1) THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN "MEZID" AND "RATZON"
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that the Kohen must explain to the woman -- in whatever language she understands -- the exact transgression for which the Mei Sotah elicits punishment. He must tell her of the different consequences of whether she became Tamei b'Shogeg (inadvertently) or b'Mezid (advertently), b'Ones (by coercion) or b'Ratzon (willingly).
Why does the Gemara mention four categories? "Mezid" and "Ratzon" seem to be the same type of act. The Beraisa should mention only b'Shogeg, b'Mezid, and b'Ones. (TOSFOS asks a similar question in Yevamos 53b.)
(a) TOSFOS in Yevamos (53b) suggests that the words of the Gemara be read as follows: the Kohen explains to her the consequences of doing the Aveirah b'Shogeg or b'Mezid, whether that act of Shogeg or Mezid was done b'Ones or whether that act of Shogeg or Mezid was done b'Ratzon, without coercion (that is, even if she did it b'Ones, the act still could be considered one of Shogeg, in a case in which she thinks that the person she was forced to be with is her husband; her act is one of "Mezid b'Ones" when she realizes that she is being forced to live with a man who is not her husband).
(b) The RASHASH in Yevamos gives another answer based on an answer which Tosfos there gives to a different question. "B'Ratzon" means doing the act for personal gain or benefit, while "b'Mezid" means doing the act in order to harm someone else (or, in the case of the Gemara here, to rebel against her husband).
(c) The MINCHAS YAKOV suggests that the Gemara may be hinting to the Halachic ruling of the MAHARIK (#165) who distinguishes between a woman who sins b'Shogeg and a woman who thinks that her act of Z'nus is permitted. The Maharik writes that although a woman who sins b'Shogeg (i.e. she thought that the man she was living with was her husband) is permitted to her husband, if she is unfaithful to her husband because she thinks that the Torah does not prohibit the act she does become prohibited to her husband. The reason is that the Torah prohibits an unfaithful woman to her husband not because of the violation of Torah law ("Ma'alah ba'Hashem") but because she was disloyal to her husband (as the Torah says, "u'Ma'alah Vo Ma'al," Bamidbar 5:12). Even if her act of disloyalty would not be prohibited by the Torah, she still would become prohibited to her husband. Therefore, when she mistakenly thinks that the act is permitted by the Torah, it does not lessen her disloyalty to her husband.
The Maharik cites a number of proofs for this:
1. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Sotah 2:4) writes that if a married Ketanah commits adultery, she becomes prohibited to her husband and to the Bo'el. The Torah's prohibitions, however, do not apply to a Ketanah, and nevertheless she becomes prohibited to her husband for being disloyal. Even though most Rishonim do not accept the Rambam's ruling, they reject it for the reason that Pituy Ketanah is considered Ones and not because she cannot become prohibited if she did not commit a sin.
2. He cites TOSFOS in Yoma (82b, DH Mah) who explains that Esther was permitted to live with Achashverosh willingly, since her motivation was to save the entire Jewish people (as was the case with Yael; see Nazir 23b). Nevertheless, the Gemara in Megilah (15a) says that Esther realized that her act of living with Achashverosh would prohibit her to her real husband. (See CHOCHMAS SHLOMO EH 178:3.)
Hence, when the Beraisa here says "Mezid," it may refer to a case of "Omer Mutar," in which she becomes prohibited to her husband even though she did not transgress the Torah's prohibition.
The REMA (EH 178:3) cites the ruling of the Maharik as the Halachah. REBBI AKIVA EIGER (Teshuvos 114), cited by the PISCHEI TESHUVAH, adds that the woman also loses her Kesuvah for such a manner of disloyalty. However, even according to the Maharik, it is likely that if the woman was persuaded not only that there is no prohibition in the Torah against adultery, but even persuaded that her adultery will not be a sign of disloyalty to her husband, then she should be permitted to her husband.
(d) The TIFERES TZIYON suggests that Ones and Ratzon both refer to situations in which someone else imposes on her and initiates the act, either through force or through persuasion. Shogeg and Mezid refer to situations in which she instigates the act herself, either inadvertently or purposefully.
(e) RASHI in Menachos (25b, DH Shogeg) explains that Ratzon and Mezid are one and the same. The Beraisa mentions both phrases only because it needs to contrast Shogeg with Mezid, and thus it also mentions the contrast of Ones, which is Ratzon, even though it does not have to mention Ratzon since it is the same as Mezid. Rashi here (DH uva'Meh Hi Nitma'ah) implies this as well.
