I am currently giving a shiur on the Tosefta that follows my edition in Chandler, AZ on Wednesday nights at 8:30 pm. The audio recordings of the shiur get posted every week on the Audio page. If you are in the Phoenix, AZ area and would like to join please contact me.
Someone contacted me and asked me to explain who were the Morning Immersers (aka Morning Bathers) mentioned in Tosefta Yadayim 2:9, and what is their relationsship to early Christians.
In this particular Tosefta Zockermandel’s edition makes a mistake in his quote of the manuscript (he was rushing to copy it in the Berlin library) and should not be used. Zuckermandel’s text of this Tosefta does not match the Vienna manuscript and or the first printed edition. We are left with three variations of the text: Vienna manuscript, Venice First Printed Edition and the quote of this Tosefta from Rash MiShantz in his commentary on Mishna Yadaim 4:8. All other later printed editions are not reliable since they have not been edited from Tosefta manuscripts but rather from the Venice edition and other books like Talmud Bavli, so they often quote other Beraitot which are related in content but are different.
Now let’s look at this Tosefta. Here are the three quotes:
אומרין טובלי שחרין קובלנו עליכם פרושין שאתם מזכירין את השם בשחרית בלא טבילה אומ’ פרושין קובלנו עליכם טובלי שחרין שאתם מזכירין את השם מן הגוף שיש בו טומאה.
Morning Immersers say, “We accuse you, Pharisees (Perushim), that you mention [God’s] name in the morning without [first] immersing [in the Mikveh upon waking up.]” Pharisees say, “We accuse you, Morning Immersers, that you [ever] mention [God’s] name using (literally: from) the body which has Tumah (ritual impurity) in it (i.e inside it).”
Venice First Printed Edition:
או’ טיבלני שחרית קובלני עליכם פרושין שאתם מזכירי’ את השם מן הגוף שיש בו טומאה.
Morning Immersers say, “We accuse you, Pharisees, that you [ever] mention [God’s] name using (literally: from) the body which has Tumah (ritual impurity) in it (i.e inside it).”
Rash Mishnantz (Commentary on Mishna Yadayim 4:8):
אומרים טובלי שחרית קובלנו עליכם פרושים שאתם מזכירים את השם בשחרית בלא טבילה. אומרים פרושים קובלנו עליכם טובלי שחרית שאתם מזכירים את השם מן הגוף שיש בו טומאה.
Morning Immersers say, “We accuse you, Pharisees, that you mention [God’s] name in the morning without [first] immersing [in the Mikveh upon waking up.]” Pharisees say, “We accuse you, Morning Immersers, that you [ever] mention [God’s] name using (literally: from) the body which has Tumah (ritual impurity) in it (i.e inside it).”
From a quick glance all versions make sense as far as something that these two groups might have said to each other, however after you look into it the Vienna manuscript (and Rash Mishantz) have the correct reading, and not just because they match each other. Let me explain how.
Who were these Morning Immersers? They were a Jewish (non-Christian) sect called by Justin Martyr (see Dialogue with Trypho 80) Baptist Pharisees and by Epiphanius (Panarion 1:11:1:1, 1-11:2:5) Hemerobaptists. Josephus (Life of Josephus 12) also mentions his Essene teacher, Bannus, who dipped in the Mikveh many times a day and night and could have been a Hemerobaptist. Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 4:22) mentions Hemerobaptists as a non-Christian sect. An early Christian work, Clementina (from the 2nd century CE), (Homilies 2:23) mentions that John the Baptist and his disciples were Hemerobaptists. The Talmud Bavli (Berachot 22a) mentions that Hemerobaptists still existed during the time of Rabbi Yehoshua Ben Levi who lived in the 3rd century CE since he mentioned them and the Talmud implies that they were a Jewish sect, as Rash Mishantz (ibid.) understands. That means that all of the Christian sources about them are contemporary and not just historical.
Now what’s the halachic problem that this argument between Hemerobaptists and Pharisees is about? This depends on whose point of view this argument is explained from. We only have an official record of the explanation from the Talmud Bavli, which is the point of view of the Pharisees. However, the Essenes and the Morning Bathers themselves would have explained it totally differently.
