Eating and Drinking

Shevuot (3:1) | Yisrael Bankier | 12 years ago

With the beginning of the third perek, we start discussing the subject of Shevuot (oaths). The first case brought is as follows (3:1):

If someone made a shevuah not to eat, and they ate and drank, they are only obligated to [bring] one [korban]. If someone made a shevuah not to eat and not to drink, then ate and drank, they are obligated to [bring] two [korbanot].

The Bartenura explains that in the first case, “eating” implies both eating and drinking, therefore if he eats and drinks, it is the same as if he ate multiple times in one instance, and he is therefore only obligated to bring one korban. In the second case, since he explicitly stated drinking separately, he is revealing that “eating” refers only to eating and we therefore have two Shevuot.

The Gemara provides two sources for why drinking is also considered eating. The first is based on logic: when a person invites another to go and “taste”30 something, they then proceed to eat and drink. The second source is based on p’sukim where the term achilah (eating) is used to refer to drinking

One may question the rational of the first logic-based source. If people in general say, do you want to go and eat something and then they proceed to eat and drink, it does not necessarily imply that the term “eating” encompasses both. For this reason, a number of Rishonim (Ritva, Rashba) opted for a different version of the text compared to ours. Theirs says, that people invite another to go and “taste” something, but then go out to drink. This version of the logic more tightly demonstrates that “eating” also implies drinking.

The Tosfot make an attempt to defend our version, stating that had eating not implied drinking, the inviter would have stated both activities explicitly. Nevertheless, they agree that the alternative version is preferred.

The Ri Mi’lunil provides a stronger support for our version. He explains that when the Gemara writes “they then proceed to eat and drink” the intention is “eat or drink” – either activity exclusively. We therefore see that the term eating can sometimes also imply drinking alone.

One question is left: why does the Gemara require both a source based on logic and grounding from p’sukim? Surely one would be sufficient! The Tosfot cite another Gemara where such a strategy is questioned: “Why do we need a pasuk? It is logical!” (Ketubot 22a)

The Rashba explains the Gemara wished to first present the pasuk as the source. Yet, some may feel that it is inappropriate as we have a principle in nedarim (vows) that the interpretation of the terms in a neder is determined by their common use and not their use in the Torah. Therefore to abate such concerns, the Gemara provides a rational that indeed even looking to the common spoken language would lead to the same conclusion. Similarly, the Ritva explains when a person makes a shevuah he can choose that it be interpreted based on the language of the Torah or common speech. The two sources, the logic and textual, both support that eating implies drinking for both these methods.

The Tosfot however provide precisely the opposite explanation. Instead, their starting point is the logic. They explain sometimes when a rationale is provided that is questionable, a pasuk is required as reinforcement.


30 “Taste” is a translation of the term used in the Gemara – “te’imah”. The Tosfot (s.v. “ta”) explain that we should not be bothered by this term as they understand that te’imah, in the language of the Gemara, was used in place of achila.

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