1) COSMETIC DENTISTRY
QUESTION: The Mishnah relates an incident involving a man who made a Neder not to marry a certain woman because she was uncomely. Rebbi Yishmael took her in and beautified her, and then he permitted the man to marry her since the Neder was no longer valid once she became attractive. The Chachamim in the Mishnah disagree and say that if a person makes a Neder not to marry a woman because she is ugly woman and then she becomes attractive, his Neder remains in force and he is not permitted to marry her.
What is Rebbi Yishmael's logic for permitting her? Since she was beautified only after the Neder, the grounds for annulment is Nolad (a new occurrence which did not exist at the time the Neder was made), and Nolad may not be used as a Pesach to annul a Neder (64a)!
(a) The RAN writes that Rebbi Yishmael follows the view of Rebbi Eliezer (64a) who rules that Nolad may be used as grounds for the annulment of a Neder. The Chachamim who disagree follow their own view that Nolad may not be used as a Pesach for the annulment of a Neder.
(b) The ROSH explains that even Rebbi Yishmael agrees that Nolad may not be used to annul a Neder. However, Rebbi Yishmael's logic is that all Jewish women are inherently beautiful. Any ugliness they have is due only to their state of poverty, as the Mishnah says. When the man made a Neder not to marry the ugly woman, he meant that he would not marry her because she was inherently ugly. Rebbi Yishmael permitted him to marry her because he maintained that no Jewish woman is inherently ugly, and thus the Neder was a Neder Ta'us, a Neder made in error. This is also the opinion of the RITVA.
The Rosh and the Ran apparently disagree about whether Rebbi Yishmael made the woman more beautiful (and thus the case was one of Nolad) or he merely removed her ugliness so that her inherent beauty would show itself (and thus the case was not one of Nolad).
The Gemara explains how Rebbi Yishmael beautified the woman. He replaced her unsightly substitute tooth with a gold tooth. The argument between the Rosh and the Ran may depend on how to understand why this act beautified her, as follows.
The MAHARSHA asks a basic question. The Gemara in Shabbos (65a) explains that a woman is not permitted to go outside on Shabbos with a gold tooth, but she is permitted to go out with a silver tooth. RASHI there (DH Lo Shanu) offers two explanations for this Halachah. One explanation is that a woman who goes out with a gold tooth might remove it and carry it in order to show it to other women because it is so precious, and she will transgress the prohibition against carrying four Amos in Reshus ha'Rabim. In contrast, a woman will not remove and carry a silver tooth because it is nothing special to display.
In his second explanation, Rashi quotes his teachers who explain that the concern is that the woman will remove the gold tooth from her mouth and carry it because it does not match her other teeth and makes her look ugly. She will not remove a silver tooth because a silver tooth blends well with her other teeth. According to this explanation, why did Rebbi Yishmael make a gold tooth for this woman in order to make her attractive? A gold tooth makes her look unsightly and not attractive! He should have spent less money and made her a silver tooth, which would have looked nicer.
RAV YAKOV EMDEN suggests two answers. He suggests that the Gemara does not mean that Rebbi Yishmael actually made a gold tooth for her. Rather, it means that he made for her a tooth that was worth as much as gold. It was a silver tooth, but the value of the dental labor was worth so much money that it was as if the tooth was made from gold. Alternatively, the woman's other teeth were discolored and appeared yellow (or Rebbi Yishmael plated the other teeth with gold), and thus the gold tooth blended with them perfectly.
This may be the basis for the argument between the Rosh and the Ran. The Ran may have learned like Rashi's first explanation in Shabbos, that a gold tooth is far more attractive in a woman's mouth than a silver tooth, and certainly more than an ordinary false tooth. Since Rebbi Yishmael beautified the woman by making a gold tooth for her, it was a case of Nolad -- she became beautiful only after the Neder as a result of the new tooth. However, the Rosh may have learned like the second explanation of Rashi in Shabbos, that the purpose of the gold tooth was simply to cover the gap left by the missing tooth (or the black spot made by the false tooth). Accordingly, it was not a case of Nolad. She was already beautiful but the black tooth made her appear ugly, and by replacing it with a gold tooth Rebbi Yishmael removed her ugliness.