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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Women in Miracles (Post 5: More Svara)

We suggest that according to Tosafos, the primary obligation to publicize is only on men, those ordinarily obligated in time bound mitzvos.  However, the fact that men are involved in publicizing a miracle in which women were also beneficiaries, creates a secondary obligation on women to involve themselves too.  For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them.

Thus, that which creates the obligation upon women is not the time itself (the calender day of the anniversary of the event), but rather the event of the men publicizing the miracle.  It is therefore not included under the exemption of women from time bound mitzvos.  (A similar idea was given by Rav Soloveitchik to explain why kiddush levana is not time bound.  Although the obligation takes place at a fixed time, it is not conceptually the time which obligates, but the event of the new moon.)

The new idea in Tosafos is that the obligation of women in these mitzvos is not the same as that of men.  Men have a primary obligation whereas women's obligation is secondary.

A proof for this distinction can be derived from a Tosafos in Megilla 4a which brings the position of the Behag that women cannot read the megilla for men, because men are obligated in קריאה (reading) whereas women are only obligated in שמיעה (hearing).

At first sight, this position is puzzling. Who ever heard of a mitzvah with two different forms for two groups which are both obligated?  The above svara answers this question. The primary obligation of megilla is קריאה, and this only applies to men. However, since when women witness men reading the megilla they must be involved as well, the nature of their obligation is secondary and therefore differs from that of the men.  (For a further development of the Behag's thought, see the first comment below.)

19 comments:

  1. According to the Behag, the gemara has a הוה אמינא that a woman cannot even read for other women. The מסקנא is that they can.

    The הוה אמינא sounds difficult. How could the הוה אמינא hold that a woman cannot read for another woman - don't they have the same obligation? Also, how can we define the conceptual difference between this הוה אמינא and מסקנא?

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    1. Here's our attempt to understand the Behag:

      What is the nature of the women's obligation?

      The הוה אמינא was that they are obligated to join up to a man's reading. If so, they would not be able to hear it from a woman.

      The מסקנא teaches that although the basis of their obligation is the reading of the men, the Rabanan formulated a secondary obligation for women - listening to the megilla. If so, one woman can read for another woman, being that they both have the same obligation.

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  2. וקשה דלשון שאף הן משמע שהן טפלות ולפירושו היה לו לומר שהן לכך נראה לי שאף הן היו בספק דלהשמיד ולהרוג וכן בפסח שהיו משועבדות לפרעה במצרים וכן בחנוכה הגזירה היתה מאד עליהן

    How is the lashon of tosfos indicative of the idea of "Thus, that which creates the obligation upon women is not the time itself (the calender day of the anniversary of the event), but rather the event of the men publicizing the miracle."

    To me it sounds odd that women would be obligated because the men are chayiv in publicizing the event. I understand that " For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them.", but I just understand how that could be a mechyav. I don't know just seems funny to me.

    Also, without fully thinking this question through, by 4 cups women are chayiv because men are chayiv in 4 cups(according to this pshat) and it would be tantamount to lacking in pirsumei nisa if the women didn't do four cups. Is there pirsumei nisa(even if not the essential philosophy of the mitzva) on pesach in the other mitzvos of the night? If yes, then how would it be a chisaron, if women are expressing the pirsum through other mitzvos?

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    1. "For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them."---This makes it sound like the chiyuv should be primary,

      but "Thus, that which creates the obligation upon women is not the time itself (the calender day of the anniversary of the event), but rather the event of the men publicizing the miracle." is saying that their obligation is secondary.(As you state in the next sentence.)

      If the miracle benefited them as well then they should be chayiv in a primary sense, no?

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    2. 1. Regarding the lashon, the emphasis of his criticism on Rashbam is the lashon of "af" which implies that they are secondary. Then he explains that they too were saved...So how is "af" good according to him? Were they secondary in the salvation? We are explaining that they are halachikly secondary (even though in terms of the salvation they were equal).

      2. They cannot be included in the primary chiyuv because the mechayiv is zman. But since they cannot ignore what the men are doing, they must participate. "Must" means Chayiv. That which causes a chiyuv (the men's reading) is a machayiv. This is not zman grama but the gorem is the event of the men reading. It can therefore apply to women.

      3. Halachikly the kiyum of the other mitzvos isn't pirsum, but achilas matzah, achilas marror,... Apparently Chazal thought that despite the mitzvos of the night which are de'oraysa, it was important to set up 4 cups to express the chierus and to thereby publicize the miracle and the freedom it caused (it is a separate discussion as to exactly why they did this). That being the case, "For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them."

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    3. Just to clarify on your third response.

