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

Ta'anit 27a-b: And They Didn't Fast on Sundays
09/12/2021 - 5th of Tevet, 5782
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
Throughout the week, the individuals whose turn it was to represent the Jewish people in ma'amadot (see daf 26) would involve themselves in fasts and prayer:
  • On Monday, on behalf of those traveling the seas
  • On Tuesday, on behalf of those traveling in the desert
  • On Wednesday, on behalf of those suffering from contagious disease (askara or croup)
  • On Thursday, on behalf of pregnant and nursing women.
Members of the ma'amadot did not fast on Friday, in order to honor Shabbat, and they certainly did not fast on Shabbat itself. Why didn't they fast on Sundays? A number of explanations appear in the Gemara. Rabbi Shmuel bar Nahmani says that Sunday is the third day after man was created (Adam was created on Friday, just before Shabbat began) and the third day is a day of weakness (see Bereshit 34:25). The explanation presented by Rabbi Yohanan is "because of the notzrim." Notzrim is ordinarily translated as Christians, and, in fact, most of the commentaries explain that the ma'amadot did not fast on Sundays due to the concern that the Christians would take offense at the fact that the Jews were fasting on the day of the week that was their day of celebration. The Maharsha suggests a different angle: that fasting - and not working - on the Christian day of rest would appear to support the new religion's practices and beliefs. Nevertheless, the Maharsha, as well as other commentaries, point out that there are many historical problems with these explanations. Another approach to Rabbi Yohanan's statement is to read the word as notzarim - the ones who were created - rather than notzrim, in which case Rabbi Yohanan's explanation is similar to the one offered by Rabbi Shmu'el bar Nahmani. The Meiri suggests that the term notzrim refers to Babylonians, based on the passage in Yirmiyahu (4:16) - "Notzrim are coming from a faraway land" - which is interpreted by the Radak to be referring to the army of the Babylonians. According to the Meiri, the Babylonians had a day of celebration on Sundays, so the Sages did not want to establish anything special on that day.
Ta'anit 26a-b: Non-priestly Watches
08/12/2021 - 4th of Tevet, 5782
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
We have learned that the kohanim and levi'im were divided into 24 mishmarot - groups that served in the Beit HaMikdash two weeks out of every year. The first Mishna in the fourth perek of Massekhet Ta'anit introduces us to the concept of ma'amadot - 24 groups of Israelites (i.e. Jews who are neither kohanim nor levi'im) who were assigned to spend two weeks out of the year involved in prayer and study in community synagogues. It should be noted that, according to the Rambam, while all kohanim were obligated to serve in the Beit HaMikdash as members of their mishmar, the ma'amadot were not for all community members, but only for the uniquely pious individuals who volunteered for this responsibility. The Mishna explains that the source for creating ma'amadot stems from the passage in Bamidbar (28:2) in which the Jewish people are commanded to bring a daily sacrifice - the korban tamid. The Mishna argues that when any sacrifice is brought to the Temple, its owner stands at its side. Who stands by the side of communal sacrifices? The early prophets established the system of ma'amadot to serve that purpose. The point is raised that the Mishna takes for granted that every sacrifice needs its owner to accompany it. Although this is clearly true for korbanot that require semikha (laying hand on the sacrificial animal), why is this essential for other sacrifices? The Iyun Ya'akov suggests that this idea is connected with the position of many commentaries, who explain the purpose of animal sacrifice as an attempt to engage the individual who brings the korban in some level of soul-searching. The process that the animal goes through in preparation for sacrifice - slaughter, having its skin removed, being disemboweled, etc. - should inspire the person to think "really, I deserve to have these actions done to me; it is God's mercy that allows them to be carried out on this animal in my stead." If this is true, we can easily understand why it is important to have the person bringing the korban present when it is being sacrificed.
Ta'anit 25a-b: Unsuccessful Prayers for Rain
07/12/2021 - 3rd of Tevet, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara relates two stories about Rabbi Eliezer and unsuccessful attempts to pray for rain.
The Sages taught: An incident occurred involving Rabbi Eliezer, who decreed a complete cycle of thirteen fasts upon the congregation, but rain did not fall. At the end of the last fast, the congregation began to exit the synagogue. He said to them: Have you prepared graves for yourselves? If rain does not fall, we will all die of hunger. All the people burst into tears, and rain fell.
In the second story, Rabbi Eliezer led the congregation in the lengthy Amida prayer for fast days, but his prayers were not answered. At that point, his student, Rabbi Akiva, prayed for rain, and rain began to fall. When the rabbis present began to discuss why the student, Rabbi Akiva, was successful, while Rabbi Eliezer was not, a heavenly voice called out that it was not an issue of greatness; rather, Rabbi Akiva was more relaxed and forgiving, while Rabbi Eliezer was more exact and demanding. God responded to each of them according to his personality. This can be understood based on the Gemara in Rosh HaShana (17a), which teaches that a person who is relaxed and forgiving is more easily forgiven by God, who responds to every person according to his own behavior and personality - midah ke-neged midah (measure for measure). The Talmud Yerushalmi tells the story differently. According to the Yerushalmi, when Rabbi Akiva was asked to explain his success, he offered a parable of a king who had two daughters - one who was unpleasant and inappropriate, the other who was agreeable and pleasing. It is the unpleasant daughter to whom the king responds more quickly, since he prefers to interact with her as little as possible. The agreeable daughter, however, is required to put in greater effort to receive what she wants, since he enjoys and looks forward to their interactions.
Ta'anit 24a-b: A Miracle for the Charitable
06/12/2021 - 2nd of Tevet, 5782
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
Among the stories told by the Gemara about miraculous occurrences that happened to righteous individuals is one related about Elazar ish Birta, from whom charity collectors always kept their distance. The reason that they would hide from him whenever they saw him was because he would give away every last penny that he had. The Gemara relates that he was heading for the marketplace to purchase things in preparation for his daughter's wedding. On his way, he noticed a number of people who were collecting charity. Although they tried to avoid him, he chased them down and demanded to know what cause they were collecting for at this time. They reluctantly told him that they were collecting money for a wedding. Two orphans were getting married, and they had to rely on charity to put together the wedding. Elazar ish Birta immediately declared that the orphans’ need came before his own daughter's needs and gave them everything he had. Before returning home, he realized that there was a single zuz remaining, and he purchased a small amount of wheat. He went home and stored the wheat in his granary. When asked what he had purchased for the wedding, he replied that he had put it in the granary. His wife went to check and discovered that, miraculously, the granary was so full that she could not even open the door. When she ran to tell her husband what happened, he told her that they could only benefit from it like any poor person, since he did not intend to derive benefit from a miracle. One of the major issues dealt with in the context of this story is that the Sages had ruled (as one of takkanot Usha) that a person cannot donate more than one-fifth (20) of his possessions to charity. The Rambam, in his commentary on the Mishna, argues that one-fifth is appropriate for someone who wants to fulfill the mitzva, but it is not forbidden to donate more; rather, it is a midat hasidut - a pious attribute - to do so. It is also possible that this story took place prior to the establishment of takkanat Usha.
Ta'anit 23a-b: Praying for Rain--Modestly
05/12/2021 - 1st of Tevet, 5782
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 (19a) related the story of Honi HaMe'aggel and the close relationship that he had with God that allowed him to plead before Him on behalf of the Jewish people. Our daf relates that his descendants shared some of his abilities and tells stories about their intervention on behalf of am yisra'el (the people of Israel), even as they tried to avoid receiving credit for their success. One example is the story of Abba Hilkiyya, who was Honi HaMe'aggel's grandson. He was working in the fields when he saw the delegation of rabbis coming to ask him to intercede on their behalf and pray for rain. The Gemara relates that he refused to return their greeting and performed a series of strange activities while he walked home, culminating in his entering his home with his wife, feeding his children and encouraging his wife to join him in prayer on the roof. Only when the clouds had already gathered and the rain began did he turn to the delegation and ask what they wanted. When they responded that they were sent to ask him to pray, he told them that they did not need his prayers, as it had already begun to rain. When asked, he explained his odd behaviors - all of which related to his sensitivity to the needs of others (e.g. he could not respond to their original greeting because he was paid by the hour and speaking to them would have been stealing from his employer). He also explained that his wife's prayers were answered before his own because her place in the house allowed her to be more directly involved in responding to the needs of the poor. As Rashi explains, this was true because she was more readily available and because her charity responded to an immediate need (i.e. she fed them, rather than giving them money). Another one of Honi HaMe'aggel’s grandchildren was Hanan HaNehba (i.e. "the one who hides") who, according to the Gemara, received that nickname because he hid himself to avoid receiving honor for his actions. According to some manuscripts of the Gemara, he would hide himself in the lavatory - which may refer to his modesty, that even in the bathroom he was careful to remain clothed, or, according to a tradition of the Ge'onim, when people came looking for him to pray for rain, he hid himself in the bathroom so that he would not be found.
Ta'anit 22a-b: A Place in the World to Come
04/12/2021 - 30th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
There is a series of stories, which appears in this perek, whose focus is the piety of average Jewish people. Our daf features a number of such stories. Two of them occurred in the marketplace of Bei Lefet, a place frequented by Rabbi Beroka Hoza'a, who often met Eliyahu HaNavi there. On one occasion, Rabbi Beroka Hoza'a asked Eliyahu whether anyone who was in the market at that time was a ben Olam HaBa - someone who was assured a place in the World-to-Come. Eliyahu pointed out a person who was not dressed in a Jewish manner (he was not wearing tzitzit and was wearing black shoes - which was not the Jewish custom). Upon questioning him, Rabbi Beroka Hoza'a discovered that he worked for the non-Jewish government as a jail keeper, where he carefully kept men and women separated and protected Jewish women who were put into prison. Furthermore, he kept his Jewish identity secret so that he could influence the government on issues having to do with the Jewish community and warn the Jews of any impending decrees that would affect them. Eliyahu then pointed out two men who were assured a place in the World-to-Come. Rabbi Beroka Hoza'a approached them and asked what their profession was. They told him that they were professional jesters, who entertained people who appeared to be sad or depressed, or who worked to make peace between people who had been angry at one another. Although the well-known Mishna in Sanhedrin (see 10:1) teaches that every Jewish person has a share in the World-to-Come, the intention there is that after a person is purged of his sins, having received the punishment that is due to him, he will merit Olam HaBa. Our Gemara is discussing people whose behaviors assure them of being a ben Olam HaBa - someone whose actions in this world guarantee him immediate entrance into the world-to-come. The commentaries here discuss how the activities of these people, which benefited the public at large, ensured that they would not succumb to sin in the future.
Ta'anit 21a-b: A Plague Among the Pigs
03/12/2021 - 29th of Kislev, 5782
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
What type of plague will cause community leaders to declare a public fast? The Gemara relates that Rav Yehuda was informed that a plague had broken out among the pigs in the community. He responded to the report by calling for a public fast. The Gemara rejects the suggestion that Rav Yehuda believed that a plague among one type of animals could transfer to others and thus posed a danger to humans, arguing that he saw the case of pigs to be unique, since the intestines of pigs are similar to human intestines. There is no doubt that some types of diseases can be transferred from animals to people. Trichinosis, for example, is a disease carried by pigs that can be transferred to humans, although that ordinarily takes place only if the flesh of the infected animal is eaten, which was not a concern in our case. Nevertheless, there are similarities between the internal anatomy of pigs and humans that are known to scientists today. These similarities lead to use of the intestines of pigs in human transplants, due to a relatively small incidence of rejection of such tissue. Rav Yehuda's concern was that in this specific case, these similarities may lead to the transfer of the swine plague to people. Based on this discussion, Tosafot take for granted that if a plague breaks out among non-Jews, the Jewish community would declare a fast, since the possibility of the plague spreading from non-Jews to the Jewish community seems to be obvious. Surprisingly, the Ritva disagrees with Tosafot. The Meiri argues that our Gemara really means to teach that a plague among idol worshippers should be seen as potentially dangerous to the Jewish community, and the Gemara discusses pigs as a code word for idol worshipers, based on the passage in Tehillim 80:14.
Ta'anit 20a-b: And the Sun Broke Through
02/12/2021 - 28th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara relates the well-known story of Nakdimon ben Guryon, who is known from a number of stories that appear about him in the Talmud as one of the wealthy Jews who lived in Jerusalem at the time of the destruction of the Second Temple. (There appear to be references to him in Josephus' works, as well.) While his Hebrew name was Buni - as is mentioned in the Gemara - it was common for members of the upper class to have Roman names, as well. His Roman name - Nakdimon - is the subject of a Rabbinic midrash, as is related in the story told by the Gemara. One year, during a drought, there was no water available for the Jewish pilgrims who were coming to Jerusalem for the holiday. Nakdimon ben Guryon approached one of the Roman officers with an offer. He wanted access granted to twelve Roman cisterns on behalf of the Jewish pilgrims. He personally guaranteed that the cisterns would be refilled by a certain date, or else he would pay him twelve talents of silver. When the day arrived, the Roman officer demanded to receive either the water or the silver. Nakdimon ben Guryon responded that the day was not yet over. The officer ridiculed the notion of Nakdimon ben Guryon expecting the cisterns to be refilled in a year of drought. Laughing, he went to the bathhouse, looking forward to his windfall. Nakdimon went to the Temple and prayed to God that his concern for the Jewish people should not lead to financial ruin. The skies filled with clouds and rain began to fall, filling the cisterns. Upon completing their missions, Nakdimon and the Roman officer met outside in the rain. Nakdimon pointed out that the cisterns were not only filled, but were overflowing, and he claimed that the Roman owed him the overflow. The Roman admitted that God had brought the rain on behalf of Nakdimon, but he argued that the debt had not been paid on time, for the day was over! At this point, Nakdimon prayed and the clouds dispersed, allowing the sun to break through - nikdera hamah ba'avuro - proving that the day was not over. (And hence the name Nakdimon.) On a literary note, the Maharsha points out the contrast in the story, of the Roman officer entering the bathhouse - the beit hamerhatz - to bathe while people are desperate for water, whereas Nakdimon exits the Beit HaMikdash and demands that the excess water be made available to the people.
