י״ג בתשרי ה׳תשע״ד (September 17, 2013)

Pesaḥim 89a-b: When One with Fine Hands is In Your Group

The Mishna on our daf teaches that there are occasions when someone can be asked to take his portion of the korban Pesaḥ and eat elsewhere. The case in the Mishna is when one of the participants in the group had invited others to join without getting the approval of the rest of the group. In such a case, if the other members want to, they can tell him to take his portion and eat with his friends, while they eat in a separate group.

Gemara: A dilemma was raised before : If there is among the members of a group one of them who has fine hands, a euphemism for one who always hastens to take a large quantity of food, what is the halakha concerning whether they can say to him: Take your allotted portion to eat and leave; and don’t take any more from the other members’ portions?

In our case, having “fine hands” means that he has the ability and reputation of taking more than his share. The Tosefta uses a slightly different term, calling the person in question “someone with soft hands.” Similarly, an istenis – a picky eater, or someone who is overly fastidious – is called mi she-da’ato yafeh – “someone who thinks nicely.”

We find that the Talmud often uses euphemisms in expressing an unpleasant situation, as the Gemara pointed out earlier (see Massekhet Pesaḥim 3a) when the choice was made to use the word ohr – “light” – to open the massekhet, instead of the more standard term – leil – “the evening of.”

Regarding the Gemara’s question, the Rambam follows our Gemara in ruling that the other participants can tell such a person that he should take his portion and eat on his own. Nevertheless it should be noted that the Talmud Yerushalmi rules that if the other members of the group were aware of this person’s reputation as something of a glutton when they first agreed to allow him to join their group, then they are not allowed to ask him to leave, since they accepted him as he is.

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