The Talmud (Kiddushin 36a) cites a view that women are exempt from the prohibition on balding themselves in mourning. Rava there says that we know of this exemption because the same words "between your eyes" are used in Scripture when describing that prohibition and when describing tefillin which we know women are exempt from. Abaye, however, says we know of the exemption elsehow. The Talmud continues:

Why doesn't Abaye say like Rava [that we know the exemption from "between your eyes"]? He'd answer you: For tefillin themselves, we learn a rule from this [similarity of wording]. Just as [for balding, "between your eyes"] means a place where one makes a bald spot — the high part of the head — likewise [for tefillin] the location at which to place them is the high part of the head.

Tosafos, commentary ad loc., ask:

So what [if "between your eyes" is used to learn a rule from balding oneself to tefillin]? Nonetheless let's learn a bald spot from tefillin [also], for there's no g'zera shava by halves, and let's say that just as women are exempt from tefillin they're exempt from the balding [prohibition]!

They answer:

Maybe the g'zera shava was learned only to teach the location for placing tefillin.

I fail to understand this answer. The very question was that there's no halfway g'zera shava; so what's the answer? "Yes, there is!"? Is there or isn't there? If there is, what was the question? If there isn't, what's the answer?

(For what it's worth, Tos'fos Harosh give what seems to be the same answer, worded differently: "He holds that the g'zera shava was said not to teach requirement and exemption but only to explain what 'between the eyes' is." My question is the same on this as on Tosafos.)

  • I think we need a tag called thirteen middot of drash or somewhat equivalent, and gezera shava. Or berayta derabbi Yishmael
    – kouty
    Feb 7, 2019 at 20:15

2 Answers 2


וי"ל דשמא לא נגמרה ג"ש אלא לאשמועינן מקום הנחת תפילין

After reminding us the rule of reciprocity of gezera shava (his first understanding of "there is no gezera shava for half"), Tosfot answered that Amorayim have a Kabala from Sinai that the gezera shava regards the teaching of tefilin's position only.

Now we can understand the teruts of tosfot helping us by question it generates (the second kushia of Tosfot help to understand his answer above). [Note that Tosfot Harosh doesn't ask this second question].

Indeed Tosfot changes the definition of "There is no gezera shava for half". Let's look at the new definition. Since we know (by kabala) that some gezerot shavot are "one way" only, the true definition of "there is no GS for half" is: We need to learn all the characteristics of the teacher for the student, not a part of them only. As a result of this, we have a new kushia, the kushia of Rabenu Meir. He asks, the place of tefillin needs to be the whole scalp as the place of the korcha!? The teruts is that the choice of the words "between your eyes" in tefilin teach us acccurately their place.

So, asks Tosfot between the lines, as a result of this, why the same words in korcha of parashat Kedoshim is not restrictive?

Teruts, because in korcha of parashat Kedoshim, the word is mufne (specially added) for gezera shava, his significated is not primary. But in tefillin, the words are needed for the pshat.

The Yad Malachi paragraph 30 discusses the definition of Tosfot for gezera shava lemechtsa. He cites our Tosfot for his conclusion.

Tosfot doesn't say that it's a "false gezera shava" that teach definition of words or group of words only, as we find sometimes in Talmud (¹), because the Gemara makes the count of gezerot shavot and counts it. But Tosfot is examining what is the kind of masoret of this gezera shava. Here, Tosfot understands that the signified is the mekubal from Sinai.

Tosfot have reference to different ways of oral transmission for gezera shava. This issue is addressed by Ramban on his critics on Sefer Hamitsvot, also quoted in Halichot Olam.

פעמים נמסרו המקומות לבד כלומר פלוני ילמוד מפלוני נשארו תיבות הגזירה שוה לחכמים לדון איזו הן כגון הך דפרק אלו נערות גבי אונס ומפתה דילפי אהדדי בגזירה שוה דאשר לא אורשה ומקשה ואימא בתולה לגזירה שוה משמע שקבלו מרבן דאונס ומפתה למדין זה מזה בגזירה שוה אבל לא קבלו מאיזו תיבה ולכך חוזר הגמרא לידע ולעמוד על התיבות המופנות לגזירה שוה ההיא ופעמים נאמרו התיבות סתם מלה פלונית תלמוד ממלה פלונית כגון טומאתו טומאתו לגזירה שוה פרק קמא דשבועות ולא נמסרו המקומות והחכמים מבקשים מנוח לתיבות

Sometimes Gemara's wises know which parashiot are linked but not by which words, Sometimes, they know the words but not the parashiot.

Tosfot appearently added to the list, in his conclusion a third category, sometimes they know what is the "teacher" and what is the "student".

So, we can understand that Tosfot and Tosfot Harosh you cited don't say the same thing [an argument in favor of this is the lack of the kushia of Rabenu Meir in Tosfot Harosh, because this kushia applies only to true gezera shava]. Tosfot "Tuch" wrote the same teruts as Tosfot Harosh on the name of Rabenu Shimshon (the broad text of Tosfotim ancestor of our condensed Tosfot). Tosfot Harosh says that it's a false gezera shava. (This pshat is dachuk, because Gemara says that whis this gezera shava we can learn that korcha is for men only from tefillin). But Tosfot says that the din of position of tefillin is transmitted, and the gezera shava contains this teaching only. Right, there is no gezera shava lemechtsa, but Tosfot formulated a new definition of this concept.

