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Steinsaltz

and the receiving of the blood in a vessel; and its sprinkling upon the altar, each offering according to its halakha; and the giving of water to a woman suspected by her husband of having been unfaithful [sota]; and the ritual of breaking a heifer’s neck in an untilled valley when a corpse is discovered and the murderer is unknown; and the purification of a leper; and the lifting of the hands for the Priestly Benediction, whether inside or outside the Temple; from where are these derived? The verse states: “Among the sons of Aaron,” indicating that this is the halakha with regard to any sacrificial rite that is stated to the sons of Aaron.

And the Gemara explains the proof: The baraita teaches that any priest who does not believe in the validity of these rites has no portion in the gifts of the priesthood. It may be inferred that the reason the priest has no portion is that he does not believe in it, whereas if he does believe in it, even though he is not an expert in its halakhot, he receives a portion. This contradicts the opinion of Rav Ḥisda.

With regard to priests who should not be given gifts of the priesthood, Rabbi Abba says that Rav Huna says that Rav says: The veins that are contained in the jaw of an animal are prohibited for consumption, due to the blood they contain. And one does not give the gift of the jaw to any priest who does not know how to remove the veins, as the priest might eat them.

The Gemara notes: But that is not so, i.e., one need not be concerned that the priest might consume the blood within the veins, as any method of preparing the jaw will remove the blood: If the priest prepares the jaw by roasting it, the blood will drain from the jaw due to the fire. And if he intends to place the jaws in a pot to cook them, if he cuts them and salts them, as one is required to do before cooking any meat, the blood will drain from them, and they will be permitted for consumption.

§ With regard to the manner in which a priest takes gifts of the priesthood from their owners, Rava said: Rav Yosef examined us, his students, with the following question: A priest who seizes gifts of the priesthood from their owners, is he demonstrating fondness for the mitzva or is he demonstrating contempt for the mitzva? And I resolved this question for him from the verse: “That they shall give to the priest the foreleg, and the jaw, and the maw” (Deuteronomy 18:3). The term “that they shall give” indicates that the owner should give the gifts, and not that a priest should take them by himself. Accordingly, a priest who seizes the gifts from their owners is demonstrating contempt for the mitzva.

Abaye, who was a priest, said: At first, I would seize gifts of the priesthood, as I said to myself that I am demonstrating fondness for the mitzva in this manner. Once I heard this interpretation: “That they shall give,” and not that he should take by himself, I did not seize them anymore. Instead, I would say to the owners of the gifts: Give me. And once I heard that which is taught in a baraita: The verse states with regard to the sons of Samuel, who were Levites: “But turned aside after wealth” (I Samuel 8:3), and Rabbi Meir says: The sons of Samuel sinned when they asked for their portion, the first tithe given to the Levite, with their mouths, i.e., they demanded that the owners give them the first tithe. Abaye continued: After I heard that, I also did not say anything to the owners, but if they would give me gifts I would take them.

Abaye said further: Once I heard that which is taught in a baraita with regard to the distribution of the shewbread among the priests: The modest ones [hatzenu’im] withdraw their hands and do not take, and the gluttons divide all the bread; I also did not take gifts even when they were offered to me, except for when they were given on the eve of Yom Kippur, when there was an abundance of gifts due to the many animals that were slaughtered, as it is a mitzva to eat that day. In that instance, I took the gifts in order to affirm myself among the priests, i.e., if I would never take gifts then my status as a priest might be called into question.

The Gemara challenges: But let him spread his hands for the Priestly Benediction throughout the year, as this will make it clear to all that he is in fact a priest. The Gemara responds: His schedule constrained him, as he was constantly involved in teaching Torah to his students, so much so that he would miss the time during which the community gathered in the synagogue for the Priestly Benediction.

Rav Yosef said: In a case where a priest who has a Torah scholar [tzurva merabbanan] living in his neighborhood and that Torah scholar is hard-pressed for money, let the priest grant his gifts to him, i.e., the priest may declare that those gifts he is destined to receive should be given to the poor Torah scholar. And even though the gifts have not yet come into his possession, he may grant them to the Torah scholar in a case where there are associates of the priesthood and the Levites, i.e., if that specific priest or Levite was well known in his neighborhood and has a standard arrangement with many people that they give him their gifts, as he is certain that he will be given them.

