1) THE PROOF THAT "SEKILAH" IS A MORE STRINGENT PUNISHMENT THAN "SEREIFAH"
OPINIONS: The Gemara seeks to explain the reasoning of the Rabanan, who say that Sekilah (death by stoning) is a harsher form of punishment than Sereifah (death by burning). The Gemara initially suggests (49b) that Sekilah is harsher because it is the punishment given to an idol-worshipper and to a person who blasphemes the Name of Hash-m. The Gemara counters that, on the contrary, Sereifah is harsher since it is given to the daughter of a Kohen who was promiscuous. Why is that sin so severe, even more so than idol-worship? The Gemara explains that a Kohen whose daughter sinned is mocked and is no longer treated with the sanctity of a Kohen (see 52a). Why, then, do the Rabanan maintain that Sekilah is harsher? The Gemara answers that the Rabanan maintain that the only promiscuous Bas Kohen who is punished with Sereifah is one who is a Nesu'ah (married), but not who is an Arusah (betrothed). A Bas Kohen who is an Arusah is punished with Sekilah. In other contexts, the Torah considers the promiscuity of an Arusah to be more severe than the promiscuity of a Nesu'ah. The Torah's exclusion of a Bas Kohen Arusah from the punishment of Sereifah (which is given only to a Bas Kohen Nesu'ah) implies that the Arusah receives a different punishment, which must be harsher than Sereifah. Logically, it must be that Sekilah is the harshest punishment, and it is the punishment which the Bas Kohen Arusah receives.
RASHI (DH umid'Afkei) asks that the Gemara's logic seems circular. He asks that the Rabanan have no verse that teaches that an Arusah is punished with Sekilah and a Nesu'ah with Sereifah. Rather, the Rabanan's only reason for why an Arusah is punished with Sekilah is apparently that the Torah discusses an Arusah separately from a Nesu'ah, implying that she receives a different punishment. Since they maintain that Sekilah is the most stringent punishment, they therefore understand that it is the punishment given to an Arusah. If the Rabanan's reasoning is based on the premise that Sekilah is the most stringent punishment, then this logic cannot *prove* that Sekilah is the most stringent punishment! What is the meaning of the Gemara's answer?
(a) Rashi concludes that the Gemara's answer has an altogether different meaning. The Gemara asserted that Sekilah is more stringent because it is the punishment given to idolaters. The Gemara countered that Sereifah should be considered more stringent because it is given to a promiscuous Bas Kohen, whose transgression affects not only her but her father as well. The Gemara's answer is essentially that the Rabanan considered these two sides and decided that although the father's status is affected by his daughter's sin, idolatry is still the more serious transgression. Therefore, they assume that its prescribed punishment, Sekilah, is the harshest punishment in the Torah.
However, Rashi explains, the Gemara means that *even if one would disagree* with the Rabanan and assert that Sereifah is more stringent since it is given to a promiscuous Arusah Bas Kohen, the Rabanan would argue that only a Nesu'ah receives Sereifah and not an Arusah, who clearly is the more serious sinner (Rashi here proves this from the fact that an Arusah Bas Yisrael receives Sekilah, as opposed to a Nesu'ah who receives Chenek, a lighter punishment according to everyone.) It is true that the Rabanan rule that an Arusah is punished with Sekilah only because they maintain that Sekilah is the more stringent punishment (since it is given to an idolater). Rashi explains that the Gemara's statement that a "Nesu'ah goes to Sereifah, not an Arusah," is intended merely "to settle one's mind," and it is not a logical answer. The logical answer is, as Rashi earlier writes, that the Rabanan view idolatry as a more severe transgression, and therefore the punishment given to it must be the harshest punishment. Rashi concludes that the continuation of the Gemara (from "umid'Afkei" until the end of the statement) is a mistaken Girsa.
