As we learned on yesterday’s daf, when a dead man is found between two cities, measurements are taken to ascertain which of the cities is closer to the man and the elders of that city are called upon to bring an eglah (a calf) arufah and to state that they did not play a role in this man’s death. The Gemara explains that we do not really suspect the city elders of having killed the man, rather they are being called upon to attest to the fact that the man received an escort when he left the city. This leads the Gemara to discuss the importance of offering an escort to someone who leaves your city.
As an example, the Gemara evaluates the story of the prophet Elisha who was involved in an altercation with two young men when he left the city of Yeriḥo, an altercation that left the young men dead (see II, chapter 2). Rabbi Yohanan quotes Rabbi Me’ir as deriving from this story the importance of accompanying your guests, claiming that the entire incident would not have happened had the people of Yeriḥo escorted Elisha out of the city. According to the Navi, having been taunted by these young men, Elisha gazes upon them and bears come out of the woods and kill the children.
Our Gemara wonders what Elisha saw that convinced him that they were deserving of such punishment. The answers range from the suggestion that he saw not even a small credit of mitzva in their future, to their hairstyle – a blorit, in the fashion of the non Jews.
Many 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.