Pesachim 10 - Rava, mouse, bread and weasel

Rava prepared the stage for his questions by stating what was obvious to him: if a mouse with a piece of bread in its mouth enters a house, and then the owner of the house comes in and finds this amount of bread crumbled into pieces, he cannot assume that this is the same bread - because mice usually don’t leave bread after having crumbled it. Therefore, it must be another bread, and one needs to search the house again, to find the piece that the mouse may have hidden. Were it a child, we could assume that he just crumbled the bread and left it there - and no new search would be needed.

Then Rava asked his questions. If one sees a mouse with a piece of bread in its mouth enter his house, and then he sees a mouse with a piece of bread exit, can he assume that it is the same mouse and the same bread and therefore he need not search the house? Let’s assume it is the same mouse.

Next question: a white mouse with bread enters his house, and then a black one exits -is it for sure a different piece of bread, or perhaps the black mouse snatched it away from the white one? Let’s assume mice don’t snatch bread from each other.

Next question: a mouse with bread enters the house, and then a weasel with bread exits the house. If you tell me that the weasel took the bread from the mouse, I will answer that I would expect the mouse, not the bread to be in the weasel’s mouth.

Next question: a mouse with bread enters the house, and then a weasel exits, and in its mouth there is a mouse and a piece of bread. If you tell me that this is for sure the same bread, I will counter and tell you that the bread should be in the mouse’s mouth, and the mouse should be in the weasel’s mouth. To which you can still answer that perhaps the mouse got scared of the weasel and dropped the bread, and then the weasel picked up both. To this last question the Talmud does not find a definitive answer.

Art: Grapes, pears and other fruit in a bowl, with a mouse by Johann Amandus Wink