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April 17, 2024
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Weekly Roundup: Kiddushin 15-21

This week we learned Kiddushin 15-21. Here are some highlights from the topics discussed. May the learning serve as a merit le’iluy nishmat Menachem Mendel Ben Harav Yoel David Balk a”h.

Kiddushin 15

Right or Left?

An Eved Ivri, Jewish indentured servant, is a Jewish man who must work for six years for his master due to the fact that he sold himself or that the court sold him after he stole money and was unable to repay the theft. The Torah teaches that if at the end of his six-year term he tells the master that he refuses to leave and would like to remain as a servant then the master stands him next to the door frame and punctures his earlobe and he then remains as a servant until the Yovel year. Which earlobe is to be punctured? Rabbi Eliezer taught in a Baraisa that the right earlobe is the one that is to be punctured. This is derived from a gezeira shavah, the existence of the same word in two separate contexts. In discussing the eved the Torah used the word azno, his ear, and in regards to the purification of a poor leper, metzora ani, the Torah used a word with the same root, ozen. Just as the Metzora becomes pure with blood placed on his right earlobe, the eved continues as a servant if his right earlobe is punctured.

What would the law be with a lefty, whose main hand and side are his left? Would his left ear or right ear get punctured?

Meiri (Yevamos 102a) teaches that in regards to the puncturing of the earlobe there is no difference between a right-handed or left-handed individual. Both would have their right ear punctured to continue as an eved. It was only in regards to Tefilin that Jewish law distinguished between a righty and a lefty. The Torah stated, tie the Tefillin on your arm, yadcha. Our tradition taught that yadcha means yad keiha, the weaker arm. Therefore, if one was left handed, his weaker arm would be his right arm, and he is to lay tefillin on his right arm. However, the law of right earlobe is not based on that ear being the primary ear, it is a scriptural mandate that the right earlobe get punctured; as a result, even a lefty would have his right earlobe punctured.

Someone who was right handed, but whose heart was on the right side of his body and not his left, asked Shut Eretz Tzvi if he should put tefillin on his left arm. On the one hand, the left arm was his weaker arm. On the other hand, the Talmud derived from the words al levavecha, on your heart, that the Tefillin are to be placed opposite the heart, and for him it was his right arm that was opposite his heart. Shut Eretz Tzvi answered that he should put his tefillin on his left arm. The lesson of yad keiha is the primary source for which arm to lay the tefillin on. The mandate of opposite the heart merely teaches where on the arm to place the tefillin. They should be placed opposite the heart, and not near the palm of the hand; however, which arm to place them on is determined from the words yad keiha. Since this man’s weaker arm was his left arm, that was the arm on which to place the tefillin (Mesivta).

Kiddushin 16

Naming a Child With a Letter

A Baraisa taught that when an eved ivri, Jewish indentured servant, goes free, the gifts he receives, ha’anakah, are to be given to and kept by him, and when a female Jewish indentured maid, amah ivriyah, goes free, her gifts are to be given to and kept by her. The Gemara pointed out that it is understandable why the Baraisa taught that the gifts to the freed amah are kept by her. One might have thought that her brothers who inherit from her father receive the gifts. Hence the need to teach us that she gets the gifts and her relatives who inherit her father’s rights are not entitled to anything from her. However, why was it necessary to teach that when the eved ivri goes free he gets to keep his gifts? Who else would we think should get those gifts? Rav Yosef answered, “yud keret.” Rashi explains that Rav Yosef meant to say, the letter yud, which is the smallest letter, was being made into a city. The primary lesson of the Baraisa was that an amah keeps the gifts given to her. It mentioned eved as part of the discussion to merely increase the size of the lesson like one who would turn a small letter into a city would add many matters that were not particularly novel or needed. Ritva, however, interpreted the words of Rav Yosef differently. He explained that Yud Keret was the name of a sage who was a tough person. Rav Yosef meant to say that the Gemara had asked a tough question of the Baraisa.

Shut Torah Lishmah was asked by a person who wished to name his son with a letter of the Alef Bet. Instead of a proper name such as Shimon or Reuvein, he wished to call his son Bet or Gimmel. He asked Rav Yosef Chaim if he was allowed to do so. Torah Lishmah answered that if he wished to give his son such a name he was allowed to do so. He proved it from our Gemara, which according to Ritva mentioned a sage whose name was Yud. He pointed out that in Pirkei Avos as well there is a sage by the name of Ben Hei Hei. Apparently, there was a sage whose name was the letters Hei Hei. A parent is blessed with Divine Inspiration when naming a child and that Divine Spirit might move him to give the child a letter as a name (Mesivta).

Kiddushin 17

Severance Pay in Jewish Law

When an eved ivri leaves his master, the master is to give him gifts, ha’anakah. Sefer Hachinuch explained that the reason Hashem gave us this mitzvah was to train us to have mercy and affection for anyone who performed a service for us. When an employee leaves a job, must his employer give him a severance payment? In those countries where it is common practice, or the law, to provide severance compensation, the employer is certainly required by Jewish law as well to provide his employee with a severance payment. Jewish business law is governed by common practice, minhag hasochrim. If in a locale it is the common practice to provide a severance payment, the employee took the job assuming he would receive a severance payment if he would leave the position, and the employer hired him with the unspoken assurance that he would provide a severance payment upon termination. As a result, he would have to give a payment. Even in those countries where it is not the common practice to provide a severance payment, a righteous employer should provide such a payment. He should learn from the law of ha’anakah. Hashem wants us to show love and consideration to those who worked for us, and therefore an employer should give a package to a former employee. However, the severance payment need not be excessive. Rav Moshe Shternbuch was asked about a person who had been hired to work for a year at a certain salary. After two weeks of working, the employer decided to terminate the employee. The employee demanded that as severance she receive a year’s salary as had been promised to her. Rav Shternbuch ruled that the employer did not have to give her so much money. He should show mercy and give something, but it is illogical to expect someone to receive a year’s salary for several weeks worth of work (Meorot Daf Hayomi).

By Rabbi Zev Reichman

Rabbi Zev Reichman teaches Daf Yomi in his shul, East Hill Synagogue, 255 Walnut Street in Englewood, NJ, at 5:35 a.m. Monday and Thursday, at 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, and at 7:45 a.m. on Sunday.


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