The Gmara on Brachot 5b quotes R. Yochanon:
R. Yochanan says: Leprosy and children are not chastisements of love.
The Gmara later questions this statement:
But is children not a chastisement of love? How is this to be understood? Shall I say that he had children and they died? Did not R. Yochanan himself say: This is the bone of my tenth son?
Rashi offers an explanation to the Gmara's question, i.e. to show how R. Yochanan is contradicting himself:
... and a great man like R. Yochanan did not receive chastisements NOT of love
According to Rashi, R. Yochanan was showing a bone of his tenth dead son. If he, the great R. Yochanon, suffered the loss of children then the loss of children, r"l, although a chastisement, IS of love. This is because suffering of great men is only out of love. Well if R. Yochanon said above that the loss of children is NOT a chastisement of love we then have a contradiction.
The Tosfot are not comfortable with Rashi's explanation of the Gmara. This is because the Gmara goes on to solve the contradicting statements by differentiating between two situations:
- Never having any sons -- not of love.
- The loss of sons -- of love.
The one which R. Yochanon suffered from, the loss of sons, IS of love. The other, which R. Yochanon did not suffer from, never having sons, is NOT of love.
If Rashi is correct that any category of suffering that was experienced by a great man like R. Yochanon is automatically labeled "chastisements of love" how then could "never having sons" NOT be a chastisement of love, since we have seen many great great men who had not children at all.
The Tosfot's question is clear to me. So is the answer given at the end. What is not clear is the following quick intermediate question and answer:
And if because of daughters? R. Yochanon also had daughters.
If some one could help me understand this part of the Tosfot I would be very grateful. (small hint: the Haghot HaBach doesn't seem to help much).
I don't know if mi.yodeya.com has been used for this kind of learning in the past, I thought I'd give it a try ...
Thanks so much to Alex for pointing me to the Tzalach. This helped sharpen my difficulty with the Tosfot. If I understand the Tzlach the mahalach is like this:
- No sons - yisurin not of love
- Sons r"l died - yisurin of love <-- There are tzadikim whose sons have died
- Tosfot: - We have seen tzadkim with no sons
- Rashi's answer to Tosfot (by the Tzlach): These tzadkim were not punished with yisurin, this was their nature.
- Tsofot (by the Tzlach): There are tzadkim without the nature (they had daughters) and without sons (ironically Rashi himself). Were these not yisurin of love?!
My question now is: The Tosfot should be answering with an example of a tzadik who never had sons but did daughters (like Rashi), but instead bring an example of R. Yochanan who had sons who died and also daughters. What am I missing in Tosfot or the Tzlach?