1) PRAISING THE NATIONS
QUESTION: The Mishnah (13b) states that whether one pledges to give the Erech of the most handsome Jewish male ("ha'Na'eh sheb'Yisrael") or the Erech of the ugliest one, he gives fifty Sela, the fixed value of the Erech of a Jewish male as set by the Torah. The Gemara asks that this implies that one can pledge only the Erech of a Jew, but not that of a Nochri, unlike the opinion of Rebbi Meir who says that a Nochri can also be Ne'erach. The Gemara replies that it is possible that the Mishnah follows even the view Rebbi Meir, and the reason why it does not mention a "handsome Nochri" is that there is a prohibition against saying that a Nochri is handsome, as Rav derives from the verse, "Lo Sechanem" (Devarim 7:2), which implies that "you shall not give them favor."
This ruling of Rav seems to contradict the Gemara in Berachos (8b). The Gemara there quotes Rebbi Akiva who praised the Medeans and said, "For three things [about their conduct] I love the Medeans," and Raban Gamliel who praised the Persians and said, "For three things I love the Persians." Why did they praise the Medeans and Persians when, according to Rav, the verse teaches that "you shall not give them favor"?
(a) The TZITZ ELIEZER (15:47) quotes the NISHMAS KOL CHAI who answers that when the people of any nation behave in a proper manner and its conduct meets the approval of the Torah, one is permitted to point out that nation's positive attributes. He explains that the RAMBAM (Hilchos Avodah Zarah 10:4) says that the underlying reason for the prohibition of "Lo Sechanem" is in order that a Jew not learn to conduct himself like a Nochri. However, when the Torah approves of the conduct of the Nochri, the opposite is true: a Jew should emulate that conduct! Rav's Halachah applies only to praising a Nochri with regard to something that has no positive, didactic value, such as saying that a Nochri is handsome.
(This answer needs further elucidation. If one is permitted to praise the positive attributes of a Nochri, he thereby gives the Nochri a good reputation in general, and one might be misled to think that he should emulate the Nochri in all of his ways, including the bad attributes as well! The VILNA GA'ON writes (in EVEN SHELEIMAH 4:13) that one of the strategies of the Yetzer ha'Ra is to make those people who are the most severe transgressors of Mitzvos between man and Hash-m (Bein Adam la'Makom) seem to be the ones who best fulfill the Mitzvos between man and his fellow man (Bein Adam la'Chaveiro). When one sees how nice and caring those people are for other people, he will ignore the fact that they are terrible sinners in matters of Bein Adam la'Makom, and he might try to emulate their ways. Why, then, is there no suspicion that one might learn from a Nochri's negative attributes when he is praised for his positive ones?)
(b) The Nishmas Kol Chai suggests another answer. It is possible that Rav's ruling applies only to an individual Nochri. Rav is concerned that one will try to emulate the Nochri, becoming his "follower." In contrast, one is not prohibited from praising a nation of people, since there is no concern that a Jew will want to become a member of that nation as a result of the praise given to it. (The Tzitz Eliezer points out that the Vilna Ga'on in Shabbos (33b) clearly implies that he does not agree with this answer.)
(This answer seems difficult for the following reason. Praising an entire nation should present more of a problem, because there are more people for an errant Jew to follow. Perhaps the concern is only that a Jew will follow an individual Nochri, since it does not entail leaving the fold altogether. In contrast, there is no concern that a Jew will join another nation, because that would involve leaving the fold entirely. Alternatively, the Nishmas Kol Chai's logic may be that when one does not give a direct compliment to any Nochri in particular, there is no concern that a person will go follow a member of that nation as a result of such an unspecific compliment.)
(c) Perhaps a third answer may be suggested as follows. The wording used by Rebbi Akiva and Raban Gamliel in Berachos is, "For three things I love the Medeans/Persians...." This wording implies that the Tana'im were able to find only three meritorious attributes about the conduct of those nations. If the reason for the prohibition of "Lo Sechanem" is the concern that a Jew will be favorably impressed by the Nochrim and follow their ways, then perhaps when the statement of praise itself is said in a derogatory manner which alludes to the depraved status of the subject, it is permitted. When the statement of praise also expresses the general, evil nature of the subject, the overall message is that these are not people to be followed, since they do only three things that are praiseworthy. Rav's ruling applies to a statement which is entirely favorable, with no negative connotations. (This answer requires further elucidation and should not be relied upon in practice.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) "SHNEI CHESUVIN HA'BA'IN K'ECHAD" AND A "GEZEIRAH SHAVAH"
QUESTION: In the Mishnah (14a), the Rabanan state that when one is Makdish a Sedeh Achuzah, he redeems it at the value of fifty Shekalim per Beis Kor, regardless of the quality of the land. When one is Makdish a Sedeh Miknah, he redeems it for its actual value.
Rebbi Eliezer argues and maintains that the fixed redemption rate also applies to a Sedeh Miknah. The difference between a Sedeh Achuzah and a Sedeh Miknah is that when one redeems a Sedeh Achuzah he adds a Chomesh, but when one redeems a Sedeh Miknah he does not add a Chomesh.
The Gemara explains that the Rabanan learn from the word "Michsas" (Vayikra 27:23) that only a Sedeh Achuzah is redeemed at the fixed rate, but not a Sedeh Miknah. Rebbi Eliezer learns from a Gezeirah Shavah of "v'Chishav" (Vayikra 27:18 and 27:23) that just as a Sedeh Achuzah has a fixed redemption rate, so does a Sedeh Miknah.
The Gemara asks whether the Chachamim agree that there is a Gezeirah Shavah but use it to teach that one must add a Chomesh when he redeems a Sedeh Miknah, just as he must add a Chomesh for a Sedeh Achuzah, or whether they maintain that there is no Gezeirah Shavah.
