These and Those

Musings from Students of the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

When Seforno and Ketubot Collide

Posted on November 29, 2011 by Leah Stern

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Hey Pardesians and World,

As some of you may know, I am learning the commentator Seforno on the parsha each week with the awesome Hayim Leiter (back right hand corner of the Beit Midrash). Two weeks ago we were studying Parshat Chayei Sarah, during which we read the story of Eliezer going to find a wife for Isaac. As you all know, he finds Rebecca and brings her to Isaac to be his wife. There is a particular pasuk that describes Rebecca taking her posessions and going with Eliezer.

(24:61)  וַתָּקָם רִבְקָה וְנַעֲרֹתֶיהָ, וַתִּרְכַּבְנָה עַל-הַגְּמַלִּים, וַתֵּלַכְנָה, אַחֲרֵי הָאִישׁ; וַיִּקַּח הָעֶבֶד אֶת-רִבְקָה, וַיֵּלַך

“Rebecca and her handmaidens arose and sat upon the camels and they went after the man, and the servant took Rebecca and went.”

The strange thing about this pasuk is that in the beginning, Eliezer is described as a Ish or Man and in the end of the pasuk he is referred to as an Eved or servant. The question we are left hanging with is why does the pasuk refer to Eliezer first as a man and then again as a servant. Seforno brings in a mishna from Ketubot that describes mesirah, the process of which a woman is transfered to the husband’s household, thus becoming his wife. The mishna describes that mesirah can be done through agents; that is that the father’s agents can transfer the bride to the husband’s agents. Seforno takes that exact mishna to explain that once Eliezer took Rebecca, Rebecca officially became a married woman and therefore Eliezer became her servant, hence the shift in the pasuk from man to servant.

Now, you ask,why am I so excited that Seforno is citing a mishna from Ketubot? Well…we had learned that very mishnah in a sugya of Talmud in Ketubot in one of my classes!!!! I was so excited to connect two things that I had learned and was able to understand the context that Seforno was placing the pasuk in. And because I knew that mishna from the gemara, it made so much more sense to me.

Just one of those ways that things you learn in two different classes in Pardes can collide and work together to make your studying more meaningful. : )