      I know that in the other mitzvos of the night of pesach there is no maaseh pirsum in the halachik sense of achilas matza, marror. I was wondering that perhaps the philosophy of these mitzvos(marar ect..) have a dimension of pirsum(because they are expressing how the hashgacha played a role in redeeming them) and therefore there would be no need to be mechayiv women in 4 cups because the pirsum can express itself through the philosophy of the other mitzvos of the night.

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    4. Can you explain why Tosafos' sevara is relevant to pirusmei nisa such as Ner Chanukah, but would not be applicable to mitzvos such as kriyas shema? I understand shema is deoraysa and Ner Chanukah is derabanan. But it seems that your understanding implies a selective application of that principle. It would seem that if the reason that women are not participating is because of zeman grama and not because they simply choose not to participate, then there would be no inherent problem if they abstained. Please clarify for me...

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    5. Jeff I don't understand your question, can you clarify?

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    6. In response to Mio's question 3 comments above...

      This is a good example of why you can't mix halacha and philosophy. While eating matza, sleeping in a sukka, etc. clearly have a philosophical reason of remembering the miracles in Egypt and our 40 year sojourn in the desert, the essence of their halachic nature is not about publicizing the miracles.

      Not so with the 3 cases of mitzvos we are discussing in this piece. These 3 mitzvos are essentially ones of publicizing a miracle. This concept goes to the very heart of their halachic structures.

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    7. Jeff-
      We suggest the following answer to your question.

      The question is what relates women to the public pirsum such that you say that they are ignoring it? Why not just say men are doing their thing and women are doing their thing?

      We suggest that this is how you view it by krias shema and other time bound mitzvos. They are performed by men and dont apply to women. You dont say women are ignoring them as much as they have no shaychus to them.

      However, the mitzvah of pirsum is a mitzvah which engages the public. For example, there's a birchas ha'roeh by ner Chanukah. Various sugyos imply that the observer is koveah the ner (i.e. if the observer thinks it was lit for tashmish, it's no good). As such, the public is intrinsically involved as recipients of the pirsum, regardless of their gender. This being the case, Tosafos can maintain that "For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them."

      This however, would not apply by other mitzvos whose nature is not pirsum and do not thereby engage the public.

      What do you think?

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  3. I was directing my question to REF/RAZ...Sorry

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  4. If they need clarification, I am happy to oblige.

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  5. Excellent question Jeff. Do you or anyone else have any thoughts?

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  6. I know it was directed toward raz/ref I would still like yo know what ur asking. I'm just not sure I understand what u wrote.

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    1. We claim that Tosafos holds that "For women to ignore the public expression of publicizing the miraculous salvation of the nation as a whole, would be tantamount to denying its significance to them."

      Jeff is asking why Tosafos wouldnt argue the same thing by Krias Shema. For instance, why not say for women to ignore the kibbul ol malchus shamayim of the nation as a whole (in krias shema), would be tantamount to denying its significance to them?

      Presumably you'd answer that they are not ignoring it, but are exempt because time bound. If so, say the same thing by Pirsum?

      Can anyone answer this question?

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    2. Right gotcha that's what I thought he was asking.

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  7. Perhaps you can say the following: These 3 mitzvos are different than other time bound mitzvos. Here what really is the mechyaev is the event of the miracle, and chazal set up a time period to do an action of pirsum. In other words the time aspect is accidental in being mechayev, and the event of the miracle the essential.

    In time bound mitzvos in general, the time which is mechayev is a natural zman(unlike purim, pesach, and chanukah in which chazal created those time periods) ie; by shema night and day. In other words, by shema the chiyuv is a kaballa of malchus shemayim by day and night, at specific time periods. Women are not denying the significance of kaballa of ol malchus shamayam when they don't say KS when the rest of the nation is; it is merely a passivity which indicates the lack of necessity to be mekabel at both day and night. They are not denying the significance of the theme, just the fact that at certain time periods it is necessary to do this.

    By the other 3 mitzvos, as mentioned earlier, the mechayev is really the event. When women don't do an action of pirsum which is essentially caused the by event(and just happens to take place at a certain time which is also a technical poter), then they are denying the significance of doing pirsum because it is the event of the miracle which is really causing the chiyuv pirsum.

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    1. But that is an entirely different idea than the one presented by REF/RAZ. I would like to know in their sevara, what is the rationale?

      As far as your sevara, I don't understand. Once Chazal create a mechayav of zeman, it should be zeman grama. The event is not the mechayav for prisum really. It's the reason why chazal created the obligation of lighting. But once that is the case, then the zeman really creates the obligation. According to your understanding, Tosafos never had to address the problem of k'eyn deoraisa. He just had to say that it's not zeman grama at all...

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  8. Jeff-
    We responded to your question above.

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