2) THE CASE OF "MEZANAH B'SHOGEG"
QUESTION: The Gemara explains that if a woman committed adultery by accident ("Mezanah b'Shogeg"), she is permitted to remain married to her husband. How is a woman Mezanah b'Shogeg? RASHI explains that an example of such a case is when a woman was told that her husband died, and she lived with another man thinking that her husband was dead.
However, when the Gemara earlier (28a) mentions that a woman who was Mezanah b'Shogeg does not become prohibited to her husband, Rashi there explains that the case of Shogeg is when two men are in a house with their two wives, and one man lives with the other man's wife, mistaking her for his own wife. The woman, too, mistakenly thought that the man was her husband.
Why does Rashi change his explanation of the case of Mezanah b'Shogeg?
ANSWER: RASHI here cannot explain that the case of Mezanah b'Shogeg is when the two men and two women were in a house together, because the only time the woman drinks the Mei Sotah is when she secluded herself with another man with nobody else present. The reason she is considered Shogeg must be because she thought her husband had died.
Rashi earlier, however, is discussing the case of a Vadai Sotah (a woman who definitely sinned) for whom there are witnesses who testify that she was Mezanah. The act, therefore, could have been done with other people present.
However, why does Rashi earlier not suggest the simple case of Shogeg which he suggests here (the woman mistakenly thought that her husband had died)? The answer is that Rashi wants to explain "Shogeg" in the normal context in which it is used, which is the type of Shogeg for which a person is obligated to bring a Korban. The Gemara in Shabbos (72b) and Kerisus (19b) teaches that, according to Rava, if a person intended to cut an object on Shabbos which he thought was detached from the ground but which was really attached to the ground, the person's act is considered to be one of "Mis'asek" and not "Shogeg" (and therefore he is not obligated to bring a Korban Chatas).
Accordingly, Rashi explains that the normal case of Shogeg is not when a person had a misconception about a fact which affects the Halachah, but rather when he was aware that there are two different objects in front of him, one permitted and one prohibited, and he accidentally took the prohibited one thinking that it was the permitted one. In this case, Rava agrees that it is considered Shogeg because the person knew that he had to be careful since he was aware that there also was a prohibited object present. (See also Tosfos and Insights there.)
This is why Rashi prefers to explain (on 28a) that the case of Shogeg is when there are two men and two women in one house, and not that the woman was under a misconception (that her husband died, or that she thought the other man was her husband when there was only one man in the house with her).
In the Sugya here, however, Rashi has no choice but to explain that the word "Shogeg" is used imprecisely, and the case is really one of Mis'asek. (M. KORNFELD)
Two important points may be inferred from these two comments of Rashi.
Rashi's words (on 28a) imply that he maintains that the woman is considered a Sotah b'Shogeg only because both she and the Bo'el acted inadvertently (see RASHASH and MINCHAS YAKOV). If only she was Shogeg (but the Bo'el was Mezid), she would still have the status of a Sotah for some matters. Rashi seems to follow the opinion of the Yerushalmi (cited by Tosfos to 27b, DH k'Shem), that even when the woman was Shogeg, if the Bo'el was Mezid she becomes prohibited to him (not like the Gemara in Kesuvos 9a; see Insights to Sotah 27b).
In addition, from Rashi's words here it appears that Rashi has no option of explaining that the "Shogeg" of the Gemara is a true Shogeg, and therefore he explains that the case of the Gemara is a case of Mis'asek. Why does Rashi not explain that "Shogeg" here means that the woman was not aware that the Torah prohibits adultery ("Omer Mutar")? The Gemara in Shabbos (end of 72b) clearly says that a person brings a Korban Chatas in such a situation (see Rashi there, DH v'Chatach). The only situation in which "Omer Mutar" does not have the status of Shogeg is with regard to Galus for one who killed a person by accident (Makos 7b; see Tosfos to Shabbos 72b). The fact that Rashi does not choose to explain that the Gemara is discussing a case of "Omer Mutar" supports the opinion of the MAHARIK (see previous Insight) who maintains that a woman becomes a Sotah if she is "Omer Mutar" and she is not deemed to be a Shogeg with regard to the laws of Mei Sotah (see MINCHAS YAKOV, 28a).
3) OUR "FOREFATHER" LAVAN?
QUESTION: Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai states that a person should speak his praise quietly and speak his disgrace loudly. That one should speak his disgrace loudly is derived from the laws of Mikra Bikurim. The person who brings the Bikurim recites aloud the verse, "Arami Oved Avi" (Devarim 26:5). The Gemara concludes that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai does not mean that one should speak his disgrace loudly, but that one should relate his suffering loudly (so that others will pray for him).