Ta'anit 19a-b: No Outcry for Too Much Rain
01/12/2021 - 27th of Kislev, 5782
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 that opens the third perek of Massekhet Ta'anit teaches that there are certain circumstances in which we do not call for fasting that becomes progressively more severe, but rather we call for immediate hatra'ah (crying out). Included would be a situation where there is rain in all communities but one (based on the passage in Amos 4:7), and when a city is hit by plague or is surrounded by a non-Jewish enemy. In general, the appropriate response to any out-of-the-ordinary situation of danger would be a hatra'ah, which may include prayer, shofar blowing, fasting, or a combination of the three. One exception to the rule is an overabundance of rain, when no public hatra'ah takes place. This ruling brings the Mishna to relate one of the famous stories of Honi HaMe'aggel. In the course of a year of drought, the Sages turned to Honi HaMe'aggel and asked him to pray for rain. When his first entreaties did not produce rain, he drew a circle around himself and swore to God that he would not leave that spot until God showed mercy on His children by ending the drought. At first a light rain began to fall, and Honi demanded rain that fill the cisterns. When angry rains began to fall, Honi demanded rains of mercy and blessing. Finally, the rains fell until flooding began, and the people turned to Honi and asked him to pray that the rain should stop, which he was reluctant to do. The story concludes with the words of Shimon ben Shetah, who said that Honi's words to God were so impudent that he deserved to be excommunicated. But how could he be punished for having such a close, personal relationship with God? Aside from the stories about him related here in Massekhet Ta'anit, we know of Honi HaMe'aggel's death from Josephus' record of it in his Kadmoniyot ha-Yehudim, where he tells of how Honi was killed during the civil war between supporters of Hyrcanus and Aristoblus. From the Talmud Yerushalmi it appears that the well-known "Rip Van Winkle story" of Honi sleeping for seventy years actually relates to one of Honi's ancestors; however, from the stories that appear on daf 23, it is clear that the mysterious powers and abilities were handed down in the family through the generations. His name - HaMe'aggel - is usually attributed to the circle (igul in Hebrew) that he drew in this story. Rav Tzemah Ga'on says that he was named for this hometown - Miglu; others suggest that he was known by his profession - tarring and flattening roofs with a roller (a ma'agilah).
Ta'anit 18a-b: Yom Nicanor and Yom Turyanus
30/11/2021 - 26th of Kislev, 5782
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
Two examples of minor Second Temple holidays that appear in Megillat Ta'anit as days on which it is forbidden to fast or to eulogize are the 13th day of Adar, which was known as Yom Nicanor, and the 12th day of Adar, which was known as Yom Turyanus. The Gemara explains the events that occurred on each of these celebratory days. Yom Nicanor celebrated the death of Nicanor, a Greek general, who would wave his hand at Jerusalem and its environs and say, "when will this fall into my hands so that I can crush it?" When the Hasmoneans succeeded in driving the Greeks from Israel he was captured and killed. Yom Turyanus celebrated the death of Trajan, a Roman officer who put two Jews - Pappas and Luleyanus - to death. Before doing so, he mocked them publicly, challenging the Jewish God to intervene on their behalf, as He was reputed to have done on behalf of Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah (see Daniel Chapter 3).
Luleyanus and Pappas said to him: Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were full-fledged righteous people, and they were worthy that a miracle should be performed for them, and Nebuchadnezzar was a legitimate king who rose to power through his merit, and it is fitting that a miracle be performed through him. But this wicked man, Trajan, is a commoner, not a real king, and it is not fitting that a miracle be performed through him...Trajan remained unmoved by their response and killed them immediately. It is said that they had not moved from the place of execution when two officials arrived from Rome with permission to remove Trajan from power, and they split his skull with clubs. This was viewed as an act of divine retribution and was established as a commemorative day.
It is interesting to note that the 13th of Adar, referred to here as Yom Nicanor, is a day that is on the Jewish calendar today as a public fast day that we know as Ta'anit Esther. Although Megillat Ta'anit has been nullified, Hanukka and Purim are still celebrated, and according to the rules of Megillat Ta'anit, the day before each of these holidays should also be celebrated; thus a public fast should be forbidden as well. The Ra'avad explains that although Purim remains a holiday, the rule forbidding fasts on the day before Purim was abolished. The Ramban points out that once Yom Nicanor was eliminated, fasting was permitted on that day, and the strength of being the day before Purim cannot be more significant than the holiday itself. Another approach suggests that Ta'anit Esther is a unique fast day, one that does not commemorate a period of mourning, but rather should be seen as part of the remembrance of the victory on Purim.
Ta'anit 17a-b: Priestly Watches
29/11/2021 - 25th of Kislev, 5782
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 kohanim were split into 24 groups called mishmarot (watches), each of which worked one-week shifts in the Temple twice during the year (on the holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot, all of the kohanim would come to the mikdash to work). Each mishmar was broken into batei av (patrilineal families), which were made up of families who were more closely related to one another than they were to the rest of the mishmar. According to Rashi, each mishmar was broken into six batei av, and each group was responsible for the Temple service on one of the days that they worked in the mikdash. On Shabbat, the entire mishmar performed the service. According to others (Rabbeinu Ḥananel and the Meiri, for example), every mishmar was broken into seven batei av, each of whom was responsible for one day of the week. From the Tosefta it appears that there was no standard number of batei av; some mishmarot had just four batei av, while others had as many as nine separate groups. Furthermore, it seems likely that some priestly families - perhaps those that did not come with the first waves of returnees at the beginning of the Second Temple period with Ezra and Nehemiah - did not belong to any of the mishmarot. Every bet av had a leader, the rosh bet av,  who was responsible for distributing the various responsibilities among the members of his group. He also had a measure of privilege in the mishmarot, where he received honors like standing next to the kohen gadol during certain Temple ceremonies. The Mishna (15a) teaches that, even on fast days that are established due to drought, the bet av that is actually involved in the Temple service on a given day may not participate in the fast - depending on its severity - due to their focus on the Temple service. The entire mishmar would limit their fast in case they needed to assist the bet av that was working. Similarly, even on days when a fast had not been declared, limitations were established on the bet av and mishmar drinking wine, since someone who had drunk wine could not participate in the Temple service. Our Gemara closes with Abaye's comment that, since we do not know which mishmar and bet av kohanim belong to today, kohanim should never be permitted to drink wine, since the Temple may be built miraculously and they will be called to participate in the service. Nevertheless we do not restrict kohanim in this way because of the teaching of Rabbi, who said that the years of destruction do not allow us to legislate such a restriction.
Ta'anit 16a-b: Shofar Blasts on a Fast Day
28/11/2021 - 24th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As was taught in the Mishna (15a), the procedure for a fast day called because of severe drought involved bringing the ark out of the synagogue and into the public thoroughfare. The elders of the town would speak, and the prayer service was made up of the usual 18 blessings of the Amida prayer with an additional six berakhot inserted. The Mishna continues, relating times that this was actually implemented by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, who recited these blessings and ended the service with a series of shofar blasts. The Mishna concludes, however, that when the Sages heard that this had been done by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon, they objected, arguing that this procedure was only appropriate for use in the Temple. What exactly was inappropriate about the activities led by Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon? The Tosafot Ri"d says that the problem stemmed from their blowing the shofar. Outside of the Beit HaMikdash trumpets are sounded during times of need, rather than a shofar. The Rambam explains that in the Temple the shofar was sounded between each of the additional blessings, while outside the Temple it was only supposed to be blown at the very end of the service. The Ge'onim argue that the problem was the way the shofar was sounded. In the Temple the tradition was to blow a series of varying sounds - Teki'ah-Teru'ah-Teki'ah - while outside of the mikdash a Teki'ah - a single, simple blast - was appropriate. Rashi has a different understanding of the story. In his view, Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon did not allow the traditional response of Amen to be said after the blessings. Although we respond with Amen after every blessing that we hear recited, in the Temple, Amen was never said; rather the accepted response in the Temple was barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed (which we say immediately after the first line in our daily recitation of Keriyat Shema). According to Rashi, by instructing the congregation to respond barukh shem kevod malkhuto le-olam va-ed instead of the usual Amen, Rabbi Halafta and Rabbi Hananya ben Teradyon broke with tradition, which angered the other Sages.
Ta'anit 15a-b: More on Fast Days
27/11/2021 - 23th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The second perek of Massekhet Ta'anit begins on today's daf. Based on descriptions of fast days that we find in the Tanakh (see I Melakhim 8:35-36 and Yo'el 2:15-19) it is clear that aside from abstaining from food, fast days were times of prayer and introspection. This chapter describes the unique prayer services that were established by the Sages for severe fast days, which include ceremonies intended to inspire the people to repentance, and, in particular, the additional blessings inserted into the Amida prayer. Another issue discussed is the circumstances under which fasts cannot be declared. According to the Mishna, aside from Shabbat and Yom Tov, the minor holidays that are enumerated in Megillat Ta'anit are also days on which fasts cannot be established, and, depending on the significance and level of the holiday, the day before and after them may not be appropriate for fasting either. Megillat Ta'anit is a little known collection of statements about minor holidays and fasts that commemorate events which took place during the Second Temple period. On the minor holidays, fasting and eulogies were forbidden. Most of the events that are commemorated are from the period of the Hasmonean monarchy - a prime example being the story of Hanukka - although there are also events from earlier and later periods included, as well. This work is set up chronologically, and it includes the date and a brief account of the incident written in Aramaic, followed by a fuller description of the event in Hebrew. It appears that this work is the oldest example of the Oral Torah being committed to writing; the Sages of the Mishna do not only discuss the rulings that appear in it, but also the language that was used. (Although it is not part of the standard texts of Talmud, the Steinsaltz Hebrew Talmud includes it as an addendum to the volume that contains Massekhet Ta'anit ).
Ta'anit 14a-b: A Cry Was Raised
26/11/2021 - 22th of Kislev, 5782
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
Up until this point the Gemara has discussed fasting in the event of drought. Obviously, other calamities deserve a response as well. The baraita on our daf teaches that regarding other misfortunes (aside from drought), such as scabs, locusts, flies, hornets, mosquitoes or a plague of serpents and scorpions, no "alarm" was raised, but a "cry" was raised. The "alarm" is understood by the Gemara as blowing the shofar, which was part of the fasting ritual; the "cry" is the recitation of additional prayers. What were these calamities enumerated in the baraita? A plague of the insects that are mentioned stems from specific weather conditions that encourage the growth and development of these pests. Zevuvim - flies - were considered so problematic that some ancient tribes had specific rituals and idols whose purpose was to protect them from flies. Yitushim - mosquitoes - are disturbing not only because they are pests, but also because they are carriers of malaria. The tzir'ah - vespa orientalis, or hornet - is mentioned in the Tanakh as one of the instigators of the emigration of the Canaanite nations from the land of Israel (see Shemot 23:28 and Yehoshua 24:12). There is historical evidence that entire cities were abandoned by their populations because of swarms of flies or hornets. Plagues of serpents and scorpions are also often weather related. If conditions are right and there is an ample food supply, the sheer number of sustained, live births rises. Under such circumstances we find that these creatures are forced into closer proximity to the places where humans live, and there is more opportunity for interactions with them than we would have under normal circumstances, thus increasing the likelihood of attacks on humans. On occasion the simple fact that there is overcrowding in their natural habitat will lead these creatures to become more attack-prone, as well.
Ta'anit 13a-b: Extra Prayers on a Fast Day
25/11/2021 - 21th of Kislev, 5782
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 actually refraining from food, fast days that are established - either for an individual or for the community - are days of prayer and introspection. Extra petitionary blessings are added to the Amida prayer. On fast days connected with a lack of rain in Israel, for example, 24 blessings are recited (see dapim 15-16). Our Gemara asks whether an individual who accepts a personal fast will add an extra blessing to the Amida, or will simply add a prayer within the "catch-all" blessing of shome'a tefilla, in which we ask God to accept our prayers. (Our tradition today has individuals including a prayer for the fast day within the shome'a tefilla blessing, while the shaliah zibbur, who represents the congregation in his repetition of the Amida, says it as a separate blessing between the berakhot of go'el [redemption] and rofeh [healing].) To respond to this question, the Gemara quotes a baraita, which rules that on an individual fast day the person will say an Amida of 18 blessings, while on community fast days, 19 blessings are recited. Aside from the concern of the Gemara with the additional blessing for the fast, use of the term Shemoneh Esreh, i.e. 18, when referring to the Amida is, itself, interesting. Although we traditionally call the Amida prayer by that name - Shemoneh Esreh - a quick check of any prayerbook shows that there are 19 blessings in the standard Amida. Tosafot Ri"d discusses at length the common name Shemoneh Esreh, pointing out that the additional blessing of birkat ha-minin was added in Yavne, making it a long-standing part of the Amida. The explanation for this anomaly seems to be based on differences between the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi (and, apparently, the tradition in Israel as opposed to the Diaspora). In Israel the two blessings before shome'ah tefilla -which deal with the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the reestablishment of the Davidic monarchy - were combined into one berakha. In that way even after the addition of birkat ha-minim there still were only 18 blessings in the standard Amida. In Bavel these two berakhot were recited separately and 19 berakhot were said in every prayer. Nevertheless, the prayer was still called Shemoneh Esreh based on the original count of blessings.
