1) HALACHAH: MAY A MAN LOOK IN A MIRROR?
OPINIONS: The Gemara states that when one has a haircut from a Nochri, he should look in a mirror. This is because of the suspicion that the Nochri will use the razor in an attempt to kill his Jewish customer. (The contemporary Poskim disagree about whether or not this suspicion applies today.) When, however, the Jew scrutinizes his haircut in the mirror, he gives the impression that he is an important person (since an important person is very conscientious about how he looks). When the Nochri sees the Jew's attitude towards his coiffure, the Nochri will not kill him, as he realizes that he will suffer severe repercussions for killing an important person.
The Yerushalmi and Tosefta relate this Halachah in a different manner. They teach that when one has a haircut from a Nochri, he looks in the mirror. When he has a haircut from a Kusi, he may not look in the mirror. This implies that there is a special leniency to look in the mirror when one has a haircut from a Nochri (as a precaution to prevent his head from being cut). A Kusi is not suspected of killing, and therefore there is no leniency to look in a mirror. The Yerushalmi says that the members of Beis Rebbi received special permission to look into mirrors because of their dealings with the authorities.
What is the prohibition against looking in mirror? Many Rishonim explain that the prohibition is "Lo Yilbash Gever Simlas Ishah" -- "A man may not wear the dress of a woman" (Devarim 22:5). Not only may one not wear the clothing of the opposite gender prohibited, one also may not do things which is done only by the opposite gender.
The Gemara here, however, makes no mention of this prohibition. Does the Bavli disagree with the Yerushalmi and Tosefta?
(a) According to TOSFOS (DH ha'Mistaper), the Gemara here agrees with the Tosefta and Yerushalmi that a man may not look into a mirror. When the Gemara elsewhere discusses looking into a mirror and makes no mention of this prohibition, such as the Gemara in Shabbos (149a), it is talking about a woman who looks into a mirror. Tosfos adds that the prohibition for a man is only to look into a mirror for "beauty" purposes. A man is permitted to look into a mirror to ensure that he does not cut himself.
(b) The RAN says that there is no argument between the Gemara here and the Yerushalmi and Tosefta. In a place where the custom is that men look into mirrors, men are permitted to look into mirrors. The Ran understands that the Gemara in Shabbos quoted by Tosfos indeed refers to a man looking into a mirror as well, in a place where the custom is that men look into mirrors. Why, then, does the Yerushalmi say that the members of Beis Rebbi had to receive special permission to look into mirrors? The Ran explains that although looking into mirrors is permitted, the Chaverim (Talmidei Chachamim) refrain from looking into mirrors. In the case of the members of Beis Rebbi, although they were Talmidei Chachamim they needed to look into mirrors due to their dealings with the authorities.
HALACHAH: The opinions of Tosfos and the Ran seem to be the basis for the dispute between the SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 156:2) and the REMA. The Shulchan Aruch rules like Tosfos, and the Rema rules like the Ran.
The BI'UR HA'GRA questions the view of the Ran. The Yerushalmi says that a person is not allowed to use a mirror on Shabbos for fear that he might pluck out a hair (a forbidden act on Shabbos). It then says that a man is forbidden from using a mirror even during the week. The Bi'ur ha'Gra asks that it does not make sense that the Yerushalmi is saying that the custom is that men do not look in mirrors during the week, because the Yerushalmi says that it is forbidden, implying a strict prohibition. The Bi'ur ha'Gra therefore sides with the Shulchan Aruch. However, REBBI AKIVA EIGER (YD 182:6) in the name of the GINAS VERADIM, and the GILYON MAHARSHA in the name of the MAHARI MINTZ, rule like the Ran, which seems to be the way most Poskim rule. (See YECHAVEH DA'AS 6:49, who rules leniently even for Sefardim and Talmidei Chachamim.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) "STAM YAYIN"
OPINIONS: The Mishnah lists the wine of Nochrim as one of the things which is both forbidden to drink and to benefit from. What is the reason behind the decree not to drink Nochri wine?
Two Gemara gives two different reasons. The Gemara here maintains that there is a suspicion that the wine was poured for Avodah Zarah ("Chashash Nisuch"), rendering it Tikroves Avodah Zarah, which is forbidden from benefit. The Chachamim prohibited all wine of Nochrim to ensure that one not drink such wine.
The Gemara later (36b) says that Stam Yayin is forbidden because of "Benoseihen" -- "their daughters," a reference to the kinship that social drinking would cause between Nochrim and Jews, which eventually would lead to intermarriage.
Why are two reasons necessary to prohibit Stam Yayin?
(a) The RAN explains that Stam Yayin is forbidden to drink because of both reasons, Chashash Nisuch and Benoseihen. However, the reason it is forbidden from benefit is the Chashash Nisuch. Had the Chachamim not prohibited it from benefit, one might have mistakenly assumed that just as this wine is forbidden only to drink because of the suspicion that it was poured for Avodah Zarah, wine that definitely was poured for Avodah Zarah is forbidden only to drink but not from benefit. The Chachamim therefore prohibited Stam Yayin from benefit as well.
(b) TOSFOS (DH Yayin Minalan) writes that he does not understand the Gemara's opening question. The Gemara asks what the source is for the prohibition of Stam Yayin. What is the Gemara's question, if the Gemara itself says later (36b) that it is forbidden because of Benoseihen? Similarly, why does the Gemara here itself not answer its question by saying that the prohibition is because of Benoseihen? Tosfos explains that the main reason why Stam Yayin was prohibited was Benoseihen. However, a lot of other things are forbidden because of Benoseihen (such as Pas Akum) but they are not forbidden from benefit. The Gemara's question here is why is Stam Yayin forbidden from benefit. The Gemara answers that it is similar to the prohibition of Yayin Nesech, wine poured for Avodah Zarah. Since that wine is forbidden from benefit, the Chachamim prohibited Stam Yayin from benefit as well.
What does Tosfos mean when he says that Stam Yayin is similar to the prohibition of Yayin Nesech? Does he mean to say the same thing as the Ran?
The BACH (YD 123) says that Tosfos is not saying the same thing as the Ran. While the Ran is discussing what people will think and the mistake they will make, Tosfos is saying that the Chachamim prohibited the wine from benefit because it is forbidden Nochri wine, which can be a Torah prohibition if poured for Avodah Zarah. Often, when there is an Isur d'Rabanan which is similar to an Isur d'Oraisa, the Chachamim give the Isur d'Rabanan the same stringencies that the Torah gives to the Isur d'Oraisa.
The Bach adds that there should be a Halachic difference between these two reasons. According to the Ran, Stam Yayin should be permitted from benefit nowadays due to the lack of Yayin Nesech (Nochrim today do not pour wine for Avodah Zarah). Since there is no fear that one will permit benefit from Yayin Nesech, benefit from Stam Yayin should be permitted. However, according to Tosfos, this Isur d'Rabanan was enacted in the form of the Torah prohibition, and therefore it is not subject to change.
The Bach indeed posits that the famous leniency of RASHI in the name of the GE'ONIM -- that today Stam Yayin is permitted from benefit due to the lack of idolaters pouring wine for their idols -- is based on the position of the Ran. (The PERISHAH agrees with the Bach.) (Y. MONTROSE)