Saturday, 30 December 2017

Shevuot 31: Witnesses, False Oaths, Attempts to Avoid Testifying

We continue to learn from a baraita:

  • if a student while in front of the judge sees why the poor person is innocent and the rich person is liable, the student must speak up
  • if a student sees that the judge is erring, the student may not wait until a wrong verdict is declared and then state what the verdict should be so that the verdict will be said in his name
  • if a rabbi told his student, "you know that I would not lie for a fortune.  X owes me money, and I only have one witness against him," the student may not join with the witness to provide the requisite two witnesses 
  • when one is owed 100 dinar, one may not claim that the loan was 200 dinar so that so that the other will deny half and have to swear - causing him to be open to swearing about other matters
  • If own is owed 100 dinars and one claims he is owed 200 dinars, the other may not deny the entire claim in the beit din while admitting outside to exempt himself from the oath of partial admission - causing one to force the other to swear about other matters
  • If now owes money to three partners and denies it, one may not claim the full amount and bring the others as witnesses to share the money with them
  • If one is dressed in rags and another in posh clothing, the other must supply one with similar clothes or else dress in rags
  • both parties must be present for one to share his claim with the judge
Who is excluded from these laws?  Kings cannot testify because it is beneath their honour.  Card players cannot testify because they have proven that they cannot be trusted.  The rabbis discuss who might be excluded from other types of oaths, like the oaths of watchmen.   

The rabbis look for the source regarding the claim that one knew the testimony and still swore falsely.  They also debate about whether or not one is liable if he had forgotten that his transgression was against halacha.

We are introduced to a new Mishna which teaches about shevuat ha'edut, an oath sworn falsely when one says he knows something that should keep him from testifying.  The Mishna says that when one tells witnesses to testify for him and they swear "we know no testimony for you", or they then say "amen" to one's oath, or if they were lying - in all of these cases, the witnesses are liable. 

The Mishna tells us about further conditions:
  • If they swore five times outside of the beit din that they knew no testimony but came to the beit din and admitted that they knew, they are exempt
  • Denial means that they are liable for each oath
  • if they swear five times in the beit din, they are liable only once
  • once a witness swears that he did not know, he cannot testify in the future
  • if two witnesses simultaneously deny knowing, they are liable
  • if one witness denies knowing after the other has denied knowing, the first is liable and the latter is exempt
  • if one pair of witnesses denies after another denies, the both pairs are liable because either could have testified

Thursday, 28 December 2017

Shevuot 30: Guidelines for Judges and Witnesses at Court

Today's daf begins Perek III.  Our first new Mishna teaches about oaths regarding testimony.  In opposition to yesterday's Mishna regarding oaths of utterances.  Oaths of testimony require a number of different conditions:

  • men can testify but women cannot testify
  • strangers can testify but relatives cannot;
  • oaths are liable both in or outside of the beit din 
  • if an oath is imposed on someone, he is liable only if he denies the claim in the beit din
  • Kosher witnesses are liable but invalid witnesses are not valid
  • one is liable for oaths in vain if he really remembers the testimony
  • when liable, one brings an offering
The Gemara begins by questioning the source of our knowledge that the oath does not apply to women.  A number of verses seem to suggest that the halacha regarding women as invalid witnesses provides adequate proof.  The conversation turns to witnesses in general.  Are we certain that verses are referring to witnesses?  How do we know to separate the experience and testimony of one witness from that of another?  Are women permitted to come to the bet din to participate?  Wouldn't they send their husbands?

The rabbis teach us about how parties can be judged equally in the beit din.  From a baraita we learn that both parties must stand, but rabbis know that judges may decide that they should sit.  What if one person stands and the other sits?  The judge cannot force this to happen, nor can he permit only one party to speak for as long as s/he wants.  Perhaps a verse teaches that one should judge one's fellow favourably; one should assume that all others keep halacha if one sees another person doing something that could be questionable.  Further, one who keeps the mitzvot should always be judged favourably.  

We learn that Rav Huna's widow was judged by Rav Nachman.  He thought about what he should do:
  • if he stands to honour her, her opponent might be surprised and thus compromised in pleading his case
  • he cannot sit while she stands because the wife of a talmud scholar deserves the respect of a talmud scholar
  • he could tell his servant to make a goose flutter on him so that it would seem that he stood up because of the goose
  • and what about the final verdict, where the judge must sit and the parties must stand?
We learn that he sat half-way, like one who is untying his shoe, while saying that one was liable and the other exempt.

In a similar case, we learn that an ignoramus and a talmud scholar must both sit if they have a case with each other.  If the ignoramus wishes to stand, he is not countered.  Another interesting case tells of a judge who asks first an ignoramus and then Reuven, a sage, to sit.  An officer of the beit din kicked Reuven, suggesting that Reuven stand.  Reuven did not do so.  We are told that Reuven would understand that it was the officer of the court and not the judge who was upset with him.  Other similar cases are shared to help us understand how judges should deliberate and carry out their duties.

A final baraita teaches us about separating ourselves from falsehoods:
  • if a judge believes that he made a mistake, he may not defend his ruling
  • a judge may not deliberate about the case with an unlearned student because this could lead the judge to err
  • a judge may not sit on a beit din with a judge whom he knows is a thief
  • a witness may not give testimony with a witness whom he knows is a thief, even if the testimony is true
  • if a judge knows that one is testifying inaccurately, he may not rule based on it 

Wednesday, 27 December 2017

Shevuot 29: Who Makes Oaths in Vain

We are introduced to a new Mishna.  It teaches us which can be categorized as oaths said in vain:

  • An oath that goes against what is known to be true; for example "this (stone) pillar is made of gold", or "this is a woman" (when all know that this is a man)
  • An oath is made about something impossible; for example "if I do not see a camel fly through the air" or "if I do not see a snake the size of the beam in an olive press"
  • Witnesses who were asked to testify swore that they would not meet their obligation to testify
  • A person swore not to fulfil another mitzvah; for example, not to dwell in a sukkah, take lulav, don tefillin, etc.
A person who makes an oath in vain is lashed.  If a person swears that s/he will eat a loaf and then swears that s/he will not eat it, s/he has transgressed regardless of what s/he does.  If s/he eats the loaf or does not eat the loaf, s/he has transgressed by making an oath in vain.

