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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Chazal and their attitude toward figures in Tanach

Most of us are familiar with the statements of Chazal that Reuven did not sin (with Bilha) and David did not sin with Bat Sheva, etc. However, what many people do not realize is that there are other opinions in Chazal that hold that these aveiros did happen. Many people do not know that these opinions even exist.

The Gemara in Shabbos 55b starts out with the famous opinion that Reuven did not sin with Bilha but just moved the beds. This is the opinion that everyone quotes. However, the Gemara continues and quotes 2 Tannaim who hold that Reuven did sin. They take the word פחז as an acronym, R' Elazar says Pazasah (you were hasty), Chavtah (you became liable) Zalsah (you disgraced); R. Yehoshua says, Pasatah Al Das (you overstepped the law),Chatasah (you sinned), Zanisah (you had illicit relations).

The Gemara in Kesubos 9a-b discusses the case of David and Batsheva. The gemara there gives 2 answers why she was permitted to him. The second answer is that everyone who went to war in David's army wrote a document of divorce to his wife and therefore she was really divorced. However the gemara has a first answer and that answer is that David did sin and she was permitted to him because it was ones (forced, because she was a minor at the time) therefore she was not prohibited.

10 Comments:

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous aaron said...

I'm familiar with that Gemara, but I never understood it that they necesarily argued. They could easily be understood in the same way that the posuk says he "sinned", i.e. not literally, but on his level, it wasn't appropriate. (Of course, this whole concept is apikorsus to those people who say you have to believe everything in the Torah is literal. Wait, isn't that what the Tzudukim believed?)

 
At 6:20 PM, Anonymous aaron said...

I'm familiar with that Gemara, but I never understood it that they necesarily argued. They could easily be understood in the same way that the posuk says he "sinned", i.e. not literally, but on his level, it wasn't appropriate. (Of course, this whole concept is apikorsus to those people who say you have to believe everything in the Torah is literal. Wait, isn't that what the Tzudukim believed?)

 
At 8:14 PM, Blogger bluke said...

In the Gemara in Shabbos I don't think you can say that they are not arguing.

 
At 9:21 PM, Blogger bluke said...

R' Yehoshua there in Shabbos says that the ז of פחז stands for זנית, that is pretty explicit that he actually did the aveira.

 
At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Bill Selliger said...

The Torah says he slept wth her! Obviously, it's been reinterpreted. R. Yehoshua is referring to the Torah's account of the story, which doesn't necessarily mean what it says.

 
At 10:17 PM, Blogger bluke said...

Bill,

I don't understand your comment at all.

R' Yehoshua is trying to explain what Yaakov Avinu meant when he used the word פחז in relation to Reuven (in Parshas Vayechi). R' Yehoshua says that the ז stands for זנית, which means he was מזנה with her. If R' Yehoshua held that why would he interpret פחז like that? Secondly, the gemara there quotes R' Shmuel bar Nachmani who says that Reuven did not sin and then it says כתנאי which clearly means that R' Shmuel bar Nachmani's statement is subject to a machlokes tannaim. In other words there are tannaim who disagree and hold that he did sin. Lastly, look at Rashi there, ד"ה זעזעת where Rashi writes, לר' אלאזר ור' יהושע חטא ולרבן גמליאל ולמודעי בקש לחטוא ולא חטא. Rashi says explicitly that according to לר' אלאזר ור' יהושע Reuven sinned

 
At 4:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The same people who say its apikorses to say the torah isn't literal in other places say its apikorses to say the torah is literal here, and they never mention the other views in the gemara.

 
At 6:17 AM, Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

even the Gemara in Shabbos is not unequivocal about Dovid, and there's a Gemara in Sanhedrin about Dovid asking for a nisayon which clearly implies that Dovid sinned. I wrote about the Gemara in Shabbos here:
http://adderabbi.blogspot.com/2005/06/reading-of-shabbat-56a-davids-sin-or.html

 
At 2:01 PM, Anonymous daat y said...

For an excellent exposition read Rav Medan David and Bathsheva.

 
At 4:56 PM, Anonymous aaron said...

OK, Bluke, I'll be modeh on the emes.

 

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