1) RESPONDING "NO" TWICE IS LIKE A SHEVU'AH
QUESTIONS: Rebbi Elazar says that merely saying "no" may be considered a Shevu'ah, like saying "yes." The Gemara proves this from what Hash-m said after the Flood: "And the waters will never again become a flood" (Bereishis 9:15), which the verse in Yeshayah (54:9) calls a Shevu'ah: "For this is like the waters of Noach to Me; for just as I have sworn that the waters of Noach should no more go over the earth...." The Gemara concludes that if saying "no" constitutes an oath, then, logically, saying "yes" should also constitute an oath.
Rava explains (see RASHI) that Rebbi Elazar's statement applies only when the person says "no" or "yes" twice. This is derived from the fact that Hash-m said "no" twice in His oath not to bring another flood. In addition to the verse mentioned above (9:15), Hash-m said, "And all flesh will never again be cut off by the waters of the flood" (9:11). Hash-m's statement became an oath because He said "no" twice.
However, there are three other verses in Parshas Noach in which Hash-m uses the word "no" with regard to destroying the world with a flood. The verse says, "And there will be no more flood to destroy the world" (the second half of Bereishis 9:11). In addition, the verse says, "I will not continue to curse the earth because of man" (Bereishis 8:21), and, "I will not continue to smite all living things as I have done" (ibid.). According to Rava's reasoning, one should have to say "no" five times in order for his statement to constitute a Shevu'ah! Why does the Gemara not take into account these verses?
(a) The ROSH says that the Girsa of our text of the Gemara (which quotes the first half of verse 9:11, and verse 9:15) is not the correct Girsa. The Rosh argues that according to this Girsa, one should have to say "no" three times in order for his statement to constitute a Shevu'ah, since three statements of Hash-m in the verses quoted by the Gemara contain the word "no" -- two in Bereishis 9:11 and one in 9:15. The Rosh also argues that the Girsa of the RIF is incorrect. The Rif quotes the verses of Bereishis 8:21 and 9:15 (according to the Girsa of our text of the Rif, the Rif quotes the second half of verse 9:11, and verse 9:15).
Rather, the Rosh asserts that the proper Girsa is the two statements of "no" in Bereishis 8:21. The verse in its entirety reads, "Hash-m smelled the pleasing aroma [of Noach's Korban], and Hash-m said in His heart, 'I will not continue to curse the earth because of man, because the inclination of man's heart is evil from his youth, and I will not continue to smite all living things as I have done." Hash-m's words in this verse were said immediately after Noach offered Korbanos to Hash-m, which found favor in His eyes. Hash-m said these words as an oath to assure Noach that the world would never be destroyed again with a flood. The verses later (Bereishis 9:11 and 9:15), in contrast, are merely narrative, in which Hash-m relates what the rainbow represents (there will be no more flood); they are not a statement of an oath. The Rosh explains that when Hash-m commanded Noach to leave the Teivah and to repopulate the world (Bereishis 8:16-18), Noach refrained from having more children out of fear that another flood might destroy them. Hash-m therefore promised Noach (8:21) that there would be no more flood. It is this statement, which contains the word "no" two times, from which Rava derives the law that saying "no" twice constitutes a Shevu'ah, since this statement indeed was Hash-m's oath to Noach assuring him that there would never be another flood.
(The Rosh points out that this explains the discrepancy between Hash-m's command to Noach to leave the Teivah and Noach's actual fulfillment of the command. Hash-m commanded Noach, "Go out of the Teivah, you and your wife, your sons and the wives of your sons with you" (8:16). Noach, however, carried out the command in a different order: "Noach went out, and his sons, his wife and the wives of his sons" (8:18). In Hash-m's command, Noach and his wife were to go out together, and his sons and their wives were to go out together, which indicates that each couple was to reunite and have children. However, when they actually left the Teivah, the men stayed separate from the women; they did not attempt to have children out of fear of another flood. Only after Hash-m made His oath not to bring another flood did they agree to reunite, which explains why Hash-m commanded them again, after His oath, to have children (9:1).)
Based on this explanation, the Rosh understands that Rava's law is that in order to constitute a Shevu'ah, a person's two statements of "no" must be said consecutively, just as Hash-m said His two statements consecutively. In contrast, according to Rava, if a person is asked to do something and he says "no," and then he is asked again and he says "no" again, his statement does not constitute a Shevu'ah.
