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Daf Yomi – Chagigah 23
The Daf discussed Chazal’s occasional tendency to enact a decree in reaction to specific mess-ups.
What is the purpose of enacting such rules? Let’s take the Parah Adumah incident. There was once a man who took a vial of Parah Juice on a boat across the Jordan river. A human bone was found on the boat, and the vial was rendered Tamei. The Rabbis reacted by either decreeing that Parah Adumah ashes or water may not be transported over a body of water unless it’s on a bridge, with feet firmly planted on the ground. According to R. Chananyah ben Akavya, the decree only forbade transporting the ashes on a boat, on the Jordan river, exactly like the incident that motivated the decree.
How does such a decree prevent future occurrences? How would R. Chananyah see any deterrent power in his version of the decree ?
It seems that the “why” is overlooked. I know it is not common to ask those kinds of questions when analyzing a sugya. And when we were learning the daf, I did not really pause to look into it. But as I mentioned with regard to the Chaver vs. Am Haaretz sugya, it’s something that merits further study, even if not in the conventional Yeshivish style. Perhaps it’s a question for academic Talmud scholars to delve into. But it does fascinate me, and I shall chalk it up as another perplexing gemara.