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

Pesaḥim 100a-b: Stopping a Meal to Welcome a Holiday
01/03/2021 - 17st of Adar, 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 first laws taught in this perek deals with eating a meal on erev Pesah. The Mishna rules that a person is not supposed to involve himself in a meal in the afternoon of erev Pesah. The Gemara points out that this rule is true for Shabbat and other holidays, as well. What if a person began the meal when he was permitted to do so, and it extended until it was time for Shabbat or the holiday to begin? Here we find two opinions in a baraita – according to Rabbi Yehuda you must end your meal in order to stop and welcome Shabbat; Rabbi Yose rules that you can continue your meal. Rav Yehuda quotes Shmuel as ruling that we follow neither Rabbi Yehuda nor Rabbi Yose, rather a person in that situation should cover the bread with a cloth, and make Kiddush. The Rashbam is concerned that Shmuel, an amora, cannot disagree with both the tanna'im who have offered halakhic opinions on this matter. He suggests that Shmuel really does accept Rabbi Yose's position, and is merely recommending a stringency – that one should not ignore the arrival of Shabbat and continue eating, rather he should acknowledge Shabbat by introducing Kiddush into the meal. Most of the commentaries explain that covering the bread symbolically ends the Friday afternoon meal allowing a "new" meal to begin with the recitation of Kiddush. After Kiddush the meal – which has now become a Shabbat meal – is resumed. Some of the Ge'onim explain the idea of covering the bread as being connected with the need to make Kiddush over a cup of wine. The Gemara in Berakhot teaches that the blessing over bread always precedes the blessing over wine. Covering the bread allows the blessing over the wine to be made without concern for the rules of precedence, since only the wine is readily available. According to this approach, covering the bread is appropriate not only for our unique case, but for all Shabbat meals. The other reason given for this custom is in commemoration of the Manna, that was covered both above and below by dew (see Shmot16).
Pesaḥim 99a-b: Additional Seder Night Obligations
28/02/2021 - 16st of Adar, 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
Following several chapters that deal with the Passover sacrifice, the tenth perek of Massekhet Pesahim returns to the holiday itself – specifically to the seder that takes place on the eve of the 15th of Nisan. In fact, early manuscripts of the massekhet have this perek appearing immediately after the discussion of hametz and matza that are the concern of the first four chapters, closing what is referred to as Pesah rishon – the first set of rules of the Passover holiday (the second set of rules being those that deal with the sacrifice). Aside from the basic biblical commandments that make up the seder, such as eating the korban Pesah together with matza and marror, discussing the exodus story, etc., the Sages added other commandments, such as drinking four cups of wine and dining in a manner that befits an honorable, free man. Similarly, we are instructed to behave in a manner that will encourage children to ask their parents about the curious behaviors of the meal, in order to allow for discussion of the exodus from Egypt and its miracles. These issues are the topic of perek Arvei Pesahim, which begins on our daf. The first Mishna in the perek teaches that every person is obligated to drink four cups of wine, even if he needs to accept charity in order to do so. The Rashbam points out the source for this Rabbinic enactment. When God first turns to Moshe and promises to takes the Jewish People out of Egypt, He makes use of four different terms that describe the redemption (see Shmot 6:6-7):
  • Ve-hotzeti – and I will bring them out;
  • Ve-hitzalti – and I will deliver them;
  • Ve-ga'alti – and I will redeem them;
  • Ve-lakahti – and I will take them to me as a people.
The Me'iri explains the unique significance of each term as follows:
  • Ve-hotzeti – I will bring them out from the difficult activities that are forced upon them as slaves.
  • Ve-hitzalti –I will deliver them out of the physical bondage of belonging to a master.
  • Ve-ga'alti – I will redeem them by smiting their enemies and making them free men.
  • Ve-lakahti – I will take them to me as a people by giving them the Torah.
Other reasons for the four cups of wine are mentioned by the Yerushalmi.
Pesaḥim 98a-b: Groups That Have Intermingled
27/02/2021 - 15st of Adar, 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
he Mishna on our daf discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was misplaced, and while one member of the group goes out and finds it, the rest of the group purchases a replacement.
As a follow-up to this discussion our Gemara talks about two or more groups whose sacrifices become intermingled to the extent that they do not know which animal belongs to whom. The suggestion of the Gemara is to have one person from each group announce his intention to leave the group and join another. Once each of them has agreed to join the other group, both groups makes the following conditional statement to the new member of the group: If this Paschal lamb that is now in our possession is ours, you are withdrawn from the Paschal lamb that was yours, and your are registered for our Paschal lamb and you may eat from it. And if this Paschal lamb is yours, meaning that it actually belongs to the other group, including this individual, we are hereby withdrawn from ours and we are registered for your Paschal lamb, which you agree to share with us.
By doing this, the people of both groups succeed in arranging to sacrifice the animal belonging to the group that they had joined. The Tosafot Ri"d points out that this is not the usual procedure when two sacrifices get mixed up. If two similar korbanot are confused, we usually rule that both should be brought normally and that each one will fulfill the role that it needs to, even if we do not know which korban belongs to which person. The situation is different with a korban Pesah. As noted before, a person must join a group in order to participate in the Passover sacrifice. The korban that will be brought must belong to that group, or else the korban is invalid. It is therefore essential that we ascertain who the animal belongs to. When it is impossible to sort it out we solve the problem by recommending that the exchange described above takes place in order to ensure that the sacrifice is eaten by the group to which it truly belongs.
Pesaḥim 97a-b: When The Lamb Does Not Meet The Criteria
26/02/2021 - 14st of Adar, 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 gives clear parameters for the animal that is to be brought as the korban Pesah. It must be a male that is one year old (see Shmot 12:5). What if an animal is set aside as a korban Pesah and it does not meet those basic criteria?
Mishna: In the case of one who separates a female animal for his Paschal lamb although the Torah requires a male, or a male that is in its second year although a Paschal lamb must be an animal that is in its first year, the animal is left to graze until it develops a blemish and becomes unfit, and it is then sold and its money is used for free-will offerings or peace-offerings.
What is left unclear in the Mishna is what is to be done with the proceeds. The Mishna appears to offer two contradictory rulings. According to the standard text the money should be used for a nedava (a voluntary offering), a Shelamim. Actually there are variant readings of the Mishna. The Jerusalem Talmud reads that the money should be used as a nedava. Many other sources say that the money should be used for a Shelamim, the standard use of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed. In his commentary to the Mishna, the Rambam explains – like the Yerushalmi – that a korban nedeva should be brought with the money. According to Rashi's reading of the Mishna, the money should be used for a Shelamim. The Rambam in his Mishneh Torah agrees with that ruling, but only under certain circumstances. According to the Rambam, once we realize that this animal cannot be brought as a korban Pesah, we set it out to pasture, hoping that it will develop a mum – a physical blemish that will make it unfit for sacrifice. At that time it can be sold and with the proceeds an animal appropriate for a korban Pesah can be brought. If, however, the animal does not develop a blemish until after that time, a different animal will have to be purchased with other monies, and when this animal develops a blemish a korban Shelamim will be bought with the proceeds.
Pesaḥim 96a-b: The Replacements
25/02/2021 - 13st of Adar, 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 (Vayikra 27:10) teaches the rule of temura – switching animals that are set aside for sacrifices. It is forbidden to switch one animal for another, and if someone does so both animals will become subject to the laws of sacrifices. In the Mishna on our daf, Rabbi Yehoshua reports that he has a tradition that sometimes the temura of a korban Pesah is sacrificed and sometimes it is not, but that he cannot understand the ruling. Rabbi Akiva explains it by comparing it to a korban Pesah that was misplaced and was replaced by another animal. In such a case we distinguish between two cases. 1. When the animal was found before the sacrifice was brought, we perceive the animal as having been actively "pushed aside." At the moment when it could have been sacrificed we chose to sacrifice another instead of it. Therefore it cannot be brought as a Pesah, nor as a Shelamim (we have already learned that a korban Pesah that is not sacrificed can be brought as a Shelamim). We therefore allow it to graze until it develops a physical blemish that will make it unfit for a sacrifice. At that time it can be sold, and the proceeds will be used to purchase a korban Shelamim. 2. When the animal was found after the sacrifice was slaughtered, it can simply be brought as a Shelamim, since we do not see it as being "pushed aside" – it simply was not available for use when the korban Pesah was brought. The same rules would apply to temura. If the second animal was introduced as a replacement before the korban Pesah was slaughtered, both of them were available at the key moment and the one that was not sacrificed as a korban cannot be brought as a Shelamim, either. It will have to be sold (after it develops a blemish) and a different animal purchased with the proceeds. If the second animal was introduced later, it will be brought as a Shelamim. The laws of temura have an entire tractate devoted to them – Massekhet Temura. As noted above, creating a temura is forbidden, yet doing so will create a kedusha on the replacement animal parallel to that of the original korban. In cases where the sacrifice is a nedava – a voluntary offering – this does not present a problem, as both will be brought as sacrifices. In cases such as ours, or, for example, a sin-offering that cannot be brought twice, the only option is to wait until it becomes unfit to bring as a korban, when it can be sold and exchanged for another animal that will be given to the Temple.
Pesaḥim 95a-b: Reciting Hallel on Pesah Sheni
24/02/2021 - 12st of Adar, 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 (see Bamidbar 9:10-14) that someone who was unable to sacrifice the korban Pesah at the proper time because he was ritually defiled or because he was far from Jerusalem, is obligated to come to the Temple one month later, on the 14th of Iyyar and bring a Pesah sheni – a "second Pesah." One of the basic questions associated with this sacrifice is whether it is merely a replacement for the first, or if Pesah sheni is a separate holiday, albeit one that is only obligatory on those people who did not succeed in bringing the sacrifice the first time. The Mishna on our daf teaches that for all that the Torah commands that the same rules apply to the Pesah sheni that applied to the first Pesah, nevertheless there are significant differences between the two. For example, the commandment to rid oneself of hametz before the sacrifice is brought only applies on the regular Pesah, and not on Pesah sheni. Similarly, Hallel is recited while eating the sacrifice on Pesah rishon (first), but not on Pesah sheni. The Mishna mentions other laws that apply to both, like the recitation of Hallel while the korban is being sacrificed, that the meat is eaten roasted together with matza and marror, and that both "push aside" Shabbat should the day that the sacrifice needs to be brought fall on Shabbat. Tosafot point out that the Mishna is only giving examples, and that there are other laws that are unique to Pesah rishon. As a case in point, the Jerusalem Talmud notes that the korban Pesah is accompanied by a korban hagiga (see Pesahim daf 70) only on Pesah rishon and not on Pesah sheni.
The Gemara asks: What is the reason that hallel must be recited while one prepares the Paschal lamb on the second Pesah? The Gemara answers...if you wish, say that this halakha simply makes logical sense: Is it possible that the Jewish people are slaughtering their Paschal lambs or taking their lulavim on Sukkot and not reciting hallel? It is inconceivable that they would not be reciting hallel and there is no need for an explicit biblical source for this halakha.
This argument, which can be applied to every one of the Jewish holidays, indicates that the tradition of reciting Hallel is an ancient one. Nevertheless, once we establish the centrality of the recitation of Hallel to the celebration of the holidays, why is it not said while the korban Pesah is eaten on Pesah sheni? One answer that is suggested points to the fact that Hallel is usually recited only during the day, and we need a special pasuk to introduce the idea of reciting it at night on Pesah. The passage brought by the Gemara to suggest saying Hallel at night appears in Yeshayahu (30:29) "the song should be for you as the night of the celebration of the holiday" which is understood to teach that a song – the Hallel – is appropriate only when there is a holiday being celebrated. For all the importance of Pesah sheni, it is not a Yom Tov, as work is permitted, etc.
Pesaḥim 94a-b: The crossing of the Sun
23/02/2021 - 11st of Adar, 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 large part of this daf is devoted to discussions between the Sages about time and distance, and their relationship with the length of day and night. According to the description in the Gemara, the way the sun appears crossing the sky during the day is due to a physical pathway that exists across the sky. The raki'a – the sky, or "firmament" (see Bereshit 1:6-8) is a half circle above the ground reaching into the sky. The sun travels at the height of the raki'a or below it from east to west (from A to B in the linked diagram). Darkness takes place when the sun enters a halon – a "window" in the raki'a, where it cannot be seen until it comes out of the halon the next morning. The Gemara attempts to establish the "size" of the world based on an estimation of the distance a person can walk in a single day and a comparison between that and the distance the sun travels during daylight hours. Already in the period of the Ge'onim (prior to the tenth century CE) the commentaries taught that these discussions in the Gemara are neither halakha, nor are they essential Jewish belief, as they are based on a particular perspective on the natural world that was considered scientific knowledge at that time. The Ge'onim further note, that since Jewish scholars have embraced the positions of the scientific world with regard to these types of questions, the discussion and descriptions that appear in our Gemara are not to be understood as literal truth. It is important to note that at least some of the discussion here does not really relate to the physical world in which we live; rather it refers to a spiritual and perhaps mystical world. As such it should be noted that the Sages of the Talmud talk about gan eden – the Garden of Eden – and gehenom – Hell – as if they should be measured within the precincts of our physical world, even as it is clear that they exist in a different realm of reality.
Pesaḥim 93a-b: When on a Distant Journey
22/02/2021 - 10st of Adar, 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
Much of the ninth perek, which began on the last daf (92b), focuses on the laws of Pesah sheni, and who has the opportunity to bring a korban Pesah in the month of Iyyar in the event that they could not bring it on time in Nisan. According to the Torah (Bamidbar 9:10-14) there are two circumstances that would allow someone to bring a Pesah sheni: either if the person was tameh - ritually defiled - or if he was be-derekh rehoka - far from the Temple grounds when the sacrifice had to be brought.
Mishna: What is the definition of a distant journey that exempts one from observing the first Pesah? Anywhere from the city of Modi'im and beyond, and from anywhere located an equal distance from Jerusalem and beyond in every direction; this ist the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer says: From the threshold of the Temple courtyard and beyond is considered a distant journey; therefore anyone located outside the courtyard at the time that the Paschal lamb is slaughtered is exempt from observing the first Pesah. Rabbi Yose said to him: Therefore, the word is dotted over the letter heh in the word "distant [rehoka]" to say that the meaning of the word should be qualified: It should be understood that it is not because he is really distant; rather, it includes anyone located from the threshold of the Temple courtyard and beyond.