Ta'anit 12a-b: Switching One's Fast Day
24/11/2021 - 20th of Kislev, 5782
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
Rav Yehuda quotes Rav as teaching that an individual who accepts upon himself to fast for personal reasons (as opposed to communal fast days determined by the beit din) can "borrow against the fast and pay back later" - i.e. he can choose to eat today and substitute another day of fasting instead. Many of the commentators interpret this to apply only in a case where the person did not commit himself to fast on a specific day (e.g. where he planned to fast on a certain number of days during the year). Nevertheless, many of the rishonim (the Ra'avad, Rashba, Re'ah, Ritva and others) argue that the Gemara makes no such distinction and that a person can even switch his fast from one day to the next. These rishonim understand that this is Shmuel's intent when he compares a personal fast day to a person who takes an oath. Someone who takes an oath to give charity, for example, can switch one coin for another, so long as they have the same value; similarly, fasting on one day is the equivalent of fasting on another. There is one personal fast that must take place on a specific day - a ta'anit halom.A fast that is the result of a disturbing dream must be done immediately after the dream takes place. This rule is so severe that Rav Yosef teaches that someone who is disturbed by their dream must fast even on Shabbat, concluding that he will have to fast a second time as repentance for having "desecrated" the holiness of Shabbat by fasting. Given Shmuel's ruling that dreams are not to be seen as carrying with them any significance, the Ritva explains that the underlying idea of fasting because of a dream is that a very disturbing dream should be seen as a heavenly call to examine one's actions. Thus, it is essential to act while the feeling of dread is still fresh. But how can one fast on Shabbat? Here the Ritva explains that eating on Shabbat is the fulfillment of the mitzvah of oneg Shabbat - making Shabbat pleasurable. Under such circumstances, a festive meal would not be enjoyable, and fasting is a more appropriate expression of oneg Shabbat.
Ta'anit 11a-b: Is Fasting a Sin or Holy?
23/11/2021 - 19th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As its name indicates, most of Massekhet Ta'anit deals with issues of fasting. Should a personal fast be viewed as a positive trait or a negative one? This question is debated by the amora'im. Shmuel rules that a person who accepts a fast upon himself is considered to be a sinner - a hoteh. Rabbi Elazar argues that he is called kadosh - a holy person. Reish Lakish says that he is considered pious - a hasid. Shmuel and Rabbi Elazar derive their positions from different interpretations of the laws of nazir - accepting the limitations of a Nazarite, namely abstaining from wine, leaving his hair uncut and refraining from contact with the dead. According to Shmuel, when the Torah commands the nazir to bring a sacrifice at the end of his nezirut to atone for the sin he committed (see Bamidbar 6:11), the "sin" refers to the fact that he abstained from wine, limiting his enjoyment of life. If he is considered a "sinner" for missing out on wine, certainly abstaining from all food and drink is, if anything, a greater sin. Rabbi Elazar points to a different passage, one that refers to a nazir as kadosh (see Bamidbar 6:5), arguing that if abstention from wine makes you holy, how much more so abstaining from all food and drink. The commentaries use this argument as a springboard for discussing the appropriate attitude towards self-flagellation. One possibility, raised by Tosafot, is that such behavior is considered assaulting oneself and should be seen as an act that goes against the will of God. Some commentaries distinguish between people who fast as an act of atonement and those who do so in an attempt to rise to higher levels of spirituality. Even so, there is no agreement about which of these is admirable and which is to be condemned. The Ri"af accepts fasting as appropriate behavior for someone who does so as part of a process of teshuvah; the Meiri says that a desire to grow spiritually through a fast can be considered holy.
Ta'anit 10a-b: Praying for Rain
22/11/2021 - 18th of Kislev, 5782
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
We learned earlier (see daf 2) that we begin adding gevurot geshamim at the beginning of the Amida at the end of Sukkot. When do we begin adding a request for rain? The Mishna on our daf teaches that, according to the Tanna Kamma, we wait until the third day of Marheshvan; Rabban Gamliel rules that we wait until the seventh day of Marheshvan, which will give the pilgrims returning from Jerusalem a full two weeks after the holiday to reach their homes near the river Perat, which is the border with Suria. Both agree that we cannot reasonably expect people traveling to pray for rain during their journey. The Mishna was written in Israel. The Gemara deals with the question of when the proper time would be to begin requesting rain in the golah - the Diaspora. Hananya teaches that in the golah the prayer for rain begins 60 days after the fall equinox. The Gemara clearly rules like Rabban Gamliel in the Mishna and like Hananya in the Gemara; thus our practice should be clear. In Israel we begin to recite the prayer for rain two weeks after Sukkot (on the seventh day of Marheshvan) and in the Diaspora sixty days after the fall equinox. In fact, neither of these rulings is simple. While Rabban Gamliel's ruling was necessary when pilgrims traveled back and forth to the Temple, is it appropriate today? Should all of Diaspora Jewry follow a ruling that was established when the center of the Diaspora Jewish community was living in Bavel? We find disagreements among the rishonim as to how to approach these questions. The Rosh felt strongly that every community should request rain in the Amida according to its particular needs. The Ritva ruled that we cannot reject the clear conclusion of the Gemara and every community must choose one of the two dates mentioned by the Gemara. Current practice is that communities in the Land of Israel follow the ruling of Rabban Gamliel, while Diaspora communities follow Hananya's ruling. It should be noted that the date in the Diaspora - December 4th - does not coincide with the date at which we arrive when we add 60 days to the equinox of September 22 or 23.
Ta'anit 9a-b: Tithing to Become Wealthy
21/11/2021 - 17th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rabbi Yohanan teaches that fulfilling the mitzva of ma'aser  guarantees wealth. He derives this from the passage (Devarim 14:22) asser te'aser - a tithe shall you tithe - which he understands to mean asser bishvil she-titasher - separate tithes so that you should become wealthy. At first glance this appears to be a simple play-on-words, switching the Hebrew letter sin for a shin, thus changing the pronunciation of the word from asser (tithe) to osher (wealth). Others explain that this is a more straightforward interpretation of the pasuk -- separate tithes, and by doing so you will be given the opportunity to separate yet more tithes (i.e. you will see success in your endeavors). The Gemara now records a fascinating exchange between Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish's son.
Rabbi Yohanan found the son of Reish Lakish. He said to the boy: Recite to me your verse, i.e., the verse you studied today in school. The boy said to him: "A tithe shall you tithe." The boy further said to Rabbi Yohanan: But what is the meaning of this phrase "A tithe shall you tithe"? Rabbi Yohanan said to him: The verse means: Take a tithe so that you will become wealthy. The boy said to Rabbi Yohanan: From where do you derive that this is so? Rabbi Yohanan said to him: Go and test it.
The child responds that testing God is forbidden, quoting the passage in Devarim (6:16) that clearly forbids testing God. To this Rabbi Yohanan responds by quoting Rabbi Hoshaya as teaching that tithes are unique because of the pasuk in Malachi (3:10) in which God clearly allows the Jewish people to test him with regard to the mitzva of ma'aser, promising to open the storehouses of the skies to those who keep the mitzva properly. The exchange between Rabbi Yohanan and Reish Lakish's son is interesting because Reish Lakish was married to Rabbi Yohanan's sister, making the young man Rabbi Yohanan's nephew. We know that Reish Lakish had a number of children - sons and a daughter. The child in this story appears to be seven or eight years old, but it is clear from the conversation that he was a sharp young man. None of Reish Lakish's children are quoted as adults in the Talmud, which leads to speculation that none of them survived to adulthood.
Ta'anit 8a-b: The True Faithful
20/11/2021 - 16th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Rabbi Ami teaches that it is due to the merit of people who truly believe in God that rain falls. The source for this teaching is Tehillim 85:12, according to which truth grows from the earth and righteousness comes down from the skies. Continuing with the theme of those who truly believe, Rabbi Ami points to the story of those who believe in the hulda u-bor - the marten (a rodent) and the pit - arguing that if you believe in the hulda u-bor, certainly you can believe in God. It is interesting that the Gemara feels no need to explain what the story of the hulda u-bor entails, taking for granted that it was a story so well known that there was no need to put it in writing. Rashi and Tosafot both tell a short version of the story, but a lengthier version, whose source is in the traditions of the Ge'onim, appears in the Arukh. As R. Natan ben Yehiel tells it in his Arukh, the story begins with a girl from a noble family who loses her way and, having fallen into a well while drinking, cannot manage to extract herself. A passerby hears her cries and shouts. After a lengthy conversation during which time he ascertains that she is, in fact, a woman and not a demon of some sort, he agrees to save her, on the condition that she will marry him. Upon lifting her from the well he wants to consummate the marriage immediately, but she objects, arguing that a Jewish man surely wants to marry according to the halakha and would not be interested in simply fulfilling animalistic urges. They agree to marry and appoint the well and a passing weasel as witnesses to their pact. Upon returning home, she scrupulously kept her agreement, refusing the entreaties of all suitors. He, on the other hand, soon forgot the agreement and married another woman, who bore children - the first of whom was bitten by a marten, the second of whom drowned in a well. Seeing that her children died under unnatural circumstances, she demanded an explanation from her husband, who admitted that he had promised another that he would marry her. They divorced and he searched for the woman who he had saved and promised to marry. When she refused him - as she did all others - he told her of the honest witnesses, the hulda u-bor,that brought him back to her. In the end they married and had many children, proving the passage in Tehillim (101:6) that God's eyes are upon the faithful who merit a close relationship with Him.
Ta'anit 7a-b: A Simple Vessel
19/11/2021 - 15th of Kislev, 5782
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
Should we expect that a person who is a Torah scholar should also be a physically attractive person? Rabbi Oshaya says that we should not. He points out that the Torah is compared to three liquids - water, wine and milk (see Yeshayahu 55:1) - all of which are stored best in simple, clay vessels. In fact, the Rambam teaches (Hilkhot Talmud Torah 3:9) that we should not expect to find Torah in haughty, self-centered people, but rather among those who are modest and unassuming. The Gemara tells of the Caesar's daughter who approached Rabbi Yehoshua ben Hananya and asked how his wisdom could be contained in such an ugly vessel (Rabbi Yehoshua was well-known for his unappealing looks). Rabbi Yehoshua pointed out to her that the most expensive wine in the Caesar's house was kept in pottery - why not in gold and silver vessels? Taking his suggestion seriously, she ordered all of the wine to be transferred to gold and silver, but found that after a short time it had all spoiled. The Caesar's daughter was not being mean or frivolous in her question; she was asking why God would choose to "store" the beautiful words of Torah in a container that was ugly. Wouldn't it be more fitting for the Torah to be kept in a more appropriate storage vessel? In his response to her, Rabbi Yehoshua suggested that she do something that she certainly knew was inappropriate. Nevertheless, since people keep wine in silver cups for a short time at the table, why not keep it there longer? Her experiment showed that wine could be kept for a short time in a gold or silver cup, but not for a long time. Rabbi Yehoshua hinted that perhaps hearing a short Torah idea from a handsome person is an attractive idea, but that for long-term Torah study, a more simple container is more appropriate. Wine is not ordinarily stored in gold or silver bottles because of chemicals in wine (and vinegar) that partially dissolve most metals with which they come into contact. Moreover, the makeup of many of these metals includes poisonous materials, so they are not only bad tasting, but potentially dangerous, as well.
Ta'anit 6a-b: The First and Last Rains
18/11/2021 - 14th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the promises that we repeat daily in our recitation of the Keriyat Shema is that the reward for appropriate behavior is rain in its proper time - yoreh u'malkosh. Our Gemara discusses these terms and their meaning. The yoreh, according to the baraita, is the first rain of the year, which occurs in the month of Marheshvan, and the malkosh is the rain that ends the season in Nisan. In truth, establishing the time that rain normally falls based on the Jewish calendar is inaccurate, at best, given the fluctuation that exists between these months and the solar-based, Gregorian calendar. Historically, rain has fallen in Israel as early as October (which sometime coincides with the end of Tishrei) and as late as the end of April (which sometimes falls out in the middle of Iyyar). With regard to the meaning of each of these words, several suggestions are made by the Gemara. Yoreh can be understood to be made up of any one of a number of different root words.
The Sages taught in a baraita: The first rain [yoreh] is called by this name due to the factpeople that it instructs [moreh] to plaster their roofs and to bring in their produce from the fields to their houses and to attend to all their needs in the field before more rain falls. Alternatively, yoreh is referring to the fact that it moistens [marve] the earth and waters it to the depths, as it is stated: "Watering [ravvei] its ridges abundantly, settling down its furrows, You make it soft with showers, You bless its growth" (Tehillim65:11). Alternatively, yoreh means that it falls gently and it does not fall vehemently.
Malkosh appears to come from the root lekesh, an unusual root that means "late." Rashi says that it is the name of a type of locust - the Schistocerca gregaria - whose appearance coincides with the end-of-season rains. These locusts ordinarily live in small groups and pose no danger whatsoever. Occasionally, when the late rains coincide with warm weather, development of eggs is hastened, large numbers of locusts are hatched at the same time, and changes take place in the creatures' behavior. They now change from solitary creatures to swarming communities that attack vegetation, causing widespread damage. Under certain circumstances they can reach Israel on South-easterly winds.
Ta'anit 5a-b: Ya'akov Avinu Didn't Die
17/11/2021 - 13th of Kislev, 5782
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 describes a meal shared by Rav Nahman and Rabbi Yitzhak (there were two amora'im named Rabbi Yitzhak who were students of Rabbi Yohanan, one of whom was proficient in halakha, and the other in aggada. As we will see, the Rabbi Yitzhak in our story is the aggadist, who was known as Rabbi Yitzhak bar Pinhas. It appears that he traveled to Bavel where he spread the Torah of the Land of Israel, and, in particular, the teachings of his teacher, Rabbi Yohanan.). Rav Nahman asked Rabbi Yitzhak to share some words of Torah, and Rabbi Yitzhak responded with a teaching of Rabbi Yohanan - that it is not appropriate to talk during the meal. Upon completion of the meal Rabbi Yitzhak shared another one of Rabbi Yohanan's teachings. He quoted his teacher as saying that Ya'akov Avinu never died. Rav Nahman reacted with shock: How could it be that the Torah records the eulogies said over Jacob and describes his eventual burial in the Land of Israel, along with the related preparations, if he never died?! Rabbi Yitzhak simply brings a passage from Yirmiyahu (30:10) in which God tells Jacob that he need not fear, for both he and his descendants would be saved, interpreting it to mean that both the Jewish people, and their forefather Jacob, are alive. Even with the pasuk in Yirmiyahu, the statement that Ya'akov Avinu did not die deserves an explanation. Some commentaries (the Ri"af, for example) suggest that Jacob fainted away and was in a comatose state, and only upon his return for burial in Israel did he die. Nevertheless, this does not appear to be the intention of Rabbi Yitzhak's teaching. Most likely, the statement "Ya'akov Avinu never died" has mystical significance, something that Rav Nahman at first did not understand. One explanation is put forward by the Rashba, who suggests that the statement points to the fact that unlike Abraham and Isaac, both of whom had one son who was chosen and another who was rejected, all of Jacob's children continued with his covenant with God. In this way, his legacy - and, indeed, he himself - never died.
