YESHIVAT HAR ETZION
ISRAEL KOSCHITZKY VIRTUAL BEIT MIDRASH (VBM)
Introduction to the Study of Talmud
by Rav Michael Siev
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Within the quoted texts, my explanations and additions are also noted in red.
Last week, we discussed the disagreement quoted in the gemara on 32b regarding the type of zaken (lit., old person) whom one is required to honor. The tanna kamma (first authority [cited]) maintained that honor must be accorded someone only if they are both old and wise. Rabbi Yosei the Galilean argued that even a young scholar is deserving of honor. Isi ben Yehuda ruled that even an old person who has not acquired wisdom should be honored. We mentioned as well that we rule in accordance with Isi ben Yehuda, and in accordance with the opinion among the commentators that Isi ben Yehuda himself accepts Rabbi Yosei's claim that young scholars are also worthy of honor. The gemara, however, continues to analyze this debate. We are up to the third-to-last line on 32b.
What is the reason of Rabbi Yosei the Galilean?
He [would] say to you: if it enters your mind [to agree with] that which the first tanna said,
if so, the Merciful One should have written:
"In the presence of an old person, an elder, you shall rise and give honor;"
what is the difference that the Merciful One divided them?
To say that this is not this and this is not this;
hear from it, even a youthful scholar.
And the first tanna? Because it needed to juxtapose "an elder" and "you shall fear."
And the first tanna - what is [his] reason?
If it enters your mind like that which Rabbi Yosei the Galilean said,
if so, the Merciful One should have written:
"In the presence of an old person you shall rise and give honor, you shall rise and honor the presence of an elder,"
and from the [fact that] He did not write this, hear from this [that] it is one.
מ"ט (מאי טעמא) דרבי יוסי הגלילי?
אמר לך: אי ס"ד (סלקא דעתך) כדקאמר ת"ק (תנא קמא),
א"כ (אם כן), נכתוב רחמנא:
מפני שיבה זקן תקום והדרת;
מ"ש (מאי שנא) דפלגינהו רחמנא?
למימר, דהאי לאו האי והאי לאו האי,
ש"מ (שמע מינה): אפי' יניק וחכים.
ות"ק? משום דבעי למיסמך זקן ויראת.
ותנא קמא מ"ט?
אי ס"ד (סלקא דעתך) כדקאמר רבי יוסי הגלילי,
א"כ, נכתוב רחמנא:
מפני שיבה תקום והדרת תקום והדרת פני זקן,
ומדלא כתב הכי, ש"מ חד הוא.
The gemara here questions why Rabbi Yosei disagrees with the tanna kamma and asserts that even a young scholar is worthy of honor. It answers that Rabbi Yosei's reasoning seems to be based on the wording of the pasuk that serves as the source of these obligations: "From before old age (seiva) you shall rise and you shall give honor to an old person (zaken)" (Vayikra 19:32). According to the tanna kamma, there is only one type of person who is deserving of honor according to this verse: an old person who has acquired wisdom. This is due to the fact that seiva literally means old age, while zaken refers to someone who has acquired wisdom. However, Rabbi Yosei argues, if these two qualities must be found in the same person in order for him to deserve honor, the pasuk should have said: "In the presence of an old person, an elder (seiva zaken), you shall rise and give honor." From the fact that it split up the two words, it seems that seiva and zaken actually refer to two different types of people. Therefore, we can infer from the word seiva that an old person must be honored and from the word zaken that a young scholar should also be honored.
The gemara questions what the tanna kamma could respond to Rabbi Yosei's attack. The gemara explains that according to the first tanna, the Torah needed to juxtapose the word zaken to the end of the verse, which states: "And you shall fear from your God." The beraita that we saw last week used this juxtaposition to teach the law that a zaken himself must be careful not to overburden the public by entering a room in a way that will cause people to have to stand for him. Therefore, despite the fact seiva and zaken are actually two, indispensable requirements for a person to deserve honor, the Torah split them into two different phrases.
