Talmud

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

Pesaḥim 63a-b: Outside the Wall
23/01/2021 - 10th of Sh'vat, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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Our Gemara quotes a Mishna that appears in Massekhet Menahot (7:3), which discusses the thanksgiving sacrifice – the korban toda. That korban is made up of an animal sacrifice brought together with 40 hallot matzot – non-hametz loaves. The Mishna teaches that if the sacrifice is slaughtered inside the azara - the Temple courtyard, as is proper - but the hallot were outside the wall at that time, then the hallot do not become holy; since at the time of the shehita they were in a place where they could not be eaten, they therefore cannot become part of the korban.
A question was raised with regard to this mishna: What is the meaning of the phrase outside the wall? Rabbi Yohanan said: It means outside the wall of Beit Pagei, the outermost wall around Jerusalem, but if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has been sanctified, as we do not require that the bread, described as "with" the offering, be next to it in order to be sanctified. Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish disagreed and said: Even if the bread was merely outside the wall of the Temple courtyard, it has not been sanctified. Apparently, he holds that we require that the bread described as "with" the offering be next to it in order to be sanctified. Since Rabbi Yohanan and Rabbi Shimon ben Lakish have already disputed this issue, they presumably did not repeat this same dispute in other contexts.
Where is Beit Pagei? There are many opinions, but it appears that Beit Pagei represented the "third wall" that surrounded the "new city" of Jerusalem. Some say that Beit Pagei is from the Latin root meaning "to eat." According to this opinion, it was so named because within that wall was still considered Jerusalem with regard to the mitzva of eating korbanot that had to be consumed within the city walls. There also was a small village just outside of Jerusalem that was called Beit Pagei - perhaps because of the figs (pagim) that grew there. According to some opinions that is the Beit Pagei referred to by Rabbi Yohanan.
Pesaḥim 62a-b: The Book of Genealogies
22/01/2021 - 9th of Sh'vat, 5781
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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By way of introducing a question that Rabbi Simlai asked Rabbi Yohanan about the laws taught in the first two Mishnayot of our perek, the Gemara tells a story about their meeting.
Rabbi Simlai came before Rabbi Yohanan. He said to him: Would the Master teach me the Book of Genealogies? The Book of Genealogies was a collection of tannaitic teachings that formed a midrash on the Book of Chronicles. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Where are you from? He said to him: From Lod. Rabbi Yohanan further asked: And where is your present place of residence? He said to him: In Neharde'a. Rabbi Yohanan said to him: I have a tradition that we teach these subjects neither to Lodites nor to Neharde'ans, and certainly not to you who comes from Lod and your residence is in Neharde'a, such that you have both shortcomings. Rabbi Simlai pressured Rabbi Yohanan until he agreed to teach him. Rabbi Simlai said to him: Teach me the Book of Genealogies in three months. Rabbi Yohanan took a clod of dirt, threw it at him, and said to him: Berurya, wife of Rabbi Meir and daughter of Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, was so sharp and had such a good memory that she learned three hundred halakhot in one day from three hundred Sages, and nonetheless she did not fulfill her responsibility to properly learn the Book of Genealogies in three years because it is especially long and difficult. And you say that I should teach it to you in three months? After your inappropriate request, I am not inclined to teach you at all.
Faced with this final refusal, Rabbi Simlai asks the question on our Mishnayot, which Rabbi Yohanan agrees to explain to him. Rabbi Simlai was one of the first generation amora'im in Israel, a student of Rabbi Yehuda Nesia and Rabbi Yannai. The Talmud, and, in particular, the Jerusalem Talmud, quotes him on matters of halakha, but he is better known for his many aggadic homilies. The Book of Genealogies (Sefer Yohasin) discussed here is a collection of baraitot, a type of midrash on Divrei HaYamim. The Geonim explain that among the material included there were the genealogies of all the families mentioned in the book, something that can easily explain its length. The midrashim had information about which families were considered to have pristine backgrounds, and who had problematic histories. Rav Yehudah Leib ha-Levi Edel writes in his Iyye ha-Yam that we find very few midrashim on Divrei haYamim in the Talmud. Apparently all of the baraitot were in this collection, which included deep explanations of the personal names that appear in the book. Our Gemara concludes that after a time Sefer Yohasin was lost. According to the Maharsha, there developed powerful families with "skeletons in their closets" whose secrets were found in the Sefer Yohasin, leading the Sages to refrain from teaching the work publicly, and it eventually fell from use. With its passing many of the secrets and traditions that it held were forgotten.
Pesaḥim 61a-b: Everything According to those who have Registered
21/01/2021 - 8th of Sh'vat, 5781
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 our daf discusses a case where the person who is slaughtering the Passover sacrifice has intention that the korban be for people who will not be eating from it. Such people include individuals who cannot eat the meat of the sacrifice because they are old or ill, people who had not joined this particular group, or people who were not permitted to eat from the korban, e.g. someone who does not have a brit mila. In such cases, if the intention was just for such people, the korban is no good. If, however, the person thought about people who would eat from the korban, as well as people like the aforementioned, then the sacrifice is valid.
The Gemara asks: From where are these matters, which are not explicitly written in the Torah, derived? The Gemara answers: As the Sages taught with regard to the verse: "And if the household be too little for a lamb, then he and his neighbor who is close to his house shall take one according to the number of the souls; according to every man's eating you shall make your count for the lamb" (Shmot 12:4). "According to the number of" teaches that the Paschal lamb is slaughtered only for those who have registered for it. Everything is done according to the number of people who have registered before the slaughtering. I might have thought that if he slaughtered it for those who did not register for it, he would be considered as one who has violated a commandment, but nonetheless the offering would be valid after the fact. Therefore, the Torah teaches this law with the double formulation of "according to the number (bemikhsat)" and "you shall make your count (takhosu)"; the verse repeated it to make this requirement indispensable, so that the offering is disqualified if it is slaughtered for those who did not register for it. This discussion points to one of the ways in which the Talmudic hermeneutics differ when dealing with issues regarding sacrifices. Generally speaking, when the Torah commands us to perform an act in a specific way, it is understood that if it is not done properly, the act is an invalid one. Regarding sacrifices, however, it is commonplace to find that a single passage may command that a specific action be done, yet if one skips that detail, the sacrifice will remain valid after the fact. Only if there is an extra pasuk - as in our case - or a specific key word, does the Gemara conclude that it is essential for the sacrifice.
Pesaḥim 60a-b: Changing the Passover Sacrifice to a Shelamim
20/01/2021 - 7th of Sh'vat, 5781
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 korban Pesah is unique among the sacrifices in a number of ways, some of which are discussed on our daf. For example, our Gemara discusses the case of a korban Pesah that was not sacrificed at the appropriate time - the afternoon of the 14th of Nisan - but rather on some other day during the year. In any other situation, the sacrifice would simply be invalid. There is, however, a special rule with regard to the korban Pesah: it can be changed from a korban Pesah and sacrificed as a Shelamim. There are a series of discussions in the Gemara that revolve around the question of how the Pesah can be changed to a Shelamim - if the very fact that the Pesah is not being carried out properly switches it to a Shelamim, of if it is necessary to consciously substitute one intention for the other. The possibility of changing the korban to a Shelamim may be connected with the fact that, unlike most other sacrifices, the Shelamim is almost never brought because one is commanded to do so; rather it is a korban that is given freely as a toda - thanksgiving offering - or a nedava - a voluntary offering (see Vayikra 7:11-12, 16). There is a difference of opinion among the rishonim regarding the meaning of the name shelamim. Rashi (Vayikra 3:1) cites two opinions: a. that this korban spreads peace in the world; b. that they bring peace to the altar, to the priests, and to the owners (i.e. that all three parties to the sacrifice benefit from the eating of the sacrifice). Another rule unique to the korban Pesah is the need to participate in it as a formal member of a group; one must "sign up" before the holiday in order to join (see Shmot 12:4). When the korban itself is eaten - that is to say, during the Pesah seder as it was practiced during Temple times - a person was not allowed to leave his or her group and join another, unless he/she joined another group before the sacrifice was slaughtered.
Pesaḥim 59a-b: Invalidating a Sacrifice
19/01/2021 - 6th of Sh'vat, 5781
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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Although there are many individual activities that need to take place in order for a sacrifice to be successfully brought in the Temple, there are four specific acts during which inappropriate thoughts can make the korban invalid. They are:
  1. Shehitat ha-korban - at the time the animal is slaughtered
  2. Kabalat ha-dam - when the blood is collected
  3. Holakha la-mizbe'ach - when it is carried to the altar
  4. Zerikat ha-dam - sprinkling the blood on the altar
What are considered "inappropriate thoughts"? There are three types of thoughts, or, indeed, spoken words (according to most opinions) that can make the sacrifice invalid. The most severe of these is when, in the midst of one of the activities mentioned above, the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban at the wrong time. This type of thought will make the sacrifice pigul (“a vile thing” - see Vayikra 19:7); the person who brought the sacrifice will need to replace it with another, and anyone eating from the meat of the korban will be punished with karet. Another possible problem would occur if the kohen thinks that he will sprinkle the blood or sacrifice the meat of the korban in the wrong place. Under those circumstances, although a replacement korban would need to be brought, it is not considered pigul, and there is no penalty of karet for someone who ate the meat of that sacrifice. These two cases apply to all korbanot. There is a third case where a thought will invalidate a sacrifice, which applies only to a korban hatat (a sin-offering) or a korban Pesah. If the kohen does not think that it is for this particular type of sacrifice, and mistakenly believes that it is for a different one, the korban hatat or korban Pesah will be invalid. In the case of the korban Pesah, even thinking that it will be used for a mundane purpose will ruin it.
Pesaḥim 58a-b: The Order of the Sacrifices
18/01/2021 - 5th of Sh'vat, 5781
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 fifth chapter of Massekhet Pesahim, Tamid Nishhat, opens the second half of the tractate, which is actually referred to as Pesah Sheni – "the second Pesah" by the commentaries. In this section of the massekhet we move away from the discussion of the rules of hametz and matza and focus of an aspect of the holiday that was central during the time that the Temple was standing in Jerusalem – the Passover sacrifice itself. This perek's main concern is the slaughter and sacrifice of the korban (sacrifice). The first question that is dealt with is a question of time. When exactly should the sacrifice be slaughtered? The Biblical passages refer to the time of sacrifice in a very general way. How should sacrificing the korban Pesah fit in with the other Temple service and sacrifices of the day? Will there be any changes when erev Pesah, the day on which the korban is prepared, falls out on Friday or on Shabbat? The first Mishna teaches that ordinarily the afternoon daily sacrifice, the korban tamid shel bein ha-arbayim, is brought nine-and-a-half hours after sunrise. On erev Pesah it is moved up an hour and is brought eight-and-a-half hours after sunrise. When erev Pesah coincides with erev Shabbat then it is brought seven-and-a-half hours after sunrise. The korban Pesah will only be brought after the afternoon sacrifice has been completed. The Passover sacrifice is an exception to the general rule that the Temple service open with the tamid shel shahar in the morning, after which korbanot are brought throughout the day. Generally speaking, the tamid shel bein ha-arbayim in the afternoon closes the day in the Temple.
As the Gemara mentioned previously that the daily morning offering precedes all other sacrifices, it cites a baraita that explains this law. The Sages taught: From where is it derived that no sacrifice shall precede the daily morning offering? The verse states: "And the fire on the altar shall be kept burning on it, it shall not be extinguished; and the priest shall kindle wood upon it every morning, and he shall prepare the burnt-offering [olah] upon it and shall cause the fats of the peace-offerings to go up in smoke upon it" (Vayikra 6:5). The Gemara asks: What is the biblical derivation? In other words, how is it derived that the burnt-offering in this verse is referring to the daily morning offering? Rava said: "The burnt-offering," with the definite article, is referring to the first burnt-offering, i.e., the daily morning offering, which is first both chronologically and in terms of importance.
Some explain that the tamid shel shahar is called "the first olah" because that was the first sacrifice brought by the Jewish people in the desert. Another explanation offered is that consecrating a new altar in the mikdash is always done with the tamid shel shahar, making it "the first olah."
Pesaḥim 57a-b: Which is Better - Sheep or Goat?
17/01/2021 - 4th of Sh'vat, 5781
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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Although the story of the Hasmonean victory against the Greeks during the Second Temple is well-known, the dynasty that they built degenerated over time. In a number of places in the Talmud we are told about disagreements between the Sages and the High Priests, who often did not follow the traditions and rulings of the Sanhedrin. The fourth perek concludes with a number of stories about Kings and High Priests of the Hasmonean dynasty, and the lack of respect that they had for Jewish tradition generally and the Temple service specifically. The Gemara quotes a baraita that lists four cries that were heard in the courtyard of the Temple. One of them was about Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai who was so fastidious about his own honor that he would wrap his hands in silk while performing the Temple service, thus indicating that he did not perceive the avoda (work) of the mikdash as being worthy of dirtying his hands. The Gemara then describes what became of Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai.
They said: The king and the queen were sitting and talking. The king said that goat meat is better food, and the queen said lamb meat is better food. They said: Who can prove which one of us is correct? The High Priest can, as he offers sacrifices all day and tastes their meat. The High Priest had the right to take a portion from any sacrifice offered in the Temple, and therefore was well acquainted with the tastes of different meat. Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai came, and when they asked him this question, he signaled contemptuously with his hand and said: If goat is better, let it be sacrificed as the daily offering. The daily offering is a lamb, proving that its meat is preferable to that of a goat. The king said: Since he not only disagrees with me but has no reverence for the monarchy, as evident from his contempt, sever his right hand.
Following this story, the amora'im comment that aside from his lack of political sensitivity, he also was incorrect in his decision about the quality of the different types of meat. Rav Ashi points out a Mishna that clearly says that they are of equal importance; Ravina infers this from Biblical passages. Although the story appears to simply show the lack of respect the participants had for the Temple service, in his commentary to the Talmud, Rabbi Yehudah Bachrach suggests that a serious question was involved. A person who brings a sin-offering has a choice of either bringing a sheep or a goat. If a sheep is brought, no one will know that it is a sin-offering, as it could also be a voluntary sacrifice; a goat clearly indicates that the sacrifice is being brought because of a sin. Thus the question that Yissakhar of Kfar Barkai did not take seriously was whether as part of the repentance process it would be better to publicize that a sin had taken place or to hide it.
