"בינה יתרה" – לימוד תורה לנשים אז והיום
1א
הדף מאת: טובה בירנבאום, בינה / אתר מדרשת
2ב
הסוגיה המרתקת והטעונה של לימוד תורה לנשים עמדה במוקד הכתיבה והחשיבה יהודית לאורך הדורות. בלימוד זה נכיר מקרוב דמויות מפתח בדיון רב דורי וחשוב זה, ונבדוק היכן הוא פוגש אותנו, בישראל 2010. דף הלימוד הוכן לבית מדרש בכנסת, כסלו תשע"א, נובמבר 2010.
3ג
דיון
במפגש בית מדרשי זה נתוודע לסוגיית לימוד תורה לנשים שתופסת מקום רב בכתיבה ובמחשבה היהודית לאורך הדורות. אגב לימוד זה נדון בשאלות רחבות יותר של התרבות היהודית העתיקה והחדשה, של תרבות בכלל, ושל מיון והדרה של קבוצות מסוימות ממרחבי הפעילות או ממוקדי הכוח השונים. נשאל עליהם ועל עצמנו, נברר את הרצוי והמצוי, ונחשוב האם וכיצד יכולים אנו להשפיע בנושא זה.



תחילה נסקור במבט מהיר כמה אבני דרך הלכתיות בשאלת לימוד תורה לנשים:

4ד
רבי אליעזר אומר: "כל המלמד את בתו תורה- כאילו לומדה תיפלות".
She had barely finished drinking when her face turns yellow, her eyes protrude and her veins swell. And [those who see her] exclaim, “Remove her! Remove her, so that the temple-court should not be defiled”. If she had merit, it [causes the water] to suspend its effect upon her. Some merit suspends the effect for one year, some merit suspends the effects for two years, and some merit suspends the effect for three years. Hence Ben Azzai said: a person must teach his daughter Torah, so that if she has to drink [the water of bitterness], she should know that the merit suspends its effect. Rabbi Eliezer says: whoever teaches his daughter Torah teaches her lasciviousness. Rabbi Joshua says: a woman prefers one kav (of food) and sexual indulgence to nine kav and sexual separation. He used to say, a foolish pietist, a cunning wicked person, a female separatist, and the blows of separatists bring destruction upon the world.
5ה
תלמוד ירושלמי, מסכת סוטה, דף יט, טור א', א"י, המאה 3-5
מטרונה שאלה את רבי אליעזר: מפני מה חטא אחד במעשה העגל, והן מתים בה שלש מיתות? אמר לה: "אין חכמתה של אישה אלא בפלך. דכתיב (שמות לה כה): "וְכָל-אִשָּׁה חַכְמַת-לֵב בְּיָדֶיהָ טָווּ"". אמר לו הורקנוס בנו: "בשביל שלא להשיבה דבר אחד מן התורה איבדת ממני שלש מאות כור מעשר בכל שנה?!" אמר לו: "ישרפו דברי תורה ואל ימסרו לנשים".
6ו
הלכה א: נשים ועבדים וקטנים פטורים מלימוד תורה, אבל קטן - אביו חייב ללמדו תורה. שנאמר: "וְלִמַּדְתֶּם אֹתָם אֶת-בְּנֵיכֶם לְדַבֵּר בָּם" (דברים יא, יט). ואין האישה חייבת ללמד את בנה, שכל החייב ללמוד חייב ללמד.

