In this story Rabbah and Mari b. Mar exchange gifts on Purim, while Abaye, who is acting as a go-between, offers a play by play commentary.
This is a continuation of the above story. Abaye seems to have had quite a feast at both houses.
Abaye connects the previous story to two folk-sayings. The first is that a poor man doesn’t know when he is hungry because he is not used to eating the copious amounts of food that Abaye ate at his master’s house.
The second remains true to this day—there is always room for sweets.
According to one way of understanding this line, Abaye and Hananiah would exchange meals on Purim. This seems to be a way to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloah manot for someone who only has enough money to pay for one meal. There are other interpretations of the story, but this seems to make most sense.
Today’s section is about the Purim feast.
Rava is the sage who famously ruled that one should become inebriated on Purim, so inebriated that he cannot tell the difference between Haman and Mordecai. I will not comment on whether someone is really obligated to do so, but I would urge that if you do drink on Purim, give the car keys to someone else. Drinking may be obligatory but endangering a life is strictly against the Torah.
In the famous story that follows Rabbah and R. Zera illustrate well the dangers of drinking.
From the word “days” Rava learns that the Purim feast must be eaten during the day.
In this story, the rabbis eat their Purim meal and delay in coming to R. Kahana’s Bet Midrash. R. Ashi uses this opportunity to report to his teacher R. Kahana the tradition stated above by Rava. The rabbis could not have eaten their Purim feast the evening before. R. Kahana recites Rava’s statement forty times, thereby committing it to memory.
Today’s section starts with a new mishnah.
After teaching what the difference between Purim in Adar I and Purim in Adar II is, the Mishnah now begins a series of comparisons between two similar fields of halakhah. As far as Shabbat/festival prohibitions, the only difference is that on the latter one is allowed to prepare food.
The Mishnah allows only the actual preparation of food, but not preparing the utensils needed to make food. Thus, for instance, one would not be allowed to sharpen a knife on Yom Tov or make any other vessel to be used in cooking.
This accords with the first opinion in the baraita. R. Judah, on the other hand, is even more lenient, allowing even making the preliminaries for preparing food.
The Talmud then lays out a midrash for each side.
In this section each position explains what they do with the word the other position’s midrash was based on.
The first opinion uses the word “for you” to exclude cooking for non-Jews or for animals. One may prepare food on Yom Tov only for a Jew to eat.
Judah uses the word “that only” combined with his midrash on “for you” to teach that one can make preliminaries on Yom Tov only if he could not have prepared them the day before. For instance, if his knife was damaged on Yom Tov, he could sharpen it on Yom Tov itself. But if he just forgot to sharpen his knife before Yom Tov, he would not be allowed to sharpen it on Yom Tov.
Today’s section opens with another new mishnah.
One who deliberately transgresses Shabbat is punished by being executed by a human court. We should remember that this is theoretical. Rabbis did not carry out the death penalty and for the most part did not carry out any form of physical punishment.>Deliberate transgression of Yom Kippur is punishable by karet, which can be translated as “being cut off” but is a penalty not carried out by a human court.
There is a principle in halakhah that if a person commits one crime for which there are two penalties, he gets the worse of the two penalties. Thus if someone burns down a house on Shabbat (intentionally) he is executed but he is not liable for making compensation for the property damage. According to R. Nehuniah b. Hakaneh, the same is true for Yom Kippur, even though its punishment is not death but karet. The mishnah, according to the Talmud, agrees with this position.
According to R. Hananiah b. Gamaliel, if someone is liable for karet and he is flogged he is now exempt from the karet punishment. This is derived from the verse in Deuteronomy—once someone has been flogged, he returns to being your brother.
Yohanan says that there are others who disagree with R. Hananiah b. Gamaliel. They would hold that even if one is lashed, he remains liable to the punishment of karet. Lashes don’t exempt one from karet.
Rava cites a proof for this from the school of Rav which cited our mishnah from Megillah, according to which transgressions of Yom Kippur are not punished by a human court. But if a person who committed a transgression punishable by karet is to be lashed, then transgressing Yom Kippur is also punishable by a human court, contra the mishnah.
Nahman disagrees with R. Yohanan. A person who is obligated for karet does receive lashes and is thereby exempt from karet. The mishnah in Megillah represents R. Yitzchak’s opinion only, who holds that if someone transgresses something for which he is obligated for karet, he can never be lashed. This is based on a midrash on Leviticus 18. Leviticus 18:29 says that anyone who transgresses one of the incest prohibitions in the chapter is liable for karet. But then Leviticus 20:17 says that one who sleeps with his sister receives karet. This seems to be superfluous. R. Yitzchak reads the verse as saying that such a person receives only karet, no lashes. And this then becomes a paradigm. Anyone who is liable for karet is not lashed.
R. Ashi says that the mishnah in Megillah can even accord with the rabbis who hold that if a person liable for karet is flogged he is exempt from karet. When the mishnah said that Shabbat is punishable by a human court and Yom Kippur by a divine court, it referred to the main punishment. The main punishment for transgressing Shabbat is the death penalty and the main punishment for transgressing Yom Kippur is karet, even though lashes can be handed out for it as well.