ד׳ באדר ב׳ ה׳תשע״ו (March 14, 2016)

Kiddushin 3a-b: Examining the Ways

Much of the first two dapim of the Gemara in Massekhet Kiddushin deal with technical questions of language that are not the usual topics of discussion in the Gemara. In explanation of this odd dialogue, Rav Sherira Ga’on, as well as many of the rishonim explain that these pages are not part of the original Gemara , rather they are a later addition from the time of the savora’im who followed the amora’im of the Gemara – or, perhaps the early ge’onim.

For example, one of the discussions is the question of the language chosen by the Mishna, which writes that, “Ha-ishah niknet be-shalosh derakhim – there are three ways to effect marriage” – kesef, shetar and bi’ah. Is the word derekh (a means, or manner) masculine or feminine? Our Mishna treats it as feminine – yet other Mishnayot appear to view the word as masculine. Unlike the English language, which treats most objects as gender neutral, making use of the word “it,” many other languages – including Hebrew – apply a gender to virtually all objects.

Another discussion is why the Mishna chose to use the word derakhim rather than the word devarim (there are three things that can be used to effect marriage). We find both derakhim and devarim in different contexts, and the Gemara searches for a reason for choosing to use one rather than the other. An example is a discussion about the etrog, which is similar to a fruit in three ways (be-shelosha derakhim) and to a vegetable in one way (be-derekh ehad).

The etrog (Citrus medica, אֶתְרוֹג) differs in several ways from other trees common to the land of Israel in ancient times. One of them is the need for constant watering – similar to other citrus fruits – since the winter rains do not suffice for its needs. Also, it produces fruit throughout the year so that ripe fruits and developing fruits may be on the tree at the same time. Thus we find that the sages compared the etrog to a vegetable in certain ways, in that vegetables also need constant watering and are not necessarily specific to a given growing season.

Previous
Next