Sunday, June 27, 2010

How Ravina ate worms

I had an interesting thought, but decided to leave it out of the previous post on anisakis worms because it would distract from the main point.

In Chullin 67b, we hear about how darnei, a worm parasite which dwells between the flesh and the skin, is forbidden in meat but permitted in fish.

This is followed by a statement of how Ravina used to eat these worms:

אמר לה רבינא לאימיה אבלע לי ואנא איכול

A typical explanation would be:
"Ravina asked his mother to mix fish worms with his fish, so he would eat them without seeing them."

Why should she mix them together? As Rashi explains:
אבלע לי - דכוורי בתוך הדגים תני אותם שלא אראה ואקוץ בם:

And so, she was to mix the worms into the the flesh of the fish -- so that it was swallowed up / אבלע לי -- and then he would eat them. This disgust at the worms might be problematic for the reason I mentioned in the previous post, of bal teshakatzu. Further, the reason for mixing it up like this is missing from the statement itself. And to use the phrase אבלע לי in context of eating carries another connotation.

That would be that Ravina was acting in a silly manner with his mother, telling her to treat him like a baby bird. Since these worms are absolutely kosher, she should drop them in his mouth like a mother bird would her chicks, and he would then eat them.

This would then be the very opposite of Rashi's explanation, both in terms of disgust and in terms of whether they were separate entities. I don't know that I really am convinced this is the meaning of the statement, but I thought I'd record it here for later consideration.

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