“What is the underlying point of the dispute?” (52a-52b)

Dearest Nachum!

After a somewhat lengthy account of the Rabbinic theories of contagion we read about several disputes between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai.

On three occasions we read “What is the underlying point of the dispute?” (Be’mai kamiflegei?)

The first time the issue is whether or not you can use a utensil whose outside contracted tumah through a liquid. Beit Shammai says ‘no’, Beit Hillel, ‘yes’.  The second time has to do with whether you can use a table which is second in line from tumah. Here, too, Beit Shammai says ‘no’, Beit Hillel ‘yes’. The third time the issue is whether or not you  can rely on a waiter to have knowledge of the laws regarding meals. Beit Hillel says you cannot rely on a waiter who is ignorant of such laws, while Beit Shammai says you can.

The halachah follows Beit Hillel for the first two and Beit Shammai for the third.

Why?

What is the underlying point of the dispute?

Yours, Eleni

 

 

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One Response to “What is the underlying point of the dispute?” (52a-52b)

  1. neillitt says:

    I’ll be darned if I know. We cannot even be sure if Hillel and Shammai are being represented accurately since we see disputes over whose view of Hillel and Shammai is the basis for awarding the ruling to one or the other. Shammai said “this” and he also said “that.” He was for it before he was against it– OR he was against it before he was for it. And we are at the mercy of an oral tradition that testifies to the uncertainty of its memory. What is the underlying point of the dispute? It is a cautionary tale to those who place too much confidence in their ability to hold a ruling and the reason for it in their heads rather than writing them down.

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