Pesaḥim 56a-b: More Unique Customs
16/01/2021 - 3rd of Sh'vat, 5781
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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Another example of customs unique to specific communities was that the people of Jericho, "the city of date palms" (see Devarim 34:3), permitted grafting of date palms throughout the day of erev Pesah. Rav Aha the son of Rava explains this to mean placing a branch of a male palm tree on the female. Date palms are dioecious, that is each tree is specifically male or female. A male tree does not produce dates, but is necessary for its pollen in order for the female tree to give fruit. In nature or in orchards where the palm trees are planted very close together, the wind is enough to fertilize the female trees. When growing date palms commercially to produce dates, however, hand pollination is usually necessary to insure a good fruit harvest. Male flowers should be collected within a few hours after the sheath splits open to prevent pollen loss. The pollen should be stored in a cool place until the female florets on the female tree are ready for pollination. Three or four strands of the male flower should be placed with the female strand from one to three days after the female sheath splits open. Once the female tree is ready to be fertilized, time is of the essence. Therefore we can well understand the concern in Jericho that hand pollination should be permitted throughout the day on erev Pesah. Following the Mishnaic teaching about the six customs of the people of Jericho, the Gemara tells of six actions of King Hizkiyahu, three of which received the approval of the Sages, three of which did not. One of King Hizkiyahu's activities was suppressing the sefer refu'ot, the Book of Cures, from popular use. What was this sefer refu'ot? In Maimonides' commentary to the Mishna, he argues that if this were simply a book of medicine from which the sick could be healed it should have been valued and used, and the Sages would never have agreed to allow it to be hidden away. He offers two possible explanations: 1. It was a book that listed a variety of forbidden activities that could have an effect on a given illness, which was written as a theoretical treatise, examining nature. When people began to use it in practice, King Hizkiyahu removed it. 2. It was a book that described how to make poison and its antidote. While the intent was to allow a doctor to heal someone who had become poisoned, when people used it to learn how to injure others, it was hidden away.
Pesaḥim 55a-b: Placing a Hen to Brood on Erev Pesah
15/01/2021 - 2nd of Sh'vat, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One of the activities that might be restricted on erev Pesah involves an egg farmer who prepares nests or coops for his birds. The Mishna teaches that hens can be put on eggs to warm them for hatching on the 14th of Nisan; similarly, if a hen has abandoned her post on the eggs she can be returned to it, or if the hen dies another can be brought as a replacement. These activities are not true melakhot, but they do involve a certain amount of hard work to accomplish.
Gemara: Now, the mishna stated that placing a brooding hen to sit on eggs is permitted; is it necessary to mention that restoring a hen to its brooding place is permitted? Abaye said: In the last clause of the mishna we have arrived at the halakhot of the intermediate days of the Festival, when placing a hen to sit on eggs is prohibited, yet one may nevertheless restore a hen that fled, as failure to do so will cause him to incur a loss. On the fourteenth of Nisan, one may even place a hen to brood ab initio.
Rav Huna follows this by teaching that the bird can only be returned to the nest within three days of leaving d'akati lo parah tzimra minei – because the hen has not yet lost its warmth, but after that the hen cannot be returned. When birds, including chickens, sit on their nests and warm their eggs, it is not a simple act of rest for them. "Brooding" (degira in modern Hebrew) involves a complex hormonal change in the chicken that gets the bird to sit for weeks on end in a single place, ready to fend off any attackers. This condition is brought about by a number of factors, including the season and the physical touch and feel of eggs against the body. In many birds, the body temperature rises (some specific areas on the body become warmer) as part of the hormonal change. In the event that the bird loses its natural inclination towards brooding, returning it to the nest within a short time may successfully restart its instinct for remaining on the nest, due to the contact with the eggs. If the bird is not returned shortly after leaving the nest, it may not be possible to return it to brooding.
Pesaḥim 54a-b: Mourning on the Ninth of Av
14/01/2021 - 1st of Sh'vat, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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One halakha that is dependant on the local custom is whether or not one can work on the fast day of the Ninth of Av, which commemorates the destruction of both the first and second Temples. According to the Mishna, even in places where the custom was to permit people to work on Tisha b'Av, Torah scholars refrained from working. Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel taught that it would be appropriate for everyone to consider himself a scholar with regard to this custom, i.e. that anyone who can, should refrain from work on the fast day. Most of the special rules and regulations that apply on the Ninth of Av stem from traditions of aveilut - mourning. Just as someone who is in aveilut for a parent refrains from wearing leather shoes, engaging in sexual relations or learning Torah, similarly the community that is in mourning for the Temple refrains from these activities. Rabbi Shlomo Adani in his Melekhet Shlomo points out that the Sages did not establish work as one of the things that is forbidden on Tisha b'Av, even though someone who has a personal aveilut does not work, because the communal mourning over the Temple is aveilut yeshana – it is commemorative mourning over a historical event, not a recent one. In the Gemara, Shmuel rules that the only true ta'anit tzibur – communal fast – in Babylon is Tisha b'Av. The other fast days do not begin in the evening, nor do they encompass other rules aside from the fast itself. This also indicates that the fast days enumerated in Massekhet Ta'anit on the occasion of drought, will never be established in the Babylonian exile. The rishonim differ in their explanations of Shmuel's ruling. Rashi explains that in Babylon there was no need to establish fast days for drought, since most of the local water needs were supplied by the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. The Me'iri adds that the ruling applies to other locations in the Diaspora, whose traditions are modeled after Babylon, even if there is a need for rain in those places. The Ra'avad argues that Shmuel intended that his ruling apply to all Diaspora communities, because the people in those communities were weak from their travails and the Sages desired to lighten their burdens regarding fast days. According to the Ramban, the Diaspora communities are not considered a true tzibur, they are seen as a group of individuals, so any decision to establish a public fast would not have the full stringencies of a ta'anit tzibur.
Pesaḥim 53a-b: Eating Roasted Meat on Pesaḥ Following the Destruction of the Temple
13/01/2021 - 29th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One example of following the local custom that is discussed in the Mishna on our daf deals with a Pesah issue. Following the destruction of the Temple, what is the best course of action? Should we eat meat at the seder roasted in commemoration of the Passover sacrifice that had to be roasted (see Shmot 12: 8-9) or would doing so present a problem because it would appear that the sacrifice was being eaten outside the precincts of Jerusalem? The Mishna rules that either of these customs can be followed, each in the community where it is the accepted tradition.
Rabbi Yosei said: Theodosius [Todos] of Rome, leader of the Jewish community there, instituted the custom for the Roman Jews to eat [goat] kids roasted [mekulas] whole with their entrails over their heads on the evenings of Passover, as was the custom in the Temple. The Sages sent a message to him: If you were not Theodosius, an important person, I would have decreed ostracism upon you, as it appears as if you are feeding Israel consecrated food, which may be eaten only in and around the Temple itself, outside the permitted area.
While the tanna'im of the Mishna apparently knew him well, Todos was not a well-known character to the amora'im of the Gemara, who ask whether the reluctance to place him under ban stemmed from the fact that he was a talmid hakham, or, perhaps, because he was a powerful figure who could not be punished. The Hatam Sofer points out that this is not merely a theoretical question, but a practical one from which we can deduce that a talmid hakham should not be punished for making an error, but should simply be warned about it. In response, the Gemara offers two stories about him. The first story quotes Todos as teaching an aggadic homily, in which he explained the actions of Hananiah, Misha'el and Azariah who allowed themselves to be thrown into a fiery furnace (see Daniel chapter 3 ) by comparing their situation to that of the frogs of the second of the ten plagues in Egypt who willingly jumped into burning ovens (see Shmot 7:28). According to this story, since we have records of Todos teaching Torah publicly, apparently he was a scholar. Rabbi Yossi bar Avin relates the second story, that Todos was someone who supported Torah scholars by lending money or merchandise to them, thus allowing them to support themselves. It should be noted that the Rambam lists eight levels of charity (see Rambam Hilkhot Matnot Aniyim 10:7) ranging from giving a hand-out to a poor person to offering assistance in a secretive way. The highest level enumerated is someone who enters into a partnership with a poor person, allowing him to become self-sufficient, which, apparently, was Todos' relationship with the Torah scholars in his community.
Pesaḥim 52a-b: Consuming Fruit on the Sabbatical Year
12/01/2021 - 28th of Tevet, 5781
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As an example of the principle that a person should be careful to conform to the local custom and avoid disagreements, the first Mishna in our perek  (50b) brings a case of consuming fruit on the Sabbatical year. The Mishna rules that if someone travels from a place where a certain type of fruit is available to a place where it is no longer available (or vice versa), he should behave according to the local custom. Based on the passage in Vayikra 25:7, the Mishna in Massekhet Shevi'it rules that a person is allowed to harvest and store fruits that grow on the Sabbatical year as long as similar fruits are available in the fields for all. Once the season comes to an end and that type of fruit is no longer on the trees, the person who is storing the fruit is obligated to perform bi'ur (removal). There are two main positions in the rishonim with regard to defining bi'ur during the Shemitta year. According to Rashi, the Rambam and the Ra'avad, once a certain type of fruit is no longer readily available in the fields, all such fruit must be destroyed. The Ramban and Tosafot rule that performing bi'ur means that someone who is storing such fruit must remove it from his house and make it hefker, i.e. declare it ownerless and available to all (according to some opinions only the poor would be permitted to make use of it). In explanation of our Mishna, the Gemara on our daf quotes a Mishna from Massekhet Shevi'it (9:2) which teaches that not all places in Israel will end their seasons at the same time, thus someone could find himself traveling from Yehuda to the Galil, for example, and discover that his fruit, which was totally permissible to eat back home needs bi'ur performed on it in the new location. According to the Mishna there were three distinct areas in Israel: Yehuda (Judea), the Galil (Galilee) and Ever ha-Yarden (Transjordan). These places were established based on the Jewish population centers in the time of the Mishna, and areas whose population was mainly non-Jewish are not included.
Pesaḥim 51a-b: Following Local Custom - II
11/01/2021 - 27th of Tevet, 5781
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Continuing the discussion of minhag ha-makom, the status of local custom in Jewish law, the Gemara brings a series of examples of traditions that are not requirements according to halakha and the reactions of the Sages to them. Some examples: The people of Hozai (an area in Babylon near the Persian Gulf that was far away from the main Jewish community) used to separate halla for the kohanim from rice dough. (The mitzva of halla generally applies only to dough made of wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt.) Rav Yosef wanted a non-priest to eat the halla in front of them to indicate their error, but Abaye forbade him from doing so, arguing that one should not permit something that has been accepted by the community as being forbidden. Rav Yosef pointed out that according to Rav Hisda, that ruling applied only to Kutai, the Shomronim, a group who had converted and whose commitment to Jewish law was tenuous. Rav Yosef explained that the concern with the Kutai was that they would stop being careful about mitzvot if someone told them that the customs they had been keeping were in error; the same concern applied to Jews living in Hozai. It is interesting to note that the tradition of treating rice as if it were a real grain is not without precedent. We have learned that, according to Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri, matza made from rice flour can be used to fulfill the mitzva and is considered hametz if allowed to leaven (see 35a).
Similarly, one may go out with wide shoes that resemble slippers (kurdikison) on Shabbat; however, one does not go out with wide shoes in the city of Birei. And there was an incident involving Yehuda and Hillel, sons of Rabban Gamliel beRabbi, who went out with wide shoes in Birei, and the people of the city denounced them and said: In all our days we have never seen that type of conduct. And Yehuda and Hillel removed their shoes, and gave them to their gentile servants, and did not want to tell the residents of the city: You are permitted to go out with wide shoes on Shabbat.
Rabba bar bar Hana once traveled to Babylon from his home in Israel. He sat down to eat d'ayitra, animal fat along the stomach which was considered permissible in Israel but thought to be forbidden in Babylon. Two of the leading Sages in Babylon, Rav Avira Sava and Rabba the son of Rav Huna, came to visit him while he was eating. He covered the plate so they shouldn't see what he was eating. In answer to the Gemara's question that Rabba bar bar Hana was obligated to accept the local custom, Abaye explains that as a resident of Israel, he was not obligated to accept the Babylonian minhagim. Rav Ashi argued that since he was just visiting and he fully intended to return to Israel, he was not obligated to accept the Babylonian customs. The Gemara concludes by mentioning that Rabba bar bar Hana himself instructed his children that they could not eat d'ayitra. He told them that he could do so because of the tradition that he had from Rabbi Yohanan, who he had seen eating it, but that they, who had never seen the great Sage eat it, should accept the general practice and refrain. The Rosh sums up the various stories by ruling that a reliable custom that was instituted and accepted by the local Rabbinic leadership becomes obligatory, and must be kept even if someone finds himself in another place. A lesser tradition that was accepted by the community members on their own does not obligate, and need not be kept if it is done where people will not see you.
Pesaḥim 50a-b: Following Local Custom
10/01/2021 - 26th of Tevet, 5781
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The fourth perek of Massekhet Pesahim begins on our daf. It opens with a continuation of the discussion about preparations for the Passover holiday, specifically whether or not one can engage in mundane activities on erev Pesah. Must one dedicate the day before the holiday to the many necessary pre-Pesah preparations, like destroying hametz, baking matzot, arranging the Passover sacrifice, etc.? The Sages did not rule that erev Pesah need be a day of complete cessation of everyday matters; they left it to the discretion of each community - minhag ha-makom - to establish to what extent members of the community should refrain from work. In fact, the majority of this chapter focuses not so much on Pesah matters as it does on the general approach that the halakha takes towards minhag, towards community custom and practice. What is the significance of minhag in Jewish law? What are the sources that obligate Jews to follow the local minhag? Can an established minhag change, if there is a change in circumstance? Which minhag should a traveler follow - the minhag of the place that he left, or the accepted practices of his new community? These are the issues dealt with in the fourth chapter, appropriately titled Makom She-Nahagu - "The place where they kept the custom."
Mishna: In a place where the people were accustomed to perform labor on Passover eve until midday, one may do so on that day. In a place where the people were accustomed not to perform labor, one may not do so. The performance of labor on the eve of Passover is not prohibited by Torah law, but is dependent on local custom. If one travels from a place where people perform labor on Passover eve to a place where people do not perform labor, or from a place where people do not perform labor on Passover eve to a place where people perform labor, the Sages impose upon him the stringencies of both the place from which he left and the stringencies of the place to which he went. In both cases, he may not perform labor.
The rishonim ask why a person would be obligated to accept the stringencies of both communities. Would it not make more sense to say that a person who travels to a new community and intends to remain there would have to accept the local minhagim, but if he planned to stay only a short time and return to his hometown he should follow the traditions of his home? Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that this, in fact, is the intention of the Mishna in saying that he must keep the stringencies of the place that he is from - if he intends to return, and the stringencies of the place to which he arrived - if he intends to remain there. The Ramban understands the Mishna to be discussing a case where the man plans to return home, and the ruling that he must accept the customs of the new place is a temporary measure to avoid disagreements. According to the Rashba, we are discussing a case where the individual is visiting Israel from Babylon, and he is obligated to accept the minhagim of Israel because halakha perceived the Babylonian community as being subservient to the Jewish community in Israel.
