Thursday, August 16, 2012

Berachot 15: A transfer of a sugya: going after water for tefillah

A fascinating discussion by the Rosh (see my Rosh Yomi blog), about searching for water for tefillah, rather than for Shema. My comments afterward.

Ravina said to Rava: Does Master see this member of the Rabbinate who has come from the West {=Israel} and said: one who does not have water to wash can rub his hands with a pebble, or dirt, or sawdust?
He {Rava} said: He says well. Does it (the pasuk in Tehillim 26:6) say beMayim - with water? It says בְּנִקָּיוֹן - in cleanliness. Any substance which cleans.

Rav Chisda would curse anyone who looked after water at the time of prayer.

Rosh: There are some seforim in which is written "And these words are in terms of reading Shema but for prayer {=Shemoneh Esrei}, he needs to go back {looking for water to clean your hands}. For Resh Lakish said: for kneading {betahara} and for netila {before eating} and for praying {with a tzibbur}, four mil." As we learn in Pesachim, perek Elu Ovrin (daf 46a) and in Chullin perek haOr vehaRotev (da 122b). 

And the Rif as well wrote so, and this girsa is not found in old sefarim. And also [Rashi] did not explain [have a girsa] of this. And it seems that he was not gores this, for {it doesn't make sense, for just as} he should not go back at the time of kriat Shema, so that the zman would not pass, so too would be the case in terms of tefillah, for why should one differentiate one from the other? And even though kriat Shema is Biblical while tefillah is Rabbinic, the Sages gave strength to their words just as for Torah.

And Rashi as well does not explain there {in Pesachim} a reason for tefillah {going back} as because of netilat yadayim, but rather in order to pray with ten. And so too later on in perek Mi Shemetu (daf 22a) it is stated 'they cancelled the washing like Rav Chisda, for Rav Chisda cursed one who went back for water at time of prayer', and it does not mention kriat Shema at all.
We should compare our gemara with what appears in Pesachim. Our gemara has:
Rabina said to Raba: Sir, pray look at this student who has come from the West [Palestine] and who says: If one has no water for washing his hands, he can rub3  his hands with earth or with a pebble or with sawdust. He replied: He is quite correct. Is it written, I will wash in water? It is written: In cleanliness — with anything which cleans. For R. Hisda cursed anyone who went looking for water at the time of prayer.4  This applies to the recital of the Shema', but for the tefillah one may go looking. How far? — As far as a parasang. This is the case in front of him, but in the rear, he may not go back even a mil. [From which is to be deduced], A mil he may not go back; but less than a mil he may go back.
whereas the gemara in Pesachim reads:
 R. Abbahu said in the name of R. Simeon b. Lakish: For kneading, for prayer, and for washing the hands, [the standard is] four mils.  R. Nahman b. Isaac said: Aibu stated this, and he stated four [laws] about it, and one of them is tanning. For we learned: And all these, if he tanned them or trod on them to the extent of tanning, are clean, excepting a man's skin. And how much is ‘the extent of tanning’? — Said R. Aibu in R. Jannai's name: The extent of walking four mils. R. Jose son of R. Hanina said: They learned this only [about going on] ahead: but [as for going] back, he need not return even a mil. Said R. Aha: And from this [we deduce]: it is only a mil that he need not go back, but less than a mil he must go back.
The word of the day is העברה, haavara. That is, the transfer of one sugya to another. This is quite clearly what happened in this instance. The proof of this is (a) that the names of Amoraim which appear in Pesachim are stripped out here in brachot; and (b) that, as the Rosh notes, there are old manuscripts of the gemara which lack it; and finally, (c) as Rosh notes, there is another gemara in which Rav Chisda's statement is taken plainly as referring also to tefillah, which to me indicates separate development in parallel from the initial state of the gemara.

Thus, this setama degemara, composed perhaps as late as the Geonim, transfers the discussion from Pesachim. Likely because of the juxtaposition of netilah and tefillah as things one must go back for.

I side with the Rosh, who basically undoes what is printed in our modern gemaras.

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