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

Shabbat 120a-b: Saving Things From a Burning House on Shabbat
04/07/2020 - 12th of Tammuz, 5780
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
Although an earlier Mishna taught that an individual is permitted to save only three meals worth of food from his burning house, the Mishna on today’s daf teaches that there are cases where more can be saved. According to the Mishna:
One may rescue a basket full of loaves and the like from a fire on Shabbat, even if there is food for one hundred meals in it. And one may rescue a round cake of dried figs, even though it is very large, and one may rescue a barrel full of wine. And one may even say to others: Come and rescue for yourselves. And if the people who rescue with him were clever, they make a calculation with him after Shabbat in order to receive payment for the items that they rescued.
After some discussion, the Gemara concludes that this case is different because there is only a single vessel that is being rescued from the fire; under such circumstances there are no limitations on the amount that can be contained in the vessel. Regarding the invitation to others to come and rescue other things from the burning house, the Jerusalem Talmud explains that since one is permitted to invite guests and feed them and clothe them on Shabbat, one may also invite others to come and rescue food and clothes for themselves as they are potential guests. Some commentaries teach that the others may rescue items in any manner that they choose. Since it is not their property, there is no concern lest they extinguish the fire in their agitation (Rabbi Yeshaya of Terani as cited in the Ran). The Jerusalem Talmud suggests that the novel element in this statement is that if the rescuers return the objects to their owner on Shabbat and did not take ownership of them, they may receive direct payment after Shabbat and not merely take ownership of the ownerless property. This is the Rambam’s interpretation in his Commentary to the Mishna, as well.
Shabbat 119a-b: Shabbat Preparations
03/07/2020 - 11th of Tammuz, 5780
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
Preparing for Shabbat is an essential ingredient in showing delight in Shabbat. On today’s daf we learn that the Sages went to great lengths to play an active role in those preparations.
Rabbi Abba bought thirteen plain staters [astirei peshitei] worth half a zuz of meat from thirteen butchers in deference to Shabbat, so that he would have various types of fine meat. And he would place the meats at the door hinge at the entrance to his house to hurry to bring another type of meat. And he said to the cooks, in order to rush them: Hurry and prepare it, hurry and prepare it. The Gemara also relates: Rabbi Abbahu would sit on an ivory chair [takhteka] and fan the fire cooking the food for Shabbat, in order to play a role in preparations for Shabbat.
This anecdote teaches that even a wealthy person, like Rabbi Abbahu, should participate in the Shabbat preparations. Indeed, Rabbi Abbahu showed deference to the mitzva by sitting on an expensive ivory chair.
Rav Anan would don a simple black garment for the Shabbat preparations, as the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: While wearing the garments in which he cooked a pot of food for his master, one should not dilute a cup of wine for his Master. One should wear a garment appropriate for the task at hand.
Apparently, Rav Anan disagrees with Rabbi Abbahu and maintains that one should wear simple, not special, clothing for the preparations of Shabbat, as per the statement of Rabbi Yishmael (Rabbi Elazar Moshe Horovitz).
Rav Safra would roast the head of an animal to prepare it for Shabbat. Rava salted a shibuta fish in deference to Shabbat. Rav Huna kindled lamps in deference to Shabbat. Rav Pappa spun the wicks for the Shabbat lamp. Rav Hisda cut the beets in preparation for Shabbat. Rabba and Rav Yosef cut wood. Rabbi Zeira prepared thin sticks for kindling. Rav Nahman bar Yitzhak would load objects on his shoulder and enter, load objects on his shoulder and exit. He said: If Rabbi Ami and Rabbi Asi happened to visit me, would I not load objects on my shoulder before them? So too, it is fitting to do so in deference to Shabbat.
Shabbat 118a-b: The Reward for Delighting in Shabbat
02/07/2020 - 10th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara relates -
Rabbi Yohanan said in the name of Rabbi Yosei: With regard to anyone who delights in the Shabbat, God gives him a boundless portion, i.e., a very large reward, as it is stated: “If you keep your feet from violating Shabbat, from pursuing your affairs on My holy day, and you call Shabbat a delight, the Lord’s holy day honored, and you honor it by not going your own way, or attending to your own matters or speaking idle words. Then you shall delight in the Lord and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the world, and to feast on the inheritance of Jacob your father, as the mouth of God has spoken” (Yeshayahu 58:13-14).
The reward for delighting in Shabbat is specifically the portion of Jacob.
Not that of Abraham, about whom it is written, “Rise, walk through the land through its length and its width because I have given it to you” (Bereshit 13:17) i.e., only this land alone in its borders. And not that of Isaac, about whom it is written, “Dwell in this land and I will be with you and I will bless you because I will give all of these lands to you and your offspring” (Bereshit 16:3), meaning these lands and no others. Rather, that of Jacob, about whom it is written, “And your offspring will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east and to the north and to the south, and all of the families of the land will be blessed through you and your offspring” (Bereshit 28:14). There are no boundaries for Jacob’s portion.
The reward of a boundless portion is one that is measure for measure. Since one delights in Shabbat without limiting his expenditures, one is rewarded with a portion that is limitless (Beit Yosef). The Gemara citation of the verse from Yeshayahu speaks of one who delights in Shabbat as being rewarded with the portion of Jacob. Some commentaries explain that the portion of Abraham was shared with the descendants of Ishmael and Lot, and part of Isaac’s portion was given to Esau. However, the portion of Jacob was complete, not shared with others, and therefore boundless (Maharsha; Imrei Emet).
Shabbat 117a-b: Shabbat Meals
01/07/2020 - 9th of Tammuz, 5780
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
There are many laws that are unique to Shabbat meals. On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the sources of some of those halakhot.
Rav Hisda said: A person should always rise early on Friday in order to prepare all of the expenditures for Shabbat, as it is written with regard to the collection of the manna: “And it shall be on the sixth day, and they will prepare that which they have brought” (Shemot 16:5), indicating that the children of Israel would begin preparing the food for Shabbat immediately upon collecting the manna in the morning.
With the statement, “And it shall be,” the Torah indicates that the people should begin preparations, “they will prepare” (Shemot 16:5), immediately when the day begins. An alternative interpretation is that since they did not collect the manna at night, the Torah teaches that preparations began with its collection in the early hours of the morning (Ritva). Apropos manna, the Gemara mentions other matters derived from it.
Rabbi Abba said: On Shabbat a person is obligated to break bread in his meal over two loaves of bread, as it is written: “And it happened on the sixth day, they collected double the bread, two omer for each one” (Shemot 16:22). Rav Ashi said: I saw that Rav Kahana took two loaves in his hand and broke one, not both at once. He said in explanation that it is written: “They collected double the bread,” meaning that one collects and holds two loaves together, but need not break both. Rabbi Zeira would break off a piece that would suffice for his entire meal. Ravina said to Rav Ashi: Doesn’t that appear like gluttony? Rav Ashi said to him: Since on every other day he does not do this and now he is doing so, it does not appear like gluttony.
Some commentaries explain that Rabbi Zeira would break all of the loaves that he prepared for the meal (Rashba).
Shabbat 116a-b: Holy Books in Babylonian Temples
30/06/2020 - 8th of Tammuz, 5780
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 discussion of whether holy books could be saved from a fire on Shabbat leads the Gemara to discuss the status of books found in Babylonian temples.
Yosef bar Ĥanin raised a dilemma before Rabbi Abbahu: With regard to these books of the house of Abidan, does one rescue them from the fire or does one not rescue them? There were sacred Jewish texts in that house, which were used in debates and discussions on matters of faith. Rabbi Abbahu did not give him a clear answer but said yes and no, and the matter was uncertain to him. Rav would not go to the house of Abidan for conversation, and all the more so he would not go to the house of Nitzrefei, the Persian fire-temple. Shmuel, to the house of Nitzrefei he did not go, but to the house of Abidan he did go. The gentile scholars said to Rava: Why did you not come to the house of Abidan? He evaded their question with an excuse and said to them: There is a certain palm tree on the road, and that makes the path difficult for me. They said to him: We will uproot it. He said to them: Nevertheless, the resulting pit in its place will be difficult for me. Mar bar Yosef said: I am one of them, we are friends, and I do not fear them. Still, one time he went and argued with them and they sought to endanger his life. Rabbi Meir would call the Christian writing, the Evangelion, the wicked folio [aven gilyon]; Rabbi Yoĥanan called it the sinful folio [avon gilyon].
According to the tradition of the ge’onim, the house of Abidan was a well-known courtyard in which there were books of knowledge from all the nations. Scholars and wise men from all nations gathered there to discuss wisdom. The house of Nitzrefei served a similar purpose. However, it was also a temple for idol worship. Therefore, it was appropriate for Shmuel to attend meetings and discussions in the house of Abidan, which he considered as a forum for philosophical debates, but he would never enter the house of Nitzrefei, which was devoted to idolatry. There were other Sages who thought that the debates were problematic and dangerous, and it was preferable to refrain from participation in those forums.
Shabbat 115a-b: Dealing With Fires on Shabbat
29/06/2020 - 7th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
This chapter mainly deals with a single question: How is one to conduct oneself when a fire breaks out on Shabbat? The halakha maintains that it is prohibited to extinguish a fire on Shabbat, even in a situation of great financial loss. Therefore, the question arises: What is permissible to do in the case of a fire? Under what conditions is it permissible to rescue materials from a fire on Shabbat? The decrees instituted by the Sages with reference to rescuing objects from a fire on Shabbat are the source of many of the questions pertaining to this matter. These decrees are based upon the concern that if one is permitted to evacuate his goods, he may, in his panic, perform the kind of extinguishing that is biblically prohibited, both because of his preoccupation with the act of evacuation and because people become panicked when their property is at stake. Therefore, the Sages permitted the rescue of domestic utensils and even foodstuffs in only limited quantities. Additionally, there is discussion of the numerous details related to permissible methods and stratagems that enable the rescue of more than the very minimum fixed by the law. Another question related to rescuing materials from a fire is the problem of sacred writings and other holy objects. Because of their sanctity, the Sages permitted many procedures for rescuing them that may not be performed for other objects. According to many opinions, the Sages went to great extremes to grant permission in this matter, ruling leniently even when there are risks of violating rabbinic prohibitions, and sometimes even biblical prohibitions, because of their great concern for salvaging a wide variety of sacred materials. The opening Mishna teaches:
With regard to all sacred writings, one may rescue them from the fire on Shabbat, whether they are read in public, e.g., Torah or Prophets scrolls, or whether they are not read in public, e.g., Writings scrolls. This ruling applies even though they were written in any foreign language.
In the Jerusalem Talmud it is explained that the halakha is in accordance with Rabbi Shimon’s opinion that, in general, extinguishing a fire is prohibited by rabbinic and not by Torah law. Therefore, it is permitted to douse a fire in order to rescue sacred books.
Shabbat 114a-b: Blowing the Shofar to Announce Shabbat
28/06/2020 - 6th of Tammuz, 5780
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
On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the shofar blasts that were sounded on Friday afternoon to warn the populace that Shabbat was soon to arrive. Alternative situations are raised by Rabbi Zeira -
Rabbi Zeira said: When I was in Babylonia, I said with regard to that which was taught in a baraita: If Yom Kippur occurred on Shabbat eve, they would not sound the shofar as they did every Friday to herald the start of Shabbat; and if Yom Kippur occurred at the conclusion of Shabbat, they would not recite havdala to mark the end of the sanctity of Shabbat and the start of the sanctity of Yom Kippur, is a statement accepted by all. When I went to Eretz Yisrael, I found Yehuda, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi, who sat and said: This baraita is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Akiva, as it equates the sanctity of Yom Kippur with that of Shabbat. As, if you say that it is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael, then, since Rabbi Yishmael said that fats from Shabbat are offered on Yom Kippur, let them sound the shofar so that the priests will know that the fats from Shabbat are offered on Yom Kippur and they may begin offering them (Rav Hai Gaon). And I said to him: You cannot prove this from here, because priests are vigilant and can be trusted to know this on their own, and there is no need to sound the shofar.
There are two basic approaches to interpreting the question about blowing the shofar that was raised by Yehudah, son of Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi. In the first approach, Rashi explains that the Gemara is not referring to shofar blasts between Shabbat and Yom Kippur, because the shofar was never sounded at the conclusion of Shabbat. The sounding of the shofar in this context is the one that marks the beginning of Shabbat when Yom Kippur is on Friday. Although there are several difficulties with this approach and the unfolding discussion does not seem to support it, this is the understanding adopted in the Jerusalem Talmud (see Tosafot and Rashba). A second approach states that the Gemara is referring to a situation where Yom Kippur begins at the conclusion of Shabbat. According to these commentaries, the shofar would be sounded at that time, just as it was sounded every week at the conclusion of Shabbat, to divide between the sacred and the profane (Rambam). Other commentaries explain that a special shofar blast was sounded on the eve of Yom Kippur, just like before Shabbat, and that is being discussed here.
Shabbat 113a-b: Changing One’s Everyday Behaviors for Shabbat
27/06/2020 - 5th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara cites what we learned with regard to the following passage:
If you keep your feet from breaking, from pursuing your affairs on My holy day, and you call Shabbat a delight, the Lord’s holy day honorable, and you honor it by not going your own way, from attending to your affairs and speaking idle words” (Yeshayahu 58:13). The Rabbis derived: - from the words “and you honor it” that your dress on Shabbat should not be like your dress during the week, as Rabbi Yohanan would refer to his clothing as my honor, indicating that appropriate clothing is a form of deference. - from the words “going your own way” mean that your walking on Shabbat should not be like your walking during the week. - “From attending to your affairs” means it is prohibited to deal with your weekday affairs and to speak about them on Shabbat. However, affairs of Heaven, i.e., those pertaining to mitzvot, are permitted. - “And speaking idle words” means that your speech on Shabbat should not be like your speech during the week, i.e., one should not discuss his weekday affairs on Shabbat. However, it is only speech that they said is prohibited, whereas merely contemplating weekday affairs is permitted.
