Chullin 89aחולין פ״ט א
The William Davidson Talmudתלמוד מהדורת ויליאם דוידסון
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89aפ״ט א

(בראשית יד, כג) אם מחוט ועד שרוך נעל זכו בניו לשתי מצות לחוט של תכלת ורצועה של תפילין

“That I will not take a thread nor a shoe strap nor anything that is yours” (Genesis 14:23), distancing himself from anything not rightfully his, his children merited two mitzvot: The thread of sky-blue wool worn on ritual fringes and the strap of phylacteries.

בשלמא רצועה של תפילין כתיב (דברים כח, י) וראו כל עמי הארץ כי שם ה' נקרא עליך ותניא ר' אליעזר הגדול אומר אלו תפילין שבראש אלא חוט של תכלת מאי היא

The Gemara asks: Granted, the strap of the phylacteries imparts benefit, as it is written: “And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the name of the Lord is called upon you; and they shall be afraid of you” (Deuteronomy 28:10). And it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer the Great says: This is a reference to the phylacteries of the head, upon which the name of God is written. Phylacteries therefore impart the splendor and grandeur of God and are a fit reward. But what is the benefit imparted by the thread of sky-blue wool?

דתניא רבי מאיר אומר מה נשתנה תכלת מכל הצבעונין מפני שתכלת דומה לים וים דומה לרקיע ורקיע דומה לאבן ספיר ואבן ספיר דומה לכסא הכבוד דכתיב (שמות כד, י) ויראו את אלהי ישראל ותחת רגליו וגו' וכתיב (יחזקאל א, כו) כמראה אבן ספיר דמות כסא

The Gemara answers: As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Meir would say: What is different about sky-blue from all other colors such that it was specified for the mitzva of ritual fringes? It is because sky-blue dye is similar in its color to the sea, and the sea is similar to the sky, and the sky is similar to the Throne of Glory, as it is stated: “And they saw the God of Israel; and there was under His feet the like of a paved work of sapphire stone, and the like of the very heaven for clearness” (Exodus 24:10). This verse shows that the heavens are similar to sapphire, and it is written: “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone” (Ezekiel 1:26). Therefore, the throne is similar to the heavens. The color of sky blue dye acts as an indication of the bond between the Jewish people and the Divine Presence.

א"ר אבא קשה גזל הנאכל שאפילו צדיקים גמורים אינן יכולין להחזירו שנאמר (בראשית יד, כד) בלעדי רק אשר אכלו הנערים

The Gemara above mentioned that Abraham refused to accept property that did not belong to him. With regard to this, Rabbi Abba says: Difficult is the return of theft that has been consumed, as even the perfectly righteous are unable to return it, as it is stated: “That I will not take a thread nor a shoe strap nor anything that is yours…except only that which the young men have eaten with me” (Genesis 14:23–24). Even the righteous Abraham was unable to return that which the young men had already consumed.

אמר רבי יוחנן משום רבי אלעזר בר' שמעוןכל מקום שאתה מוצא דבריו של רבי אליעזר בנו של רבי יוסי הגלילי בהגדה עשה אזניך כאפרכסת (דברים ז, ז) לא מרבכם מכל העמים חשק ה' בכם וגו' אמר להם הקדוש ברוך הוא לישראל חושקני בכם שאפילו בשעה שאני משפיע לכם גדולה אתם ממעטין עצמכם לפני

§ Rabbi Yoḥanan says in the name of Rabbi Elazar, son of Rabbi Shimon: Any place where you find the statements of Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei HaGelili, in reference to aggada, make your ears like a funnel [ka’afarkeset], i.e., be receptive to his words. As Rabbi Eliezer interpreted the verse: “Not because you are more in number than any people did the Lord desire you and choose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7), as follows: The Holy One, Blessed be He, said to the Jewish people: I desire you, since even at a time that I bestow greatness upon you, you diminish, i.e., humble, yourselves before Me.

