Talmud

"In many respects, the Talmud is considered as the most important book in Jewish culture and is the central pillar supporting the entire spiritual and intellectual edifice of Jewish life..." Rabbi Adin Even Israel Steinsaltz

Sukka 34a-b: The Aravah
10/08/2021 - 2nd of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Continuing its discussion of the arbah minim – the four species that are taken up during the holiday – the Mishna (33b) discusses the requirements of the aravah.  Aside from the limitations that we are already familiar with from our study of the lulav and the hadasim (e.g. that a stolen or dried up branch cannot be used), we learn that a tzaftzefa is not kosher for use as an aravah. What is an aravah and what is a tzaftzafa? The baraita lists that an aravah has a reddish stem and a long leaf with smooth edges, while a taftaefa has a whitish stem and a round shaped leaf with serrated edges. Another baraita distinguishes between different types of serrated edges – when they are like a magal (scythe) they are fine; the problem is when they are shaped like a masor (saw). In fact, Abaye identifies the scythe-shaped plant as a hilfa gila, which was apparently well-known to be considered an aravah. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9167" align="alignleft" width="300"]Willow branch Willow branch[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9168" align="alignright" width="300"]White willow White willow[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row]   [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8778" align="alignleft" width="300"]Teeth of a scythe Teeth of a scythe[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9175" align="alignright" width="300"]Teeth of a saw Teeth of a saw[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] These identifications do not make the picture much clearer. The commentaries discuss whether all three of the "rules" must be met in order to declare a plant to be an aravah; from the story of the hilfa gila it is clear that not all of the criteria must be met. Furthermore, the Tosefta and the Yerushalmi appear to have variant readings of the baraita that give a very different picture of the kosher aravah. Thus, even with the lengthy list that the Gemara gives, indicating the ways to distinguish between the kosher aravah and the non-kosher tzaftzafa, it is still difficult to ascertain which types of trees are referred to. It appears that both the aravah and the tzaftzafa are types of willow trees of the salix family, short trees that grow very quickly. Even within the two types there are many varieties, including trees that are grafted and contain both types within them. The aravah likely can be identified as salix acmophylla boiss, while the tzaftzafa, which, according to the Gemara, has leaves that are of a different shape than the aravah, may very well be the "white willow."
Sukka 33a-b: The Berries of the Myrtle
09/08/2021 - 1st of Elul, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Myrtle branch with few leaves and many berriesAnother one of the rules of the hadas presented in the Mishna (32a) is that if there are more berries than leaves, the hadas cannot be used. If the berries are removed, however, then the hadas is considered kosher for use.
R Hisda said: This statement was stated by our great Rabbi, Rav, and may the Omnipresent come to his assistance. The Sages taught this halakha only if the berries were concentrated in one place. However, if they were distributed in two or three places throughout the branch, it is fit. Rava said to Rav Hisda: If the berries are distributed in two or three places, the myrtle branch is speckled with different colors in different places. It lacks beauty and is certainly unfit.
Rava explains that Rav must have been making a different point: that if the berries were green they would not be a problem; it is only if they are black (or red, according to Rav Papa) that the hadas cannot be used. At no point does the Gemara explain why the berries create a problem for the hadas. The implication of the Gemara (as interpreted by Rashi) is that the problem is one of hadar – that the four species must be particularly beautiful, and the contrasting color of the berries is considered a blemish, marring the hadar of the branches. The Jerusalem Talmud suggests two possible problems with the berries. One suggestion is that the berries – with their distinct color – appear to be foreign to the branch; another possibility is that the commandment in the Torah is to perform the mitzva with the branch (anaf) – not with the fruit (peri). Once the berries have ripened – as is indicted by the change in color – they are considered fruit, which cannot be used for performance of the mitzva.
Sukka 32a-b: The Leaves of the Myrtle
08/08/2021 - 30th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Many of the halakhot of hadasim – the myrtle branches, referred to as anaf etz avot in Vayikra 23:40 – parallel those of the lulav. They cannot be stolen or dried up, etc. The Gemara derives the identification of the hadas as a myrtle based on its interpretation of the aforementioned passage in Vayikra, reading it to mean that the leaves must cover the branches. In so doing, the Gemara rejects a number of other possible identifications, like olive branches, dulva and hirduf. [caption id="attachment_9126" align="alignleft" width="226"]Oriental plane tree (dulva) Oriental plane tree (dulva)[/caption] The dulva – platanus orientalis – is a tall, non-fruit-bearing tree (it grows to 50 meters high) of the Platanaceae family that is usually grown as an ornamental tree. It is rejected in this case because its leaves do not totally cover its branches. The hirduf – nerium oleander – is an evergreen shrub that grows to a height of four meters. Its yellowish-greenish leaves are thick and leathery with pink flowers. [caption id="attachment_9129" align="alignright" width="223"]Oleander (hirduf) Oleander (hirduf)[/caption] Although it certainly meets the requirement to have leaves that cover the branches, it is rejected because of its toxicity. Both Abaye and Rava quote pesukim – Abaye from Mishlei (3:17) that the ways of the Torah are pleasant; Rava from Zekharya (8:19) that the Torah loves truth and peace – that are understood to indicate that a poisonous plant could not be the one chosen to perform a mitzva.
A Sage taught in the Tosefta: A dense-leaved branch is fit, and one that is not dense-leaved is unfit, even though it is a myrtle branch. The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances of "dense-leaved tree"? Rav Yehuda said: And it is a configuration where three leaves emerge from each base. Rav Kahana said: Even two leaves emerging from one base and one leaf that covers the other two emerging from a lower base is called thick. Rav Aha, son of Rava, would purposely seek a myrtle branch configured with two leaves emerging from one base and one emerging from a lower base, since this statement emerged from the mouth of Rav Kahana. Mar bar Ameimar said to Rav Ashi: My father called a myrtle branch with that configuration a wild myrtle branch.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9137" align="alignleft" width="233"]Three-fold myrtle branch Three-fold myrtle branch[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_9138" align="alignright" width="234"]Wild myrtle branch Wild myrtle branch[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] While the Rema permits the use of a hadas where there are two leaves on each level (Shulhan Arukh Orah Hayyim 446:3), the majority of the poskim reject that position and rule that three leaves need to be growing on each level.
Sukka 31a-b: Using a Stolen Sukka
07/08/2021 - 29th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
This perek introduced us to the idea that a stolen lulav cannot be used to perform a mitzva – how about a stolen sukka? Surprisingly, in this case, the Hakhamim permit the use of a sukka that was built on stolen property. Rabbi Eliezer, who forbids its use, does so as much because of the sin involved as because of his view that every person must live in his own sukka and cannot borrow (or steal) the sukka of his friend. Why is the rule of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah – a commandment that is being fulfilled by means of a sinful act – not applied in this case? The Ritva raises this question and suggests that the concept of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah applies only to commandments that are acts of prayer and entreaty; this would be true of the lulav, which is taken as part of the prayer service, but not the sukka. This explanation is rejected by the majority of the commentaries. The Tosafot Ri"d suggests that the Gemara is discussing a case where a significant change was made to the sukka itself, thus removing it from the possession of the original owner, and in turn taking away its halakhic status as “stolen.” It is also possible that there are some amora'im who do not accept the restrictions of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah. Rabbi Moshe ibn Habib, in his Kappot Temarim, suggests that the definition of a sukka is its skhakh - roofing; thus the only problem of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah would be when the skhakh is stolen, and our Gemara is discussing a case when it is the land on which the sukka is standing that is stolen. According to the continuation of the Gemara, even the case of a stolen skhakh may not be an impediment for using the sukka, because of takkanat marish. According to the Torah, if a person has a stolen article in his possession, it is not enough for him to pay its value to the owner – he must return the object itself. The Sages ruled that in the event that forcing the thief to return the object may discourage him from repenting (e.g. where a stolen beam could only be returned if the thief would have to destroy his house in order to extract the beam), he can return its value rather than the object itself. Thus, if wood was stolen and used as the skhakh of a sukka, it is likely that the thief would only have to return the value of the skhakh and not the skhakh itself. It goes without saying that even if a sukka gezulah (stolen) is technically kosher, one should not use someone else's sukka without his permission - see the Rema in the Shulhan Aruk, Orah Hayyim (637:3).
Sukka 30a-b: A Mitzva Fulfilled By Means of a Transgression
06/08/2021 - 28rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The third perek, Lulav ha-Gazul, which began on yesterday's daf (29b), focuses on the mitzva of taking the four species (see Vayikra 23:40). Based on the explanation of this commandment in the Torah, many details remain unclear:
  • To what plants is the Torah referring - it offers more in the way of a description than a specific tree or shrub?
  • Are there requirements about the condition of the plants that are to be used for this mitzva?
  • Do all of the plants need to be taken together?
  • Is the commandment a mitzva on all Jews, or is it connected to the Temple service?
  • Does the mitzva apply on just the first day of Sukkot, or on every day of the holiday?
These very issues are the ones dealt with in our perek. The title of the perekLulav ha-Gazul – refers to the first rule in the Mishna, which prohibits using a stolen lulav to fulfill the mitzva. Rabbi Yohanan quotes Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai as explaining the basis for this prohibition as being a mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah – a commandment that is fulfilled by means of a sinful act. The source for this concept is a passage in Tanakh (Malakhi 1:13) in which the prophet pointedly states that God rejects the offering of a stolen sacrifice, just as He rejects offerings that are physically blemished. Another pasuk quoted in this context refers to God's love of justice and His hatred of a stolen olah offering (see Yeshayahu 61:8). The Ri"af points out that the pasuk chooses to emphasize an olah because it is a sacrifice that it totally burned up for God. While we can well understand that sacrifices where part of the korban is given to its owner cannot come from stolen property, we may have thought that if it all is given to God, there is less of a problem since the entire universe belongs to Him. Thus it is important to emphasize God's total rejection of such a suggestion. The commentaries discuss the concept of mitzva ha-ba'ah ba-aveirah at great length. The general conclusion is that not every sinful act connected to a commandment negates the mitzva. When the aveira (transgression) is what allows the mitzva to be performed – as in our case where the lulav would not have been available for use had it not been stolen – then it cannot be used for performance of a mitzva.
Sukka 29a-b: Make Your Sukka Your Home
05/08/2021 - 27rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna (28b) taught the general principle that during the week of Sukkot a person should make his house his temporary dwelling (ara'i) and his sukka his permanent dwelling (keva). Thus, a person's beautiful utensils should be brought into the sukka and his normal eating, drinking and daily activities should take place there. Nevertheless, not everything is appropriate in the sukka. Rava rules that the place for drinking utensils is in the sukka, but eating utensils should remain in the house. Similarly, a lamp can only be left in a large sukka; if the sukka is small then the candle should remain in the house. The Rosh and the Me'iri explain that the problem with eating utensils is that when they become dirty they are inappropriate for the sukka, so they must be removed immediately. Tosafot and the Ritva argue that the reference is not to plates as much as it is to pots and pans, whose place is in the kitchen and not on the table. Others suggest that the difference between eating utensils and drinking utensils is that there are set times for meals, so those are the only times that eating utensils belong in the sukka. Drinking takes place all of the time, so cups and glasses always belong in the sukka. With regard to the lamp, the most obvious explanation of the Gemara is that in a small sukka we are afraid that a fire might break out, which is the approach suggested by Tosafot and the Rosh. Alternatively, as explained by the Ritva and the Mei'ri, the need to stay a distance away from the fire effectively takes away from the size of the sukka, so it cannot be placed in a sukka which is the minimum size to begin with. Rashi offers an alternative approach – that we are talking about a clay candle holder, and that even if the candle is no longer burning, it should not be left in a sukka, since it is considered ugly and disgusting – like the dirty dishes that must immediately be removed.
Sukka 28a-b: The Students of Hillel
04/08/2021 - 26rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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In the context of discussing Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus and his teacher, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, the Gemara mentions that Hillel HaZaken had eighty students – thirty who are described as deserving of divine revelation like Moshe Rabbeinu, thirty who merit the cessation of heavenly orbits as did Yehoshua bin Nun, and twenty intermediate students. The greatest of his students was Yonatan ben Uzziel; the youngest of them was Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai. In what fields was the "youngest of the students" expert? It was said of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai that his studies included the written Torah, the Mishna, the Gemara, the Halakhot, and Aggadot; the subtle points of the Torah and the minutiae of the Scribes; the inferences from minor to major and analogies; astronomy and geometry (the simple meaning of the word in Greek is land measurements, but it was commonly used to mean engineering or mathematics in general); the language of the ministering angels; the language of the demons, the whisper of the palms, washer's proverbs and fox fables, and matters great and small. The report on Yonatan ben Uzziel was that when he would sit and study Torah, a bird that flew above his head would immediately burn up. We have surprisingly little biographical information about Yonatan ben Uzziel. His life's work, for which he is best known and remembered, is his translation of the books of Nakh (nevi'im) into Aramaic. It is not clear whether the translation that we have today is actually the one that he wrote, or whether it is based on his work. In any case, it is not simply a translation, but a free interpretation, which includes many details and elucidations. Although a translation into Greek already existed at the time, his work was groundbreaking in that it included interpretations beyond the simple meaning of the words and was done according to – and with the approval of – the Sages of his generation. We find that Yonatan ben Uziel was so well regarded during his lifetime, that even Shammai HaZaken, who served as the Av Bet Din, sought him out to discuss issues of halakha with him.
Sukka 27a-b: Eating in the Sukka
03/08/2021 - 25rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Mishna: Rabbi Eliezer says: A person is obligated to eat fourteen meals in the sukka over the course of the seven days of the festival of Sukkot, one during the day each day and one at night each night. And the Rabbis say: There is no quota for the number of meals, and one may choose whether or not to eat any of the meals except for the meal on the evening of the first Festival day of Sukkot, which one is required to eat in the sukka.
