TalmuDigest

For the week ending 8 November 2008 / 10 Heshvan 5769

Kiddushin 32 - 41

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • Honoring parents with service – at whose expense?
  • Correcting a father on a point of Torah
  • When honoring a parent or Sage is waived and honor shown to the aged
  • Which mitzvot are women obligated to fulfill
  • When Jews are considered the children of G-d
  • Sacrificial services restricted to males only
  • Mitzvot relating only to Eretz Yisrael and universal ones
  • Three agricultural prohibitions and where they apply
  • The reward for fulfilling mitzvot and avoiding sin
  • The heroism of Sages in resisting temptation
  • The mere thought of acting in regard to fulfilling a mitzvah or committing sin
  • How the world hangs on the single performance of one person
  • Torah study or mitzvah fulfillment — which is greater?
  • Effecting marriage through an agent
  • The priority of doing a mitzvah by yourself
  • Torah source for the concept of agency in regard to marriage, divorce and other matters

When the Thought Counts

The reward of long life promised by the Torah for honoring parents and performing the mitzvah of sending away the mother bird before taking her fledglings, contends Rabbi Yaakov, refers to life in the World-to-Come. As proof that the reward is not for long life in this world, the Sage cites an incident he witnessed.

A father asked his son to climb up to a high place and send away the mother bird and bring him the fledglings. The son did as he was told and on his way down fell and died. The Sages challenge Rabbi Yaakov’s conclusion that this proved that the long life promised as a reward for these mitzvot did not relate to life in this world. Perhaps the son was contemplating idol worship, and even though G-d does not punish one for mere contemplation of sin in general, He does punish for mere contemplation of idol worship.

This raises a question, however, in regard to something which Rabbeinu Osher (ROSH) writes in explanation of what the gemara (Mesechta Rosh Hashana 17b) states regarding the twice repeated Name of G-d in the Thirteen Attributes of Divine mercy: "I am the G-d of mercy before one sins and I am the G-d of mercy after one sins and repents."

What need is there for mercy before one sins? asks the Rosh. One answer is that even if one only contemplated idol worship he is forgiven by the mercy of G-d. This seems to run counter to what our gemara says. A fine distinction is made, however, by the Korban Netanel in his commentary on the Rosh. If someone contemplated idol worship and had the opportunity to carry out his thought but succeeded in resisting the temptation he will not be punished for the thought alone. In the case of Rabbi Yaakov it is possible that the son was intending to actually worship an idol had he not fallen to his death and he therefore forfeited the reward of long life in this world.

  • Kiddushin 39b

What the Sages Say

"The first thing a person will be held accountable for on his day of Heavenly judgment is whether he fulfilled his duty of studying Torah."

  • Rabbi Hamnuna - Kiddushin 40b

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