Pesahim 22a-b

February 08, 2006

This month's Steinsaltz Daf Yomi is sponsored by:
Dr. and Mrs. Alan Harris
The Lewy Family Foundation
Marilyn and Edward Kaplan


Mazal tov to Lori and Alan Harris on the birth of twin girls on January 12th,
Sophie Grace (Gittel Sarah bat Ziesel v'Avraham) and
Sascha Isabelle (Rivka Michal bat Ziesel v'Avraham).

To dedicate future editions of Steinsaltz Daf Yomi,
perhaps in honor of a special occasion or in memory of a loved one, click here.

*  *  *


In order to investigate whether the Torah forbids deriving benefit from things that cannot be eaten in general, our Gemara considers a number of cases of forbidden foods in an attempt to clarify whether an issur hana'ah (prohibition against deriving benefit) is an inherent part of this proscription.  Among the cases examined are gid ha-nashe (see Bereshit 32:33), blood (see Vayikra 17:12), ever min ha-hai (see Devarim 12:23) and shor ha-niskal (see Shemot 21:28).


The case of shor ha-niskal is one where someone's ox gores and kills another person. In that case, the Torah teaches that the ox is stoned and its meat cannot be eaten. The passage that says that its meat cannot be eaten - v'lo ye'akhel et besaro - is understood by the Gemara to teach us prohibitions against eating its meat, as well as deriving benefit from its meat. According to some opinions in the Gemara, the word et is understood to teach that the animal's skin also cannot be used; according to others we must learn this from elsewhere in the passage, since they do not believe that the word et can be used to teach halakhot.


These positions are found in a baraita that brings the teachings of Shimon (some say Nehemia) ha-Amasoni, who was known to learn halakhot from every et that appeared in the Torah.  When he reached the passage of et ha-Shem Elokekha tira (Devarim 10:20), which teaches that you should be in awe of God, he could not think of an appropriate thing to learn from the word et, and he stopped making such derashot. In reply to his students' question of "What will happen to our earlier teachings?" he responded that he would now receive reward for distancing himself from this methodology, just as he did when he made use of it. Finally Rabbi Akiva made use of that et to teach that Torah scholars should be included in the list of those whom the students should hold in awe.


One of the popular questions asked by the rishonim about this baraita is, why did Shimon ha-Amasoni encounter difficulties only when he reached this passage? Shouldn't the passage in Devarim 6:5 - v'ahavta et ha-Shem Elokekha, that you should love Hashem your God - have presented the same type of problem? The Maharsha suggests that Shimon ha-Amasoni had no doubt that there was an obligation to love Torah scholars which could be derived from that pasuk (=verse). His only question was whether the same rule could apply to awe, as well, a question that Rabbi Akiva eventually related to.


This essay is based upon the insights and chidushim (original ideas) of Rabbi Steinsaltz, as published in the Hebrew version of the Steinsaltz Edition of the Talmud. To learn more about the Steinsaltz Daf Yomi initiative, click here.


Next: Pesahim 23a-b