Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Ethic/social beginnings in the Mishna

I’ve got to leave in a moment, but let me share the following with you right now.

Why does the Mishna begin davqa with the עני outside and the בעל הבית inside (rather than ראובן outside and שמעון inside)? Because we want to begin the Tractate with a moral/ethical issue. Similarly, Tractate Berakhoth began with the issue of is the Torah a book for rich people or a book for poor people, in other words, who is the you in the words בשכבך ובקומך: is it the עני, who dips his bread in salt at nightfall and goes straight to bed, or is it the sons of the fabulously rich Rabban Gamaliel, who come home from the bar at four in the morning?

Similarly, Dudi Goshen once pointed out that the tenth chapter of Pesahim begins (in its second sentence) ואפילו עני שבישראל לא יאכל עד שיסב, i.e. the poor should be as fancy as the rich, and ends (one mishna before the end, in what is conceptually and temporally the last mishna) אין מפטירין אחר הפסח אפיקומן, i.e. the rich should have no after-dinner revelry that any more than the poor do or can.

See you all tonight.


At Monday, 09 May, 2005, Anonymous mivami said...

who come home from the bar at four in the morning
just to point out bet hamishteh most certainly does not mean bar but wedding feast. Prof S Friedman points this out in his Artscroll review


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