March 26, 2019

As Difficult as Splitting the Sea

“R. Arama opens the eighth sha’ar with a Talmudic passage I often see and hear misquoted (although his reading will justify the use of it I am about to share). Sotah 2a contrasts a statement of Rabbah bar bar Chanah in the name of R. Yochanan, who said matching husbands and wives was as difficult for Hashem as splitting the Sea (R. Arama assumes the difficulty lies in matching people with the exact same merits), with R. Yehudah’s assertion in the name of Rav, a Voice announces whom a fetus will marry forty days before formation (when the fetus clearly does not have does not yet have any merits).

To resolve the contradiction, the Gemara says the first statement referenced second marriages, whereas the “forty days before birth” idea was for first ones [which makes “hard as splitting the Sea” irrelevant to first marriages, although I nonetheless hear this passage cited in divrei Torah at sheva berachot; R. Arama re-reads the meaning of first marriages, as we’re about to see].

Building Off of What We Know

R. Arama argues the first marriage of the passage in Sotah means the marriage between people’s physical and intellectual sides, the “second” one being the one between a man and a woman.

To work his way there, he starts with a general principle of learning, we scaffold off what we know to what we do not, in our study of nature and of wisdom. Prophets similarly help us to some understanding of Hashem by analogizing to what we already know– a lion (‘Amos 3;8) or a shepherd (Yeshayahu 40;11)– or by using human terms for Hashem, such as Hashem’s finger (Shemot 8; 15).”

Read more

JJ Editor's Daily Picks

"THE CAPTURE of the last territory controlled by the Islamic State on Saturday was far from a final victory over the movement, as U.S. commanders and diplomats were careful to emphasize."

"How a Gay Teen, an Internet Nazi, and a Late-Night Rendezvous Turned to Tragedy. When self-loathing meets the new age of online extremism."

"Benjamin Netanyahu ignored the intelligence operations of Beijing and Moscow for too long. Now, the Israeli government is finally paying attention, but it could be too late."

"Former Nick Jr. kids are now reckoning with this all-grown-up intrepid explorer, whose obstacles are a lot bigger than Swiper the Fox. And that is a hard pill to swallow."

"At the end of last week, the three-month Treasury bills' yield rose above the yield for 10-year Treasuries for the first time since 2007, prompting warnings that the U.S. is headed for recession later this year or in early 2020."

"A team of researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Technion-Israel Institute of Technology attempted to answer some questions about voting with the help of artificial intelligence (AI)."

"The experts I spoke with all said that the internet had changed the way conspiracies spread, but conspiracies, both dangerous and petty, have always been with us."

"Pop culture today is obsessed with the battle between good and evil. Traditional folktales never were. What changed?"

"Trustful parents allow their children as much freedom as reasonably possible to make their own decisions. They trust their children’s instincts, judgments, and ability to learn from mistakes."

"Arugulagate. In 2007, Barack Obama was in Iowa, speaking as a presidential hopeful to a group of farmers who were worried about the stagnation of their crop prices while America’s grocery bills continued to rise."

"To say that information exists in and of itself is akin to speaking of spin without the top, of ripples without water, of a dance without the dancer, or of the Cheshire Cat’s grin without the cat."

"Ted Cruz replaces the Democrats’ muddled manifesto with a clear and unequivocal exploration of the hatred of Jews and its particular evils."