1) A "MIGU" TO INVALIDATE WITNESSES
QUESTIONS: Ravin and Rav Dimi both explain that the litigant is believed to disqualify his opponent's witness, according to Rebbi Meir, only when the opponent has *two* pairs of witnesses. The litigant, therefore, is not Noge'a b'Davar when he disqualifies the first pair.
According to Rav Dimi, the litigant is believed because Rebbi Meir maintains "Tzarich l'Varer" -- since the opponent must bring his second pair of witnesses, the litigant is not Noge'a b'Davar when he testifies about the first pair of witnesses. It will not make a difference if he invalidates that pair, since there is another pair supposedly coming.
According to Ravin, the litigant is believed to invalidate the witnesses when he has two other witnesses to support his claim that the *judges* are invalid. This is because of a "Migu" -- since he is telling the truth about the judges, we assume that he is also telling the truth about the witnesses.
The Gemara asks what, then, is the difference between Ravin and Rav Dimi? The Gemara answers that the difference is whether a Migu may be applied. One Amora (Ravin, according to Rashi) maintains that a Migu may be applied, and the other Amora (Rav Dimi) maintains that a Migu may not be applied. The Gemara does not say that Ravin *requires* a Migu; that is, that without a Migu the litigant cannot disqualify his opponent's witnesses. Rather, it says that Ravin *allows* a Migu to work.
RASHI (DH Ravin Savar) explains that the Gemara means that Ravin allows a Migu to work *elsewhere* just as a Migu helps in this case, since Rebbi Meir allows the litigant to disqualify a witness only when there is also a Migu.
If the Gemara understands that, according to Ravin, Rebbi Meir allows the litigant to disqualify witnesses only when he also has a Migu, then why does the Gemara ask what the difference is between Ravin and Rav Dimi? It should answer simply that Ravin requires that there be a Migu in order for the litigant to be believed, and Rav Dimi does not! Why does the Gemara find it necessary to point out that Ravin applies the concept of Migu in other cases, while Rav Dimi does not? (MAHARSHA)
Moreover, the Halachah follows the opinion of the Rabanan and not Rebbi Meir. Why, then, does the Gemara assert that Ravin will apply a Migu elsewhere? Ravin certainly will rule like the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi and who do not apply the Migu!
(a) The KOS YESHU'OS and the ARUCH LA'NER suggest a different explanation for the Gemara, in contrast to that of Rashi. The Gemara means that *Rav Dimi* maintains that a Migu applies, and *not* Ravin. That is why Rav Dimi does not explain that the Mishnah is discussing a case of a Migu, because if there was a Migu, then even the *Rabanan* would agree that the litigant can disqualify his opponent's witnesses. Ravin, on the other hand, maintains that the Rabanan do *not* apply the Migu, and therefore they do not trust the litigant despite the presence of a Migu.
This answers the two questions. The Gemara wants to explain *why* Rav Dimi argues with Ravin, and not just *what* they argue about, and that is why it says that Rav Dimi applies the Migu. Furthermore, according to Rav Dimi, it is also the Rabanan who apply the Migu, and not only Rebbi Meir.
Rashi, however, does not explain the Gemara this way.
(b) The TORAS CHAIM and YAD DAVID explain that according to Ravin, the litigant is believed with a Migu to disqualify his opponent's witnesses even if the litigant does *not* have a second witness to support him. When the Gemara says that Ravin applies a Migu, it means that Ravin applies a Migu even when the litigant testifies *alone*. Rav Dimi argues and does not apply a Migu and the litigant is not believed when he testifies alone.
However, this does not answer the second question, why the Gemara says that Ravin applies a Migu if he maintains that the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi Meir do not accept the Migu.
Moreover, how does the Gemara know that Ravin accepts the litigant's testimony *alone*, based on a Migu? Perhaps he applies the Migu only when there is a second witness with the litigant, as Ravin's words imply ("Migu *d'Paslei* Edim, *Paslei* Nami Dayani," written in the plural form). (See MAHARSHA.)
(c) Perhaps even the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi Meir agree that a Migu applies, according to Ravin. The reason why the Rabanan do not accept the Migu to disqualify the witness is that the person trying to disqualify the witness has a positive factor invalidating him: he is Noge'a b'Davar. Since they consider him Noge'a b'Davar, even a Migu will not enable him to testify against the witness.
If, however, a person does not have a positive invalidating factor, but rather he merely lacks trustworthiness or the power to accomplish certain things, then the Migu would help him even according to the Rabanan. That is why the Gemara says that according to Ravin, a Migu applies even l'Halachah, which follows the Rabanan.
