Talmud Tips

For the week ending 12 December 2015 / 30 Kislev 5776

Gittin 2 - 8

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
The Color of Heaven Artscroll

Rav Chisda said, “A person should never cause an atmosphere of excessive fear (of him) in his home, because the husband of the “pilegesh in Givah” caused her excessive fear (of him) which led to the death of tens of thousands of Jews.”

Our gemara discusses what she, the pilegesh, did that provoked her husband’s excessive wrath, and the final chapters of the Book of Judges (Sefer Shoftim) teach in detail how their relationship eventually led to a civil war within the Jewish People that resulted in tens of thousands of battlefield deaths. This halacha is codified in the Rambam’s Mishneh Torah, Laws of Marriage 25:19. The statement which follows Rav Chisda’s teaching is similar, and concludes by saying that an oppressive atmosphere in the home will eventually lead to three major sins: forbidden intimate relations, spilling of blood and desecration of Shabbat (Rabbeinu Chananel substitutes “desecration of the Name of G-d” as the third item in the list).

  • Gittin 6b

Rabbi Abahu said, “A person should never cause an atmosphere of excessive fear (of him) in his home, because a great man did this and was fed a great thing (i.e., forbidden food).”

The gemara identifies this great man as Rabbi Chanina ben Gamliel and the forbidden food as a limb from a live animal (not one from an animal after a shechita). Our gemara questions this statement based on a rule that G-d does not cause a righteous person to sin due to the actions of his animal, and all the more so would not have a “stumbling block” of prohibited food put in front of a righteous person without his knowing it was forbidden. So how could this happen? The gemara answers that he didn’t actually eat it, but it was merely offered to him to eat, and he refused to eat it (although he did not know it was not kosher). Rashi explains that this non-kosher limb was brought to him since the original kosher food was lost, and due to fear of negative repercussions (since there was “fear in the air” of his home), the lost kosher food was hurriedly replaced with a non-kosher food.

Tosefot points out (and proves from another case in the gemara elsewhere) that this rule that a righteous person will not stumble in a transgression applies only to forbidden food, but not to other transgressions, since eating forbidden food is a very great disgrace to the righteous person.

  • Gittin 7a

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