כ׳ בסיון ה׳תשע״ב (June 10, 2012)

Nidda 20a-b: Group Activities

Continuing the discussion that began on yesterday’s daf , Rabbi Yohanan explains that the color black can be identified by looking at the color of the clothes of bathing attendants that are imported from beyond the sea.

The Gemara begins a discussion of such clothing, saying:

This then implies that such clothes are black, but did not Rabbi Yannai address the following request to his sons: ‘My children, do not bury me either in black shrouds or white shrouds; “either in black,” peradventure I may be worthy of a place in paradise and I would be like a mourner among bridegrooms; “or in white,” peradventure I might not be worthy and would be like a bridegroom among mourners; but bury me only in the clothing of bathing attendants that are imported from beyond the sea.’ This clearly proves that these are not black!

The Gemara explains that there are different articles of clothing under discussion here, only some of which are black.

The commentaries note that a number of lessons can be learned from the final request that Rabbi Yannai makes from his children. The Arukh LaNer points out that this Sage saw himself neither as possessing great piety nor as being an evil person, and argues that there are a number of Rabbinic teachings that indicate the importance of having such a view of oneself.

Others point to the importance of not separating oneself from community norms and behaviors, quoting Massekhet Derekh Eretz (Chapter 7) where we learn:

“A person should not rejoice among mourners nor mourn among those rejoicing. He should not remain awake when all are asleep nor sleep when all are awake. He should not stand when others are sitting nor sit when others are standing. The general rule being: A person should not deviate from the behaviors of his friends.”

This is, of course, only if the intention of his friends is positive, and if so he should abandon his own preferences to accommodate those of the group.