Sunday, February 25, 2007

Daf Yomi - Megillah 18 - FLYING CAMELS AND MULES

The Mishna had stated: If a foreigner hears the Megillah read in Ashuris (Hebrew), he has fulfilled his obligation. The Gemora rules that this is true even if he doesn’t understand every word. Proof to this can be brought from the fact that nobody understands the precise meaning of the words הרמכים בני האחשתרנים, ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim (a species of swift camels), and nevertheless we fulfill the mitzvah. The Gemora provides the reason for this: The obligation of reading the Megillah is to publicize the miracle and that was accomplished.

It is noteworthy that Rashi in the Megillah understands the word achashtranim to be referring to a type of swift camel.

Ibn Ezra understands ramachim to mean horses and achashtranim to mean mules.

Rabbeinu Chananel might have had a different version in our Gemora since he states that women and unlearned men did not know the definition of these words, implying that learned men did know the translation.

The Reshash writes that ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim is referring to the riders on top of these animals.

The Rivash in his teshuvos (390) states that when he arrived in the city of Srakista, he observed that they would read the Megillah written in a foreign language on behalf of the women because they didn’t understand Hebrew. He wished to abolish this practice for two reasons: The Ramban rules that if one understands Hebrew and another language, he cannot fulfill his obligation by reading the other language and if so, the man reading the Megillah for the women could not discharge their obligation. Secondly, how could they know the precise translation of the words ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim?

The Rivash sent his ruling to the Ran and the Ran replied as follows: Perhaps the meaning of the Gemora is that the common person did not know the meaning of those words but the sages did know. The Ran does conclude that the translation of the people of Srakista is most definitely a mistake and therefore he agreed with the Rivash.

Reb Yaakov Emden comments that these animals are found in Persia and they are eight-legged camels who are extremely swift runners. The Gemora, at times, refers to a gamla parcha – a flying camel, must be without a doubt from the same family.

The Mishna Berura (690:34) rules that whenever one is fulfilling his obligation of reading the Megillah in a foreign language; he must recite the words ha’achashtranim bnei haramachim in Hebrew.


Anonymous said...

Does anyone explain the word "bnei?"

Anonymous said...

The Medrash states that when Rabbi Meir did not like a sevara, he would say lo yeried beni imachem. Netziv explains that beni means binah, intellect. Perhaps here the word binah teaches us that although the Gemara states that we do not know what these words mean, if one uses his binah, intellect, he can deduce the meaning, as evidenced by the above-quoted interpretations.

Anonymous said...

Bnai also come from Bain oh'vayin. The power of differentiation and deduction. This leads to binah- Rabbi Michael Munk

Anonymous said...

Get rabbi Slifkin on this im sure he has a pshat