THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
brought to you by Kollel Iyun Hadaf of Har Nof
Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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1) A "MIGU" TO INVALIDATE WITNESSES
QUESTIONS: Ravin and Rav Dimi both explain that the litigant is believed to
disqualify his opponent's witness, according to Rebbi Meir, only when the
opponent has *two* pairs of witnesses. The litigant, therefore, is not
Noge'a b'Davar when he disqualifies the first pair.
2) "HOW COULD A HOLY MOUTH SAY SUCH A THING?"
According to Rav Dimi, the litigant is believed because Rebbi Meir holds
"Tzarich l'Varer" -- since the opponent must bring his second pair of
witnesses, the litigant is not Noge'a b'Davar when he testifies about the
first pair of witnesses. It will not make a difference if he invalidates
that pair, since there is another pair supposedly coming.
According to Ravin, the litigant is believed to invalidate the witnesses
when he has two other witnesses to support his claim that the *judges* are
invalid. This is because of a "Migu" -- since he is telling the truth about
the judges, we assume that he is also telling the truth about the witnesses.
The Gemara asks what, then, is the difference between Ravin and Rav Dimi?
The Gemara answers that the difference regards whether we apply a Migu. One
Amora (Ravin, according to Rashi) holds that we apply a Migu, and the other
one (Rav Dimi) holds that we do not apply a Migu. The Gemara does not say
that Ravin *requires* a Migu, meaning that without a Migu the litigant
cannot disqualify his opponent's witnesses, but rather that Ravin *allows* a
Migu to work.
RASHI (DH Ravin Savar) explains that the Gemara is saying that Ravin allows
a Migu to work *elsewhere*, just as the Migu helps in this case, since Rebbi
Meir only allows the litigant to disqualify a witness when there is also a
If the Gemara understands that Rebbi Meir only allows the litigant to
disqualify witnesses when he also has a Migu according to Ravin, then why
does the Gemara ask what the difference is between Ravin and Rav Dimi? It
should answer simply that Ravin requires that there be a Migu in order for
the litigant to be believed, and Rav Dimi does not! Why does the Gemara find
it necessary to point out that Ravin applies the concept of Migu in other
cases, while Rav Dimi does not? (MAHARSHA)
Second, the Halachah follows the opinion of the Rabanan, and not Rebbi Meir.
How, then, can the Gemara assert that Ravin will apply a Migu elsewhere?
Ravin will certainly rule like the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi and who do
not apply the Migu!
(a) The KOS YESHU'OS and the ARUCH LA'NER suggest a different explanation of
the Gemara, in contrast to that of Rashi. The Gemara means that *Rav Dimi*
holds of the Migu, and *not* Ravin. That is why Rav Dimi does not explain
that the Mishnah is discussing a case of a Migu, because if there was a
Migu, then even the *Rabanan* would agree that the litigant can disqualify
his opponent's witnesses! Ravin, on the other hand, maintains that the
Rabanan do *not* apply the Migu, and therefore they do not trust the
litigant despite the presence of a Migu.
This answers our two questions. The Gemara wants to explain *why* Rav Dimi
argues with Ravin, and not just *what* they argue about, and that is why it
says that Rav Dimi holds of the Migu. In addition, according to Rav Dimi, it
is also the Rabanan who hold of the Migu, and not only Rebbi Meir.
Rashi, however, does not explain the Gemara this way.
(b) The TORAS CHAIM and YAD DAVID explain that according to Ravin, the
litigant is believed with a Migu to disqualify his opponent's witnesses even
if the litigant does *not* have a second witness to support him. When the
Gemara says that Ravin applies a Migu, it means that Ravin applies a Migu
even when the litigant testifies *alone*. Rav Dimi argues and does not apply
a Migu and the litigant is not believed when he testifies alone.
However, this does not answer our second question regarding why the Gemara
should say that Ravin applies a Migu if he maintains that the Rabanan who
argue with Rebbi Meir do not accept the Migu.
In addition, how does the Gemara know that Ravin accepts the litigant's
testimony *alone*, based on a Migu? Perhaps he applies the Migu only when
there is a second witness with the litigant, as Ravin's words imply ("Migu
*d'Paslei* Edim, *Paslei* Nami Dayani," written in the plural form). (See
(c) Perhaps even the Rabanan who argue with Rebbi Meir agree to the Migu,
according to Ravin. The reason the Rabanan do not accept the Migu to
disqualify the witness is because the person trying to disqualify the
witness has a positive factor invalidating him -- he is Noge'a b'Davar.
Since they consider him to be Noge'a b'Davar, even a Migu will not enable
him to testify against the witness.
