Skip to main content

Thought for the Day: If It's True Then It's in the Torah

If I were to ask you where you see in the Torah a source for the expresssion, "a stitch in time saves nine", you'd probably think me daft.  Actually, you know me pretty well by now, so you'd more likely just roll your eyes and say, "I don't know; where?"

Before you go rolling your eyes too much, though, please take a look at Bava Kama 92, where Rava asks Raba bar Mari where he sees a source for about several common expressions.  The exchange begins with Rava sking Raba bar Mari for the source in the Torah of the rabinic dictum that whoever prays for his friend, and he (the pray-er) needs the same thing (that the pray-ee) needs, he (the pray-er) will be answered first?  Not too surprising that a ma'amar Chazal would have a source in Torah.  But then the discussion continues asking about such expression as:
  • The cabbage gets struck by the thorn bush (ie, when pulling weeds growing among the cabbages, sometimes a cabbage gets uprooted accidently).
  • Poverty follows the poor.
  • The wine belongs to the king, but the waiter gets the thanks.
Obviously Rava is not just shooting the breeze with his friend in beis medrash.  More than asking seriously, Rava will even argue with Raba bar Mari about his source!  Generally, with Raba bar Mari brings a source from k'suvim or n'vi'im, Rava will counter with a source from chumash.

What's going on here?  I had an idea, but really wanted to look around before I said anything.  I opened my Vagshal Bava Kama and found they have added a section called "hagah'os v'chidushim"; a collection from lots of diferent sources and arranged by the daf.  There it was, from a sefer Einei Shmuel (R' Shmuel Aaron Raven, av beis din Kortshin); my paraphrase:
A common expression is something that strikes a chord in the human psyche and speaks to the truth of the matter.  As is known, no true matter is missing from the Torah.  Therefore, anything that is true must perforce have a source in the Torah.  That is why the amora'im will search for the source of common expressions.
Besides the lessons that Chazal want to draw from events in the Torah, they also want to make a point: if it's true, then it's in the Torah; if it's not in the Torah, then it's not true.

I'm not sure where you'd find a source for, "a stitch in time saves nine", but here's a really cool fact: it is an anagram for "this is meant as incentive".  Yep.


Popular posts from this blog

Thought for the Day: Battling the Evil Inclination on all Fronts

Yom Kippur.  When I was growing up, there were three annual events that marked the Jewish calendar: eating matzos on Passover, lighting candles on Chanuka, and  fasting on Yom Kippur.  Major news organizations around the world report on the "surreal" and "eerie" quiet of the streets in even the most secular neighborhoods of Israel.  Yom Kippur.

As you know, I am observant of Jewish law.  Some have even called me "ultra orthodox" (not in a kind way).  Given that, I have a question.  How likely do you think that I would be tempted to eat on Yom Kippur, that most holy day of the year?  Let's make the scale zero to ten, where zero is "as likely as driving through McDonald's on Shabbos and ordering a Big Mac with extra cheese." and ten is "as likely as breathing regularly".  Take your time.  If you answered "zero"; thank you, but -- sadly and penitently -- no.  The answer is more like nine; I'd like to say lower, but i…

Thought for the Day: Sometimes a Food Loses Its Identity When It Loses Its Bracha; Sometimes It Doesn't

Let's start with a question: Why are We Allowed to Drink Coffee and Whiskey Made by Non-Jews?  Before you ask,"Why would I think that I shouldn't be able to drink whiskey and coffee made by non-Jews?", I'll tell you. Simple, we all know that Chazal made a decree -- known as בישול עכו''ם/bishul akim -- that particular foods cooked by non-Jews are forbidden.  There are basically two criteria that determines if a dish falls into this category:
Is not consumed raw.Fit for a royal banquet. Cooked carrots, therefore, are not a problem since they can be eaten raw (I actually prefer them that way).  Baked beans are find because the are not prestigious enough.  (For great synopsis of the laws, see the article on the Star-K site, FOOD FIT FOR A KING, by Rabbi Moshe Heinemann, shlita.)  There are lots of cool questions and details (baked potatoes are prestigious, does that make even potato chips and issue?) which are for another time.  Clearly, though, both coffee an…

Thought for the Day: Coming Into This World for Torah, Avodah, and Acts of Loving Kindness

This TftD is so self-serving that I should be embarrassed.  But I am not... talking about grandchildren is always off budget.  I have, bli ayin hara, a beautiful new grandson; born at 6:11 PM CDT last Friday night.  The secular (aka -- by me, anyway -- slave) date is October 20, 2017 CE.  The Hebrew (aka Real) date is certainly Rosh Chodesh חשון/Cheshvan and certainly in the year 5778 since Creation.  The date, you ask... good question!

Sundown on Friday night was 6:01 PM CDT, which means he was born either at the end of the last day of תשרי or the beginning of the first day of Cheshvan; a period know as בין השמשות/twilight.  What's the big deal, you ask... I am so glad you asked.  We all deal quite handily with בין השמשות every week and every holiday; we're just stringent.  We start Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov before בין השמשות; that is, before sundown.  Likewise, we end Shabbos and the first day of Yom Tov after בין השמשות; some 42, 50, 60, or 72 minutes after sundo…