The Gemara’s (based on Berachot 22a) explanation is as follows. A man at night may have become a Baal Keri (had a seminal emission). That means that according to the Halacha of the Pharisees he did not require to immerse in the Mikveh in order to be able to pronounce God’s name, but rather he only needed to have 9 Kavs of water dumped on him from a bucket. This was the law during Temple times as attested in Talmud Bavli (Berachot 22a), since it’s originally quoted in the name of Nachum Ish Gamzu who lived before the Temple’s destruction. However the Hemerobaptists required that a man who had a seminal emission had to immerse in the Mikveh. So the Hemerobaptists accused the Pharisees that they mentioned God’s name in the morning while being ritually impure due to seminal emissions. However the Pharisees replied back to Hemerobaptists with an insulting facetious comment. They said that how can Hemerobaptists ever say God’s name since their bodies are ritually impure inside, meaning in their souls, because they do not follow Rabbinic instructions. The Pharisees did not mean it to be a serious reply. They simply wanted to insult the Hemerobaptists and make fun of them. Now that we understand it that way, then as you can see the version of the Venice Printed Edition does not make any sense. It quotes that the Hemerobaptists insult the Pharisees with a facetious comment, and that does not make any sense, since the Hemerobaptists took their Mikveh immersions very seriously and would not insult anyone about it. Also it does not make sense that the Tosefta would mention the quote of one group without the reply of the other.
It is interesting that by the 4th century CE many Rabbinic Jews started following the rule of Hemerobaptists and started immersing in the Mikveh in the morning if they had a seminal emission, as quoted by Talmud Bavli (Berachot 22a) in the name of Rabbi Chanina. The anonymous voice (Stama) of the editors of the Talmud itself has forgotten about the existence of Hemerobaptists and only knows the current practice of when it was compiled, which had regular Rabbinic Jews immersing in the Mikveh for seminal emissions, and therefore it praises it as a great stringency. But eventually that practice died out as well and has not existed until the Hassidic movement in the 18th century. It seems that it only was practiced in the Land of Israel and once the Jewish centers of learning moved to Babylonia in the 5th century CE that practice died out. As time went on the same practice changed its reasons and appeal to different groups. So during Temple times Pharisees were against these morning immersions. But by the 4th century they were for them. There are Orthodox Jewish sects today who still have the practice of daily immersion, such as Lubavitch Hassidim. Their men immerse in the Mikveh every morning, even on Shabbat. As far as I know they are the only ones who do this as a group. From my discussions with them they don’t do it because of Baal Keri, but rather because of a general purification for no apparent halachic reason.
However, this whole practice from the point of view of the Essenes and the Morning Bathers themselves had a totally different meaning. Essenes and similar groups were always paranoid that they may not have noticed how they became impure, so just in case they kept on immersing. Also they had additional more esoteric reasons for their immersions. They believed that immersion in the Mikveh purified sin and therefore was required all the time, not as a halachic rule, but rather as spiritual purification from spiritual problems. For various sources from the Dead Sea Scrolls that attest to this belief and their comparison to the views of the Pharisees in the Talmudic literature see Hannah Harrington, The Purity Texts, Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2007.
The Purity Texts
Tractate Peah, Chapter 3
[A person] who is cutting gavels2 [of grain, with intention] to bundle them into sheaves later [and not right away],3 and also [a person who is piling up] heaps4 of garlic [with intention to make from the heaps] bundles of garlic,5 or [spread out] onions,6 [later and not right away, if any of these gavels of grain or heaps of garlic, or spread out onions, have been forgotten in the field, the law of] Shikcha (forgotten sheaves) does not apply to them, [and therefore they still belong to the owner, who can go back and retrieve them.]7 [A person] who is binding sheaves,8 because of [an approaching] fire or because of an irrigation canal9 [that broke through and is about to flood the field, if any of these sheaves have been forgotten in the field the law of] Shikcha does not apply to them, [and