Having explained how the tanna kamma could respond to Rabbi Yosei's attack, the gemara now asks what it was that actually motivated the tanna kamma to arrive at his conclusion that only an old person who has acquired wisdom is worthy of honor. This format is quite typical of Talmudic analysis: having quoted a disagreement, the gemara first presents the arguments of one side and the rebuttal of his opponent, and then the arguments of the other side and the first sage's rebuttal of that argument.
The gemara explains that the tanna kamma's reasoning is also based on a close reading of the verse. The pasuk's command to honor elders is clearly composed of two distinct halves: 1) "In the presence of an old person you shall rise (takum);" 2) "You shall give honor (ve-hadarta) to an elder." The requirements of rising and giving honor include different aspects of respecting elders; in fact, the gemara will shortly discuss the implications of each word and the extent to which we can equate them. According to Rabbi Yosei's view, that seiva and zaken refer to different types of people, how do we know that "rising" and "honoring" apply to each of the different types? Perhaps one could arrive at the conclusion that he must rise before a seiva and give honor to a zaken, but is not required to rise before a zaken and give honor to a seiva! In order to teach that both aspects apply to both types of people, the pasuk should have stated: "In the presence of an old person (seiva) you shall rise and give honor, you shall rise and give honor to an elder (zaken)." From the fact that the pasuk did not say this, it is clear that seiva and zaken actually refer to the same person; therefore, the person must possess both of these qualities.
The gemara does not explain why Rabbi Yosei disagrees with the tanna kamma's reasoning. Some commentators explain that in his view, since the directives of takum and ve-hadarta appear in between the words seiva and zaken, they apply both to the seiva, which is mentioned earlier, as well as the zaken mentioned later. This is a concept known as mikra nidrash le-fanav ul-acharav, and is used in the Gemara in numerous places (e.g., Zevachim 24b).
We have noted that according to Rabbi Yosei, seiva and zaken refer to different types of people: seiva means old age and zaken refers to a scholar. However, according to the majority view which we discussed last week and alluded to at the beginning of today's shiur, Isi ben Yehuda maintains that a young scholar is deserving of honor and that an old person who is not a scholar is also deserving of honor. How, then, does Rabbi Yosei's view differ from that of Isi ben Yehuda?
Because of this problem, Rashi (s.v. I salka da'atakh) explains that according to Rabbi Yosei, seiva does not mean just any old person; since the Torah teaches us that a zaken is deserving of honor despite his youth, we see the importance of scholarship, and we can infer that even "seiva" includes only a scholar.
This, however, just leads us to another question: if the old person must be a scholar in order to deserve honor, why did the Torah have to include the wold seiva at all? It could have just mentioned zaken, which refers to a youthful scholar, and we would have known that any scholar is deserving of honor; certainly we would not have thought that only a youthful scholar is deserving of honor while and olders scholar is not deserving!
Tosafot (s.v. Mai) explain that old age still does play a role in determining the extent to which one deserves honor. A youthful scholar is deserving of honor only if he is a scholar of exceptional stature. An older scholar deserves honor even if he is a scholar of mediocre stature. Similarly, if the older scholar and the youthful scholar are of the same stature with regard to scholarship, the young scholar must stand up for the older scholar.
Practically, as noted earlier, we assume that one must stand for a seiva, an old person (according to most opinions, over the age of seventy), even if he is not a scholar, as long as he is not a rasha; and that one must also stand for a youthful scholar (Shulchan Arukh YD 244:1).
Back to the Gemara
The gemara now moves on to discuss other details relating to the obligation to honor elders and scholars. We resume with the end of the second line of 33a.
The master said: "One might think that he must honor him with money;
[Scripture] teaches: 'You shall rise and you shall give honor,'
just as a rising that does not entail loss of money, so too a giving of honor that does not entail loss of money."
And rising does not entail loss of money?
