Take the 2-minute tour ×
Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The Bavli, Shabas 26 amud 2, derives from some wording in Vayikra that a three-finger-by-three-finger piece of wool or linen fabric can become tame.

  • It then proposes that the verse teaches us only that a three-hand-by-three-hand piece of wool or linen fabric can become tame [and that we have no source for a three-finger-by-three-finger piece].
    • It counters that we need no verse to teach us about a three-hand-by-three-hand piece, as the latter can be derived from a kal vachomer: since warp and weft threads (of wool or linen) can become tame, of course a three-hand-by-three-hand piece of wool or linen fabric can.
      • It then proposes that the same kal vachomer be used to prove that a three-finger-by-three-finger piece of wool or linen fabric can become tame, so the wording of the verse is not needed to teach that.
        • It replies that the kal vachomer cannot be used to prove that a three-finger-by-three-finger piece of wool or linen fabric can become tame, as such a piece of fabric is not necessarily more significant than warp and weft threads.
  • It then proposes that the verse teaches us that a three-hand-by-three-hand piece of fabric, not of wool or linen, can become tame.

On that last point, Rashi comments: "And a three-finger-by-three-finger piece of wool or linen fabric can become tame by a kal vachomer." (And a later bit of Rashi, s.v. "ואימא כי אמעיט", clarifies that the kal vachomer is from the fact that warp and weft threads can become tame.)

The Tosafos commentary asks the obvious question: "This is not brilliant. After all, we said [that the kal vachomer cannot be used for a three-finger-by-three-finger piece of wool or linen fabric, as such a piece is not necessarily more significant than warp and weft threads]!" It offers no answer to this question on Rashi. Does anyone?

share|improve this question
    
Perhaps Rashi holds that שלש על שלש (etzba'os) of wool or linen is more significant for wealthy people than שלשה על שלשה (t'fachim) of other fabrics. If so, the kal vachomer might become viable again, since the limud regarding other fabrics would preempt the earlier rejection of the kal vachomer. –  Fred Jun 24 at 7:12
    
@Fred, the rejected kal vachomer is also to wool or linen. Did you mean that this is a different kal vachomer, one not from warp and weft but from שלשה על שלשה of other fabrics? That would be a viable explanation of Rashi AFAICT except that (a) it's clearly not how Tosafos read Rashi and (b) Rashi s.v. "ואימא כי אמעיט" clearly says the proposed kal vachomer is from warp and weft. Lemme edit the question.... –  msh210 Jun 24 at 15:23
    
"Did you mean that this is a different kal vachomer...?" No, though that was my first thought (the problem is, though, that that doesn't seem to be a real kal vachomer since there is an element in other fabrics that's more obvious - namely, שלשה על שלשה).| My point was that, once the standard for what can become tamei is lowered (to include other fabrics), the original rejection of the kal vachomer might become moot (assuming that שלש על שלש of wool is more important to wealthy people than is שלשה על שלשה of other fabrics - but that's a question of m'tzi'us so I don't know for sure). –  Fred Jun 24 at 18:36
    
@Fred, interesting idea. Thanks. –  msh210 Jun 24 at 19:11
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.