We find, on occasion, that tradition has the scribe writing dots that are placed on top of - or even within - words in the Torah. Generally speaking these dots are understood to mean that the word or letter has some question about it and that it should, therefore, be viewed with caution. The Jerusalem Talmud distinguishes between situations when there are more letters with dots than without them when we include the dotted letters and exclude the ones without, and cases where the majority of the letters are without dots, when we exclude the dotted letters. In our case, the Jerusalem Talmud explains that the single letter with the dot should be left out, so the pasuk reads be-derekh rehok, referring not to the travel distance but to the person himself. If he is outside the Temple precincts he is not included in the korban. The Bartenura explains that the dot on the heh should be understood to mean that if someone is five (the numerical value of the letter heh) amot from the Temple courtyard he will bring a Pesah sheni instead of the regular sacrifice, which, according to the Rashash was the depth of the wall. Thus, anyone beyond the entrance of the courtyard was considered be-derekh rehoka.
Pesaḥim 92a-b: Mourning and Korbanot
21/02/2021 - 9st of Adar, 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 (91b-92a) on our daf discusses a number of cases where someone cannot participate in Temple activities because of his involvement in mourning practices. In a case where this limitation is only of Rabbinic nature, the Sages did not insist that their enactment be kept in the face of the mitzva of korban Pesah. There are two cases discussed in the Mishna: 1. An onen - someone who lost a close relative that day 2. A melaket atzamot - someone who was involved in gathering the bones of a relative for final burial. With regard to the onen, the halakha is that he has a unique status that forbids his participation in eating korbanot the first day on which a close relative died. This law is learned from the story of Aharon ha-kohen whose oldest sons, Nadav and Avihu were killed on the first day of the consecration of the mishkan, the Tabernacle (see Vayikra 10:19). By that night the Torah would permit him to eat korbanot, but the Rabbis forbade him from doing so. This rule applies to all sacrifices, except for the korban Pesah, since skipping the korban Pesah is not merely missing out on the fulfillment of a positive commandment, but potentially involves a serious punishment – karet (excision). A melaket atzamot is someone who collects the bones of his relatives for final burial. During the Second Temple period - and for hundreds of years after that - there was a unique tradition with regard to burial. People were buried in the ground in plots that were designated as temporary resting places. After a number of years, when the flesh had decomposed and only the bones remained, they would be gathered and placed in an ossuary, a stone box, which would be interred in the family burial cave. Although the gathering of the bones took place well after the death of the deceased, the day on which it took place was considered a day of mourning. The Gemara points out that we must be talking about a case where someone else did the actual gathering, since the person who did so would not be able to participate in the korban Pesah for a different reason - because he is tameh (ritually defiled).
Pesaḥim 91a-b: Where the Sacrifice Can and Cannot Be Brought
20/02/2021 - 8st of Adar, 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 (Devarim 16:5-6) teaches that one cannot bring the korban Pesah "in any one of your gates" - that is to say, in one of the communities outside of the Temple; rather it must be sacrificed in the place chosen by God. This passage is understood by the Sages to teach a number of halakhot connected with the sacrifice. On its simplest level, that pasuk teaches that the korban Pesah must be brought in the Temple. Rabbi Shimon understands this to mean that someone who brings the sacrifice on a bamat yahid - a private altar - will be held liable for transgressing a negative commandment. This only holds true, however, when private altars are forbidden, when the Jews all "enter through the same gate," i.e. when the Temple is standing. During a time when private altars are permitted, the korban Pesah can be brought as a private sacrifice. Prior to the erection of the Temple, there were times when an individual was allowed to build a bamat yahid where he could bring sacrifices, even if he was not a kohen. Generally speaking, the sacrifices that were brought on a bamat yahid were voluntary ones (olot and shelamim); communal sacrifices were brought only on the bama gedola - the public altar in Nov or Giv'on. Once the Temple was built, all private altars became forbidden, although a perusal of the stories in Sefer Melakhim makes it clear that people continued bringing sacrifices to God on bamot yahid, activities fought by the prophets. Rabbi Yehuda teaches that the pasuk can be understood to mean that you cannot bring the korban Pesah "in any one" (leaving off the last clause of the passage). According to this reading, a korban Pesah must be brought as a group effort; it cannot be brought by an individual, even if that individual could eat the sacrifice on his own. Rabbenu Yehonatan explains that Rabbi Yehuda believes that the word ehad - one - is extra, as the Torah could have said that you cannot sacrifice the korban Pesah within your gates, without saying "any one of your gates." Therefore he understands that the pasuk is teaching us to broaden the context of the korban Pesah to a group setting.
Pesaḥim 90a-b: Using Passover Registration Money For One’s Needs
19/02/2021 - 7st of Adar, 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 passage in the Torah that is the source for people joining together into groups in order to bring the korban Pesah says that if a house is too small for an animal, he should take it together with his neighbor, according to the number of people in each family (see Shmot 12:4). This pasuk is understood by our Gemara to teach other halakhot, as well.
As it was taught in a baraita: The verse states: “And if the household be too little for a lamb, then shall he and his neighbor next to his house take one” (Exodus 12:4). The phrase “if the household be too little” is taken to mean the household cannot afford the basic necessities of the Festival. Continuing this interpretation, the phrase “for a lamb [miheyot miseh]” is then taken to mean: sustain him [hahayeihu] from the lamb, i.e., he may use the Paschal lamb as a means of supporting himself. He takes money from his neighbor in return for registering his neighbor for a portion of his Paschal lamb and then uses that money to purchase his needs. However, this applies only if one lacks sufficient means to purchase food to eat, but not if he lacks only sufficient means to purchase other items. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi [Rabbi] says: It applies even if one lacks sufficient means to purchase other necessary items, for if he does not have sufficient funds he may register another person with him for his Paschal lamb and for his Festival peace-offering. And the money in his hand that he receives for registering that person is non-sacred, for it is on this condition that the Jewish people consecrate their Paschal lambs.
The discussion in the Gemara is: what else is considered an inherent part of the sacrifice that the money can go toward it? Will the purchase of wood for roasting the sacrifice be appropriate use of the korban Pesah money? In this case, everyone agrees that the korban Pesah needs to be roasted and that the wood is an integral part of the sacrifice. Will the purchase of matza and maror be permitted with this money? According to one opinion, the passage (Shmot 12:8) which connects the eating of the sacrifice with matza and maror proves that they are considered as one, and can therefore be purchased with money that was set aside for the korban Pesah. How about the purchase of clothing that would be appropriate for the holiday? In this case the Hakhamim argue that clothing is totally separate from the korban and cannot be purchased. Rabbi, however, points to the expression mi-heyot miseh (see Shmot 12:4), which, relying on a switch of pronunciation from a letter heh to a het, he understands to mean that a person is permitted to support himself, to give himself life from the korban, and even for this use it would be permitted.
Pesaḥim 89a-b: When One with Fine Hands is In Your Group
18/02/2021 - 6st of Adar, 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 our daf teaches that there are occasions when someone can be asked to take his portion of the korban Pesah and eat elsewhere. The case in the Mishna is when one of the participants in the group had invited others to join without getting the approval of the rest of the group. In such a case, if the other members want to, they can tell him to take his portion and eat with his friends, while they eat in a separate group.
Gemara: A dilemma was raised before the Sages: If there is among the members of a group one of them who has fine hands, a euphemism for one who always hastens to take a large quantity of food, what is the halakha concerning whether they can say to him: Take your allotted portion to eat and leave; and don’t take any more from the other members’ portions?
In our case, having "fine hands" means that he has the ability and reputation of taking more than his share. The Tosefta uses a slightly different term, calling the person in question "someone with soft hands." Similarly, an istenis - a picky eater, or someone who is overly fastidious - is called mi she-da’ato yafeh – "someone who thinks nicely." We find that the Talmud often uses euphemisms in expressing an unpleasant situation, as the Gemara pointed out earlier (see Massekhet Pesahim 3a) when the choice was made to use the word ohr - "light" - to open the massekhet, instead of the more standard term - leil - "the evening of." Regarding the Gemara's question, the Rambam follows our Gemara in ruling that the other participants can tell such a person that he should take his portion and eat on his own. Nevertheless it should be noted that the Talmud Yerushalmi rules that if the other members of the group were aware of this person's reputation as something of a glutton when they first agreed to allow him to join their group, then they are not allowed to ask him to leave, since they accepted him as he is.
Pesaḥim 88a-b: When a Servant Slaughters the Paschal Offering
17/02/2021 - 5st of Adar, 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
Based on the passage in Shmot 12:4, the animal brought as the korban Pesah can be either a goat or a lamb.
Mishna: In the case of one who says to his slave: Go and slaughter the Paschal offering on my behalf, but does not specify which type of animal to slaughter, the halakha is as follows: If the slave slaughtered a kid, his master may eat it; if he slaughtered a lamb, his master may eat it. If the slave slaughtered both a kid and a lamb, his master should eat from the first one that was slaughtered; the second is invalid and should be burned.
The Gemara notes that the first rule in the Mishna (when the master does not specify which type of animal to bring) must refer to a case where the servant chose the animal not usually favored by his master. The Mishna teaches that, nevertheless, we assume that the master gave free reign to the servant in choosing which type of animal to prepare. With regard to the second rule, the Gemara asks how the first one can count, when we know that a person cannot be counted on two sacrifices, and yet the servant had slaughtered both on his master's behalf!? The Gemara answers that the Mishna must be talking about a very specific case: the case of a king and queen. To support this contention, the Gemara tells a story about a king and queen who ordered their servant to prepare a korban Pesah. The servant slaughtered two animals. The king deferred to the queen, who deferred to Rabban Gamliel. Rabban Gamliel ruled that although the law usually is that, in such a case, neither animal can be used as the Pesah, in the case of the king and queen who aren't so concerned about an animal going to waste, the first one would be used for the sacrifice. Maimonides explains that this unique ruling for royalty is based on the concept of shalom malkhut - seeking peace with the monarchy - which is explained either as a concern lest the king and queen become angry with the Sages, or that they become angry with their servant, leading to a severe punishment and even death. The Tosafot Yom Tov explains that this story is brought as an example of how the king and queen relied totally on the rulings of the Sages, therefore the Sages could make a decision on their behalf and they would not be considered signed up for two korbanot. The story in the Gemara seems to be referring to the period of Rabban Gamliel ha-zaken, the grandson of Hillel, making the king Agrippas I. This is one of many stories that appear in the Gemara extolling King Agrippas' respect for the words of the Sages.
Pesaḥim 87a-b: Jews in the Diaspora
16/02/2021 - 4st of Adar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As was noted at the end of the last perek, the korban Pesah needs to be eaten by a group of people who joined together before the holiday for the purpose of participating in the sacrifice as a group (see Shmot 12:3-5). Perek ha-Isha, the eighth chapter of Massekhet Pesahim focuses on this group. How and when is it established? Who can participate and who cannot? Under what circumstances can an individual choose to leave one group and join another? Questions such as these are the major concern of this perek. It is not uncommon for the Gemara to segue into a discussion of aggadata after quoting passages that help clarify a topic of halakha. On our daf, after quoting pesukim (verses) from Sefer Hoshea as a proof-text for a rule in the Mishna, the Gemara brings other pesukim from that book, which leads to a discussion about the place of the Jewish people in the Diaspora. One of the comments is made by Rabbi Oshaya, who teaches that God was being generous with the Jewish people when he dispersed them among the nations of the world, since their distribution around the world guarantees that they cannot all be threatened together. The Gemara relates that a non-believer told Rabbi Hanina that the non-Jews were better than the Jews, since the navi tells the story of Yo'av leading the Jewish people in a six-month battle against the Edomites until they were wiped out (I Melakhim 11:16), yet the non-Jews had not destroyed the Jewish people who had been living in their midst for years. Rabbi Oshaya, who was assigned to discuss the matter with him, argued that there was nothing they could do against the Jews. Those who were not in the country were out of their reach, and they could not destroy the Jews who lived amongst them, since then they would develop a reputation of killing their own citizens. The non-believer responded by swearing gappa d'Romai, that Rabbi Oshaya was correct. Many of the commentaries weigh in on the question of defining the oath gappa d'Romai. Some say that it means a fortress and refers to the capital city of Rome. Others say that the word gappa is similar to the Hebrew kanaf - wings - and the reference is to a winged idol that "defends the city with its wings." Another suggestion is that it is a deliberate mispronunciation of the name of the central god of the Roman pantheon - Jupiter.
Pesaḥim 86a-b: Turning Away From the Group
15/02/2021 - 3st of Adar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned before, in preparation for the korban Pesah individuals or families needed to join together in groups to bring and subsequently eat the sacrifice. Once established, two groups are not allowed to join together, nor can an individual switch from one group to another.
Mishna: Two groups that were eating one Paschal lamb in one house need not be concerned that they will appear to be one group. Rather, these turn their faces this way and eat, and these turn their faces that way and eat…And the bride, who is embarrassed to eat in the presence of men she does not know, turns her face away from her group and eats, although this may make it seem as though she is part of a different group.
With that halakha as a springboard, the Gemara tells a story about Rav Huna the son of Rav Natan who visited Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak and behaved in what appeared to be an uncouth manner – He agreed to sit immediately without first offering a polite refusal He accepted a cup of wine, again without an initial polite refusal He drank it in just two sips He looked directly at his hosts without diverting his gaze. When asked how he could behave so poorly, and still call himself a Rabbi, he explained each of his actions based on a statement from the Talmud. The Sages teach: You should do whatever the host tells you to do, unless he commands you tzei (leave). While it is appropriate to decline an offer made by someone of little stature, you should accept what someone of high stature offers you. Someone who drinks a cup in one gulp is a guzzler; it is appropriate to drink in two swallows; three sips shows that you are haughty. A bride turns away from the other guests; others do not. The first comment, that you should listen to what your host commands, ends with an odd statement "unless he commands you – tzei," to the extent that the Meiri argues that they do not belong in the Gemara and should be removed. Most commentaries do find explanations, however. The Perisha argues that this means that if the host asks you to leave, you are not obligated to do so right away if it will be embarrassing to you. The Magen Avraham explains that you are supposed to listen to your host unless he asks you to do something that would necessitate leaving the house. According to the Maharsha, once the host asks you to leave, you are no longer his guest and do not need to listen to him any longer. Some see the word tzei as an abbreviation. The letters tzadi – alef might stand for: Tzad issur – unless you are asked to do something that might be forbidden. Tzeduki-Apikores – unless the host is someone who denies the Torah Tzarhei Ishto – unless you are asked to involve yourself in matters pertaining to the wife of your host.
Pesaḥim 85a-b: Standing in the Doorway
14/02/2021 - 2st of Adar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have already learned that a korban Pesah that was taken out of the precincts of Jerusalem becomes invalid. This is also true for the meat of the Passover sacrifice (see Shmot 12:46). The Mishna on our daf teaches that if one of the limbs of the animal leaves the city it must be cut off and discarded, although the rest of the sacrifice is still kosher. In defining what is considered the boundary of the city, the Mishna deals with the agaf – the width of the entranceway itself. According to the Mishna, from the agaf and inwards is considered the inside of the city; from the agaf and outwards is considered outside the city.
