Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Sanhedrin 109

Sanhedrin 109 is dominated by aggadita about why the people of Sodom did not merit olam haba, what they did to guests, how they judged legal cases and what they did to each other. Having said all that, I would like to briefly discuss another topic - the contrast in women which are found on Sanhedrin 109b and 110a.

On the bottom of Sanhedrin 109b, the gemara discusses On ben Peles - a person who is mentioned in the first pasuk of Korach, but is never heard from again. The gemara relates that On's wife talked On out of participating in Korach's plot to challenge Moshe. On's wife tells On - why are you getting involved with Korach? It should not make a difference to you as to whether Moshe or Korach is right as you will wind up a follower under either of them. On then tells his wife - what can I do, I already promised them that I would join! On's wife takes care of the problem as she gets him drunk puts him to sleep, before sitting with her hair uncovered outside of their tent. When Korach's band of men come to look for On to join them, they are embarrassed upon seeing that her hair is uncovered, so they leave without On.

In contrast, on Sanhedrin 110a, the gemara discusses the plot of Korach's wife. The gemara explains that Korach's wife fired him up by saying to him - look at Moshe, he is King and has made his brother Aharon kohain gadol and Aharon's kids assistant kohanim. If produce is reaped Aharon and his kids get terumah and then you must give them terumas ma'aser from your share. Furthermore, Moshe makes you all get haircuts for service, but he himself does not get one so that you can be uglier than him.

Following this discussion, the gemara quotes a pasuk from Mishlei (14:1) which can be broken in half to show the good wife (of On) and the bad wife (of Korach). The first part of the pasuk praises women as having intelligence to build the house (referring to On's wife) and the second part of the pasuk hammers a woman for destroying her husband (referring to Mrs. Korach).

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