Questions and Suggested Answers

Based on the writings of Nehama Leibowitz


Talmud Bava Kamma 84a states:

Rav Ashi stated: the implication of "tahat" may be analogically ascertained from (the subject regarding) ox. Here it is written, eye for (tahat) eye, and it is written there (Ex. 21:36), He shall surely pay ox for (tahat) ox. Just as in the latter case monetary compensation is indicated, so also here.

Does the above interpretation agree with any of the proofs cited in this chapter?


The above interpretation utilizes the "Gezera Shava" - a similarity of words or phrases occurring in different Torah verses from which we infer that what is expressed in the one, also applies to the other. In our case the analogy is made on the word "tahat." The "Gezera Shava" is one of the thirteen methods of Torah interpretation cited by Rabbi Ishmael and is included in the daily prayer book as part of the morning prayer service. It should be noted that citing and applying a Gezera Shava can only be done where the student received that specific comparison as a tradition from his teacher and the teacher from his teacher going all the way back to Mt. Sinai. A student may not invent his own Gezara Shava!

In the talmud text cited, Rav Ashi is linking the text of "any eye for any eye" to a tradition taught by Moshe i.e. money is meant. In our Parasha study, this concept - of depending on the tradition passed down from Moshe - is referred to by Maimonides in his Mishne Torah Code, Hilkhot Hovel U'mazik chapter 1, halacha 6. Despite the fact that we can derive the concept of monetary punishment from linguistic usage and from textual inferences, the rock bottom interpretation of Gezara Shava links the teaching to Torah's source: Moshe at Mt. Sinai.


Prepared by: Rabbi Mordechai Spiegelman veteran yeshiva educator (USA) now residing in Jerusalem




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08 Sep 2005 / 4 Elul 5765 0