The Gemara Shabbos 140b states the following..

וְאָמַר רַב פָּפָּא: הַאי מַאן דְּאֶפְשָׁר לְמִישְׁתֵּי שִׁיכְרָא וְשָׁתֵי חַמְרָא — עוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם ״בַּל תַּשְׁחִית״. וְלָאו מִילְּתָא הִיא — ״בַּל תַּשְׁחִית״ דְּגוּפָא עֲדִיף

And Rav Pappa said: One who is able to drink beer and nevertheless drinks wine violates the prohibition against wanton destruction. The Gemara comments: And this is not a correct matter, as the prohibition against destruction of one’s body takes precedence. It is preferable for one to care for his body by eating higher quality food than to conserve his money.

Says the Maharsha that Rav Pappa only said this for his own benefit, because he was a beer merchant (see Pesachim 113a) and he wanted people to buy beer, but really he seems to be wrong because wine is better for the body like the Gemara explained.. (see Reshash that comments on the Maharsha that his accusation is groundless and unfounded).

Why would the Maharsha accuse such a holy Torah luminary that predated him by centuries?


3 Answers 3


I have a different answer:

It is possible that the whole statement is Rav Pappa, and that he himself said it isn't true, and that the Maharsha is pointing out that Rav Pappa felt uneasy because he was saying this only for his own benefit. The Rashash is arguing that perhaps Rav Pappa only retracted due to a fear of being associated with someone who says Torah for their own benefit.

The יד מלאכי in Siman שצח seems to imply that Lav Milta He, is when the person himself retracts (that is his topic of discussion and only lists these cases), but maybe its the person himself only when its explicitly stated.

Nevertheless, I think here it may be read as one long statement by Rav Pappa. And in fact the יד מלאכי explains that we don't actually rely on לאו מלתא היא and the retraction, instead whatever is more logical. Which might mean that you should indeed buy more beer.


I don't think the Maharsha is accusing R' Pappa of making an untrue statement to boost sales. As the Rashash himself points out (and the Chasam Sofer hints), the Gemara's rebuttal would apply equally to R' Chisda's statement about wheat and barley bread, yet there's no suggestion that he was influenced by ulterior motives. R' Pappa is essentially repeating the teaching of R' Chisda; perhaps the Maharsha is only saying that he reframed it in terms of wine and beer for marketing reasons.

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    thanks shmosel! The words of the Maharsha ורב פפא לטובת עצמה אמרה, clearly implying that he had ulterior motives.. Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 22:49
  • Yes, but that doesn't mean it was the predicate for a false teaching, as you seem to be suggesting.
    – shmosel
    Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 23:04

Great question, I would read the Maharsha differently and I think if you read the "header" of the Maharsha it is important (according to me). Why does the Maharsha include "לאו מלתא היא וכו׳". Why not JUST Rav Pappa. One reason is yours, another reason is that it bothered the Maharsha.

You see the Gemara doesn't say Rav Pappa is outright wrong, it says there is a more important principle, to not destroy one's own body (See Meiri to 132b that Lav Milta He - does not entirely push off the Svra). Thus the Maharsha is explaining why Rav Pappa from his vantage point as a seller saw this act as a waste, since for him it is, but for others it is not because for them their body takes precedence. The "waste" depends on who you are in the conversation, this is what the Maharsha is pointing out.

"ורב פפא לטובת עצמו אמרה" meaning for his own good he mentioned this, ie: from his perspective it was right to buy beer, the wine would not sour in casks. But from the buyers perspective the Gemara points out this is not their concern since they must not waste their bodies.

Rav Pappa's logic is not wrong, imagine the wine was vinegary (and worse for him) or something about what he ate made the beer better for him, Rav Pappa would indeed be right.

In fact maybe Rav Pappa saw that these people didn't take care of their health anyway. This would mean they might be blamed for letting beer go to waste since they cannot claim they were drinking wine for their health since they do worse then beer to their bodies anyway.

A fascinating Gemara and Maharsha. Thank you

  • That's a good answer! Commented Mar 22, 2023 at 23:54
  • @AvishaiTebeka Thanks :)
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 0:05
  • Really appreciate it msj121! I see your logic, and I appreciate your attention to detail and deep understanding. However the Reshash and Ben yehoyuda clearly understood the Maharsha the way I did, and the biggest proof is from the similar Gemara right before that with Rav Chisda promoting barley bread although to my knowledge he was not a seller (which makes the Maharsha claim even more comlex as @shmosel points out) Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 0:08
  • @shayachagigah Thanks. I think the nuance is whether the self-benefit is due to a lack of morals or is the self-benefit a matter of perspective. I also read the Maharsha as self-benefit but as a "matter of perspective" (ie: my answer), and I think one resolution is that the Maharsha meant it my way (ie: perspective) - and perhaps the Rashash understood it your way, and I (and Maharsha) agree with the Rashash, (bad morals) is wrong. I only argue that perhaps the Maharsha meant something different. Perhaps you will prefer my other answer.
    – msj121
    Commented Mar 23, 2023 at 0:22

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