Pesaḥim 49a-b: The Importance of Family Weddings
09/01/2021 - 25th of Tevet, 5781
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If a person leaves his/her home just before Pesah and remembers that hametz was left behind at home, what should he/she do? According to the Mishna on our daf, if the person is traveling for personal reasons, he should really go home and destroy the hametz properly. If, however, the trip was for a mitzva - like to sacrifice the korban Pesah, to perform a circumcision on his son or to attend the celebration of a wedding at his in-laws' home - then, if he cannot return home to destroy the hametz, he is allowed to do bitul ba-lev, to nullify the hametz in his heart. The Jerusalem Talmud points out that we learn from this Mishna how important it is to keep peace within the family, since the Mishna chooses to categorize attendance at a family wedding celebration together with circumcision and the Passover sacrifice as important mitzvot. The Gemara uses this line in the Mishna as a springboard for a wide-ranging discussion of celebrations and marriage. One baraita quoted by the Gemara encourages a person to sell all of his worldly possessions in order to arrange to marry the daughter of a Torah scholar or to arrange for his daughter to marry a Torah scholar. The baraita then gives a metaphor:
This type of marriage can be compared to grapes of a vine that become intertwined with grapes of a vine, something which is beautiful and acceptable to God and man. And one should not marry the daughter of an ignoramus. This type of marriage can be compared to grapes of a vine that have become intertwined with berries of a bramble, which is something unseemly and unacceptable.
The sneh, which is also referred to in the Talmud as vardina, is, apparently, what is known today as the bramble or Rubus Sanctus, a crawling or climbing plant that grows wild, usually on river banks or other damp places throughout Israel. The plant has leaves, many sharp thorns and white or purple flowers of about 2 centimeters in diameter. It also has berries - referred to by the baraita as invei ha-sneh - which are edible, although they are usually small and have little juice in them.
Pesaḥim 48a-b: When Dough Becomes Hametz
08/01/2021 - 24th of Tevet, 5781
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As we learned earlier (daf 46), the custom today is to make sure that the entire process of baking matza takes less than 18 minutes from beginning to end. Nevertheless, in the time of the Mishna, dough was considered hametz when it showed certain signs of leavening. The first Mishna on our daf teaches about the approved baking process. Rabban Gamliel rules that three women can prepare and bake simultaneously using one oven. The hakhamim say that all three must be involved in different baking activities in order to ensure that the dough does not become hametz - one kneads, one shapes and one bakes. Rabbi Akiva objects to the application of objective standards, arguing that we need to anticipate that the women will work at different speeds and that the fuel and ovens will be at different temperatures. Some understand Rabban Gamliel's ruling as stating that there is enough time to bake three rounds of matza before leavening takes place. Others argue that this would only be the case if the women are continuously kneading the dough throughout the baking process. The Rambam rules that in such a case, as long as the kneading continues, the dough will never become hametz, and Rabban Gamliel was giving an example, but, in fact, even more than three women could be involved in the baking simultaneously. The second Mishna on our daf focuses on when dough is thought to have become hametz.
Dough at the beginning of the leavening process [siur], must be burned, but one who eats it is exempt from the punishment of karet because the dough had not become fully leavened. Dough that has reached the stage of cracking must be burned, and one who eats it intentionally is liable to receive karet, as he has intentionally eaten leavened bread during Passover.
According to Rabbi Yehuda, siur - the beginning of the leavening process, which is indicated by the dough turning a pale color and developing cracks - is not yet considered hametz, although it must be destroyed. Siduk - cracks appearing in the dough that intersect one another - is considered to have become hametz. Hakhamim rule that once any cracks appear, the dough has become hametz, and eating it on Pesah would make one liable for karet. The Mishna describes the cracks under discussion as ki-karnei hagavim - like the antennae of locusts. The comparison between the cracks on the dough and the antennae appears to refer to both the shape of the antennae and their size - about 12-15 millimeters.
Pesaḥim 47a-b: Preparing Food on Yom Tov for Shabbat
07/01/2021 - 23th of Tevet, 5781
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One of the topics discussed in our perek is how one can prepare for Shabbat when Yom Tov occurs on Friday. Rabbah suggests that we rely on a legal fiction called ho'il - since guests might come to visit on Yom Tov, one can prepare food on Yom Tov (which is permissible when done for that day) with these theoretical guests in mind. When it turns out that there is food left over for Shabbat, Shabbat is thus prepared for. Rav Hisda argues that on a Biblical level one can prepare for Shabbat on the Friday on which Yom Tov occurs; the prohibition is a Rabbinic one, lest someone prepare for a regular weekday on Yom Tov. The Sages instituted an eruv tavshilin, which clarifies that the preparations can be done only for Shabbat. Rabbah challenges Rav Hisda's ruling from the law regarding the lehem ha-panim – the showbread of the Temple. The laws of the Temple showbread appear in Vayikra 24:1-9 and are discussed at length in the Talmud in Massekhet Menahot. Twelve loaves were baked every week, which were placed on the shulhan in the heikhal on Shabbat. They remained there until the following Shabbat, when they were replaced by freshly baked loaves. The loaves were then distributed among the groups of kohanim who were working in the Temple. The Mishna in Menahot (11:9) teaches that ordinarily the lehem ha-panim was eaten nine days after it was baked (baked on Friday and eaten the following Shabbat). When Yom Tov fell on Friday, it was eaten ten days after it was baked; when Rosh ha-Shanah fell on Thursday and Friday, it was eaten eleven days after it was baked. Clearly the Mishna believes that the baking cannot be done on Yom Tov in preparation for Shabbat, seemingly against Rav Hisda's ruling. Rav Hisda responds by pointing out that, in this case, the preparation is not for the immediately upcoming Shabbat, as the bread was not eaten for more than a week! Preparation for a week later would be permitted on Yom Tov. When Shabbat immediately follows Yom Tov, however, food preparation for Shabbat would be permitted.
Pesaḥim 46a-b: Deaf Dough
06/01/2021 - 22th of Tevet, 5781
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Today the custom is to make sure that the entire process of baking matza takes less than 18 minutes from beginning to end. As we will see, this ruling stems from a discussion in the Gemara on our daf. Nevertheless, in the time of the Mishna, dough was usually considered hametz when it showed certain signs of leavening (see daf 48).
Mishna: Deaf dough [batzek ha-heresh ] is dough for which it is difficult to determine if it has been leavened. It is comparable to a deaf-mute, who cannot communicate. If there is dough similar to it in that water was added to both at the same time, which became leavened, the deaf dough is prohibited. Although it has not shown external signs of becoming leavened, it can be presumed that the deaf dough has also become leavened.
Rashi explains the expression batzek ha-heresh as dough that does not clearly indicate whether it has become hametz and is difficult to understand, like a deaf person who has ears, yet we cannot tell whether or not he can hear. According to the Rambam, dough that has become hametz makes a certain noise when you drum on it. The case in the Mishna is one when no such noise is heard, so it is "mute." The Ramban explains that just as a deaf person has trouble hearing, similarly this dough is having trouble rising. According to the Ge'onim the expression stems from the perception of people at that time that a deaf person could not be educated and was considered "retarded." This dough that did not follow the normal development pattern was compared to that situation. The Gemara's question is: What should be done if no other dough was made at the same time so that there is nothing to compare it to? Rabbi Abbahu quotes Resh Lakish as saying that the amount of time that it takes to become hametz is the length of time that it takes to walk a mil – the distance from Tiberias to Migdal Nunia. The opinions on the definition of this amount of time range from 18-24 minutes. Given the severity of the prohibition of hametz the usual practice, as mentioned above, is to arrange for baking to be completed within 18 minutes.
Pesaḥim 45a-b: Using Flour in the Preparation of Leather
05/01/2021 - 21th of Tevet, 5781
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Flour is not only used in cooking and baking but in other processes, as well. The Gemara on our daf discusses a case where flour is used in preparation of leather or other products made from animal skins.
The Sages taught [in a baraita]: With regard to tanners' bowls into which one placed flour in the production process of leather, if the flour was placed within three days of the start of Passover, one is obligated to remove it, as it is still considered edible leaven. However if one added the flour prior to three days before Passover, one is not obligated to remove the contents of the bowl, as the flour will have already been rendered inedible by the odor of the vessel before the beginning of Passover, and is no longer considered edible.
Rabbi Natan comments on the baraita, saying that the three day rule is only true if animal skins had not been put into the trough. If, however, the process of preparing the hides had already begun, then there is no longer any need to clean the trough, since the smell of the skins would make it impossible to eat the flour. Rava rules like Rabbi Natan, arguing that even if the hides were put in a short time before Pesah, the flour is already considered inedible and there is no need to destroy it. The halakha follows this opinion, which is not only quoted in the Gemara by these amoraim, but also appears as one position in the Tosefta (Pesahim, Chapter 3). With regard to the process of tanning leather, there were a number of different methods used in the time of the Mishna and Talmud, depending on the types of skins and the desired end-product. Generally speaking, flour was one of the ingredients used when preparing skins for use as parchment. The leavening process itself played a role in transforming the skin into that material. Tanning with flour was only the beginning of the process, and it still needed to be worked on further before it was ready to use.
Pesaḥim 44a-b: Eating a Forbidden Food in an Abnormal Way
04/01/2021 - 20th of Tevet, 5781
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One of the examples of food mentioned in the first Mishna in our perek, which includes a mixture of hametz and is forbidden to eat on the level of a lav – a simple negative prohibition – rather than the more severe hiyyuv karet, is Babylonian kutah. This pungent dip made of whey, fermented bread and salt was used as a condiment, and was not normally eaten by itself. The Gemara explains that Babylonian kutah does not contain the requisite ka-zayit (olive-sized amount) of hametz eaten tokh k'dei akhilat pras - within the amount of time that it takes to eat half a loaf – since it is not normally eaten on its own. Were someone to try to eat a significant amount of it by itself, it would not be considered a normal way of eating, since no one eats it in such a manner – batla da'atei etzel kol adam – his intent is nullified when compared with normative behavior. The rishonim differ as to how to approach a forbidden activity done in an abnormal way. According to Rashi, the concept of batla da'atei etzel kol adam indicates that this behavior is so strange that halakha does not view it as "eating" in the normal sense. Therefore, the person doing it will not be held liable at all. Tosafot argue that even someone who behaves in an abnormal manner will be held liable for forbidden acts that he does. By pointing out that such behavior is abnormal and saying batlah da'atei etzel kol adam, the Gemara is merely arguing that such a case is not considered a serious one by the author of the Mishna, and therefore cannot be included as the basis for interpreting disagreements between opinions of the tanna'im that appear there. In any case, Rabbi Eliezer considered Babylonian kutah to be prohibited on Pesah by the Torah, on the level of a lav; the hakhamim considered it to be forbidden only by rabbinic decree.
Pesaḥim 43a-b: The Punishment for Eating a Mixture Containing Hametz
03/01/2021 - 19th of Tevet, 5781
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As we learned yesterday, according to the first Mishna in this perek, mixtures that contain hametz are prohibited only on the level of a simple negative commandment, which does not carry the same punishment – karet as pure hametz if it is eaten. Rav Nahman identifies the author of this opinion as Rabbi Eliezer, quoting a baraita in which Rabbi Eliezer teaches that eating pure grain hametz is punishable by karet, while eating hametz in a mixture is a lav – a simple negative commandment, punishable by lashes. The baraita includes the opinion of the hakhamim, who agree that eating normal hametz will be punished by karet. With regard to eating a mixture containing hametz, the hakhamim rule that it is b'lo klum – "there is nothing." At first glance it would appear that the hakhamim feel that such a mixture is permitted on Pesah. Nevertheless, the Rif and the Rosh (and, based on their ruling, most of the codifiers of halakha) rule that the expression b'lo klum in this case does not mean that it is permitted, rather that there is no punishment for eating it since the requisite amount needed to be held liable would not be eaten. After all, even if someone ate a full ka-zayit (olive-size amount) of this mixture, he still will have eaten less than a ka-zayit of hametz. If we understand the opinion of the hakhamim this way, were a person to eat a very large portion of the mixture that includes hametz, so that tokh k'dei akhilat pras - within the amount of time that it takes to eat half a loaf – he ate a full ka-zayit within the mixture, even they would agree that he would receive the punishment of lashes. The Gemara concludes that Rabbi Eliezer also will forbid hametz nuksheh (hardened leaven) on the level of a lav. The Ritva explains the term hametz nuksheh as referring to hametz that is not edible or has not been fully baked, that is to say that it is not the full hametz referred to by the Torah.
Pesaḥim 42a-b: What is the Definition of Hametz?
02/01/2021 - 18th of Tevet, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger, or born in the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your habitations shall you eat matzot. (Shmot 12:19-20) Matzot shall be eaten seven days; and no leavened bread shall be seen with you, neither shall there be leaven seen with you, in all your borders. (Shmot 13:7)
The Torah forbids eating hametz on Pesah; even having it in your house on the holiday is forbidden. The third perek of Massekhet Pesahim, which begins on our daf, examines a very basic question: what is the definition of hametz? From the Torah it is clear that bread or a direct leavening agent is considered hametz. What about food or drink that has a small amount of hametz in it – are they also forbidden on Pesah? Does something with hametz mixed in need to be searched out and destroyed before the holiday? What percentage of a given mixture need be hametz for it to be forbidden? How about a product that contains hametz, but is not intended to be eaten? Is it, too, considered hametz? These are the types of questions with which our chapter grapples. The first Mishna teaches that food, drink and even paste made from flour or grain is considered hametz. The specific examples are Babylonian kutah, Median beer, Edomite vinegar, Egyptian zitom, dyers' broth (zoman), bakers’ well-worked dough and bookmakers' kolan, or glue (the Gemara refers to these as "the four countries and the three professions"). Rabbi Eliezer even includes women's cosmetics – apparently a type of depilatory cream used for removing hair. The prohibition, however, is only on the level of a simple negative commandment, which does not carry the more severe punishment of karet if it is eaten. Introducing these items, the Mishna uses the term Elu Ovrin, an expression that is understood in a number of ways by the rishonim. Rashi understands it to mean that keeping these things in your house over Pesah leads you to be over – to transgress – the prohibition of bal yera'eh u'bal yimatzeh, of having hametz in your possession. Rabbenu Hananel suggests that the expression should be understood to mean ma'avirim me'al ha-shulhan - that these things need to be removed from the table, i.e. that they cannot be eaten. According to Rabbenu Yehonatan it means that these things need bi'ur; that they need to be searched for and destroyed.
Pesaḥim 41a-b: How to Cook the Passover Sacrifice
01/01/2021 - 17th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the Mishna on yesterday's daf we learned that the Passover sacrifice must be roasted and cannot be boiled in water or other liquids. Rav Hisda teaches that if someone cooks food on Shabbat by using the heat from the hot-springs in Tiberias, he is not held liable for cooking on Shabbat (one of the 39 prohibited activities on Shabbat), but he would be held liable for cooking the Passover sacrifice, which, as we learned, is forbidden, were he to do it in the hot-springs. Rava explains that the hot-springs in Tiberias are not considered "fire" with regard to the rules and regulations of Shabbat, so no formal cooking takes place. On Passover, although it would not be considered cooking, neither is it considered broiling, which is what one must do in order to fulfill the mitzva of tzli esh (Shmot 12:8-9). The Me'iri points out that there are variant readings in the Gemara as to whether the source that is quoted is Pasuk 8 - And they shall eat the meat that night, roasted by fire… or Pasuk 9 – It should not be eaten raw, nor boiled in, rather roasted by fire… The difference between the sources is whether the method under discussion is considered negation of a positive commandment (8) or transgression of a negative one (9). The very suggestion that the Pesah might be cooked in the hot-springs of Tiberias is a strange one. The Passover sacrifice, which is considered kodashim (consecration), can only be eaten within the precincts of Jerusalem, and if removed is considered defiled and cannot be eaten! It is unlikely that the Gemara is discussing a situation where water from the hot-springs was imported to Jerusalem, as it would have cooled down so much that it could not have cooked anything. Although the simple explanation is to say that the Gemara is using the hot-springs of Tiberias as an example of non-fire-related cooking methods, which would apply, for example, to cooking in water heated by the sun – or, perhaps, by microwaves - (this appears to be the approach to the Mishna suggested by Maimonides), Rav Shlomo ha-Kohen suggests that the reference might be to a historical period before the Temple was built, when the sacrifice could be brought anywhere in Israel.