If, however, a person does not have a positive invalidating factor, but
rather he just lacks trustworthiness or power to accomplish certain things,
then the Migu of our Gemara would help him even according to the Rabanan.
That is why the Gemara says that according to Ravin, we apply a Migu even
l'Halachah, which follows the Rabanan.
How does the Gemara know this? Perhaps Ravin and Rav Dimi argue only about
whether Rebbi Meir requires a Migu! The Gemara assumes that Ravin would not
argue with Rav Dimi over the explanation of our Mishnah if no Halachic
ramification would result from his explanation. The Gemara asks, therefore,
what is the difference between Ravin and Rav Dimi according to the Rabanan.
The Gemara answers that Ravin allows a Migu in other cases even according to
the Rabanan, whereas Rav Dimi does not recognize this type of Migu according
to any of the Tana'im.
QUESTIONS: The Gemara discusses Reish Lakish's explanation of the opinion of
Rebbi Meir. In the Mishnah (23a), Rebbi Meir rules that a litigant can
disqualify the witnesses brought against him. Reish Lakish exclaims, "How
can the holy mouth (Peh Kadosh) of Rebbi Meir say such a thing?" Reish
Lakish explains that Rebbi Meir must mean instead that when a litigant
committed himself to accept the testimony of one witness as if it were the
testimony of two, he is permitted to retract his commitment.
3) THE TALMUD BAVLI
The Gemara here asks why does Reish Lakish refer to Rebbi Meir with such awe
("Peh Kadosh")? We know that Reish Lakish was such a great scholar that he
would "uproot mountains and grind them together" through his depth of
understanding and sharpness of mind.
Ravina wonders what the Gemara's question is. It is understandable that
Reish Lakish was in great awe of Rebbi Meir, since Rebbi Meir would "uproot
*vast* mountains and grind them together" and he was even greater than Reish
The Gemara responds that it did not mean to ask a question on Reish Lakish.
Rather, by pointing out that Reish Lakish used such praiseful terms about
Rebbi Meir even though Reish Lakish himself was immensely erudite, it is
showing how much love the scholars of Eretz Yisrael had for each other.
Why did the Gemara initially assume that a question was being asked on Reish
Lakish, why he had so much awe for Rebbi Meir? Rebbi Meir was a Tana, and
Reish Lakish certainly may not argue with a Tana!
Second, how does the Gemara answer Ravina's question? If Rebbi Meir was so
much greater than Reish Lakish, then it makes sense to say that Reish Lakish
spoke with modesty out of deference for Rebbi Meir's greatness. The Gemara,
though does not say that. Rather, it says that Reish Lakish' s statement is
an example of an expression of endearment for another sage. The recognition
of the greatness of another sage should cause awe and respect, and not
endearment and affection!
(a) The BEN YEHOYADA explains that Ravina thought that the question was not
that Reish Lakish should argue with Rebbi Meir, but rather that Reish Lakish
did not have to address Rebbi Meir with such overly-emphasized modesty.
Ravina therefore asked that Reish Lakish indeed was entitled to speak with
such modesty, because Rebbi Meir indeed was so much greater than Reish
Lakish. This answers the first question.
The Gemara's response to Ravina may be explained as follows. The question
was not asking why Reish Lakish showed such modesty. It is true that it was
appropriate to be modest when challenging Rebbi Meir. Nevertheless, Reish
Lakish did not have to use any appellation; he could simply have said that
the Mishnah is discussing a single witness, without adding the introduction,
"How can the holy mouth of Rebbi Meir say such a thing." It must be that
Reish Lakish conscientiously made it a point to show his love for Rebbi Meir
while explaining Rebbi Meir's opinion because that was the manner of the
scholars of Eretz Yisrael.
(b) However, according to this explanation, the Gemara should have said
"Hachi *ka'Amrinan*" -- "this is what *we* meant to say," since it is
explaining the statement that was made by the Gemara, and not the statement
that was made by Reish Lakish.
The SANHEDRI KETANAH also asks why the depth of understanding and erudition
of Reish Lakish should have been reason for him *not* to refer to Rebbi Meir
as "Peh Kadosh?" He was not referring to Rebbi Meir as extremely *wise*, but
rather as unique in his *holiness*, and this trait was not related to the
erudition of Reish Lakish!
The Sanhedri Ketanah therefore offers a different explanation for the Gemara
(not like Rashi's explanation).