A midrash is cited in Tosafot that is also brought in the Jerusalem Talmud. It states that the Sages prohibited speaking excessively on Shabbat. Some commentaries wrote that people should not exert themselves on Shabbat, even to discuss Torah matters. In the Adderet Eliyahu it is suggested that the Gemara means to say that one should not speak in languages other than Hebrew. This custom was observed by many over the generations. The Gemara discusses how one’s walking should differ on Shabbat from the rest of the week, concluding that pesia gassa – taking large steps – is prohibited. The Hebrew word gassa, which means large in this context, literally means “crass.” People who take large steps on Shabbat create the impression that they are rushing to their business, which is obviously inappropriate on Shabbat. Consequently, the phrase pesia gassa literally means “a crass step.” The Gemara states that taking large steps detracts from one’s vision. Some commentaries interpret the idea of one’s vision returning to him at kiddush to mean that resting on Shabbat heals that which was damaged during the week’s exertions.
Shabbat 112a-b: Tying Knots on Shabbat - II
26/06/2020 - 4th of Tammuz, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf there is a fundamental principle that one is liable for tying or untying only a permanent knot, i.e., a knot designed to endure. This requirement precludes knots made to be immediately undone as well as knots meant to be undone in the near future. The Mishna teaches:
You have knots for which one is not liable to bring a sin-offering, such as a camel driver’s knot and a sailor’s knot; however, it is nevertheless prohibited to tie them. A woman may tie closed the opening of her robe with straps, as well as the strings of her hairnet and the laces of her girdle, i.e., a wide belt tied with laces. One may also tie the straps of a shoe or a sandal, as well as the spouts of wine or oil jugs.
On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the laws of tying such things as wine or oil jugs, which clearly are not meant to be permanent. The Gemara teaches:
And we learned in the Mishna: It is permitted to tie the spouts of wine or oil jugs.The Gemara says: This is obvious. The Gemara explains: It is only necessary to teach this halakha in a case where it, the jug, has two ears, i.e., two spouts. Lest you say: One of them, he voids it consequently defining the knot on that opening permanent and therefore prohibited, it teaches us that this is not the case.
Jugs were generally made from whole hides taken from different types of animals. These jugs were used for many purposes, and were especially useful for carrying objects and food items. When the jug was used for liquids, such as water, wine or oil, care was taken to remove the animal’s hide intact, and they would not remove the hide of the legs. A spout, usually fashioned from a hollow reed tube, was inserted into one of the legs. This type of jug had only one spout, or ear, in the language of the Talmud. However, if an opening was created where the hide of the leg had been, it becomes a jug with two spouts.
Shabbat 111a-b: Tying Knots on Shabbat - I
25/06/2020 - 3rd of Tammuz, 5780
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 fifteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today’s daf discusses two distinct topics – tying knots and the prohibition against preparing on Shabbat for the rest of the week. Regarding the first topic - the primary labors of tying and untying knots, the Gemara specifies, explains, and identifies these labors. Tying and untying, as is the case with regard to the labors of building and destroying, constitute a pair of labors for which one is liable for one labor only under the same conditions for which he liable for the other, e.g., one is liable for either tying or untying only if the knot is a permanent one. To understand these labors, it is first necessary to clarify what constitutes a knot. What are the types of knots that the Torah prohibited one to tie or untie on Shabbat? Several traditions were received by the Sages on this matter. They too require analysis and additional clarification. There is a fundamental principle that one is liable for tying or untying only a permanent knot, i.e., a knot designed to endure. This requirement precludes knots made to be immediately undone as well as knots meant to be undone in the near future. The definition of permanence as it pertains to a knot requires further clarification. Does permanence relate to the function of the knot, the method by which the knot was tied, or both? If permanence relates only to the method of tying, it is only necessary to ascertain if a knot was tied in such a manner that it can endure for a long period of time. If so, the person who tied the knot is liable for his action, even if he intended for the knot to be temporary and planned to immediately untie it. During this discussion, many sets of circumstances are described, including various types of knots and various uses of materials. Consideration is given to both knots tied in a common, simple manner and knots tied with utensils or parts of vessels, such as the knots of shoes, sandals, and the like. The central theme of this chapter is the qualifications of a knot for the purposes of both Torah law and rabbinic decree.
Shabbat 110a-b; The Prohibition Against Castration
24/06/2020 - 2nd of Tammuz, 5780
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
While discussing medical treatments, the Gemara also discusses the side-effects caused by some treatments that were common in those times.
The Gemara discussed the remedy for jaundice, saying that one should drink two of the ingredients mentioned together with beer, and one becomes sterile from it. The Gemara asks: And is it permitted to cause sterility? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: From where is it derived that castration of a man is prohibited? The verse states: “Those whose testicles are bruised, or crushed, or torn, or cut, shall not be offered to the Lord, and you shall not do this in your land” (Vayikra 22:24), meaning that you shall not do it to yourselves; this is the statement of Rabbi Hanina. Apparently, it is prohibited to castrate a man. The Gemara answers: This prohibition applies only in a case where one intends to castrate. Here, in the cure for jaundice, the sterility happens on its own, incidental to the treatment. Proof is cited from that which Rabbi Yohanan said: One who seeks to castrate a rooster should remove its comb and it will become castrated on its own. Incidental castration is permitted. The Gemara rejects the proof. Didn’t Rav Ashi say: It is arrogance that it assumes when it has its comb, and when the comb is removed it becomes depressed and no longer procreates. However, it is not actually castrated. Rather, apparently this remedy for jaundice is permitted only for one who is castrated and for whom causing sterility is not a concern.
The verse quoted in the Gemara with regard to an animal with torn or cut testicles is referring to offering blemished animals as sacrifices. In that context, the Torah is referring only to the suitability of damaged animals for the altar. The end of the verse: “And you shall not do this in your land,” teaches that castration in any form is considered a blemish for an animal, and that it is prohibited to castrate an animal. This prohibition applies to all male animals, including those which cannot be offered as sacrifices. However, the Sages infer from the verse that any damage caused to the normal functioning of an animal’s reproductive system, even if caused indirectly, undermines God’s purpose in Creation, as the verse states, “He did not create it for naught; He formed it to be settled” (Yeshayahu 45:18). According to the Rambam, causing infertility in female animals violates a rabbinic prohibition.
Shabbat 109a-b: Medical Treatments in Talmudic Times
23/06/2020 - 1st of Tammuz, 5780
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 good deal of this perek deals with the laws of healing on Shabbat, a realm which is only indirectly related to wounding. It has already been explained in earlier chapters that the Sages prohibited medical treatment on Shabbat, except in life-threatening situations. It was determined that the reason for this prohibition is to prevent the preparation of medicinal substances on Shabbat. Such preparation involves the prohibited labors of grinding and crushing, as well as other Torah prohibitions. Due to this concern, various medical treatments, even many that do not involve the ingestion of medicine, were prohibited. Thus, this chapter specifies and defines various healing procedures. Some are prohibited because they are well-known cures. Others remain permitted because performance of these actions does not necessarily indicate that one is engaging in a healing practice, since perfectly healthy people also engage in these activities. The explanation of this rule, as well as an enumeration of the circumstances under which it applies, is the subject of this chapter. As an example of common medical procedures in Talmudic time, the Gemara relates the following:
One who swallowed a snake should be fed hops in salt, and then he should be made to run a distance of three mil. The Gemara relates: Rav Shimi bar Ashi saw a person who swallowed a snake, and Rav Ashi appeared to that person as a horseman. Rav Shimi fed him hops with salt and made him run in front of him for three mil, and the snake came out of him in pieces. Some say that Rav Shimi bar Ashi was the one who swallowed a snake, and Elijah came and appeared to Rav Ashi as a horseman. He fed him hops with salt and made him run in front of him for three mil, and the snake came out of him in pieces.
Even though it is uncommon, it is not impossible to swallow a small snake. However, the Gemara is most probably referring to swallowing a tapeworm, known as the Taenia, which resembles a snake. The remedies mentioned in the Gemara are effective in killing a tapeworm.
Shabbat 108a-b: A Question About Tefillin Parchment
22/06/2020 - 30th of Sivan, 5780
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 discussion of trapping an animal on Shabbat leads to a discussion of the animal hide parchment used for writing phylacteries. Among the topics presented is the following:
And this question was asked by a Boethusian to Rabbi Yehoshua HaGarsi: From where is it derived that one may not write phylacteries on the hide of a non-kosher animal? He said to him, it is as it is written: “So that God’s Torah will be in your mouth.” The Rabbis derived that one may write the passages only on an item that is permitted to be placed in one’s mouth, i.e., eaten. He said to him: If that is so, on the skin of neveilot and tereifot coming from kosher animals, one should not write phylacteries, as they may not be eaten. He said to him: I will tell you a parable. To what is this similar? To two people who were sentenced to death by the king. One was killed by the king himself, and one was killed by an executioner [ispaklitor]. Which one is more praiseworthy? You must say: The one that the king himself killed. Therefore, an animal that died at the hands of Heaven and not by a human action is superior. He said to him: If so, then the neveilot and tereifot should be eaten, as they were killed by the king. He said to him: The Torah said: “Do not eat any neveila” (Devarim 14:21) and you say they should be eaten? A Torah decree determines that they may not be eaten, but that does not mean they are inferior. The Boethusian said to him: Well put [kalos].
The Boethusians were a sect similar to the Sadducees, who rejected the authority and customs of the Sages. According to the Talmud, this sect was named after its founder, Boethus. The exact differences between this sect and the Sadducees are unknown because the terms are used interchangeably in some sources. Apparently, the Boethusians followed the Written Torah based on their own interpretations, e.g., they always celebrated the festival of Shavuot on Sunday. Nevertheless, they may have been similar to the Pharisees in their basic outlook.
Shabbat 107a-b: Identifying the Eight Creeping Animals Mentioned in the Torah
21/06/2020 - 29th of Sivan, 5780
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 fourteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat deals with two subjects that are only minimally related to each other. It begins with a continuation of the discussion of the laws of trapping, which began in the previous chapter. Slaughtering is enumerated in the list of thirty-nine categories of primary labor after trapping. This primary category of slaughtering includes two major subcategories, wounding and killing. In order to advance the discussion and to specify the animals for which the prohibition to take a life applies, it is necessary to determine what is considered a living creature. Clarification of the primary labor of wounding is even more complex. The term wounding as it is used in the Torah denotes shedding blood, whether by causing blood to flow out of the organism or by causing blood contained in the blood vessels to be displaced and accumulate underneath the skin, as in the case of a bruise. This definition necessitates the making of various distinctions pertaining to the laws of wounding on Shabbat. For example, is the skin of all living organisms considered skin in this regard, in which case one who causes any animal an internal wound is liable? Or perhaps there are creatures whose skin is not considered skin for these purposes.
The Mishna teaches: With regard to any of the eight creeping animals mentioned in the Torah, one who traps them or wounds them on Shabbat is liable.
The Torah states: “The following shall be impure for you among the creeping animals that swarm upon the earth: The weasel, and the mouse, and the dab lizard of every variety; and the gecko, and the land-crocodile, and the lizard, and the skink, and the chameleon” (Vayikra 11:29-30). In truth, there is no clear oral tradition with regard to the identity of the eight creeping animals listed in the Torah. Therefore, determining their identity involves educated conjecture. Even commonly accepted identifications, such as the dab lizard [tzav] and the mouse [akhbar], are subject to debate. In addition, the Talmud’s description of the skins of these animals is insufficient to provide definitive identifications.
Shabbat 106a-b: Primary Categories of Labor Not Needed for Their Own Sake
20/06/2020 - 28th of Sivan, 5780
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
Generally speaking, a prohibited action on Shabbat is only forbidden if it is done for a constructive purpose. We learned in the Mishna: And anyone who performs labors destructively on Shabbat is exempt.
Rabbi Abbahu taught this baraita before Rabbi Yohanan: Anyone who performs labors destructively on Shabbat is exempt, except for one who inflicts a wound or kindles a fire. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Go teach that outside. This baraita is not fit for discussion in the study hall. The opinion that deems one liable for inflicting a wound or kindling a fire on Shabbat is not an accepted teaching and should be ignored. And if you want to say that it is a legitimate teaching, one who inflicts a wound would only be liable in a case where he needed the blood to give to his dog, and one who kindles a fire would only be liable in a case where he needs its ashes.
This brief passage is pivotal in the comprehensive discussion among the commentaries and legal authorities with regard to the law of melakha she-ainah tzrikha le-gufa – primary categories of labor not needed for their own sake, i.e., their purpose in the Tabernacle. For example, extinguishing a fire to conserve fuel, rather than to produce coals (the purpose for which "extinguishing" was performed in the Sanctuary) is considered melakha that is not necessary for its own sake. According to other opinions, melakha that is not necessary for its own sake means work performed for a "negative" purpose; in the previous case, for example, extinguishing a fire to avoid using the fuel, rather than to create something new (i.e., coals). There is a controversy among the tannaim as well as among later halakhic authorities as to whether melakha that is not necessary for its own sake is prohibited by Torah law or only by rabbinic injunction. The Me’iri summarizes the issue as follows: If one performs a primary category of labor in its standard, constructive manner it is an act needed for its own sake. An example of this would be the primary category of winnowing. Even though the main goal is to remove the chaff, it is still considered a primary category of labor needed for its own sake.
