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Thought for the Day: Teiku -- Applied to d'Oraisa is Assur, to d'Rabanan is Mutar

A colleague walked in the other day, told us about some very simply insight that had finally dawned on him and concluded, "Sometimes I am so astounded at how stupid I can be."  I told him, "Don't worry.  With just a few more years of experience, you will cease to be surprised at how stupid you can be; you'll be an old pro at being stupid."

Case in point; while preparing for this TftD (yes, smart guy, I do prepare), I was struggling with a Rashi (Shabbos 65b, dh ti'ba'i l'mahn d'amar) that says the machloches about whether haramah is permitted is found in "kol kizvei kodesh" (all sacred writings)!  I mean, I've heard of a machlokes or idea being relevant in "kol ha'torah kulo" (the entire body of Torah), but this was a new on for me.  And I didn't even know what it meant.  Before asking someone, I decided to look into that Rashi one more time.  Yep... "plugta b'kol kisvei kodesh".  Strange.  I read further "l'kaman 120a"; great, at least I have a trail to follow!  So I quickly turned to daf 120a... started scanning the page for the explanation... and... oh... right... the name of that chapter of the masechat is "kol kisvei kodesh."  Mystery solved; stupidity validated.

In any case, the machlokes about haramah (cunning evasion) is stated in reference to what one is allowed to take out of his house in case of fire on Shabbos.  R' Meir says you can wear as many articles of clothing as you can get on; six shirts, three pairs of pants, four coats, etc.  Meaning that R' Meir holds that haramah is permitted in that situation.  R' Yose says one may only wear only as much clothing as could be considered normal (the mishna says 18 garments, the gemara explains what those are).  That is, R' Yose forbids haramah, even in that situation.

On daf 65b, Abaye asks about the mother who wants to bring a walnut to her screaming kid in the public thoroughfare (as we discussed).  Would R' Meir also allow the mother to bring the nut as a deely-bob on her toga?  Maybe not; in the case of Shabbos the person is worried about his money and will do something worse if we don't cut him some slack.  The mother, on the other hand, will simply tell her husband to take care of junior if we tell her that that the deely-bob subterfuge is not kosher; so maybe R' Meir will be strict.  So then, would R' Yose also forbid her?  Maybe not; in the case of Shabbos the clothing is being carried out in the normal way, which makes things worse.  In the case of the mother and the walnut, however, that is not the normal way to transport a walnut so maybe R' Yose would be lenient.

The gemara ends with "teiku"; literally: let it [the question] stand [as unresolved].  The Rif says that whenever we have a teiku, applied to a d'oraisa we go l'chumra, to a d'rabanan we go l'kula.  Hence the p'sak of the Shulchan Aruch OC 303:23, permits this subtrefuge in a karmelis and forbids it in a r'shus ha'rabim.  Ta-Da!

As mentioned, the word teiku really does just mean, "let it stand".  In case, however, you have not yet given up on trying to sound smart, you can note that some people like to read teiku as an acronym for: Tishbi Y'tareitz Kushyot Va'Abayot -- [Eliyahu ha]Tishbi will answer questions and [seeming] contradictions.  Lest you think I am in that category... I had to look that up with Google.


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