נתתי גדולה לאברהם אמר לפני (בראשית יח, כז) ואנכי עפר ואפר למשה ואהרן אמר (שמות טז, ז) ונחנו מה לדוד אמר (תהלים כב, ז) ואנכי תולעת ולא איש

I granted greatness to Abraham, yet he said before Me: “And I am but dust and ashes” (Genesis 18:27). I granted greatness to Moses and Aaron, yet Moses said of the two of them: “And what are we” (Exodus 16:7). I granted greatness to David, yet he said: “But I am a worm, and no man” (Psalms 22:7).

אבל עובדי כוכבים אינן כן נתתי גדולה לנמרוד אמר (בראשית יא, ד) הבה נבנה לנו עיר לפרעה אמר (שמות ה, ב) מי ה' לסנחריב אמר (מלכים ב יח, לה) מי בכל אלהי הארצות וגו' לנבוכדנצר אמר (ישעיהו יד, יד) אעלה על במתי עב לחירם מלך צור אמר (יחזקאל כח, ב) מושב אלהים ישבתי בלב ימים

But the gentile nations of the world are not so. I granted greatness to Nimrod, yet he said: “Come, let us build a city and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name” (Genesis 11:4). I granted greatness to Pharaoh, yet he said: “Who is the Lord” (Exodus 5:2). I granted greatness to Sennacherib, yet he said: “Who are they among all the gods of the countries that have delivered their country out of my hand, that the Lord should deliver Jerusalem out of my hand” (II Kings 18:35). I granted greatness to Nebuchadnezzar, yet he said: “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds” (Isaiah 14:14). I granted greatness to Ḥiram, king of Tyre, yet he said: “I sit in the seat of God, in the heart of the seas” (Ezekiel 28:2).

אמר רבא ואיתימא ר' יוחנן גדול שנאמר במשה ואהרן יותר ממה שנאמר באברהם דאילו באברהם כתיב ואנכי עפר ואפר ואילו במשה ואהרן כתיב ונחנו מהואמר רבא ואיתימא ר' יוחנן אין העולם מתקיים אלא בשביל משה ואהרן כתיב הכא ונחנו מה וכתיב התם (איוב כו, ז) תולה ארץ על בלימה

The Gemara relates: Rava says, and some say Rabbi Yoḥanan says: Greater is that which is stated with regard to Moses and Aaron than that which is stated with regard to Abraham. As with regard to Abraham it is written: “And I am but dust and ashes,” while with regard to Moses and Aaron it is written: “And what are we,” i.e., we are not even dust and ashes. And Rava says, and some say Rabbi Yoḥanan says: The world endures only in the merit of Moses and Aaron. It is written here: “And what are we,” and it written elsewhere: “He hangs the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7). That is, the earth endures in the merit of those who said of themselves that they are nothing, i.e., Moses and Aaron.

אמר רבי אילעא אין העולם מתקיים אלא בשביל מי שבולם את עצמו בשעת מריבה שנאמר תולה ארץ על בלימה רבי אבהו אמר מי שמשים עצמו כמי שאינו שנאמר (דברים לג, כז) ומתחת זרועות עולם

With regard to that verse, Rabbi Ile’a says: The world endures only in the merit of one who restrains [shebolem] himself during a quarrel, as it is stated: “He hangs the earth upon nothing [belima]. Rabbi Abbahu says: The world endures only in the merit of one who renders himself as if he were non-existent, as it is stated: “And underneath are the everlasting arms” (Deuteronomy 33:27), i.e., one who considers himself to be underneath everything else is the everlasting arm that upholds the world.

אמר רבי יצחק מאי דכתיב (תהלים נח, ב) האמנם אלם צדק תדברון מישרים תשפטו בני אדם מה אומנותו של אדם בעולם הזה ישים עצמו כאלם יכול אף לדברי תורה תלמוד לומר צדק תדברון יכול יגיס דעתו ת"ל מישרים תשפטו בני אדם

Rabbi Yitzḥak says: What is the meaning of that which is written: “Do you indeed [ha’umnam] speak as a righteous company [elem]? Do you judge with equity [meisharim] the sons of men” (Psalms 58:2)? The verse is interpreted as follows: What should be a person’s occupation [umanut] in this world? He should render himself silent as a mute [ilem]. If so, one might have thought that he should render himself as a mute even with regard to words of Torah. Therefore, the verse states: “Speak as a righteous company,” indicating that one should speak the righteous words of Torah. If so, he might have thought that one who speaks words of Torah has the right to become arrogant. Therefore, the verse states: “Judge with equity [meisharim] the sons of men.” Even a learned judge must take extra care to judge with equity, and not assume that he will immediately arrive at the correct understanding.

