י״ח באייר ה׳תשע״ו (May 26, 2016)

Kiddushin 76a-b: Those of Reliable Lineage

The Mishna on our daf teaches that there are many families about which we can be certain that they are reliably Jewish and that there are no issues with their family histories. For example, if we trace a family tree and discover that the patriarch was a kohen who performed service in the Temple, or that the patriarch served on the , there is no need to check any further, since those positions were only given to individuals who were known to be from reliable families. According to Hanina ben Antigonos, another indication of a family with a reliable history is recorded service in the army.

Shmuel and Rav are both quoted by Rav Yehuda. He brings Shmuel, who explains the last case to be talking about a family whose ancestors had served in King David’s army, as the pasuk clearly indicates in I Divrei HaYamim (7:40). Rav Yehuda then quotes Rav as explaining the reason for this – the belief that the merit of their forefathers would put them in good stead in times of battle.

The Gemara points out that the names of many of King David’s soldiers – e.g. Tzelek the Ammonite, Uriah the Hittite, Ittai the Gittite – seem to point to their being converts, or, perhaps, non-Jewish mercenaries. Furthermore, Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that there were 400 soldiers in King David’s army who were the offspring of relations with an eshet yefat to’ar (see Devarim 21:10) who behaved like non-Jews, cutting their hair, for example, in the fashion of non-Jews, and growing a blorit. The Gemara suggests that the non-Jews were not active soldiers in the army, but played other supportive roles, specifically to keep everyone in a state of alarm.

di-bloritMany suggestions are offered to define the term blorit, but no word in Greek or Latin is a perfect match for it. It is a hairstyle, with hair grown long – particularly on the sides and in the back of the head. The hair was then tied and braided into different shapes. Later on, the braided hair was shaved off in a special pagan ritual.

This image was taken from the Hebrew edition of the Steinsaltz Talmud, Tractate Nazir, page 173.

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