The Gemara questions the mishna: This matter itself is difficult; the mishna itself contains an internal contradiction. At first you said that the space from the doorway inward is considered as though it is inside, which indicates that the space of the doorway itself is like the outside. Now you say the latter clause of the mishna’s ruling, which states that from the doorway outward is considered as though it is outside, which indicates that the doorway itself is considered as though it is inside. The Gemara answers: It is not difficult, as one can explain that these two statements are referring to different situations: Here, in the first clause of the mishna’s ruling, it is referring to the gates of the Temple courtyard, where the inside of the doorways were considered as though they were inside the courtyard and had the sanctity of the courtyard itself. There, in the latter clause, it is discussing the gates of Jerusalem, where the insides of the gates were considered like the outside and did not have the sanctity of Jerusalem.
Rabbi Shmuel bar Rav Yitzhak explains that the gates of the city were not given the kedusha – the holiness – of the city, out of concern for the metzora'im, the lepers, who make use of the doorways for protection against the elements. We have already learned that people suffering from tzara'at – what is usually translated as leprosy – were obligated to remain outside the three encampments when the Jewish people were in the desert, and correspondingly outside of the city of Jerusalem (and, according to some opinions, all walled cities in Israel), until they are healed. Such a person standing outside of the city in the rain or on a hot, sunny day would be unable to find any protection from the elements if he could not duck into the doorway of the city. Out of consideration to these people the Sages chose not to give kedusha to the agaf of the city.
Pesaḥim 84a-b: Breaking Bone
13/02/2021 - 1st of Adar, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As noted on the last daf, the Torah forbids breaking a bone from the korban Pesah (see Shmot 12:46).
Mishna: One who breaks the bone of a Paschal lamb that is ritually pure receives forty lashes for having violated a prohibition stated in the Torah. But one who leaves over part of a ritually pure Paschal lamb and one who breaks the bone of a ritually impure Paschal lamb do not receive forty lashes.
We see from here that a person will only be held liable for this transgression if the korban was kosher. If the korban became tameh (ritually defiled) and could not be eaten, then the breaking of a bone would not lead to lashes. Many suggestions are made as to the reason behind the prohibition against breaking bones in the Passover sacrifice. One approach is that the korban Pesah must be eaten in the manner of the "upper class" – free people who are not ravenous, nor even hungry enough to go to the trouble of sucking marrow from the bones of the meat. Some commentaries ask how we know that there is a prohibition against breaking bones in the korban Pesah. Perhaps the passage that says "and a bone will not be broken in it" simply means that it is not necessary to break the bones in order to extract the marrow – something that we may have thought essential, given that it is prohibited to leave edible meat from the korban for the next day (Shmot 12:10). One answer is the Torah's emphasis on the word bo – that a bone cannot be broken in it, in the korban Pesah – only makes sense if we are talking about a commandment The Jerusalem Talmud adds details to the discussion that takes place in our Gemara on the topic of breaking bones. According to the Yerushalmi, for example, there is a separate prohibition on each bone that is broken. There is also a discussion there on how large the break needs to be, a crack large enough to be felt by a fingernail that catches in it, or a larger break that can be distinguished by the touch of a hand.
Pesaḥim 83a-b: Burning the Sciatic Nerve
12/02/2021 - 30th of Sh'vat, 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 (Shmot 12:10) that we are commanded to burn the notar, i.e. any meat that is left over from the korban Pesah. The Mishna on our daf  teaches that this notar is not burned on Yom Tov, nor is it burned on Shabbat, so if the first day of Pesah is on a Friday, the notar would not be destroyed until Sunday. Aside from the edible meat that was left over, the Mishna teaches about two other parts of the animal that need to be burnt – the bones and the gid ha-nasheh. The bones of the korban Pesah cannot be broken (see Shmot 12:46) so, by definition, there will be edible marrow left within them that will be considered notar and will have to be destroyed. The gid ha-nasheh is a sinew in the animal's hind-quarters that is forbidden by the Torah based on Ya'akov's injury after wrestling with the angel (see Bereshit 32:31-32). Since the gid itself is forbidden, the Gemara concludes that the Mishna is talking about a part of the sinew that is permitted on a Biblical level and is forbidden as a Rabbinic ordinance. The Sha'agat Aryeh (Rabbi Aryeh Leib Gunzberg) asks why the gid ha-nasheh of the korban Pesah would be forbidden at all. Based on the general principle that aseh doheh lo ta'aseh – that a positive commandment will "push aside" a negative one, shouldn't the mitzva of eating the korban Pesah override the prohibition of eating the gid ha-nasheh? One suggested answer is that the mitzva forbidding the gid ha-nasheh was given even before the Torah was presented to the Jewish people on Mount Sinai, and therefore its rules are more stringent. The Sefat Emet suggests that this is an example of a case where the Sages chose to give added strength to one of their decrees, even in the face of a Biblical commandment.
Pesaḥim 82a-b: Destroying a Sacrifice
11/02/2021 - 29th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf teaches that a korban Pesah that becomes invalid because it was taken out of Jerusalem or became tameh (ritually defiled) must be destroyed immediately on the 14th of Nisan. If, however, the sacrifice remained valid, but an outside problem will keep it from being eaten – e.g. all the people scheduled to eat it became tameh or died – the korban is left overnight and is only burned on the 16th of Nisan, after the first day of Yom Tov is over. Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka disagrees and rules that even in the latter case the korban is destroyed immediately. In an attempt to find the source for how to deal with kodashim (sanctified items) that have become unusable, the Gemara suggests an obvious story that bears great similarity to our case. In Sefer Vayikra (chapter 10) we learn about two of Aharon's sons, Nadav and Avihu, who bring an esh zara – a strange fire - in the Mishkan and are killed by a heavenly fire. Aharon and his other children cannot eat the sin-offering and it is burned, a ruling that is questioned by Moshe, but defended by Aharon (see Vayikra 10:16-20). The Gemara decides that that case cannot be used as a proof-text for two reasons: 1. ma'ase she-haya – it is a story that happened that way. And the sin-offering of Aaron that was burned on the eighth day of inauguration was mentioned only because the incident that took place, took place in this way. It was not mentioned in order to teach the halakhot of offerings. Generally speaking, a passage from the Torah that deals with a point of law is carefully examined and analyzed. A story that appears in the Torah as narrative, however, is treated differently. Sometimes the Gemara simply concludes that we cannot learn from that story. 2. hora'at sha'a – it is an emergency measure. This expression is used to describe several cases in which we find something described in the Torah that clearly deviates from what we know to be the accepted law. In such cases, an instruction may have been given to the Jewish People that directed the behavior at that particular time, but it is one that cannot be understood to impact on the halakha over the long-term. We find that the Sages also invoked this rule when a given situation demanded that a ruling be given that was more stringent – or more lenient – than usual. Under certain, limited, circumstances the Sages will even quote the passage et la'asot la-Shem heferu Toratekha (Tehillim 119:126) – that there are times that doing God's will involves breaking the rules of the Torah.
Pesaḥim 81a-b: Halakha Le-Moshe Mi-Sinai
10/02/2021 - 28th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah teaches (Shmot 28:36-38) that one of the parts of the uniform of the kohen gadol – the high priest – is the tzitz, a golden plate on his forehead. As understood by the Sages this tzitz has the power to remove responsibility from the kohanim in the event that a sacrifice was brought and it turned out, under certain circumstances, to have become tameh (ritually defiled). One of the cases where the tzitz accomplishes this appears in our Mishna (80b) – if someone who had brought his korban Pesah discovers that he was tameh from tumat ha-tehom, he does not need to bring a korban a second time on Pesah sheni, since the tzitz allowed the original korban Pesah to be acceptable even though its owner was tameh. Tumat ha-tehom is a case where the dead body that is giving off the tuma is hidden in a place where no one knew it was, and it was only discovered after the person who came into contact with it had already brought his korban. Although the Gemara on our daf tries to find a source in the Torah for this halakha, its conclusion is that there is no clear reference in the Torah for it, rather it is a halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai, a law that was transmitted orally to Moses on Mount Sinai that was not recorded in the Torah. The Gemara on our daf tries to use this rule as the source for other cases. Would the same rule of tumat ha-tehom apply to a kohen who is bringing a korban Tamid, the daily sacrifice that opens the sacrificial service in the morning and closes it in the afternoon? Although Rabbah tries to apply the rule of kal va-homer (a fortiori) to this case that would allow the case of korban Pesah to be a source for other halakhot, the Gemara rejects this, arguing that we cannot learn a kal va-homer from a halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai. Although we usually perceive the rule of kal va-homer as being a straightforward logical one, it cannot be used in the case of halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai because of the unique quality of such halakhot. In general, a law that appears in the Torah can be used not only for itself, but also as a source for other laws that can be compared to it. A halakhah le-Moshe mi-Sinai, even as its strength and severity are equal to those of a law written in the Torah, is not seen as being grounded in the same set of rules as the written halakhot, so we cannot extrapolate other laws from it.
Pesaḥim 80a-b: The Tribe As Community
09/02/2021 - 27th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We have learned in the Mishna (79a) that when the majority of the Jewish people are tameh (ritually defiled by contact with a dead body) then the korban Pesah will be brought and eaten anyway. In such a case there is no need to bring a Pesah sheni (see Bamidbar 9:6-14), which is reserved for an individual who cannot bring the Passover sacrifice in the proper time. We usually think of the Jewish people as a single unit, but according to some we should look at it as divided up into the twelve tribes. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that brings the opinions of Rabbi Shimon and Rabbi Yehuda on this matter. Rabbi Shimon says that if the majority of a single shevet – just one of the tribes – is tameh, they will be able to bring the korban Pesah at its proper time even though they are tameh, while the rest of the shevatim will bring it at the same time, but separately, keeping the normal rules of tuma and tahara (ritual impurity and purity). The Gemara explains that Rabbi Shimon understands that each one of the shevatim is considered a kahal – a community – unto itself.
Rabbi Yehuda says: Even if one tribe is impure and all the rest of the tribes are pure, all the tribes may perform the ritual of the Paschal lamb in a state of ritual impurity, as a communal offering is not divided. The Gemara explains that Rabbi Yehuda holds that one tribe is called a community, and since an entire community is impure, it is considered as though half the Jewish people were pure and half were impure. And a communal offering is not divided. Therefore, all of them may perform the ritual of the Paschal lamb in a state of ritual impurity.
The Gemara explains Rabbi Yehuda's position as agreeing with Rabbi Shimon that a single shevet is considered a kahal. He believes, however, that such a community is so important that it balances the entire rest of the Jewish people. Since we perceive the two as being equal in weight we do not split the communal sacrifice, rather we bring it be-tuma. The discussion about the status of a single shevet has its basis in Massekhet Horayot and the question of how to deal with a case where "the entire Jewish people" commit a sin (see Vayikra 4:13-21). Should we view a single shevet as a distinct community and that the rules that apply to the community apply to them, or do we perceive the shevet simply as part of the larger community – merely as a large number of individuals, but not a community unto themselves.
Pesaḥim 79a-b: Women and the Passover Sacrifice
08/02/2021 - 26th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
What level of obligation do women have regarding the korban Pesah? Although the main discussion of this question takes place in the next chapter of Massekhet Pesahim, as we will see, the point is raised here in the context of bringing the Pesah sacrifice when the community is tameh, or ritually defiled. Generally speaking, the rule is that women are not obligated in positive mitzvot that are time-bound. Therefore such mitzvot as hearing the shofar on Rosh haShana or sitting in the sukka on the holiday of Sukkot are not obligatory on women. Nevertheless, with regard to the laws of Pesah it is well known that women are obligated in the positive commandments (like eating matza), just as they are obligated in the negative ones (like refraining from eating hametz). The question that arises on our daf is whether the obligation is a full requirement to the extent that they would be obligated to bring a sacrifice on Pesah sheni should they miss Pesah rishon (first), or, perhaps, their obligation does not go so far.
Mishna: If the entire community or most of it became ritually impure, or the priests were all impure and the community was pure, they should perform the ritual of the Paschal lamb in ritual impurity. If a minority of the community became impure, even if they are many people, those who are pure perform the ritual of the Paschal lamb on the first Pesah, and those who are impure perform the ritual on the second Pesah.
The Gemara brings a number of baraitot that discuss what to do if there are an equal number of people who are tameh and tahor (ritually pure). The positions taken by the baraitot seem difficult. For example, one baraita teaches that, in such a case, the people who are tahor bring the korban in its proper time, but those who are tameh do not bring the korban at all - neither on Pesah rishon nor on Pesah sheni. Rav explains the case to be when there are an equal number of tameh and tahor people, but the majority of those who are tahor are women. Rav believes that women are obligated in the korban Pesah on Pesah rishon, but on Pesah sheni they can choose whether or not to participate. So, on Pesah rishon only the people who are tahor bring the korban because there is not a majority of tameh people. Therefore, we cannot activate the rule of tuma hutra be-tzibur - that when the majority of the people are ritually defiled we allow the korban to be brought The people who are tameh cannot bring the korban on Pesah sheni either, since they can only do so if they were a minority on Pesah rishon. If we remove the women from the equation on Pesah sheni - since they are not obligated to participate in it - it turns out that the tameh people were not a minority on Pesah rishon, so the obligation to bring a sacrifice on Pesah sheni never takes effect.
Pesaḥim 78a-b: Fulfilling One's Obligation
07/02/2021 - 25th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah (Shmot 12:8-10) seems to be clear that the mitzva on Pesah is to bring the Passover sacrifice on the 14th of Nisan and to eat it that night - the 15th of Nisan.
...[I]n accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Natan, who said that failure to engage in eating the Paschal lamb does not preclude one from fulfilling one's obligation to bring the offering, as the eating is a separate mitzva.
