Thursday, August 30, 2007

Daf Yomi Yevamot 116a/121b: More Miracles in Halacha

Revisiting the topic.
{Yevamot 116a}
ההוא גיטא דאישתכח בסורא וכתב ביה הכי בסורא מתא אנא ענן בר חייא נהרדעא פטר ותריך ית פלוניתא אינתתיה ובדוק רבנן מסורא ועד נהרדעא ולא הוה ענן בר חייא אחרינא לבר מענן בר חייא מחגרא דהוה בנהרדעא
ואתו סהדי אמרי כי איכתיב האי גיטא ענן בר חייא מחגרא גבן הוה בנהרדעא
אמר אביי אפילו לדידי דחיישינא הכא לא חיישינא
הא קאמרי סהדי דההוא יומא כי איכתב האי גיטא ענן בר חייא מחגרא גבן הוה בנהרדעא מאי קא בעי בסורא
אמר רבא אפי' לדידי דלא חיישינא הכא חיישינא
דלמא בגמלא פרחא אזל
אי נמי בקפיצה
אי נמי מילי מסר
כדאמר להו רב לספריה וכן אמר להו רב הונא לספריה כי איתינכו בשילי כתובו בשילי ואף על גב דמסירי לכו מילי בהיני וכי איתינכו בהיני כתובו בהיני ואף על גב דמסירי לכו מילי בשילי
והלכתא כרבא
There was a certain get that was found in Sura, upon which was written as follows: In Sura the city, I, Anan bar Chiyya of Nehardea, release and divorce Plonit my wife.
And the Rabbis searched from Sura until Nehardea and there was no other Anan bar Chiyya except for Anan bar Chiyya of Chagra {so in other words there was this one other person}, who was at that time in Nehardea. And witnesses came and said, "when this get was written, Anan bar Chiyya of Chagra was with us in Nehardea."
Abaye said: Even according to me that I worry {about another Yitzchak} here, I do not worry. For witnesses have says that on that day, when this get was written, Anan bar Chiyya of Chagra was with in Nehardea, so he could not have been in Sura {which usually would take two days' journey}.
Rava said: Even according to me, that I do not worry, here I do worry. Lest he traveled by flying camel. Alternatively, with a {miraculous} leap. Alternatively, perhaps he gave over words {instructions to do so}. As Rav said to his scribes, and so did Rav Huna say to his scribes, "when you are at Shili, write "in Shili," even though you received the instructions in Hini. And when you are in Hini, write "in Hini," even though you received the instructions in Shili.
And the halacha is like Rava.
I wrote in an earlier post about how halacha sometimes considers the possibility of miracles in determining halacha. Thus, perhaps there is kefitzat haderech, or a flying camel. This is related to the attempt in Eruvin to show that there is no techum over ten tefachim, because the 7 rulings came from Sura to Pumpedita in one day, when travel past techum was forbidden, so it must have been Eliyahu haNavi over ten handbreadths, with the rejection that perhaps it was Yosef the demon. Here, too, we have two miraculous possibilities, though with a concluding possibility entirely within the realm of derech hateva. (I wonder where the end of Abaye and Rava's statement is, though, and if there is any setamaitic elaboration, especially since three alternatives are given within Rava's statement.)

In contrast, we have Rabbi Meir telling over a proof from a story of a man who survived three days in a cistern.
SAID R. MEIR: IT ONCE HAPPENED THAT A MAN FELL INTO A LARGE CISTERN etc. It was taught: They said to R. Meir, 'Miracles cannot be mentioned [as proof]'. What [did they mean by] 'miracles'? If it be suggested because he neither eats nor drinks, surely [it may be pointed out], It is written in Scripture, And fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink [three days]! — Rather because he does not sleep. For R. Johanan stated: [A man who said]. 'I take an oath that I will not sleep for three days' is to be flogged and he may sleep at once. What then is R. Meir's reason? — R. Kahana replied: There were arches above arches. And the Rabbis?— They were of marble.
So it seems that we do not consider the possibility of miracle when deciding halacha.

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