Monday, August 09, 2010

Killing mosquitoes on Shabbos -- part ii

Last time, in my analysis, I mentioned that the parallel Yerushalmi did not seem to be particularly helpful. I was wrong. That was because I was looking at at the gemara on the parallel Mishnah. However, elsewhere in Yerushalmi Shabbos, namely 74b:
אמר ר' ינאי מותר להרוג את הצרעה בשבת.  ותני כן חמשה נהרגין בשבת זבוב מצרי וצרעה שבנינוה.  ועקרב שבהדיות ונחש שבארץ ישראל.  וכלב שוטה שבכל מקום.  מעשה שנפל נחש בשבת ועמד נפתי אחד והרגו.  אמר רבי פגע בו כיוצא בו.  ולא מן הדברים הנהרגין בשבת אינון.  פתר לה בבאין להזיק.
Rabbi Yannai said: It is permitted to kill a hornet on Shabbat. 

And a brayta also says so: Five may be killed on Shabbat: The Egyptian fly, the hornet of Ninveh, the scorpion of Adiabene, the snake of the land of Israel, and a mad {=rabid} dog everywhere. 

There was an incident in which a snake fell out on Shabbat and one Nabatean {Jew, it would seem}arose and killed it. Rabbi said: פגע בו כיוצא בו {One like it {=the snake} has struck against it -- thus insulting this Nabatean Jew, as a Rasha -- so Pnei Moshe; alternatively, one like it must have struck him in the past -- in our Bavli, they ask whether this was meant seriously or sarcastically.}

{The setama of the Yerushalmi:} But was this not one of the {five} things which may be killed on Shabbat? Explain it as where they are coming to do damage.
Thus, according to the Yerushalmi, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi understands this brayta as where the five listed are coming to do damage, להזיק. This seems fairly similar to the suggestion of Rav Yosef in Bavli, that we should understand source X as ברצו אחריו. Now, it was unclear in the Bavli just what source X was. According to the reading of Rashi, Rif, Rosh, and Rambam, it was a statement by Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi about killing mazikin (possibly, lethal ones) in general, but not the five listed in the brayta, which could be killed even when one merely saw them. According to Tosafot, citing the reading of the Ri, the clarification of ברצו אחריו was regarding the brayta. Therefore, the statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi permitting killing of all mazikin represented a leniency, and one which we may or may not pasken like.

In my previous post, I noted that Tosafot gives good reasons for his reading, and that I think it works out better with the give and take, and language, or the gemara. We could now add the following. According to the Ri's reading, the Bavli's understanding of the brayta accords with the Yerushalmi's understanding of the brayta, and Rav Yosef's understanding of the brayta accords with Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's understanding of the brayta. This reading should therefore be preferred, IMHO.

Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's position, as well as that of Rabbi Yannai, appears in our Bavli as well, and so each may lend insight onto the other.

If we understand Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi's statement as criticism of the fellow as a Rasha, then it appears to be parallel to that of Rav Huna, to some extent. In Bavli, Rav Huna criticized someone who killed a wasp -- zibura. And this was taken {by the gemara} as akin to the position of a brayta recited before Rava bar Rav Huna, that the spirit of the pious is displeased with one who kills snakes and scorpions -- a brayta which Rava bar Rav Huna rejects as contrary to halacha. It seems that that case was where the snake was not pursuing. Similarly, here in Yerushalmi, Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi criticized someone who killed a non-pursuing snake.

The statement of Rabba bar Rav Huna and Rav Huna:
תנא קמיה דרבא בר רב הונא ההורג נחשים ועקרבים בשבת אין רוח חסידים נוחה הימנו א"ל ואותן חסידים אין רוח חכמים נוחה מהם ופליגא דרב הונא דרב הונא חזייה לההוא גברא דקא קטיל זיבורא א"ל שלימתינהו לכולהו

I still believe that a lot of both Bavli (particularly that of Rava bar Rav Huna) and Yerushalmi are up in the air for interpretation. Still, there are interesting parallels here.

Continuing to analyze this Yerushalmi, I would note the statement of Rabbi Yannai (which also appears in Bavli),
אמר ר' ינאי מותר להרוג את הצרעה בשבת
is somewhat parallel to that of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi:
א"ר יהושע בן לוי כל המזיקין נהרגין בשבת
but not absolutely so. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi mentions mazikin, which might mean any injurious animal, even non-fatal ones. Or, it might mean fatal ones. Rashi assumes it to be fatal animals, but Rashi has an integrated peshat. That is, yes, Rashi understands these as fatal mazikin. But he has to, within his integrated peshat. After all, the ratzu acharav is modifying this statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, and then this statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi is divrei hakol, even according to Rabbi Yehuda who says that melacha she'aina tzricha legufah is chayyav, that is, forbidden Biblically. This would make most sense if there were pikuach nefesh which would obviate the Biblical prohibition. Once we no longer understand this resoltion as referring to the statement of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi, his statement may be based on Rabbi Shimon, where the prohibition would only be Rabbinic. And then we could say like the Mordechai, that we are dealing with mazikin which hurt but don't kill. This is, after all, the simplest implication of mazikin, as well as kol hamazikin.

What about this statement by Rabbi Yannai? When he says tzir'ah, does he mean a fatal tzir'ah? I think so, according to the Yerushalmi (which presumably should know better than Bavli about the position of this Amora of Eretz Yisrael). After all, he says tzir'ah and this was listed as one of the five (seeming) fatal animals in the brayta which may be killed. And the setama of the Yerushalmi assumes so; it states: ותני כן and gives the brayta of five.