Rabbi Eliezer ben Hyrcanus was also known as Rabbi Eliezer ha-Gadol. He lived during the time of the destruction of the Second Temple and in the period following the destruction. Although Rabbi Eliezer came from a wealthy family that could trace its roots back to Moshe Rabbeinu, he did not begin to study Torah until he was 20 years old, when he traveled to Jerusalem to study with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai. Rabbi Eliezer so impressed his teacher that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai considered him to be the best of all his students and, indeed, the equal of all the Sages. His knowledge and leadership abilities were already recognized before the destruction of the Temple, and he is one of the Sages who established the great yeshiva in Yavne together with Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai after the destruction. We find recorded in Pirkei Avot that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai described Rabbi Eliezer as a "well plastered cistern that never loses a drop of water," whose teachings were based almost entirely on traditions that he received from his teachers. Nevertheless, we find that, in contrast to his teachers and peers, Rabbi Eliezer was inclined to follow the opinions of Beit Shammai. Rabbi Akiva was his main student, although virtually all of the Sages of that generation learned from him. His own son, Hyrcanus, was accepted as one of the leading Sages of his generation.
Sukka 26a-b: Eating Outside the Sukka
02/08/2021 - 24rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned, the last Mishna (25a) permitted eating a non-formal meal outside the sukka. The Mishna on our daf records that when asked to taste the food that was being cooked on Sukkot, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai insisted that it be brought into the sukka, as did Rabban Gamliel when he was brought two dates and a bucket of water.
In contrast, the Mishna relates: And when they gave Rabbi Tzadok less than an egg-bulk of food, he took the food in a cloth for cleanliness; he did not wash his hands because in his opinion, one is not required to wash his hands before eating less than an egg-bulk. And he ate it outside the sukka and did not recite a blessing after eating it. He holds that one is not required to recite a blessing after eating less than an egg-bulk, as it is not satisfying, and it is written: "And you shall eat and be satisfied and bless the Lord your God" (Devarim 8:10).
The Gemara objects that it seems odd to find that the Mishna would bring stories of Sages who insisted on eating even small amounts of food in the sukka immediately after presenting the rule that such foods can be eaten outside of the sukka. The Gemara responds that the Mishna is teaching that such behavior is an accepted stringency, and that such behavior is not considered yuhara – haughtiness. Rabbi Aryeh Leib Yellin in his Yefe Einayim explains that there is no yuhara in this case because it is not evident to people why he is not eating a small amount outside – perhaps he is simply not hungry! In any case, there are people who even during the year will eat and drink only in their own homes, so there is no clear indication that they have accepted this stringency upon them. The Me'iri suggests that the reason these stories were placed together in the Mishna was to emphasize that stringency may be lauded, but leniency is also acceptable, as long as it is within the framework of what halakha accepts, since we see that among the Sages of the Mishna both positions were considered normative. Rabbi Tzadok's behavior is subject to a difference of opinion between Rashi who says that he took the food in a napkin because of his fastidiousness, while Tosafot explain that his religious devotion was such that he treated all food as though it were teruma, so he refrained from touching food lest it become ritually defiled. In any case, it is clear that the baraita tells Rabbi Tzadok's story in order to emphasize that just as there were Sages who were stringent upon themselves, there were also those who made a point of emphasizing that it was appropriate to stick to the letter of the law without stringencies. In this story, Rabbi Tzadok was lenient with regard to sukka, ritual hand washing and the blessing after food.
Sukka 25a-b: One Mitzva Exempting You From Another
01/08/2021 - 23rd of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today's daf  teaches about situations where people can forgo the mitzva of sukka. According to the Mishna, sheluhei mitzva – people occupied with performance of a mitzva – are not obligated in the commandment of sukka. Also included on this list are people who are ill, together with their caretakers. Finally, the Mishna teaches that only a formal meal needs to be eaten in the sukka; a snack can be eaten outside of the sukka. The idea that ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva – that someone engaged in a mitzva is free from his obligations in other commandments – is derived from a passage in keri'at shema. We read in shema that we are obligated to discuss the words of shema - be-shivtikha be-veitekha u-velekhtekha va-derekh – when you are sitting in your home and when you are walking on your way. The emphasis on "your home" and "your way" teaches that when you are occupied in matters that are not your own choice, that is to say, matters that you are obligated to be involved with – i.e. mitzvot – then you are not obligated in shema, nor, for that matter, are you obligated in other mitzvot. One point that is not clear, and is the subject of debate among the poskim, is whether we apply the rule of ha-osek be-mitzva patur min ha-mitzva only in a case where performing the additional mitzva will adversely affect fulfillment of the first mitzva (for example, if spending time looking for a sukka will limit the amount of time the travelers will be able to devote to their travel, making fulfillment of the mitzva take a longer time). Others argue that involvement in a mitzva simply creates a situation whereby a new obligation cannot be imposed on the person who is already occupied with a mitzva. According to this view, even if the second mitzva can be done with no additional strain or effort, the person is still not obligated to do it.
Sukka 24a-b: Anticipating a Change in the Status Quo
31/07/2021 - 22th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday's daf, Rabbi Meir forbids the use of a live animal as one of the walls of a sukka, while Rabbi Yehuda permits it. Abaye explained Rabbi Meir's position as reflecting a concern lest the animal die, resulting in a wall that is no longer high enough for the minimum necessary for a kosher sukka. The Gemara perceives Abaye's explanation as representing a larger issue. When we face a given situation, do we anticipate that it will remain static or do we need to be concerned that it may change? Take, for example, the case of a married couple, when the husband is a kohen and the wife – who is not from a family of kohanim – eats teruma thanks to her status as the wife of a kohen. If the husband sets out on an overseas journey, can she continue to eat teruma, or does she need to be concerned that he has died on his journey and she no longer has the right to do so? The Gemara (23b) finds two tanna'itic statements regarding this very question, which seem to contradict one another. Abaye argues that this is exactly the argument between Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda. According to the former, she cannot eat teruma when her husband is traveling; according to the latter, she can assume he is still alive and can continue eating teruma based on their relationship. Yet the Gemara on our daf points to a Mishna where Rabbi Yehuda does seem to be concerned that the status quo will change. On Yom Kippur, it is essential that the Kohen Gadol be married. This is derived from the passage (Vayikra 16:6) that teaches how the Kohen Gadol entering the Holy of Holies as part of the Yom Kippur service must seek atonement "for himself and for his household." The term "his household" is understood by the Gemara to mean his wife. Thus, the Kohen Gadol must be married. According to the Mishna in Massekhet Yoma (2a) Rabbi Yehuda requires the Kohen Gadol to marry a second wife (which is Biblically permitted. Contemporary Jewish tradition that forbids bigamy is a relatively late institution) just in case his first wife dies – which seems to indicate that Rabbi Yehuda agrees that we cannot assume that the status quo will remain intact. In answer to this question, the Gemara quotes Rav Huna the son of Rabbi Yehoshua who explains that this is a unique case because of the heightened concern that we have for the process of atonement that takes place on Yom Kippur.
Sukka 23a-b: A Sukka on a Camel
30/07/2021 - 21th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (22b) teaches that a sukka can be built on the back of a camel, although such a sukka cannot be used on Shabbat or Yom Tov (it can be used on the intermediate days of the holiday) due to Rabbinic restrictions on the use of animals on those days. [caption id="attachment_8996" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka built on a camel Sukka built on a camel[/caption] The Gemara on our daf identifies this opinion as being authored by Rabbi Meir, who rules that a sukka can be built on an animal. Nevertheless, Rabbi Meir rules that an animal cannot be used as one of the walls of a sukka. The amora'im disagree as to the source of this prohibition – Abaye claims that it stems from a fear that the animal will die, and in falling over it will no longer be of the proper height needed for a sukka wall (the Gemara will later discuss whether this concern exists if the animal is an elephant, which has considerable height even when lying on its side); Rabbi Zeira argues that the concern is that the animal may run away, leaving the sukka without a wall. These concerns are what make Rabbi Meir wary about using a living animal for a number of other uses, as well. Aside from the case of a sukka wall, Rabbi Meir also restricts the use of a live animal:
  • as a symbolic lehi (a side post placed at the entrance to an alleyway to render it permitted to carry in the alleyway on Shabbat)
  • as one of the corners in pasei beira'ot that permit pilgrims heading towards Jerusalem to draw water from a well in a public domain
  • as a gollel to a grave.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8871" align="alignnone" width="300"]Upright boards surrounding wells--pasei bira'ot Upright boards surrounding wells--pasei bira'ot[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8998" align="alignnone" width="300"]di gollel Covering for a grave--gollel[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] The commentaries disagree about how to define a gollel. Rashi explains that it is the cover to a casket. Tosafot point out that it is difficult to imagine a live animal being used for that purpose. They suggest that it is a rounded stone that was used to close up a burial cave (several such stones have been found near ancient burial caves in Israel). During the times of the Mishna, common burial practice was to place the dead body in a temporary grave where it would decompose. At a later date, the bones would be removed and transferred to a family burial cave. The round shape of the gollel stone allowed it to be rolled, closing the cave, yet easily opened when necessary.
Sukka 22a-b: A Sukka Meduvlelet
29/07/2021 - 20th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our daf opens with a new Mishna, which teaches one of the most basic rules of a sukka – that its shade must be greater than the sunlight in the sukka. In that context we are taught that a sukka meduvlelet is kosher. What is a sukka meduvlelet?
  • According to Rav it is an "impoverished" sukkaaniyah – i.e. one whose skhakh - roofing - is sparse.
  • According to Shmuel it is a "disordered" sukkamebulbelet – i.e. one with some pieces of skhakh pointing upward and others downwards.
Several of the commentaries feel a need to explain Rav's position. If the skhakh is not very thick, but there is more shadow than sunlight, then the sukka is kosher. Why does a separate clause need to be added to the Mishna to teach this obvious law?
  • The Ritva explains that this teaches that we do not need to be concerned lest for some reason some skhakh may be removed and there will not be enough shade.
  • The Sefat Emet suggests that an "impoverished" sukka is one that is just the minimum size. We may have thought that such a sukka would at least need to have thick skhakh to compensate for its small size. According to Rav, the Mishna teaches that it is unnecessary.
In explaining the case as presented by Shmuel, most commentaries follow Rashi's lead that because of the height differential of the different pieces of skhakh in the "disordered" sukka there is actually more sunlight than shadow (the angle of the sun finds the openings in the skhakh and makes its way into the sukka). This, in fact, is the explanation presented by the Jerusalem Talmud. Some commentaries (the Me'iri, for example) suggest that even according to Shmuel it is essential that there be more shadow than sun in the sukka, and what is unique about Shmuel's teaching is that we do not perceive this case as a sukka with two sets of skhakh, a situation that would present halakhic problems regarding the kashrut of such a sukka.
Sukka 21a-b: A Sukka Resting on the Legs of a Bed
28/07/2021 - 19th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second Mishna in the perek discusses a case of someone who built his sukka by resting it on the legs of a bed – al karei ha-mitah. The Tanna Kamma rules that the sukka is fit for use; Rabbi Yehuda rules that if the sukka cannot stand on its own it is disqualified. [caption id="attachment_8986" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka resting on a bed Sukka resting on a bed[/caption] Several explanations are given that attempt to clarify the case of building a sukka al karei ha-mitah. Most commentaries appear to accept the definition offered by the Talmud Yerushalmi that the bed is part of the sukka – in effect, the floor of the sukka. According to the Tosafot Ri"d, we are talking about a case where the bed is so large that it is the size of a kosher sukka, and the skhakh - roofing - is being placed on the four poles that extend up from the head and foot of the bed. A similar explanation has the bed acting as support for the sukka on one side. The Ra'avad disagrees, and offers an alternative understanding of the case in the Mishna. He argues that the bed is not part of the structure of the sukka at all; the supports for the roofing are merely resting on the bed. The concern is that if the bed falls down or is removed, without the support offered by the bed the entire sukka may collapse. The Ramban offers another approach, suggesting that we are talking about a case where the legs of the bed are ten tefahim high (i.e. the minimum height of a kosher sukka), and that the bed is turned over so that its legs are used to hold the skhakh The concern in this case is that the bed might be removed by someone who wants to use it for its actual purpose. As far as Rabbi Yehuda's position is concerned - that if the sukka cannot stand on its own it is disqualified – the Rosh sees this comment as a clarification, rather than a disagreement with the position of the Tanna Kamma. Other commentaries disagree, and according to them it is not clear whether halakha follows the opinion of the Tanna Kamma or that of Rabbi Yehuda.
Sukka 20a-b: Sleeping Under the Bed
27/07/2021 - 18th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second perek of Massekhet Sukka focuses on defining the commandment that one must "sit" in the sukka for seven days (Vayikra 23:42). The perek deals with such questions as :
  • Is one obligated to sit in the sukka during both day and night?
  • Must one remain throughout the day, or only when performing specific activities?
  • Are women and children obligated to sit in the sukka, too?
  • Are there circumstances in which an individual may be freed of this obligation?
Another type of question dealt with in this perek involves clarifying whether a person – for reasons of comfort, for example – can cover the sukka or cover himself while sitting in the sukka. The first Mishna deals with this question when it teaches that a person cannot sleep under a bed in the sukka, a ruling disputed by Rabbi Yehuda, who testifies that it was common practice to do so. Furthermore, Rabbi Yehuda argues, the Sages never objected to such behavior.
Rabbi Shimon said, contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda: There was an incident involving Tavi, the Canaanite slave of Rabban Gamliel who was sleeping beneath the bed, and Rabbi Gamliel lightheartedly said to the Elders: Did you see my slave Tavi, who is a Torah scholar and knows that slaves are exempt from the mitzva of sukka? Since it is a positive, time-bound mitzva, Canaanite slaves, whose status with regard to this halakhic category is like that of women, are exempt from the obligation to fulfill the mitzva of sukka. Therefore, he sleeps under the bed. Rabbi Shimon continued: And by the way, as Rabban Gamliel was not issuing a halakhic ruling, we learned that one who sleeps beneath the bed did not fulfill his obligation.
Tavi is a character who appears throughout the Gemara, identified as the slave belonging to Rabban Gamliel of Yavne. In all of these stories he is presented as someone who was well-known for his personal piety and learning. Not only Rabban Gamliel, but other sages sang his praises. Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, for example, was known to say that based on Tavi’s Torah knowledge it would have been appropriate for Tavi to be reclining and for Rabbi Elazar to be serving him. Rabban Gamliel tried on several occasions to find a way to set him free, but was stymied in his efforts because of the prohibition to set Canaanite slaves free. Nevertheless, when Tavi passed away, Rabban Gamliel accepted consolation as if he was a family member, explaining that Tavi was different than other slaves – he was a good and honest man.
