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Steinsaltz

MISHNA: On the evening [or] of the fourteenth of the month of Nisan, one searches for leavened bread in his home by candlelight. Any place into which one does not typically take leavened bread does not require a search, as it is unlikely that there is any leavened bread there. And with regard to what the Sages of previous generations meant when they said that one must search two rows of wine barrels in a cellar, i.e., a place into which one typically takes some leavened bread, the early tanna’im are in dispute. Beit Shammai say that this is referring to searching the first two rows across the entire cellar, and Beit Hillel say: There is no need to search that extensively, as it is sufficient to search the two external rows, which are the upper ones. This dispute will be explained and illustrated in the Gemara.

GEMARA: The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term or, translated as: The evening of? The Gemara provides two answers. Rav Huna said: It means light, and Rav Yehuda said: In this context, it means evening. At first glance, it could enter your mind to suggest that the one who said light means that one searches for leaven by the actual light of day, on the morning of the fourteenth of Nisan, and the one who said evening is referring to the actual evening of the fourteenth.

To clarify the meaning of the word or, the Gemara analyzes biblical verses and rabbinic statements. The Gemara raises an objection from a verse: “As soon as the morning was or, the men were sent away, they and their donkeys” (Genesis 44:3). Apparently, or is day. The Gemara rejects this contention. Is it written: The light was morning? “The morning was light” is written. In this context, or is a verb not a noun, as the one who said: The morning lightened. And this is in accordance with that which Rav Yehuda said that Rav said, as Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: A person should always enter an unfamiliar city with “it is good” (Genesis 1:4), i.e., before sunset, while it is light, as the Torah uses the expression “it is good” with regard to light upon its creation. This goodness is manifest in the sense of security one feels when it is light. And likewise, when one leaves a city he should leave with “it is good,” meaning after sunrise the next morning.

The Gemara raises an objection from another verse: “And as the light [or] of the morning, when the sun rises, a morning without clouds; when through clear shining after rain the tender grass springs out of the earth” (II Samuel 23:4). Apparently, or is day. The Gemara rejects this proof as well: Is it written that the light was morning? “As the light of the morning” is written, and this is what the verse is saying: And as brightly as the morning light of this world shines at its peak, so will be the rising of the sun for the righteous in the World-to-Come, as in those days the light of the sun will be seven times stronger than at present (see Isaiah 30:26).

The Gemara raises an objection: “And God called the or Day, and the darkness He called Night” (Genesis 1:5). Apparently, or is day. The Gemara rejects this proof as well. This is what the verse is saying: God called the advancing light Day. As stated previously, the word or can also be a verb; in this context, God called the beginning of that which eventually brightens, Day. The Gemara challenges this explanation: However, if that is so, the continuation of the verse, “and the darkness He called Night,” should be understood to mean: He called the advancing darkness Night, even before it is actually dark. However, this cannot be the correct interpretation of the verse, as we maintain it is day until the emergence of the stars. Since the stars emerge only after the sky begins to darken, the advancing evening cannot be defined as part of the night.

The Gemara rejects the previous explanation. Rather, this is what the verse is saying: God called the light to come and commanded it to perform the mitzva of the day, and God called the darkness and commanded it to perform the mitzva of the night. Called, in this context, does not connote the giving of a name. It means that He instructed the day and night to carry out their characteristic functions.

The Gemara raises an objection: “Praise Him, sun and moon; praise Him, all the stars of or (Psalms 148:3). Apparently, or is the evening, as the stars of light appear at night. The Gemara rejects this contention. This is what the verse is saying: Praise Him, all the stars that radiate, as in this context or is not a noun but rather a verb that describes the activity of the stars. The Gemara challenges this explanation: However, if that is so, does the verse mean that it is the stars that radiate that are required to praise God, whereas those that do not radiate light are not required to praise Him? But isn’t it written in the previous verse: “Praise Him, all His legions,” indicating that all stars should praise God?

Rather, this phrase, the stars of light, comes to teach us that the light of stars is also considered light. The Gemara asks: What is the practical difference that emerges from the fact that the light of the stars is classified as light? The Gemara answers: It is significant with regard to one who vows that he will derive no benefit from light. It is necessary to define precisely what is included in the term light. As we learned in a mishna: For one who vows that he will derive no benefit from light, it is prohibited to benefit even from the light of the stars.

The Gemara raises an objection: “A murderer rises with the or to kill the poor and needy; and in the night he is as a thief” (Job 24:14).

Talmud - Bavli - The William Davidson digital edition of the Koren No=C3=A9 Talmud
with commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz Even-Israel (CC-BY-NC 4.0)
אדם סלומון
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