Shabbat 105a-b: Weaving and Related Categories of Labor
19/06/2020 - 27th of Sivan, 5780
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 thirteenth perek of Massekhet Shabbat that begins on today’s daf discusses two groups of primary categories of labor [avot melakhot]. One section of the chapter deals with the primary category of weaving and related categories of labor. All activities involved in the production of clothing from the spinning of the thread until the final utilization of the yarn; the arrangement of the loom; the weaving itself; and all other improvements made to the fabric, such as dyeing and cleansing it, can be combined by their very nature into one group of categories of labor. They are therefore treated in this chapter as if they were one unit. The main topic of this chapter is not the description of the nature or parameters of these various labor categories. Rather, it is the establishment of minimal measures for which one is liable should he perform any of these types of labor on Shabbat. The other section of this chapter deals with the category of trapping, specifically the definition of this category of labor and its parameters. The category of trapping is defined as the confinement of an animal within a space from which it cannot escape. First, however, it must be determined whether or not this prohibition applies to all animals, at which stage in the confinement process the trapping may be said to have been performed, and which methods of confinement may be considered typical modes of trapping for the various species of animals. The discussion of weaving deals extensively with details of looms that were used in Talmudic times. Among the laws that appear in the first Mishna is the ruling that:
One who makes two meshes, attaching them to either the nirin or the keiros, is liable. The Gemara asks: What is the meaning of to the nirin? Abayye said: One ties two to the meshes, the thread of the warp, and ties one to the crosspiece, the thread that extends from the weaving rod.
The threads of the warp, the meshes, are tied to the loom, and the weaving of the fabric begins from those two meshes.
Shabbat 104a-b: The Significance of the Hebrew Alphabet
18/06/2020 - 26th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing the prohibition against writing on Shabbat the Gemara quotes a lengthy interpretation of the letters of the alphabet as presented by children who visited the study hall. Here are samples of the children’s teachings:
The Sages said to Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi: Young students came today to the study hall and said things the likes of which were not said even in the days of Yehoshua bin Nun. These children who only knew the Hebrew alphabet interpreted the letters homiletically. Alef beit means learn [elaf] the wisdom [bina] of the Torah. Gimmel dalet means give to the poor [gemol dalim]. Why is the leg of the gimmel extended toward the dalet? Because it is the manner of one who bestows loving-kindness to pursue the poor. And why is the leg of the dalet extended toward the gimmel? It is so that a poor person will make himself available to him who wants to give him charity. And why does the dalet face away from the gimmel? It is to teach that one should give charity discreetly so that the poor person will not be embarrassed by him.
The details of the shapes of the Hebrew letters gimmel and dalet mentioned by the Gemara in its midrashim are clearly apparent in the script that is used for Torah scrolls, mezuzot,and tefillin [ketav stam]. The Gemara continues with other examples of the children’s interpretation, including:
Kuf: Holy [kadosh], referring to God. Reish: A wicked person [rasha]. Why is the kuf facing away from the reish? This question was phrased euphemistically, as it is the reish that is facing away from the kuf. The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: I am unable look at a wicked person, i.e., the wicked person does not want to look toward God. And why is the crown of the letter kuf turned toward the reish? The Holy One, Blessed be He, said: If the wicked person repents his evil ways I will tie a crown for him like My own. And why is the leg of the kuf suspended and not connected to the roof of the letter? Because if the wicked person repents he can enter through this opening if he so desires.
Shabbat 103a-b: Writing and Marking
17/06/2020 - 25th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna on today’s daf we learn:
One who writes two letters on Shabbat, whether he did so with his right hand or his left , whether they were the same letter or two different letters, whether he did so using two different types of ink, in any language, he is liable. Rabbi Yose said: One is deemed liable for writing two letters only due to marking, as they would write symbols on adjacent beams of the Tabernacle to know which beam was another beam’s counterpart.
In the Gemara a baraita is quoted that continues presenting Rabbi Yose’s position, explaining that: Therefore, one who made a single scratch on two boards, or two scratches on a single board, is liable. In the Jerusalem Talmud there is an extended discussion of this topic where it is explained that these marks were made to indicate the designated place of each beam in the Tabernacle. Even though all the beams were of equal size, it was not appropriate to align them randomly. It is also explained there that according to Rabbi Yose they would draw diagonal lines on the two beams, which were aligned when the beams were placed together. According to the Rambam, the halakhic difference between writing and marking is a technical one – Rabbi Yose enumerates marking as an independent primary category of labor, and says that one who makes two marks is liable for violating a primary category of labor. Others explain that if the prohibition itself is marking, then one would be liable even when no actual letters are written (Me’iri). As far as halakha is concerned, basing himself on the Mishna the Rambam rules that one who writes two letters on Shabbat is liable whether they are two different letters, or the same letter written twice intentionally, or two letters written in any language or script, or written in two different types of ink or paint (Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 11:9–10). One who creates two marks, shapes or signs on Shabbat is liable for writing even if the characters are not letters (Hilkhot Shabbat 11:17).
Shabbat 102a-b: Building That is Prohibited on Shabbat
16/06/2020 - 24th of Sivan, 5780
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 twelfth perek of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today’s daf discusses and clarifies several of the thirty-nine categories of labor prohibited on Shabbat. It concentrates on three categories of labor: Building, plowing, and writing. The categories of building and plowing were partially addressed in Chapter Seven. Our chapter mainly discusses two questions concerning these categories of labor. First, what are some of the common subcategories [toladot] of these primary categories [avot], i.e., what are some specific activities included within the comprehensive definitions of the primary categories building and plowing? The definitions of these primary categories can be formulated in various ways, narrowly and precisely, or much more generally. They are comprised of many details, and the kinds of activities included within the parameters of each primary category must be clarified. The second question in the chapter is how should the minimum measures that determine liability to bring this sin-offering, as defined by the Torah, be ascertained? With regard to the category of writing, there are additional problems: Is it necessary to specify the typical manner of writing, i.e., what form and what method constitute the creative act known as writing? Additionally, how do we determine the minimum act that can be considered writing? And, furthermore, does the definition of writing include any symbol or design, or is it limited to the reproduction of letters of the alphabet or other specific figures? And are all writing materials and methods of writing treated equally with reference to liability for performing this category of labor on Shabbat? The opening Mishna lists specific activities that all fall under the category of “building” on Shabbat and the Gemara searches for the corresponding activity that took place in the Tabernacle that serves as the source for the prohibition. In the Jerusalem Talmud a different approach to this issue is taken. There, the Gemara attempts to find the source for the primary category of building in the Tabernacle, rather than define the measure that determines liability for building. This is based on the fact that all of the measures are learned through tradition. According to what is stated in the Jerusalem Talmud, the building activity in the Tabernacle was the establishment of the beams. The problem is that the construction was temporary, which means it is less than ideal as the source for the primary category of labor. It is possible that this is the reason that in the Babylonian Talmud the Tabernacle’s construction is not cited as the source for the primary category of building.
Shabbat 101a-b: Transferring Between Two Boats
15/06/2020 - 23th of Sivan, 5780
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 yesterday’s daf discusses transferring objects between two boats on Shabbat. The Mishna taught:
If boats are tied together, one may carry an object from one to the other on Shabbat.
On today’s daf the Gemara asks:
That is obvious, since these boats are like a single domain. Rava said: This Mishna was necessary only to permit carrying from one boat to another via a small boat that is between them. Rav Safra said to him: You, who are as great in this generation as Moses, did you speak well? We learned in the Mishna that one may carry only from one to the other, not via a small boat. Rather, Rav Safra said: The Mishna was only necessary to obligate one to place an eiruv, a joining of courtyards, between the two boats. Since the boats belong to different people, they must be joined to form a single domain in order to permit carrying from one to the other, as it was taught in a baraita: With regard to boats tied to one another, one places an eiruv and carries from one to the other. If the ties between them were severed, the people on the boats are prohibited to carry from one to the other. If they were then retied, whether unwittingly, i.e., the one who retied them forgot that it was Shabbat, whether intentionally, whether due to circumstances beyond one’s control, whether mistakenly, the boats are restored to their original permitted status.
The expression “Moses, did you speak well” appears several times in the Talmud. Rashi sometimes explains it as a reference to a prominent leader of the generation or a Torah scholar. Other times, he explains it as an exclamation by which one takes an oath in the name of Moses. Some explain that here the phrase is not an expression of wonder, but rather an expression of support meaning that Rav Safra agreed with Rava’s basic halakha. Yet he still commented that an analysis of the language of the Mishna indicates otherwise (Me’iri).
Shabbat 100a-b: Transferring to and From a Boat
14/06/2020 - 22th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses the laws of transferring objects on and off a boat on Shabbat.
It was stated that the Sages disagreed with regard to the manner in which one may draw seawater onto a boat on Shabbat. Rav Huna said: One extends a projection of any size from the side of the boat as a distinctive sign, and fills a receptacle with water from the sea. Rav Hisda and Rabba bar Rav Huna say: One creates an area, a frame of four by four handbreadths, and fills the water from inside it.
The Gemara explains that the source of this disagreement is whether we measure from the sea floor or from the water. According to Rav Huna, we measure from the sea floor. Since the sea itself is deeper than ten handbreadths, the boat is considered to be floating in the air, and the air is an “exempt domain,” so transfer is permitted. According to Rav Hisda and Rabba bar Rav Huna we measure from the water and the water in the sea has a legal status of solid land. Therefore, if one does not create an area of four by four, he will be carrying from the sea (a karmelit) to the private domain. The early commentaries on the Talmud discussed this halakha and expressed several opinions on the matter. According to the Rambam, there is no need for partitions. It is sufficient to extend a beam that is four by four handbreadths with a hole carved in it. Rashi requires that the beam must have small partitions. This opinion is shared by the ge’onim based on the opinions of most of the amora’im in the Jerusalem Talmud. Some explain that this requires a beam that is four by four cubits with a hole in it that is four by four handbreadths (Rabbeinu Tam cited in the Rashba). Some commentaries even assert that the legal status of the area in the boat from which water is drawn to the boat is like that of a partition hanging from a balcony. The partitions surrounding that area must be ten handbreadths high (Me’iri).
Shabbat 99a-b: Carrying the Beams of the Tabernacle
13/06/2020 - 21th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when the Children of Israel had to move. We learned in the Mishna (daf, 96a) that:
If there are two balconies [gezuztra’ot] that are private domains opposite each other on either side of the public domain, one who passesor throws an object from the one on this side to the one on that side is exempt. However, if the balconies were on the same level on the same side of the public thoroughfare, and the public domain separated the two, one who passes from one to the other is liable, and one who throws is exempt, as that method, passing, was the service of the Levites who carried the beams of the Tabernacle.
The Gemara on today’s daf discusses the service of the Levites carrying the beams by means of special wagons built for this purpose.
Rava said: The area on the sides of the wagon between the wagon and the wheel and the thickness of the wheel together equaled the full width of the wagon (Tosafot). And how much was the width of the wagon? It was two and a half cubits. The Gemara asks: Why do I need the wagon to be two and a half cubits wide? A cubit and a half would suffice. The Gemara answers: So that the beams would not teeter. Ten-cubit beams on a one-and-a-half-cubit wide surface would be unstable.
Each wagon, i.e., the frame on which the beams were placed, was two and a half cubits wide, and its wheel mechanism was two and a half cubits wide on either side. According to these measurements, each wagon took up a space of seven and a half cubits in width, and two wagons side by side, according to the opinion that beams were laid across two wagons, were, therefore, fifteen cubits in width. There was an additional cubit for the Levite who accompanied the wagon. According to most of the commentaries, the wagons traveled two abreast, with some beams supported by both wagons. This is not at all similar to the halakha of two balconies. In that case liability is incurred only when passing from one balcony to another along the length of the public domain and not across its width. According to Rav Hai Gaon, there is no real difference between the length and width of the public domain. Rather, the halakha is derived from the Levites’ wagons. Wherever there are two private domains capable of being aligned on a single level, as in the case of the Levites’ wagons, the halakha prohibiting passing applies. On the other hand, the Rashba states: Since there is no way to join two balconies on either side of a public domain, the halakha prohibiting passing does not apply. The Me’iri explains that in order to expedite the process of loading the wagons, the Levites passed the beams from one wagon to another that was positioned behind it, similar to the case of balconies on the same side of the public domain.
Shabbat 98a-b: The Beams of the Tabernacle
12/06/2020 - 20th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The laws of Shabbat are derived from the various activities of the Tabernacle. The source for the laws of transporting from one domain to another is the case of loading the beams of the Tabernacle on wagons when it was time for the Children of Israel to move in the desert. This discussion leads to an examination of the beams themselves and their arrangement.
The Sages taught: The Tabernacle beams were one cubit thick at the bottom, and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, as it is stated: “And they shall match at the bottom, and together they will be ended [tamim] at the top toward a single ring; so shall it be for them both, they shall form the two corners” (Shemot 26:24). And below, when the children of Israel crossed the Jordan River, it says: “And those who went down toward the Sea of Arava at the Dead Sea came to an end [tamu]” (Yehoshua 3:16). Tam means finished or terminated. Here, too, the beams narrowed as they reached the top until they were virtually terminated; this is the statement of Rabbi Yehuda. Rabbi Neĥemya says: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, as it is stated: “Together.” The Gemara asks: Isn’t it written: Tamim? The Gemara answers: Rabbi Neĥemya explains that this word teaches that they should bring whole beams and they should not bring planks and attach them. The Gemara asks: And according to the other opinion, Rabbi Yehuda’s opinion, isn’t it written: “Together”? The Gemara answers: That comes to teach that they should not be positioned askew from each other; rather, they should be perfectly aligned. The Gemara asks further: Granted, according to the one who said: Just as they were one cubit thick at the bottom, so too, they were one cubit thick at the top, it is understandable why it is written: “And for the back of the Tabernacle westward you shall make six beams. And you shall make two beams for the corners of the Tabernacle in the back” (Shemot 26:22-23). This means that the width of these beams comes and covers the remaining thickness of those. However, according to the one who said that they were one cubit thick at the bottom and they narrowed to a fingerbreadth as they reached the top, they would not be perfectly aligned, as at the corners this beam goes in and this beam goes out. Part of the beam would protrude out of the Tabernacle. The Gemara answers that it was not only the thickness of the beam that narrowed. One pared the width of the beams as well so they were sloped like mountains and did not protrude.
