Thursday, March 05, 2020

Berachot 62: Roman Replacement

In today's daf yomi, Berachot 62b:

רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר עָל לְבֵית הַכִּסֵּא. אֲתָא הַהוּא רוֹמָאָה דַּחֲקֵיהּ. קָם רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר וּנְפַק. אֲתָא דְּרָקֹונָא שַׁמְטֵיהּ לְכַרְכְּשֵׁיהּ. קָרֵי עֲלֵיהּ רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: ״וְאֶתֵּן אָדָם תַּחְתֶּיךָ״, אַל תִּקְרֵי ״אָדָם״ אֶלָּא ״אֱדוֹם״.
The Gemara relates that Rabbi Elazar entered a bathroom. This Roman came and pushed him away. Rabbi Elazar stood and left, and a serpent came and ripped out the intestines of the Roman. Rabbi Elazar recited the following verse about the Roman: “Therefore I will give man [adam] for you” (Isaiah 43:4); do not read it as adam, but rather read it as Edom, meaning a Roman.

Rashi translates כַרְכְּשֵׁיהּ as חלחולת שהרעי יוצא בו שקורין טבחיא, and so Artscroll translates it as rectum. (Rect 'um? Dang near killed 'im!)

I think the derasha here is more than the al tikrei for Adam / Edom. It is also based on the word tachtecha. Therefore I will give an Edomite as for your rectum.

Assuming the Babylonian Amoraim were Ashkenazim, there could be a similar derasha at play in the segment that follows, on the pasuk: ״וְאָמַר לַהֲרָגֲךָ וַתָּחָס עָלֶיךָ״, about what happened when King Shaul went to relieve himself.

Sunday, March 01, 2020

Berachot 58a: No Reshut HaRabbim

On today's daf (Berachot 58a), the following statement of Ulla, accompanied by a brayta:

אָמַר עוּלָּא: נְקִיטִינַן אֵין אוּכְלוּסָא בְּבָבֶל. 
תָּנָא: אֵין אוּכְלוּסָא פְּחוּתָה מִשִּׁשִּׁים רִבּוֹא.
Ulla said: We hold there is no multitude in Babylonia. 
The Sage taught: A multitude is no fewer than six hundred thousand people. 
Artscroll points us to Kesef Mishneh to Rambam Hilchot Berachot 10:11, that the blessing (chacham harazim) is only said in Eretz Yisrael, and to Maadanei Yom Tov on the Rosh that it is inappropriate to make such a blessing on Jews in exile.

That is one possible interpretation. Another is that there won't be a gathering of shishim ribo in Bavel, and perhaps by extension elsewhere in exile. And that might have repercussions elsewhere.

We should connect it to another statement of Ulla, which he might have made. People wonder at the basis of Rashi's statement that a reshut harabbim requires 600,000. That is, in Eruvin 6b, Rashi writes:

רה"ר - משמע רחב שש עשרה אמה ועיר שמצויין בה ששים ריבוא ואין בה חומה (או) שהיה רה"ר שלה מכוון משער לשער שיהא מפולש דומה לדגלי מדבר:

The Meira and Ravya each refer to a (slightly different) Talmudic text of Shabbat 6a that we don't have in our printed edition. But it exists in Ktav Yad Vatikan and in a rubbed out marginal text in Ktav Yad Minkin. You can read more about this on the Eruv Online blog. Here is the image from the Vatican manuscript of Shabbat 6a:


That is, that there is no reshut harabbim in Bavel. And further, from Rabba bar bar Chana, if not for the walls of Yerushalayim closed at night, people would be liable because of Reshut HaRabbim.

This accords well with the Resh Lakish's opinion in the Yerushalmi Eruvin that there is no reshut harabbim nowadays. It will technically exist sometime in the messianic future, when all hills and mountains are flattened. This is a general trend of eliminating the reshut harabbim deorayta, so that various halachic positions can be applied.

Eruv Online also mentioned a Gra, who asks how Ulla can say there is no uchlesa (=shishim ribbo) in Bavel, if the same Ulla says (Ketubot 54a) that Mechoza would be a reshut harabbim if not for their closing their doors at night, given that Rashi there says that there was shishim ribbo in that city. And he cites an answer I don't like so much, about Bavel the city vs. Bavel the country, and then points out a Tosafot that contradicts that assumption.

I think the answer is straightforward. Ignore the details. Ulla in both cases comes to undo the status of reshut haraabim. There are ways of doing it: Resh Lakish's nuclear option; Ulla's statement that there is no multitude (=shishim ribbo); and Rabba bar bar Chana's statement about Yerushalayim and closing the doors at night.

That Ulla in Ketubot instead applies Rabba bar bar Chana's rule, to the Babylonian Mechoza, rather than the rule he possibly stated elsewhere, about shishim ribo, is not surprising. There is an overarching aim, and he could get to it in either way. He didn't have to resort to a population count given that the city closed its doors.




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