How does the Gemara know this? Perhaps Ravin and Rav Dimi argue only about whether Rebbi Meir requires a Migu! The Gemara assumes that Ravin would not argue with Rav Dimi over the explanation of the Mishnah if no Halachic ramification would result from his explanation. The Gemara asks, therefore, what is the difference between Ravin and Rav Dimi according to the Rabanan.
The Gemara answers that Ravin allows a Migu in other cases even according to the Rabanan, whereas Rav Dimi does not recognize this type of Migu according to any of the Tana'im.
2) "HOW COULD A HOLY MOUTH SAY SUCH A THING?"
QUESTIONS: The Gemara discusses Reish Lakish's explanation of the opinion of Rebbi Meir. In the Mishnah (23a), Rebbi Meir rules that a litigant can disqualify the witnesses brought against him. Reish Lakish exclaims, "How can the holy mouth (Peh Kadosh) of Rebbi Meir say such a thing?" Reish Lakish explains that Rebbi Meir must mean instead that when a litigant committed himself to accept the testimony of one witness as if it were the testimony of two, he is permitted to retract his commitment.
The Gemara asks, why does Reish Lakish refer to Rebbi Meir with such awe ("Peh Kadosh")? Reish Lakish himself was a great scholar who could "uproot mountains and grind them together" through his depth of understanding and sharpness of mind.
Ravina wonders what the Gemara's question is. It is understandable that Reish Lakish was in great awe of Rebbi Meir, since Rebbi Meir would "uproot *vast* mountains and grind them together" and he was even greater than Reish Lakish.
The Gemara responds that it did not mean to ask a question on Reish Lakish. Rather, by pointing out that Reish Lakish used such praiseful terms about Rebbi Meir even though Reish Lakish himself was immensely erudite, it is showing how much love the scholars of Eretz Yisrael had for each other.
Why did the Gemara initially assume that a question was being asked on Reish Lakish (why did he have so much awe for Rebbi Meir)? Rebbi Meir was a Tana, and Reish Lakish certainly may not argue with a Tana, and thus such awe was not out of place!
Also, how does the Gemara answer Ravina's question? If Rebbi Meir was so much greater than Reish Lakish, then it makes sense to say that Reish Lakish spoke with modesty out of deference for Rebbi Meir's greatness. The Gemara, though, does not say that. Rather, it says that Reish Lakish's statement is an example of an expression of endearment for another sage. The recognition of the greatness of another sage should cause awe and respect, and not endearment and affection.
(a) The BEN YEHOYADA explains that Ravina thought that the question was not that Reish Lakish should argue with Rebbi Meir, but rather that Reish Lakish did not have to address Rebbi Meir with such overly-emphasized modesty. Ravina therefore asked that Reish Lakish indeed was entitled to speak with such modesty, because Rebbi Meir was so much greater than Reish Lakish. This answers the first question.
The Gemara's response to Ravina may be explained as follows. The question was not why Reish Lakish showed such modesty. It is true that it was appropriate to be modest when challenging Rebbi Meir. Nevertheless, Reish Lakish did not have to use any appellation; he could simply have said that the Mishnah is discussing a single witness, without adding the introduction, "How can the holy mouth of Rebbi Meir say such a thing." It must be that Reish Lakish conscientiously made it a point to show his love for Rebbi Meir while explaining Rebbi Meir's opinion because that was the manner of the scholars of Eretz Yisrael.
(b) However, according to this explanation, the Gemara should have said "Hachi *ka'Amrinan*" -- "this is what *we* meant to say," since it is explaining the statement that was made by the Gemara, and not the statement that was made by Reish Lakish.
The SANHEDRI KETANAH also asks why the depth of understanding and erudition of Reish Lakish should have been reason for him *not* to refer to Rebbi Meir as "Peh Kadosh." He was not referring to Rebbi Meir as extremely *wise*, but rather as unique in his *holiness*, and this trait was not related to the erudition of Reish Lakish!
The Sanhedri Ketanah therefore offers a different explanation for the Gemara (unlike Rashi's explanation).
