Daf Yomi Yevamos 92
Margaret and Al brought their teenage daughter, Kelly, in to see me.
“Kelly has decided that she no longer wants to keep Shabbos and kosher,” they tell me.
“Why’s that?” I asked Kelly. Kelly was a nice, intelligent girl who had grown up in the shul.
“Well, I think it’s time I discovered things for myself. My parents are baalei teshuvah. They got to choose this life. Now I’m off to see and decide how I want to live my life.”
“And anyway,” she added, “who do they think they are telling me I can’t have fun? They had all their fun before they became frum!”
Concerning a woman whose husband died leaving her childless, the Torah states, “The widow shall not be to outside to a strange man . . . her husband’s brother shall marry her.”
Rabbi Judah quoted Rav: How do we know that if a stranger were to betroth her, the marriage would be ineffective? For the verse states that she shall have no being to a stranger. But Shmuel says: Due to our intellectual poverty, she does indeed need a gett (bill of divorce) from the strange man.
Rabbi Yannai declared: In our group, we voted and concluded that betrothal is ineffective with the widow.
Rabbi Yochanan said to him: Our teacher! Is this ruling not explicit in our Mishnah? For we learned: If one says to a woman, behold you are betrothed to me, after I convert, or after you convert, or after I become free, or after you become free, or after your husband dies, or after your sister dies, or after your brother-in-law annuls the levirate marriage, in all of these cases such a betrothal is ineffective.
Rabbi Yannai replied: Had I not lifted up the shard, would you have discovered this pearl?
Rashi explains: Had I not mentioned my teaching, you would have concluded that the reason that the betrothal to the widow in that Mishnah is ineffective is because, like the other cases, it is as yet a nonexistent situation. Now you understand that even if it is a currently existent situation, it is still ineffective.
Pearls are formed when an oyster gets a speck of sand inside. They fight to remove the sand but the more they struggle, the bigger, more beautiful, the pearl grows. Pearls are born of blood, sweat, and tears; the struggle, the anguish, the pain – and then something deeply beautiful appears.
“Your parents,” I said to Kelly, “endured years of emotional pain as they went through life seeking the truth. They have handed you a pearl on a silver platter and now you want to forsake it to try and find it on your own? Your grandparents came penniless to this country and worked fourteen hour days to give you the life you were born into. Maybe you’d like to go abroad to a new country and figure that out on your own as well!”
Many people in life lack the appreciation of the pearls they have been given. It’s hiding under a shard and they need to discover it. But discovery simply means removing the dirt on top. It doesn’t mean going through all the pain and suffering that is entailed in creating a new pearl. Thank G-d, you have the pearl, it’s time to appreciate it and not take it for granted!