הלכה יג: אישה שלמדה תורה יש לה שכר, אבל אינו כשכר האיש, מפני שלא נצטוותה. וכל העושה דבר שאינו מצווה עליו לעשותו- אינו שכרו כשכר מצווה שעשה, אלא פחות ממנו. ואע"פ שיש לה שכר צוו חכמים שלא ילמד אדם את בתו תורה, מפני שרוב הנשים אין דעתם מכוונת להתלמד, אלא הן מוציאות דברי תורה לדברי הבאי לפי עניות דעתן. אמרו חכמים: "כל המלמד את בתו תורה כאילו למדה תפלות". במה דברים אמורים? בתורה שבעל פה. אבל בתורה שבכתב- לא ילמד אותה לכתחילה, ואם לימדה - אינו כמלמדה תפלות.
Women, slaves, and infants are absolved from the study of the Torah; but the father is obliged to instruct his infant son in the Torah, for it is said: "And ye shall teach them your children, talking of them" (Deut. 11.19); but a woman is not charged to teach her son, for only one obliged to study is obliged to instruct.1Sukkah, 42a; Kiddushin, 29; Ketubot, 28. G. C. Even as man is obliged to instruct his son, so is he obliged to teach his son's son, for it is said: "But make them known to thy sons and thy sons' sons" (Ibid. 4.9); and, not alone to his son and his son's son, but each and every scholar in Israel is commanded to instruct all who desire to be his disciples, even though they be not his sons, for it is said: "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children" (Ibid. 6.7.), which is traditionally interpreted2Sifre, Deut. 11. C. G. to include one's disciples; for disciples, too, are called children, as it is said: "And the sons of the prophets came forth" (Second Kings, 2.3.). If it be so, why then was one commanded to teach his son and his son's son? To permit the precedence of one's son to one's son's son, and his son's son to the son of his fellow.3Sukkah, 30b; Kiddushin, 30. G. One is obliged to engage a teacher for the instruction of his son; but his fellow's son he is not obliged to teach, save when there is no expense to himself.4See Baba Batra, 21a. G. He whose father failed to instruct him, when he becomes conscious thereof, is obliged to educate himself, as it is said: "That ye may learn them, and observe to do them" (Deut. 5.1). Thus, you will find it a universal rule, that study precedes conduct, because study brings about proper conduct but conduct does not bring about study.5Kiddushin, 29a; Ibid. 33b. C. G. One who was ambitious to pursue learning, and, at the same time, has a son whom he is obliged to instruct, his own study comes first; if his son be diligent and intellectually more capable to grasp his studies than himself, his son comes first. Nevertheless, he shall not completely abandon his own study, his son's precedence notwithstanding; for, even as he is commanded to teach his son, so is he under command to study himself.6Ibid. C. Let man ever study the Torah and thereafter take a wife unto himself; for, if he takes a wife first, his mind will not be as clear to study. If the urge of marriage will over-burden him, even finding his heart not free to understand his studies, he should marry first and thereafter study the Torah.7Ibid. 33a. G. Whenceonward is his father obliged to teach him the Torah? When he commences to speak, he should teach him the Verses of, "Moses commanded us a law" (Deut. 34.4), and of the Shema (Ibid. 6.4); thereafter he imparts to him little by little other Verses till he be six or seven years old, all, of course, depending upon his physical condition; thereafter he brings him under the care of a beginner's instructor.8Sukkah, 43a; Ketubot, 50a. C. G. Where the custom of the state is to pay a beginner's teacher, he should give him his wages, and the obligation to pay for his son's education continues until he is through reading all of the Holy Writ. In a place where the prevailing custom is to teach the written Torah for pay, one may instruct for pay; but to instruct the Oral Torah for wages, is forbidden, as it is said: "Behold, I have taught you statutes and ordinances, even as the Lord my God commanded me, etc." (Deut. 4.5.), which means; "Even as I was instructed free so have you received instruction from me free; likewise when you will give instruction throughout the generations, instruct free even as you were instructed by me." (Nedarim, 37a; Bekorot, 29a). If he find not one who is so willing to teach him gratuitously, he may hire one for wages to be instructed by him, as it says: "Buy the truth" (Prov. 23.23.) Peradventure, one will deduct herefrom that he may instruct others for wages? The Verse, therefore, teaches us, saying: "But sell it not" (Ibid.) Herefrom you learn that one is forbidden to instruct others for hire although his master taught him for hire. Every man in Israel is obliged to study the Torah, whether he be poor or rich, whether he be physically healthy or ailing, whether he be in full vigor of youth or of great age and weakened vitality; even if he be dependent upon alms for his livelihood, or going around from door to door