Ta'anit 4a-b: When One Gets Angry
16/11/2021 - 12th of Kislev, 5782
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
Anger is usually perceived as a negative trait. Nevertheless, the Gemara on our daf appears to suggest that anger has a positive side to it, as well.
  • Rava teaches that when a Torah scholar becomes angry, he is expressing the anger of the Torah itself. This statement is based on a passage in Yirmiyahu (23:29), which teaches that the word of God is like a burning fire.
  • Rav Ashi interprets the continuation of that passage - which teaches that God's word is like a hammer that smashes stone - to mean that a Torah scholar should be strong as iron, i.e. that he should not be conciliatory in any way.
  • Rabbi Abba argues that this teaching can be understood from a passage in Sefer Devarim (8:9), which can be read to mean "the land whose builders (reading boneha instead of avaneha) are iron." This refers to Torah scholars spiritually building the land, and they must be tough as iron in their teaching and behavior.
In response to these statements, Ravina quotes a pasuk from Kohelet (11:10) that extols removing anger from one's heart, and he derives from it that everyone should work to behave in a pleasant way. The question of how we can understand the Sages' perspective of anger as an ideal is discussed by many of the commentators on our page. The Meiri explains that a person who has dedicated his life to Torah study has raised himself to a spiritual plane where he has a heightened sensitivity to evil or inappropriate behavior. The anger that he expresses in response to such behavior should not be interpreted as a negative personal trait, but as the reaction of a particularly sensitive soul to the wrongdoings of the world. Even under those circumstances, argues Ravina, the scholar should learn to express his position in a positive way. Rabbi Yehonatan Eybeshuts explains that when one allows himself to become angry, it affects his very soul of the person, even when he is presenting a legitimate argument, Thus it is for his own benefit to be careful not to do so.
Ta'anit 3a-b: Mentioning Dew or the Blowing of the Wind
15/11/2021 - 11th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although asserting God's greatness based on gevurot geshamim - i.e. stating mashiv ha-rua'h u'morid ha-geshem (He who makes the winds blow and brings down the rain) in the blessing of mehayye ha-metim (He who revives the dead) - is an essential part of our Amida prayer, the baraita on our daf teaches that it is not essential to relate similarly to the falling of dew or the blowing of wind.
The Gemara asks: What is the reason that this recitation is optional? Rabbi Hanina said: Because winds and dew are consistent and not withheld, since the world could not exist without them, their mention is optional.
Dew is created by condensation of moisture in the air. Most objects - including plants - radiate (and lose) more heat than the air surrounding them, and thus become colder than the air. At that point atmospheric moisture condenses at a rate greater than that at which it can evaporate, forming water droplets. Although there are specific conditions that may limit the development of dew (e.g. low clouds, strong winds, etc.), since dew is created locally and is not connected with the larger water system, there is almost always some dew created. The amount of dew that falls differs with climate and region; there are places in Israel where the amount of dew is almost equal to the amount of rainfall in a given year. In such places, it is only because of the dew that agriculture can be maintained. Although an overabundance of dew can occasionally cause damage to produce at certain times of the year, generally speaking dew is seen as valuable - both in the summer when it acts as a water source, and in the winter when it protects the ground from frost. Winds are created by a variety of different factors. Differences in temperature between the ground and the air, between the sea and the land, and between the Arctic Circle and the Equator all play a role in the creation of wind. Although the systems that create winds that carry rain are complicated, the agents involved in creating wind are constant; there is always some movement of air and never a total cessation of wind. Rashi explains that the ruling of the baraita that one is not obligated to mention dew or winds refers to the winter. The Ritva, however, understands that it is a reference to the summer, when gevurot geshamim is not recited, and the ruling is that even in places where the custom is to mention these natural phenomena, it is not essential to do so. In fact, there are different traditions regarding this question. Sefardim and Hassidim do insert morid ha-tal in their Amida, while the traditional Ashkenazi position is to leave it out. In Israel the custom is for everyone to include it in their prayers (see Shulhan Aruk Orah Hayyim 114:7).
Ta'anit 2a-b: Praying for Rain
14/11/2021 - 10th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The first Mishna in Massekhet Ta'anit opens with a discussion of the prayer for rain, distinguishing between two different parts of the Amida prayer. Towards the beginning of the Amida we recite gevurot geshamim (mashiv ha-rua'h u'morid ha-geshem - He who makes the winds blow and brings down the rain) in the blessing of mehayye ha-metim (He who revives the dead). In the middle of the Amida, in the blessing of mevarekh ha-shanim (He who blesses the years) we also add a specific request for rain. Although Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree whether we should begin praising God for His deliverance of rain at the beginning of Sukkot, it becomes clear in the Gemara that all are in agreement that the request for rain should wait until after the Sukkot holiday is over. According to Rabbi Eliezer, it is appropriate to praise God for His works at any time, while according to Rabbi Yehoshua, since rain is not wanted during Sukkot it would be inappropriate to mention it in any way until after the holiday. The idea that rain during Sukkot is a siman kelalah - a curse - is explained by Rashi to refer to the Gemara in Massekhet Sukka (28b), which teaches that a person who becomes uncomfortable in his sukka because of the rain is permitted to leave his sukka. A parable is told in which a person who is forced to leave his sukka because of the rain is compared to a servant who pours a cup of wine for his master and then has the wine flung in his face by the master, who clearly rejects his service. Thus, rain on Sukkot is a siman kelalah because a Jew forced out of his sukka by rain experiences the rejection of his desire to serve God by means of the sukka. The Me'iri suggests a much simpler explanation, pointing out that simply missing out on the opportunity to perform a mitzva is, itself, indicative of a siman kelalah. Placement of gevurot geshamim in the blessing of mehayye ha-metim is understood by the Ritva as signifying the revival that the rainy season offers the land after a dry summer. Moreover it is a reminder to us of God's power and His ability to change the reality of the world based on His establishment of a natural cycle.
Rosh HaShana 35a-b: Fulfilling the Obligation of Amida
13/11/2021 - 9th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When recited in the synagogue, both shaharit and minha (the morning and afternoon prayer services) include the Amida prayer, first recited by each individual congregant, and then followed by an out-loud repetition by the hazzan. This tradition has its source in the last Mishna in Massekhet Rosh HaShana (33b) where the Mishna teaches that both the individual and the hazzan are obligated to recite the prayer. Rabban Gamliel argues that the community can listen to the recitation of the hazzan, who represents the community (his title, in fact, is shaliah zibbur - the congregation's messenger), and fulfill their obligation without reciting it themselves. According to the Shulhan Arukh (Orah Hayyim 124:1), a person who is not familiar with the prayers can listen to the hazzan and fulfill his obligation on the condition that he remain silent throughout the repetition and pay close attention to every word recited from beginning to end. Such a person should treat this as he would his own Amida - he should take three steps back at the end, etc. The Shulhan Aruch HaRav rules that it is essential that he understand at least the first berakha; otherwise he would be better off saying the Amida in a language that he understands. This is all true for someone who is not expert enough to pray on his own. If someone is a baki - an expert in the prayers - it is not clear whether we follow Rabban Gamliel's ruling. The Magen Avraham, for example, rules that a baki cannot fulfill his obligation in prayer by simply listening to the repetition of the hazzan. Although there are arguments as to whether we accept Rabban Gamilel's position all year round, the clear conclusion of the Gemara is that on Rosh HaShana we follow his opinion mishum de-avshi berakhot - because the extra blessings in the Rosh HaShana prayers are long and unfamiliar. The Rosh suggests that the expression, "mishum de-avshi berakhot" refers to the noise in the synagogue during Rosh HaShana prayers. Unlike regular days, when most people are familiar with the prayers and say them quietly, on Rosh HaShana people are more likely to say them aloud, making it difficult to concentrate. Thus, on Rosh HaShana everyone can fulfill the obligation of tefillah by listening to the hazzan.
Rosh HaShana 34a-b: The Sounds of the Shofar
12/11/2021 - 8th of Kislev, 5782
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
Anyone who has heard the shofar blown in the synagogue on Rosh HaShana recognizes its unique sound - a single long blast (tekia), followed by a series of broken notes, and a concluding single blast (tekia). This cycle is repeated with variations in the broken notes:
  • we sound three relatively long notes (that we today call a shevarim, and the Gemara refers to as genuhei gana- a moaning sound),
  • we sound a staccato series of short notes (that we today call a terua, and the Gemara refers to as yelulei yalil - a whimpering sound)
  • we sound a combination of the two - shevarim-terua.
This tradition developed from a takkana - a Rabbinic ordinance - promulgated by Rabbi Abbahu. The Gemara explains that Rabbi Abbahu was unsure whether the proper terua was genuhei gana – a moaning sound, yelulei yalil – a whimpering sound, or a combination of the two. Thus we repeat the teki'ot a number of times in order to cover all possibilities. Rabbi Abbahu's need to develop this system is difficult to understand. Was there not a tradition as to the proper sound of the terua? This question vexed the rishonim, who offer a number of different suggestions. The Rambam argues that, in fact, this is an example of a tradition that was forgotten or became confused during the years of exile that followed the destruction of The Second Temple. Rav Hai Gaon argues that according to Torah law, a broken sound would suffice to fulfill the definition of the terua that was required. Over the course of time, two different traditions developed; some people always sounded genuhei gana - a moaning sound, while others sounded yelulei yalil – a whimpering sound. Rabbi Abbahu was concerned lest these different traditions would create dissention among people who did not realize that both were legitimate positions, so he chose to institute and combine them. The Ritva suggests that the true requirement is to blow the shofar in a manner that inspires fear and trembling. As different generations related to musical sound in different ways, the sound that brought out those emotions changed, leading to a variety of traditions. Rabbi Abbahu combined them in order to minimize potential strife.
Rosh HaShana 33a-b: Performing a Mitzva Voluntarily
11/11/2021 - 7th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Although playing a musical instrument on Shabbat or Yom Tov is ordinarily forbidden by the Sages shema yetaken klei shir - lest someone fix the instrument - nevertheless, blowing a shofar on Rosh HaShana is a mitzva that must be fulfilled. Can someone who is not obligated in the mitzva of shofar blow it on Rosh HaShana? The Mishna (32b) teaches that children are permitted to try out the shofar and that adults can even help them practice blowing it. The Gemara on our daf argues that by specifically permitting children to blow the shofar, the Mishna is implicitly teaching that women are not allowed to do so.
The Gemara asks: Isn't it taught in a baraita that one does not prevent women or children from sounding the shofar on a Festival? The Gemara answers that Abaye said: This is not difficult: This mishna is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda while that baraita is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon.
These positions stem from the disagreement between the tanna'im on the issue of semikha - part of the sacrifice ceremony when the person bringing a korban in the Temple would put pressure on the animal's head before it was slaughtered and brought to the altar. Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon rule that women can perform semikha even though they are not obligated in it, from which we conclude that they generally permit women to perform mitzvot on a voluntary basis, even when they are not obligated in them. Rabbi Yehuda forbids women from doing semikha. Our tradition follows the opinions of Rabbi Yosei and Rabbi Shimon, which allows people to perform mitzvot on a voluntary basis, even if they are not commanded in them. The main differences of opinion regarding this halakha relate to situations where performing the mitzva voluntarily will involve a potential transgression, or the question of whether the blessing of asher kidshanu be-mitzvotav - which suggests that the mitzva is commanded - can be recited..
Rosh HaShana 32a-b: The Blessings of the Amida
10/11/2021 - 6th of Kislev, 5782
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 daily Amida prayer, which contains 19 blessings (and is popularly called shmoneh esrei, referring to the original 18 blessings, to which one was later added), is made up of three introductory blessings, 13 requests, and three concluding blessings. On Shabbat and holidays, the requests are removed and the Amida contains the introductory and closing blessings, with a single blessing in the middle that focuses on the holiness of the day. The Amida prayer of musaf on Rosh HaShana is unique in that it had three blessings between the introductory and concluding berakhot. These three blessings - referred to by the Gemara as malkhuyot, zikhronot and shofarot (blessings over God's monarchy, His remembrances and the shofar), make up the longest Amida of the year. Our Mishna teaches that aside from the closing blessing itself, each of these additional berakhot is made up of ten passages from the Tanakh. The passages serve to illustrate these three concepts. Several sources are brought to explain the need for collecting pesukim to illustrate God's monarchy.
  • Rabbi Yehuda Ha-Nasi finds the source in the final mizmor in Tehillim, which uses the term hallel ten times in praising God (including one hallel by means of a shofar).
  • Rabbi Yosef points to the Ten Commandments as the source.
  • Rabbi Yohanan says that they commemorate the ten statements through which God created the world, as recorded in Bereshit Chapter 1.
Finding Rabbi Yohanan's ten statements of va-yomer ("and He said") is a challenge to many of the commentaries. While some statements in Bereshit very clearly are statements of creation, with others it is more difficult to determine whether they are statements, blessings, suggestions, etc. Once sources for ten pesukim about malkhuyot are suggested, our Gemara makes no attempt to locate sources for zikhronot or shofarot. The Rashba suggests that once we find acceptable sources for malkhuyot, the reasoning works for the others, as well. The Talmud Yerushalmi does make other suggestions, however. According to the Yerushalmi, ten zikhronot are suggested by the ten expressions of repentance in the first perek of Yeshayahu (1:16-18), and ten shofarot commemorate the sacrifices brought during musaf of Rosh HaShana in the Temple, each of which was accompanied by the sounding of the shofar.
