Over Shavuos I am supposed to say a shiur, and since the other shiurim over Y”T are going to be dedicated to issues of “dibbur”, I decided to be subversive and discuss shome’a k’oneh, speech without speaking. I ran into a difficulty that I can't yet resolve, and while I could avoid the topic in the shiur, it bothers me that I have no answer – maybe someone out there has some idea.
Before I get to my question, I need to first lay a little groundwork with a chiddush of Rav Soloveitchik's. There are a few proofs for the concept the Rav developed, so I'll take one from a sugya discussed before. The chiyuv to bentch requires (b’pashtus) eating to the point of satiation – "v’achalta v’savata u’berachta". Yet, the gemara (Brachos 48) relates that Shimon ben Shetach led a zimun for King Yanai even though Sb"S ate only a k’zayis of bread. One cannot be motzi someone else in a mitzvah unless one shares an obligation in that same mitzvah – for this reason, a minor who has no mitzvah obligation may not be motzi a gadol. If Shimon ben Shetach ate only a k’zayis and was not satiated, he was not obligated in the Biblical mitzvah of bentching; King Yanai, however, was. How could Sb"S have been motzi King Yanai in his chiyuv d’oraysa of bentching if Sb"S did not share his Biblical obligation to bentch?
The Rishonim offer numerous answers to this question. Rashi writes that a gadol who ate a shiur derabbanan can in fact lead a zimun for a gadol who ate a shiur d’oraysa of satiation. One who ate a kzayis, although not satiated, is still obligated on some level to bentch.The case of a minor is different because a minor has no obligation whatsoever – the chiyuv of chinuch rests on the father to educate his child to bentch, but does not transform the child into a bar chiyuva, someone obligated in mitzvos.
R’ Akiva Eiger challenges Rashi's answer based on the following gemara (Brachos 20): the gemara raises the question of whether a women is obligated min hatorah or only m’derabbanan in the mitzvah of bentching, and says that this question impacts whether a women can be motzi a man in the mitzvah of bentching. If a man eats to the point of satiation and has a Biblical obligation to bentch, only if a woman has a parallel Biblical obligation could she be motzi him.
Doesn’t this gemara contradict Rashi’s answer? According to Rashi, even though a man ate only a k'zayis and is not Biblically obligated to bentch, he may lead a zimun for someone else who is satiated and Biblically obligated. Shouldn’t a woman who therefore has at least a Rabbinic obligation in bentching (like someone who ate a k'zayis) also be able to be motzi a man, even though his chiyuv is d’oraysa?
Stay tuned for R’ Soloveitchik’s chiddush…