משום בניו אורחא הוא
due to his children, as it is standard practice for children to ride.
והכתיב והיא רכבת על החמור התם משום ביעתותא דליליא אורחא הוא ואיבעית אימא משום ביעתותא דליליא ליכא משום ביעתותא דדוד איכא ואיבעית אימא ביעתותא דדוד נמי ליכא משום ביעתותא דהר איכא
The Gemara raises another difficulty. But isn’t it written with regard to Abigail: “And it was so, as she rode on her donkey and came down by the covert of the mountain” (I Samuel 25:20). This verse employs the language of riding in reference to a woman on a donkey. The Gemara answers: There, due to the fear of the night, it is standard practice for a woman to ride and not merely sit on the donkey. And if you wish, say instead: There is no consideration due to the fear of the night that would explain why she was permitted to ride in the regular manner; rather, there is a consideration due to fear of David. And if you wish, say instead: There is no consideration due to fear of David either; however, there is a consideration due to the fear of the incline when riding down the mountain.
ובאורייתא מי לא כתיב טמא אלא כל היכא דכי הדדי נינהו משתעי בלשון נקיה כל היכא דנפישין מילי משתעי בלשון קצרה כדאמר רב הונא אמר רב ואמרי לה אמר רב הונא אמר רב משום רבי מאיר לעולם ישנה אדם לתלמידו דרך קצרה
The Gemara asks: But isn’t the word impure written in the Torah? Apparently, the Torah does not consistently employ euphemisms, and indeed the word impure appears regularly. Rather, anywhere that two phrases are equal in length, the verse speaks employing a euphemism. Anywhere that the words of the euphemism are more numerous, requiring a lengthier description, the Torah speaks employing concise language, in accordance with that which Rav Huna said that Rav said, and some say it was Rav Huna who said that Rav said in the name of Rabbi Meir: A person should always teach his student in a concise manner.
וכל היכא דכי הדדי נינהו משתעי בלשון כבוד והא רוכבת ויושבת דכי הדדי נינהו וקאמר רוכבת רכבת כתיב
The Gemara asks: And anywhere that the phrases are equal in length, does the verse always speak employing dignified language? Aren’t the Hebrew words for rides [rokhevet], spelled: Reish, vav, kaf, beit, tav; and sits [ yoshevet], spelled: Yod, vav, shin, beit, tav, of equal length, and yet the verse states: Rides (I Samuel 25:20). The Gemara answers: The Hebrew word for rides is written without a vav in the defective form, rendering it shorter than the term for sits. Brevity takes precedence over dignified language.
הנהו תרי תלמידי דהוו יתבי קמיה דרב חד אמר שויתינן האי שמעתא כדבר אחר מסנקן וחד אמר שויתינן האי שמעתא כגדי מסנקן ולא אישתעי רב בהדי דהאיך
The Gemara relates an incident involving the use of appropriate language: There were these two students who were sitting before Rav and were weary from studying a complex issue. One of them said: This halakha we are studying is rendering us as tired as a tired [mesankan] something else, a euphemism for a pig. And the other one said: This halakha is rendering us as tired as a tired kid. Rav would not speak with that student who made reference to a pig, as one who speaks inappropriately is undoubtedly flawed in character.
הנהו תרי תלמידי דהוו יתבי קמיה דהלל וחד מינייהו רבן יוחנן בן זכאי ואמרי לה קמיה דרבי וחד מינייהו רבי יוחנן חד אמר מפני מה בוצרין בטהרה ואין מוסקין בטהרה וחד אמר מפני מה בוצרין בטהרה ומוסקין בטומאה אמר מובטח אני בזה שמורה הוראה בישראל ולא היה ימים מועטים עד שהורה הוראה בישראל
The Gemara additionally relates that there were these two students who were sitting before Hillel, and one of them was Rabban Yoḥanan ben Zakkai. And some say they were sitting before Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, and one of them was the amora Rabbi Yoḥanan. One of them said: Due to what reason need one be careful to harvest grapes in a state of ritual purity, by insisting on the use of pure vessels, and one need not harvest olives in a state of ritual purity? And the other one said the same point, only he worded it differently: Due to what reason need one harvest grapes in a state of ritual purity, but one may harvest olives in a state of ritual impurity? Their teacher said: I am certain that this first student, who spoke in a clean manner, will issue halakhic rulings in Israel. The Gemara adds: And it was not even a few days later that he issued halakhic rulings in Israel.
הנהו תלתא כהני חד אמר להו הגיעני כפול וחד אמר הגיעני כזית וחד אמר הגיעני כזנב הלטאה בדקו אחריו ומצאו בו שמץ פסול
The Gemara relates an incident involving the use of appropriate language. There were these three priests in the Temple, each of whom received a portion of the showbread divided among the priests. Since there were many priests, each one received only a small amount. One said to them: I received a bean-sized portion. And one said: I received an olive-bulk. And one said: I received a portion the size of a lizard’s tail. They investigated the background of the latter priest, who used the imagery of an impure creeping animal, and they found a trace [shemetz] of disqualification in his background.
