Talmud Tips

For the week ending 15 June 2013 / 6 Tammuz 5773

Eruvin 100 - 105

by Rabbi Moshe Newman
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“Even if the Torah had not been given we would be able to learn modesty from the cat and learn not to steal from the ant.”

Rashi explains how the cat shows modesty in matters of relieving itself in private and proper disposal afterwards. He also states that ants store up food in the summer for the winter (as in Mishlei 7), and they don’t steal food from one another.

The Ben Yehoyada points out that once the Torah was given we are to learn these and other positive character traits only from the Torah and not from animals. Animals also possess negative qualities which one might be influenced by, whereas the Torah is pure righteousness and goodness.

  • Eruvin 100b

“You fool! Look at the end of the verse!”

This is how Rabbi Yehoshua be Chananya dismissed a barb from a heretic who quoted the first part of a verse in Micha (7:4), who claimed it referred to the Jewish People in a derogatory way: “The best of them are like thorns”. However, the Sage silenced the foolish critic by citing the continuation of the verse which states clearly that the Jewish People are “straight like a fence” that protects and guards.

The entire verse is in fact a praise of the Jewish People, explains the Sage. Rabbi Yehoshua ben Chananya teaches the true meaning as follows: “Just as the thorns protect an opening from trespassers, so too the righteous and wise members of the Jewish People protect the entire nation.”

  • Eruvin 101a

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