ו׳ באב ה׳תשע״ב (July 25, 2012)

Nidda 65a-b: Planning for Retirement

We often find that the Gemara brings a number of statements by a particular Sage in an associative manner. On today’s daf , the Gemara discusses a question that R. Hinana bar Shelemyah asked Rav relating to the laws of as they relate to an underage girl. After completing that discussion, the Gemara quotes another teaching of R. Hinana bar Shelemyah in the name of Rav on an unrelated matter.

R. Hinana bar Shelemyah observed: As soon as a person’s teeth fall out his means of a livelihood are reduced; for it is said: And I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and want of bread in all your places (Amos 4:6).

The simple meaning of this statement is that when a person reaches old age, which is when ordinarily a person loses his teeth and loses the ability to chew his food properly, the need to use his teeth lessens, as well, since he eats less than he did in his younger years. Rashi explains that this is an economic reality. Once a person can no longer perform the work that he did in his youth he earns less and must manage with less than he did previously.

The Maharsha derives from this teaching that it is important that a person plan carefully and save for his later years, and that he should therefore not distribute all of his property to his children during his lifetime. Rav Ya’akov Emden argues that this recommendation applies more to simple folk, but Torah scholars need not be as concerned about their aging, since taught that Torah scholars become sharper as they age (see the end of Massekhet Kinim) and that a strong foundation of Torah learning in one’s youth offers hope and sustenance in one’s old age.

Previous
Next