therefore they still belong to the owner, who can go back and retrieve them,] because he (i.e. the farmer) will check10 [the field for any forgotten sheaves, since he is not harvesting them, but rather moving them out of the way of the fire or flooding water.]11 It happened with a certain pious person12 that he forgot a sheaf in his field [during harvest,] and he said to his son, “Go [to the Temple in Jerusalem] and sacrifice in my name a bull for Korban Olah (burnt-offering)13 and a bull for Korban Shlamim (peace-offering).”14 He (i.e. his son) said [back] to him (i.e. the father), “Father! What have you seen in this commandment [of Shikcha that caused you] to rejoice [about it] more than all [other] commandments that are mentioned in the Torah?”15 He (i.e. the father) said [back] to him (i.e. the son), “All [other] commandments [that are mentioned] in the Torah have been given to us by God [to be executed] consciously (i.e. on purpose with intent). [But] this [commandment of Shikcha was given to us by God to be executed] unconsciously (i.e. accidentally due to forgetfulness), because if we would have done it willingly (i.e. left the sheaf in the field on purpose for the poor to take) in front of God, this commandment would not be counted for us [as a fulfilled commandment of Shikcha, but rather as a random act of kindness.]”16 He (i.e. the son) said [back] to him (i.e. the father), “It says [in the Torah], ‘When you will harvest your harvest in your field and you will forget a sheaf in the field, do not go back to take it. It shall be [left there] for the Non-Jewish resident, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that Hashem, your God, will bless you with all the deeds of your hand.’ (Devarim 24:19) The verse has granted him (i.e. the farmer who left the sheaf in the field) a blessing. [But why did the verse need to say explicitly that the farmer will get a blessing?] Is not it a Kal Vechomer (derivation from minor to major) [which can be concluded by us logically without the need of an explicit verse]? Just like someone who did not intend to do something good, but he [ended up] doing something good [anyway], the verse considers him as if he has done something good, so for sure someone who intended to do something good, and [ended up] doing something good [that he meant to do] how much more so [should get a blessing]?”17 Similarly, [it says in the Torah:] “If a soul from the common people sins by accident by doing one of the negative commandments of Hashem, and becomes guilty of it. When his sin which he sinned will become known to him … (the verses go on to describe the sacrifice that the sinner should bring) … and the priest will atone for him, and he will be forgiven.” (Vayikra 4:27-31)18 And it is a Kal Vechomer [which can be concluded by us logically]!19 Just like someone who did not intend to sin, but sinned [anyway], we consider him as if he sinned. So someone who intended to sin and [then] sinned, how much more so [should be considered as if he sinned. And therefore will for sure get punished.]20
מסכת פאה פרק ג
הָחוֹתֵךְ כְּרִיכוֹת וְעָתִיד לְעַמְּרָן, וְכֵן אוֹגוּרֵי הַשּׁוּם וַאֲגוּדּוֹת הַשּׁוּם, וְהַבְּצָלִים, אֵין לָהֵן שִׁכְחָה. הַמְעַמֵּר מִפְּנֵי הַדְּלֵיקָה וּמִפְּנֵי אַמַּת הַמַּיִם, אֵין לָהֵן שִׁכְחָה מִפְּנֵי שֶׁעָתִיד לִבְחֹן. מַעֲשֶׂה בְּחָסִיד אֶחָד שֶׁשָּׁכַח עוֹמֶר בְּתוֹךְ שָׂדֵהוּ וְאָמַר לִבְנוֹ, "צֵא וְהַקְרֵיב עָלַי פָּר לְעוֹלָה וּפָר לִשְׁלָמִים." אָמַר לוֹ, "אַבָּא מָה רָאִיתָ לִשְׂמוֹחַ בְּמִצְוָה זוֹ מִכָּל מִצְוֹת הָאֲמוּרוֹת בַּתּוֹרָה?" אָמַר לוֹ, "כָּל מִצְוֹת שֶׁבַּתּוֹרָה נָתַן לָנוּ הַמָּקוֹם לְדַעְתֵּנוּ. זוֹ שֶׁלֹּא לְדַעְתֵּנוּ שֶׁאִילּוּ עֲשִׂינוּהָ בְּרָצוֹן לִפְנֵי הַמָּקוֹם לֹא בָּאת מִצְוָה זוֹ לְיָדֵינוּ." אָמַר לוֹ, "הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמר (דברים כד:יט) כִּי תִקְצֹר קְצִירְךָ בְשָׂדֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ עֹמֶר בַּשָּׂדֶה, לֹא תָשׁוּב לְקַחְתּוֹ, לַגֵּר לַיָּתוֹם וְלָאַלְמָנָה, יִהְיֶה, לְמַעַן יְבָרֶכְךָ ה' אֱלֹהֶיךָ, בְּכֹל מַעֲשֵׂה יָדֶיךָ. קָבַע לוֹ הַכָּתוב בְּרָכָה. וַהֲלֹא דְבָרִים קַל וָחוֹמֶר? מָה אִם מִי שֶׁלֹּא מִּתְכַּוֵּין לִזְכּוֹת וְזָכָה מַעֲלִין עָלָיו כְּאִילּוּ זָכָה, הַמִּתְכַּוֵּין לִזְכּוֹת וְזָכָה עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה. כַּיּוֹצֵא בוֹ: (ויקרא ד:כז-לא) וְאִם נֶפֶשׁ אַחַת תֶּחֱטָא בִשְׁגָגָה, מֵעַם הָאָרֶץ, בַּעֲשֹׂתָהּ אַחַת מִמִּצְוֹת ה', אֲשֶׁר לֹא תֵעָשֶׂינָה וְאָשֵׁם. אוֹ הוֹדַע אֵלָיו חַטָּאתוֹ אֲשֶׁר חָטָא וכו' וְכִפֶּר עָלָיו הַכֹּהֵן, וְנִסְלַח לוֹ. וַהֲרֵי דְבָרִים קַל וָחוֹמֶר! מָה אִם מִי שֶׁלֹּא מִתְכַּוֵּין לַחֲטוֹא וְחָטָא מַעֲלִין עָלָיו כְּאִילּוּ חָטָא, הַמִּתְכַּוֵּן לַחֲטוֹא וְחָטָא עַל אַחַת כַּמָּה וְכַמָּה."