Sukka 19a-b: A Sukka Without a Roof
26/07/2021 - 17th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Can a sukka be made without any roof at all? This is the question debated in the Mishna on our daf. According to the Mishna, the Hakhamim allow a sukka that is built like a tzrif - a circular hut, or one that is built leaning against a wall. Rabbi Eliezer rules that such sukkot are no good because they have no roof. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8977" align="alignleft" width="198"]Circular hut or Teepee Circular hut or Teepee[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8978" align="alignright" width="300"]Sukka leaning against a wall Sukka leaning against a wall[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] The Gemara explains the position of the Hakhamim as stemming from their belief that the slanted wall of a tent is considered to be a roof - that is to say that a separate, clearly delineated roof is not necessary.
It is related: Abaye found Rav Yosef, his teacher, who was sleeping inside a netted bridal canopy [kilat hatanim], whose netting inclines down, inside a sukka. Ostensibly, Rav Yosef did not fulfill his obligation, as he slept in the tent formed by the canopy and not directly in the sukka. Abaye said to him: In accordance with whose opinion do you hold, that you do not consider this netting a tent? Is it in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Eliezer, who maintains that a structure without a distinct roof does not have the legal status of a tent, and therefore the netting does not constitute a barrier between the roofing of the sukka and the person sleeping below? ...Rav Yosef said to him: In the baraita, the opposite is taught. Rabbi Eliezer deems it fit and the Rabbis deem it unfit.
To Abaye's challenge that the Mishna should be given more credence than a baraita, Rav Yosef answers that our Mishna is yehida'a - a version accepted only by one redactor. When redacting the Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi collected and edited the oral traditions that were available to them and established a single, reliable formulation that we use as a basic text to this day. Generally speaking, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi included in the Mishna his own rulings, which he indicated by stating one opinion without attribution or as the opinion of the Sages generally - hakhamim omerim. R. Moshe Bezalel Luria explains in his Emek Sukkot that, regarding our Mishna, Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi received an oral tradition from Rabbi Natan and chose to insert it into his edited mishnayot, even though he did not agree with its conclusion. Rav Yosef was aware of this, and chose, therefore, to follow the opinion that he knew to be Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi's as preserved in the baraita. In fact, the Shulhan Aruk (Orah Hayyim 631:10) rules this way, as well.
Sukka 18a-b: Depending on the Situation
25/07/2021 - 16th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (17a) taught that if the roof of a house fell in, the empty area can be filled with skhakh - roofing - and will be a kosher sukka if the distance between the walls of the house and the skhakh is less than four amot (based on the concept of dofen akuma as discussed on yesterday's daf). Our Gemara relates that when this halakha was presented by Rabbi Yehuda bar Elai, he simply taught "a house that was breached and one roofed over it is a fit sukka.” Upon hearing this teaching, Rabbi Yishmael the son of Rabbi Yosei demanded clarification. His father had taught that this is only true if the distance from the walls to the skhakh is less than four amot. If there are more than four amot between them, the sukka will be invalid. This story is followed in the Gemara by a second, similar one.
Rabbi Yehuda bar Elai taught: With regard to the abramis [avroma], it is permitted to eat it, despite the fact that it is a very small fish that is typically caught in a net with many similar, non-kosher, fish, and it is difficult to distinguish between them. Rabbi Yishmael, son of Rabbi Yose, said to him: My teacher, explain your opinion. Rabbi Yehuda bar Elai said that this is how my father explained it: The abramis found in the rivers of place so-and-so, where there are also non-kosher fish, is prohibited; however, the abramis of a different place so-and-so, where there are no non-kosher fish, is permitted.
Rashi explains that in some places, sheratzim - small non-kosher worms or other creatures - thrive and they cannot be separated from the fish, but in other places there are no such sheratzim. [caption id="attachment_8967" align="alignleft" width="300"]Abramis (avroma) a fish indigenous to the Nile River. It may refer to a kind of bream or mullet. Abramis (avroma), may refer to a bream or mullet.[/caption] Rabbi Ya'akov Ettlinger, in his Arukh laNer, asks why, in fact, Rabbi Yehuda did not fully explain his statements. He suggests that with regard to the avroma, Rabbi Yehuda may simply have been relating the situation in the place where he lived, where sheratzim were not found. With regard to the case of sukka, this may be connected with Rabbi Yehuda's opinion that a normal house is up to eight amot in size. Thus, in order for a sukka that is large enough to be the appropriate size and yet fit under the fallen roof, there cannot possibly be more than four amot between the walls of the house and the skhakh.
Sukka 17a-b: A Curved Wall in a Sukka
24/07/2021 - 15th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf discusses the concept of dofen akuma - a curved wall. In cases where the skhakh - roofing - does not reach all the way to the walls of the sukka, if the distance between the walls and the skhakh is less than four amot, we apply the rule of dofen akuma and perceive the wall as reaching the skhakh. Two cases that make use of this rule are mentioned in the Mishna: the case of a house whose roof has been breached in the middle and is replaced by skhakh for the holiday, and the case of a courtyard that is surrounded by an akhsadra - a portico or covered area, with an space left in the middle that is used as a sukka. [su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8961" align="alignleft" width="254"]Courtyard with portico Courtyard with portico[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8962" align="alignright" width="255"]Breached house Breached house[/caption] [/su_column] [/su_row] Several explanations are given to explain the mechanism behind the workings of dofen akuma. Rav Nissim Gaon explains that halakha simply perceives the wall as moving to a position where it abuts the skhakh. Most rishonim (Rashi, the Me'iri and the Ran) understand that we consider the roofed-in area to be part of the wall, recognizing that it is a part of the wall that runs horizontally to the point that it reaches the skhakh, rather than vertically as we usually expect walls to be. The Peri Megadim suggests that halakha perceives the wall as rising at an angle to meet the skhakh. One of the practical differences that arises from this argument is how to rule in a case where the skhakh is higher than the top of the walls. In that case, according to the accepted opinion that the ceiling is seen as a horizontal wall that reaches the skhakh, here it does not reach the skhakh and it is likely that we will not be able to apply the rule of dofen akuma.
Sukka 16a-b: A Sukka in a Stack of Grain
23/07/2021 - 14th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the cases that the Mishna (15a) rules is not a good sukka is when someone hollows out a stack of grain to create a space for sleeping or eating. Even though the roof is made out of materials that ordinarily can be used for skhakh - roofing - a sukka cannot be made this way. [caption id="attachment_8938" align="alignleft" width="280"]Hollowed-out haystack Hollowed-out haystack[/caption] The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita that seems, however, to teach the opposite. According to the baraita, someone who burrows into a stack of grain and creates an area large enough for a sukka can succeed in establishing a kosher sukka. To solve this apparent contradiction, Rav Huna distinguishes between a situation where there was an already existing space within the mound that was a tefa high and seven tefahim in width and length, and one where no such space existed. In the event that there was an already existing space, it can be enlarged to create a sukka. The teaching in our Mishna was that in a case where the mound was solid, a person cannot dig out the space for a sukka. The logic behind Rav Huna's distinction is that, in the case where there was already an existing space of appropriate size, even if it could not be a sukka, it still had the halakhic designation of an ohel - an enclosed area. All that needs to be done is to widen the space - that is already acknowledged as being significant in the eyes of the halakha - so that it will be appropriate for use as a sukka. If there is no existing space, however, the sukka is not seen as having been made properly since the skhakh is in place even before the ohel inside exists - referred to as ta'eseh ve-lo min ha-asuy, meaning that the skhakh must be actively "made" and cannot just passively "happen." The rishonim discuss whether the direction in which one digs will make a difference in Rav Huna's case. The Tosafot Ri"d and the Rosh, for example, argue that when enlarging the existing space so that it will be big enough for a sukka, one can only dig downwards, since all of the grain above the existing space has been established as the skhakh over the existing ohel. From the Ran, however, it appears that one can extend upwards, as well; because we have perceived it as skhakh all along, we view this as simply thinning it out rather than turning it into skhakh.
Sukka 15a-b: Moving the Boards
22/07/2021 - 13th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna on our daf discusses the case of a house with a plain wooden roof that has no tar or other kind of covering. All of the tanna'im agree that some type of preparation must be made in order for the house to be used as a sukka. They disagree on what needs to be done:
In the case of a roof made of boards that are four handsbreadths wide upon which there is no coat of plaster, Rabbi Yehuda says that Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel disagree with regard to the manner in which to render it fit. Beit Shammai say: One moves each board, and then it is considered as though he placed the board there for the sake for the mitzva of sukka, and one then removes one board from among the boards and replaces it with fit roofing. Beit Hillel say: One need not perform both actions; rather, one must either move the boards or remove one from among them. Rabbi Meir says: One only removes one from among them and does not move the others.
The concept of mefakpek - moving the boards on the roof - is to remove the Rabbinic prohibition called gezeirat tikra, a concern that someone will sit under a real roof. By moving the boards around, the person indicates his awareness of the fact that he cannot fulfill the commandment of sukka by sitting in a house under a real roof. In so doing, he succeeds in removing the gezeirat tikra. (See further discussion of this issue in the Ramban, Ri”f, Ritva and Me'iri.) The word mefakpek meansto move something from its place by shaking it. In modern Hebrew the term has been "borrowed" to refer to conceptual issues, as well, where it means to question an accepted idea. According to the Rambam, what is accomplished by shaking the boards is the removal of the nails that are holding them in place in the roof. Other rishonim (like Rabbi Natan Av HaYeshiva and the Peirush Kadmon on Sukka) say that shaking the boards shifts them around, leaving room for additional skhakh - roofing - to be added.
Sukka 14a-b: Overturning Grain and Anger
21/07/2021 - 12th of Av, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the context of discussing whether the stems of vegetables are significant with regard to the laws of ritual purity (see the mishnayot in Massekhet Yadayim which deal with this question at length), the Gemara on our daf mentions a farm implement called an eter - a type of shovel or pitchfork whose purpose is to turn over the grain in the fields. This pitchfork succeeds in turning over the grain with the help of the stems, indicating that they are still an important part of the plant. [caption id="attachment_8928" align="alignleft" width="101"]Eter or pitchfork Eter or pitchfork[/caption] This discussion leads the Gemara to bring a Midrashic homily about this tool. Rabbi Elazar taught: Why are the prayers of the righteous compared to an eter (see Bereishit 25:21, where Yitzhak's prayer that Rivka should have a child is described using the term vayetar)? To teach you that just as a pitchfork turns the grain from place to place, so the prayers of the righteous turn God's dispensations from His attribute of anger (midat ahzariyut) to mercy (midat rahmanut). Generally speaking, when the Talmud describes God's attribute of anger, it refers to midat ha-din, whose connotation is that God demands justice - the letter of the law - rather than offering compassion. The commentaries note the use of the term ahzariyut in our Gemara, which is unusual, as it implies a level of cruelty and mercilessness that goes well beyond justice. One approach suggested (see R. Hayyim ben Attar's Rishon Le-Tzion and R. Yehiel Michel ben Uziel's Nezer ha-Kodesh, a commentary on Midrash Rabbah) is that the particular situation of Yitzhak and Rivka appears to go beyond midat ha-din. According to the strict letter of the law, there was no reason that Yitzhak and Rivka had to be childless. Thus the midrash searches for a more powerful term, one that expresses the suffering - the yissurin shel ahavah - that played a role in this particular situation. Based on this, the midrash teaches that even in a situation as difficult as this one, the will of God can be changed through the means of the prayers of the righteous.
Sukka 13a-b: Thorny Plants for Roofing the Sukka
20/07/2021 - 11th of Av, 5781
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The Mishna (12a) taught that not all types of natural growth can be used as skhakh - roofing - for the sukka. Straw or branches that are tied into bundles are examples of growth that cannot be used unless they are untied. The Gemara on our daf quotes a baraita which says that thorny plants can be used for skhakh, even though they grow twisted together and might appear to be bundles. As we will see, growing as a bundle will not be an impediment for use as skhakh, although there might be other problems with such plants. Rav Hanan bar Rava teaches that the thorny plants hizmei and higei are both appropriate for use as skhakh on Sukkot. Abaye disagrees with the ruling regarding higei, explaining that its leaves fall off easily and will disturb the people eating in the sukka, likely inducing them to leave. [caption id="attachment_8915" align="alignleft" width="300"]Restharrow Restharrow (Hizmei)[/caption] Hizmei can be identified with Ononis antiquorum L. of the Papilinaceae family. It is a thorny plant that grows to about 75cm (2.5ft), which is found growing wild in fields and valleys. [caption id="attachment_8916" align="alignright" width="300"]Camelthorn Camelthorn (Higei)[/caption] The scientific name for Higei is Alhagi maurorum Medik. It, too, is a thorny plant with smooth, non-serrated leaves. Ordinarily it grows to a height of 30cm (1ft), although it occasionally grows as high as one meter (3ft). [caption id="attachment_8921" align="alignleft" width="276"]Hyssop (Eizov) Hyssop (Eizov)[/caption] Another plant discussed on our daf is the eizov. The Sages did not come to a clear conclusion about the identification of this plant, which is mentioned not only in the Talmud, but in the Torah, as well (see, for example, Bamidbar 19:6 where it is translated as hyssop). From the descriptions given it appears that the eizov is likely Majorana syriaca, a fragrant shrub that rises to a height of about 50-100cm. The plant is commonly found throughout Israel and in neighboring countries. Its dried leaves are a primary ingredient in the popular local spice mixture za'atar.
Sukka 12a-b: Roofing for One's Sukka II
19/07/2021 - 10th of Av, 5781
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The Gemara on our daf discusses a variety of plants, some of which cannot be used as skhakh - roofing - once they have begun to be processed. Flax, for example, is fine for skhakh as long as it has not begun the process turning it into linen. Once that process has begun it is no longer raw material and becomes unfit for use on the sukka. Flax - Linum usitatissimum. It is an erect annual plant growing between 30 and 100cm tall, with slender stems. The flowers are pure pale blue, 1.5-2.5cm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a round, dry capsule from which oils are derived. Flax is one of the oldest cultivated crops on record; its growth is mentioned in ancient Egypt. Today it is cultivated mainly in tropical areas. The main product of flax is the fibers from which linen is made. Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. It is removed via a lengthy process whereby the plant is dried out and then soaked until almost rotten. At that point they are once again dried out and the fibers combed out. While all agree that shushei can be used on the sukka, there is a disagreement between Rav Yehuda and Abaye regarding shvatzrei, as Abaye is concerned that the strong smell will drive people from the sukka. [caption id="attachment_8908" align="alignleft" width="186"]Licorice plant Licorice plant[/caption] Shushei is, apparently, from the glycyrrhiza family, whose sweet roots are the source of licorice today. These are short, annual plants with leaves and bluish flowers. This plant grows in Israel and Babylonia in wet areas and is used both in medicines and confectionaries. [caption id="attachment_8910" align="alignright" width="183"]Wormwood Wormwood[/caption] Shvatzrei has been identified as artemisia, also known as wormwood, which are shrubs that have small, hair-like leaves that are a whitish-grey color. The wormwood has a bitter taste and a strong smell. It is used in medicines, as well as being an ingredient in certain types of wine. It can be easily understood how the smell of this plant could cause discomfort to people sitting in a sukka that has it as skhakh.