The Gemara in Eruvin (13b) says that Rebbi Meir was so sharp that other Talmidei Chachamim were unable to comprehend his reasoning, and, as a result, the Halachah does not follow his opinion. The Gemara there might be alluding to the teaching of the Gemara in Bava Metzia (96b, and Nidah 33b) that "l'Fum Churfa Shabeshta" -- the sharper a person's mind, the more likely he is to make mistakes. The Gemara is asking why Reish Lakish wondered how the "holy mouth" of Rebbi Meir could make such a mistake; perhaps the very fact that Rebbi Meir was so sharp caused him to make this mistake! Reish Lakish himself must have realized this, the Gemara adds, for he himself had the same quality of acute sharpness of mind, and the resultant frequency of error. The Gemara answers that even though one's sharpness could cause him to make a mistake, Reish Lakish preferred to overlook this point and to defend Rebbi Meir's statement, out of the love that the scholars of Eretz Yisrael had for each other. (According to this, Ravina's statement is part of the Gemara's initial question. RABEINU CHANANEL also seems to understand Ravina's statement in this way.)
(c) Neither of these explanations addresses why Reish Lakish uses the expression "Peh Kadosh" only on this particular occasion. In no other instance do the scholars of Eretz Yisrael use such terminology when defending another's opinion. Moreover, it is strange for the Gemara to be proving the love that Talmidei Chachamim have for each other from the statement of a later scholar about an earlier scholar. Such a statement may have been made simply out of respect, and not necessarily out of love. Love and endearment can be proved only from the way contemporary colleagues address each other (as the Gemara here relates in the incident about Rebbi and Rebbi Yosi). Perhaps, therefore, another explanation for the Gemara may be proposed.
Reish Lakish used the expression "Peh Kadosh" to protest the simple reading of the Mishnah. Rebbi Meir in the Mishnah says that one litigant "should disqualify (Posel) the witnesses of his opponent" by calling them slaves or thieves, and the other litigant should do the same to the first one's witnesses. Why does Rebbi Meir express his ruling in terms of such contentiousness? His wording, that each litigant "should disqualify (Posel)" the witnesses of the other implies that he is suggesting that the litigants *should* act belligerently and speak badly about the witnesses. If Rebbi Meir means to say that each litigant *is able* to disqualify the witnesses of his opponent (but not that he *should*), then he should say that each one "can disqualify (Yachol li'Fsol") or "is believed to disqualify (Ne'eman li'Fsol)" the witnesses of his opponent. He should not have said that "this one *should* disqualify" the witnesses of his opponent!
The earlier statement in the Mishnah, in which Rebbi Meir says that "one litigant should disqualify the judge of the other," does not suggest contentiousness, and thus Reish Lakish is not bothered by this statement. This is because, as the Gemara explains, Rebbi Meir is referring to nonqualified judges and he is allowing each litigant to reject the judges simply because he is not comfortable with being judged by them. The judge is not actually being disqualified from his status of a judge; nothing bad is being said about the judge. In contrast, when referring to witnesses, Rebbi Meir is teaching (according to the simple reading of the Mishnah) that each litigant may actually disqualify his opponent's witness and is believed to say that the witnesses are slaves, thieves, or liars. Reish Lakish asks, therefore, how Rebbi Meir could say that each litigant "should disqualify" the witnesses that oppose him.
The Gemara questions the statement of Reish Lakish from the fact that Reish Lakish himself learned with tremendous intensity and forcefulness, as expressed in the metaphor of uprooting mountains and grinding them to pieces. Why, then, should he be upset by the abrasive tone of Rebbi Meir's words? Ravina adds that Rebbi Meir himself was known to learn in an even more intense manner, so why should Reish Lakish be surprised at Rebbi Meir's forceful tone?
The Gemara answers that "this is what he (Reish Lakish) meant." He meant that even though Rebbi Meir learned with such intensity and forcefulness in order to reach the correct Halachic understanding, nevertheless the scholars of Eretz Yisrael were extremely careful to show respect to their colleagues. Therefore, when describing interpersonal relationships in the Mishnah, Rebbi Meir should not have used such an abrasive tone, but rather he should have said that each litigant "is believed" to disqualify the witnesses of his opponent. Reish Lakish proves from the wording of Rebbi Meir that Rebbi Meir is not referring to disqualifying a witness by giving him a bad name. Rather, he is saying that after a litigant committed himself to accept the testimony of a single witness like that of two witnesses, he is able to retract and to make the single witness no more powerful than any other single witness (since doing does not involve saying anything bad about the witness). Therefore, Rebbi Meir was justified in expressing himself by saying that each litigant may disqualify the witness of his opponent if he wants. (M. KORNFELD)
3) THE TALMUD BAVLI
QUESTION: The Gemara contrasts the approach to learning of the scholars of Eretz Yisrael to the approach of the scholars of Bavel. The scholars of Eretz Yisrael learned with calmness and patience, while the scholars of Bavel learned with forcefulness and roughness.