1. In Mishna Peah 6:10 there are a few variant readings in different manuscripts that significantly alter the meaning of the Mishna. The text of the Mishna that resembles the text of our Tosefta the closest is from Manuscript Parma (Biblioteca Palatina, Parma, Manuscript 3173 (De Rossi 138)). It states that grain which has been dedicated for destruction (i.e. non-human consumption, such as animal feed or fuel), or [grain that has been dedicated] to be tied into single sheaves [without any intent to stook them into stooks and stack them into stacks,] and also [a person who is piling up] heaps of garlic [with intention to make from the heaps] bundles of garlic, or [spread out] onions, [later and not right away, if any of these gavels of grain or heaps of garlic, or spread out onions, have been forgotten in the field, the law of] Shikcha (forgotten sheaves) does not apply to them. The first statement in our Tosefta expands on this law and will be explained in detail in the following notes. The second statement of the Tosefta states a new law, which is not discussed in the Mishna on a similar subject of what type of harvested grain does not qualify to be considered Shikcha if it was forgotten.
Notice that the Mishna specifically uses the word אלומה (Aluma), "sheaf”, as a technical term to emphasize that these sheaves are intended to be kept as small single sheaves that will not be stooked or stacked, which is what is done normally, as was already explained above in Tosefta Peah 3:5, notes 2-4. The Tosefta’s case of the sheaves is slightly different than the Mishna’s. In the Mishna the farmer planned not to stook the individual sheaves and leave them as they are. But in the Tosefta the farmer planned to leave untied gavels in the field and not tie them into sheaves until later.
I have shown photos of the three main Mishna manuscripts below to emphasize the difference in the readings of the Mishna. As can be seen from them only the Parma manuscript follows closely the language of the Tosefta, whereas the Kaufman Manuscript (Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest, Kaufmann Collection, Manuscript A50) and the Munich Manuscript (Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich, Manuscript 95) have different readings with different meaning.
Mishna Peah 6:10 from the Parma Manuscript.
Mishna Peah 6:10 from the Munich Manuscript.
Mishna Peah 6:10 from the Kaufmann Manuscript.
2. For an explanation of what gavels are see above Tosefta Peah 3:10, note 2.
3. As was explained above in Tosefta Peah 3:10, note 2, and is clearly visible there on Abel Grimmer’s painting, An Allegory of Summer, the standard harvesting procedure was for the front row of harvesters to cut the gavels of grain with sickles and then for the second row of harvesters to immediately tie them into sheaves. However, if for whatever reason the farmer decided not to tie the gavels right away, but rather leave them in the field untied until a later point in time, then the process of making sheaves remains incomplete until the sheaves are actually tied and therefore if a gavel is forgotten and does not qualify to be considered Shikcha, since Shikcha requires the process of bundling sheaves to be completed.
4. The correct reading here is אוֹגוּרֵי (Ogurei), meaning “heaps”, as it appears in the Erfurt manuscript, and not אֲגוּדֵּי (Agudei), meaning “bundles”, since that does not make any sense for two reasons. First the next word in the Tosefta is bundles of garlic, so it would be repetitive, and second it would make sense from the harvesting procedure point, since garlic is first heaped into piles and then tied into bundles as will be explained in the next note.