והא (תניא) אין בודקין מן המזבח ולמעלה
The Gemara assumes that they found a problem in his lineage that disqualified him from the priesthood. The Gemara asks: But wasn’t it taught in a baraita that one does not investigate a priest’s lineage beyond the altar? When the court investigated the lineage of a priest, they would investigate his ancestry only until they discovered a priest who sacrificed offerings on the altar. At that point, they would halt the investigation. A priest of questionable lineage would certainly not have been permitted to serve on the altar. However, in this incident the lineage of a priest who had brought offerings was indeed called into question.
לא תימא שמץ פסול אלא אימא שחץ פסול ואי בעית אימא שאני התם דאיהו דארע נפשיה
The Gemara rejects this contention: Do not say that they found a trace [shemetz] of disqualification, referring to his lineage. Rather, say that they found arrogance [shaḥatz] of disqualification, and for that reason he was disqualified from the priesthood. And if you wish, say instead: There it is different, as he cast aspersions upon himself. Although it is generally assumed that any priest who participates in the Temple service is qualified to do so, this priest discredited his own lineage through his conduct.
ההוא ארמאה דהוה סליק ואכיל פסחים בירושלים אמר כתיב כל בן נכר לא יאכל בו כל ערל לא יאכל בו ואנא הא קאכילנא משופרי שופרי
With regard to the investigation of the priestly lineage, the Gemara relates: A certain gentile would ascend on the pilgrimage to Jerusalem, claiming he was Jewish, and eat Paschal lambs in Jerusalem. He would then return home and boast about how he had tricked the Jews. He said: It is written: “This is the statute of the Paschal lamb; no foreigner may eat of it” (Exodus 12:43), and another verse says: “Any uncircumcised man shall not eat of it” (Exodus 12:48). And yet, I ate from the finest of the fine portions of the Paschal lamb.
אמר ליה רבי יהודה בן בתירא מי קא ספו לך מאליה אמר ליה לא כי סלקת להתם אימא להו ספו לי מאליה כי סליק אמר להו מאליה ספו לי אמרו ליה אליה לגבוה סלקא
Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira said to him, in an attempt to thwart any repetition of this action: Did they feed you from the fat tail of the lamb? Do you really think they gave you the finest portion? The gentile was ignorant of the fact that the fat tail is sacrificed on the altar, not eaten. The gentile said to him: No. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira replied: If so, when you ascend there next time, say to them: Feed me the fat tail. The next year when he ascended, he said to the other members of the group he joined: Feed me from the fat tail. They said to him: The fat tail is offered up to God.
אמרו ליה מאן אמר לך הכי אמר להו רבי יהודה בן בתירא אמרו מאי האי דקמן בדקו בתריה ואשכחוהו דארמאה הוא וקטלוהו שלחו ליה לרבי יהודה בן בתירא שלם לך רבי יהודה בן בתירא דאת בנציבין ומצודתך פרוסה בירושלים
They said to him: Who said that to you, to ask for that portion? He said to them testily: It was Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira. They said: What is this incident that has come before us? Could Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira have told him to eat the fat tail? This matter must be investigated further. They investigated his background and found that he was a gentile, and they killed him. They sent a message to Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira: Peace unto you, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira, as you are in Netzivin and your net is spread in Jerusalem. Despite your distance from Jerusalem, you enabled us to apprehend a person who deceived us.
רב כהנא חלש שדרוה רבנן לרבי יהושע בריה דרב אידי אמרו ליה זיל בדוק מאי דיניה אתא אשכחיה דנח נפשיה קרעיה ללבושיה ואהדריה לקרעיה לאחוריה ובכי ואתי אמרו ליה נח נפשיה אמר להו אנא לא קאמינא ומוציא דבה הוא כסיל
The Gemara relates another incident in praise of one who is careful to refrain from improper or negative language. Rav Kahana fell ill, and the Sages sent Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Rav Idi, as their emissary to him. They said to him: Go and assess what is Rav Kahana’s condition at present. Rabbi Yehoshua, son of Rav Idi, went and found that Rav Kahana had passed away. He rent his garment and turned his garment around so the tear would be behind him and would not be immediately apparent, and he was crying as he was coming. They said to him: Did Rav Kahana pass away? He said to them: I did not say that, as the verse states: “And he who utters slander is a fool” (Proverbs 10:18). This verse indicates that it is undesirable to be a bearer of bad tidings, and if one must inform others of the unfortunate news, he should do so in an indirect manner.
יוחנן חקוקאה נפק לקרייתא כי אתא אמרו ליה חיטין נעשו יפות אמר להם שעורים נעשו יפות אמרו ליה צא ובשר לסוסים ולחמורים דכתיב השערים והתבן לסוסים ולרכש מאי הוי ליה למימר אשתקד נעשו חיטין יפות אי נמי עדשים נעשו יפות:
The Gemara continues to cite examples of clean language: Yoḥanan from Ḥakuk went to the villages. When he came, they said to him: Did the wheat crop develop nicely? Reluctant to say that the wheat crop did not develop nicely, he said to them: The barley crop developed nicely, leaving them to draw their own conclusion. They said to him, mockingly: Go out and inform the horses and donkeys about the barley, as it is written: “Barley and hay for the horses and swift steeds” (I Kings 5:8). The Gemara asks: What could he have said to better express the bad news euphemistically? The Gemara answers: He could have said: Last year’s wheat crop developed nicely. Alternatively, he could have said that this year’s crop of lentils, which is also food for people, has developed nicely.