For the week ending 16 January 2016 / 6 Shevat 5776

Gittin 37 - 43

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
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  • The loans which the Shmitah year does not cancel
  • Paying a Shmita-canceled loan
  • Redeeming a slave taken prisoner by non-Jews
  • Status of slave whose owner has relinquished ownership or who has donated him to the Sanctuary
  • The problem of freeing a slave
  • Comparison and contrast between woman and slave
  • Indications of owner's intention to free his slave
  • A mortgaged slave
  • Responsibility for an indiscernible damage
  • Freeing a half-slave
  • Transferring estate to a slave
  • Mix-up of a kohen child with that of a slave child
  • Making kiddushin with a woman who is half-slave
  • Definition of a shifchah charufah
  • Sale of a slave to a non-Jew or to a Jew outside of Eretz Yisrael

The Benefit of Error

  • Gittin 43a

When the Sage Rabbah bar Rav Huna was corrected by his colleague Rabbi Chisda in regard to a ruling which he issued concerning the effectiveness of kiddushin with a woman who is half-free half-slave, he did a most remarkable thing. He made a public announcement that he had erred, and offered an explanation of an enigmatic passage in the prophecy of Yishayahu to show the benefit of erring and being corrected.

In his prophecy concerning the drastic decline of Torah knowledge that would afflict the Jews of Yerushalayim, the Prophet Yishayahu warns that in desperation "a man shall take hold of his brother… saying 'You have clothing, be our ruler, and let this obstacle be under your hand'." (Yishayahu 3:6) "You have clothing," he explained, means that matters of law which are asked of people who, from lack of knowledge, cover up their ignorance the way clothes cover the body, are well known to the one being approached for leadership. "This obstacle" refers to Torah subjects that one is not perfectly clear about until they present an obstacle for him, over which he stumbles and is corrected. These too, the case is made to the potential authority, are "under your hand" because the shame you suffered from being corrected forced you to be more careful in your study.

This introduction which Rabbah bar Rav Huna made to his public retraction of his previous ruling serves as a consolation for anyone who errs in his judgment and is corrected.

What the Sages Say

"The world was created so that people should be fruitful and multiply, as it is written 'He did not create it to be desolate but rather that it be inhabited.' (Yishayahu 45:18).

  • Beit Shammai - Gittin 41b

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