Pesaḥim 40a-b: Rules for Passover Foods
31/12/2020 - 16th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Most of this perek has focused on issues of defining hametz. The Mishna on our daf teaches three halakhot:
One may not add flour to haroset, a seasoned, pungent food, or to mustard, to dull the sharp taste. In both cases, the pungency of these foods might accelerate the leavening of the flour. And if one added flour to either of these, the mixture may be eaten immediately before it is leavened; and Rabbi Meir prohibits this, lest the food be leavened immediately. The mishna continues: One may not boil the Paschal lamb in ordinary liquids or in fruit juices, as the Torah explicitly states that it must be roasted [see Shmot 12:9]. However, one may baste it while it is roasting and dip it into liquid while eating it. [According to the Rambam no liquids can be added until after it has been roasted.] The tanna further states: Water that has been used by a baker for cooling his hands or washing dishes should be poured out, because this water leavens the dough, as the water probably contains a small quantity of flour and dough.
With regard to the first rule, Rav Kahane teaches that the argument between Rabbi Meir and the Tanna Kamma is only in the case of mustard, but with regard to other spices everyone agrees that it must be destroyed immediately. The Maharam Halavah suggests that the reason you can eat mustard mixed with flour immediately is because mustard loses its flavor if it is not eaten right away, so we need not fear that it will be left long enough to become hametz. Most other spices are used sparingly over a period of time, so it is likely that they will become hametz. According to the Rema, the Ashkenazi tradition to refrain from eating kitniyot on Pesah applies to mustard, so for Ashkenazim, the discussion is moot. The second rule taught in the Mishna that deals with specifics of the Passover sacrifice seems to be out of place amongst the rules and regulations about hametz, which are the main concerns of this chapter. Rabbi Shlomo Adani in his commentary to the Mishna, Melekhet Shlomo, suggests that since the Mishna opened by teaching that one cannot mix flour with certain types of liquidy foods, it continued by teaching another Passover related rule – the korban Pesah itself - where mei peirot (fruit juice) cannot be used.
Pesaḥim 39a-b: Vegetables That Can Count as Maror
30/12/2020 - 15th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Aside from hametz and matza that we have been discussing, another one of the mitzvot of Pesah is eating maror – bitter herbs. The Mishna that opens our daf lists five types of vegetables that can be used to fulfill the mitzva of maror. It is commonly accepted that the first type listed, hazeret, is romaine lettuce. The Sages identify the second type, tamkha, as horseradish. Some hold that the fourth type, olashin, is endives. There is no firm tradition regarding the remaining two species - harhavina and maror – although the Me'iri claims that it is not the name of a specific plant, rather it includes all types of bitter vegetables. According to the Gemara, the most preferred type is hazeret – romaine lettuce. Initially this is soft and sweet, but the longer it remains in the ground, the more bitter it becomes. This recalls the nature of the Egyptian servitude which was bearable at first, but became progressively worse as time went on. Furthermore, its name in Hebrew - hassah – reminds us of God's mercy on the Jewish People in Egypt. This leaf-lettuce, Lactuca sativa var. Romana, is grown commercially for food. Its leaves, which grow to a length of 35 cm. and a width of 15 cm., develop into a "head." If the lettuce is allowed to grow undisturbed, it develops a long (up to one meter), hard stem, from which flowers and small, bitter leaves will sprout, probably the source for the Gemara's comment that it starts out sweet, but ends up bitter. As noted, the identification of hazeret as horseradish is a common error. One vegetable that is rejected by the Gemara as a possible type of maror is oleander, a shrub that grows to a height of four meters with hard yellow-green leaves and pink flowers. Aside from being bitter, the leaves and flowers of this plant are poisonous, and can kill animals and even people if eaten in large quantities.
Pesaḥim 38a-b: Using Matzot Prepared for Another Purpose
29/12/2020 - 14th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna (35a) teaches that someone who prepares matzot to bring together with their sacrifice (korbanot like that brought by a Nazir – Bamidbar 6:15 - who is completing his nezirut or someone bringing a thanksgiving offering – Vayikra 7:12 - include halot matzot together with the animal sacrifice) cannot use them to fulfill the mitzva of matza on Pesah. If, however, someone prepared such matzot to sell to others, then they can be used for the mitzva on Pesah. This very issue was the subject of a question that Rabbi Ilai asked Rabbi Eliezer, who did not know the answer. When Rabbi Ilai posed the question to Rabbi Yehoshua, he was quick to refer to the Mishna, which distinguished between the two cases – if the matzot were prepared by someone to accompany his sacrifice they cannot be used for Pesah but if they were prepared for sale then they can be used for Pesah.
When I [Rabbi Ilai] returned and recited these matters to Rabbi Eliezer, he said to me in excitement: By the covenant, these are the very matters that were stated to Moses on Mount Sinai. Rabbi Eliezer swore that this halakha had been transmitted over the generations going back to Moses on Mount Sinai. Some say he spoke in astonishment: By the covenant! Are these in fact the matters that were stated to Moses on Mount Sinai? And doesn’t this halakha require a reason? Since there is no explicit tradition in this regard, it is necessary to provide a reason for this distinction.
The Aruk understands that both statements end with a question mark. The first one is Rabbi Eliezer talking, and he questions whether Rabbi Yehoshua's ruling was truly based on a reliable tradition. The second statement is said by Rabbi Yehoshua, who insists that the tradition is a reliable one, but that it still needs a good reason, since even well-established traditions need to make sense. The Gemara concludes with Rabbah's explanation of the ruling. If someone prepares the matzot to sell, he has not made a final decision on what their destiny will be. He hopes to sell them to someone who needs them for a sacrifice. At the same time he thinks to himself that if they are not sold, he can always use them as matzot for the upcoming Pesah holiday.
Pesaḥim 37a-b: Is Baking Matza Like Baking the Temple Showbread?
28/12/2020 - 13th of Tevet, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our daf opens with a baraita that records a disagreement between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai. The topic of debate is pat ava - whether thick matza can be baked on the holiday of Pesah. Beit Hillel permits such baking to be done; Beit Shammai forbids it. Rav Huna interprets the expression pat ava to be similar to the size of the lehem ha-panim - the showbread in the Temple - which was also matza and was one tefah (handbreadth) thick. R Yosef objects to the comparison on a number of levels:
  • We know that the kohanim in the Temple were quick about their work.
  • The dough was always well-kneaded.
  • The fire-wood in the Temple was always very dry.
  • The ovens were very well heated.
  • The ovens in the Temple were made of metal, not clay.
Given the severity of the prohibition against eating hametz, and the difficulty involved in baking thick matza properly, even if it was done in the Temple for the lehem ha-panim, how can Beit Hillel permit it on Pesah for the general public? In explanation of this baraita, one suggestion that is raised (either by Rav or by Rabbi Yehuda haNasi) is that pat ava does not mean to bake a thick cake; rather it means to bake a large amount at one time. The Gemara points out that if we understand pat ava this way, the potential problem would not be specific to Pesah, but it is a general issue of possibly baking unnecessarily on Yom Tov. Rabbenu Yehonatan explains that if this is, in fact, the point of disagreement, Beit Shammai forbids it lest some of the bread or matza will be left over and will be used after Yom Tov is over, creating a situation where preparations for the regular weekday were done on the holiday. Beit Hillel would argue that the baking process works better when a large amount is baked, so having leftovers is of no concern.
Pesaḥim 36a-b: Poor Man's Bread
27/12/2020 - 12th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah commands (Devarim 16:3) that during the Pesah holiday no hametz be eaten, rather that only matza - lehem oni - can be eaten. Lehem oni is usually translated as "the bread of affliction." In the context of our Gemara it is understood to mean "poor bread."
The Sages taught that the phrase poor man’s bread [lehem oni] excludes matza that was boiled [halut] in hot water after it was baked, which is considered to be a relative delicacy; and this expression also excludes matza that was baked as a large cake [ashisha]. I might have thought that a person fulfills his obligation to eat matza only with coarse [hadra’a] bread; therefore, the verse states: “Matzot,” “matzot,” which serves to amplify and include matza prepared with fine-grade flour. And in fact, one could fulfill his obligation even with matzot like those of King Solomon, which were prepared from the finest sifted flour. If so, what is the meaning when the verse states: “Poor man’s bread”? This phrase comes to exclude boiled matza and large cakes, but it does not exclude matza prepared from refined flour.
The Gemara on our daf brings this baraita that understands “lehem oni” to exclude halut and ashisha. These terms are unclear and are subject to a disagreement among the rishonim. Rav Hai Gaon explains that the dough was "boiled" in oil or honey and it is, therefore, considered matza ashira - "rich matza" - that cannot be used. Others understand that the dough was actually boiled (similar to the process used today to make bagels) and cannot be used either because boiling gives it a certain importance that negates the "poor bread" that we need (Ra'avad and others), or because the boiling process does not produce an end-product that is considered to be bread at all (Rabbenu Yehonatan). An ashisha is a large cake. According to some rishonim, its very size gives it a certain importance that is problematic, as noted above. According to Rabbenu Yehonatan, the ashisha is kneaded together with oil or honey, again creating a situation of matza ashira. The Gemara rejects the suggestion that lehem oni teaches that only pat hadra'a can be used - i.e. that low grade flour need be used - arguing that even King Solomon's matzot, made of the finest flour, could be used as matza. While all commentaries agree that the pat hadra'a mentioned means something baked from low-quality flour, the actual definition of the term is subject to dispute. According to the Maharam Halavah quoting the Rambam, the word means "a worm" and the reference is to worm-eaten flour. The Aruk had a slight variation on the reading of the word; his version is harda'a, whose source is the Latin horedeum, meaning barley. According to this, the suggestion raised in the Gemara is that normal wheat flour should be rejected for the "poor bread" and replaced with a lower quality barley grain.
Pesaḥim 35a-b: Making Matza From That Which Can Become Leaven
26/12/2020 - 11th of Tevet, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When thinking about hametz, we usually associate it with a fermentation process (leavening) that occurs when grain flour is mixed with water and baked. The Mishna on our daf enumerates the types of grain that undergo this process - wheat, rye, oats, barley and spelt - but in a different context. According to the Mishna, it is specifically these types of grains from which matza can be made. The Gemara learns this from the passage (Devarim 16:3) that forbids the eating of hametz in the same context as the command to eat matza, connecting the two to one-another. The Gemara understands this to be a clear rejection of the position put forward by Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri, who rules that rice is also a type of grain for which one would be held liable for eating if it became hametz, and that one could fulfill the mitzva by baking it into matza. The accepted opinion understands that the process of mixing rice with water does not lead to himutz - leavening - but to sirahon - decay. The Jerusalem Talmud explains that establishing which types of grains are those that can become hametz and matza was based on extensive research done by the sages, who experimented with the baking process to ascertain whether the leavening process takes place. With regard to a small number of grain-type products, there remained differences of opinions as to whether the process that took place should be considered himutz. Although the conclusion of our Gemara clearly rejects the opinion of Rabbi Yohanan ben Nuri, nevertheless over centuries of Jewish history traditions arose that limited the use of kitniyot (pulses, or the grains of a legume) on Pesah due to a concern that kernels of grain may become mixed in with them. Generally speaking, Ashkenazi communities limit their use. Among the traditions: • Some make full use of kitniyot; • Some forbid the use of rice, but permit other types of pulses; • Some forbid the use of all kitniyot. As a rule, people follow the traditions of their parents and communities.
Pesaḥim 34a-b: Using Defiled Tithes
25/12/2020 - 10th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara discusses what can be done with teruma that has become ritually defiled, and now can no longer be eaten by the kohen. One suggestion is that it can be used by the kohen for fuel, although care must be taken to ensure that such teruma will not be eaten by mistake. As an example, the Gemara tells of Abba Shaul who worked kneading dough in the home of Rebbi, and he would keep the dough warm by burning wheat kernels that were teruma temei'ah - ritually defiled tithes. Rav Ashi explains that he was careful to first prepare the kernels by cooking them and dirtying them in order to make sure that no one would come to eat them. Tosafot point out that the story is odd, since we know that Rebbi was not a kohen. Why was teruma being used in his house? Some explain that there were kohanim who were part of Rebbi's household, and their presence allowed for use of teruma temei'ah even though others would benefit, as well. Tosafot Ri"d explains that the laws regarding teruma temei'ah are Rabbinic in nature, and the sages allowed their use for the public benefit even if there are no kohanim involved, and in the house of the Nasi - the leader of the Jewish community - the preparations were considered to be for the public benefit. Another case discussed on our daf is a Mishna that appears in Massekhet Terumot, which teaches that a vegetable which was teruma temei'ah and then replanted loses its status as ritually defiled, but it cannot be eaten. The Gemara grapples with this halakha - if returning it to the ground removes its tuma, why can it still not be eaten? Several possibilities are raised by our Gemara. The Gemara records that when Ravin moved from Babylon to Israel he repeated these discussions to Rabbi Yirmeya, who responded by saying, "Those foolish Babylonians! It is because they live in a dark country that they record dark teachings!" He concludes that the reason for this is straightforward - that replanted teruma may remove the tumah, but it does not remove the status of the vegetable as teruma. Therefore, when the Mishna says that it cannot be eaten, it means that it cannot be eaten by someone who is not a kohen. Rabbi Yirmeya was, himself, born in Babylon and moved to Israel, where he studied under the tutelage of Rabbi Yohanan and his students, and became one of the leading sages there. His statements are quoted in both the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmud with such frequency that they are quoted as "it was taught in Israel." His quick, sharp-witted tongue on occasion got him in trouble, to the extent that he was removed from the study hall for a time.
Pesaḥim 33a-b: Squeezing a Defiled Grape
24/12/2020 - 9th of Tevet, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One set of laws that has been discussed here in Massekhet Pesahim addresses how coming into contact with tuma (ritual defilement) affects the status of people, objects or food, particularly with regard to the Temple and the Temple service. On our daf , Rabbi Yohanan is quoted as teaching a surprising rule. According to him, if grapes have become tameh (ritually defiled) they can be pressed out in very small amounts - less than a beitza (the size of an egg) - and the juice will still be appropriate for use as part of the Temple sacrifices.
