Monday, 24 April 2017

Bava Batra 91:Exporting Food and People, Elimelach, Bo'az, Machlon and Chilyon

Are we permitted to export the essentials out of Eretz Yisrael?   Perhaps exporting wine will help the homeland stay drunkenness and immorality.  Can we export to Surya, which was very close to HaAretz?  The rabbis are unclear about this practice.  Perhaps it was permitted when there was an excess of oil in a particular region, for example.  And reselling something for double of its original price, like eggs, was never permitted.  We are told that Rabbi Shimon taught about how Elimelech, Machlon and Chilyon, who were the leaders and philanthropists of their generation, were punished for leaving HaAretz.  I wonder if this particular teaching has been used to discourage people from leaving Israel in modern times.

We learn more about Elimelech, Naomi and Bo'az.  The rabbis tell a detailed story about Bo'az's generosity and thoughtfulness.  Unfortunately, he faced great hardship.  His story is an example of how before one's death, another is chosen to take on his life.  Elimelech and his family left HaAretz in search of food, we learn.  Permission to leave the country is based on the availability of food - "even if four se'm sell for a sela, one is permitted to leave".  

The rabbis reminisce about times when food was plentiful and people would complain about the aroma of bread.  As well, they discuss times when stomachs were distended due to malnutrition and famine.  Rabbi Yochanan even remembers when boys and girls of 16 and 17 would play together without "sinning".   He also speaks of the importance of challenging flatterers.  

The rabbis ask about why, in Megilat Ruth, Elimelech's children are called Machlon and Chilyon and in the daily writings they are called Yo'ash and Saraf.  Their original names are translated into a number of unflattering descriptions to prove that it was predestined that they would transgress.  These word games lead us to a discussion of worms and hot winds, which might serve to age wheat.  We end our daf with Rav Papa's wise quote:  Everything is better when it is old, except for dates, beer and small fish.

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