1) "SEMICHAH" PERFORMED BY WOMEN
QUESTION: The Mishnah lists the people who may not perform Semichah on Korbanos. One of these is a woman. Although the Gemara here mentions no dissenting opinion, the Gemara in Chagigah (16b) records an argument about whether a woman may perform Semichah on her Korban if she wants to do so. In a Beraisa there, the Tana Kama states that women may not do Semichah. Rebbi Yosi argues and says that women may do Semichah if they wish. Rebbi Yosi relates in the name of Aba Elazar that once they let women do Semichah on Shelamim. Aba Elazar explained that this was not because they maintained that women are supposed to do Semichah, but because they wanted to make a "Nachas Ru'ach" for the women.
According to this opinion, how did the women do Semichah? When one does Semichah, he must place both of his hands on the animal's head and lean all of his weight on the animal. If women are not supposed to do Semichah, then how were they permitted to lean on the animal? Leaning on the animal when there is no obligation to do Semichah constitutes an unnecessary labor with Kodshim, which is prohibited!
(a) TOSFOS in Chulin (85a, DH Nashim Somchos) points out that the Gemara in Chagigah itself asks this question. The Gemara there answers that the women did not actually lean on the Korban, but rather they were instructed to place their hands lightly over the Korban.
(b) The SHA'AR HA'MELECH (Hilchos Ma'aseh ha'Korbanos 3:13) quotes the KORBAN AHARON who asserts that many Rishonim differ with this opinion. RASHI in Chulin (DH Somchos Reshus) explains Rebbi Yosi's position by saying that "even though they are not obligated [to do Semichah], we do not say that they are doing [prohibited] Avodah with Kodshim." If Rashi maintains that the Semichah performed by women is done as the Gemara in Chagigah describes (that is, by lightly placing their hands over the Korban), then why does he need to mention that the women are not doing a prohibited Avodah with Kodshim? It must be that Rashi maintains that they put all of their weight onto the animal when they do Semichah. The Korban Aharon cites many others who also maintain that this is the way women do Semichah (such as TOSFOS in Rosh Hashanah 33a, DH Ha, and in Eruvin 96a, DH Dilma, and the RAN in Sukah (9b of the pages of the Rif)).
This opinion, however, is difficult to understand, because the Gemara in Chagigah explicitly states that, according to Rebbi Yosi, the women did not put all of their weight on the animal when they did Semichah. How do these Rishonim explain the Gemara there?
The Korban Aharon answers that there are two different situations of women doing Semichah. The Gemara in Chagigah discusses a case in which the Korban did not belong to the woman in question. The Gemara there is saying that it is impossible to let other women do a real Semichah just because they are the ones transporting the Korban to the Beis ha'Mikdash. In contrast, the argument between Rebbi Yosi and the Tana Kama involves whether or not women may do real Semichah on their own Korbanos. According to this explanation, Tosfos in Chagigah (16b, DH la'Asos) agrees with Tosfos in Chulin (85a), as Tosfos explicitly says that the Gemara is discussing women doing Semichah on Korbanos that they own themselves. (See Sha'ar ha'Melech at length.)
Although there is a difference between the cases of these Gemaros, there still seems to be a logical problem with the opinion of Rashi and the other Rishonim who maintain that women may do Semichah in the normal manner. Why does Rebbi Yosi permit women to do Avodah with Kodshim, when there is no obligation for them to do Semichah?