According to Rabbi Neĥemya, the beams were of equal width for their entire length. When they were then arranged along the length and width of the Tabernacle, two open spaces were created, one at each corner, where additional beams were inserted. According to Rabbi Yehuda, who says that the beams narrowed, there also remained an open space in the corners of the Tabernacle between the length and the width of the structure. It was necessary to insert a specially crafted beam that was slanted on two sides, marked in red, to fill the opening. According to the Me’iri, the initial assumption was that all of the beams were sloped on both ends. Therefore, it would have been difficult to place an additional beam that would leave the corners of the Tabernacle evenly closed on all sides. The answer of the Gemara is that the beams were sloped like a mountain, i.e., sloped on only one side.
Shabbat 97a-b: The Sin of the Wood Gatherer
11/06/2020 - 19th of Sivan, 5780
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While discussing the laws of carrying out on Shabbat, Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as identifying the sin of the mekoshesh eitzim – the wood gatherer in the desert – as carrying the wood. The Gemara continues by quoting a baraita:
The wood gatherer mentioned in the Torah was Zelophehad, and it says: “And the children of Israel were in the desert and they found a man gathering wood on the day of Shabbat” (Bamidbar 15:32), and below, in the appeal of the daughters of Zelophehad, it is stated: “Our father died in the desert and he was not among the company of them that gathered themselves together against the Lord in the company of Korah, but he died in his own sin, and he had no sons” (Bamidbar 27:3). Just as below the man in the desert is Zelophehad, so too, here, in the case of the wood gatherer, the unnamed man in the desert is Zelophehad; this is the statement of Rabbi Akiva. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira said to him: Akiva, in either case you will be judged in the future for this teaching. If the truth is in accordance with your statement that the wood gatherer was Zelophehad, the Torah concealed his identity, and you reveal it. And if it the truth is not in accordance with your statement, you are unjustly slandering that righteous man.
On today’s daf the Gemara asks:
However, didn’t Rabbi Akiva derive this by means of a verbal analogy? The Gemara answers: he did not learn a verbal analogy. Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira had no tradition of this verbal analogy from his teachers, and therefore he disagreed with Rabbi Akiva’s conclusion.
Rabbeinu Hananel explained this passage differently: Rabbi Akiva did not actually learn this verbal analogy from his teachers. He arrived at it on his own. Since the tradition was not transmitted by previous generations, Rabbi Yehuda ben Beteira did not accept it. This explanation resolves several difficulties raised by other commentaries.
Shabbat 96a-b: Throwing From One Domain to Another
10/06/2020 - 18th of Sivan, 5780
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
Although previous chapters of tractate Shabbat dealt with the laws of carrying out, the discussion is completed in Chapter 11, which begins on today’s daf, not only with regard to details but also with regard to many fundamental questions. Until this point, two aspects of carrying out were distinguished: Carrying out an object from one domain to another, and transporting an object more than four cubits in the public domain. In this chapter, an additional group of halakhot is discussed: The laws of throwing and extending an object from one domain to another via an intervening domain. Although the laws of throwing and extending are closely related to other details of carrying out, they nevertheless have a certain unique quality. A biblical decree [gezeirat hakatuv] distinguishes between throwing and extending, on the one hand, and the more common methods of carrying out, on the other. This distinction carries with it some implications that are lenient and others that are stringent. There is another question that is intrinsic to the very essence of throwing. While transporting an object is an action that is continuous over a period of time, throwing is one instantaneous act. The labor category of carrying out is contingent upon the transportation of an object from one point to another, based on lifting up [akira] and placing down [hanaha]. As a result, questions arise with regard to the connection between the act of throwing and the landing of the object in its place. Additionally, it is necessary to determine the extent to which the intention of the thrower is significant at each point in the flight of the object. In the course of the clarification of these particularly unique halakhot, an explication of basic principles is reached. A fundamental scriptural basis for all of the laws of carrying out is discovered, the underlying foundations of which are the flags in the wilderness, the configuration of the children of Israel as they made their way through the desert, and the method by which they transported the utensils of the Tabernacle and its walls. Based on this underlying foundation, it then becomes necessary to determine what can be derived from the biblical verses, which conclusions can be reached using a logical approach, and which matters we must accept on the basis of the traditions of the Oral Law.
Shabbat 95a-b: Milking on Shabbat
09/06/2020 - 17th of Sivan, 5780
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 activity of milking a farm animal on Shabbat was assumed to be forbidden, but the Gemara searches for the source for that prohibition.
The Gemara relates: Rav Nahman bar Gurya happened to come to Neharde’a. The students asked him: For what prohibited labor is one who milks liable? He said to them: For milking. For what prohibited labor is one who sets milk to curdle liable? He said to them: For setting milk to curdle. For what is a person who makes cheese liable? He said to them: For making cheese. They said to him: Your teacher was a reed cutter in a swamp who did not know how to explain the Mishna to his students. He came and asked those questions in the study hall. They said to him: One who milks is liable for performing the prohibited labor of extracting, which is a subcategory of threshing, on Shabbat. This is because when one extracts milk from a cow it is similar to the act of threshing, where one removes the desired content from its covering. One who sets milk is liable for the prohibited labor of selecting because part of the milk is separated and made into congealed milk. One who makes cheese is liable for building because the cheese within the milk assumes a solid form, which is similar to the process of building.
Regarding the action of milking, even though extracting is not itself a primary category of labor, the Gemara explains the prohibition of milking in terms of extracting. It does not say that one who milks is liable due to threshing because they are completely different. In contrast, milking and extracting are similar (Adderet Eliyahu). Many commentaries found the categorization of milking under the rubric of the primary category of threshing difficult, as most authorities hold that the prohibition of threshing applies only to plants (see Tosafot). Some explained that milking is prohibited by Torah law according to Rabbi Yehuda. However, the halakha is that it is prohibited only by rabbinic decree (Rashba). Others explained that the extracting mentioned with regard to milking on Shabbat is a subcategory of smoothing, not threshing (Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer HaYashar). Yet other commentaries ruled that since, in certain respects, an animal is considered an item that grows in the ground, milking indeed falls under the rubric of threshing (Ge’onim, Sefer HaHashlama). Farm animals that must be milked on Shabbat present a challenge in the modern world that religious kibbutzim have dealt with in a variety of different ways.
Shabbat 94a-b: Carrying a Person on Shabbat
08/06/2020 - 16th of Sivan, 5780
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
According to the Mishna on yesterday’s daf, someone who carries out a living person on a bed is exempt even for carrying out the bed, since the bed is secondary to the person. If, however, he carried out a corpse on a bed he would be liable for carrying on Shabbat. The Gemara on today’s daf discusses why the individual who carries a living person is not liable. While the Gemara at first suggests that this is an individual opinion, with which the majority of the Sages disagree, ultimately Rava concludes that the disagreement is only about animals. Regarding animals the Sages believe that the animal deadens its weight in an attempt to free itself, but regarding people all agree that “a live person carries himself.” Therefore, one who carries a live person out is exempt according to all opinions. Tosafot find this halakha difficult and concluded that one who carries a living being is exempt, not because a living being carries itself while others are carrying it, but because it moves independently and is not typically carried. Since in the construction of the Tabernacle no living beings were carried, the prohibition of carrying out on Shabbat does not apply to living beings. The Tiferet Yisrael offers an alternative explanation, based on the teaching that we learned on yesterday’s daf. Perhaps one who carries a living being is exempt because the case falls under the rubric of “this person is capable, and this person is capable,” a case in which both are exempt. Even though, practically speaking, the living being that is being carried is not capable of “carrying himself” while being carried, given that he is neither bound nor ill, and theoretically he is capable of walking, it is as if both the living being and his carrier are participating in performance of the action.
Shabbat 93a-b: Joining With Another in an Activity Prohibited on Shabbat
07/06/2020 - 15th of Sivan, 5780
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
When two people join together to perform a prohibited act on Shabbat, according to Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon, neither of them will be held liable. If, however, one of them could have performed that act entirely on his own, there is an element of liability. The Gemara discusses this ruling on today’s daf.
We learned earlier that the Master said: In a case where this person is capable, and this person is incapable, and they performed it together, everyone agrees that he is liable. The Gemara seeks to clarify: Which of them is liable? Rav Hisda said: The one who is capable of performing the act alone is liable, as if it was the one who is incapable of performing the act alone that was liable, what is he doing that would render him liable? His efforts are inadequate to perform the task. Rav Hamnuna said to Rav Hisda: He is doing quite a bit, as he is assisting him. He said to him: The assistance provided by one who assists another to perform a task that the other could have performed himself is insubstantial.
The Gemara’s question is difficult to understand. What reason could there be to deem the one who was incapable liable, and the one who is capable exempt? Tosafot restricts the Gemara’s question to whether or not the one who was incapable is as liable as one who assisted in the performance of the prohibition. The Rashba explains the Gemara differently. According to Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Shimon, in a situation where both are capable of performing the act, both are exempt if they perform it together. The reason that they are exempt is because neither one is expending his full effort in its performance. Consequently, in a situation where one is capable and one is not, the one who is capable does not expend his full effort, and therefore he is exempt. In contrast, the one who is incapable would be liable because he is expending his full effort. From the perspective of the one who is incapable, this is tantamount to a case in which both people are incapable and liable.
Shabbat 92a-b: Using Your Head to Carry
06/06/2020 - 14th of Sivan, 5780
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, it is forbidden to carry in the public domain on Shabbat. According to the Mishna on today’s daf, the Biblical prohibition against carrying only applies when it is done in a typical manner. If the object is carried in an unusual manner there is no Biblical prohibition. This leads the Gemara to inquire about carrying a burden on your head.
Rav said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya: One who carries out a burden on his head on Shabbat is liable to bring a sin-offering, as the people of Hotzal do so. They would typically carry burdens on their heads. The Gemara asks: And do the people of Hotzal constitute the majority of the world? Even if in one place it is a typical method of carrying a burden, it remains an atypical method of carrying in the rest of the world. Rather, if this ruling was stated, it was stated as follows. Rav said in the name of Rabbi Hiyya: If a resident of Hotzal carried out a burden on his head on Shabbat he is liable, as the people of his city do so. The Gemara asks again: Even if the inhabitants of his city do this, let his intention be rendered irrelevant by the opinions of all other people. If an individual or small group of people conduct themselves in an atypical manner, their conduct is not rendered typical. Typical conduct is determined by the majority of people. Rather, if this was stated, it was stated as follows. One who carries out a burden on his head is exempt.
Hotzal was a large village in Babylonia with an extremely ancient Jewish settlement. If there was only one village with that name, its inhabitants can be traced back to the tribe of Benjamin, and the town can be considered one of the most ancient sites in Babylonia. Many famous Sages hail from Hotzal, and its inhabitants were known for their unique way of conducting themselves. The Talmud relates that the ancient synagogue in Hotzal was one of the sites from which the Divine Presence never strayed. According to Rav Sherira Gaon, Hotzal was adjacent to Neharde’a. Some commentaries explain that the argument that a given behavior is unique to a specific place is a method of reasoning that is only employed when the local custom is problematic in some way, as in a case where it is unreasonable or inherently inferior. However, local customs that do not fall into those categories are binding at least on the residents of that locale (Me’iri).
Shabbat 91a-b: Double Punishment
05/06/2020 - 13th of Sivan, 5780
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
There is a halakhic principle that one is not punished twice for performing a single act, even if two people were harmed by that transgression. However, if one transgression preceded the other even slightly, he may be punished for both actions. Once the liability for the first transgression is established, it remains intact. Nevertheless, when one is liable to receive both lashes and capital punishment, he is executed and not flogged due to the principle that one receives the greater of the two punishments. However, fundamentally, liability to receive the first punishment remains. Indeed, in a case where one is liable to be flogged and to pay restitution, he is required to pay the restitution if, for some reason, the lashes cannot be administered. This is relevant to the laws of Shabbat in a case where the violation of Shabbat happens at the same time that a theft is committed. The Gemara on today’s daf quotes a baraita:
One who steals a purse on Shabbat is liable for the theft. Based on the principle that one who is liable to receive two punishments receives the greater of the two, in this case one should be exempt from payment for the theft, since performing a prohibited labor on Shabbat is punishable by stoning. However, this case is different because he was already liable for theft as soon as he lifted the purse. This took place before he came to violate the prohibition of performing prohibited labor on Shabbat by carrying it into the public domain. However, if he did not lift the purse, but was dragging it on the ground and exiting the private domain, he is exempt from paying for the theft , as in that case, he is only liable for the theft when he drags the purse out of the owner’s property into the public domain. The prohibition of theft and the prohibition of Shabbat are violated all at once.
For one to be liable for theft, two criteria must be met. First, the thief must intend to take an object that belonged to another for himself. Second, he must transfer the object into his possession by means of a valid transaction. Only by means of acquiring the object does he perform the transgression. This acquisition can be accomplished by means of lifting the object or, alternatively, by taking it out of the owner’s property without lifting it.
Shabbat 90a-b: Is Shabbat Carrying Objective or Subjective?
