Sunday, 18 September 2016

Bava Kamma 110: More on Priests, Robbery, Inheritance; Questions about Rabbinical Leanings

Continuing with their analysis of our last Mishna, the rabbis walk through a number of circumstances where a father who is a priest has been robbed by his son - who is also a priest.  In today's daf, we are introduced to what seem like endless possible scenarios.  If the priest is unable to perform some of his duties, how might that change the punishment?  If the brothers are owed a certain number of animals, how might that change the punishment?  

I am finding this portion of Bava Kamma simultaneously overwhelming - so much information, so many details - and absolutely tedious.  How many different permutations and possibilities must the rabbis present before they move on to another idea or topic?

One question this raises for me is why the rabbis spent significant amounts of time on particular topics.  Why, especially when there is no longer a functioning Temple and thus there is no role for the Priests, why must we examine their obligations and their lives with such excruciating detail?  And why do the rabbis almost ignore questions that loom large for me - the servitude of people; the servitude of animals?

Are the rabbis' areas of focus based upon:

  • their areas of interest?
  • the topics that are most simple to discuss in a legal framework?
  • the most pressing issues in their communities?
  • the topics that reflected a 'higher' or more important topic?
  • the topics that were of interest to community members who held power?
  • the topics that traditionally were of interest?
  • the topics that reinforced their sense of status and importance?
  • etc. etc

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