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Pesachim 49


QUESTION: The Gemara says that an Am ha'Aretz is not allowed to eat meat.
Why not?


(a) The simple reason is that meat is a delicacy which was put into this world to serve a purpose. Eating meat fills a person and gives him clarity of mind (Bava Kama 72a). If an Am ha'Aretz were to have a clear mind, he would not think productive thoughts. Therefore, he has no excuse to indulge in meat.

(b) Hashem permitted the eating of meat only to people who are G-d fearing people who are oriented towards spiritual growth; only they are allowed to "rule" over the animal world by eating meat. One who himself displays animalistic tendencies cannot eat meat.

(c) The RAN and RABEINU DAVID explain that the Am ha'Aretz simply does not know how to slaughter an animal properly, and therefore he will end up not eating meat.

OPINIONS: The Gemara says that it is permitted to kill an Am ha'Aretz by Nechirah (stabbing him in the neck) even on Yom Kippur that falls on Shabbos. What did the Am ha'Aretz do to deserve such treatment?
(a) TOSFOS says that the Gemara is referring to an Am ha'Aretz who is a known killer. Since it is a matter of Piku'ach Nefesh, it is permitted to dispose of him even if he is not presently involved in a murder.

(b) The RAN and RABEINU DAVID, quoting RAV SHERIRAH GA'ON and the RIF say that if the Am ha'Aretz is pursuing a betrothed woman (Rodef Achar ha'Ervah), it is permitted to kill him, even on Yom Kippur, even if he can only be stopped by stabbing him (i.e. an ugly death, Misah Menuveles).

The Rishonim ask that if this is the case that the Gemara is referring to when it says that one may kill an Am ha'Aretz, then why is the Gemara talking about an Am ha'Aretz? It is permitted to kill anyone, even a Talmid Chacham, if he is Rodef Achar ha'Ervah! The answer is that granted, it would be permitted to kill anyome who is Rodeh Achar ha'Ervah, but only someone who is an Am ha'Aretz would be ignorant enough to do soAn Am ha'Aretz does not think about the consequences of his actions and goes ahead and pursues the woman where people can see him, and thus he is killed in any manner during his act of being Rodef. As an Am ha'Aretz, he does not even know how to sin.

(c) The RAN and MAHARSHA explain that the Gemara is speaking in metaphoric terms. Since the Amei ha'Aretz hate the Talmidei Chachamim so much, the Gemara uses exaggerated statements about them. The Maharsha adds that the Metaphor for killing is that one is permitted to embarrass the Am ha'Aretz in public, even on Yom Kippur (embarrassing a person is akin to killing him -- Bava Metziah 58b).

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