Monday, October 15, 2007

Daf Yomi Ketubot 63-64: Rav Zevid's Daughter-In-Law's Seized Silk Cloak

An interesting girsological issue, with a lishna kamma and lishna batra.
From my translation of Rif, Ketubot 63b:
כלתיה דרב זביד אימרדא הות תפיסה חד שיראה
יתבי אמימר ומר זוטרא ורב אשי ויתיב רב גמדא גבייהו ויתבי וקאמרי מרדה הפסידה בלאותיה הקיימין
אמר להו רב גמדא משום דרב זביד גברא רבא הוא מחנפיתו ליה
והא אמר רב כהנא מיבעי בעי לה רבא ולא איפשיט
פירוש בלאותיה בלאות נדונייתא
The daughter-in-law of Rav Zevid rebelled, and grabbed a silk cloak.
Amemar, Mar Zutra, and Rav Ashi sat, and Rav Gamda sat by them. And they sat and said: A rebellious woman loses her worn-out clothing which are extant.
Rav Gamda said to them: Because Rav Zevid is a great man, do you flatter him? But Rav Kahana said that Rava asked this question but it was unresolved.
To explain: "her worn out things" are the worn-out items of her dowry.

איכא דאמרי יתבי וקאמרי מרדה לא הפסידה בלאותיה הקיימין
אמר להו רב גמדא משום דרב זביד גברא רבא הוא אפכיתו לדינא עליה
והא אמר רב כהנא מבעיא בעי לה רבא ולא אפשיטא
והשתא דלא איתמר לא כמר ולא כמר תפסה לא מפקינן מינה לא תפסה לא יהבינן לה ומשהינן לה תריסר ירחי שתא אגיטא ובהלין תריסר ירחי שתא לית לה מזוני מבעל
There are some {girsaot} that say: They sat and said: A rebellious woman does not lose her worn-out clothing which are extant.
Rav Gamda said to them:
{Ketubot 64a}
Because Rav Zevid is a great man, do you turn the law against him? But Rav Kahana said that Rava asked this question but it was unresolved?!

And {continues the gemara}, now that it is not stated, neither like Master nor like Master, if she seized it, we do not take it from her, but if she did not seize if, he do not give it to her. And we wait for her 12 months, a year, for the bill of divorce, and in these 12 months, a year, she does not have provisions from the husband.
Thus, we have two accounts of the incident. The gemara says that since we cannot resolve like which one, there is a rule of leaving it in the possession of the current holder -- hamotzi mechavero alav haraaya. Thus if she seized it we leave it with her, otherwise we leave it with him.

This gemara is clearly stammaic, for we are dealing with two various girsaot of gemaras. Thus, the ikka deAmrei. And indeed, Rav Ashi was a participant and as a redactor of Talmud, he would know which incident was correct. No, this is a stammaic conclusion at play.

This also effectively rules in the case like the former of the two leshonot. After all, the case before them was one in which she had seized the silk cloak, and so, because of doubt of girsa, in practice we follow Rav Gamda's objection in the first lashon, and leave the seized item in her possession. This is not for Rav Gamda's objection but rather, amusingly, because of this girsological doubt.

Rif notes that the practice in the courts in the Mesivta was not like this, due to deliberate Rabbinic enactment. Still, if not for this, we would consider this a case of doubt due to girsaot.

This is somewhat mystifying. After all, as Rif says elsewhere, the general assumption in case of two rival girsaot is not to declare it a tie but rather to rule like the second of the two, perhaps under the presumption that the gemara presents the second one second because it is the better, and thus corrected girsa. For example, he says in Beitza:
ת"ר אין מולחין את החלבים ואין מהפכים בהן משום רבי יהושע אמרו שוטחן ברוח על גבי יתדות
אמר רב מתנה הלכה כר' יהושע
ואיכא דאמרי אמר רב מתנה אין הלכה כרבי יהושע
וסוגיין דעלמא כלישנא בתרא

The Sages learnt {in a brayta}:

We may not salt cheilev {forbidden-to-eat fats, which are permissible to be used for other purposes -- one may not salt on Yom Tov} nor may we turn them over {to prevent spoilage, to dry both sides}. In the name of Rabbi Yehoshua they said: He may spread them {the fats} over pegs {so that they are exposed to the air on all sides}.

Rav Matna said: The halacha is like Rabbi Yehoshua.
And some say: Rav Matna said: The halacha is not like Rabbi Yehoshua.

And sugyot in general go in accordance with the latter formulation. {Thus, Rif rules against Rabbi Yehoshua.}
Perhaps we may offer that this case is explicitly different. After all, the gemara here in Ketubot explicitly offers this doubt as a result of the two girsaot, and so obviously is not favoring the latter over the former.

In fact I don't really agree with the rule in general. If ikka deAmrei is in truth just notation of an alternate girsa in text, then one must perforce come first, and so I would be extremely reluctant to interpret respective order.

What is going on in this instance? Might we find some cause to prefer one girsa over the other? Presumably we do not have ancient manuscripts that we might consult to find the one true initial girsa. But we might bring other considerations to bear.

How did this variant girsa arise in the first place? It would seem to be the result of sound similarity, as if the scribe read or heard the word and recorded another.

The specific word difference is
אפכיתו vs. מחנפיתו. Pronounce both and see the sound similarities. We have the same suffix, and both have the peh. We also have the khaf vs. the chet. Some sort of metathesis obviously occurred. And thus one word became the other.

That is the only difference. All the other differences came up after this first divergence, to help explain the strange word in context.

I would lean toward the first girsa in this case. I have several reasons for this:

1) מחנפיתו meaning flatter is an odder, less common word than אפכיתו meaning overturn. Lectio difficilior tells me to prefer the less common word, for a scribe is less likely to move towards it, and is more likely to move away from it and towards the more common word.

2) Given my reconstruction above, the word לדינא in אפכיתו לדינא עליה would not have been there initially. We only have the initial divergence, followed by elaboration by adding words. With מחנפיתו, nothing needs to be added, and how it applies to him is readily apparent. With אפכיתו, the word makes no sense in context and so a scribe or stama had to add לדינא to make the sense more clear. I do not imagine that לדינא was there originally with מחנפיתו and was disappeared. Thus, comparing original pure text, the first lashon seems better.

3) There is another reason the first lashon makes more sense. Rav Zevid's daughter-in-law had seized the silk cloak. Therefore, she was in possession of it. In case of doubt as to the law, hamotzi mechavero alav haraaya applies. Thus, it applied according to the gemara's conclusion because of the doubt of these two girsaot.

But forget the girsaot for a moment. We have Rava's question which was unresolved. It is an אבעיא דלא אפשטא, or seems to be, according to Rav Kahana's account. If so, should we not say that hamotzi mechavero alav haraaya applies?

And if so, the first account makes sense. Rav Zevid's daughter had seized this, and they were going to take it away from her. Rav Gamda objected that they should not, because it is an אבעיא דלא אפשטא, and thus they should not flatter Rav Zevid. They should leave it in her possession.

But the second account does not make as much sense. In this second lashon, they were going to leave it in her possession, and Rav Gamda objected that they were overturning the law on Rav Zevid. But if it is an אבעיא דלא אפשטא, then we have doubt. And since in this case she seized it, this should be sufficient to leave it in the current possessor's hands.

Perhaps we can conquer this issue by claiming that this is not the intent of Rav Kahana. But at first glance at least, this point appears strong. Add it to the first two points, and we may just have a compelling argument.

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