Thursday, November 09, 2006

Daf Yomi - Beitza 14 - Pounding with a Mortar

The Gemora asked a contradiction between two braisos regarding pounding of grain with a mortar on Yom Tov. Rava answers that the second braisa which permits pounding the grain in a small mortar applies to the people living in Bavel and the first braisa which prohibits pounding with a small mortar is referring to the people who live in Eretz Yisroel.

Rashi explains that pounding with a small mortar should actually be permitted. In Eretz Yisroel, they had servants who would pound with a large mortar which was prohibited and they would claim that they pounded the grain in a small mortar. In Bavel, they generally did not have servants and therefore there was no reason to prohibit pounding with a small mortar.

The Shar Hatziyon (504:22)explains that even though the Gemorah states that the concern was due to degenerate slaves, Rashi understands that where there were slaves, there is always a concern for degenerate slaves. The Rashba understands the Gemora to mean that the small mortar could not be used only if one had degenerate servants, but otherwise there was no concern and it would be permitted just like in Bavel where there were no servants. The Mishna Berura (504:16) states that the concern is only when one owns Gentile slaves, but when one has Jewish slaves, we certainly would not be concerned.

The Rambam learns our Gemorah differently. In Eretz Yisroel, it is forbidden to use even a small mortar since the grain there is of a superior quality and could have been pounded Erev Yom Tov. The grain in Bavel, which is of an inferior quality, could not have been done Erev Yom Tov without causing a loss and therefore it will be permitted to pound with a small mortar on Yom Tov. The Magid Mishna explains that this is consistent with the ruling that any preparations for food that cannot be performed on Erev Yom Tov may be done on Yom Tov. The Lechem Mishna states that one cannot use the large mortar since that would be considered work that one normally does in the weekday.

The Rosh Yosef asks as to why the Rambam did not make any mention of the concern for the depraved slaves. He answers according to the Rashba that we cited before, that the concern is only when one owns such slaves and since that is not common, the Rambam did not feel the necessity to write it.