By Rabbi Yehoshua Berman
Kesubos 74 – Shlichus: Yes You Can!
Rav Acha had a nephew whose name was also Rav Acha. The former was bar Yaakov and the latter was breih d’Rav Ika. Ika was married to the older Rav Acha’s sister. In any event, when Rav Acha bar Yaakov said over a psak halacha in the name of Rabi Yochanan, his nephew came charging forward with youthful vigor to ask a kashya. Rabi Yochanan paskened that if someone made the kiddushin conditional on the fulfillment of a particular stipulation (e.g. that she not have any nedarim on her), the kiddushin does not take effect if that stipulation is violated, even if he subsequently carried out the act of consummation.
So what was the younger Rav Acha’s question on that?
There is something called chalitza muteis (which we learned about back in Yevamos). Rabi Yochanan explains it this way: the yevama has no interest in getting married to her brother in law. She wants chalitza. There’s a problem, though. The brother in law does want to marry her, and is not exactly feeling so charitable towards her desires. So what do we do? Simple. We trick him. “Do chalitza and she will pay you ten thousand dollars.” Of course, now that someone spoke to him in his language, he is feeling quite magnanimous and suddenly is willing to let her have it her way. The chalitza is done. “Ok,” he says, “pay up.” Her response? “Nothing doing! It was just a ruse to get you to cooperate.” And the halacha is? It works! The chalitza is valid and she is free to marry whomever she pleases.
So you see, asserts the more youthful Rav Acha, that the maaseh is mevatel the tnai, carrying out the action cancels the conditional stipulation. As such, why should it be any different when it comes to consummation following conditional kiddushin? Why doesn’t that act cancel the conditional stipulation?!
“Ben Yeshiva!” retorted the elder Rav Acha to his nephew, “is that a good kashya?! That isn’t the reason why a chalitza muteis works. It’s not because the action cancels the stipulation. Chalitza is totally different. Since it is not possible to perform chalitza through the agency of a third party, it is not at all subject to conditional stipulations whatsoever.”
And why is that? Because the whole legal entity called stipulations is learned out from the parsha of Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein. When they decided they’d prefer to stay in Eiver Ha’Yarden, Moshe Rabbeinu okayed it, with one very important stipulation: that they join their brothers in the conquest of Eretz Yisrael proper. Otherwise, they will be forcibly relocated to the latter area. Those pesukim serve as the source for the entire legality of stipulations. And since, explains the elder Rav Acha, that stipulation was regarding an action that was possible to carry out through a shaliach – someone else acting on his behalf – so too do all stipulations carry legal efficacy only regarding actions that are possible to be effected through the agency of a third party.
Rashi elaborates on this last point and explains that Yehoshua was functioning as Moshe Rabbeinu’s agent in the act of determining where Bnei Gad and Bnei Reuvein would live. Moshe Rabbeinu commanded Yehoshua to take care of the matter, thus appointing the latter as his shaliach for the maaseh. In Rashi’s words: “sheh’hayah shlucho shel Moshe v’nasnah lahem, Yehoshua was Moshe’s agent and gave it to them.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but when I went through this part of the Gemara, particularly those words of Rashi, it struck me as being a big chiddush. The implication, at least as it seems to me, is that the entire act of being manchil es ha’Aretz, conferring ownership of Eretz Yisrael to the Shevatim, essentially belonged to Moshe Rabbeinu – just that he was not able to carry it out himself for the technical reason that he was barred from entering the Land – so he fulfilled this charge by appointing Yehoshua as his shaliach to carry it out on his behalf.
It never occurred to me that that was the case. I always assumed that the job of being manchil es ha’Aretz didn’t belong, per se, to anyone in particular; just whomever it would be that would actually bring Klal Yisrael into Eretz Yisrael would be tasked to do that. Since Yehoshua was the one who brought them into the Land, it was his responsibility to set up their ownership thereof. It was his mitzvah.
That is what I always thought until today. From today’s daf, though, it is clear that that assumption was off the mark. The mitzvah of being manchil es ha’Aretz belonged to Moshe Rabbeinu and Yehoshua was acting on his behalf.