Rava answers that, presumably, the Rabanan maintain that there is no Gezeirah Shavah, because the requirement to pay a Chomesh is taught by the Torah twice -- once with regard to a Sedeh Miknah, and once with regard to one who is Makdish his house. Accordingly, the law of Chomesh is taught by "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad." When two verses express the same Halachah for two different subjects, that Halachah cannot be applied elsewhere through a Binyan Av. Since the Torah found it necessary to repeat the law a second time, this shows that the Halachah is not meant to be applied automatically in all situations.
Rava's answer is difficult to understand. The principle that a Halachah cannot be learned from "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad" restricts learning the Halachah through a Binyan Av. However, when there is a Gezeirah Shavah that compares two Mitzvos to each other regarding a certain law, this principle should not apply. Since the Torah itself indicates, through the Gezeirah Shavah, that the Mitzvos are comparable, the fact that they are "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad" should not prevent the Gezeirah Shavah from teaching the law!
(a) TOSFOS (DH Iba'aya Lehu) answers that the law of Chomesh is written with regard to one who sanctifies a Sedeh Achuzah and with regard to one who sanctifies his house. If it is appropriate to learn the laws of Chomesh from one Mitzvah to another through a Gezeirah Shavah, then the law of Chomesh should not be written in both of those places, but in only one of them, since a Gezeirah Shavah exists between the two. (Had the law been written in one place, we would have learned through the Gezeirah Shavah that it applies to the other place as well.)
(b) Tosfos (15a, DH Havu) quotes the RI who says that there is no actual Gezeirah Shavah comparing Sedeh Miknah to Sedeh Achuzah, but rather a Binyan Av. Accordingly, the ordinary limitation of "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad" indeed applies.
Tosfos in Kidushin (35a, DH Ela) explains that the rule of "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad" proves that the law mentioned in the two places does not
apply anywhere other than the two instances in which it is mentioned. "Shnei Chesuvin ha'Ba'in k'Echad" teaches that the Halachah of those verses cannot be applied to any other subject, even with a Hekesh or other Limud. (This is in contrast to the understanding of RASHI
in Kidushin (ibid.), who maintains that when a law is expressed in two places in the Torah, that does not teach that the law does not apply elsewhere, but merely that it cannot be derived from those two verses through a Binyan Av. Rather, an entirely new source is necessary to teach that law.) (See Insights to Chulin 117:2
3) THE DAUGHTER OF A KING AND THE DAUGHTER OF A KOHEN GADOL
QUESTION: The Mishnah teaches that the monetary fines of Ones and Mefateh apply equally to one whose victim is the most dignified daughter of Kohanim (when the act causes much greater shame) and to one whose victim is the lowliest daughter of Yisrael. In contrast, the amount of money that the offender must pay as compensation for the Boshes (embarrassment) and Pegam (physical blemish) that he caused to the woman is based on her stature.
The Gemara asks that the verse states that the offender must pay fifty Sela'im. Perhaps the verse means that he should pay only fifty Sela'im and nothing more. What is the source that he must pay additional sums for the damages that he caused?
Rav Ze'ira suggests that logic dictates that the verse cannot be limiting the man's liability to fifty Sela'im. It does not make sense that nothing more than fifty Sela'im should be paid to every victim regardless of her stature; certainly one who rapes the "daughter of kings" causes more damage (of embarrassment and blemish) than one who rapes an ordinary girl. The Gemara refutes Rav Ze'ira's logic by pointing out that the Torah indeed states that in the case of an Eved who was killed by one's bull, the owner of the bull is obligated to pay only thirty Sela'im, regardless of the value of the Eved.
TOSFOS (DH Yomru) questions Rav Ze'ira's wording. When the Mishnah expresses the most, and least, dignified among the Jewish people, it contrasts the daughter of the most important Kohen (the Kohen Gadol) with the daughter of the Yisrael of the lowliest stature. Why does Rav Ze'ira contrast the daughter of kings with the daughter of an ordinary person? Why does he not use the contrast stated in the Mishnah?
(a) The VILNA GA'ON answers that, of course, a king is more important than a Kohen Gadol, as the Gemara states in Horayos (13a). The question, rather, is why does the Mishnah not use the contrast that Rav Ze'ira uses, but instead mentions a daughter of Kohanim?
The Vilna Ga'on explains that the Mishnah chooses to mention the daughter of Kohanim because she is more relevant to the topic being discussed. The Gemara in Kesuvos (39b) states that the monetary penalty of Ones or Mefateh is given as compensation for the money that the woman will lose later from her Kesuvah. Since the Gemara (Kesuvos 12a) states that the Kesuvah of a Kohenes is four hundred Zuz (the most expensive, standard Kesubah that exists), the Mishnah therefore chooses to contrast the daughter of the most important Kohen with the daughter of the least important Yisrael.
(b) RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HA'LEVI HOROWITZ answers that the Mishnah is teaching the Torah law. Since the Torah elaborates on the importance of a Kohen much more than it elaborates on the importance of a Melech, the Mishnah uses the example of the daughter of a Kohen. However, it is clear that the daughter of a Melech probably would experience more embarrassment and blemish as a result of the assault. Therefore, Rav Ze'ira is justified in using this contrast.
(c) The CHIDUSHEI HA'GRIZ gives a third answer. The Mishnah focuses on the damages caused by the sinner's act. One of these damages is that the girl may not marry a Kohen Gadol (who may marry only a Besulah). Rav Ze'ira, however, who focuses exclusively on the aspects of embarrassment and blemish, mentions the greatest example of embarrassment and blemish, which is that caused to the daughter of a king. (Y. MONTROSE)