saved a life.

Nedarim 40a

How Far the Ban?

If one makes a vow forbidding another to have any benefit form him, the "vowee" cannot make use of anything belonging to the "vower." But should the "vower" own a bathhouse which he rents out to someone else and from which he does not receive a percentage of the income, the "vowee" may use that bathhouse.

This ruling of the mishna is challenged by Ran on the basis of a gemara (Mesechta Erachin 21a) which states that one who rents a house to another has the power to transfer ownership to the Sanctuary. If one can thus sanctify rented property on the strength of his ownership, it should follow that one can declare rented property forbidden to another based on his ownership of that property.

The resolution Ran offers is that if the bathhouse owner explicitly prohibited him use of the bathhouse, the "vowee" certainly would be forbidden to use it. But because he made only a general statement proscribing benefit from his property, we assume that he only intended this ban to extend to property now in his control, and not to that which has been leased to another.

This approach seems to run into a problem with an earlier gemara (Nedarim 43b) which suggested the very same idea of limited intention and then rejected it. Rabbi Yossi's position is that if one who prohibits another to have any benefit from him and subsequently finds himself as the only source for providing food for that other person, he cannot circumvent this ban by relinquishing ownership of the food and enabling the other to acquire possession. This is so, adds Rabbi Yossi, only when the ban preceded the relinquishing of ownership, but not when the relinquishing of ownership preceded the ban. Rabbi Abba suggested that the reason for Rabbi Yossi's leniency in the latter case is that we assume that one does not intend his ban to extend to property which he has removed from his ownership. This approach is successfully challenged by the Sage Rava from another gemara (Bava Batra 148b), and it is abandoned. Since the gemara's conclusion is that even something which he has relinquished ownership of is included in his ban, why do we assume that the bathhouse leased to another is not included in his ban?

The Ran answers by explaining Rabbi Yossi's position as follows: Until someone claims ownership of abandoned property, it is still considered the property of the original owner who still has the option of retracting his act of abandonment. It can therefore be assumed that he intended his ban to extend even to such property, since it is still within his control. A bathhouse leased to another, however, is completely out of his control, despite the fact that he owns it. Thus, he does not have it in mind when he prohibits the use of his property.

Nedarim 46b

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