Rav Hisda’s Seduction Advice to His Daughters, Joy of Text 4:02 by Rabbi Dov Linzer

These sources accompany the seduction episode of the Joy of Text podcast.

אמר להו רב חסדא לבנתיה תיהוי צניעתן באפי גברייכו לא תיכלון נהמא באפי גברייכו לא תיכלון ירקא בליליא לא תיכלון תמרי בליליא ולא תשתון שיכרא בליליא ולא תיפנון היכא דמפני גברייכו וכי קא קארי אבבא איניש לא תימרון מנו אלא מני נקיט מרגניתא בחדא ידיה וכורא בחדא ידיה מרגניתא אחוי להו וכורא לא אחוי להו עד דמיצטערן והדר אחוי להו:
After citing Rav Ḥisda’s recommendations to students, the Gemara cites his advice to his daughters. Rav Ḥisda said to his daughters: Be modest before your husbands; do not eat bread before your husbands, lest you eat too much and be demeaned in their eyes. Similarly, he advised: Do not eat vegetables at night, as vegetables cause bad breath. Do not eat dates at night and do not drink beer at night, as these loosen the bowels. And do not relieve yourself in the place where your husbands relieve themselves, so that they will not be revolted by you. And when a person calls at the door seeking to enter, do not say: Who is it, in the masculine form, but rather: Who is it, in the feminine form. Avoid creating the impression that you have dealings with other men. In order to demonstrate the value of modesty to his daughters, Rav Ḥisda held a pearl in one hand and a clod of earth in the other. The pearl he showed them immediately, and the clod of earth, he did not show them until they were upset due to their curiosity, and then he showed it to them. This taught them that a concealed object is more attractive than one on display, even if it is less valuable.

נקיט מרגניתא בחדא ידיה וכורא בחדא ידיה - כשבעליך ממשמש ביך להתאוות ליך לתשמיש ואוחז הדדים בידו אחת והאחרת עד אותו מקום:

מרגניתא אחוין ליה – הדדין המציאו לו, שתתרבה תאותו, ומקום תשמיש אל תמציאי לו מהר, כדי שיתרבה תאותו וחיבתו ויצטער, הדר אחוי ליה.

When he holds a jewel in one hand and a seed grain in the other – when your husband is fondling you to whet his desire for you for the purpose of sex, and he holds your breasts in one hand and the other hand goes to “that place.”

Show him the jewel – the breasts make available to him, in order to increase his desire (or “lust”), but the place of intercourse do not make available to him quickly, in order that his desire and affection should be increased, and he should suffer, and then you should show it to him.

חידושי הריטב”א מסכת שבת דף קמ עמוד ב​​​​​​​

נפי’ כי פעם אחת רצה ללמד להם מדת הצניעות שהיא טובה, ונטל מרגלית [בידו] אחת ובידו השנית נתן פחם, והמרגלית הראה להם לאלתר והפחם לא הראה להם, והיו סבורות שהוא דבר חשוב הרבה והיו מצטערות לראותו וכד אצטערן הדר אחוי להו, להודיעך שהדבר הצנוע אדם מחבבו יותר, והיינו דאמר להו קא חזיתון כמה חביב מאן דצניע, וכן גורסין הגאונים ז”ל, וכן פירשו מקצתם, ורש”י ז”ל אינו גורס כן ואין פירושו מחוור כלל.

Ritva on Shabbat 140b

One time he wanted to teach them the trait of modesty, which is a good trait, and he took a jewel in one hand and in the second hand charcoal. The jewel he showed them immediately but the charcoal he did not show them, and they thought that it was something much more important, and they were in anguish to see it, and after they had suffered he then showed it to them. He did this to show them that something that is modest (or hidden), a person desires (or “cherishes”) it more. And this is what he says to them, “How desirable is a person who is modest.” This is the textual version of the Geonim. And Rashi does not have this and his interpretation does not appear correct at all.