The Gemara begins by defining what it means for "people to know" what the truth must be.  This is three people.  We are reminded that it is not an oath to say, "if I did not see a camel fly".  Instead one must word an oath in the positive.  And in either case, the oath is said in vain for it is impossible to fulfil.  The rabbis joke that a man might see a huge bird, name it "camel" and swear truthfully about seeing a camel.  One must be judged based on the words that one said and not one's intention.  The rabbis then consider cases where one's own knowledge is different from one's outward behaviour or speech.*

A second new Mishna teaches us more about oaths said in vain.  We are taught that vain oaths regarding oneself apply to both men and women, relatives and strangers, people who are qualified to testify and people who are not qualified to testify, inside of the beit din and outside of the beit din.  If one transgresses, s/he is either lashed or s/he brings an offering.  A person can put an oath on someone else if that someone answers, "amen" after the person has stated the oath.

The Gemara shows us that each of these statements is questioned by Rabbi Meir and others.  Only a man should take this oath, only strangers, witnesses that are qualified to testify, and those outside of a beit din.   These are argued along with the statement that one who says, "amen" has agreed to an oath as if s/he had made the oath him/herself.  

Tuesday, 26 December 2017

Shevuot 28: Specific Wording of Oaths; Oaths Reliant on Other Oaths or in Succession

If a person swears not to eat a loaf but then ate from it, can that person ask for the loaf to be permitted? Will that person be exempt from liability if he ate only a particular amount of the the loaf?  The rabbis think about the person's words: "I will not eat IT"; "I will not EAT".   If one swears not to eat and s/he eats, permission the oath during that rest between "eat" and a specific item disqualifies the entire oath.  Similar considerations are examined regarding one who takes an oath of nazirut.  The rabbis speak of appropriate consequences for these transgressions, as well.

The Gemara explores the rules of logic to be applied to the transgression and the consequences when one swears that one will not eat this loaf if s/he eats the other loaf and s/he eats both.  The oath is then extended: what if one swears that s/he will not eat this loaf if s/he eats the other and s/he will not eat that loaf if s/he eat this one and s/he eats both.

The rabbis consider the case where a person swears s/he will not benefit from a certain thing if s/he eats or drinks and then forgets the promise.  The rabbis consider this case along with others where a person makes two oaths at one time; one conditional upon the other.  

The rabbis discuss oaths that are said in succession, like "I swear that I will not eat nine figs, I swear that I will not eat ten figs" or the opposite numbers.  The rabbis play with the details, for example: is this about the past or the future?  We learn that when there are two oaths, the second oath does not take effect but only when the oaths regard the future.  Oaths that are impossible to fill are considered to be false as soon as they are spoken aloud.  The number of offerings brought as a consequence is determined by the actual transgressions.

Monday, 25 December 2017

Shevuot 27: Oaths Regarding Mitzvot, Positive/Negative, Chosen/Obliged

Way back in Shavuot 22 we were introduced to the Mishna that we are continuing to learn today.  The rabbis are currently focusing on our Mishna's instruction to exempt a person who has sworn not to fulfil a mitzvah but then fulfilled it.  Similarly, it taught us that if one swore to fulfil a mitzvah and did not fulfill it, one is also exempt from liability.  The rabbis voice many different opinions about how this should be understood and applied.

Some of the points that we learn from these arguments:

  • one could be obligated to fulfill one's promise based on the first hermeneutic principal of Torah study, kal v'chomer, simple and complex, also known as the principal of a fortiori, or 'all the more so'
  • If one is liable to bring an offering based on reishut, voluntary acts unrelated to performing mitzvot, all the more should one be liable regarding keeping a mitzvah which was obligated to us on Sinai
  • If this is a case of 'lehara o leheitiv", choosing evil or choosing good, it cannot be applied to the fulfilment of a mitzvah
  • examples include one who swears to hurt oneself and does not keep one's oath; one who swears to hurt others and does not keep one's oath
  • in both examples one is exempt because the oath was made in vain
  • if one swears twice, for example "I swear I will not eat this loaf; I swear I will not eat it", one is only liable once if one transgresses
  • cases might be discussing reishut or mitzvot
  • the example of a person taking an oath of nazirut twice is contrasted

Of note are the rabbis' primary interests:

  • is the action positive or negative?
  • is the action voluntary or does it regard a mitzvah (an obligation)?
  • in which order were the person's oath spoken?
  • which principles might be applied to any statement in order to elucidate its meaning?
  • what was the person's intent?
Clearly the rabbis wished to ensure that future judges would undergo their considerations with tremendous seriousness.

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Shevuot 26: Oaths Forgotten, Misspoken, Regretted

When our last Mishna stated that one is liable to bring an offering only for oaths regarding the future, the words quoted are l'hara oh l'heitiv, the bad or the good that one can do to oneself; oaths of the future.  What are neutral oaths?  The rabbis look to extra words to justify the notion of past and neutral oaths being included in oaths that are liable. They think about what is included and what is excluded in our words; our contracts.

The Gemara considers people whose oaths are forgotten in part or completely. Are they liable?  If one swore about what s/he believed was the truth, s/he is not liable.  To examine forgetting the entirety or a part of the whole, the rabbis consider a person who swears not to eat wheat bread, and remembers that there was one type of bread he could not eat but not the grain itself.  Is he liable or not?  One might not know the transgression and/or one might not know the punishment.   Further, we know that in transgressions involving idolatry, one brings an offering only for those crimes punished by karet.  

If a person swore not to eat a loaf of bread but later was in danger of starving and ate the loaf, forgetting his/her oath, is s/he liable?  Is there a difference if s/he remembered the oath and regretted making it?  Rava says that if s/he would have refrained had s/he known that s/he transgressed, he must bring an offering.  A person who would have transgressed regardless need not bring an offering since s/he would have eaten it anyway.

What if one only thinks the oath?  Is it necessary to speak the oath aloud be liable if the oath is broken?  A baraita notes that an oath is not in the heart alone.  If a person resolved in his heart to say an oath but never spoke it aloud, some rabbis say that he is not liable.  However, the rabbis determine that an oath must be spoken.  One is not necessarily liable if his oath was intended to be about one thing but he actually spoke another.  For other transgressions including those regarding teruma, donations to the mishkan, etc., a Torah verse teaches that vocalizing the oath is not required.  

Shevuot 25: Worthless Oaths, Oaths about the Future/Past, In/tangible Things

A new Mishna teaches that oaths regarding shevuot bitui, worthless oaths.  These apply to one's own possessions and they apply to tangible and intangible things.  These are examples of oaths of bitui - when one swears:

  •  "I will give/not give something to x (another person)"
  •  "I gave/did not give something to x"
  •  "I will/will not sleep"
  •  "I slept/did not sleep"
  •  "I will/will not throw a rock into the sea"
  •  "I threw/did not throw a rock into the sea"
Rabbi Yishmael says that an offering is only required  for oaths regarding the future.  Rabbi Akiva says that if that is the case one should be liable only for doing good or evil, not for doing something neutral like throwing a rock into the sea.  He claims that the Torah includes oaths about the past as well as the future.