The Gemara concludes with the teaching of Rebbi Yirmeyah who explains that the verse which says, "He placed me in darkness, like those who are dead forever" (Eichah 3:6), refers to the Talmud of Bavel.
The words of Rebbi Yirmeyah imply that the Talmud of Bavel is inferior to what was studied in Eretz Yisrael at the same time. As Rashi writes, since the scholars were not patient with each other, they did not reach clear conclusions. Why, then, does the Halachah always follow the ruling of the Talmud Bavli whenever it disputes the ruling of the Talmud Yerushalmi?
(a) The RIF (end of Eruvin) writes that the Halachah follows the rulings of the Talmud Bavli because the scholars in Bavel were familiar with the Talmud Yerushalmi (because it was compiled earlier). They argued with the ruling of the Yerushalmi only when they had a tradition that the Yerushalmi's ruling in that matter was not reliable (either because the Amora'im themselves changed their minds, or because the ruling was not properly recorded).
(b) RABEINU CHANANEL here disagrees with Rashi and explains that Rebbi Yirmeyah is *praising* the Talmud Bavli. Rebbi Yirmeyah is saying that its arguments are so deep, profound, and hidden that it is comparable to the depths of the sea. Accordingly, Rebbi Yirmeyah's statement is consistent with the statement of Rebbi Yochanan which precedes it, which seems to be extolling the praises of the Talmud Bavli.
This is also the way RASHI in Chagigah (10a) explains the meaning of Rebbi Yirmeyah's statement here. The Talmud Bavli is so deep that it is much more difficult to understand than the Talmud Yerushalmi. However, its level of scholarship might be higher.
(c) The RITVA in Yoma (57a, cited by the footnote in the Vilna Shas) quotes a Teshuvah of the RAMBAM in which the Rambam explains that Rebbi Yirmeyah was following his own opinion as expressed elsewhere. In Zevachim (60b) and other places Rebbi Yirmeyah said of the scholars of Bavel that "since they live in a dark land, they make dark (unclear, mistaken) statements." Rebbi Yirmeyah maintained that the people of Bavel did not learn with clarity. Similarly, the Gemara in Bava Metzia (85a) relates that Rebbi Zeira, who also went from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, fasted for 100 days so that Hash-m would help him forget the Torah that he had learned in Bavel. In addition, Rebbi Zeira stated that "the air of Eretz Yisrael makes a person wise" (Bava Basra 158b). The Rambam implies that others argued with this approach. Indeed, Rav Yehudah argued with Rebbi Zeira and maintained that one is prohibited to leave Bavel to go to Eretz Yisrael (Kesuvos 111a; see Insights there), because Bavel was the center of Torah learning.
This is also the implication of Rebbi Yochanan's statement in the Gemara here. He means that the Talmud Bavli is a mixture of the three major areas of Torah.
How can the scholarship of Bavel be greater than that of Eretz Yisrael, when the Gemara explains that in Bavel the learning was done in a much rougher manner than in Eretz Yisrael? The answer is that the Amora'im in Bavel maintained that it is better to learn in a fiery, excited way, and that by doing so it is more likely that the truth will be uncovered. This is why Rava teaches that if a Talmid Chacham becomes angry it is because "the fire of Torah is burning within him" (Ta'anis 4a). Rava himself learned with such intensity that he caused his fingers to bleed (Shabbos 88a). Rav Ashi teaches that a Talmid Chacham must be "as hard as steel" (Ta'anis 4a). Reish Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan teach that a Talmid Chacham who does not strike like a serpent to avenge the honor of the Torah is not a proper Talmid Chacham (Shabbos 63a, Yoma 23a). This is why the Halachah follows the rulings of the Talmud Bavli.
(d) The RAMBAM cited by the Ritva adds that even according to Rebbi Yirmeyah, it was only during a certain era that the study of Torah in Eretz Yisrael was on a higher level than that in Bavel. The period of Rabah and Rav Yosef in Bavel (and Rebbi Yirmeyah and Rebbi Zeira in Eretz Yisrael), and their students Abaye and Rava, was a very difficult period in the history of the Babylonian Jews. The Babylonians were particularly vicious in their decrees against the Torah (see Gitin 17a, Chulin 46a). Consequently, the scholars did not have the peace of mind necessary for total immersion in and concentration on learning Torah. Later, though, in the period of Ravina and Rav Ashi, there was relative tranquility in Bavel, and the level of the Talmud of Bavel therefore surpassed that of Eretz Yisrael. That is why the Halachah follows the rulings of the Talmud Bavli.