Sukka 11a-b: Roofing for One's Sukka I
18/07/2021 - 9th of Av, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf teaches the basic rule about skhakh - roofing on a sukka. The "roof" of the sukka must be made from something that grows from the ground and is in its original form – i.e. is has not been made into a serviceable item (a keli) which is subject to ritual defilement. Nevertheless, the skhakh must be detached from the ground. If a person were to cover his sukka with a growing grapevine, gourd or kissos, the sukka could not be used, unless there was more kosher skhakh than growing vines, or if the vines are cut. Rabbeinu Yehonatan explains that these particular plants are mentioned because they are climbing plants that offers a lot of shade, which makes them ideal, in theory, to put on top of a sukka. [caption id="attachment_8901" align="alignleft" width="265"]Ivy Ivy[/caption] The kissos mentioned in the Mishna is a climbing plant from the family of Araliaceae. In Israel the most common form of the plant is the Hedera helix, a green ivy whose leaves are similar to grape leaves. The ivy climbs on walls, fences and trees with the assistance of grasping roots that grow from its leaves. Rashi points out that the general principle limiting skhakh to things that grow from the ground is not as clear as would initially appear. There are areas of halakha, for example, that consider living animals as "growing from the ground," since their sustenance comes from eating plants.
When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Yohanan said that the verse states: "You shall prepare for you the festival of Sukkot" (Devarim 16:13). The expression "festival of Sukkot" likens sukka to the Festival peace-offering [hagiga]. Just as the Festival peace-offering is an item not susceptible to ritual impurity, and its growth is from the ground, as animals draw nourishment from vegetation, so too, the roofing of the sukka must be a substance that is not susceptible to ritual impurity and its growth is from the ground.
The Gemara on the next daf points out that this would seem to include animals as being appropriate to use as skhakh, but Ravin quotes Rabbi Yohanan as pointing to that same passage (Devarim 16:13), which defines the holiday of Sukkot as taking place during the harvest season, which is understood to connect the sukka and the skhakh to crops or plants.
Sukka 10a-b: When Using a Canopy Bed in Your Sukka
17/07/2021 - 8th of Av, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf teaches about the case of a person who places a sheet above the skhakh - roofing - in order to protect it from the sun or underneath it to keep it from falling onto the people below. In both of those cases the sukka would become unusable. How about a poster bed that has a sheet hanging above the sleeping person? In such a case, the Mishna teaches that the halakha will differ depending on how the bed is set up. In the case of kinof the sheet would be a problem, but in the case of naklitin the sukka would remain kosher and the bed can be slept in.
  • The case of kinof is where there is a full four-poster bed, where the sheet that is spread across the top creates the effect of a full roof, like that of an ordinary house.
  • The case of naklitin is when there are just two posts that rise from the bed in the middle of the head and the foot of the bed. This creates the effect of a tent over the bed.
[su_row][su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8881" align="alignnone" width="300"]Kinofot: four posts upon which a cover is spread creating a ceiling like effect Kinofot: four posts upon which a cover is spread creating a ceiling like effect[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/2"] [caption id="attachment_8882" align="alignnone" width="300"]Naklitin: two posts in the center of the bed upon which a cover is spread, creating an inclined roof Naklitin: two posts in the center of the bed upon which a cover is spread, creating an inclined roof[/caption] [/su_column][/su_row] According to the Jerusalem Talmud, the case of naklitin is not a problem because it is similar to a person who is sleeping under a blanket who occasionally will lift the blanket over his head. Just as a blanket used for sleeping does not negate the fact that this person is sleeping in a sukka, similarly a tent-like structure does not do so. The Ran explains that there are three levels of bed coverings discussed in the Gemara.
  1. A kilah, which is a canopy over the bed that is not permanent and is not part of the structure of the bed at all, does not present any problems for someone sleeping in a sukka.
  2. With Naklitin, although the two posts are permanent parts of the bed, the sloped tent that they create is not considered a significant covering to negate the fact that the individual is sleeping in a sukka.
  3. Only the case of kinofot, which are both permanent and create the effect of a full roof, will establish a covering that is significant enough to make it seem as though the person sleeping in such a bed is not considered to be in his sukka.
Sukka 9a-b: Setting the Sukka Aside for the Holiday
16/07/2021 - 7th of Av, 5781
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Once a sukka has been built, it is set aside for the holiday and should not be used for other purposes. This is the conclusion of Rav Sheshet in the name of Rabbi Akiva, who points to the passage Hag ha-Sukkot shivat yamim la-Shem – the holiday of Sukkot is seven days for God (Vayikra 23:34) – and its interpretation as given by Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira. He compares the word hag to the sukka, teaching that just like the hagiga sacrifice (Festival peace-offering) belongs to God, so the sukka belongs to God. There are a variety of opinions about how to define the prohibition in this case. Tosafot suggest that the pasuk actually confers a level of holiness on the structure of the sukka, so it is forbidden to use, just as kodashim – things belonging to the Temple – cannot be used. Others compare it to the standard rules of muktze that we are familiar with from the laws of Shabbat. The wood used for the sukka has been set aside for a specific mitzva purpose, so it cannot be used for other purposes. Connected to this discussion is whether the prohibition applies to all parts of the sukka or only to the main parts of it – that is to say, the minimum needed for the sukka to be kosher (this is a disagreement between the R"i and Rabbeinu Tam quoted in Tosafot) – and whether it only applies when the sukka is standing or even if it falls down over the course of the holiday (see the discussion in the Me'iri and the Rosh). Finally, some distinguish between different component parts of the sukka. The skhakh - roofing - may be seen as an issue of kodashim, the walls as a question of muktze, while use of the decorations might be perceived as making a mockery of a mitzva. As far as the halakha is concerned, according to the Shulhan Aruk (Orah Hayyim 638:1) it is forbidden to take even a chip from the sukka to use as a toothpick.
Sukka 8a-b: Using a Hut as a Sukka
15/07/2021 - 6th of Av, 5781
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Our Gemara offers two lists of huts that are not built specifically for Sukkot, but can be used as a sukka if they have been “roofed in the standard sense.” The first list contains huts referred to by the acronym – "Ganbakh":
  • Goyim – non-Jews
  • Nashim – women
  • Behemah – animals
  • Kutim – immigrants from the city of Kutah (see II Melakhim17:24)
The second list includes huts called – Rakbash:
  • Ro'im - shepherds
  • Kayyatzim – field workers who dry figs
  • Burganin – people who guard the fields
  • Shomerei peirot – people who guard the fruit
The Gemara explains that each list has its advantages and disadvantages as far as being considered appropriate for use as a sukka. The huts in the first list are fairly permanent while the second list is seasonal; the huts in the second list are used by people who are obligated in the commandment of sukka, while the people in the first list are not.
The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of the term: In the standard sense? Rav Hisda said that it means: And provided that one established the booth to provide shade of a sukka from its roofing, it may be used to fulfill the mitzva of sukka.
Several definitions are offered to explain Rav Hisda's intent that the hut needs to be built "for shade.” Rashi suggests that it must be well-covered with branches so that it is clear that it was built for shade, and not for some other purpose, like privacy. Rabbeinu Tam explains that if the thatch is too thick – to the extent that it appears to be a wall or roof – it cannot be considered a sukka for shade. According to the Ran it is a question of intention. The hut must have been built as a place that would be used for shade, not as a storage area or a permanent structure where people will live.
Sukka 7a-b: Learning from Shabbat to Sukkot
14/07/2021 - 5th of Av, 5781
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Rava's teaching (see daf 6a), which allows for walls that are considered significant with regard to sukka to be perceived as sufficient for creating a reshut ha-yahid – a private domain – on the Shabbat of Sukkot, is applied by him to a number of inverse cases, as well. He teaches that in both the case of mavoy she-yesh lo lehi (an alleyway that has a sidepost) and the case of pasei bira'ot (an area surrounding a well that is partially closed off by four right-angled walls in each corner), partitions that are sufficient to create a reshut ha-yahid for Shabbat can be used as walls of a sukka, even though they do not meet the normal criteria of sukka walls. [caption id="attachment_8871" align="alignleft" width="300"]Upright boards surrounding wells pasei bira'ot Upright boards surrounding wells - pasei bera'ot[/caption] The case of pasei bira'ot is a method of fencing off the area of the well or water-hole with four right-angled walls in response to the needs of olei regalim – pilgrims headed to Jerusalem for the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot. In this case, the walls are so poorly designated that it was only the desire to assist people involved in this mitzva that led the Sages to permit their use. Since the olei regalim invariably brought with them animals for sacrifices in the Temple, there was a desperate need to make water as readily accessible as possible. During the times of year that the masses are commanded to travel to the Temple in Jerusalem, the only available water is in cisterns that collected rain water or wells. The Jerusalem Talmud brings a dispute among the amora'im on the question of who is allowed to make use of these pasei bera'ot and carry within them on Shabbat. According to one opinion, such walls can only be used as an eiruv by olei regalim. A second opinion argues that the ruling was made with the olei regalim in mind, but during the times of year when people are oleh regel, anyone – even those not coming to Jerusalem - can benefit from them. The third opinion agrees that the special leniency was approved by the Sages with the olei regalim in mind, but argues that once it was adopted, the ruling works for all, and anyone can use the water in these wells.
Sukka 6a-b: Defining Partitions on Sukkot and on Shabbat
13/07/2021 - 4th of Av, 5781
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A minimum of three walls is needed to create a sukka.
The Sages taught in the Tosefta: In order to construct a fit sukka, two of the walls must be walls in the standard sense, sealing the entire length and height of the sukka, and the third wall may be even one handbreadth long. Rabbi Shimon says: Three of the walls must be walls in the standard sense, and the fourth wall may be even one handbreadth long.
Rava in our Gemara argues that on Sukkot such a wall will allow the creation of a reshut ha-yahid – a "private domain" for Shabbat purposes, permitting one to carry from a house to the sukka. Even though on an ordinary Shabbat such a structure would not suffice to create a reshut ha-yahid, since the wall is considered sufficient to act as a wall of the sukka, we recognize it as a significant wall for Shabbat, as well. There are obvious parallels that exist between the laws of sukka and the laws of Shabbat, since the need for defining partitions is an important part of each of these halakhot. It is clear, however, that the rules and regulations governing the definitions in each of these areas are not identical. One suggestion explaining the differences between these laws is based on an examination of the purposes served by the walls in each case. When dealing with the laws of Shabbat the purpose of the walls is to separate – to create a partition between one area and another. On Sukkot, however, the point of the walls is to create a structure that will be sufficient to serve as a sukka in which a person will live for the duration of the holiday. These differences will sometimes lead to stringencies in defining the terms in one case, but to leniencies in another. In our case, where the two definitions coincide, Rava teaches that defining a wall as having legal standing in one case will extend to the other, as well, even if it would not ordinarily be sufficient in that case.
Sukka 5a-b: Measuring Utensils and Accoutrements
12/07/2021 - 3rd of Av, 5781
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In a midrashic analysis of the source for the minimum acceptable height of a sukka (ten tefahim), the Gemara looks to the height of the aron - the ark containing the luhot ha-berit (the tablets of the covenant) - which was ten tefahim high. It is clear from the Biblical description that the aron was nine tefahim high; the additional tefah was the height of the kaporet that covered the aron. [caption id="attachment_8860" align="alignleft" width="251"]Frontplate according to the views of the rabbis Tzitz or frontplate according to the views of the rabbis[/caption] Our Gemara seeks to find a source for the fact that the kaporet was one tefah high, which it derives from a comparison of the kaporet - which does not have a specific size mentioned in the Torah - to other utensils used in the Mishkan. One of the High Priest's accoutrements in the Temple was the tzitz, the golden plate worn as part of his bigdei kehunah (priestly garments), but the Gemara says that it cannot be used as a source for the size of the kaporet because, as part of the High Priest's uniform, it was not one considered to be one of the utensils of the Mishkan. We know details about the appearance of the tzitz thanks to Rabbi Eliezer son of Rabbi Yosei, who testified that he had the opportunity to examine it during a visit to Rome. He describes it as having the words Kodesh la-Shem on a single line, as opposed to the opinions in the baraita that describes it as having the word Kodesh on the bottom and la-Shem on the top. Rabbi Eliezer was the son of the tanna Rabbi Yosei ben Halafta and lived in the last generation before the redaction of the Mishna by Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi. Rabbi Eliezer was, apparently, the greatest of Rabbi Yosei's five sons and, already during his father's lifetime, he was recognized and honored by his generation. During a difficult period for the Jews, Rabbi Eliezer was, along with Rabbi Shimon bar Yohai, part of a delegation to Rome that tried to get decrees against the Jews rescinded. While in Rome they were miraculously given the opportunity to heal the Caesar's daughter, who had fallen ill. After successfully healing her, they were offered the chance to examine the Caesar's coffers, which included the spoils of the Roman victory and sacking of the Land of Israel and the Temple. Rabbi Eliezer's examination of the Temple remains allowed him to return to the Sages with information about a number of the utensils from the mikdash, including the parokhet, the tzitz, etc.
Sukka 4a-b: Using a Sukka Whose Walls Are Not the Right Height
11/07/2021 - 2nd of Av, 5781
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The first Mishna in the perek (see 2a) taught that a sukka whose walls are more than 20 amot high is not a valid sukka. The Gemara on our daf teaches that if the walls are too high, it can be rectified by building a platform, extending from one wall to the next, that is, by itself, large enough to be a valid sukka. By doing this, we effectively lower the walls of the sukka to less than 20 amot. The Gemara follows this ruling with three other examples of cases where a sukka whose walls are not the right height can be fixed by manipulating the height of the floor:
  1. When a platform is built on one side of a sukka that has three walls taller than 20 amot. In this case, the platform must reach to within four amot of the opposite wall so that that wall will be considered part of the sukka.
