Simcha Feuerman
Psychology, Torah and the Daf Yomi

Silent Scream Nedarim 87 and 88 Psychology of the Daf Yomi

Our Gemara on Amud Aleph discusses more about Toch Kedei Dibur, that is a parcel of time that it takes to state, “Peace onto you, my master and teacher.”  As we learned in Psychology of the Daf Nedarim 69, there are many halakhic distinctions that arise from this measure of time, mostly having to do with being allowed to renege or retract statements, conditions and agreements within this small time frame.  Many commentaries understand this time frame to be based on either a rabbinic enactment, or a de facto assumption that a person does not fully finish their thought or resolve until he has a moment to consider and finalize it.

One of the challenges to that formulation is how our Gemara uses this measure of time.  Our Gemara studies a scenario where a person performed the Keriyah ritual upon hearing that a specific relative died, and then he finds out it was a different relative.  If the news reached him within a kedei dibbur of the rending of his clothes, the ritual is still valid and no further rending is obligatory.

The obvious question is, factually, he did Keriyah over an entirely different person! There is yeshivishe reyd that resolves this problem by explaining that Kedei Dibbur is not just a conditional situation, but actually a halakhic quanta of time.  That is, time itself is measured in moments, and the halakhically reducible moment is toch kedei dibbur.  Thus, the action and thought are still considered as simultaneous within this time zone, even though technically it is not.

(See ר שמעון שער יושר שער ה:כב, אחיעזר ב:כה;ז,  דברי יחזקאל סימן כז  ). As an example, one might measure time, in seconds or milliseconds, whatever that standard is. Therefore the Olympic judges will consider two runners that are tied to the measurable 100th of a second as simultaneous, even though we might argue that one runner was a millionth of a second faster.

Since this is Psychology of the Daf, I will offer a psycho-lomdishe answer to this question: A mourner is in some ways forbidden to talk,  His mode of expression must be measured and sober. Rabbennu Bechaye (Vayikra 10:3) notes Aharon’s silence in the face of his sons’ sudden death.  It is appropriate for the mourner to be silent and engage in introspection. Bava Basra (16b) tells us that mourners eat lentils, because it is a type of bean with no “mouth”; the bean has no obvious seam or opening.  This alludes to the muted nature of the mourner.

Yet the mourner must express himself.  The violent rending of his clothes is the quiet scream, like the wailing of the Shofar, a simulacrum of human anguish and cries  If Keriyah is, in essence, a diverted and sublimated form of the mourner’s cry of anguish, then it is a substitute for speech.  But more than a substitute, it is actually speech itself.  Therefore, the Keriyah ritual is subject to the same terms and conditions of other forms of speech.

This posting is dedicated to those who can only scream silently, and may God hear and answer their cries.

Speaking With a Unified Voice Nedarim 88 Psychology of the Daf Yomi

The Ran on Amud Beis discusses the status of possessions of a married woman.  Since there is a nuptial agreement that the husband support his wife financially, in exchange for that, she agrees that her earnings become his property. What if someone gifts to the woman something with a stipulation that it not be transferable to her husband?  Is this condition valid?  The Ran proves that this condition is accepted as the halakhic norm and proves from another Gemara (Sanhedrin 71a):

According to Rabbi Yose the Son of Rabbi Yehuda, the Ben Sorrer Umoreh, the rebellious youth described in Devarim (21:18-21) is only liable if he steals from his father and his mother.  The Gemara asks, how is it possible for the mother to have independent possessions for this son to steal?  The Gemara answers that it is from possessions acquired via a gift with the stipulation we described.  The Ran thus proves from this Gemara that it is the halakhic standard to accept this condition.

What is the Torah’s reason for only considering theft from both parents as a necessary condition to create liability for the rebellious son? Ralbag (Devarim 21:18) says it is because of proximity.  Meaning to say, if we believe that the child is going to grow up in such a sociopathic manner that he is beyond hope, he must become sufficiently habituated in his behavior,  By definition, since theft from the mother and father is easier to commit, if this is his habit, he will have many opportunities and become fully entrenched in the anti-social behavior.  (This also references what we discussed about Crime Opportunity Theory in Psychology of the Daf, Nedarim 85.)

However, another answer comes from Rav Samson Rafael Hirch’s unique perspective on the Ben Sorrer. He says that the requirements hint at significant pedagogical principles. The requirement that the mother and father “have the same sounding voices”, alludes to the need for parents to be consistent and on the same team. If the parents are not able to provide a stable and harmonious message, we cannot fully fault the rebel, and he is not liable. (He also might be considered redeemable in society, as perhaps he would reform if exposed to proper education and guidance.) Applying this idea of Rav Hirsch, we can say that if the child only steals from one parent and not the other, it indicates that the child feels favoritism to one and/or hatred to other. This too is a result of parents splitting and not presenting a unified front. In such a case, the child’s sociopathy may not be beyond hope because it’s not stemming from his true nature, rather from an improper environment.

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