An Overcooked Meal

Daf 17. Summary. The catalog of phrases used by rabbis to conclude their prayers continues, followed by a catalog of phrases used by rabbis on other occasions, including the parting blessings uttered by rabbis visiting from different academies. They would say, “Our leaders are laden . . .” from Psalm 144:14: “Our leaders are laden, there is no breach, no going out, no outcry in the streets.” The gemara expounds on “there is no breach . . .”, which is understood to express the hope that those who are parting will not experience a breach such as occurred in the times of David, Saul, or Elisha, and “that we not have a son or student who burns his dish in public” (according to ArtScroll) or “who overcooks his food in public . . . as in the well-known case of Jesus the Nazarene” (according to Koren). This is followed by a catalog of other disputes.

The gemara returns to Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel’s position prohibiting a groom from reciting Shema “because of the appearance of presumptuousness,” and attempts to reconcile it with the apparant contradiction implicit in his opinion that one should be idle “like a Torah scholar” on the ninth of Av.

Mishnah. A mourner whose deceased relative has not yet been buried (“is laid out before him”) is exempt from reciting Shema, as well as from donning tefillin and all positive mitzvot. Pallbearers who are engaged in carrying are exempt; those who are unoccupied are not exempt. All of them are exempt from reciting the Amida.

Gemara. Is there a contradiction between the mishnah and a baraita regarding rules for a mourner to eat when his deceased relative is not yet buried?

Comment.The daf identifies Jesus as the student “who overcooks his food in public” in a section on disputes that identifies “stubborn-hearted” people as those heathens who are regularly exposed to “the glory of the Torah” and yet refuse to convert. The only disputants specifically mentioned in this daf are Ahitophel, Doeg, and Geihazi, who Peter Schäfer notes in Jesus and the Talmud, are three of “the only four commoners in history who are bound together in the horrible destiny of being categorically excluded from the world to come” (p. 33). See Schäfer for a better sense of the harshness of this decree. Both ArtScroll and Soncino omit the reference to Jesus. See here for more on this.

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