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of Kollel Iyun Hadaf, Yerushalayim
Rosh Kollel: Rabbi Mordecai Kornfeld

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Bechoros 8

BECHOROS 7-10 - Ari Kornfeld has generously sponsored the Dafyomi publications for these Dafim for the benefit of Klal Yisrael.


(a) (Continuation of Beraisa): "Dolfinim" reproduce from [relations with] people.
(b) Question: What are "Dolfinim"?
(c) Answer (Rav Yehudah): They are mermaids, their form is half-human, half-fish.
(d) If the Beitzim (of males) in a species are external, the females give birth; if the Beitzim are internal, females lay eggs.
(e) Question: Shmuel taught that a goose and a wild goose are Kilayim (Rambam - one may not mate them; R. Gershom - one may not make them work together);
1. Question: What is the source (to say that they are different species)?
2. Answer (Abaye): Beitzim of one of them are external, Beitzim of the other are internal.
3. Summation of question: Both species lay eggs, even though testicles of one are external!
(f) Correction: Rather, if the [male] Ever is external, the females give birth; if the Ever is internal, females lay eggs.
(g) If animals (or birds) in a species mate during the day, the females give birth (or lay eggs) during the day; if they mate at night, they give birth birth at night; if they mate at night and during the day, they can give birth birth at night or by day.
1. Chickens mate during the day; bats mate at night, people and other species mate at either time.
(h) Question: What difference does it make when they give birth?
(i) Answer: This helps determine whether an egg was laid on Yom Tov (if so, it may not be eaten on Yom Tov) or not:
1. (Rav Mari brei d'Rav Kahana): If one checked a coop on the night of Yom Tov and did not see any eggs, and one was found one there the next morning before dawn, it may be eaten on Yom Tov (we assume that it was laid on Erev Yom Tov).
2. Question: But he checked, and saw that there was no egg before Yom Tov!
3. Answer: We must say that he did not check well enough, i.e. (Rosh - or) the majority of the egg left the chicken before Yom Tov, and he checked after it re-entered the chicken!
i. (R. Yochanan): If the majority of an egg came out before Yom Tov, it may be eaten on Yom Tov, [even] if it re-entered the chicken and was laid on Yom Tov.
(j) Any two species of animals that have relations in the same position and have the same gestation period can have children together and nurse from each other (Rashi; R. Gershom - and the children will survive).
(k) In all species, the male faces the back of the female during mating, with three exceptions, in which both face each other - people, fish and snakes.
(l) Question: Why are these different?
(m) Answer: Hash-m spoke with [at least one of] each of them (the Nachash in Gan Eden, the fish that swallowed Yonah).
(n) (Beraisa): Camels mate facing away from each other.
(a) (Beraisa): The gestation period of chickens is 21 days (Rashi - from conception until the egg is fully finished; R. Gershom - from when the eggs are finished until they are laid; alternatively, a hen sits on an egg for 21 days);
1. The corresponding tree is an almond tree (i.e. it takes 21 days from budding until the fruit is fully finished);
(b) Date trees correspond to dogs, the period of each is 50 days; strawberries correspond to cats, their periods are 52 days; apple trees correspond to pigs, the period of each is 60 days; grain (according to R. Yehudah, wheat is a tree) corresponds to foxes and all kinds of Sheratzim, their period is six months;
(c) Vines correspond to [most] large Tamei animals, their period is 12 months; olive trees correspond to large Tahor animals, their period is nine months; Benos Shu'ach (a kind of fig) correspond to wolves, lions, bears, leopards, Bardelas (hyena?) elephants, apes, and monkeys, their period is three years;
(d) Carob trees correspond to Efeh (vipers), they do not become bear fruit/become pregnant until 70 years after they are planted/born, three years is the time for the fruits to ripen/the period of pregnancy;
(e) The period of snakes is seven years - nothing corresponds to this cursed animal;
1. Some say that Muchsasim (a kind of fig) corresponds to it (Adam ate from it, therefore it was cursed).
(f) Question: What is the source of this?
(g) Answer (Rav Yehudah) Question: "Arur Atah mi'Kol ha'Behemah umi'Kol Chayas ha'Sadeh" - if the snake was cursed more than Behemos (which all have periods of at least five months), all the more so it is cursed more than Chayos (some of which have periods of two months or less)!
1. Answer: Rather, just like a Behemah is cursed seven times more than a Chayah (i.e. a donkey gives birth after 12 months, a cat after 52 days), the snake was cursed seven times more than a Behemah, i.e. seven years.
2. Question: Why do we not say, just like a Chayah is cursed three times more than a Behemah, i.e. a lion gives birth after three years, a donkey after one year, the snake was cursed three times more than a lion, i.e. nine years!

