For the week ending 19 December 2015 / 7 Tevet 5776

Gittin 8 - 14

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • Whether the sea is considered a part of Eretz Yisrael
  • What Surya has in common with Eretz Yisrael
  • The slave's document of emancipation and entitlement
  • The agent who became incompetent before delivery of get
  • The rules common to get and emancipation document
  • Whether the witnesses signing the document or those witnessing its delivery make it effective
  • The status of a Kuttite in regard to testimony and mitzvot observance
  • Documents executed in a gentile court
  • Retracting instructions to deliver a get or emancipation document
  • Helping one creditor at the expense of others
  • The master's obligation to feed his slave and the husband's toward his wife
  • Delivering a get or emancipation document after the husband or master has died
  • The instructions of a person on his deathbed
  • Transfer of money in irregular ways
  • Responsibility of an agent delivering money

The Kiss of Silence

  • Gittin 9a

"Like a kiss on the lips is something wisely said." (Mishlei 24.26)

This praise of wisdom by the wisest of men was the reaction of Rabbi Yossi to a halachic statement that he heard.

The comparison made by King Shlomo to a kiss has a number of interpretations.

On the simplest level it expresses the idea that one who says the right thing deserves to be kissed. Tosefot, however, favors the interpretation found in some of the Biblical commentaries. Rather than referring to a kiss given as a compliment to the one making the statement, the passage suggests that when one hears a convincing statement his upper lip "kisses" the lower one in a demonstration of silence, expressing acquiescence.

While in the case of Rabbi Yossi this was acquiescence with a halachic point, the context of the passage in Mishlei suggests yet another sort of silent consent. Reproof is the subject of the preceding passage, and the kiss here refers to the reaction of one who hears words of reproof expressed in an effective manner.

In his commentary on Mishlei, Rabbi David Kimchi (RaDAK) thus explains the proper method of reproof based on these passages.

Flattering a wicked person that he is righteous will only encourage him in his mistaken path. Totally condemning him will be counterproductive for he will arrogantly insist that he is right. The right strategy is to praise him for the positive things about him while pointing out the shortcomings he needs to correct. His response then will be to close his lips, desist from an arrogant rebuttal and to even resolve to follow the counsel of the gentle reprover.

What the Sages Say

"If one seizes money from a debtor to benefit one creditor at the expense of other creditors, his collection is considered invalid."

  • Rabbi Yochanan - Gittin 11b

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