Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Did Avraham serve the milk with the meat, or did he serve them separately?

Summary: The gemara, Chizkuni, Daas Zekeinim, and Rav Chaim Kanievsky make some interesting diyukim. Plus, how I would understand the gemara in Bava Metzia. Did the Avos keep the Torah?

Post: Towards the start of Vayera, we read:

8. And he took cream and milk and the calf that he had prepared, and he placed [them] before them, and he was standing over them under the tree, and they ate.ח. וַיִּקַּח חֶמְאָה וְחָלָב וּבֶן הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה וַיִּתֵּן לִפְנֵיהֶם וְהוּא עֹמֵד עֲלֵיהֶם תַּחַת הָעֵץ וַיֹּאכֵלוּ:

Chizkuni, in considering the pasuk, sees a hint to the idea that one should eat cheese before meat but not  meat before cheese:

ויקח חמאה
 וחלב • רבנן אמרי אפי׳ פת הביא לפניהם ומה אם
דברים שלא אמר להם הביא לפניהם דברים שאמר
 להם על אחת כמם וכמה ואע״פ שאין ראיה לדבר
 לאכול גבינה קודם בשר ולא בשר קודם גבינה זכר
 לדבר ויקח חמאה וחלב והדר ובן הבקר :

"And though there is no proof to the matter, to eat cheese before meat and not meat before cheese, there is a hint / zecher to the matter: 'And he took ghee and milk', and then, after it, 'and the bullock'.

Then, a bit later, Chizkuni says:

ויאכלו• מצא באגדה שאכלו וזהו
 ששנו רבותינו  שאמר להם הקב"ה  למלאכים תינוק
 הגמול בבית ישראל משמרה יותר מכם שאכלתם בשר

"And they ate: We find in the aggada that they [indeed] ate. And this is what the Rabbi's taught, that Hashem said to the angels, a weaned child in an Israelite house keeps more than you, for you are meat with milk."

That does not mean that he endorses it as a matter of peshat. And there is this tension between the midrashic assumption of Avraham keeping all the mitzvos, on the one hand, and the angels having violated basar bechalav, on the other. Chizkuni did not mention Avraham keeping away from basar bechalav, but he did interpret the pasuk as a zecher to the proper way of eating cheese and meat, with the cheese first.

In a comment on a previous parshablog post, Bluke wrote:
Take a look at the Daas Zekainim at the beginning of Vayera. He has a fascinating explanation of what Chazal meant when they said Avraham kept even Eruv Tavshilin. He says it means that Avraham served the malachim first milk then meat, explaining the words literally that he know how to arrange the order of the food so that they would not violate an issur.
That is, eruv (mixing) of tavshilin (dishes). You can read the Daas Zekeinim here:

"ויקח חמאה וחלב: this teaches that he fed them meat which was basar vechalav; and when Hashem wished to give the Torah to Israel, the angels said, 'give Your glory to the Heavens.' He said to them, 'it is written in the Torah: thou shalt not seethe a kid in its mother's milk, and you, when you descended below, ate basar bechalav, as it written ויקח חמאה וחלב.' Immediately they admitted to Hashem, and this is what is written in parashat Ki Tisa, כי על פי הדברים האלה כרתי, and is written above from it לא תבשל גדי בחלב אמו.

And this midrash contradicts another midrash, that Avraham Avinu kept even eruvei tavshilin, which should be explained as dishes which are combined, that he did not eat basar bechalav, nor even basar and afterwards chalav, but rather chalav and afterwards basar, for it is written  ויקח חמאה וחלב and then ובן הבקר אשר עשה. And so as well explains Rashi

and the calf that he had prepared: that he had prepared. Each one that he prepared, he took and brought before them. — [from B.M. 86b]ובן הבקר אשר עשה: אשר תקן, קמא קמא שתקן, אמטי ואייתי קמייהו:

Baruch shekivanti regarding the conflicting tendencies of these two midrashim.

