ANSWERS TO REVIEW QUESTIONS
prepared by Rabbi Eliezer Chrysler
Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Jerusalem
Previous daf 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
(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.
(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).
2. ... by night - is that of bats.
(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
(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
(a) The animal with ...
1. ... the shortest pregnancy/incubation period of all the animals is - a
chicken, whose incubation lasts twenty-one days.
(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.
2. ... the longest pregnancy - is a viper (or adder), whose pregnancy lasts
(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
(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.
(d) The equivalent budding period of the former is grapes, of the latter -
2. ... large Tahor animals is - nine months.
(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
(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
(b) The latter replied ...
1. ... that the snake must have already been four years pregnant ...
(c) To prove his superiority - the Emperor ordered him to outwit them and
bring them to him.
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.
(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
(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
(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.
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.
(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).
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)
(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.
(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
(b) The sages then decided to switch roles - so they asked him to pose
riddles that were nonsensical (or false).
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
(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
(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
(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.
(b) And when they asked him ...
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?
1. ... with what one cuts a row of daggers growing in a field, his reply
was - with the horn of a donkey.
(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).
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..
(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
(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
(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
(c) Considering that the water in that jar swallowed all water that was
poured into it, they must still be pouring today.