Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Daf Yomi Ketubot 98a: Who [Authorized] You To Make the Assessment?

From my Rif translation, on Ketubot 98a:
שלח ליה רבה בריה דרבא לרב יוסף מוכרת שלא בב"ד צריכה שבועה או אינה צריכה שבועה
ותיבעי לך הכרזה
אמר ליה הכרזה לא מיבעי לי
דאמר רבי זירא אמר רב נחמן אלמנה ששמה לעצמה לא עשתה כלום
היכי דמי אי דאכרוז אמאי לא עשתה כלום
אלא לאו דלא אכרוז לעצמה הוא דלא עשתה כלום הא לאחר מה שעשתה עשתה
לעולם דאכרוז ואמרינן לה מאן שם לך
Rabba son of Rava sent to Rav Yosef: If she sold not in front of bet din, does she require an oath or does she not require an oath?
{The reply}: And you should have asked about a public announcement {, if it is required}.
He said to him: I have no question about a public announcement. For Rabbi Zera cited Rav Nachman: A widow who assessed for herself accomplishes nothing.
How so? If there was a public announcement, why has she not accomplished anything? Rather, is it not that she did not make an announcement, and thus it is for herself that she did not accomplish anything, but for another, what she did was done?
{No.} In truth, she announced, and we say to her "Who told you to assess?"

כי ההוא גברא דאפקידו גביה כיסתא דיתמי אזל שמה לנפשיה בארבע מאה זוזי
לסוף אייקר וקם בשית מאה
אתו לקמיה דרב אסי
אמר ליה מאן שם לך
והלכתא צריכה שבועה ואינה צריכה הכרזה
Just like the certain man, to whom corals of orphans were deposited, and he went and assessed them for himself as worth 400 zuz. In the end, they increased in value and stood at 600 zuz. They came before Rav Assi. He said to him: Who told you to assess?

Soncino translates מאן שם לך as 'Who [authorized] you to make the assessment?'

This is a tricky phrase to translate, and that which makes it tricky is not spelled out explicitly, so I may as well attempt to spell it out. The case appears to be one in which the person made his/her own assessment. If we translate מאן שם לך as "who assessed for you," what sort of question is this? We know who assessed -- it was the person we are talking to! Of course, this is a rhetorical question, so this is acceptable.

But there is another tricky bit -- at least I think so. Let us compare Rashi with Tosafot.

Rashi writes, mimi kabalta mechira zo, from whom did you receive this price. Not from bet din nor from the orphans!

Thus, the word sham becomes mechira, or sale price, in Rashi's translation.

Tosafot, meanwhile, has kelomar, me hechezikcha beElu hanechasim -- "who put you in charge of these assets?"

In this translation of the statement, there is the same rhetorical effect. But which specific word does sham map to? It seems to map to nothing! The answer may well be that Tosafot says kelomar, and so it is not a word by word translation.

Soncino seems to try to satisfy both Rashi and Tosafot, by translating it as 'Who [authorized] you to make the assessment?' But it is difficult to see how the one translates to the other.

I believe that this is actually a dispute between Rashi and Tosafot as to whether the ש in שם is a sin or a shin. Rashi holds it is a shin. Bolstering him is the fact that the word sham in used in the immediate context, and is the topic of conversation here -- the assessment of the assets. Tosafot reads it as a sin, such that the phrase is man sam lach, "who appointed you?" Thus, the bracketed [authorized] in Soncino's translation is indeed the word sam in the phrase. But then, there is no explicit word sham in the phrase. Tosafot would place the word [assessment] in brackets and the word authorized out of brackets.

We have precedent for this phrase in Shemot 2, where an Israelite says to Moshe:
יד וַיֹּאמֶר מִי שָׂמְךָ לְאִישׁ שַׂר וְשֹׁפֵט, עָלֵינוּ--הַלְהָרְגֵנִי אַתָּה אֹמֵר, כַּאֲשֶׁר הָרַגְתָּ אֶת-הַמִּצְרִי; וַיִּירָא מֹשֶׁה וַיֹּאמַר, אָכֵן נוֹדַע הַדָּבָר. 14 And he said: 'Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us? thinkest thou to kill me, as thou didst kill the Egyptian?' And Moses feared, and said: 'Surely the thing is known.'
מִי שָׂמְךָ parallels man sam lach, and the question is who granted you this authority.

Which is correct? Truth be told, I am not sure, but I feel special affinity to this reconstructed nikkud in Tosafot's reading, because it works, because it does not require reordering of the words in the phrase, because it has Biblical parallel, and honestly, because I came up with it. But what Rashi really has working for him is context. But not every שם in context of sham needs to be assessment.

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