Rosh HaShana 31a-b: Travels in Exile
09/11/2021 - 5th of Kislev, 5782
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
At the time of the destruction of the Temple, the Jewish people were sent into exile.
Rav Yehuda bar Idi said that Rabbi Yohanan said: The Divine Presence [the Shekhina] traveled ten journeys, i.e., it left the Temple and Eretz Yisrael in ten stages at the time of the destruction of the First Temple, as derived from verses. And corresponding to them the Sanhedrin was exiled in ten stages at the end of the Second Temple period and after the destruction of the Temple, and this is known from tradition.
map of Galilee The Sanhedrin's first stop after leaving Jerusalem was the city of Yavne, which was established as a center of Torah study by Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai, and became most famous under the direction of Rabban Gamliel of Yavne. Throughout its continuing travels, the Sanhedrin was headed by descendants of the family of Hillel. It appears that the Sanhedrin was moved to Usha in the aftermath of the Bar Kokhba Rebellion, where a series of Rabbinic enactments - called takkanot Usha - were established. Under the leadership of Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel there was an unsuccessful attempt to return the Sanhedrin to Yavne, but due to the overwhelming devastation in the southern part of the country, they returned to the Galilee, first to Usha and then to Shefaram. Rabbi Yehuda HaNasi first sat in Beit She'arim together with the Sanhedrin, but he was forced to move to Tzippori, which was on a higher altitude, for reasons of health. His son, Rabban Gamliel, settled in Teverya, and the Sanhedrin remained in that city until it was finally dissolved.
Rosh HaShana 30a-b: When to Take the Lulav
08/11/2021 - 4th of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we learned on yesterday's daf, following the destruction of the Temple, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai established Rabbinic ordinances whose purpose was to remember the Mikdash. The Mishna on our daf discusses how his rulings affected the holiday of Sukkot. The pesuk that commands us to take the arba minim on Sukkot (Vayikra 23:40) is enigmatic. It describes the mitzva as commanding us to take the four species on "the first day [of the holiday]" and then continues that you should "rejoice before God for seven days." Which are we commanded to do - celebrate with the etrog and lulav for one day, or for seven? The Mishna teaches that originally the halakha was that the arba minim were taken one day in all places (medina), and seven days in the Beit HaMikdash ("before God"). There is a difference of opinion amongst the rishonim regarding the definition of mikdash in this case. Rashi, the Ritva and others explain that any place outside of the Temple - including the Old City of Jerusalem - is considered medina and the lulav is not taken there. The Rambam rules that the holiness of the Temple extends to the entire city and therefore all of Jerusalem is considered mikdash for this purpose. The Jerusalem Talmud is clear on this point, in agreement with the Rambam. Thus it is possible even today that there is a biblical obligation to take the arba minim when visiting the Old City of Jerusalem. This rule was changed with the destruction of the Temple. At that time Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai instituted a Rabbinic decree obligating the lulav and etrog to be taken for all seven days of the holiday, zekher la-mikdash - as a remembrance of the Temple and its unique rule. The Meiri points out that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai did not actually establish the mitzva for all seven days as in the Temple, since at least one of the days will fall out on Shabbat, when, nowadays, the lulav is not taken. Nevertheless the point is that the obligation, as it was practiced in the Beit HaMikdash, is remembered.
Rosh HaShana 29a-b: Blowing the Shofar on Shabbat
07/11/2021 - 3rd of Kislev, 5782
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
It is common knowledge that we do not sound the shofar on Rosh HaShana that coincides with Shabbat. The first Mishna in the fourth perek teaches that this is only the case outside of the Mikdash. In the Temple the shofar was blown even on Shabbat. Following the destruction of the Temple, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai established a rule whereby the shofar was blown on Shabbat in places that had an established bet din. Rabbi Elazar argues with that tradition and says that Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai established that rule only in Yavne. In searching for an explanation why the shofar is not sounded on Shabbat, our Gemara rejects the suggestion that this is a Biblical law based on the difference between the pasuk in Bamidbar (29:1), which calls Rosh HaShana a day of teru'ah (i.e. blowing the shofar), and the pesuk in Vayikra (23:24) that refers to it as a day of zikhron teru'ah (when we remember the blowing of the shofar), the former referring to a regular year and the latter to Rosh HaShana falling on Shabbat. Instead, our Gemara suggests that it is a Rabbinic ordinance, quoting Rabbah as teaching that our concern lest the shofar be carried in a public place - which is forbidden on Shabbat - forced the Sages to suspend the mitzva. In the Temple - or subsequently in the time of Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai in Yavne - where mitzvot were carried out with great care, there was no need for this Rabbinic ordinance, and blowing the shofar on Shabbat was permitted. It is interesting to note that the Talmud Yerushalmi accepts the argument that it is a Biblical commandment to refrain from blowing the shofar on Shabbat.
Rosh HaShana 28a-b: Intent to Fulfill the Commandment
06/11/2021 - 2nd of Kislev, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When performing a mitzva, what is really important? Must we simply carry out the act of the mitzva, or is it essential to have a level of intent - kavvana - for the mitzva? This is the issue discussed at some length on our daf, where a statement is presented to Shmuel's father - if someone is forced to eat matza on Pesah he is considered to have fulfilled the commandment. Why should that be true? Two possibilities are presented as to what forced the person to eat matza:
  1. Kefa'o shade - literally means "he was forced by a demon"
  2. Kefa'uhu Parsi'im - Persians (non-Jews) forced him to eat.
Kefa'o shade is an expression that indicates that a person is "forced" to do something by an internal compunction that we would probably call "temporary insanity." In such a case, the Gemara makes clear that during the time that the individual is under the influence of this compunction, he is not considered in control of his capacities and is therefore not obligated in mitzvot at that moment. Thus any act of mitzva that is done "under the influence" will not be counted. Rav Ashi therefore explains that we are discussing a case of Kefa'uhu Parsi'im, from which we can conclude that performing a mitzva - even without intent - is counted, since the case of Kefa'uhu Parsi'im is one where the person performing the mitzva had no intention of doing so. In response to this ruling, the Gemara quotes a series of cases that seem to require kavvana in order for the performance of the mitzva to have significance. A number of the statements indicate specifically that kavvana is essential for the mitzva of shofar. For example, a person whose house is near a synagogue, or who finds himself near a synagogue on Rosh HaShana, can fulfill his obligation of shofar if he hears it – as long as he intends to fulfill the mitzva. Similarly, the Gemara requires that both the person blowing the shofar and the person listening to it must have intention for the mitzva in order for the listener to fulfill the mitzva. Although the Gemara has explanations for each of these cases (e.g. that the "intention" required was to know that it was actually a shofar and not a donkey braying), there is a very basic difference between eating matza and hearing the shofar. The Talmud Yerushalmi distinguishes between a commandment that involves the need to perform a physical act (like eating) and a mitzva that does not involve any activity at all (like listening to something). In the latter case, it could be argued that, without intent, absolutely nothing has taken place, and we cannot conceivably imagine that a mitzva has taken place.
Rosh HaShana 27a-b: Shofar Details
05/11/2021 - 1st of Kislev, 5782
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
di ibexThe Mishna (26b) teaches that the shofar blown in the Temple on Rosh HaShana was made from the horn of a ya'el (ibex) and its mouthpiece was covered with gold. When it was sounded it was accompanied by hatzotzrot - trumpets - on either side, although the sound of the trumpets was shorter than that of the shofar, since the mitzva of the day was the shofar. On fast days the hatzotzrot were in the middle surrounded by shofarot, and in this case the sound of the shofar was shorter, since the mitzva of the day was the trumpet. The ya'el, whose horns were used to fashion shofarot, is identified as Capra ibex nubicum, an animal that lives in small herds mainly in mountainous areas and in the desert if there is water readily accessible (like in the area of the Dead Sea and nearby Ein Gedi). The Temple hatzotzrot are readily viewed on the Arch of Titus in Rome, which depicts the Judean captives transporting the Temple vessels to Rome. di shofar gold mouthpieceOne of the concerns of our Gemara is how the mouthpiece could have been covered with gold. This question is understood differently by the various commentaries. Some explain that the assumption of the Gemara was that a band of gold was placed around the edge of the shofar and the problem stemmed from the rules of hatzitza- that the person’s mouth was not directly in contact with the shofar when it was sounded. Others suggest that the case would have been where an additional mouthpiece was attached to the shofar so that the person blowing it was not directly in contact with the shofar, but rather he was blowing it through the use of a foreign object. In response to this objection, Abaye explains that we must be talking about a situation where the gold was placed as a decoration further up on the shofar, above the spot where the lips of the person blowing came into contact with the shofar.
Rosh HaShana 26a-b: The Horn of a Cow
04/11/2021 - 29th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The focus of the third perek of Massekhet Rosh HaShana is the mitzva of sounding the shofar on the holiday. The commandment is mentioned twice in the Torah (see Vayikra 23:24 and Bamidbar 29:1), but only in the most general terms. This perek offers the details that are essential to fulfilling the mitzva properly, including such questions as: What is the instrument that is blown?
  • What is it made out of?
  • How is it fashioned?
  • How large must it be?
  • Does it have to be a particular shape?
The other central question is:
  • How is the instrument to be blown?
  • Will any sounds do, or are there specific ones that must be made?
  • Is there a particular order to the sounds?
  • Is there a specific number of sounds required?
The Mishna teaches that all shofarot can be used on Rosh HaShana, except for that of a cow, since a cow has a keren - horn - rather than a shofar. Rabbi Yosei permits the use of a cow's horn, arguing that all shofarot are referred to as keren (see Yehoshua 6:5). Although the Mishna very specifically teaches the reasoning behind the two opinions on the use of the horn of a cow, two amora'im nevertheless suggest alternative explanations for the disagreement. Abaye says that the basic position in the Mishna stems from the Biblical requirement of a single shofar - not two or three shofarot. The horn of a cow is made up of several layers, so it cannot be used (Rabbi Yosei argues that we see the layers as making up a single shofar). Ulla suggests that the basic position of the Mishna is based on the rule en kategor na'aseh sanegor - a prosecuting attorney cannot become a defense attorney. Just like the High Priest cannot wear his gold garments into the Holy of Holies when performing the Yom Kippur service, similarly the horn of a cow cannot be used to call out in defense of the Jewish People. Rashi explains that the cow invokes the Golden Calf and therefore is considered a member of the prosecution. In general, gold is seen as representing vanity and a desire for material wealth, which do not seem appropriate for prayers of forgiveness.
Rosh HaShana 25a-b: The Final Ruling
03/11/2021 - 28th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 last Mishna in our perek relates the famous story of Rabban Gamliel and Rabbi Yehoshua, who disagreed one year about when Rosh HaShana fell out. Witnesses came to testify, claiming that they had seen the new moon on the 30th day (which would have made Elul 29 days long), but that the moon did not appear on the next night. Rabban Gamliel accepted their testimony, but Rabbi Yehoshua agreed with Rabbi Dosa ben Horkinas that their testimony could not be accepted, as it had to be false. Rabban Gamliel's position is explained by the Rambam as being based on the fact that the first testimony of the witnesses was acceptable, and that the testimony about the next day was irrelevant since there probably was a cloud, fog or some other factor that kept the witnesses from seeing the moon. Rav Zerahya HaLevi suggests that Rabban Gamliel was mistaken in his ruling, and that the witnesses, in fact, were unreliable. Nevertheless, Rabban Gamliel felt that for a variety of reasons he could not rescind his original ruling. In any case, when Rabban Gamliel heard that Rabbi Yehoshua disagreed with him, he ordered him to appear carrying his walking stick and satchel on the day that Yom Kippur would fall according to his (Rabbi Yehoshua's) figuring. Rabbi Akiva, who saw the distress suffered by Rabbi Yehoshua, consoled him by offering a teaching in support of the finality of Rabban Gamliel's ruling. The passage (Vayikra 23:4) is understood to mean that the holidays are established based on the decisions of the court, even if that decision is incorrect because of error, because the court was misled, or even if they purposefully made the wrong ruling. The baraita records that Rabbi Yehoshua thanks Rabbi Akiva for his insight, saying "you have consoled me, you have consoled me." This double expression of consolation is understood to refer both to Rabban Gamliel's error and to the fact that Rabbi Yehoshua will be obligated to violate Yom Kippur, according to his own beliefs. Our perek concludes with the story of Rabbi Yehoshua appearing before Rabban Gamliel on the day that he (Rabbi Yehoshua) believed was Yom Kippur, carrying his walking stick and satchel as requested. Rabban Gamliel kissed him, calling him his teacher, for the Torah that he had learned from him, and his student, for having accepted his ruling.
Rosh HaShana 24a-b: Identifying the Phase of the Moon
02/11/2021 - 27th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When witnesses come to Jerusalem to testify that they have seen the new moon, the judges interview them in order to ascertain that they have, in fact, seen the beginning of a new lunar cycle and not just the end of the previous one. Someone who does not pay close attention to the position of the moon may very well walk into court and describe a situation that is physically impossible. To assist the witnesses in their testimony, the Mishna on our daf tells of models that Rabban Gamliel had in his study, which he would show to the people coming to testify. In this way, situations that might be difficult to describe verbally could be discussed with the help of visual aids.
The Gemara asks: And is it permitted to create these types of forms Isn't it written: "You shall not make with Me gods of silver, or gods of gold" (Shemot 20:19), which is interpreted as teaching: You shall not make images of my attendants, i.e., those celestial bodies that were created to serve God, including the sun and the moon?
The answer offered by the Gemara is a difficult one – that Rabban Gamliel did not make the models himself; they were made by others. Tosafot and other rishonim argue that it is forbidden for Jews to have non-Jews perform tasks for them that are Biblically forbidden, which would seem to be the case here. A number of explanations are offered:
  • Most commentaries suggest that, since this was done for an essential reason connected to fulfilling a mitzva, it was permitted in this case.