04/06/2020 - 12th of Sivan, 5780
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 tenth perek begins on today’s daf, and, like the previous ones, discusses the category of creative labor [melakha] known as carrying out. However, its primary focus is to clarify one aspect of this category. Until this point, the discussions have focused on the volume of the object being carried out. In other words, what is the volume necessary for an object to be considered significant? Only a significant object renders its carrier liable for this labor. This chapter, however, deals with the manner in which the carrying is performed. Under which conditions are the actions involved in the carrying considered to have been performed in a standard and customary manner, so that the act qualifies as bona fide carrying, and under which conditions is the act done in what is considered an unusual manner, so that the person is not liable for bona fide carrying? Furthermore, if the carrying is performed by means of a vessel or utensil, what are the halakhic issues that then come into play? Do we assess the action in terms of the essence of what is being carried, i.e., the object in the vessel, or is the vessel itself also of import? For example, how do we assess the action if the vessel contains a measure of the object that is less than the minimum amount required for the person to be judged liable for carrying? To give another example, how do we assess the action if the vessel itself has been only partially removed from its domain, but the entire contents of the vessel are already in the other domain? Do we determine liability based on the container or based on the object contained? The first Mishna of the perek teaches:
One who stores a seed for sowing, or as a sample, or for medicinal purposes and carried it out on Shabbat is liable for carrying out any amount. And any other person is only liable for carrying it out on Shabbat if he carries out its measure for liability.
By storing that measure, he indicates that it is significant to him. Therefore, he is liable for carrying it, despite the fact that what he carried out is less than the halakhic measure that determines liability for that item.
Shabbat 89a-b: Why is the Mountain Called "Sinai"?
03/06/2020 - 11th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing how the Children of Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Gemara cites additional homiletic interpretations on the topic of the revelation at Sinai.
One of the Sages said to Rav Kahana: Did you hear what is the reason that the mountain was called Mount Sinai? Rav Kahana said to him: It is because it is a mountain upon which miracles [nissim] were performed for the Jewish people. The Sage said to him: If so, it should have been called Mount Nisai, the mountain of miracles. Rather, Rav Kahana said to him: It is a mountain that was a good omen [siman] for the Jewish people. The Sage said to him: If so, it should have been called Har Simanai, the mountain of omens. Rav Kahana said to him: What is the reason that you do not frequent the school where you can study before Rav Pappa and Rav Huna, son of Rav Yehoshua, who study aggada? As Rav Ĥisda and Rabba, son of Rav Huna, both said: What is the reason it is called Mount Sinai? It is because it is a mountain upon which hatred [sina] for the nations of the world descended because they did not accept the Torah.
Some commentaries explain that the nations of the world began hating the Jewish people when the Torah was given at Sinai. A different version of this statement, which appears in some collections of the midrash, supports this explanation. From the moment they received the Torah, the Jewish people became isolated. Still, most sources explain this differently, as indicating that hatred descended among the nations of the world. The revelation at Sinai introduced compulsory faith to the world, as well as the concept of a correct and incorrect way to serve God. This became a bone of contention between the nations of the world.
Shabbat 88a-b: Are We Obligated to Keep the Torah?
02/06/2020 - 10th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of discussing how the Children of Israel received the Torah on Mount Sinai, the Gemara cites additional homiletic interpretations on the topic of the revelation at Sinai.
The Torah says, “And Moses brought forth the people out of the camp to meet God; and they stood at the lowermost part of the mount” (Shemot 19:17). Rabbi Avdimi bar Ĥama bar Ĥasa said: the Jewish people actually stood beneath the mountain, and the verse teaches that the Holy One, Blessed be He, overturned the mountain above the Jews like a tub, and said to them: If you accept the Torah, excellent, and if not, there will be your burial. Rav Aha bar Ya’akov said: From here there is a substantial caveat to the obligation to fulfill the Torah. The Jewish people can claim that they were coerced into accepting the Torah, and it is therefore not binding. Rava said: Even so, they again accepted it willingly in the time of Ahasuerus, as it is written: “The Jews ordained, and took upon them, and upon their seed, and upon all such as joined themselves unto them” (Esther 9:27), and he taught: The Jews ordained what they had already taken upon themselves through coercion at Sinai.
The Rashba challenged Rav Aha bar Ya’akov’s argument that the Jewish people can argue that they were forced to accept the Torah against their will. If this is the case, why were the Jewish people punished and exiled from their land for having violated the Torah? He explains that certainly the Jews’ continued existence in Eretz Yisrael is contingent on their fulfillment of the Torah’s commandments. In other words, it is explained that holding the uprooted mountain like a tub over their heads alludes to the abundance of love that God bestowed upon the Jewish people during the Exodus, in giving them the manna, etc. In response, the people said: “We will do, and we will hear.” Still, in their hearts the people did not accept the Torah on behalf of later generations, for whom life would proceed naturally, without the revelation of constant miracles.
Shabbat 87a-b: Smashing the Tablets
01/06/2020 - 9th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf Moshe added a day of preparation prior to the giving of the Torah. The baraita that teaches this adds two other things that Moshe did on his own.
Moshe did three things based on his own perception, and the Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with him. He added one day to the days of separation before the revelation at Sinai based on his own perception. And he totally separated from his wife after the revelation at Sinai. And he broke the tablets following the sin of the Golden Calf.
The Gemara explains how Moshe could have broken the Tablets as follows:
And he broke the tablets following the sin of the Golden Calf. What source did he interpret that led him to do so? Moses said: With regard to the Paschal lamb, which is only one of six hundred and thirteen mitzvot, the Torah stated: “And the Lord said unto Moses and Aaron: This is the ordinance of the Paschal offering; no alien shall eat of it” (Shemot 12:43), referring not only to gentiles, but to apostate Jews as well. Regarding the tablets, which represented the entire Torah, and Israel at that moment were apostates, as they were worshipping the calf, all the more so are they not worthy of receiving the Torah. And from where do we derive that the Holy One, Blessed be He, agreed with his reasoning? As it is stated: “The first tablets which you broke [asher shibarta]” (Shemot 34:1), and Reish Lakish said: The word asher is an allusion to the phrase: May your strength be true [yishar koĥakha] due to the fact that you broke the tablets.
The proof from the words, “which you broke” is merely a support for the conclusion but not an absolute proof. There are several instances in the Bible where the word asher is not interpreted as approval. Some commentaries explain that the conclusion that God agreed with Moses is drawn from the fact that God mentioned the breaking of the Tablets without anger (Rashi). Alternatively, God’s agreement can be ascertained from His later command that Moses store the broken Tablets in the Ark. He would not have commanded Moses to do so had they been associated with an infraction that incurred God’s disapproval (Rashbam).
Shabbat 86a-b: On What Day Was The Torah Given?
31/05/2020 - 8th of Sivan, 5780
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
According to tradition, we commemorate receiving the Torah on the holiday of Shavu’ot, which falls on the sixth day of the month of Sivan. In fact, there is a dispute in the Gemara regarding the day that the Torah was given.
On the sixth day of the month of Sivan, the Ten Commandments were given to the Jewish people. Rabbi Yosei says: On the seventh day of the month. Rava said: Everyone agrees that the Jews came to the Sinai desert on the New Moon, as it is written here: “In the third month after the children of Israel were gone forth out of the land of Egypt, the same day came they into the wilderness of Sinai” (Shemot 19:1), without elaborating what day it was. And it is written there: “This month shall be to you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year to you” (Shemot 12:2). Just as there, the term “this” is referring to the New Moon, so too, here the term is referring to the New Moon.
The word ĥodesh is understood throughout the Bible to mean month. Occasionally, it is a reference to the New Moon. Examples include: “Tomorrow is the ĥodesh” (I Samuel 20:18); “Its holiday, its ĥodesh, its Shabbat” (Hoshea 2:13); and “The burnt-offering of the ĥodesh and its meal-offering” (Bamidbar 29:6). Therefore, the verse: “This ĥodesh shall be unto you the beginning of months” is understood as indicating that this New Moon is the first New Moon that the Jewish people are celebrating. In the verse describing their arrival in the desert, it is unclear whether ĥodesh refers to the month or the New Moon. It states: “In the third ĥodesh after the children of Israel went forth out of the land of Egypt” (Shemot 19:1). The emphasis on the words at the end of the verse, “on this day,” proves that it is referring to the day of the New Moon. The Gemara continues:
And similarly, everyone agrees that the Torah was given to the Jewish people on Shabbat, as it is written here in the Ten Commandments: “Remember the Shabbat day to keep it holy” (Shemot 20:7), and it is written there: “And Moses said to the people: Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; there shall be no leaven eaten” (Shemot 13:3). Just as there, the mitzva of remembrance was commanded on the very day of the Exodus, so too, here the mitzva of remembrance was commanded on the very day of Shabbat. Where Rabbi Yosei and the Sages disagree is with regard to the determination of the month, meaning which day of the week was established as the New Moon. Rabbi Yosei held: The New Moon was established on the first day of the week, and on the first day of the week He did not say anything to them due to the weariness caused by the journey. On the second day of the week, He said to them: “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation; these are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel” (Shemot 19:6).
The Gemara concludes that according to Rabbi Yosei, Moshe, on his own accord, added an extra day of separation prior to the giving of the Torah. Thus, according to Rabbi Yosei, the Torah was given only on the seventh day of Sivan.
Shabbat 85a-b: Sowing Diverse Plants in a Garden – II
30/05/2020 - 7th of Sivan, 5780
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
On today’s daf the Gemara continues with its discussion of planting diverse crops in a single garden, which posed the problem of kilayim – the prohibition against mixing seeds.
Rav Asi said: The garden bed in the Mishna whose area is six by six handbreadths is one whose internal area is six by six handbreadths excluding the area of its boundaries, which must be added to the total area. That was also taught in a baraita: The internal area of a garden bed is six by six handbreadths. The Gemara asks: How much is the size of its boundaries?The Gemara answers, as we learned in a mishna that Rabbi Yehuda says: The width of the border is like the width of a foot. And Rabbi Zeira said, and some say it was Rabbi Hanina bar Pappa who said: What is the reason for the statement of Rabbi Yehuda? As it is written: “And you water it with your foot like a garden of herbs” (Devarim 11:10), meaning that just as one’s foot is a handbreadth wide, so too, the boundary between garden beds where one walks to water plants is also a handbreadth wide.
Some commentaries suggest that the purpose of determining the size of a garden bed’s boundaries was to determine how much space must be left between the garden beds, to avoid prohibited mixtures of diverse kinds of seeds (Me’iri). In the Mishna in tractate Kilayim, there is a suggestion that one could plant on the boundary itself, necessitating the determination of its size. As for the halakha, some authorities rule that the boundary of a garden bed must be one handbreadth wide (Tosafot) with an additional two handbreadths between garden beds. Others state that a single handbreadth between garden beds is sufficient (Me’iri). There were alternative suggestions on how to best plant suggested by the amora’im.
Rav Kahana said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: One who wishes to fill his entire garden with vegetables and does not want to distance the rows of seeds from one another may make a garden bed that is six by six handbreadths and make five circles inside it. He plants different species in the different circles and fills its corners with whatever additional species that he wants.
This explanation follows the opinions of the ge’onim and the Rambam. Rashi and Tosafot offer alternative explanations. The Me’iri explains this case like the ge’onim but with a slight difference. According to the Rambam, one is not restricted to five species but can plant up to nine: Five kinds of plants in each of the circles and another four in the corners. The Ra’avad, however, explains that one is permitted to make five rows of five circles, each with a diameter of one handbreadth, along the length of the garden bed, for a total of twenty-five circles in the garden bed.
Shabbat 84a-b: Sowing Diverse Plants in a Garden, Part I
29/05/2020 - 6th of Sivan, 5780
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 continues to discuss an additional halakha based on a biblical allusion:
From where is it derived that in a garden bed that is six by six handbreadths, that one may plant five different types of seeds in it? He may do so without violating the prohibition of sowing a mixture of diverse kinds of seeds in the following manner. One sows four types of plants on each of the four sides of the garden bed and one in the middle. There is an allusion to this in the text, as it is stated: “For as the earth brings forth its growth, and as a garden causes its seeds to grow, so will the Lord God cause justice and praise to spring forth before all the nations” (Yeshayahu 61:11). Its seed, in the singular, is not stated; rather, its seeds, written in the plural. Apparently, it is possible that several seeds may be planted in a small garden.
The discussion of this Mishna is not particularly clear. As a result, there are many divergent opinions among the commentaries. The fundamental problem is that with no diagrams accompanying the Mishna or Gemara, it is difficult to understand precisely what each is describing and to cite proof from the Talmud for or against any of the proposed explanations. There is also a dispute in terms of the content of this passage. On one extreme is the opinion that at least three handbreadths must separate the different species of plants. This opinion is cited by Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam in Sefer HaYashar. At the other extreme is the opinion that the various species do not need to be distanced from one another. The fundamental requirement is to prevent seeds from intermingling and each species must be easily discernible from the others. An intermediate approach holds that a handbreadth and a half distance must separate the plants on each side (Rashi and Tosafot). Others say that it is necessary to maintain that distance only on certain sides. According to Rabbeinu Shimshon of Saens, one must plant the species so that each row of plants is at least a handbreadth and one-tenth from the edge of the garden bed, ensuring that there will be a distance of a handbreadth and a half between each set of plants on all sides. Some ge’onim explain that a distance of one handbreadth between the various species is sufficient. Others explain that there is no need to keep a distance between them and it is sufficient to plant the seeds on different sides and in different patterns (see Melekhet Shlomo and Tiferet Yisrael). Some of the differing opinions of how to lay out the garden bed include those of Rabbenu Hananel and Meiri , the Rosh , the Ge’onim , the Ramban and the Tiferet Yisrael.
