We learn in Daf 10b that if a mouse comes into a house holding bread, and a rat comes out holding the same bread, we cannot assume that it is the same slice because rats usually eat mice (we learn that this is the Hallacha because the next question is "assuming that the rat has a mouse and bread in its mouth" which makes no sense if the Hallacha would be the opposite).
This is difficult for me. Wouldn't the mouse run away, leaving the bread, the moment it saw the rat? This seems the most likely sevara... I can't find it mentioned anywhere. Why do we nevertheless assume that it cannot be the same slice of bread?
Daniel Moskovich, Kyoto, Japan
It seems that the logic of the Gemara is that if the mouse could get away, it would get away with the bread. If it could not get away, both it and the bread would be taken by the rat. It seems logical to state that the Gemara is talking about a small piece of bread (as indicated by Rashi DH "Kikar v'Achbar"). This is why the rat could take it along with the mouse, and the mouse would not be hindered during his escape by the piece of bread in his mouth.
Thank you very much for your reply!
This was my first thought for the pshat, but it's still kashe for me. Is there another pshat possible?
We can consider 2 cases:
1) The bread is small enough to fit into the mouth of the mouse (completely). Then we don't see how the rat would be holding the mouse and the pas together, because one would be contained within the other - unless this is the pshat, and something strange occured that the rat removed the bread from the mouse's mouth.
2) The bread is larger than that, but still small. Then it makes sense to me that most mice would drop it when attempting to escape - perhaps we can ask this question to an expert on rodent behaviour to better understand the Gemara? (there is one whom I know)
I think the sevorah is - That if a rat asks a mouse for "your dough or your life!" its not his dough that he's after but rather his life!
P.S. Daniel, what are you doing in Kyoto, Japan?!
Thank you again for the reply.
I have thought about this some more and talked to somebody who knows more about mice than me, and I think maybe with the help of your reply I can formulate my own conjectural answer to my question.
Whether the mouse would spit or keep the bread would depend on the size of the mouse, the personality of the mouse, and the size of the bread- there might be no general rule. Therefore perhaps we cannot assume that the bread would have been dropped.
But it still seems a safek (that it was the same piece of bread, for whatever reason). Why are we taking it here lechumra when it seems incredibly unlikely that it's not the same bread? (it seems clear that the possibility that the mouse dropped the bread or that the rat took only the bread is far more likely than that the rat took a different piece of bread which happened to be lying around a checked house...) With thanks,
(a) First, I agree to Alex's comment that when the Chuldah's attention is on the mouse it will not stop for the bread. (The mouse will presumably drop the bread long before the chase is over.) It is only assumed to be likely that the bread it has was from the mouse's if the mouse was *caught* by the Chuldah.
(b) Second, you question is probably based on the principle that "Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula." Why should we be so stringent if the Bedikah is only mid'Rabanan?
To answer this, I would like to make two points:
1. Since we know for certain that the piece was brought into the house by the mouse, and we cannot say with 100% certainty that it was removed, we apply the rule of Ein Safek Motzi mi'Yedei Vadai. Tosfos on 9a DH v'Im writes that even a very high percent of certainty cannot override a "Vadai."
2. Tosfos 9b DH Hainu asks a similar question on Rashi's opinion there. His answewr - that perhaps we are discussing a case where the person did not do Bitul before Pesach, and there is a Torah obligation of Bedikah - would apply here as well.
Others answer that according to Rashi the rule of Safek d'Rabanan l'Kula does not apply for Bedikas Chametz, since the entire Bedikah was instituted for a Safek (i.e., we must perform Bedikah even though we are unsure whether or not the house has any Chametz). That would apply here as well. (We had a wonderful video-lecture on this subject last week by Hagaon Rav Yossi Elefant. The Shiur is available from our lectures site.)
I do not understand why there needs to be an argument about whether the bread was the same piece or not. Why not just get rid of the bread, anyway, and not bother with whether it is the same piece or not?
The question under discussion is whether the house must be searched for the (possible) second piece of bread, if indeed it is not the same piece.
Kollel Iyun Hadaf