Friday, May 20, 2022

Chagigah 4: Hearsay

The beginning of this daf continues a discussion about what a shoteh is.

A young man came from a family that had plenty of money. He landed an excellent shidduch with ease and all was well for a short while. Then his kallah began to notice some strange behavior. He would consume vast amounts of fine food and drink large quantities of wine. He would also act in a very immature manner, playing practical jokes and rollicking in the most outrageous way. Eventually, he deteriorated so much that he was hardly coherent and often acted like someone not in his right mind.

The couple spent three months in Sorka and then moved to Tulchin. While in Tulchin, the couple got a divorce. When people from Sorka heard about this, they approached the bais din in Tulchin and pointed out that the divorce may well be invalid. “After all, when this young man lived in Sorka, he acted like an imbecile, who is considered of unsound mind halachically. Since such a person may not give a divorce, perhaps this divorce is meaningless.”

The bais din protested, explaining that although in Tulchin they had found that the young man had acted in an immature manner and eaten and drank wine gluttonously, he had not acted like a shoteh in any way. But they agreed to put their question to a great posek for adjudication.

When this question was presented to the Tzemach Tzedek, he ruled that the divorce was valid: “Even though the young man was halachically out of his mind in Sorka, he may well have healed while in Tulchin. The fact that the people of Sorka did not notice that he was better there has no halachic credence” (Tzemach Tzedek, Even Ha’ezer 123:6).

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