(b) The MAHARSHA disagrees with the Rosh and defends the Girsa of our text of the Gemara. He argues that the verse that the Rosh quotes (8:21) cannot be the source that saying "no" two times constitutes a Shevu'ah, because in that verse Hash-m did not say His statement aloud to Noach, but rather He said it "in His heart." (The OR HA'CHAIM also rejects the Girsa of the Rosh for this reason, and for the reason that the two statements in 8:21 of "Lo Osif l'Kalel" and "Lo Osif Od l'Hakos" address two different details and thus cannot constitute a single Shevu'ah.) Only later does the Torah say that Hash-m spoke to Noach (9:8): "Behold, I establish My covenant with you" (9:9), and, "I will uphold My covenant with you, and all flesh will never again be cut off by the waters of the flood, and there will be no more flood to destroy the world" (9:11). It is in this verse that Hash-m makes a "covenant" and uses the word "no" twice. The later verse (9:15) is merely narrative, describing Hash-m's remembrance of His Shevu'ah.
(The Maharsha's explanation, however, is still not consistent with the Girsa of our text. According to our text, the two statements that Rava quotes are the first half of Bereishis 9:11 -- "all flesh will never again be cut off by the waters of the flood," and verse 15 -- "and the water will not again become a flood." The Maharsha, however, says that both statements are from verse 11. Therefore, it seems that the Girsa of the DIKDUKEI SOFRIM, based on old manuscripts, is correct. The Dikdukei Sofrim changes the words, "v'Lo Yiheyeh Od ha'Mayim la'Mabul" (which appear in Bereishis 9:15) to read instead, "v'Lo Yiheyeh Od Mabul l'Shaches ha'Aretz" (which are in the end of Bereishis 9:11). This clearly was the Girsa of the Maharsha.)
(c) How is the Girsa of the Rif to be reconciled? According to our text of the Girsa of the Rif (and not the Girsa of the Rif according to the Rosh), the two statements in which Hash-m says "no" are the second half of 9:11 and 9:15. It seems that the Rif maintains that these two statements constitute the Shevu'ah because they are most similar in syntax. The first verse (9:11) reads, "v'Lo Yiheyeh Od Mabul l'Shaches ha'Aretz" ("And there will be no more flood to destroy the world"), and the second verse (9:15) reads, "v'Lo Yiheyeh Od ha'Mayim la'Mabul l'Shaches Kol Basar" ("And the water will not again become a flood to destroy all flesh"). Both verses emphasize that there will be no more flood that will be destructive (either to mankind or to the land). In contrast, the first part of verse 11 does not say that "there will be no more flood," but rather that "all flesh will never again be cut off by the waters of the flood," using a different phraseology. (See MALBIM to Bereishis 9:11, and TORAH TEMIMAH to Bereishis 9:15.)
It seems that the BACH agrees with the Girsa of the Rif. The BACH amends the Girsa to read both the second half of verse 11 and verse 15. He apparently understands that the two statements in verse 11 do not prove that two statements of "no" constitute a Shevu'ah. Rather, the second half of verse 11 and verse 15 are the two statements of "no" that constitute the Shevu'ah (as the Rif writes), and the Gemara quotes the first half of verse 11 merely because it is the beginning of the verse.
The OR HA'CHAIM (Bereishis 9:11) adds that according to the Rif, the reason why the first half of verse 11 -- "v'Lo Yikares Kol Basar Od mi'Mei ha'Mabul" -- is not included is as follows. Instead of interpreting the verse to mean, "And all flesh will never again be cut off by the waters of the flood," the Rif understands that it means, "And all flesh will never again be cut off [in any manner, whether by fire or by plague] from the time of the waters of the flood." According to this understanding, the verse is not saying that mankind will never again be destroyed by a flood in particular, and thus this statement is not part of the Shevu'ah regarding the flood.
This is also the approach of the MEROMEI SADEH here, who writes that the two statements of "no" that constitute a Shevu'ah are the two statements that explicitly state that there will not be another flood. The Meromei Sadeh explains that this is why the Gemara does not bring proof from the two statements that the Rosh mentions (Bereishis 8:21, "Lo Osif l'Kalel" and "Lo Osif Od l'Hakos"); those verses make no mention of a flood, but rather they say that mankind, and the land, will not be destroyed. The Shevu'ah, however, specifically refers to a flood, as is clear from the words of Yeshayah, who said that Hash-m's Shevu'ah was that He would not bring another flood. (See also OR HA'CHAIM to Bereishis 9:11 and CHASAM SOFER for additional explanations of the Gemara according to our Girsa.)