Apparently Rabbi Yohanan holds: The liquid is stored inside the grape, as the juice is not considered to be part of the grape itself but rather stored in the grape as though contained in a receptacle. According to Rabbi Yohanan's opinion, when do these liquids become ritually impure? This occurs only when one squeezes them, and prior to this the juice remains pure even if the grape was impure. And when one squeezes them, there is less than the minimum measure of grape flesh that would transfer ritual impurity, as food can impart ritual impurity only if it is at least an egg-bulk in size.
Upon hearing this ruling from Rav Aha bar Rav Avya, Rav Hisda responded "Who will listen to you and your teacher, Rabbi Yohanan? Those grapes were tameh - where did the tuma go to?!" Rav Hisda believes that the juice is mivla beli'i - that the juice and the grape are a single entity, so that when the grape becomes tameh, the entire unit becomes defiled. This disagreement about whether the juice contained within fruit is part of the fruit or a separate entity (incidentally, the same disagreement exists with regard to blood within the human body, under certain circumstances) is not so much a question of the physical reality of the situation as it is how we perceive the relationship. The question is whether the liquid that is pressed out of the fruit (or the body) was independent and is now simply being removed, or if squeezing it out affects a real change in the liquid. Another way of looking at it is whether the tiny storage areas that hold the liquid within the fruit must be seen as an integral part of the fruit, or if they can be seen as separate compartments - questions that cannot be answered definitively through testing or similar methods.
Pesaḥim 32a-b: Paying the Penalty for Eating Teruma
23/12/2020 - 8th of Tevet, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
According to the Torah (Vayikra 22:14) if someone accidentally eats teruma that is supposed to be given to the kohen, he needs to repay the value of the teruma to the kohen, plus an additional one-fifth of the value (20) as a penalty. The Mishna (31b) teaches that if the teruma was hametz (i.e. it had been baked into bread), and it was accidentally eaten on Pesah, the person who ate it needs to pay its value together with the penalty - even though hametz on Pesah is ordinarily considered to have no value. In explaining this law, the Gemara on our daf brings a baraita, where the tanna Kamma rules that someone who eats an olive-size amount of teruma needs to pay the value plus the penalty, while Abba Shaul rules that it is only true if the teruma that was eaten is worth at least a peruta (the smallest amount which still has monetary value). Each of the parties to this disagreement emphasizes a different part of the passage in Vayikra. The Tanna Kamma chooses to put emphasis on "And if a man eats a sacred item," explaining that the term "eat" always means a minimum amount of food, which is traditionally understood to be a ka-zayit - food the size of an olive. Abba Shaul stresses the end of the pasuk - that the man must "give unto the priest the holy thing." The term "give" means a significant amount - minimally the value of a peruta. Rav Avraham Yitzchak Kook, in his book Tov Ra'ayah, suggests that the disagreement between Abba Shaul and the Hakhamim is based on two opinions in the Jerusalem Talmud. The Yerushalmi brings a discussion as to whether the source of the 20 penalty stems from the unique property of holiness of the teruma, which exists from the moment it is tithed by the farmer, or if it is a fine based on the fact that it was stolen from the kohen, which would not take effect until the kohen takes possession of the teruma. Thus, the Tanna Kamma understands giving the "holy thing" to the kohen as commanding that a minimum amount (a ka-zayit) must be given to the kohen; only then will the penalty be in place. Abba Shaul understands that the "holy thing" given is the penalty for misusing the teruma itself.
Pesaḥim 31a-b: Using Hametz as Collateral for a Loan
22/12/2020 - 7th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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According to the Mishna (30b) if a non-Jew lent money to a Jewish person before Pesah, and held the Jew's hametz as collateral, the Jew would be allowed to pay back the loan after the holiday and make use of the hametz. Conversely, if the Jew lent money to the non-Jew and held the non-Jew's hametz as collateral over Pesah, that hametz could not be used after the holiday is over. A baraita is quoted on our daf that brings in another opinion. According to Rabbi Meir, if the Jew is holding a non-Jew's hametz over Pesah as collateral on a loan, it cannot be used after Pesah, but there is another opinion in the baraita that rules that the hametz can be used. Our Gemara explains that these cases are specifically when the collateral - in this case, the hametz - is actually handed over to the lender, who takes possession of it. The idea that collateral becomes the possession of the lender is based on a statement by Rabbi Yitzhak, who explains the passage (Devarim 24:13) which teaches how a lender must return the collateral given to him by a poor person to him when he needs it. According to the pasuk, when the lender fulfills his Biblical obligation and returns the collateral, he is credited with tzedaka - charity. Rabbi Yitzhak asks - why should he be credited with charity, if the object remains the property of the poor person? We must conclude that ba'al hov koneh mashkon - that the lender takes actual ownership of the collateral. The disagreement between the tannaim is based on a dispute as to whether the same rules of ownership transfer apply when dealing with non-Jews. The Talmud presents a wide variety of methods for transferring ownership of objects. Purchase by means of money is, perhaps, the best known; other methods include meshikha - pulling an object, hagbahah - lifting an object, halipin - a symbolic method to indicate agreement, and others. The Gemara does not make clear whether these methods are Rabbinic in origin and normal money purchase is the most basic method, or, perhaps, these are the fundamental methods of transfer, and purchase with money is a weaker method - one that indicates agreement, but does not affect the transfer in and of itself. The appropriate method of transferring ownership between Jews and non-Jews is a topic that is discussed several times in the Talmud. In our case, the lack of clarity with regard to the power of these different methods is the source for the discussion in the Gemara about how a Jew and non-Jew can successfully buy and sell hametz from one-another.
Pesaḥim 30a-b: Preparing Knives For Passover
21/12/2020 - 6th of Tevet, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
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How do you prepare your kitchen for Pesah? Do you "kasher" your silverware or do you have a separate set for the holiday? This is the conversation that is quoted by the Gemara between Ravina and Rav Ashi on this topic:
Ravina: "What do you do with knives in preparation for Pesah?" Rav Ashi: "I craft new ones." Ravina: "How about people who cannot afford to purchase new utensils? What should they do?" Rav Ashi: "I didn't mean that I actually make new ones. What I meant was that I refurbish my knives every year. I put mud around the wooden handle so that it should not be ruined, and I put the metal part of the knife into fire. Then I remove the clay and put the handle into boiling water."
The Gemara concludes that utensils can be made kosher for Passover by means of putting them in boiling water of a keli rishon – a pot that is directly on a flame – based on the principle ke-bolo kakh polto – something that absorbs taste will expel it when subjected to the same situation. Since kitchen utensils are often used in a boiling pot over a flame, that is the level of heat necessary to remove whatever had been absorbed. One type of material from which hametz cannot be removed is earthenware. According to the Gemara, once an earthenware pot is used for cooking, what had been absorbed can never be fully removed. One of the issues raised by the Gemara is whether glazed earthenware pots will have the same rule as simple ones. In this photograph of an earthenware jar that was found in Dura Europos in Babylonia, the difference between glazed and simple earthenware finishes is apparent. From the discussion in the Gemara it is clear that glazing was done with different materials that gave different color finishes, each of which allowed for a different amount of absorption by the pot. All of this is only if the utensil had been used for hametz in a situation where heat was applied. If, however, something was only used for cold food, then we do not assume that anything had been absorbed and it can be used on Pesah.
Pesaḥim 29a-b: And Some Say
20/12/2020 - 5th of Tevet, 5781
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In an earlier discussion we presented the law of me'ila – of making inappropriate use of sacred property. What if, on Pesah, a person ate hametz that belonged to the Temple? Two opinions are brought in the baraita:
One who eats consecrated leavened bread during the festival of Passover is guilty of misuse of consecrated items. If one performed this action unintentionally, then he must offer a guilt-offering to atone for using a consecrated item for non-sacred purposes. And some say [yesh omrim]: He is not guilty of misuse of consecrated items.
The Yesh Omrim is identified by the Gemara as Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKana, who rules that someone whose transgression is deserving of karet which he considers equivalent to the death penalty – will not be held liable for "lesser crimes" that took place at the same time. On one level, this concept is based on a general principle of kim lei be-d'raba mi-nei – that the greater of the punishments will suffice for him - which teaches us that a person cannot be punished twice for the same incident, and that the more severe punishment is the one that is executed. Our case demands a Biblical source beyond this (which different sages learn from a variety of sources) from which we can learn that someone who commits a prohibited act that is deserving of a severe penalty will be free from any other punishments associated with that act, even if the more severe punishment is not meted out. Moreover, the payment of damages – as opposed to other types of punishments - that stems from that act would not ordinarily be erased were it not for the Sages’ interpretation of these Biblical passages. Tosafot point out that identifying the mysterious Yesh Omrim as Rabbi Nehunya ben HaKana appears to run counter to the Gemara in Horayot. The Gemara there teaches that following a disagreement in the bet midrash, Rabbi Natan and Rabbi Meir were expelled, and when they were allowed to reenter it was on the condition that their future teachings would be quoted without their names – Rabbi Meir's statements would be quoted as Aheirim Omrim (others say) and Rabbi Natan's would be cited as Yesh Omrim. Tosafot explains that the Sages knew that certain statements were not made by Rabbi Natan, which leads them to try and identify the true author of the statement.
Pesaḥim 28a-b: Laws That Applied Only to the First Passover
19/12/2020 - 4th of Tevet, 5781
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The Torah tells us the story of the first Passover holiday that was celebrated at the time that the Jewish people were leaving Egypt (Shemot 12) and specifically commands to continue celebrating the anniversary of this event when they arrive in the Promised Land (12:25). Furthermore, the Torah emphasizes that this commemoration is an obligation for all time (12:24). Yet we know that the rules and regulations that applied to the Children of Israel at the time that they were leaving Egypt are different than those that future generations were obligated to follow. Some of the differences are clearly stated in the Torah itself. For example, the Jewish people in Egypt were told to prepare the korban Pesah – the Passover sacrifice – beginning on the tenth day of the month of Nissan (12:3), and that the blood of the sacrifice was to be saved in order to use it for painting the doorposts of their houses (12:7; 22-23). These mitzvot applied only that first year, and not in subsequent celebrations of the holiday. Clearly, many of the rules apply whenever Jews celebrate Pesah, whether in Egypt, Israel or in the Diaspora. Yet, the pesukim in Sefer Shemot are not clear with regard to establishing which rules were meant to apply for all generations and which only for the first Passover. As basic a rule as the law forbidding eating hametz is subject to a disagreement in the Gemara. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili is quoted in a baraita as saying that during the Exodus the prohibition to eat hametz lasted only one day. While this does not have practical ramifications for us today, when it is clear that the prohibition is in place for the entire seven day holiday, it points to the different possible interpretations of the passages in Sefer Shemot. Rabbi Yosei HaGelili interprets the juxtaposition of the statement "…and you shall not eat hametz" to "today you are leaving" (see Shemot 13:3-4) as indicating that the prohibition of hametz during yetziat mitzra'im (the exodus from Egypt) was limited to that day only.
Pesaḥim 27a-b: Making Inappropriate Use of Sacred Property
18/12/2020 - 3rd of Tevet, 5781
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On yesterday's daf we learned of the unique status of kodashim – things consecrated for use in the Temple, and the rule of me'ila – making inappropriate use of sacred property. The source for the laws of me'ilah appears in Vayikra 5:14-16, and an entire tractate of the Talmud – Massekhet Me'ila – is devoted to the study and analysis of this rule. Here is a brief synopsis of me'ila: When someone derives benefit or pleasure by accident from something that has been consecrated to the Temple (i.e. he does not realize that the thing was kodesh), he is considered to have committed me'ila, and he will be obligated to bring an appropriate sacrifice, and to pay back the value of his benefit to the Temple, together with an additional fifth (20) as a penalty. Generally speaking, after the object has been used for some mundane purpose and the person has fulfilled the requirements as mentioned above, the object then loses its status as kodashim and can now be used for normal purposes (hullin). In effect, the holiness has transferred from the object to the money that has been paid to the Temple in its place. As noted above, the rules of me'ila only apply when the object was used by accident. If someone makes use of kodesh – of an object that belongs to the Temple - for his own use on purpose, the rules of me'ila do not apply. The Torah does not say what should be done to the transgressor in such a case. What is clear is that the atonement offered by the sacrifice and monetary payment will not apply. Another halakha about kodashim discussed on our daf is the rule that it cannot become batel – it cannot become nullified when combined with other things. The background to this rule is that most things can become nullified when they are in a mixture in such a small quantity that they can no longer be noticed. For most food, for example, the ratio is 60:1; therefore, when there is sixty times more kosher meat than non-kosher meat, we view the non-kosher meat as having been nullified and the mixture is permitted. There are a number of explanations as to why this rule is not applied to kodashim. The Meiri suggests that it is because in this case, aside from the question of issur ve-heter – of permissibility on a ritual level – there are also questions of money and ownership involved, since the kodashim is perceived as being the property of the Mikdash. Those types of questions are not governed by the same rules of bittul (nullification).
Pesaḥim 26a-b: Benefiting From Consecrated Objects
17/12/2020 - 2nd of Tevet, 5781
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One of the examples that the Gemara discusses of things that are assur behana'ah – that one cannot derive pleasure or benefit from – is kodashim – things consecrated for use in the Temple. The technical term for deriving such pleasure is me'ila – making inappropriate use of sacred property. A baraita is brought by the Gemara quoting Rabbi Shimon ben Pazi in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi who teaches that not all types of benefit are considered me'ila. Specifically, sound (e.g. hearing the singing of the Levites), sight (e.g. viewing the beauty of the Temple itself or even making use of the light from the Temple for mundane activities) and smell (e.g. enjoying the smell of the ketoret – the Temple incense) are not considered making inappropriate use of the Temple's property. The Gemara questions this ruling by pointing out that the Torah prohibits one from making ketoret for his own use (Shemot 30:37), and that someone who smells the ketoret that was made for use in the Temple may not be held liable for it, but nevertheless is considered to have committed me'ila.
Rather, Rav Pappa said: Sound and sight are not subject to the prohibition of misuse of consecrated property, because they have no substance.
Therefore, smelling the ketoret would be considered me'ila until after it had been lit, that is to say, until after the mitzva had been fulfilled. The distinction that Rav Pappa makes is based on the fact that the properties of both smell and taste are carried by tiny bits of the substance itself that act upon receptors in the person's nose and mouth. Thus, the senses of smelling and tasting derive benefit from the object itself. In order to see and hear, however, the body has receptors that react to light waves or sound waves that come from an object, but are not part of the object itself.
