1) RAMI BAR TAMREI AND THE DISCARDED UDDERS
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that Rami bar Tamrei came to Sura from Pumbedisa on Erev Yom Kippur. He saw everyone discarding udders, and he collected them and ate them in order to fulfill the Mitzvah to eat on Erev Yom Kippur. He used old, dry, moldy grapeskins as fuel to cook the udders. When asked why he was not wearing Tefilin or Tzitzis, he replied that he had a stomach illness and was exempt from Tefilin, and that his clothing was borrowed and was thus exempt from Tzitzis.
Why did Rami bar Tamrei eat old udders cooked over moldy grapeskins in order to fulfill the Mitzvah of eating on Erev Yom Kippur? Why did he not simply ask a Jewish family to host him for the meal? Certainly no Jew would have turned him down on Erev Yom Kippur!
ANSWER: RAV CHAIM SHMUELEVITZ zt'l in SICHOS MUSAR (5731, #17) writes the conduct of Rami bar Tamrei teaches how important it is to avoid receiving gifts from others, even if it means undergoing considerable suffering. The Gemara in Bava Basra (110a) expresses this point when it commands, "Flay a carcass in the market for a wage [rather than beg for your livelihood]."
2) ENFORCING POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE COMMANDMENTS
QUESTION: The Gemara relates that a certain man was being tied in order to be lashed for failing to honor his parents. Rami bar Tamrei told them to release the man, because the Beraisa teaches that Beis Din does not administer punishment to one who refuses to fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh when the reward for that Mitzvah is written explicitly in the Torah.
RASHI (DH Kafsuhu) cites the Gemara in Kesuvos (86a) and explains that the standard set of thirty-nine Malkus is administered for one who transgressed a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh when "the transgression has already been done." However, when one transgresses a Mitzvas Aseh "that is in front of him" -- that is, he does not want to fulfill the Mitzvah -- Beis Din may give him Malkus to compel him to do the Mitzvah until his soul leaves him.
Why does Rashi add the words, "the transgression has already been done," when he writes that one receives Malkus for transgressing a Lo Sa'aseh? Also, why does Rashi add the words, "that is in front of him," with regard to a Mitzvas Aseh?
ANSWER: The RAN (132b) explains that the expressions "Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh" and "Mitzvas Aseh" mentioned in Kesuvos do not refer to every Lo Sa'aseh and every Aseh. Rather, when it is possible for the person to correct his transgression at the moment that Beis Din tells him to do so (for example, if he is eating Chametz during Pesach, and he is able to stop while it is still Pesach), and yet he continues to transgress, he is given an unlimited number of Malkus until he stops transgressing. In contrast, when one has already transgressed a Mitzvah and can no longer fulfill it (for example, one did not eat Matzah on the first night of Pesach, and the night has passed), he receives no more than thirty-nine Malkus, whether the Mitzvah was an Aseh or a Lo Sa'aseh. (See also TOSFOS to Nazir 20b, DH Rebbi Yehudah, who mentions this possibility.)
This seems to be the intention of Rashi when he adds the words, "the transgression has already been done," when he describes a Lo Sa'aseh, and the words, "that is in front of him," with regard to a Mitzvas Aseh. The reason why one receives only one set of Malkus for a Lo Sa'aseh is that "the transgression has already been done" and cannot be corrected, while one receives an unlimited number of Malkus for not fulfilling an Aseh because the Mitzvah "is in front of him" and he is able to fulfill it.
3) FORCING A PERSON TO GIVE CHARITY
QUESTION: The Beraisa teaches that Beis Din does not administer punishment to one who refuses to fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh, when the reward for that Mitzvah is written explicitly in the Torah.
This seems to contradict the Gemara in Bava Basra (8b) that says that Beis Din can force a person to give Tzedakah. The reward for the Mitzvah of giving Tzedakah is written explicitly in the Torah: "For in return for this matter, Hash-m your G-d will bless you in all of your deeds and in all of your endeavors" (Devarim 15:10)!
(a) TOSFOS (DH Kol) answers that when the Gemara in Bava Basra teaches that Beis Din may force a person to give Tzedakah, it means that Beis Din may use verbal coercion, but not corporal punishment, to force a person to give Tzedakah.