  2. When a platform is built in the middle of such a sukka. In this case there must be less than four amot between the platform and the walls on both sides so that those walls will be considered part of the sukka. 
  3. If the sukka was less than ten handbreadths high and he dug out an area inside the sukka in order to complete the requisite height of the sukka to ten handbreadths, if from the edge of the dug-out area to the wall there is a distance of three handbreadths, it is unfit, as in that case the edge of the dug-out area is not joined to the wall of the sukka. Therefore, even though the interior space is ten handbreadths high, its walls are not the requisite height to be considered a fit sukka. If the distance from the edge of the dug-out area to the wall was less than three handbreadths then it is fit. 
[su_row][su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8841" align="alignnone" width="300"]Platform on side of sukka Platform on side of sukka[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8842" align="alignnone" width="300"]Platform in center of sukka Platform in center of sukka[/caption] [/su_column] [su_column size="1/3"] [caption id="attachment_8843" align="alignnone" width="300"]Sukka with dug out floor Sukka with dug out floor[/caption] [/su_column][/su_row] The operating principle behind these rulings is dofen akumah - a curved wall. The exact definition of this term is unclear. Some of the rishonim, including Rashi, the Me'iri, the Ritva and others, explain that when the valid sukka reaches close enough to the wall, we consider it as though the wall continues horizontally at the top, perceiving the skhakh as part of the wall. Another explanation is that we consider the wall to have moved from its place, as though it reached the skhakh at the point where the sukka was valid (according to this understanding, some of the skhakh will be viewed as being on the "other side" of the wall). [caption id="attachment_8854" align="alignright" width="271"]Curved wall Curved wall[/caption] In any case, dofen akumah is one of many legal fictions that are permitted by the Sages in creating valid walls for a sukka.
Sukka 3a-b: The Size of a Sukka
10/07/2021 - 1st of Av, 5781
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Aside from the discussion in the Mishna with regard to the height of a sukka, there is also a need to define the minimum size of a sukka. The Gemara on our daf presents a discussion between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai, in which they agree that it must be large enough to fit a person's head and the majority of his body (rosho ve-rubo), but they disagree on whether there is cause for concern that he will lean out of the sukka if the table is placed outside. According to Beit Hillel this is not something that we fear will happen; so as long as rosho ve-rubo fit, the sukka is fine. Beit Shammai rules that this is a concern, so we must make the sukka large enough to contain the table, as well. Another opinion quoted is that of Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi, who believes that the sukka must be four cubits by four cubits. This discussion leads the Gemara to quote a baraita that limits the significance of buildings smaller than four by four amot. Among other things, such a structure would not need a mezuza, nor could it be used to house the eiruv that permits carrying between houses or courtyards, or to connect two nearby cities to one another for the purposes of permitting travel between the two on Shabbat (eiruv hatzerot). In this way, the Gemara points out that such a small building does not even have the status of burganin. [caption id="attachment_8829" align="alignleft" width="227"] Small guard towers or huts (Burganin)[/caption] Burganin are booths used by watchmen on the roads. Some of them were well constructed and were used as defensive positions for the military. The guards lived in these structures, guarded the fields and delivered reports and messages to the government. Other burganin were poorly made and were no more than shacks on the side of the road. The source for the word burganin may be Greek in origin, but it is likely from the German "Burg" meaning "fortress" or "small settlement." The term was carried on the lips of Roman soldiers who were stationed on the border with Germany throughout the Roman Empire - even to the language of the Talmudic Sages. The significance of these structures for Jewish law relates to the fact that, on Shabbat, a person is limited in his ability to travel more than 2,000 amot outside of his city. When deciding where the edge of the city lies, however, if they are close enough (about 70 amot) to the city, buildings like these can be considered part of the city, thus allowing one to walk significantly further away from the city limits on Shabbat.
Sukka 2a-b: A Sukka Over Twenty Cubits High
09/07/2021 - 29th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The first Mishna in Massekhet Sukka opens with some basic rules about how a sukka should be erected. If the walls are too tall - over 20 amot  high - the Tanna Kamma rules that the sukka cannot be used, a ruling disputed by Rabbi Yehuda.
Rabbi Yehuda said: There was an incident involving Queen Helene in Lod where her sukka was more than twenty cubits high, and the Elders were entering and exiting the sukka and did not say anything to her about the sukka not being fit. The Rabbis said to him: Is there proof from there? She was, after all, a woman and therefore exempt from the mitzva of sukka. Consequently, the fact that her sukka was not fit did not warrant a comment from the Elders. Rabbi Yehuda said to them in response: Didn’t she have seven sons and therefore require a fit sukka? And furthermore, she performed all of her actions only in accordance with the directives of the Sages.
It appears that Queen Helene and other members of her royal family are buried in some of the ornate burial chambers in Jerusalem. As is mentioned in several places in the Talmud, Helene was a giyoret tzedek - a sincere convert to Judaism - who accepted upon herself the constraints of halakha as taught by the Sages.
Yoma 88a-b: Immersing on Yom Kipur
08/07/2021 - 28th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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In the context of defining what comprises the special Ne'ila prayer on Yom Kippur, the Gemara on our daf  brings a baraita that discusses people who go to the mikvah to immerse themselves on Yom Kippur. (Remember that washing is one of the five inuyim - activities forbidden on Yom Kippur if they are done for pleasure - that are enumerated at the beginning of this perek,  see 73b.) According to the baraita, anyone who is obligated to immerse in the mikvah can do so on Yom Kippur, based on the principle that tevila bizmana mitzva - there is an obligation to purify oneself in the mikvah at the time when one is able to do so. The baraita continues: One who had a seminal emission during Yom Kippur before the afternoon prayer may immerse at any point in the day until the afternoon prayer, in order to be able to recite it. The obligation to immerse in the mikvah in this case is based on the assumption that a person cannot participate in prayer or Torah study if he does not purify himself, making such purification essential for participation in the Yom Kippur synagogue service. This assumption stems from one of takkanot Ezra - one of the rules that Ezra ha-Sofer established during the early part of the Second Temple period - whose intent was to limit the amount of time that a committed Jew would spent engaged in sexual relations (even with his own wife). Already during the time of the later tanna'im and early amora'im (after the destruction of the Second Temple) this takkana was no longer kept for a variety of reasons. Still there are many who continue to keep this tradition even today. The Me'iri claims that, in his time, there were individuals who continued practicing tevilat (the immersion of) Ezra and would even go the mikvah on Yom Kippur itself, if necessary.
Yoma 87a-b: Confession on Yom Kippur
07/07/2021 - 27th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Gemara continues with a series of teachings about teshuva, the central issue of Yom Kippur. A baraita on our daf  teaches that the mitzva of viduy - confession - begins on the eve of Yom Kippur at dusk. Nevertheless, the Sages recommend that a person recite viduy prior to the final meal before the fast begins, shema titaref da'ato ba-se'udah - lest he become "confused" during the meal. Rashi explains that the concern is that the individual may become drunk during the pre-fast meal and he will neglect to recite his prayers properly in the evening. The Rambam, based on a variant reading of this baraita, explains that the concern is that the individual may choke during the meal and will not have the opportunity to say a proper viduy. The accepted practice today is for the individual to include viduy at the end of his Amida at minha prior to the meal, although the hazzan does not say it out loud during the repetition of the prayer. In addition, a number of special prayers and piyyutim are recited after the meal is completed. The baraita continues, teaching that even though viduy was recited before Yom Kippur began, it is repeated during the evening prayers, again in the morning service (shaharit), the additional service (musaf), the afternoon service (minha) and finally in the special closing service (ne'ila). The individual who says viduy in his own Amida recites it at the very end of each prayer; during the hazzan's repetition of the Amida, when it is said together with the entire congregation, it is recited in the middle of the prayer. The Maharil Habib suggests in his Tosafot Yom ha-Kippurim that the difference between the individual and the congregation stems from the fact that the individual may not say his prayers with proper intent so he needs to include that transgression in viduy. The concern in the case of the repetition is that perhaps the congregation has fulfilled its obligation by listening to the hazzan, and if the viduy is left for the end they may no longer be paying attention.
Yoma 86a-b: Repenting on Yom Kippur
06/07/2021 - 26th of Tamuz, 5781
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As we approach the end of Massekhet Yoma, the Gemara turns to the most essential issue of this holy day - the atonement offered by Yom Kippur itself and the teshuvah - repentance - associated with this time of year. In a series of statements of amora'im praising the attributes of teshuvah, two statements made by Reish Lakish (who was, himself, a famous ba'al teshuvah) are presented. In one of them Reish Lakish argues (based on the passage in Hoshea 14:2) that teshuvah changes zedonot - sinful acts done on purpose - to shegagot - acts done by accident. In the second statement, (based on Yehezkel 33:19) he teaches that through the good offices of teshuvah, zedonot are turned into zekhuyot - merits. To answer this apparent contradiction, the Gemara distinguishes between teshuvah that is done because of love - when zedonot turn into zekhuyot - and when it is done out of fear of punishment - when zedonot become shegagot. How can evil deeds become good ones? The Maharsha suggests what is, perhaps, the simplest explanation: that someone who repents out of his love for God is inspired by his past behaviors to be more meticulous than others in his accomplishments in the realm of Torah study and fulfillment of mitzvot. Thus it is as though his sins are the driving force behind his drive to perform mitzvot, so the sins can be seen as having positive merit. Furthermore, the Maharil Habib points out in his Tosafot Yom ha-Kippurim that a person who, by doing teshuvah, overcomes his desire to perform a sinful act is, by definition, accomplishing a more difficult task than someone who has never sinned and does not have the same desire. The ba'al teshuvah is rewarded for overcoming this desire, a reward that stems from the performance of the original sin. Rav Yehuda describes a ba'al teshuvah as someone who is faced with the same scenario that led him to sin in the past, but overcomes his desire and refrains from committing the sin. The Rambam claims that finding oneself in the exact same situation - that is to say, being given the opportunity to do teshuvah - is one of the indications that your teshuvah has been accepted, something that not everyone merits.
Yoma 85a-b: Saving a Life Overrides Shabbat - The Source
05/07/2021 - 25th of Tamuz, 5781
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Although earlier (see daf 82) the Gemara took for granted that all mitzvot are "pushed aside" in the face of the overarching value of human life (with the exception of avodah zara, gilui arayot and shefikhut damim - idol worship, forbidden sexual relations and murder) the Gemara on our daf presents a question: how do we know that piku'ah nefesh – danger to life – pushes aside the restrictions of Shabbat? Apparently the question here is a more difficult one because it involves not only a person saving his own life, but a source allowing others to desecrate Shabbat in order to save him, as well. Several sources are suggested by the tannaim and amoraim. For example, Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya finds a source in the mitzva of brit milah – circumcision – which is performed on Shabbat even though it involves activities that are forbidden on Shabbat. Rabbeinu Hananel explains this derivation by pointing out that someone who does not have a brit is liable for the punishment of karet – of being "cut off" from the Jewish people – which is considered the equivalent of death. Thus we find that to "save" the baby from possible karet we can perform the brit on Shabbat, similarly to save a life we can do the same. Rabbeinu Hananel also points out that Moshe was threatened with death when he did not circumcise his son (see Shemot 4:24 ), which is yet another indication of the importance of this mitzva, which, itself, pushes aside any Shabbat prohibitions.
Rabbi Shimon ben Menasya said: It is stated: "And the children of Israel shall keep Shabbat, to observe Shabbat" (Shemot 31:16). The Torah said: Desecrate one Shabbat on his behalf so he will observe many Shabbatot.
Maharil Habib in his Tosafot Yom haKippurim points out that what we derive from this pasuk is the concept that we can "desecrate" Shabbat if the purpose is to fulfill commandments – even if we do not have a guarantee that the person will be able to keep many Shabbatot – since we rule that a person can be mehalel (transgress) Shabbat even to extend another person's life for a brief period of time. Perhaps the best known source is the suggestion made by Rabbi Yehuda in the name of Shmuel, who quotes the pasuk (Vayikra 18:5) "…and you should live by them" meaning that the mitzvot are given to the Jewish people to live by, and not to lead them to death. As the Gemara points out, this source includes not only situations in which we are certain that someone's life is in danger, but even cases where we are not sure whether there is danger to life. The Torah commands that we cannot allow someone to die because of the mitzvot of the Torah.
Yoma 84a-b: A rabid dog
04/07/2021 - 24th of Tamuz, 5781
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It is interesting to examine the Gemara's description of the case of the rabid dog that was mentioned in the Mishna, as well as the way the disease caused by the bite of such a dog is depicted.
The Sages taught in a baraita: Five signs were said about a mad dog: Its mouth is always open; and its saliva drips; and its ears are floppy and do not stand up; and its tail rests on its legs; and it walks on the edges of roads. And some say it also barks and its voice is not heard.
All of these are symptoms of rabies, a disease that affects the nervous system of an animal, slowly paralyzing it. The Gemara further described the effects of this disease on a person, where without proper treatment (unavailable in the time of the Gemara) it is usually fatal. Among other things, rabies involves a painful contraction of the muscles in the throat which does not allow the victim to swallow. Apparently due to the association with thirst and the inability to drink water, even seeing water was thought to lead to madness, which is why for generations this condition was called "hydrophobia." As we learned in the Mishna (83a) Rabbi Matya ben Harash permits the victim of rabies to eat the infected dog's liver. Although his position is rejected by the poskim, who accept the position of the Tanna Kamma,  nevertheless there are those who see in Rabbi Matya's ruling the foreshadowing of modern methods of medicine where enzymes are taken from the bodies of animals that have been infected and vaccinations are developed using those antibodies. Another disease discussed by the Gemara is tzefidna, which, from the description in the Gemara, appears to be scurvy, a disease marked by a lack of Vitamin C, which leads to a weakening of teeth and gums, internal bleeding and anemia. The descriptions in the Gemara of various methods that were used in an attempt to cure tzefidna were, apparently, attempts to make up the lack of this vitamin by ingesting it in a concentrated manner.
