The Dafyomi Advancement Forum
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QUESTION: Rashi and Tosfos explain that "King Shevor" -- who praised the ruling of Rebbi Shimon in our Mishnah -- was the ruling monarch of the Persian Empire at the time.
How was it permitted for an Amora to teach him the Halachah of our Mishnah? We are taught (Chagigah 13a) that it is prohibited to teach Torah to a Nochri! (RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ in Ya'aros Devash, Drush #16; MAHARATZ CHAYUS)
ANSWER: RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ and the MAHARATZ CHAYUS answer that it was permitted to teach him this Halachah, since it involved monetary law, and it therefore applied to Nochrim as well as Jews, because Nochrim are also commanded to adjudicate monetary law ("Dinim").
However, we may ask a question on their answer. RASHI (118b DH veha'She'ar) explains that the reason Rebbi Shimon gives the plants growing on the lower part of the vertical embankment to the owner of the lower garden is because the owner of the upper garden is embarrassed to ask permission and enter the lower garden to claim those plants (as discussed above in previous Insights). This logic would not seem to apply to Nochrim, who are not blessed with the same sense of modesty as Jews. As the Gemara teaches in Yevamos (79a), "Baishanus" (natural modesty) is an identifying trait of Jews; others are not easily embarrassed, especially when collecting what is theirs by monetary right. Since a Nochri sill simply enter the lower garden and pick his plants, the Halachah of Nochrim should be different than that of the Mishnah; all of the plants should belong to the upper owner. Why, then, was it permitted to teach King Shevor the Halachah of Rebbi Shimon?
The answer may be learned from the Gemara in Berachos (8b) which teaches that the nation of Persia-Mede was different from other non-Jewish nations. The people of that nation are outstanding in their modesty with regard to preserving the privacy of themselves and of others ("Tzenu'im"... "Yo'atzim ba'Sadeh"). That is why this Halachah indeed applied to the nation of King Shevor, and why it was permitted to teach it to him.
This also explains why the King praised this Halachah more than any other. Since it is a Halachah that is based on people's natural modesty, he, as a Persian, found it particularly appealing.
This, then, is why the Mishnah continues with Maseches Bava Basra, which starts with the Halachos of building a dividing wall between two neighboring yards in order to protect the privacy of both parties. The Gemara debates whether it is *obligatory* to build such a wall, or whether it is only optional. According to both opinions, though, the parties discussed in the Mishnah are building such a wall between their yards in order to protect their privacy.
This also relates to the beginning of Bava Metzia. The Mishnah teaches that when two people who are both holding a Talis contest the ownership of the Talis, we split it. We do not simply put the Talis in the custody of Beis Din until its ownership can be proven, as we do in the case of "Manah Shelishi" (3a, in which case two people contest who it was that gave a third person a two hundred Zuz cache of money). We also do not rule that "the stronger one shall prevail" ("Kol d'Alim Gevar"), as we do in the case where two people debate the ownership of a boat. Rashi there (2a, DH b'Mekach u'Memkar) explains that we split the Talis because it is possible that they both actually think the Talis is theirs, and we cannot be certain that one of the parties is lying. That is, perhaps both noticed the Talis in the street and they picked it up together. Each claimant thinks that he picked it up a split second before the other, but in truth they both picked it up at the same time and they both own it. If each of them had claimed to have woven the Talis himself, then we would not have split it (Rashi, ibid.).
The Mishnah (on 2a) is teaching, then, that a Jew should not be suspected of outright lying and grabbing an item that is not his from another Jew. The Jew's natural trait of modesty and being embarrassed to do something that does not look correct, does not allow him to act in such a manner. That is why we give each of them part of the Talis and assume that we are not dealing with outright liars.
Accordingly, both in the beginning of the Maseches and in the end of the Maseches, and in the beginning of Bava Basra, the Mishnah is teaching a law that is based on the praiseworthy trait of modesty that is a defining character trait of the Jewish nation! This is a most appropriate point to emphasize for Seder Nezikin, since an ingrained modesty will prevent a person from causing any damage to another person's property. (M. Kornfeld)
In the Zechus of the modesty of the Jewish nation, may we merit to see the Shechinah once again rest upon the nation of Hashem in Tziyon, in our days!