With regard to the statement of Rav Yosef, the Gemara relates that Rava and Rav Safra visited the house of Mar Yoḥana, son of Rav Ḥana bar Adda, and some say they visited the house of Mar Yoḥana, son of Rav Ḥana bar Bizna. Mar Yoḥana prepared for them a third-born calf. Rava said to the attendant of Mar Yoḥana, who was a priest and would normally receive gifts of the priesthood from Mar Yoḥana: Grant us the gifts, as I wish to eat tongue with mustard, and the tongue along with the jaw is one of the gifts.

The attendant granted the gifts to him; Rava ate from them but Rav Safra did not eat. Following this incident, they read the following verse to Rav Safra in a dream: “As one that takes off a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon niter, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20). The verse can be interpreted allegorically as a chastisement of one who studies Torah but fails to understand it.

Rav Safra came before Rav Yosef and said to him: Perhaps because I transgressed the halakha of the Master they read this verse to me in chastisement. Rav Yosef said to him: No, you acted appropriately by refraining from consuming the gifts. When I said that a priest may grant the gifts to a Torah scholar, that was only with regard to a priest who grants them to another person of his own choosing. I did not permit this in the case of an attendant who grants the gifts to a dignified guest of the homeowner. The reason is that he grants the gifts against his will, as he feels pressured by the homeowner to acquiesce. And furthermore, when I said this halakha, it was only for one who cannot eat under another circumstance, as he is hard-pressed for money. In this incident, it was possible for Rava to consume his own meat with mustard, since Rava was not poor.

Rav Safra asked Rav Yosef: But if so, what is the reason that they read this verse to me? Rav Yosef responded: The reading was directed not toward you but toward Rava, who ate from the gifts against my ruling. The Gemara objects: But let them read this verse to Rava himself in a dream. The Gemara responds: Rava was rebuked as a result of this incident and therefore was not granted heavenly communication. The verse was therefore proclaimed to Rav Safra instead.

In the preceding incident, the Gemara related that the verse: “As one that takes off a garment in cold weather, and as vinegar upon niter, so is he that sings songs to a heavy heart” (Proverbs 25:20), was proclaimed to Rav Safra in a dream. Abaye said to Rav Dimi: And with regard to what matter is the plain meaning of the verse written? Rav Dimi said to him: It is referring to one who teaches an unworthy student. In other words, just as one should remove a worn garment that has no use in cold weather, or just as vinegar upon niter ruins the niter, rendering it unusable, so too, there is no use in singing songs, i.e., teaching Torah, to an unworthy student who has a heavy heart, i.e., who does not intend to adhere to the halakhot he is taught.

As Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Anyone who teaches Torah to an unworthy student falls into Gehenna, as it is stated: “All darkness is laid up for his treasures; a fire not blown by man shall consume him; it shall go ill with him that remains [yera sarid] in his tent” (Job 20:26), and sarid means nothing other than a Torah scholar, as it is stated: “And among the remnant [sarid] those whom the Lord shall call” (Joel 3:5). The word yera shares a root with the word ra, evil, and “yera sarid” is therefore understood to be referring to an unworthy student.

On a similar note, Rabbi Zeira says that Rav says: Anyone who teaches Torah to an unworthy student is considered like one who throws a stone to Markulis, as it is stated: “As a small stone in a heap of stones, so is he that gives honor to a fool” (Proverbs 26:8), and it is written: “Luxury is not seemly for a fool” (Proverbs 19:10).

§ The mishna teaches that one who enters into partnership with a priest or a gentile must mark the animal. The Gemara asks: And is one obligated to mark the animal even if he enters into partnership with a gentile? And the Gemara raises a contradiction from a baraita: One who enters into partnership with a priest must mark the animal, but one who enters into partnership with a gentile and one who slaughters disqualified consecrated animals does not need to mark the animal.

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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