The Gemara searches for a source for this opinion of Rabbi Natan. One suggestion is the statement of Rabbi Natan that the whole Jewish nation can fulfill their mitzva with a single korban, something that he derives from the passage (Shmot 12:6) which teaches that "the entire Jewish people should slaughter it in the afternoon." While the Jerusalem Talmud accepts that as the source for Rabbi Natan's opinion, the Babylonian Talmud suggests an alternative source, as well. The Tosefta teaches that if two groups of people choose the same animal to be their korban, according to the Tanna Kamma, the first group eats a ka-zayit - an olive-size piece of the sacrifice - and fulfills their obligation; the second group, who do not have an olive-size piece of the korban, will have to bring another sacrifice on Pesah sheni. Rabbi Natan says that neither group will have to bring a sacrifice on Pesah sheni; once the blood was sprinkled on the altar, all parties to the korban have fulfilled their obligation. According to Rabbi Natan, the passage (Shmot 12:4) obligating the people to take into account the amount that each person will eat when joining a group for the korban Pesah simply means that the person who joins the group must theoretically be able to eat the sacrifice. It does not mean that the Pesah must be eaten. Without question, even Rabbi Natan agrees that every Jewish person should eat a portion of the korban Pesah, and someone who did not eat from the sacrifice would miss out on the opportunity to fulfill this mitzva. The point of disagreement is whether bringing the korban is sufficient after the fact, even if it was not eaten, or if someone who does not eat has missed out on the mitzva entirely and will need to bring a second korban when the opportunity arises on Pesah sheni.
Pesaḥim 77a-b: When the Entire Community is Tameh
06/02/2021 - 24th of Sh'vat, 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
Based on the passage that teaches the halakha of Pesah sheni (Bamidbar 9:10-11), the replacement sacrifice brought by an individual who could not bring the korban Pesah at the proper time because he was tameh (ritually defiled), the Sages learn that such a rule applies only to an individual. If the entire Jewish community had become tameh, then the korban Pesah would be sacrificed and eaten at its normal time, even though they were all ritually defiled. The Mishna (76b) teaches that there are other sacrifices that, like the korban Pesah, would be brought at their appropriate times if the entire community was tameh; however they differ from the korban Pesah in that they would not be eaten. These sacrifices include: Korban ha-omer, which is brought on the second day of Pesah. After that date the new grain is permitted. Shtei ha-lehem, which is brought on Shavu'ot (Vayikra 23:17). After that date the new grain can be used in the Temple service. Lehem ha-panim, which are placed on the shulhan in the Temple every Shabbat (Vayikra 24:5-9). Zivhei shalmei tzibbur, which are brought with the Shtei ha-lehem on Shavu'ot (Vayikra 23:19). Se'irei Roshei Hodashim, which are brought as a sin-offering on the New Moon (Bamidbar 28:15). The Gemara on our daf discusses the source for these rules: the word mo'ed - a specific time - a term that the Torah uses with regard to each one of these sacrifices. The Gemara points out that we cannot learn these rules from one another because each one has its own tzad hamur - a perspective from which it is more stringent than the others. For example, the Gemara says that the korban ha-omer and the shtei ha-lehem come le-hatir - to permit - as opposed to the public offerings that come le-khaper - to atone. Here we see the Gemara balancing between two values. Certainly the power that a sacrifice has to offer atonement would seem to make it a uniquely dominant korban. On the other hand, the force of a sacrifice to permit something that the Torah rules as dependent on it would seem to make it a power to be reckoned with. The Gemara thus shows that each of these has their own element of uniqueness which does not allow it to be learned from the other. The korban Pesah is distinctive in that it is brought for the sole purpose of eating it, which allows it not only to be sacrificed when the community is tameh, but to be eaten, as well.
Pesaḥim 76a-b: The significance of Smell
05/02/2021 - 23th of Sh'vat, 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
Regarding the issue of roasting the korban Pesah, the Gemara quotes a baraita which teaches that two sacrifices cannot be roasted together. At first the Gemara suggests that this ruling stems from the fact that the two sacrifices will absorb some of the smell from one another, and someone who had signed up to eat one particular korban (as everyone is obligated to do) will end up eating something of another korban. Based on this understanding, the Gemara proposes that this might be an important statement which could shed light on a general question with regard to cooking - is there significance to the smell that food gives off during cooking or roasting, or not?
This is an argument that appears in the realm of the rules of kashrut. Rav said: Fatty kosher meat that one roasted in an oven together with lean non-kosher meat is forbidden, even if the two meats never came into contact with one another. What is the reason for this halakha? It is that they are flavored from one another. The fatty meat emits an aroma that is absorbed in the non-kosher meat. The aroma is then transferred back to the kosher meat, causing the kosher meat to absorb some aroma from the non-kosher meat.
Levi argues, claiming that all we are dealing with here is smell, and halakha does not recognize smell as being significant. The Gemara goes so far as to record that Levi applied this and permitted kosher meat that had been broiled in close proximity to pork (referred to by the Gemara as davar aher, "a different thing"). Our Gemara concludes that the law restricting the roasting of two Pesah sacrifices together stems from a different concern - that perhaps once they are roasted we will not remember which korban belonged to which group. Based on this understanding of the rule, there is no connection between the law as taught in the case of the korban Pesah and the rules of kashrut. There are areas of halakha where it is clear that smell is considered something of significance. For example, someone who smells the ketoret, the incense made for use in the Temple, would be considered to have derived benefit from kodashim (sanctified items), which is forbidden. The question that our Gemara deals with involves the issue of whether the smell that is absorbed by something permissible is significant enough to forbid that food. The general principle of ta'am ke-ikar, that a change in taste gives food the status of the thing itself, may only apply when the food has actually absorbed the forbidden taste, but with regard to smell, there is less of an actual transfer.
Pesaḥim 75a-b: Roast on an Open Grill
04/02/2021 - 22th of Sh'vat, 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 yesterday, one of the most fundamental rules about eating the korban Pesah is that it must be roasted whole (see Shmot 12:9). The first Mishna in the perek (74a) offers a basic lesson on how the roasting was done. According to the Mishna, a wooden spit was made from a pomegranate tree and was placed through the body so that the animal could be roasted whole. Other methods were not acceptable, including a metal spit or a grill. The Gemara explains that, were a metal spit to be used, the meat would be cooked by the heat of the metal rather than by the fire, and the command of the Torah is that the meat be roasted by fire.
It was taught in the mishna that one may not roast the Paschal lamb on a grill. Subsequently, the mishna quotes an incident in which Rabban Gamliel instructed his servant to roast the Paschal lamb for him on a grill. The Gemara expresses surprise: Was an incident cited to contradict what was previously stated? The Gemara responds: The mishna is incomplete and is teaching the following: And if it is a perforated grill, so that the fire reaches each part of the meat and the animal will not be roasted from the heat of the grill itself, it is permitted. And with regard to this Rabbi Tzadok said that there was an incident with Rabban Gamliel, who said to his slave Tavi: Go and roast the Paschal lamb for us on the perforated grill.
In explanation of Rabban Gamliel's preference to roast the sacrifice in this fashion, the Hatam Sofer suggests that it may have been his concern for the ecology of the Land of Israel. Just imagine what would have happened if every Jewish family needed to cut down a pomegranate tree for their korban Pesah. By allowing the use of a grill, many pomegranate trees could be saved.
Pesaḥim 74a-b: Drawing Out The Blood
03/02/2021 - 21th of Sh'vat, 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
And they shall eat the meat on that night, roast with fire and matzot; with bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat of it raw nor boiled in water; but roast it with fire, its head with its legs and with its inner parts. (Shmot 12:8-9) The seventh perek of Massekhet Pesahim deals with how the korban Pesah is eaten. Perhaps the most basic rule about the preparation of the sacrifice is that the animal must be roasted whole. One of the concerns raised in the Gemara is the issue of removing the blood from the meat before it is eaten. The prohibition of eating blood appears a number of times in the Torah, along with a severe punishment - karet (excision). Even though the only blood that is forbidden on a Torah level is the blood that comes from the animal at the moment it is slaughtered, nevertheless, due to the severity of the prohibition we try to remove as much of the blood as possible before cooking it and eating it, which is why kosher meat is generally salted. According to the Sages, salt has the power to absorb the blood and to actually draw the blood out of the meat before it is washed off. According to the letter of the law, as long as the blood remains in its place in the meat, it is not forbidden. Therefore, a person would be allowed to eat raw meat (referred to by the Gemara as umtza) even if it was not salted. The moment such meat is cooked, however, the heat would draw the blood into the water, which would be forbidden. In theory, there are ways to "freeze" the blood in its place in the meat, for example by placing it in a strong vinegar solution, which would then allow the meat to be cooked, since the blood would never leave the meat. Already during the times of the Ge'onim this method was forbidden. Another method that is recommended for removing blood is roasting. The heat of the fire acts as an agent to draw the blood from the meat, so there is no need to salt the meat at all, although tradition has it that a small amount of salt is sprinkled on.
Pesaḥim 73a-b: A destructive Act
02/02/2021 - 20th of Sh'vat, 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 basic requirements in order for a person to be found liable for violating the Shabbat is that the activity must be a positive action, done with awareness of the transgression. For that reason, someone who is mekalkel - does a destructive act - or is mitasek - does an act without being fully aware of what he has done, will not suffer any punishment. The Mishna (71b) teaches that someone who slaughters the korban Pesah on Shabbat with the intention that it should be for people who cannot eat it (e.g. for people who are not circumcised or people who did not agree to participate in this specific sacrifice) will need to bring a sin-offering. Since he thought that he was killing the animal for the korban Pesah - a purpose that would be permissible on Shabbat - but it turned out that he was mistaken, he performed a forbidden act for which he is liable, and he therefore has to bring a sin-offering. Rav Huna bar Hannina raises the obvious question on our daf. What positive outcome did the person who mistakenly slaughters the korban Pesah on Shabbat accomplish? This should be a case of mekalkel - a destructive act - and he should not be obligated to bring the sin-offering! The Gemara explains that, in such cases, the person who slaughters the animal fulfills a positive act, since the Gemara in Massekhet Zevahim (84a) teaches that in such a case, if the animal is mistakenly brought to the mizbe'ah, it is sacrificed. Some of the commentaries ask about a case where the animal is slaughtered with the wrong intention - in such a case, what is the positive act that would obligate the person to bring a sin-offering? The Sefat Emet explains that in such a case, the korban Pesah becomes a korban shelamim. Since the korban Pesah must be eaten the same night, while the shelamim can be eaten an extra day, the wrong intention actually assists the person who brings the korban avoid the problem of notar - having forbidden leftovers.
Pesaḥim 72a-b: When the Wrong Sacrifice is Brought
01/02/2021 - 19th of Sh'vat, 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 have learned, if erev Pesah, when the Passover sacrifice is slaughtered and prepared, falls out on Shabbat, we "push aside" the prohibitions of Shabbat so that the korban Pesah can be brought. According to the Mishna (71b), if a person slaughters his korban Pesah on Shabbat with the wrong intent, invalidating the sacrifice, he will be held liable for desecrating Shabbat and will have to bring a sin-offering. If he mistakenly slaughtered a different sacrifice with the intention that it was the korban Pesah, if the animal could not possibly have been a korban Pesah (e.g. it was the wrong type of animal), all are in agreement that he is liable, and he will need to bring a sin offering. If, however, the animal was one that looked as though it could have been a korban Pesah, we find a disagreement between Rabbi Eliezer, who finds him liable for the act and Rabbi Yehoshua who says he is not liable, since he thought that he was performing a permissible act. The Gemara discusses whether the cases discussed were where the person changed his intention about the sacrifice consciously or if it was done in error. After some discussion the Gemara concludes that in the first case, where the korban Pesah was slaughtered with the wrong intent, we are talking about a case where the person consciously changed his mind about the korban. In the second case, where a different sacrifice was slaughtered with the thought that it was a korban Pesah, we are talking about a case where it was done in error.
The Gemara relates that Rav Yitzhak bar Yosef once found Rabbi Abbahu standing among a multitude [okhlosa] of people, and he said to him: What is the meaning of our mishna? Rabbi Abbahu said to him: The first clause is referring to one who intentionally uprooted the animal’s status, whereas the latter clause is referring to one who erred about it. Rav Yitzhak bar Yosef learned this statement from him forty times, and it seemed to him as though it were resting in his pouch; i.e. he repeated it many times until the mishna became crystal clear to him and etched in his memory.
This idea (which appears in several versions throughout the Talmud) is connected with the system of study that was prevalent in the time of the Gemara, which was based largely on memorization based on rote repetition. On occasion, when a scholar heard an unusual interpretation that he wanted to commit to memory, he would repeat it a large number of times in order to remember it exactly. In our case, the suggestion that the two cases of the Mishna should be understood as referring to two separate situations (one where the person erred, the other where the person intentionally changed the sacrifice) is one that is not usually accepted, leading Rav Yitzhak bar Yosef to decide to commit it to memory.
Pesaḥim 71a-b: The Command to be Joyous
31/01/2021 - 18th of Sh'vat, 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
From the pasuk (Devarim 16:15) of ve-hayita akh same'ah – "and you shall be altogether joyful" - we learn that there is a commandment to be joyous on the three major holidays of the year – Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot. One of the Gemara's concerns revolves around the question of how we can joyously celebrate the first night of the holidays, when any korban that had been brought prior to the Yom Tov cannot be considered part of the joy of that holiday, yet there has not yet been an opportunity to sacrifice the korban hagiga for the holiday! This question is of such concern to the Gemara, that it considers the possibility that the command to be joyous on Yom Tov that appears in the above passage, does not apply to the first night of the holiday; the word akh is understood to possibly limit the obligation to the rest of Yom Tov. The Gemara's question is based on the assumption that the mitzva of simha – of joy on the holiday – is defined, at least during Temple times, as partaking of the sacrifices, and eating the meat associated with them. According to this view, other activities that bring joy to a person are simply not included under the specific definition of the word simha as it is used in this context. The conclusion of the Gemara rejects this approach, however, by suggesting that after the destruction of the Temple the joy of Yom Tov can be had by wearing freshly laundered clothing, special colorful clothing for women, by drinking wine, etc. Once the Gemara suggests this view, apparently it accepts the possibility that even while the Temple was standing and fully operational, these activities could legitimately be considered participation in simhat ha-hag – the joyousness of the holiday. Therefore we can conclude that even on the first night of Yom Tov there is an obligation of simha.
Pesaḥim 70a-b: Eating on a Full Stomach
30/01/2021 - 17th of Sh'vat, 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
Aside from the korban Pesah, generally speaking during the time of the Temple the people also sacrificed a korban hagiga – a special sacrifice in honor of the holiday – which was also eaten during the seder. The Mishna (69b) teaches that the korban hagiga was brought only if it was a weekday, the people were ritually pure and there would not be enough meat from the korban Pesah to satisfy everyone in the group. Were erev Pesah to fall out on Shabbat, or if the people were tameh – ritually defiled, and the korban Pesah was being brought only because of the principle of tuma hutra be-tzibur (see above, daf 67) – or if not many people had joined together to participate in this korban Pesah, so there would be enough meat for all, then the korban hagiga would not be brought. Rav Ashi points out an obvious conclusion based on this Mishna. Clearly the korban hagiga is not obligatory on the 14th of Nisan (erev Pesah), since if it had to be brought then it would "push aside" Shabbat and the rule of tuma hutrah be-tzibur would be applied. Similarly, the number of people partaking of the korban Pesah would be irrelevant.
