Pesahim 8a-b - Searching for leaven in dangerous places
It was taught in the Tosefta: The Sages do not require one to place his hand into holes and crevices to search for leaven, due to the danger involved.
While the Gemara makes a number of suggestions regarding what the danger might be that lurks in holes between houses, what concerns the Gemara is how this fits with Rabbi Elazar's teaching sheluhei mitzvah einum nizokim – that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger.
Rav Ashi suggests that we may be concerned that aside from searching for hametz, perhaps the person will also turn his attention to find other missing objects during the search, and will not be actively involved in the mitzvah at all times. The Gemara responds to this by arguing that even someone who has outside intentions beyond performing a mitzvah will be credited for the mitzvah if it is done. An example of this is taught in a baraita that rules that someone who gives charity and states that he is giving it in the hope that he will gain a share in the World-to-Come or that his sick child will recover is, nevertheless, considered a tzaddik gamur – a completely righteous person. The Gemara concludes that the rule that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger only applies when danger cannot be anticipated. In a situation that is clearly dangerous we cannot apply that rule.
With regard to the man who gives charity with the expectation that he will derive some personal benefit from it, who the baraita says is a tzaddik gamur, the Ran points out that he might be considered righteous, but he would not be considered a hassid – a pious person. Some say that the only case where we can ignore the intent of the person doing the mitzvah will be in the case of charity, where the recipient derives benefit from the assistance even if the intention of the giver was wrong. The Arukh has a variant reading in the Gemara, according to which the baraita does not label the man a tzaddik gamur, rather it rules that the donation was tzeddakah gemurah – full fledged charity, without any character judgment about the person who made the donation.
Pesahim 9a-b - When a marten hides bread before Pesah
Rashi explains the Mishnah to be discussing whether we need to be concerned about a hulda bringing hametz into a place that had already been checked. The Rambam seems to understand the case otherwise. According to him, this Mishnah is the continuation of the first Mishnah in the tractate, which obligates bedikah (searching) only in places where hametz is normally brought. Here we are taught that we need not be concerned that perhaps an animal brought hametz into such a place.
The Gemara points out that the Mishnah's rule will only apply if we do not see the hulda running into the house with hametz. Were we to see the hulda doing that, we would, in fact, insist that the house be checked a second time, and we cannot assume that the hulda ate the hametz that he carried in.
The Gemara asks whether the requirement to carefully store hametz that is meant to be eaten on the morning of the 14th of Nisan so that a further bedikah will not need to be done does not indicate that we are concerned that a hulda may move it around. In response to this question the Gemara quotes an interesting exchange between Abaye and Rava.
Abaye said: This is not difficult; this ruling is referring to the fourteenth of Nisan, whereas that ruling is referring to the thirteenth. The Gemara elaborates: On the thirteenth of Nisan, when bread is still found in every house, the marten does not conceal the leaven, and therefore there is no concern that perhaps the marten dragged the leaven elsewhere and concealed it. However, on the fourteenth of Nisan, when bread is not found in any of the houses, the marten hides the leaven.
Rava said in surprise: And is the marten a prophetess [v'khee hulda nevi'ah] that knows that now is the fourteenth of Nisan and no one will bake until the evening, and it leaves over bread and conceals it in its hole? Rather, Rava rejected Abaye's answer and said: With regard to the leaven that one leaves after the search, he should place it in a concealed location, lest a marten take it before us and it will require searching after it. Only if one actually sees the marten take the leaven, is he required to search after it.
In his response to Abaye, Rava is using a play on words. There is, in fact, a prophetess in Tanakh by the name of Hulda ha-Nevi'ah – see II Melakhim 22:14. More importantly, his argument seems to make so much sense that it is difficult to understand what Abaye was trying to say.
Rav Ya'akov Emden explains that according to Abaye the marten is sensitive to the fact that there is less food in the house on erev Pesah than there is under normal circumstances, and begins to hoard bread. This appears to be the explanation of the Jerusalem Talmud, as well.
Pesahim 10a-b - When a mouse enters your house with bread in his mouth
While the Mishnah (9a) introduced us to a hulda - a marten - that we suspect may hoard hametz in houses already cleaned for Pesah, on our daf (page) Rava presents us with another small animal, an akhbar. The akhbar discussed is, apparently, a conventional house mouse (Mus), a small rodent that grows up to eight centimeters. This small creature sustains itself by eating food that is left around the house, usually bread crumbs and other such things.
