Talmud Tips

For the week ending 29 November 2014 / 7 Kislev 5775

Yevamot 58 - 64

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“Moshe Rabbeinu did three things on his own initiative and his will was in agreement with the will of G-d: … and he broke the first Tablets….”

This beraita on our daf teaches that although Moshe was not instructed to break these first luchot with the Ten Commandments when he descended Mt. Sinai and saw the iniquity of the people with the golden calf, he nevertheless had acted correctly in breaking them. Reish Lakish in our gemara explains that we see that G-d expressed support for this action by telling Moshe “asher shibarta” — “that you broke” — which is to be understood as “yashar kochacha” — “straight (true) is your strength”.

The Maharsha offers two explanations for the source of Reish Lakish’s derivation, the first being that the word “asher” is “extra” since the verse could have simply said “sheshavarta” without “asher”. Therefore, “asher” is to be interpreted as adding a meaning of “yashar”.

Another explanation I have heard is that the word “asher” is also the same root in Hebrew as the word “l’asher or ishur” which means to strengthen and validate.

  • Yevamot 62a

“One who loves his wife as much as himself and honors her more than himself, and guides his sons and daughters in the straight way, and helps them marry when they reach the appropriate age — about him the verse states, ‘And you will know that there is peace in your tent (home)’ (Iyov 5:24).”

The above beraita is a succinct ‘recipe’ for building a faithful Jewish home with conduct that leads to great family harmony and security, with the help of Heaven. What is meant by honoring one’s wife more than oneself? One explanation is that this refers to the principle that the nature of a woman’s dignity, honor and modesty require greater protection from disgrace and embarrassment (Rashi). Another commentary (Maharsha) writes that this extra honor refers to making sure that one’s wife has even more ‘honorable’ clothing than her husband. The special clothes are an expression of her special honor as a person, as well as his wife. One might say: “The clothes make the man — and the woman even more.”

  • Yevamot 62b

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