Kiddushin 30b: Calling an Adoptive Parent “Father”

Kiddushin 30b: The Torah equates honoring one’s father and mother to honoring Hashem…because all three of them are partners in the child.

Ramban: The second part of the Ten Commandments, which deals with man and his fellow man, begins with one’s father, who is like a creator who participates in creating his children. Hashem is our first Father, and our human father is our last father. Therefore in the version of Ten Commandments in Devarim, it says, “Honor your father and mother as I have commanded you” – that is, just as I have commanded you to honor Me, so I have commanded you to honor the one who joins Me in creating you. The Torah does not need to specify what kind of honor this is, because it can be derived from the honor for our first Father, blessed is He, detailed earlier in the first three commandments: the son must admit that his father is really his father, and not deny him by calling another man his father…

קידושין ל ע”ב: ת״ר נאמר: (שמות כ) כבד את אביך ואת אמך, ונאמר: (משלי ג) כבד את ה׳ מהונך, השוה הכתוב כבוד אב ואם לכבוד המקוםֹ וכו’ וכן בדין, ששלשתן שותפין בו.

רמב”ן שמות כ,יב: והתחיל מן האב שהוא לתולדותיו כענין בורא משתתף ביצירה, כי השם אבינו הראשון, והמוליד אבינו האחרון, ולכך אמר במשנה תורה (דברים ה טז) כאשר צויתיך בכבודי כן אנכי מצוך בכבוד המשתתף עמי ביצירתך. ולא פירש הכתוב הכבוד, שהוא נלמד מן הכבוד הנאמר למעלה באב הראשון יתברך, שיודה בו שהוא אביו, ולא יכפור בו לאמר על אדם אחר שהוא אביו, ולא יעבדנו כבן לירושתו, או לענין אחר שיצפה ממנו, ולא ישא שם אביו וישבע בחיי אביו לשוא ולשקר. ויכנסו בכלל הכבוד דברים אחרים, כי בכל כבודו נצטווינו, ומפורשים הם בדברי רבותינו (קדושין לא:) , וכבר אמרו (שם ל:) שהוקש כבודו לכבוד המקום.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky related that his mother was left without parents when she was an infant. Her father, R’ Zorach Danzig, born 1843, was related to the author of the Chayei Adam and lived in the town of Dolhinov, Belorussia. He was ordained with smicha, but chose to be a businessman. He dealt in the foreign export of grain and had amassed substantial holdings at a young age. He was prominent in the community for his chartibleness – the townspeople coined the cliché “The poor survive around Danzig.” On Erev Pesach of 1870, he arrived home from a business trip too late to sell his chametz. He took it for granted that despite his merits, he would suffer retribution for the oversight, and he was sure that he would not live through the following year. Eleven and a half months later, only 28 years of age, he died on Rosh Chodesh Nissan. His wife, Devorah, who was one year his junior, had no will to go on living without him, and she succumbed five weeks later. Four children survived – two boys and two girls ranging from the ages of six to one.

The bereaved uncles convened and decided that four of them would adopt the four orphans. R’ Zorach’s stock was sold for 20,000 rubles, a huge fortune then, and each of the adoptive parents took an equal share. Four-year-old Esther was adopted by her mother’s brother, R’ Yankel Puterfas, and taken to the distant Ukraine, where her uncle bought for his share of the inheritance a bee farm near the city of Pereyaslav, about 60 kilometers southeast of Kiev. Because it was a year of drought and the fields produced no flowers for his bees, R’ Yankel lost his 5,000 rubles. But he accepted this as the will of G-d and did not for one moment regret having adopted his niece. He had a daughter of his own named Esther too; so he changed his niece’s name to Ettil, and raised his ward with the same loving care as his own children. Naturally, Ettil, a mere tot when her parents were snatched away, forgot her roots and grew up believing she was another of R’ Yankel Puterfas’s daughters.