The Gemara considers the stringency of different types of oaths.  Nedarim take effect on mitzvot and optional matters when shevuot do not.  However, shevuot take effect regarding intangible and tangible thing when nedarim do not.  

Why would a person swear that s/he will give or not give to another?  Perhaps this refers to tzedaka, the mitzvah of charitable giving.  Or perhaps this refers to giving a gift to a rich person.  

What does "I will not sleep" refer to?  Rabbi yochanan notes that if one swears "I will not sleep for three days", we lash him for this impossible oath and he can sleep immediately! Perhaps what was meant was "I will not sleep until I must sleep".  

What is meant by "I will/not throw a rock into the sea"?  Is this regarding witnessing someone else throwing into the sea?  Because it applies in the positive and the negative, is this a shevua bitui? Shmuel reminds us that it is an oath regarding the future and so it is meaningful.  The rabbis argue about whether or not oaths are valid when they are about the past and/or the future.  

If a person swears not to fulfill a mitzvah and then s/he fulfils it, he is exempt.  If he swore to fulfil a mitzvah and did not fulfils it, he is also exempt.  Rabbi Yehudah ben Beteira says that if one is liable for transgressing an oath that is about something optional when not forced to do it because of the oath of Sinai, he must fulfil a mitzvah due to the oath at Sinai.  The Sages disagree.  They believe that he is liable for an oath about something optional because that oath could be made in the positive or the negative.  The rabbis argue these points.  They note that it is only through expounding that we learn about worthless oaths in the past.  

A person could lie about an oath.  For example, one could say "I did not eat" when he ate, and one could mean "I did not put on tefillin" when one said "I will not don tefillin".  The liabilities would be different for the different oaths.  S/he could be liable to bring an offering for swearing falsely without knowing he had transgressed.  Regarding donning tefillin, he would be lashed if he had been warned not to swear falsely and he did anyway.

We learn that a shevuat shav is swearing to negate what people know to be true, for example that a stone pillar is made of gold.  The rabbis argue that if people know about this false oath, it is worthless even though it is not regarding the future.  However, if people do not know that this is a false oath, he is not liable for bitui.

Abbey teaches that Rav admits that a person is exempt for swearing falsely because the negative version of the statement is worthless, but because this is a shevua ha'edut, an oath about witnesses.  Might a person have to bring more than one offering for multiple transgressions?  The rabbis share examples of people using improper witnesses.

The notion of "lying" is fascinating in the times of the Torah.  Just like now, many people could not be trusted to tell the truth.  Back then, though, the wrath of G-d was a successful  intimidation tactic.  Today there is such a thing as atheism; in the time of the Talmud we are led to believe that people took for granted the existence of G-d - or, at the very least, multiple idols.  Clearly there were always people who did not believe that G-d would punish them harshly for their 'transgressions'.    

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Shevuot 23: Oaths about Food and Drink; Exemptions

Our daf begins with verses that are suggested as proof texts for the assertion that an oath regarding "eating" includes the act of drinking.  In this discussion we learn that there is a dish called "anigron" which is a dish made with beets.  "Achisigron" is a dish made from cooked vegetables that aren't beets.  The rabbis return to the question of whether or not "eating" does in fact include drinking.  If so, the consequence for breaking one's oath could be more severe.  The rabbis speak further about whether a person might be eating things unfit for consumption.

Regarding our Mishna's claim about making an oath not to eat three types of bread and then eating them, becoming liable to be punished for each.  The rabbis wonder whether this person might have intended to make the oath about consuming grains, or raw grains, or one bread of three grains, or something else.  Does a person need to say the word "bread" three times in his/her oath?  Or make a separate oath for each item?  Similarly, the rabbis ask this about drink.  Must a certain amount of drink or a certain type of drink be specified in the oath?

Similarly the rabbis discuss collective oaths and what might be considered to be a collective oath.  Then they return to their conversation about whether any amount eaten is liable or whether there is room for exemptions based on a person's intentions, the circumstances, or numerous other factors. 

It seems that the rabbis are searching for loopholes in a halacha that might result in  consequences.  They say, "a person must have been thinking x", or "did this person mean to say y?"  The rabbis do not want people to transgress.  They want to provide us with as many opportunities as possible to keep our promises.   

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Shevuot 22: How Much is Too Much; Eating and Drinking

Our daf begins with a discussion regarding offerings for transgressions of speech.  Our last Mishna taught that one who curses the name of G-d should bring an offering.  Does this refer to all people or just a nazirite?  Nazirite prohibitions come through speech and are punished via offerings.  The rabbis wonder whether "tasting" is the same as eating.  

Are broken konamot (type of oath) punished in the same way as shevuot?  The rabbis consider the amount that might be eaten when one transgresses one's konamei compared with that consumed for transgressions of shevuot.  They have a long conversation about whether or not these transgressions could 'pair up' - two small konamot that are broken could equal an amount that would be punishable by bringing an offering.  The rabbis are clear that no one should benefit from konamot.

What if a person says that s/he won't eat and then s/he eats dirt?  What if that person says that s/he won't eat dirt and then s/he eats dirt?  What about food that is forbidden - insects, for example?  What is a 'proper' food to eat?  The Gemara hosts many questions with multiple clarifications and examples - but very few answers.

We are introduced to a new Mishna: If a person swears, "I will not eat" and then s/he eats and drinks, s/he is liable only once.  The punishment is lashes if one was warned and bringing an offering if one forgot.  
  • s/he is liable twice is s/he says "I will not eat and I will not drink"
  • s/he is liable only once if s/he says, "I will not eat" and s/he eats three types of bread
  • if s/he says "I will not eat wheat, barley or spelt bread" and s/he eats all three, s/he is liable for each
  • if s/he swore "I will not drink" and he drank many beverages, s/he is liable only once
  • If s/he swore "I will not drink wine, oil or honey" and s/he drank all three, x/he is liable for each
  • If s/he swore "I will not eat" and s/he ate things that are unfit to eat or drank liquids unfit to drink, s/he is exempt
  • If s/he swore "I will not eat" and s/he ate something forbidden, s/he is liable except by Rabbi Shimon
  • If one swore "I may not benefit from my wife if I ate today" and then he ate insects, etc., she is forbidden to him
At the very end of our daf, the Gemara begins with questions about eating and drinking: are they the same thing?  "Tasting" usually refers to both eating and drinking, the rabbis reason.  Tomorrow's daf will begin with a verse offering a proof text.

