THOUGHTS ON THE DAILY DAF
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Rosh Kollel: Rav Mordecai Kornfeld
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Moed Katan, 15
MOED KATAN 14, 15 - anonymously dedicated my an Ohev Torah and Marbitz Torah
in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel.
1) WHETHER A "MENUDAH" MAY BE WITH HIS WIFE
QUESTION: The Gemara asks whether a Menudah (someone who has been placed in
Niduy) is permitted to be with his wife.
2) DERIVING LAWS OF AVEILUS FROM THE CONDUCT OF DAVID HA'MELECH
What is the Gemara's question? The Gemara earlier clearly states that it is
forbidden for anyone to go within four Amos of a Menudah, and this includes
his wife! (RITVA and others)
(a) The RAN in Nedarim (8a) and other Rishonim say that the Gemara here
(16a) tells us that it is possible for a person to be in Niduy in one place
but not in another. The Gemara's question whether a Menudah may be with his
wife applies only to such a case. A person was placed in Niduy in one city,
but in his hometown he is not in Niduy. The Gemara is asking that when the
person is out of the place in which he is a Menudah, is he prohibited to be
with his wife or not? It could be that even when he is in his hometown,
where he is not a Menudah and where people do not have to stay four Amos
away from him, he might still be prohibited to be with his wife, since that
is a Halachah relevant to the way *he* must act as a Menudah, and not to the
way others must conduct themselves with him.
HALACHAH: The SHULCHAN ARUCH (YD 334:4) says that he is permitted to be with
his wife, like the Rosh (c) says. The REMA adds that some also permit him
to be near the rest of his household (like the Ritva (d)).
(b) The RAN (there) and RASHBA answer in the name of the RA'AVAD that a
Menudah's wife is not required to stay away from him, because of the
principle that "Ishto k'Gufo," one's wife is like his own body.
(c) The ROSH here writes that not only is his wife permitted to be in his
presence, but even his children. He proves this from the incident of Rebbi
Elazar ben Hurkenus (Sanhedrin 88a), whose son removed his Tefilin for him
when he was in Niduy. The reason his family members may come within his four
Amos is because Beis Din did not include his family members in the
prohibition to go near him when they placed him in Niduy.
(d) The RITVA answers that even though everyone else must keep away from
him, his wife does not have to. Moreover, even the other members of his
household (not just his children) are allowed to approach him. This is part
of the stipulation of the Niduy made by Beis Din, allowing him his primary
needs (Nedarim 39a).
QUESTIONS: The Gemara derives that an Avel is prohibited to be with his wife
from the verses that describe the conduct of David ha'Melech when his infant
son died. The verse says that after the child had died, "David comforted his
wife Bas-Sheva, and he came to her and law with her" (Shmuel II 12:24). This
implies that he was with his wife only after the Aveilus for his son ended,
but during Aveilus he was prohibited to be with her.
(a) This proof that an Avel is prohibited to be with his wife is
problematic. The verse says that "it happened on the seventh day that the
child died" (ibid. 12:18). If the child was only seven days old when he
died, then he has the status of a Nefel (stillborn), and there is no
requirement of Aveilus for a (stillborn)! Thus, why does the Gemara even
assume that David was observing Aveilus to begin with?
(b) Furthermore, we see in the verses that David clearly was not an Avel
after his son died, because the verse says that when the child died, "David
stood up from the floor, washed and anointed himself and changed his
clothes. He came to the house of Hashem and he bowed down. He came to his
house, asked for food, and they served him food and he ate" (ibid. 12:20).
How can we learn the Halachos of Aveilus from David ha'Melech if he was
clearly not an Avel? (RADAK ibid.)
(a) The RADAK gives two approaches to answer the first question:
1. Chazal understood that when the verse says, "It happened on the seventh
day that the child died," it does not mean that the child died on the
seventh day of his life. Rather, it means that he died on the seventh day of
his illness. He was older than thirty days, and thus his parents were
obligated to observe Aveilus for him.
(b) There are several approaches to answer the second question:
2. Even if the child was only seven days old as the verse implies, perhaps
David was nevertheless obligated to observe Aveilus for him. The Gemara in
Shabbos (136a) says that the reason one does not mourn for a Nefel is
because the child was not yet completely formed. However, if one knew for
certain that the child had been in gestation for full term, then one does
mourn. David ha'Melech knew that the child was a full-term baby, because he
had only been with Bas Sheva one time (Shmuel II 11:27).
1. The RADAK suggests that David ha'Melech washed himself and changed his
clothes *before* he became an Avel -- that is, after the child died but
before he was buried, while he was still an Onen when the Halachos of
Aveilus (according to some Rishonim) are not yet observed. The reason he
washed during Aninus is because he wanted to go bow down to Hashem in the
place of the Shechinah in order to fulfill the dictum, "One is required to
bless Hashem for the bad just like one is one required to bless Hashem for
the good" (Berachos 54a). He wanted to praise Hashem even on the occasion of
the loss of his child, so he immediately went to the place of the Shechinah.
Since it is not proper to go there dirty and disheveled (as David had been
fasting and sitting on the ground for seven days while the child was sick),
he needed to wash up and change his clothes.
This is also the explanation of the RITVA in our Sugya, as well as the
RA'AVAD cited by the ROSH.
2. The RAN (Chidushei ha'Ran) answers that perhaps the laws of Aveilus apply
differently to a king. A king is not permitted to disgrace himself publicly,
and that is why David ha'Melech was permitted to wash and change his
clothes. However, even a king is required to observe the Halachos of Aveilus
that apply only in private, such as the prohibition of being with one's
3. The RAN gives a second answer and says that perhaps David ha'Melech
needed to wash himself not for pleasure, but in order to clean off the dirt
from his body, since he had been sitting on the ground for seven days. It is
permitted for an Avel to wash or change his clothes when he is not doing so
for pleasure but because he has become dirty (as the Gemara implies on 24a).