5. Garlic is a very gentle vegetable which requires very careful handling. Even today garlic is usually picked by hand so that it would not get damaged by equipment. Once it is picked it is carefully piled into heaps in the field. Garlic requires curing (drying) after it is picked for about 2-4 weeks in order to prepare it for storage. Curing causes the garlic bulbs to become completely dry, which enables them to remain fresh for a few months without refrigeration. This is commonly done by tying up individual bulbs of garlic into bundles and then hanging them up in a cool dry spot. Normally the garlic is tied into bundles immediately after it is piled into heaps. The procedure was probably done on a massive scale by two rows of farmers in a similar fashion as making sheaves from gavels of grain. The front row would pick the garlic by hand out of the ground and pile them into heaps and then the back row would come behind them, tie each few garlic bulbs into bundles, and then transport them to a barn for curing. However, if for whatever reason the farmer decided to leave heaps of garlic bulbs in the field and bundle them later, then if one of those heaps was forgotten, Shikcha does not apply to it since the process of bundling was not completed.
Heaps of garlic piled in the field during garlic harvest. Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, Les Cèdres, Quebec, Canada, July 2011. Photo: goingtoseed.wordpress.com. Notice the heaps are not tied yet, but are spaced out in a way so it would be easy to tie them.
Farmers picking and tying garlic into bundles. Tourne-Sol Cooperative Farm, Les Cèdres, Quebec, Canada, July 2011. Photo: goingtoseed.wordpress.com. Notice the bundles are picked by some farmers and tied by others for efficiency.
Harvested garlic awaiting collection in rural Goheung county, South Jeolla province, South Korea, October 2007. Photo: Steve46814, Wikimedia Commons. Notice that individual garlic bulbs have been tied into bundles ready to be hung up for curing.
Hanging garlic bundles curing in a barn. Wooleylot Farm, Potter County, Pennsylvania, November 2011. Photo: wooleylot.wordpress.com.
6. Onions were harvested in a similar manner to garlic, by hand, but they were not tied into bundles for curing, because they are too big and heavy and it is not practical to bundle them. Instead onions were dried in the field in the open, for a few days, and then after that they were transported into a barn. The Tosefta specifically does not mention “bundles of onions”, but rather it just says plainly “onions”, in order to emphasize that it is referring to spread out onions which are being cured and not bundles. Shikcha would apply to onions after they have been cured in the field and ready for transport into barns, which would be the completion of the harvesting process of onions. However, onions that were just forgotten in the field before the initial curing process has been completed are not yet considered to be harvested and therefore Shikcha does not apply to them.
Onions curing in a field. Ontario, Canada. Photo: www.omafra.gov.on.ca. Notice that they are spread out and not tied into bundles like garlic.
7. It is obvious that the whole point of this law is to allow the owner to go back to the field and retrieve his forgotten gavels of grain or garlic or onion bulbs, once he remembered that they were left there, since there is no way for the poor people to know if the gavels or bulbs were forgotten by the farmer before he completed the harvesting process or after he completed the harvesting process. Tosefta Peah 3:10 clearly stated that Shikcha does apply to gavels of grain, so the difference between our case here and that Tosefta is the intent of the owner, and not the gavels or bulbs themselves. Hence, the whole point of this law is let the owner know if he is allowed to retrieve them or not, and not for the poor to know if they are allowed to take them or not if they see them. Once the owner of the field allowed the poor to go into his field and collect Shikcha, the poor can assume that any gavel forgotten in the field can be taken by them as Shikcha, since the harvesting process must have been completed by the farmer, because otherwise he simply would not allow them to go into his field to collect Shikcha.
8. As was explained earlier in Tosefta Peah 3:5, note 1, the expression of מְעַמֵּר (Meamer), “binding sheaves”, can refer to either binding a single sheaf, stooking, or stacking, depending on the context. In this particular Tosefta it is used in a more generic fashion. It makes no difference whether the farmer is binding a single sheaf, stooking or stacking, and this law would apply equally to all of these cases. The whole point of the Tosefta is the reason why he is doing it, which is not for the purpose of harvesting, but rather in order to get them out from the approaching fire or flooding water.
9. אַמַּת הַמַּיִם (Amat Hamayim) usually refers to an irrigation canal, although it can also mean a river-arm. I have chosen to translate it as “irrigation canal”, since in the Land of Israel there are almost no rivers that flow all year around and most field were irrigated by artificial canals which received water collected in pits or from flash floods.
10. The correct translation of the word לִבְחֹן (Livchon), is “to check”, as pointed out here by Saul Lieberman in Tosefta Kifshuta. See Michael Sokoloff, “A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic,” Bar Ilan University Press, 2002, p. 90, entry בחן, who points out that in Syriac this word has the same meaning.
