INSIGHTS INTO THE DAILY DAF
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches in the name of Rebbi Avahu that Hash-m originally intended to create two humans, but then he made only one. However, He then made the one into two, Adam and Chavah.
How are we to understand this Gemara? How can we say that Hash-m changed His mind?
(a) The RASHBA (TESHUVOS HA'RASHBA 1:60) explains that when the Gemara says that Hash-m "thought about creating two" and then He created one, it means that He carefully planned and considered with His infinite wisdom whether to create them as one or as two. It does not mean that He changed His mind, but rather that His creation was done with thorough consideration.
Why, then, did He eventually make two humans?
The two that were eventually created were not the same two of His original plan. Originally, Hash-m considered the implications of creating man and woman as two completely separate species that would not propagate together, or serve as counterparts to each other. Hash-m decided not to create two types of humans but instead to create one being, meaning one species of human beings, which included both man and woman.
Alternatively, Hash-m originally considered creating man and woman from the outset as two individual entities (of the same species), but in the end He decided that both man and woman should come from one body. The reason for this decision was that man and woman would feel eternally bonded to each other. When they would later come together, they would feel like a single unit, aware of the common root from which their Neshamah came. Again, Hash-m never changed His mind, so to speak. Rather, His infinite wisdom pondered all of the possible ways to create the human being before He decided to do it one way.
(b) The VILNA GA'ON explains that when the Gemara says that Hash-m initially "thought to create two," it means that when He created one, He already had in mind to eventually make two out of that one. The goal and purpose of Hash-m's creation is always the first and the beginning of His thoughts. "Hash-m thought to create two" means that His original thought was actualized later when He took two out of one. (The term "Alah b'Machshavah" refers to the ultimate purpose of Creation, for "Sof Ma'aseh, b'Machashavah Techilah"). If man and woman were created as one, it would not have been possible for a person to fulfill his ultimate purpose of toiling in Hash-m's Torah and serving Hash-m, because his worldly responsibilities would have been too great. Therefore, Hash-m created man and woman separately so that they could share the responsibilities and enable each other to accomplish their respective goals. The creation of one in the middle was just a step to get to the final two (for the reason given by the Rashba above).
QUESTION: Rav compares the Yetzer ha'Ra to a fly. Shmuel compares the Yetzer ha'Ra to a wheat kernel. Why is the Yetzer ha'Ra compared specifically to these two objects?
ANSWER: The VILNA GA'ON explains that the fly represents the Yetzer ha'Ra for speaking Lashon ha'Ra. A fly never lands on healthy and robust flesh; it is always attracted to skin that has begun to ail or rot. The victim of Lashon ha'Ra is always someone about whom there is at least a little to say. In addition, a fly spoils whatever it lands on. Likewise, one who speaks Lashon ha'Ra spoils all the good and merits that he may have, even his Torah learning.
Wheat symbolizes the Yetzer ha'Ra for excessive physical pleasures. The Etz ha'Da'as from which Adam and Chavah ate (see Bereishis 3:6) was wheat according to the opinion of Rebbi Yehudah (Berachos 40a). (Perhaps it represents the Yetzer ha'Ra for monetary gain as well, since wheat or bread represents a person's livelihood.)
OPINIONS: The end of the Sugya relates that Rabah was careful not to defecate while facing east or west. The RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 7:8-9) and TUR (OC 3) write that since Rabah made this his practice, this should be our practice as well. This applies, however, only when one is in an open area, more than four Amos away from a wall that would serve as a partition. If he is inside a building or within four Amos of a wall, he may face east or west because the wall serves as a partition. (He should put his back toward the wall, though.) (See SHULCHAN ARUCH OC 3:5; MISHNAH BERURAH 3:7.)
There are two ways to understand the ruling of the Rambam and Tur.
(a) The BEIS YOSEF says that the Rambam does not differentiate between various places in the world where a person may be standing. It seems that even south of Yerushalayim, a person may not face east or west. It must be that the Rambam's reason is that the Shechinah is in the west of the world, as the Gemara relates in Bava Basra (25a), or that the Shechinah is in the west of the Beis ha'Mikdash (and out of deference to that place, we do not face east or west anywhere in the world). (See MISHNAH BERURAH 3:10.)
(b) The DARCHEI MOSHE argues and says that the Rambam and Tur rule that one may not defecate while facing east or west because most of the people for whom they were writing lived to the west of Eretz Yisrael. They would agree, though, that someone living north or south of Eretz Yisrael (such as in Moscow or Johannesburg) may face east and west, but may not face north or south. This also seems to be the opinion of TOSFOS (DH Rebbi Akiva) here.
HALACHAH: The VILNA GA'ON agrees with the Beis Yosef, and this is the conclusion of the Mishnah Berurah as well.
OPINIONS: The Gemara discusses which direction to face when defecating, but it does not mention which direction a person should face when urinating.
Which direction should a person face when urinating?
(a) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Beis ha'Bechirah 7:8) writes that if a person is standing from Tzofim inwards toward the Beis ha'Mikdash and can see the place of the Beis ha'Mikdash, he should not face towards the holy sanctuary and urinate, even today. This applies only if a person is outside in the open and there is no wall or partition separating between him and the place of the sanctuary (see previous Insight). The SHULCHAN ARUCH and REMA (OC 3:7) rule like the Rambam.
(b) The VILNA GA'ON prohibits urinating in the open facing west even outside of Tzofim, no matter where a person may be standing in the world, because the Shechinah is in the west (Bava Basra 25a).
HALACHAH: The BI'UR HALACHAH (OC 3, DH ul'Hatil Mayim) says that one may rely on the Rema and face any direction when standing outside of Tzofim, especially if he is wearing pants (because then his body is not so exposed).