Talmud Tips

For the week ending 7 February 2015 / 18 Shevat 5775

Ketuvot 9 - 15

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

“And is a verse written based on the future?” “Yes, as it’s written…”

This question and answer on our daf follows the gemara stating that a widow is called an “almana” in the Torah because in the future the Rabbis would establish the minimum ketuba due her as a “mana” (100 zuz). But would the Torah use this terminology prior to its having meaning (since the institution of a ketuba did not yet exist at the time of the verse, and was only later decreed by the Rabbis)? (Rashi)

“Yes” answers the gemara, and provides a precedent for the Torah referring to something that would not “exist” until later. The verse states, “And the name of the third river is Chidekel, which runs east of Ashur (Gen. 2:14). Ashur, explains Rav Yosef, is the city named “Salika”, which certainly did not exist at the time of Creation (Rashi). “Did it exist yet?” asks the gemara rhetorically. And just as the Torah refers to a place before it existed, likewise it refers to a ketuba before it was instituted.

  • Ketuvot 10b

Rabbi Elazar said: “Mizbea’ach — mei’ziach, mei’zin, mi’chavev, mi’chaper.”

These four qualities — which are related to the root-word “Mizbe’ach” — are four distinct benefits the Jewish People receive from the Mizbe’ach at the time of the Beit Hamikdash. What are they?

Mei’zin”: sustenance; in the merit of the sacrifices the world is nourished — just as sacrifices are brought from food, so too they are a cause for a beracha of abundance from Above (Rashi).

Mi’chachev”: endearment — the sacrifices we offer to G-d cause the Jewish People to be more dear and beloved to their Father (Rashi).

The gemara asks that the first and fourth words — mei’ziach and mi’chaper —both seem to mean “atonement and removal of sins” and are redundant! The gemara answers as follows:

Mei’ziach” refers to the benefit of removing harsh and dire decrees from the Jewish People (Rashi), whereas “mi’chaper” refers to atonement for transgressions.

  • Ketuvot 10b

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