Weekly Daf #383

Library Library Kaddish

The Weekly Daf by Rav Mendel Weinbach

Kiddushin 35-41 ; Issue #383
Week of 20 - 26 Sivan 5761 / June 11 - 17, 2001

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"You are children of Hashem, your G-d."(Devarim 14:1)

Are we always termed "children of Hashem"?

Rabbi Yehuda says that only when we behave like His children are we called this; otherwise, we are not called His children. Rabbi Meir disagrees, proving from a whole series of Tanach passages that we are called children of Hashem even when we misbehave.

This debate between these two sages echoes a dialogue between their teacher, Rabbi Akiva, and the Roman ruler Turnusrufus (Mesechta Bava Batra 10a). The Roman challenged the Jewish practice of giving charity to the needy by comparing the poor man to a slave whose human king became angry with him and ordered him imprisoned without food or drink. If a person defies this order and supplies the prisoner with food and drink, will not the king be upset with him for doing so?

Rabbi Akiva turned this simile to him " was the one ele around in order to refute the challenge: If a human king becomes angry with his son and orders him imprisoned without food and drink, will he not reward the one who supplies his beloved son with nourishment?

The Roman based his comparison on the Torah passage (Vayikra 25:55) in which Hashem states, "The children of Israel are my slaves,"while Rabbi Akiva referred to our opening passage in which Jews are called children. Turnusrufus did not back down, and suggested that only when Jews act in accordance with the will of Hashem are they called His children. The fact that they were under Roman rule following the destruction of the Beit Hamikdash was evidence that they had not acted in this fashion and were therefore to be considered as slaves undeserving of the compassion expressed in charity. Rabbi Akiva's position " even though he did not present it to the Roman challenger, but rather chose a response which would be more acceptabxpressed in our gemara by his disciple Rabbi Meir, that even when we misbehave we are called Hashem's children and deserving of the compassion of our brothers.

Kiddushin 36a

Do It Yourself

"A man makes kiddushin by himself or through an agent."

This opening line of the second perek of our mesechta is challenged by the gemara as being redundant. If a man can effectively marry a woman through his agent's giving her money or a document, isn't it obvious that he can do so by himself?

Rabbi Yosef's explanation is that the mishna wishes to teach us that it is a greater mitzvah for a man to make kiddushin himself rather than to do it through an agent. As proof of this principle the gemara cites the examples of Rabbi Safra and the Sage Rava who personally helped prepare the food for Shabbat meals even though they could have delegated such work to their servants.

The examples cited find expression in the halacha (Shulchan Aruch Orach Chaim 250:1) which states that even if one has many servants to call upon, he should do something himself in preparation for Shabbat in order to honor it in the manner of the aforementioned sages.

A question is raised, however, by Mishna Berura (ibid. Shaar Hatziun 9) in regard to the behavior of those sages. The ruling of the gemara (Mesechta Mo'ed Katan 9b) is that one must interrupt his study of Torah in order to perform a mitzvah which cannot be done by another; but, if he is not indispensable for the fulfillment of the mitzvah, then he must continue his study. If these sages were able to have their servants make the Shabbat preparations for them, why did they see fit to interrupt their precious Torah study to do them?

One resolution of this problem is that the aforementioned rule of when one may or may not interrupt Torah study does not apply to mitzvot which are incumbent on the individual, only to acts of kindness which must be done for the sake of another Jew. Since that act can be performed by someone else not involved in Torah study there is no justification for interrupting Torah study. Honoring the Shabbat by preparing food for its meals, however, is a mitzvah which every Jew must do and it is therefore preferable to do it yourself than through an agent.

Kiddushin 41a


General Editor: Rabbi Moshe Newman
Production Design: Michael Treblow

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