Pesaḥim 25a-b: To Save a Life
16/12/2020 - 1st of Tevet, 5781
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As we have seen, not only is it forbidden to eat hametz during Pesah, deriving other benefit from it is prohibited as well. In order to develop a deeper understanding of the relationship between eating and deriving benefit from forbidden foods, the Gemara compares hametz to other things forbidden by the Torah, including basar be-halav (meat and milk) and kilei ha-kerem (wheat grown in a vineyard). One point the Gemara makes very clearly is that in a case of piku'ah nefesh – of danger to human life – we dispense with all of these rules. Ravin in the name of Rabbi Yohanan taught that anything – even things usually forbidden – can be used to save someone who is in danger, with the exception of three things: Avoda Zara (idol worship), Gilui Arayot (forbidden sexual relations) and Shefikhut Damim (murder). The Gemara presents Biblical passages as the source for this rule regarding Avoda Zara and Gilui Arayot. When it comes to Shefikhut Damim the Gemara argues that no proof-text is necessary, as it is a sevara – a logical argument – that murder cannot be permitted to save a life. To illustrate the sevara, the Gemara tells of a person who approached Rava with the following question: "The ruler of my village came to me and said 'kill that person, and if you do not then I will kill you.' Can I follow his order so that I will be able to save myself?" Rava responded: "Allow yourself to be killed, but you may not kill another. Who says that your blood is redder than his? Perhaps his blood is redder than yours." On a simple level, Rava's argument is that we cannot tell whose life is more valuable, so we will not allow you to save your life at the expense of another. Rabbenu Yehonatan explains Rava's answer by arguing that really the laws of the Torah are so important that we would not allow them to be "pushed aside" even at the expense of human life. The reason the halakha permits someone to transgress a serious prohibition – like Shabbat – in order to save a life is because we weigh that single hillul Shabbat (desecration of Shabbat) against the potential Shabbatot that the person will observe in the course of his lifetime. In our case the argument is that we cannot possibly know "whose blood is redder" i.e. who will live longer and perform more mitzvot.
Pesaḥim 24a-b: Can One Be Held Liable Several Times For Eating One Forbidden Food?
15/12/2020 - 29th of Kislev, 5781
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While discussing hametz and its status on Pesah, the Gemara compares it to other situations where the Torah forbids eating certain foods, and to those sources in the Torah from which we learn those prohibitions. In several cases, when the Gemara finds a passage that seems repetitious, it tries to derive from it other halakhot regarding forbidden food. Upon observing this methodology, Ravina asks Rav Ashi whether perhaps the Torah repeats the halakha in order to teach us that a person can be held liable several times for eating one forbidden food. To prove that such a thing is possible, he quotes Abaye who taught that someone who eats a putita would receive four sets of malkot (lashes) from the Bet Din, someone who eats a nemala (an ant) receives five sets of lashes, and someone who eats a tzira (a wasp) receives six sets of malkot – each set representing a further prohibition that attaches to that particular non-kosher creature. Rav Ashi responds that the Gemara is only willing to apply a Biblical passage to the creation of an additional prohibition if it cannot find a more useful purpose for the pasuk. We are not certain of the identity of the putita, for which Abaye ruled that there are four prohibitions, since it is not very well described in the Gemara. From what we know, it is likely a small water creature, perhaps a water beetle, or, as the Aruk explains, a non-kosher fish, like a small eel. Some point to a similar word in Latin, which is a general term for several types of flat fish – most of them non-kosher – that live on the bottom of rivers. With regard to the idea that you can be held liable for several forbidden actions by eating one non-kosher creature, it is interesting to note that in his introduction to his Sefer ha-Mitzvot, Maimonides sets out a number of general principles that govern his decision as to whether something should be considered one of the 613 commandments. One of the basic principles that he puts forward is that even if a given law is repeated a number of times in the Torah it does not indicate that the thing is commanded or forbidden more than once. Due to this position, the Rambam is forced to explain the cases in our Gemara as referring to unique creatures whose physical makeup allows them to fall under separate categories – that it is a water insect, a winged insect, a crawling insect, etc. – all at the same time. Most other rishonim, however, follow the opinion of the Geonim, who accept this Gemara at face value and understand that you can, on occasion, be held liable several times for one Biblical prohibition.
Pesaḥim 23a-b: Deriving Benefit From The Sciatic Nerve
14/12/2020 - 28th of Kislev, 5781
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As noted on yesterday's daf, the Gemara considers a number of cases of forbidden foods in an attempt to clarify whether an issur hana'ah - a prohibition against deriving benefit - is an inherent part of the issur akhila - the prohibition against eating something. One of the cases where we find a disagreement on this matter is gid ha-nashe (the sciatic nerve - see Bereshit 32:33), where Rabbi Shimon rules that we cannot derive benefit from it and Rabbi Yosei HaGelili rules that we can. The Gemara suggests that Rabbi Yosei HaGelili learns this from a kal va-homer (an a fortiori argument) as follows: We know that the punishment for eating helev (forbidden fats) is very severe (karet), and that the punishment for eating gid ha-nashe is less severe (malkot). Since one is allowed to derive benefit from helev (this is clearly indicated in the Torah - see Vayikra 7:24), then certainly in the less severe case of gid ha-nashe one would be permitted to do the same.
The Gemara asks: And why does Rabbi Shimon, who prohibits deriving benefit from the sciatic nerve, not accept this a fortiori inference? The Gemara answers: This inference can be refuted, as it is possible to say: What is unique to fat? Is it that it is released from its general prohibition with regard to non-domesticated animals, as the prohibition only applies to the fats of kosher domesticated animals. Can you say the same with regard to the sciatic nerve, which is not released from its general prohibition with regard to non-domesticated animals and remains prohibited? Apparently, in some ways the prohibition of the sciatic nerve is more stringent than that of fat.
The expression used by the Gemara to argue against a kal va-homer is ikka lemifrakh – literally, "you can break the argument." The idea is that a kal va-homer is predicated on the assumption that one law is more severe than another and will remain so in all of its characteristics. If we can find even one instance where that assumption does not hold up, that is to say, if we can find even one case where the assumed hamur (severe case) is kal (lighter) or the assumed kal case is hamur, the kal va-homer relationship is broken. In that case we can no longer extrapolate from one case to the other.
Pesaḥim 22a-b: Deriving Meaning From Every Word
13/12/2020 - 27th of Kislev, 5781
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In order to investigate whether the Torah forbids deriving benefit from things that cannot be eaten in general, our Gemara considers a number of cases of forbidden foods in an attempt to clarify whether an issur hana'ah (prohibition against deriving benefit) is an inherent part of this proscription. Among the cases examined are gid ha-nashe (sciatic nerve) (see Bereshit 32:33), blood (see Vayikra 17:12), ever min ha-hai (see Devarim 12:23) and shor ha-niskal (see Shemot 21:28). The case of shor ha-niskal is one where someone's ox gores and kills another person. In that case, the Torah teaches that the ox is stoned and its meat cannot be eaten. The passage that says that its meat cannot be eaten - v'lo ye'akhel et besaro - is understood by the Gemara to teach us prohibitions against eating its meat, as well as deriving benefit from its meat. According to some opinions in the Gemara, the word et is understood to teach that the animal's hide also cannot be used; according to others we must learn this from elsewhere in the passage, since they do not believe that the word et can be used to teach halakhot.
As it was taught in a baraita: Shimon HaAmmassoni, and some say that it was Nehemya HaAmmassoni, would interpret all occurrences of the word et in the Torah, deriving additional halakhot with regard to the particular subject matter. Once he reached the verse: "You shall be in awe of the Lord your God [et ha-Shem Elokekha tira]; you shall serve Him; and to Him you shall cleave, and by His name you shall swear" (Devarim 10:20), he withdrew from this method of exposition, as how could one add to God Himself? His students said to him: Rabbi, what will be with all the etim that you interpreted until now? He said to them: Just as I received reward for the interpretation, so I shall receive reward for my withdrawal from using this method of exposition. The word et in this verse was not explained until Rabbi Akiva came and expounded: "You shall be in awe of [et] the Lord your God": The word et comes to include Torah scholars, and one is commanded to fear them just as one fears God. In any case, Shimon HaAmmassoni no longer derived additional halakhot from the word et.
One of the popular questions asked by the rishonim about this baraita is, why did Shimon HaAmmassoni encounter difficulties only when he reached this passage? Shouldn't the passage in Devarim 6:5 v'ahavta et ha-Shem Elokekha, that you should love Hashem your God - have presented the same type of problem? The Maharsha suggests that Shimon HaAmmassoni had no doubt that there was an obligation to love Torah scholars that could be derived from that pasuk. His only question was whether the same rule could apply to awe, as well, a question that Rabbi Akiva eventually related to.
Pesaḥim 21a-b: Deriving Benefit From Hametz on Pesah
12/12/2020 - 26th of Kislev, 5781
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The second chapter of Massekhet Pesahim opens with a discussion of the completion of the process of bi'ur hametz; after having searched for the hametz, one must destroy it. The main issue in this perek, however, is the definition of the prohibition of hametz itself. The Torah clearly forbids eating hametz, and even prohibits having hametz in one’s house. What is less clear is whether someone can derive benefit from hametz in other ways. Does the ban on eating hametz imply that there is a larger prohibition attached that will forbid all benefit from it, or, perhaps, an issur hana'ah (a prohibition against deriving benefit) is a separate matter? Our Mishna teaches that one is permitted to derive benefit from hametz - one can sell it to a non-Jew, feed it to his animals, etc. - as long as it can be eaten. Once the time comes when hametz is forbidden, no benefit can be derived from it, not even using it as fuel.
Hizkiya said: From where is it derived in the mishna that it is prohibited to derive benefit from leavened bread on Passover? As it is stated: "Leavened bread shall not be eaten" (Shemot 13:3). Since the verse uses the passive, it should be understood as follows: There shall be no permitted consumption of it at all, even deriving benefit, as benefit could be exchanged for money, which could be used to buy food. The Gemara reads precisely: The reason deriving benefit is prohibited is that the Merciful One writes in the Torah: "Leavened bread shall not be eaten." Had the Torah not written: "Shall not be eaten," and instead used the active form: You shall not eat, I would have said that the prohibition of eating is implied but that the prohibition of deriving benefit is not implied.
The Mishna specifically says that neither a behema (domesticated animal) nor a hayya (wild animal) can be fed once the issur hana'ah begins, but either of them can be fed until that time. The Gemara explains that the Mishna needs to teach both, as each case has a uniqueness that would not be covered by the other. For example, had the Mishna only taught us the case of hayya, we would have thought that a wild animal can be fed just before Pesah because such an animal will hide anything left over. A domesticated animal, however, may leave over food that will not be noticed until Pesah begins. The Mikhtam explains this distinction by pointing out that someone who gives food to a wild animal knows that such an animal will hide leftover food, so at the time that he feeds the animal he already makes a conscious decision to rid himself of this hametz. Someone who feeds a domesticated animal, however, assumes that he will see if there is any leftover food and will destroy it, leaving open the possibility that hametz will be left in his possession when Pesah begins.
Pesaḥim 20a-b: Preparing Food to Become Ritually Impure
11/12/2020 - 25th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As on the previous daf, our Gemara discusses the case of a needle that is found in the flesh of a sacrifice in the Temple, which renders the meat of the korban to be tameh (ritually defiled). Although people or utensils (kelim) can become tameh at any time that they come into contact with something that gives off tumah, generally speaking, in order for food to become tameh, it must first be hukhshar - "prepared" by becoming wet (see Vayikra 11:38). The halakha is that any of seven liquids will give food that status: water, wine, honey, olive oil, milk, dew and blood. Our Gemara asks how the meat of the korban became "prepared" so that it was in a position to become defiled by the needle. The first two possibilities raised - that either blood or water in the Mikdash prepared the meat of the sacrifice - are rejected by the Gemara: The blood of the sacrifice itself cannot "prepare" food to become tameh. Liquids in the slaughterhouse in the Temple neither become tameh themselves, nor do they "prepare" foods to become tameh. The Gemara concludes that sacrifices have an inherent quality about them, referred to as hibat ha-kodesh (the esteem for sacred objects), that gives them the status of being "prepared" to become tameh. The rule of hibat ha-kodesh is that, because of their holiness and elevated status, they become more susceptible to defilement. There is general agreement that the higher level of kedusha that an object has, the more possibilities there are for ritual defilement (regular hullin will only become tameh if it is one step removed from the source of the tumah, so it can only become a sheni, a second level defilement. Teruma (tithes), which are on a higher level of holiness, can become tameh from a sheni and become a shelishi, a third level defilement. Kodashim,like sacrifices, can even become a revi'i, a fourth level defilement). The perception of things connected to the Temple as having a higher-level holiness that increases the possibility of defilement is applied by the sages also to non-food items that ordinarily would not be subject to the rules of tuma v'tahara at all, like the incense and coals that were used in the Temple service.
Pesaḥim 19a-b: When Ritual Defilement is in Question
10/12/2020 - 24th of Kislev, 5781
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
In the course of its continuing discussion of ritual purity (tuma v'tahara), the Gemara discusses the question of a needle that is found in the flesh of one of the sacrifices in the Temple. Rav explains that the case is when the needle may have been in direct contact with a dead body, giving it the unique status of the dead body itself, based on the rule of herev harei hu ke-halal - that a sword is considered to be like a corpse. This rule is learned from the passage in Bamidbar (19:16), which teaches that someone who comes in contact be-halal herev - with someone killed by a sword - becomes ritually defiled. There are a number of opinions regarding this rule. Rabbenu Tam understands that an earthenware vessel that touches a corpse becomes a rishon le-tuma; other utensils (e.g. wooden ones) would become an av ha-tuma; metal utensils are unique and become an avi avot ha-tuma (see Pesahim 14 for an explanation of these terms). Rabbenu Hananel quotes Geonim as saying that the unique status of a metal object as an avi avot ha-tuma only applies if that object was the murder weapon that killed the person. With regard to our case of the needle found in a Temple sacrifice, Rav Ashi introduces a well-known rule about safek tuma (a situation of questionable ritual defilement) - in a reshut ha-rabim (a public domain) it is considered tahor (ritually pure); in a reshut ha-yahid (a private domain) it is considered tameh. Rav Ashi concludes that in a public domain, questionable issues of tuma ve-tahara will be ruled to be tahor. These rules of safek tuma are derived by the sages from the case of Sotah (see Bamidbar 5) - a woman who is suspected of committing adultery. In the words of the Torah we are not sure whether she has become tameh (defiled). The Torah takes the questionable situation of Sotah very seriously, and the sages learn from this that every case of tumah that is similar to such a case, that is to say, all cases that are similar to Sotah in that they take place out of the sight of the general public, should be treated stringently. At the same time, we also conclude from this that situations that are not similar - specifically cases that take place in a public forum - should be judged leniently unless proven otherwise.
Pesaḥim 18a-b: On That Day
09/12/2020 - 23rd of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned in a mishna: On that day, when they appointed Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya, Rabbi Akiva taught: "And every earthenware vessel into which any of them falls, whatever is in it shall be impure [yitma], and you shall break it" (Vayikra 11:33). The verse does not say: It is impure [tameh]; rather, it says: It shall be impure [yitma], indicating that an item in an impure earthenware vessel transmits impurity to other items. This verse teaches about a loaf with second-degree ritual impurity status, i.e., ritual impurity imparted through contact with a vessel impurified by a creeping animal, that the loaf renders other items impure with third-degree ritual impurity, even non-sacred items.