begging his daily bread, yea, even he who has a wife and children to support is obliged to have an appointed time for the study of the Torah, both during the day and at night, for it is said: "But thou shalt meditate therein day and night" (Joshua, 1.8.).9Yoma, 35a; Menahot, 99b. G. G. Some of the great scholars in Israel were hewers of wood, some of them drawers of water, and some of them blind: nevertheless they engaged themselves in the study of the Torah by day and by night. Moreover, they are included among those who translated the tradition as it was transmitted from mouth of man to mouth of man, even from the mouth of Moses our Master. Until what age in life is one obliged to study the Torah? Even until the day of one's demise; for it is said: "And lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life" (Deut. 4.9.) Forsooth, as long as one will not occupy himself with study he forgets what he did study.10Kiddushin, 29b. G. One is obligated to divide his time of study by three; one third for the study of Holy Writ, one third for the study of the Oral Torah, and one third for thinking and reflecting so that he may understand the end of a thing from its beginning, and deduct one matter from another, and compare one matter to another, and reason out by the hermeneutical rules in which the Torah is expounded to the end that he may know which are the principal rules and how to deduct therefrom that which is forbidden and that which is permitted, and other like matters which he studied from oral tradition. This subject of study is called Gemara.11Ibid. 30a; Abodah Zarah, 19b. C. For instance? If one was a craftsman and engaged himself three hours daily to his work and to Torah nine hours, of those nine hours he should devote three hours to the study of Holy Writ, and three hours to the Oral Torah and the last three hours to mental reasoning, to deduct one matter from another. Matters pertaining to tradition are included in Holy Writ, but their oral explanation is included in Oral Torah. The subjects designated as Pardas12Vineyard, Works of the Chariot, Cosmogony, Metaphysics etc. G. are included in the Gemara. These rules are spoken of man's beginning of study, but when he matures in wisdom and has no need either for further study of Holy Writ or for continuous devotion to the study of Oral Torah, he should read Holy Writ and traditional matters at appointed times merely so as not to forget any matter pertaining to the laws of the Torah, and turn his attention to a continuous study of Gemara, of course, in proportion to the broadness of his heart and peacefulness of his mind.13Abodah Zarah, 19b. G. A woman who studied the Torah has a reward coming to her but it is incomparable to the reward of a man because she was not commanded to do so, and whosoever does something which is not mandatory upon him to perform receives not a hire equal to the hire of him who is commanded to perform it but less than he. And, although she has a reward coming the sages commanded that a man shall not instruct his daughter in the Torah, because most women have no set mind to be instructed therein, but, on the contrary, are apt to divert matters of the Torah to nonsensical matters, of course, in proportion to the inferiority of their mind. The sages said: "Whosoever instructs his daughter in Torah does no better than if he instructed her in matters of profanity." (Sotah, 21b). These matters are thus spoken of only concerning the Oral Torah, but respecting Holy Writ it is best not to begin to instruct her therein but if he did instruct her it is not as if he instruct her in profanity.14Abodah Zarah, 3b; Kiddushin, 31a. C.
7ז
ר' יהודה החסיד, ספר חסידים, סימן שי"ג, גרמניה, המאה ה- 12
חייב אדם ללמוד לבנותיו המצוות כגון פסקי הלכות, ומה שאמרו שהמלמד לאישה תורה כאלו מלמדה תיפלות, זהו עומק תלמוד וטעמי המצוות וסודי התורה, אותן אין מלמדין לאישה ולקטן. אבל הלכות מצוות ילמד לה, שאם לא תדע הלכות שבת - איך תשמור שבת?! וכן כל מצוות כדי לעשות להיזהר במצוות.
8ח
משה בן ישראל איסרליש (הרמ"א), המפה, (הגהות על השולחן ערוך) יורה דעה, רמו, ו, פולין, המאה ה- 16
ומכל מקום חייבת האישה ללמוד דינים השייכים לאישה.
9ט
ר' ישראל מאיר הכהן מראדין (בעל החפץ חיים), ליקוטי הלכה, סוטה, ליטא, המאה ה - 20
בודאי מצווה רבה ללמדן חומש וגם נביאים וכתובים ומוסר חז"ל כגון מסכת אבות וספר מנורת המאור וכדומה. כדי שיתאמת אצלם עניין אמונתנו הקדושה. שאם לא כך עלול שיסורו לגמרי מדרך ה', ויעברו על כל יסודי הדת חס וחלילה.
10י
דיון
  • אילו שינויים חלו בכתיבה ההלכתית במרוצת הדורות בתפיסת לימוד תורה לנשים?
  • איזו סיבה ניתנת לשינוי בכל שלב?
  • לאילו תחומי חיים אחרים ניתן להשוות את התהליך שהתרחש בנושא לימוד התורה לנשים?
  • האם כיום קיימת הדרה של נשים מתחומי חיים מסוימים?
  • האם כיום מתקיימת הדרה של קבוצות אחרות מפעילויות מסוימות?
11יא
דיון
בתקופת התלמוד הגברית בעיקרה בולטת אישה אחת המסמלת את שבירת ההבניה החברתית של תפקידים מגדריים – ברוריה.

