כ״ה במרחשון ה׳תשע״ו (November 7, 2015)

Sota 12a-b: But you Decreed Both On the Males and On the Females

Continuing the discussion of the exodus, with a particular emphasis on the role played by Miriam in the story, our Gemara quotes a baraita that introduces Amram, as the ha-dor. 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 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 may or may 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.

With regard to the impact of the decrees on “this world” and on “the World-to-Come,” Rashi explains simply that children who are killed by Pharaoh will still merit the next world, while children who are never born into the world cannot do so. The Iyyun Yaakov suggests that it is an issue that affects the parents, who will be rewarded for fulfilling the commandment of peru u’revu – having children – even if those children are killed; someone who rejects that mitzva, on the other hand, is punished in the next world.

The Gemara questions whether the text supports this approach, arguing that the passage va-yikah et bat Levi (Shemot 2:1) sounds like a description of a first marriage. To this Rav Yehuda bar Zevina 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.

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