Friday, September 7, 2018

Are Your Hands Big Enough?

(Or: How To Make The Gemara Reasonable)

Daf Yomi this week was learning Menachos 26b, which discusses the laws of kometz (the slightly-less-than-a-fistful of flour that the kohen takes). The halacha is that a kometz must contain the volume of two kezaysim, and a kohen whose hand is not big enough to encompass two kezaysim cannot perform kemitzah (and according to some views is disqualified from all Temple service).

ArtScroll notes that this raises a problem: How is it possible to grasp two kezaysim of flour in one's hand, if a kezayis is two-thirds the size of an egg?

In response, ArtScroll quotes the Steipler Gaon, who says that Kohanim used to be much bigger, and thus had much bigger hands. And that perhaps there are indeed some people today with really enormous hands, and hopefully when the Beis HaMikdash will be rebuilt, there will be more such giants.

Of course, there is a much simpler answer which avoids the whole problem in the first place.

A kezayis is not the two-thirds the size of an egg. It is ten times smaller. It is the size of... an olive!

10 comments:

  1. Were you just pining for the hate mail you are going to get with the Trump picture? :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. we all love trump over here. look he closed terror plo office.

      Trump is all heart.

      Delete
  2. Normally, your hand is the same size as your face.

    ReplyDelete
  3. R' Natan, isn't the shiur of a 'kazayit' 1/2 or 1/3 or a 'beitzah' according to Ashkenazi Rishonim, rather than 2/3?

    Let everyone have a ketiva vachatima tova and a shana tova umetuka.

    Y. Aharon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. yes but eggs have gone 50% smaller. so 1/3 becomes 2/3 ac. chazon ish

      Delete
  4. R'Natan, wouldn't a kohen with unusually large hands be considered rabbinically to have a 'blemish' that would preclude him from officiating in the Mikdash?

    Y. Aharon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. ignore photo . just slifkin sense of humour

      " that Kohanim used to be much bigger, and thus had much bigger hands. "

      Delete
  5. chazon ish kezayis is 30 cc. an olive is 3 cc ?

    ReplyDelete
  6. I wonder whether the Gemara (and the Rambam) actually mean that a kometz has to be 2 zeitim, as much as it being an empirical statement (which makes your main point about the size even better).

    ReplyDelete
  7. It is better to distort reality to whatever extent necessary than to even entertain the thought that what the Sages have said could be wrong.

    It is amazing how a group of men who spend their lives dealing with logic and reason forget all about it when reality poses a challenge. Why don't they understand that logic and reason are abstract processes that are applicable everywhere. You just can't be intellectually honest if you only user logic and reason when it suits your purposes. You can't resolve contradictions and errors by just ignoring them or positing a fantasy based on no facts whatsoever. Is it any wonder why some of us are so disenchanted?

    ReplyDelete

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