I have chosen the reading of both Vienna and Erfurt manuscripts, which is לִבְחֹן (Livchon), “to check”. The reading of the printed editions,לאבדן (Leavdan), “to lose”, meaning that whatever sheaves get forgotten will for sure be lost to the fire or flooding water, does not really make sense. Because if the farmer is going to lose them anyway for sure the poor should be allowed to take them, at least if not as Shikcha, then as Hefker (ownerless produce). However, the Tosefta implies that they cannot take them, because they are not considered Shikcha. If the Tosefta would have considered them Hefker it would have stated so explicitly as it did in other cases. For example, see above Tosefta Peah 1:5.
The reading of Cheshek Shlomo, ליבדן (Livdan), which he explains means “to untie and spread on the ground in order to retie better” is completely unfounded and does not have a source in any extant or mentioned manuscript. It also does not make sense, because why would the farmer need to untie the sheaves in order to retie them better, since they are already tied, even if not perfectly?
11. Shikcha only applies if the sheaves were forgotten during harvest. However, if they were simply being moved out of the way of the fire or flooding water, which is clearly not a harvest, they cannot be considered Shikcha. Also, since the farmer knows that he is just moving them he will naturally try to get them all out and therefore as long as he has time he will go back and check for any forgotten sheaves. Although it may appear from the wording of the Tosefta that the reason why these sheaves, if forgotten, are not considered Shikcha is because the farmer will purposefully go back and check for them, that is not what the Tosefta really means. What it is really saying is that the farmer is allowed to go back and check for them, because they are not considered Shikcha. The reason being is I explained.
12. The Tosefta does not name the person by name. Chasdei David claims that this story is about Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava. His reasoning is that Talmud Bavli (Bava Kama 103b) says that anywhere in Talmudic literature when it says מַעֲשֶׂה בְּחָסִיד אֶחָד (Maaseh Bechasid Echad), “it happened with a certain pious person,” it is a reference to either Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava or Rebbi Yehuda Ben Rebbi Ilay. Chasdei David asserts that out of these two people only Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava lived before the destruction of the Second Temple, whereas Rebbi Yehuda Ben Rebbi Ilay was born after the destruction of the Temple, so since this story mentions sacrifices it must be referring to Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava. I would like to point out that this identification is not correct. Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava was killed by Emperor Hadrian’s soldiers at the end of the Bar Kochba Revolt, most probably in 135 CE, since he was killed after Rebbi Akiva’s execution, but possibly as early as 132 CE in the beginning of the revolt, while ordaining his five main students. See Talmud Bavli (Sanhedrin 14a) and Masechta Semachot 8:9. He was killed at the age of 80. See Midrash Eleh Ezkera, edition Jellinek, Leipzig, 1853, p. 11. This means he was born around 52 – 55 CE, 15 to 18 years before the destruction of the Temple, which took place in the year 70 CE. This means that when the Temple was destroyed Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava was only 15 – 18 years old, too young to have a son to whom he could tell to go and bring a sacrifice. Of course, Midrash Eleh Ezkera, the source for his age, is late and of poetic form and may not be historically accurate. The only way for this story to work out is if Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava’s son was born when Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava was 18 years old and he himself would have been 18 years old before the destruction of the Temple, which would make Rebbi Yehuda Ben Bava 36 years of age in the year 70 CE. This would imply that he was born at the latest in 34 CE, being 98 years old at the time of his killing. Of course it is possible, but extremely unlikely. It must be that this rule cited in the Gemara about the identification of “a certain pious person” is not as universal as it sounds to be, because it is in contradiction with other facts as I have mentioned.
13. For a description of Korban Olah see Vayikra 1:3-17 and Mishna Zevachim 5:4.
14. For a description of Korban Shlamim see Vayikra 3:1-17 and Mishna Zevachim 5:7.
15. The father got so excited that he now had the opportunity to fulfill the Mitzvah (commandment) of Shikcha, he decided to bring two sacrifices, and use a bull for each of them, the most expensive option, even though he had a choice to use a smaller, cheaper animal, such as a sheep or a goat, and for Korban Olah, he could have even used a bird. The son was certainly surprised by the father’s choice.
16. Since Shikcha could only be fulfilled accidentally, and not on purpose, it is a relatively rare commandment, hence the father’s great excitement. It should be noted, that in order to fulfill Shikcha it is not enough to just forget a sheaf and never realize that it has been forgotten. The farmer has to realize that he has forgotten a sheaf and yet not go back to get it. Only then Shikcha is fulfilled. Therefore it is not as common of an occurrence as one might think it is.
17. I have quoted the son’s response as it appears in the Erfurt manuscript. The Vienna manuscript has the wording confused and does not make any sense.