Now, if you think about the scope of this particular mitzvah, you’ll realize that we’re talking about a zechus of absolutely staggering proportions! And Moshe Rabbeinu – despite his having been barred from personally entering the Land – is the one who was credited with that zechus! He couldn’t do it himself, but shlucho shel adam k’moso – when you appoint an agent to carry out a task on your behalf (assuming that it is the type of task that is subject to shlichus), it is as if you yourself are the one who did it. So it is as if Moshe Rabbeinu himself was the one who was manchil Eretz Yisrael to Klal Yisrael.
That should give us pause to consider how we view the total range of our zechus-amassing capabilities. This is particularly interesting if you think about what would have been had Moshe Rabbeinu not specifically commanded Yehoshua to be manchil es ha’Aretz to Klal Yisrael. It’s hard to imagine that the mitzvah could have still somehow been accredited to Moshe. Almost certainly, it would have simply become a lost opportunity and would have automatically become the inherent responsibility of Yehoshua. And what a lost opportunity that would have been!! All that stood between Moshe Rabbeinu either yes amassing this incalculable zechus or not, was one simple thing: making it a point to verbally bid Yehoshua to take care of it. That’s it. A simple, short statement was all that was needed for Moshe to be credited with this gigantic zechus.
It really is a phenomenal thing to think about. The possibility that there may be an abundance of zechusim out there just waiting to be grabbed – zechusim that we may have otherwise thought to be totally beyond our radar screen of feasibility – that in actuality are easily within reach. Just by saying a few words.
Take, for example, the mitzvah of marrying off children. Chazal tell us (in Maseches Brachos) of the inestimable zechus of just being mesameiach chassan v’kallah – that it is akin to rebuilding part of Yerushalayim. Now, if that is the zechus of just going to a chasunah and doing your part to add to the festive atmosphere, we can scarcely begin to imagine the greatness of the zechus of actually financing and enabling this Jewish home to be erected!
It can happen that some parents may unfortunately find themselves in a position where they are not able to do this. They just do not have the means for it. Nor do they have it within them to do the type of fundraising legwork to be able to make it happen. But that doesn’t mean that they have to lose the opportunity to merit this incredibly great mitzvah! The tendency, in such a situation, may be to simply relinquish the responsibility with a sigh and silently surrender the mitzvah to someone else. But it does not have be that way! This mitzvah essentially belongs to the parents, and there is no reason they should give it up. And all they have to do to keep it is to say a few words: “Please take care of this for me”. That’s it! If those words are uttered and accepted, the shlichus is established and the zechus will be theirs as it should be.
Or how about this one: you have a guy on the other end of the financial spectrum, and for years he’s been itching to do it. To dedicate a Seifer Torah in honor of his loved ones. He finally decides that that’s it; he’s going to do it! So what does he do? He goes and buys a beautiful Seifer Torah and an exquisitely elegant mantle to match. The hachnasas Seifer Torah celebration is a fittingly gala affair, and the congregation is ecstatic to have such a beautiful Seifer Torah gracing its Aron Kodesh and affording such an enhanced manner of carrying out the ongoing mitzvah of krias ha’Torah. Wonderful! What a zechus!
But wait; there is one “small” detail that was missed in this narrative. What about the mitzvah of kesivas Seifer Torah? “Kisvu lachem es ha’shirah ha’zos”. What might the guy say: “What? Me? Write a Seifer Torah? Who are you kidding?!” He’s not a sofer. So, it’s completely out of his range, right? Wrong! All he has to do is commission a sofer to write a Seifer Torah for him instead of buying a ready-made one. Make him your shaliach. By rights, it’s his mitzvah and there is no reason why he should lose the opportunity!
Shlichus is a powerful tool. A tool that can be put to extremely advantageous employment in securing an untold increase of income of tremendous zechusim. We but need to keep our eyes open for identifying the opportunities and making sure that we don’t let them slip away.
Rabbi Yehoshua Berman serves as the Rosh Kollel of Kollel Reshet HaDaf in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel. In addition to having authored Reflections on the Parsha, Rabbi Berman regularly delivers shiurim on Halacha and Hashkafa, writes comprehensive chazara questions (in Hebrew) for the advanced Daf Yomi learner, and weekly words of inspiration from the Parsha. Rabbi Berman can be contacted at email@example.com.