Yoma 83a-b: Curing life-threatening danger
03/07/2021 - 23th of Tamuz, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf discusses circumstances when an illness would allow someone to eat non-kosher food, and other cases when halakha would not allow non-kosher food to be eaten. The first case discussed is bulmos – life-threatening hunger. In this case the Mishna teaches that he can be fed anything that may cure him. The second case is that of someone bitten by a rabid dog. The common cure in Mishnaic times, which was to have the victim eat from the dog's liver, is forbidden by the Tanna Kamma, although Rabbi Matya ben Harash permits it. The "hunger sickness" of bulmos, is, apparently, connected to a drastic drop in blood sugar that is caused by starvation or some other disease. As described in the Gemara, the sensation of hunger comes together with a loss of awareness – the individual cannot see or cannot see clearly. The recommendation of the Sages is to feed the ill person sweet foods that can be easily digested as quickly as possible. The description of this condition is supported in the Gemara by a series of personal testimonies from Sages who were witness to someone who had this condition or who had it themselves.
Rabbi Yohanan said: Once I was seized with bulmos and I ran to the east side of a fig tree and found ripe figs there, which I ate. Figs on a tree do not all ripen at once but ripen first on the side where the sun rises, so Rabbi Yohanan searched first for figs on the east side of the tree. And I thereby fulfilled the verse: "Wisdom preserves the lives of those who have it" (Ecclesiastes 7:12).
With regard to the bite of a rabid dog, the disagreement in the Mishna would seem to be whether the popular cure was, in fact, effective. The Rambam, however, understands that eating the rabid dog's liver is not a medical cure, but a segulah – a charm – which at best may be a psychological support to the victim. He argues that the Tanna Kamma rejects the possibility that a Torah law would be pushed aside for such an emotional support, even for someone who believes in it.
Yoma 82a-b: Three Forbidden Acts
02/07/2021 - 22th of Tamuz, 5781
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Generally speaking, all of the commandments of the Torah are "pushed aside" in the face of potentially life threatening situations. Therefore, the Mishna on our daf teaches that someone who is ill or pregnant and is in a dangerous situation will be allowed to eat on Yom Kippur, or to eat non-kosher food, if necessary. There are only three mitzvot that are so severe that a person should give up his life rather than perform the forbidden acts. Those mitzvot are:
  1. Avoda zara (idol worship)
  2. Gilui arayot (forbidden sexual relations)
  3. Shefikhut damim (murder)
According to the Gemara, the sources for the first two mitzvot are Biblical passages. (For the source for avoda zara, see Devarim 6:5 which teaches that you must worship God with all of your heart and all of your soul. The source for gilui arayot is Devarim 22:26 which compares a forbidden sexual encounter with murder.) According to the Gemara, however, the source for murder being forbidden even at the cost of one's own life does not need to be a pasuk – it is a sevara – it is simply logical. The logic, as presented by Rava in the Gemara is "Mai hazit didama didakh sumac tefei? Dilma dama dihahu gavra samik tefei!" What makes you think that your blood is redder than your fellow's? Perhaps his blood is redder than yours! The Maharil Habib in his Tosafot Yom haKippurim explains this argument as simply meaning that we are unable to weigh the true value of one life against another. Since the whole issue at hand is whether we can "push aside" a mitzva in order to save a life, in this case a life will be lost no matter what, so we cannot allow the forbidden act of murder. It should be noted that this argument works even if we are weighing the value of a single life against that of a group of people. Still the rule of mai hazit would not allow the killing of one person, since the relative value of life cannot be determined by numbers.
Yoma 81a-b: Preparing on the Ninth For the Tenth
01/07/2021 - 21th of Tamuz, 5781
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The commandment to keep Yom Kippur (the tenth day of Tishrei) as a day of rest and solemnity teaches that we are commanded to begin on the ninth day of Tishrei, and continue from evening to evening (see Vayikra 23:32). The Gemara on our daf learns a number of halakhot from this passage. For example, our Gemara sees this as the source for tosefet Yom ha-kippurim – beginning the holiday early and completing it late – a rule that is then extended to Shabbat and Yom Tov, as well. Another teaching that is derived from this pasuk is presented by Hiyya bar Rav of Difti, who interprets the passage as teaching that someone who eats and drinks on erev Yom Kippur is credited as though he had fasted on both the ninth and the tenth days of Tishrei. This is generally understood to mean that there is a special mitzva to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. Several explanations are given for this law. Rashi and the Me'iri suggest that since there is a mitzva to fast on the tenth, someone who spends the day before preparing for that mitzva is given credit for the preparation. The Eliya Rabbah (Rav Eliyahu Shapira's gloss on the Shulhan Arukh) suggests otherwise. According to him, someone who eats a lot the day before the fast has a harder time refraining from eating on the fast day, therefore the person who spends the ninth of Tishrei eating is credited for having additional inuy (deprivation). Others point out that Yom Kippur is a holiday, a day on which we really should be eating and drinking. Since we cannot eat and drink on Yom Kippur, we "make up" for it on erev Yom Kippur. Finally, some explain that this is preparation for the mitzva of expressing regret and asking for forgiveness. Since someone who is well-fed is less likely to be irritable and get into disagreements, we are commanded to put ourselves into such a position so that we will be better suited to be remorseful and apologize.
Yoma 80a-b: The Standard Minimum Measurement For Eating
30/06/2021 - 20th of Tamuz, 5781
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Today's daf continues the discussion of shi'urim – the amount necessary to be held liable for eating on Yom Kippur. Rabbi Yohanan is quoted by the Gemara as saying that shi'urim and onashim – both the amount that is considered significant and the punishment that will be meted out on the individual who eats forbidden foods according to those measurements – are halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai, they are traditions handed down from Moses on Mount Sinai, which have the weight and significance of Biblical law. In response to the question raised that the onashim are clearly written in the Torah, the Gemara explains that Rabbi Yohanan was teaching that the shi'urim upon which the onashim are based (for without a standard minimum measurement, how could we know when the punishments are appropriate?) are halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai. A baraita that is brought in support of this understanding of Rabbi Yohanan adds another opinion, as well. According to Aherim they were established – or, more correctly, were forgotten and reestablished – by the court of Jabez. Rashi identifies Jabez as Otni'el ben Kenaz, based on a Rabbinic tradition. The name appears in I Divrei ha-Yamim 2:55 and 4:9-10 as one of the descendants of Yehuda, and from the context it appears that he was one of the Jewish leaders of his time. He is identified as the head of one of the "the families of soferim (scribes) who lived in Yaabetz [Jabez]" so it appears that he was head of the soferim – the Sages in his generation. The rules of shi'urim notwithstanding, there are times when a person can eat more than a shi'ur, yet still not transgress the prohibition of eating forbidden foods.
Reish Lakish said: One who eats in an excessive manner on Yom Kippur, to the degree that he forces himself to continue eating even when full is exempt, e.g., one who ate beyond being satiated on Yom Kippur eve and then ate something else as soon as the fast began. What is the reason for that? Because the Torah does not mention the prohibition of eating on Yom Kippur, but it was written "any soul which shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from his people" (Vayikra 23:29), excluding one who harms himself, e.g., one who does not enjoy his food at all.
The Tosafot Yeshanim point out that there are different levels of akhila gasa. One level is overeating - when a person is full and continues to eat. Reish Lakish is referring to a different level, when a person continues eating to the extent that he finds the food disgusting. Someone who does damage to himself by way of eating has not transgressed this prohibition.
Yoma 79a-b: The Volume of a Large Date
29/06/2021 - 19th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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We have learned that one of the five forbidden, pleasurable activities on Yom Kippur is eating. The Mishna (73b) taught that in order to be held liable for eating, one must consume an amount of food the size of a kotevet ha-gasa – a large date. Since this measurement is an unusual one (for example, with regard to birkat ha-mazon - grace after meals – the minimum amount that needs to be eaten is either a ka-zayit – the size of an olive – or a ka-beitza – the size of an egg), the Gemara on our daf attempts to define it. Rava quotes Rav Yehuda as teaching that a kotevet ha-gasa must be larger than an egg, since the Sages determined that only an amount greater than a ka-beitza size gives a sense of satisfaction. While ordinarily the Sages do not attempt to give explanations for the specific size requirement given by the Torah, Rabbi Avraham Tiktin, in his Davar Be-ito argues that in this case there was a recognition that the rules of Yom Kippur were left to the Sages to define (see the Ran's explanation of this phenomenon on page 73b), so we must try and understand their underlying logic. In an attempt to examine Rava's position that a kotevet ha-gasa must be larger than an egg, the Gemara brings a series of stories about the Sages and their eating habits. A baraita records that when asked to taste the food that was being cooked on Sukkot, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai insisted that it be brought into the sukka, as did Rabban Gamliel when he was brought two dates with water. Both Rabbis knew that the food that they had been brought did not really need to be eaten in the sukka, but they were stringent on themselves, and insisted that any food that they ate could only be eaten in the sukka. In contrast to these Sages, the baraita also tells of Rabbi Tzadok who would eat less than a ka-beitza of food by wrapping it in a napkin and eating it outside the sukka without an after-blessing. Rabbi Tzadok's behavior is subject to a difference of opinion between Rashi who says that he took the food in a napkin because of his fastidiousness, while Tosafot explain that his religious devotion was such that he treated all food as though it were teruma, so he refrained from touching food lest it become ritually defiled. In any case, it is clear that the baraita tells Rabbi Tzadok's story in order to emphasize that just as there were Sages who were stringent upon themselves, there were also those who made a point of emphasizing that it was appropriate to stick to the letter of the law without stringencies. In this story, Rabbi Tzadok was lenient with regard to sukka, ritual hand washing and the blessing after food.
Yoma 78a-b: Asking the Nasi For Permission
28/06/2021 - 18th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Today, it is commonplace that someone who wants to rule in questions of Jewish law first study the material and then go to be tested in order to be "ordained" as a Rabbi, that is, receive semikha (lit. "resting of the hands") or permission to rule from a prominent Rabbi. This system stems from the time of the Talmud, when a student would turn to the Nasi for permission to rule. There were three areas of study, each of which required specific approval that would allow the candidate to be accepted as one who could rule in each type of case: Yoreh - issues of ritual law Yadin - monetary cases Yatir bekhorot - rules of blemishes in animals that would allow a first-born animal to be used by a kohen rather than be sacrificed on the altar. The first two categories are still in use, referred to today as "Yoreh Yoreh" and "Yadin Yadin." The third category fell into disuse after the destruction of the Temple, although it has become common practice to avoid situations where an animal will have a first-born by selling a pregnant animal to a non-Jew, so that no such questions will arise.
Rav Menashya bar Tahalifa said that Rav Amram said that Rabba bar bar Hana said: They asked Rabbi Elazar ben Pedat: Must an Elder who sits and studies Torah in a yeshiva receive permission from the Nasi to permit him to render firstborn animals permitted, like others who must get permission from the Nasi to render firstborn animals permitted, or not? A firstborn animal may not be eaten until it has a blemish. Knowing which blemishes are permanent and permit the animal to be eaten and which are temporary is specialized knowledge. The Gemara asks: What are they asking? What is the basis of the question? The Gemara explains: This is what they are asking, like this statement of Rav Idi bar Avin, who said: This matter, the authority of the Nasi to grant permission, was given to the house of the Nasi to raise its stature. Therefore, must permission be received, since the request itself honors the Nasi? Or, perhaps because the individual in question is an Elder who sits and studies Torah in a yeshiva, there is no need. Rav Tzadok ben Haluka rose to his feet and said: I saw Rabbi Yosei ben Zimra, who was an Elder who sat in the yeshiva and who stood before the grandfather of this current Nasi, ask permission from him to permit firstborn animals.
From the discussion that takes place, it appears that this story happens during the time that the Nasi was the second Rabbi Yehuda Nesia. By that time, the position of Nasi was inherited, and the person who held the title was not necessarily a great Torah Sage. The actual religious leadership fell to the heads of the academies - the Roshei Yeshiva. Nevertheless, a number of ceremonial responsibilities remained in the hands of the Nasi, one of them being the approval of new Rabbis and judges. The discussion in the Gemara of whether a Sage who is already teaching in the academy needs to receive permission from the Nasi in order to rule is an indication of the tension that existed between the Sages and the house of the Nasi.
Yoma 77a-b: Feeding a Child With One Washed Hand
27/06/2021 - 17th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna at the beginning of the perek (73b) enumerated five specific activities that are forbidden on Yom Kippur in order to fulfill inuy - the commandment to reach a sense of suffering or oppression. Therefore, most of these activities are forbidden only if they are done for pleasure. Thus, the baraita on our daf  teaches that someone who is dirty is allowed to wash himself and someone who has sores on his body can anoint them with oil. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel is quoted as teaching that a woman who needs to feed her children can wash one hand so that she can give them food.
They said about Shammai the Elder [HaZaken] that he did not want to feed his children with one hand, to avoid having to wash it. This prevented the children from eating during all of Yom Kippur. Due to concerns about the health and the suffering of his children, they decreed that he must feed them with two hands, forcing him to wash both hands.
Most of the commentaries explain that Shammai HaZaken (the Elder) was reluctant to rely on the "leniency" and wash his hand. The Sages ruled that he should therefore wash both his hands, because they wanted to emphasize that, in this case, there was no prohibition at all. The Ritva points out that there are several similar cases in the Talmud, where the Sages went beyond the letter of the law in order to emphasize the correct ruling. Rabbenu Yehonatan understands this case differently. He argues that Shammai HaZaken was concerned lest he touch the food with his unwashed hand, so he refrained from feeding his children entirely. The Sages reacted to this by permitting him to wash both hands. What was the great concern about touching food? The Gemara quotes Abaye as explaining that the Sages were afraid of shivta. Rashi explains that shivta is a ru'ah ra'ah - an evil spirit. According to the responsa literature from the period of the Ge'onim, shivta was a disease that affected mainly babies and younger children. From the descriptions that appear in the Gemara it seems likely that it is some type of contagious infection that can be carried by dirty hands.