The verse clearly says that the reason the farmer gets the blessing is not, because he forgot the sheaf, since that was an accident, but rather, because when he remembered about it he does not go back to get it. That act of not going back to get it is conscious. So the son asks the father, that from day-to-day life we know that if someone does something good by accident everyone considers it a good act and gives the person credit for it. So for sure we give credit to someone who has done a good act on purpose. In the case of Shikcha the Torah says that the farmer will get a blessing from Hashem if he does not go back and get the sheaf that he forgot. Why does the Torah need to say that? Of course the farmer should get a blessing, since he for sure gets credit for leaving the sheaf for the poor consciously.
The Tosefta does not say what the father replied to the son. The son’s question can be answered in many ways. For example, the Torah wanted to emphasize that if he leaves the sheaf for the poor he will get a blessing, implying that if he goes back to get it then he will be cursed by God. The Torah merely used a positive expression to make people feel good about it. The son was being too technical with his question, and therefore such technicality did not really need an answer from the father.
18. I have quoted the verse that is written in the Erfurt manuscript, which is talking about Korban Chatat (sin-offering) of an individual. The Vienna manuscript refers to a different verse (Vayikra 5:17-18), which is talking about Korban Asham Talui (guilt-offering in case of doubt). Both of these sacrifices are brought in case of a violation of a negative commandment for which the punishment is Karet (excision), such as eating blood or forbidden fats (Cheilev), if it is violated on purpose. The difference between the two sacrifices is whether the person who committed the act knows about it for sure or not. If he knows for sure that he did the violation then he brings Korban Chatat, but if he does not know for sure and he is in doubt that may be he did not do it then he brings Korban Asham Talui.
It seems to me that it does not really matter which verse is quoted by the Tosefta. The Tosefta’s point is merely that the violation was done accidentally and not on purpose, and yet it is still called a sin. So how much more so it is called a sin if it was done on purpose!
19. It seems to me that this is a statement and not a question as will be explained in the next note.
20. If we assume that the Tosefta is asking a question about some rhetorical part of the verse then it becomes not clear what the Tosefta’s point is and what the Kal Vechomer actually is. The verse is talking about an accidental act, so it is not obvious if it is a sin or not. The verse has to teach us that it is still considered a sin and therefore requires a sacrifice to atone for it. It seems that the Tosefta is merely making a rhetorical statement about how seriously the Torah takes sins, that if it considers an accidental act a sin, then how much more so it considers a conscious violation a sin and therefore the offender will for sure be punished. This second statement is not a part of the conversation between the father and the son. It is just an addition of the Tosefta to balance out the discussion about good acts with a similar comment regarding a bad act.
Someone asked me to translate and explain the following Tosefta. The text of this Tosefta is only extant in the Erfurt manuscript. The Vienna manuscript is missing it. The printed editions have slightly different text. I have posted here the text from the Erfurt manuscript as is.
Tractate Sanhedrin, Chapter 8
Adam (i.e. the first man) was created last [in the sequence of creation].2 And why was he created last? In order that the sectarians3 would not say, "He (i.e. Adam) was partners with Him (i.e. God) in his creation", [but rather God created everything by Himself without any help.] [But there is] another explanation. Why was he (i.e. Adam) created last? In order that he should not get too proud of himself,4 [because others] will say to him, “[Even] the mosquito was created before you in [the sequence of] creation.” [But there is] another explanation. In order that he (i.e. Adam) should perform a commandment (Mitzva) right away [after being created].5 [But there is] another explanation. In order that he (i.e. Adam) should eat a meal right away.6 I will give you a parable to what this [idea] is similar to. [It is similar] to a king who built a [new] palace and dedicated it [by making a celebration], and declared [as a part of that celebration] a meal, and afterwards he invited guests. And so it says, "Wisdom has built her house, hewn her seven pillars. She butchered [her meat], mixed her wine, [and] even set her table. She has sent out her maidens to call out on the city’s hills and high places. ‘Which fool will move here?’, she says to him, [who is] impulsive." (Mishlei 9:1-4) "Wisdom has built her house …" refers to The King of Kings, Blessed be He, who created His world in seven [days] with wisdom. "… hewn her seven pillars" refers to the seven days of creation. "She butchered [her meat], mixed her wine …" refers to the seas, rivers, deserts, and other needs of the world. "She has sent out her maidens to call out on the city's hills and high places. 'Which fool will move here?', she says to him, [who is] impulsive." That is a reference to Adam and Chava (i.e. the first man and woman).7