2) MAKING A "SHEVU'AH" TO FIVE PEOPLE IN ONE STATEMENT
QUESTION: The Mishnah discusses a case in which five people claim from a trustee an item that they deposited with him. If he swears falsely that he does not have their item, saying, "I swear that I do not have your item," he is required to bring only one Korban for Shevu'as ha'Pikadon. If he swears falsely by addressing each claimant personally, saying, "I swear that I do not have your item, nor your item, nor your item...," he must bring five separate Korbanos. Rebbi Eliezer maintains that he is obligated to bring multiple Korbanos only when he ends his statement with the phrasing of "b'Shevu'ah," thereby making each part of his statement a separate Shevu'ah. Rebbi Shimon maintains that he must say "Shevu'ah" in each statement that he says, to each individual claimant, in order to be obligated to bring multiple Korbanos.
The Toras Kohanim teaches the same Halachah, but in a different case. The Toras Kohanim discusses a case of a person who makes multiple Shevu'os ha'Edus that he does not know testimony. There, too, the Tana Kama, Rebbi Eliezer, and Rebbi Shimon disagree about when the person is obligated to bring multiple Korbanos, just as they disagree in the Mishnah here. When the RAMBAM (Hilchos Shevu'os 9:17) records the Halachah, he states the Halachah with regard to Shevu'as ha'Edus and says that the same applies to a case of Shevu'as ha'Pikadon.
Why does the Mishnah not discuss this Halachah earlier, when it discusses the laws of Shevu'as ha'Edus? Why was this case left until the discussion of Shevu'as ha'Pikadon, if it applies equally for Shevu'as ha'Edus?
(a) The TIFERES YISRAEL answers that the case of the Mishnah here differs from the case of Shevu'as ha'Edus. In the case of the Mishnah, a single item that was owned jointly by five people was deposited with the trustee. All five owners submit a claim against the trustee, but their claims are brought by a single representative from among them. The Mishnah teaches that even though only one person is actually making the claim, the trustee can be obligated to bring a Korban for each denial that he makes. In contrast, in the case of one who denies knowing testimony, the Halachah (see 35a) is that the denial must be said in front of the plaintiff himself. When only one of the owners (of the object which requires testimony) confronts the potential witness and the witness swears that he does not know testimony, he is obligated to bring only one Korban, since the other owners did not make him swear (see 35a). If, on the other hand, the representative owner has a Harsha'ah from all of the other owners to represent them, then the Harsha'ah gives him the status of the exclusive owner with regard to making a witness swear (see 33b), and thus the witness would not be obligated to bring multiple Korbanos. The Halachah was taught in this Mishnah in order to teach that when one of the owners represents the others in the case of a deposited item, the trustee's Shevu'ah to each of the claimants is valid and can obligate him to bring multiple Korbanos, which is not the law in the case of Shevu'as ha'Edus.
(b) Alternatively, the Tiferes Yisrael explains that the Mishnah chose to teach this Halachah here, with regard to Shevu'as ha'Pikadon, because it is a more likely occurrence that five people claim their deposited item from one trustee. A Shevu'ah concerning a deposited item can be made even outside of Beis Din, and thus it is more likely that the five owners might approach the trustee outside of Beis Din. In contrast, the denial of knowledge of testimony must be done in Beis Din, and it is unusual for five people to come to Beis Din to make a witness testify.
(c) The MEROMEI SADEH answers that this Halachah is taught with regard to the denial of a deposit, because the source for the Halachah of bringing multiple Korbanos for a Shevu'ah is the verses of Shevu'as ha'Pikadon, and not Shevu'as ha'Edus. The Gemara earlier (32a) quotes the verse, "l'Achas" (Vayikra 5:4), which teaches that one is obligated to bring a separate Korban for each and every false Shevu'ah ("Al Kol Achas v'Achas"). The Meromei Sadeh explains that this means that a person can be obligated to bring multiple Korbanos by swearing falsely to multiple parties. This is learned from the Shevu'ah that one makes in order to deny having a deposited item. The verse there says, "v'Chichesh ba'Amiso" -- "[If a person sins...] and lies to his neighbor about an object that was delivered to him to guard..." (Vayikra 5:21). This verse teaches that the words of the Gemara (32a), "for each and every one," refer to each person to whom the trustee denies having his object. With regard to Shevu'as ha'Edus, however, no verse alludes to what "each and every one" might mean. Therefore, this Halachah is learned from the verse regarding a deposited item and applied to the case of denial of testimony. Since the source for the Halachah of bringing multiple Korbanos is the verse that discusses Shevu'as ha'Pikadon, the Mishnah expresses this Halachah with regard to Shevu'as ha'Pikadon.