TalmuDigest

For the week ending 29 August 2009 / 8 Elul 5769

Bava Batra 9 - 15

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll


  • The trust in charity wardens and ordinary treasurers
  • Rules for distribution of charity funds
  • The importance of giving and raising funds for charity
  • Why the Sage Ulla was given a nickname
  • The reward for giving charity
  • Rabbi Akiva's debate with Turnus Rufus
  • The other-worldly vision of Rabbi Yehoshua's son
  • The charity given by non-Jews
  • Dividing the properties of partners
  • Prophecy versus wisdom
  • Preventing the conduct of Sodom
  • When there is not enough property for equal division
  • The slave freed by one of his two owners
  • What was in the ark of Moshe
  • The order of the sefarim of Tanach and their authors
  • All about the righteous Iyov

The Sin of Sodom

When a person is so selfish that he refuses to accommodate another even though there is no loss to him, he is considered as having the character of the Sodomites whose city was utterly destroyed by Heaven.

What exactly was the sin of Sodom that earned for them such extreme retribution?

"Behold", says the Prophet Yechezkel, "this was the sin of Sodom; she and her sister cities had a proud abundance of food and enjoyed serenity, and yet did not strengthen the hand of the poor and needy." (16:49)

With such prosperity the Sodomites could certainly have afforded to help less fortunate people without hurting their own economy. But they chose to discourage the arrival of any newcomer to their area, except for a wealthy individual like Lot, by outlawing any charitable act and by treating strangers with depraved cruelty. Because this sort of conduct took place in the land that Israel would inherit, it was Heaven's judgment to make an example of Sodom to deter Jews from following such a corrupt culture.

In our gemara we are taught the court can actually compel the person acting like a Sodomite to concede to another when it is not at his expense.

  • Bava Batra 12b

What the Sages Say

"Whoever pursues the opportunity to give charity will be provided with money by G-d in order to do so."

  • Rabbi Yitzchak - Bava Batra 9b

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