what should I understand from this gemarah about the tanaaim eating the peiros ? I would guess it is a guzma but how do I even understand what they were eating bipashtus? What can I look up?
Thank you so much for your very special website.
yaakov arye abraham, philadelphia pa
There are a few ways of understanding the accounts in the Gemara of the foods that the Tana'im and Amora'im ate.
(1) The Pasuk says in Koheles 2:10 : "Everything that my eyes asked for, I did not prevent them from enjoying". The Mesilas Yesharim (chapter 13, explaining Perishus) cites the Talmud Yerushalmi in Kidushin that learns from here that a person will have to give account in the future before Hash-m for everything which his eyes saw but he did not want to eat, even though it was permissible for him to do so and he was able to do so. (Mesilas Yesharim explains there at length when one should refrain from enjoying this world and when one should not). What he means is that we should use whatever objects Hash-m gave us with which to serve Him in this world.
(2) The Rosh in Chulin (8:27) writes that there are times when the Tana'im or Amora'im would act someone strangely in order to demonstrate a Halachah to their students. Perhaps by eating different foods in different ways they were teaching us the Halachas of Berachos in a very vivid way, which makes it easier to understand and remember the Halachos.
(3) It may also be that Chazal knew which foods were very healthy. In order to understand Torah properly, as Chazal certainly did, it is necessary to eat healthy foods, giving optimal strength to the mind and body.
thank you for the answers but those answers still don't explain -at least for me- how they could have eaten so much, seemingly all the time -and in such a unusual way.
any light would be greatly appreciated
Yaakov Arye Abraham
(a) See Tosfos above 20a DH Tleisar who writes that the number 13 is often used in the Gemara and does not necessarily have to be taken literally.
(b) See also the Gemara Eruvin 83b which discusses how much flour is required to make the person baking it obligated to separate "Chalah" from the flour. The conclusion is that the volume of 43 and a fifth eggs, is what is necessary to make the taking of Chalah obligatory. The Gemara concludes that somebody who eats this amount will be healthy and blessed. Rashi explains that he will be healthy because he eats sufficient, and blessed because he does not eat too much.
The Ya'avetz in Eruvin (by Rabbi Yaakov Emdin, printed at the back of the Gemara after page 48) writes that our Gemara is not problematic in light of the Gemara in Eruvin. Even though Rav Huna ate 13 loaves, of which 3 of these loaves took up a "Kav" (There are 4 Lugin in a Kav and 6 eggs in a lug, i.e. there are 24 eggs in a Kav, so if Rav Huna ate 13 loaves this means he ate 13 times the volume of 8 eggs =104 eggs, which is a lot more than 43 and a fifth eggs) Yaavetz suggests that one can reconcile the 2 Gemaras on the basis of a third Gemara in Eruvin 82b that "Ravchah l'Besima Shechichah". Rashi writes there that the stomach expands to make room for something sweet.
(c) Since today is Purim we can say a bit of Purim Torah which the Yaavetz also refers to. The Gemara in Megilah 7b describes the Mishlo'ach Manos that the Amora'im used to send to each other. Then Abaye said that he used to leave the house of his teacher, Rabah, when he was satisfied with what he had eaten there. However when he reached home they used to serve him 60 dishes and he could still have eaten more after he had finished all 60. Again this just goes to prove that there is plenty of room in the stomach for sweet food.
(d) It is also interesting to look at the Gemara Nidah end 24b which relates that Abba Shaul was once burying the dead and the burial chamber below him collapsed and he stood in the eye socket of the corpse up to his nose. Afterwards he was told that this was the eye of Avshalom, the son of David ha'Melech. The Gemara adds that Abba Shaul was no midget, but in fact he was the tallest man of his generation - Rabbi Tarfon only reached his shoulders. In turn Rabbi Tarfon was the tallest in his generation and Rabbi Meir only reached his shoulders. R. Meir was the tallest in his generation and R. Yehudah the Prince only reached his shoulders. The list goes on until we find that Rav was the tallest of his generation but Rav Yehudah only reached his shoulders.
What we see from this Gemara is that the Tana'im and Amora'im were not ordinary people. They were bigger and stronger than the average people of their times. It must be that their high spiritual level led to their physical prowess.
Nearer our times, it is told about Reb Chaim Brisker, that when he learnt, he used to have to hold a wet towel on his forehead because of the tremendous mental (and physical) effort that he put into his studying. This may be one of the explanations of the accounts of eating in the Gemara - the Tana'im and Amora'im were putting such incredible energy into Torah that they required this sustenance.
(e) The Yaavetz in Eruvin also cites the Gemara Berachos 44a which relates the remarkable eating habits of the Amora'im with the Ginosar fruits. The Yaavetz in Berachos(printed in Chidushim and Hagahos at the back of our Gemara) writes that Chas v'Shalom one should not think that this represented greed. He refers us to what he wrote in Sidur Beis Yaakov. (I looked this up - it is on p.123 just after Birkas ha'Mazon, Level 7, letter Gimel)
There, Rav Yaakov Emdin writes that Chazal achieved a great Tikun through their eating, and they selected the good from the bad through this and raised the physical food onto a higher level. This can be compared to what we find with the sacrifices in the Beis ha'Mikdash, that the Kohanim ate them and the owners received atonement from this (see Pesachim 59b).
Sidur Beis Yaakov adds that someone who eats with a holy Kavanah will merit eating at the meal of Livyasan when the Mashiach comes (see Bava Basra 74b). This is the true purpose of eating - to separate the sparks of holiness from our physical world.
Happy Purim and b'Te'avon - Bon Appetit!