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Introduction - Note 1


The portions of the following texts that are the most relevant to the book appear in bold.


Talmud - Mas. Chagigah 6a

Who brought him thus far?1 — Said Abaye to him: Thus far his mother brought him,2 since she is bound to rejoice3 [on the festival]; from here onward, if he is able to go up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount holding his father's hand, he is obligated, and if not, he is exempt.

    Rabbi objected on behalf of Beth Hillel to the view of Beth Shammai: But Hannah went not up; for she said unto her husband: Until the child be weaned, when I will bring him up.4 Now Samuel was [already] able to ride on his father's shoulders!5 - — Said his father6 to him: But according to thy own reasoning there is a difficulty: was not Hannah herself bound to rejoice [on the festival]?7 The explanation, therefore, must be that Hannah saw that Samuel was exceptionally delicate, and she feared that the journey might unduly fatigue Samuel.8 R. Simeon9 asked: What [is the law], according to the view of Beth Shammai, respecting a minor who is lame,10 and according to both views, respecting one who is blind?11 — What is the case? Shall one say that it is a case of a lame child who will never be able to walk,12 and of a blind child who will never be able to see? Now [in such cases] a major is exempt, can there be any question about a minor?13 — No, [the question] is necessary with respect to a lame child who may [eventually] be able to walk14 and with respect to a blind child who may [eventually] be able to see. What [is the law then]? — Abaye said: Wherever a major is obligated according to the law of the Torah, we also initiate a minor according to Rabbinic law; wherever a major is exempt according to the law of the Torah, a minor is also exempt according to Rabbinic law.

    BETH SHAMMAI SAY: THE PILGRIMAGE-OFFERING MUST BE WORTH [AT LEAST] TWO PIECES OF SILVER etc. Our Rabbis taught: Beth Shammai say: The pilgrimage-offering [must be worth at least] two pieces of silver and the festal-offering one ma'ah of silver, because the pilgrimage-offering is offered up entirely to God,15 which is not the case with regard to the festal-offering;16 furthermore, we find that for the Festival of Weeks17 Scripture has enjoined more burnt-offerings than peace-offerings.18 But Beth Hillel say: The pilgrimage-offerings [must be at least] one ma'ah of silver and the festal-offering two pieces of silver, because the festal-offering obtained prior to the Revelation,19 which is not the case with regard to the pilgrimage-offering. Furthermore, we find that in the case of ‘the princes’,20 Scripture enjoined more peace-offerings than burnt-offerings.

    Now why do not Beth Hillel agree with Beth Shammai? — As for your saying that the pilgrimage-offering is more important because it is entirely offered up to God, on the contrary, the festal-offering is more important, because in it there are two meals.21 And as for your saying that we should learn by analogy from the Feast of Weeks, [I contend that] we should form an analogy between the offering of an individual and the offering of an individual,22 but we should not form an analogy between the offering of an individual and an offering of the community.23 And why do not Beth Shammai agree with Beth Hillel? — As for your saying that the festal-offering is more important because it obtained prior to the Revelation, [I contend] that the pilgrimage-offering also obtained prior to the Revelation.24 And as for your saying that we should learn by analogy from ‘the princes’. [I contend that] we have to form an analogy between something that applies to [future] generations25 and something [else] that applies to [future] generations;26 but we should not form an analogy between something that applies to [future] generations and something that does not apply to [future] generations.27 Now according to Beth Hillel, why is the festal-offering singled out as obtaining prior to the Revelation? Because it is written: And they sacrificed sacrifices of peace-offerings.28 Surely the pilgrimage-offerings must also [have been offered up then]; [for] behold, it is written: And they offered burnt-offerings!29 — Beth Hillel are of the opinion that the burnt-offering which the Israelites offered in the wilderness was the ‘continual burnt-offering’.30 And Beth Shammai? — They are of the opinion that the burnt-offering that the Israelites offered in the wilderness was a pilgrimage-offering.31