להלן שני סיפורים על-אודותיה מן התלמוד:
12יב
רבי שמלאי בא לפני רבי יוחנן.

אמר לו: "ילמדני מר ספר יוחסין" [דברי תנאים על ספר דברי הימים].

אמר לו: "מהיכן אתה?

אמר לו: "מלוד".

והיכן מושבך? "בנהרדעא".

אמר לו: "לא מלמדים לא ללודים ולא לנהרדעים, וכל שכן שאתה מלוד ומושבך בנהרדעא".

כפהו וריצהו.

אמר לו: "נלמד בשלושה חודשים".

הרים ר' יוחנן גוש עפר, זרק בו.

אמר לו: "ומה ברוריה, אשתו דרבי מאיר, ביתו דרבי חנניה בן תרדיון, ששנתה שלוש מאות שמועות ביום משלש מאות חכמים, ואפילו כך לא יצאה ידי חובתה בשלוש שנים; ואתה אמרת בשלושה חודשים"?!
impurity of the meat, where is it permitted to eat impure sacrificial meat? Rather, it is obvious that the baraita is talking here about impurity of the people. And where is an allowance made from its rule? It is made in the community; when the majority of the community is ritually impure, it is permitted to offer the Paschal lamb and eat it while impure. The Gemara expresses surprise again: It turns out then that the first clause of the baraita is referring to impurity of the meat, while the latter clause relates to impurity of the people. The Gemara answers: Yes, and there is no difficulty, as the baraita argues from the general category of impurity without necessarily relating to the same type of impurity. And if you wish, say a different answer: The entire baraita is referring to impurity of the meat, and where is it permitted to eat impure sacrificial meat? It is permitted in a case of the impurity of the Paschal lamb, as we learned in a mishna: A Paschal lamb that comes in impurity, e.g., when the majority of the community is ritually impure and the offering may be brought in impurity, may also be eaten in impurity, as from the very outset it came only to be eaten. This is unlike the law with regard to other offerings that are brought in impurity; their blood is sprinkled on the altar, but their meat may not be eaten. Consequently, even the prohibition to consume impure sacrificial meat is permitted under certain circumstances. Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, raised an objection from a baraita that teaches: The Paschal sacrifice may be a young lamb or goat less than one year old. In the case of a Paschal lamb that has passed its first year, so that it has automatically become a peace-offering, if he slaughtered it at its appointed time on Passover eve for its own purpose as a Paschal lamb, and similarly, if he slaughtered another offering, e.g., a lamb that had been sanctified as a peace-offering, for the purpose of a Paschal lamb at its set time, the tanna’im disagree with regard to the status of the offering. Rabbi Eliezer disqualifies the offering; and Rabbi Yehoshua validates it, based on the principle that offerings brought for the purpose of other offerings are valid. The only exception is the Paschal lamb, which when brought for another purpose is invalid. According to Rabbi Yehoshua, in both of these cases the animal is not truly a Paschal lamb; rather, it is a peace-offering brought with the intent that it serve as a Paschal lamb. The Gemara infers: The reason that the sacrifice is disqualified is that it was brought at its proper time; it is in this case that the tanna’im disagree. But if it was not brought at its proper time, it is valid according to everyone, as it is like any other peace-offering that was slaughtered for a different purpose. But why is this so? Let us say: Since slaughtering another sacrifice for the purpose of a Paschal lamb disqualifies it at its proper time, this should also disqualify it not at its proper time. Consequently, the ruling quoted above is difficult according to the opinion of Rav Ḥisda, who accepts the principle of since for the sake of stringency. Rav Pappa said: It is different there in the case of another sacrifice slaughtered for the purpose of a Paschal lamb, as the verse said: “And you shall say: It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord, Who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt when He smote Egypt, and delivered our houses. And the people bowed the head and prostrated themselves” (Exodus 12:27). The word “it” indicates that the Paschal lamb must be brought as it is, according to its details, without any change. It, the Paschal lamb, must not be offered for the purpose of other sacrifices; and other sacrifices must not be offered for its purpose, i.e., as a Paschal lamb. In both of these cases, the offering is disqualified. It may now be inferred: At its proper time, on Passover eve, when the Paschal lamb is disqualified if it is brought for the purpose of other sacrifices, other sacrifices are disqualified according to Rabbi Eliezer if they are brought for its purpose, i.e., as a Paschal lamb. But not at its proper time, when a Paschal lamb offered for the purpose of other sacrifices is valid, other sacrifices offered for its purpose as a Paschal lamb are also valid. Since the verse’s use of the word “it” links the disqualifications of a Paschal lamb offered as a different sacrifice and any other sacrifice offered for the purpose of a Paschal lamb, the principle of since does not apply. There is a fundamental problem in the mishna that was clarified during the course of a particular incident: Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Yoḥanan. He said to him: Would the Master teach me the Book of Genealogies? The Book of Genealogies was a collection of tannaitic teachings that formed a midrash on the book of Chronicles. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: Where are you from? He said to him: From Lod. Rabbi Yoḥanan further asked: And where is your present place of residence? He said to him: In Neharde’a. Rabbi Yoḥanan said to him: I have a tradition that we teach these subjects neither to Lodites nor to Neharde’ans, and certainly not to you who comes from Lod and your residence is in Neharde’a, such that you have both shortcomings. Rabbi Simlai pressured Rabbi Yoḥanan until he agreed to teach him. Rabbi Simlai said to him: Teach me the Book of Genealogies in three months. Rabbi Yoḥanan took a clod of dirt, threw it at him, and said to him: Berurya, wife of Rabbi Meir and daughter of Rabbi Ḥananya ben Teradyon, was so sharp and had such a good memory that she learned three hundred halakhot in one day from three hundred Sages, and nonetheless she did not fulfill her responsibility to properly learn the Book of Genealogies in three years because it is especially long and difficult. And you say that I should teach it to you in three months? After your inappropriate request, I am not inclined to teach you at all. When Rabbi Simlai was taking leave to go, he said to Rabbi Yoḥanan: Even so, my teacher, as I have already come, let me ask you a question: What is the difference between one who offers a Paschal lamb both for its own purpose and for a different purpose, in which case the offering is disqualified, and one who offers the sacrifice with the intent that it be both for those who can eat it and for those who cannot eat it, in which case the offering is not disqualified? He said to him: Since I understand from your question that you are a Torah scholar, come and I will tell you the answer: When one sacrifices an offering for its own purpose and for a different purpose, the disqualification is in the offering itself; that is, the disqualifying intention relates to the sacrifice itself. In contrast, when one sacrifices an offering for those who can eat it and for those who cannot eat it, the disqualification is not in the offering itself, as the disqualifying intent relates to the people who are to eat from it. Furthermore, when one sacrifices an offering for its own purpose and for a different purpose, it is impossible to identify its prohibition; that is, there is no way to differentiate between valid and invalid parts of the offering. In contrast, when one sacrifices an offering for those who can eat it and for those who cannot eat it, it is possible to identify its prohibition. If some of the people may eat it and some may not, it is possible to distribute the offering to each group and thereby determine which part of the offering is invalid. Furthermore, the intent that the offering be for its own purpose and for a different purpose applies and can disqualify the offering in all four rites, namely: Slaughtering, receiving the blood, carrying the blood to the altar, and sprinkling it on the altar; however, the intent that it be for those who can eat it and for those who cannot eat it does not apply during all four rites, as it has no effect during the time of the sprinkling. Moreover, the intent that the offering be for its own purpose and for a different purpose is a disqualification that applies to communal sacrifices as it does to individual sacrifices; in contrast, the intent that it be for those who can eat it and those who cannot eat it does not apply to the community as it does to an individual. Rav Ashi said that careful analysis of these answers demonstrates the following: The argument that its disqualification is in the offering itself and the argument that it is impossible to identify its prohibition are one and the same thing; they are not two separate reasons. As, what is the reason that Rabbi Yoḥanan says that when one brings an offering for a different purpose, its disqualification is in the offering itself? It is because it is impossible to identify its prohibition, and therefore the prohibition applies to the offering itself. Having mentioned the Book of Genealogies, the Gemara notes that Rami bar Rav Yuda said that Rav said the following about it: From the day the Book of Genealogies was hidden and no longer available to the Sages, the strength of the Sages has been weakened, and the light of their eyes has been dimmed, as the book contained the reasons for many Torah laws and lists of genealogies that are now lost. Mar Zutra said: The Book of Genealogies’ exposition of Chronicles was so extensive that it was said, in exaggeration, that the verses from the word Azel mentioned in the verse: “And Azel had six sons and these are their names: Azrikam, Bocru, and Ishmael and Sheariah and Obadia and Hanan; all these were the sons of Azel” (I Chronicles 8:38), to the word Azel mentioned in a different verse with the identical wording: “And Azel had six sons and these are their names: Azrikam, Bocru, and Ishmael and Sheariah and Obadia and Hanan; these were the sons of Azel” (I Chronicles 9:44), bore four hundred camels of expositions written about these verses. It was taught in a baraita that Aḥerim say: If one sacrifices a Paschal lamb for both circumcised and uncircumcised people and had in mind first the circumcised people and then the uncircumcised people, the offering is valid. But if he had in mind first the uncircumcised people and then the circumcised people, it is disqualified. The Gemara asks: What is different about having in mind first the circumcised people and then the uncircumcised people, such that the offering is valid? One might say that in order to disqualify the sacrifice, we require that all the people he has in mind be uncircumcised, and this is not the case here, as some of them are circumcised. But if this is so, when he has in mind first the uncircumcised people and then the circumcised people, we should also say that in order to disqualify the sacrifice we require that all the people he has in mind be uncircumcised, and this is not the case here. What, then, is the difference between the two cases?
13יג
דיון
  • כיצד מצטיירת בעיניכם דמותו של רבי שמלאי?
  • מה דעתכם על התנהלותו של רבי יוחנן?
  • האם תוכלו למצוא קשר רעיוני-ספרותי בין חלקו הראשון של הסיפור לבין חלקו השני?
  • מה מלמד הסיפור על ברוריה?
  • מיהם ה"לודים" וה"נהרדרעים" של ימינו? מיהם / מיהן ה"ברוריות" של ימינו?
  • איפה אתם (הלומדים) ממוקמים ב'מפה החברתית' הזו?
14יד
בשכונתו של רבי מאיר היו בריונים שהיו מרבים להתעלל בו.