When the Gemara initially assumes that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai refers to one's disgrace, RASHI explains that "Arami Oved Avi" is a self-effacing statement because the people "are admitting that their father, Lavan ha'Arami, was a Rasha." Rashi seems to interpret the verse, "Arami Oved Avi," as, "My father (Lavan) was a hopelessly lost (wicked) Arami."
Why does Rashi say that the Torah refers to Lavan as our "father"? The Gemara in Berachos (16b) says that the only ones referred to as our "fathers" are Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov. Moreover, a number of Midrashim teach that the Jewish people are not considered related to Terach and the other parents of the Matriarchs (such as Besuel and Lavan).
Second, how is the continuation of the verse understood according to this interpretation? The verse continues and says, "and he descended to Mitzrayim." How can the subject of the verse be Lavan, if Lavan never went to Mitzrayim? Obviously, the subject of the verse is Yakov Avinu, and the verse should be interpreted as the Targum Onkelus and the Hagadah of Pesach explain it, that "[Lavan] the Arami wanted to destroy my father." According to this interpretation of the verse, the verse is not disgraceful to the Jewish people, because Lavan is not mentioned in the context of being an ancestor of the Jews. Alternatively, the verse means that "my father [Yakov] was a wandering Arami," as the Ibn Ezra and Chizkuni explain it. The verse continues and says that Yakov then descended to Mitzrayim.
What does Rashi here mean when he says that "my father" in the verse refers to Lavan? (See MINCHAS YAKOV in the name of HA'GAON RAV AHARON SHECHTER shlit'a.)
(a) The Rishonim ask a similar question on the Hagadah of Pesach which states, "Our forefathers were idol-worshippers," and cites a verse which says that Terach was an idol-worshipper. Why does the Hagadah call Terach "our "forefather"? (Based on the RAMBAM in Hilchos Avodas Kochavim 1:3, who says that Avraham Avinu was raised among the idol-worshippers and participated by rote in their service with his parents and family members until the age of 40, it could be that the Hagadah refers to Avraham Avinu himself. See Hagadah mi'Beis Levi, page 125, in the name of the Beis ha'Levi. However, the Rambam himself (Hilchos Chametz u'Matzah 7:4) and the Ritva in Pesachim explain that the Hagadah refers to Terach and those who preceded him.)
The OR ZARU'A (1:106) and the TOSFOS RID in Pesachim answer that the Gemara in Berachos refers to giving praise to someone by calling him the "father" of our nation. When we relate something disgraceful and do not give honor, we may call even Terach "our father" since it is not an honor to be called our father in such a context. (See also RASHBA and RITVA to Berachos 16b.)
The Or Zaru'a adds that the Gemara means only that one may not ask Hash-m to remember the Zechus Avos of anyone other than the three Avos, Avraham, Yitzchak, and Yakov. This seems to be based on the RA'AVAD cited by the Rashba in Berachos, who says that the Gemara means that one should not pray to Hash-m saying, "May He Who answered Reuven our father answer us as well."
With regard to the meaning of the verse, "Arami Oved Avi," the Gemara may understand that the verse should be divided into two parts: "Arami" refers to Lavan, and "he descended to Mitzrayim" refers to Yakov Avinu, and the verse mentions different sources of shame.
(b) Rashi may understand the verse as the RASHBAM does, that "Arami" refers to Avraham Avinu who came from Padan Aram (and not to Yakov Avinu, who only passed through there). When the verse says that he went to Mitzrayim, it refers to the nation that he bore. The disgrace of the verse is that it refers to Avraham Avinu's early days in Aram before he began to serve Hash-m, when he was still "Oved," wandering among the idol-worshippers. This is the same type of disgrace to which the Mishnah in Pesachim (116a) refers (according to the explanation of Rav) when it says that one must "begin [the recitation of the story of the Exodus on Pesach night] with disgraceful matters" -- "Maschil b'Genus." The words "Lavan ha'Arami" in Rashi seem to be a mistake; the original text may have read "Avram" or "Avraham" (and the printers changed it because they could not understand what Avraham Avinu had to do with the verse "Arami Oved Avi" and why Rashi would call Avraham a "Rasha").
According to the Gemara's conclusion -- that Rebbi Shimon bar Yochai refers to relating one's suffering out loud and not to relating one's disgrace, the verse may be translated either like the Targum Onkelus or like the other Rishonim (and it refers either to Avraham or to Yakov's years of being oppressed).
