Monday, April 27, 2009

Facts about the אבנט (Erchin 16a)

Todays amud mentioned the אבנט. Here are some not so well known facts.

What is the אבנט מכפר for? - Our Gemara says that the the אבנט is מכפר for הרהור הלב (meaning avoda zara where you are חייב for thought). However, the Yerushalmi has another interpretation that it is מכפר on someone who is not straight. The reason being that the אבנט was not wrapped straight but rather at an angle so that it didn't make such a big lump in the front and back.

How long was the אבנט? As was mentioned in the shiur, the אבנט was 32 amas long. In fact, the Chumash does not give a length for the אבנט. The 32 amas comes from the Yerushalmi (Yoma 8:3). Since an אמה is between 18 and 24 inches long this makes the אבנט a whopping 48-64 feet long.

Where was it worn on the body? - I always thought that the אבנט was a belt. However, as was pointed out in shiur the אבנט was really worn higher then the waist. This is learned out in the Gemara זבחים י"ט from a pasuk in נביא. The Gemara there states that he wore it right below the heart where the elbows meet the body (if you hold your elbows against your body).

How many times did the Kohen wrap it around? - As we saw above the אבנט was very long. As was pointed out in shiur, the Shita Mekubetzes on our Gemara states that he wrapped it around 32 times כנגד לב. However it is difficult to see how this works out in מציאות. The average waist/chest is at least 36 inches (3 feet). 64 / 3 = 21.3 and therefore I don't see how it would be possible to wrap it 32 times, it isn't long enough. Tosafos (15b) states that he wrapped it around ב (twice) כנגד לב. That is very difficult as after wrapping 2 times the Kohen would still have over 40 feet of אבנט left. What would he do with it? This would seem to be a misprint and probably should read לב instead of ב like the Shita Mekubetzes.

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