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Yoma 80

YOMA 59-88 have been dedicated to the memory of the late Dr. Simcha Bekelnitzky (Simcha Gedalya ben Shraga Feibush) of Queens N.Y. by his wife and daughters. Well known in the community for his Chesed and Tzedakah, he will long be remembered.


QUESTIONS: The Acharonim ask a number of questions on the famous opinion of the Noda b'Yehudah regarding the size of a Beitzah from this Daf.

The NODA B'YEHUDAH (d. 5553/1793), in the middle of the eighteenth century, used his thumbs to determine the volume of an egg, using the figure that Chazal gave for the size of an egg in terms of thumb-breadths (Etzba'os): A Revi'is, which is the size of 1.5 eggs, equals 10.8 cubic Etzba'os. Then, he took an egg and measured its actual volume. He found that the actual volume of an egg was only about *half* of the figure that he calculated using thumb-breadths! How could the Gemara equate 10.8 thumb-breadths to one egg, he asked. He concluded (TZELACH, Pesachim 116b) that modern day eggs must be only about half as large as ancient ones. As a result, when it comes to any Mitzvah which involves the Shi'ur of a Beitzah (or a Revi'is), one should use *twice* the amount of eggs that the Gemara requires. (For example, if the Gemara says that in order to be Mekabel Tum'as Ochlin a food must be the size of a Beitzah, then it must be the size of two modern day Beitzim, in order to compensate for the decrease in size of eggs.) This opinion is cited as the Halachah by the CHASAM SOFER (Teshuvos OC 127), the VILNA GA'ON (Ma'aseh Rav #105), and the CHAZON ISH (Kuntrus ha'Shi'urim, Chazon Ish OC 39).

(a) The MINCHAS BARUCH challenges the Noda b'Yehudah's opinion based on our Gemara's statement "the opening to one's esophagus (Beis ha'Bli'ah) cannot hold *more* than one Beitzah." This statement implies that it *could* hold exactly one Beitzah. Yet it is clearly impossible to fit *two* modern day eggs at once into the Beis ha'Beli'ah, the opening of the esophagus

(b) Second, when discussing the Shi'ur of "Melo Lugma," our Gemara clearly implies that the average person can hold more than a Revi'is (which is 1.5 eggs) in both of his cheeks at one time. The Gemara says that if Beis Hillel, when he says "Melo Lugmav," means "k'Melo Lugmav" (one cheekfull), then the Shi'ur that he is giving is *less* than the Shi'ur given by Beis Shamai, which is a Revi'is, and if so, Beis Hillel is being more stringent than Beis Shamai. But if Beis Hillel means literally a "Melo Lugmav," then he is saying two cheekfulls, which is more than a Revi'is, and he is being more lenient than Beis Shamai. The Gemara, therefore, clearly implies that a person's two cheeks can hold more than a Revi'is.

The MISHNAH BERURAH (OC 271:13, Bi'ur Halachah) points out that according to the Noda b'Yehudah, who says that a Revi'is contains *twice* the amount of eggs than it did in the time of the Gemara, a person should be able to hold at least *three* modern eggs in his mouth at once -- yet after much experimentation, he found that no average-sized person can hold more than two eggs, at most, in his cheeks!

(The TOSFOS RID, in fact, preceded the Mishnah Berurah with this observation. He adds that even 1.5 eggs cannot be held in the cheeks at once unless a person holds his head downwards, in an unnatural position, in order to prevent himself from swallowing the liquid in his cheeks. Because of this he suggests to delete from the Gemara the words "Im Ken" ("if so"). According to this Girsa, the Gemara is saying that not just "Melo Lugma," but even "Melo *Lugmav*" is less than a Revi'is -- in which case there is no question on the Noda b'Yehudah either.)

ANSWERS:The CHAZON ISH (Kuntrus ha'Shi'urim OC 39) addresses both questions.
(a) Regarding the first question, he answers (ibid. 39:10) that "Beis ha'Beli'ah" refers to the area of the throat which holds all the chewed up food which can be swallowed in a *protracted* act of swallowing, not just what fits into the entrance to the esophagus.

(b) Regarding the second question, the CHAZON ISH (Kuntrus ha'Shi'urim OC 39:16) says that perhaps the Mishnah Berurah did not measure accurately. It could be that the people whom the Mishnah Berurah asked to fill their cheeks did not stuff them to their absolute capacity. The Chazon Ish cites the RAN who implies that he the amount which the average person can hold in his cheeks cannot be measured by experimentation. It must be that either that the amount that it takes to fully stuff a mouth is not measurable, or that the definition of an average-sized person is not clear.

(RAV YOSEF BEN-ARZA, shlit'a, points out that the Chazon Ish's proof from the Ran that the amount held in the mouth is not measurable is not an accurate proof, because the Ran is referring to the *minimum* amount for which one is Chayav on Yom Kipur. The Ran says that the exact amount is not measurable because perhaps it might actually be *less* than the experimentation shows. However, the Shi'ur which the Chazon Ish says is not measurable is the *maximum* amount the cheeks can hold.)


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