July 30, 2022

Ketubot 17

Basing himself on today’s daf (Ketubot 17a), the Rambam (Hilchot Avel 14:8) rules that: ‘in a situation where someone is confronted with the opportunity to help bury the dead or participate in a bridal procession, they should put aside the opportunity to join the procession and involve themselves with the dead. At the same time, if a funeral procession and a bridal procession happen to meet on the road, the funeral procession should take an alternative route [to give priority] for the bridal procession.’
As Rabbi Nachum Rabinovitch explains in his ‘Yad Peshuta’ commentary to the Rambam, what this teaches us is that while when it comes to the question of needs, we first prioritize the dead, whereas when it comes to the question of honour, the honour of the living (i.e. the bride) takes precedence of the honour of the dead. Nevertheless, Rabbi Rabinovitch also cites various sources (eg. Sheiltot, Ramban) who appear to interpret the rule about the funeral procession and a bridal procession which meet on the road as teaching us a broader lesson of prioritizing the joyous over the sad.
More recently, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe) explained (see Iggrot Kodesh Vol. 16 p. 112) that if someone has two paths before them, with one being a path which helps them avoid the bad (סור מרע), and the other which enables them to do good (ועשה טוב), then we learn from this rule of prioritizing the bridal procession over the funeral procession that we should choose the path of doing good – because even a small amount of light can push aside a lot of darkness.
Blessing you all with a wonderful week filled the joyous rather than the sad, and a week that provides you with opportunities to do good and thereby bring more light into your life and into the lives of others.
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