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In Masechet Megillah on Daf Gimel Amud B, the Gemara is comparing מת מצוה to various other things. They ask whether מת מצוה or Megillah reading is preferred- either Megillah is because it’s פרסום הנס, or מת מצוה is because it’s כבוד הברות. Then as an answer, the Gemara says that מת מצוה is indeed preferred because כבוד הבריות trumps a mitzvah lo ta’aseh…but how is this a proof? So what that kavod trumps a lo ta’aseh? There’s no lo ta’aseh in our case. The Megillah is a mitzvah aseh? Can someone please explain how the Gemara seems to derive from this fact that מת מצוה is preferred

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    See: dafyomi.co.il/megilah/insites/mg-dt-003.htm
    – Shmuel
    Nov 23, 2022 at 21:45
  • @Shmuel It didn’t really answer the question Nov 24, 2022 at 11:20
  • The question's title fails to identify the issue. Perhaps instead try: Megillah vs. Human Dignity.
    – user19234
    Nov 26, 2022 at 23:32

4 Answers 4

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See the Rashba there who writes

הא דבעא רבא מקרא מגילה ומת מצוה איזה מהן עדיף והדר פשטה דמת מצוה עדיף משום דגדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה לא תעשה שבתורה. תמיה לי מקרא מגילה נמי הא דחי עבודה ותלמוד תורה. ויש לומר דלאו מיהא לא דחי.

So the point is that Meis Mitzvah is strong enough to push away a Lo Sa'aseh, and Megillah is not strong enough to do so, so Meis Mitzvah is stronger than Megillah, and can push it away.

The Pnei Yehoshua writes

ונ״ל ליישב דלאו מדאשכחן דדחי ל״ת שבתורה פשטה לה אלא מלישנא דאמר מר גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה ל״ת שבתורה ומדמפיק לה בהאי לישנא דגדול כבוד הבריות אלמא דאלים ליה האי סברא טובא ומש״ה נמי פשיטא לן דדחי מגילה

So the proof is from the expression גדול כבוד הבריות which teaches how important honoring the dead is.

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  • Surely it is not the expression גדול כבוד הבריות that is the deciding factor but the fact that human dignity trumps a negative commandment is the relevant point.
    – user19234
    Nov 25, 2022 at 14:09
  • @MosheWise Read the Pnei Yehoshua in full.
    – N.T.
    Nov 25, 2022 at 22:48
  • This is indeed Jacob Joshua Falk's argument, but the reader wonders whether it is necessary and whether it accords with the plain sense of the Talmud.
    – user19234
    Nov 26, 2022 at 23:30
  • The plain sense of the Talmud is hard to understand, as OP noted. Pnei Yehoshua is one of history's greatest authorities on interpreting Talmud.
    – N.T.
    Nov 27, 2022 at 9:52
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I like N.T.'s answer. Another thought: although the famous formulation is that human dignity overrides even a negative Torah prohibition, the gemara in Berachot 19a explains that the only torah prohibition it overrides is the prohibition of "lo tasur"--not to obey the rabbis (Deuteronomy 17:11).

In light of this, perhaps the gemara in Megillah is using "a lo taaseh" as a code/idiom for the specific lo taaseh of lo tasur. Thus, in other words, maybe pshat in the gemara is that "met mitzvah trumps mitzvot d'rabanan" and, therefore, it trumps reading the megillah which is rabbinic.

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  • This is really interesting! Apr 28, 2023 at 10:15
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We find in Gemara Berachos 19b that the sages removed their mitzvos in order to protect human dignity and the Gemara there explains that the meaning of גדול כבוד הבריות שדוחה ל"ת שבתורה is referring to מצות דרבנן that are derived of the ל"ת of לא תסור see שבת כג. Perhaps the Gemara here means the same and ל"ת is referring to the mitzva of ner chankkah that was removed to protect human dignity.

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It is true that in a conflict between reading Esther and burying a corpse there is no negative commandment at stake, but that is not the Talmud's argument. The Talmud is instead wondering which obligation takes precedence. The fact that human dignity trumps a negative commandment proves its relative importance to reading Esther and thus solves the dilemma.

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