From the Reader's Write section of this week's Yated:
BAS PLONI L’PLONI
A sincere yasher koach to the Yated editors for producing a quality newspaper every
I read with interest Sruli Gross’ explanation of the Chazal (Sotah 2a), “Bas ploni l’ploni,” to provide a mekor that a husband should be older than his wife. However, I beg to differ; I don’t think Chazal had this implication in mind. Why, then, does it say “bas ploni l’ploni” and not “plonis l’ben ploni”? Because in the signon of Chazal, a girl, especially an unmarried girl, is not given her own identity, but rather is referred to as bas ploni. The same Gemara teaches us that a bas kol proclaims, “Sodeh ploni l’ploni - The ownership of So-and-So’s field will be transferred to So-and-So.” The bas kol doesn’t say this field will become So-and-So’s. The field’s identity is defined by its owner; it is sodeh ploni. So too, an unmarried girl is described in Chazal as bas ploni, even if she is already born.
The Gemara in Pesachim (49a) gives the advice that “a man should strive to marry a bas talmid chochom and a father should marry his daughter to a talmid chochom. It doesn’t say that he should marry his daughter to a ben talmid chochom. This is because, as stated above, a girl’s identity is defined by her parents, whereas a boy has his own identity.
When Rivkah fulfilled the “test” that Eliezer created for her at the well, he asked her, “Bas me at - Whose daughter are you?” He did not ask, “Me at - Who are you?” True, he needed to ascertain if she was from Avrohom’s family or from Canaan. But just as she answered his question by stating not just her father’s name, but also her grandfather’s and great-grandmother’s (bas Besuel ben Nachor asher yalda lo Milkah), she would have done the same had she been asked, “Who are you?” Eliezer didn’t ask her this because this isn’t the derech haTorah; a girl is identified as being bas ploni.
May we be zocheh to live our lives according to standards the Torah sets for us.
Rabbi Yitzchok Miller