1) A YISRAEL WHO MARRIES A BAS KOHEN
QUESTION: The Gemara says in the name of Rebbi Yochanan that it is not good for a Yisrael to marry a Bas Kohen. The Gemara then challenges this statement from a different statement of Rebbi Yochanan in which he said that it is good for a Yisrael to marry a Bas Kohen. The Gemara answers that Rebbi Yochanan's first statement was said with regard to an Am ha'Aretz (who should not marry a Bas Kohen), and his second statement was said with regard to a Talmid Chacham (who is encouraged to marry a Bas Kohen).
The Gemara cites four incidents of a Yisrael who married a Bas Kohen. The first incident involved Rebbi Yehoshua, who became sick after he married a Bas Kohen. This incident implies that it is not good for anyone, even a Talmid Chacham, to marry a Bas Kohen.
In the second incident, Rav Idi bar Avin married a Bas Kohen, and his wife bore sons who became great Talmidei Chachamim. In the third incident, Rav Papa married a Bas Kohen and became wealthy. These two incidents support the assertion that it is good for a Talmid Chacham to marry a Bas Kohen.
The fourth incident involved Rav Kahana, who said, "Had I not married a Bas Kohen, I would not have been sent into exile." This implies that it is not good for one to marry a Bas Kohen.
Do the Amora'im in the first and fourth incidents argue with Rebbi Yochanan and maintain that it is not good for any Yisrael, even a Talmid Chacham, to marry a Bas Kohen?
ANSWER: It seems that Rebbi Yehoshua and Rav Kahana do not argue with Rebbi Yochanan. They agree that it is good for a Talmid Chacham to marry a Bas Kohen.
The Gemara relates that when Rebbi Yehoshua became ill, he wondered, "Is it not favorable to Aharon ha'Kohen that his descendants cling to someone like me (a Talmid Chacham)?" Rebbi Yehoshua was perplexed why he became ill, if it is good for a Talmid Chacham to marry a Bas Kohen.
When Rav Kahana complained that he was sent into exile because he married a Bas Kohen, his students pointed out that his exile was not a punishment, but rather -- on the contrary -- he was sent to a great Torah center. He replied that since he was forced to go there, it was not good. The MAHARSHA explains that Rav Kahana, in his humility, did not acknowledge that he was a Talmid Chacham. Since he did not recognize himself as a Talmid Chacham, he attributed his misfortune to the fact that he married a Bas Kohen. His students, however, knew that he was a Talmid Chacham, and therefore they pointed out that his "misfortune" was really a positive occurrence.
2) MAY AN "AM HA'ARETZ" EAT MEAT
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa in which Rebbi says, "An Am ha'Aretz is forbidden to eat meat." His source is the verse, "Zos Toras ha'Behemah..." -- "This is the law of the animals..." (Vayikra 11:46), which he expounds to mean that only one who is involved in learning Torah ("Zos Toras") may eat meat ("ha'Behemah").
Why should an Am ha'Aretz be forbidden to eat meat?
(a) The simple reason is that meat is a delicacy that was put into this world to serve a purpose. The Gemara in Bava Kama (72a) teaches that meat fills a person and gives him clarity of mind (see also Bava Basra 22a). If an Am ha'Aretz would eat meat and have a clear mind, he would not think productive thoughts. Therefore, he is not entitled to indulge in meat.
Hash-m permitted meat only to people who fear Him and who strive for spiritual growth. Such people are given the authority to "rule" over the animal world by eating meat. A person who acts with animalistic tendencies himself, who lets his base nature rule over him, may not eat meat.
(b) The RAN and RABEINU DAVID explain simply that an Am ha'Aretz does not know how to slaughter an animal properly, and therefore he may not eat meat.
3) "ONE IS PERMITTED TO KILL AN AM HA'ARETZ EVEN ON YOM KIPPUR..."
OPINIONS: Rebbi Elazar says that one is permitted to kill an Am ha'Aretz by Nechirah (stabbing him in the neck) even on Yom Kippur that falls on Shabbos. What does Rebbi Elazar mean? Why does the Am ha'Aretz deserve such treatment?
(a) TOSFOS says that the Gemara refers to an Am ha'Aretz who is a known murderer. Since it is a matter of Piku'ach Nefesh, one is permitted to dispose of the murderer even though he presently is not involved in an act of murder.
(b) The RAN and RABEINU DAVID quote RAV SHERIRA GA'ON and the RIF who say that Rebbi Elazar means that if the Am ha'Aretz is pursuing a betrothed woman ("Rodef Achar ha'Ervah"), one is permitted to kill him, even on Yom Kippur, even if the only way to stop him is by stabbing him (that is, with an ugly death, "Misah Menuveles").
The Rishonim ask that if this is the case to which Rebbi Elazar refers when he says that one may kill an Am ha'Aretz, why does he mention only an Am ha'Aretz? One may kill anyone, even a Talmid Chacham, if he is "Rodef Achar ha'Ervah"!
The answer is that it is true that one may kill any person who is "Rodef Achar ha'Ervah." However, only an Am ha'Aretz is ignorant enough to do such an act. An Am ha'Aretz does not think about the consequences of his actions. Not only will he pursue a woman who is forbidden to him, but he will do so in public where others can see him. Therefore, one may kill him in any manner while he is involved in his attempt to sin. As an Am ha'Aretz, he is so ignorant that he does not even know how to sin in an effective manner.
(c) The RAN and MAHARSHA explain that Rebbi Elazar's words are metaphoric in nature. Since an Am ha'Aretz hates Talmidei Chachamim so much, the Gemara uses exaggerated statements about them. The Maharsha adds that killing is a metaphor for embarrassing (Bava Metzia 58b). The Gemara teaches that one is permitted to embarrass an Am ha'Aretz in public, even on Yom Kippur.