[Avodah] Rasha or tzadik from the womb?
marty.bluke at gmail.com
Sun Jul 4 01:29:31 PDT 2021
Daf Yomi just learned (Yoma 82b-83a) that a pregnant woman who has a
tremendous craving for a specific food can even eat on Yom Kippur. The
Gemara then tells the following 2 stories:
With respect to a pregnant woman who smells food, it is told: A certain
pregnant woman smelled a food and craved it. Those involved came before
Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi to ask how to proceed. He said to those who were
inquiring: Go and whisper to her that today is Yom Kippur. They whispered
to her, and this whispering helped; she stopped craving the food. Rabbi
Yehuda HaNasi read this verse about the baby she was carrying: “Before I
formed you in the belly I knew you, and before you came forth out of the
womb I sanctified you” (Jeremiah 1:5), and indeed, the baby who came out of
that woman was Rabbi Yoḥanan.
The Gemara relates another story: A certain pregnant woman smelled food and
had a craving to eat it on Yom Kippur. Those involved came before Rabbi
Ḥanina to ask how to proceed. He said to them: Whisper to her that today is
Yom Kippur. They whispered to her, but she did not accept the whisper and
continued to crave the food. Rabbi Ḥanina read this verse about the baby:
The wicked are estranged from the womb” (Psalms 58:4), i.e., it is clear
they are estranged already in their mother’s womb. Indeed, Shabbetai the
hoarder of fruits came out of her. He hoarded fruit during years of famine
in order to inflate its price and profit at the expense of poor people.
The Gemara clearly says the Rav Yochanan was already a tzadik in the womb
and Shabbetai was a Rasha in the womb.
How does this fit in with bechira, free will? What bechira does a fetus
have? How can a fetus be a rasha or a tzadik? What does that mean? In fact
the Gemara states that the yetzer hara only enters a person after they were
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