By the way, the Ramban in chiddush has a very convincing pshat.

How long is the way of Tosfot

(¹): הליכות עולם

וכן כל מקום שאומר נאמר למעלה ונאמר למטה אינו גזירה שוה גמורה שקבלה מרבותיו אלא כמו ילמוד סתום מן המפורש. כי ההוא דבבא קמא נאמר שדה למעלה ונאמר שדה למטה מה שדה האמור למעלה דניזק אף שדה האמור למטה דניזק וכו'. וכן הרבה כיוצא בזה.‏


Disclaimer: What follows is my own interpretation that I have not seen in any commentaries, so feel free to be skeptical of it.

Summary: The difference between the question and the answer is that the question assumes we are dealing with a true gezeirah shavah, while the answer rejects that assumption.

I would suggest that Tosafos's answer is that we are not dealing with a true gezeirah shava. A true gezeirah shavah links two cases that would not necessarily be related, and tells us that the same law (or laws) that apply to one case apply to the other case. Tosafos's question assumes that this is a true gezeirah shavah. As such, the law that women are exempt from tefillin should carry over to balding themselves.

Tosafos's answer then comes and says that this is not a true gezeirah shavah. Rather, this is simply an example of using one case to figure out what an ambiguous term means. The term "between your eyes" is ambiguous. When it comes to tefillin we are unsure what it means. Does it mean that the tefillin must be on your forehead between your eyes, or does it mean that the tefillin should be on the top of your head?

We can use the case of balding to determine what the ambiguous term means. As Rashi (ד"ה תפילין) explains, when it comes to balding it is obvious that the prohibition of balding must apply to an area where there is hair. As there is no hair on the forehead, "between your eyes" perforce cannot mean "on your forehead". Once we know from the case of balding that "between your eyes" does not refer to the forehead, we can go back to tefillin and determine that since the tefillin are supposed to be "between your eyes" it must be somewhere on top of your head and not on your forehead.

In other words, no law was derived from the case of balding. The only thing we used that case for was to figure out what a term meant. We arrived at the law for tefillin not via applying a law from balding, but by simply reading the Torah with our newfound knowledge of definitions.

Since you mentioned Tosafos HaRosh, I would argue that this fits particularly well into the language used there:

דקסבר דלא נאמרה ג"ש ללמד חיוב ופטור אלא לפרש היכן הוא בין העינים

For he holds that the gezeirah shavah was not said to teach obligation or exemption, but to explain where "between your eyes" is.

I.e. the gezeirah shavah was not to teach us any laws, but to define a term.

Now let's see if this explanation can fit with the remainder of Tosafos (not mentioned in the question). Following this understanding, Tosafos then asks why tefillin cannot be placed anywhere on the head. If the term "between your eyes" can be defined by what it means in the case of balding, then tefillin should be able to be worn anywhere on the head just like the prohibition of balding applies to anywhere on the head.

This, I believe, fits with the above explanation. If we can use the case of balding to define the term "between your eyes" we can't select only half of the definition to apply to tefillin. We have to accept the entire definition, which should lead to the conclusion that tefillin can be worn anywhere on the head, since that is the full extent of what "between your eyes" means.

Tosafos then answers this question by saying that if it was true that tefillin can be worn anywhere on the head, why did the Torah write "between your eyes"? It should have simply written "on your head". Thus, we do accept the entirety of the definition gleaned from the case of balding, but there is an external reason why tefillin cannot be worn anywhere on the head, namely, because there is an implicit exclusion of the rest of the head by the fact that the Torah chose not to use the term "on your head".

This, too, fits with the above explanation. Tosafos is still holding to the idea that the "gezeirah shavah" is really just a definition, and we can still explain how the laws of tefillin can seem to not incorporate the entirety of the definition.

Then Tosafos has a follow-up question on this latest answer. If it is true that the Torah's use of "between your eyes" instead of using "on your head" is an implicit exclusion of the rest of the head (even though the term "between your eyes" technically includes the entire head), why don't we make the same argument in the case of balding and say that the prohibition does not apply to the entire head because if it did then the Torah would have used the term "on your head"?

Again, this still fits with the above understanding. Tosafos is merely testing whether the latest answer is actually a valid answer, and it appears that it is not.

Tosafos then answers this question as well, by saying that while it is true that in a vacuum the non-use of "on your head" would be an implicit exclusion of the rest of the head, when there is a specific reason to not use the term "on your head" this implication would not hold true. In the case of balding there is a specific reason to not use the term "on your head", namely, that by using "on your head" we would lose the opportunity of using the case of balding to figure out what "between your eyes means". We would then be stuck in the case of tefillin not knowing that "between your eyes” does not refer to the forehead. Thus, the Torah was "forced" to use the term "between your eyes" for an external reason; therefore, the failure to use the term "on your head" cannot be taken as an implication that the rest of the head is excluded.

This last answer also fits with the idea that the gezeirah shavah was not a true gezeirah shavah. When all the dust settles there are still no laws being transferred from one case to the other. All that has happened is that we have used the definitional knowledge gleaned from one case to understand the text in another case, and the Torah was written this way deliberately to allow us to glean that knowledge.


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