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Megillah, Daf Zayin, Part 3

 

Introduction

Today’s section deals with the mitzvoth of sending food portions to others on Purim and giving gifts to the poor.

 

ומתנות לאביונים. תני רב יוסף: ומשלוח מנות איש לרעהושתי מנות לאיש אחד. ומתנות לאביוניםשתי מתנות לשני בני אדם. רבי יהודה נשיאה שדר ליה לרבי אושעיא אטמא דעיגלא תלתא וגרבא דחמרא, שלח ליה:קיימת בנו רבינו ומשלוח מנות איש לרעהו ומתנות לאביונים.

 

And gifts to the poor. R. Joseph taught: "And sending portions one to another" (Esther 9:22) that means two portions for one man. "And gifts to the poor" that means two gifts to two men.

R. Judah Nesiah sent to R. Oshaia the leg of a third-born calf and a barrel of wine.

He sent him back word saying, You have fulfilled with us, O our master, the mitzvah of sending portions one to another (and gifts to the poor).

 

The mitzvah of "sending portions (mishloah manot)" consists of sending at least two portions of food to at least one person. This is because "portions" is plural but "another" is singular. But when it comes to gifts to the poor, two gifts must be given to two men both words are plural.

There follows a series of stories about rabbis sending gifts to each other. In the first one, R. Judah Nesiah sends a leg of calf and a barrel of wine. This counts as two gifts. And sounds like a great meal much better than some hamantaschen and an apple.

רבה שדר ליה למרי בר מר ביד אביי מלא טסקא דקשבא, ומלי כסא קמחא דאבשונא. אמר ליה אביי: השתא אמר מרי: אי חקלאה מלכא ליהוידיקולא מצואריה לא נחית.

הדר שדר ליה איהו מלא טסקא דזנגבילא, ומלא כסא דפלפלתא אריכא

אמר אביי: השתא אמר מר: אנא שדרי ליה חוליא ואיהו שדר לי חורפא.

 

Rabbah sent to Mari b. Mar by Abaye a sack full of dates and a cupful of roasted ears of grain.

Abaye to him: Mari will now say, "If a countryman becomes a king, he does not take his basket off his neck."

He sent back to him a sack full of ginger and a cup full of long-stalked pepper.

Abaye said: Now the Master [Rabbah] will say, I sent him sweet and he sends me bitter.

 

In this story Rabbah and Mari b. Mar exchange gifts on Purim, while Abaye, who is acting as a go-between, offers a play by play commentary.

 

אמר אביי: כי נפקי מבי מר הוה שבענא, כי מטאי להתם קריבו לי שיתין צעי דשיתין מיני קדירה, ואכלי בהו שיתין פלוגי. ובישולא בתרייתא הוו קרו ליה צלי קדר, ובעאי למיכס צעא אבתרה.

 

Abaye said: When I went out of the Master’s [Rabbah’s] house, I was already full, but when I reached the other place they set before me sixty dishes of sixty different preparations, and I had sixty pieces from them. The last preparation was called pot-roast, and [I liked it so much that] I wanted to lick the dish after it.

 

This is a continuation of the above story. Abaye seems to have had quite a feast at both houses.

אמר אביי: היינו דאמרי אינשי: כפין עניא ולא ידע.

אי נמי: רווחא לבסימא שכיח.

 

Abaye said: This is what people say, The poor man is hungry and does not know it. Or the other saying, There is always room for sweet things.

 

Abaye connects the previous story to two folk-sayings. The first is that a poor man doesn’t know when he is hungry because he is not used to eating the copious amounts of food that Abaye ate at his master’s house.

The second remains true to this day there is always room for sweets.

 

אביי בר אבין ורבי חנינא בר אבין מחלפי סעודתייהו להדדי.

 

Abaye b. Abin and R. Hananiah b. Abin used to exchange their meals with one another.

 

According to one way of understanding this line, Abaye and Hananiah would exchange meals on Purim. This seems to be a way to fulfill the mitzvah of mishloah manot for someone who only has enough money to pay for one meal. There are other interpretations of the story, but this seems to make most sense.