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Bechoros 8

BECHOROS 7-10 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.



(a) We just cited the Beraisa,which differentiates between the way that a Tamei and a Tahor fish breed. The Tana also draws a distinction between creatures that give birth - which suckle their young, and those that lay eggs - which feed their young by scavenging on their behalf.

(b) The one exception to the rule is - a bat, the only creature to lay eggs, yet it has nipples to suckle its young.

(c) The Tana says - that it is possible for humans and 'Dulfanin' which Rav Yehudah translates as 'mermaids', to procreate.

(a) The distinction the Beraisa then draws between creatures whose Beitzim are external and those that are internal is - that the former give birth, whereas the latter lay eggs.

(b) We query this however, from a statement of Shmuel. Abaye explains that Shmuel considers a goose and a wild goose Kil'ayim - because the Beitzim of one are external, and of the other, internal.

(c) The problem with the Beraisa's statement is - the fact that they both lay eggs (which appears to clash with Shmuel).

(d) We therefore amend the Beraisa - to read (not that a creature whose Beitzim are external gives birth, but) one whose male organ is external gives birth.

(a) And the distinction the Tana draws between species that cohabit exclusively by day, those that cohabit exclusively by night, and those that cohabit sometimes by day and sometimes by night - is that the first group give birth (or lay eggs) exclusively by day, the second, by night, and the third, either or.

(b) If the last of category refers to the human species, the species that cohabits exclusively ...

1. ... by day - is that of chickens.
2. ... by night - is that of bats.
(c) The ramifications of this statement concern chickens, and are connected with a statement by Rav Mari b'rei de'Rav Kahana, who rules that if, after having examined the chicken-run on Erev Yom-Tov and failed to find an egg, someone finds one on Yom-Tov - he may take it (and it is not Muktzah).

(d) This cannot be because we assume that he did not examine properly on Erev Yom-Tov, because he knows that he did - but because (seeing as a chicken does not lay an egg by night) we assume that it must have given birth before Yom-Tov (meaning that most of the egg came out by day, but returned into the chicken's stomach to be born next day on Yom-Tov) ...

(e) ... and Rebbi Yochanan specifically permitted permitted it on Yom-Tov.

(a) The Tana then states that species whose time of cohabitation and period of pregnancy coincide - can procreate and feed each other's young.

(b) The vast majority of species in the world cohabit front to back, except for four. Camels are unique in this regard - in that they procreates back to back with their mates.

(c) The three species that cohabit face to face are - the fish, Adam and the snake.

(d) When Rav Dimi arrived from Eretz Yisrael, he explained that this was because Hashem spoke to all three of them. He spoke to the snake in Gan Eden, and to the fish - when He ordered the whale to evict Yonah from its bowels.

(a) The animal with ...
1. ... the shortest pregnancy/incubation period of all the animals is - a chicken, whose incubation lasts twenty-one days.
2. ... the longest pregnancy - is a viper (or adder), whose pregnancy lasts seventy years.
(b) If the correspondingly shortest budding period of all fruit is a hazel-nut (or an almond), the correspondingly longest (from the time of planting) is - the carob-tree.

(c) Of those years - three comprise the budding period).

(d) Figs take fifty days to bud, berries fifty-two days and apples, sixty, the animals that have corresponding pregnancy periods are - dogs, cats and pigs, respectively.

(a) Besides Sheratzim - a fox has a pregnancy period of six months (the equivalent ripening period among trees is produce).

(b) Produce is considered a tree - according to the opinion in B'rachos which holds that the fruit that Adam ate from was wheat.

(c) The pregnancy period of large Beheimos Temei'os is twelve months (the equivalent budding period of fruit is dates), and that of ...

1. ... small Tahor animals is - five months.
2. ... large Tahor animals is - nine months.
(d) The equivalent budding period of the former is grapes, of the latter - olives.
(a) The pregnancy period of a wolf, a lion, a bear, a leopard, and a Bardeles (a hyena, a panther or a weasel) is - three years.

(b) The other three species included in this list are - elephants, and short and long-tailed monkeys.

(c) And the fruit that has the equivalent budding period is - wild figs.

(d) The last animal listed in the Beraisa is a snake, whose pregnancy period is - seven years

(e) Some say that its equivalent among the fruit-trees is Muchsasim (a species of wild figs). Others say - that they were unable to find a partner for that Rasha.

(a) We explain the snake's curse in the context of - a longer pregnancy period.

