Sound British:Think Yiddish: Zevachim 33

In Zevachim 33, the Talmud is struggling with how the Metzora (leper) can bring his sacrifice or enter the Temple Courtyard. How does he lean on his Asham (sacrifice) if he cannot enter the courtyard due to his status as a leper.  It is a catch 22.

The Gemara proposes an simple answer.  Make two little holes on the wall of the courtyard nearest the altar so he can put his hands through.   The Talmud calls them “pishpishin”  Rashi explains they are two little holes.    The word sounds eerily similiar to the yiddish  derogatory term “pisshur” or insignificant-little person.  Funny, we always thought the word “pisshur” (which has probably gone out of use since it is such an ugly word) meant silly, insignificant, loser, small person. Really, it is a creative way of solving a dilemna.  Ultimately, the Talmud rejects this alteration without a “permit from Hashem” but the ingenuity is a lesson.

The Talmud recognizes that laws or the Torah often present contradictions, obstacles or logistical issues.  Kind of like life and life challenges.   How do get through them? You use ingenuity. You use your wits. You think outside the box.   While the Talmud rejects these Pishpishin, it demonstrates the method of thinking through a problem.

So what is the relationship of Pisshur to Pishpishin?  The small or insignificant holes can sometimes solve big problems.  Sound British, think Yiddish.

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