The problem is that the comparison between the two “going outs” is not precise. When the maidservant goes free, she becomes completely free. Her master retains no control. But betrothal is only a partial transfer of authority. Her father still retains some authority over her and will continue to do so until she enters the huppah. So how can the two be compared?
The answer is that in one respect, even though still living in her father’s house, the father has lost control over her at betrothal—he no longer has the right to unilaterally annul her vows. Once betrothed, the father and husband jointly annul her vows.
In yesterday’s section, Exodus 21:11 was used as the basis for kiddushin being performed with money. Today’s section notes that this verse was used for another purpose. This is a consistent question asked by the “stam hatalmud” the anonymous voice of the Talmud. While tannaim did not seem to have any problem learning two laws or more from one verse, the late Babylonian rabbis who composed the Talmud did.
This other midrash is more directly related to the verses of the Torah. The Torah specifies that a girl bought as a slave at a young age “goes out” if the master does not do certain things on her behalf (like marry her, or marry her off to his son). But there would seem to be the need for a time-limit. The rabbis invent such a time limit, and apply it here and elsewhere. A “ketanah” is a girl under 12. A girl between 12 and 12 ½ is called a “na’arah” and after that she becomes a “bogeret.” This midrash teaches that if the master has not done these things before she hits 12, she goes out free and need not pay any money for her manumission.
Ravina reads meaning into the letter “yod” found in the word “eyn.” The appearance of the letter “yod” allows two halakhot to be learned from this verse. This is of course an unusual derashah to say the least. Tannaim do not derive meaning from verses in this way. Even among late amoraim, which Ravina is, this is a strange derashah, which the Talmud will immediately notice.
The midrash here teaches that if a daughter of a priest who is married to a non-priest and then the non-priest died had any offspring, even grandchildren or illegitimate offspring (such as mamzerim) she no longer may eat priestly food such as terumah. The midrash uses the letter “yod” in “eyn” as if the word was written “ayen” which means to “search.” Her lineage must be examined to see if she has any offspring. The reason this midrash is cited is to prove that derashot (rabbinic exegesis) may be based on the letter yod.
This very derashah undermines what the Talmud perceives to be a rule of exegesis—no word may be interpreted twice. The word “eyn” was used to derive that both grandchildren and illegitimate offspring disqualify her from eating terumah. To resolve the difficulty, the Talmud says that the first derashah, concerning grandchildren, was not needed. Grandchildren are treated like children (usually treated much better than children, I might add). The derashah was needed to teach that illegitimate children also prevent her from eating terumah.
The Talmud now shows that sometimes the Torah writes words that have an “ey” sound without the letter you. The word “me’eyn” does not have a yod, but “eyn” does. This, to the tanna, legitimates making exegetical conclusions from what it perceives to be an extraneous letter.
I should note that such derashot are never made in tannaitic literature. Tannaitic exegesis is based on units that have independent meaning, words, phrases, etc. Not on single letters such as this. This type of “hyper-exegesis” is found in the later stages of the Talmud. This is an issue that I will address in a forthcoming third volume of Reconstructing the Talmud.
The Talmud has now brought in derashot showing that a na’arah’s betrothal money and her handiwork all go to her father. The Talmud asks why we could not have learned one of these laws from the other. Again, the underlying notion is that the Torah should never be at all superfluous.
If the Torah had written only that her kiddushin money goes to her father, I might have thought that her income from work goes to her since she earned it. It does not—it goes to her father.
I might have thought that her earnings go to her father because in return for her giving him her earnings she is provided for. But her kiddushin money is a different story—she would not be giving it to her father in return for something. Therefore, I might have thought that it is hers. It is not. As we learned, all financial gain that comes from the young daughter goes to her father.
Earlier we read a derashah that discusses when a young girl sold into slavery goes free. This sugya discusses that derashah.
The derashah states that a girl sold into slavery goes free at na’arut (age 12) and at bagrut (12.5). This is obviously superfluous—all the Torah needed to say is that she goes free at na’arut, and then she’ll already be free by bagrut.
Rabbah explains that if we only had one word, we would assume she goes free at bagrut. We need both words to teach that she goes free at na’arut.
The same phenomenon occurs with Leviticus 22:10 which teaches that a “toshav and sakhir” who are part of a priest’s household may not eat terumah. What do these words mean, the rabbis ask? Toshav refers to a Hebrew slave acquired for perpetuity (meaning he was acquired for six years and then did not want to go free. He remains a slave until the Jubilee). And a sakhir is one acquired only for six years. Here too we can ask that if the one acquired for a longer time does not eat terumah, obviously one who is acquired for a lesser period does not eat. After all, he is less owned by the non-Jew. But if only one word had been stated, we would have said that it refers to one acquired for the shorter period—he does not eat terumah. But one acquired for perpetuity does eat terumah. Therefore, I need both words.
Abaye says that the two cases are not similar. When it comes to the toshav and sakhir, these are two different people, and sometimes the Torah writes out a law that could be learned from a “kal vehomer” argument—an “all the more so” type of argument. Therefore, they are not really superfluous.
But here, Abaye continues, there is no reason for the Torah to write both, because if she goes free at na’arut, she’s not even there at bagrut. She’s one person so the verse is truly superfluous.
Abaye points out that not all girls who reach majority age will actually go through “na’arut.” “Na’arut” is more than just hitting 12. It is hitting 12 and developing signs of puberty. A girl can become a bogeret at the age of 20 without ever hitting puberty. Such a girl is called an “aylonit” (we learned the term in Ketubot—it is sometimes translated as barren, but women can hit puberty and be barren. Still an aylonit is by definition barren). If only one word had been taught I might have thought that only a bogeret who had hit puberty would go free. Therefore, the second word teaches that a na’arah goes free, and a bogeret who never becomes a na’arah also goes free (although only at a later age).
Today’s section continues to discuss the midrash about when a girl sold into slavery goes free. We had said before that this midrash teaches that she goes free at the age of bagrut even without having reached puberty, an ayloni (this is considered to be 20 by Rashi). She also goes free at na’arut, which means she reached puberty and is at least 12 years old.
Mar bar Rav Ashi points out that we could have learned that a girl who is a bogeret goes out from her master’s authority by a kal vehomer argument. A girl who becomes 12 and has hit puberty goes free from her master but, if she is living in her father’s domain, is not free from his authority. But a bogeret, one who reaches majority age, goes free even from her father’s domain. All the more so she would go free from the domain of her master. So why do we need a midrash to teach us what we would already know. Obviously any type of bogeret, whether she is an aylonit (a woman who does not hit puberty) or not, goes free.
The argument here is getting more complex. We might have thought that a girl who will never reach na’arut, meaning she will never hit puberty could not be sold. After all, if she goes free at na’arut then maybe if she will never be a na’arah, meaning she is an aylonit who will never hit puberty, then she could not have been sold in the first place. Therefore, we have a verse that says (midrashically) that an aylonit goes out of slavery at bagrut (age 20). This teaches us that she can be sold in the first place.
Above, Mar bar R. Ashi argued that the verse cannot be interpreted to say something that we could have learned through logic, through a kal vehomer argument (“all the more so”). But we earlier said that the Torah does write laws (ones usually drawn out by midrash) that could be learned through a kal vehomer. So why is this a difficulty?
The answer is that we would always prefer to read a verse such that its law could not be learned logically. But we do admit that at times the Torah does write a law that could be learned logically.