Sunday, 23 June 2013

Pesachim 2a, b

We begin Masechet Pesachim with a mishna that teaches two ideas.  The first is that we are to search for leavened bread on a certain day and time with candlelight to guide us.  The second is a debate between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel regarding how to search for that leavened bread when near barrels of wine.

Much of the daf is devoted to the word 'or'.  'Or' usually means 'light', and in this context it refers to the time of day when we search for leaven by candlelight.  In this circumstance the rabbis are curious.  Why would we define 'or' as evening, as is the tradition?  The rabbis suggest many many literary, logical, reasoned, and poetic interpretations and possible meanings of 'or'.

It is a change for me to be learning about something that is so relevant and meaningful in my own religious practice.  Throughout masechet eiruvin, I found it difficult to stay engaged with topics that we beyond esoteric... as I do not keep the halacha regarding eruvin, even those conversations that made sense to me were removed from my experience.

This first daf of pesachim brings me into a discussion that I might participate in if given the opportunity.  How could 'or' mean 'light' in this context?  I know that the halacha is 'evening', and not 'light'.  We search for leavened bread every year by candlelight.  I am actually learning about how that practice came to be.

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