1) STEALING FROM THE POOR IN ORDER TO BENEFIT THEM
QUESTION: Rava expounds the verse, "The blessing of the despondent one shall come upon me, and the heart of the widow I shall make rejoice" (Iyov 29:13). The words "The blessing of the despondent one shall come upon me" teach that Iyov would steal a field from orphans, work on it and improve it, and then return it to them.
How could Iyov do such a thing? The Gemara in Bava Metzia (61b) states clearly that one is forbidden to steal something even with the intention to return it, and even with the intention to return double the value of the object. Why does the Gemara here praise Iyov for such a deed? (YAD RAMAH, ME'IRI, TORAS CHAIM, KOVETZ SHI'URIM)
(a) The YAD RAMAH writes that Rava agrees with the opinion expressed earlier (15b) that Iyov was not Jewish (see also TOSFOS to 15b, DH b'Ferush). Only a Jew is prohibited from stealing an object with intent to return it (because that prohibition is based on an extra word in the verse, as the Gemara in Bava Metzia teaches). A Nochri is permitted to steal an object if he plans to return double the value of what he stole, and, on the contrary, it is even praiseworthy for him to do so.
(b) The ME'IRI writes that Iyov did not actually steal the land of the orphans; rather, he worked on it in such a way that it was clear to all who saw that his intentions were for the benefit of the orphans. The Gemara uses the word "Gozel" merely to emphasize the extent to which Iyov cared for poor orphans (i.e. that he even would have stolen their land, had he been permitted to do so, in order to improve its value for them).
(c) The PNEI SHLOMO answers based on the RAMBAM's explanation for why one is prohibited from stealing an object with intent to return double its value. The Rambam explains that if this would be permissible, a person might become accustomed to stealing and might come to steal in a forbidden manner as well. This reasoning, however, applies only to Geneivah, clandestine theft. A person who commits acts of Geneivah may become accustomed to doing so because nobody knows about his thefts. Gezeilah, or open robbery, on the other hand, is permitted when one intends to return double the value, since the victims or other onlookers clearly see who robs them. A thief is not likely to commit multiple acts of open robbery, so he will not become accustomed to such acts.
The KOVETZ SHI'URIM also differentiates between Geneivah and Gezeilah. He cites the words of Tosfos in Bava Kama (11a, DH Ein Shamin) who says in the name of the Yerushalmi that two verses are necessary to teach that the principle of "Ein Shamin" applies both to Geneivah and to Gezeilah, since neither can be learned from the other. This indicates that the Halachos stated with regard to one form of stealing (Geneivah or Gezeilah) do not necessarily apply to the other form. The Halachah that one may not steal an object even with intent to return double its value is derived by the Gemara in Bava Metzia from a verse written with regard to Geneivah. There is no source that the same prohibition applies to Gezeilah.
(d) RAV YAKOV KAMINETZKY zt'l (in EMES L'YAKOV) answers that since land cannot be stolen ("Karka Einah Nigzeles") and a Kinyan of Geneivah or Gezeilah cannot take effect on it, there is no prohibition against stealing a field with intent to return double its value.
(RAV CHANOCH KARELENSTEIN zt'l adds that this answer depends on a Machlokes Rishonim. Some Rishonim maintain that "Karka Einah Nigzeles" means that there is not even a prohibition (d'Oraisa) against stealing land (TOSFOS to Bava Metzia 61a, DH Ela Lav, and PNEI YEHOSHUA there). Others maintain that although "Karka Einah Nigzeles," there still is a prohibition against stealing land, and "Karka Einah Nigzeles" means only that the other laws of Gezeilah do not apply (RAMBAM, Hilchos Geneivah 7).)
(e) RAV CHANOCH KARELENSTEIN zt'l answers further based on the words of the RITVA (5a, DH Runya). The Ritva writes that one is permitted to steal something with intent to repay when he intends to benefit the Nigzal and not to cause him distress. The Gemara in Bava Metzia prohibits one from stealing with intent to repay only when the thief's intent is to cause anguish to the Nigzal. (I. Alsheich)
2) AVRAHAM AVINU NEVER LOOKED AT HIS WIFE
QUESTION: The Gemara derives from the verse, "I now know that you are a woman of fine appearance" (Bereishis 12:11), that until that point Avraham Avinu had never looked at his wife.
The MAHARSHA asks, how could it be that Avraham Avinu never looked at his wife? The Gemara in Kidushin (41a) teaches that a man is prohibited from marrying a woman before he sees her, lest he find something unbecoming in her. The Gemara (Yoma 28b) teaches that Avraham Avinu fulfilled the entire Torah, even the enactments of the Rabanan. How, then, could he have married Sarah without looking at her, in violation of the Halachah taught by the Gemara in Kidushin?
(a) The MAHARSHA answers that Avraham Avinu certainly saw Sarah in her youth before he married her. After he married her, however, he never looked at her, due to her greatness in modesty. This verse relates that after more than sixty years of marriage, he looked at her because he thought that she no longer had the same degree of beauty that she had in her youth. He saw, however, that she indeed was still as beautiful as she had been in her youth.
(b) The Maharsha answers further that Avraham Avinu fulfilled all of the dictates of the Torah and the Rabanan only after he had performed Bris Milah (as the Maharsha proves elsewhere). Since he married Sarah before he performed Bris Milah, he chose not to fulfill the requirement that one must look at his prospective bride before he marries her.
(c) RAV CHANOCH KARELENSTEIN zt'l in SEFER MAR'EI MEKOMOS answers based on the well-known view of the RAMBAN (to Bereishis 26:5) that the Avos fulfilled all of the Mitzvos only when they were in Eretz Yisrael. Accordingly, Avraham Avinu did not have to look at Sarah before he married her, since he had not yet come to Eretz Yisrael.
(d) Others answer (see SEFER MAR'EI MEKOMOS) that the Gemara in Kidushin says that the reason why one must look at his prospective bride before he marries her is that later he may see something unbecoming in her and be disgusted by her. Avraham Avinu intended never to look at his wife, and therefore he would never see anything unbecoming in her. Therefore, he had no need to look at her before he married her.
However, RAV YOSEF SHALOM ELYASHIV shlit'a (quoted in HE'OROS B'MASECHES KIDUSHIN) rejects this answer for two reasons. First, the verse here shows that Avraham Avinu indeed looked at his wife many years later. He should have taken into account at the time that he married her that a need to look at her might arise some day. Second, it is logical that such an enactment is subject to the principle of "Lo Plug" and thus requires that every man look at his prospective bride before he marries her. (I. Alsheich)
3) THE BIRTH OF A DAUGHTER
OPINIONS: The Gemara relates that when a daughter was born to Rebbi Shimon b'Rebbi, he was distressed. His father comforted him by pointing out that with the birth of a daughter, propagation ("Reviyah") comes into the world. In what way does "Reviyah" come into the world more with the birth of a daughter than with the birth of a son?
(a) RASHI explains that "Reviyah" comes into the world more with the birth of a daughter because a female's reproductive system matures earlier than that of a male (as the Gemara in Sanhedrin 69b implies).
(b) The MAHARSHA explains based on a Midrash (in Shemos Rabah) which he cites in his commentary to Sotah (12a, DH Shalosh Gezeiros Gazar Par'oh). The Midrash says that Pharaoh's decree to kill all of the sons that were born to the Jews was not a wise decree, for it would not accomplish his purpose. One man can marry a number of women and have children from all of them, while one woman cannot marry more than one man. Thus Pharaoh should have decreed that all of the girls be killed, and not all of the boys. This indicates that when there are more women in the world, there can be greater propagation. (I. Alsheich)