In Taama deKra, Rav Chaim Kanievsky writes:

ויקח חמאה וחלב ובן הבקר, במדרש
 תהלים פ״ח אמרו שהקב״ה אמר למלה״ש איך
 אתם רוצים את התורה הרי אכלתם בשר בחלב
 אצל אברהם וכבר הקשו דהא חלב ואח״כ בשר
 מותר עי׳ חזקוני וי״ל ע״פ הגמ׳  ב״מ פ״ו ב׳
 דפריך אהא דאמר שם ששחט ג׳ בהמות והכתיב
 ובן הבקר אשר עשה דמשמע חד  ומשני דקמא
 קמא דמטיא אייתי לקמייהו א״כ מדכתיב ויקח
 חמאה וחלב ובן הבקר אשר עשה ויתן לפניהם
 מוכח דהביא שלשתן יחד ואם נימא שלא אכלו
 יחד רק בתחלה החלב ואח״כ הבשר א׳׳כ למה
 מיהר להביא לפניהם הבקר מיד הרי בלא״ה לא
 אכלוהו מיד וע״כ שאכלוהו יחד.

"In the Midrash of Tehillim, p. 8, they say that Hashem said to the ministering angels: how can you want the Torah? Behold you ate basar bechalav by Avraham. 

And they have already asked that behold chalav and afterwards basar is permitted. See the Chizkuni. And there is to answer based on the gemara in Bava Metzia 86b, that they ask upon that he [=Avraham] slaughtered three animals. But, it is written  ובן הבקר אשר עשה, which implies one. And they answer that each one as it was ready they brought before them. If so, since it is written ויקח  חמאה וחלב ובן הבקר אשר עשה ויתן לפניהם, it is evidence that he brought the three of them together. {Josh: I think by the three of them, he does not the three cows, but rather the butter, milk, and meat.} And if you say that they did not eat all three together, but rather, at first the milk and afterwards the meat, if so, why did he rush to bring them the bullock [=meat] immediately? Behold that without this {rushing} they would not have eaten immediately. And perforce, they ate them together."

I am not sure I understand Rav Kanievsky's diyuk into the gemara -- is he contradicting the Chizkuni? --  but I will note that putting meat and dairy on the table together would be a violation by Avraham Avinu.

The gemara in question is here:
And Abraham ran unto the herd and fetched a calf, tender and good. Rab said: 'A calf', means one; 'tender' — two; and 'good' — three. But perhaps it [all means] one, as people say, a tender and good [calf]? — If so, Scripture should have written, [a calf] tender, good; why 'and' good? This proves that it is for exegesis.12  Then perhaps it means two?13  — Since 'good' is for exegesis, 'tender' [too] is for the same purpose. Rabbah b. 'Ulla — others say, R. Hoshaia — and others again Say, R. Nathan son of R. Hoshaia objected: And he gave unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it?14  — He gave each to one young man. [But is it not written] And he took butter and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them?15  — [This means,] each, as soon as it was ready, was brought before them. But why three? Would not one have sufficed? — R. Hanan b. Raba said: In order to offer them three tongues with mustard.16
When the gemara discusses the giving to the young man, the singular is used. The purpose of citing the hastening to dress it is not that haste was necessary, but that he hastened to dress it, not them. And then it gives a teretz that it is distributive to each in turn.

But then the gemara says
 each, as soon as it was ready, was brought before them.
And this is the same thing Rashi on our pasuk in Chumash says.

What is each? Each calf or each dish? The Daas Zekeinim brought this Rashi as evidence that each dish -- the butter, the milk, then the calf -- was brought out in turn, thus proving that he kept from eruv tavshilin.

But that does not seem to be the case. Rather, it is like Rashi says on the gemara:
קמא קמא דמטאי - ראשון שמגיע לאכול שנגמר בישולו:

Each one that finished its cooking he brought forth. So it is speaking about the three calves. And each one, as it finished its cooking, was brought forth.

To explain the gemara a bit better -- the way I would understand it, more or less -- they had previously dismissed "and he hasted to dress it", לַעֲשׂוֹת אֹתוֹ, as being the preparation each young man had performed on the calf assigned to him. But if so, when it came to the actual meal, it is stated וּבֶן הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה, such that only one was brought. And it is the same asiyah as before, and yet only one is mentioned. Therefore, they answer that it is not the same asiyah as before. The asiyah from before was perhaps the slaughter. This was the cooking, done by Avraham Avinu. And only one was made at this point.

