Monday, August 22, 2016

The true derasha of 'an eye for an eye' = compensation

In today's daf, I really enjoyed the various derashot for ayin tachat ayin meaning kesef rather than an actual eye. I didn't really appreciate how the systemic analysis of the setama degemara analyzed and modified the meaning of those derashot.

To take one example, here is a powerful derasha at the beginning of the gemara (Bava Kamma 83b):
גמ' אמאי (שמות כא, כד) עין תחת עין אמר רחמנא אימא עין ממש לא סלקא דעתך דתניא יכול סימא את עינו מסמא את עינו קטע את ידו מקטע את ידו שיבר את רגלו משבר את רגלו ת"ל (ויקרא כד, כא)מכה אדם ומכה בהמה מה מכה בהמה לתשלומין אף מכה אדם לתשלומין ואם נפשך לומר הרי הוא אומר (במדבר לה, לא) לא תקחו כופר לנפש רוצח אשר הוא רשע למות לנפש רוצח אי אתה לוקח כופר אבל אתה לוקח כופר לראשי אברים שאין חוזרין הי מכה אילימא (ויקרא כד, כא) מכה בהמה ישלמנה ומכה אדם יומת ההוא בקטלא כתיב אלא מהכא (ויקרא כד, יח) מכה נפש בהמה ישלמנה נפש תחת נפש וסמיך ליה (ויקרא כד, יט) ואיש כי יתן מום בעמיתו כאשר עשה כן יעשה לו האי לאו מכה הוא הכאה הכאה קאמרינן מה הכאה האמורה בבהמה לתשלומין אף הכאה האמורה באדם לתשלומין

Why [pay compensation]? Does the Divine Law not say 'Eye for eye'?3  Why not take this literally to mean [putting out] the eye [of the offender]? — Let not this enter your mind, since it has been taught: You might think that where he put out his eye, the offender's eye should be put out, or where he cut off his arm, the offender's arm should be cut off, or again where he broke his leg, the offender's leg should be broken. [Not so; for] it is laid down, 'He that smiteth any man…' 'And he that smiteth a beast …'4  just as in the case of smiting a beast compensation is to be paid, so also in the case of smiting a man compensation is to be paid.5  And should this [reason] not satisfy you,6  note that it is stated, 'Moreover ye shall take no ransom for the life of a murderer, that is guilty of death',7  implying that it is only for the life of a murderer that you may not take 'satisfaction',8  whereas you may take 'satisfaction' [even] for the principal limbs, though these cannot be restored.' To what case of 'smiting' does it refer? If to [the Verse] 'And he that killeth a beast, shall make it good: and he that killeth a man, shall be put to death',9  does not this verse refer to murder?10  — The quotation was therefore made from this text: And he that smiteth a beast mortally shall make it good: life for life,11  which comes next to and if a man maim his neighbour: as he hath done so shall it be done to him.12  But is [the term] 'smiting' mentioned in the latter text?12  — We speak of the effect of smiting implied in this text and of the effect of smiting implied in the other text: just as smiting mentioned in the case of beast refers to the payment of compensation, so also does smiting in the case of man refer to the payment of compensation.

The derasha from the brayta is pretty clear. It is based on Vayikra 24:21:

וּמַכֵּה בְהֵמָה יְשַׁלְּמֶנָּה וּמַכֵּה אָדָם יוּמָת.

The brayta uses the words of the pasuk in sequence, makei beheima … umakei adam, and has a form of yeshalmena. The setama degemara, for various reasons, dismisses this as the pasuk under discussion, and instead uses sequential pesukim, where makei beheimah has an intervening nefesh and there is no words makei adam, let alone umakei adam.

But this pasuk (Vayikra 25:21) was the source, and the derasha works as follows. There are two implications to the word makei. It could mean smite to kill (vehikeiti kol bechor) or it could mean to injure (makei aviv ve’imo). In context, on a peshat level, of course it refers to smiting which kills. As the gemara says, ההוא בקטלא כתיב. (My assumption is that the gemara refers to the ketala which the perpetrator did.) But on that same peshat level, the pasuk is explicit that if someone kills, he gets the death penalty, יוּמָת.

However, the derasha does two things. Change it to injury and lop off the last word. And what operates here is juxtaposition, rather than a gezeira shava of makei makei. So it is:

וּמַכֵּה בְהֵמָה יְשַׁלְּמֶנָּה
one who wounds a beheima shall pay
וּמַכֵּה אָדָם
as well as one who wounds a person.

Believe me that there are derashot that operate like this, lopping of the pasuk ending which provides context, and reinterpreting the word. Here is a famous example, about techiyat hameitim:

In parashat Vayelech, the following pasuk:
טז  וַיֹּאמֶר ה אֶל-מֹשֶׁה, הִנְּךָ שֹׁכֵב עִם-אֲבֹתֶיךָ; וְקָם הָעָם הַזֶּה וְזָנָה אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵי נֵכַר-הָאָרֶץ, אֲשֶׁר הוּא בָא-שָׁמָּה בְּקִרְבּוֹ, וַעֲזָבַנִי, וְהֵפֵר אֶת-בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אִתּוֹ.
16 And the LORD said unto Moses: 'Behold, thou art about to sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go astray after the foreign gods of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them.

There is a famous gemara in Sanhedrin 90b:
Sectarians [minim]17  asked Rabban Gamaliel: Whence do we know that the Holy One, blessed be He, will resurrect the dead? He answered them from the Torah, the Prophets, and the Hagiographa, yet they did not accept it [as conclusive proof]. 'From the Torah': for it is written, And the Lord said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers and rise up [again].18  'But perhaps,' said they to him, '[the verse reads], and the people will rise up?'

This pasuk is also listed in Yoma 52b as one of five pesukim which Issi ben Yehuda considers ambiguous, in the sense that it can be read associating both forward and backwards.

But our gemara treats the derasha with a systematic seriousness which spoils the derasha. The word makei can have only one meaning, and there is an ending to the pasuk. And it assumes it is a gezeira shava rather than a creative juxtaposition / lop derasha. And so it ends up with a forced derasha which is nowhere near as creative and enjoyable, but is rather a mechanistic pilpul which gives me a headache. And due to the gemara’s reinterpretation, no one knows the true derasha anymore.

1 comment:

Dovid said...

I highly recommend the book Ayin Tachat Ayin by Rabbi Eliyahu Matusof


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