Shabbat 83a-b: Deriving the Status of a Ship Regarding Ritual Purity
28/05/2020 - 5th of Sivan, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday’s daf the eighth perek of Massekhet Shabbat digresses from the central topic of this tractate, turning its attention to the fundamental question: How do we know…? The Mishna on today’s daf illustrates this type of question-and-answer when it teaches:
From where is it derived that a ship is ritually pure, in the sense that it cannot become impure? As it is stated: “The way of a ship in the midst of the sea” (Mishlei 30:19).
The Gemara explains this teaching as follows:
This verse teaches us by mean of an allusion that the legal status of a boat is like that of the sea. Just as the sea is ritually pure and cannot become impure, so too, a boat is ritually pure and cannot become impure.
The verse in Mishlei states: “There are three things which are too wondrous for me, yea, four which I know not: The way of an eagle in the air, the way of a serpent upon a rock, the way of a ship in the midst of the sea, and the way of a man with a young woman” (Mishlei 30:18–19). If the verse is understood at face value, what is so wondrous about the way of a ship? Therefore, according to some commentaries, the Gemara derives a new halakha from this verse. Even if a ship is made of materials susceptible to ritual impurity, it remains pure, if it is in the midst of the sea. Other commentaries suggest that all of the wonders cited in this verse should be understood along the same lines. A snake causes death, but unlike other creeping animals, it does not transmit impurity when it dies. An eagle is a non-kosher bird but its legal status is like that of a kosher bird, which does not transmit impurity when eaten. The way of a man with a young woman means that a seminal emission is only impure after it has been discharged by the woman, as explained later in this chapter (Me’iri).
Shabbat 82a-b: An Unrelated New Chapter in Massekhet Shabbat
27/05/2020 - 4th of Sivan, 5780
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 eighth perek of Massekhet Shabbat is comprised mostly of halakot that are not directly related to the laws of Shabbat. They are placed together because of their conceptual similarities and common structure. The halakot are all presented as answers to the fundamental question: How do we know…? In response to this question, proof texts from a variety of biblical sources are advanced. In this way, these halakot are linked to the final Mishna of the previous chapter, which shares a similar format. This mode of presentation involves sequentially arranging halakot based on superficial, structural parallels rather than by a common theme or topic. This method of organization results in halakot that are not at all related in terms of subject matter being strung together into a single series because of their verbal structure. The decision to arrange the text in this way is attributable to the fact that, for many centuries, the Oral Torah was transmitted from mouth to mouth, from master to disciple. Even after the redaction of the Mishna, Torah scholars continued to study it by heart. It was therefore necessary to provide mnemonic devices and other helpful tools to facilitate the memorization of the study material, and these methods are frequently integrated into the text of the Mishna and the Talmud. In addition to the organization of material based on structure and form, the asmakhta is another technique that served as an aid to memorization. Asmakhta means the attribution of a halakha from the Oral Law to verses in the Written Law, despite the fact that in many instances those verses are not, in fact, the basis of that halakha. In addition to being an aid to memorization, this use of texts had another purpose, namely, to reinforce the bond and relationship between the Written Torah and the Oral Torah, so that they not become separate entities. Indeed, the major commentaries often disagree as to whether the Sages viewed these biblical verses as proof texts, rigorous proofs, or merely suggestive hints. Certainly, the verses taken from the Prophets and Writings should be understood as mere suggestive hints and are no more than aids to memory.
Shabbat 81a-b: Shabbat Outhouse Issues
26/05/2020 - 3rd of Sivan, 5780
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
During Talmudic times there were very few places where bathrooms were actually indoors, and toilet paper was unheard of. In most places, people relieved themselves in empty lots, e.g., the municipal garbage dump. At night, it was possible to find a closer place for that purpose. However, during the day, because of numerous passersby, one was forced to find a spot that was a considerable distance beyond the city limits. As a substitute for toilet paper, smooth stones were used. On Shabbat, these stones had to be prepared in advance. The Gemara on today’s daf discusses how people would arrange to carry these stones to the open area where one was to relieve himself on Shabbat. The Gemara teaches:
With regard to the size of stones, Rabbi Yannai said: If he has a fixed place for a bathroom, he may take a handful of stones; if he does not need them on Shabbat, he can use them on another occasion. If he does not have a fixed place he may bring in an average size stone, which is the size of a small mortar used for crushing spices. Rav Sheshet said: If the stone has an indication on it that it has already been used in the bathroom, one is permitted to move it for that purpose on Shabbat, regardless of its size.
Due to human dignity, the Rabbis permitted people to carry stones to a bathroom on Shabbat to use for wiping. One may also carry them up to the roof. If an individual has a fixed spot that he uses as a bathroom, he may take a handful of stones there. If he does not have a fixed spot, he may take stones the size of a small mortar there. The Sages decided not to set a fixed measure for the size of the stones. The Sages generally did not insist on the fulfillment of their decrees at the expense of human dignity. The only Torah prohibition that is superseded to preserve human dignity is the prohibition against deviating from the decrees and ordinances of the Sages: “You shall not turn aside” (Devarim 17:11).
Shabbat 80a-b: Plastering Homes After the Temple’s Destruction
25/05/2020 - 2nd of Sivan, 5780
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
Due to mourning over the destruction of Jerusalem, the Sages decreed that it is prohibited for one to plaster his entire house with quality plaster. When plastering, one must leave a spot the size of a square cubit unplastered to commemorate the destruction of the Temple. In the course of discussing the volume of sand that would make someone liable for carrying on Shabbat, the Sages dispute which lime may not be used. The Gemara teaches:
The measure that determines liability for carrying out coarse sand is equivalent to that which is used to place on a full spoon of plaster. We learned in the Mishna: The measure that determines liability for carrying out coarse sand is equivalent to that which is used to place on a full spoon of plaster. A tanna taught in a Tosefta: An amount equivalent to that which is placed on the opening of a plasterer’s trowel, and not on a spoon used for eating. The Gemara asks: Who is the tanna who holds that sand is beneficial for plaster and is, therefore, mixed with it? Rav Ĥisda said: It is Rabbi Yehuda, as it was taught in a baraita: In mourning the destruction of the Temple, one may not plaster his house with plaster, which is white, unless he mixed straw or sand in it, which will make the color off -white and less attractive. Rabbi Yehuda says: Straw is permitted, but sand is prohibited because when mixed with plaster it forms white cement [teraksid]. Apparently, Rabbi Yehuda holds that sand is typically mixed with plaster. Rava said: Even if you say that our Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of the Rabbis who disagree with Rabbi Yehuda, we can say that its ruination is its improvement.
Even though the Rabbis hold that mixing sand with plaster is not beneficial, since following the destruction of the Temple only partially ruined plaster may be used, adding sand to plaster enables its use.
Shabbat 79a-b: Different Types of Parchment
24/05/2020 - 1st of Sivan, 5780
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
According to the Mishna, the measure that determines liability for carrying out parchment is equivalent to that which is used to write the shortest portion in the phylacteries. On today’s daf the Gemara discusses the status of parchment in contrast with another type of treated animal hide, which is called dokhsostos. In the Talmudic era, the process of tanning hides for making parchment was very sophisticated. The desire to make optimal use of the hide and the goal of minimizing the thickness of books led to the manufacture of parchment that was especially thin. For that reason, the hide would be split. The parchment, the upper, more durable layer of the hide on which the hair grows, is called kelaf because they peeled away [kalfu] its inner layer. The less durable inner layer that faces the flesh is called dokhsostos. The Rambam explains this differently than do most commentaries. In his opinion, dokhsostos is the upper part of the hide on which the animal’s hair grows, while parchment is the lower side. According to the Rambam, the Gemara’s comments on this issue define parchment as the part on the side of the flesh, while dokhsostos is the part on the side of the hair. However, the Gemara says nothing with regard to which side is used for writing (see Me’iri). Other commentaries hold that writing on both parchment and dokhsostos is done on the side where the two layers were attached and were separated from each other. They cite a verse as an allusion to that halakha, as it is written: “It is the glory of God to conceal a thing” (Mishlei 25:2). The Torah is written on the concealed part of the hide. In practical legal terms, the difference between parchment and dokhsostos is based on the manner in which they are used. In order for the passages in the phylacteries to fit into their compartments, they must be as small and thin as possible. Therefore, they are written on thin parchment. Other texts, e.g., a mezuza, can be written on the less malleable dokhsostos (Me’iri).
Shabbat 78a-b: Paying (and Avoiding) Taxes
23/05/2020 - 29th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on today's daf teaches:
The measure that determines liability for carrying out paper is equivalent to that which is used to write a tax receipt. And one who carries out a tax receipt itself on Shabbat is liable.
In ancient times, a significant portion of state revenue came from tariffs, which were typically levied at borders, crossings, bridges, and major thoroughfares. For many years, central authorities leased the right to collect state taxes to individuals. These tax collectors often raised taxes beyond the official rate of taxation or levied taxes on items that were actually exempt from taxes to increase their own revenues. There were even self-appointed tax collectors whose authority ranged from semiofficial to non-existent. Due to the irregularities with regard to taxes, some people made private arrangements with the collectors. Through fixed payments or due to good personal relations, they received exemptions from taxes. A tax receipt was a kind of certificate stating that a tax collector had exempted a merchant or traveler from paying a tax. Since these exemptions were distributed on a personal basis, they were occasionally used to demonstrate to a different tax collector that the bearer was trusted by the tax authorities, in the hope of gaining consideration with regard to his taxes. Thus, we find the following in the Gemara:
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: One who carries out a tax receipt on Shabbat before he has shown it to the tax collector, and he still needs it, is liable for carrying out on Shabbat. Once he has shown it to the tax collector he is exempt, as it has no significance. Rabbi Yehuda says: Even once he has shown it to the tax collector he is liable because there will be a time when he needs it.
Three different suggestions are raised by amora'im in response to the Gemara's question: What is the difference between the opinions of the Sages and Rav Yehuda?
Abayye said: There is a practical difference between their opinions with regard to tax runners. Occasionally, the tax collectors send inspectors after those who already passed the tax audit in order to verify that they indeed paid. In that case, even though one already showed it to the original tax collector, he will be required to produce it again. Rava said: There is a practical difference between their opinions with regard to a senior tax collector and a junior tax collector.
Sometimes, when the first tax collector that one encounters is a minor official, he will need to keep the receipt with him and produce it if he encounters a more senior official.
Rav Ashi said: There is a difference between them even in a case where there is just one tax collector. Nevertheless, it is to his advantage to keep it in his possession because he needs it to show it to a second tax collector whom he may encounter in the future, as he says to him: Look, I am a man trusted by the tax collector. According to this opinion, the document in his possession proves that he is on good terms with the tax authorities.
Shabbat 77a-b: When Smaller Creatures Strike Fear in Larger Ones
22/05/2020 - 28th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In a segue from the main discussion in the Gemara, a baraita is presented that teaches:
There are five dreads, i.e., dread that the weak cast over the mighty: The dread of the mafgia, a small creature, over the lion; the dread of the mosquito over the elephant; the dread of the gecko over the scorpion; the dread of the swallow over the eagle; the dread of the kilbit, a small fish, over a whale.
The difficulty in understanding this teaching stems from the uncertain identification of most of the creatures mentioned. It is clear that the dread of the mosquito over the elephant refers to the many small mosquitoes that sting the elephant’s trunk and the other soft areas of its body. The dread of the swallow over the eagle comes from the known fact that many small birds can successfully chase away a large bird of prey when they are numerically superior and in particular when they are protecting their young. The identity of the semamit mentioned here has not been firmly established. A long-standing tradition associates the semamit with the spider, and there are indeed species of spiders that prey on scorpions. Nowadays, the name semamit is used for a type of lizard, which might be capable of overpowering a scorpion. The dread of the kilbit over the livyatan is doubly difficult because of the uncertainty in identifying both terms. Many believe that the livyatan is a giant ocean-dwelling mammal from the Cetacea family. However, there are several smaller fish, such as sharks, that are capable of killing it, and especially its young. Some authorities believe that the livyatan referred to here is the crocodile, and the kilbit is a kind of mosquito that stings it. There is also an opinion that the mafgia, the scourge of the lion, is a tiny mosquito. Regarding the dread of the mafgia over the lion, this may be a reference to a creature in the Far East from the Mustelidae family known as the zorilla, or striped polecat, which emits a powerful stench. Other animals are wary of any contact with it. It is not uncommon for an entire pack of lions to wait while this creature partakes of prey brought by the lions. According to the Maharsha, this discussion teaches a moral lesson that even those who take pride in their advantages must be aware that those smaller can be sources of significant harm or benefit.
Shabbat 76a-b: Determining Minimum Measures That Are Considered "Carrying" on Shabbat
21/05/2020 - 27th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In Chapter Seven, the fundamental principles used to define the minimum measures that determine liability for carrying out various substances were established. One who carries out any item "fit to store" into a prohibited domain on Shabbat is liable to bring a sin-offering for that action. An item considered "fit to store" is one that people generally store and one whose measure is large enough to make it worthwhile to store for future use. Any measure less than that is considered insignificant, and there is no Torah prohibition against carrying it out. This principle determines the minimum measures that determine liability for carrying out on Shabbat; however, it does not specify the measures with regard to each and every substance. In the eighth chapter, which begins on today's daf the Sages specified that which is considered a significant measure with regard to a wide range of substances. The challenge here is not merely to establish minimum measures for the various substances, but it extends to more fundamental issues. For example, with regard to substances that have several uses, and a different measure is typically utilized for each of its uses, the question arises whether one universal measure determines liability for carrying out this substance, or whether the measure that determines liability varies in accordance with the purpose for which the substance is being carried out. Moreover, even if one universal measure determines liability for carrying out a particular substance in all cases, is that measure determined by the substance’s most common and significant use or by the largest or smallest of the measures? In addition, the measure that determines liability for substances that have no independent utility but serve a purpose when combined with other substances is discussed. Is the measure of that substance alone deemed significant because that is the measure typically mixed with another substance, or would one be liable only for carrying out the entire mixture? The explication of these general issues and their details is the focus of this chapter.
