Thursday, February 23, 2012

Beating baby rams for the cover of the Mishkan

Summary: Why doesn't Rashi suggest that that is what וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים means, if the Yerushalmi explains it in this manner? Rav Chaim Kanievsky asks and answers. And I give my own explanation.

Post: Consider this Rashi, towards the beginning of Terumah:
5. ram skins dyed red, tachash skins, and acacia wood;ה. וְעֹרֹת אֵילִם מְאָדָּמִים וְעֹרֹת תְּחָשִׁים וַעֲצֵי שִׁטִּים:
dyed red: Heb. מְאֳָדָּמִים. They were dyed red after being tanned.מאדמים: צבועות היו אדום לאחר עבודן:

After citing the pasuk and Rashi, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes, in Taama deKra:

"And it is written in R' Ovadiah miBartenura, za'l, as follows:
'They were dyed red after being tanned', to explain, since it did not state adumim but rather מְאָדָּמִים, it is implied that they were red due to some other substance and not red because of themselves. However, in the Yerushalmi is written that they would strike the rams with rods while they were yet small, and the blood would collect when they hit them, and afterwards, they slaughtered them, end quote.
And this is in the Yerushalmi, perek 7, and see in the Tosefta, perek 9 of Shabbat. And this requires consideration, why Rashi za'l explained that they were dyed after being tanned, not like the Yerushalmi.

And there is to say that in Menachot, daf 42m Tannaim argue if we need dyeing lishmah for the priestly garments, see inside. And see in the Yerushalmi, perek 3 of Yoma, that the priestly garments need their weaving to be in holiness. And it stands to reason, certainly, that the same would be true for their dyeing, that they need to be in holiness. And presumably, it also stands to reason that the same would be true for all the labors of the Mishkan, that we need the dyeing to be lishmah. And that which the Israelites donated techeiles and argaman, etc., and it certainly implies that they donated that which was already dyed techeiles. Perforce one must say that it seems that they did the dyeing lishmah. And according to that which is explained in the Yerushalmi Yoma, that we need weaving to be done in holiness [and presumably, dyeing as well], one must say that those who donated it consecrated it before the dyeing, such that its tanning was lishmah and in holiness.

And according to this, is seems that so would be true for the dyeing of the red rams, that it would need to be in holiness, and lishmah. And based on this, it is impossible to explain like the Yerushalmi, that they made them red while alive via striking with rods when they were young, for if so, it was not done in holiness. [For after this, the hide would not become red via gathering of the blood. And the entire time of Israel's donation to the Mishkan was two days [as is written in Shemos Rabba, parasha 41]. And since they are now already {adult} rams, which would be at the very least 13 months, as is written in the Mishna at the beginning of Para, it comes out that they were not dyed lishmah, nor in holiness.

And therefore, Rashi za'l explained that they were dyed after they were tanned. And the aforementioned Yerushalmi, which explains that they were dyed while yet alive, perforce goes according to the opinion that we do not require dyeing lishmah."

All in all, a masterful construction, which required bekius across Shas Bavli, Shas Yerushalmi, and midrashim, and sevara to combine all these little facts together.

Even so, I don't think that the end result is true. I will try to offer my own analysis.

First, that Rashi does not cite the Yerushalmi, and explain according to it, is not exceptional, that it should rise to the level of a question. First one needs to demonstrate that Rashi even had access to the full Yerushalmi. In medieval times, it is documented that they did not have Yerushalmi in all countries. And even if it was available to him, that does not mean that it was something Rashi obtained and studied in great depth, such that this random Yerushalmi should be on the tip of his tongue, and such that it is surprising that Rashi did not cite it. And even if he knew the Yerushalmi, the Bavli in Shabbos does not give this as the definition of dyeing in the Mishkan, leaving it implicit (not explicit) that the dyeing was of the techeiles, argaman, and tolaas shani.

(As an aside, see how Rav Ovadia Yosef puts it in Halacha Yomit:
אחת מט"ל (משלשים ותשע) מלאכות האסורות מן התורה בשבת, היא מלאכת צובע. שכן שנינו במשנה במסכת שבת (דף עג.). שהרי כל מלאכה שהיו עושים במשכן, אסרה התורה לעשותה בשבת. ובכלל המלאכות שהיו נעשות במשכן, היתה מלאכת צובע, שהיו רגילים לצבוע את הצמר בצבע התכלת שהיה מצוי בידם, וכן היו רגילים לצבוע את עורות המשכן בצבע.

Perhaps, also, there is another way of understanding the Yerushalmi in question, such that the Yerishalmi is saying no such thing.

Aside from any analysis of Rashi or Yerushalmi, my mind recoils from the idea mentioned in the Yerushalmi. This is beauty, and this is what they would do to beautify the Mishkan?! To beat poor defenseless baby rams to cause painful bruising and internal bleeding? I don't think I could look at the red cover of the Mishkan and think of its beauty.

Halachically, there is a din of tzaar baalei chaim, not to cause unnecessary pain to animals. Yet one is allowed to cause pain for a constructive purpose, and there may be a threshold at which it is considered constructive. Thus, for instance, foie gras is the prepared liver of force-fed duck or goose. The force feeding it not pleasant for the duck or goose. Yet, it might fall within the realm of acceptable, halachically speaking. (Even so, the force-feeding seems to cause the ducks and geese to become treifahs, such that it would be forbidden from another perspective. Consult your local Orthodox rabbi.) And so it could well be acceptable to beat these calves to get red-dyed ram skins. Despite all this, I admit that I am a bit shocked.

On to the Yerushalmi! The Yerushalmi, in Shabbat 51a, reads as follows:

מה צביעה היתה במשכן שהיו משרבטין בבהמה בעורות אלים מאדמים.  א"ר יוסה הדא אמר העושה חבורה ונצרר בה דם חייב.