מסכת סנהדרין פרק ח
אדם נברא באחרונה. ולמה נברא באחרונה? שלא יהו המינין אומרין שותף היה עמו במעשהו. דבר אחר: למה נברא באחרונה? שלא תזוח דעתו עליו, אומרין לו יתוש קדמך במעשה בראשית. דבר אחר: כדי שיכנס למצוה מיד. דבר אחר: כדי שיכנס לסעודה מיד. מושלו משל למה הדבר דומה, למלך שבנה פלטירין וחינכה והתקין סעודה ואחר כך זימן האורחים. וכן הוא אומר (משלי ט:א-ד): חָכְמוֹת בָּנְתָה בֵיתָהּ, חָצְבָה עַמּוּדֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה. טָבְחָה טִבְחָהּ מָסְכָה יֵינָהּ, אַף, עָרְכָה שֻׁלְחָנָהּ. שָׁלְחָה נַעֲרֹתֶיהָ תִקְרָא, עַל גַּפֵּי, מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת. מִי פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה, חֲסַר לֵב אָמְרָה לּוֹ. חָכְמוֹת בָּנְתָה בֵיתָהּ זה מלך מלכי המלכים ברוך הוא שברא עולמו בשבעה בחכמה. חָצְבָה עַמּוּדֶיהָ שִׁבְעָה אילו שבעת ימי בראשית. טָבְחָה טִבְחָהּ מָסְכָה יֵינָהּ אילו ימים ונהרות ומדברות ושאר צורכי העולם. ואחר כך שָׁלְחָה נַעֲרֹתֶיהָ תִקְרָא, עַל גַּפֵּי, מְרֹמֵי קָרֶת. מִי פֶתִי יָסֻר הֵנָּה, חֲסַר לֵב, זה אדם וחוה.
This Tosefta continues the discussion Adam's creation, from the previous Tosefta.
See Bereishit 1:1 – 2:3 for the sequence of creation.
The Hebrew word Min (literally: type) usually refers to some kind of sect of Jews who have deviated from normative Rabbinic Judaism and created a sort of their own religion. As a generalization the Rabbis have viewed Tzedukim (Sadducees), early Jewish Christians (Notzrim or Nazarenes as they called them), and Essenes as sectarian Jews and applied the word Min to them as a general term. However in this particular case it would be a major oversimplification and would not do them justice to apply this term generically, because it is obvious that the Tosefta is referring to a very particular practice of a particular sect, whose belief was a clear sign of membership. I am more than convinced that here the Tosefta is referring to Christians who believed in the Trinity and subscribed to the idea that Jesus being divine and the second in the Trinity, pre-existed creation of the world and assisted God in creating the world. To the best of my knowledge the earliest explicit written source that we have for this belief is Irenaeus (estimated 115/142 – 202 CE), one of the Church Fathers, who wrote (The Demonstration of the Apostolic Preaching, 30), "Hither were the prophets sent by God through the Holy Spirit; and they instructed the people and turned them to the God of their fathers, the Almighty; and they became heralds of the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ the Son of God, declaring that from the posterity of David His flesh should blossom forth; that after the flesh He might be the son of David, who was the son of Abraham by a long succession; but according to the spirit Son of God, pre-existing with the Father, begotten before all the creation of the world, and at the end of the times appearing to all the world as man, the Word of God gathering up in Himself all things that are in heaven and that are on earth." Thus by the time of the Tosefta (circa 250 CE) this Christian belief was for sure widely known. It should be noted that at that time not all Christians subscribed to the idea of Jesus pre-existing his birth, and many sects such as the Arians, Ebionites and some others were against that belief. It was not until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE that this belief became more or less main stream in Christianity.
Meaning proud and arrogant.
It is not clear which commandment the Tosefta is referring to. It seems that the Tosefta is referring to the Mitzva of Shabbat, since Adam was created on the sixth day right before Shabbat and the first thing he would have to do was to keep Shabbat. This goes along the Rabbis' belief that Adam kept all of the commandments of the Torah together with the Patriarchs.
- The Rabbis always assumed that their protagonists in the Torah kept all the commandments in the exact same way as the were kept by the Rabbis themselves. So if Adam kept Shabbat he obviously ate three meals on it as the Rabbis prescribed (see Talmud Bavli, Shabbat 117b), one on Friday night, and two on Shabbat day. So the meal that Adam would eat right after his creation would be the Friday night, Shabbat meal.
This verse is interpreted as Chava, being the maiden, calling Adam, being the fool, to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, and him being implulsive, coming and eating it without thinking of the consequences.