TalmuDigest

For the week ending 20 August 2011 / 19 Av 5771

Chullin 58 - 64

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll
  • The eggs or offspring of a treifah creature
  • The animal with a missing foot or an extra one
  • The poisoned or otherwise ill animal
  • How to tell whether a bird or grasshopper is kosher
  • Distinguishing between domestic animals and beasts
  • The absurd requests of a Roman emperor
  • The logic of vegetation at time of creation
  • The complaint of the moon and the resolution
  • The eagle and other birds, features and names
  • More kosher birds than non-kosher ones
  • Examining eggs for their kosher status

When the Speechless Speak

When, on the third day of creation, G-d commanded the earth to sprout fruit trees, He stipulated that each tree should yield its own fruit. This stipulation was not made in the command to sprout vegetation. Nevertheless, states Rabbi Chanina bar Papa, our tradition is that the vegetation that came forth assumed the need to do so as separate entities. The logic was that if G-d insisted on trees, which do not grow so closely together, to remain distinct from one another, how much more so is this required of grassy vegetation whose nature is to grow in close company. Upon reaching this conclusion, this vegetation came forth in separate identities.

How is it that inanimate vegetation speaks?

Maharsha explains this on the basis of what the Sages have taught us that every single blade of grass has an angel above who causes it to grow, and these angels made the above-mentioned calculation.

For support he refers us to the commentary of Tosefot on the gemara (Chullin 7a) describing the dialogue between Rabbi Pinchas ben Yair and the Ganai River, which the Sage had commanded to part its waters in order to enable him to proceed on his sacred mission to ransom a Jewish captive. Tosefot there suggests that it was the angel of the waters who was speaking with the Sage.

  • Chullin 60a

What the Sages Say

"Why is only the sacrificial goat offered on Rosh Chodesh referred to as being 'for G-d'? Because G-d said that this goat should be an atonement for Him for reducing the original illumination of the moon."

  • Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish - Chullin 60b

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