(b) The problem Rav Yehudah Amar Rav (and some add Rebbi Yehoshua ben Chananyah) has with the Pasuk which declares the snake more accursed than all the animals and than all the wild beasts of the field is - that if it is more accursed than the animals (the least of which is a goat) then it is automatically more cursed than the wild beasts (a cat fifty-two days), so why did the Torah need to mention it?

(c) We cannot answer simply that it is even more cursed than the lion and the bear ... (three years) - because then there would be no point in mentioning the Beheimos at all.

(d) So he answers that the Torah is coming to correlate the snake with the Beheimah, just as the Beheimah correlates with the Chayah. When he refers to the corollary between ...

1. ... the Beheimah and the Chayah, he means - a donkey (one year) whose pregnancy lasts seven times as long as that of a cat (fifty-two days).
2. ...the snake and the Beheimah, he means - that likewise, the incubation period of a snake lasts seven times as long as that of a donkey.
(a) We cannot explain the Pasuk to mean that the snake is cursed three times more than the lion (whose pregnancy lasts three years), who in turn, is cursed three times more than a donkey (which lasts one year), in which case, the incubation period of a snake ought to last for nine years - because the Torah did not write "mi'Kol ha'Chayah u'mi'Kol ha'Beheimah" (implying more than all the Chayos that are cursed more than all the Beheimos), but the other way round (implying more than the Beheimah that is cursed the most).

(b) Neither can we explain it to mean that just as a goat (a hundred and fifty days) is cursed three times the amount of the cat (fifty-two days), so is the snake cursed three times that of a goat (in which case, its incubation period ought to be a hundred and fifty days (and not seven years) - because the Torah says "mi'Kol ha'Beheimah" (and the longest pregnancy among the Beheimos is that of a donkey.

(c) Alternatively - seeing as the Torah cursed the snake, it is logical to say that where we have two ways of interpreting the Pasuk, we will take the one that is more stringent.

(d) This also explains why we do not give the time period as two years (twice that of a donkey, like the donkey's is twice that of fox). Alternatively, we could refute that suggestion - because "mi'Kol ha'Beheimah u'mi'Kol ha'Chayah" implies that we go after the biggest gap between Beheimah and Chayah (which is that of the cat and the donkey).




(a) When Rebbi Yehoshua informed the Emperor of Rome that the incubation period of a snake lasts seven years, the latter tried to prove to him that it lasts only three - by citing the sages of Athens, who had experimented with a pair of snakes, which produced a baby after three years (see Agados Maharsha).

(b) The latter replied ...

1. ... that the snake must have already been four years pregnant ...
2. ... and when the Emperor pointed out that pregnant animals do not mate, he replied - that snakes, like humans, do.
3. ... when the Emperor reminded him that the sages of Athens were wise - that the Chachamim were even wiser.
(c) To prove his superiority - the Emperor ordered him to outwit them and bring them to him.

(d) And when the Emperor informed him that there were sixty sages, Rebbi Yehoshua requested from the Emperor a ship with sixty cabins, each one containing sixty chairs.

(a) Upon arrival in Athens, the first problem that confronted Rebbi Yehoshua was - to discover where the sages convened (as it was a closely guarded secret).

(b) He ...

1. ... tricked a butcher into obtaining his services by purchasing his head for half a Zuz, when the latter thought that he was selling him an animal's head.
2. ... get him to point out the location of the sages' court, without endangering himself - by instructing him to stop for a short respite and put down the heavy bundle of wood that he was carrying, when he reached the spot exactly opposite the entrance, so that he, Rebbi Yehoshua, who was following him at a distance, would know exactly where it was.
(c) Nobody was allowed to enter or leave the court without permission. The elders ensured that they would always know whether anyone had entered or left it - by filling the large threshold that lay between the two doors that served as the entrance and the exit. with crushed oats or earth (so that anyone crossing would leave footprints.

(d) It was virtually impossible to do so - because the guards outside (whose job it was to ensure that nobody left) and those inside (who had to ensure that nobody entered), knew that if anyone slipped through, they would all be killed (depending on which way the footprints were facing).

(a) In order to gain entry, Rebbi Yehoshua had all the guards killed - by entering the first door and walking on the threshold wearing one shoe back to front (see Shitah Mekubetzes).