Rava said: If one saw a mouse enter a house with a loaf of bread in its mouth, and he entered after the mouse and found crumbs, the house requires additional searching, due to the fact that a mouse does not typically generate crumbs. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that these crumbs are from the loaf snatched by the mouse.
The Maharam Halavah quotes the Rif as explaining that mice do not make crumbs when they eat, so the crumbs that are found cannot possibly be from the loaf of bread brought in by the mouse, forcing us to check the house a second time. The Ramban understands Rava's ruling to mean that a mouse usually finishes the crumbs that he makes. According to this reasoning, if the amount of crumbs that is found is the size of the piece that the mouse was carrying, it could not possibly be from the piece that was recently brought in, since the mouse would have finished the crumbs. If, however, only a small amount of crumbs were found, we can rely on the fact that the mouse ate the bread, leaving behind a small amount of crumbs, but the house does not need to be rechecked.
• If we assume it could not be the same loaf because mice do not take from one another, what if a mouse carried in a loaf of bread and a rat is seen carrying out bread? Can we assume that the rat took the loaf from the mouse?
The Gemara explains that the argument between Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim in the Mishnah (10b) is a disagreement as to whether it is appropriate to search for hametz when the prohibition has already begun. Rabbi Yehuda believes that searching can only be done prior to the time when hametz is prohibited, lest someone find hametz and eat it. The Hakhamim rule that if someone has not searched his property before Pesah, he can even do so on Pesah itself.
A similar argument between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Meir is brought by the Gemara, with regard to the rule of hadash - grain from the new harvest that cannot be eaten until after the Omer sacrifice is brought on the second day of Pesah. However, both seem to take positions contrary to what they say regarding hametz (the assumption is that Rabbi Meir is one of the sages who are the Hakhamim of our Mishnah).
According to the Mishnah in Menahot, by the time the Omer sacrifice was brought, the markets of Jerusalem were filled with flour and other products made from the new grain. Clearly people were involved in harvesting and preparing these products before they could be eaten. Rabbi Meir says that this was done against the wishes of the Sages; Rabbi Yehuda said no objection was raised. In this case, it is Rabbi Meir who seems to fear that handling forbidden food will lead someone to eat it, something that does not seem to concern Rabbi Yehuda.
Rava explains that there is no contradiction between the positions of Rabbi Meir in the two cases, because the person is searching for hametz in order to destroy it, so there is no fear that he will eat it, as opposed to hadash, which will become permitted in a short time, and people may not take the prohibition very seriously.
Abaye explains the apparent contradiction in Rabbi Yehuda's positions by pointing out that hadash has been forbidden from the moment it was harvested until today, so people are careful not to eat it. Hametz, on the other hand, is something that people eat all year round and therefore will not know to avoid.
Rav Ashi proposes another way of distinguishing between hametz and hadash, but the Gemara rejects his suggestion out of hand with the expression beduta hee or, according to some readings, baruta hee. These expressions appear in the Gemara a number of times, usually in the context of rejecting a suggestion made by one of the later amora'im like Rav Ashi. The term beduta is a very strong one, meaning erroneous or unfounded, and it is understood to mean that the Gemara is insisting that Rav Ashi could not possibly have made such a suggestion, and it must have been attributed to him in error. The term baruta means external, meaning that the statement cannot be accepted and must remain outside the walls of the beit midrash.
As we have learned, hametz becomes forbidden even before Pesah begins. According to the Gemara, starting at mid-day on erev Pesah, there is a Biblical prohibition against eating hametz. The Mishnah (11b) teaches that according to Rabbi Meir one can eat hametz until the end of the fifth hour and should destroy the remaining hametz at the beginning of the sixth hour. Rabbi Yehuda rules that one should finish eating hametz by the end of the fourth hour. The hametz can remain for the duration of the fifth hour but needs to be destroyed at the beginning of the sixth hour.
This diagram shows how the 24 hours of the day were understood by the Talmud, beginning at the top with sunrise, and moving counter-clockwise to mid-day (the 6th hour) and to sunset (the 12th hour). According to this system, the length of a daylight hour changes, with longer hours during the summer months and shorter ones during the winter.
