B. Why do this? If it is in order to acquire them, let him acquire them [by the customary symbolic transfer] with a fabric. If it is a festival day [142a] [when foods that one wishes to use must be prepared in advance, let us presume that] it suffices if he stands and says [before the festival], “This one and that one I am taking [to designate them for use].”
C. [We may say that] these were newly laid eggs and Levi Bar Simon himself had not yet had a chance to acquire them.
D. And here is what he said to him, “Go and disturb the nest so they will fly up and Levi bar Simon will acquire them and after that you will acquire them from him [by the customary symbolic transfer] with a fabric.
Unit I.1 examines the primary concern and the principle that serves as its basis. I.2 comments directly on the M.-passage. II.1 explains M.'s rule. II.2 develops a secondary concern out of the preceding. III.1 illustrates the application of M.'s main concern. IV.1 cites and discusses the relevant T.-text. V.1 raises an issue secondary to M.
A. One would not take the dam with the young even for the purpose of purifying a mesora.
B. Now if concerning an unimportant commandment, [the loss incurred in the performance of] which is worth only an issar, scripture has said, “That it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days” (Deut. 22:7),
C. how much the more so for the weightier commandments that are in the Torah [will reward be given].
A. It was taught on Tannaite authority: [b.: The House of] R. Jacob says, “You will find no [other] commandment in the Torah, the specification of the reward for which is (not) located by its side, and the [promise of the] resurrection of the dead is written alongside it [as well] [T. 10:16 C-D].”
B. Regarding [the commandment] to honor one's father and mother it is written, “[Honor your father and your mother, as the Lord your god commanded you;] that your days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with you, [in the land which the Lord your God gives you]” (Deut. 5:16).
C. Regarding [the commandment] to send away the dam it is written, “That it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days” (Deut. 22:7).
D. Lo, consider this one whose father said to him, “Go up to the roof and bring me fledglings.” And he went up and sent away the dam and took the young. And on his return he fell and died. Where is the long life of this one? And where is the good for this one?
E. Rather it must be [that one must therefore conclude]: “And that you may prolong your days” — in the world of endless time [T. 10:16 G]. “So that it may be well for you” — in a world that is completely good.
A. But perhaps this [kind of tragedy of D above] never happened. R. Jacob saw it happen. But perhaps [the son] was contemplating a sin [at the time he died]. The Holy One, blessed be He, does not transform a bad thought into a deed.
B. But perhaps he was contemplating practicing idolatry [and would be punished for his thoughts], as it is written, “That I may lay hold of the hearts of the house of Israel, [who are all estranged from me through their idols]” (Ezek. 14:5). And said R. Aha bar Jacob, “This refers to thoughts of practicing idolatry.”
C. Here is how you should state the matter. If it is so that there is reward for the performance of the commandments in this world, they should stand to his benefit and they should protect him so that he not come to contemplate [practicing idolatry] and be harmed. Rather [since he died] we must conclude that there is no reward for the performance of the commandments in this world.
D. But lo, did not R. Eleazar say that agents sent to engage in the performance of commandments are not harmed? [But we could explain that] on their return, that is a different story [they may not be protected from harm].
E. But lo, did not R. Eleazar say that agents sent to engage in the performance of commandments are not harmed, neither in going nor in returning?
F. It must have been a shaky ladder. And where there is clear and present danger, that is a different story, as it is written, “And Samuel said, `How can I go? If Saul hears it, he will kill me.' [And the Lord said, `Take a heifer with you, and say, `I have come to sacrifice to the Lord'] (I Sam. 16:2).
A. Said R. Joseph, “If only Aher [Elisha b. Abuya] had interpreted this verse in accord with R. Jacob, his daughter's son [cf. II.1 A], he would not have sinned [committing heresy].”
B. What did he see? Some say he saw something like this incident [i.e., the tragedy of I.1 D, above]. And some say he saw the tongue of R. Huspit the Meturgeman cast into the garbage.
C. He said, “[How awful that] the mouth that spoke pearls should now lick the dust.”
D. And he did not know [the proper interpretation of the matter]: “And that you may prolong your days” — in the world of endless time [T. 10:16 G]. “So that it may be well for you” — in a world that is completely good.
Unit I.1 cites the relevant T.-text and questions its premise. II.1 gives us a secondary matter relating to T.'s issue. III.1 concludes with a tertiary concern related to T.