Sept 14 - 19

It's almost Yuntif! And the Mishnayot keep coming :)

Welcome to Megillah.

The first perek of Megillah starts out with discussions pertinent to Purim, and then veers way off into a set of entirely other topics - some familiar and others obscure - whose common thread is that they contain sub-laws which have only subtle differences between them. (There is no difference between sub-law A and sub-law B except...")

A few interesting points:

(1) Mishnayot 1-3 present the somewhat surprising information that the residents of small, farming towns were authorized to fulfill the Mitzvah of hearing the Megillah on days other than Purim! As you'll see in whatever commentary you use, this was motivated by the facts that (a) it was unlikely that these smaller villages contained someone with the necessary skill set to read the Megillah, (b) these villagers invariably came into the bigger cities (where Megillah readers abounded!) on the market days of Monday and Thursday, and (c) the rabbis wanted to express appreciation to these villagers - who supplied the city-slickers with all of their produce - by not requiring them to schlep into the city on Purim day as well to hear the Megillah.

(2) Mishna 4 transitions us into the "there's no difference between... except" section of the perek. Two thoughts here:

(a) Mishna 8 is particularly interesting as it reveals the extremely high regard in which our Sages held the Greek language. As you'll see, they were OK with any of our holy scriptures being written in Greek - not just in Greek characters, but in Greek Greek. This admiration for Greek and its capacity to elegantly and accurately convey the meaning of the original Hebrew will come up again as we move forward in Megillah.

(b) Just an intro to Mishnayot 10 and 11: In the desert, the Israelites were commanded to offer their korbanot exclusively at the Mishkan, and nowhere else. Centralization of worship went a long way toward preventing that worship from veering off into places it just really shouldn’t go. However, once we crossed over the Jordan into the land, we entered the period of “conquest” during which the Mishkan didn’t and couldn’t function as a centralized woship location. As a result, it became permissible (as in the days of our patriarchs) to erect an altar and offer a korban wherever. During this period, the altar in the Mishkan was known as the “Bama Gedola” and all other altars were known as “Bama Ketana.” (And these two were very much like each other except…)

When the Mishkan was established in Shiloh (think about the story of Hannah and Samuel) it again served as a site of centralized worship, and the law limiting worship to the Mishkan was again in force. Soon thereafter however, Shiloh was destroyed, and the law of centralized worship didn’t return again until Shlomo completed the Beit Hamikdash in Jerusalem. So Shiloh and Jerusalem were also a lot alike except…

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