Talmud Tips

For the week ending 12 March 2016 / 2 Adar II 5776

Kiddushin 2 - 8

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“It is the way of a man to pursue a wife, and not the way of a woman to pursue a husband. This is comparable to a man (“Adam” in Hebrew) who lost something. Who searches for “whom”? The man who lost it looks for what he lost.”

The basic Torah verse about marriage states: “If a man takes a wife… (Devarim 22:13). Rabbi Shimon asks in a beraita, “Why does the Torah write that ‘a man takes’ (with her consent of course!), instead of writing that ‘a woman is taken to the man’?” He answers that “it is the way of a man to pursue a wife, and not the way of a woman to pursue a husband”. He follows this answer with the above parable, in which the man’s (i.e., Adam’s) lost object is his rib, and it is the way of the man (“Adam” is Hebrew for “man”) to search for and pursue his “missing rib” — i.e., Eve, his wife. (Rashi)

But why do we need this parable of the “loser” looking for his lost object in order to understand why it is the way of a man to look for a wife? One great commentary explains that a person searches for a lost object since he understands he will gain and be enriched by finding it. Otherwise he would not make the effort. Likewise, a man searches for a soul-mate since he realizes that he would benefit and immensely gain by being with a proper wife. Adam had his “rib” taken from him by G-d without his knowledge while in a deep sleep (Gen 2:21), and it was “lost” to him. But what he received from G-d in its place was so much more praiseworthy. As the Talmud (Sanhedrin 39a) states: “Wasn’t it Adam’s gain that he was deprived of a ‘rib’ and given a wife?” He would certainly have made every effort to find his partner, since Eve was so much more valuable than what he lost. This is the attitude every man has when looking for a wife — and therefore it is the way of a man to look for a wife, in order to find his “priceless soul-mate”. (Maharsha)

  • Kiddushin 2b

“The children of one’s children are considered as one’s children.”

This statement, made by the gemara on our daf, helps explain a halacha regarding the daughter of a kohen being permitted to eat teruma. Before marriage to a non-kohen she may eat teruma. However, if she marries a non-kohen she may not. But if she is widowed or divorced and does not have children, she may once again eat teruma, as the verse states, “But if the kohen's daughter becomes widowed or divorced, and she has no offspring (“zera”), she may return to her father's household as in her youth, and eat of her father's food (teruma)….” (Vayikra 22:13). Based on the above principle that her grandchild is like her child, then if she had a son who died, but her son had a son who is alive, she is considered as having a child and may not return to eating teruma. (Rashi)

Rashi explains that this rule of one’s grandchildren being considered as one’s children is derived in another sugya (Yevamot 62b). The gemara there cites verses in Nach (Prophets and Writings) that show that a specific grandchild, a certain person mentioned by name, is in fact called “the child” of that person.

The fact that the gemara (and Rashi) proves this idea in the way that it does, instead of citing numerous possible verses in the Chumash as the source for this same idea — such as when G-d promised Avram, “And I will make your seed like the dust of the earth, so that if a man will be able to count the dust of the earth, so will your seed (“zaracha”) be counted. (Ber. 13:16) ” — is seen as “puzzling” by at least one commentary. (Rashash)

  • Kiddushin 4a

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