4) SHAMING SINNERS
QUESTION: The Gemara says that the reason why the Chachamim enacted that we recite the Shemoneh Esreh silently is in order for sinners not to be embarrassed. If one would be required to recite the Shemoneh Esreh out loud, one who had sinned and wanted to ask Hash-m for forgiveness in his prayers would be embarrassed to do so. The Chachamim enacted that the Shemoneh Esreh be recited silently to prevent such embarrassment.
The Rav of Brisk, RAV YEHOSHUA LEIB DISKIN, brilliantly uses this Gemara to explain a difficulty in the verses in Parshas Vayikra.
When a person is obligated to bring a Korban Chatas, the Torah gives him a choice of what type of animal to bring. He may bring either a goat (Vayikra 4:28) or a lamb (Vayikra 4:32). In either case, the animal he brings must be female, unblemished, and one year old. Also, the procedure described by the Torah for each type of animal is the same (the procedure for the goat is described in 4:29-31, and for the ewe in 4:33-35).
However, there is one odd difference in the Torah's description of each type of Chatas. When the Torah describes the results of successfully offering a goat-Chatas, it says, "And the Kohen atones for him and he is forgiven" (4:31).
In contrast, when the Torah describes the results of successfully offering a lamb-Chatas, it says, "And the Kohen atones for him for his sin which he sinned and he is forgiven" (4:35).
Why does the Torah add those extra words -- "for his sin which he sinned" -- when it discusses the atonement achieved by a lamb-Chatas? It is obvious that the atonement granted is for the sin he committed, because that is the purpose for which he brings the Chatas. Indeed, the Torah sees no need to add those words when it describes the exact same atonement achieved by the goat-Chatas.
Is there a difference in the atonement achieved by each type of animal? Why does the Torah change its wording?
ANSWER: The Maharal Diskin cites the Gemara here which proves from the Torah that it is commendable to protect sinners from shame when they seek to repent. The Torah, in Parshas Vayikra, instructs that both the Korban Chatas (brought by a sinner to atone for his sin) and the Korban Olah (which is not brought by a sinner) are to be slaughtered and prepared in the same area of the Beis ha'Mikdash. As a result, nobody else knows the purpose for which the person's Korban is being offered, and the person is spared the embarrassment of having others know that he sinned.
The Gemara asks that a person still will be embarrassed, however, because a Chatas must be a female animal (Vayikra 4:28, 4:32) and an Olah must be a male animal (Vayikra 1:10). Hence, when people see that he is bringing a female animal, they will know that his Korban is a Chatas and that he sinned. The Gemara answers that the gender of the animal is not so readily noticeable because it is covered by the fur of the animal's tail.
The Gemara continues and asks that this answer suffices only when the sinner brings a lamb as his Chatas, for a lamb has a very furry tail. This answer does not suffice when the sinner brings a goat as his Chatas, because a goat has no fur on its tail to cover up its gender-signs (its tail is very short in the first place), and it will be evident to all that he is bringing a Chatas. To this the Gemara responds that indeed he will be embarrassed, but it is his own fault for choosing to bring a goat as his Chatas. If he really wanted to keep the purpose of his Korban hidden he would have brought a lamb and not a goat.
The Maharal Diskin points out that there is, however, a positive element in being embarrassed about one's sin. The Gemara in Berachos (12b) states that "if a person commits a sin but is then embarrassed about what he did, all of his sins are forgiven." The Gemara there proves this from a verse (Yechezkel 16:63).
Consequently, when one brings a goat as his Chatas, he not only gains forgiveness for the single sin for which he brings the Chatas, but he gains forgiveness for all of his sins as well as a result of being embarrassed about the one sin he committed for which he is bringing the Chatas. He suffers embarrassment, however, only when he brings a goat, for her gender-signs are readily noticeable. When he brings a lamb, nobody can see its gender-signs and nobody knows that he is bringing a Chatas. Therefore, when he brings a lamb as his Chatas, he attains forgiveness only for the single sin for which he brings the Chatas, but not for all of his other sins.
This explains the difference in the Torah's description of the atonement achieved by each type of Chatas. In the case of a goat-Chatas the Torah says, "And the Kohen atones for him and he is forgiven" (4:31). Since it does not specify for what sin he is forgiven, it implies that he is forgiven for all of his sins. On the other hand, in the case of a lamb-Chatas the Torah says, "And the Kohen atones for him for his sin which he sinned and he is forgiven" (4:35). The verse explicitly specifies that he is forgiven only for the single sin for which he brought the Chatas and not for his other sins -- because by bringing a lamb he avoided embarrassment.
(The Netziv in HA'AMEK DAVAR to Vayikra 4:31 makes a virtually identical point, as brought to our attention by Rabbi Yehudah Halpert.)