Thursday, December 24, 2009

Scrap of Clay

I was learning a Mishnah the other day and came across an interesting piece of Talmudic realia.

כל המעות הנמצאין בירושלים--הרי אלו חולין, אפילו דינר זהב עם הכסף ועם המעות; מצא בתוכן חרס וכתוב עליו מעשר, הרי זה מעשר - מעשר שני ד:י
All money that is found in Yerushalayim is chullin (ordinary not dedicated to the Temple), even if there is a gold coin that is found among regular coins. If you find a piece of clay (in a coin-purse) and the word ma'aser (holy money which is dedicated to the Temple) is written on it - indeed the money is ma'aser. (Ma'aser Sheni 4:10)
Not surprisingly there was no such thing as a scrap of paper in the time of the Talmud. Paper was most likely very expensive to produce and it was easier to take a clay-shard and write on it instead. I say, "Let us return to the true religion of our ancestors. Let us turn our scraps of paper into clay-shards!" Anyone with me?

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