The Talmud continues to deal with other cases of positive time-bound commandments.
The mitzvah to appear at the Temple during a festival is a positive time-bound commandment—it should not apply to women. So why then do we need a verse to exclude women?
Women are obligated to gather at the Temple at the end of the Sabbatical cycle (Deuteronomy 31:11). I might have thought that since they are obligated for this mitzvah, they are also obligated for the pilgrimage, despite its being a positive time-bound commandment. Therefore, the Torah specifically exempts women from the pilgrimage.
We continue to discuss the derivation of the rule that women are exempt from positive time-bound commandments.
The fact that women are exempt from tefillin led the rabbis to derive the general rule that they are always exempt from positive time-bound commandments. But instead of deriving the general rule from tefillin, why not derive it from the mitzvah to rejoice on the festival, a positive time-bound commandment which women are obligated in, as we learn explicitly in Deuteronomy 16:14-15.
Abaye essentially exempts women from an independent commandment to rejoice on the festival. The husband is obligated to make her happy, but she herself is not obligated to rejoice. If she is a widow, then those men who are accompanying her (chaperones?) are obligated to make her happy.
As a side note, we can see here the development of a rule. The rule that women are exempt from positive time-bound commandments was originally descriptive and prescriptive. It, for the most part, was an accurate description of what mitzvoth women are obligated in. But by Abaye’s time it becomes prescriptive, for after all, rules are not really rules if they have exceptions. Abaye uses the rule to exempt women from a mitzvah they were previously obligated in.
Women are obligated to “assemble” in Jerusalem at the end of the seventh year. So why not learn from this commandment that they are obligated in all positive time-bound commandments?
The answer is that we now have two positive time-bound commandments for which women are obligated—matzah and “gathering.” And there is a rule that if we have two mitzvoth that fit a rule, then that rule applies only to those two and not to other mitzvoth. The logic is that had the Torah wanted this to be a consistent rule, it would have stated the rule with regard to one mitzvah and from there we could have applied it everywhere. So when it made the statement with regard to two mitzvoth, the idea was that it should apply there and nowhere else.
The Talmud has now boxed itself into a discursive corner—if we don’t learn from two verses that “come as one” why not say that tefillin and pilgrimage are also two verses that come as one, for they are both positive time-bound commandments which explicitly exclude women?
The Talmud now explains that we actually needed the Torah to exempt women in both the case of tefillin and pilgrimage. Had the Torah stated the rule with regard to one, I would not have been able to derive the other.
Had we not learned that women are exempt from pilgrimage (at all three festivals) I would have thought that just as they are obligated in “assembling” (at the end of seven years) so too they are obligated in pilgrimage.
And had I not learned that they were exempt from tefillin, I would have compared them to mezuzah, for they are right next to the mitzvah of mezuzah in the Shema.
Since we need both verses, this is not considered a case of “two verses that come as one.”
Today’s section continues where we left off yesterday—if two verses state the same rule, but both are necessary, then we can say that they teach a general rule. Such a case is not considered “two verses that come as one.”
Women are obligated in both assembling and in eating matzah. So why not say that they both are necessary and that we could use these two to create a general rule (as we did for tefillin and pilgrimage).
Now stating that women are obligated in matzah is actually necessary, for if the Torah did not, I would have thought that just as they are exempt from sitting in the Sukkah which falls on the fifteenth, so too they are exempt from matzah, which also falls on the fifteenth.
But we do not really need the Torah to teach us that women are obligated to assemble. If children are obligated to assemble, as the Torah explicitly states, then obviously adult women are. Therefore, this verse is really not necessary.
And since it is not necessary, these two verses truly are “two verses that come as one.” The Torah could have stated the rule with regard to matzah and said nothing about assembling, and we would have known that women are obligated. And two verses that come as one do not aid in forming a general rule.
This week’s daf continues where we left off last week, discussing the derivation of women’s exemption from positive time-bound commandments. The rule we learned was that “two verses that come as one do not teach” about a third issue. Meaning that the rule applies only to these issues and cannot be extended further.
The Talmud asks two difficulties—first of all, there are some sages who hold that we can learn from two verses that teach the same thing. If so, just as women are obligated in matzah and gathering, so too they are obligated in all positive time-bound commandments. The Talmud will return to this difficulty below.
The other question is the source for the opposite rule—that they are obligated in positive non-time bound commandments.
Women are obligated to fear their parents, as we learned above. Just as they are obligated in this commandment, so too they are obligated in all positive non-time bound commandments (below I will write PNTB).
Women are exempt from Talmud Torah, despite its being a PNTB commandment. So why shouldn’t they be exempt from all such commandments?
The answer--because they are exempt from two PNTB commandments—Torah study and procreation.