Tuesday, 19 December 2017

Shevuot 21: False Oaths and Amounts of Food Eaten

After ending their conversation about false oaths and vain oaths, the rabbis discuss punishments for transgressions.  For example, Rabbi Yochanan is cited as saying that one receives lashes for a transgression done through an action; the only transgressions without actions that result in lashes are false oaths, temurah, exchange in the context of offerings, and cursing a Jew with G-d's name.  The rabbis search for proof texts and debate whether or not a warning is also required to warrant lashes for the transgression of stating a false oath.

What if a person swears that s/he will not eat and then s/he eats a small amount of something?  Must one consume a certain amount of food to have transgressed his/her oath? The rabbis discuss whether there is a minimum amount of food - perhaps an olive bulk or a peruta - that must be consumed for the oath to have been broken.  They note the importance of specifying that one might eat something and the amount of that consumption at the time that one takes an oath in order to be liable.

Monday, 18 December 2017

Shevuot 20: Defining an Oath; False & Vain Oaths

The rabbis discuss oaths regarding eating.  To understand "I will eat", "I will not eat" and other oaths, the rabbis imagine scenarios.  For example, a person might refuse to eat after being pressured to eat.  The rabbis consider the possibility of an error in the text.

The rabbis wonder what is included in the definition of a shevua, an oath.  When something is not actually an oath, the person who makes that statement is not liable to punishment if s/he goes against those words.  An issar, for example could be understood as a vow said without vowing. A mitva is an obligation.  A neder is thought of as a binding agreement that is neither a vow nor an oath.  

These subtle differences in the understandings of verbal agreements reflects a society that took one's word with great seriousness.   Some rabbis argue that some of these binding agreements are subcategories of oaths and thus should be punished as oaths.

We learn about false oaths and vain oaths.  The rabbis argue about whether these two types of oaths might actually describe the same thing.  When a person swears or yells that s/he will not eat and then s/he eats, this is false and it is in vain.  It is false because the oath was not kept.  It is a vain oath because the oath was transgressed.  The rabbis teach that these two types of oaths were taught together.  Further, they were punished in the same way - with lashes.

Sunday, 17 December 2017

Shevuot 19: Two or Four Types of Oaths Regarding Eating

A very brief look at today's daf:

The rabbis wonder what should be done when a person enters the Temple forgetting his state of ritual purity and forgetting that he is walking in a holy place.  Should he not be liable for one transgression but exempt for the other?  What happens to him while in the area of the Temple is important, too.  He might be sprinkled in one place and then he might consume consecrated food in another.  Depending on how the rabbis interpret their past conversation about liability, they can argue that numerous possibilities are valid.

A new perek is introduced beginning with a new Mishna.  It teaches that there are two primary kinds of oaths but four types overall.  The two primary types are "I swear that I will eat" and "I swear that I will not eat".  The secondary types are "I swear that I ate" and "I swear that I did not eat".  If one swears that they will not eat but then eats any amount, one is liable.

Rabbi Akiva says that one never brings an offering for speaking, for the offering is for eating when one made an oath to not eat.  If he eats the offering, he has transgressed again.

The German notes that a translation might read as, "I will eat".  Alternately, if one said "I swear that I will not eat your food" or "I swear on your food" or "I do not swear that I will not eat", one is forbidden to eat.

It will be interesting to see whether or not this line of thought moves toward the fast of Yom Kippur.  In an earlier daf, the rabbis spoke of chewing on small items during the fast of Yom Kippur.  Would that be forbidden or require an offering if one did not know until after the chewing that this act was forbidden?  Or is it not forbidden because of the size of the item and the fact that it is not consumed fully?

Saturday, 16 December 2017

Shevuot 19: The Shortest Path Out After Realizing One is Tamei

Today's daf is a continuation of the rabbis' discussion regarding withdrawal.  To be specific, they are comparing options when one realizes that he is tamei and leaves the Temple via the shortest route to one who realizes that his wife is entering the state of nidah and leaves her body quickly but without incurring further pleasure. 

The rabbis ask whether man should withdraw quickly, thus feeling more pleasure from the unlawful act but exiting as quickly as possible.  Most agree that this would create a situation where he is facing more than one charge of transgression.  But what are his other options?  One rabbi suggests that he squeeze his toenails into the ground until his member has become flaccid and then he may withdraw with less pleasure.  The rabbis' questions all centre around mens' thoughts and behaviours in this circumstance. 

Throughout this lengthy and detailed conversation , the rabbis never ask about the woman: how could she know that her period has just begun during the act of intercourse?  And especially a young woman who has not had intercourse in the past.  In fact, it is difficult to fathom any situation where a woman would know that she began menstruating during intercourse and that her partner would decide to withdraw at that point in time.  

In earlier masechtot, it sometimes seemed that rabbis used particular examples not because they were the most appropriate but because they offered an opportunity to focus their very academic energies on a sexual topic.  Because the example used today is so very theoretical, it is easy for the learner to assume that the rabbis wished both to discus sex and to demonstrate their brilliance - they found this metaphor for "leaving when one realizes that he is tamei."  

Friday, 15 December 2017

Shevuot 16: Shortest Path Out of the Temple, Withdrawal

The rabbis continue to discuss the possibility that one who realizes that he is ritually impure might delay before leaving the Temple.  The rabbis ask questions about whether or not the transgressor is punished with lashes in different circumstances.  One of those examples: one who suspended himself in the air above the azarah.  Just in case we were wondering about whether or not this deliberation was theoretical.

One who realizes that he is tamei must leave by the shortest path out.  What if he walked slowly - heel to toe - on that shortest path?  What if he just walked slowly?  Is he liable or not?  What if a person enters the Talmud abnormally?  

Finally the rabbis discuss transgression of the laws surrounding a woman who is ritually impure, in a state of nidda.  If a man, while in the act of intercourse, realizes that he might be ritually impure as well, is withdrawing enough to avert the punishment assigned?  Withdrawal is pleasurable, too.  He should have known the laws and avoided intercourse, even if it was before his wife's time of being nidda.  The rabbis compare these transgressions to others.  The punishments are used as a guide toward determine these punishments.  