Are we not dealing [even with one who] is piercing pearls?
In the meantime he rises from before him and is idle from his labor!
Rather, compare rising to giving honor,
just as a giving of honor that does not entail idleness, even a rising that does not entail idleness;
and compare also giving honor to rising,
just as a rising that does not entail loss of money,
so too a giving of honor that does not entail loss of money.
From here they said: "Artisans are not permitted to stand before Torah scholars at the time they are involved in their labor."
אמר מר: יכול יהדרנו בממון;
ת"ל (תלמוד לומר): תקום והדרת,
מה קימה שאין בה חסרון כיס, אף הידור שאין בו חסרון כיס.
וקימה לית בה חסרון כיס?
מי לא עסקינן דקא נקיב מרגניתא,
אדהכי והכי קאים מקמיה ובטיל ממלאכתו?
אלא אקיש קימה להידור,
מה הידור שאין בו ביטול, אף קימה שאין בה ביטול;
ואקיש נמי הידור לקימה,
מה קימה שאין בה חסרון כיס,
אף הידור שאין בו חסרון כיס.
מכאן אמרו: אין בעלי אומניות רשאין לעמוד מפני תלמידי חכמים בשעה שעוסקין במלאכתם.
The pasuk that serves as the source for the law that one must honor elders contains two commands that appear right next to each other: takum (you shall rise) and ve-hadarta (you shall give honor). Mar attempts to compare the two obligations. Rising in honor for someone who approaches does not cost any money; similarly, the requirement to give honor to elders does not obligate one to spend money. Rashi (s.v. Yakhol) explains the reason for the hava amina, the initial hypothesis, that one might in fact be required to spend money in order honor a zaken: there are other instances in the Torah where the word hiddur (honor) does imply favoring monetarily. Thus, for example, the Torah twice warns judges not to favor (tehdar, which is the same root as hiddur) a poor person who is involved in a court battle, despite the fact that he desperately needs the funds in dispute while his adversary does not (Shemot 23:3, Vayikra 19:15); although charity is an important mitzva, that is to be done outside of the court of justice.
The gemara challenges the assumption that standing does not entail loss of money. Does the requirement to stand not include even one who is engaged in labor that requires great skill and precision, such as putting holes in pearls so that they may be put on strings? Because of the great level of skill required for such work, a person who has such skills will be paid handsomely for every moment of his labor; interrupting his work in order to stand for a zaken who has approached may actually entail a significant loss of money!
The gemara therefore suggests a different derivation for this halakha: we can compare the rules of rising to the rules of giving honor. Giving honor does not require one to interrupt his activities; it implies merely treating another with respect or speaking highly of him. Similarly, then, standing up in honor of someone does not require one to interrupt an activity. Now that we have arrived at this conclusion, rising for someone does not entail loss of money, and similarly giving honor does not mean that one must give money to the person one is honoring. Based on this derivation, the sages rules that artisans may not interrupt their labor in order to stand for Torah scholars.
The commentators note the apparent difficulty with the wording of the gemara's conclusion: Even if an artisan is not required to interrupt his labor in order to give honor to a scholar, why should he be prohibited from doing so?
There are several approaches to this problem:
1) Tosafot (s.v. Ein) suggest that the gemara only prohibits artisans from interrupting their work when they are working for someone else. In such a case, if they are being paid for their time, they may not take time out to do other, unnecessary activities.
2) Tosafot (ibid.) alternatively suggest that the phrase ein rasha'in, which normally means "are not permitted," should be translated here as "are not obligated." They cite a precedent for this usage of the term.
3) The Ran suggests that since artisans are not required to rise in honor of a zaken, they are also not permitted to do so: if some artisans rise and others don't, it appears as though the ones who continue their work are not properly honoring the zaken; in reality, however, they are permitted to continue their activities. Therefore, it is inappropriate for any artisan to stand, so as not to cast aspersions on his colleagues.