THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Bava Basra, 9
BAVA BASRA 9 & 10 - these Dafim have been dedicated anonymously l'Iluy
Nishmas Tzirel Nechamah bas Tuvya Yehudah.
1) WHICH IS WORSE: PHYSICAL PAIN OR EMOTIONAL PAIN
QUESTION: Rav Huna and Rav Yehudah argue about what type of need of a poor
person must be verified before giving him what he needs. Rav Huna says that
when a poor person comes seeking food, we determine first whether he is
really poor. When a poor person comes seeking clothing, we give to him right
away without checking if he is really poor. This is because a person without
clothes suffers disgrace, while a person without food suffers no disgrace.
Rav Yehudah argues and says that we check a poor person who comes seeking
clothing but not a poor person who comes seeking food. His reasoning is that
a poor person who has no food is in great pain, while a poor person who has
no clothing is not in pain.
Why do the Amora'im argue about whether the distress of being hungry is
greater, or whether the distress of being unclothed is greater? We find in
Sanhedrin (44b-45a) that this is the subject of a dispute among Tana'im! The
Tana'im there argue with regard to unclothing a person when administering
Sekilah to him. They argue whether the physical pain to a person's body is
greater than the emotional pain of the disgrace of being unclothed, or
whether the disgrace of being unclothed is greater than physical pain. Why,
then, do the Amora'im here argue about this?
Moreover, the Gemara here makes it clear that the Halachah follows Rebbi
Yehudah (that the physical pain of hunger is greater than the disgrace of
being unclothed), since a Beraisa supports his view. However, the RAMBAM
(Hilchos Sanhedrin 15:1) rules that when a woman is punished with Sekilah,
she is *not* unclothed. The Rambam seems to be ruling like the opinion that
says that the disgrace of being unclothed is greater than physical pain,
contrary to the ruling of Rebbi Yehudah!
In addition, we find that maintaining the honor of a person ("Kavod
ha'Briyos") overrides Isurim d'Rabanan, and it even overrides Isurim
d'Oraisa which are done passively ("Shev v'Al Ta'aseh"), as the Gemara in
Berachos (20a) teaches. We do not find, though, that one who experiences
physical pain is permitted to transgress an Isur d'Rabanan or an Isur
d'Oraisa of "Shev v'Al Ta'aseh!" This clearly implies that the disgrace to a
person is more severe than physical pain. (OR SAME'ACH, Hilchos Sanhedrin
(a) The OR SAME'ACH explains that, in essence, the pain of suffering
disgrace is greater than the pain of physical suffering, as Rav Huna says.
What, then, is Rebbi Yehudah's reasoning?
Rebbi Yehudah's reasoning is that if this "poor" person is prevaricating and
he is not really poor, then buy starving himself (in order to get money from
the charity fund) he, anyway, experiences the physical pain of hunger, even
though he caused himself to suffer. Therefore, we do not check to see if he
is really poor, because anyway he is suffering as a result of his hunger
(albeit self-inflicted). With regard to clothing, though, if he is lying and
he is not clothing himself in order that we give him money, then he, in
fact, experiences no disgrace or embarrassment. The sense of embarrassment
is an internal feeling, and if a person values money more than he values his
own honor, he will not experience any shame in unclothing himself.
Therefore, we must check to see if he is really poor before we give him
money for clothes.
(b) The KOVETZ SHI'URIM answers that when the Gemara teaches that "Kavod
ha'Briyos" overrides certain types of Isurim, it does not mean that a
specific person's honor overrides Isurim. Rather, it means that the honor of
*people in general* overrides certain Isurim. That is, the Torah is not
concerned, in this regard, with the specific feelings of the individual. The
Torah would not permit a person to transgress an Isur in order to save
himself from feeling embarrassed. Rather, the Torah is concerned for the
honor that all people deserve. Proof for this is the fact that the
obligation to bury a Meis Mitzvah overrides almost all other Mitzvos and
Isurim, even though the deceased person himself is not experiencing shame
(since he is dead). Rather, it is the Torah's will that the honor of people
be upheld, and therefore certain Isurim are waived for this purpose. This is
also why the person receiving Sekilah must be dressed; it is to protect and
uphold the honor of people in general (and not necessarily the honor of this
particular person). This form of honor -- the honor of mankind -- certainly
is more severe than the physical pain suffered by an individual.
In contrast, with regard to giving Tzedakah, the reason why we are obligated
to give Tzedakah is not in order to uphold the general honor of mankind.
Rather, we are obligated to give Tzedakah in order to help the individual
who is in need. Therefore, there is a question whether or not the honor of a
specific individual is greater than the physical pain of a specific
individual. The Halachah follows the view of Rebbi Yehudah who says that the
physical pain suffered by an individual is greater than the pain of
disgrace. (I. Alsheich)
2) ONE WHO SEEKS TO DO GOOD
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that if a person is worthy, then Hashem causes
people who are indeed deserving of charity to come to him. If a person is
not worthy, then people who are not deserving of charity come to him. Rabah
derived this from the verse, "May they be caused to stumble before You; at
the time of Your anger, act against them" (Yirmiyahu 18:23), in which
Yirmiyahu asks Hashem to cause the sinners of the people to stumble. Rabah
explains that Yirmiyahu was asking Hashem that even at a time when the
people bend their evil inclinations and seek to do charity, Hashem should
bring to them people who are not deserving of charity so that they should
not receive reward for their acts of charity.
The Acharonim ask that the Gemara in Berachos (6a) and in Kidushin (40a)
teaches that when one has intention to do a Mitzvah but is prevented from
doing it (due to an Ones, circumstances beyond his control), he is rewarded
as if he had done the Mitzvah. Why, then, will it help Yirmiyahu's purpose
if the people give charity to those who are undeserving of charity? The
givers still had intention to do the Mitzvah of Tzedakah, and therefore they
should receive reward for that intention! (SUKAS DAVID, DEVAR MOSHE)
(a) The DEVAR MOSHE suggests that it is the sins of the givers themselves
that make them unfit to give charity to deserving causes. Consequently, the
fact that undeserving people come to them for charity is not an Ones, for it
is a result of the givers' own sins.
(b) The NIMUKEI YOSEF in Bava Kama (6b of the pages of the Rif) cites the
RAMAH who explains that a person who gives charity to one who is
underserving will still receive reward only when the giver *is not aware*
that the recipient is undeserving. When the giver is aware that the
recipient is undeserving, then he does not receive any reward for his act.