3. Answer: Had it said "mi'Kol ha'Chayah umi'Kol ha'Behemah," indeed we would say this;
i. Rather, it says "mi'Kol ha'Behemah umi'Kol ha'Chayah," how much more a Behemah is cursed than a Chayah.
4. Question: Why do we not say, just like a Behemah is cursed three times more than a Chayah (i.e. a goat after five months, a cat after 52 days), the snake was cursed three times more than a goat, i.e. 15 months!
5. Answer #1: It says "mi'*Kol* ha'Behemah," we learn from the most cursed, the donkey;
6. Answer #2: Since Hash-m was cursing it, presumably He intended to maximize its punishment.
(h) Question (Kaisar): What is the period of snakes?
(i) Answer (R. Yehoshua): It is seven years.
(j) Kaisar: But the Elders of Athens mated snakes, a snake was born after three years!
(k) R. Yehoshua: The mother was already four years pregnant before they mated them.
(l) Kaisar: That cannot be, pregnant animals do not mate!
(m) R. Yehoshua: Snakes mate (facing each other) like people, they mate even when they are pregnant.
(n) Kaisar: The Elders of Athens are very wise (surely, they did not err)!
(o) R. Yehoshua: Chachmei ha'Torah are wiser.
(p) Kaisar: If so, defeat them (and bring them to me)!
(a) [Maharsha explains that the following account cannot be understood simply, i.e. that R. Yehoshua debated about nonsense with the Elders of Athens and risked his life for this, and that the Gemara records it. Rather, the debate was about challenges to fundamentals of our belief, hidden in parables. We shall give the Maharsha's explanation of the true meaning in square brackets. See also Insights to the Daf.]
(b) R. Yehoshua requested a boat with 60 rooms, each with 60 chairs (for the 60 Elders of Athens); Kaisar supplied this. R. Yehoshua went to Athens; he found a butcher flaying an animal.
(c) R. Yehoshua asked, "Will you sell your head?" The butcher agreed, for a half Zuz. R. Yehoshua paid, and insisted that he bought the head of the butcher.
(d) R. Yehoshua offered, "If you will show me where the Elders are, I will leave you alone." The man was afraid, for the Elders kill anyone who reveals this. R. Yehoshua said, you will walk by, when you get there you will put down your load, as if you need to rest, they will not understand this sign.
(e) There were guards inside and outside a thick doorway, to stop people from entering or [the Elders from] leaving. There was dirt on the floor - if footprints were seen going in, they would kill the outer guards; if footprints were seen going out, they would kill the inner guards. R. Yehoshua put one of his shoes on backwards, and entered the doorway (the guards allowed people to enter the doorway, just not to fully enter or leave). His footprints indicated that someone had entered, and that someone had left; the Elders killed all the guards.
(f) R. Yehoshua entered, and found the young Elders in the upper story. He understood that if he greets the young sages first, then the older ones will kill him for not greeting them first, for they are older;
1. If he greets the older ones first, then the young sages will kill him - they consider themselves to be more important!
2. He greeted all the sages together. He told them that he was the Chacham of Yisrael, and he wanted to learn from them; they wanted to ask him questions.
(g) R. Yehoshua: If you defeat me, you may do to me as you wish; if I defeat you, you will eat with me on a boat! They agreed.
(h) Elders: If a man wants to marry a woman of good lineage, and her family does not agree, should he ask to marry a woman of better lineage (all the more so, they will not agree to give her)! [You say that Yisrael is more important than the Nochrim - but Hash-m offered the Torah to the Nochrim, they refused, then he offered it to Yisrael! It must be that Yisrael is of lesser lineage!]
(i) R. Yehoshua took a peg and tried to stick it into the wall - it did not stay; he then stuck it into the wall higher up - it stuck;
1. Likewise, it is possible that his Mazal was to marry a better woman. [Similarly, Nochrim are governed by Mazal, but Yisrael is betrothed to Hash-m!]
(j) Elders: If a man lent money and collected it with great difficulty, should he lend someone else? (He should have learned a lesson!) [Similarly, Hash-m made a Bris with Yisrael, they transgressed - will He make another Bris in the days of Mashi'ach?!]
(k) R. Yehoshua: If a man chopped wood, and found that he could not lift all of it on his shoulder, indeed he should cut more - later, someone will come to help load it on him (i.e. he should lend again, perhaps the next borrower will pay properly)! [Similarly, we learn all the Torah, even though we will not be able to fulfill many of the Mitzvos until Mashi'ach, so that we will be ready when he comes!]