  • The Ritva suggests that others made the models for their own purposes, and Rabban Gamliel purchased them from those people.
Rosh HaShana 23a-b: Arriving in Jerusalem on Shabbat for a Mitzva
01/11/2021 - 26th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned, on Shabbat and Yom Tov a person is limited in the distance that he can travel outside the boundaries of his city. Under ordinary circumstances, a person cannot venture more than 2,000 amot out of the city (called tehum Shabbat), and with the establishment of an eiruv tehumin he can travel an extra 2,000 amot in a specific direction. In the event that a person leaves the area around his city, halakha requires him to remain where he finds himself; he cannot move beyond his immediate surroundings until Shabbat or Yom Tov is over. What if someone is forced to leave his permitted area in order to fulfill a mitzva- what is his status? Does he need to be "frozen in place," or does he have freedom of movement on account of the mitzva? The Mishna on our daf discusses this situation in the case of witnesses who came to Jerusalem to testify about having seen the new moon. According to the Mishna, the witnesses were gathered into a large courtyard called Beit Ya'zek, where they were interviewed by the court and served sumptuous meals, since the court wanted to encourage them to come in the future, as well. If the witnesses arrived on Shabbat, the Mishna records that originally they were not permitted to leave, but Rabban Gamliel ha-Zaken established a rule permitting them free access to the entire city of Jerusalem, as well as travel within the 2,000 amot perimeter around the city. Furthermore, this ruling was applied to others who travel outside of their tehum Shabbat for a mitzva, including a midwife who comes to deliver a baby, or someone who comes to save others from a fire, avalanche, flood, etc. Rashi explains that originally the witnesses were required to remain in the Temple courtyard, and Rabban Gamliel's takkana allowed them to travel within the city and its tehum. The Talmud Yerushalmi teaches that there were four stages to this rule:
  • At first they were required to remain in place.
  • Later they were allowed to move within four cubits around them.
  • Then they were permitted to walk anywhere within the courtyard.
  • Finally, Rabban Gamliel gave them access to the entire city.
An interesting point is raised regarding the meals that were offered to the witnesses, since halakha does not permit witnesses to be paid for their testimony. The general consensus is that while actual payment is forbidden, meals such as these would not constitute forbidden compensation.
Rosh HaShana 22a-b: Acceptable Witnesses
31/10/2021 - 25th of Cheshvan, 5782
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
Unlike modern courtrooms, where witnesses are asked to swear prior to their testimony in order to ensure that they will tell the truth, a Jewish courtroom believes that every witness who is called to testify will tell the truth. Nevertheless, there are several types of people, enumerated in the Mishnayot of Massekhet Sanhedrin, who cannot testify. Close relatives, for example, cannot testify, no matter how upstanding and honest we know them to be. There are also people whose behavior does not allow the court to accept them. Among them are untrustworthy people who have committed sins that put them in the Biblical category of a rasha. While the people discussed in this Mishna have not done anything that the Torah forbids, nevertheless, their participation in activities that show them to be susceptible to the influence of monetary gain makes us fear that they could be bribed or similarly influenced to change their testimony. The Mishna on our daf teaches that a father and son who witness the new moon should both come to court, for even though they cannot testify together, if one of them is disqualified from testifying, the other one will be able to join with someone else who saw the moon and be accepted with him as witnesses. Our daf also quotes in full a Mishna that appears in Massekhet Sanhedrin (24b) that lists people who will not be accepted as witnesses in a Jewish court, because they are involved in monetary shenanigans that are forbidden by the Sages. These people include dice players, money lenders who take interest, people who gamble on pigeon races, and those who market produce from the Sabbatical year. Nevertheless, Rabbi Yehuda teaches: ba-meh devarim amurim – "under what circumstances is this rule taught" - when this is their livelihood. If a person has another occupation and participates in these activities only occasionally, then he can still be trusted as a witness in court.
Rosh HaShana 21a-b: Desecrating Shabbat to Testify to the New Moon
30/10/2021 - 24th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
When the Beit HaMikdash stood, it was essential for the kohanim in the Temple to know whether the new month began on the 30th day or the 31st day after the previous Rosh Hodesh, so that they would know when they had to bring the special Mussaf sacrifice for Rosh Hodesh. This was so important that the Sages taught that it would be permissible for witnesses who saw the new moon to travel to the Temple to testify even if it was Shabbat and their travel would involve hilul Shabbat (transgressing the Sabbath). After the destruction of the Temple, Rabban Yohanan ben Zakkai ruled that this hillul Shabbat should only be limited to situations when it served an essential purpose. Without the Temple sacrifices, it was deemed essential only for the months of Nisan and Tishrei, when it was necessary to establish the date of the holidays of Pesah, Yom Kippur and Sukkot. The Gemara learns the rule permitting hilul Shabbat from the passage in Vayikra 23:4, which emphasizes the need for the holidays to be established in their proper time. The Ritva understands this to mean that really every Rosh Hodesh deserves to be established on time - irrespective of the need to bring the appropriate sacrifice - even if Shabbat must be transgressed in order to assure that. Nevertheless, the Sages limited that Biblical leniency to just two months of the year. What the Mishna specifically teaches is that for the purpose of establishing the two months of Nisan and Tishrei at the appropriate time, messengers are sent to Suria. The Suria mentioned in the Mishna is the Biblical area to the north of Israel, known as Aram Damesek and Aram Tzova. We find that Suria has a unique status in halakha with regard to many halakhot, not only because of its proximity to the Land of Israel, but because it was part of the northern Kingdom of Israel under several kings during the period of the First Temple. Furthermore, some opinions suggest that the northern border of Israel extends well to the north of the Jewish settlement in Israel during the Second Temple period. There was also a large Jewish population center there, and some of the political leaders there were descendants of Jews (like the grandchildren of King Agrippas) or were closely allied with them.
Rosh HaShana 20a-b: An Extra Day in Elul
29/10/2021 - 23th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 Jewish calendar today is set based on calculations made by Hillel II in the time of the Gemara. Each month has either 29 or 30 days, so that over time, the months will stay in sync with the moon. As we have learned, during Talmudic times, the new month was based on testimony received from witnesses who saw the new moon, although the Sages who declared the new month had a fair amount of latitude to choose to postpone the announcement if they felt it necessary for one reason or another. Rabbenu Ḥananel and the Ge'onim point out that a decision on establishing the new month was dependent on a number of issues, some of which were well known, but others were known only to a small group of Sages who participated in sod ha-ibur - the closed assembly that actually made the final decision on this matter.
It is related that when Ulla came from Eretz Yisrael to Bavel, he said: This year they added an extra day to the month of Elul. Ulla continued and said: Do our Babylonian colleagues understand what benefit we did for them? We pushed off Rosh HaShana for a day, so that the Festival would not occur adjacent to Shabbat.
By keeping apart two holy days on which a great many creative activities are forbidden, we avoid such problems as how to deal with a dead body that cannot be buried for two days (as explained by Rabbi Aha bar Hanina) or the problem of how to ensure that there are fresh vegetables available to eat on Shabbat if it immediately follows Yom Kippur (Ulla's explanation). While these explanations seem very logical, the Gemara asks why Ulla considered this to be a boon for the Babylonian Jewish community more than for the Jewish community residing in Israel. The Gemara responds with a simple explanation - the temperatures are higher in Bavel than in Israel, so the concerns of spoilage over two days are much greater there. The weather in Bavel at the end of the summer - particularly between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, which is where the Jewish community lived - is 3°-5° Celsius (5°-10° Fahrenheit) higher than in Israel at that time of year. Moreover, there is little rainfall, and the distance from the ocean is so great that there are no sea breezes there. Thus, the weather in Bavel was considered to be much hotter than in Israel.
Rosh HaShana 19a-b: Has Megillat Ta'anit been nullified?
28/10/2021 - 22th of Cheshvan, 5782
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
Megillat Ta'anit is a little known collection of statements about minor holidays and fasts that commemorate events which took place during the Second Temple period. On the minor holidays, fasting and eulogies were forbidden. Most of the events that are commemorated are from the period of the Hasmonean monarchy - a prime example being the story of Hanukkah - although there are also events from earlier and later periods included, as well. This work is set up chronologically, and it includes the date and a brief account of the incident written in Aramaic, followed by a fuller description of the event in Hebrew. It appears that this work is the oldest example of the Oral Torah being committed to writing; the Sages of the Mishna do not only discuss the rulings that appear in it, but also the language that was used. (Although it is not part of the standard texts of Talmud, the Steinsaltz Koren Talmud Bavli includes it as an addendum to the volume that contains Massekhet Ta'anit). The discussion in our Gemara (which begins on page 18b and continues onto our daf) revolves around the question of whether the commemorative days that appear in Megillat Ta'anit are still significant, or whether batlah Megillat Ta'anit: whether Ta'anit has become null and void. The Gemara answers: The question whether or not Megillat Ta'anit has been nullified is the subject of a dispute between tannaim, as it is taught in a baraita:
The Gemara answers: The question whether or not Megillat Ta'anit has been nullified is the subject of a dispute between tanna'im, as it is taught in a baraita: These days, which are written in Megillat Ta'anit, both when the Temple is standing and when the Temple is not standing, are days on which fasting is prohibited; this is the statement of Rabbi Meir. Rabbi Yosei says: When the Temple is standing, these days are prohibited for fasting because these days are a source of joy for Israel. But when the Temple is not standing, these days are permitted for fasting because these days are a source of mourning for them.
Rabbi Meir believes that Megillat Ta'anit should still be kept and Rabbi Yosei rules that it is no longer binding, since without the Temple, the days that commemorated events of the Temple are no longer applicable. In closing, the Gemara states that both positions are accepted. Megillat Ta'anit no longer applies, except for the holidays of Hanukkah and Purim. Rav Yosef explains the uniqueness of Hanukkah as stemming from the publicity attached to the miracle, which, as Rashi clarifies, means that the mitzvot attached to the holiday had been widely accepted as obligations and they could not be done away with. The Ran points out that Purim has an even stronger basis, since the celebratory aspects of the holiday are clearly delineated in Megillat Esther, part of the written Torah.
Rosh HaShana 18a-b: To Fast or Not To Fast
27/10/2021 - 21th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
There are four traditional fasts that appear on the Jewish calendar to commemorate events connected with the destruction of the Temple:
  • The 17th of Tammuz (the fourth month)
  • The 9th of Av (the fifth month)
  • Tzom Gedalia (the seventh month)
  • The 10th of Tevet (the tenth month)
These are based on the passage in Zekhariah (8:19), where the prophet speaks in the name of God, promising that the fast days will, in the future, become day of celebration and happiness. In answer to the question posed by the Gemara as to how the same day can be both a day of fasting and a day of joy, Rav Pappa explains that there are three possible scenarios that exist, which depend on the situation of the Jewish people in the world.
  • If there is shalom - peace - then these are days of celebration and happiness;
  • If there is shemad (or, according to some readings, gezerat malkhut) - oppression - then these are days of fasting;
  • If there is neither shalom nor shemad, then it is up to the people to decide whether or not they will fast.
Defining the terms shalom and shemad (or gezerat malkhut) is not an easy task. According to the Rambam, even if the Beit HaMikdash is standing, the Jewish people may still find themselves oppressed by other nations and without full independence in their land. In such a case, they will have to fast. Many other rishonim define shalom based on whether the Temple is standing, although some refer to a situation of rov yisra'el yoshvim al admatam: if the majority of the Jewish people is living in Eretz Yisrael. With regard to the ruling that people could choose whether or not to fast when the situation was neither shalom nor shemad, the Ritva explains that while the Temple stood, no one fasted. After the destruction of the Temple, if there was no shemad taking place, individuals chose whether or not they wanted to fast. At a later date these days became accepted by the community as fast days, and we no longer have freedom as individuals to choose whether or not to fast.
Rosh HaShana 17a-b: The Thirteen Attributes of Mercy
26/10/2021 - 20th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 today's daf deals with issues of teshuva (repentance) and kappara (forgiveness). We find Rabbi Yohanan introducing the 13 attributes of mercy presented by God to Moshe on Mount Sinai following the sin of the Golden Calf (see Shemot 34:6) as a formula taught by God that guarantees forgiveness. According to Rabbi Yohanan, God played the role of the hazzan - the prayer leader - covering Himself with a tallit and reciting the verse acknowledging God's mercy and compassion. The Ritva accepts a simple understanding of this incident, explaining that God "role-played" so that Moshe would understand what needed to be done. Rabbenu Hananel suggests that there was an angel who played this role for Moshe. Rav Hai Ga'on goes so far as to say that the recitation of the 13 middot (attributes) creates a protecting angel, which is what Moshe saw. The Maharsha moves in a different direction, suggesting that being covered in a tallit hints to the power of God's creative force, and that the act of forgiving sins stems from a return to the pristine state of existence prior to creation. The Gemara explains the first (or, perhaps, the first two) attributes, beginning with the double expression of God's manifestation – HaShem, HaShem. The statement of God's name twice is understood to refer to the eternalness of God, who exists both before the sin and after the sinner repents. The Rosh raises an obvious question - what need is there for an attribute of mercy before the act of sin? He answers that this is a reference to a thought of sinning. Even before a sinful act takes place, there is already forgiveness in place for the contemplation of that act. An alternative approach is to recognize that God does not judge a person based on his or her future misdeeds, but rather on one’s present situation in life. The Maharsha, again, suggests that "before the sin" does not refer to the act of any individual, but rather to God's role in creating the world with His attribute of mercy. Just as God acted out of mercy in creating the world, so He acts even after sin is introduced to the world.
Rosh HaShana 16a-b: Judging the World
25/10/2021 - 19th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 Mishnah on our daf teaches that the world is judged on four occasions during the year:
  • On Pesah a heavenly decision is made with regard to the year's grain
  • On Shavuot the world is judged regarding the fruits of trees
  • On Rosh HaShana all living creatures are brought before God for judgment
  • On Sukkot a decision is made about the amount of water that the world will receive that year.