The Gemara in Eruvin (13b) says that Rebbi Meir was so sharp that other
Talmidei Chachamim were unable to comprehend his reasoning, and, as a
result, the Halachah does not follow his opinion. The Gemara might be
alluding to the teaching of the Gemara in Bava Metzia (96b, and Nidah 33b)
that "l'Fum Churfa Shabeshta" -- the sharper a person's mind, the more
likely he is to make mistakes. The Gemara is asking why Reish Lakish
wondered how the "holy mouth" of Rebbi Meir could make such a mistake --
perhaps the very fact that Rebbi Meir was so sharp caused him to make this
mistake! Reish Lakish himself must have realized this, the Gemara adds, for
he himself had the same quality of acute sharpness of mind, and the
resultant frequency of error. The Gemara answers that even though one's
sharpness could cause him to make a mistake, Reish Lakish preferred to
overlook this point and to defend Rebbi Meir's statement, out of the love
that the scholars of Eretz Yisrael had for each other. (According to this,
Ravina's statement is part of the Gemara's initial question. RABEINU
CHANANEL also seems to understand Ravina's statement in this way.)
(c) Neither of these explanations address why Reish Lakish uses the
expression "Peh Kadosh" only on this particular occasion. In no other
instance do we find the scholars of Eretz Yisrael using such terminology
when defending another's opinion. In addition, it is strange for the Gemara
to be proving the love that Talmidei Chachamim have for each other from the
statement of a later scholar about an earlier scholar. Such a statement can
be made simply out of respect, and not necessarily love. Love and endearment
can be proved only from the way contemporary colleagues address each other
(as the Gemara here relates in the incident about Rebbi and Rebbi Yosi).
Perhaps, therefore, we may suggest another explanation for the Gemara.
Reish Lakish used the expression "Peh Kadosh" to protest the simple reading
of the Mishnah. Rebbi Meir in the Mishnah says that one litigant "should
disqualify (Posel) the witnesses of his opponent" by calling them slaves or
thieves, and the other litigant should do the same to the first one's
witnesses. Why did Rebbi Meir express his ruling in terms of such
contentiousness? His wording, that each litigant "should disqualify (Posel)"
the witnesses of the other implies that he is suggesting that the litigants
*should* act belligerently and speak badly about the witnesses. If Rebbi
Meir meant to say that each litigant *is able* to disqualify the witnesses
of his opponent (but not that he *should*), then he should have said that
each one "can disqualify (Yachol li'Fsol") or "is believed to disqualify
(Ne'eman li'Fsol)" the witnesses of his opponent. He should not have said
that "this one *should* disqualify" the witnesses of his opponent!
Earlier in the Mishnah, when Rebbi Meir says that "one litigant should
disqualify the judge of the other," this in no way suggests contentiousness,
and thus Reish Lakish is not bothered by this statement. This is because, as
the Gemara explains, Rebbi Meir is referring to nonqualified judges and he
is allowing each litigant to reject the judges simply because he is not
comfortable with being judged by them. The judge is not actually being
disqualified from his status of a judge; nothing bad is being said about the
judge. In contrast, when referring to witnesses, Rebbi Meir is teaching
(according to the simple reading of the Mishnah) that each litigant may
actually disqualify his opponent's witness and is believed to say that the
witnesses are slaves, thieves, or liars. Reish Lakish asks, therefore, how
Rebbi Meir could say that each litigant "should disqualify" the witnesses
that oppose him.
The Gemara questions the statement of Reish Lakish, because we find that
Reish Lakish himself learned with tremendous intensity and forcefulness, as
expressed in the metaphor of uprooting mountains and grinding them to
pieces. Why, then, should he be upset by the abrasive tone of Rebbi Meir's
words? Ravina adds that Rebbi Meir himself was known to learn in an even
more intense manner, so why should Reish Lakish be surprised at Rebbi Meir's
The Gemara answers that "this is what he (Reish Lakish) meant." He meant
that even though Rebbi Meir learned with such intensity and forcefulness in
order to reach the correct Halachic understanding, nevertheless we see how
careful the scholars of Eretz Yisrael were to show respect to their
colleagues. Therefore, when describing interpersonal relationships in the
Mishnah, Rebbi Meir should not have used such an abrasive tone, but rather
he should have said that each litigant "is believed" to disqualify the
witnesses of his opponent. Reish Lakish proves from the wording of Rebbi
Meir that Rebbi Meir is not referring to disqualifying a witness by giving
him a bad name. Rather, he is saying that after a litigant committed himself
to accept the testimony of a single witness like that of two witnesses, he
is able to retract and to make the single witness no more powerful than any
other single witness (since doing does not involve saying anything bad about
the witness). Therefore, Rebbi Meir was justified in expressing himself by
saying that each litigant may disqualify the witness of his opponent if he
wants. (M. Kornfeld)
QUESTION: The Gemara contrasts the approach to learning of the scholars of
Eretz Yisrael to the approach of the scholars of Bavel. The scholars of
Eretz Yisrael learned with calmness and patience, while the scholars of
Bavel learned with forcefulness and roughness.
