Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Adam Chashuv - Shabbos 142b

אדם חשוב
A Distinguished Person
Shabbos 142b
The Gemara (Shabbos 142b) relates that although Abaye was of the opinion that it is permitted to carry sheaves of harvested grain on Shabbos, he nevertheless refrained from doing so unless he first placed a ladle on the sheave.
Why did he hold it is permitted to carry sheaves? Although the grain they contain must undergo much processing before it is edible, the stalks of which the sheaves are comprised can serve here and now as mats upon which a person may lay down.
Why then did he refrain from doing so? Because he was a distinguished person. Hence, his conduct would serve as a model that other people might emulate. Therefore, lest other people draw erroneous conclusions and potentially treat prohibitions leniently, Abaye conducted himself stringently and refrained from carrying the sheaves outright.
The Gemara then cites Rava’s similar conduct in another case involving the laws of Shabbos.
On the basis of this passage and other, similar Gemaras, Yad Malachi (Klalei ha’Alef #6) rejects the assertion of Be’er Sheva (fol. 110d) that it is only in regard to the law that forbids dishes cooked by non-Jews (Bishul Akum) that a distinguished person must maintain a higher standard (Be’er Sheva contends that this is due to the unique distance from “non-kosher” food that is the essence of this prohibition.) Indeed, in his notes to Yad Malachi (ad loc.), R’ Yeshaya Pick notes that he found fourteen laws besides the law of Bishul Akum in which the principle that a distinguished person should maintain a higher standard is invoked.
Hence, writes Yad Malachi, a scholar must refrain from activities — that are perfectly permissible for other people — when they touch upon any area of Halacha in which a prohibition may apply. He explains that this is because of a fact of human nature expounded by Talmud Yerushalmi in Moed Kattan (cited by Ritva to Moed Kattan 2a), that people is are more likely to interpret what they see erroneously and draw distorted conclusions than to intepret what they see correctly and draw accurate conclusion.


  1. You might consider Mechqar kefirah if I understood your response to the so called "revadim" approach, but in any case, Zvi Aryeh Steinfeld has a series of intersecting articles on Adam Chashuv Sh'ani and Bishul Goy. He quite convincingly shows that almost every case of Adam Chashuv is of late stammaitic origin.

  2. I have no problem with mechkar, I dabble in it myself on occasion. But "Revadim" is another matter. Case in point:

    תלמוד בבלי מסכת שבת דף קמב/ב
    אביי מנח כפא אכיפי רבא מנח סכינא אבר יונה ומטלטלה אמר רב יוסף כמה חריפא שמעתתא דדרדקי אימר דאמור רבנן בשוכח לכתחילה מי אמור אמר אביי אי לאו דאדם חשוב אנא כפא אכיפי למה לי הא חזו למיזגא עלייהו אמר רבא אנא אי לאו דאדם חשוב אנא סכינא אבר יונה למה לי הא חזי לי לאומצא

    This a "stamma"?!

  3. [Sorry, to respond so late, I forgot that I had posted here.]

    Of course not. What does citing one example prove? Look through the cases of Adam Chashuv. You will see that most are stam.

    A good example is Pesachim 110a. Tanu Rabbanan... See the note under Rabeinu Chananel, he seems to have a different girsa in which the time when zugot is problematic is inversed. We can easily see how this could be by bracketing out several words:

    תנו רבנן: שותה כפלים - דמו בראשו. אמר רב יהודה: אימתי - בזמן שלא ראה פני השוק, אבל ראה פני השוק - הרשות בידו. אמר רב אשי: חזינא ליה לרב חנניא בר ביבי דאכל כסא הוה נפיק וחזי אפי שוקא. ולא אמרן אלא לצאת לדרך אבל בביתו לא. אמר רבי זירא: ולישן - כלצאת לדרך דמי. אמר רב פפא: ולצאת לבית הכסא - כלצאת לדרך דמי. [ובביתו לא? והא] רבא מני כשורי, ואביי כי שתי חד כסא מנקיט ליה אימיה תרי כסי בתרי ידיה, ורב נחמן בר יצחק כי הוה שתי תרי כסי מנקיט ליה שמעיה חד כסא, חד כסא - מנקיט ליה תרי כסי בתרי ידיה - [אדם חשוב שאני].

    In R''Ch's girsa ולא אמרן אלא לצאת לדרך אבל בביתו לא is given as an explanation or qualification of what it means to "see the face of the shuk." You cannot merely look out your window and see the shuk, you actually have to leave your house. This is then simply followed by several other examples of what other amoraim did to avoid zugot instead of leaving their houses, or going to sleep etc.

