1) THE SMALLEST "PARSHAH" IN "TEFILIN"
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that one is Chayav for carrying a piece of parchment from Reshus ha'Yachid to Reshus ha'Rabim when the parchment is large enough to write on it the smallest Parshah in Tefilin, which is the Parshah of "Shema Yisrael." This is the smallest complete Parshah that is normally written alone on a piece of parchment. (The TOSFOS YOM TOV explains that people used to write this Parshah for themselves on a small piece of parchment to read Keri'as Shema from it at bedtime).
TOSFOS in Sotah (17a) asks that we find an even smaller Parshah that was written on a piece of parchment. The Mishnah in Sotah describes that when a woman drank the Sotah waters, the Parshah of Sotah would be written on a piece of parchment by itself and it would be dipped into the water and erased (see Bamidbar 5:23).
Tosfos asks why the Mishnah here says that the minimum size of a piece of parchment is based on the size of the smallest Parshah in Tefilin, when the Parshah of Sotah is even smaller. Why is the minimum size of a piece of parchment only the size of the paragraph of Shema Yisrael, and not the smaller size of the paragraph of Sotah?
(a) TOSFOS there (Sotah 17a) answers that since the Parshah of Sotah is not written as frequently as the Parshah of Shema, it is not used to establish the minimum size of a piece of parchment with regard to Hotza'ah.
(b) RAV REUVEN MARGOLIYOS (in HA'MIKRA VEHA'MESORAH, ch. 12, fn. 1) explains that if one carefully counts the letters of the Parshah of Shema and those of the Parshah of Sotah, one will notice that Shema is longer in letter-count than Sotah. However, if one counts the words of each Parshah, one will notice that Sotah has more words than Shema! This is possible because the words in the Parshah of Sotah are shorter than the words in Shema.
When one writes a Parshah on parchment, he must take into account the blank spaces between words. Consequently, if one counts the number of blank spaces (which are equal to one letter's width) between the words in each Parshah and add it to the letter-count of each Parshah, the total letter-count of Parshas Sotah will come to 254, and the total letter-count of Parshas Shema will come to only 252. Therefore, when one writes Shema on a piece of parchment, one actually writes less than when he writes the Parshah of Sotah on parchment! That is why the Parshah of Shema determines the minimum Shi'ur for Hotza'ah of a piece of parchment.
2) "MODEH B'SHTAR SHE'KASVO, TZARICH L'KAIMO"
QUESTIONS: Abaye says that the Tana Kama and Rebbi Yehudah argue about "Modeh b'Shtar she'Kasvo, Tzarich l'Kaimo" -- "when the borrower admits to the authenticity of the contract, the contract must be validated." The Tana Kama maintains that the contract must be validated even though the borrower admits that he wrote it. Rebbi Yehudah maintains that it does not need further validation.
(a) In all of the various Sugyos in Shas in which this concept appears, Rashi explains that this concept means that even though the borrower admits to the authenticity of the contract, the lender must still validate it. That is, if a person says, "It is true that I borrowed money from you and wrote that contract, but I already paid you back," whereby he admits that the contract is valid but he claims that he paid the debt already, the lender must bring witnesses (Edei Kiyum) to authenticate the contract. (Otherwise, the borrower has the upper hand, since he is the one who validated the contract, and he himself also said that it has been paid).
RASHI here, however, explains differently. He explains that "Tzarich l'Kaimo" refers to the borrower. What does it mean that the borrower must "validate the contract"? It means that he must admit that "I did not pay back the debt" in order for the contract to be valid for the lender to collect with it.
Why does Rashi here give this entirely different explanation for this concept? Why does he not explain simply that "Tzarich l'Kaimo" refers to the lender, and it means that the lender must validate the contract by bringing witnesses? (MAHARAM)
(b) Second, according to Rashi's explanation, why does the Gemara say that the contract is considered a significant and usable object (so that if the lender walks out with it on Shabbos, he is Chayav for Hotza'ah) when the borrower did not say that he already paid and did not admit or deny the claim? (See Rashi to 79a, DH Ad she'Yomar.) The borrower's silence is not what makes the contract usable! The contract is usable only when the borrower says explicitly, "I did not pay" and admits to the claim.
(The Gemara is discussing a case in which the lender cannot find witnesses to authenticate the contract, as Tosfos points out. Therefore, the contract should be worthless as long as the borrower can simply say, "I paid." If the borrower is honest and says, "I did not pay," then of what use is the contract? The borrower's admission is what creates his obligation! Why does the Gemara consider the contract valuable as long as the borrower does not deny the charges by saying, "I paid"?)
(b) Why is the contract worth anything? It must be that borrower said that the contract was valid, and he said no more. Then, later, the lender came back to him with the contract and demanded to be paid. The Tana Kama maintains that since the borrower was honest when he admitted to the contract, he will probably be honest and admit that he did not pay back. The lender will therefore be able to collect with the contract, and thus the contract is valuable to him.
Normally, "Modeh b'Shtar she'Kasvo" means that the borrower says both that he wrote the contract, and that he paid back the debt already. Here, however, it means that he said only that it is a valid contract, and he said nothing about whether he had paid it back. Here, "Tzarich l'Kaimo" means that saying that the contract is valid is still not sufficient; he must also say (later, at the time of collection) that he did not pay it back yet. (This implies that a "Migu l'Mafre'a" is a valid claim in court, as TOSFOS in Bava Basra (30a, DH Lav) indeed says is Rashi's opinion.) This answers the second question.
(a) The aforementioned approach answers the first question as well. Rashi wants to make it clear that according to this Sugya, the borrower did not yet deny the charges when he said that he paid. The one who says "Lo Tzarich l'Kaimo" maintains that the contract is valid by default (since the borrower will probably not deny the charges and say that he paid), while the other opinion maintains that the contract is invalid by default, even before the borrower insists that he paid. That is why Rashi explains that the borrower must admit that he did not pay (later, when brought to court) for the contract to be valid. (M. KORNFELD)