    Abaye said: Beth Shammai and R. Eleazar and R. Ishmael are all of the opinion that the burnt-offering which the Israelites offered in the wilderness was a pilgrimage-offering. And Beth Hillel and R. Akiba and R. Jose the Galilean are all of the opinion that the burnt-offering which the Israelites offered in the wilderness was the ‘continual burnt-offering’. ‘Beth Shammai’, as we have said [above]. ‘R. Ishmael’, for it is taught: R. Ishmael said: The general directions were given at Sinai,32
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(1) I.e., from his house to Jerusalem. The fact that he could travel to Jerusalem shows that he is old enough to do without his mother; at that age he is also old enough to be able to go up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount by holding his father's hand. What point, therefore, is there in defining a minor as one that is unable even with the aid of his father to go up from Jerusalem to the Temple Mount, when the prior journey to Jerusalem shows that he is old enough to do this and therefore no longer a minor?
(2) Thus the assumption that he was old enough to do without his mother is wrong.
(3) I.e., in order to fulfil the commandment to rejoice she must go to Jerusalem (cf. Deut. XIV, 26); but she is not subject to the commandment to appear before the Lord on the Temple Mount.
(4) I Sam. I, 22. According to the Talmud a child is weaned at the end of 24 months.
(5) According to Rashi a child can do that at the end of a year. The Shammaite view, therefore, must be wrong.
(6) The other reading, Abaye, is an anachronism; [unless we read ‘Said Abaye’ omitting ‘to him’.]
(7) She ought therefore to have gone up to the Sanctuary (then at Shiloh) and taken Samuel with her even before he was weaned.
(8) Thus the case of Samuel cannot be regarded as a support for the Hillelite view.
(9) I.e., R. Simeon b. Lakish, v. Pes. 119a.
(10) Beth Shammai require a child to go up to the Temple (as part of his initiation or religious training) as soon as he can do so by riding on his father's shoulders. Since the lame child could go up to the Temple Mount in this manner, is he bound to do this? But the question is not applicable to Beth Hillel, because they require the child to be able to walk.
(11) This question is applicable to Beth Hillel, too, because the blind child could go up the Temple Mount by holding his father's hand.
(12) Lit., ‘become straight’.
(13) His initiation would serve no purpose, for even on becoming of age he will be exempt.
(14) I.e., before he becomes of age. The question is: must we train him now because when he grows up he will be fit and therefore bound to ‘appear’, or shall we exempt him on account of his present defects?
(15) Lit., ‘the Most-High’.
(16) Which is partly burnt, and partly eaten by pilgrims and priests.
(17) This is the Talmudic sense of
,rmg; but in the Bible it means (a) a general assemblage (e.g. Jer. IX, 1) (b) a sacred assembly (e.g. Isa. I, 13), but especially the last day of Passover (Deut. XVI, 8) or of Tabernacles (Lev. XXIII, 36, Num. XXIX, 35).
(18) V. Lev. XXIII, 18, 19: the festal offering (
vdhdj) belonged to the class of peace-offerings (ohnka); v. supra n. 2.
(19) V. Ex. XXIV, 5, which is taken to refer to a time prior to the Revelation though it occurs after the Decalogue; cf. Shab. 88a, where the building of the altar and the offering of sacrifices thereon by ‘the young men of the children of Israel’, (taken by the Rabbis to be the firstborn) is said to have taken place on the fifth Sivan, a day before the Revelation.
(20) I.e., the heads of the tribes mentioned at the dedication of the altar in Tabernacles; v. Num. VII, 87,88.
(21) For the altar and for man.
(22) I.e., the pilgrimage and festal-offerings which were private offerings should be compared with the offerings of ‘the princes’, which were also private offerings.
(23) I.e., the offerings prescribed for the Feast of Weeks, which were provided from the Temple treasury.
(24) V. Ex. XXIV, 5.
(25) I.e., the pilgrimage and festal-offerings.
(26) I.e., the public offerings of the Feast of Weeks.
(27) I.e., the prince's offerings.
(28) Ibid.
(29) Ibid. The pilgrimage-offering was a burnt-offering.
(30) V. Num. XXVIII, 2-6: this was a daily public offering from which no inference could be drawn regarding the pilgrimage-offerings.
(31) Because the expression ‘they saw God’ (Ex. XXIV, 11) which, being similar to the expression ‘shall appear’ (Ex. XXIII, 17). is taken to imply that it was offered as a pilgrimage celebration.
(32) I.e., many precepts were left vague at Sinai, which were explained in full detail after the erection of the Tabernacle; cf., for example, Ex. XX, 24 with the detailed instructions concerning the sacrifices in Lev. I-VII.


Midrash Rabbah - Exodus (Shemos or Shemot) 41:6

Another explanation of AND HE GAVE UNTO MOSES. R. Abbahu said: All the forty days that Moses was on high, he kept on forgetting the Torah he learnt.4 He then said: ‘Lord of the Universe, I have spent forty days, yet I know nothing.’ What did God do? At the end of the forty days, He gave him the Torah as a gift, for it says, AND HE GAVE UNTO MOSES.5 Could then Moses have learnt the whole Torah? Of the Torah it says: The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea (Job XI, 9); could then Moses have learnt it all in forty days? No; but it was only the principles6 thereof which God taught Moses--hence KEKALOTHO OF SPEAKING WITH HIM. THE TWO TABLES OF THE TESTIMONY. Why two tables? To correspond with heaven and earth, with a bride and bridegroom, with the two groomsmen, and also with this world and the World to Come.7 THE TWO TABLES (LUHOTH) OF THE TESTIMONY. R. Hanina said: This is written luhath,8 teaching that neither was larger than the other. TABLES OF STONE.
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(4) Because there was so much to learn in such a short time.
(5) As a gift; cf. supra, 3; VI, 2.
(6) Kelalim, another play on kekalotho.
(7) The Torah and the Tablets are like the groomsmen because they helped towards the marriage between God and Israel.
(8) Defectively; unvocalised it may read luhath, which is singular. In his view this indicates that they were both as one tablet, exactly identical in size.

Ex. 475

Why of stone? Because most of the penalties of the Torah are stoning, and for this reason does it say TABLES OF STONE. Another explanation of TABLES OF STONE is that they were given for the sake of Jacob by whom he was called ‘a stone’, as it says, From thence, the shepherd, the stone of Israel (Gen. XLIX, 24).1 Another explanation of TABLES OF STONE is this: ' Unless one hardens his cheeks like stone, he will not acquire the Torah.’2
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(1) E.V. ’From thence, from the Shepherd, the Stone’, etc. making it refer to God. The Midrash, however, understands it to refer to Jacob, probably rendering: From thence (sc. from the favour shown by the Mighty One of Israel, I, Jacob, became) the shepherd, the stone of Israel, i.e. the foundation stone of the people of Israel (so Rashi ad loc., also Onkelos).
(2) ‘Er. 54a. This is explained in two ways: (i) that he hardens his face to receive all reproaches stoically; (ii) that he never wearies of studying the law, continually grinding the words in his mouth, as the flour is ground by the millstones.


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