The Gemara concludes with the teaching of Rebbi Yirmeyah who explains that
the verse which says, "He placed me in darkness, like those who are dead
forever" (Eichah 3:6), refers to the Talmud of Bavel.
The words of Rebbi Yirmeyah imply that the Talmud of Bavel is inferior to
what was studied in Eretz Yisrael at the same time. As Rashi writes, since
the scholars were not patient with each other, they did not reach clear
conclusions. Why, then, does the Halachah always follow the ruling of the
Talmud Bavli whenever it disputes the ruling of the Talmud Yerushalmi?
(a) The RIF (end of Eruvin) writes that we follow the ruling of the Talmud
Bavli because the scholars in Bavel were familiar with the Talmud Yerushalmi
(because it was compiled earlier). They argued with the ruling of the
Yerushalmi only when they had a tradition that the Yerushalmi's ruling in
that matter was not reliable (either because the Amora'im themselves changed
their minds, or because the ruling was not properly recorded).
(b) RABEINU CHANANEL here argues with Rashi and explains that Rebbi Yirmeyah
is *praising* the Talmud Bavli. Rebbi Yirmeyah is saying that its arguments
are so deep, profound, and hidden that it is comparable to the depths of the
sea. Accordingly, Rebbi Yirmeyah's statement is consistent with the
statement of Rebbi Yochanan which precedes it, which seems to be extolling
the praises of the Talmud Bavli.
This is also the way RASHI in Chagigah (10a) explains the meaning of Rebbi
Yirmeyah's statement here. The Talmud Bavli is so deep that it is much more
difficult to understand than the Talmud Yerushalmi. However, its level of
scholarship might be higher.
(c) The RITVA in Yoma (57a, cited by the footnote in the Vilna Shas) quotes
a Teshuvah of the RAMBAM in which the Rambam explains that Rebbi Yirmeyah
was following his own opinion as expressed elsewhere. In Zevachim (60b) and
other places Rebbi Yirmeyah said of the scholars of the Bavel that "since
they live in a dark land, they make dark (unclear, mistaken) statements."
Rebbi Yirmeyah maintained that the people of Bavel did not learn with
clarity. Similarly, we find in Bava Metzia (85a) that Rebbi Zeira, who also
went from Bavel to Eretz Yisrael, fasted for 100 days so that Hashem would
help him forget the Torah that he had learned in Bavel. In addition, Rebbi
Zeira stated that "the air of Eretz Yisrael makes a person wise" (Bava Basra
158b). The Rambam implies that others argued with this approach. We indeed
find that Rav Yehudah argued with Rebbi Zeira and maintained that it is
prohibited to leave Bavel to go to Eretz Yisrael (Kesuvos 111a; see Insights
there), because Bavel was the center of Torah learning.
This is also the implication of Rebbi Yochanan's statement in our Gemara
when he says that the Talmud Bavli is a mixture of the three major areas of
How can the scholarship of Bavel be greater than that of Eretz Yisrael, when
our Gemara explains that in Bavel the learning was done in a much rougher
manner than in Eretz Yisrael? The answer is that the Amora'im in Bavel
maintained that it is better to learn in a fiery, excited way, and that by
doing so it is more likely that the truth will be uncovered. This is why
Rava teaches that if a Talmid Chacham becomes angry it is because "the fire
of Torah is burning within him" (Ta'anis 4a). Rava himself learned with such
intensity that he caused his fingers to bleed (Shabbos 88a). Rav Ashi
teaches that a Talmid Chacham must be "as hard as steel" (Ta'anis 4a). Reish
Lakish and Rebbi Yochanan teach that a Talmid Chacham who does not strike
like a serpent to avenge the honor of the Torah is not a proper Talmid
Chacham (Shabbos 63a, Yoma 23a). This is why we follow the rulings of the
(d) The RAMBAM cited by the Ritva writes further that even according to
Rebbi Yirmeyah, it was only during a certain era that the study of Torah in
Eretz Yisrael was on a higher level than that in Bavel. The period of Rabah
and Rav Yosef in Bavel (and Rebbi Yirmeyah and Rebbi Zeira in Eretz
Yisrael), and their students Abaye and Rava, was a very difficult period in
the history of the Babylonian Jews. The Babylonians were particularly
vicious in their decrees against the Torah (see Gitin 17a, Chulin 46a).
Because of this, the scholars did not have the peace of mind necessary for
total immersion in and concentration on learning Torah. Later, though, in
the period of Ravina and Rav Ashi, there was relative tranquility in Bavel,
and the level of the Talmud of Bavel therefore surpassed that of Eretz
Yisrael. That is why we follow the rulings of the Talmud Bavli.