Monday, August 27, 2007

Help me understand!

Steg writes:

Devarim/Deuteronomy 6:10-12
And it will be, when God, your God, brings you to the land which he swore to your ancestors — to Avraham, Yitzhhaq, and Ya‘aqov — to give to you; great and good cities, which you did not build. And houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, and hewn cisterns which you did not hew, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant — and you will eat, and be satisfied. But be careful, lest you forget God, who took you out of Mitzrayim, from the place of slavery.

Talmud Bavli, masekhet Hhulin 17a —
And R' Yirmeya bar Aba said, Rav said (on this passage):
[The 'all good things' referred to is] strips of pig-meat.

On this statement, Rashi comments —
Dried pigs, which are called bacons.

How am I supposed to understand this? Am I supposed to believe as an article of faith that as part of the Divine Revelation at Sinai, G-d told Moses the Oral Torah to explain the Written Torah, and part of this Oral Torah was an explanation that the phrase 'All good things' means bacon strips? And this tradition was handed down throughout the generations to Rav who mentioned it and it became part of the Gemara?


Blogger Miri said...

That's so weird! Did you ask a rabbi about it? I wonder what they'd say....

August 27, 2007 4:20 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

If "bacons" and such weren't desireable foods, what would it matter for Hashem to forbid them? It would be a meaningless issur becuase we would have followed it without His command.
Rather, we should long to eat the tasty pig-meat but not do it because of the strength of our commitment to Hashem and His divine law.

August 27, 2007 6:30 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

Richard, unless I am missing it, I don't think you are answering the questions I posed in my post.

August 27, 2007 8:58 PM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I'm confused...the point of the verse is that you'll have all sorts of fun and lovely things that you didn't even work for and you'll eat them and forget about Hashem. Why should the good things be forbidden food? Why would you be eating them? The psukim don't seem to think that you're sinning at that point in the narrative. Unless you're selling the bacon? I don't even get it in the context of the verse...

but aside from that- what exactly is the especial problem with this interpretation from a mesora point of view? Had they not invented strips of pig-meat yet?

August 27, 2007 11:52 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...

You know, Tobie, I can't quite put my finger on what is bothering me from the mesorah point of view, but I'll give it a shot... (And it has nothing to do with whether bacon was invented)

First, it bothers me because to me it seems like not only does it seem like the verse doesn't need clarification or explanation, but the exegesis seems to actually be strained and confusing to me.
Secondly, if this were the only place in the Oral Torah where this happened, I would not be bothered too much. But that is not the case. It seems like there are literally thousands of these statements in the Talmud, where someone will take a verse that doesn't really require explanation, and proceed to give it the most fanciful and forced meaning. I can buy a rationalization of the Oral Torah where you make the analogy of "the basic ideas were written down, but the details were handed down orally", but I find it hard to believe that G-d wrote this whole document, but half of the things that it says don't really mean what they seem to mean, but instead mean something completely different.

August 28, 2007 6:59 AM  
Blogger Tobie said...

I agree that the midrash is weird and that if one tries to read every crazy midrash as attempting to add something to the pasuk, you're going to run into problems. I think that even the most frum agree that midrash is not the interpretation of the verse- you're adding stuff. The literal meaning, everybody holds, still applies. The frummer just think that when Hashem said this pasuk to Moshe, He added "Full of good things also means storehouses of bacon."

I understood the point of the midrash a bit better in context. Basically, when Rav says this, he means that during the seven years of conquering, they were allowed to eat this bacon. It seems like he's emphasizing the "all goods things"- that even storehouses filled with bacon were permitted to them some point, which increases the feeling of luxury and also the danger of forgetting Hashem.

Is it a necessary interpretation? No, not really, but it can be read as textually justified (if you really, really squint) and it's a convenient enough hook to hang the opinion that they were allowed bacon during conquering, whether you want to say that Hashem whispered it at the beginning or somebody made it up later.

August 29, 2007 1:46 AM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


A couple of things...

When you say "midrash", what do you mean by that? I don't have an opportunity to look this up in context, but the quote is from the Gemara. I didn't realize that you can call this "midrash" in the conventional sense of the word.

"you're adding stuff" - this is what bothers me. There is a Divine injunction not to add stuff. And in many other cases, though probably not in this one, there are halachot that are based on these types of exegetical flights of fancy.

"whether you want to say that Hashem whispered it at the beginning or somebody made it up later."

But this is one of the critical issues about the origin and reliability of the Oral tradition!!! That is the entire crux of my post.

August 29, 2007 6:47 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

You want Gemora to be smooth reading? Ha Ha Ha Ha. Oh sorry.
Stop Kvetching E-Kvetcher (oh that's a stira. Sorry.)and listen to the Rabbi.

I didn't hear the shiur but I suppose it will help.

August 29, 2007 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Woops this is the full link.

August 29, 2007 10:33 AM  
Anonymous Rabban Gamliel said...

Try again. Your formatting ain't the best.

August 29, 2007 10:36 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

'All good things' means bacon strips?

In the same way that seventy two Hūrīyah are virgins. From clear and translucent grapes, which stand in for exotic and refined delicacies, imported from the oasis of Hawar, which is surrounded by hills gently rising and pale coloured like a maiden's breasts, through a clear white of the eyeballs, which themselves are shaped like plump seedless grapes, to fine-boned camels, with lovely eyes the whites of which are visible.

Seedless, hence virginal. Clear, clean, and pale - like a maiden who has been shielded from the sun. Well-haunched, like a racing camel. Plump and round - like eyes, like grapes, like breasts, like thighs.

Is it any wonder that in the generation after Mohammed's death the desert tribesman, to whom if it isn't a camel, a blanket, or a woman, it isn't worth much, saw instead the embodiment of all adjectives in the word, and thought of Hawri as having to mean a celectial virgin?

That which is unattainable down here, you will get up there.

August 30, 2007 5:32 PM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

And, as I realized a while ago while reading Steg's response to my comment on his blog, what could possibly be less Jewish and more Canaanite than bacon? The point of the passage seems to be that what was NOT Jewish was MADE Jewish, by the Jews taking over, and transforming what they took.

The land was Canaan; it was Jewified into the land of Israel. Ergo that which was in the land was transformed.

August 30, 2007 5:36 PM  

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