The Mishna says that this law was taught bo ba-yom - on "that day." It appears that the expression bo ba-yom throughout the Mishna refers to the day that the sages decided to remove Rabban Gamliel from his position as Nasi and replaced him with Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya. On that occasion quite a few changes took place in the beit midrash and its organization. The Gemara in Berakhot (28a) records that new benches needed to be added to the study hall - some say 400; some say 700 - because Rabbi Elazar's "open admissions" policy brought many new people who had been turned away under Rabban Gamliel. The Gemara reports that every issue in halakha that had been left in doubt was debated and resolved on that day, leaving a collection of statements throughout the Talmud that were recorded bo ba-yom. According to the Gemara in Berakhot, although Rabban Gamliel lost his position because of the sages’ reaction to his treatment of his colleague Rabbi Yehoshua, he did not absent himself from the discussion while the debates took place, and the Gemara even records that he argued as an equal with Rabbi Yehoshua on that occasion. His conclusion from the episode was to recognize that he owed Rabbi Yehoshua an apology. In the end, the sages decided to divide the position of Nasi between him and Rabbi Elazar ben Azarya. It appears that the change in leadership also led to greater openness in discussions, and opinions that had not been considered before were presented for debate. Similarly, new interpretations of Biblical passages were suggested and discussed. This is clearly shown in Massekhet Eduyot, which is made up of a series of Mishnayot that are a collection of testimonies about halakhic positions that had not been studied before, all of which were taught bo ba-yom - on "that day."
Pesaḥim 17a-b: Ritual Purity of Liquids
08/12/2020 - 22nd of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
We noted earlier (16a) that there is a difference of opinion regarding the status of liquids vis-à-vis the laws of tuma v'tahara. On our daf, Rav Pappa argues that even according to the opinion that liquids can become ritually defiled on a Biblical level, nevertheless the liquids found in the slaughterhouse in the Temple are not tameh, and hilkhita gemiri lah - we are taught it by way of an oral tradition handed down from Moshe at Mount Sinai (halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai). The Gemara brings a number of questions on Rav Pappa's position. In the first one, Rav Huna brei d'Rav Natan asks Rav Pappa how he explains the baraita that appeared on the previous daf in the Gemara. In it, Rabbi Elazar argues that he learned the rule that liquids in general do not become tameh (ritually defiled) from Yosei ben Yo'ezer of Tzereida‘s testimony that the liquids in the slaughterhouse of the Beit haMikdash are considered tahor (ritually pure). If that rule is halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai, then how are we able to learn other rules from it? In general, a halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai carries the same weight as laws written in the Torah or derived in more conventional ways. Such a tradition is strong enough for us to reinterpret passages in the Torah or even uproot them totally from their simple meaning. One of the basic differences between a law that is written in the Torah and one that is based on such a tradition is whether we can derive other laws from this one. A halakha that is written in the Torah can act as an archetype from which we can extrapolate to other, similar cases. A law that we follow based on halakha le-Moshe mi-Sinai is limited just to that specific case. Following the questions posed on Rav Pappa's position, the Gemara concludes with the word kashya - "it is difficult." Nevertheless, Maimonides, in his Mishneh Torah, rules like Rav Pappa. Apparently, even if some of the opinions in the baraita cannot be reconciled with Rav Pappa, other tanna'im are understood to agree with him. Since the Gemara did not conclude with the expression tyuvta - "it is refuted" - Rav Pappa's position is not entirely rejected.
Pesaḥim 16a-b: Eating Grasshoppers
07/12/2020 - 21st of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our Gemara brings a baraita in which Yosei ben Yo'ezer of Tzereida teaches two halakhot:
  1. The grasshopper known as eil kamtza is kosher.
  2. Liquids that are found in the slaughterhouse area of the Temple are tahor.
While this baraita is quoted in order to offer support to the opinion that liquids do not transfer tumah (ritual impurity), it is of interest for a number of reasons. With regard to Yosei ben Yo'ezer's first teaching, it should be noted that there are several types of grasshoppers that are enumerated in the Torah as being kosher. In fact, the Torah includes a list of simanim - indicative signs in the body of a grasshopper - that would attest to its kashrut. Nevertheless, these signs only apply to certain families of grasshoppers, and tradition has it that we do not eat grasshoppers unless there is an established tradition indicating that this particular type of insect is kosher. Since there are certain types of grasshoppers whose status is not clear, it was necessary to offer testimony regarding this particular one. Yosei ben Yo'ezer of Tzereida was one of the earliest sages whose teachings have been handed down to us by name. The sages of that early period did not get the titles of "Rabbi" or "Rav" that we are familiar with from later generations. There is a tradition that the names of those early sages were an indication of the honor that they deserved - an even greater honor than any title could have bestowed on them. As noted in Pirkei Avot, he and his colleague, Yosei ben Yohanan ish Yerushalayim, were the first of the zugot – "pairs" when Yosei ben Yo'ezer was leader of the Sanhedrin. The first recorded argument in the Talmud is between them, an argument that laid the foundation for disagreements between Beit Hillel and Beit Shammai in later generations. According to the Midrash, Yosei ben Yo'ezer lived during the period of the decrees of Antiochus Epiphanes, and his nephew was one of the leading radical Hellenists. His death is attributed to the governmental decrees of that period. Upon his death the sages said "batlu ha-eshkolot," a reference to Yosei ben Yo'ezer's uniqueness as someone whose personality encompassed Torah knowledge, fear of heaven and generosity to others.
Pesaḥim 15a-b: When in Doubt
06/12/2020 - 20th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned before, teruma are given to kohanim as kodashim. As such, it can only be eaten if it is tahor and must be treated with care so that it should not become defiled or destroyed. If it becomes tameh, everyone agrees that it still belongs to the kohen, and he is entitled to benefit from it, for example, by using it for fuel or feeding it to his animals. If, however, the teruma is in a situation of safek (doubt), i.e. it may or may not have become tameh, we find a difference of opinion as to whether the kohen still needs to be careful with it. Our Gemara quotes a Mishna which brings two opinions about a barrel of teruma that is safek tameh, that is, we are not sure whether or not it is tameh.
In the case of a barrel of teruma produce with regard to which uncertainty developed with regard to its impurity, and which therefore may not be eaten, Rabbi Eliezer says that one must nevertheless safeguard the teruma from ritual impurity. Therefore, he maintains: If the barrel was resting in a vulnerable place, where it may come into contact with impurity, one should place it in a concealed place, and if it was exposed, he should cover it. Rabbi Yehoshua says: That is not necessary. Rather, even if it was placed in a concealed place, he may place it in a vulnerable place if he chooses. And if it was covered, he may expose it, as he need no longer safeguard this teruma from impurity.
According to some commentaries, even Rabbi Yehoshua does not mean that one is obligated to put such teruma in a place where it will more likely become tameh; rather he is allowed to do so if he wants to. Rabbenu Hananel suggests that we recommend that the teruma be put in a place where it will likely become tameh in order to solve a problem. Ritually pure teruma must be eaten. Ritually defiled teruma cannot be eaten, but it can be used in other ways that benefit the kohen. When we are in a situation of safek – of uncertainty – the kohen cannot eat the teruma, but he cannot do anything to destroy it. Therefore, in its present state, we will be best off if the teruma develops a definite status, so the recommendation is to leave it in a place where it will become tameh.
Pesaḥim 14a-b: Ritual Purity
05/12/2020 - 19th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Mishna on our daf discusses whether, when burning hametz just before Pesah, it is necessary to separate food that has been ritually defiled (tameh) from food that is ritually pure (tahor). In this context, Rabbi Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim reports that in the Temple, the kohanim never refrained from burning meat that had been defiled by a low-level tuma together with meat that had become defiled by a higher level tuma. This discussion leads to several pages of discussion in the Gemara on the subject of tuma v'tahara. Since we are no longer involved in the Temple service, nor do we eat teruma  or korbanot, we do not interact with these laws on a regular basis. Nevertheless, these are among the most basic laws that are detailed in the Torah and are developed in the Talmud by the hakhamim. According to the Torah, there are differing levels of things which ritually defile. They are:
  1. Avi Avot ha-tuma (e.g. a dead body)
  2. Avot ha-tuma (e.g. someone who came into contact with a dead body; someone suffering from leprosy)
  3. Rishon le-tuma (things that came into contact with avot ha-tuma)
  4. Under a variety of circumstances, there can be a sheni, shlishi or even revi'i le-tuma, all of which are discussed in the following pages of the Gemara.
Rabbi Hanina Segan ha-Kohanim who records this ruling in the Mishna was one of the tannaim who lived through the destruction of the Second Temple and continued to teach for some time afterwards. According to one tradition, he was one of the Harugei Malkhut killed by governmental decree. As his title indicates, he held an important position as assistant to the Kohen Gadol while the Temple was standing, and he stood in for the Kohen Gadol if he was ill or tameh and could not perform the Temple service. Most of Rabbi Hanina's teachings that are recorded in the Mishna refer specifically to the Temple and its laws, i.e. the sacrificial service and the laws of ritual purity - tuma v'tahara.
Pesaḥim 13a-b: Destroying Tithes Before Pesah
04/12/2020 - 18th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While the Temple was standing, a kohen who had hametz in his possession that he received as teruma (tithes) needed to destroy it before Pesah together with the rest of his hametz. Our Gemara quotes a baraita that brings the teaching of Rabbi Elazar ben Yehuda ish Bartota in the name of Rabbi Yehoshua regarding erev Pesah that falls on Shabbat. In such a case the hametz must be destroyed on Friday, leaving just enough for the Shabbat meal. Rabbi Elazar taught that all hametz should be burned on Friday, including tithes - whether or not they were tahor (ritually pure) - and food for two meals on Shabbat should be left from non-teruma hametz that must be finished before four hours into the day on Shabbat morning. The baraita records the following conversation that took place in response to Rabbi Elazar's teaching: Q. Why should the tithes be burned on Friday? Perhaps we will find kohanim on Shabbat who could have eaten them and it will turn out that the tithes were burned for no reason, which is forbidden? A. Before burning them we looked for people who could eat the tithes, and did not find anyone. Q. Perhaps there are such kohanim that slept outside the walls of Jerusalem, and tomorrow they will enter the city? A. Were we to worry that someone might come tomorrow, then we should also refrain from burning teruma that is a safek (doubt), i.e. that we are unsure about its status since it may have become tameh (ritually defiled), because perhaps Eliyahu ha-Navi will come tomorrow (Shabbat) to herald the arrival of the Messiah, and he will be able to tell us whether the teruma became tameh or not.
They said to him: That possibility is no source of concern, as the Jewish people have already been assured that Elijah will come neither on a Friday nor on the eve of a Festival, due to the exertion involved preparing for the upcoming holy day. Consequently, Elijah will certainly come neither on Friday, nor on Shabbat itself, which is Passover eve.
According to tradition, Eliyahu will not come to rule with regard to questions of halakha. Nevertheless, the case of teruma that may have become tameh can be resolved by Eliyahu because it is a question of establishing the facts in a specific case, not a question of establishing a halakhic ruling. While the baraita discusses whether or not it is appropriate to burn teruma on the day before erev Pesah, it does not deal directly with the question of burning regular hametz (hullin). According to many rishonim the conclusion that needs to be reached is obvious - if we can burn teruma, then we can certainly burn hullin. Some argue, however, that we are allowed to burn the teruma only because it is available solely to a limited number of people – namely, kohanim - to eat. Hullin, however, can be eaten by anyone, so it is likely that someone will come tomorrow who would be willing to eat the hametz. Therefore we should not destroy it until the latest possible time.
Pesaḥim 12a-b: Determining the Last Time for Eating Hametz
03/12/2020 - 17th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned, hametz becomes forbidden even before Pesah begins. According to the Gemara, starting at mid-day on erev Pesah, there is a Biblical prohibition against eating hametz. The Mishna (11b) teaches that according to Rabbi Meir one can eat hametz until the end of the fifth hour and should destroy the remaining hametz at the beginning of the sixth hour. Rabbi Yehuda rules that one should finish eating hametz by the end of the fourth hour. The hametz can remain for the duration of the fifth hour but needs to be destroyed at the beginning of the sixth hour. This diagram shows how the 24 hours of the day were understood by the Talmud, beginning at the top with sunrise, and moving counter-clockwise to mid-day (the 6th hour) and to sunset (the 12th hour). According to this system, the length of a daylight hour changes, with longer hours during the summer months and shorter ones during the winter. The discussion of the Gemara on our daf revolves around the likelihood that a mistake might be made about the time, which might lead someone to continue eating hametz after its permitted time. It is important to remember that people could not be exact in figuring times, since accurate clocks did not yet exist. Therefore, the possibility of making a mistake - even of several hours - was a distinct possibility. Rava concludes the discussion in the Gemara by saying that the positions of Rabbi Meir and Rabbi Yehuda in the Mishna stem from the concern that erev Pesah will be overcast, and people will not be able to use the sun to judge the time of day. In such a case, even the rudimentary instruments that were used to measure the length of the day – like sun dials - would not be operative. Rav Pappa explains that even on a cloudy day we still can establish four hours as a permissible time to eat hametz, since that is the normal time for most people to eat. Therefore, even if people are not able to judge time based on observing the sun, they can do so based on their appetites. When they are hungry they know that it is four hours into the day, when it is still a safe time to eat hametz. As a point of background, during the Talmudic period, the accepted custom was to eat two meals a day - one in the morning and one in the evening. Some people would snack between meals, but on normal days these were the only two times that people ate. (Shabbat was an exception, when three meals were eaten.) The Gemara points out that workers, for example, who leave for work very early in the morning, would postpone their meal until mid-day in order to break up their workday. Most people, however, ate a little earlier at four hours.
Pesaḥim 11a-b: Searching for Hametz During Pesah
02/12/2020 - 16th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara explains that the argument between Rabbi Yehuda and the Hakhamim in the Mishna (10b) is a disagreement as to whether it is appropriate to search for hametz when the prohibition has already begun. Rabbi Yehuda believes that searching can only be done prior to the time when hametz is prohibited, lest someone find hametz and eat it. The Hakhamim rule that if someone has not searched his property before Pesah, he can even do so on Pesah itself. A similar argument between Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Meir is brought by the Gemara, with regard to the rule of hadash - grain from the new harvest that cannot be eaten until after the Omer sacrifice is brought on the second day of Pesah. However, both seem to take positions contrary to what they say regarding hametz (the assumption is that Rabbi Meir is one of the sages who are the Hakhamim of our Mishna). According to the Mishna in Menahot, by the time the Omer sacrifice was brought, the markets of Jerusalem were filled with flour and other products made from the new grain. Clearly people were involved in harvesting and preparing these products before they could be eaten. Rabbi Meir says that this was done against the wishes of the Sages; Rabbi Yehuda said no objection was raised. In this case, it is Rabbi Meir who seems to fear that handling forbidden food will lead someone to eat it, something that does not seem to concern Rabbi Yehuda. Rava explains that there is no contradiction between the positions of Rabbi Meir in the two cases, because the person is searching for hametz in order to destroy it, so there is no fear that he will eat it, as opposed to hadash, which will become permitted in a short time, and people may not take the prohibition very seriously. Abaye explains the apparent contradiction in Rabbi Yehuda's positions by pointing out that hadash has been forbidden from the moment it was harvested until today, so people are careful not to eat it. Hametz, on the other hand, is something that people eat all year round and therefore will not know to avoid. Rav Ashi proposes another way of distinguishing between hametz and hadash, but the Gemara rejects his suggestion out of hand with the expression beduta hee or, according to some readings, baruta hee. These expressions appear in the Gemara a number of times, usually in the context of rejecting a suggestion made by one of the later amora'im like Rav Ashi. The term beduta is a very strong one, meaning erroneous or unfounded, and it is understood to mean that the Gemara is insisting that Rav Ashi could not possibly have made such a suggestion, and it must have been attributed to him in error. The term baruta means external, meaning that the statement cannot be accepted and must remain outside the walls of the beit midrash.