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Shevuot 15: Offerings, Shira of Toda, the Procession

As discussed yesterday, the rabbis consider one who enters the azarah or a sanctioned addition to the Temple in a state of ritual impurity and/or consumes sanctified food.  Now the rabbis compare this to klei sharet, sanctified vessels, that Rav Simi bar Chiya says were shown to Moshe.  These vessels were annointed with oil.  The rabbis acknowledge that this would not be the only way to demonstrate sanctification.  After the time of Moshe, sanctification was achieved through usage.

The Gemara turns its attention to the two offerings of thanksgiving that were required of certain transgressors.  The rabbis attempt to identify what would be used in these offerings.  The shewbread was mentioned, but what about the meat?  The bull is the largest species that could be offered.   We learn about a number of possibilities, including incense, chametz, and different types of matzah (loaves, wafers, and matzah first scalded in boiling water).  In their discussion about these offerings, the rabbis note that the Temple was only built during the day and not during the night.

Shira, singing, was mentioned as well.  The Shira of Toda, the thanksgiving songs, are those of Tehilim 100, 30, 91, and 3.  A baraita explains that these songs included harps, cymbals, and were on every corner and every big rock.  We learn that we are not permitted to use words of Torah to heal ourselves but we are permitted to use words of Torah to protect ourselves.  To that end, we learn that Tehilim 3 was used by some rabbis to help them sleep.  

Finally the Gemara brings us back to the procession described in our Mishna.  Do the beit din walk in front of the loaves?  Are the loaves carried?  If so, how was this done?  Rabbis hold different opinions.  Regarding consumption of the loaves, we had learned that the inner loaf was eaten and the outer loaf was burned.  The rabbis consider different ways that the rabbis would know which loaf was "inner" and which was "outer".

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Shevuot 14: Tumah, Kodshim, the Temple, Intention and Consequences

Before beginning Perek II, the rabbis continue their discussion regarding atonement for kohanim, for the high priest, the Kohen Gadol, and the sequence of atonement rituals.  It is significant that the rabbis wish to ensure that those who are most holy, the kohanim, and the one holiest person are able to properly atone.  This suggests that all people transgress halachot, regardless of how educated or powerful they might be.  Not only do all people miss the mark, but all people must atone, taking personal responsibility for our errors.  

We move forward with a new Mishna.  It teaches that there are two primary understandings of tum'ah, ritual impurity:  
  • one who knew s/he became tamei, ritually impure, and then knowingly ate kodshim, consecrated offering
  • one who knew that s/he became tamei but then forgot that the offing was consecrated and ate it
  • one who forgot s/he was tamei and that the food was consecrated and found out after eating it
  • one who forgot that he became tamei and then knowingly entered the mikdash, the Temple or holy place
  • one who knew he was tamei and forgot that he was entering the mikdash
  • one who forgot both that he was tamei and where the Temple was located but entered and realized his action after leaving
These cases require the person to bring an oleh v'yored, a sliding scale guilt-offering which could be a goat, sheep, or dove.  This applies to one who enters the azarah of the Temple or any finished addition to the Temple.  To add to Jerusalem or to the azarah, the following are required:
  • a king
  • a navi
  • the urim v'tumim (parts of the High Priest's breastplate)
  • the Great Sanhedrin (of 71 elders)
  • two of the loaves for a korban toda, a thanksgiving offering
  • shira
The beit din must walk around the addition followed by the loaves and then the entire community.  The inner loaf is eaten and the outer loaf is burned.  Without these rituals, an addition does not create a problem for one who enters while tamei.  If one were in the azarah and became tamei and forgot about it but remembered where he was - or if he remembered that he was tamei but forgot where he was - or if he forgot both, then he must bow quickly before leaving.  If he stayed or took a longer path toward the exit, he is liable. 

The Mishna then speaks of other situations where one must take the shortest path away from transgression.  An example: if a woman told her husband that she felt the beginning of menstruation while in the act of intercourse, making her in a state of nidah and thus ritually impure, he cannot simply withdraw, for that would be pleasurable.  Instead he must wait for his member to lose its erection and then withdraw.

Our Mishna ends with different opinions about whether a korban is brought only if one forgot one's state of tumah but not if one forgot the holiness of the Temple.

The Gemara begins by questioning how many yedi'ot, understandings, are actually stated compared with the number that is stated.  Rav Papa notes that there is the understanding of tumah at the start and at the end, the understanding of the holiness at the beginning and at the end, and the understanding of where the Temple is at the beginning and at the end.  That equals six.  Or should this be eight cases, for each understanding of tumah is actually two cases, where one then ate a consecrated animal or entered the Temple.  Other counts are suggested as well.

Rav Papa asks about halacha when one forgets the laws of tumah.  Something simple, like whether or not rodents are tumah, or something complicated, like whether a lentil's worth of rodent is also forbidden.  Rabbi Yirmeyah wonders what to do if someone from Babylonia never knew where the Temple was located and thus entered while tamei.  Is he obligated to bring a korban?  What if he realized only later that he was in the Temple? What if he knew at the beginning?  The rabbis do not resolve this question.  

That question, is one culpable if s/he did not know that s/he was transgressing? is important in modern society as well.  We continue to question the context of the transgression, the capacity of the transgressor, the seriousness of the crime, and many other related issues when we think about responsibility and consequences.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Shevuot 13: Repentance Versus Communal Atonement

The rabbis ask a question that continues to be relevant today: does Yom Kippur atone for all sins on its own?  What is the value of repentance?  The Gemara considers different situations that might require us to know the answer to this question.  The most interesting is the problem of a person who dies, perhaps on Yom Kipur, while s/he transgresses.  There is no time for repentance.  How could s/he be atoned for before the Day of Atonement?  And might there be opportunity for repentance in the World to Come?

This tension between what is done by oneself and what is done communally is of great importance to our rabbis.  While the azazel offers our ancestors the psychological confidence about forgiveness for what we have done wrong, it is not enough.  The rabbis discuss the most heinous transgressions to demonstrate that one must take personal action to ensure that one atones properly.  Extending this conversation to our own contexts, we might infer that our community will atone for our sins on Yom Kipur, but it is our own personal responsibility to make amends for our mistakes, whether or not they are intentional.  

The rabbis consider the possibility that the inner goat only suspends punishment until the transgressor realizes his or her transgression.  Of course a number of proof texts are suggested to validate this interpretation.