"What dyeing was there in the Mishkan? That the struck with rods [mesharbetin] animals, in the red ram skins.

Rabbi Yosa said: This informs us that one who makes a wound, and blood collects there, is liable."

This seems more or less along the lines of what Rav Chaim Kanievsky, and R' Ovadia MiBartenura, presented. Except one thing that leaps out is that the phrase beodam ketanim does not appear. If so, the resolution from R' Kanievsky that there would not have been enough time in the two days for them to go from young calves to full eilim is not entirely supported in our Yerushalmi.

But more than that. The explanation presented above is in accord with one of the standard commentaries on the page, namely the Korban HaEidah. Thus:

"shehayu mesharbetin beveheimah: That they would smite the animal with a rod, so that the hide would become red, when they flayed it.

venitzrar bah dam chayav: because of dyeing."

This explanation has going for it that it is extremely straightforward, and it is easy to see how the statement of Rabbi Yosa is directly extrapolated from the particulars of the prior statement.

Still, Pnei Moshe explains the Yerushalmi in an entirely different manner.

"{The Mishnah stated:} And one who dyes it. And it explains, 'what dyeing was there in the Mishkan? That they rodded the animal with the rod with dyeing, in order to make it recognizable, that it was set aside to be a korban. Or, in the manner that they did to the tenth one to leave, as we learn in the Mishna in the 9th perek of Bechorot, 'and the one that leaves tenth, they mark it red with red marking. And so did they dye in the red-dyed skins.

'{Rabbi Yosa said:} This tells us': From that which it stated that making any visible sign is called dyeing, we deduce that one who makes a wound and blood collects in it is liable because of dyeing, for the redness is recognizable..."

This is a very different sort of explanation. Nobody is beating poor defenseless baby rams to cause them to bruise. Instead, it is a (possibly temporary) painting with a marking to designate it.

It does not flow as well, because Rabbi Yosa's first din does not emerge entirely from the details of what they did in the Mishkan. And it is just happenstance that this din and the one which follow have to do with making things red. And also, mesharbetin beveheima ends up being something entirely different from beoros eilim meodamim, with an implicit "and" connecting them. Despite this difficulty, it is eminently possible, since the Aramaic of the Yerushalmi is not as worked-over and smooth as what we are used to in the Bavli.

If Pnei Moshe's explanation is correct, then all the difficulties for Rashi disappear. Even the Yerushalmi agrees that the dyeing was to the already-flayed (and tanned) skins of the rams, and so there is no contradiction.

I won't leave this sugya before offering my own suggestion, which might even eliminate some of the difficulties in the Pnei Moshe's explanation.

Now, in general, I agree that people all too-often look at Yerushalmis with Bavli-tinted spectacles. And so they reinterpret the Yerushalmi to accord with the Bavli, even if in truth there is disagreement. But this is just something to be aware of, and wary of. Even so, sometimes knowledge of the Bavli can indeed help with understanding the Yerushalmi, and vice versa.

I would point out the following Bavli, in Shabbat 75b:
והמולחו והמעבדו:
היינו מולח והיינו מעבד ר' יוחנן ור"ל דאמרי תרוייהו אפיק חד מינייהו ועייל שירטוט
Or, in English:
SALTING AND CURING IT. But salting and tanning are identical?3  — R. Johanan and Resh Lakish both said: Omit one of these and insert the tracing of lines.4
The tracing of lines was on the hides prior to cutting them. And so Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, both of whom were Amoraim of Eretz Yisrael, proposed changing the list of the 39 avos melachos in the Mishna to include sirtut.

And Rashi explains:
ועייל שירטוט - לפי שדרך הרצענין כשהוא בא לחתכו משרטטו תחלה כפי מה שהוא רוצה להאריך ולהרחיב ולקצר החיתוך ואחר כך מעביר הסכין דרך השירטוט וכן בעורות המשכן כשחתכום:
This tracing of lines in the hide seems remarkably similar to the slight marking on the beheimos mentioned in the Yerushalmi, according to the explanation of the Pnei Moshe.

More than that, the word here is שירטוט. And the word in Yerushalmi was משרבטין. Yes, I am going to suggest it -- that there was a taut sofer in the Yerushalmi, and it should read:
מה צביעה היתה במשכן שהיו משרטטין בבהמה בעורות אלים מאדמים.
"What dyeing was there in the Mishkan? That they would draw lines upon the [hides of] the animal, upon the hides of the red-dyed rams."

Further, the Yerushalmi is not listing two applications, of beheima and of orot eilim, but rather, there is an implicit "viz.", or "that is to day", between them. And so, by selecting the sirtut as the level of dyeing, rather than focusing on the dyeing of wool with techeilet, argaman, and tolaat shani, we have a much lighter activity which is prohibited. And so Rabbi Yosa extrapolates what he extrapolates.

If so, there is a difficulty in that Rabbi Yochanan and Resh Lakish, of Eretz Yisrael, want to include sirtut as a replacement for either salting or tanning. But according to the plain Yerushalmi, there would still be a clash with dyeing, which is already present. It is possible to resolve this, but I won't bother for now.

There is also the Tosefta that says sharbit, which Rav Kanievsky mentioned. That Tosefta reads:
ט,ב  המיסך [שלשה] חוטין בתחלה ה"ז חייב ר' יהודה אומר אף [השרביט] והמדקדק ע"ג אריג כל שהוא ה"ז חייב הצד חלזון והפוצעו [הרי זה חייב שתי חטאות].
But note that השרביט is in square brackets, indicating that this is a matter of girsological disagreement.

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