Both the early and later commentaries discuss how the decisions made on grain, fruit and water relate to the general judgment made about every person on Rosh HaShana. The Ran suggests that the heavenly judgments about food and water relate to the entire world, while the rulings handed down on Rosh HaShana relate to the individual and how much he or she will receive from that amount. The Rema MiPano explains that the general ruling is made at the beginning of the year, on Rosh HaShana, but that every person is judged again at certain points of the year (or, according to Rabbi Yosei in the Gemara, every day) to see if the original ruling is still appropriate at this time and how the person should receive it. The Ran suggests that most of these dates of judgment are derived from the Temple sacrifices that are brought on those holidays that refer specifically to these different natural resources. The idea of Rosh HaShana as a day of judgment stems from the passage in Tehillim 81:5, which is understood to be a reference to Rosh HaShana, and discusses it as a time of "statute" and "law." Our Gemara is the source for the famous image of three books opened before the Almighty on Rosh HaShana, where the tzaddikim - the righteous - are signed and sealed for life, the resha'im – the evil-doers – are signed and sealed for death and the beinonim – the middling, or average people - have an opportunity to add to their good deeds until a final decision is made on Yom Kippur. The commentaries struggle with the symbolic language of this story. Rashi suggests that the Gemara does not mean to discuss righteous and evil people, rather those who have been chosen for life or death in the upcoming year. The Rashba, on the other hand, believes that the story really does talk about righteous and evil people, but that "life" refers to a share in the world to come, and does not guarantee that they will live out the year in this world.
Rosh HaShana 15a-b: New Year for the Etrog
24/10/2021 - 18th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
As we have learned on the previous dapim, there are several different dates on the calendar that distinguish one agricultural year from another. This is significant in establishing when tithes are taken, since every individual year's harvest must have terumot and ma'asrot taken separately. We have seen that the Mishna (2a) teaches that the first day of Tishrei is the date of the new year for vegetables, while the new year for fruits begins in Shevat when most of the year's rains have already fallen. The Gemara on our daf  discusses the etrog, which does not follow all of the usual rules of fruit because of its unique growth and harvest cycle. The citron differs from other fruits that grew in Israel during the Talmudic period in a number of ways. For one thing, unlike other trees for which the annual winter rains sufficed for their needs, the etrog needs constant watering. Furthermore, it flowers and produces fruit all year round, so that one can find ripe fruits on the tree at the same time that new budding is taking place. For these reasons it makes sense to compare the etrog tree to vegetables, which also need constant watering and are often harvested and eaten at different times, rather than in a particular, set season. Another factor in the confusion about establishing a set new year for the etrog tree is that in the time of the Talmud it was not common practice to plant full orchards of etrog trees. More often a small number of such trees were planted in a field that contained other trees. This led to a situation where people who came into a field during the Sabbatical year to pick the fruits that had been left to grow that were considered hefker – ownerless – would also handle the etrogim, even though their produce may have been considered part of the previous year's harvest and should not have been taken. The Rambam explains that the Gemara's sensitivity to people handling the etrog tree stems from its being relatively short in height with an attractive smell that led people to it. Touching any tree during its flowering period or when it first begins to bud damages the fruit. Since the etrog has continuous flowering throughout the year, too much contact with it can destroy an entire year's produce.
Rosh HaShana 14a-b: The New Year for Trees
23/10/2021 - 17th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 (2a) brought a disagreement between Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel as to whether the new year for trees begins on the first day of Shevat or on the fifteenth day of that month. Thus, fruits that bud before this date will belong to the previous year with regard to the rules of terumot and ma'asrot; if they bud afterwards, then they will belong to the subsequent year
The Mishna taught: On the first of Shevat is the new year for trees, according to the statement of Beit Shammai. The Gemara asks: What is the reason that the new year for trees was set on this date? Rabbi Elazar said that Rabbi Oshaya said: The reason is since by that time most of the year’s rains have already fallen, and most of the season, i.e., winter, is yet to come, as it continues until the spring equinox, which usually occurs in Nisan.
Since Tu bi-Shevat is based on the lunar calendar, it can fluctuate anywhere from January 17 until February 14, although in most years it falls out at the end of January or beginning of February. Winter runs from December 22 through March 21, so most years the majority of winter occurs after Tu bi-Shevat. As far as the rainy season in Israel is concerned, there is evidence that suggests that in ancient times rains fell earlier in the year than they do today. Nevertheless, even today more than 50 of annual rainfall takes place before February, so usually most rainfall comes prior to Tu bi-Shevat. How do Beit Shammai and Beit Hillel arrive at the dates that they choose to identify as the new year? The Me'iri suggests that this date is the middle of the rainy period. Perhaps Beit Shammai is reluctant to divide a month in half (the Talmud Yerushalmi teaches that the months are established as single units based on the passage in Shemot 12:2le-hodshei ha-shanah – "of the months of the year"). Beit Hillel, on the other hand, is less concerned with keeping every month as a single unit, and is more concerned with the relationship between the trees and the natural cycle of the seasons.
Rosh HaShana 13a-b: Pulses are Just Different
22/10/2021 - 16th of Cheshvan, 5782
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
We learned on yesterday's daf that there is a difference of opinion as to whether the obligation to separate terumot and ma'asrot from kitniyot (pulses) is of Biblical or Rabbinic origin. Our Gemara discusses the cases of orez (rice), dohan (millet) and peragin (identified by the ge'onim as the poppy). According to Rabba, kitniyot are unique in that it is the time that they take root that determines whether they are to be tithed with last year's crop (if they take root prior to Rosh HaShana) or with next year's crop (if they first take root after Rosh HaShana). This is different from olives and grain, whose readiness is determined by completion of one-third of their growth, from other fruits, which are determined by the time that they bud, and from vegetables, whose harvest establishes the year that they belong to. Rabba explains that kitniyot are different because they are made perakhim. Some rishonim (Rabbeinu Hananel, the Arukh, the Ra'avad and others) understand this expression to mean that they do not all ripen at the same time and therefore are not all harvested at the same time, even if they were planted and took root at the same time. Rashi, Tosafot and others suggest that this means that they are shelled (i.e. removed from their husks and prepared for sale) over a relatively long period of time. The Ran and the Ramban combine these explanations and say that the concern is that since the kitniyot do not ripen all together they are harvested slowly over a long period of time and are collected and stored prior to their sale. Therefore it is likely that we will find older and more recent harvests stored together and it would be difficult to clearly distinguish what belongs to this year's crop and what belongs to last year's crop unless a more standard date (taking root) was chosen. It should be noted that in modern times, great efforts have been made to arrange that kitniyot (mainly produce like rice and millet) ripen together in order to allow for mechanical harvesting. The Talmud is discussing the situation at that time, when it was necessary to return to complete the harvest in a single field over and over again over a fairly lengthy period of time.
Rosh Hashana 12a-b: Tithes
21/10/2021 - 15th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 (2a) taught that the first day of Tishrei is the beginning of a new year for vegetables. The Gemara on our daf  clarifies that the intention of the Mishna is to teach that the ma'asrot – tithes that are taken from produce grown in Israel – begin a new season on the first day of Tishrei. The rules of terumot and ma'asrot – contributions given to the kohanim and levi'im from produce – are as follows:
  • When a farmer has completed his harvest and the produce reaches its final state of preparedness for market, teruma gedolah (about 1/50 of the produce) is set aside to be given to the kohen.
  • From the produce remaining, ma'aser rishon (1/10 of the remaining produce) is set aside for the levi. During the Second Temple period, when Ezra ha-Sofer found that few levi'im had joined those who returned to the Land of Israel, he ruled that this tithe could (or should) be given to kohanim.
  • From the produce remaining, another tenth is separated. In the first, second, fourth and fifth years of the seven year shemita cycle this produce is called ma'aser sheni – the second tithe – and is taken to Jerusalem where it is eaten (or it is redeemed and other food products are purchased with the proceeds, and eaten in Jerusalem). In the third and sixth years of the shemita cycle, the money is given to the poor as ma'aser ani – the poor man's tithe.
Which types of produce are obligated in these terumot and ma'asrot on a Biblical level is subject to a disagreement between the rishonim (which may be based on different positions taken by the Talmud Bavli and Talmud Yerushalmi). Generally speaking, vegetables are divided into three categories: dagan (grains), kitniyot (pulses), and yerakot (vegetables). Examples of dagan are wheat and barley, which are included in the seven species of produce of the Land of Israel. They are certainly included in the obligation of terumot and ma'asrot. Some opinions place kitniyot in that category, as well. All agree that the obligation of terumot and ma'asrot for yerakot is only of Rabbinic origin.
Rosh HaShana 11a-b: When the Redemption Will Take Place
20/10/2021 - 14th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
On yesterday's daf we learned that Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua disagree about the time of year when the world was created. There are some events of note that took place during the course of Jewish history that they agree about. Both agree, for example, that three barren women in Tanakh – Sarah, Rahel and Hannah – all gave birth on Rosh HaShana, and that Yosef was freed from prison on Rosh HaShana, as well. Furthermore, both agree that the Children of Israel were released from their work as slaves in Egypt on Rosh HaShana, even though their redemption from Egypt does not take place until Nisan. They differ, however, on the time of the ultimate redemption. Rabbi Eliezer believes that the final redemption will take place in Tishrei; Rabbi Yehoshua believes that it will happen in Nisan. Baraitot in the Gemara provide sources for dating all of these events, which, as we saw explained by the Ritva on yesterday's daf, are more hints and less definitive proofs. With regard to the time of the future redemption, where we find a disagreement, Rabbi Eliezer derives the occasion of redemption as Tishrei by comparing the commandment of shofar on Rosh HaShana to the shofar that will announce the coming of the Mashi'ah (see Yeshayahu 27:13); Rabbi Yehoshua derives it from a comparison between the ultimate redemption and the redemption from Egypt. The passage describing the redemption says that it took place on leil shimurim – a night of watching (see Shemot 12:42). The pesuk repeats the words leil shimurim a second time, which is understood by Rabbi Yehoshua as a reference not only to the redemption from Egypt, but an indication that this date was established from the moment of creation as a time of redemption, foretelling the ultimate redemption, as well. An interesting question is raised by R. Aryeh Leib in his Turei Even, who asks how a specific date can be placed on the coming of Mashi'ah, when the Gemara is clear that Mashi'ah can come at any time. In answer, he suggests that there are different Messianic paths that can take place. Mashi'ah can come be-itah – in its time – or ahishenah – in a hastened kind of way (see Yeshayahu 60:22). If it is in its time, there may be a specific date set for it. If it is "hastened" then it can come at any time. The Sefat Emet suggests that we must recognize the process involved in the coming of Mashi'ah. When Moshe comes to set the Children of Israel free from servitude in Egypt, he arrived well before the actual redemption takes place. Similarly in the future, Mashi'ah can come at any time, with the ultimate redemption set for either Nisan or Tishrei.
Rosh HaShana 10a-b: When the World Was Created
19/10/2021 - 13th of Cheshvan, 5782
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
We find a disagreement in our Gemara as to the time of year when the world was created. According to Rabbi Eliezer, the world was created in Tishrei. Similarly, the Avot – Avraham, Yitzhak and Ya'akov – were born and died in Tishrei. Rabbi Yehoshua argues that all of these events took place took place in Nisan. The rishonim (the Ran, for example) point out that Rabbi Eliezer does not really mean to say that the world was created in Tishrei, since it is the creation of Man which takes place on Rosh HaShana, the first day of Tishrei. Thus, the six days of creation began on the 25th day of the month of Elul. Nevertheless, he is expressing the idea that creation took place during the time of year when Tishrei occurs. Although both of these tanna'im bring textual support for their positions (see page 11a), the Ritva explains that none of the proofs is truly convincing, and that the passages quoted are, at best, hints brought in support of a tradition held by each of the Rabbis, or, perhaps, based on their logic in understanding which time of year it would be most logical for the world to have been created. The Maharal explains in great length that their disagreement stems from different views that each of them held with regards to a deep understanding of life and its meaning. According to the Maharal, the month of Nisan, which occurs in the Spring, represents the driving force of life that grows and blossoms, and compares it to the heart of Man. Tishrei, which falls in Autumn, expresses the holiness, spirituality and solemnity of life, which is the realm of the human mind. Which of these times of year is most appropriate for the creation of the world is the source for the argument between Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Yehoshua.
Rosh HaShana 9a-b: Eating on the Ninth of Tishrei
18/10/2021 - 12th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 commandment to keep Yom Kippur (the tenth day of Tishrei) as a day of rest and solemnity teaches that we are commanded to begin on the ninth day of Tishrei, and continue from evening to evening (see Vayikra 23:32). The Gemara on our daf quotes Rabbi Yishmael as learning the rule of tosefet Yom ha-kippurim - beginning the holiday early and completing it late - from this passage, a rule that is then extended to Shabbat and Yom Tov, as well.
Hiyya bar Rav of Difti taught the following baraita: The verse states: "And you shall afflict your souls on the ninth of the month." Is the fasting on the ninth? But isn't the fasting on Yom Kippur on the tenth of Tishrei? Rather, this verse comes to teach you: Whoever eats and drinks on the ninth, thereby preparing himself for the fast on the next day, the verse ascribes him credit as though he fasted on both the ninth and the tenth.
This is generally understood to mean that there is a special mitzva to eat on the day before Yom Kippur. Several explanations are given for this law. Rashi and the Meiri suggest that since there is a mitzva to fast on the tenth, someone who spends the day before preparing for that mitzva is given credit for the preparation. The Eliya Rabba (Rabbi Elijah Shapira's gloss on the Shulhan Arukh) suggests otherwise. According to him, someone who eats a lot the day before the fast has a harder time refraining from eating on the fast day, therefore the person who spends the ninth of Tishrei eating is credited for having additional inuy (deprivation). Others point out that Yom Kippur is a holiday, a day on which we really should be eating and drinking. Since we cannot eat and drink on Yom Kippur, we "make up" for it on erev Yom Kippur. Finally, some explain that this is preparation for the mitzva of expressing regret and asking for forgiveness. Since someone who is well-fed is less likely to be irritable and get into disagreements, we are commanded to put ourselves into such a position so that we will be better suited to be remorseful and apologize.