The rabbis return to our last Mishna and remind us that the Yisraelim, the Kohanim and an anointed Kohen are all subject to atonement by the inner and outer goats on Yom Kippur.  Perhaps, they argue, the bull atones for Kohanim who are ritually impure and that the inner goat atones for the ritual impurity of the Yisraelim.  The rabbis walk through the actions of the Kohanim - different animal offerings, different sprinkling of blood, etc. - and consider which sins are atoned by which actions.  

In considering whether or not the transgressions of Kohanim are atoned by the azazel, we are taught that "lo ve beito" might refer to himself and his wife or it might refer to himself and other Kohanim.  At the end of our daf we learn that Rava teaches that Rabbi Shimon said that the transgressions of Kohanim are not atoned for by the azazel.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Shevuot 12: Sacrificial Leftovers, Inner/Outer Goats, Tshuva

The rabbis discuss whether or not the leftovers from daily communal offerings can be used as offerings for surplus communal offerings.  Some rabbis wonder about specifics - can birds be used as surplus communal offerings?  

The Gemara makes note of the inner and outer goats. The inner goat is believed to atone fro a person who purposefully enters the Temple in a state of ritual impurity.  The outer goat's sacrifice atones for transgressions of positive mitzvot.

It should be remembered that we are discussing ancient forms of tshuva, repentance.  How do we truly atone for our errors, whether those are purposeful or unintentional; communal or private?  The details are important when it comes to tshuva, for we must know specifically how we can right our wrongs.  However, the details of sacrifice seem so very far from modern atonement that it is difficult to follow and grab on to those details.  

Shevuot 11: Incense Offerings; Conditional Hekdesh

What about the offering of ketoret, incense?  Understood to be the ultimate sacrifice, done last by the High Priest on Yom Kippur, isn't this offering even more powerful than the others?  What does it forgive?  The rabbis debate this question in great detail.

Related is the next conversation regarding items that are hekdesh, consecrated to the Temple.  If an item is hekdesh and then becomes impure, it loses all value.  Perhaps hekdesh items should be conditionally consecrated based on their use as sacrifice, etc.  If that were the case, such items could be redeemed for money should they become useless in to the Temple.  The rabbis discuss this an wonder if the Red Heifer might be categorized as 'conditionally hekdesh', as well.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Shevuot 8: Atoning for Which Sins, Inner and Outer Goat

The rabbis discuss a number of issues regarding the yearly offering in the Temple.  What sins are atoned for by that sacrifice?  The consider:

  • idolatry
  • forbidden sexual relationships
  • murder
  • other sins punishable by goat or other offerings
Further on, the rabbis consider the offering of the inner goat and the outer goat.  The inner goat is the very special offering on Yom Kippur.  However, the rabbis believe that it does not account for all sins.  Only partial forgiveness is achieved at that point.  The outer goat, the azazel, was to be thrown off of a cliff carrying with it the remaining sins of the Jewish people.  

What do these rites represent?  Our inner, private sins and our sins done publicly, or as a community, or without remorse?  The rabbis discuss these ideas as well.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Shevuot 7: Karet When One Forgets Tumah and Approaches the Temple or a Sanctified Object

The first part of our daf focuses on which punishments should apply when a person forgets that s/he is tamei, ritually impure, and enters the Temple.  Is karet the proper consequence?  The rabbis look at other related transgressions and their punishments.  The conversation is purely theoretical.  The rabbis are examining punishments that cannot be administered because the Temple is gone.  They are exploring a set of imaginary situations within the context of other imaginary situations.  The applicability of these ideas are limited, as well.

A new Mishna teaches that if one knew about his/her own tumah and entered the Temple or ate sanctified offerings but forgot until Yom Kippur, the goat on Yom Kippur and Yom Kippur itself would will atone for that sin.  The Gemara asks why some forms of tumah are liable and others are not.  The transgressions mentioned are those of Temple desecration and desecration of consecrated items.  There are many other transgression that involve ritual impurity.  Why do those note matter to the rabbis?

At the end of our daf, the rabbis wonder whether the korban, sacrifice, would be enough to protect a person from punishment if s/he knew and then forgot about being tamei.

Shevuot 6: Different Shades of White (Regarding Tzara'at)

The rabbis continue their discussion about the identification of tzara'at, translated improperly as leprosy.  They are contemplating what to do when one spot is whiter than another.  Should one be an expert to declare that one white spot is ritually pure or impure?  Can the rabbis declare certain shades of white to be tamei, ritually impure, and others to be tabor, ritually pure?

The example of four glasses of milk with 2, 4, 8, and 16 drops of blood in them is put forward to better explore mixed substances.  Mixed colours would always be weaker than pure colours.  'Snow white' and 'wool white' are both used to describe the pure white colour.

At the end of our daf, the rabbis begin a discussion regarding the potential punishments for forgetting that one is in tumah, a state of ritual impurity, when entering the Temple.

Friday, 1 December 2017

Shevuot 4: The Value of Things and People

The rabbis continue to apply the suggestions of our last Mishna.  How do we know how many lashes are administered for different transgressions?  We are reminded of types of crimes that are not punishable by lashes, including crimes punishable by the death penalty - like all transgressions of Shabbat.  

We learn that one cannot use anything (which means anything worth at least five shekalim) to redeem a firstborn son, except for documents.  The Sages suggest that slaves and land could also be used to this end.  It is notable that the reason for thinking of slaves in this context is because slaves are owned, just like land is owned.  Further, documents are truly only paper and thus have very little worth.

The rabbis discuss what could be included or excluded from this list.  Part of that discussion includes the tools that might be used to mark a slave's ear when s/he wishes to stay with her/his owner beyond the seven year limit.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Shevuot 3: When Two Oaths Are Four Oaths, Pt. 2

The rabbis explain that Masechet Shevuot follows Masechet Makkot in part because of the latter's final discussion of hair cutting.  The rabbis notice, the punishment of two sets of lashes for cutting the hair improperly is in fact an example of "two that are four".

The rabbis note examples of this rule regarding shevuot, oaths.  Regarding oaths that are utterances, there are two that are four: 

  • "I will eat" "I will not eat" actually include utterances of, "I ate" and "I did not eat" 
  • 'Awareness of defiling the Temple' includes awareness of ritual impurity before eating sacrificial food and before entering the Temple; this actually includes awareness of the ritual purity of sacrificial food and awareness that one was in a holy place  
  • Carrying out on Shabbat includes two that are four: a poor person or by a homeowner; bringing in by a poor person or by a homeowner  
  • Identification of leprous marks are "two that are four" with a wool-white leprous mark and a snow-white leprous mark; these include similar marks beside each of these marks

The rabbis argue about whether or not one should be punished with flogging for the violation of a prohibition which does not involve an action.  Reish Lakish clarifies that one is not flogged in this case because one cannot be forewarned with certainty. 

