Talmud Tips

For the week ending 29 June 2013 / 20 Tammuz 5773

Pesachim 9 - 15

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Is ‘Chulda’ a prophet?”

Who says that that our Sages had no sense of humor? This statement of Rava on our daf is posed as a question on the answer that Abayei proposed to reconcile an apparent contradiction in a mishna that deals with whether one needs to be worried that a “chulda” – weasel in Hebrew – had moved chametz in a manner that would require a new checking prior to Pesach.

In the context of our gemara the word “chulda” indeed means weasel, and Abayei’s answer seems to imply an ability of a weasel to discern in advance whether more chametz will be baked the next day, and whether it should save some of the chametz it finds today or not.

Although Rava’s challenge “Is ‘Chulda’ a prophet?” is meant as a challenge of Abayei’s distinction, it is difficult to read Rava’s statement without a smile, since “Chulda” is in fact the name of one of the prophetesses of the Jewish People.

  • Pesachim 9b

“And you will be seen as innocent by G-d and by the Jewish People” (Bamidbar 32:22 )

A beraita on our daf learns from this passuk that not only should one be innocent and honest, but should act in a way that looks innocent as well.

For example, charity treasurers who have extra copper coins after distributing to the poor and fear the rusting of these coins should not convert them into silver coins of their own so that people should not suspect any wrongdoing. Rather, they should give the copper coins to another person and receive silver coins from the other person in return, to keep for distribution as needed. Likewise, communal gatherers of food for the needy who have leftover food after feeding the hungry should sell the excess food to others but not to themselves – in order to avoid suspicion and maintain the appearance of innocence and honesty.

  • Pesachim 13a

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