1) THE EARTH OF ATHENS
AGADAH: Rebbi Yehoshua successfully triumphed over the Elders of Athens in the debate, and he brought them to the Keisar (Caesar) in Rome as the Keisar had requested. Rebbi Yehoshua brought with him dirt from Athens, as well as a flask of the water of Bei Beli'ei.
When he brought the Elders to the Keisar, they were humbled because they were not in their own land. The Keisar did not believe that they were the Elders of Athens. Rebbi Yehoshua took a handful of earth that he had brought with him from Athens and threw it in front of the Elders. When they sensed familiar surroundings, they immediately regained their composure and their customary arrogance. They spoke brazenly to the Keisar, who authorized Rebbi Yehoshua to do with them as he pleased.
It is clear from the account of the Gemara that a person feels humbled when he is in a foreign place. This concept is expressed in the Gemara in Eruvin (61a) as well, where the Gemara says that even an aggressive, vicious person tends to act in a tame and humbled manner when he is not in his own land. "Even after seven years, a dog will not bark in an unfamiliar place." People and animals alike lose their aggressiveness when they are in a foreign environment.
This is also the intent of Rebbi Ila'i in the Gemara in Moed Katan (17a) and Chagigah (16a), who says that if a person's Yetzer ha'Ra is overcoming him, he should go to a place where nobody knows him, dress in black clothing, wrap himself in black, and then do what his heart desires, in order not to be Mechalel Shem Shamayim in public. RASHI explains that Rebbi Ila'i is not giving a person permission to sin; rather, he is saying that when the potential sinner goes to a foreign place and dresses in black, he will become humbled and his urge to sin will leave him.
Based on this principle, RAV YEHOSHUA LEIB DISKIN zt'l explains the words that Hash-m spoke through Moshe Rabeinu to Pharaoh, "If you do not send out My people, I will send among you, your servants, and your people and in your houses wild animals; the houses of Egypt will be full of the wild animals, and also the ground on which they are" (Shemos 8:17). Why does Hash-m say that the plague of wild animals will affect "the ground on which they (the Egyptian people) are"? Hash-m already said that the plague of wild animals will affect all of the houses and people of Egypt! To what additional aspect of the punishment does this phrase allude?
The Maharil Diskin answers this question based on the principle of the Gemara here. The purpose of the plague of wild animals was to subject the Egyptians to the attacks of the wild animals. If the natural ferocity of the animals would be tempered due to their presence in a foreign environment, then the purpose of the plague would not be achieved. Hash-m therefore declared that He would bring with the animals some of "the ground on which they are" -- that is, the ground on which the animals live, referring to earth from the native land of the animals! The animals would feel at home, and they would exercise fully and unreservedly their natural tendencies of ferocity against the Egyptians. (See also PANIM YAFOS, and RAV YONASAN EIBESHITZ in MIDRASH YONASAN.)
2) DESIGNATING A LAMB FOR "PIDYON PETER CHAMOR" OUT OF DOUBT
QUESTION: The Mishnah says that when a donkey gives birth to both a female and a male, and one is unsure which was born first, the owner of the donkey must separate a lamb as Pidyon Peter Chamor because of the possibility that the male was born first. However, he is not required to give the lamb to a Kohen, because it is possible that the female was born first, and in order for the Kohen to claim the lamb he must prove that the male was born first ("ha'Motzi me'Chaveiro Alav ha'Re'ayah").
The Mishnah continues and says that when two female donkeys give birth at the same time to either two females and one male or two females and two males, "the Kohen gets nothing" because the females may have been born first, one to each mother donkey.
Why does the Mishnah not specify here, as it does in the first case, that the owner must separate a lamb for Pidyon Peter Chamor (out of doubt) and keep it for himself? Perhaps one of the donkeys indeed gave birth to a male first!
(a) RASHI and TOSFOS (DH Shnei Zecharim) assert that the owner indeed must separate a lamb (or two, if two males were born) to account for the possibility that the male was born first.