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Shevuot 2: When Two Oaths Are Four Oaths; Comparing and Contrasting

Shavuot are oaths.  Our first Mishna begins with the statement: regarding oaths (uttered through the lips), there are two types that are actually four types.  We learn from commentary that the two types are promising to take on a certain action and promising to refrain from acting in some way.  The reason that the Mishna tells us that these are actually four types is because we are not just liable regarding our future behaviour but also our past behaviour.

The next three paragraphs outline other situations where two types are four types.  These regarding the halachot of defiling the Temple, carrying on Shabbat, and identifying leprous marks.  This last example takes into consideration awareness of one's wrongdoing.  The Mishna goes on to explore the notion of awareness.  At what point might one become aware?  Should it matter whether that awareness was at the beginning or the end of the time before and/or after the transgression?  The rabbis consider whether or not such awareness would always or only sometimes result in a sliding-scale offering.

The Mishna considers the offerings brought by goats who might have defiled the Temple by entering in a state of ritual impurity or by consuming something ritually impure.  What if a Yom Kippur offering was intentionally ritually impure?  Interestingly, we learn that both the sacrifice and Yom Kippur atone for it themselves.  

In fact, we are reminded that the scapegoat that is sacrificed at Azazel atones for intentional and unintentional transgressions, for those that are major or minor, positive mitzvot or prohibitions, and transgressions punishable by karet (excision from the World-to-Come) or by a court-imposed death penalty.  The rabbis remind us that priests are atoned for by the bull and Israelites by the goats in the Yom Kippur offering.  This is connected both to the blood of these animals and the confessions said over these animals.

At the very end of today's daf, we begin our Gemara.  We learn that there must be a reason for beginning Masechet Shevuot after Masechet Makkot.  The rabbis suggest that the connection is the last teaching in Makkot which outlined the specific hair cutting which is permitted.  Perhaps liability for transgression involving haircutting is linked to the start of Shevuot, which discusses two types which are actually four types.

Monday, 27 November 2017

Makkot 22: How Administer Lashes

The rabbis complete their conversation regarding the number of lashes administered to a person who has transgressed many prohibitions in one grand action.  

A new Mishna teaches receiving lashes means receiving 39 lashes.  Rabbi Yehuda says that 40 lashes are administered, and that there is not an "extra" lash.  The lashes are evenly divided among three parts of the body, and the 40th lash is between the shoulder blades.  An estimation is made as to how many lashes the person can survive - and it is a number divisible by three.  If he is thought to survive 40 lashes but seems weak earlier, he is exempt.  He would have already have been humiliated enough.  However, if he was estimated to survive 18 lashes and is fine at 18, he is still exempt from the remaining lashes.  

The Gemara discusses the reasoning behind giving only 39 and not 40 lashes.  The directive was "b'mispar arbaim", the number followed by 40.  Rava says that most people are foolish for they stand for the Sefer Torah but do not stand for the wise Sages.  The Torah says 40 lashes and the rabbis say 39.  Rabbi Yehuda argues that one receives a full 40 lashes, with the final lash between the shoulders.  Rabbi Yitzchak adds that 39 lashes are for the sin while the last lash is to arouse G-d's love for him.  

We learn a new Mishna: if one transgresses something forbidden by two prohibitions, he receives the amount of the estimation if it was made for both prohibitions.  If the estimation was made for only one of his prohibitions, he receives that many lashes and then a second estimation is made and received after he recovers from that first number of lashes.

A third new Mishna teaches about how a person receives lashes.  He leans on a post and is tied there.  The overseer of the Beit Din tears his clothes until his chest is exposed.  The overseer stands on a rock holding two leather straps folded into four.  Two more straps of done skin are attached.  The handle of the whip is a handbreadth. The end of it wraps around the width of the person's back to reach his stomach.  One third of the lashes are applied to the stomach, and two thirds are on the back (Ritva says on the middle of the back, and Rambam says that one third are on each shoulder).  

The transgressor should be lashed with one hand at full strength.  If the transgressor dies, the overseer is exempt unless he applied an extra lash, in which case he is liable.  If the transgressor excretes urine or faces due to fear or pain, he is exempt for he has been humiliated.  Rabbi Yehuda says that a woman will be exempt for this reason, but a man is only exempt if he defecates.  

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Makkot 21: Bald Spots, Self-Harm, Tattoos

In yesterday's daf (Makkot: 20b), we learn a new Mishna that directs the ways in which men should and should not cut their hair.  If this cutting is incorrect, the Mishna teaches that the men will be liable to receive different numbers of lashes.  

First, the Gemara discusses the creation of forbidden bald spots on one's head.  This could be purposefully or accidentally, perhaps from a person who has depilatory cream on the fingers and thumb of one hand and touched his hair.  Forewarnings and lashings follow the number of each one of these bald spots.  How big does a bald spot have to be?  The length of two missing hairs?  Or perhaps the size of a certain type of bean maybe a lentil or civilian bean?  The rabbis also connect this transgression with that of cutting on Shabbat, which is liable at the point of two hairs.  In fact, they consider Deuteronomy (22:5), which considers men wearing women's clothing.  This act of haircutting is considered to be connected to that prohibition.

Men are prohibited from cutting the extremities of his hair and rounding the corners of his head.  The rabbis debate about what these terms might mean.  They also speak about the beard, and the five points from which one must not cut.  Images in Steinsaltz describe the points from which hair must not be cut.

The Gemara notes that we are not permitted to cut ourselves over the bodies of the dead, and that each cut would make one liable to receive one flogging.  This act of self harm is not permitted as part of mourning rites, but it also forbidden more generally.  

We learn about tattoos in a new Mishna.  It states that one who imprints a tattoo by inserting dye into the recesses carved into the skin is liable to receive lashes.  However, if one receives a tattoo without carving the skin, or without imprinting with a dye - ink, kohl, or any other lasting substance, he is not liable. However, Rabbi Shimon ben Yehuda says in the name of Rabbi Shimon that one is only liable if G-d's name is written in the tattoo based on Leviticus (19:28).  That verse suggests that G-d is concerned that people do not inscribe anyone else's name of the Lord.  

Amud (a) ends with the first few thoughts of a new Mishna.  It names three examples of those who receive only one lashing for multiple transgressions.  These are a nazarite who drinks all day, a nazarite who exposes himself to corpses all day, a nazarite who shaves all day, and a person who wears a coat of diverse kinds over and over in the course of a day.  They are lashed multiple times if they are forewarned multiple times.  

