Friday, November 2, 2007

The Blessing of Not Having a Daughter?!

In the Gemara in Bava Batra, the rabbis take up the question of whether God blessing Avraham "bakol" in everything, meant that he also had a daughter. R. Meir says that quite the opposite, he was blessed in the fact that he did not have a daughter and R. Yehudah disagrees and says that he must have had a daughter. The opinion of R. Meir, jarring and troubling as it is, is flushed out in the comment of the Ramban -- why not having a daughter for Avraham could have been considered a blessing.

רמב"ן בראשית פרק כד פסוק א

ולרבותינו בזה ענין נפלא. אמרו (ב"ב טז ב) וה' ברך את אברהם בכל, רבי מאיר אומר שלא היתה לו בת, רבי יהודה אומר בת היתה לו, אחרים אומרים בת היתה לו ובכל שמה. דרש רבי מאיר שלא היתה לו בת לאברהם, וזו לו לברכה כי לא היה יכול להשיאה רק לבני כנען הארורים, ואם ישלחנה לארצו גם כן תעבוד שם עבודה זרה כמותם, כי האשה ברשות בעלה, ואברהם לא יחפוץ שיצא זרעו הכשר משרה אשתו חוצה לארץ, ואף כי יעבוד עבודה זרה. ורבי יהודה דרש כי בת היתה לו, דאפילו ברתא לא חסריה רחמנא (שם קמא א), והיא הברכה בכל, כי היה לו כל אשר יחמדו האנשים לא חסר דבר. ובאו אחרים והזכירו שם הבת


And for the rabbis this was an wonderful/interesting idea.-- They said, (BT Bava Batra 16b), And God blessed Avraham in everything. Rabbi Meir said that he would not have a daughter. Rabbi Yehudah said that he did have a daughter. Others say that he had a daughter and her name was “bakol.” Rabbi Meir explained that he did not have a daughter and this was a blessing, for he would only have been able to mary her off to a cursed Canannite and if he would have sent her to his land, she also would have committed idolatry like them, for a woman did according to the wishes of the husband. And Avraham did not want that his proper seed from Sarah, his wife, be outside of the land and commit idolatry. And Rabbi Yehudah, on the other hand, explained that he did have a daughter. That God even granted him a daughter (BT 141a), and she was “the blessing of everything” for Avraham had everything that people found dear, he did not lack anything. And the others mentioned the name of the daughter.

If you read this before sundown you will have a head start on our study session this shabbas--

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