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Nedarim, 49


QUESTION: Rebbi Yoshiyah adduces support from a verse in Divrei ha'Yamim II (35:13), "They cooked the Pesach with fire according to its law," that the word "Mevushal" (cooked) includes foods that are roasted as well, since the verse refers to the Korban Pesach as being "cooked," while we know that it must be roasted (Shemos 12:8-9). REBBI AKIVA EIGER (in Gilyon ha'Shas) asks why Rebbi Yoshiyah cites a verse in Divrei ha'Yamim to teach this, when there is an explicit verse in the Torah in Parashas Re'eh that says, "You shall cook [the Korban Pesach] and eat it" (Devarim 16:7). In fact, the Mechilta (Parshas Bo, #6) indeed cites the verse in Parashas Re'eh as the source for Rebbi Yoshiyah's statement! Rebbi Akiva Eiger concludes "there is what to answer." How do we answer this question?


(a) The SHALMEI NEDARIM and PORAS YOSEF answer that perhaps Rebbi Yoshiyah cites this verse in Divrei ha'Yamim because he holds that we follow "Lashon Bnei Adam" -- the words used in a Neder are interpreted based on popular usage and they are not interpreted based on how they are used by the Torah, like the Gemara concludes (see RAN DH v'Af Al Pi sh'Ein Ra'ayah).

Indeed, TOSFOS (55a, DH u'ch'Frotz) explains that the words used in Divrei ha'Yamim are the words used popularly, rather than the phraseology used by the Torah. Accordingly, Rebbi Yoshiyah could not prove that roasted foods are included in "Mevushal" from the verse in Parashas Re'eh, because he is trying to bring support for the meaning of the word "Mevushal" based on *popular* usage, and not based on how the Torah uses the word. (It is still only a "Zecher l'Davar" and not a full-fledged proof, because the popular usage of a word might change in different times and different places.)

(See Rashi in the beginning of Parashas Matos (Bamidbar 30:2), who points out that all of the Nevi'im introduce their prophecies with the words, "Ko Amar Hashem" -- "Such did Hashem speak...," whereas Moshe Rabeinu says, "Zeh ha'Davar..." -- "These are the words of Hashem," because all other Nevi'im, upon receiving their prophecies, expressed their prophecies in their own words, in "Lashon Bnei Adam." Moshe Rabeinu expressed his Nevu'ah with the exact words that he heard from Hashem.)

We may add that according to the Shalmei Nedarim, perhaps the Mechilta that cites Rebbi Yoshiyah's source from Parashas Re'eh and not from Divrei ha'Yamim is arguing with our Gemara about what Rebbi Yoshiyah holds. The Ran cites the Yerushalmi that argues with our Gemara and says that Rebbi Yoshiyah indeed holds that we interpret a person's words based on the way the Torah uses it when doing so will be a Chumra. He follows "Lashon Bnei Adam" when such an interpretation will be l'Chumra. Our Gemara, though, maintains that Rebbi Yoshiyah *only* follows "Lashon Bnei Adam" (even l'Kula). The Mechilta holds like the Yerushalmi, and therefore it holds that Rebbi Yoshiyah was bringing support from a verse in the Torah and not from Divrei ha'Yamim.

QUESTION: The Gemara relates an incident to prove that a gourd ("Kara") is an unhealthy food. Rebbi Yirmiyah fell ill, and when the doctor came in to treat him, he saw a gourd in his home and refused to treat him, saying that the "Mal'ach ha'Maves is present in this house," meaning that the consumption of gourd is what was making Rebbi Yirmiyah ill.

The Gemara asks that this contradicts the Beraisa that says that sick people eat soft guards with bread, implying that gourd is healthy for them and helps them recover.

Rava bar Ula answers that the soft inside of the gourd is healthy, while the hard rind on the outside is unhealthy. To reinforce his answer, he cites Rav Yehudah who says that the inside of a gourd is good to eat with beets, and the inside of flax seeds is good to eat with a milk dish called "Kutach." He adds, "And it is prohibited to say this in front of an Am ha'Aretz."

Why is it prohibited to say this in front of an Am ha'Aretz? The Gemara does not explain this cryptic statement.


(a) The MEFARESH explains that when the Gemara says that it is "good" to eat the gourd with beets and the flax seed with Kutach, it means that such food is a prophylactic, like the previous Beraisa implies. The reason one should not relate this information to an Am ha'Aretz is because one should not tell an Am ha'Aretz anything which could benefit him.

TOSFOS rejects this explanation, saying that it does not make sense that it should be prohibited to help an Am ha'Aretz recover from his illness. (See, though, Berachos 33a, "It is prohibited to have mercy on one who has no De'ah"; see also HAGAHOS YA'AVETZ here.)

(b) Instead, TOSFOS explains that we may not relate this information to an Am ha'Aretz because he will ridicule the Talmidei Chachamim for teaching their students such trivial information (or such obvious information, ROSH).

This answer is also problematic, though, because there are many pages of Gemara that teach medical information and general knowledge about the world, and never do we find such a warning not to relate such information to an Am ha'Aretz.

(c) The RAN explains that if we tell this information to the Amei ha'Aretz, they might uproot all of the flax in order to use it for curative purposes, and consequently the flax crops will suffer.

This explanation is also problematic, because if we are concerned about the damage to the flax crops, why does the Gemara specifically warn about telling it to an Am ha'Aretz? *Anyone* who knows that flax has medicinal properties will uproot it for that purpose! The Gemara should have said, "Do not teach this in public!"

(d) The ROGATCHAVER GA'ON (Hilchos Kela'im 1:1) suggests an original explanation. The RASHBAM in Bava Basra (92a) explains that, generally, flax is not a food item. The only time flax is eaten is for medicinal purposes as mentioned in our Gemara. Normally, it is used for making ropes and fabric and the like.

The Yerushalmi (end of fifth Perek of Ma'aseros) says that during the Shemitah year, it is permitted to buy flax from anyone, even from an Am ha'Aretz, because no one is suspected of planting or tending to flax during the Shemitah year, since it is inedible and not worth much. Our Gemara warns against telling an Am ha'Aretz how beneficial flax is for its medicinal properties, because if they find out that it has such properties, they will grow it and cultivate it even during the Shemitah year, and then we will not be able to purchase it from an Am ha'Aretz and we will not have a supply of flax to use for general purposes during Shemitah.

(e) RAV ELAZAR MOSHE HOROWITZ suggests that the statement, "And it is prohibited to say this in front of an Am ha'Aretz," is not part of Rav Yehudah's statement. Rather, it is part of Rava bar Ula's answer that there is a difference between the healthy inside of a gourd and the unhealthy rind of the outside of a gourd. The Chachamim prohibited teaching an Am ha'Aretz that part of a gourd is healthy out of fear that the Am ha'Aretz will confuse the healthy part for the unhealthy part, and consequently he will eat the harmful part of the gourd and become ill.

Rebbi Yirmiyah, who was a Tamid Chacham, knew this difference and he kept a gourd in his house in order to eat the inside for its healing properties. The doctor did not know about the healthy quality of the inside of the gourd. Rebbi Yirmiyah did not call back the doctor to tell him that the inside of the gourd is healthy, because the doctor was an Am ha'Aretz and Rebbi Yirmiyah did not want the doctor to confuse the healthy part of the gourd with the harmful part.

(According to this explanation, Rava bar Ula's answer complements Rava's answer that *Talmidei Chachamim*, who are weak like sick people, eat the gourds with bread.)


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