A case of multiple punishments/lashings for one action is described, as well.  This would be one who ploughs a single furrow with an ox and donkey together, that are consecrated, and the field holds diverse kinds, and it is a Sabbatical Year and a festival, and the driver is both a priest and a nazarite, and the ploughing is in a place made impure by the presence of a corpse.  This is challenged - perhaps he is wearing diverse kinds, as well.  But the rabbis reject this, as that is a different category of transgression - just like the nazarite and priest would be punished not for ploughing but for doing this action near a corpse, which is a different category of punishment.  

The Gemara walks through each of these, of course.  At the end of our daf, the Gemara suggests other examples of multiple floggings resulting from one action.

Makkot 19: Ma'aser Sheni

Our daf continues the discussion about bikurim. However, we move into the discussion of "what about after the Temple,"  which applies to us today.  The rabbis consider how the ma'aser sheni should be separated and exchanged and consumed.  This brings the rabbis to a discussion of the holiness of place.

Jerusalem is understood as holding the presence of G-d and thus it will be holy forever.  The land of Israel is holy because of G-d's will; the presence of the Temple was proof of that holiness.  Thus we are to continue to the practice of ma'aser sheni through the somewhat symbolic transfer of value from one substance to another, and Jerusalem is the site of consumption and/or exchange.

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Makkot 18: Eating Bikurim, Peace-Offerings

Today's daf reminds me that the Talmud is a collection of conversations focused on recreating what must have been practiced when the Temple was standing.  Not what Jews should be doing now (whether that "now" is 2000 years ago or today), but what Jews must have done in the past.  It is always amazing to be reminded of the fact that I am learning about what was thought about what was done so so long ago.

The rabbis continue to discuss how Jews would be punished for which transgressions.  How many lashes for eating a certain category of food outside of the wall?  How many lashes for a Kohen who partakes of a certain type of food in a certain place?  What actions are exempt, and when, and why?  

Considering bikurim, the first fruits brought to the Temple for the priests, in particular, the rabbis teach that they must be brought before Sukkot.  If not, the bikurim are left to rot.  Kri'ah, special readings, are not said after Sukkot.  Based on their consideration of other laws, the rabbis decide that bikurim may be eaten by Kohanim after the special readings are said.  If there are no special readings for certain offerings, then the food can be eaten as soon as it enters the azarah, the courtyard of the mikdash.

The rabbis examine the requirement of tenufa, to raise or wave the birkurim.  The Kohen must wave the bikurim like how the owner must wave the shelamim, the peace offering.  How could this be done at the same time?  Perhaps, we learn, the Kohen places his hands under those of the owners and they wave at the same time.

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

Makkot 17: Punishments for Transgressing the Halachot of Bikurim

Some quick notes on today's daf:
  • when tithing demai, produce with unclear ritual status, one separates ma'aser oni, the tithe for Leviim which may be substituted for money and given to the poor on the third and sixth year of the shemita cycle
  • maaser oni's source cannot be proven and thus it may not be tevel, food that can be eaten
  • the rabbis discuss how much tevel should be eaten before it becomes disallowed and would be punishable with lashes
A new Mishna teaches us that some certain acts are punished with forty lashes:
  • food sanctified as bikurim, first fruits brought to feed the priests, called kodshei kodoshim cannot be given to a zar and cannot be taken outside of the Temple courtyard
  • kodshei kalim are permitted in all of Jerusalem even to common people
  • one must recited a specific set of kriah, verses, before eating bikurim
  • bikurim must be eaten within its permitted boundaries
  • the pesach, main animal sacrifice, cannot have a bone broken 
  • those who break these laws and those who leave the sacrifice overnight are not punished with lashes
  • one who takes a mother bird from her chicks or eggs is lashed 
The Gemara questions why we would be stringent with some halachot and not with others.  Those who eat certain categories of food outside of the wall of the city will be punished with lashes.  Why wouldn't others be punished similarly for an equivalent transgression?  The Gemara lists the stringencies associated with different transgressions. The rabbis also consider whether someone may have transgressed in a number of ways and how his/her number of lashings might be determined.  

Monday, 20 November 2017

Makkot 16: Transgressions, Action/Inaction, Lashes

Some notes on today's daf:

  • Reish Lakish and Rabbi Yochanan agree that a person who breaks an oath to eat a loaf of bread on one day will not be lashed
  • Rabbi Yochanan says this is because the transgression requires no action
  • Reish Lakish says this because there cannot be a definite warning
  • It is suggested that transgressions with actions are punished by lashes
  • The only transgressions without actions punished with lashes are swearing falsely, temura, trading an ordinary animal for a sanctified animal, and cursing another with G-d's name
  • A new Mishna quotes Rabbi Yehuda: if one takes a mother bird from her chicks/eggs, s/he is lashed and cannot do a mitzvah to send it away
  • The Sages say that he can do a mitzvah, send it away, and avoid lashes
  • The general rule: one is not lashed for a transgression which involves an action
  • The rabbis discuss the case where a Yisrael rapes a woman, marries her, divorces her, then remarries her and is not lashed
  • We are reminded that the more severe punishment is the one that is carried out
  • The rabbis discuss p'eah, the corners of our fields left unharvested so that the poor can eat
  • If the entire field is harvested, the amount that should have been left for the poor is separated from the sheaves and given to the poor
  • If that is not done, then that same amount is rescued before the final processing is done - that is the last chance to fulfil the mitzvah
  • Like a rapist who will not be lashed, there can be exceptions
  • Al Da'as Rabim was made to vow he would no longer teach children because he hit them too much, but was made to annul the vow when he was needed again as a teacher
  • We learn in a new Mishna that one who eats the following things is lashed:
  • nevilot, what is rendered unkosher at the time of ritual slaughter 
  • treifot, animals with wounds causing them to die within one year and thus not permitted,
  • shekatzim or rmasim, insects or similar disgusting creatures that should not be eaten,
  • The rabbis share examples of citizens lashed for eating a bug in water, a worm in a cabbage, etc
  • People are lashed five times for eating an ant
  • People are lashed six times for eating a wasp
  • People are lashed if they urgently need to defecates and they hold it in, for that makes one detestable
  • For the same reason, one cannot drink from a bloodletter's tools or smush up different sized ants to consume them

  • A second new Mishna teaches that one who eats tevel or ma'aser rishon is lashed
  • Even if only one type of tithe was taken, the food is forbidden to be consumed