(b) The problem once inside, was - whom to greet first, the elders, who sat below (and who claimed that they were more senior, due to their age), or the younger sages, who sat on a raised platform (which in itself, they claimed, was a sign of their superiority. Either way, he would be killed, if he failed to greet the 'correct' group first.

(c) He solved it - by greeting them all at the same time.

(d) When he informed the sages that he was the sage of the Jews and that he had come to learn from them, their response was - that since he was a sage, they would begin by asking *him* questions.

(e) The terms he offered them were - that if they defeated him, they could do with them whatever they wished, whereas if he defeated them, they would eat with him on his ship.

13) Note, that all of the questions posed by the Sages of Athens were aimed at proving that Yisrael were no better than the other nations, and that, even if they originally were, they lost the title of 'the chosen people' when they were exiled from their land (see Agados Maharsha)
(a) When the sages asked Rebbi Yehoshua reply whether ...
1. ... a person who has been refused a woman's hand in marriage will then attempt to win the hand of a woman of higher status, he replied - by trying to stick a peg low down in the wall where there were no holes, and when it didn't work, he tried higher up, where there were holes, and where it fitted nicely (insinuating that it is not the status that counts, but the suitability).
2. ... Reuven, who had trouble in retrieving his loan (i.e. which was part a business transaction, from which he stood to gain) from Shimon, would then lend Levi money, he retorted with a Mashal to someone who cut wood in the forest and found it too heavy to transport, but who nevertheless continued to cut more wood, until he found a few people to help him carry all the bundles home (so too, a person will lend money again, in the knowledge that eventually, he will come across a man who is trustworthy, and from whom he will benefit.
(b) The sages then decided to switch roles - so they asked him to pose riddles that were nonsensical (or false).

(c) He told them about a mule that gave birth, and round whose neck a document was tied that someone owed its father a thousand Zuz. They refuted the story - because they maintained, a mule cannot reproduce ...

(d) ... to which he replied - that they had asked for nonsense, and that is what they had got.

(a) And when, in answer to their query with what one preserves salt that is going bad, Rebbi Yehoshua replied 'with the placenta of a mule', they asked in surprise - 'Since when does a mule has a placenta (as we just explained)'?

(b) To which he retorted - 'Since when does salt go bad'?

(c) When they asked him to build a house in the sky - he flew into the air (using the Name of Hashem), and asked them to bring him some bricks and cement.

(a) When they asked him ...
1. ... to point out the middle of the world - he pointed to a certain spot with his finger and declared that that was it.
2. ... to prove it, he suggested - that they bring ropes and measure it.
3. ... to carry the pit they had dug outside the town into town, he asked them to spin threads from the broken pieces (like women do when they want to stitch a repair in a torn garment).
4. ... to stitch their broken mill together?
(b) And when they asked him ...
1. ... with what one cuts a row of daggers growing in a field, his reply was - with the horn of a donkey.
2. ... since when donkeys have horns - he replied 'Since when do daggers grow in fields'?
3. ... which one of two eggs was laid by a black hen and which one, by a white hen - he brought two goats' cheeses, and asked them which cheese was manufactured from a black goat, and which, from a white one.
4. ... from which end of the egg the life leaves a chick that died in its shell, he replied - from the same end as it went in..
(c) Finally, when they asked him to define an object that is not worth the damage that it causes - he responded by bringing a huge mat which was too large to pass through the town gateway, which in turn, had to be enlarged to allow the mat through (an expense which cost more than the mat).

(d) When all sixty sages were on the boat, he instructed the captain to set sail. To get them all to wait patiently for the meal to begin without arousing their suspicion - he escorted them on to the boat one at a time, placing each one in a different cabin, leading them to believe that the others would follow soon, because each cabin contained fifty-nine empty chairs.

(a) He took some of the local earth with him - plus a bottle of water which absorbed all other water, dragging it down to the bottom of the sea (which he had obtained as they passed it on their way to Rome).

(b) The Emperor did not at first believe that they were the sages of Athens - because, dejected on account of their being away from home territory, they were listless.

(c) Rebbi Yehoshua convinced him that they were however - by sprinkling the Athenian earth that he had brought with them over them, at which they perked up.

(a) When the sages began to speak to him arrogantly - the Emperor gave him permission to do with them as he pleased.

(b) Rebbi Yehoshua responded to that - by placing the jar of water in front of them and ordering them to fill it up (after which they were free to go home).

(c) Considering that the water in that jar swallowed all water that was poured into it, they must still be pouring today.

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