Rosh HaShana 8a-b: Freeing the Slaves
17/10/2021 - 11th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
One of the most progressive laws commanded in the Torah was that of yovel - the Jubilee Year - when all Jewish slaves were set free, and fields that had been purchased returned to their original owners. The Mishna (2a) teaches that the yovel begins on the first day of Tishrei, which, our Gemara points out, seems to contradict the simple reading of the Torah. The pasuk - see Vayikra 25:9-10 - commands that the blast of the shofar announcing the Jubilee year - together with the freedom of slaves and the return of land - should take place on Yom Kippur, the tenth day of Tishrei. In answer to this question, the Gemara introduces us to the teaching of Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka, who rules that the holiness of the yovel year begins on the first of Tishrei but that its regulations only take effect later on. Thus, beginning with the first of Tishrei, slaves no longer work for their masters, but they do not yet go home; rather, they eat, drink and rejoice, wearing their crowns. On Yom Kippur the shofar announcing the Jubilee year is sounded, and the newly freed slaves return home. Rashi understands the ruling that the slaves sit "with crowns on their heads" as indicating that they are now free men who can wear crowns should they choose to do so. A similar idea is expressed by the Ritva, who explains that it is an expression indicating that the slaves can now behave like free men. The Meiri, however, quotes the Talmud Yerushalmi (our version of the Talmud Yerushalmi does not include this) as saying that this refers to covering the head with a sudar - a scarf or turban - which was the style of free men, not of slaves. This expression of freedom is one that we refer to daily as part of our morning prayers in the berakha of oter yisrael betifarah - thanking God for covering us with glory. Historically, it is interesting to note that during the times of the Mishna, it was commonplace in Roman society for the free men to wear olive wreaths on their heads during times of celebration, something that a slave could never do. The week and a half between Rosh HaShana and Yom Kippur is described by Rabbi Yohanan ben Beroka as days of celebration, and it is certainly possible that the popular celebratory wreaths were worn by the former slaves on that occasion.
Rosh HaShana 7a-b: The Source for Nissan as the First Month
16/10/2021 - 10th of Cheshvan, 5782
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
We learned in the Mishna (2a) that the month of Nisan is the first month of the year with regard to counting the months. Our Gemara searches for a source for this law, beginning with the command in the Torah that declares the month of the exodus from Egypt to be the first month of the year (see Shemot 12:2). The difficulty in establishing this as a definitive source stems from the fact that the names of the months that are currently in use in the Hebrew calendar are never mentioned in the Torah. Thus the Gemara turns to Nakh (the Nevi’im - Prophets, and Ketuvim - Sacred Writings) to identify the months of the calendar by name and numbering:
  • Ravina points out that in Sefer Zekhariyah (1:7), for example, Shevat is referred to as the eleventh month.
  • Rabba bar Ulla notes that in Megillat Esther (2:16) Tevet is referred to as the tenth month.
  • Rav Kahana shows that in Sefer Zekhariyah (7:1) Kislev is mentioned as the ninth month.
  • Rav Aha bar Ya'akov points to another passage in Megillat Esther (8:9) that refers to Sivan as the third month. Finally, Rav Ashi quotes a pasuk from Megillat Esther (3:7), which first calls Adar the twelfth month and then goes on to clearly call Nisan the first month.
The Gemara asks: And all of the others, what is the reason that they did not say that it is derived from here, the last verse mentioned, which is explicitly referring to Nisan as the first month? The Gemara answers: It is because one could perhaps have said: What is meant here by first? It means the first in relation to its matter, i.e., the months of the decree, and so it cannot be proven from here that Nisan is the first of the months of the year.
Even though the last passage brought up by the amora'im is the clearest one of all, the Gemara explains that it does not constitute the best proof, since it may simply be saying that Nisan was the beginning - the first month - of Haman's plot against the Jews. The Maharsha points out that according to this logic, none of the months mentioned in Megillat Esther can act as sources, since all of them may be counting from the beginning of the plot against the Jews. Although he leaves the question standing, this is a topic already discussed by rishonim. The Ritva explains that it may be common to announce a given date as the beginning of a particular happening, but it would be unusual to count from that date later on in the process. The Rosh argues that once it was established when the process began, it would be without purpose to repeat it over and over again. Tosafot quote the Yerushalmi, which points out that the underlying assumption in this Gemara is that we rely on the tradition that the people had regarding the order of the months as we know them today. Without that piece of information, the entire proof-text of pesukim makes no sense.
Rosh HaShana 6a-b: Don't Delay in Fulfilling a Promise
15/10/2021 - 9th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Torah (Devarim 23:22) teaches that a person who accepts upon himself to bring a sacrifice cannot postpone fulfilling his promise. This mitzva, referred to by the Sages as bal te'aher - "do not be late [in bringing your sacrifice]" - is followed by another pesuk (see Devarim 23:24), that emphasizes the need for one to fulfill all promises that he/she makes as a positive commandment, including - according to the interpretation of the Sages - promises made to charity. How long does a person have to carry out his/her obligations before being held liable for bal te'aher? Regarding sacrifices, the generally accepted position of the Sages is that a person has a full cycle of holidays - Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot - to bring the commitments that were made to the Temple. Regarding charity, however, Rava teaches that it must be given immediately after the commitment is made. He explains that, unlike a sacrifice that must be brought to the Temple, poor people are always accessible, so it must be given right away. Several positions exist in understanding Rava's teaching.
  • According to the Ri"f, the Ritva and others, Rava's halakha only applies when there are, in fact, poor people located in the vicinity. If no poor people were immediately available, the person would not have to search for a poor person until three festivals had passed.
  • The Rashba argues that there is no difference whether a deserving poor person is available or not. In either case there is an immediate mitzvat aseh - a positive commandment - to find a poor person who will accept the charity. Nevertheless, no transgression of bal te'aher, the negative commandment, will take place until after the cycle of holidays has passed. Rava's statement that poor people are readily available merely explains why the mitzvat aseh is immediately incumbent upon him.
  • The Ran explains that the year-long extension allowed to the person who takes upon himself the obligation of a korban only makes sense in the context of sacrifices that will be brought to the Temple, usually during one of the pilgrimage holidays. Rava teaches that this concept has no place in a discussion about charity; therefore tzedaka must be given immediately, and someone who does not do so both misses his opportunity to fulfill the positive command and also transgresses bal te'aher.
Rosh HaShana 5a-b: Staying Overnight in Jerusalem
14/10/2021 - 8th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
Our daf opens with a discussion of the obligation of lina- staying over in Jerusalem even after having sacrificed the obligatory korbanot associated with the three pilgrimage holidays of Pesah, Shavu'ot and Sukkot. Regarding the holiday of Passover, the Torah (Devarim 16:7) commands that the korban Pesah must be eaten in the place chosen by God and that "you shall turn in the morning and go to your tents." This passage is understood by the Sifre as commanding people who come to the Temple to stay overnight, leaving only the next morning. This obligation is explained by the Sefat Emet as stemming from a desire to show that a visit to the Temple is not simply a brief stopover, but is rather a significant, overnight stay. How long does one need to remain in Jerusalem in order to fulfill the obligation of lina? We find three main positions on this question:
  • Rashi teaches that a person must stay until the morning after the first day of the holiday.
  • Tosafot argue that for Pesah and Sukkot, which are each weeklong holidays, a person must stay for the entire Yom Tov.
  • Another opinion suggests that we must differentiate between Sukkot, where a person is obligated to remain in Jerusalem for the entire holiday, and Pesah, where the obligation is to remain only the first day. The need to remain for all of Sukkot is supported by the need to bring a unique sacrifice on each day of the holiday (called parei ha-hag, see Bamidbar 29:12-38) and is further suggested by the simple reading of the story of the consecration of the Temple in Sefer Melakhim (see I Melakhim 8:65-66).
The Ritva suggests another approach, which distinguishes between the obligation that stems from the sacrifice, which is only one day, and the obligation that stems from the holiday itself, which will obligate people to remain until the Yom Tov is over.
Rosh HaShana 4a-b: A Full-Fledged Righteous Person
13/10/2021 - 7th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 a discussion about the Persian King Koresh, who was known to have brought sacrifices to God together with prayers on behalf of himself and his children (see Ezra 6:10), the Gemara on our daf  quotes a baraita that teaches the virtues of giving tzedaka, even with an ulterior motive. According to the baraita, a person who donates a sum of money so that his children will be healthy or so that he will merit a share in the World-to-Come is considered to be a tzaddik gamur - a full-fledged righteous person. As can be imagined, the commentaries question why the title of tzaddik gamur is applied to such a person. It would seem more logical to offer that honor to a person who gave charity for altruistic reasons. Moreover, the well-known Mishna in Pirkei Avot (1:3) teaches that a person should serve the Creator like a servant who does not expect any reward from his master. A simple approach to this can be found in Rabbeinu Hananel, who offers an alternative reading of the Gemara. According to Rabbeinu Hananel, the baraita does not say that the individual is a tzaddik gamur, but rather that the donation is tzedakah gemura - it is considered a legitimate contribution and, that is to say, his desire for reward does not negate the value of his act. Rashi adds the words im ragil bekakh - if he makes a habit of such donations. According to this approach, one who regularly gives tzedaka and makes receiving a reward a condition for his contributions may still be called a tzaddik gamur, as long as he pays no attention to whether or not he actually receives the reward. The Maharal explains that we must take into account the person's intention when making the donation. A person who sees his donation mainly as an "investment," on which he expects a return, cannot be considered a tzaddik gamur. If he gives the tzedaka for the sake of Heaven and simply hopes and prays that it will play a role in making him deserving of reward, such a person can be considered a tzaddik gamur. Finally, the Ran suggests in his derashot that we must distinguish between a tzaddik and a hasid, a pious person. Someone who gives charity - even with ulterior motives - has done what he is obligated to do and is considered righteous. To be considered pious - which is the level expected by the Mishna in Pirkei Avot - a person must be pure of mind and intention..
Rosh HaShana 3a-b: The King of Arad
12/10/2021 - 6th of Cheshvan, 5782
This Daf Yomi series is a unique opportunity to study a page of Talmud each day with one of the world’s foremost Jewish scholars. We are privileged to present these insights and chidushim drawn from the English version of the Koren Talmud Bavli with Commentary by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz. Join thousands of students, scholars, readers and teachers worldwide in completing the study of the entire Talmud in a 7-year cycle. Read more about the history of Daf Yomi Talmud study. You can also browse the Daf Yomi Archives by date or by tractate.
Hebrew Daf Yomi by Rav Adin Steinsaltz
The Gemara on our daf examines the background of one of the Canaanite kings who attacked the Children of Israel during the exodus from Egypt. The passage in Bamidbar 33:40 describes how the Canaanite king of Arad heard of the approach of the Children of Israel and waged a war against them, taking captives. The Gemara asks what it was that he heard that made him feel this was a moment in which Bnei Yisrael were vulnerable. Our daf goes on to explain that it was the sudden absence of the ananei ha-kavod (the clouds of glory that had accompanied them on their desert journeys up to that point) after Aharon ha-Kohen's death (see Bamidbar 33:38-39) that gave him the sense that it was an opportune time to attack. (Tosafot point out that the discussion is not about the passage in Bamidbar 21:1, since that pasuk clearly indicates what the king heard.) In an attempt to clarify the identity of the king of Arad, whose exploits seem to be similar to those attributed to other kings, the Gemara claims that he had a number of names. One suggestion is that his true name was Sihon; he was called Canaan because that was the name of his kingdom, and the nickname Arad stems from his sharing attributes with the arod - the wild donkey of the desert. From a variety of sources it appears that the arod is one of two types of wild donkeys - equus hemionus, the Onager, or equus africanus, the African wild ass. The African donkey apparently existed in the land of Israel at that time. These animals are similar in their body structure and lifestyle to horses, and they live in dry areas and in the desert. With the domestication of almost all donkeys, few species now exist in the wild.
Rosh HaShana 2a-b: The Four New Years
11/10/2021 - 5th of Cheshvan, 5782
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 opening Mishna in Massekhet Rosh HaShana teaches that the halakha recognizes four separate dates as being new years, with each one defining the beginning of a new cycle for that particular idea or event. The four new years are:
  • The first day of Nissan, which begins the new year for kings and holidays
  • The first day of Elul, which begins the new year for tithes taken from flocks of animals
  • The first day of Tishrei, which begins the new year for counting years, including shemita (the Sabbatical year) and yovel (the Jubilee year), as well as planting trees and tithes on vegetables
  • The first (according to Beit Shammai according to Beit Hillel it is the 15th) of Shevat, which begins the new year for tithes on fruit.
The Gemara will go on to explain each of these items individually. On our daf the focus is on the first day of Nissan, which is the new year for kings. Given the fact that monarchs usually had lifetime positions, why was there a need to establish a particular calendar day that was the beginning of his reign? Theoretically, a king's reign should begin whenever he took office. Rav Hisda explains that "for kings" means for dating contracts. It was common practice under a given monarchy that the year that would appear in a contract was not the number of years since creation or from an arbitrary point in history, but how many years into the current king's reign. Rashi explains that this was done for reasons of shalom malkhut-- to stay on good terms with the king by honoring him in every matter. Tosafot point out that since the Mishna refers only to Jewish kings (some say that the Mishna's use of the plural "kings" is to indicate that both kings of Judea and kings of the northern kingdom of Israel were included), shalom malkhut should not apply. They argue that this was simply the common method of dating contracts at that time. The Mordekhai and the Ge'onim point out that these days become minor holidays, given their description by the Mishna as Rosh HaShana. Therefore a day like the 15th of Shevat becomes a day of celebration to the extent that neither fasting nor eulogies are permitted.