Thursday, 27 June 2013

Pesachim 7a, b

While today's daf is focused on the search for leaven: when, how, why, I am going to highlight some of the side-conversations that surround this debate.

  • To become betrothed, men give their brides-to-be kernels of wheat.  
  • Kurdanaita are mountains.
  • Kurdanaita are also very hard wheat kernels named either for their geographic origin (the Kurdistan mountains) or for their "hard as rocks", ie. mountainous density.
  • Second-tithe is a tenth of the produce left over after terumah has been given to the priests and the first tithe (tenth) has been given to the Levites.
  • Second-tithe is to be brought to Jerusalem to be traded for food.
  • If second-tithe becomes ritually impure en route to Jerusalem, is can be redeemed for money (plus 1/5 more if some cases) that is to be spent only on food in Jerusalem.
  • We can determine whether or not a loaf is kosher for pesach based on the amount of mould growing on it.
  • There are methods to determine whether coins are sacred (tithed money) or not especially when found in a box that also holds non-sacred coins.
  • The rabbis attempt to assign a formula to when a blessing says "has commanded us to ___" and when a blessing says "has commanded us concerning ____".
  • It doesn't work.
  • Blessings are stated immediately in advance of a mitzvah (Rav Yehuda said that Shmuel said so).
  • "Overe", meaning "before" (priority-wise), is the word that proves this principle through varied examples.
  • "Kodem" also means "before", but the rabbis believe that kodem is not used here as it would refer to a more distant previous time.
  • Immersion in the mikvah is the only mitzvah that requires a blessing after the mitzvah.
  • The immersion blessing is said after the immersion to ensure that the immersion is done properly before the action is blessed.
  • The words "searching" and "finding" are juxtaposed in the search for leaven just as they are juxtaposed in the "searching" and "finding" in Benjamin's bag at the palace in Egypt.
  • The rabbis argue about the search for leaven with a lamp: does it signify a search only for large sins? 
  • Based on this conversation, we are to use only one lamp - not a torch and not the sun (except by a window) - to search for leaven

Needless to say, this is not an exhaustive list of the conversations of daf 7.  In fact, it is not even a comprehensive summary of those points themselves.  The level of depth and richness - even on just the pshat, or the basic level, is vast.  I could learn one daf full time for weeks.  Every letter of every word is placed with intention.  And the connections in time and in place and in concept - it is mindblowing.

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