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Thursday, July 16, 2009

T'nai Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuven

Thank you, Martins of Brooklyn. Not really family table torah, but it's what I came up with.

In Parshas Mattos, we learn about the deal Moshe Rabbeinu made with the tribes of Gad and Reuven, where they were given the just-conquered transjordan but only on condition that they don't go home until the rest of the land of Israel was conquered.

From the form of the condition we learn many laws of T'na'im. One of them is "Hein kodem le'lahv," that the condition has to state the positive before the negative. That is, Moshe said "If you join your brethren in their war of conquest, then you will keep this land. If you don't, this land will be taken away and divided equally among all the people of Israel. Yes before no, Positive before negative, "if you join" before "if you don't".

The Taz and the Shach are the two great commentators on Yoreh Dei'ah. Often, they disagree. The Taz wrote an introduction to his work, and in middle of the introduction, he remarks that he has an interesting dvar torah about the laws of T'na'im, which he then writes.

The Shach, in his Nekudos Hakesef, argues on the Taz's introduction. And the Shach's son also argues on the Taz, but for different reasons. And the Gilyon Hamahrsha suggests a far-out-in-left-field answer in response to the Taz.

There are plenty of musmachim that know Yoreh Dei'ah very well that are unaware of this interesting viku'ach; the Shach and the Taz couldn't wait to start arguing, and the Gilyon Maharsha couldn't wait to start making tzushtells.

The Taz:
Brings Tosfos' (Kiddushin 62) kashe: why, by Sotah, does the Kohen say "Im lo shachav" (if you were not unfaithful, then you will be unharmed) first, when there's a rule of hein kodem le'lav? Tosfos answers that Hein, the positive, does not mean active as opposed to passive. It means positive in the sense of desired. Since we would rather that she was innocent, lo shachav is called hein, positive.
The Taz says this cannot be, because the Gemara (Gittin 75), talking about a conditional Get given in anticipation of death (to avoid Yibum problems) asks "how can the condition be stated "if I do not die, it will not be a get, but if I die, it will be a get," since the positive needs to be first? The Gemara answers that a person doesn't begin with puranusa, fearful events, and so he should not begin with "If I die...." But, the Gemara asks, what about the rule of positive/negative? The Gemara answers that the tnai should be stated thus: "If I don't die, then no get, if I die, then yes get, if I don't die, then no get."
So the Taz argues with Tosfos and says that Tosfos' assumption is faulty, and in truth, by Sotah, the real order is "im lo shachav". The Taz says that the idea of not beginning with puranus doesn't apply here, because unlike get, where the puranus is a possible future event that we don't want to happen, by sotah we're talking about a possible past event, so beginning with puranus is not a problem. Usually, the Taz does not straight out argue with Tosfos, but here he says that he's sorry to say so, but the truth will out, and he's right.

So the Shach jumps on the Taz and says that the kashe from Get to Sotah is not a kashe. By Sotah and Bnei Gad and Reuven, the purpose of the tnai is to modify the event that is taking place. By BG&BR, the event was the allotment of the land. We modify it by saying that this allotment will take place if you do join your brethren in their war. By Sotah, the event is the trial by Sotah Water, which can have beneficial or deleterious effect, and we modify it by saying that the beneficial effect, that of improving the woman's health, is conditional on her innocence. But by get, there is only one event that is taking place, and that is the giving of a get. The purpose of giving a get is so that the get should be a get. There is no alternative meaning to the act of giving the get. Therefore, one has no choice but to begin with 'If I die." Before even discussing the idea of yes before no and that sort of thing, the fundamental idea of a tnai is the effectuation of the act that is taking place. Here, there is no alternative other than beginning with the circumstances that will effectuate and give meaning to the get-- if I die. So the Gemara says that one should do a triple tnai-- if I don't die, if I die, if I don't die.

The Shach's son, in his Hagahos, says another answer. He says that "Positive" can be either, as Tosfos says, the desired result stated in the positive, or an active instead of passive event. By Sotah, hinaki is a positive/desired. So even though hinaki is if lo shachav, it's still called hein because hinaki, be innocent, is stated in the positive. But by Get, "if I don't die" and "then it will not be a get" are both stated in the negative, and so it cannot be used to begin the tnai.

The Gilyon Mahrsha answers the Taz's question by quoting the Ran in Nedarim 50. The Ran there says that there are times, r'l, when a person, and his friends, should pray that he die instead of live. So, he says, the Taz's assumption that according to Tosfos' rule that hein means desired result "if I die" is an unalloyed negative, is not true. Sometimes, "If I die" is the desired result. The GhM, I think, didn't mean this as a serious teretz; it's just a cool tzushtell.

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