(a) Elders: Tell us a falsity. [They acknowledged that his answers were victorious, and now challened him to say a matter of Chachmah disguised in a falsity.]
(b) R. Yehoshua: A mule gave birth, and hung a sign on its son saying, "I owe 100,000 Zuz that was lent to my father." [Mules, which are sterile, are a parable for Nochrim, who do not pass on lineage to their children. Just like one would never lend to a mule expecting to collect from its children, the Bris that Hash-m will make in the future will not be with Nochrim.]
1. Elders: A mule cannot give birth!
2. R. Yehoshua: You asked to hear a falsity!
(c) [The Elders had not understood the parable, and acknowledged defeat; they now challenged him to understand their parables.]
(d) Elders: If salt rots, what do you use to preserve it? [Yisrael's sins spoiled their Bris with Hash-m, nothing can restore it!]
(e) R. Yehoshua: You use the fetal sac that comes out of a mule. [Will He make the Bris with Nochrim, who do not pass lineage to their children?!]
1. Elders: A fetal sac will never come out of a mule, it is sterile!
2. R. Yehoshua: Salt never rots! [The Bris with Yisrael never spoiled, it continues with their children.]
(f) Elders: Build a house in the air! [Granted, Yisrael had Ru'ach ha'Kodesh when they had the Beis ha'Mikdash in their land, but they cannot merit this in exile!]
(g) R. Yehoshua said Hash-m's name, he was suspended in the air; he told them, "Bring to me bricks and mortar, and I will build a house!" [Hash-m is with us wherever we are, we do not require a physical house; you relate only.to the physical, you cannot build a house here to attain spirituality!]
(h) Elders: Where is the middle of the world? [Hash-m bestows to you Chochmah and spirituality only from the Beis ha'Mikdash, in the middle of the world!]
(i) R. Yehoshua stuck out a finger [to show that Hash-m is not limited to any place]. They [believed that Hash-m is physical, and] requested proof that this is the middle.
(j) R. Yehoshua: Bring ropes, and measure it!
(k) Elders: There is a well in the Midbar - bring it to the city! [Your source of Ru'ach ha'Kodesh, the Shechinah, left this world at the time of the Churban - now, you are under the influence of the lower world (constellations), just like Nochrim!]
(l) R. Yehoshua: Bring to me ropes of bran, and I will do so! [We have Tzadikim (compared to strong ropes) that can bring the Shechinah down - you only have chaff!]
(m) Elders: We have a broken millstone - sew it for us! [You used to eat from Hash-m's table - in exile, you cannot bring Korbanos, you lost your sustenance!]
(n) R. Yehoshua: Bring to me threads of stone, and I will do so! {We have great Tzadikim in every generation, we are fed in their merit.]
(o) Elders: How do you harvest a field of knives? [Dangers and afflictions prevent Yisraelim from achieving perfection!]
(p) R. Yehoshua: You use a donkey's horn. [The merit of Torah and Chesed saves us from them; alternatively, Mashi'ach will save us from them.]
1. Elders: Donkeys do not have horns!
2. R. Yehoshua: Knives do not grow in a field!
(q) They brought two eggs to him, and asked which of them came from a black hen, and which from a white hen. [Eggs are born after 21 days; you have 21 black days (of afflictions, the three weeks before the ninth of Av) and 21 white days (of forgiveness and Simchah, from Rosh Hashanah until Hoshanah Rabah); just like you cannot distinguish the eggs, you have no hope to escape the black days!]
(r) R. Yehoshua brought two cheeses to them, and asked which of them came from a black goat, and which from a white goat. [The primary Avodah of Yom Kipur is with two goats, the one sent to Azazel atones just like [and even more than] the one offered in the Kodesh ha'Kodoshim; likewise, the days of afflictions also atone for Yisrael, whitening our sins (like cheese).]
(s) Elders: If a chick dies inside its shell, where does the Ru'ach leave from? [The Neshamah is not eternal - Yisraelim that live and die in exile have no opportunity to achieve perfection!]
(t) R. Yehoshua: It leaves from the same place it entered. [The Neshamah is eternal, it came from under the Kisei ha'Kavod.]
(u) Elders: Show us a vessel that is not worth the loss it causes. [Your prophets prophecised that in the end of days, the Nochrim (who are most of the world) will be destroyed for the sake of Yisrael - this is unreasonable!]
(v) R. Yehoshua brought a mattress, it could not fit through the door; he asked them to bring a pickax to break the gate so it could fit through. [Indeed, one would not destroy his house for a lowly vessel (like a straw mattress, a parable for Nochrim), but one would do so for a special treasure (Yisrael)!]
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