Pesaḥim 10a-b: When a Mouse Enters Your House With Bread in his Mouth
01/12/2020 - 15th of Kislev, 5781
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Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
While the Mishna (9a) introduced us to a hulda - a marten - that we suspect may hoard hametz in houses already cleaned for Pesah, on our daf Rava presents us with another small animal, an akhbar. The akhbar discussed is, apparently, a conventional house mouse (Mus musculus), a small rodent that grows up to eight centimeters. This small creature sustains itself by eating food that is left around the house, usually bread crumbs and other such things.
Rava said: If one saw a mouse enter a house with a loaf of bread in its mouth, and he entered after the mouse and found crumbs, the house requires additional searching, due to the fact that a mouse does not typically generate crumbs. Therefore, it cannot be assumed that these crumbs are from the loaf snatched by the mouse.
The Maharam Halavah quotes the Rif as explaining that mice do not make crumbs when they eat, so the crumbs that are found cannot possibly be from the loaf of bread brought in by the mouse, forcing us to check the house a second time. The Ramban understands Rava's ruling to mean that a mouse usually finishes the crumbs that he makes. According to this reasoning, if the amount of crumbs that is found is the size of the piece that the mouse was carrying, it could not possibly be from the piece that was recently brought in, since the mouse would have finished the crumbs. If, however, only a small amount of crumbs were found, we can rely on the fact that the mouse ate the bread, leaving behind a small amount of crumbs, but the house does not need to be rechecked. This discussion leads Rava to ask a series of hypothetical questions about this case: • What if the mouse was seen bringing in a loaf of bread and carrying out a loaf of bread? Do we assume that it is the same loaf, or not? • If we assume that it is the same loaf, what if we see a mouse carrying in a loaf, and a mouse of a different color carrying out a loaf? Do we still say that it is the same one? • If we assume it could not be the same loaf because mice do not take from one another, what if a mouse carried in a loaf of bread and a rat is seen carrying out bread? Can we assume that the rat took the loaf from the mouse? • And what if we see the rat carrying out a mouse and a loaf? Would that prove that it was the same hametz that was carried in? To all of these questions the Gemara answers Teiku - the question stands. The Shulhan Arukh declines to bring these cases, with the explanation that they are so unlikely to occur that they do not require a pesak halakha.
Pesaḥim 9a-b: When a Marten Hides Bread Before Pesah
30/11/2020 - 14th of Kislev, 5781
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The Mishna on our daf teaches that one need not be concerned that a hulda dragged hametz into your house or from one place to another within the house. Rashi explains the Mishna to be discussing whether we need to be concerned about a hulda bringing hametz into a place that had already been checked. The Rambam seems to understand the case otherwise. According to him, this Mishna is the continuation of the first Mishna in the tractate, which obligates bedika (searching) only in places where hametz is normally brought. Here we are taught that we need not be concerned that perhaps an animal brought hametz into such a place. The Gemara points out that the Mishna's rule will only apply if we do not see the hulda running into the house with hametz. Were we to see the hulda doing that, we would, in fact, insist that the house be checked a second time, and we cannot assume that the hulda ate the hametz that he carried in. The Gemara asks whether the requirement to carefully store hametz that is meant to be eaten on the morning of the 14th of Nisan so that a further bedika will not need to be done does not indicate that we are concerned that a hulda may move it around. In response to this question the Gemara quotes an interesting exchange between Abaye and Rava.
Abaye said: This is not difficult; this ruling is referring to the fourteenth of Nisan, whereas that ruling is referring to the thirteenth. The Gemara elaborates: On the thirteenth of Nisan, when bread is still found in every house, the marten does not conceal the leaven, and therefore there is no concern that perhaps the marten dragged the leaven elsewhere and concealed it. However, on the fourteenth of Nisan, when bread is not found in any of the houses, the marten hides the leaven. Rava said in surprise: And is the marten a prophetess [v'khee hulda nevi'ah] that knows that now is the fourteenth of Nisan and no one will bake until the evening, and it leaves over bread and conceals it in its hole? Rather, Rava rejected Abaye's answer and said: With regard to the leaven that one leaves after the search, he should place it in a concealed location, lest a marten take it before us and it will require searching after it. Only if one actually sees the marten take the leaven, is he required to search after it.
In his response to Abaye, Rava is using a play on words. There is, in fact, a prophetess in Tanakh by the name of Hulda ha-Nevi'ah – see II Melakhim 22:14. More importantly, his argument seems to make so much sense that it is difficult to understand what Abaye was trying to say. Rav Ya'akov Emden explains that according to Abaye the marten is sensitive to the fact that there is less food in the house on erev Pesah than there is under normal circumstances, and begins to hoard bread. This appears to be the explanation of the Jerusalem Talmud, as well.
Pesaḥim 8a-b: Searching for Leaven in Dangerous Places
29/11/2020 - 13th of Kislev, 5781
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It was taught in the Tosefta: The Sages do not require one to place his hand into holes and crevices to search for leaven, due to the danger involved.
While the Gemara makes a number of suggestions regarding what the danger might be that lurks in holes between houses, what concerns the Gemara is how this fits with Rabbi Elazar's teaching sheluhei mitzvah einum nizokim – that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger. Rav Ashi suggests that we may be concerned that aside from searching for hametz, perhaps the person will also turn his attention to find other missing objects during the search, and will not be actively involved in the mitzva at all times. The Gemara responds to this by arguing that even someone who has outside intentions beyond performing a mitzva will be credited for the mitzva if it is done. An example of this is taught in a baraita that rules that someone who gives charity and states that he is giving it in the hope that he will gain a share in the World-to-Come or that his sick child will recover is, nevertheless, considered a tzaddik gamur – a completely righteous person. The Gemara concludes that the rule that people involved in performing commandments are protected from danger only applies when danger cannot be anticipated. In a situation that is clearly dangerous we cannot apply that rule. With regard to the man who gives charity with the expectation that he will derive some personal benefit from it, who the baraita says is a tzaddik gamur, the Ran points out that he might be considered righteous, but he would not be considered a hassid – a pious person. Some say that the only case where we can ignore the intent of the person doing the mitzva will be in the case of charity, where the recipient derives benefit from the assistance even if the intention of the giver was wrong. The Aruk has a variant reading in the Gemara, according to which the baraita does not label the man a tzaddik gamur, rather it rules that the donation was tzeddaka gemura – full fledged charity, without any character judgment about the person who made the donation.
Pesaḥim 7a-b: The Blessing on Searching for Hametz
28/11/2020 - 12th of Kislev, 5781
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Rav Yehuda teaches that a berakha is said prior to performing the act of searching for the hametz. Since Jews have been reciting this berakha for generations, Rav Yehuda's ruling hardly comes as a surprise. Nevertheless it is an important statement, as one could argue that the search is merely preparation for destroying the hametz, or even that the actual mitzva is that no hametz should be found in one's house, so even destroying the hametz is simply preparation for that. The Rosh says that Rav Yehuda is teaching a valuable lesson – that the bedika (search) is an essential part of the mitzva of bi'ur (burning), so the berakha should be recited on it. According to the Maharam Halava, the Biblical obligation is the search for hametz; destroying the hametz is only a Rabbinic decree. There are two different opinions about the version of the blessing that is said. The blessing begins with the traditional introductory words "Blessed are you, Hashem, our God, King of the world, who has commanded us…" Rav Pappi quotes Rava as requiring one to conclude with the words leva'er hametz – to remove leavened bread. Rav Pappa quotes Rava as requiring that one say at the end al bi'ur hametz – concerning the removal of leavened bread. The Gemara concludes that the berakha that should be made is al bi'ur hametz. Based on the discussion in our Gemara, the rishonim attempt to find general rules that would reliably indicate when the berakha that precedes the act of performing a mitzva should be said as la'asot - an expression that we are commanded "to do" the mitzva and when we should say al mitzvat that we are commanded "on the mitzva of…" According to Rabbenu Tam, it depends how quickly the mitzva will be performed. When the mitzva is done immediately after the berakha we say al mitzvat; if there will be a gap between the berakha and the mitzva we say la'asot. According to the Ramban, a mitzva that can be done via a messenger gets the al mitzvat blessing; when a mitzva must be done by the individual, he says la'asot. Rabbenu Yehonatan argues that a mitzva that is done once is blessed as la'asot, while a mitzva that will be done many times receives the al mitzvat blessing.
Pesaḥim 6a-b: Nullifying the Hametz
27/11/2020 - 11th of Kislev, 5781
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Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that even after a person searches his house to remove the hametz, he needs to be mevatel – to nullify - the hametz, as well.
Rava said: The reason for the requirement to render leaven null and void is based on a decree lest he find a fine cake [geluska] among the leaven that he did not destroy and his thoughts are upon it. Due to its significance, he will hesitate before removing it and will be in violation of the prohibition against owning leaven.
According to some manuscripts, Rav Yehuda's original ruling obligates a person to nullify the hametz be-libo – in his heart. Based on this reading the Ran and the Ramban explain that the main issue here is that a clear mental decision should be made that the hametz is valueless to the person as Pesah begins. The Ritva indicates that even if there is no obligation to make a statement out loud, ideally the person should say the words of nullification. Others argue that the Gemara is trying to emphasize that someone who says the formula of nullification should make sure that he means it in his heart, as well. The Ran points out that on a Biblical level, searching for hametz and destroying it is enough preparation for the holiday, and even if some hametz is left, there would be no transgression. Rava's explanation that we fear finding hametz that had been missed accounts for the Rabbinic concern about places where hametz is not ordinarily brought, places where there is no obligation to search at all. The Ramban is quoted as saying that the nullification discussed here does not mean to declare the hametz hefker – ownerless – rather it is a statement that for the upcoming holiday hametz is considered something that is repulsive to him. According to Jewish tradition, we recite the formula for nullifying the hametz that appears printed in haggadot. This Aramaic formula is derived from the Geonim, who translated it from a Hebrew version that appears in the Jerusalem Talmud. Given what we have learned, it is important to make sure that the text is not simply read, but its meaning is understood and accepted..
Pesaḥim 5a-b: When and How Does One Destroy One’s Leaven?
26/11/2020 - 10th of Kislev, 5781
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The search for hametz takes place the evening prior to the 14th of Nisan, but one is allowed to continue eating hametz until mid-day. The Gemara teaches that hametz is Biblically forbidden beginning at noon on that day. A baraita is brought that suggests a number of different opinions regarding the source for this halakha, all based on the passage (Shemot 12:15) akh ba-yom ha-rishon tashbitu se'or mibataikhem – "but on the first day you should destroy the leaven from your homes." Rabbi Yishmael asks – how do we know that the "first day" mentioned in the pasuk refers to the day before Pesah? Because of the passage (Shemot 34:25) that teaches "do not slaughter the blood of my sacrifice on leaven" meaning that the korban Pesah, which is prepared on erev Pesah, cannot be brought at a time when leaven is still permitted. Rabbi Akiva teaches that the first day must mean erev Pesah, because work is forbidden on Yom Tov as it is on Shabbat. Given that burning is one of the forbidden activities, how can we burn leaven on Yom Tov? So the command to destroy hametz on the first day must refer to the day before Pesah. Rabbi Yose argues that the word Akh in the pasuk implies a division of the day, so that only on part of it will hametz be forbidden. Rava learns three basic rules from Rabbi Akiva's teaching – the appropriate method for destroying hametz is burning the passage that teaches about fire as prohibited on Shabbat emphasizes that every forbidden activity of Shabbat is illegal in its own right although making use of fire on Yom Tov is permitted for activities like cooking, it is not permitted for other purposes. Of the 39 types of activities that are forbidden on Shabbat, burning (i.e. making use of fire) is unique in that it is the only one specifically mentioned in the Torah. At the beginning of Parashat Vayakhel we are taught "Six days you should work and on the seventh day you will have a holy Shabbat to God, whoever works on that day will be put to death. You should not kindle fire in the places that you live on the Shabbat day." In an attempt to explain why this particular melakha deserves special mention, some tannaim say that it is unique in that its punishment will only be that of a lav – a simple forbidden act – whose punishment is malkot (=lashes), rather than a death penalty. Rabbi Akiva in the baraita that is quoted in our Gemara takes a different position. According to him it is separated from the others in order to teach that each one of the melakhot is forbidden on its own, so that the individual who transgresses the Shabbat does not need to perform all of the forbidden activities in order to be held liable. Transgressing even one such activity is enough to be punished.
Pesaḥim 4a-b: Does a Renter Need to Search for Hametz?
25/11/2020 - 9th of Kislev, 5781
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Who is obligated to search their home for hametz? Obviously every homeowner is obligated to make sure that his house is free of hametz by searching for it. The Gemara on our daf asks about the case of a rental – is the renter obligated to search because the hametz belongs to him, or is the owner obligated to search because the hametz is in a house owned by him? The Ran points out that in such a case, on a Biblical level, most probably neither of them are obligated to search. The renter is not obligated, since he does not own the house; the owner is not obligated, since the hametz does not belong to him. Nevertheless, the Gemara is asking on a Rabbinic level – who is obligated to search? The Gemara concludes that if the keys were in the hand of the renter before the evening of the 14th of Nisan, then he is obligated to search. If he only gains access to the property after that time, then the obligation to search falls upon the owner. How about a case where someone rents a house on the 14th under the assumption that it has already been searched for hametz, only to find that it has not been searched? Can the renter claim that the transaction was a mekah ta'ut – a transaction made under false impression that would allow him to cancel the agreement?
The Gemara suggests: Come and hear a resolution to this dilemma, as Abaye said: Needless to say, that in a place where people typically do not pay a wage and hire others to conduct the search for leaven and everyone searches himself, a person prefers to fulfill the mitzva himself. However, even in a place where people pay a wage and have others search for leaven, it is not a mistaken transaction due to the fact that a person prefers to perform the mitzva with his own money. Consequently, it is not considered a mistaken transaction, as a person does not object to having to perform a mitzva.
The Ritva argues that if, in fact, people usually pay for bedika (searching) to be done, and in this case the renter entered the deal under the impression that it was already paid for, the renter will be able to demand his money back from the owner of the house. The Ran disagrees, saying that although the mitzva originally was the obligation of the owner, since it is the renter who benefits from it while the owner derives nothing from the removal of the hametz, he cannot be forced to pay for it.