כ״ד בניסן ה׳תשע״ד (April 24, 2014)

Beitza 25a-b: Proper Etiquette

Rami bar Abba teaches that just as the Torah commands that every animal sacrifice be flayed (skinned) and cut up (see, for example, Vayikra 1:6), similarly a butcher should first skin and cut up the animal before allowing anyone to eat from it. This falls into the category of derekh eretz – appropriate behavior- that is encouraged by , even though there are no issues of halakha forbidding it.

The teaching of etiquette is not limited to Rami bar Abba. The Gemara quotes baraitot that recommend eating and drinking in a slow deliberate manner, indicating – as Rashi and the Me’iri point out – that even the early tanna’im felt that these matters needed to be emphasized. One baraita teaches that someone who eats an onion or garlic should not eat it from its roots, rather he should eat it from its leaves; eating it beginning with the roots is the sign of a glutton. The Me’iri explains that eating it “from its leaves” means that a person is obligated to peel off the outer leaves before eating, which slows down the process. Similarly, a person should not gulp down his drink all at once, nor should he drink it in many small sips that make him appear overly sensitive.

di sea squillIn another teaching, Rami bar Abba praises the hatzuva as a plant that defends against evil people. The hatzuva is identified as the sea squill – urginea maritima – a plant from the lily family whose roots project deep into the ground. It was customary to plant sea squill on the edges of fields as boundary markers because the roots grow straight down without spreading out. This protected the field owner against those who would overstep and infringe on their property.

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