This seems, then, to be Rav Chaim Kanievsky's diyuk. Why not wait to bring all three? The answer is that these were indeed all served at once. And if so, they ate basar bechalav. If so, is this not a contradiction in midrashim? Sure, but that is allowed. Or else, this is a remez for proper action for us.

Though it is a nice diyuk, I don't think I agree. I would interpret the last statement of the gemara in a slightly different way. Why is asher asah in the singular?  וּבֶן הַבָּקָר אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה means "and [each single] calf, as it was made". So it is not referring to only the first calf, but to all three calves in turn. And asher asah means as it was made. So no diyuk needs to be made that it was all served together, the milk and butter and cow tongue. In terms of the point in hurrying to bring it out as prepared, perhaps to serve it at its freshest, hot off the grill. Or that these were courses, and so others were finishing their courses, but he still gave the main course as soon as it was ready for each.

How does Rashi interpret it, as each calf or only the first? I think that Rashi on the gemara is not like me -- ראשון, he says.

It depends on how one interprets קמא קמא, I suppose. Consider the following examples. From Bava Batra 27b:
רבי אליעזר מתיר בכדי שתהא עגלה מהלכת וטעונה אבנים רבי יוחנן אמר אפילו תימא רבנן התם זימנין דמפחית ולאו אדעתיה אבל הכא קמא קמא קא קייץ ליה

 For we learnt: 'A cavity must not be made under a public thoroughfare, nor pits, ditches, or caves. R. Eliezer says it is permissible if the covering is sufficient to bear a moving cart laden with stones.'17  R. Johanan said: You may even say that the Rabbis [of that Mishnah] also concur [with the ruling here]. For there they prohibit because the cover may give way unexpectedly, but here every branch can be cut down as it grows.18

Here it means each branch as it comes into play.

And Bava Batra 97a:
לא צריכא שתמדו במי גשמים וכיון דקא שקיל ורמי להו למנא אחשבינהו לא צריכא שנתמד מאליו וכיון דקא נגיד קמא קמא אחשבינהו 
It is required [in the case] where the Tamad was made without the aid of human effort.21  But since he draws out [the infusions] one after the other,22  [does he not, thereby,] reveal his intention [of using them]? 

and Bava Batra 87a:
ואי ס"ד כור בשלשים סאה בסלע אני מוכר לך ראשון ראשון קנה ה"נ קמא קמא מיפסק פסק ואסור להנות הימנו

Now, if you are of the opinion that [if the seller said]. 'I sell you a kor for thirty, [each] se'ah for a sela', '[the buyer] acquires possession of every se'ah as it is measured out, here also, [since mention was made of a 'denarius a day'] every day that has passed4  [should have been regarded as] cut off5  [from the other days of the period that follow] and it should, [therefore], be forbidden to derive any benefit from it.6  

and Gittin 12a:
והשתא נמי תיסגי לך בלא העדפה הקדש גופיה ניחא לי' כי היכי דלשבח עבדיה עושה ופורע קמא קמא קדיש ליה בפחות פחות משוה פרוטה הכי נמי
The Sanctuary itself prefers this, so that its slave should be in good condition. You say that he works and pays from his earnings. How can he do this, seeing that every penny as he earns it becomes sanctified?1  — [He keeps on paying his earnings] before they amount to a perutah.2  

There are counterexamples. Thus, in Bava Metzia 26a and Pesachim 71, we have:
ירושלים עשויין להתכבד בכל יום אלמא אמרי' קמאי קמאי אזלי ליה והני אחריני נינהו הכא נמי נימא קמא קמא אזיל
 Because the streets of Jerusalem8  were swept daily. This proves that we assume: the earlier [losses] have gone, and these [coins] are different ones.  So here too, the earlier [deposits] have gone, and these belong to the last [tenant]?9 

Here we are talking about only one set of coins, rather than continuous action. But one could still read this as that deposit, or dropped coins, has gone. And so this too can be read as continuous action, rather than just the first.

My inclination is to read this into the gemara regardless of whether Rashi agrees.


yaak said...

The Shomrei Emunim newsletter called Kol Emunim (p. 1 left column) answers the Da'at Zekeinim's question by saying that it's all Yishmael's fault.

joshwaxman said...


I prefer the Daas Zekeinim's question to the teretz. Because it is a legitimate and true point, that these midrashim are based upon conflicting assumptions.


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