BACKGROUND TO THE DAILY DAF
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BAVA BASRA 160 (13 Shevat) - dedicated by Steven and Lynn Farber l'Iluy Nishmas Steven's mother, Esther (bas Rav Moshe) Farber of Riverdale, NY, who passed away on 13 Shevat 5763. A descendant of the Chasam Sofer, Esther was a courageous woman whose dedication to Torah ideals affected the lives of her many students and friends.
[160a - 12 lines; 160b - 45 lines]
1) [line 1] GET PASHUT / MEKUSHAR
Two types of Gitin (documents, although the unmodified word "Get" is almost always used to refer to a bill of divorce) were in use at the time of Chazal: a Get Pashut and a Get Mekushar. A Get Pashut is written on a piece of parchment, etc., that is Pashut (spread out and unfolded), and the witnesses sign at the bottom, below the text. A Get Mekushar is written in a very cumbersome manner. After leaving a line blank on the top, one or two lines are written and three or four lines are left blank. Next, part of the parchment is folded over the writing and the fold is sewn down. A witness must sign on the part that is folded over (i.e. the back of the Get). This process is repeated two or more times until the entire text of the Get is written and there are as many witnesses as folds. The Get Mekushar was instituted (with regard to Gitin of divorce -- see Amud Beis and below, entries #18-21) so that quick-tempered Kohanim would not be able to divorce their wives easily, since a Kohen may not marry or remarry a divorcee. It was assumed that the amount of time necessary to write a Get Mekushar would give the Kohen time to calm down.
2) [line 1] EDAV MI'TOCHO - its witnesses are made to sign on the side of the text (lit. inside it)
3) [line 1] EDAV ME'ACHORAV - its witnesses are made to sign on the back of the document, with respect to the text (lit. behind it)
4) [line 7] EDAV BI'SHENAYIM - its witnesses are two (lit. [it is signed] with two)
5) [line 8] BI'SHELOSHAH - [its witnesses are] three (lit. [it is signed] with three)
6) [line 11] "SADOS BA'KESEF YIKNU V'CHASOV BA'SEFER V'CHASOM V'HA'ED EDIM..." - "They will acquire fields with money, and write it in a document, and sign it, and attest witnesses..." (Yirmeyahu 32:44)
7) [line 1] "V'HA'ED:" SHENAYIM - the word "v'Ha'ed" hints at [a document that is signed by] two [witnesses]
8) [line 3] V'EIPUCH ANA? - and perhaps I shall switch them [to say that a Mekushar needs two witnesses and a Pashut needs three]?
9) [line 3] MI'TOCH SHE'NISRABAH B'KESHARAV, NISRABAH B'EDAV - since [the Chachamim enacted that] it ( the Get Mekushar) has many [folds and] seams, [they enacted likewise that] it has many (i.e. the larger number of) witnesses
10) [line 4] "VA'EKACH ES SEFER HA'MIKNAH, ES HE'CHASUM HA'MITZVAH VEHA'CHUKIM V'ES HA'GALUY." - "So I took the deed of the purchase (the document of acquisition written by the seller and given to the buyer); both that which was sealed, containing the terms and conditions, and that which was open." (Yirmeyahu 32:11)
11) [line 9] ZEH, EDAV SHENAYIM - this one (the Get Pashut) has two witnesses
12) [line 17] V'HANI, L'HACHI HU D'ASU?! - Are these [verses] meant for the above-mentioned teachings?!
13) [line 18] L'MILSEI - for its own teaching (that are recorded elsewhere)
14) [line 19] ETZAH TOVAH - good advise (to purchase land in Eretz Yisrael and write documents that should be sealed in earthenware jugs, in order to last out the impending seventy-year exile describe by the prophet Yirmeyahu)
15) [line 20] HACHI HAVEI MA'ASEH - this was the incident that actually took place (that Yirmeyahu bought a field from his relative and had the necessary documents written)
16) [line 22] BI'FELUGSAH D'REBBI AKIVA V'RABANAN (EDIM: HEKESH SHENAYIM LI'SHELOSHAH)
(a) The Torah states, "... Al Pi Shenei Edim O Al Pi Sheloshah Edim Yakum Davar." - "... by the testimony (lit. mouth) of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall the matter be established" (Devarim 19:15). The Mishnah asks (Makos 5b), if two witnesses are accepted to testify in a capital case, why does the verse need to specify three witnesses, also? Various answers are listed in the Mishnah:
(b) The Tana Kama teaches that in a case of Edim Zomemim (scheming witnesses -- see Background to Bava Basra 56:16), just as one group of three witnesses is believed to accuse another group of two witnesses of being Edim Zomemim, so, too, are two witnesses believed to accuse three or more witnesses of being Edim Zomemim.
(c) Rebbi Shimon teaches that just as one group of two witnesses is not killed until the two of them are proved to be Edim Zomemim, so, too, is one group of three or more witnesses not killed until all of them are proved to be Edim Zomemim.
(d) Rebbi Akiva teaches that even though the third witness of a group found to be Edim Zomemim in a capital case can claim that the testimony would have been accepted without him, the verse teaches that Beis Din is stringent with him and his claim is not valid. Similarly, just as if one of the two witnesses is found to be a relative or otherwise unable to testify in court, the testimony is disqualified, so, too, is the case if one of many witnesses is invalid.
