Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What does 'spill it on the ground like water' teach us?

Summary: Why do we need Rashi's first derasha? It turns out to be an explicit gemara. Also, what would peshat in this be? Maybe like Mizrachi!

Post: From parashat Reeh:

16. However, you shall not eat the blood; you shall spill it on the ground like water.טז. רַק הַדָּם לֹא תֹאכֵלוּ עַל הָאָרֶץ תִּשְׁפְּכֶנּוּ כַּמָּיִם:
רק הדם לא תאכלו: אף על פי שאמרתי שאין לך בו זריקת דם במזבח לא תאכלנו:
תשפכנו כמים: לומר לך שאין צריך כסוי. דבר אחר הרי הוא כמים להכשיר את הזרעים:

Rashi brings forth two derashot on "pouring out like water":
  1. to teach you that it does not need covering
  2. behold, it is like water, to prepare zeraim {making them susceptible to ritual impurity}
Both of these are derashot, rather than peshat, it seems. The first on the action as a whole, and the second, on the comparison to water.

Rabbi Eliyahu Mizrachi does not feel that this first derasha is really necessary.

That is, even though both derashot occur in the Sifrei, what is the need for a specific limud about this dam? Isn't it only applicable to birds and wild animals? This is a pasuk, after all. In Vayikra 17:13:

13. And any man of the children of Israel or of the strangers who sojourn among them, who traps a quarry of a wild animal or bird that may be eaten, and sheds its blood, he shall cover it [the blood] with dust.יג. וְאִישׁ אִישׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וּמִן הַגֵּר הַגָּר בְּתוֹכָם אֲשֶׁר יָצוּד צֵיד חַיָּה אוֹ עוֹף אֲשֶׁר יֵאָכֵל וְשָׁפַךְ אֶת דָּמוֹ וְכִסָּהוּ בֶּעָפָר:

One never have thought to include domesticated animals, beheimot, in the first place. So, one would say that this includes specifically chaya and of, but not beheima. Mizrachi suggests that perhaps, since the Torah connected it {beheima} to the gazelle and the deer {in the immediately preceding pasuk in Reeh -- הַטָּמֵא וְהַטָּהוֹר יֹאכְלֶנּוּ כַּצְּבִי וְכָאַיָּל} , it should require covering like them.

The Taz addresses this question, as apparently many have before him:

After citing the pasuk, Rashi, and Mizrachi, he notes that many have pointed out that he forgot about an explicit gemara that addresses this very point. In perek Kisuy HaDam (the sixth perek of Chullin), daf 84a:
אמר ליה יעקב מינאה לרבא קי"ל חיה בכלל בהמה לסימנין אימא נמי בהמה בכלל חיה לכסוי אמר ליה עליך אמר קרא (דברים יב, טז) על הארץ תשפכנו כמים מה מים לא בעי כסוי אף האי נמי לא בעי כסוי
Thus, without this verse, we would have indeed thought that beheimah would require kisuy. Maybe because it is encompassed in chayah in the pasuk in sefer Vayikra.

A good answer. It was still a good question. It shows how the meforshei Rashi engage in direct analysis of midrashim, something I've discussed in the past.

In Taama Di-Kra, Rav Chaim Kanievsky addresses this phrase in this pasuk.

He refers to the derashot, and suggests what a remez could be -- that one should only salt meat over a perforated vessel, so that the blood will fall on the ground, and not within the vessel in which the meat rests.

But he notes that on a peshat level, it is extraneous, for there is no nafka mina is you pour it out or not, for the main thing is that you do not eat it.

But perhaps, one could say that the peshat is indeed the derasha, that it does not need kisuy. After all, as Mizrachi suggested -- in lucky ignorance of the gemara -- perhaps since it had been connected in the previous verse to the gazelle and deer, I would think that not only may one not eat it, but that it requires kisuy hadam like them. Therefore, this comes to teach us, on a peshat level, that it does not.

I like to sometimes cite the Karaites. They are concerned with peshat, and when they give forth a derasha from Chazal as peshat, it might be worthy considering that it is indeed peshat, rather than derash.

Here is what the Karaite scholar Aharon ben Yosef has to say:

"and He commanded regarding the blood; now that it {=the beheima} had been associated with the gazelle and the deer, and it appeared from the context that one should cover its blood, it was required to say 'pour it out like water'."

I wonder if this phrase was an existing idiom, that carried a value judgement. We see in Shmuel Beis 14:14:

יד  כִּי-מוֹת נָמוּת--וְכַמַּיִם הַנִּגָּרִים אַרְצָה, אֲשֶׁר לֹא יֵאָסֵפוּ; וְלֹא-יִשָּׂא אֱלֹהִים, נֶפֶשׁ, וְחָשַׁב מַחֲשָׁבוֹת, לְבִלְתִּי יִדַּח מִמֶּנּוּ נִדָּח.14 For we must needs die, and are as water spilt on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again; neither doth God respect any person; but let him devise means, that he that is banished be not an outcast from him.

This could be a way of connoting utter and irrecoverable loss. Maybe there is an associated message with the nefesh, which is in the blood, being lost, even as one benefits from the flesh. But maybe I'll return to consider this another day.

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