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Din & Daf: What Does God Want, and How Do We Know?

Din & Daf: Conceptual Analysis of Halakha Through Case Study with Dr. Elana Stein Hain

What Does God Want, and How Do We Know? – Rabbi Akiva vs Turnusrufus

Bava Batra 10a

In this session, we examine several sources within the Bavli about the mitzvah of redeeming captives that conflict with each other, impacting decisions about what 鈥渃ost鈥 or sacrifice is appropriate to expend on saving hostages. Given the resonance of this topic with today鈥檚 Israeli reality, we also set the stage for 20th-century Israeli discussions about this issue.

Dr. Elana Stein Hain 鈥 dinanddaf@hadran.org.il

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  • 讘讘讗 讘转专讗 讬.

砖讗诇 讟讜专谞讜住专讜驻讜住 讛专砖注 讗转 专”注 讗诐 讗-诇讛讬讻诐 讗讜讛讘 注谞讬讬诐 讛讜讗 诪驻谞讬 诪讛 讗讬谞讜 诪驻专谞住诐 讗诪专 诇讜 讻讚讬 砖谞讬爪讜诇 讗谞讜 讘讛谉 诪讚讬谞讛 砖诇 讙讬讛谞诐 Turnus Rufus the wicked asked R. Akiva: If your God loves the poor, why does God not sustain them? He responded: So that we can be saved through them from the judgement of Gehinnom.
讗诪专 诇讜 [讗讚专讘讛] 讝讜 砖诪讞讬讬讘转谉 诇讙讬讛谞诐 讗诪砖讜诇 诇讱 诪砖诇 诇诪讛 讛讚讘专 讚讜诪讛 诇诪诇讱 讘砖专 讜讚诐 砖讻注住 注诇 注讘讚讜 讜讞讘砖讜 讘讘讬转 讛讗住讜专讬谉 讜爪讜讛 注诇讬讜 砖诇讗 诇讛讗讻讬诇讜 讜砖诇讗 诇讛砖拽讜转讜 讜讛诇讱 讗讚诐 讗讞讚 讜讛讗讻讬诇讜 讜讛砖拽讛讜 讻砖砖诪注 讛诪诇讱 诇讗 讻讜注住 注诇讬讜 讜讗转诐 拽专讜讬谉 注讘讚讬诐 砖谞讗诪专 (讜讬拽专讗 讻讛, 谞讛) 讻讬 诇讬 讘谞讬 讬砖专讗诇 注讘讚讬诐 He responded: On the contrary, this is what obligates them to Gehinnom. I will offer a metaphor: What is this like? A human king who got angry at his servant and imprisoned him and commanded regarding him that no one feed him or give him to drink. And one person went and fed him and gave him to drink. When the king heard, would he not be angry at him?! And you are called servants, as is said: 鈥淔or the Children of Israel are My servants (Lev. 25:55).鈥
讗诪专 诇讜 专”注 讗诪砖讜诇 诇讱 诪砖诇 诇诪讛 讛讚讘专 讚讜诪讛 诇诪诇讱 讘砖专 讜讚诐 砖讻注住 注诇 讘谞讜 讜讞讘砖讜 讘讘讬转 讛讗住讜专讬谉 讜爪讜讛 注诇讬讜 砖诇讗 诇讛讗讻讬诇讜 讜砖诇讗 诇讛砖拽讜转讜 讜讛诇讱 讗讚诐 讗讞讚 讜讛讗讻讬诇讜 讜讛砖拽讛讜 讻砖砖诪注 讛诪诇讱 诇讗 讚讜专讜谉 诪砖讙专 诇讜 讜讗谞谉 拽专讜讬谉 讘谞讬诐 讚讻转讬讘 (讚讘专讬诐 讬讚, 讗) 讘谞讬诐 讗转诐 诇讛’ 讗-诇讛讬讻诐 Rabbi Akiva responded: I shall offer a metaphor: what is this like? A human king who was angry at his son and imprisoned him. And he commanded regarding him that no one feed him or give him to drink. And one person went and fed him and gave him to drink. When the king heard, would he not send him a gift? And we are called children, as is written: 鈥淵ou are children to the Lord your God (Deut. 14:1).鈥
讗诪专 诇讜 讗转诐 拽专讜讬诐 讘谞讬诐 讜拽专讜讬谉 注讘讚讬诐 讘讝诪谉 砖讗转诐 注讜砖讬谉 专爪讜谞讜 砖诇 诪拽讜诐 讗转诐 拽专讜讬谉 讘谞讬诐 讜讘讝诪谉 砖讗讬谉 讗转诐 注讜砖讬谉 专爪讜谞讜 砖诇 诪拽讜诐 讗转诐 拽专讜讬谉 注讘讚讬诐 讜注讻砖讬讜 讗讬谉 讗转诐 注讜砖讬谉 专爪讜谞讜 砖诇 诪拽讜诐 讗诪专 诇讜 讛专讬 讛讜讗 讗讜诪专 (讬砖注讬讛讜 谞讞, 讝) 讛诇讗 驻专讜住 诇专注讘 诇讞诪讱 讜注谞讬讬诐 诪专讜讚讬诐 转讘讬讗 讘讬转 讗讬诪转讬 注谞讬讬诐 诪专讜讚讬诐 转讘讬讗 讘讬转 讛讗讬讚谞讗 讜拽讗诪专 讛诇讗 驻专讜住 诇专注讘 诇讞诪讱 He responded: You are called children and servants: when you do God鈥檚 will, you are called children, and when you do not, you are called servants. And now you are not doing God鈥檚 will.聽

