NEDARIM 20 - Dedicated in memory of Max (Meir Menachem ben Shlomo ha'Levi) Turkel, by his children Eddie and Lawrence and his wife Jean Turkel/Rafalowicz. Max was a warm and loving husband and father and is missed dearly by his family and friends. His Yahrzeit is 5 Teves.


QUESTIONS: The Gemara states that marital relations which involve any of nine particular negative elements will result in children who will be "the rebels and those who transgress against Me" -- "ha'Mordim veha'Posh'im Bi" (Yechezkel 20:38), since their conception involved an element of grave impropriety. Among these nine characteristics are marital relations between a man with a wife he hates (and therefore he thinks about other women). The children born of such a union are called "Bnei Senu'ah" (literally, "children of a hated woman"). Another category of children born from improper relations are "Bnei Temurah." The RAN explains that these are children conceived when a man thinks that he is living with one wife when he is actually with his other wife.
(a) If relations with a wife whom one hates are so discouraged because they produce "Bnei Senu'ah" with the traits of "ha'Mordim veha'Posh'im," what was the justification for the conduct of Yakov Avinu, who lived with his wife, Leah, whom the verse clearly states was hated (Bereishis 29:31 and 33). Obviously, the children born from the union between Yakov Avinu and Leah Imenu did not have the Midos of "ha'Mordim veha'Posh'im."
(b) Yakov Avinu married Leah when he thought she was Rachel. He lived with Leah that night, and from that union Reuven was born (as the Gemara in Yevamos 76a relates; see Tosfos there, DH she'Lo). It was not until the next morning when Yakov Avinu discovered to his astonishment that she was Leah and not Rachel. Why, then, is Reuven not considered a "Ben Temurah," one whose father did not know with which wife he was living?
(a) Several answers are suggested to this question.
1. The RAMBAN in the name of the RADAK explains that the Torah does not mean that Leah was actually hated by her husband. Rather, the Torah means merely that she was loved less than Rachel (as implied the verse, Bereishis 29:30).
2. The PRI MEGADIM (OC 240:8) points out that the TUR writes that giving birth to "Bnei Senu'ah" depends on the husband's frame of mind at the time of the marital relations. At that moment, Leah was beloved to Yakov (as implied by the verse, Bereishis 29:32), and hence her children were not "Bnei Senu'ah."
(b) The RA'AVAD (in SEFER BA'ALEI HA'NEFESH) asks why Reuven was not a "Ben Temurah" and offers a number of answers.
1. He suggests that "Bnei Temurah" do not refer to children conceived from a union in which the man intended to have relations with one wife and instead had relations with another wife. Rather, "Bnei Temurah" are children born from a union in which the man intended to have relations with an Ervah (a woman forbidden to him) but ended up with his wife. He supports this assertion with the logic that intention to live with one wife and accidentally living with the other is not a serious enough misdeed to bear children who will be "rebels." In contrast, it makes sense that a man who has intention to live with an Ervah will have wicked offspring, since he has intention to do an act which is absolutely forbidden.
All of the other Rishonim, however, cite only the Ra'avad's second explanation of "Bnei Temurah," as follows.
2. The Ra'avad explains that before the Torah was given, the Avos did not observe the "Dikdukei Mitzvos," the exact details of the Mitzvos.
What does the Ra'avad mean? The Gemara teaches that the Avos fulfilled all the Mitzvos (see Yoma 28b, Kidushin 82a). How is it that they fulfilled all of the Mitzvos but not the "exact details"?
The Ra'avad apparently means that the Avos did not observe the minor points of the Mitzvos, and thus Yakov did not attempt to determine beyond any doubt that the woman he had just married was Rachel. Since he did nothing wrong, the child was not affected.
Alternatively, the Ra'avad might mean that since the Avos were not commanded to fulfill the Mitzvos, they were entitled to forgo the observance of the minor details of a Mitzvah for the sake of greater considerations (in this case, Yakov did not want to cause Leah embarrassment). (See OR HA'CHAYIM, Parshas Vayechi.)
3. The MAGEN AVRAHAM (OC 240) writes that "Bnei Temurah" are children conceived when a man does not see the woman he is with and thus he mistakes her for his other wife. Yakov Avinu saw his bride and intended to live with whom he saw, but he thought that she was Rachel and not Leah.
(According to the MEFARESH's explanation of "Bnei Irbuvya," such an error still should produce children who are "Bnei Irbuvya.")
4. The CHIDA in BIRKEI YOSEF (OC 240) suggests that the child is adversely affected only when the father did something wrong at the time of the child's conception (as the Ran says, there was a "Tzad Aveirah"). Yakov Avinu did nothing wrong; he made every effort to verify that the bride was the woman he thought she was; it was not his fault that his efforts failed. Since it was beyond his control, the child was not affected.
The Chida points out that this approach answers another question. According to the ASARAH MA'AMAROS (Ma'amar Chakar Din 3:10), Yishai -- the father of David ha'Melech -- had intention to live with his maidservant, but the maidservant changed places with Yishai's true wife. David ha'Melech was born from that union. Why was David ha'Melech not considered a "Ben Temurah"? The Chida explains that he was not a "Ben Temurah" because Yishai did nothing wrong. Yishai genuinely thought that the woman was his maidservant, as he had arranged signs (Simanim) with her to ensure her identity, but she gave over those Simanim to Yishai's wife. Since the circumstances were beyond Yishai's control, the child was not affected.
5. The CHIDA cites an ancient manuscript which poses this question not only from the conception of Reuven and David, but also from the conception of Zerach and Perez, the sons of Yehudah and Tamar. At the time Yehudah had relations with Tamar, he was unaware of her identity. Why were their children not considered "Bnei Temurah"? (This question may not be so difficult, because perhaps "Bnei Temurah" result only from a union in which the man thinks about a different woman. Yehudah, however, had in mind to live with that woman; he merely did not know her identity.) The manuscript answers that the reason none of these unions produced "Bnei Temurah" was that the intention of the mother at the time of the conception of a child is more consequential than the intention of the father. In each of these cases, the woman knew who the man was, and it was only the man who did not know who the woman was.
(This approach, cited by the Chida, contrasts with the words of RABEINU AVRAHAM MIN HA'HAR, who writes that the intention of the man is more important than the intention of the woman. Rabeinu Avraham Min ha'Har explains that this is why the Torah gives to the man the right to divorce his wife (and it does not give to the woman the right to divorce her husband); if he has intention to divorce his wife during the act of relations, his intention affects her children (who have not yet been conceived) more adversely than if she has intention to be divorced.)
(Perhaps it may be suggested that it was the element of relative impropriety involved in the conception of Reuven and David which led to the circumstances in which both were accused of transgressions of an intimate nature. Certainly, they were not considered "Bnei Temurah" for the reasons mentioned above. Nevertheless, perhaps this "Shemetz" of Temurah involved in their conception (that the father did not know the identity of the woman) was the cause for the accusations against Reuven and David of being involved with a "Shemetz" of an Aveirah of Arayos. The Asarah Ma'amaros adds that this slight imperfection in the conception of Reuven forfeited for him the right to receive a portion of the land in Eretz Yisrael proper.)