Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Tuesday's Thoughts on the Daf - Chullin 58

Much of Chullin 58 is devoted to the topic which dominates the perek - which defects will render an animal or bird a tereifah. However, following the clarification of the halacha that a male animal must live for twelve months after the traumatic event in order to leave the category of (safek) tereifah, the gemara digresses to discuss the life span of gnats and flies. Within this brief discussion, the gemara relates a "contemporary" saying which demonstrates to me that (at times) everyone gets into a row with their spouse.

After stating that a gnat cannot live for more than a day, the gemara asks - what about the story of the female gnat which for seven years turns down its spouse and would not mate with him. The male gnat had earned the ire of his mate by observing a man emerge from swimming in the river and had feasted on the man (i.e. sucked blood) while the man was towelling off, all without letting the female gnat know that there was a feast available.

The gemara uses this story to challenge the one day life span statement, before concluding that the "seven years" is relative to the length of time that a gnat lives. Rashi explains that in reality, the female gnat stayed away from the male gnat for only a few minutes. Still, the story made me smile and I am sure that there is a lesson out there for someone. Perhaps the "moral" is that any couple can fight, but the key is making sure that it only lasts for a few minutes and not seven years.

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