The Gemara asks: If there is no obligation to bring this offering, what is the reason that it nevertheless comes when each person's portion of the Paschal lamb is small? The Gemara explains that the reason is as it was taught in a baraita: The Festival peace-offering that comes with the Paschal lamb is eaten first; the reason for this is so that the Paschal lamb will be eaten when one is already satiated. The Paschal lamb should not be eaten in a needy manner, but rather in joy and when one is already filled to satisfaction.
The Jerusalem Talmud explains that the korban Pesah is eaten al ha-sova (on a full stomach) in order to ensure that the people are not hungry and will not come to break the bones of the korban Pesah in order to eat the marrow, since breaking a bone from the korban Pesah is forbidden by the Torah (see Shmot 12:46). The Mordechai explains that really all Temple sacrifices are supposed to be eaten al ha-sova, since while eating them we are supposed to perceive ourselves as royalty, and our meal should not be one of ravenous hunger but one that gives a sense of plenty.
Pesaḥim 69a-b: Activities That Override Shabbat
29/01/2021 - 16th of Sh'vat, 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 our perek (65b) related a disagreement between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Eliezer permitted a number of preparatory activities connected with the korban Pesah to be done on Shabbat, while Rabbi Akiva forbade them. Rabbi Eliezer argued that if we permit slaughtering the sacrifice on Shabbat, certainly we will permit activities that are only Rabbinic prohibitions. Rabbi Akiva pointed to haza'ah – to sprinkling the ashes of the Para Aduma – as an example of a Rabbinic ordinance that is a mitzva, and yet is not done on Shabbat. The Mishna concludes with Rabbi Akiva's general principle that only a melakha that cannot be done before Shabbat will be permitted.
It was taught in a baraita that Rabbi Eliezer said to him about this: Akiva, you have lightheartedly responded to me with a faulty a fortiori inference with regard to slaughter. His death will be with slaughter; meaning, as punishment for this disrespect you will be slaughtered by other people. Rabbi Akiva said to him: My teacher, do not deny my contention at the time we are discussing this inference, for this is the tradition I received from you: Sprinkling is forbidden by rabbinic decree and does not override Shabbat.
Perhaps we can understand something of this exchange based on the Jerusalem Talmud, which reports that Rabbi Akiva sat in Rabbi Eliezer's lectures for 13 years without expressing himself or standing out in any way, and Rabbi Eliezer was surprised by the powerful question of this student who had never been recognized before. Perhaps this story appears to explain in some way Rabbi Akiva's end, when he is tortured to death by the Romans as one of the asara harugei malkhut, who were killed for teaching Torah, based on the Talmudic teaching that the curse of one of the Sages will be fulfilled even if it was given without cause.
Pesaḥim 68a-b: How to Spend One's Holiday
28/01/2021 - 15th of Sh'vat, 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
Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree about how to interpret two seemingly contradictory passages in the Torah: Atzeret te-hiyeh lakhem (Bamidbar 29:35) – a holiday it should be for you Atzeret la-shem Elokekha (Devarim 16:8) – a holiday for God According to Rabbi Eliezer, a person must decide whether he wants to devote yom tov to his personal pleasures like eating and drinking or to God by spending the day learning Torah. Rabbi Yehoshua understands that a person is to divide his holiday in half – part for his own physical pleasure and part devoted to spiritual matters. The Gemara teaches that there are some days where all agree that an aspect of personal joy and pleasure must play a role. The amora, Rabbi Elazar says that Shavu'ot is one such day, since we are obligated to show our happiness on the day that the Torah was given. Rabba teaches that Shabbat is such a day, since we find that the navi teaches ve-karata la-Shabbat oneg (Yeshayahu 58:13) that we must consider Shabbat a delight. According to Rav Yosef, Purim is another such day, since we are commanded in Megilat Esther (9:22) to celebrate Purim as yemei mishteh vesimha – days of feasting and gladness. The Gemara then relates that Mar brei d'Ravina (Mar, the son of Ravina) fasted all year, except for Shavu'ot, Purim and erev Yom Kippur. While the Gemara goes on to investigate the importance of eating prior to Yom Kippur, Mar's behavior demands some explanation. How did he fast on the other days when there is a mitzva to eat? Some commentaries argue that this story can only be explained if we accept that Mar brei d'Ravina followed the ruling of Rabbi Eliezer and chose to devote his holidays to Godly service, indicating that his is the position that the halakha follows. (We should note that the Shulhan Arukh, Orah Hayyim 529:1, rules like Rabbi Yehoshua.) The Ba'al ha-Ma'or explains that we must distinguish between different fasts. A mourning fast can never be taken on Shabbat or holidays, including Rosh Hodesh and Hannuka. An incidental fast, when someone is too busy with other affairs and forgets to eat, would only be forbidden on Shabbat and Yom Tov. A fast that is connected with Torah study is forbidden on Shabbat, Shavu'ot, Purim and erev Yom Kippur. The Ge'onim rejected this explanation entirely, explaining that Mar brei d'Ravina accepted upon himself to fast for an entire year, excluding specific days. Thus, this out-of-the-ordinary behavior cannot be used as a basis for comparison to any other situation.
Pesaḥim 67a-b: Ritual Defilement and the Passover Sacrifice
27/01/2021 - 14th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Aside from "pushing aside" Shabbat, the korban Pesah also "pushes aside" the rules of ritual defilement in a case where the majority of the Jewish people find themselves to be in that situation, a rule know as tuma hutra be-tzibur. The Gemara discusses three level of tuma– of ritual defilement:
  • Tumat met – someone whose ritual defilement stems from contact with a dead body
  • Tumat zav – someone suffering from a venereal disease.
  • Tumat tzora'at – someone who is a metzora (commonly translated as leprosy).
It is difficult to clearly categorize these different tumot as far as their respective levels are concerned. Although a detailed list appears in the first perek of Massekhet Kelim, nevertheless there are many issues involved – which have the greatest ability to spread tuma, how each of them spreads tuma (e.g. physical contact, lifting, entering a house, etc.) and even the size of the thing that can become tameh. Our Gemara teaches that tumat met is the least severe of the three, as he would only be restricted from the mahane shehina that surrounds the Mishkan. The zav cannot enter the next section, the mahane levi'a, where the Tribe of Levi lived. Tumat tzora'at is the most severe with regard to the encampment of the Jewish people in the desert, as the metzora is banned even from mahane yisrael, which is where the general populace lived. This is an example of how the Sages make use of the encampment of the Jews in the desert as a model for contemporary halakhot. Certain laws that were taught in the context of the desert retain that same language in the discussions of the Talmud, even as the rules are made to apply to more modern times. In up-to-date terms, mahane shehina represents the Temple itself, mahane levi'a represents the Temple mount and mahane yisrael is the city of Jerusalem – and, according to many rishonim it includes all walled cities in Israel.
Pesaḥim 66a-b: Does the Paschal Lamb Override Shabbat?
26/01/2021 - 13th of Sh'vat, 5781
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The sixth perek of Massekhet Pesahim focuses on the occasional occurrence of erev Pesah she'hal lehiyot be-Shabbat – when Passover falls out on Sunday and the sacrifice needs to be brought on Shabbat. Which activities are considered essential for the korban Pesah to the extent that they "push aside" the restrictions of Shabbat, and which should be left to be done when Shabbat ends? The Mishna (65b-66a) presents the basic rules (e.g. slaughtering the korban is permitted on Shabbat, but roasting it should be left for after Shabbat), including the general principle taught by Rabbi Akiva, that any melakha that is an essential part of the sacrifice that cannot be done before (or after Shabbat) will, in fact, be permitted. To illustrate the confusion with regard to this halakha, the Gemara quotes a baraita that tells how Benei Beteira had forgotten the rule that the Pesah sacrifice is brought even on Shabbat. The Benei Beteira appear to have been the ancestors of a well-known rabbinic family, including, for example, the sage Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira, who lived several generations after the destruction of the Temple. It appears that this family held a position of national religious and spiritual authority, even though they did not have an official position as did the family of the Nasi. We find that they are consulted on matters of national importance not only during Hillel's time, but after the destruction of the Temple during Rabbi Yohanan ben Zakkai's time, as well. Faced with this uncertainty, the Benei Beteira sought out someone who had a tradition about this situation.
They said to them: There is a certain man in Jerusalem who came up from Babylonia, and Hillel the Babylonian is his name. At one point, he served the two most eminent scholars of the generation, Shemaya and Avtalyon, and he certainly knows whether the Paschal lamb overrides Shabbat or not. The sons of Beteira sent messengers and called for him. They said to him: Do you know whether the Paschal lamb overrides Shabbat or not? He said to them: Have we but one Paschal lamb during the year that overrides Shabbat? Do we not have many more than two hundred Paschal lambs, i.e. sacrifices, during the year that override Shabbat?
Hillel ruled that the Pesah sacrifice is brought on Shabbat, just as the daily korban tamid is brought on Shabbat, by pointing out that a similar word be-mo'ado appears in the Torah with regard to each of them (see Bamidbar 9:2 and 28:2). After Hillel brought the proofs for this ruling, he was immediately given the position of Nasi. The Jerusalem Talmud asks why this halakha had been forgotten, after all, was it so uncommon to have erev Pesah fall out on Shabbat? Several answers are given to this question: The answer that appears in the Jerusalem Talmud is that miraculously the two dates had not coincided in years so that Hillel would be given the opportunity to gain prominence. Another approach suggests that the years of Sadducee control of the Temple left many areas of Jewish law in question.
Pesaḥim 65a-b: The Lazy Group
25/01/2021 - 12th of Sh'vat, 5781
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A number of comments that appear in the Gemara make clear the love and desire that the Jewish people were supposed to show in their participation in the Passover sacrifice. As noted on yesterday's daf, there were three separate groups that were led into the Temple courtyard for the sacrifice. This was not only done because of overcrowding; the Mishna (64a) teaches that this was a requirement, which was learned from the pasuk obligating kol kehal adat Yisrael (Shmot 12:6), the society of the community of the Israelite people, to bring the sacrifice. The repetition of kehal, adat and Yisrael teaches the need to have three separate groups. Nevertheless, a tosefta brought on our daf which teaches that people bringing their korbanot who ended up in the third group were referred to as participating in the "lazy group." To the Gemara's objection that someone has to be in the last group, the argument goes that they still should have hurried in order to be included in one of the first two groups. The Jerusalem Talmud learns a lesson from this story, pointing out that if people who fully intended to perform a mitzva and actually carried out their plan are still called "lazy," how much more deserving of criticism are people who are truly lazy and do not fulfill mitzvot at all. Another example of the commitment demanded by the Sages to participate in this mitzva can be seen in the final comment in this perek. The Mishna taught that as each group finished the service in the Temple courtyard, the people left, carrying their sacrifices, in order to make room for the next group. The baraita teaches that each person would wrap the korban in the skin and carry it over his back. Rav Ilish comments that they did it in the manner of Arab merchants (tayya'ut). Rav Ya'akov Emden, in his commentary on the Gemara, explains Rav Ilish's teaching as emphasizing that although most self-respecting people do not carry freshly slaughtered animals around on their backs, with regard to the korban Pesah , the people were encouraged to ignore their own personal honor to demonstrate their love for the mitzva.
Pesaḥim 64a-b: Bringing the Passover Sacrifice
24/01/2021 - 11th of Sh'vat, 5781
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The new Mishna on our daf tells the story of how the Passover sacrifice was actually brought.
The Paschal lamb was slaughtered in three groups, meaning those bringing the offering were divided into three separate sets, as it is stated:"And the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall slaughter it in the afternoon" (Exodus 12:6). The verse is interpreted as referring to three groups: Assembly, congregation, and Israel. The procedure for sacrificing the offering was as follows: The first group of people sacrificing the offering entered, and when the Temple courtyard became filled with them they closed the doors of the Temple courtyard. They sounded uninterrupted, broken, and uninterrupted trumpet blasts, as was done while sacrificing any offering.
Then two rows of kohanim stood by with bezikhin in their hands, one row of gold and one row of silver. The kohen who stood near the place where the animals were slaughtered would catch the blood in the bazikh and it would be passed hand-to-hand to the kohen near the mizbe'ah who would sprinkle the blood on the altar. This same process was done with the second and third groups, as well. While this activity was taking place, Hallel was recited, as many times as was necessary, and although it was occasionally begun a third time, it was never completed more than twice. The Bartenura and Tosafot Yom Tov describe the bazikh as a large pan with a handle, based on the Aramaic translation of the expression kaf ahat (see Bamidbar 7:14) as one bazikh. Others see it as a pot that is made in such a way that it does not have a flat bottom, which creates a situation in which the pot cannot be placed on the ground without falling over. This is important, as the blood collected in the bezikhin cannot be allowed to congeal. As far as the Hallel is concerned, Rashi and Tosafot disagree about who recited the Hallel - was it the Levi'im or all of the people assembled there? A similar mahloket (disagreement) appears among the amora'im in the Jerusalem Talmud. It is also unclear what Hallel was being recited. Some say that it is what we call Hallel - the Hallel ha-Mitzri, which focuses on the exodus from Egypt (Tehillim 113-118). Others say that Hallel ha-Gadol (Tehillim 136) was also included. Some add Tehillim 135, as well, since it includes praise of God and it also refers to the Exodus.
Pesaḥim 63a-b: Outside the Wall
23/01/2021 - 10th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Our Gemara quotes a Mishna that appears in Massekhet Menahot (7:3), which discusses the thanksgiving sacrifice – the korban toda. That korban is made up of an animal sacrifice brought together with 40 hallot matzot – non-hametz loaves. The Mishna teaches that if the sacrifice is slaughtered inside the azara - the Temple courtyard, as is proper - but the hallot were outside the wall at that time, then the hallot do not become holy; since at the time of the shehita they were in a place where they could not be eaten, they therefore cannot become part of the korban.
A question was raised with regard to this mishna: What is the meaning of the phrase outside the wall? Rabbi Yohanan said: It means outside the wall of Beit Pagei, the outermost wall around Jerusalem, but if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has been sanctified, as we do not require that the bread, described as "with" the offering, be next to it in order to be sanctified. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish disagreed and said: Even if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has not been sanctified. Apparently, he holds that we require that the bread described as "with" the offering be next to it in order to be sanctified. Since Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish have already disputed this issue, they presumably did not repeat this same dispute in other contexts.