(b) Tosfos answers further that the Mitzvah of Tzedakah involves not only a Mitzvas Aseh, but a Mitzvas Lo Sa'aseh as well. The Torah warns us with a Lo Sa'aseh not to refrain from giving Tzedakah (Devarim 15:7). Beis Din may enforce the fulfillment of a Lo Sa'aseh even when the Torah specifies the reward for that Mitzvah.
(c) Tosfos in Bava Basra (8b, DH Achpei) answers that in the case of the Gemara there, the Beis Din was able to compel people to give Tzedakah only because the people of that town explicitly empowered Beis Din with the right to enforce the Mitzvah of giving Tzedakah.
(d) Tosfos in Bava Basra answers further that Beis Din has the right to enforce any Mitzvah. The Gemara here means that Beis Din is not obligated to enforce a Mitzvas Aseh when the reward for that Mitzvah is written explicitly in the Torah.
(e) The RITVA in Kesuvos (49b, DH Aval) explains that even though Beis Din normally may not force a person to fulfill a Mitzvas Aseh when its reward is written explicitly, Beis Din may force a person to give Tzedakah, so that the poor will not have to suffer more. (This applies only to the Mitzvah of Tzedakah and is derived from a verse, as the Gemara in Rosh Hashanah (6a) discusses.)
(f) The AVNEI MILU'IM offers a novel answer. The SEFER HA'IKARIM explains that the reward mentioned in the Torah (in Devarim 15:10) is not the reward for the act of giving Tzedakah, but rather it is the reward for the generosity expressed at the time the Tzedakah is given. The Avnei Milu'im explains that, according to this, when a person is forced to give Tzedakah against his will, the reward of the Torah for performing an act of generosity does not apply to him. (Z. Wainstein)
4) COOKING LIVER WITH OTHER FOOD
QUESTION: Abaye requested from Rav Safra that when he goes to Eretz Yisrael, he should ask the Chachamim what their practice is with regard to liver.
RASHI (DH Kavda) explains that Abaye's doubt about liver was whether one is permitted to cook the liver in the same pot as other food. Since liver emits blood, it may be forbidden to cook it with other food.
What, though, is the question? If the liver is salted before being cooked, then the salting process removes the blood and it certainly may be cooked with other food. If the liver is not salted before being cooked, then it still contains blood and it certainly may not be cooked with other food!
(a) TOSFOS (DH Kavda) quotes RABEINU TAM who answers that the question involves liver that was not salted. Perhaps the blood that exits the liver is not considered "Dam she'Piresh" (the forbidden type of blood; Kerisus 4b), since the liver is considered to be entirely made out of blood, and the Torah permits eating the liver (as the Gemara earlier (109a) mentions). Even though the Rabanan may have permitted such blood, perhaps when the liver is cooked with other food the Rabanan did not apply the prohibition, since the blood is not visibly discernible in the mixture.
(b) Tosfos answers further that Abaye's question involves liver that was salted. Perhaps, however, it is prohibited to cook the liver with other food, because the liver contains so much blood and the salting might not have removed all of it.
The ROSH (8:27) infers from the words of Rashi that the question was whether it is permitted to cook the liver with other food even after the liver was salted, as Tosfos explains in his second answer. The Rosh explains that perhaps it is permitted to cook the liver with other food only when the liver was first roasted, since roasting is a more effective way of extracting the blood. Since the liver contains so much blood, Abaye was in doubt that perhaps salting is not powerful enough to extract all of the blood.
What indication is there in the words of Rashi that Rashi understands Abaye's question in the same way as Tosfos does in his second answer? Rashi (DH Kavda) makes no mention of the liver being salted. On the contrary, his words imply that the liver was not salted.
The MA'ADANEI YOM TOV and ROSH YOSEF (in his second answer) suggest that if Rashi understands Abaye's question the same way as Tosfos does in his first answer, then Rashi should express the reason to permit cooking the liver (and not just the reason to prohibit it), because it is not at all obvious that the liver, with all of its blood in it, should be permitted to be cooked with other food. In contrast, if Abaye's doubt concerns only liver after it was salted, then it is not necessary to explain the reason to permit cooking it with other food, since all meat is permitted once it has been salted. It is necessary only to explain that it might be forbidden because the salting might not remove all of the blood from the liver. (D. BLOOM)