Courtrooms of the Mind- Do you Really Know What your Friend’s Intentions Were?
Taste of Talmud
For many of us, our first taste of Talmud came in the form of the topic of yiush (despair). We studied the opinions of Abayei and Rava as to how and when a person gives up hope on ever retrieving a lost item. The Talmud concludes that we follow the opinion of Abayei. According to Abayei an item cannot be removed from your possession without your knowledge. This is so even if it is to your benefit that it be removed; as is the case with the removal of tithes from ones produce. The Talmud (Bava Metzia 22a) asks, according to Abayei, why is it that we have a Tosefta that says: If another Jew removes your tithes for you, the tithing takes effect as soon as you show your approval. If you did not know about it at the time of the removal that should be a classic situation of yiush shelo midaas – giving up hope without knowledge, which does not work according to Abayei? In an interesting twist of Talmudic structure Abayei is defended by his “rival” Rava! (When you are searching for the truth, objectively, such things are possible!) Rava proposes, that Abayei would explain the Tosefta as follows: Only when you appointed him as your messenger is another Jew allowed to remove the tithes on your behalf. Only then does he have the ability to remove the produce from your possession, while you retain veto rights, once you see which produce he chose.
Taste of Halacha
In Shulchan Aruch, YOD, 331:31, it says, “A person may appoint a messenger to remove his tithes for him. If a Jew removes the tithe for his friend we wait and see what the owner’s reaction will be. If, upon seeing the produce set aside for the tithes he remarks, ‘you should have taken better ones,’ and there are better ones, then we know he was truly pleased with his friend’s actions and the tithing takes effect. If there is no better produce, then we know that he was being sarcastic; in which case the tithing was done erroneously and does not take effect. Rabbi Shlomo Luria (Marshal) makes note that the one separating the tithes must have been appointed as a messenger. According to the Rambam, however, it is clear that it is not necessary for him to be directly appointed. Therefore, according to the understanding of the Rambam, the Taz proposes a novel answer to explain the opinion of Abayei. He says: When it comes to doing Mitzvos, even Abayei does not require the immediate knowledge of the owner in removing something from his property, in order for a Mitzvah to be fulfilled. It is sufficient that after the fact he is told and he shows his approval. Since it is for a Mitzvah, it is like we have a directive from every Jew to fulfill a Mitzvah for him; with the limitation that he be pleased with it after the fact.
Taste of Parasha
There is a huge question mark hovering over the entire episode of Yosef and his brothers. Why? Why did Yosef, no longer a child but a brilliant youngster, presumably capable of understanding the implications of his actions, have chosen to stoke the fires of an already smoking hatred? Why share the dreams when they were sure to provoke the brothers further? Rabbi Moshe Eisemann, Shlita, in his book, “The Riddle of the bowing Moon,” illuminates the entire episode in his inimitable way. In regards to the actions of Yosef, the answer lies in the details of the dream. By carefully analyzing the words of the dreams Rabbi Eisemann shows that Yosef’s intentions were actually to allay their fears that he would attempt to impose his rule over them. He wanted to convey to them that he was not a threat to them. In his dream, it was an image of a sheaf that stood erect. This was a symbol to the strength of moral caliber that he would achieve. The recognition showed him by the others was not imposed, but recognized of their own accord. The brothers, in turn, were pawns in the hand of G-d who, as you could see by reading the book, made it that Yosef could lay the ground work for the Jewish nation in exile, and guarantee their return.