ביקש רבי מאיר רחמים שימותו.

אמרה לו ברוריה אשתו: מה דעתך? – הרי כתוב (תהילים קד): " יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים" – האם כתוב "חוטאים"? – " חַטָּאִים" כתוב. ועוד: השפל לסוף הפסוק "וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם" – כיון ש"יִתַּמּוּ חַטָּאִים" – "וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם"! אלא, בקש עליהם רחמים שיחזרו בתשובה " וּרְשָׁעִים עוֹד אֵינָם ".

ביקש רחמים וחזרו בתשובה.
Every chapter that was dear to David, he began with “happy is” and concluded with “happy is.” He opened with “happy is,” as it is written: “Happy is the man who has not walked in the counsel of the wicked or stood in the way of sinners or sat in the dwelling place of the scornful” (Psalms 1:1). And he concluded with “happy,” as it is written at the end of the chapter: “Pay homage in purity, lest He be angry, and you perish on the way when His anger is kindled suddenly. Happy are those who take refuge in Him” (Psalms 2:12). We see that these two chapters actually constitute a single chapter. With regard to the statement of Rabbi Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, that David did not say Halleluya until he saw the downfall of the wicked, the Gemara relates: There were these hooligans in Rabbi Meir’s neighborhood who caused him a great deal of anguish. Rabbi Meir prayed for God to have mercy on them, that they should die. Rabbi Meir’s wife, Berurya, said to him: What is your thinking? On what basis do you pray for the death of these hooligans? Do you base yourself on the verse, as it is written: “Let sins cease from the land” (Psalms 104:35), which you interpret to mean that the world would be better if the wicked were destroyed? But is it written, let sinners cease?” Let sins cease, is written. One should pray for an end to their transgressions, not for the demise of the transgressors themselves. Moreover, go to the end of the verse, where it says: “And the wicked will be no more.” If, as you suggest, transgressions shall cease refers to the demise of the evildoers, how is it possible that the wicked will be no more, i.e., that they will no longer be evil? Rather, pray for God to have mercy on them, that they should repent, as if they repent, then the wicked will be no more, as they will have repented. Rabbi Meir saw that Berurya was correct and he prayed for God to have mercy on them, and they repented. The Gemara relates an additional example of Berurya’s incisive insight: A certain heretic said to Berurya: It is written: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth, open forth in song and cry, you did not travail, for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, said the Lord” (Isaiah 54:1). Because she has not given birth, she should sing and rejoice? Berurya responded to this heretic’s mockery and said: Fool! Go to the end of the verse, where it is written: “For the children of the desolate shall be more numerous than the children of the married wife, said the Lord.” Rather, what is the meaning of: “Sing, barren woman who has not given birth”? It means: Sing congregation of Israel, which is like a barren woman who did not give birth to children who are destined for Gehenna like you. In explaining passages from Psalms, the Gemara relates another instance of a response to the question of a heretic: A certain heretic said to Rabbi Abbahu, it is written: “A Psalm of David, when he fled from his son, Absalom” (Psalms 3:1), and similarly it is said: “To the chief musician, al tashḥet, a mikhtam of David when fleeing from Saul into the cave” (Psalms 57:1). Which event was first? Since the event with Saul was first, it would have been appropriate to write it first. Rabbi Abbahu said to him: For you, who do not employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is difficult. But for us, who employ the homiletic method of juxtaposition of verses, it is not difficult, as the Sages commonly homiletically infer laws and moral lessons from the juxtaposition of two verses. Regarding the juxtaposition of verses, Rabbi Yoḥanan said: From where in the Bible is it derived that one may draw homiletical inferences from the juxtaposition of verses? As it is said: “The works of His hands in truth and justice, all His commandments are sure. Adjoined forever and ever, made in truth and uprightness” (Psalms 111:7–8). Conclude from here that it is appropriate to draw inferences from the juxtaposition of God’s commandments. Accordingly, David’s fleeing from Absalom is situated where it is in order to juxtapose it to the next chapter, which mentions the war of Gog and Magog; the second chapter of Psalms opens: “Why are the nations in an uproar?” Why was the chapter of Absalom juxtaposed with the chapter of Gog and Magog? They are juxtaposed so that if a person should say to you, expressing doubt with regard to the prophecy of the war of Gog and Magog “against the Lord and against His anointed”: Is there a slave who rebels against his master? Is there someone capable of rebelling against God? You too say to him: Is there a son who rebels against his father and severs the relationship with the one who brought him into the world and raised him? Yet, nevertheless, there was such a son, Absalom, and so too there can be a situation where people will seek to rebel against God. Rabbi Yoḥanan said explanations of other verses in the name of Rabbi Shimon ben Yoḥai: What is the meaning of that which is written: “She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of loving-kindness is on her tongue” (Proverbs 31:26)? The Sages explain that this chapter discusses the wisdom of Torah and those who engage in its study, so with reference to whom did Solomon say this verse? He said this verse about none other than his father, David, who was the clearest example of one who opens his mouth in wisdom, and who resided in five worlds or stages of life and his soul said a song of praise corresponding to each of them. Five times David said: “Bless the Lord, O my soul,” each corresponding to a different stage of life. He resided in his mother’s womb, his first world, and said a song of praise of the pregnancy, as it is stated: “Of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul and all that is within me bless His holy name” (Psalms 103:1), in which he thanks God for creating all that is within his mother, i.e., her womb. He emerged into the atmosphere of the world, his second world, looked upon the stars and constellations and said a song of praise of God for the entirety of creation, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, His angels, mighty in strength, that fulfill His word, listening to the voice of His word. Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His servants, that do His will. Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His kingship, bless my soul, Lord” (Psalms 103:20–23). David saw the grandeur of all creation and recognized that they are mere servants, carrying out the will of their Creator (Ma’ayan HaBerakhot). He nursed from his mother’s breast, his third world, and he looked upon her bosom and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and do not forget all His benefits [gemulav]” (Psalms 103:2). The etymological association is between gemulav and gemulei meḥalav, which means weaned from milk (Isaiah 28:9). We still must understand, however, what is meant by all His benefits? What in particular is praiseworthy in what God provided, beyond merely providing for the infant? Rabbi Abbahu said: In contrast with most other animals, God placed her breasts near her heart, the place that is the source of understanding. What is the reason that God did this? Rav Yehuda said: So that the nursing child would not look upon the place of his mother’s nakedness. Rav Mattana said: So that the child would not nurse from a place of uncleanliness. He witnessed in both vision and reality the downfall of the wicked and he said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Let sinners cease from the earth, and let the wicked be no more. Bless the Lord, O my soul, Halleluya (Psalms 104:35). The fifth world was when David looked upon the day of death and said a song of praise, as it is stated: “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Lord my God, You are very great; You are clothed in glory and majesty” (Psalms 104:1); for even death is a time of transcendence for the righteous. The connection between this final praise and the day of death is unclear. The Gemara asks: From where is it inferred that this verse was stated with regard to the day of death? Rabba bar Rav Sheila says: We can derive this from the verses at the end of the matter, where it is written: “You hide Your face, they vanish; You gather Your breath, they perish and return to the dust” (Psalms 104:29). Other interpretations of this verse exist. The Gemara relates how Rav Shimi bar Ukva, and some say Mar Ukva, would regularly study before Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, who was well versed in aggada and would arrange the aggada before Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi.
Once, Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi said to him: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Bless the Lord, my soul, and all that is within me bless His Holy name”?
Rav Shimi bar Ukva said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: Come and see that the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood, as this verse praises the formation of man in his mother’s womb. The attribute of flesh and blood is such that he shapes a form on the wall for all to see, yet he cannot instill it with a spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. While the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not so, as God shapes one form within another form, a child in its mother’s womb, and instills it with spirit and soul, bowels and intestines. And this is the explanation of what Hannah said with regard to the birth of Samuel: “There is none holy like the Lord, for there is none like You, and there is no Rock like our God” (I Samuel 2:2). What is the meaning of there is no rock [tzur] like our God? There is no artist [tzayyar] like our God. The Gemara continues to interpret the rest of that verse homiletically: What is the meaning of “there is none like You”? Rabbi Yehuda ben Menasya said: Do not read the verse to mean “there is none like You [biltekha]”; rather, read it to mean “none can outlast You [levalotkha],” as the attribute of the Holy One, Blessed be He, is not like the attribute of flesh and blood: The attribute of flesh and blood is such that his creations outlast him, but the Holy One, Blessed be He, outlasts His actions. This did not satisfy Rav Shimi bar Ukva, who said to Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi: I meant to say to you as follows: Corresponding to whom did David say these five instance of “Bless the Lord, O my soul”? He answered him: He said them about none other than the Holy One, Blessed be He, and corresponding to the soul, as the verse refers to the relationship between man’s soul and God. The five instances of “Bless the Lord, O my soul” correspond to the five parallels between the soul in man’s body and God’s power in His world. Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, fills the entire world, so too the soul fills the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sees but is not seen, so too does the soul see, but is not seen.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, sustains the entire world, so too the soul sustains the entire body.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, is pure, so too is the soul pure.