Shabbat 75a-b: Trapping the Mysterious Hilazon
20/05/2020 - 26th of Iyyar, 5780
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 (daf 73 listed 39 primary categories of prohibited labor on Shabbat. On yesterday's daf we learned that an individual can be liable for performing more than one of these prohibitions in the course of a single activity. According to the Mishna, among those liable for performing primary categories of labor is one who traps a deer or any other living creature. The liability in this category is discussed on today's daf:
The Sages taught in a Tosefta: One who traps a ĥilazon and breaks its shell to remove its blood for the dye is liable to bring only one sin-offering. He is not liable for breaking the shell. Rabbi Yehuda says: He is liable to bring two, for performing the prohibited labors of trapping and for threshing, as Rabbi Yehuda would say: The breaking of a ĥilazon is included in the primary category of threshing, as its objective is to extract the matter that he desires from the shell that he does not. The Rabbis said to him: Breaking the shell is not included in the primary category of threshing. Rava said: What is the rationale for the opinion of the Rabbis? They hold: Threshing applies only to produce that grows from the ground. One who extracts other materials from their covering is exempt. The Gemara asks: Even if extracting blood is not considered threshing, let him be liable for taking a life as well. Rabbi Yoĥanan said: This is referring to a case where he broke its shell after it was dead.
There are numerous opinions with regard to the identity of the ĥilazon, from which the sky blue dye is extracted. There is also a dispute as to how to associate the statements in the Talmud and the midrash with a particular species. Most scholars identify the ĥilazon with the Murex trunculus species found on the coast of northern Israel. There is a gland in the ĥilazon that produces a secretion, which is not the blood of the ĥilazon. With the addition of several other ingredients, this secretion can be processed into a dye. Both the quality and quantity of the substance are enhanced by keeping the ĥilazon alive as long as possible. To obtain the liquid, it is necessary to first break the shell of the ĥilazon and then squeeze the secretion from its body.
Shabbat 74a-b: Counting up Sin-Offerings
19/05/2020 - 25th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday's daf there are 39 primary categories of labor that are prohibited on Shabbat. Each one of these types of work is forbidden in its own right, and will require a separate sin-offering if performed unwittingly. On today's daf the amora'im discuss the fact that producing a single object may involve several of the prohibited labors and would require multiple sin-offerings.
Rava said: One who unwittingly crafted an earthenware barrel on Shabbat is liable to bring seven sin-offerings. One who crafts an oven is liable for eight sin-offerings, since in addition to those seven labors, he spreads another layer of mortar to finish the job, performing the prohibited labor of smoothing.
In one of the commentaries, the seven sin-offerings are counted as follows:
  1. Removing piles of dirt and thereby leveling the ground, which is a subcategory of
  2. plowing; Powdering the dirt, which is a subcategory of grinding;
  3. Removing the pebbles, which is a subcategory of selecting;
  4. kneading the dirt;
  5. cutting it into its shape;
  6. building;
  7. and completing the finished product, which the Mishna calls (7) striking a blow with a hammer (Rav Hai Gaon).
Others suggest a different tally:
  1. Crumbling the dirt;
  2. selecting the pebbles;
  3. sifting with a sieve;
  4. kneading;
  5. mixing the dirt with water, which is a subcategory of smoothing the vessel;
  6. kindling the fire; and
  7. hardening a vessel, which is a subcategory of cooking (Me’iri).
With regard to an oven, according to Rav Hai Gaon, the eighth labor is smoothing, and according to the Me’iri, it is striking a blow with a hammer.
Abayye said: One who unwittingly crafts a receptacle from reeds on Shabbat is liable to bring eleven sin-offerings. And if he sews the mouth of the receptacle, he is liable to bring thirteen sin-offerings.
Some count the eleven sin-offerings as follows:
  1. Reaping;
  2. sowing;
  3. gathering;
  4. grinding;
  5. cutting;
  6. peeling the reeds, which is threshing;
  7. selecting;
  8. stretching the warp;
  9. constructing two meshes;
  10. building; and
  11. striking a blow with a hammer (Rav Hai Gaon).
Others claim that peeling the reeds renders one liable for striking a blow with a hammer (ge’onim). In a case where he sewed the mouth of the receptacle, Rav Hai Gaon argues that one is liable for (12) spinning and (13) sewing.
Shabbat 73a-b: The 39 Categories of Labor Prohibited on Shabbat
18/05/2020 - 24th of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Mishna on today's daf enumerates the 39 primary categories of labor that are prohibited on Shabbat. These categories of labor are grouped according to their function, the first of which is the production of food (beginning with planting and harvesting through baking), the next preparation of clothing (beginning with shearing wool through sewing) and so forth. The Gemara explains that the source for these specific categories of labor is derived from important activities that were performed in the Mishkan since the passage in the Torah that prohibits labor on Shabbat is juxtaposed with the building of the Mishkan (see Shemot Chapters 31 and 35). According to the explanation in Rashi and Tosafot, when the Sages speak of the labors performed in the Tabernacle as the source of Shabbat laws, they are referring only to those labors involved in the construction of the Tabernacle. Therefore, they explain that the labors of plowing and sowing were necessary to grow herbs for producing dyes required in the Tabernacle. However, according to Rabbeinu Hananel and Rav Hai Ga'on, the relevant actions performed in the Tabernacle include those performed in preparing the sacrifices required in the dedication of the Tabernacle, e.g., plowing and sowing to grow wheat and barley for meal-offerings (Eglei Tal). The primary categories of labor enumerated in the Mishna are a list of actions categorized according to certain criteria, as will be explained; however, the names of the labors do not express their essential nature. Consequently, it was necessary to add a list of subcategories that clarify the full range of actions prohibited under the rubric of each labor. In the Jerusalem Talmud, it is related that Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish studied this chapter for three and a half years and found thirty-nine subcategories for each primary category of labor listed in the Mishna.
Shabbat 72a-b: Unintended Consequences on Shabbat
17/05/2020 - 23rd of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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The Gemara teaches:
One who intended to lift a plant detached from the ground on Shabbat and mistakenly severed a plant still attached to the ground, which under other circumstances constitutes performance of the prohibited labor of reaping, is exempt from bringing a sin-offering for his mistaken act, since he did not intend to perform an act of cutting [be-shogeg]. One who performs an action unawares [mitasek], i.e., he had no intention to perform the act at all, incurs no liability whatsoever. One who intended to cut a detached plant and unwittingly severed a plant still attached to the ground, Rava said: He too is exempt. Abayye said that he is liable because he intended to perform a standard act of cutting. Since he intended to perform that act, and he carried out his intent, the Torah characterizes it as unwitting and not as unawares. Rava explains that the source of his ruling stems from a baraita that teaches that a stricture with regard to other mitzvot that is greater than the stricture with regard to Shabbat is that, with regard to other mitzvot, one who performs an act unwittingly without intent is liable to bring a sin-offering, which is not the case with regard to Shabbat.
Apparently, the phrase unwittingly without intent refers to the case above disputed by Abayye and Rava. Therefore, this is proof for Rava’s opinion that, with regard to Shabbat, one who acts unawares, i.e., whose action resulted from involvement in another matter and who had no intention to perform an action that is prohibited [mitasek], is not considered to have performed an unwitting act. The fundamental difference between unwitting [be-shogeg] and unawares [mitasek] is that one who acts unwittingly intends to perform the action in the manner that he performs it. However, due to forgetfulness or some other reason, he was not conscious of the fact that it is prohibited. Acting unawares refers to circumstances where one has no intent to perform the action at all. Everyone agrees that one who acts unawares is exempt with regard to the halakhot of Shabbat, since the Torah prohibited only planned, thoughtful labor. An action performed without intent to perform that action is excluded from that category. On the other hand, with regard to prohibited foods and forbidden relations, even one who acts unawares is liable because, ultimately, he derives a forbidden pleasure. As far as other transgressions, where one does not enjoy physical pleasure, the extent of the liability of one who acts unawares is unclea
Shabbat 71a-b: Half the Legal Measure
16/05/2020 - 22nd of Iyyar, 5780
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Many of the Torah's prohibitions involve a specific measure of activity that may not be performed or quantity of food that may not be consumed. According to Torah law no punishment is administered if less than that measure is performed or quantity consumed. The amora’im debated whether performing or consuming less than the required measure is prohibited by the Torah or is only prohibited by rabbinic decree in order to prevent a person from transgressing the prohibition itself. (In this context the term "half" is not to be taken literally, and implies any amount less than the forbidden measure or quantity.) The Gemara on today's daf discusses this type of situation in the context of bringing a sin-offering after performing a forbidden action unintentionally. The Gemara quotes a Mishna that teaches:
If one ate one piece of forbidden fat and then ate another piece of forbidden fat in one lapse of awareness, he is liable to bring only one sin-offering.
Rav Huna explains that the Mishna teaches this rule, which seems fairly obvious, because we are dealing with a unique case, where the person committing the transgression had a "period of awareness" between eating two half olive-bulks. After eating the first half of an olive-bulk, he became aware that he had eaten food that was prohibited. Then he became unaware again and ate the second half of an olive-bulk. Although, with regard to sacrifices, awareness usually serves as a line of demarcation between unwitting transgressions performed prior to the period of awareness and unwitting transgressions performed thereafter, Rav Huna explains that the Mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabban Gamliel who rules "There is no awareness for half a measure." Since one is not liable to bring a sacrifice for half a measure, the fact that one became aware between consumption of the two halves of an olive-bulk is of no significance and does not demarcate between the two half-measures with regard to liability to bring a sin-offering. The essential question regarding half a measure, which is the subject of an amoraic dispute, is to what extent is half a measure a significant amount by Torah law? Do Torah prohibitions prohibit any amount of the item, and it is only liability that requires the definition of legal parameters? Or, does the prohibition itself apply only to the requisite measure, i.e., anything less than that measure is permitted by Torah law and prohibited only by rabbinic decree? The question of whether awareness of half a measure is significant is based on the same dispute.
Shabbat 70a-b: Deriving the Rule That Each Prohibited Labor is Independent
15/05/2020 - 21th of Iyyar, 5780
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According to the Mishna (see above, daf 68), one is liable to bring a sin-offering for each individual prohibited labor that he performs on Shabbat. The Gemara asks:
From where do we derive the division of labors? What is the source of the halakha that if one performs numerous prohibited labors on Shabbat in the course of one lapse of awareness, each prohibited labor is considered a separate offense with regard to punishment? Shmuel said that the verse says: “And you shall observe the Shabbat, for it is holy to you; he who desecrates it shall surely die [mot yumat]” (Shmot 31:14). We learn from the double language, mot yumat, that the Torah amplified multiple deaths for a single desecration.
According to this reading, although several violations were committed in the course of a single lapse of awareness, each is considered a separate offense with regard to punishment. This source is deemed problematic by the Gemara since that verse was written with regard to intentional transgression; the Gemara is seeking a source for multiple sacrifices brought for unwitting transgression. The Gemara explains the method from which it was derived:
If it does not refer to the matter of intentional transgression, as the verse does not teach a halakha applicable to intentional acts, as it was already written: “Six days you shall perform work, and on the seventh day it shall be holy to you, a Shabbat of rest to God; all who desecrate it shall die” (Shmot 35:2), refer it to the matter of unwitting transgression.
This form of reasoning - "if it does not refer to X refer it to the matter of Y" is one of the thirty-two hermeneutic principles of Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei. According to most commentaries, the conclusions drawn from them are as authoritative as they would be if they were explicitly written in the Torah. This principle is based on the superfluity of verses in the context in which they are written. At the same time, the verse is never applied to matters totally unrelated to the meaning of the verse. Thus, the verse teaches that that which was written with regard to the death penalty for desecration of Shabbat in general applies to all halakhot of Shabbat, including cases of unwitting transgression..
Shabbat 69a-b: Losing Track of Shabbat
14/05/2020 - 20th of Iyyar, 5780
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What should someone do if they have lost track of Shabbat? At home with a calendar this is difficult to do, but what happens to someone who is in the desert and loses track of time? This is a question discussed on today's daf.
Rav Huna said: One who was walking along the way or in the desert, and he does not know when Shabbat occurs, he counts six days from the day that he realized that he lost track of Shabbat and then observes one day as Shabbat. Ĥiyya bar Ra'v says: He first observes one day as Shabbat and then he counts six weekdays. The Gemara explains: With regard to what do they disagree? One Sage, Ra'v Huna, held: It is like the creation of the world, weekdays followed by Shabbat. And one Sage, Ĥiyya bar Ra'v, held: It is like Adam, the first man, who was created on the sixth day. He observed Shabbat followed by the six days of the week.
Under these circumstances, the person is aware that the day he has chosen to celebrate Shabbat is likely an ordinary weekday and that Shabbat may truly fall on a different day. For this reason Rava suggests that the person should limit his activities on all days. The Gemara records:
Rava said: The person who lost track of Shabbat and treats one day a week as Shabbat, each day he makes enough food to sustain himself, except for that day which he designated as Shabbat.
This position is ultimately rejected by the Gemara which reaches a different conclusion:
Rather, on each and every day he makes enough food to sustain himself for that day, including on that day that he designated as Shabbat. And if you ask: And how is that day which he designated as Shabbat distinguishable from the rest? It is distinguishable by means of the Kiddush and the havdala that he recites on that day.