17) [line 23] V'KERA'EI ASMACHTA B'ALMA - and the verses are merely "Asmachta'os" (ASMACHTA)
(a) At times, when Chazal make a Derashah (extrapolate a Halachah or other teaching) from a word in the Torah, it happens that the Halachah or teaching is not mid'Oraisa at all, but rather mid'Rabanan. When this happens, the Gemara usually states that the Halachah is mid'Rabanan, and "Kera Asmachta b'Alma," i.e. that the verse is only cited as a "support" for the Halachah mid'Rabanan, but its source is not actually from the Torah. (TOSFOS to Bava Basra 66b DH Michlal d'She'ivah writes that in many instances, Derashos of Chazal in the Midreshei Halachah, such as Toras Kohanim, which appear to be from the Torah, are only Asmachta'os.)
(b) A second type of Asmachta applies even to a Halachah which actually is mid'Oraisa. When Chazal find a hint in the Torah to a Halachah that has its basis in the Oral Tradition, they call this an Asmachta as well (Eruvin 5a, Chulin 77a).
(c) The Rishonim argue as to the reason why Chazal, in these instances, used verses to support their teachings.
1. From the words of the RAMBAM (Introduction to his Perush ha'Mishnayos) it appears that Asmachta'os are only mnemonic devices. (It is possible that he writes this only with regard to the latter type of Asmachta, Asmachta'os for Isurei Torah.)
2. MAHARIL (in Likutei Maharil) writes that Chazal used the device of Asmachta in order to make people regard certain Halachos mid'Rabanan as if they were actually mid'Oraisa, so that they should not treat them lightly.
3. The RITVA (to Rosh Hashanah 16a, see Be'er ha'Golah of the MAHARAL, Be'er #1) states that when Chazal present an Asmachta, it means that the Torah meant to suggest that it is fitting to implement such a Halachah, but that it did not choose to make it obligatory. The Torah empowered the Chachamim to enact it should the need for it arise. Similarly, the SHELAH (in Torah she'Be'al Peh, entry titled "Rabanan") writes that when the Chachamim utilized a hint from a verse, it means that they learned a particular approach of reasoning from this verse. Accordingly, it appeared to them that there was a need to decree this particular Halachah.
4. The MESHECH CHOCHMAH (Parshas Shoftim) claims that when Chazal present an Asmachta, it means that after Chazal instituted a particular Halachah or enacted a particular decree, they studied the Torah and found that the Torah had already hinted to that future decree in its eternal wisdom.
(d) There are those who write that a Halachah mid'Rabanan that is learned from an Asmachta, and which has a hint in the apparent meaning of the verses, is more stringent than an Isur mid'Rabanan for which an Asmachta from the Torah is not offered. These Halachos were given the status of Halachos of the Torah in certain respects, for example, with regard to the requirement to be stringent in the case of a Safek (PRI MEGADIM, Introduction to Shulchan Aruch Orach Chayim 1:2:d)
18) [line 25] ASRA D'CHAHANEI (HAVU) [HAVAH] - there was a city or place of Kohanim (the Girsa change is found in DIKDUKEI SOFRIM #6)
19) [line 25] V'HAVU KAPDEI TUVA - who were very demanding and rigid
20) [line 26] U'MEGARSHEI NESHAIHU - and they would divorce their wives [even for small disagreements]
21) [line 26] ADE'HACHI V'HACHI MEISVA DA'ATAIHU - in the meantime, they would calm down
22) [line 28] KEDEI SHE'LO TECHALEK - in order not to differentiate
23) [line 29] BEIN KESHER L'KESHER - between the seams (see above, entry #1; at this point the Gemara assumes that the witness signs on the inside of the document, after each time it is sewn)
24) [line 30] ACHOREI HA'KESAV U'KENEGED HA'KESAV MIBACHUTZ - on the back of the written [document, signed exactly on the parchment] on the reverse side of the line that was written
25) [line 33] MI'GAVA'EI - inside
26) [line 35] EIN ZEMAN B'ZEH - there is no time written in this [Get. This is one of the requirements of Gitin -- see Background to Bava Metzia 7:15)
27) [line 36] MUVLA - enveloped (lit. swallowed)
28) [line 36] PALYEI V'CHAZYEI - he ripped open [the sewn folds] and saw it (the date of the Get)
29) [line 39] ME'ABRA'I - on the outside
30) [line 40] ZIYEF V'CHASAV MAI D'BA'I - anyone can forge and write whatever he wants [at the end of the document, since the witnesses are only signed at the top, on the part that is sewn]
31) [line 40] V'CHASIMI SAHADEI - and the witnesses are [already] signed
32) [line 41] SHARIR V'KAYAM - strong (i.e. proper) and established
33) [line 42] ACHARINA - another [time]
34) [line 44] MACHIK - he erases
35) [last line] TELUYAH: MEKUYEMES, KESHEIRA - (lit. hanging: [if it is] Mekuyemes, it is valid) when an addendum or correction is added in between the lines of a document, usually above the line into which it is being added, and the Shtar is subsequently Mekuyam (see Background to Bava Basra 159:9), the document is valid
Index to Background for Maseches Bava Basra