Where is Beit Pagei? There are many opinions, but it appears that Beit Pagei represented the "third wall" that surrounded the "new city" of Jerusalem. Some say that Beit Pagei is from the Latin root meaning "to eat." According to this opinion, it was so named because within that wall was still considered Jerusalem with regard to the mitzva of eating korbanot that had to be consumed within the city walls. There also was a small village just outside of Jerusalem that was called Beit Pagei - perhaps because of the figs (pagim) that grew there. According to some opinions that is the Beit Pagei referred to by Rabbi Yohanan.
Pesaḥim 62a-b: The Book of Genealogies
22/01/2021 - 9th of Sh'vat, 5781
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By way of introducing a question that Rabbi Simlai asked Rabbi Yohanan about the laws taught in the first two Mishnayot of our perek, the Gemara tells a story about their meeting.
Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Yohanan. He said to him: Would the Master teach me the Book of Genealogies? The Book of Genealogies was a collection of tannaitic teachings that formed a midrash on the Book of Chronicles. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Where are you from? He said to him: From Lod. Rabbi Yohanan further asked: And where is your present place of residence? He said to him: In Neharde'a. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: I have a tradition that we teach these subjects neither to Lodites nor to Neharde'ans, and certainly not to you who comes from Lod and your residence is in Neharde'a, such that you have both shortcomings. Rabbi Simlai pressured Rabbi Yohanan until he agreed to teach him. Rabbi Simlai said to him: Teach me the Book of Genealogies in three months. Rabbi Yohanan took a clod of dirt, threw it at him, and said to him: Berurya, wife of Rabbi Meir and daughter of Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, was so sharp and had such a good memory that she learned three hundred halakhot in one day from three hundred Sages, and nonetheless she did not fulfill her responsibility to properly learn the Book of Genealogies in three years because it is especially long and difficult. And you say that I should teach it to you in three months? After your inappropriate request, I am not inclined to teach you at all.
Faced with this final refusal, Rabbi Simlai asks the question on our Mishnayot, which Rabbi Yohanan agrees to explain to him. Rabbi Simlai was one of the first generation amora'im in Israel, a student of Rabbi Yehuda Nesia and Rabbi Yannai. The Talmud, and, in particular, the Jerusalem Talmud, quotes him on matters of halakha, but he is better known for his many aggadic homilies. The Book of Genealogies (Sefer Yohasin) discussed here is a collection of baraitot, a type of midrash on Divrei HaYamim. The Geonim explain that among the material included there were the genealogies of all the families mentioned in the book, something that can easily explain its length. The midrashim had information about which families were considered to have pristine backgrounds, and who had problematic histories. Rav Yehudah Leib ha-Levi Edel writes in his Iyye ha-Yam that we find very few midrashim on Divrei haYamim in the Talmud. Apparently all of the baraitot were in this collection, which included deep explanations of the personal names that appear in the book. Our Gemara concludes that after a time Sefer Yohasin was lost. According to the Maharsha, there developed powerful families with "skeletons in their closets" whose secrets were found in the Sefer Yohasin, leading the Sages to refrain from teaching the work publicly, and it eventually fell from use. With its passing many of the secrets and traditions that it held were forgotten.
Pesaḥim 61a-b: Everything According to those who have Registered
21/01/2021 - 8th of Sh'vat, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf discusses a case where the person who is slaughtering the Passover sacrifice has intention that the korban be for people who will not be eating from it. Such people include individuals who cannot eat the meat of the sacrifice because they are old or ill, people who had not joined this particular group, or people who were not permitted to eat from the korban, e.g. someone who does not have a brit mila. In such cases, if the intention was just for such people, the korban is no good. If, however, the person thought about people who would eat from the korban, as well as people like the aforementioned, then the sacrifice is valid.
The Gemara asks: From where are these matters, which are not explicitly written in the Torah, derived? The Gemara answers: As the Sages taught with regard to the verse: "And if the household be too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is close to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man's eating you shall make your count for the lamb" (Shmot 12:4). "According to the number of" teaches that the Paschal lamb is slaughtered only for those who have registered for it. Everything is done according to the number of people who have registered before the slaughtering. I might have thought that if he slaughtered it for those who did not register for it, he would be considered as one who has violated a commandment, but nonetheless the offering would be valid after the fact. Therefore, the Torah teaches this law with the double formulation of "according to the number (bemikhsat)" and "you shall make your count (takhosu)"; the verse repeated it to make this requirement indispensable, so that the offering is disqualified if it is slaughtered for those who did not register for it. This discussion points to one of the ways in which the Talmudic hermeneutics differ when dealing with issues regarding sacrifices. Generally speaking, when the Torah commands us to perform an act in a specific way, it is understood that if it is not done properly, the act is an invalid one. Regarding sacrifices, however, it is commonplace to find that a single passage may command that a specific action be done, yet if one skips that detail, the sacrifice will remain valid after the fact. Only if there is an extra pasuk - as in our case - or a specific key word, does the Gemara conclude that it is essential for the sacrifice.
Pesaḥim 60a-b: Changing the Passover Sacrifice to a Shelamim
20/01/2021 - 7th of Sh'vat, 5781
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The korban Pesah is unique among the sacrifices in a number of ways, some of which are discussed on our daf. For example, our Gemara discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed at the appropriate time - the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan - but rather on some other day during the year. In any other situation, the sacrifice would simply be invalid. There is, however, a special rule with regard to the korban Pesah: it can be changed from a korban Pesah and sacrificed as a Shelamim. There are a series of discussions in the Gemara that revolve around the question of how the Pesah can be changed to a Shelamim - if the very fact that the Pesah is not being carried out properly switches it to a Shelamim, of if it is necessary to consciously substitute one intention for the other. The possibility of changing the korban to a Shelamim may be connected with the fact that, unlike most other sacrifices, the Shelamim is almost never brought because one is commanded to do so; rather it is a korban that is given freely as a toda - thanksgiving offering - or a nedava - a voluntary offering (see Vayikra 7:11-12, 16). There is a difference of opinion among the rishonim regarding the meaning of the name shelamim. Rashi (Vayikra 3:1) cites two opinions: a. that this korban spreads peace in the world; b. that they bring peace to the altar, to the priests, and to the owners (i.e. that all three parties to the sacrifice benefit from the eating of the sacrifice). Another rule unique to the korban Pesah is the need to participate in it as a formal member of a group; one must "sign up" before the holiday in order to join (see Shmot 12:4). When the korban itself is eaten - that is to say, during the Pesah seder as it was practiced during Temple times - a person was not allowed to leave his or her group and join another, unless he/she joined another group before the sacrifice was slaughtered.
Pesaḥim 59a-b: Invalidating a Sacrifice
19/01/2021 - 6th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Although there are many individual activities that need to take place in order for a sacrifice to be successfully brought in the Temple, there are four specific acts during which inappropriate thoughts can make the korban invalid. They are:
  1. Shehitat ha-korban - at the time the animal is slaughtered
  2. Kabalat ha-dam - when the blood is collected
  3. Holakha la-mizbe'ach - when it is carried to the altar
  4. Zerikat ha-dam - sprinkling the blood on the altar
What are considered "inappropriate thoughts"? There are three types of thoughts, or, indeed, spoken words (according to most opinions) that can make the sacrifice invalid. The most severe of these is when, in the midst of one of the activities mentioned above, the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban at the wrong time. This type of thought will make the sacrifice pigul (“a vile thing” - see Vayikra 19:7); the person who brought the sacrifice will need to replace it with another, and anyone eating from the meat of the korban will be punished with karet. Another possible problem would occur if the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban in the wrong place. Under those circumstances, although a replacement korban would need to be brought, it is not considered pigul, and there is no penalty of karet for someone who ate the meat of that sacrifice. These two cases apply to all korbanot. There is a third case where a thought will invalidate a sacrifice, which applies only to a korban hatat (a sin-offering) or a korban Pesah. If the kohen does not think that it is for this particular type of sacrifice, and mistakenly believes that it is for a different one, the korban hatat or korban Pesah will be invalid. In the case of the korban Pesah, even thinking that it will be used for a mundane purpose will ruin it.
Pesaḥim 58a-b: The Order of the Sacrifices
18/01/2021 - 5th of Sh'vat, 5781
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The fifth chapter of Massekhet Pesahim, Tamid Nishhat, opens the second half of the tractate, which is actually referred to as Pesah Sheni – "the second Pesah" by the commentaries. In this section of the massekhet we move away from the discussion of the rules of hametz and matza and focus of an aspect of the holiday that was central during the time that the Temple was standing in Jerusalem – the Passover sacrifice itself. This perek's main concern is the slaughter and sacrifice of the korban (sacrifice). The first question that is dealt with is a question of time. When exactly should the sacrifice be slaughtered? The Biblical passages refer to the time of sacrifice in a very general way. How should sacrificing the korban Pesah fit in with the other Temple service and sacrifices of the day? Will there be any changes when erev Pesah, the day on which the korban is prepared, falls out on Friday or on Shabbat? The first Mishna teaches that ordinarily the afternoon daily sacrifice, the korban tamid shel bein ha-arbayim, is brought nine-and-a-half hours after sunrise. On erev Pesah it is moved up an hour and is brought eight-and-a-half hours after sunrise. When erev Pesah coincides with erev Shabbat then it is brought seven-and-a-half hours after sunrise. The korban Pesah will only be brought after the afternoon sacrifice has been completed. The Passover sacrifice is an exception to the general rule that the Temple service open with the tamid shel shahar in the morning, after which korbanot are brought throughout the day. Generally speaking, the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim in the afternoon closes the day in the Temple.
As the Gemara mentioned previously that the daily morning offering precedes all other sacrifices, it cites a baraita that explains this law. The Sages taught: From where is it derived that no sacrifice shall precede the daily morning offering? The verse states: "And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the priest shall kindle wood upon it every morning, and he shall prepare the burnt-offering [olah] upon it and shall cause the fats of the peace-offerings to go up in smoke upon it" (Vayikra 6:5). The Gemara asks: What is the biblical derivation? In other words, how is it derived that the burnt-offering in this verse is referring to the daily morning offering? Rava said: "The burnt-offering," with the definite article, is referring to the first burnt-offering, i.e., the daily morning offering, which is first both chronologically and in terms of importance.
Some explain that the tamid shel shahar is called "the first olah" because that was the first sacrifice brought by the Jewish people in the desert. Another explanation offered is that consecrating a new altar in the mikdash is always done with the tamid shel shahar, making it "the first olah."
Pesaḥim 57a-b: Which is Better - Sheep or Goat?
17/01/2021 - 4th of Sh'vat, 5781
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Although the story of the Hasmonean victory against the Greeks during the Second Temple is well-known, the dynasty that they built degenerated over time. In a number of places in the Talmud we are told about disagreements between the Sages and the High Priests, who often did not follow the traditions and rulings of the Sanhedrin. The fourth perek concludes with a number of stories about Kings and High Priests of the Hasmonean dynasty, and the lack of respect that they had for Jewish tradition generally and the Temple service specifically. The Gemara quotes a baraita that lists four cries that were heard in the courtyard of the Temple. One of them was about Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai who was so fastidious about his own honor that he would wrap his hands in silk while performing the Temple service, thus indicating that he did not perceive the avoda (work) of the mikdash as being worthy of dirtying his hands. The Gemara then describes what became of Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai.
They said: The king and the queen were sitting and talking. The king said that goat meat is better food, and the queen said lamb meat is better food. They said: Who can prove which one of us is correct? The High Priest can, as he offers sacrifices all day and tastes their meat. The High Priest had the right to take a portion from any sacrifice offered in the Temple, and therefore was well acquainted with the tastes of different meat. Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai came, and when they asked him this question, he signaled contemptuously with his hand and said: If goat is better, let it be sacrificed as the daily offering. The daily offering is a lamb, proving that its meat is preferable to that of a goat. The king said: Since he not only disagrees with me but has no reverence for the monarchy, as evident from his contempt, sever his right hand.
Following this story, the amora'im comment that aside from his lack of political sensitivity, he also was incorrect in his decision about the quality of the different types of meat. Rav Ashi points out a Mishna that clearly says that they are of equal importance; Ravina infers this from Biblical passages. Although the story appears to simply show the lack of respect the participants had for the Temple service, in his commentary to the Talmud, Rabbi Yehudah Bachrach suggests that a serious question was involved. A person who brings a sin-offering has a choice of either bringing a sheep or a goat. If a sheep is brought, no one will know that it is a sin-offering, as it could also be a voluntary sacrifice; a goat clearly indicates that the sacrifice is being brought because of a sin. Thus the question that Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai did not take seriously was whether as part of the repentance process it would be better to publicize that a sin had taken place or to hide it.
Pesaḥim 56a-b: More Unique Customs
16/01/2021 - 3rd of Sh'vat, 5781
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Another example of customs unique to specific communities was that the people of Jericho, "the city of date palms" (see Devarim 34:3), permitted grafting of date palms throughout the day of erev Pesah. Rav Aha the son of Rava explains this to mean placing a branch of a male palm tree on the female. Date palms are dioecious, that is each tree is specifically male or female. A male tree does not produce dates, but is necessary for its pollen in order for the female tree to give fruit. In nature or in orchards where the palm trees are planted very close together, the wind is enough to fertilize the female trees. When growing date palms commercially to produce dates, however, hand pollination is usually necessary to insure a good fruit harvest. Male flowers should be collected within a few hours after the sheath splits open to prevent pollen loss. The pollen should be stored in a cool place until the female florets on the female tree are ready for pollination. Three or four strands of the male flower should be placed with the female strand from one to three days after the female sheath splits open. Once the female tree is ready to be fertilized, time is of the essence. Therefore we can well understand the concern in Jericho that hand pollination should be permitted throughout the day on erev Pesah. Following the Mishnaic teaching about the six customs of the people of Jericho, the Gemara tells of six actions of King Hizkiyahu, three of which received the approval of the Sages, three of which did not. One of King Hizkiyahu's activities was suppressing the sefer refu'ot, the Book of Cures, from popular use. What was this sefer refu'ot? In Maimonides' commentary to the Mishna, he argues that if this were simply a book of medicine from which the sick could be healed it should have been valued and used, and the Sages would never have agreed to allow it to be hidden away. He offers two possible explanations: 1. It was a book that listed a variety of forbidden activities that could have an effect on a given illness, which was written as a theoretical treatise, examining nature. When people began to use it in practice, King Hizkiyahu removed it. 2. It was a book that described how to make poison and its antidote. While the intent was to allow a doctor to heal someone who had become poisoned, when people used it to learn how to injure others, it was hidden away.