But when Ettil reached the age of 15, a youngish, bearded man appeared in her dreams to tell her not to call the head of the household “Father” because he, the man in her dream, was her real father. Distressed by the strange dream, she refused to eat her breakfast the next morning, and the pleadings of her aunt to tell her what bothered her fell on deaf ears. After several days of this type of behavior, her uncle brought home three rabbis to talk sense into Ettil. When she finally revealed what was on her mind, R’ Yankel divulged that her dream was nothing but the truth. He told of the tragedy that had befallen the family over 11 years earlier and how the four orphans had to be separated, and that Ettil should certainly not call him “Father” any longer if that was the wish of his deceased brother-in-law. When Ettil was told that she had a big sister, Rivka, who by this time had returned to her ancestral home in Dolhinov and was subsisting on the income from the houses and stores that her late father owned, Ettil asked to be reunited with her. The three rabbis agreed that she be returned to Belorussia.

Later, when Ettil married Binyomin Kamenetsky, she named her third child Yaakov after her uncle and foster father.

Source: Making of a Godol pp. 23-25


Kiddushin 80b: The Night Watchman for Yichud

Kiddushin 80b: One woman may be alone with two men. This was only said in the city, but on the road there must be three men, because if there were only two, one of them might need to go off and relieve himself, leaving the other man alone with the woman.

Even Hoezer 22:5: The same applies to night time: there must be three men.

קידושין פ ע”ב: לא יתייחד אדם עם שתי נשים, אבל אשה אחת מתייחדת עם שני אנשיםֹ. ושם בדף פא ע”א: אמר רב יהודה אמר רב: ל״ש אלא בעיר, אבל בדרך ־ עד שיהיו שלשה, שמא יצטרך אחד מהם להשתין, ונמצא אחד מתייחד עם הערוה.

שו”ע אה”ע כ”ב ס”ה ברמ”א: וכ״ז בעיר אבל בשדה או בלילה אפילו בעיר בעינן ג׳ (ב״י בשם הראב״ד).

Rabbi Meir Brandsdorfer was once asked to serve as the sole shomer for yichud for a chosson and kallah (following a chupas nidah). He sat learning at a shtender all night long.

Usually, at night we require two shomrim, because one might fall asleep. Here, R’ Meir Brandsdorfer either was not afraid of falling asleep, or else he held that a nap on a shtender would not be considered sleeping for this purpose.

[This depends on how we learn the Raavad, who is the source of the halacha that you need two shomrim at night. The Beis Yosef brings the Raavad as follows:

וכתב הראב”ד בספר בעלי הנפש שי”א דכי אמרינן דאשה מתיחסת עם שני אנשים כשרים ה”מ ביום אבל בלילה לא ישן עמה בבית אחד עד שיהיו שם ג’ אנשים מפני שהוא דומה לדרך דאמרינן לא שנו אלא בעיר אבל בדרך עד שיהיו ג’ שמא יצטרך א’ מהם לנקביו ונמצא זה מתיחד עם הערוה וה”נ חיישינן דילמא אדנאים חד מינייהו אזיל חד ועביד איסורא.

According to this version of the Raavad, he is talking about people who are awake at night, and the fear is that if there is only one shomer, the shomer might fall asleep and the other man might go and commit a sin. Therefore we need two shomrim (three men total), so that the likelihood of them both falling asleep is low.

But in the Sefer Baalei Hanefesh that we have, the girsa is אדנאים חד מינייהו איתער חד ועביד איסורא: “While one is asleep, the other will wake up and commit a sin.” This implies that the case is that they are all sleeping, and the fear is that if there are only two men, one man might wake up and sin. Therefore we require three, so that if one is tempted, he will be afraid to sin lest one of the two shomrim wake up. But if the shomer is trying to stay awake, there is no problem, either because we are not afraid he will fall asleep, or because the temporary dozing of someone trying to stay up all night is not a deep enough sleep to make the other man unafraid of being caught.]

Source: Chukei Chaim, Parshas Bo 5780 (#165)


Kiddushin 40b: Courtesy and Manners

Kiddushin 40b: Learning is great, for it leads to keeping mitzvos.

Ri Hazakein: Even good midos must come from the Torah, and if someone has not learned Torah but has naturally good midos, even his midos are incorrect. Rabbi Ovadia of Bartenura on Avos 1:1: The midos in Masechta Avos were not made up by Chazal, as the non-Jewish sages did in their books about how a person should behave with others, but rather all of it is Torah from Sinai, and that is why Avos begins with the words, “Moshe received the Torah from Sinai.”

