Tonight the Daf cycle began the study of Meseches Beitzah, or as I informed the chabura its time for Shabbos Part II. The daf had many interesting topics, but I wanted to focus on the wisdom of Rashi and more specifically two comments that he made on the daf.
The first Rashi is found on Beitzah 2b and is in the midst of a discussion as to R' Nachman's deference to the "stam" mishna in explaining the root of the dispute between Beis Shamai and Beis Hillel as to whether the egg which was laid on Yom Tov can be eaten. The gemara asks a rhetorical question - who was the person who decided to make the mishna stam (translated either as sealed or anonymous).
Rashi explains that when Rebbi compiled the mishna, he chose to record certain mishnayos with anonymous opinions. In not divulging the author of the "stam" mishna, Rebbi made the mishna more authoritative and precluded the possibility of criticism that the opinion was that of a single person and should not be followed.
When I gave the daf shiur tonight, the majority of the attendees were lawyers. I reminded them that in writing a brief, often a lawyer will write that a concept is "black letter law" or "well established" before citing to one or two cases that illustrate the point. The purpose of writing the prefatory phrase of either "black letter law" or "well established" prior to citing to the one or two cases, is to give the impression that the principle of law is firmly in your corner, even if you only have one or two cases that support the position.
The second Rashi was on also on Beitzah 2b and dealt with why the gemara chose the example of the egg as opposed to a chicken to introduce the concept of nolad. The gemara gave a suggestion that maybe the mishna should have offered the other view as Koach D'Heteira Adif - the power of taking a lenient position is greater.
Rashi comments on this line that it is easier to take the position that something is forbidden than to allow it to be performed. Since the lenient position had firm support in halacha, it would have better to use that as an example.
The genius of Rashi is how he used the concept to lend an insight on life. It is easy to say no - that is forbidden. Or even to say no - that task cannot be accomplished today or we don't have enough (fill in the blank - time, resources, manpower, etc.) to fulfill the request. But when the person speaking has the power of his convictions or in the case of the gemara, is on firm halachic standing to say that something is permissible, this is the greater power.
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