Friday, November 30, 2007

patterns in lomdus: Yosef's punishment, haggadas eidus

Yosef haTzadik is criticized for asking the Sar haMashkim “zechartani v’hizkartani”, to remember him and relate his innocence to Pharoah. Because these two words showed a lack of bitachon, Yosef was punished with having to spend two extra years in prison. R’ Chaim once asked R’ Shimon Shkop what Yosef’s punishment would have been had he said only one word. R’ Shimon answered that Yosef would have received one extra year of prison, as the punishment seems to be one year per each word. R’ Chaim disagreed. R’ Chaim explained that had Yosef only said one word, he would have received no punishment, as one word would constitute an acceptable level of histadlus. However, once Yosef said two words and went beyond acceptable histadlus, he was punished for the entire statement of two words.

My son is learning Makkos this year and I told him this vort to illustrate a pattern to “lomdish” thinking. R’ Chaim (in the stencils) and R’ Shimon Shkop (Sha’arei Yosher 7:1 – note: I never believed the vort above was true because I cannot believe R’ Shimon would get the question wrong. For those who do believe the story, I guess R’ Shimon picked up the trick by the time he wrote Sha’rei Yosher : ) both pose the following chakirah: when two witnesses come before bais din to testify, is each witnesses’ haggadah independently a valid haggadas eidus, but the Torah says beis din needs a certain quantity of witnesses to act, or is each witness’ haggadah independently meaningless, and only the unit of two witnesses together constitute a believable haggadah. Or, to phrase it differently, is each witnesses an independent cause of ½ the punishment meted out by beis din (like in the Yosef story, each haggadah/word causes part of the total punishment), or is each witness independently meaningless, and only the corporate unit of two witnesses the cause of beis din meting out justice (like in the Yosef story, one word/haggadah itself is meaningless, but the combined unit of two leads to punishment).

Maybe more on how this chakira helps in hilchos eidus next week…


  1. Where is this story found?

  2. Anonymous10:12 AM

    related to davar ve-lo chatzi davar?

  3. Anonymous7:44 AM

    Good one anon1. Also perhaps related to the "Tuvya chata"? gemara.

  4. Anonymous12:21 PM

    Sure. Which is why eidim zom'min only applies to the two of them as a unit.