Kiddushin 41 contains the end of the first perek and the commencement of the second perek of Meseches Kiddushin. Rabbi Avi P (the member of our group who gave Kiddushin 40) observed that the first perek of Kiddushin is the longest perek in shas. I was not aware of this, but its another source of Torah trivia to store in the back of my mind.
The new perek begins with a discussion about the use of a shaliach for being mikadesh a bride or for accepting a kiddushin on behalf of the wife. The gemara asks why does the mishnah needs to teach that one can accomplish these tasks by one's self if they can be done be by a shaliach - it is obvious. The gemara provides two answers, but the one offered by R' Yosef struck a chord. He stated that one can use a shaliach, but it is better to do it himself. R' Yosef then cited to how R' Safra and Rava were personally involved in the preparation of the shabbos food. This reminded me of stories of modern day gedolim who are makpid to take some personal involvement in the preparation of shabbos such as setting the table or buying the groceries.
The perek itself is also timely in the sense that the gemara discusses the use of a shaliach to effectuate the kiddushin on behalf of the groom. R' Yehuda says in the name of Rav that one cannot use a shaliach as he should see the bride before the actual marriage. I wondered how Avraham sent Eliezer in this week's parsha to take a bride for Yitzchak if the gemara says to the contrary. As no meforesh on the face of the daf asks the question, I took a look at the Rambam in Hilchos Ishus 3:19 (cited in the ein mishpat) and he does not adopt R' Yehuda's strict approach.
Speaking of parshas hashavuah tie ins, the end of the prior perek also ties into the parsha. The gemara on 40b states that if a tzaddik commits an act of mardus at the end of his life he loses all his zechuyos. The gemara asks - shouldn't he be treated like a person with half zechuyos and half avonos? Reish Lakish answers that the baraisa is discussing someone who regrets his mitzvos.
The discussion reminded me of a vort which I heard from R' Frand last year. We learn that the death of Sarah is a test to Avraham. How? The satan came before Sarah and showed her Yitzchak at the akeidah which caused Sarah's death. R' Frand explained that the satan cause Sarah's death in order to try to provoke Avraham to regret his involvement with the akeidah. R' Frand tied this into the line in the hashkiveinu prayer at maariv - "v' haser satan milfaneinu u mei achareinu." I can understand how one wants the satan to be removed from before him but what does it mean that he should be removed from behind the supplicant? R' Frand explained that the satan seeks to cause us to regret out good deeds and we pray that he should lose his ability to do this task.
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