QUESTION: The Gemara discusses the Halachos of when a Ger Mitzri is
permitted to marry a Jew and fully enter the Jewish people. The Torah says
that the third-generation descendant of a Ger Mitzri is fully accepted into
the Jewish people. The Gemara explains that the verse uses the term "Lahem"
twice (Devarim 23:9). One of those terms teaches that we start counting the
three generations *from and including* the person who converted, and not
from his children.
The Gemara continues and says that it is necessary for the verse to say both
"Lahem" and "Asher Yivaldu." Had it said only "Asher Yivaldu," we might have
thought that there must be *three* generations of children after the
original convert, and the third generation *of children* which is the fourth
generation including the original convert, is permitted. "Lahem" teaches
that the third generation is permitted (the *second* generation of children
(i.e. grandchildren) of the original convert). On the other hand, had the
verse said only "Lahem," we might have thought that if a pregnant woman
converts, the fetus is considered to be -- together with the mother -- the
first generation of converts. Therefore, the Torah says "Asher Yivaldu" in
order to teach that the fetus is considered the second generation, and its
children are permitted.
RASHI explains that when the Gemara says that we need both "Lahem" and
"Asher Yivaldu," the Gemara means that we should not think that "Asher
Yivaldu" is *contradicting* the verse of "Lahem" and implying that only the
third generation of children (the fourth generation after and including the
original convert) is permitted. Rather, the verse is teaching something else
entirely and it is not contradicting the verse of "Lahem."
What does Rashi mean? Why does Rashi say that the point of the Gemara is to
resolve a contradiction in the verses? Without the Gemara, why would we have
explained the verses in a way that they contradict each other?
ANSWER: Rashi is bothered by the wording of the Gemara. Normally, whenever
the Gemara says "Itztrich" ("[the verse] is necessary"), it means that there
are two verses that seem to be teaching the same thing. The Gemara proceeds
to demonstrate that the verses actually are unique, and that they are
teaching two different lessons.
In our Gemara, though, the verses do not teach the same, or similar, lessons
at all. To the contrary, on their simplest level, they contradict each
other! "Lahem" implies that the third generation *including* the converts
themselves is permitted, while "Asher Yivaldu" implies that the third
generation 8of children* (four generations from the converts themselves) is
permitted! Why, then, does the Gemara use the terminology of "Itztrich,"
("We *need* both of them") which is normally used when two verses teach the
In response to this question, Rashi explains that the Gemara is really
asking a contradiction rather than a repetition. The Gemara is saying that
we should not think that one of the verses implies a seemingly *incorrect*
statement (since it seems to contradict what is written in the other verse).
Actually, the second verses is "needed" to teach a different Halachah