May 16, 2022

Yevamot 60

Early on in today’s daf (Yevamot 60a) an attempt is made to understand the reasoning of one of Rabbi Eliezar ben Yaakov’s rulings especially since, as we are told in the Gemara, his rulings are considered קב ונקי – literally ‘small measured and clean’ and meaning that though he rendered fewer rulings than most of his rabbinic contemporaries, when he did, they were generally considered to be authoritative.
At the same time Rav Huna, quoting Rav, suggests that this particular ruling of Rabbi Eliezer ben Yaakov is actually based upon the halachic reasoning Rabbi Elazar. The problem, however, is that the law does not follow Rabbi Elazar.
Given this seeming contradiction, the Gemara responds with the word קשיא – ‘it is a difficulty’, meaning that while it may be true that we rule according to Rabbi Eliezar ben Yaakov, the logic that led him to his ruling still eludes us leaving us with a difficulty.
Admittedly, this קשיא – though difficult – is one of logic and intellect. However there are other קשיא’s, of the heart and soul, that are often even harder to process and to reconcile, and while there are many examples of this category, this morning I am thinking of the families of the three men – Yonatan Habakuk (aged 44, father of 5), Oren ben Yiftach (35, father of 6) and Boaz Gul (aged 49, father of 5) who were brutally murdered in El’ad last night, as well as the families of those who were injured.
Yes, there are security interventions and government policy decisions that need a firm and unambiguous response. Yet, for these families, and for the 16 children who woke up this morning without a father, the קושי (difficulty) will remain with them, as well as the question of למה (why?).
The Gemara often demonstrates how important it is to talk even when we don’t have all the answers, and many times, and in particular today, I am reminded that at least some of the questions that we ask cannot easily be answered. And this is why – especially at times like this – our best response, in addition to lobbying for a safer Israel for its citizens, is to do what we can to alleviate some of the challenges that these families and other victims of terror will now have to endure. Yes, their life with proceed with a קשיא, but we should try and do what we can to reduce their קושי.
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