Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

Forgiveness, Suspicion and Avoiding Quarrels Kiddushin 26-28 Psych of the Daf

Pinpoint Analysis Daf 26

In our Gemara on Amud Aleph, a discussion arises regarding the concept of “kinyan agav karka,” which pertains to the acquisition of movable property through the acquisition of land. The question at hand is whether the movable property must physically be present on the parcel of land being acquired:

אִיבַּעְיָא לְהוּ: בָּעֵינַן צְבוּרִים, אוֹ לָא? אָמַר רַב יוֹסֵף: תָּא שְׁמַע: רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא אוֹמֵר: קַרְקַע כׇּל שֶׁהוּא חַיֶּיבֶת בַּפֵּאָה, וּבַבִּכּוּרִים,

A dilemma is presented to the Sages regarding the acquisition of movable property through land: Must this movable property be physically located on the land that is being sold? Rav Yosef offers a resolution: “Come and hear a proof from the following mishna (Pe’a 3:6). Rabbi Akiva says: The owner of any amount of land is obligated in pe’a and in first fruits,”

וְלִכְתּוֹב עָלֶיהָ פְּרוֹסְבּוּל, וְלִקְנוֹת עִמָּהּ נְכָסִים שֶׁאֵין לָהֶם אַחְרָיוּת. וְאִי אָמְרַתְּ בָּעֵינַן צְבוּרִים, כׇּל שֶׁהוּא לְמַאי חֲזֵי?

and if the debtor possesses land of any area the creditor can write a document that prevents the Sabbatical Year from abrogating an outstanding debt [prosbol] for it so that his loans will not be canceled in the seventh year, and he can acquire property that does not serve as a guarantee along with it. And if you say that we require the movable property to be piled on the land, for what is land of any size fit? What can be piled on a tiny spot of land?

תַּרְגְּומַאּ רַב שְׁמוּאֵל בַּר בִּיסְנָא קַמֵּיהּ דְּרַב יוֹסֵף: כְּגוֹן שֶׁנָּעַץ בָּהּ מַחַט. אֲמַר לֵיהּ רַב יוֹסֵף: קְבַסְתַּן! אִיכְּפַל תַּנָּא לְאַשְׁמוֹעִינַן מַחַט? אָמַר רַב אָשֵׁי: מַאן לֵימָא לַן דְּלָא תְּלָה בָּהּ מַרְגָּנִיתָא דְּשָׁוְויָא אַלְפָּא זוּזֵי.

Rav Shmuel bar Bisna interpreted it before Rav Yosef as follows: For example, if one stuck a needle into a tiny patch of land, which he sold by means of the land, the needle is acquired. Rav Yosef said to him: You disgust me [kevastan – based on Rif’s interpretation instead of Rashi]. Did the tanna go to all that trouble just to teach us that a needle can be acquired by means of land? Rav Ashi said: Who shall say to us that he did not hang a pearl worth one thousand dinars on the needle? One can acquire an item of high value through land of this size.

However, a closer examination of a dialogue between Rav Yosef and Rav Ashi reveals an interesting interaction. Rav Shmuel bar Bisna offered an interpretation to Rav Yosef, illustrating the concept through a needle stuck into a tiny piece of land. Rav Yosef responds with frustration, seemingly dismissing the explanation as trivial. He exclaims, “You disgust me [kevastan].” But why would Rav Yosef react this way, especially when the Talmud is filled with similar reinterpretations of Mishnaic texts?

I am not sure how to explain Rav Yosef’s reaction but I believe that Rav Ashi’s response contains a subtle rebuke. Rav Ashi’s answer was to suggest that the needle placed on a minuscule parcel of land could still 

have a valuable pearl worth a thousand dinars hanging from it. This metaphorical use of “pearl” in the Talmud often connotes discovering a valuable piece of Torah wisdom. (See Yevamos 92b and 94a, and even more significantly, Rav Yosef himself uses this as a metaphor for Torah in Berachos 33b.) By employing this metaphor, Rav Ashi may have been subtly rebuking Rav Yosef, implying that the interpretation of Rav Shmuel bar Bisna represented a precious gem of Torah insight. In the richness and depth of Torah study, even seemingly small details can yield profound insights. 


When Will You Trust Me Again?

In our Gemara on Amud Beis, we delve into the intricate process of “Gilgul Shevua,” a unique legal procedure. When a defendant is obligated to make an oath to defend their claim, the plaintiff has the opportunity to levy additional accusations, compelling the defendant to take oaths on those matters as well. Remarkably, this applies even when the subsequent accusations lack substantial legal basis, drawing inspiration from the repetition of “Amen” uttered by the Sotah, a woman accused of adultery. She too must swear oaths proclaiming her innocence, extending beyond the initial evidence and accusation:

שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״וְאָמְרָה הָאִשָּׁה אָמֵן אָמֵן״, וּתְנַן: עַל מָה הִיא אוֹמֶרֶת ״אָמֵן אָמֵן״? ״אָמֵן״ עַל הָאָלָה, ״אָמֵן״ עַל ״הַשְּׁבוּעָה״. ״אָמֵן״ אִם מֵאִישׁ זֶה, ״אָמֵן״ אִם מֵאִישׁ אַחֵר. ״אָמֵן״ שֶלֹּא סָטִיתִי אֲרוּסָה וּנְשׂוּאָה וְשׁוֹמֶרֶת יָבָם וּכְנוּסָה.