קידושין מ ע”ב: תלמוד גדול, שהתלמוד מביא לידי מעשה.

ובתוס’ ר”י הזקן: בא לרמוז שהחכם מצד חכמתו יגיע אל המעשה השלם והטוב והוא קנין המדות הטובות והממוצעות, ומי שהוא בעל תכונות טובות לבד לא יגיע אל החכמה מצד התכונות הטובות, וגם מעשיו שהוא עושה אינם על דרך נכונה ולא על דרך אמת כמו שאז”ל אין בור ירא חטא ולא ע”ה חסיד, שאין לו מדע שידע המעשים שיהיו טובים מצד עצמם.

רע”ב אבות א,א: משה קבל תורה מסיני – אומר אני לפי שמסכת זו אינה מיוסדת על פירוש מצוה ממצות התורה כשאר מסכתות שבמשנה, אלא כולה מוסרים ומדות, וחכמי אומות העולם ג”כ חברו ספרים כמו שבדו מלבם בדרכי המוסר כיצד יתנהג האדם עם חבירו, לפיכך התחיל התנא במסכת זו משה קבל תורה מסיני, לומר לך שהמדות והמוסרים שבזו המסכתא לא בדו אותם חכמי המשנה מלבם אלא אף אלו נאמרו בסיני.

Two bochurim from Yeshivas Eitz Chaim came to speak in learning with the Alter of Slobodka in Hebron. One of them was an amazing iluy. The Alter spoke with him for half an hour, and for the whole time he spoke about the statement of Chazal (Midrash Rabbah Vayikra 1:15) that if a talmid chochom has no deiah (courtesy, common sense), a dead cat is better than him. The Alter described the disgusting appearance of a dead cat in great detail, and commented that as bad as it was, a talmid chochom with no manners was worse. The bochur went out puzzled. Only later did he realize that as he had been speaking with the Alter, he had had a glass of tea, and after the glass was empty, he had stuck his finger into the sugar left at the bottom of the glass and then licked his finger.

Rabbi Meir Chodosh related that Rabbi Isser Zalman Meltzer disputed the Alter’s assessment of this bochur, saying that he was very bright, not a “talmid chochom who has no deiah” and was destined for greatness. But the Alter remained firm in his opinion. Reb Meir followed the bochur’s progress over the years and in the end, nothing became of him.

[The above Ri Hazakein and Bartenura, who hold that good midos come from the Torah, seem to disagree with Rav Nissim Gaon in his introduction to Shas:

כל המצות שהן תלויין בסברא ובאובנתא דליבא, כבר הכל מתחייבים בהן מן היום אשר ברא אלקים אדם על הארץ, עליו ועל זרעו לדור דורים.

All those mitzvos that can be derived from logic and understanding, all of mankind was obligated to keep from the day of man’s creation, for all generations.

Accordingly, there are two ways to understand this story: 1) According to the Ri Hazakein, the Alter held that this bochur could not have been such a talmid chochom because he was not deriving manners and midos from the Torah. 2) According to Rav Nissim Gaon, the Alter held that although the bochur indeed had Torah, he was missing something more basic that is supposed to precede Torah, which is deiah – awareness and midos that can be derived from one’s own mind.]


Kiddushin 81a: Is yichud yehareg v’al yaavor?

Kiddushin 81a: It is permitted to be alone with a woman in a room that has a door open to a public area.

קידושין פא ע”א: אמר רב יוסף: פתח פתח לרשות הרבים ־ אין חוששין משום ייחוד.

Rabbi Yaakov Kamenetsky related that he heard that Rabbi Yisroel Salanter once said, “If there would be a question of yichud on a train, I would jump out the window to avoid it.” R’ Yaakov reasoned that since jumping out of a moving train is life-threatening, the prohibition of yichud must be in the category of yehareg v’al yaavor, a sin that one must rather be killed than transgress.

Six years after R’ Yaakov passed away, his analysis was confirmed when the book Kisvei Hasaba Vetalmidav Mikelm was published. There in v. 2 p. 786 the full story appears in the name of Rabbi Naftali Amsterdam, a student of R’ Yisroel, as transcribed in a notebook by Rabbi Gershon Miadnik. The story was that R’ Yisroel had an actual problem of yichud during a train ride, and he stated explicitly that he was ready to endanger his life by jumping out the window – had he not found a leniency.

[It is not stated what the leniency was, but possibly it was that although at that moment R’ Yisroel and the woman may have been the only ones in the train car, people sometimes pass between cars, and it is similar to yichud with an open door to the street.

The question here is that even if yichud is considered to be in the category of arayos and is therefore yehareg v’al yaavor, why should that obligate him to kill himself to escape the transgression? In arayos itself there is a principle of קרקע עולם, that one who transgresses passively does not have to give his life. Tosafos argues (Pesachim 25b and other places) that this is derived from the laws of murder, where one need not forfeit his life to avoid allowing one’s body to be used as a murder weapon. The opinion of Tosafos is brought down as halacha by the Rema in Yoreh Deah 157:1. Here too, seemingly it would be allowed to remain sitting passively in the train after situation of yichud arises.

The answer is that R’ Yisroel was machmir for the opinion of the Rambam, who doesn’t bring down קרקע עולם. Reb Chaim in his first piece on the Rambam explains that he held that the Gemara in Sanhedrin 74b only uses the logic of passivity to explain Esther marrying Achashveirosh, since – according to that sugya – that was not an act of גילוי עריות at all. The problem there was a different one – that even the smallest sin becomes yehareg v’al yaavor when done in public. But real גילוי עריות is yehareg v’al yaavor even when done passively.

Reb Chaim there offers two possible explanations as to why the Rambam disagreed with Tosafos’ idea to derive from murder that a passive transgression is not yehareg v’al yaavor: 1) There it is one life against another and you have no right to decide which is more valuable, but here giluy arayos in any form, active or passive, is more valuable than your life; 2) Even in murder itself, letting one’s body be used as a weapon does not constitute any act of murder at all, even a passive one, but if a real passive case of murder could be found, it would be prohibited.] � �


Kiddushin 34a: Forcing a husband to pay for mezuzos

Kiddushin 34a: Women are obligated in the mitzvah of mezuzah. But why not learn from the juxtaposition of mezuzah to learning Torah that just as women are exempt from learning Torah, they are exempt from mezuzah? Because the verse about mezuzah ends, “So that your lives may be long.” Do only men want to live long and not women?

ונקיש מזוזה לתלמוד תורהִ! לא סלקא דעתך, דכתיב: (דברים יא) למען ירבו ימיכם, גברי בעי חיי, נשי לא בעי חיי?

A woman was becoming religious and her husband was not. She wanted to buy mezuzos for the house, but her husband said, “The rabbis overcharge for them just to line their pockets. I won’t waste money on that.” So she asked her rav if she was allowed to steal her husband’s money to buy mezuzos. She would tell him that they were donated by a kiruv organization. The rav was uncertain what to answer: of course one may not steal to perform a mitzvah, but here one could argue that a husband is obligated to give his wife a house, and part of a house is the mezuzos. Thus, taking his money for something he is obligated to do is not stealing.

However, Rabbi Yitzchok Zilberstein ruled that she should not do it. First of all, it was not her house, but her husband’s, so she was not obligated in the mitzvah of mezuzah – only he was. Second of all, if he ever found out, it would be a tremendous chillul Hashem for him to think that we steal in order to do mitzvos.

[In Read and Remember p. 332, I bring a similar story in which Rav Elyashiv zt”l was the posek, and ruled that she should not buy the mezuzos because the Mordechai says that one who has no money to buy mezuzos may still live in the house. However, here we are considering a different angle: the husband should be obligated to buy her the mezuzos as part of his obligations toward her as a husband.

The answer that “it’s not her house” doesn’t seem to be sufficient, either, because מזוזה חובת הדר היא. On p. 111 I brought the story of Reb Zalman Volozhiner who did not want to enter a house because the mezuzah was in the wrong place. It did not make a difference to him that the house belonged to someone else. Only when the owner declared the house hefker did he enter.

Rather it would seem that forcing a husband to fulfill his obligations to his wife is something only beis din can do. Stealing and going about it secretly is not allowed. Perhaps she did not want to challenge him openly before a beis din; in that case she was mochel on her rights.]