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.


Unknown said...

Is there any evidence that the soft taw was pronounced as an 's' during Amoraic times? If so, you may have a good point!

Avi said...


We know they didn't pronounce a ת like an "s", which is why Josh wrote, "Assuming the Babylonian Amoraim were Ashkenazim".


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