My understanding of gezeirah shavah (GS) was that it

  1. must come from tradition (one cannot invent one's own)
  2. involves identical unnecessary words in (at least) two different contexts
  3. does not have to involve other appearances of this word elsewhere

Apparently I was wrong:

The repeated argument on Shabbat 132a goes like this:

  • There is a GS of word W in contexts 1 & 2 which proves something about 2 from 1

This is refuted like this:

  • But word W also appears in context 3 to which the derivation from 1 does not apply.

This seems to imply that GS of a word must apply to ALL appearances of that word (which does not seem to be the case - we have seen many GS on relatively common words and this argument - that the GS must then apply to all "free" appearances of the word - never surfaced).

What am I missing?

  • They may have had a tradition that it applied in all three contexts, in which case that would make this argument one that couldn’t be made in other places. – Lo ani Jul 23 at 22:43
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    Just found another example of this in Yevamos 17b. Also Tosafos in Pesachim 32b asks it on a gemarra as well. So that's a case where the gemarra didn't do this, when it could have – robev Sep 11 at 20:11

The sefer Halichos Olam 4:16 by the 15th century Rishon Rav Yeshua ben Yosef HaLevi, coming from the Ramban, says that there are two types of gezeiros shavos. One is that Chazal accepted that two parshiyos are to be learned one from the other, but they weren't sure which words connected the two. One example is the parsha of ones (a rapist) and mefateh (a seducer). The two share similar laws and are learned one from the other. Nevertheless, the gemarra has a dispute about which words connect the two.

Another type of gezeira shava is when Chazal had accepted that a certain word is to be used for a gezeira shava, but they don't know where to apply it. I believe your gemarra is an example. The gemarra is suggesting that the gezeira shava is this particular word (אות, דורות, etc.). However, Chazal didn't know where to apply it. The gemarra is suggesting to apply it in contexts 1 & 2 (like you say), but that's not definitive. If we are to employ such a gezeira shava, perhaps it should be 1 & 3.

In the case of that gemarra for example, it's suggesting to learn Bris Milah overrides Shabbos because of a gezeira shava of אות אות. However, if you were to learn that gezeira shava teaches you that something overrides Shabbos, the gemarra is saying that perhaps the gezeira shava is to apply between Shabbos and Tefillin, which also has such a word. Since we know (from elsewhere) that Tefillin doesn't override Shabbos, the gemarra rejects using that gezeira shava.

I'm not sure if the gemarra is saying to apply it in this context instead, or additionally. Either way, the Halichos Olam and Ramban are limiting how much Chazal really accepted from tradition. The rest was up to them to figure out, where the gemarra you're quoting shows the back and forth.

Why the gemarra doesn't always ask this, I'm not sure. Perhaps finding a case where this happens would make it clear why it didn't.

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  • This is all very interesting, but the only part of your answer relevant to my question is, alas, your last paragraph. – sds Jul 22 at 21:54
  • Unless I misunderstood your question, I addressed your first premise and noted it's not as broad as you put it, and explained the shaklya vetarya in the gemarra differently than you understood it. According to my explanation, the gemarra makes sense with the rules of gezeira shava. I thought that was your question. You rejected the possibility that a gezeira shava needs to work for all instances of a word, as we see that's not true. I admit I don't know why the gemarra doesn't always have a shakla vetarya like the one in Shabbos, but it doesn't negate the validity of my answer. – robev Jul 22 at 22:10
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    Could you please provide an example where the gemarra doesn't do this, and show what the gemarra should have asked? – robev Jul 22 at 22:11
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    Bottom line: Are you asking why the gemarra doesn't always ask this? Or are you asking how the gemarra could ask this according to the rules of gezeira shava. I answered #2. – robev Jul 22 at 22:12
  • My question is, indeed, why aren't all GS refuted based on the appearance of the word in an inapplicable context? – sds Jul 22 at 22:13

Just to add. There are Halachic Gzeira Shava's and Medrash and Asmachtas. The reason Halachic ones are limited to tradition from one Rebbe to another. (according to one opinion) is quite abvious because there many similer words in the Torah and without Connection to דעת השם it can be a slippery slope. In the beginning of Vayikra the Sifri brings the famous 13 princlples for Halachicly understanding the Torah, what is less known is the much longer list for Medrash that is quite complicated. The point is that we are bound by thirteen only for the "right and wrongs". Gzera Shava is the only one that doesn't come from our school of thought, (of course Hashems thought was in it) its based on which words are doorways to which ideas, the Gemara mentions the idea of מופנא which means that the word is opened. Who is to know to where? How can a Human mind understand forsure one way over the other? Therefore we only follow ones that have a tradition dated to Sinia or somewhere close (Prophets and the like).

This being the case what can be the reason regarding those in the Gemarah who say that you can learn your own Gzera Shava's. It comes from Bina and Faith that Hashem will guide you right. For in line with just logic, it's one way over another without any proof.

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  • Welcome Baruch Menache, and thank you for your input. This seems more like a comment than an answer, as it doesn't address the question that was asked. Maybe consider condensing it to a comment. – robev Jul 26 at 3:20

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