כ״ו באייר ה׳תשע״ז (May 22, 2017)

Bava Batra 120a-b: Getting Remarried

As we learned on yesterday’s daf the daughters of Zelopheḥad married late in life and under ordinary circumstances would not have been able to conceive. Nevertheless, their status as righteous women made them deserving of a miracle, and they did have children. The Gemara says that they were deserving of a miracle similar to that enjoyed by Yokheved.

According to Rabbi Ḥama bar Ḥanina, Yokheved, who was Moshe’s mother, became pregnant with him when she was 130 years old. This teaching is based on the assumption that Yokheved was born in Egypt after being conceived by Levi’s wife prior to arriving in Egypt.

The Gemara in (12a) talks about this story. The Gemara there introduces Moshe’s father, Amram, as the ha-dor – the leader of his generation. Upon hearing of Pharaoh’s decree to kill every male child, Amram chose to divorce his wife, an act that led many others to follow his example.

The baraita teaches that Moshe’s sister, Miriam, argued with her father, pointing out that his decision to refrain from having children was even worse than Pharaoh’s. By divorcing his wife, Amram had effectively destroyed the future – not only of Jewish sons, but of Jewish daughters, as well. While Pharaoh’s decrees were only effective in this world, Amram’s decision would have an effect in the next world as well. Furthermore, while the evil Pharaoh’s decree might or might not have been successful, Amram’s actions would certainly be successful. Under the force of her arguments, Amram remarried, encouraging others to do so as well.

Our Gemara questions whether the text supports this approach, arguing that the passage va-yikaḥ et bat Levi (Shemot 2:1) sounds like a description of a first marriage. To this Rav Yehuda bar Zevida responds that in his desire to get others to remarry their wives, Amram made their wedding a public act, as though it were a first marriage. He arranged for them to be carried by two people in an appiryon – a palanquin – with Aharon and Miriam dancing before them.

Previous
Next