1) AGADAH: THE BUILDING OF A WOMAN
The Gemara lists the Birchos Chasanim, the special Berachos recited for seven days after the wedding. In the Berachah of "Asher Yatzar," we say that Hash-m "formed Adam in His image... and He established for him, from his own flesh, an everlasting building," a reference to Chavah.
Rashi explains that Chavah is called a "Binyan," a building, based on the verse, "va'Yiven... Es ha'Tzela" (Bereishis 2:22). The Gemara in Berachos (61a) says that the reason she is called a "building" is because woman is built differently than man in order for her body to be able to carry a child.
Similarly, the verse in Ruth compares a woman to a Binyan. When Boaz married Ruth the people who witnessed the wedding blessed Boaz with the Berachah that Hash-m should make Ruth "like Rachel and like Leah, who together built the house of Yisrael..." (Ruth 4:11). (See also Rashi to Shemos 19:3, who explains that "'*Beis* Yakov' -- the house of Yakov* -- refers to the woman." See also Shabbos 118b and Gitin 52a, where the Gemara says that one's wife is called his "Bayis.")
The nature of a woman as a Binyan manifests itself only after she is married, when the man has the opportunity to serve as the builder and the woman has the opportunity to serve as the building, so to speak. RAV DOVID COHEN, shlit'a, points out that the roles of man and woman are alluded to in their Hebrew titles. A male child is called a "Ben," and a female child is called a "Bas." A grown man is called an "Ish," and a woman is called an "Ishah." The Chachamim teach that what differentiates "Ish" from "Ishah" is that the word "Ish" contains the letter Yud, and "Ishah" contains the letter Heh (Sotah 17a). When the male child, the "Ben," gets married, he acquires the Heh of the woman, the "Ishah," making him into a "Boneh" (spelled Beis, Nun, Heh). He is involved in building the Binyan. When the female child, the "Bas," gets married, she acquires the Yud of the man, the "Ish," and she becomes the Binyan or "Bayis," the foundation of the home. (See also Insights to Gitin 52:2.)
2) TWO THAT ARE ONE
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches 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 (Berachos 61a) 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). (See also Insights to Berachos 61:1 and Eruvin 18:2.)
3) HALACHAH: DRINKING WINE IN THE HOUSE OF AN AVEL
OPINIONS: The Gemara says that the Chachamim instituted a custom to drink ten cups of wine in the house of an Avel -- three cups to open one's digestive system and arouse his appetite, three cups during the meal to help digest his food, and four cups to represent the four Berachos of Birkas ha'Mazon. They later instituted four additional cups for various reasons. When the Chachamim saw that the people in the house of an Avel started to become intoxicated from so many cups of wine, they "returned the situation to its original state."
What is the proper practice according to the Gemara's conclusion, and how is this practice observed today?
(a) RASHI writes that when the Chachamim "returned the situation to its original state," they annulled the additional four cups of wine that were instituted and they left the original enactment of drinking ten cups of wine in place.
(b) The RAMBAN (in TORAS HA'ADAM) and other Rishonim write that after the people started to become intoxicated, the Chachamim annulled the custom of giving wine altogether. Only during the meal would they permit giving wine, because wine during a meal helps digest the food and does not make a person intoxicated (Yerushalmi, cited by the Rashbam in Pesachim 117b).
(c) The RAMBAM (Hilchos Avel 13:8) writes that in the house of an Avel "we do not let anyone drink more than ten cups." It seems that the Rambam understands that the Gemara is not saying that the people in the house of an Avel should drink ten cups, but that the Chachamim made a limit to how much they may drink and limited the amount to ten cups. That is, although the Gemara says that wine was created only to provide comfort to Avelim (Sanhedrin 70a), nevertheless the Chachamim did not allow the people in the house of an Avel to drink excessively. (See also Rambam, Hilchos Avel 4:6.)
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 378:8) writes that Avelim should drink wine only during the meal, and they should not drink enough to become intoxicated but only enough to help digest the food (as the Rambam and Ramban rule).