Yoma 76a-b: Manna 60 Cubits High
26/06/2021 - 16th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Still in the midst of a discussion of the manna that the Jewish people ate in the desert, the Gemara quotes Rabbi Elazar HaModa'i as claiming that when the manna fell for the Jewish people it piled 60 amot high. This teaching was rejected out-of-hand by Rabbi Tarfon, who admonished Rabbi Elazar HaModa'i to refrain from making such exaggerated claims. In response, Rabbi Elazar HaModa'i presented his logic: In the Flood story, the Torah records that the waters reached 15 cubits above the tops of the mountains (see Bereshit 7:20). God is more generous when offering reward than he is when presenting punishment (Rashi points out that there is a 500:1 ratio of positive to negative, based on the passages describing the 2000-generation reward that God promises to those who love Him and follow His commandments, in contrast with the four-generation punishment with which evil people are threatened - see Shmot 20:5-6). In the Flood story, we are told that the windows of heaven opened (Bereshit 7:11), while regarding the manna we learn that "the doors of heaven" were opened (Tehillim 78:23-24).
Based on this, the Gemara calculates: The area of how many windows are in a door? Four. A door is equivalent to four windows in size. One adds another four for the second door, as the verse uses the plural "doors," which implies that there were two doors. This equals the area of eight windows. If the depth of water in the Flood is based on the phrase "windows of heaven," implying two windows, then the manna fell at a rate four times that of the water of the Flood. Since the water of the Flood reached a depth of fifteen cubits, it turns out that the manna that fell for the Jewish people was sixty cubits high, i.e. four times as high.
Rabbi Elazar HaModa'i was one of the Sages in the generation after the destruction of the Second Temple. He was, apparently, one of the youngest students of Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai and he lived a long life. The vast majority of his statements that appear in the Talmud are aggadic in nature. We find many times that Rabban Gamliel - who enjoyed his homilies - would comment that "we still need Moda'i", i.e. his commentary and observations. As is clear from his name, Rabbi Elazar HaModa'i was a resident of Modi'in. Tradition has it that he was Bar Kokhba's uncle and that he died during the siege of Beitar.
Yoma 75a-b: A Return to the Desert
25/06/2021 - 15th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In trying to determine the definition of inuy (suffering), the Gemara turns to the passages in Tanakh where the term is used. For example, the Torah describes the act of feeding manna to the Jewish people in the desert as a type of inuy (see Devarim 8:3). This allows the Gemara to segue into a discussion of the bread and meat eaten by the Israelites in their travels through the desert - the "bread" being manna and the "meat" being slav, usually translated as quail. Many descriptions of manna are given. For example, Rabbi Akiva interprets the passage in Tehillim 78:24-25 as teaching that the manna was the food of angels. Rabbi Yishmael objected to this explanation, arguing that spiritual beings cannot be perceived as eating food. He explains the pasuk in Tehillim as meaning that the manna was the perfect food - it was completely absorbed by the body with absolutely no waste (i.e. no need for excretion). It can be assumed that Rabbi Akiva agrees that the heavenly angels did not eat as human beings do, and he was speaking metaphorically that the manna was a manifestation of a supreme level of spirituality, similar to the makeup of angels. Rabbi Yishmael objects even to the metaphor which may be misunderstood. As far as the slav is concerned, Rav Hanan bar Rava teaches that there are four separate birds called slav. We cannot identify each of these birds with certainty, but it appears that they are all members of the pheasant family of birds, which are similar to chickens. The birds mentioned in the Gemara are variously identified as Alectoris, Francolinus, Ammoperdix and Phasianus, all of which have similar body structures and make up a natural family. The pheasant (Phasianus) is raised as poultry in many places. Standard quail - Coturnix coturnix - is the smallest of the birds related to the chicken. Due to its short neck and legs, it appears fatter and rounder than other related birds, even though the fat in its body changes, particularly after a lengthy migration. Migration patterns take these birds from Europe to Africa in large flock, and many birds fall from the sky due to exhaustion on the shores of the Mediterranean. Some types of quail remain in Israel and its environs for nesting.
Yoma 74a-b: Eating Less Than the Forbidden Amount
24/06/2021 - 14th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (73b) taught that in order to be held liable for eating or drinking on Yom Kippur, one must consume a certain amount of food or drink. What if one eats less than that amount - is it still forbidden by the Torah, or is it permitted by the Torah (i.e. such eating is not significant as far as halakha is concerned) and only forbidden on a Rabbinic level? Rabbi Yohanan believes that eating less than the full amount is still forbidden by the Torah (although there will be no punishment for having done so); Reish Lakish believes that it is permitted by the Torah. Rabbi Yohanan presents a baraita that challenges Reish Lakish's position. The baraita teaches that helev - forbidden fats - cannot be eaten, even in a case where there is no punishment, like a case of a koy or eating less than a full amount, which is based on the passage that says kol helev (Vayikra 7:23) - any helev. Reish Lakish responds by saying that the law is Rabbinic in origin and the passage quoted is merely an asmakhta - a support used by the Rabbis for their rule. The koy discussed here is an animal that is not clearly defined as either a behema (a domesticated animal) or a haya (a wild animal). The Gemara in Hullin discusses the difference between wild and domesticated animals in some detail. While it is clear that cattle (cows, sheep, goats) are domesticated animals, some of their close relatives are considered wild animals, and it is often difficult to draw a clear line of demarcation between, for example, a wild and a domesticated goat. On occasion, wild animals that are closely related to cattle are herded and raised together with domesticated ones. Those animals would fall into the halakhic quandary of the koy. Given the unclear status of such animals, there are a number of laws that may or may not apply to them, like our case of helev (which is only forbidden in behemot – see Vayikra 7:22-25), the case of kisuy ha-dam (covering the blood of an animal that is slaughtered, which applies only to a haya – see Vayikra 17:13), etc.
Yoma 73a-b: Commandments That Apply To All Jews On Yom Kippur
23/06/2021 - 13th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The eighth perek of Massekhet Yoma begins on today's daf. In contrast to the rest of the massekhet, this final chapter deals with the commandments of Yom Kippur that apply to every Jewish person, and not specifically to the High Priest serving in the Temple. There are two commandments that apply to all Jews on Yom Kippur: the prohibition of melakha, and the mitzva of inuy - to create a sense of suffering or oppression, as defined by the Sages. We are familiar with the prohibition against work from our study of the rules and regulations of Shabbat, and, in fact, the Gemara learns that melakha is forbidden on Yom Kippur in a similar manner to the prohibition on Shabbat. Inuy, on the other hand, has no clear parallels in the realm of halakha, and the Torah does not make clear what exactly must be done to fulfill this mitzva. Do we simply refrain from pleasurable activities, or are we obligated to perform specific acts that bring with them a certain level of suffering? The first Mishna in the perek enumerates five pleasurable activities that are forbidden as a result of this mitzva. They are: Eating and drinking Washing Anointing Wearing shoes Sexual relations There is a difference of opinion between the commentaries regarding the level of these prohibitions. According to the Rambam, they are all Biblically forbidden, while the Rosh and the Tosafot Yeshanim understand that only eating and drinking are forbidden by the Torah, while the other inuyim are Rabbinic in origin. Included in the Mishna are some exceptions to the rule. For example, a Jewish king and a newly married bride are permitted to wash their faces. According to the reasoning of the Rosh and Tosafot Yeshanim, it is fairly easy to accept these exceptions. Given that the obligation is Rabbinic, the Rabbis apparently chose not to apply the prohibition in these particular cases when they established the law. It is more difficult to explain the Rambam's position, however. The Ran suggests that this is an example of a case where the Torah presents a commandment, but leaves it to the Sages to determine how exactly that mitzva should be fulfilled. In our case, the Torah commanded that people reach a level of inuy, but left it to the Rabbinic leaders to decide how that state should be reached.
Yoma 72a-b: And It Shall Not Be Torn
22/06/2021 - 12th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on this daf discusses the bigdei kehuna - the special uniform worn by the priests who are involved in the Temple service - and particularly the respect and honor that these clothing deserve.
Rahava said that Rav Yehuda said: One who intentionally tears any of the priestly vestments transgresses a prohibition and is flogged, as it is stated concerning the robe: "It shall have a hem of woven work around the opening of it, like the opening of a coat of mail, and it shall not be torn" (Shmot 28:32). Just as it is prohibited to tear the opening of the robe, so too, it is prohibited to tear any of the priestly vestments. Rav Aha bar Ya'akov strongly objects to this: But perhaps this is what the Merciful One is saying in the Torah: An opening should be made in order that it not tear. In other words, the Torah was giving an explanation, not a prohibition. The Gemara rejects this: It is written: In order that it not be torn? Clearly, the intention of the verse is to state a prohibition.
The Sefer Ha-hinukh explains the prohibition as stemming from the heightened respect that needs to be shown to the priestly uniform, both by kohanim and by the general population. Some commentaries distinguish between the me'il (outer garment) - where the prohibition applies to any tear - and the other bigdei kehuna, where the only prohibition is when the tear was made in a destructive manner. Rabbi Moshe Galanti points out in his Sefer Korban Hagiga that it is unusual for the Talmudic sages to interpret a passage that is clearly an explanation of a commandment and understand it to be a prohibition. For example, when the Torah commands a Jewish king to refrain from marrying too many wives, concluding "and his heart will not be swayed," it is not understood as a separate prohibition, forbidding the king from turning away; rather, it is interpreted as an explanation of why too many wives is a bad thing. One suggestion put forward by the commentaries (see Rashi on the Torah) is that this case is unique because the Torah repeats the same words in both the commandment to make the bigdei kehuna and the description of the fulfillment of that commandment. It is difficult to accept that the Torah would give the same explanation twice, particularly in the case where the Torah is describing that the garments were being made. Thus it is understood to be teaching a law, rather than simply offering an explanation.
Yoma 71a-b: And This is How They Dressed
21/06/2021 - 11th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf teaches about the bigdei kehuna – the special clothing worn by the kohanim and the kohen gadol. The kohen gadol wears eight special garments, of which four of them were the standard attire of a regular kohen. The bigdei kehuna included: Kohen: kutonet (tunic) mikhnasayim (pants) mitznefet (mitre) avnet (belt); Kohen gadol: hoshen (breastplate) ephod me'il (robe) tzitz (frontplate). With regard to the mitznefet we find a disagreement among the commentaries. According to the Rambam, both the regular kohen and the kohen gadol wore the same type of head covering, which was made of a long strip of fabric 16 amot long. The difference between them was in the way in which it was wrapped, with the kohen making it into a tall turban and the kohen gadol would wrap it around his head and beard. The Ra'avad understands that only the kohen gadol wore a mitznefet, while the regular kohanim wore tall, thin hats. The Gemara derives from passages in Shmot 39 that the basic material used in the fabric for the bigdei kehuna was linen, derived from flax - Linum usitatissimum. It is an erect annual plant growing between 30 and 100 cm tall, with slender stems. The flowers are pure pale blue, 1.5-2.5 cm diameter, with five petals. The fruit is a round, dry capsule from which oils are derived. Flax is one of the oldest cultivated crops on record; its growth is mentioned in ancient Egypt. Today it is cultivated mainly in tropical areas. The main product of flax is the fibers from which linen is made. Flax fiber is extracted from the bast or skin of the stem of flax plant. Flax fiber is soft, lustrous and flexible. It is stronger than cotton fiber but less elastic. It is removed via a lengthy process whereby the plant is dried out and then soaked until almost rotten. At that point they are once again dried out and the fibers combed out.
Yoma 70a-b: Blessings Over Torah Reading on Yom Kippur
20/06/2021 - 10th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna in the (perek (68b) teaches that the kohen gadol read the Torah publicly before the people who came to the Temple to see the avodat (Temple service of) Yom Kippur. It further itemizes the eight blessings that the High Priest recited over this reading. They include a blessing on: Torah Avoda Modim (a blessing of thanksgiving) a request for forgiveness the Temple itself the kohanim (that their sacrifices should be accepted) the Jewish People the rest of the prayer.
The Sages taught in another baraita: And the blessing concerning the rest of the prayer reads: Song, supplication, petition before You for Your people Israel, who need to be saved. And he adds an additional supplication and concludes the blessing with: The One Who hears prayer [Shomei'a tefilla].
Although these are the blessings enumerated in the Mishna, there are a wide variety of opinions about the actual blessings recited and their number. For example, the Meiri suggests that there really were ten blessings recited, since the normal blessings made before and after Torah reading should not be counted, since they are not unique to the avoda of Yom Kippur. He adds a blessing about the city of Jerusalem. Most of the blessings that are unique to the Temple service no longer appear in our liturgy. Nevertheless there are some exceptions. For example, Rashi says that the blessing on the avoda is similar to the retzei blessing that is said in the daily amida, with a different closing blessing. Rather than using the contemporary prayer for the return of God's presence to the Temple (which would obviously have been inappropriate when the Temple was standing and in use) the blessing concluded she-otkhah levadkhah be-yirah na'avod – that only You should we serve in awe. According to some traditions, this blessing is retained on the occasions when the kohanim bless the congregation on holidays during the musaf prayers. Some suggest that the blessing recited over the Temple was to the effect of "It should be Your will that You should establish Your Temple forever, and be desirous of it and allow Your holy presence to reside in it forever, blessed be You God, who dwells in the Temple.”
Yoma 69a-b: Wearing the Priestly Clothes Outside the Temple
19/06/2021 - 9th of Tamuz, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Today's daf includes one of the most famous stories in the Gemara, when the kohen gadol, Shimon HaTzaddik met Alexander Mokdon (the Macedonian). The story is taken from Megillat Ta'anit (which appears in the Steinsaltz Talmud after Massekhet Ta'anit), where the baraita explains why during the second Temple period the 25th day of Tevet was celebrated as a minor holiday, which was called "the day of Mount Gerizim." Our Gemara introduces it in the context of the halakha that the kohen gadol was not permitted to wear the special bigdei kehuna – the clothing worn by a priest – outside the Temple. Yet, in the following story we find that Shimon HaTzaddik did so. Megillat Ta'anit records how the Samaritans approached Alexander Mokdon and requested permission from him to be permitted to destroy the Temple in Jerusalem. Alexander agreed. When word of this got to Jerusalem, the kohen gadol, Shimon HaTzaddik dressed in his priestly garments and headed north together with an entourage to greet Alexander. Upon reaching Antipatris, the city that was considered the northern border of second Temple period Judea, which stood apparently in the vicinity of today's Rosh ha-Ayin, the two groups met.
When Alexander saw Shimon HaTzaddik, he descended from his chariot and bowed before him. His escorts said to him: Should an important king such as you bow to this Jew? He said to them: I do so because the image of this man's face is victorious before me on my battlefields, i.e., when I fight I see his image going before me as a sign of victory, and therefore I know that he has supreme sanctity.