    However, in the girsa we have, the statement ולא אמרן אלא לצאת לדרך אבל בביתו לא is misunderstood by the stam as a completely new criteria for when zugot is problematic: only when you will leave immediately afterwards, but not if you stay in your house. The descriptions of the other amoraim are therefore understood by the stam as examples that contradict this rule: if they were in their houses, why did they take these other precasutions? To this the stam answers, אדם חשוב שאני.

    There are a number of reasons why R''Ch's girsa, without the (apparently late) stammaitic misunderstanding of ולא אמרן makes much more sense. Chiefly, if it was true that zugot is not a problem when you stay at home, then it renders the entire larger discussion of zugot being problematic at the seder moot.

  4. Note: at the default page width the brackets seem to be in the wrong place, if you widen the window it solves this problem.

  5. Reb mj:

    Firstly, you initially left the impresson that adam chashuv was an invention of the "stamma" - this is clearly not the case.

    Moreover, it is not the invention of the "stamma" that a talmid chochom is at greater peril - see, for example, the attributed statement in Chullin 91a.

    In addition, I fail to see how there is any evidence that the Rach's girsa is superior. Aderaba, it is very difficult and innovative to assume that yotzo la'derech means to go to the market, this is a very uncommon usage. Furthermore, it is very difficult to assume that Rashi and the Rashbam were not able to smoke out a bad girsa when they saw one!

    And, finally, it is self evident from the retzef ha'sugya that the Gemara cites examples that are similar to asias tzerachav at the top of the amud.

    In short, unimpressive.

  6. First, Rashi does not generally "smoke out" bad girsaot unless he actually had access to an alternative girsa, or the girsa he had rendered the text uninteligable. Second, you did not address the fact that according to the girsa we have, zugot is never a problem when one stays at home. This shows no accord with the conceptual understanding of zugot in the rest of the sugya, in which it is clear that in order to avoid the sakana, you have to interupt the course of your previous activities. And as I said before, if zugot are not problematic at home, why does the gemara not offer this as a suggestion for why arba cosot is not dangerous? And yes, the usage of Yotze LaDerech is unusual, that is probably what led to the stammaitic interpolation of the question "Ubeveito Lo? and Answer, "Adam Chashuv Sh'ani".

  7. Surely Rashi and the Rashbam were smart enough to identify the bumbling stamma (if there ever was one...)?!

    Next point: He ha'nosenes! The Gemara brings several cases that seem to contradict the alleged principle that there is no problem at home.

    Next point: The Gemara's question with zugos is how can Rabbanan institute something that might *lead* to sakkanah: Someone who eats away from home, or who goes out to learn or daven (he'gia zman K"S shel Shacharis...) after the Seder.

    BTW, According to the Meiri there, there is another way of learning all this...

  8. Rashi and the Rashbam were smart enough to explain the text as they had it. (without resorting to balabatish explanations like: people often go to someone else's house for the seder or will go to shachris right afterward.) They were using a different set of conceptual tools. You could equally ask, surely they could have made all the interesting chakirot that the brisker rav made.

    Anyway, the point is that only this small sugya makes any reference whatsoever to the idea that zugot are not dangerous at home. And yet, by concluding adam chashuv sh'ani, the maskana is in fact that there is no problem at home. Can you tell me with a straight face that this idea conceptually accords with the rest of the larger sugya of zugot? Why would staying home make any difference? Why is this then not addressed in the rest of the sugya?

    Finally, I never said there is a "bumbling stamma." But surely there was someone who arranged the sugya in the form we have now.

    There is clear textual evidence based on divergent ms (in other sugyot) that sometimes vastly different versions of sugyot are preserved in the Bavli. Why? Blame everything on the bumbling copyist? Or make the more reasonable claim that over the course of the Bavli's redaction as a living text, before it became a closed cannon, it was modified in various ways. On occasion it was modified in response to a perceived difficulty in the text, that today, using the conceptual tools of mechqar can be resloved differently.

  9. 1. Balabatish does not equal wrong :-) - but I actually thought it was kinda lomdish.

    2. If they were using a different set of conceptual tools, and so were all the other Rishonim, then yours are probably wrong.

    3. They could have. Sometimes they did. But they *never* said there was a stamma and he was a boor.

    4. Clue me in here. You mean that Rashi and the Rashbam were cracking up with mirthful laughter while writing their commentaries to this sugya? If they could maintain a straight face, why not me?

    5. Mar bar Rav Ashi.

    6. I agree with the whole last paragraph except to the word "mechqar." I would substitute "cross-referencing with other girsaos."

    7. Revadim makes the Malter method of "The Chosen" and "The Promise" look downright tame.