He responded: Behold it says: 鈥淚s it not to deal your bread to the hungry, and that you bring the poor that are cast out to your house? (Isaiah 58:7)

When do we bring the poor that are cast out into our houses? Now, and the verse states: 鈥淚s it not to share your bread with the hungry?鈥

  • 讘专讗砖讬转 专讘讛 讬讗:讛

Turnus Rufus asked R. Akiva: Why is today different than any other day?聽He responded: How are you different than any other man?聽

He said to him: The king wished to honor me.聽聽

He said back: This too (=Shabbat) the Sovereign wished to honor her.聽聽

He said to him: So I have said to you 鈥 Who says that today is Shabbat?聽

He responded: The Sambatyon River will prove it, for it pulls along rocks all week, but rests on Shabbat.聽聽

He responded: Are you sending me to the wind?聽

He said to him: The necromancer will prove it, for the dead rise all week, but not on Shabbat.聽聽

Your father鈥檚 grave will prove it, for it does not billow with smoke on Shabbat.聽

He responded: You have scorned, humiliated and cursed him.聽

[But] he went to check on his father. Indeed, on weekdays, he arose, but on Shabbat he did not. After Shabbat, he brought his father鈥檚 spirit forth. He said to him: since you died, have you become Jewish?聽聽

He responded: All who do not keep Shabbat among you voluntarily keeps it here against their will.聽聽

He said to him: What work do you even do during the week?聽

He responded: On weekdays we are judged, but on Shabbat we rest.聽

He returned to Rabbi Akiva.聽

He said to him: If you are right that the Holy Blessed One wishes to honor Shabbat, then no winds should blow, no rain should fall, and no grass should grow on Shabbat.聽聽

He responded: Drop dead!聽聽

I鈥檒l explain via metaphor: this is like one who lives in their own courtyard and may carry throughout it [on Shabbat]. Likewise, because the whole world belongs to God, and there is no other power alongside God, God is permitted to [cause wind to blow things, cause rain to fall, cause grass to grow] throughout the world.聽聽

砖指讈讗址诇 讟讜止专职谞讜止住职专讜止驻讜止住 讗侄转 专址’ 注植拽执讬讘指讗.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 诪指讛 讬讜止诐 诪执讬指旨诪执讬诐?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讜旨诪指讛 讙侄旨讘侄专 诪执讙职旨讘指专执讬诐?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 砖侄讈专指爪指讛 讛址诪侄旨诇侄讱职 诇职讻址讘职旨讚值谞执讬.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讗址祝 讝讜止 砖侄讈专讜止爪侄讛 诪侄诇侄讱职 讛址诪职旨诇指讻执讬诐 诇职讻址讘职旨讚指讛旨.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讻指旨讱职 讗指诪址专职转执旨讬 诇职讱指 鈥 诪执讬 讬止讗诪址专 砖侄讈讛址讬旨讜止诐 砖址讈讘指旨转?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 谞职讛址专 住址诪职讘址旨讟职讬讜止谉 讬讜止讻执讬讞址, 砖侄讈讛讜旨讗 诪讜止砖值讈讱职 讗植讘指谞执讬诐 讻指旨诇 讬职诪讜止转 讛址讞止诇 讜旨讘职砖址讈讘指旨转 讛讜旨讗 谞指讞.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 诇指专讜旨讞址 讗址转指旨讛 诪讜止诇执讬讻值谞执讬?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讘址旨注址诇 讗讜止讘 讬讜止讻执讬讞址, 砖侄讈讛讜旨讗 注讜止诇侄讛 讻指旨诇 讬职诪值讬 讛址砖址旨讈讘指旨转 讜职讗值讬谞讜止 注讜止诇侄讛 讘职旨砖址讈讘指旨转;聽