The discussion of the Gemara on our daf (page) revolves around the likelihood that a mistake might be made about the time, which might lead someone to continue eating hametz after its permitted time. It is important to remember that people could not be exact in figuring times, since accurate clocks did not yet exist. Therefore, the possibility of making a mistake - even of several hours - was a distinct possibility. Rava concludes the discussion in the Gemara by saying that the positions of Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda in the Mishnah stem from the concern that erev Pesah will be overcast, and people will not be able to use the sun to judge the time of day. In such a case, even the rudimentary instruments that were used to measure the length of the day – like sun dials - would not be operative.
Rav Pappa explains that even on a cloudy day we still can establish four hours as a permissible time to eat hametz, since that is the normal time for most people to eat. Therefore, even if people are not able to judge time based on observing the sun, they can do so based on their appetites. When they are hungry they know that it is four hours into the day, when it is still a safe time to eat hametz.
As a point of background, during the Talmudic period, the accepted custom was to eat two meals a day - one in the morning and one in the evening. Some people would snack between meals, but on normal days these were the only two times that people ate. (Shabbat was an exception, when three meals were eaten.) The Gemara points out that workers, for example, who leave for work very early in the morning, would postpone their meal until mid-day in order to break up their workday. Most people, however, ate a little earlier at four hours.
While the Temple was standing, a kohen who had hametz in his possession that he received as teruma (tithes) needed to destroy it before Pesah together with the rest of his hametz. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that brings the teaching of Rabbi Elazar ben Yehuda ish Bartota in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua regarding erev Pesah that falls on Shabbat. In such a case the hametz must be destroyed on Friday, leaving just enough for the Shabbat meal. Rabbi Elazar taught that all hametz should be burned on Friday, including tithes - whether or not they were tahor (ritually pure) - and food for two meals on Shabbat should be left from non-teruma hametz that must be finished before four hours into the day on Shabbat morning.
A. Were we to worry that someone might come tomorrow, then we should also refrain from burning teruma that is a safek (doubt), i.e. that we are unsure about its status since it may have become tameh (ritually defiled), because perhaps Eliyahu ha-Navi will come tomorrow (Shabbat) to herald the arrival of the Messiah, and he will be able to tell us whether the teruma became tameh or not.
They said to him: That possibility is no source of concern, as the Jewish people have already been assured that Elijah will come neither on a Friday nor on the eve of a Festival, due to the exertion involved preparing for the upcoming holy day. Consequently, Elijah will certainly come neither on Friday, nor on Shabbat itself, which is Passover eve.
According to tradition, Eliyahu will not come to rule with regard to questions of halakhah. Nevertheless, the case of teruma that may have become tameh can be resolved by Eliyahu because it is a question of establishing the facts in a specific case, not a question of establishing a halakhic ruling.
While the baraita discusses whether or not it is appropriate to burn teruma on the day before erev Pesah, it does not deal directly with the question of burning regular hametz (hullin). According to many rishonim the conclusion that needs to be reached is obvious - if we can burn teruma, then we can certainly burn hullin. Some argue, however, that we are allowed to burn the teruma only because it is available solely to a limited number of people – namely, kohanim - to eat. Hullin, however, can be eaten by anyone, so it is likely that someone will come tomorrow who would be willing to eat the hametz. Therefore we should not destroy it until the latest possible time.
The Mishnah on our daf (page) discusses whether, when burning hametz just before Pesah, it is necessary to separate food that has been ritually defiled (tameh) from food that is ritually pure (tahor). In this context, Rabbi Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim reports that in the Temple, the kohanim never refrained from burning meat that had been defiled by a low-level tumah together with meat that had become defiled by a higher level tumah. This discussion leads to several pages of discussion in the Gemara on the subject of tumah v'taharah.
Since we are
no longer involved in the
- Avi Avot ha-tumah (e.g. a dead body)
- Avot ha-tumah (e.g. someone who came into contact with a dead body; someone suffering from leprosy)
- Rishon le-tumah (things that came into contact with avot ha-tumah)
Rabbi Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim who records this ruling in the Mishnah was one of the tannaim who lived through the destruction of the Second Temple and continued to teach for some time afterwards. According to one tradition, he was one of the Harugei Malkhut killed by governmental decree. As his title indicates, he held an important position as assistant to the Kohen Gadol while the Temple was standing, and he stood in for the Kohen Gadol if he was ill or tameh and could not perform the Temple service.