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January 20, 2008

Two-run omer

Yesterday's Torah reading was Beshallach, which relates the crossing of the Red Sea and features the Song of the Sea. Heady stuff.

So, naturally, I looked at the most important verse: "An omer is a tenth of an ephah." (Exodus 16:36). The Soncino Chumash cites Rashi as saying: An omer is equivalent to 43-1/5 eggs.

43-1/5 eggs? Say what?

I did some research and found this:

one tenth of an ephah The ephah equals three se’ahs, and the se’ah equals six kavs, and the kav equals four logs, and the log equals six eggs. [Hence, an ephah equals 3 x 6 x 4 x 6 = 432 eggs. I.e., the space displaced by 432 eggs.] We find that a tenth of an ephah equals forty-three and a fifth [43.2] eggs. This is the amount for challah [the minimum amount of flour that requires the separation of challah] and for meal offerings. — [from Eruvin 38b]
So, yes, it's 43-1/5 eggs. Now, just how do you measure 1/5 of an egg?