Shimon HaTzaddik appealed to Alexander to save the Temple, explaining that prayers on his behalf were recited there on a regular basis. Alexander acceded to the request and permitted the Jews to destroy the Samaritan Temple on Mount Gerizim instead.
  • The Gemara offers two explanations to Shimon HaTzaddik's behavior in wearing bigdei kehuna to this meeting. One is that they were not true bigdei kehuna, they were replicas that were similar to the priestly garments. The other explanation is that this was a case where an exception was made, since the fate of the Temple and the Jewish people was at stake (the passage from Tehillim 119:126 is invoked as a source for that idea).
It should be noted that other sources support the veracity of this story, as it appears in Josephus with minor variations.
Yoma 68a-b: Simultaneous Mitzvot on Yom Kippur
18/06/2021 - 8th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The seventh perek of Massekhet Yoma, which begins on today's daf, opens with a description of the kohen gadol reading the command of the Yom Kippur service as it appears in the Torah (Vayikra 16:1-34; 23:26-32). The Jerusalem Talmud derives the need for this public reading from the passage "…and he did as God commanded Moshe," which is understood to obligate not only performance of the avoda (Temple service), but also teaching about it. The Mishna notes that the people who came to watch the Yom Kippur service needed to choose whether to attend the Torah reading or to go to see the burning of the sacrifices (the par and se'ir), which were done outside of Jerusalem, as was taught in the previous perek. According to the Rambam in his commentary to the Mishnah, the Mishna emphasizes this in order to teach that the rule forbidding someone to pass up the opportunity to perform one mitzva in order to do another (ein ma'avirin al ha-mitzvot) only applies to someone who is actually obligated in a mitzva, and not to someone who is simply observing the mitzva, even taking into consideration the idea that be-rov am hadrat melekh – that the King is honored before a large group. The Torah reading described here only takes place after the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah – the scapegoat – has arrived at its destination in the desert, which is why the last Mishna in the sixth perek informs us that the kohen gadol waited for the signal that the mitzva of the se'ir had been accomplished. Three opinions are offered by the Mishna as to how the message was sent to the Temple. According to the Tanna Kamma, people were assigned to stand along the route to the desert. When the designated person completed his mission he would wave a flag, which would signal the next person along the line to do so, and each person would take up the signal until it reached the mikdash. Rabbi Yehuda argues that we know the distance to the desert is three Roman miles, so we merely need to measure out the time that it takes to walk that distance and we know that the mitzva has been done. Rabbi Yishma'el suggests that we would know it because the scarlet ribbon that was tied around the horns of the se'ir had a parallel ribbon tied in the Temple. When they turned white (based on the passage in Yeshayahu 1:18) it would be clear that the scapegoat had reached its final destination. It appears that Rabbi Yehuda felt that we did not need conclusive proof, so the Tanna Kamma's suggestion of using flags was unwieldy and unnecessary. The Tanna Kamma, however, accepts neither Rabbi Yehuda's estimate, nor Rabbi Yishmael's reliance on miracles.
Yoma 67a-b: Commandments That Do Not Seem Logical
17/06/2021 - 7th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The focus of the sixth perek of Massekhet Yoma has been the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah – the scapegoat – which is not sacrificed in the Temple like a regular korban, but is taken to the desert where it metaphorically takes the sins of the Jewish people with it to its death. This process, which is a central part of the Yom Kippur service, is not explained by the Torah. The Gemara on our daf lists the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah together with a number of other ritual acts that are perceived as being ones which the evil inclination and the non-Jews of the world point to as indicative of the lack of logic in Jewish law. The baraita opens with a passage in Vayikra 18:4 that obligates the Jewish people to perform both mishpatim and hukim. The baraita interprets mishpatim as logical commandments, ones that man would establish even if there was no Biblical command to keep them, e.g. idol worship, sexual depravity, murder and stealing. Hukim, on the other hand, are commandments that do not seem to have a logical basis, like our case of the scapegoat, eating pork, wearing or making use of forbidden mixtures, or the process of readmitting a recovered leper into the community. Some point to certain similarities in all of these cases, in that they either are things that are forbidden even as something points to their permissibility (pigs have split hooves – one of the signs of a kosher animal; sha'atnez, the mixture of wool and linen is made up of two permissible items) or involve permissibility stemming from something forbidden (the leper being readmitted to the community or the scapegoat erasing the sins of the community). It is clear that all of these cases appear to be some kind of magic and do not fall into the normal categories of halakha, which leads to the possibility of their being questioned. Aside from the above mentioned cases, variant readings of the Gemara include other examples of halakhot that appear to be similarly strange, which may be added to the list of things about which non-Jews or the evil inclination ridicule the Jews. They include egla arufa (the calf that is beheaded as part of the ritual when a dead body is found between two cities), removal of the hair as part of the process of the nazir who completes his nezirut, and the prohibition against mixing meat and milk.
Yoma 66a-b: Other Possible Scapegoat Situations
16/06/2021 - 6th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
A series of questions on our daf are directed at Rabbi Eliezer, who appears to make a serious attempt to avoid answering them directly. When asked whether the scapegoat could be carried if it became sick, Rabbi Eliezer answered "that goat can carry me and you." When asked whether a replacement for the person who escorted the scapegoat to the cliff could be inserted if the first person became ill, he answered "I and you shall be in peace." When asked whether the person who escorts the scapegoat should go down and kill it in the event that it did not die in the fall off the cliff, he answered by quoting a passage in Sefer Shoftim (5:31) "So may all your enemies perish, Lord." Perhaps the simplest way of understanding Rabbi Eliezer's answers is that he was suggesting that these situations would never occur, and therefore there was no need to discuss them in a serious way. Many of the commentaries argue that Rabbi Eliezer was not avoiding the questions, rather he chose to express his opinion on them in an indirect manner. His answer that the scapegoat could carry the people hinted that such carrying would be permissible on Shabbat. Saying that they should remain in peace indicated that anyone could step in and be a fitting substitute for the designated person who became ill. Finally, quoting the passage in Sefer Shoftim showed that he felt that once the commandment was fulfilled and the scapegoat was thrown from the cliff, no further involvement was necessary. In fact, the Jerusalem Talmud reports that the scapegoat occasionally escaped into the desert. The Gemara recounts several other questions that were presented to Rabbi Eliezer, about which he gives unclear responses, and explains that he was not simply trying to avoid the questions, rather he was abiding by his personal position of never offering a ruling that he did not have a tradition on from his teachers (see Sukka 27b, where Rabbi Eliezer explains this position). Nevertheless it should be noted that this holds true only for questions of a final legal ruling. With regard to the arguments and discussions that took place in the bet midrash , he certainly played an active role that included his own original suggestions.
Yoma 65a-b: The Connection of Two Goats
15/06/2021 - 5th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna at the beginning of the perek (62a) we are introduced to Rabbi Yehuda's opinion from which the Gemara on our daf concludes that the two se'irim – the goat chosen by lottery to be sacrificed and the one whose lot is to be sent to its death in the desert – are interconnected. As such, if the blood of the sacrifice is spilled before it has been sprinkled on the altar, obligating the sacrificial goat to be replaced, the scapegoat needs to be replaced, as well. Similarly, if the scapegoat dies before the blood of the sacrifice has been sprinkled, we will need to replace both se'irim. The question of a sacrifice that can no longer be brought because of an outside issue, leads the Gemara to introduce another case where Rabbi Yehuda offers an opinion, which seems to contradict his position in our Mishna. The Mishna in Massekhet Shekalim (2:1) teaches that there was no obligation for every individual to bring half-shekel coins to the bet ha-Mikdash, rather they could be collected in every community, exchanged for larger coins and sent with a messenger to Jerusalem. What if the money was lost or stolen en route to the Temple? The Mishna teaches that responsibility for lost or stolen money depends on when the money disappeared. In order for the communal sacrifices that were brought in the Temple to be considered to have come from the entire nation, even before the half-shekel donations arrived in the Mikdash, money was set aside on Rosh Hodesh Nisan for the purchase of sacrifices. This money – called Terumat ha-lishka – was, in essence, a loan that was to be repaid when the half-shekalim arrived. Our Mishna teaches that if Terumat ha-lishka had already been set aside, the money in the hands of the messenger was considered to have already reached the treasurer of the Temple. In such a case, the messenger swears to the Temple treasurer that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion. If, however, Terumat ha-lishka had not yet been set aside, then the money still belonged to the townspeople when it was stolen. In such a case, the messenger must swear to them that he did not handle the money in an irresponsible fashion, and each of them will have to send another half-shekel to the Mikdash.
If the shekels that were lost are found or the thieves returned them, both these and those are shekels, i.e., they remain sanctified, but they do not count toward the amount due the following year. The next year the members of that city must donate new shekels; they have not fulfilled the second year's obligation by having given twice the previous year. Rabbi Yehuda says: They do count toward the following year. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda? Rava said: Rabbi Yehuda holds that the obligations of this year are also brought the following year, and therefore it is possible to fulfill one's obligation for the next year by using the shekels of this year.
Abaye points out that were this true, Rabbi Yehuda should recommend holding the se'ir that could not be sacrificed this year for use next year. The Gemara concludes by quoting a passage (Bamidbar 28:14) that teaches that a sacrifice must be new every year. The shekalim, which are used also for other purposes aside from sacrifices, can be switched to another year according to Rabbi Yehuda.
Yoma 64a-b: How To Define Ritual Slaughter
14/06/2021 - 4th of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah teaches that it is forbidden to kill an animal and its son on one day (oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad - see Vayikra 22:28). This is understood by the Sages as forbidding the slaughter of a mother and its child together (some understand that it refers to the father, as well, if his identity is known). In a case where the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - has already been chosen and an emergency situation comes up (e.g. meat is needed for someone who is deathly ill, which would allow its preparation even on Yom Kippur) for which its mother is slaughtered, would the scapegoat still be sent off to be killed, or does the rule of oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad still apply? (The Ritva points out that the question would apply even if the mother was slaughtered in a forbidden situation on Yom Kippur, but the Gemara preferred to offer a case where it would, theoretically, be permissible.) The Gemara suggests that this is not a problem at all, since the language of the pasuk clearly states that what is forbidden is shehitah. Thus, the halakha is that if the mother animal is killed in some other fashion, it would be permissible to slaughter the child. Since the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah is to be killed by being thrown off a cliff in the desert, it would appear that the rule of oto ve'et b'no lo tishhatu b'yom ehad should not apply.
The Gemara answers: They say in the West, i.e., Eretz Yisrael, that pushing it off the cliff, which is the manner in which the scapegoat is supposed to be killed, is considered its slaughter.
In essence, the question debated on our daf is how narrowly we should define shehitah. Tosafot suggest that this Gemara is teaching us that it should be defined broadly, to mean that it was killed for its ritual purpose. In the case of the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah, that is accomplished by means other than traditional slaughter.
Yoma 63a-b: Do the Rules of Korbanot Apply to the Scapegoat?
13/06/2021 - 3rd of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Once the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - is chosen by means of the lottery, its status as a sacrifice is unclear. On the one hand, it is still an integral part of the Yom Kippur Temple service. On the other hand, it is not a korban la-Shem - a sacrifice to God - as it is to be sent to Azazel. Do the regular rules and regulations that apply to other korbanot apply here, or not? The Gemara on our daf examines pesukim and comes to conclusions that seem to distinguish between different laws. With regard to a mum - a blemish that would disqualify an animal from being brought as a sacrifice - the Gemara quotes a baraita that derives from pesukim that the rules of blemishes apply to the scapegoat, even though it will not be brought as a sacrifice. Yet, relating back to a baraita that was taught on a previous page, our Gemara points to the ruling that if the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah was slaughtered outside of the Temple precincts, the person who killed it would not be held liable for performing shehitat kodashim ba-hutz - slaughtering a consecrated animal outside the mikdash - since this animal is not destined to be brought as a sacrifice in the Temple. This ruling is applied by the Gemara to other types of consecrated animals, as well. If they have been donated to the Temple but are not to be sacrificed, they, too, will not be held to the laws of korbanot. Specifically, kodashei bedek ha-bayit - property of the Temple that is used for its upkeep and beautification - fall into this category. These things, which are donated to the Temple for purposes other than sacrifice, are subject to the laws of me'ila (see daf  59), but not the laws of sacrifices. There is a specific law forbidding the donation of an animal that could be brought as a korban to the Temple as kodashei bedek ha-bayit. An animal that is free of blemishes that could be sacrificed can only be consecrated to the Temple for that purpose.
Yoma 62a-b: Two Identical Goats
12/06/2021 - 2nd of Tamuz, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The sixth perek of Massekhet Yoma, which begins on our daf, focuses on the se'ir ha-mishtale'ah - the scapegoat - which is a central part of the Yom Kippur service (see Vayikra 16:20-22).
Mishna: The mitzva of the two Yom Kippur goats, the goat sacrificed to God and the goat sent to Azazel that are brought as a pair, is as follows, ab initio: That they will both be identical in appearance, i.e., color, and in height, and in monetary value, and their acquisition must be as one, i.e., they must be purchased together. And even if they are not identical, nevertheless, they are valid. And similarly, if he acquired one today and one tomorrow, they are valid.
The Tosafot Yeshanim point to a Gemara in Sanhedrin, which says that no two individuals are truly identical, and ask how two identical goats can possibly be found. The answer they suggest is that we must distinguish between people who have clearly identifiable characteristics and animals whose appearance may be much more similar. Nevertheless, they refer to a comment in the Jerusalem Talmud that seems to indicate that no two things will ever be identical - even two grains of wheat have differences between them. This leads the Tosafot Yeshanim to conclude that the Mishna merely means that the two animals should be as similar as possible in their general appearance. With regard to value, according to the Jerusalem Talmud, we are not concerned about their actual selling price, but rather about their true value. Even if they were purchased for different amounts of money, as long as they are of equal value we have met the requirement; if their values were significantly different, even if they cost the same amount of money (e.g. one of the sellers gave a discount to the Temple representative) the requirement would not be met. Finally, the Mishna recommends that they be purchased at the same time, and the commentaries explain that ideally they should even be purchased from the same merchant, as we try to limit anything that distinguishes the two animals from one another.