Pesaḥim 55a-b: Placing a Hen to Brood on Erev Pesah
15/01/2021 - 2nd of Sh'vat, 5781
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One of the activities that might be restricted on erev Pesah involves an egg farmer who prepares nests or coops for his birds. The Mishna teaches that hens can be put on eggs to warm them for hatching on the 14th of Nisan; similarly, if a hen has abandoned her post on the eggs she can be returned to it, or if the hen dies another can be brought as a replacement. These activities are not true melakhot, but they do involve a certain amount of hard work to accomplish.
Gemara: Now, the mishna stated that placing a brooding hen to sit on eggs is permitted; is it necessary to mention that restoring a hen to its brooding place is permitted? Abaye said: In the last clause of the mishna we have arrived at the halakhot of the intermediate days of the Festival, when placing a hen to sit on eggs is prohibited, yet one may nevertheless restore a hen that fled, as failure to do so will cause him to incur a loss. On the fourteenth of Nisan, one may even place a hen to brood ab initio.
Rav Huna follows this by teaching that the bird can only be returned to the nest within three days of leaving d'akati lo parah tzimra minei – because the hen has not yet lost its warmth, but after that the hen cannot be returned. When birds, including chickens, sit on their nests and warm their eggs, it is not a simple act of rest for them. "Brooding" (degira in modern Hebrew) involves a complex hormonal change in the chicken that gets the bird to sit for weeks on end in a single place, ready to fend off any attackers. This condition is brought about by a number of factors, including the season and the physical touch and feel of eggs against the body. In many birds, the body temperature rises (some specific areas on the body become warmer) as part of the hormonal change. In the event that the bird loses its natural inclination towards brooding, returning it to the nest within a short time may successfully restart its instinct for remaining on the nest, due to the contact with the eggs. If the bird is not returned shortly after leaving the nest, it may not be possible to return it to brooding.
Pesaḥim 54a-b: Mourning on the Ninth of Av
14/01/2021 - 1st of Sh'vat, 5781
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One halakha that is dependant on the local custom is whether or not one can work on the fast day of the Ninth of Av, which commemorates the destruction of both the first and second Temples. According to the Mishna, even in places where the custom was to permit people to work on Tisha b'Av, Torah scholars refrained from working. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel taught that it would be appropriate for everyone to consider himself a scholar with regard to this custom, i.e. that anyone who can, should refrain from work on the fast day. Most of the special rules and regulations that apply on the Ninth of Av stem from traditions of aveilut - mourning. Just as someone who is in aveilut for a parent refrains from wearing leather shoes, engaging in sexual relations or learning Torah, similarly the community that is in mourning for the Temple refrains from these activities. Rabbi Shlomo Adani in his Melekhet Shlomo points out that the Sages did not establish work as one of the things that is forbidden on Tisha b'Av, even though someone who has a personal aveilut does not work, because the communal mourning over the Temple is aveilut yeshana – it is commemorative mourning over a historical event, not a recent one. In the Gemara, Shmuel rules that the only true ta'anit tzibur – communal fast – in Babylon is Tisha b'Av. The other fast days do not begin in the evening, nor do they encompass other rules aside from the fast itself. This also indicates that the fast days enumerated in Massekhet Ta'anit on the occasion of drought, will never be established in the Babylonian exile. The rishonim differ in their explanations of Shmuel's ruling. Rashi explains that in Babylon there was no need to establish fast days for drought, since most of the local water needs were supplied by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Me'iri adds that the ruling applies to other locations in the Diaspora, whose traditions are modeled after Babylon, even if there is a need for rain in those places. The Ra'avad argues that Shmuel intended that his ruling apply to all Diaspora communities, because the people in those communities were weak from their travails and the Sages desired to lighten their burdens regarding fast days. According to the Ramban, the Diaspora communities are not considered a true tzibur, they are seen as a group of individuals, so any decision to establish a public fast would not have the full stringencies of a ta'anit tzibur.
Pesaḥim 53a-b: Eating Roasted Meat on Pesaḥ Following the Destruction of the Temple
13/01/2021 - 29th of Tevet, 5781
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One example of following the local custom that is discussed in the Mishna on our daf deals with a Pesah issue. Following the destruction of the Temple, what is the best course of action? Should we eat meat at the seder roasted in commemoration of the Passover sacrifice that had to be roasted (see Shmot 12: 8-9) or would doing so present a problem because it would appear that the sacrifice was being eaten outside the precincts of Jerusalem? The Mishna rules that either of these customs can be followed, each in the community where it is the accepted tradition.
Rabbi Yosei said: Theodosius [Todos] of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat [goat] kids roasted [mekulas] whole with their entrails over their heads on the evenings of Passover, as was the custom in the Temple. The Sages sent a message to him: If you were not Theodosius, an important person, I would have decreed ostracism upon you, as it appears as if you are feeding Israel consecrated food, which may be eaten only in and around the Temple itself, outside the permitted area.
While the tanna'im of the Mishna apparently knew him well, Todos was not a well-known character to the amora'im of the Gemara, who ask whether the reluctance to place him under ban stemmed from the fact that he was a talmid hakham, or, perhaps, because he was a powerful figure who could not be punished. The Hatam Sofer points out that this is not merely a theoretical question, but a practical one from which we can deduce that a talmid hakham should not be punished for making an error, but should simply be warned about it. In response, the Gemara offers two stories about him. The first story quotes Todos as teaching an aggadic homily, in which he explained the actions of Hananiah, Misha'el and Azariah who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace (see Daniel chapter 3 ) by comparing their situation to that of the frogs of the second of the ten plagues in Egypt who willingly jumped into burning ovens (see Shmot 7:28). According to this story, since we have records of Todos teaching Torah publicly, apparently he was a scholar. Rabbi Yossi bar Avin relates the second story, that Todos was someone who supported Torah scholars by lending money or merchandise to them, thus allowing them to support themselves. It should be noted that the Rambam lists eight levels of charity (see Rambam Hilkhot Matnot Aniyim 10:7) ranging from giving a hand-out to a poor person to offering assistance in a secretive way. The highest level enumerated is someone who enters into a partnership with a poor person, allowing him to become self-sufficient, which, apparently, was Todos' relationship with the Torah scholars in his community.
Pesaḥim 52a-b: Consuming Fruit on the Sabbatical Year
12/01/2021 - 28th of Tevet, 5781
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As an example of the principle that a person should be careful to conform to the local custom and avoid disagreements, the first Mishna in our perek  (50b) brings a case of consuming fruit on the Sabbatical year. The Mishna rules that if someone travels from a place where a certain type of fruit is available to a place where it is no longer available (or vice versa), he should behave according to the local custom. Based on the passage in Vayikra 25:7, the Mishna in Massekhet Shevi'it rules that a person is allowed to harvest and store fruits that grow on the Sabbatical year as long as similar fruits are available in the fields for all. Once the season comes to an end and that type of fruit is no longer on the trees, the person who is storing the fruit is obligated to perform bi'ur (removal). There are two main positions in the rishonim with regard to defining bi'ur during the Shemitta year. According to Rashi, the Rambam and the Ra'avad, once a certain type of fruit is no longer readily available in the fields, all such fruit must be destroyed. The Ramban and Tosafot rule that performing bi'ur means that someone who is storing such fruit must remove it from his house and make it hefker, i.e. declare it ownerless and available to all (according to some opinions only the poor would be permitted to make use of it). In explanation of our Mishna, the Gemara on our daf quotes a Mishna from Massekhet Shevi'it (9:2) which teaches that not all places in Israel will end their seasons at the same time, thus someone could find himself traveling from Yehuda to the Galil, for example, and discover that his fruit, which was totally permissible to eat back home needs bi'ur performed on it in the new location. According to the Mishna there were three distinct areas in Israel: Yehuda (Judea), the Galil (Galilee) and Ever ha-Yarden (Transjordan). These places were established based on the Jewish population centers in the time of the Mishna, and areas whose population was mainly non-Jewish are not included.
Pesaḥim 51a-b: Following Local Custom - II
11/01/2021 - 27th of Tevet, 5781
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Continuing the discussion of minhag ha-makom, the status of local custom in Jewish law, the Gemara brings a series of examples of traditions that are not requirements according to halakha and the reactions of the Sages to them. Some examples: The people of Hozai (an area in Babylon near the Persian Gulf that was far away from the main Jewish community) used to separate halla for the kohanim from rice dough. (The mitzva of halla generally applies only to dough made of wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt.) Rav Yosef wanted a non-priest to eat the halla in front of them to indicate their error, but Abaye forbade him from doing so, arguing that one should not permit something that has been accepted by the community as being forbidden. Rav Yosef pointed out that according to Rav Hisda, that ruling applied only to Kutai, the Shomronim, a group who had converted and whose commitment to Jewish law was tenuous. Rav Yosef explained that the concern with the Kutai was that they would stop being careful about mitzvot if someone told them that the customs they had been keeping were in error; the same concern applied to Jews living in Hozai. It is interesting to note that the tradition of treating rice as if it were a real grain is not without precedent. We have learned that, according to Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri, matza made from rice flour can be used to fulfill the mitzva and is considered hametz if allowed to leaven (see 35a).
Similarly, one may go out with wide shoes that resemble slippers (kurdikison) on Shabbat; however, one does not go out with wide shoes in the city of Birei. And there was an incident involving Yehuda and Hillel, sons of Rabban Gamliel beRabbi, who went out with wide shoes in Birei, and the people of the city denounced them and said: In all our days we have never seen that type of conduct. And Yehuda and Hillel removed their shoes, and gave them to their gentile servants, and did not want to tell the residents of the city: You are permitted to go out with wide shoes on Shabbat.
Rabba bar bar Hana once traveled to Babylon from his home in Israel. He sat down to eat d'ayitra, animal fat along the stomach which was considered permissible in Israel but thought to be forbidden in Babylon. Two of the leading Sages in Babylon, Rav Avira Sava and Rabba the son of Rav Huna, came to visit him while he was eating. He covered the plate so they shouldn't see what he was eating. In answer to the Gemara's question that Rabba bar bar Hana was obligated to accept the local custom, Abaye explains that as a resident of Israel, he was not obligated to accept the Babylonian minhagim. Rav Ashi argued that since he was just visiting and he fully intended to return to Israel, he was not obligated to accept the Babylonian customs. The Gemara concludes by mentioning that Rabba bar bar Hana himself instructed his children that they could not eat d'ayitra. He told them that he could do so because of the tradition that he had from Rabbi Yohanan, who he had seen eating it, but that they, who had never seen the great Sage eat it, should accept the general practice and refrain. The Rosh sums up the various stories by ruling that a reliable custom that was instituted and accepted by the local Rabbinic leadership becomes obligatory, and must be kept even if someone finds himself in another place. A lesser tradition that was accepted by the community members on their own does not obligate, and need not be kept if it is done where people will not see you.
Pesaḥim 50a-b: Following Local Custom
10/01/2021 - 26th of Tevet, 5781
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The fourth perek of Massekhet Pesahim begins on our daf. It opens with a continuation of the discussion about preparations for the Passover holiday, specifically whether or not one can engage in mundane activities on erev Pesah. Must one dedicate the day before the holiday to the many necessary pre-Pesah preparations, like destroying hametz, baking matzot, arranging the Passover sacrifice, etc.? The Sages did not rule that erev Pesah need be a day of complete cessation of everyday matters; they left it to the discretion of each community - minhag ha-makom - to establish to what extent members of the community should refrain from work. In fact, the majority of this chapter focuses not so much on Pesah matters as it does on the general approach that the halakha takes towards minhag, towards community custom and practice. What is the significance of minhag in Jewish law? What are the sources that obligate Jews to follow the local minhag? Can an established minhag change, if there is a change in circumstance? Which minhag should a traveler follow - the minhag of the place that he left, or the accepted practices of his new community? These are the issues dealt with in the fourth chapter, appropriately titled Makom She-Nahagu - "The place where they kept the custom."
Mishna: In a place where the people were accustomed to perform labor on Passover eve until midday, one may do so on that day. In a place where the people were accustomed not to perform labor, one may not do so. The performance of labor on the eve of Passover is not prohibited by Torah law, but is dependent on local custom. If one travels from a place where people perform labor on Passover eve to a place where people do not perform labor, or from a place where people do not perform labor on Passover eve to a place where people perform labor, the Sages impose upon him the stringencies of both the place from which he left and the stringencies of the place to which he went. In both cases, he may not perform labor.
The rishonim ask why a person would be obligated to accept the stringencies of both communities. Would it not make more sense to say that a person who travels to a new community and intends to remain there would have to accept the local minhagim, but if he planned to stay only a short time and return to his hometown he should follow the traditions of his home? Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that this, in fact, is the intention of the Mishna in saying that he must keep the stringencies of the place that he is from - if he intends to return, and the stringencies of the place to which he arrived - if he intends to remain there. The Ramban understands the Mishna to be discussing a case where the man plans to return home, and the ruling that he must accept the customs of the new place is a temporary measure to avoid disagreements. According to the Rashba, we are discussing a case where the individual is visiting Israel from Babylon, and he is obligated to accept the minhagim of Israel because halakha perceived the Babylonian community as being subservient to the Jewish community in Israel.
Pesaḥim 49a-b: The Importance of Family Weddings
09/01/2021 - 25th of Tevet, 5781
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If a person leaves his/her home just before Pesah and remembers that hametz was left behind at home, what should he/she do? According to the Mishna on our daf, if the person is traveling for personal reasons, he should really go home and destroy the hametz properly. If, however, the trip was for a mitzva - like to sacrifice the korban Pesah, to perform a circumcision on his son or to attend the celebration of a wedding at his in-laws' home - then, if he cannot return home to destroy the hametz, he is allowed to do bitul ba-lev, to nullify the hametz in his heart. The Jerusalem Talmud points out that we learn from this Mishna how important it is to keep peace within the family, since the Mishna chooses to categorize attendance at a family wedding celebration together with circumcision and the Passover sacrifice as important mitzvot. The Gemara uses this line in the Mishna as a springboard for a wide-ranging discussion of celebrations and marriage. One baraita quoted by the Gemara encourages a person to sell all of his worldly possessions in order to arrange to marry the daughter of a Torah scholar or to arrange for his daughter to marry a Torah scholar. The baraita then gives a metaphor:
This type of marriage can be compared to grapes of a vine that become intertwined with grapes of a vine, something which is beautiful and acceptable to God and man. And one should not marry the daughter of an ignoramus. This type of marriage can be compared to grapes of a vine that have become intertwined with berries of a bramble, which is something unseemly and unacceptable.
The sneh, which is also referred to in the Talmud as vardina, is, apparently, what is known today as the bramble or Rubus Sanctus, a crawling or climbing plant that grows wild, usually on river banks or other damp places throughout Israel. The plant has leaves, many sharp thorns and white or purple flowers of about 2 centimeters in diameter. It also has berries - referred to by the baraita as invei ha-sneh - which are edible, although they are usually small and have little juice in them.