אמר רבי זעירא ואיתימא רבה בר ירמיה מכסין בעפר עיר הנדחת ואמאי איסורי הנאה הוא

§ The Gemara returns to discuss the mitzva of covering the blood: Rabbi Zeira says, and some say Rabba bar Yirmeya says: One may cover the blood of an undomesticated animal or a bird with the dust of an idolatrous city. The Torah states that the city and anything contained therein must be burned (see Deuteronomy 13:17). The Gemara, assuming the statement of Rabbi Zeira refers to the ashes of a burned idolatrous city, asks: But why may one use these ashes to cover the blood? These ashes are items from which deriving benefit is prohibited, as the verse states: “And there shall cleave none of the banned property to your hand” (Deuteronomy 13:18).

אמר זעירי לא נצרכה אלא לעפר עפרה דכתיב (דברים יג, יז) ואת כל שללה תקבוץ אל תוך רחובה ושרפת מי שאינו מחוסר אלא קביצה ושרפה יצא זה שמחוסר תלישה קביצה ושרפה

Ze’eiri said: Rabbi Zeira is not referring to the ashes of the burned city, which may not be used. Rather, his statement is necessary only concerning the dust of its dust, i.e., the dust of the ground of the idolatrous city, from which deriving benefit is not prohibited, as it is written: “And you shall gather all its spoil into the midst of the broad place thereof, and shall burn with fire the city” (Deuteronomy 13:17). Accordingly, items lacking only the acts of gathering and burning must be burned. This serves to exclude this dust of the ground, which lacks the acts of removal from the ground, gathering, and burning. The dust must also be removed from the ground before it can be gathered and burned.

ורבא אמר מצות לאו ליהנות ניתנו

And Rava says: One can even use the ashes from the idolatrous city to cover the blood, despite the fact that it is prohibited to derive any benefit from them. This is because mitzvot were not given for benefit, that is, the fulfillment of a mitzva is not considered deriving benefit, but the fulfillment of a divine decree.

יתיב רבינא וקאמר לה להא שמעתא איתיביה רב רחומי לרבינא שופר של עבודת כוכבים לא יתקע בו מאי לאו אם תקע לא יצא לא אם תקע יצא

The Gemara relates that Ravina was sitting and saying this halakha, that one may use the ashes of an idolatrous city to cover the blood. Rav Reḥumi raised an objection to Ravina from a baraita: With regard to a shofar of idol worship, from which it is prohibited to derive benefit, one may not blow with it. What, is it not that the baraita means to say that if one blew with it he has not fulfilled his obligation? The Gemara responds: No, the baraita means that one should not use such a shofar ab initio, but if one blew with it he has fulfilled his obligation.

לולב של עבודת כוכבים לא יטול מאי לאו אם נטל לא יצא לא אם נטל יצא והתניא תקע לא יצא נטל לא יצא

Rav Reḥumi persists: It is taught in another baraita that with regard to a lulav of idol worship, one may not take it to perform the mitzva. What, is it not that the baraita means to say that if one took such a lulav he has not fulfilled his obligation? The Gemara responds: No, the baraita means that one should not use such a lulav ab initio, but if one took it he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemara asks: But isn’t it taught in a baraita that if one blew a shofar of idolatry he has not fulfilled his obligation? And isn’t it taught in another baraita that if one took a lulav of idolatry to perform the mitzva he has not fulfilled his obligation?

אמר רב אשי הכי השתא התם

Rav Ashi said in response: How can these cases be compared to the case of covering the blood? There, with regard to a shofar and lulav of idol worship, although the use of such items for a mitzva does not constitute benefit, one cannot fulfill his obligation with them, because