(b) The RAMBAM (Perush ha'Mishnayos, and Hilchos Bikurim 12:21) writes that the Yisrael is not required to separate a lamb in this case because there is a Sfek Sfeika, two doubts. The first doubt is whether this mother donkey gave birth to a male at all. The second doubt is that even if she did give birth to a male, there is a doubt whether it was preceded by a female. Since there is a Sfek Sfeika, the owner is exempt from having to redeem the Peter Chamor out of doubt.
The Rishonim who disagree with the Rambam perhaps do not consider this a Sfek Sfeika, because the two doubts, when expressed in the opposite order, become a single Safek: was the male that was born preceded by a female? (If it was not preceded by a female, there is no further doubt that can be said to exempt it from the law of Bechor.)
3) "KIDUSHIN" WITH "MA'ASER SHENI"
OPINIONS: The Gemara quotes the Mishnah in Kidushin (52b) in which Rebbi Yehudah disagrees with Rebbi Meir and states that when a man intentionally is Mekadesh a woman with fruit of Ma'aser Sheni, the Kidushin takes effect.
Why does the Kidushin take effect? One may not benefit from Ma'aser Sheni in any way other than by eating it in Yerushalayim!
(a) The RAMBAM and BARTENURA in Kidushin maintain that even though Ma'aser Sheni is Asur b'Hana'ah, the Kidushin nevertheless takes effect because the man who gives her the fruit of Ma'aser Sheni for Kidushin has in mind to redeem the fruit through the act of Kidushin.
(b) REBBI AKIVA EIGER (on the Mishnah in Kidushin) questions the Rambam's explanation. How is it possible for one to redeem the Ma'aser Sheni by giving it to a woman for Kidushin? The Gemara explicitly states that the only way to redeem Ma'aser Sheni is with minted coins! Rebbi Akiva Eiger therefore concludes that the reason why the Kidushin takes effect is that the woman knows that the fruit is Ma'aser Sheni and thus she has explicit intention to bring it to Yerushalayim and eat it there. This indeed is the view of Rebbi Elazar in the Gemara here (and as quoted in Kidushin 55b)).
This case is comparable to a case in which a man gives to a woman an object worth less than a Perutah. If the object is worth more than a Perutah in another place, then the Kidushin takes effect (see Kidushin 12a). (See Insights to Kidushin 53:1-2
.) (E. Chrysler)
4) "TUM'AS OCHLIN" OF AN "EGLAH ARUFAH"
QUESTION: The Gemara teaches that Rebbi Shimon maintains that an Eglah Arufah does not become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin when a Tamei object touches it. This is because he maintains that any object which is Asur b'Hana'ah (forbidden to derive benefit from) does not become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin. The Rabanan argue and maintain that it can become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin.
Since an Eglah Arufah is already Tamei with Tum'as Neveilah, how can it become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin?
(a) RASHI (DH v'Shor ha'Niskal) writes that an Eglah Arufah can become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin in a case in which the proper Arifah was not performed. Instead of Arifah, the cow was slaughtered with Shechitah. In such a case the cow is not a Neveilah and is not Tamei with Tum'as Neveilah. It nevertheless is Asur b'Hana'ah because of its status of Eglah Arufah, even though its neck was not broken, according to the opinion that maintains that the mere descent into the Nachal Eisan causes it to become Asur b'Hana'ah.
in Menachos (101b, DH v'Eglah Arufah) points out that the Gemara in Zevachim (70b) implies that even when Arifah is performed, the Eglah does not become a Neveilah. Breaking the neck of the Eglah Arufah is considered a form of Shechitah and is Metaher the animal from Tum'as Neveilah. Therefore, the animal is Tahor and may be subject to the laws of Tum'as Ochlin. (See Insights to Menachos 101:2
(DH u'Peter Chamor) offers another explanation. The Gemara is discussing a piece of flesh from an Eglah Arufah that is smaller than a k'Zayis. A piece of flesh that small does not become Tamei with Tum'as Neveilah. Nevertheless, it does
become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin, either by itself (according to Rashi's view in Pesachim 33b, DH b'k'Beitzah; see Insights to Chulin 25:1
), or when joined with other food to equal a k'Beitzah (according to the view of other Rishonim that a food can become Tamei with Tum'as Ochlin only when it is at least the size of a k'Beitzah).