拽执讘职专讜止 砖侄讈诇 讗指讘执讬讱指 讬讜止讻执讬讞址, 砖侄讈讗值讬谞讜止 诪址注植诇侄讛 注指砖指讈谉 讘职旨砖址讈讘指旨转.聽

聽聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讘执旨讝执旨讬转讜止, 讘执旨讬址旨砖职讈转旨讜止, 拽执诇址旨诇职转旨讜止.聽

聽聽

讬指爪指讗 讜旨讘指讚址拽 讘职旨讗指讘执讬讜.聽

讻指旨诇 讬职诪讜止转 讛址讞止诇 注指诇指讛,聽

讜旨讘职砖址讈讘指旨转 诇止讗 注指诇指讛.聽

诇职讗址讞址专 砖址讈讘指旨转 讛侄注直诇指讛讜旨.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 诪执砖侄旨讈诪址旨转指旨 谞址注植砖值讉讬转指 讬职讛讜旨讚执讬?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讻指旨诇 诪执讬 砖侄讈讗值讬谞讜止 诪职砖址讈诪值旨专 讗侄转 讛址砖址旨讈讘指旨转 讗侄爪职诇职讻侄诐 讘执旨专职爪讜止谞讜止, 讻指旨讗谉 诪职砖址讈诪职旨专指讛旨 讘职旨注址诇 讻指旨专职讞讜止.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讜职讻执讬 诪指讛 注指诪指诇 讬值砖讈 诇指讻侄诐 讻指旨诇 讬职诪讜止转 讛址讞止诇?聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讻指旨诇 讬职诪讜止转 讛址讞止诇 讗指谞讜旨 谞执讚旨讜止谞执讬诐, 讜旨讘职砖址讈讘指旨转 讗指谞讜旨 谞指讞执讬诐.聽

讞指讝址专 讗值爪侄诇 专址’ 注植拽执讬讘指讗,聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 讗执诐 讻执旨讚职讘指专侄讬讱指, 砖侄讈讛址拽指旨讚讜止砖讈 讘指旨专讜旨讱职 讛讜旨讗 专讜止爪侄讛 讘执旨讻职讘讜止讚指讛旨 砖侄讈诇 砖址讈讘指旨转,聽

讗址诇 讬址砖值旨讈讘 讘指旨讛旨 专讜旨讞讜止转,聽

讗址诇 讬讜止专侄讚 讘指旨讛旨 讙职旨砖指讈诪执讬诐聽

讜职讗址诇 讬址爪职诪址讞 讘指旨讛旨 注值砖侄讉讘.聽

讗指诪址专 诇讜止: 转执旨驻址旨讞 专讜旨讞讜止 砖侄讈诇 讗讜止转讜止 讛指讗执讬砖讈!聽

讗侄诪职砖止讈诇 诇职讱指 诪指砖指讈诇, 诇职诪指讛 讛址讚指旨讘指专 讚旨讜止诪侄讛?聽

诇职讗侄讞指讚 砖侄讈讚指旨专 讘址旨讞植爪值专讜止,聽

讛植专值讬 讛讜旨讗 诪只转指旨专 诇职讟址诇职讟值诇 讘职旨讻指诇 讛侄讞指爪值专 讻只旨诇指旨讛旨.聽

讗址祝 讻指旨讗谉 讛址拽指旨讚讜止砖讈 讘指旨专讜旨讱职 讛讜旨讗, 诇职驻执讬 砖侄讈讻指旨诇 讛指注讜止诇指诐 砖侄讈诇旨讜止 讜职讗值讬谉 专职砖讈讜旨转 讗址讞侄专侄转 注执诪旨讜止,聽

讛植专值讬讛讜旨 诪只转指旨专 讘职旨讻指诇 讛指注讜止诇指诐 讻只旨诇旨讜止.聽

 

