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Lamps, Hides, and Mishnaic Wordplay

I came across what I think is a nice mishnaic wordplay. The first mishnah is from Berachot 8:6 and the second is from Zevaḥim 12:4 (cf. Eiduyot 2:2).

אֵין מְבָרְכִין לֹא עַל הַנֵּר וְלֹא עַל הַבְּשָׂמִים שֶׁל נָכְרִים, וְלֹא עַל הַנֵּר וְלֹא עַל הַבְּשָׂמִים שֶׁל מֵתִים, וְלֹא עַל הַנֵּר וְלֹא עַל הַבְּשָׂמִים שֶׁלִּפְנֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה. אֵין מְבָרְכִין עַל הַנֵּר עַד שֶׁיֵּאוֹתוּ לְאוֹרוֹ

They may not recite a blessing over a lamp or spices of gentiles, nor over a lamp or spices of the dead, nor over a lamp or spices [which have been placed] before [objects pertaining to] idolatry. And they do not recite a blessing over a lamp until they make use of its light (אורו).

כָּל הַקֲּדָשִׁים שֶׁאֵרַע בָּהֶם פְּסוּל קֹדֶם לְהֶפְשֵׁטָן, אֵין עוֹרוֹתֵיהֶם לַכֹּהֲנִים. לְאַחַר הֶפְשֵׁטָן, עוֹרוֹתֵיהֶם לַכֹּהֲנִים. אָמַר רַבִּי חֲנִינָא סְגַן הַכֹּהֲנִים, מִיָּמַי לֹא רָאִיתִי עוֹר יוֹצֵא לְבֵית הַשְּׂרֵפָה. אָמַר רַבִּי עֲקִיבָא, מִדְּבָרָיו לָמַדְנוּ, שֶׁהַמַּפְשִׁיט אֶת הַבְּכוֹר וְנִמְצָא טְרֵפָה, שֶׁיֵּאוֹתוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּעוֹרוֹ. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, אֵין לֹא רָאִינוּ רְאָיָה, אֶלָּא יוֹצֵא לְבֵית הַשְּׂרֵפָה

A. All Holy Things [burnt offering, sin offering, guilt offering] which suffered an invalidity before they were flayed—their hides do not belong to the priests. [If an invalidity was incurred] after they were flayed, their hides belong to the priests. Said R. Hananiah, Prefect of the Priests, “In all my days I never saw a hide taken out to the place of burning.” Said R. Aqiba, “From his statement we learn that: “He who flays the firstling [which was blemished and slaughtered] [that is, it was disqualified even before flaying] and it turns out to be terefah—“the priests make use of its hide (עורו).” And sages say, “’We have not seen’ is no proof. But: “It goes forth to the place of burning.”

It’s very likely that somebody has already written about this somewhere, so hopefully I’m in good company.

7 Responses to “Lamps, Hides, and Mishnaic Wordplay”

  1. 1

    i doubt that it is in fact a case of wordplay, but if you’d like to argue for it, you’d have to at least offer the type of wording we’d expect from hazal to communicate the laws without wordplay and explain why that would be the expected form

  2. 2
    Menachem Mendel:

    You have a point, but I found them so similar that I thought something was at work.

  3. 3

    it’s either 1 conscious wordplay, 2 sub-conscious wordplay, or 3 co-incidence

    the default is 3. you could check tosefta parallels…

  4. 4
    Mar Gavriel:

    Funny — I just was reading today in Raphael Posen’s פתשגן that Rav Yosef Hayyim writes in his Responsa Tora Lishmah that the term לכאורה means לכעורה, that is: “according to a bad [ugly, כעורה] reading, X means Y”.

  5. 5

    לכאורה ההסבר של הבן איש חי הוא קצת מכוער!

  6. 6
    Mar Gavriel:

    Leor: Haha.

  7. 7

    The word lechora appears (once, in Kesuvos) in the Bavli. It is spelled there with an aleph. I dont know if there are other MS spellings.




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