The RA'AVAD in Toras Kohanim (Vayikra 2:2) follows the view of Rashi and explains the position of Rebbi Yosi accordingly. He explains that Rebbi Yosi understands that when the Torah says that women are exempt from certain Mitzvos, it does not mean that they cannot do those Mitzvos, but rather it means that they are not obligated to do those Mitzvos. Inherent in this understanding is that the Torah gives permission to women to do the Mitzvos from which they are exempt if they so desire. Rebbi Yosi is not saying that women may do Semichah despite the prohibition; rather, he is saying that the Torah does not prohibit women from doing Semichah, and, on the contrary, it leaves them the option to do so. (Y. MONTROSE)
QUESTION: The Mishnah (93a) says that when one performs Semichah on a Korban, he must do it with his two hands. Reish Lakish explains that the source for this requirement is a Binyan Av that teaches that whenever the Torah uses the word "Yadav" (spelled Yud, Dalet, Vav, without a second Yud), it refers to two hands. This is learned from the verse, "v'Samach Aharon Es Shtei Yadav" -- "and Aharon leaned his two hands (Yadav)" (Vayikra 16:21). In this verse, the word "Yadav" is spelled without a second Yud. From here we learn that whenever the word "Yadav" appears without a second Yud (even when it is read "Yado"), it refers to two hands, as it does in this verse, unless the verse specifies otherwise.
The YAD BINYAMIN explains the reasoning behind Reish Lakish's teaching. Why does the Torah write "Shtei Yadav" without a second Yud? Why does it not simply omit the word "Shtei" (two) and write "Yadav" with a second Yud, which also means "two hands"? It must be that the Torah intends to teach that wherever the word "Yadav" appears without a second Yud, it refers to two hands.
The Gemara later relates that when Reish Lakish heard his Derashah being taught by Rebbi Elazar who did not attribute it to him, he challenged Rebbi Elazar and asked why the Torah itself writes the word "Yadav" with a second Yud 24 times. The Gemara gives three examples of "Yadav" written with a second Yud. The Gemara concludes that this Derashah applies only to occasions of the word "Yadav" (without a second Yud) written with regard to Semichah of Korbanos. With regard to Semichah, it always refers to two hands. In other areas of the Torah, the word "Yadav" without a second Yud does not necessarily refer to two hands.
The SEFAS EMES and other Acharonim ask an obvious question on the Gemara. A simple count of the number of times that the word "Yadav" appears in the Torah with a second Yud reveals that it does not appear 24 times, but only 13. The Gemara cannot mean that it appears in all of Tanach 24 times, because it appears far more than that (46). What does Reish Lakish mean when he asks that the word "Yadav" is written with a second Yud 24 times?
(a) The NIMUKEI HA'GRIV answers that Reish Lakish is not asking that the word "Yadav" appears in the Torah 24 times. Rather, his question is from a verse in Shmuel (II 21:20). The verse there describes a great warrior of the Plishtim and says, "v'Etzba'os Yadav v'Etzba'os Raglav Shesh v'Shesh, Esrim v'Arba Mispar" -- "And the digits of his hands and the digits of his feet were six each, twenty-four in number." When Reish Lakish asks, "Esrim v'Arba Yadav," it is actually paraphrasing this verse. Reish Lakish is asking that in that verse, the word "Yadav" is spelled with a second Yud and it clearly refers to two hands.
This explanation seems somewhat forced. Why would the Gemara use a strange method of abbreviating the verse, and why would Reish Lakish ask his question from this verse in Shmuel before he lists any of the other verses in Chumash (as the Gemara proceeds to list)?
(b) The MALBIM (Vayikra 16:21) answers that Reish Lakish indeed means that the word appears 24 times in the Chumash. He is referring, however, to different conjugations of the word in which a second Yud is written, such as "Yedei," "Yadai," "Yadeha," and "Yadecha." There indeed are 24 such words in the Chumash.
(c) The son of the Sefas Emes, RAV MOSHE BETZALEL, in an endnote to the Sefas Emes, suggests that the count includes all of the times the word "Yadav" (without a prefix) appears with two Yuds in the Torah (10 times), as well as the number of times that the word "Yedeihem" (as opposed to "Yadam") appears with two Yuds (14 times). (While Rav Moshe Betzalel actually contends that "Yedeihem" appears only 11 times in the Torah and he finds a forced way to add another three, a computer search shows that the word Yedeihem appears exactly 14 times.)