But the tzirah of Ninveh might be much more dangerous than your typical tzirah. The hornet of Ninveh presumably stems from the following pasuk in Yeshaya perek 7:

יח  וְהָיָה בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא, יִשְׁרֹק יְהוָה לַזְּבוּב, אֲשֶׁר בִּקְצֵה, יְאֹרֵי מִצְרָיִם; וְלַדְּבוֹרָה--אֲשֶׁר, בְּאֶרֶץ אַשּׁוּר.18 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.

The fly of Egypt is one of the items of the brayta of five. The bee / hornet is from Assyria, which is Ninveh. (זיבורא means both, and is a daled / zayin switchoff of Hebrew / Aramaic -- and seems to be a synonym for tzir'ah.) This is then a specific hornet. Rabbi Yannai, though, did not mention this specific hornet. It is true that one gemara speaks of a hornet being able to kill an infant under a year old; and that another speaks of a hornet stinging an adult on the forehead, which kills him. But that does not mean that the hornet, the צרעה, is really fatal in the general case. So Rabbi Yannai says צרעה without specification; the setama of Yerushalmi assumes it is identical to the one of the brayta, but I am not so sure.

This, also, because of the parallel account of this statement of Rabbi Yannai in the Bavli:
ר' אבא בריה דר' חייא בר אבא ור' זירא הוו יתבי אקילעא דבי ר' ינאי נפק מילתא מבינייהו בעו מיניה מר' ינאי מהו להרוג נחשים ועקרבים בשבת אמר להו צירעה אני הורג נחש ועקרב לא כ"ש 
We don't know what creature appeared before Rabbi Chiya bar Abba and Rabbi Zera. Maybe a general mazik. But they asked about nechashim and akravim. We also don't know if this was רצו אחריו. It seems, though, that it is not so. He exclaims that he maintains that he would even kill a tzir'ah on Shabbos. Certainly a snake or a scorpion! It is strange to make a kal vachomer of creatures listed explicitly in the brayta. All should be equally dangerous. This leads me to think that this tzir'ah is not the dangerous one of the brayta, but rather a mere hornet, either potentially fatal or not fatal at all. This would be at odds with the setama of Yerushalmi, though.

Also, Rabbi Yannai would permit killing even the tzirah and certainly the nachash and akrav. Should we say that this is when they are coming to kill him? This would seem to be pikuach nefesh, so why would this be a question to Rabbi Zera and Rabbi Chiyya bar Abba. He must hold that this is even where they are not coming to kill him. Rabbi Yannai would then be at odds with the position of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, who only permits in the brayta when they are pursuing.

In terms of the statement of Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi:
מעשה שנפל נחש בשבת ועמד נפתי אחד והרגו.  אמר רבי פגע בו כיוצא בו.
This has a parallel in our Bavli. In Yerushalmi, it is explicitly a snake. (And it happened in Eretz Yisrael, so shouldn't this be the snake of Eretz Yisrael?) The Bavli's version just has אחד rather than נחש, so it would mean one of these five:
א"ר אבא בר כהנא פעם אחת נפל אחד בבהמ"ד ועמד ניותי אחד והרגו אמר רבי פגע בו כיוצא בו איבעיא להו פגע בו כיוצא בו דשפיר עביד או לא ת"ש דר' אבא בריה דר' חייא בר אבא ור' זירא הוו יתבי אקילעא דבי ר' ינאי נפק מילתא מבינייהו בעו מיניה מר' ינאי מהו להרוג נחשים ועקרבים בשבת אמר להו צירעה אני הורג נחש ועקרב לא כ"ש דילמא לפי תומו דאמר רב יהודה רוק דורסו לפי תומו ואמר רב ששת נחש דורסו לפי תומו ואמר רב קטינא עקרב דורסו לפי תומו
Here, the setama of Bavli (that is, I maintain that איבעיא להו is consistently setama) is unsure how to understand Rabbi's statement. I don't know that the Yerushalmi is necessarily much help. If we understand this as criticizing the fellow as a rasha, it could be that this is because it wasn't pursuing him, while the brayta was dealing with one pursuing him. If he was saying that one has attacked him in the past, then we can understand it to mean that only in such a case was the person entitled to act, since it was coming to harm him, and so the brayta is not a mattir.

On the other hand, the plain sense of the Yerushalmi is one without all the ambiguity and uncertainty of the Bavli. Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi appears to be talking more or less seriously, with the implication that the fellow either did, or should have, encountered this snake in the past. And this because he understands the list of five in the brayta as where they are pursuing. Also, there is no mention in the Yerushalmi of any requirement (in the non-pursuing case, say), of trodding on it lefi tumo. This is only mentioned by two Babylonian Amoraim in the Bavli, in a topic that itself clearly has Amoraim on either side.

So I think the Yerushalmi and Bavli shed light on each other. If we are going to dispute elements of the setama of the Yerushalmi, though, perhaps its understanding of פתר לה בבאין להזיק as applying to the brayta should not be transferred to the רצו אחריו in the Bavli. I think it should, though. It makes Tosafot's explanation much more likely, IMHO.

Note this a very preliminary "reaction"-post to the Yerushalmi. I've got to mull it over some more; then, I might change my mind, or have more to add.

I would like to run through the Bavli at this point explaining how we might understand each statement -- as fatal, potentially fatal, merely harmful; and running after him or not. Not that this would be the only possible reading -- I don't think it possible to conclusively dismiss any particular reading -- but the one that seems most correct to me. Perhaps in a follow-up post.

1 comment:

eli said...

it is a confusing issue actually, though i feel bad to kill any kind of animal or bug, on shabbat or not.


Blog Widget by LinkWithin