Just as the Holy One, Blessed be He, resides in a chamber within a chamber, in His inner sanctum, so too the soul resides in a chamber within a chamber, in the innermost recesses of the body.
Therefore, that which has these five characteristics, the soul, should come and praise He Who has these five characteristics. With regard to redemption and prayer, the Gemara tells the story of Hezekiah’s illness, his prayer to God, and subsequent recuperation. Rav Hamnuna said: What is the meaning of that which is written praising the Holy One, Blessed be He: “Who is like the wise man, and who knows the interpretation [pesher] of the matter” (Ecclesiastes 8:1)? This verse means: Who is like the Holy One, Blessed be He, Who knows how to effect compromise [peshara] between two righteous individuals, between Hezekiah, the king of Judea, and Isaiah the prophet. They disagreed over which of them should visit the other. Hezekiah said: Let Isaiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Elijah the prophet, who went to Ahab, the king of Israel, as it is stated: “And Elijah went to appear to Ahab” (I Kings 18:2). This proves that it is the prophet who must seek out the king. And Isaiah said: Let Hezekiah come to me, as that is what we find with regard to Yehoram ben Ahab, king of Israel, who went to Elisha the prophet, as it is stated: “So the king of Israel, Jehosaphat and the king of Edom went down to him” (II Kings 3:12). What did the Holy One, Blessed be He, do to effect compromise between Hezekiah and Isaiah? He brought the suffering of illness upon Hezekiah and told Isaiah: Go and visit the sick. Isaiah did as God instructed, as it is stated: “In those days Hezekiah became deathly ill, and Isaiah ben Amoz the prophet came and said to him: Thus says the Lord of Hosts: Set your house in order, for you will die and you will not live” (Isaiah 38:1). This seems redundant; what is the meaning of you will die and you will not live? This repetition means: You will die in this world, and you will not live, you will have no share, in the World-to-Come. Hezekiah said to him: What is all of this? For what transgression am I being punished?
Isaiah said to him: Because you did not marry and engage in procreation.
Hezekiah apologized and said: I had no children because I envisaged through divine inspiration that the children that emerge from me will not be virtuous. Hezekiah meant that he had seen that his children were destined to be evil. In fact, his son Menashe sinned extensively, and he thought it preferable to have no children at all. Isaiah said to him: Why do you involve yourself with the secrets of the Holy One, Blessed be He? That which you have been commanded, the mitzva of procreation, you are required to perform, and that which is acceptable in the eyes of the Holy One, Blessed be He, let Him perform, as He has so decided. Hezekiah said to Isaiah: Now give me your daughter as my wife; perhaps my merit and your merit will cause virtuous children to emerge from me.
Isaiah said to him: The decree has already been decreed against you and this judgment cannot be changed.
Hezekiah said to him: Son of Amoz, cease your prophecy and leave. As long as the prophet spoke as God’s emissary, Hezekiah was obligated to listen to him. He was not, however, obligated to accept Isaiah’s personal opinion that there was no possibility for mercy and healing. Hezekiah continued: I have received a tradition from the house of my father’s father, from King David, the founding father of the dynasty of kings of Judea: Even if a sharp sword rests upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy. One may still hold out hope that his prayers will be answered, as was David himself when he saw the Angel of Destruction, but nonetheless prayed for mercy and his prayers were answered. With regard to the fact that one should not despair of God’s mercy, the Gemara cites that it was also said that Rabbi Yoḥanan and Rabbi Eliezer both said: Even if a sharp sword is resting upon a person’s neck, he should not prevent himself from praying for mercy, as it is stated in the words of Job: “Though He slay me, I will trust in Him” (Job 13:15). Even though God is about to take his life, he still prays for God’s mercy.
15טו
דיון
  • באיזה אור מאיר הסיפור את רבי מאיר? את ברוריה?
  • האם ניתן, לדעתכם, ללמוד מן הסיפור על הבדלים בין המגדרים? מה משמעותם?
  • חישבו על דוגמאות מקבילות מימינו.
16טז
דיון
במאה התשע עשרה בלטה דמותה יוצאת הדופן של חנה רחל מלודמיר, שכונתה: הבתולה מלודמיר. בתחילת המאה העשרים כתבה הסופרת הבריטית וירג'יניה וולף את אחד החיבורים הפמיניסטיים החשובים ביותר, 'חדר משלך':
17יז
שרה פרינלנד בן ארזה, 'חנה רחל מלודמיר', בתוך: אנא בשם, ניצה דרורי-פרמן (עורכת), עם עובד 2006, עמ' 36.
היֹה הייתה או לא הייתה אישה אחת. אומרים: צדקת הייתה; אומרים: חכמנית. והייתה מעניקה ברכה ותורה ועצה לחסידיה וחסידותיה. אדמו"רית. אומרים: ומשסירבה לנישואין נודתה ועלתה לירושלים. ויש אומרים: תפילין הייתה מנחת ועטורה בטלית התפללה לפני הכותל המערבי. עתה אומרים: מצאנו חלקת קברהּ, והיא רשומה בפנקסי ווהלין חדש בהר הזיתים – "הרבנית הצדקת חנה רחל בת מניש", ויום פטירתה – כב בתמוז תרמ"ח.
18יח
וירג'יניה וולף, חדר משלך, משכל הוצאה לאור, 2004, עמ' 17-18.
.... אבל כאן כבר הייתי ממש בפתח הספרייה עצמה. נראה שפתחתי את הדלת, כי בו-ברגע הופיע, כמו מלאך שומר החוסם את הדרך בגלימה שחורה במקום בכנפיים צחורות, ג'נטלמן כסוף, חביב, מוחה, שהביע בקול חרישי את צערו, בזמן שהורה לי לסגת, על כך שמותר לגברות להיכנס לספרייה אך ורק בליווי מרצה מן המכללה, או כשהן מצוידות במכתב הפניה. הספרייה המהוללת ספגה קללה של אישה, אבל הספרייה המהוללת אדישה לזאת לחלוטין. הבניין המכובד והשלו, כל אוצרותיו נעולים ומוגנים בחובו, ממשיך לישון בשאננות מדושנת, וימשיך, ככל הנוגע לי, לישון כך לנצח. לעולם לא אעיר את ההדים האלה, לעולם לא אבקש להתקבל בשעריו, כך נדרתי בזמן שירדתי במדרגות בכעס.