In the Jerusalem Talmud, the dispute about celebrating Shabbat under these circumstances is attributed to Rav and Shmuel. In explanation of one of the opinions, an approach is cited according to which one counts six days and observes one, then counts five days and observes one, then four, then three, and then two until he is counting one day and observing one, at which point he again starts counting six and observing one. According to this approach, during every two rounds of counting days in that manner, the day he determined as Shabbat is really Shabbat.
Shabbat 68a-b: Defining the Categories of Prohibited Labor on Shabbat
13/05/2020 - 19th of Iyyar, 5780
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One who profanes Shabbat intentionally is subject to death by stoning, if he were forewarned by witnesses, or karet, if he were not, as stated in the Torah. One who desecrates Shabbat unwittingly is liable to bring a sin-offering. In the halakhic midrash, the Sages derived through exegetical principles that the observance of Shabbat is different from other mitzvot. One who unwittingly performs several primary categories of prohibited labor on Shabbat can be liable to bring several sin-offerings. According to the accepted halakha, one who sinned unwittingly over the course of many Shabbatot is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for each and every Shabbat on which he performed a transgression because the profaning of each Shabbat constitutes a separate transgression. In the seventh chapter of Massekhet Shabbat, which begins on today's daf, details of this principle are elaborated. The circumstances in which numerous unwitting transgressions are considered as one transgression and the circumstances in which each Shabbat desecrated is considered to be a separate transgression are determined. Just as each Shabbat constitutes its own discrete unit, so too the various primary categories of prohibited labor constitute discrete units. Consequently, although all types of creative labor are prohibited by the verse: “You shall not do any manner of labor” (Shmot 20:9), each primary category of prohibited labor is considered a separate prohibition. For example, if one unwittingly performs several primary categories of prohibited labor during one specified time period, he is liable to bring a separate sin-offering for each primary category of prohibited labor violated. It is therefore imperative to ascertain the fundamental parameters of these primary categories of labor in order to ascertain which subcategories are attributed to each. Although other chapters in this tractate deal specifically with several of these categories of labor, the general discussion of this topic is found in this chapter.
Shabbat 67a-b: The Use of a Talisman
12/05/2020 - 18th of Iyyar, 5780
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The Mishna on today's daf teaches:
One may go out on Shabbat with a locust egg, and with a fox tooth, and with a nail from the crucified, for the purpose of healing; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. The Rabbis prohibit using these remedies even during the week, due to the prohibition of following the ways of the Amorite. These are superstitious beliefs and the customs of gentiles from which one must distance oneself.
Many of the customs and healing practices detailed in the seventh and eighth chapters of the Tosefta of this tractate, also known as the "Amorite chapters," are prohibited as ways of the Amorites, i.e., superstitious beliefs. Every superstitious belief, incantation, and divination falls under the rubric of several Torah prohibitions. The prohibition of divination and soothsaying comes from the verse: “There must not be found among you…a soothsayer, an enchanter, a witch” (Devarim 18:10), among others. In addition, there is the general prohibition: “And in their statutes do not walk” (Vayikra 18:3). Nevertheless, the statements of Abayye and Rava as well as those in the Tosefta are to be understood in the broadest possible manner. Any practice that was attempted and found to be an effective remedy, even if there is no clear scientific rationale for its effectiveness, may be utilized based on the empirical evidence. Yet another example of "the ways of the Amorites" is brought by the Gemara:
One who says: I will drink and leave over, I will drink and leave over, so that his wine will increase; that statement contains an element of the ways of the Amorite.
There are variant readings of this statement. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental principle in these chapters in the Tosefta that any practice or incantation that is deemed auspicious, especially when it is stated after the fact, contains an element of the ways of the Amorites. However, any expression that contains an element of prayer or supplication is considered like any other prayer and is permitted.
Shabbat 66a-b: Healing on Shabbat
11/05/2020 - 17th of Iyyar, 5780
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The Mishna on today's daf discusses whether it is permitted to go out on Shabbat with an amulet or other folk remedy, permitting those that will not be removed by the person who is wearing them. This leads the Gemara to a broader discussion of medical procedures that were performed on Shabbat. On the topic of the use of various forms of healing and medicinal practices and their permissibility on Shabbat, the Gemara cites additional statements related by Avin bar Hunain the name of Rav Ĥama bar Gurya on these topics.The Gemara teaches:
Avin bar Huna said that Rav Ĥama bar Gurya said: With regard to overturning an empty cup in which there had been hot water and placing it on one’s navel for healing purposes on Shabbat, he may well do so.
According to Rashi’s explanation, the Gemara is apparently discussing a treatment similar to cupping glasses, which was common practice until recent times. From a medical perspective, the treatment works by increasing the flow of blood to a certain area. In the Rambam’s opinion, it is speaking in this context of using cupping glasses to restore the intestines to their place by drawing the skin outwards. The Gemara continues with other examples, including this one:
And Avin bar Huna said that Rav Ĥama bar Gurya said: It is permitted to strangle, i.e., tightly bandage the neck of one whose vertebra was dislocated in order to reset it, on Shabbat.
According to Rashi, this refers to the realignment of a displaced vertebra in the neck. A similar treatment is still in use today. However, the ge’onim explain that this strangulation involves applying pressure to the veins in the neck for medicinal purposes. In various cases, such as paroxysmal tachycardia, pressure is indeed applied to the veins in the neck and to the vagus nerve.
Shabbat 65a-b: When Going Out on Shabbat With Money is Permissible
10/05/2020 - 16th of Iyyar, 5780
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The Mishna on today's daf continues its discussion regarding accoutrements that we might fear could possibly be removed and carried on Shabbat. The Mishna lists those things that we assume will not be removed, for which reason they can be worn. The Mishna teaches:
A woman may go out with a sela coin that she ties on a tzinit - a wound - on her foot.
The tzinit mentioned in the Mishna is either an inflamed swelling or callus on the sole of the foot. The coin that is stuck on the wound apparently prevented chafing. It is also conceivable that contact with the metal also healed the wound inasmuch as even today, various metal-based powders are used in the treatment of wounds. However, in the Jerusalem Talmud, tzinit is explained as gout, a very painful condition caused by elevated levels of uric acid in the blood, afflicting the feet, primarily the toes.
The Gemara asks: What is different about a sela? Why specifically is a coin placed on the wound? If you say that any object that is hard is beneficial for her, make an earthenware shard for her instead. Rather, it is beneficial due to the rust on the coin. If so, make a small silver plate for her. Why specifically a coin? Rather it is beneficial due to the image engraved on the coin. If so, make her a pulsa - an unminted coin - and engrave an image on it. Abayye said: Learn from it that all these factors together are beneficial for her.
The Me'iri explains that the depressions on the coin from the engraved image leave room for the swollen flesh protruding from the wound. Therefore, it is not painful to wear a shoe. A pulsa is a token or coin on which there is no imprimatur, or on which its image has rubbed off. In either case, it is not accepted as a coin.
Shabbat 64a-b: Suspicious Actions Performed in Private
09/05/2020 - 15th of Iyyar, 5780
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What level of concern must we have that people will see a person performing an activity that is permitted and mistakenly suspect that it is forbidden? The Sages established a category of Jewish law that pertains to such suspicious looking acts, which is called mar'it ha-ayin. Sometimes, permissible ac­tions, which might be mistaken by an observer for prohibited conduct, were prohibited by Rabbinic decree, both to prevent people from unjustifiably suspecting others of misconduct, and to prevent people from incorrectly inferring that prohibited actions are permissible. On today's daf the Gemara relates an extension to this rule -
Rav Yehuda said that Rav said: Wherever the Sages prohibited an action due to the appearance of prohibition, even in the innermost chambers, where no one will see it, it is prohibited. When prohibiting an action, the Sages did not distinguish between different circumstances. They prohibited performing the action in all cases.
This statement of Rav is similar to a previous statement recorded in his name, that anything that the Sages prohibited doing in the public domain is also prohibited in the privacy of one’s courtyard. His reasoning is based on the principle: "The Sages do not distinguish." Once the Sages issued a decree prohibiting a particular action, they did not want to differentiate between different circumstances and prohibit performing that action in certain cases and permit it in others. To do so would undermine the very authority of the rabbinic decrees. Ultimately the Gemara suggests that the tanna'im differ regarding this question. In contrast, the Talmud Yerushalmi quotes a series of Mishnayot that clearly distinguish between activities done in public - which are forbidden - and in private - which are permitted, based upon which, the Yerushalmi rejects Rav's teaching entirely. The Rashba and others suggest that there is room to differentiate between cases where there is suspicion of an act that is truly forbidden and cases where people mistakenly think that a given action is forbidden. In the latter cases the Sages forbade performing such an action publicly, but permitted it to be done in private.
Shabbat 63a-b: The Frontplate Worn by the High Priest
08/05/2020 - 14th of Iyyar, 5780
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While discussing the topic of ritual impurity, the Gemara relates:
When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Yoĥanan said: From where is it derived that a woven fabric of any size can become ritually impure? It is derived from the frontplate [tzitz] of the High Priest, which is considered a vessel despite its small size. Abayye said to him: And is the frontplate a woven fabric? Wasn’t it taught in a baraita: The frontplate is made like a kind of smooth plate of gold, and its width is two fingerbreadths, and it encircles the forehead from ear to ear. And on it is written in two lines: Yod heh, i.e., the Tetragrammaton, above, and kodesh lamed, i.e., sacred to, below. Thus, the words: Sacred to God, were written on the frontplate. In deference to the name of God, it would be written on the top line, and the words: Sacred to, on the line below. And Rabbi Eliezer, son of Rabbi Yosei, said: I saw it in the Caesar’s treasury in the city of Rome and Sacred to God was written on one line. In any case, since the frontplate is a gold plate, how can it serve as a source for ritual impurity in fabrics?
The frontplate was attached to the forehead of the high priest by a sky blue ribbon. The commentaries disagree whether one or more ribbons were used. Some explain that since the frontplate was a gold band attached with a thread to a woven fabric, the fabric was considered part of the frontplate. Therefore, it was possible to derive the legal status of the fabric from that of the frontplate and certainly to derive the status of an article made of fabric and metal. The Gemara rejects these possibilities since it was ascertained from the language of the tanna’im that the frontplate was primarily the metal part alone (Pnei Yehoshua).
Shabbat 62a-b: Causes of Poverty
07/05/2020 - 13th of Iyyar, 5780
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While discussing aggadic explanations of Biblical verses, the Gemara offers the following teaching -
Rabbi Abbahu said, and some say it was taught in a baraita: Three matters bring a person to a state of poverty as a divine punishment from Heaven: One who urinates before his bed while naked, and one who demeans the ritual washing of the hands, and one whose wife curses him in his presence.
In response to this, Rava offers a number of limitations to Rabbi Abbahu's teachings:
- With regard to one who urinates before his bed while naked, Rava said: We only said this prohibition in a case where he turns his face toward his bed and urinates toward it; however, if he turns his face and urinates toward the outer portion of the room, we have no problem with it. And where one turns his face toward his bed, too, we only said this prohibition in a case where he urinates on the ground; however, if he urinates into a vessel, we have no problem with it since that is not considered disgusting. - With regard to one who demeans the ritual washing of the hands, Rava said: We only said this statement in a case where he does not wash his hands at all; however, if he washes his hands and does not wash them with a significant amount of water, we have no problem with it. - With regard to one whose wife curses him in his presence, Rava said: This is referring to a case where she curses him over matters relating to her ornaments, i.e., she complains that he does not provide her with jewelry. The Gemara comments: And that applies only when he has the resources to buy her jewelry but does not do so; however, if he does not have sufficient resources he need not be concerned.
The general approach taken by the rishonim is that poverty is not a natural consequence of the actions listed in the Gemara; it is a divine punishment (see Rashi). However, some commentaries explain that one who conducts himself in an unhygienic manner displays the traits of idleness and laziness, which ultimately lead to poverty. Even with regard to the case of his wife’s jewelry, one who treats his wife poorly will cause his wife to adopt a contemptuous attitude toward her household responsibilities, which will also lead to poverty (Me’iri). Some commentaries interpreted the issue of the woman’s jewelry as an example of the punishment fitting the crime, as is explained in the Gemara. Since one’s wife is dependent on him and he fails to meet her needs, he will be punished in kind and God will not meet his needs (Rabbeinu Nissim).
Shabbat 61a-b: Wearing Amulets on Shabbat
06/05/2020 - 12th of Iyyar, 5780
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Although the Sages forbade going outside with an amulet on Shabbat, lest it be removed and the person will carry it in the public domain, the Mishna taught that "an effective amulet" can be worn, since it will not be removed. The Gemara on today's daf attempts to clarify how we define "an effective amulet."
The Sages taught in the Tosefta: What is an effective amulet? It is any amulet that healed one person once, and healed him again, and healed him a third time. That is the criterion for an effective amulet, and it applies to both a written amulet and an amulet of herbal roots; both if it has proven effective in healing a sick person who is dangerously ill, and if it has proven effective in healing a sick person who is not dangerously ill. It is permitted to go out with these types of amulets on Shabbat.
An amulet is a magical charm to protect from harm the one who possesses it or wears it. The inscriptions on amulets in ancient times appear to have been various biblical passages that spoke of healing or protection. In the practical Kabbalah, various combinations of divine names are used for the writing of amulets on parchment. Despite the strong biblical opposition to magic and divination, amulets were accepted by the Sages, who even permitted effective amulets to be carried on the Sabbath when carrying objects in the public domain is normally forbidden. The Rambam, a rationalist thinker, rejected any belief in the amulet's efficacy. Nevertheless he codified this rule in his Mishneh Torah (Sefer Zemanim, Hilkhot Shabbat 19:14) but he believed that it is only permitted because of the psychological relief it can offer to the disturbed mind. Throughout the ages many rabbis not only tolerated the use of amulets but actually wrote them themselves.