1) A "SHUSHVIN" WHO DIES
OPINIONS: The Gemara concludes that when the recipient of a gift of Shushvinus is unable to reciprocate the gift because the giver dies before he can get married, the recipient is not obligated to give the gift to the heirs. He may claim, "Give me my friend so that I can rejoice with him." Since his friend is no longer alive, his obligation to reciprocate the Shushvinus is terminated.
What is the Halachah in the opposite case, when the recipient dies and then the giver of the Shushvinus gets married? Are the original recipient's heirs obligated to give the Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married?
(a) The RAMBAN writes that the heirs may not claim, "Since our father cannot rejoice with you at your wedding, he is no longer obligated to give you the Shushvinus." Rather, they are obligated to pay their father's "debt" of Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married. The Ramban explains that the inability of the recipient to celebrate at his friend's wedding is not a reason to exempt him (or his heirs) from giving the Shushvinus. This is evident from the Gemara later (145b) which says that even if the Chasan failed to inform his friend about his upcoming wedding and therefore his friend did not come and celebrate at the wedding, he still is obligated to give the Shushvinus.
(b) The RI MI'GASH, RAMBAM, and RAN disagree with the Ramban and maintain that the heirs are not necessarily obligated to give the Shushvinus to their father's friend when he gets married. Rather, such a case is similar to the case of a man who gave money of Kidushin to a woman, and then the woman died before the Nisu'in was performed. In such a case, the custom of their particular place dictates whether the woman's heirs are required to return the money of Kidushin to the man. (This is also the ruling of the TUR EH 60.)
In response to the Ramban's proof from the case of a Chasan who failed to inform his friend about his upcoming wedding (in which case the friend remains obligated to give the Shushvinus), the Ran explains that the friend remains obligated because it is his responsibility to find out when his friend is getting married. (It is not expected of a Chasan to say to his friend, "I am making a wedding on such and such a date, so make sure to give me the gifts of Shushvinus.") Therefore, when the friend was not informed about the wedding and did not attend it, he still is obligated to give the Shushvinus since he should have found out about the wedding. When the recipient of the first Shushvinus dies, however, it is logical to exempt his heirs from giving the Shushvinus. He is not held responsible to attend his friend's wedding, and his absence was beyond his control. Therefore, the Halachah follows the prevalent custom of the place.
2) AGADAH: THE MASTER OF TEACHINGS
QUESTION: The Gemara gives a number of metaphors for different types of scholars. The Gemara compares a person who is a master of Agadah (the homiletic, non-Halachic parts of Torah) to a person who is rich with property that can be seen by all (such as fields, vineyards, olive trees, and animals). He is compared to a publicly rich man because he is able to expound his knowledge of Agadah to the masses everywhere, since a listener does not need to possess great intelligence in order to hear Agadah.
The Gemara compares a person who is a master of Pilpul (erudition and deep understanding of the Torah) to a person who is rich with coins or rich with oil, since a master of Pilpul constantly understands new concepts and ideas, just as a person who deals with coins or oil constantly has an income.
The Gemara compares a person who is a master of teachings and rulings to a person who is rich with things that are stored (and not sold), since a master of teachings is able to reveal any part of his learning whenever it is needed.
Is the Gemara's intent to describe the different characteristics and strengths of each of these masters of learning, or is its point to describe them in an order of importance or preference?
ANSWER: The MAHARIK (#169) maintains that the Gemara's description of these masters of learning follows an increasing order of prominence. The "Ba'al Pilpul" is greater than the "Ba'al Agadah" because his analytic ability and deep understanding enables him to learn and penetrate all areas of Torah so that he can reach the truth in all areas. The "Ba'al Shemu'os," however, has an advantage even over the "Ba'al Pilpul," because his knowledge is needed by all people for their Avodas Hash-m (just as wheat is a staple food needed by all people). This explains why -- when the Amora'im in Eretz Yisrael were asked whether "Sinai" is preferable (referring to Rav Yosef, who knew all of the Torah) or "Oker Harim" is preferable ("a person who uproots mountains," referring to Rabah, who was able to penetrate to the root of even the most complex issue), they proclaimed that "Sinai" is preferable (Berachos 64a, Horayos 14a). (The Maharik concludes, however, that since it is a Machlokes Tana'im (Horayos 14a) whether "Sinai" is preferable or "Oker Harim" is preferable, the Gemara here cannot serve as conclusive proof that "Sinai" is preferable because it may be in accordance with the opinion that maintains that "Sinai" is preferable.) (See also TOSFOS RID.)
REBBI TZADOK HA'KOHEN (cited by YOSEF DA'AS) writes that this also might be the subject of the dispute between Rebbi Zeira and Rava (which the Gemara quotes next). Rebbi Zeira said that the phrase, "All of the days of the poor are bad" (Mishlei 15:15), refer to a person who is a master of the Gemara ("Ba'al Gemara"), while the phrase, "and the good of heart has a constant feast" (ibid.), refers to a person who is a master of the Mishnah ("Ba'al Mishnah"). Rava argued and said the opposite: "all the days of the poor are bad" refers to the Ba'al Mishnah, while "the good of heart has a constant feast" refers to the Ba'al Gemara.
The Gemara (Bava Metzia 85a) relates that when Rebbi Zeira moved from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, he fasted 100 fasts in order to forget all of the learning that he absorbed in Bavel. This was because the style of learning in Eretz Yisrael was that of "Sinai," broad knowledge of all parts of the Torah, while the style in Bavel was "Oker Harim," deep analysis. Rebbi Zeira chose the style of Eretz Yisrael for himself, and therefore he maintained that the words "the good of heart has a constant feast" refer to the Ba'al Mishnah (a person who has broad knowledge). Rava argued and said that the phrase "the good of heart has a constant feast" refers to the Ba'al Gemara, because Rava preferred the style of deep analytical learning over broad knowledge, as the Gemara indicates earlier (Bava Basra 22a; in addition, the Gemara often refers to his deep questions as "Havayos d'Abaye v'Rava").