  • 转谞讞讜诪讗 转讝专讬注 讝:讗

砖讗诇 讟讜专谞讜住专讜驻讜住 讛专砖注 讗转 专’ 注拽讬讘讗 讗讬讝讛 诪注砖讬诐 谞讗讬诐 砖诇 讛拽讘”讛 讗讜 砖诇 讘砖专 讜讚诐? 讗”诇 砖诇 讘砖专 讜讚诐 谞讗讬诐. 讗”诇 讟讜专谞讜住专讜驻讜住 讛专砖注 讛专讬 讛砖诪讬诐 讜讛讗专抓 讬讻讜诇 讗转讛 诇注砖讜转 讻讛诐?! 讗”诇 专’ 注拽讬讘讗 诇讗 转讗诪专 诇讬 讘讚讘专 砖讛讜讗 诇诪注诇讛 诪谉 讛讘专讬讜转 砖讗讬谉 砖讜诇讟讬谉 讘讛谉 讗诇讗 讘讚讘专讬诐 砖讛谉 诪爪讜讬讬谉 讘讘谞讬 讗讚诐. Turnus Rufus the wicked asked R. Akiva: Which are more beautiful 鈥 the works of God or of flesh and blood? He responded: those of flesh and blood are more beautiful. Turnus Rufus the wicked responded: Behold the heavens and the earth; can you make something like them? R. Akiva responded: Do not speak with me about something which is beyond humans, for they do not control them, but regarding things that are found among people.
讗诪专 诇讬讛 诇诪讛 讗转诐 诪讜诇讬诐? 讗”诇 讗祝 讗谞讬 讛讬讬转讬 讬讜讚注 砖讗转讛 注转讬讚 诇讜诪专 诇讬 讻谉. 诇讻讱 讛拽讚诪转讬 讜讗诪专转讬 诇讱 诪注砖讛 讘砖专 讜讚诐 讛诐 谞讗讬诐 诪砖诇 讛拽讘”讛. 讛讘讬讗讜 诇讜 砖讘讜诇讬诐 讜讙诇讜住拽讗讜转 讗诪专 诇讜 讗诇讜 诪注砖讛 讛拽讘”讛 讜讗诇讜 诪注砖讛 讘砖专 讜讚诐 讗讬谉 讗诇讜 谞讗讬诐? 讛讘讬讗讜 诇讜 讗谞讜爪讬 驻砖转谉 讜讻诇讬诐 诪讘讬转 砖讗谉. 讗”诇 讗诇讜 诪注砖讛 讛拽讘”讛 讜讗诇讜 诪注砖讛 讘砖专 讜讚诐 讗讬谉 讗诇讜 谞讗讬诐? He responded: Why do you circumcise? He responded: I knew you would ask this. Hence, I said in advance that the works of flesh and blood are more beautiful than those of God. He brought him ears and loaves. He said to him: These are the works of God, and these are the works of flesh and blood. Are these not more beautiful? They brought him bundles of flax and garments from Bet She鈥檃n. He said: These are the works of God, and these are the works of flesh and blood. Are these not more beautiful?
讗”诇 讟讜专谞讜住专讜驻讜住 讛讜讗讬诇 讛讜讗 讞驻抓 讘诪讬诇讛 诇诪讛 讗讬谞讜 讬讜爪讗 诪讛讜诇 诪诪注讬 讗诪讜?

讗”诇 专’ 注拽讬讘讗 讜诇诪讛 砖讜专专讜 讬讜爪讗 讘讜? 诇讗 转讞转讜讱 讗诪讜 砖讜专专讜. 讜诇诪讛 讗讬谞讜 讬讜爪讗 诪讛讜诇? 诇驻讬 砖诇讗 谞转谉 讛拽讘”讛 诇讬砖专讗诇 讗转 讛诪爪讜转 讗诇讗 讻讚讬 诇爪专祝 讘讛谉. 诇讻讱 讗诪专 讚讜讚 “讻诇 讗诪专转 讛’ 爪专讜驻讛 讜讙讜’ (转讛讬诇讬诐 讬讞:诇讗).”

Turnus Rufus said to him: If God wants circumcision, why doesn鈥檛 the child leave its mother鈥檚 womb already circumcised?

Rabbi Akiva responded: Why does the umbilical cord come out attached to the baby? Does not his mother cut his umbilical cord? So why does the child not leave the womb already circumcised? Because God gave Israel the commandments in order to purify them. Therefore, David said: 鈥淓very word of God is pure (II Sam. 22:31/Psalms 18:31).鈥

Dr. Elana Stein Hain

Dr. Elana Stein Hain is the Rosh Beit Midrash and a senior research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Passionate about bringing Torah into conversation with contemporary life, she teaches Talmud from the Balcony, an occasional learning seminar exposing the big ideas, questions, and issues motivating talmudic discussions; she authored Circumventing the Law: Rabbinic Perspectives on Legal Loopholes and Integrity (pre-order discount code: PENN-ESHAIN30) which uses halakhic loopholes as a lens for understanding rabbinic views on law and ethics; and she co-hosts For Heaven鈥檚 Sake, a bi-weekly podcast with Donniel Hartman and Yossi Klein Halevi, exploring contemporary issues related to Israel and the Jewish world. In mid-January, Elana will be starting a new podcast called TEXTing, where she and guest scholars study Torah texts that engage issues of the moment for the Jewish world. She lives in Manhattan with her beloved family.
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