Pesaḥim 48a-b: When Dough Becomes Hametz
08/01/2021 - 24th of Tevet, 5781
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As we learned earlier (daf 46), the custom today is to make sure that the entire process of baking matza takes less than 18 minutes from beginning to end. Nevertheless, in the time of the Mishna, dough was considered hametz when it showed certain signs of leavening. The first Mishna on our daf teaches about the approved baking process. Rabban Gamliel rules that three women can prepare and bake simultaneously using one oven. The hakhamim say that all three must be involved in different baking activities in order to ensure that the dough does not become hametz - one kneads, one shapes and one bakes. Rabbi Akiva objects to the application of objective standards, arguing that we need to anticipate that the women will work at different speeds and that the fuel and ovens will be at different temperatures. Some understand Rabban Gamliel's ruling as stating that there is enough time to bake three rounds of matza before leavening takes place. Others argue that this would only be the case if the women are continuously kneading the dough throughout the baking process. The Rambam rules that in such a case, as long as the kneading continues, the dough will never become hametz, and Rabban Gamliel was giving an example, but, in fact, even more than three women could be involved in the baking simultaneously. The second Mishna on our daf focuses on when dough is thought to have become hametz.
Dough at the beginning of the leavening process [siur], must be burned, but one who eats it is exempt from the punishment of karet because the dough had not become fully leavened. Dough that has reached the stage of cracking must be burned, and one who eats it intentionally is liable to receive karet, as he has intentionally eaten leavened bread during Passover.
According to Rabbi Yehuda, siur - the beginning of the leavening process, which is indicated by the dough turning a pale color and developing cracks - is not yet considered hametz, although it must be destroyed. Siduk - cracks appearing in the dough that intersect one another - is considered to have become hametz. Hakhamim rule that once any cracks appear, the dough has become hametz, and eating it on Pesah would make one liable for karet. The Mishna describes the cracks under discussion as ki-karnei hagavim - like the antennae of locusts. The comparison between the cracks on the dough and the antennae appears to refer to both the shape of the antennae and their size - about 12-15 millimeters.
Pesaḥim 47a-b: Preparing Food on Yom Tov for Shabbat
07/01/2021 - 23th of Tevet, 5781
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One of the topics discussed in our perek is how one can prepare for Shabbat when Yom Tov occurs on Friday. Rabbah suggests that we rely on a legal fiction called ho'il - since guests might come to visit on Yom Tov, one can prepare food on Yom Tov (which is permissible when done for that day) with these theoretical guests in mind. When it turns out that there is food left over for Shabbat, Shabbat is thus prepared for. Rav Hisda argues that on a Biblical level one can prepare for Shabbat on the Friday on which Yom Tov occurs; the prohibition is a Rabbinic one, lest someone prepare for a regular weekday on Yom Tov. The Sages instituted an eruv tavshilin, which clarifies that the preparations can be done only for Shabbat. Rabbah challenges Rav Hisda's ruling from the law regarding the lehem ha-panim – the showbread of the Temple. The laws of the Temple showbread appear in Vayikra 24:1-9 and are discussed at length in the Talmud in Massekhet Menahot. Twelve loaves were baked every week, which were placed on the shulhan in the heikhal on Shabbat. They remained there until the following Shabbat, when they were replaced by freshly baked loaves. The loaves were then distributed among the groups of kohanim who were working in the Temple. The Mishna in Menahot (11:9) teaches that ordinarily the lehem ha-panim was eaten nine days after it was baked (baked on Friday and eaten the following Shabbat). When Yom Tov fell on Friday, it was eaten ten days after it was baked; when Rosh ha-Shanah fell on Thursday and Friday, it was eaten eleven days after it was baked. Clearly the Mishna believes that the baking cannot be done on Yom Tov in preparation for Shabbat, seemingly against Rav Hisda's ruling. Rav Hisda responds by pointing out that, in this case, the preparation is not for the immediately upcoming Shabbat, as the bread was not eaten for more than a week! Preparation for a week later would be permitted on Yom Tov. When Shabbat immediately follows Yom Tov, however, food preparation for Shabbat would be permitted.
Pesaḥim 46a-b: Deaf Dough
06/01/2021 - 22th of Tevet, 5781
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Today the custom is to make sure that the entire process of baking matza takes less than 18 minutes from beginning to end. As we will see, this ruling stems from a discussion in the Gemara on our daf. Nevertheless, in the time of the Mishna, dough was usually considered hametz when it showed certain signs of leavening (see daf 48).
Mishna: Deaf dough [batzek ha-heresh ] is dough for which it is difficult to determine if it has been leavened. It is comparable to a deaf-mute, who cannot communicate. If there is dough similar to it in that water was added to both at the same time, which became leavened, the deaf dough is prohibited. Although it has not shown external signs of becoming leavened, it can be presumed that the deaf dough has also become leavened.
Rashi explains the expression batzek ha-heresh as dough that does not clearly indicate whether it has become hametz and is difficult to understand, like a deaf person who has ears, yet we cannot tell whether or not he can hear. According to the Rambam, dough that has become hametz makes a certain noise when you drum on it. The case in the Mishna is one when no such noise is heard, so it is "mute." The Ramban explains that just as a deaf person has trouble hearing, similarly this dough is having trouble rising. According to the Ge'onim the expression stems from the perception of people at that time that a deaf person could not be educated and was considered "retarded." This dough that did not follow the normal development pattern was compared to that situation. The Gemara's question is: What should be done if no other dough was made at the same time so that there is nothing to compare it to? Rabbi Abbahu quotes Resh Lakish as saying that the amount of time that it takes to become hametz is the length of time that it takes to walk a mil – the distance from Tiberias to Migdal Nunia. The opinions on the definition of this amount of time range from 18-24 minutes. Given the severity of the prohibition of hametz the usual practice, as mentioned above, is to arrange for baking to be completed within 18 minutes.
Pesaḥim 45a-b: Using Flour in the Preparation of Leather
05/01/2021 - 21th of Tevet, 5781
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Flour is not only used in cooking and baking but in other processes, as well. The Gemara on our daf discusses a case where flour is used in preparation of leather or other products made from animal skins.
The Sages taught [in a baraita]: With regard to tanners' bowls into which one placed flour in the production process of leather, if the flour was placed within three days of the start of Passover, one is obligated to remove it, as it is still considered edible leaven. However if one added the flour prior to three days before Passover, one is not obligated to remove the contents of the bowl, as the flour will have already been rendered inedible by the odor of the vessel before the beginning of Passover, and is no longer considered edible.
Rabbi Natan comments on the baraita, saying that the three day rule is only true if animal skins had not been put into the trough. If, however, the process of preparing the hides had already begun, then there is no longer any need to clean the trough, since the smell of the skins would make it impossible to eat the flour. Rava rules like Rabbi Natan, arguing that even if the hides were put in a short time before Pesah, the flour is already considered inedible and there is no need to destroy it. The halakha follows this opinion, which is not only quoted in the Gemara by these amoraim, but also appears as one position in the Tosefta (Pesahim, Chapter 3). With regard to the process of tanning leather, there were a number of different methods used in the time of the Mishna and Talmud, depending on the types of skins and the desired end-product. Generally speaking, flour was one of the ingredients used when preparing skins for use as parchment. The leavening process itself played a role in transforming the skin into that material. Tanning with flour was only the beginning of the process, and it still needed to be worked on further before it was ready to use.
Pesaḥim 44a-b: Eating a Forbidden Food in an Abnormal Way
04/01/2021 - 20th of Tevet, 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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One of the examples of food mentioned in the first Mishna in our perek, which includes a mixture of hametz and is forbidden to eat on the level of a lav – a simple negative prohibition – rather than the more severe hiyyuv karet, is Babylonian kutah. This pungent dip made of whey, fermented bread and salt was used as a condiment, and was not normally eaten by itself. The Gemara explains that Babylonian kutah does not contain the requisite ka-zayit (olive-sized amount) of hametz eaten tokh k'dei akhilat pras - within the amount of time that it takes to eat half a loaf – since it is not normally eaten on its own. Were someone to try to eat a significant amount of it by itself, it would not be considered a normal way of eating, since no one eats it in such a manner – batla da'atei etzel kol adam – his intent is nullified when compared with normative behavior. The rishonim differ as to how to approach a forbidden activity done in an abnormal way. According to Rashi, the concept of batla da'atei etzel kol adam indicates that this behavior is so strange that halakha does not view it as "eating" in the normal sense. Therefore, the person doing it will not be held liable at all. Tosafot argue that even someone who behaves in an abnormal manner will be held liable for forbidden acts that he does. By pointing out that such behavior is abnormal and saying batlah da'atei etzel kol adam, the Gemara is merely arguing that such a case is not considered a serious one by the author of the Mishna, and therefore cannot be included as the basis for interpreting disagreements between opinions of the tanna'im that appear there. In any case, Rabbi Eliezer considered Babylonian kutah to be prohibited on Pesah by the Torah, on the level of a lav; the hakhamim considered it to be forbidden only by rabbinic decree.
Pesaḥim 43a-b: The Punishment for Eating a Mixture Containing Hametz
03/01/2021 - 19th of Tevet, 5781
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As we learned yesterday, according to the first Mishna in this perek, mixtures that contain hametz are prohibited only on the level of a simple negative commandment, which does not carry the same punishment – karet as pure hametz if it is eaten. Rav Nahman identifies the author of this opinion as Rabbi Eliezer, quoting a baraita in which Rabbi Eliezer teaches that eating pure grain hametz is punishable by karet, while eating hametz in a mixture is a lav – a simple negative commandment, punishable by lashes. The baraita includes the opinion of the hakhamim, who agree that eating normal hametz will be punished by karet. With regard to eating a mixture containing hametz, the hakhamim rule that it is b'lo klum – "there is nothing." At first glance it would appear that the hakhamim feel that such a mixture is permitted on Pesah. Nevertheless, the Rif and the Rosh (and, based on their ruling, most of the codifiers of halakha) rule that the expression b'lo klum in this case does not mean that it is permitted, rather that there is no punishment for eating it since the requisite amount needed to be held liable would not be eaten. After all, even if someone ate a full ka-zayit (olive-size amount) of this mixture, he still will have eaten less than a ka-zayit of hametz. If we understand the opinion of the hakhamim this way, were a person to eat a very large portion of the mixture that includes hametz, so that tokh k'dei akhilat pras - within the amount of time that it takes to eat half a loaf – he ate a full ka-zayit within the mixture, even they would agree that he would receive the punishment of lashes. The Gemara concludes that Rabbi Eliezer also will forbid hametz nuksheh (hardened leaven) on the level of a lav. The Ritva explains the term hametz nuksheh as referring to hametz that is not edible or has not been fully baked, that is to say that it is not the full hametz referred to by the Torah.
Pesaḥim 42a-b: What is the Definition of Hametz?
02/01/2021 - 18th of Tevet, 5781
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Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger, or born in the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat matzot. (Shmot 12:19-20) Matzot shall be eaten seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you, in all your borders. (Shmot 13:7)
The Torah forbids eating hametz on Pesah; even having it in your house on the holiday is forbidden. The third perek of Massekhet Pesahim, which begins on our daf, examines a very basic question: what is the definition of hametz? From the Torah it is clear that bread or a direct leavening agent is considered hametz. What about food or drink that has a small amount of hametz in it – are they also forbidden on Pesah? Does something with hametz mixed in need to be searched out and destroyed before the holiday? What percentage of a given mixture need be hametz for it to be forbidden? How about a product that contains hametz, but is not intended to be eaten? Is it, too, considered hametz? These are the types of questions with which our chapter grapples. The first Mishna teaches that food, drink and even paste made from flour or grain is considered hametz. The specific examples are Babylonian kutah, Median beer, Edomite vinegar, Egyptian zitom, dyers' broth (zoman), bakers’ well-worked dough and bookmakers' kolan, or glue (the Gemara refers to these as "the four countries and the three professions"). Rabbi Eliezer even includes women's cosmetics – apparently a type of depilatory cream used for removing hair. The prohibition, however, is only on the level of a simple negative commandment, which does not carry the more severe punishment of karet if it is eaten. Introducing these items, the Mishna uses the term Elu Ovrin, an expression that is understood in a number of ways by the rishonim. Rashi understands it to mean that keeping these things in your house over Pesah leads you to be over – to transgress – the prohibition of bal yera'eh u'bal yimatzeh, of having hametz in your possession. Rabbenu Hananel suggests that the expression should be understood to mean ma'avirim me'al ha-shulhan - that these things need to be removed from the table, i.e. that they cannot be eaten. According to Rabbenu Yehonatan it means that these things need bi'ur; that they need to be searched for and destroyed.
Pesaḥim 41a-b: How to Cook the Passover Sacrifice
01/01/2021 - 17th of Tevet, 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 Mishna on yesterday's daf we learned that the Passover sacrifice must be roasted and cannot be boiled in water or other liquids. Rav Hisda teaches that if someone cooks food on Shabbat by using the heat from the hot-springs in Tiberias, he is not held liable for cooking on Shabbat (one of the 39 prohibited activities on Shabbat), but he would be held liable for cooking the Passover sacrifice, which, as we learned, is forbidden, were he to do it in the hot-springs. Rava explains that the hot-springs in Tiberias are not considered "fire" with regard to the rules and regulations of Shabbat, so no formal cooking takes place. On Passover, although it would not be considered cooking, neither is it considered broiling, which is what one must do in order to fulfill the mitzva of tzli esh (Shmot 12:8-9). The Me'iri points out that there are variant readings in the Gemara as to whether the source that is quoted is Pasuk 8 - And they shall eat the meat that night, roasted by fire… or Pasuk 9 – It should not be eaten raw, nor boiled in, rather roasted by fire… The difference between the sources is whether the method under discussion is considered negation of a positive commandment (8) or transgression of a negative one (9). The very suggestion that the Pesah might be cooked in the hot-springs of Tiberias is a strange one. The Passover sacrifice, which is considered kodashim (consecration), can only be eaten within the precincts of Jerusalem, and if removed is considered defiled and cannot be eaten! It is unlikely that the Gemara is discussing a situation where water from the hot-springs was imported to Jerusalem, as it would have cooled down so much that it could not have cooked anything. Although the simple explanation is to say that the Gemara is using the hot-springs of Tiberias as an example of non-fire-related cooking methods, which would apply, for example, to cooking in water heated by the sun – or, perhaps, by microwaves - (this appears to be the approach to the Mishna suggested by Maimonides), Rav Shlomo ha-Kohen suggests that the reference might be to a historical period before the Temple was built, when the sacrifice could be brought anywhere in Israel.