Sunday, December 25, 2016

Bava Metzia 90: Robbers who castrate?

Bava Metzia 90a-b has

תא שמע דשלחו ליה לאבוה דשמואל הלין תורי דגנבין ארמאי ומגנחין יתהון מהו שלח להו הערמה אתעביד בהו אערימו עלייהו ויזדבנון

It is strange that the gentiles would steal the bulls and castrate them. So Rashi explains that they are performing this theft and castration as a favor - they return them to their owners afterwards, and this is the haarama:

ומנגחין יתהון - ומסרסין אותם ואח"כ מחזירין לבעלים ומאהבת בעליו ישראל גונבו הנכרי שהוא מכירו ומסרסו כדי שיהא יפה לחרישה:

Meanwhile Tosafot explain that there was more action on the part of the Jews. Citing Rav Achai Gaon, they would tie a dinar to the testicles of the bull, such that when the gentile thieves would come to steal it, they would end up castrating the bull:

דגנבין להו ארמאי. בשאלתות דרב אחאי מפרש שהיו קושרין דינר בכיס של בהמה בחזקה והנכרי גונב הדינר ותולש הכיס 
ומסרסו ולשון גנבין להו לא משמע הכי שלא באין לגנוב רק הדינר:

To me, it seems there is some likelihood that there is a taut sofer in play. Change the bet of דגנבין to a chet and you get deganchin aramaei. The next phrase though would be repetitive. Take out the spurious vav and get:

הלין תורי דגנחין ארמאי מגנחין יתהון מהו

"Those bulls who are castrated by gentile castrators, what is their law?"

This works out better, perhaps, with the surrounding gemara that deals with an explicit amira le'akum.

This rereading might upend halacha based on the assumption that we are dealing here (according to Rashi) with a mere understanding, rather than explicit amira. Or with a clever action on the part of the Jews causing an unwitting action by the gentile, which would be either more or less direct than an explicit request.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin