Blog Yomi – Nedarim #35/Daf 36

We begin today in the middle of the Gemara on דף ל״ו עמוּד א:

גּוּפָא, אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: הַכֹּל צְרִיכִין דַּעַת חוּץ מִמְּחוּסַּר כַּפָּרָה, שֶׁהֲרֵי אָדָם מֵבִיא קרְבָּן עַל בָּנָיו וְעַל בְּנוֹתָיו הַקְּטַנִּים. אֶלָּא מֵעַתָּה יָבִיא אָדָם חַטַּאת חֵלֶב עַל חֲבֵירוֹ, שֶׁכֵּן אָדָם מֵבִיא עַל אִשְׁתּוֹ שׁוֹטָה, כְּרַבִּי יְהוּדָה. אַלְּמָה אָמַר רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר: הִפְרִישׁ חֵלֶב עַל חֲבֵירוֹ — לֹא עָשָׂה כְּלוּם

With regard to the matter itself, רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן said: Everyone who brings קרְבָּן requires knowledge (דַּעַת), except for those offerings brought by those lacking atonement; this can be proven from the fact that a person brings a קרְבָּן for his minor sons and daughters. The Gemara asks: However, if that is so, let a person bring a sin-offering (חַטַּאת) on behalf of another who unwittingly ate forbidden fat (חֵלֶב) without his knowledge, just as a man brings an offering for his wife who is an imbecile, in accordance with the opinion of רַבִּי יְהוּדָה. Why then did רַבִּי אֶלְעָזָר say: One who separated a חַטַּאת on behalf of another who unwittingly ate forbidden fat has done nothing?

So we see that רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן follows the premise of יֵשׁ לוֹמְדִין אֶפְשֶׁר מִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשֶׁר – that it is possible to learn something from one category that is possible (adults for whom it is possible to bring קָרְבָּנוֹת) from another category that is not possible (minors, who are not allowed halachically to bring קָרְבָּנוֹת).

See the source image

It is worth contemplating for a moment the requirement for an individual is to have דַּעַת before being halachically responsible. As Tzvi Freeman suggests in this illuminating Chabad article, דַּעַת means more than “knowledge” as in informatics. It extends to knowledge of the self, speaking to the heart of contemplation and even consciousness itself. Note, however, that from the halachic standpoint this is purely driven by chronology. It is a specific number, and it seems counter-intuitive at first that we would hold a learning disabled 13 year-old more accountable, let’s say in terms of bringing a קרְבָּן, or making a נֶדֶר than a child prodigy who is 8 years old. But indeed there is a strict cut-off here by age, probably to take the onus off the communal authorities to have to make an individualized decision about each child on a case-by-case basis.

At the 7:21 mark of his video, Rabbi Stern elaborates on the phrase in the Gemara of: יָבִיא אָדָם חַטַּאת חֵלֶב עַל חֲבֵירוֹ . What is a חַטָאת חֵלֶב? It is a classic חַטָאת. For any sin for which you’d be liable for punishment by כָּרֵת if done intentionally (בְּמֵזִיד), you would be required bring a קָרְבַּן חַטָאת if done unintentionally (בְּשׁוֹגֵג). Rabbi Stern notes that we had a רא״ש earlier in the Mesechta that said it was easy to violate the prohibition against consuming forbidden fat because it was ubiquitous and therefore could be eaten unintentionally. In fact, among the 36 sins for which a חַטָאת would be required, eating non-kosher fat unintentionally would potentially be high on the list. (Sefaria has a nice fact sheet on חֵלֶב, and an entire book has been written on the קָרְבַּן חַטָאת.)

Let’s Zoom ahead a little bit to a fascinating piece of Gemara that lends support to the dictum we had at the outset, that רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן follows the premise of יֵשׁ לוֹמְדִין אֶפְשֶׁר מִי שֶׁאִי אֶפְשֶׁר. In elaborating on the “אִי אֶפְשֶׁר” status, just like a minor is not obligated to bring his own קָרְבַּן, neither would be an adult who is deemed to be a פִּקַּחַת, or developmentally disabled. (Sefaria refers to this state as being “halachically incompetent”). This is an exception to the strict age rule we noted above, where obligations are waived if the individual is deemed to be “mentally incompetent” (a פִּקַּחַת). The Gemara states:

וְאִי דְּאָכְלָה כְּשֶׁהִיא פִּקַּחַת, וְנִשְׁתַּטֵּית — הָא אָמַר רַבִּי יִרְמְיָה אָמַר רַבִּי אֲבָהוּ אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹחָנָן: אָכַל חֵלֶב וְהִפְרִישׁ קרְבָּן, וְנִשְׁתַּטָּה וְחָזַר וְנִשְׁתַּפָּה — פָּסוּל, הוֹאִיל וְנִדְחָה — יִדָּחֶה

And if she ate the forbidden fat when she was halachically competent and then became a פִּקַּחַת , didn’t R’ Yirmeya cite R’ Abbahu in the name of R’ Yocḥanan as saying: If one ate forbidden fat unwittingly, and separated an offering, and became mentally disabled, and became competent again, the offering is disqualified. This could occur, for example, in cases of reversible dementia linked to medication or other underlying causes that temporarily impair thinking skills.


Since it was disqualified when he was cognitively compromised, it will be disqualified forever. It is clear, therefore, that the sin-offering that one brings for his wife who is a פִּקַּחַת is not a sin-offering for eating forbidden fat, as that would require halachic intelligence. It is merely for completion of the purification process, e.g., a woman after childbirth (יוֹלֶדֶת), for which halachic competence is not required. Therefore, no proof may be cited from the case of one’s wife who is a פִּקַּחַת to the case of bringing a sin-offering on behalf of another who ate חֵלֶב.

The Gemara then transitions to the obligations of the קָרְבַּן פֶּסַח, including the rush to get to יְרוּשָׁלַיִם to offer it. An example is brought of a father who was trying to motivate his children through a healthy competition among them to see who could get there first:

אֶלָּא לְמָה לְהוּ דְּאָמַר לְהוֹן אֲבוּהוֹן? כְּדֵי לְזָרְזָן בְּמִצְוֹת. תַּנְיָא נָמֵי הָכִי: מַעֲשֶׂה הָיָה וְקָדְמוּ בָּנוֹת לַבָּנִים, וְנִמְצְאוּ בָּנוֹת זְרִיזוֹת וּבָנִים שְׁפָלִים

The Gemara asks: However, why do they require that their father say to them: The one of you who will ascend to יְרוּשָׁלַיִם first will be privileged to eat from that lamb, when no actual acquisition takes place? It is in order to motivate them in the performance of mitzvos. This is also taught in a baraisa: There was an incident that transpired where a father said to his sons and daughters that they should compete to see who reaches the sacrifice of the Paschal lamb first, and the daughters preceded the sons, and the daughters were found to be motivated and the sons to be lazy [shefalim]. Since the baraisa did not say that the result was that daughters acquired their portion, apparently the father’s statement was merely motivational.

Some people think that a sense of competition in children should

Well, we’ve hit the halfway mark with some interesting concepts, so I can guiltlessly let Rabbi Stern in his video above take you the rest of the way.

About Leonard J. Press, O.D., FAAO, FCOVD

Developmental Optometry is my passion as well as occupation. Blogging allows me to share thoughts in a unique visual style.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s