When to Eat and How to Give Gifts - Shabbat 10
And what time should that be? Of course, there are recommendations for meal times: The first hour of the day is the mealtime for “gladiators” (or circus performers), the second for robbers (who are up all night), and the third for inheritors (who have the money and leisure to eat early). There is some dispute after this, some saying laborers eat in the fourth hour and all others in the fifth while others say that everybody eats in the fourth hour, laborers in the fifth, and scholars [talmiday khakhamim] in the sixth. What ever the order, the last statement is certainly true – “after that, it is like throwing a stone in a barrel.” In other words, avoid late lunches.
The most interesting discussion in today’s page is not what blessings one may say in a bath house as opposed to a privy, but rather sayings about giving gifts. Consider this saying of Rab: “The one who gives a gift to his fellow must inform him” in an imitation of God, who in the Bible often takes explicit credit. And Shimon Ben Gamliel likewise suggests that if one gives food to a child, one should inform his mother. Another rabbi suggests one doesn’t need to inform them, but the Talmud clarifies that that only applies to something one’s fellow would find out anyways. The wisest insight: one should not distinguish (by a gift) one child over the others. Why? Because of the small gift Jacob gave Joseph over his brothers, their jealousy led to the descent into Egypt. The power of myth to inspire fair treatment?
Or perhaps the fruit of real-life experience. To draw on the words of a contemporary judge, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (hardly my favorite) put it very well in a speech: “Parents know that children will accept quite readily all sorts of arbitrary substantive dispositions: no television in the afternoon, or no television in the evening, or even no television at all. But try to let one brother or sister watch television when the others do not, and you will feel the fury of the fundamental sense of justice unleashed."
Rabbi Adam Chalom