(b) The CHIDUSHEI HA'RAN quotes the RAMBAN who differs with Rashi. He insists that the Rabanan understand that a Nesu'ah Bas Kohen receives Sereifah because of their understanding of the verse "u'Bas Ish Kohen" -- "and the daughter of a man who is a Kohen" (Vayikra 21:9), and *not* because of any assumption that Sekilah is a harsher punishment. The Gemara later (51a) understands that this verse includes the daughter of a Kohen who is married to a man other than a Kohen. The Ramban apparently maintains that the Rabanan learn that this verse teaches that the punishment mentioned therein applies only to a Nesu'ah Bas Kohen and *not* to an Arusah. Accordingly, the Gemara's text is logical. If the Torah clearly implies that an Arusah Bas Kohen does not receive Sereifah, then she is like an ordinary Arusah who receives Sekilah. In essence, this means that the Torah is teaching that Sekilah is the harsher punishment, befitting idolaters and an unfaithful Arusah Bas Kohen (whose father's status is affected by her promiscuity). This explains the Girsa of our text of the Gemara. (For more discussion on this matter, see MARGOLIYOS HA'YAM at length.) (Y. MONTROSE)
2) THE MEANING OF THE BERAISA OF "BAS KOHEN"
QUESTION: The Gemara quotes a Beraisa which discusses the laws of a Bas Kohen who was promiscuous. It first compares her status to that of an ordinary Na'arah ha'Me'urasah, but it then asks that the comparison to a Na'arah ha'Me'urasah might lead one to think that only if the girl is exactly like a Na'arah ha'Me'urasah is she included in the verse which discusses a Bas Kohen. If she is a Na'arah who is married, a Bogeres (a girl above the age of twelve and a half years old) who is betrothed or married, or if she is an old woman, one might think that this law no longer applies to her. The verse, "u'Bas Kohen" -- "and the daughter of a Kohen" (Vayikra 21:9), teaches that the verse applies to any woman who is a Bas Kohen, at any of the aforementioned stages of her life.
How does the verse teach this lesson? RASHI (DH Talmud Lomar) explains that the Beraisa infers this from the seemingly extra letter Vav in the word, "u'Bas." The meaning of the extra Vav, which means "and," teaches that all possible cases of Bas Kohen should be included.
Who is the Tana of this Beraisa?
(a) Rashi explains that the Tana of this Beraisa is Rebbi Akiva, who clearly states (51b) that the letter Vav in the verse is inclusive and is used to include other cases of Bas Kohen.
TOSFOS (DH Talmud Lomar) asks that Rebbi Akiva cannot be the Tana of the Beraisa. The very next part of the Beraisa states that even if a Bas Kohen was married to a Mamzer, this Halachah applies. This implies that the woman's marriage to the Mamzer is considered legally valid, and her thus promiscuity was considered an act of adultery. Rebbi Akiva's opinion, however, as stated clearly in Yevamos (69a), is that a marriage which is prohibited by a Lo Ta'aseh is *not* a valid marriage; the Kidushin does *not* take effect. How, then, can Rashi suggest that Rebbi Akiva is the Tana of the Beraisa, if Rebbi Akiva maintains that the woman's marriage to a Mamzer is not considered a valid marriage?
Tosfos answers his question on Rashi. Rashi must have understood that Rebbi Akiva does not maintain that Kidushin cannot take effect for *all* prohibited relationships, but rather only *some* prohibited relationships fall in this category, namely, prohibitions which involve relatives. In contrast, Kidushin *does* take effect in cases of prohibitions which involve people who are not relatives (such as a Mamzer). Accordingly, the Tana of the Beraisa indeed may be Rebbi Akiva. This answer is actually found in Rashi later (51a, DH Oved Kochavim).
(b) Alternatively, Tosfos suggests that the Tana of the Beraisa is Rebbi Shimon, who happens to agree with Rebbi Akiva (51b) that the Vav of "u'Bas" is inclusive, but who also agrees with the other Tana'im that Kidushin with someone prohibited by a Lo Ta'aseh always takes effect. (Y. MONTROSE)