As it is stated with regard to a sota: “And the woman shall say: Amen, amen” (Numbers 5:22), and we learned in a mishna (Sota 18a): Concerning what does she say the double expression of: Amen, amen? She says amen on the curse, as she accepts the curse upon herself if she is guilty, and amen on the oath, as she declares that she is not defiled. She states: Amen if I committed adultery with this man about whom I was warned, amen if I committed adultery with another man. Amen that I did not stray when I was betrothed nor after I was married, nor as a widow waiting for my yavam to perform levirate marriage, since a woman at that stage is prohibited from engaging in sexual intercourse with any men, nor when married through levirate marriage to the yavam.

This process resonates with an aspect of human nature that the Torah respects and addresses. When substantial evidence and grounds for suspicion emerge, doubts tend to permeate even innocent interactions that show no signs of betrayal. The Torah acknowledges this complexity through the legal procedure, even though, under normal circumstances, imposing additional defenses against accusations lacking a defense might seem unfair. This is especially meaningful when the basis for this process comes from the situation of an adulterous betrayal, as in such a highly personal breach of trust, it is natural to doubt everything.

Individuals who have committed acts of infidelity or betrayal, whether in personal relationships or business dealings, often ask, “When will you trust me again? When will you see that I’ve truly changed?” While these sentiments may genuinely reflect a person’s remorse and transformation, the victim may require time to rebuild trust. Notably, any actions or behaviors that remotely resemble the initial betrayal, even on a smaller scale, can trigger a renewed cycle of suspicion and doubt. (See our discussion of trauma response in Psychology of the Daf Kiddushin 24.)

This aspect of human nature and the Torah’s acknowledgment of it provide valuable insights into the complexities of trust, forgiveness, and the delicate process of healing in the aftermath.


Nipping Quarrels in the Bud

In our Gemara on Amud Aleph, there’s a crucial warning regarding the consequences of labeling a fellow Jew a “Rasha” (evil person):

הָהוּא שַׁמּוֹתֵי מְשַׁמְּתִינַן לֵיהּ! דְּתַנְיָא: הַקּוֹרֵא לַחֲבֵירוֹ…. ״רָשָׁע״ – יוֹרֵד עִמּוֹ לְחַיָּיו!

One who calls another a “wicked person” allows the insulted person to harass them in all aspects of life.

Clearly, there must be limits to this injunction. What if the person is genuinely and profoundly wicked? Moreover, Moshe himself referred to both Dasan and Aviram as wicked. As stated in Shemos (Exodus 2:13):

וְהִנֵּ֛ה שְׁנֵֽי־אֲנָשִׁ֥ים עִבְרִ֖ים נִצִּ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לָֽרָשָׁ֔ע לָ֥מָּה תַכֶּ֖ה רֵעֶֽךָ׃

The next day, he found two Hebrews fighting, and he said to the wicked one, “Why do you strike your fellow?”

One might argue that Moshe didn’t directly call him a “Rasha”; rather, the narrative in the verse described him as such. Yet, this interpretation is not adequate, as it raises questions about why the Torah models such behavior. Alternatively, one might argue differently: if the Torah labels someone as wicked, shouldn’t it be reasonable to do so as well?

The Gemara in Sanhedrin seems to support the idea that certain individuals can be called “Rasha” based on this verse:

מ: אמר ריש לקיש המגביה ידו על חבירו אע”פ שלא הכהו נקרא רשע שנאמר (שמות ב, יג) ויאמר לרשע למה תכה רעך למה הכית לא נאמר אלא למה תכה אף על פי שלא הכהו נקרא רשע

Reish Lakish says: One who raises his hand to strike another, even if he ultimately does not strike him, is called wicked, as it is stated: “And two men of the Hebrews were struggling with each other, and he said to the wicked one: Why should you strike your friend?” (Exodus 2:13). The phrase: “Why did you strike?” is not stated, but rather: “Why should you strike,” indicating that one who raised his hand to strike another, even if he ultimately did not strike him, is called wicked.

Yet, one could argue that the Gemara is saying that he is called wicked but not necessarily that you are permitted to call him wicked. However, this interpretation may not seem likely.

The Gemara, particularly in Yoma 86b, especially as explained by Rashi, is even more explicit. It states that for certain unrepentant sinners, it is not only permitted but proper to publicize their wicked status to prevent others from learning from them.

Returning to Moshe and Dasan and Aviram, the Midrash adds another layer (Shemos Rabbah 1:29 and Rashi). The use of the word “רעך” (your fellow) in the verse establishes a certain equality between the two individuals, suggesting that the second person was as evil as the first. The question then arises: What indicated their shared wickedness, especially since, on the surface, one might think the second person was merely defending themselves?

In Psychology of the Daf 22, we explored how Malbim argued that Moshe knew Dasan and Aviram were both evil because when people face dire circumstances together, they tend to become friends, not enemies. The fact that they were quarreling under the relentless persecution of their Egyptian overlords indicated something corrupt about their nature. Ohr HaChayyim and Tzofnas Paaneach suggested additionally that the introduction “שני אנשים נצים” (two men, quarreling) implies that they were equally involved in the fight, contributing to its escalation.  Regarding the Hebrew word for “quarrel,” the precise definition and etymology are illuminating. The word “נץ” (netz) means “budding,” as in budding fruit or the first edge of the sun during sunrise, known as “netz hachama” – literally the budding of the Sun. Related to this is the word “ניצוץ” (nitzutz), meaning spark. This linguistic insight in Hebrew implies that a quarrel or argument is viewed as the beginning, the budding, rather than the body of the fight. (In a related fashion, the Gemara Sanhedrin that we saw earlier describes the person is evil for raising his hand to hit, even before he actually hits.) The time to moderate or defuse the conflict is right at the outset.

About the Author
Rabbi, Psychotherapist with 30 years experience specializing in high conflict couples and families.
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